Archive for April, 2019

Filming those Scenes

  I love to see how these films are made and this series of pictures from the very early fifties gives us an insight,

 

Whilst I know the Scrooge film which is an absolute classic – and to me by far the best version – you just could not follow Alistair Sim   -  I am not at all familiar with the other two films ‘No Resting Place’ and ‘The Womans Angle’ and dontb think I have ever seen them – nor even until recently not known of them

Filming Scrooge 1951

ABOVE  Preparing a scene that we all know.  The brilliant Alistair Sim as Scrooge – towards the end of the film when Scrooge has just become kind and generous following his meetings with the Ghost of Christmas Past – and the one that he feared the most – The Ghost of Christmas to come

Filming No Resting Place in Ireland

 

A rare starring role from Michael Gough in ‘No Resting Place’ – as an Irish tinker who having accidentally killed a gamekeeper is pursued by a policeman nearing retirement – shot  on location in Ireland, good. Worth seeing for Michael Gough fans, and the good location photography in Ireland

 

Filming No Resting Place in Ireland 2 

ABOVE - Michael Gough in ‘No Resting Place’ -

Filming The Womans Angle 1951

 

Filming The Womans Angle 1952 – BELOW Edward Underdown starred in the long forgotten drama directed by Leslie Arliss.

American actress Cathy O’Donnell also has a leading role  and Anton Diffring  is seen briefly as an Alpine dancer, looking as if he’s thoroughly enjoying himself.

In one review of this film there was a quote as follows :- Great as it is to see lots more British films of this vintage becoming available, in this case it is no surprise it languished unseen and forgotten for sixty years.

 

Filming The Womans Angle 1951 2

Filming The Womans Angle 1952 – BELOW with rear projection and Edward Underdown looking suitably bored.

  Filming The Womans Angle 1951 3

Filming The Womans Angle 1952 – again BELOW

Filming The Womans Angle 1951 4

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The Mighty Zarak – 1956 with Victor Mature

 

The film Zarak was at the time billed on posters as ‘The Mighty Zarak’ – very impressive to us youngsters at the time.

The Mighty Zarak

My Dad loved Victor Mature in films and I remember him  going to see this one – and he was not disappointed.

However what would have troubled him was to read Margaret Hinxman’s review in Picture-goer on 12 January 195- where she gives this film ‘an award for absurdity’.  

She goes on the say ‘This must be seen to be believed. It’s may favourite awful film for years. Everyone involved should get an award for absurdity’  

 

Zarak

However many of others reviews I see  give the film a much better time – it may be better with age. Victor Mature stars as the title character in Zarak.  It’s the story of the eldest son of a clan chief who betrays his father with the father’s youngest bride played by the Swedish Anita Ekberg.  

 

Zarak 2

After being banished from the tribe for this deed,  Zarak  – Victor Mature – becomes a bandit chief and the scourge of the territory.  Michael Wilding is sent to bring in Zarak dead or alive, but other tribes are starting to get restless.

Finlay Currie plays a mullah who seems to come  in and out of the film at key points  He’s quite the saintly figure.

Good action film that fans of Victor Mature  ( and I am one of them ) will appreciate.

Irving Allen and Albert Broccoli’s Warwick Productions made the film in London and North Africa for Columbia to distribute – and it did quite well at the Box Office. Victor Mature had just finished Safari for Warwick Productions when he made this one. 

I really enjoyed Safari and thought the production values were very high for that one – it was also entertaining. Soon after Zarak,  Victor Mature and Anita Ekberg were again cast together – this time in ‘Interpol’ – once again for Warwick Produtions and again on location and at Elstree Studios in England

 

Anita Ekberg and Anthony Steele

Anita Ekberg had in 1956 married British Film Star Anthony Steele

 

Interpol  

ABOVE : Victor Mature and Anita Ekberg were again cast together - in ‘Interpol’

Soon after this Victor Mature was in England – again for Warwick Productions to make that film beloved of all commercial vehicle enthusiasts - The Long Haul’ with Diana Dors and later still in England for ‘The Bandit of Zhobe’

After that, back to the USA for a big film – The Big Circus’ with a very good cast indeed with 

Red ButtonsRhonda FlemingKathryn GrantVincent PriceGilbert Roland   and Peter Lorre

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Tarzans Savage Fury 1952 – Lex Barker

 

A good Tarzan adventure film, with  Lex Barker in the title role.  Lex Barker does and did a great job as  Tarzan because he just looked the part, and was athletic enough to cope with the demands of this role in five films –  I wish he had stayed longer as Tarzan  though.

