Archive for March, 2016

Silent Dust (1949)

 I do have this film on video – it is some years since I have seen it though but it is memorable with a good story.

However I am reprinting this article on the film written by someone else :-

 

Silent Dust - 0 opener

It’s a few years after the end of WWII, and Robert Rawley (Murray), a self-made millionaire (or thereabouts), cannot get over the fact that his beloved son by his first marriage, Simon, was one of those who never came back from the Front. Now he’s building a new cricket pavilion in the nearby village to commemorate Simon—even though his bumbling aristocratic neighbor, Lord Harry Clandon (Hicks), urges him to alter the dedication to honor not just Simon but all of the local men who died in the war, as does Robert’s second wife, Joan (Campbell), née Cummings,

Robert: Man can’t live with the dead.
Joan: No. But how hard you try.

Robert is a man whose snarl is very much worse than his bite. We see this essential goodheartedness in an early sequence when he’s informed by the foreman of the team working on the pavilion, Sugden (Woodbridge), that one of the laborers has fallen off the construction, damaging both the weathercock and himself. Robert rants about the lad’s stupidity and clumsiness and the fact that the broken weathercock might delay the Grand Opening, but at the same time he slips Sugden a hefty contribution to any medical expenses the culprit might have—more than enough to cover them all, if we’re to judge by Sugden’s expression.

Silent Dust - 1 Robert listens for what he cannot see

The blind but undaunted Robert (Stephen Murray).

We first become aware that Robert’s blind when he trips over the tricycle that Clandon, who has come to visit, left at the steps of the mansion. Since we’ve earlier seen the Rawleys arrive home in a luxury car, it’s very clear how the war has changed social structures. There are strong hints that the mansion used to be the Clandon family’s home before financial vicissitudes forced them to sell it. We also see, as the obviously decent-hearted lord tries to persuade Robert to dedicate his pavilion to all the fallen, not just one, that Clandon is in many ways far more a “man of the people” than Robert could ever be, for all the latter’s pride in having worked his way up from nothing.

There are more visitors. First comes Simon’s widow Angela (Gray). She’s been serving in a post in Berlin, and has come home for the pavilion’s dedication in the company of Clandon’s nephew, Captain Maxwell “Max” Oliver (Farr), likewise posted there. The elder Rawleys and Clandon believe the two must have met en route; it’s instantly obvious to us, however, that the relationship between them is far older and closer than that, so it’s not much of a surprise when the bombshell is dropped that they secretly married a month ago.

Silent Dust - 2 Angela is nervous to give Robert her news

Angela (Sally Gray) is nervous of giving Robert her news.

The other visitor arrives by night and unannounced, having hijacked a car and thumped its owner during the journey: Simon (Patrick; for a moment you might think it was Bill Murray), who is not dead at all but deserted his men in the heat of battle and has been on the run ever since. He’s come to see if he can get enough money out of his father to escape to the US and make a new life there. Both Angela and then Joan are horrified when they find him in the house, but they conspire to keep the news from Robert, reckoning that discovering the son he idolized is in fact a blackguard would destroy him. Max, too, enters into this conspiracy of silence. But how long can they all keep it up? And what of Angela’s marriage to Max, now that he and Simon are—as Simon puts it—”husbands-in-law”?

Silent Dust - 3 Simon breaks in through an open window

Simon (Nigel Patrick) breaks in through a basement window.

Silent Dust - 4 Simon is full of glib talk except when his father's around

Simon (Nigel Patrick) is full of glib talk except when his father’s around.

Silent Dust - 5 Angela is horrified her loathed husband's still alive

Angela (Sally Gray) is horrified to discover her loathed husband is still alive.

There’s a great deal of darkness in the tale—inevitably, since we know this cannot end in anything other than some form of tragedy—and it’s reflected in some superbly noirish cinematography. The contrast between this and the overall bucolic, well-to-do setting makes Cooper’s camerawork all the more effective. (I’ve put a selection of noirish frames at the foot of this entry.) Also of cinematographic note is the special effect used at one stage to represent Robert’s reconstruction in his memory of having gone into the drawing room and sensed something wrong there. Obviously he couldn’t actually see what was there, but his memory of the moment could be a quasi-visual one. Cooper puts it on the screen as a sort of washed-out spectral version of the room, a representation that, at least for the nonce, seems quite credible.

