Archive for May, 2014

The Dam Busters – again

The Dam Busters was on TV this Spring Bank Holiday here in England – and I just could not resist putting this fabulous picture of the Lancaster Bomber flying over a dam – it is an iconic image from a story we have come to know so well after the success of the 1955 British film.


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Overland Telegraph 1951 – Tim Holt.

This is another of the good B Westerns that Tim Holt did for RKO between 1940 and 1952, with a pause during World War Two for Air Force service.


Directed by Lesley Selander
Produced by Herman Schlom
CAST: Tim Holt (Tim Holt), Richard Martin (Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamonte Rafferty), Gail Davis (Terry Muldoon), Hugh Beaumont (Brad Roberts), Mari Blanchard (Stella), George Nader (Paul Manning) Robert J. Wilke (Bellew), Cliff Clark (Terence Muldoon), Russell Hicks (Colonel Marvin), Robert Bray (Steve), Fred Graham (Joe).



Overland Telegraph (1951) is one of best Tim Holt pictures and having Gail Davis on hand is a real asset, displaying a bit of the riding and shooting skills that would make her such a great Annie Oakley on TV. The Iverson Ranch – a favourite film location for Hollywood films -is featured quite a bit, too.

b70-5266Gail Davis: “It was a good part for the girl, not just one of those smile into the sunset pictures. Tim was really cute, he had a friendly personality but was a bit of a kidder. So was Dick Martin, but both were very conscientious about their pictures.”*

 Gail Davis – Below

 (1925-1997) – Born in Little Rock, Gail Davis was known to millions as television’s Annie Oakley in the 1950s. The series ran on ABC from 1955 through 1958 and was seen in reruns well into the 1960s. It was the first western to star a woman. The show was created for Davis by “singing cowboy” Gene Autry, who she had previously appeared with in several westerns. After the series ended, Davis continued to make personal appearances with Autry. She also appeared in TV specials, including “Wide, Wide World: The Western,” in 1958, a “Bob Hope Special” in 1959 and “The Andy Griffith Show: The Perfect Female,” in 1961.

Of course, director Lesley Selander and editor Samuel Beetley deserve a lot of the credit. They keep things moving at such a pace that the hour’s over before you know it.


Overland Telegraph is part of Warner Archive’s fourth volume of the Tim Holt Western Classics Collection.

The Tim Holt Western Classics Collection Vol. 4  contains nine films, consisting of seven pre-WWII titles and two from the postwar era.


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Lunch with Richard Todd

Richard Todd and Phyllis Barrier

I have recently purchased a book – The Animated Man – A Life of Walt Disney.

Written by Michael Barrier.

In his research he and his wife had travelled to England and met up with actor Richard Todd who became  a personal friend of Walt Disneyand this is the article he wrote about that meeting :-

Meeting Richard Todd – by Michael Barrier :-

Richard Todd, the star of three of Walt Disney’s first live-action films, died in England on December 3, 200 at the age of 90.  For Walt Disney he appeared in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952), The Sword and the Rose (1953) and Rob Roy the Highland Rogue (1954). He appeared in many other films, too, and was nominated for a best-actor Oscar for his role in The Hasty Heart (1949). He was a true war hero, as one of the first British paratroopers to land in Normandy. He was, in short, a dashing and glamorous figure, and, as my wife and I learned on June 22, 2004—just a few weeks after Todd took part in ceremonies commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day—a delightful luncheon companion.

Todd as Robin HoodWe were in England during an extended research trip to Europe, for The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. I had been in touch with Todd by mail and email for some months, and we had agreed to meet for lunch at Grantham, in Lincolnshire, about an hour’s train trip north of London, near Little Humby, the village where Todd was living then. We’d had no confirmation from Todd of our plans in the days just before our scheduled meeting, and so Phyllis and I felt some apprehension when we got off the train at Grantham.

We needn’t have worried. Waiting on the platform for us was a very dapper elderly man, using a cane but immediately recognizable as Richard Todd. As Phyllis said—she had become a fan as we watched a dozen or so Richard Todd movies in preparation for the trip—he still had those twinkling blue eyes. His handsome necktie, he told us later, bore the insignia of his Royal Air Force unit.

Todd drove us in his Mercedes to the Angel and Royal, an 800-year-old Grantham hotel where King Richard III once held court in what was now the main dining room. It was closed for lunch, unfortunately, and so we would have lunch in the bar. As we waited for our table to be made ready, Richard suggested rather gingerly that perhaps we might have something to drink before lunch. When I proposed Bloody Marys, he readily assented.

We talked about Walt Disney and the Disney films over the excellent lunch that followed, Richard Todd expanding on what he had already written about his Disney experiences in the two volumes of his autobiography, Caught in the Act and In Camera (neither of which was ever published in the U.S., although copies are available through used-book dealers). You’ll find quotations from our interview in The Animated Man, along with a photo of Todd with Walt at Coney Island, which he sent me later.

As I listened to Todd at lunch, and a few weeks later on tape, the years fell away; his voice was still that of the strikingly handsome young actor who was easily the most successful Robin Hood on the screen, excepting only Errol Flynn (the publicity photo at left above is of Todd in that role). At 85 he was still very much a movie star, in other words, and in the best sense: not as an ego but as a presence. I’m grateful that I got to spend a couple of hours with him.

After lunch, Phyllis and I took photos of ourselves with Richard Todd; that’s her with him in the photo above. And then he drove us back to the Grantham station, for our return trip to Kings Cross station. A lovely day.


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3 D week in San Francisco

The Castro Theatre was hosting a 3-D Film Series recently including the 1953 Vincent Price vehicle House of Wax. Even better, the Castro Theatre was screening these 3-D films in 35mm “Dual-interlock,” an arduous process, especially from a theatre management perspective. Basically, the “dual-interlock” projection system uses two projectors to simultaneously run two versions of the film, one filmed for the left eye and one for the right; further, this screening method requires an actual “silver” screen, special polarized glasses (not the typical red/blue, or anaglyphic ones), and an intermission to allow the projectionist to change the reels on both projectors at the same time. The end  result is apparently first rate


Even the opening credits were exciting. Crisp vivid picture with not even the slightest colour degradation creating an often startling 3-D effect.



Above – Scenes from ‘House Of Wax’

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