Archive for January, 2018

Richard Todd at Home

Following yesterday’s article  on Joan Rice, we now feature none other than Robin Hood himself, namely Richard Todd – very popular film actor of the fifties, both here in Britain and the USA, where he had scored such a hit with The Hasty Heart.

However Walt Disney was to change the style of things when in 1951 he cast him as Robin Hood – a film made here in England at Denham Film Studios – and later in The Sword and The Rose and then Rob Roy The Highland Rogue.

Richard Todd at Home

This picture must have been taken during the filming of Rob Roy as Richard was sporting a beard for the part, so that would date the picture to the spring or early summer of 1953 I reckon.  The caption says that the picture was taken in the garden of his home in Maidenhead – in fact he lived at Pinkneys Green - just outside the town at the time.    His son  Peter was born on 30 th June 1952,  the year of the release on The Story of Robin Hood and Rob Roy was filmed early spring of 1953, so Peter would be just under a year old here. This garden was at Wayside House, Pinkneys Green and the dog is ‘Baron’

Richard Todd takes us on a filmed tour of Wayside House in 1957, and from what he says in the newsreel,  later that day he was going to see the local Vicar to organise his daughter, Fiona’s Christening.   In the film we see his son Peter speed past in a toy car.

He does say also though that they are selling Wayside House and would be moving to Haileywood House, Shiplake where he would become a Dairy Farmer of some repute. His film career at this time was it it’s peak.

Christening. See Below :

Richard Todd and his Wife Catherine, had purchased Wayside House in Pinkneys Green,  and moved in at the end of September 1950. I have included the pictures below, which I did include in an earlier article.

Richard Todd and his Wife - Wayside HouseWayside House

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Joan Rice

Here is an interesting Advertisement of the day – from the ILLUSTRATED Magazine of  August 18th 1951.

Joan Rice August 1951 Advertisement 2

This would appear at the time that  Joan Rice was filming  The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men at Denham Film Studios for Walt Disney – although looking at it again, maybe by that date the shooting was completed.

I have to say that this is a lovely picture they have used in the Advertisement. She was a beautiful girl – and no wonder none other than Walt Disney personally chose her to be  Maid Marian in that wonderful film version he made here in England.

The Film starred Richard Todd as Robin Hood

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The Holly and the Ivy 1952


I have viewed this film again this morning – and I seem to love it more each time I see it. It has to be accepted though that this is really a stage play – and a very good one at that.  The Holly and the Ivy 1952 -  is  set at Christmas-time when traditionally families get together and it is this getting together that exposes the flaws in the relationships of the various members and their wives and husbands who come back to the Norfolk Vicarage.

The Film stars Ralph Richardson, Celia Johnson, Denholm Elliott, Margaret Leighton, Hugh Williams, Margaret Halstan and Maureen Delaney.

The Holly and the Ivy 8The Holly and the Ivy 9The Holly and the Ivy 10

Wyndenham 1951

The Holly and the Ivy is set in the little village of Wyndenham in Norfolk where Ralph Richardson played the local vicar.

Ceilia Johnson 1952 The Holly and the IvyCelia Johnson – above in one of the opening scenes of the film

Rev. Martin Gregory’s (Ralph Richardson) wife recently died and his daughter Jenny (Celia Johnson) cares for him at the Vicarage. Jenny sends letters to her brother Michael (Denholm Elliott), sister Margaret (Margaret Leighton), cousin Richard (Hugh Williams) and aunts Lydia and Bridget (Halstan, Delaney), inviting them to their home for the holiday.

Jenny is the only child of the reverend who lives at home, and she feels she can’t leave him. But on Christmas Eve she learns that her fiancé David (John Gregson) is being transferred to South America for his job. David tells Jenny that he told his job he would be bringing a wife, but she doesn’t feel she can marry and leave her father. She wishes her younger sister Margaret would leave the city, where she works as a fashion writer, and live at home. But Jenny isn’t even sure Margaret will come home for Christmas.

As each family member arrives home, they bring their problems. Michael is in the Army and lies his way to get leave so he can go home. Aunt Lydia is a grand, wistful, and dreamy woman who has been a widow for 30 years, but talks of her deceased husband constantly. In stark contrast, Aunt Bridget is crabby and constantly criticising everyone. Bridget never married, because she spent her life caring for her mother.

Margaret arrives late on Christmas Eve and is deeply troubled by loss she experienced during and after World War II. She masks her pain by drinking and only confides in Jenny. Margaret doesn’t feel that she can divulge her sins to her father because he is a holy man. Michael and Margaret feel that they will be judged by their father.

Set on the snowy English countryside, “The Holly and the Ivy” (1952) has a cozy, warm feel to it.

Ralph Richardson was only 50 when he played the elderly father and vicar,  but as with all his roles, he does a wonderful job.