Silent Dust - 11 Robert's memory of Simon in the drawing rm

The visualisation of Robert’s memory of sensing Simon (Nigel Patrick) in the drawing room.

Despite the bleakness, there’s some excellently handled humor too—in fact, the screenplay is quite glorious throughout, probably because of its stage origins. One running joke concerns the mother of the Rawley’s maid Nellie Wells, portrayed with a very great degree of charm by Owen. It first appears when Lord Clandon arrives at the house and Nellie greets him at the door:

Clandon: How’s your mother?
Nellie: Oh, worse, my lord.
Clandon: Hmf. She always was.

Silent Dust - 7 Owen is great as Nellie

Yvonne Owen delivers a great turn as the maid Nellie.

The exchange evolves during other encounters that occur during the course of the movie, such as

Clandon: How’s your mother? Worse?
Nellie: Yes, thank you, my lord.

There’s comedy too in the character of the cook, played with her usual brio by Handl. When Simon arrives at the house he’s starving, and—having helped himself handsomely to the whisky from his father’s decanter—he deputes Angela to go steal some food from the larder for him. The food she takes (and wraps in a sheet of newspaper!) includes a pair of chicken drumsticks that the cook has set aside for Robert. Explaining about the mysterious disappearance to him later, the cook says:

The drumsticks, sir. They vanished into thin air. I was saying to Nellie, wasn’t I, that’s the first time I’ve known a pair of legs to grow wings.

Silent Dust - 8 cook, Robt, Nellie

The cook (Irene Handl) and Nellie (Yvonne Owen) explain to Robert (Stephen Murray) about the mysterious affair of the drumsticks.

Comedy of a completely different and far darker order—if indeed we can call it comedy at all—comes in an extended flashback sequence as Simon explains to Joan the truth of his wartime career, putting the best light he possibly can on his own behavior. In the opening moments, as shells rain down on Simon and a couple of his men and he cracks, we accept his voiceover narration of events as truthful. Who among us might not likewise turn and flee under such hellish circumstances? But, as time goes on, the events recounted in the voiceover and those we see on screen diverge radically: while Simon’s telling us that “A lot of deserters went crooked, and made a packet that way, but anything I made I came by honestly. I was down and out, but at least I kept my hands clean,” we see him stealing vehicles, clobbering those who get in his way, and chatting up a sexy chanteuse (Var) in a swish nightclub (and stealing from her purse). The scar he acquired on his cheek during the war came not in combat, as everyone assumes, but when he dived through the nightclub window to escape from an officer who recognized him.

Silent Dust - 9 the sultry chanteuse whom S both attempts seduce & robs

The sultry chanteuse (Maria Var) whom Simon both attempts to seduce and robs in the continental nightclub . . .

Silent Dust - 10 . . . but then he's recognized by an officer

. . . but then he’s recognised by an officer (uncredited).

Put all this together with a superb score by Georges Auric and you’d expect Silent Dust to be a classic. It isn’t, but it doesn’t fall so very far short. Among the flaws that hamper it are a few somewhat gauche transitions, as if the editing were done in a hurry, and Murray’s Yorkshire accent, which comes and goes unpredictably, as if sometimes he forgot. Overall, his performance is rather the odd one out: while the rest of the cast are fairly naturalistic (or as much so as you’d expect in a UK movie of this era), Murray delivers something far more attuned to the stage. This may very well have been by design, because—counterintuitively—in context it works very effectively, creating a distancing of him from the others that underscores the representation of his blindness.

Silent Dust - 6 The porteait of Max lours down on Ang and Max

Angela (Sally Gray) and Max (Derek Farr) have the portrait of Simon looming over them.

I found myself able to overlook the very minor blemishes—and I also found myself quite often genuinely moved. There’s the moment, for example, when Robert discovers—perhaps for the first time in his life?—what the meaning of love truly is when he realizes that Joan would rather have been bled of money for the rest of her life in the form of extortion payments to Simon than cause Robert the pain of finding out what a second-rate skunk his son is.

He has a lesson to learn from the elderly Lord Clandon, too—another father who has lost a son to war:

Clandon: Just a moment, Rawley. May I make a suggestion? When my son was killed, I hid away every picture of him in the house. If you do the same, I believe it’ll save you a lot of unhappiness.
Robert: I don’t need pictures to remind me, Clandon. I can’t see them, remember?
Clandon: Quite so. But other people can.