 

Lex Barker as Tarzan 1952

 

These Tarzan films with Lex Barker had pretty good budgets so looked very good on the Cinema Screen First-class actress Dorothy Hart is lovely as Jane and does most of the real acting here. She was a truly gifted actress who soon left film land  for roles in prestigious television productions and other activities that she found far more fulfilling – eventually working for the United Nations

 

BELOW – Dorothy Hart with Lex Barker – Tarzans Savage Fury 1952

Dorothy Hart Lex Barker with Tommy Carlton in Tarzans Savage Fury

There is also a  boy character well played by Tommy Carlton -m ABOVE with Lex Barker – and BELOW with a friend on the set of the film.

Tommy Carleton

Patrick Knowles does a great job as the villain of the piece.      BELOW

 

Patric KnowlesTarzans Savage Fury 1952

 

Tarzan’s Savage Fury was one of the only Tarzan films to make reference Tarzan’s  background –  Tarzan being the Earl of Greystoke.  In this story the cousin Greystoke played by Patric Knowles is an imposter who with his guide Charles Korvin comes to see  Tarzan.

 

The real Greystoke has  been killed at the beginning of the film and Patric Knowles takes his place.   The object is to gain access through Tarzan,  to a tribe which has a fortune in diamonds which they use in their  religious ceremonies. The cast throughout is good.

 

This film is well worth watching for the action and physicality that Lex Barker brings to the Tarzan role, and also for Dorothy Hart’s luminous presence and fine acting.

Tarzans Savage Fury 1952 B

 

Here in England at the time, was a Television programme Picture Parade on BBC Television  – in the very early days of Television,  which reviewed new cinema releases. Peter Haigh worked hard to make it popular and included  interviews with the likes of John Wayne, Anna Neagle and Joan Crawford.

 

However I do remember him reviewing this film and showing clips from it one night- and as a small boy to see these scenes from a new and exciting Tarzan film was thrilling – I remember it to this day – and even the clip of film which had Tarzan swimming across a river. 

 

We would not have had our Television set long at the time of the film release – so maybe it is one of my earliest television memories. That of course would be viewed on a 14 inch screen but somehow we just loved it.

Peter Haigh

Peter Haigh was replaced in 1962 and went to live in Portugal, where he opened a waterside restaurant. In 1957, he had married the Rank starlet Jill Adams. They had a daughter before they separated.

I remember Jill Adams in The Green Man

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Easter Parade

 

In this film you have top say – just look at the Technicolor – Those Technicolor films in the ’40s and 50s were beautiful, as this one certainly is.

Easter Parade

 

For entertainment, you get Fred Astaire dancing, Judy Garland singing, Ann Miller dancing, and Peter Lawford singing. I didn’t know that Peter Lawford could sing, but he’s not bad in this one.

 

Fred Astaire and Ann Miller

 

Fred Astaire consistently amazed audiences with his innovative dance routines and smooth style. He does a number here in a toy store that is really something!   Ann Miller – another wonderful dancer – also gives us a good tap number and Judy Garland’s songs are all winners.

 

Fred Astaire and Judy Garland

 

“Easter Parade” is definitely one of the best musicals ever produced by MGM

The Film features over 16 songs by Irving Berlin and with a good story too

 

Judy Garland in Easter Parade

 

The story is about a famous dancer, played by Fred Astaire, who tries to build a new act with an inexperienced chorus girl whom he discovers (Judy Garland), after his former partner ( Ann Miller) leaves him to pursue a solo career. Of course, romantic complications enter the fray as well as both personal and professional jealousies

 

Easter Parade 2

 

Peter Lawford and Judy Garland

 

There are plenty of opportunities for each of the stars to show off their singing and dancing in almost iconic numbers like “Steppin’ Out with My Baby”, “Shakin’ the Blues Away”, and “A Couple of Swells”

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North West Frontier 1959

Now this was a real boys-own adventure film – and how good it was too. Set in India and filmed in Widescreen and Colour we were transported across India by a train

North West Frontier 1959

 

North West Frontier  is a suspenseful epic about smuggling a boy prince out of India’s north western province to safety , after his father, the Rajah, is killed in a massive uprising.  English army officer Captain Scott played by Kenneth More  is given last-minute orders to bring the boy out in safety.

Most of the English population of the area fled prior to the uprising and only the Governor ( Wilfred Hyde-White ), his wife ( Ursula Jeans ), the prince’s American governess ( Lauren Bacall ), a Dutch/Indian news reporter ( Herbert Lom ) and a French gun dealer ( I.S. Johar ) remain, all of whom ask for Captain Scott’s assistance in their flight for safety. 