There is one scene – shown below, and rather a tense scene at that, where Denholm Elliott talks to he father Ralph Richardson. They are in close to the front window and as Denholm Elliott telsl his father that no-one in the family seems able to talk to him freely about their problems, his father walks behind the Christmas tree and talks from there  - so that when he delivers those serious lines we are not seeing him at all – just the decorated Christmas tree.  It is very effective and something I have never seen done before – or since – and I still can’t quite get it although I love it. See Below :-

The Holly and the Ivy 1

The Holly and the Ivy 2Above – Denholm Elliott talks frankly to his father.

The Holly and the Ivy 3

Above: His father listens and responds – but he is shown on camera obscured behind the decorated Christmas Tree.

The Holly and the Ivy 4

They continue their discussions as now they are both in shot – what a wonderful scene this is.


The film begins with a sweeping tune of “The Holly and the Ivy” over the credits. It opens with children with their faces pressed to the glass of toy-filled storefronts and turkeys hanging at the butcher. We later  see Jenny decorating her home with holly and streamers and setting the Nativity scene in the church as a children’s choir sings “The Holly and the Ivy.”

Jenny (Celia Johnson) and David (John Gregson) decorate the parsonage “as they always do.”

Even the Reverend says he hates Christmas, because it focuses more on drinking and commercialism and “No one remembers the birth of Christ.” He also hates giving his Christmas sermon, because he knows everyone is fidgeting and “wanting to get home to baste their turkeys.”

The Holly and the Ivy 5The Holly and the Ivy 6The Holly and the Ivy 7

Above: Margaret Leighton as Margaret in The Holly and the Ivy (1952) with John Gregson. Towards the end of the film.

Celia Johnson’s character of Jenny is the calm, homespun and responsible daughter who is concerned for the family. Margaret Leighton’s character of Margaret is hard, bitter and emotional. Jenny asks Margaret, “Why must you crackle like ice?” But despite her icy exterior, Leighton does a good job of exhibiting that pain she’s trying to mask. Denholm Elliott’s Michael doesn’t seem to take life too seriously.

While the film is largely a drama, the aunts played by Margaret Halstan and Maureen Delaney are the comic relief. Delaney’s character of Aunt Bridget is always snapping: fussing around, and wants to leave when Michael comes home drunk on Christmas Eve. Aunt Lydia dreamily talks about the past and and Jenny’s love life; describing everything poetically.

“The Holly and the Ivy” originated as a play by Wynyard Browne, which premiered on London’s West End at the Duchess Theatre in 1950. Browne based the play on his own family members. Maureen Delaney and Margaret Halsan are the only actors who were in both the play and the film.

During this time, producer Alexander Korda was bringing successful stage plays to the screen—including this one. The others Korda produced were Home at Seven (or Murder on Monday) (1952), Who Goes There (or The Passionate Sentry) (1952), and The Ringer (1952).

The Film was released on Dec. 22, 1952, in the United Kingdom, but wasn’t released in the United States until February 1954.

The Holly and the Ivy” isn’t your standard, bright Christmas film, it is still lovely and hopeful despite the problems of its characters. It’s a good film that moves along quite quickly – and it is a film I like very much. Each time I see it, I like it more !!


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Victor Mature and Jean Simmons

These are two top film stars of the era who starred  together in such films as ;-

Androcles and the Lion, The Robe, Affair with a Stranger and The Egyptian.


Victor Mature remains one of my favourite film actors and Jean Simmons adorns any film that she was in. Very beautiful she was. I think of The Blue Lagoon and So Long at The Fair

Jean Simmons

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Cars of the Stars

I featured some Cars owned by British Film Stars a few weeks ago – and now I have come across some more that might be interesting.

Cars of the Stars

This on shows a Ford Zephyr Zodiac  from  around 1956  owned by Sheila Sim who, as we know was married to Richard Attenborough.

She is pictured above talking to Denholm Elliott, during the filming of ‘The Night My Number Came Up’

Below we have what is described as ‘ Probably the keenest among British Women Stars is Susan Stephens. One day, she hopes to compete in the Monte Carlo Rally. Her choice of car – a Red Jaguar.

Cars of the Stars 2

I wonder if she ever find compete in the Monte Carlo Rally ?  I will try to find out.

The above pictures are taken from the Film Annual – Preview of 1956

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London Film Premier – Because Your Mine 1952

The Queen and Princess Margaret, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, went to the Royal Film Performance at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square. The Royal party was received by Mr Reginald Bromhead before being presented to a galaxy of film personalities and stars.

Film Premiere

This was the first film Premier that The Queen had attended since her accession to the throne.

Film Premiere 2

The music and Mario Lanza’s singing are particularly good here. The operatic excerpts from Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, L’Africaine and Cavalleria Rusticana are masterpieces in themselves, and there’s also a great rendition of Granada, the charming duet Because You’re Mine and the welcome reappearance of Be My Love. Lanza is in sensational voice.

Because You’re Mine looks wonderful, being shot in glorious Technicolor while the sets are colourful.  In supporting roles, a very funny and charming James Whitmore and sparkling Spring Byington stand out.

Doretta Morrow, apart from singing beautifully, is a less-than-winning partner for Lanza.   Apparently she and Mario Lanza did not get on at all well.