UK / 82 minutes / bw / ABPC, Independent Sovereign, Pathé Dir: Lance Comfort Pr: Nat A. Bronsten Scr: Michael Pertwee Story: The Paragon (1948 play) by Roland Pertwee and Michael Pertwee Cine: Wilkie Cooper Cast: Sally Gray, Stephen Murray, Derek Farr, Nigel Patrick, Beatrice Campbell, Seymour Hicks, Marie Lohr, Yvonne Owen, Maria Var, James Hayter, George Woodbridge, Edgar Norfolk, Irene Handl.

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Ewen Solon

 

 Ewen Solon was born on 7th September 1917 at Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand

The Terror of the Tongs
In his early days he did many different things including farming, working on dams, door to door selling, working on the Auckland wharves, cub-reporter/advertising with newspapers, assistant break-down bench-man and labourer Holts timber mill. He always said he was never particularly successful at any of these jobs but his happiest recollections were being at Holts timber mill.At the age of 20 Ewen joined the Napier Repertory Players, under the guidance of May MacDonald, in a play called ‘Stage Door’. Not a success but he now knew where his future lay.
Ewen then joined the A.E.W.S Drama group and in 1946 was given the first bursary by the NZ Government under the rehabilitation scheme for Royal Academy of Drama (RADA) in London. He completed the course mid 1947 and began a long and arduous effort to justify the bursary.
Napier Repertory Players
Ewen landed a small but interesting part in the play ‘Animal Kingdom by Philip Barry and went on tour for six weeks. He then came to London and joined the Robert Atkins company in Regents Park and got a part in the ‘Twelfth Night’ as ’Fabian’ and the ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ as ‘Demetrius’. After which he moved on and joined the Guildford Repertory company doing fortnightly productions as the leading man. He stayed with Guildford for about eighteen months which he described as “a most interesting and exciting developmental period”.
Following Guildford Repertory, Ewen had various stints in weekly rep all over England plus fortnightly and three-weekly rep at Nottingham and Oxford. One of the tours of the music halls was a disaster. It was a stage version of ‘Dick Barton’ (private agent). Ewen played the part of a musical conductor with a magic baton which shot bullets. One scene required him to go completely mad then collapse on stage. One night he knocked himself out on the grand piano and got carried off to a loud applause, the only applause ever given to the show!
Ewen in a picture taken in 1940
Ewen then decided to try and break back into the London scene. After a year of tramping around agents, casting-directors and managers etc., he managed to get a leading role in a small suburban theatre in Chepstow. The press was very encouraging and from that time on work started to become regular, where he received a variety of small parts, some good, some bad, which then led to films and ultimately television.What he considered to be his luckiest break, was when he met an Australian named Ian McCormick, who was producing his own play for the TV called ‘Act of Violence’. Ewen was given a part playing, guess what? – A Police Inspector in some Mid-European state.
Ian McCormick said he would one day write a play for him. While it was marvellous to hear and very good for Ewen’s ego, he never really believed it would happen, but six months later it did. A play called ‘Morning Near Troodos’, set in Cyprus. His part was a character directly resembling and representing ‘Grivas’ the EOKA leader. This play did him the world of good, both morale-wise and as an actor. The play incidentally was directed by Andrew Osborn, who was later to produce the Maigret series, and was responsible for Ewen being in the Maigret series.
Ewen in Maigret
Maigret was almost 4 years in the making, four batches of 13 stories, taking roughly a year to get each of the 13 episodes completed. It was all filmed on location in Paris and many people thought that Ewen was French! He did all his own stunts even breaking his leg during one enthusiastic chase! He did speak fluent French which no doubt added to his portrayal of Lucas.After Maigret he ventured back to the theatre with Macbeth at the Cheltenham Festival, Claudius for the Bristol Old Vic, and in the West End a new play called Golden River.
In 1967 he was given his own series by the BBC, Revenue Men, set against a background of Custom and Excise operations. This was filmed on location in Glasgow which he relished, again he did all his own stunts and particularly enjoyed driving his Sunbeam Tiger very fast around the city.
  
