Archive for November, 2015

The Story of Robin Hood 1952 – Walt Disney

 

A scene above from Walt Disney’s live-action film The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men 1952.
The top colour scene from the film shows Richard Todd in his role as Robin Hood having escaped the clutches of the Sheriff of Nottingham played by Peter Finch.   Robin has just leapt from his horse onto the bank and is clambering to safety as arrows thud into the ground around him. A very exciting sequence from the film
However as we see from the still below in Black and White, the arrows are actually fired by two expert archers (James Hemmings and George Brown) brought in by the Second Unit Director, Alex Bryce who was in charge of all the exterior action scenes. He is seen in the still sitting close to the camera along with the film’s producer Perce Pearce.  
It seems that a river bank set had been built alongside the River Colne in the grounds of Denham Studios so that it could be filmed showing the river flowing immediately behind Richard Todd. 
It succeeded in giving us a wonderful colour shot. I reckon that this was filmed in mid summer at Denham and that would have been the summer of 1951. 
 
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Lost Horizon

We have featured this one before and of course it was made well before the fifties, but well worth having another look at this wonderful set.

Lost Horizon (1937). Shangri-La has become synonymous with paradise, and practically everyone, not just filmgoers, recognise the name. When Frank Capra filmed James Hilton’s novel, his set designers came up with an unforgettable vision of the exotic Himalayan home of ageless monks and their Utopian community. The grounds are complete with reflecting pools, wandering ornamental wildfowl, conifers, and weeping Chinese trees. Dominating it all are the radiant blue skies and brilliant sunlight of Southern California.

Lost Horizon - Ronald Colman

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Gone With the Wind 1939 – I just love this scene from the film !!

Gone with the Wind (1939). What an iconic scene from this wonderful film. So essential is Scarlett O’Hara’s plantation Tara to the film that composer Max Steiner actually gave it its own musical theme.

Its destruction in the Civil War devastates Scarlett, and her obsession with restoring it to its previous glory becomes the driving motivation of her life. To achieve this she marries two men she doesn’t love for their money and even kills. In the end though, after she has lost everything else, she returns to Tara and vows to make it the  place it once was.  In a film of lavish expenditure, clearly not a penny was spared by David O. Selznick on making Tara the image of  Scarlett’s dreams

 

Here is another scene I love – similar set at Tara.

Gone With The Wind still

 

Above – With Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes and Olivia de Havilland as Melanie.
“Gone with the Wind” brought together the best people in Hollywood. The end result is a stunning film that for about four hours keep us interested in the story unfolding in the screen. Of course, credit must be due to the director, Victor Fleming, and his vision, as well as the adaptation by Sydney Howard.

The cinematography created by Ernest Haller gives us a vision of the gentle South before the war, and the Phoenix raising from the ashes of a burned Atlanta. The music of Max Steiner puts the right touch behind all that is seen in the movie.

Also the Technicolor was wonderful

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Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948 Jig Saw Puzzle

Further to a previous article, I now have this jig saw puzzle and it is indeed a lovely item from all those years ago.Bonnie Prince Charlie jig saw 1948   The puzzle is an actual scene from the film bonnie prince charlie 1948 jig saw 2   From the film – Below the actual scene.

Bonnie Prince Charlie Film Scene on Puzzle

Above is the picture from the jig saw – when we are able to complete it

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Rogues of Sherwood Forest 1950

The Rogues of Sherwood Forest ( 1950 )

In terms of the famous Robin Hood legend the Walt Disney version The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men( 1952 ) to me stands out as the very best – however this one – made a couple of years earlier is pretty good. It was made in Hollywood and so the exteriors don’t quite match up to the English countryside where the story is set. In the Walt Disney version much of the filming was done at Burnham Beeches – close to Denham Film Studios – in England – and I have to say that was near perfect.

