Archive for June, 2016

Whats On at your local cinema – 1952

This is a Cinema Programme from back in 1952 - from which we are able to see the variation of films on offer at that time. Cinema Programme 1952 One of the films showing was another Gregory Peck one – Only the Valiant.  Cinema programme 1952 A Only the Valiant is very well shot, and the black and white cinematography looks good.  I am not a huge Gregory Peck fan(I sometimes find him dull) but he does a good job as the ruthless  officer, and Barbara Payton is  pretty in the role of  Cathy. Ward Bond, Gig Young and Jeff Corey are much more impressive though.

Above – a scene from Only the Valiant

 

 

Also on the bill another Gregory Peck film Captain Horatio Hornblower.  This film has a great storyline (C.S.Forrester wrote the script from his novel) with good  acting from Gregory Peck and  Virginia Mayo, and a top rate supporting cast,  plus that beautiful ’50s Technicolor  and you can’t get much better than that.

 

 

Then we have a British made film -  Encore  ( above)  this follows “Quartet” and “Trio,” the first two collections of Somerset Maugham stories. This one has three stories. The first story, “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” has Nigel Patrick as a ne’er-do-well who mooches off his responsible brother. The second, “Winter Cruise,” is the amusing tale of a few men caught on a long cruise with a Chatty Kathy (Kay Walsh) who drives them crazy with her non-stop yapping. The final episode, “Gigolo and Gigolette,” stars Glynis Johns as a performer whose act consists of jumping 80 feet into a pool of burning water, but she starts to lose her nerves; it is the longest of the three with a  compelling  ending.

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Festival of Britain 1951

I have just acquired a very interesting item from the early 1950s.  It is a Programme for a FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN event in Maidenhead on 17 June 1951

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It is signed on the rear by Richard Todd the film actor – and his wife Catherine Todd – or Kitty as he called her.

The date of 17 June 1951 coincided with the time that Richard Todd was filming The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men at Denham Film Studios for Walt Disney  - and even more specific it was at the time when the filming of the famous quarter staff fight on the bridge between Robin Hood and Little John was being done on that wonderful studio set designed by Carmen Dillon. The reason I know this is that in Ricard Todd’s Autobiography ‘Caught in the Act’ he says that on his Birthday which was 11 June, this scene was being filmed and it would have gone on for some days I expect.

This is a  behind-the scenes picture of that very scene, with  Richard Todd (Robin Hood) and James Robertson Justice (Little John) with film director Ken Annakin.
 This magazine picture was taken at one of the massive sets at Denham Studios, during the filming of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952). We see them examining Richard Todd’s leather jerkin after the dramatic quarter-staff fight over the wooden bridge.
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Wayne Morris

This actor had a very distinguished war record followed by a pretty good career in films which was cut short by his sudden death at a very young age. In fact his film career had started well before the War but from 1941 he did not make any more until hostilities had ended and he was back in business.

Marksman LC

Wayne Morris
(February 17, 1914 – September 14, 1959)

Warner Archive have released on DVD quite a few Wayne Morris films. He gave tremendous service to his country during World War II — seven Japanese planes shot down, five ships sunk.

Above in The Marksman (1953), one of the Westerns Morris made for Allied Artists, which is part of Warner Archive’s Wayne Morris double feature.

One of his later appearances was in the TV Series Bat Masterson starring Gene Barry.

Warner Brothers star, Wayne Morris in he 1930s

He can be seen playing alongside Bette Davis as a boxer in “Kid Galahad”   (1937) or a cadet running amok at the Virginia Military Institute in “Brother Rat.”

Wayne Morris may not be a name you’re familiar with but you have most likely seen the husky, affable blond in Warner Brothers 1930s and 1940s films.

But you may not be familiar with Morris’ war time record.
We frequently hear about Hollywood actors such as James Stewart, Clark Gable and Mickey Rooney who enlisted and were decorated for their bravery during World War II.

However, Wayne Morris is rarely recognised for his service and was one of World War II’s first flying aces.

His interest in flying started in Hollywood.

While filming “Flying Angles” (1940) with Jane Wyman and Dennis Morgan, Morris learned how to fly a plane.

Morris in 1944 in his plane "Meatball." The decals show how many Japanese planes he shot down.

Once World War II began, Morris joined the Naval Reserve and became a Naval flier in 1942 on the U.S.S. Essex. He put his career on hold to fight. The same year he was married to Olympic swimmer Patricia O’Rourke.

“Every time they showed a picture aboard the Essex, I was scared to death it would be one of mine,” Morris said. “That’s something I could never have lived down.”

Morris flew 57 missions-while some actors only flew 20 or less- and made seven kills, which qualified him as an ace.  He also helped sink five enemy ships.

He originally was told he was too big to fly fighter planes until he went to his uncle-in-law, Cdr. David McCampbell who wrote him a letter, allowing him to fly the VF-15, according to “McCampbell’s Heroes: the Story of the U.S. Navy’s Most Celebrated Carrier Fighter of the Pacific”, Edwin P. Hoyt.

Three of his planes were so badly damaged by enemy fire that they were deemed unfit to fly and were dumped in the ocean, according to IMDB.