He joined The Stables an experimental theatre run by Granada Television to try and introduce the dimensions of live theatre to television. They produced some interesting plays and it was a starting point for lots of writers and actors. Ewen then returned to Australia to star in a television adaption of a D’Arcy Niland novel, ‘Dead Men Running” This led to other work in NZ and Australia and consequently he was working there for the next few years until he returned to UK in 1975.
Ewen with one of his dogs in 1969
During his absence the business had changed and it was hard re-establishing himself, but he persisted and television and film work started to come his way. He worked on some interesting films, particularly the Moustapha Akhad film ‘The Message’ the story of Mohammad. He enjoyed returning to Libya and was impressed by the changes he saw. He did a lot of theatre work, even a year in ‘The Mousetrap’. His last theatre work was a tour of the Far & Middle East with the touring theatre group put together by Derek Nimmo. He thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Ewen worked across the globe and starred with some of the greatest actors in the industry (in alphabetical order) such as – Anthony Quinn, Christopher Lee, Errol Flynn, Joan Collins, Oliver Reed, Peter Cushing, Richard Attenborough, Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum and many more. 
 Ewen played the part of one of the  ‘merrie man’ in Walt Disney’s live action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).
He was almost a part of that Englisg ‘stock’company of actors who appeared in the trilogy of Englis made Disnet Live Actions films which included The Sword and The Rose (1953) and Rob Roy The Highland Rogue (1954).
He  also appeared alongside Richard Todd who had of course played Robin Hood earlier, in the classic movie, The Dam Busters.


Ewen Solon in Robin Hood
Ewen Solon with some of the Merrie Men to the right of Friar Tuck


His big break came when he was cast as ‘Sergeant Lucas’ who was sidekick to Rupert Davies in TV’s Maigret (1959). Solon helped to add believability to the series because he was able to speak fluent French. 

 


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Aloma of the South Seas

I just love this style of Poster because it does what it is meant to do.  Introduces us to a South Sea Island Paradise that represented pure escapism for people in poorer times – and gave them at least 90 minutes of Colour,  Romance and Excitement. What more could anyone want !!

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I am not totally familiar with this film but I do know Beyond the Blue Horizon which again starred Dorothy Lamour but that time with Richard Denning in the lead role with her. Again it featured great Technicolor locations of the South Seas – although much of it was on studio sets – which I have to say were VERY good indeed.

This film was actually from 1941 but I couldn’t resist including it here – just looked so good on the Advertisement.

Jon Hall fits this type of film like a glove – indeed he had great difficulty ever escaping from it – but it must have provided a very good living over a number of years for him and his family.

ALOMA OF THE SOUTH SEAS - DVD TECHNICOLOR

The South Seas romance is set on the scenic island of Tahiti where the island chief betroths his son to a woman and then ships him to the US to attend Harvard. During the return voyage the lad is befriended by the ship’s captain who also protects the beautiful girl the boy meets, but doesn’t know he is supposed to marry. The two end up falling in love, even though the young man has sworn not to marry the girl his father picked out for him 15 years before

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Patricia Roc

With the death of Nancy Reagan the spotlight fell just a little on her husband Ronald Reagan’s girlfriends before the two of them got together- and one of those was Patricia Roc – An English actress who had gone over to Hollywood to appear in the film ‘Canyon Passage’

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Patricia Roc was born in Hampstead London. I have just purchased this biography of her and will no doubt report back when I have read more.

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Dads Army 2016

Dads Army 2016 MarchingI couldn’t resist posting this item after having seen the NEW Dads Army film -what a treat it is and I can heartily recommend everyone to go to your local cinema and see it.Captain Mainwaring

Went to see the new Dads Army film last evening – and what a film it was. Really really good with wonderful performances from a cast who had the task of taking over such well loved roles – but they did and did it well. Toby Jones had a very big part as Captain Mainwaring and he did a superb job as did Bill Nighy in the role of Sergeant Wilson. The rest were all good and Michael Gambon as Godfrey was near perfect. Bridlington stood in beautifully as the South Coast town of Walmington On Sea. The climatic scenes were thrilling with all the crashs and bangs and even there the humour shone through. I can recommend – in fact do recommend – that every fan of the original series goes to see this excellent film. At the very end you may be standing up cheering !!! I nearly was but managed to contain myself.

Catherine Zeta Jones= with Corporal JonesCatherine-Zeta-Jones-as-Rose-WintersDads Army  2016Dad Army - the final conflict

 

 

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