However this Columbia Pictures production  The Rogues of Sherwood Forest released in 1950 with John Derek portraying the character with a vigour suitable to the son of that knavish hero 

The Rogues of Sherwood Forest is set in a post-King Richard England. With his brother dead, Prince John ( George MacReady ) – now in his 50s – takes control of the throne once again and he hasn’t lost any of his youthful zest for bloodshed and tyranny.
Robin, Earl of Huntington, son of the famous Robin Hood,  rallies up some of his father’s merrie men - including Little John, Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet – and gathers a fresh band of outlaws to wage woodland war on Prince John and his followers

 

Gordon Douglas is he Director  of this rousing Technicolor swashbuckler, which features some stunning cinematography ( by Charles Lawton Jr. ) and beautiful matte-painted backdrops – as this one below. However the matte part is the whole of the top right of the picture – the castle and also the moat I would say. It is very effective though.

While many of the other Robin Hood films are worth viewing The Rogues of Sherwood Forest boasts a very good cast and script, from screenwriter George Bruce  Some of his previous films included The Man in the Iron Mask ( 1939 ), The Son of Monte Cristo ( 1940 ), and The Corsican Brothers ( 1941 ).
Diana Lynn Stars as Lady Marianna.
She was a child protégé pianist at age 10. She was a very capable and promising actress whose career was cut short. After being in several films and a number of TV films and programmes, she took a short respite from acting in 1964 while raising a family with her second husband in New York.
She had just returned to Hollywood in 1971 with a part in a new film, but she suffered a stroke and died before filming began. She was only 45.
Rogues of Sherwood Forest 1950
Above – A Book from the film which would have been on sale at the time – and can still be purchased to this day. It has some lovely colour plates.




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Matte Painted shots from Bonnie Prince Charlie

 

Two Matte shots from Bonnie Prince Charlie – actually made in 1947 – so before the fifties decade BUT they were used again in 1953 for

The Master of Ballantrae with Errol Flynn and Roger Livesey – Two actors I liked.

One actor who I didn’t take to was in fact David Niven who in my opinion was woefully mis-cast in this film.

Bonnie Prince Charlie had a huge budget, a major Hollywood star and a dramatic story from Scottish history, the 1948 film should have been one of British cinema’s most celebrated epics.

Alexander Korda, England’s greatest movie mogul, had conquered America with The Private Life of Henry VIII, the first British film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and he was prepared to spend big money for a repeat.

David Niven was at the time under contract to Sam Goldwyn, but Korda’s London Film Productions offered the studio the then-astronomical sum of $150,000 for the use of his services.

Bonnie Prince Charlie was shot mainly in the studios at Shepperton, although there was some location filming in the Highlands.

The distinguished cast included Margaret Leighton as Flora MacDonald, Jack Hawkins as Lord George Murray and Scots actor John Laurie, who later played Private Fraser in TV’s Dad’s Army, as Blind Jimmie

Just to add insult to injury, when Niven’s birth certificate was discovered after his death it turned out that he had not been born in Kirriemuir in Angus, as he claimed, but in Belgrave Mansions in London.

Above: Will Fyffe chatting to Alexander Korda on the set of the film.

Famous Comedian Actor Will Fyffe  had been cast in the film – and much filming had been done with  him but he sadly died during the actual making of the film – and was replaced by Moreland Graham.

After an operation on his right ear in 1947, Fyffe went to recuperate at his own hotel in St Andrews. One night, he fell from the window of his suite and was taken to the local cottage hospital, where he later died.

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Filming took place on location in Scotland and at Shepperton studios in London. Second unit filming began in August 1946 near Fort William. Doubles for the main cast were used as David Niven was unavailable until the spring.

Soldiers in the British army were hired as extras as they were  in the making of Rob Roy The Highland Rogue with Richard Todd  about 5 or 6 years later – that was a good film.

bonnie prince charlie 1948 film advertisement

The film ended up taking two years to make. Portions of the film were also directed by Robert Stevenson, Leslie Arliss and Alex Korda. Producer Edward Black died not long after the premiere.

bonnie prince charlie 1948 jig saw

Above: a JIG SAW PUZZLE to promote the film. There were a few done like this at that time. I can think of puzzles for Diamond City, The Blue Lagoon, The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men and Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue to mention but a few – and I am pretty sure there are more

 

 
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