“As to what a fellow thinks when he’s scared, I guess it’s the same with anyone. You get fleeting glimpses in your mind of your home, your wife, the baby you want to see,” Morris said. “You see so clearly all the mistakes you made. You want another chance to correct those mistakes. You wonder how you could have attached so much importance to ridiculous, meaningless things in your life. But before you get to thinking too much, you’re off into action and everything else is forgotten.”

For his duty, Morris was honoured with four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals.

When he returned to Hollywood after four year at war, his once promising career floundered and Warner Brothers did not allow him to act for a year.

Jack Warner welcoming actors home from the war in 1945 including Wayne Morris, Ronald Reagan, Army Air Forces; Jack Warner; Gig Young, Coast Guard; and Harry Lewis, Army.

Morris’s most notable post-war films include “The Voice of the Turtle,”John Loves Mary and “Paths of Glory.” His career ended with several B-westerns.

At the age of 45, Morris passed away in 1959 from a massive heart attack.

But his service to his country was not forgotten. Morris is buried in Arlington Cemetery and was given full military honors at his funeral.

Morris with his wife Patricia and daughter Pamela in 1946.

Before he started out in Hollywood, he played football at Los Angeles Junior College and worked as a forest ranger.

 

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The Admirable Chrichton 1956

The Admirable Crichton ( 1957 )

Lewis Gilbert’s version of The Admirable Crichton is a handsome adaptation of one of J.M Barrie’s most popular plays which, although often referred to as a “satire”, was more than likely Barrie’s way of disguising his gentle assault on the British class system. It’s also a rather unabashed look at the utter helplessness the uppercrust have when they are thrust in a commonplace situation, or in this case, an un-commonplace situation. 

Lord Loam ( Cecil Parker ) is the father of three young women, each about to be betrothed. Loam is a just man – one of those easily swayed lords of the English realm. He fancies that he desires equality as much as the average working class gent…and he does, to a point. In fact, it is his embarrassing “servant’s tea party” that leads him to embark on a yachting voyage to the South Seas, along with his daughters, their suitors and the ship’s staff. 

When a spot of inclement weather frightens the crew into bailing, the passengers are left floating in a lifeboat in the mid-Pacific to fend for themselves. Thankfully, their unflappable manservant Crichton ( Kenneth More ) and a servant girl ( Diane Cilento ) are dunked overboard with them….and it is Crichton who turns out to be their savior with his resourcefulness when they are marooned on a deserted island. As the toffs accustom themselves to island life they find a new social order emerging. The tables are reversed as Crichton becomes the lord of the land and they the servants; but when a passing ship comes to their rescue, Crichton must decide if they are to remain islanders or each return to their previous status. 


The Admirable Crichton, released as Paradise Lagoon stateside, was the first color adaptation of Barrie’s beloved 1902 play, but not the first filming. There was G.B Samuelson’s 1918 silent version, Cecil B.DeMille’s lengthy 1919 retelling ( Male and Female starring Gloria Swanson ) and Paramount’s Yankeefied take on the story, We’re Not Dressing, released in 1934 and starring Bing Crosby and Miriam Hopkins. 

Lewis Gilbert displays a masterful hand at putting the shipwreck satire to film and Wilkie Cooper obviously delighted in photographing the island paradise, which the play could only suggest. His sumptuous Technicolor photography gave reason enough for Brits to leave their flats to see the film. 

The rich blue waters of Bermuda subbed for the unnamed South Seas island and a couple of well-placed artificial palms added to its appeal. The island sets are quite clever and were a precursor to the familiar bamboo sets of Gilligan’s Island during the 1960s. 

It is really Britain’s everyman, Kenneth More, however, who steals the show and makes this his own film. More isn’t ones ideal image of a heartthrob that three gals would be pining over, but on a deserted island he takes on the appeal of a hero and his good points do indeed shine through. 

The always lovely Sally Ann Howes portrays the beautiful Mary, eldest daughter of the Loams, who finds she has lost her heart to her butler. Sally Ann Howes always seems to be running along a beach, but this time, alas, she is not singing “Truly Scrumptious”. Cecil Parker is marvelous as Lord Loam; Diane Cilento ( Mrs. Sean Connery at the time ) plays the cockney Eliza, not unlike Eliza Dolittle; and Martita Hunt, Jack Watling, Peter Graves, Gerald Harper, Mercy Haystead and Miranda Connell round out the cast. 

The Admirable Crichton is a very entertaining and underrated little gem that has been cast adrift by the critics. It is hard to imagine watching this story unfold within the confines of a stage. It certainly was a tale meant to be filmed in Technicolor. 


Although Barrie attempted to write a comical study of the folly of civilization’s class system, he left The Admirable Crichton without a moral. What comes through in this film however, is that the poor class have as much, if not more snobbery, than the rich. It is Mary who desires to remain on the island married to Crichton and living the blissful life of a pair of castaways but Crichton is stubbornly proud of his “position” and fails to conceive how the daughter of his employer can love him for himself when the setting is changed. In short, he behaves like an utter ass. 

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