The film though was well received and well liked.

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Roy Rogers at Christmas

I don’t know when this pictures would have been taken – with such a Christmas feel to it as Roy sings Christmas Carols. Roy Rogers at Christmas TimeMaybe this was taken in the late forties or early fifties but by then he was a very established star – although on looking again, Roy seems a bit older so this could have been around the early to mid fifties.

One thing I often think underlines his place in films,  is that when he appeared in Son of Paleface in 1952 he actually shared star billing alongside Bob Hope and Jane Russell – so at that time he was not second billed to anyone.

I couldn’t resist including below a great Matte shot from Son of Paleface – I just love the technique :-

Son of Paleface - a great matte shot

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Come Next Spring 1956 in Trucolor

Recently we did a Post on TruColor which was the process used by Republic Pictures – and this film came from that Studio, and is in  TruColor.

It is billed as ‘The Warmest, Happiest, most Wonderful Picture Ever !

Come Next Spring 1956

This would be one of the last from Republic – and one of the last in  TruColor.

Come Next Spring 1956 Video

Come Next Spring 1956 Video 2

This exceptionally effective and emotional small film is one of Republic’s very best, and one of their last that was creatively and carefully produced as the studio died. In lovely-odd storybook Tru-colour that really suits, and with an excellent cast, especially the always gorgeous Anne Sheridan and Steve Cochran COME NEXT SPRING with its Max Steiner Score, and Tony Bennett theme song has remained unloved an unappreciated for far too long.   Apparently Martin Scorsese puts it forward as being an influence to him in that he thought that it should be studied by film makers to see how well a small budget with love and care can result in an excellent tough, real, romantic family drama.

The real and crumbling backwoods town they all vist in one scene is probably as close to real surviving 1920s small Town America as we would ever genuinely see. Look for this film and get settled and enjoy it.

Come Next Spring 1956 2

The Above is a Still from film – Still features Ann Sheridan, Steve Cochran, Sherry Jackson and Richard Eyer.

For some reason whenever I hear the word ‘Spring’ I inevitably think of this film – ‘Come Next Spring’ which I remember.  I thought Ann Sheridan & Steve Cochran were near the end of their careers and this was their swansong and did they know how to capture the whole essence of a small town community going through a crisis. It is warm, gentle and has a loving nature running all through it as though they all knew that the studio was near the end like a lot of the cast in their careers.

Filmed in True Color and produced by Steve Cochran’s  own Robert Alexander Productions, Come Next Spring  was released by Republic Pictures in 1956.

With locations shot in Sacramento, the Film was set in rural Arkansas during the 1920s. Steve Cochran playing Matt Ballot returning home after some years of heavy drinking. Considered a disgrace by the local community, he finds himself struggling to win the love of his wife  Anne Sheridan and children.

Little Rock was chosen for the premiere on February 1, 1956.

Steve Cochran making a guest appearance, signing autographs:

A square dance, in front of the theatre, as part of world premiere:

The location of the above photograph is not definitely known.

Steve Cochran had formed his own independent Production Company in 1955, called Robert Alexander Productions (his birth name was Robert Alexander Cochran)

In 1950, while working together on Warner Brothers’ “THE LION AND THE HORSE”, Sherry Jackson introduced her young widowed mother to writer Montgomery Pittman, Steve Cochran’s best friend.(Sherry Jackson’s father was killed in an automobile accident in 1948.) This meeting between Pittman and Jackson’s mother culminated in their marriage two years later, with Steve Cochran acting as best man for his friend Pittman.

In 1955, Montgomery Pittman turned his writing talent to providing a challenging vehicle for his vastly-talented young step-daughter and came up with COME NEXT SPRING. Steve Cochran bought the story for his just-formed Robert Alexander Productions.

Steve Cochran then SOLD it to Republic Pictures Corporation, for an undisclosed amount of money…plus the proviso that he would star in the film and Sherry Jackson would play the role of Annie Ballott. Republic agreed to the terms, laid out the money… and Robert Alexander Productions and erstwhile-producer Steve Cochran made a graceful exit, while (uncredited)Republic staff took over the production of this now-recognised great film, directed by  R. G. Springsteen.

Film Director “Bud” Springsteen did himself proud. – maybe it was because Montgomery Pittman was standing near-by =- who knows !!


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Dark Waters – Merle Oberon

I always liked this film – and in fact it was one of the first I ever bought on VHS Video – which I still have – as pictured below.

Dark Waters - Merle Oberon

It is a tense drama – and one you suspect you know what is happening but are never sure.

The Dark Waters of the Bayou are the setting for this mysterious thriller.

A young woman , Merle Oberon, is the sole surviving member of a family whose boat was torpedoed by the Nazis. Alone in the World, she arrives at her Aunt and Uncles mansion in the lugubrious swamps in the deep South of America, and then her troubles really start.

All devotees of spooky horror stories will revel in the pleasures to be found here. The Question is – Dare you take the plunge into these Dark Waters … ?

Dark Waters - Merle Oberon 2

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