The only means of train transportation left at his disposal is an old steam locomotive – Victoria, the Empress of India. Very much a Star of the Film also

The Little Train comes under fire

 

The Train and Kenneth More under Fire

Gupta, the engineer of the locomotive has great faith in “his fine lady”, and assures the Captain that Victoria will be suitable for the mission.

When the film was released in the UK, Kenneth More received top billing for his performance as the Captain but on  the USA release, he was second billed to Lauren Bacall.  Lauren Bacall  is excellent as usual and perfectly suited as the head-strong American woman who likes to speak her mind, and who slowly falls in love with the storybook correct Captain Scott.

Lauren Bacall and Ursual Jeans with the young Prince

 

Lauren Bacall and Ursual Jeans on the train

 

North West Frontier seems to be a highly under-rated adventure film possibly because  it is rarely seen on television – however that was remedied today on Talking Pictures

Yes this is British Cinema at it`s best, a rousing picture with all the right ingredients, lots of ‘goodies’, a real ‘baddie’, and a dashing hero, with a fiesty female lead in the form of Lauren Bacall.

 

Kenneth More and I.S. Johar

 

Kenneth More and I.S. Johar 2

 

Kenneth More and I.S. Johar 3

 

Kenneth More is as always top rate, but it is the wonderful  I.S.Johor who steals the show  as the train driver. He is just brilliant.

 

I S Johar

ABOVE  I.S.Johar

Wilfred Hyde White is well cast as  the British Diplomat, and Herbert Lom as as bad a baddie as you would ever want to see.

Kenneth More chats with Lauren Bacall on the Footplate

ABOBE – Lauren Bacall chats to Kenneth More on the Footplate of Victoria, the Empress of India as the train transports them across India to safety

 

Herbert Lom - North West Frontier

 Herbert Lom as as bad a baddie as you would ever want to see.

Wilfrid Hyde White

And Wilfrid Hyde White in sparkling form as the Governor- played in typically English style by him

This is a Film well worth catching up on – it is quite absorbing and when the journey gets under way it is really All Out Action

 

 

 

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Victor Mature in The Robe 1953

 

This was a big film – and went equally big at the Box Office.   I remember my Father taking us to see it on the huge Cinemascope Screen – with Stereophonic Sound – and it did not disappoint in any way. Tremendous Film.

 

Richard Burton spoke very highly of Victor Mature calling him a ‘wonderful man’ – and I have to say that he lifted the acting honours with his convincing performance.

He was a very good film actor.  He was also well loved by film producers – the reason for that was that when he was in a film it usually made money and that tends to add a sparkle to the eyes of such people.

 

Victor Mature in The Robe 2

Victor Mature in The Robe

Victore Mature in The Robe

 

Victor Mature in The Robe with Richard Burton

 

The Robe 4

 

Victor Mature in The Robe

The Robe

 

The Alfred Newman music from  the film – a record release.

 

The Robe 3

The Robe 2

 

Interesting item above which I spotted for sale  - at this time and later, it was possible to buy 8 mm home movies with scenes straight from the film.  I have one of Treasure Island and one of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men – both from Walt Disney – but I have not got this one.

These were  only  short films of maybe 5 to 10 minutes with selected scenes and with no sound on some of them. I don’t think the two Walt Disney films I have , have any sound.

I think they were distributed by Castle Films

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Rita Hayworth – Gilda

 

Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

Rita Hayworth 2

 

 

Rita Hayworth also made films such as   Only Angels Have Wings and The Strawberry Blonde.

The Lady From Shanghai – for which ex-husband Orson Welles hacked off her flame-red hair then bleached the remnants platinum blonde – was the film  in which she was at her most heartbreakingly beautiful.

Rita Hayworth was one of the USA s most beloved stars. Glamorous and talented, she gaves many wonderful moments on stage and screen and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl. In her later years, Rita became known for her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

She died in 1987

She had been born in New York and died in New York

Separate Tables

I will remember her for being in Separate Tables – from the Terence Rattigan play

Separate Tables 2

 

Separate Tables 3

 

 

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Drum Beat 1954 with Alan Ladd

 

Drum Beat 3

First I must say that I have acquired the Above picture and film title picture – and now I have posted it here,  I am pretty sure that – looking closely at it – the actual shot is from ‘The Last Wagon’   – and that is  Richard Widmark in the foreground aiming the rifle

Drum Beat was Written and Directed by Delmer Daves

CAST: Alan Ladd (Johnny Mckay), Audrey Dalton (Nancy Meek), Marisa Pavan (Toby), Robert Keith (Bill Satterwhite), Charles Bronson (Captain Jack)

Not long after Shane (1953), Alan Ladd left Paramount, the studio that made him a star, and launched his independent company, Jaguar Productions.

Drum Beat

This was their first film.  Here Alan Ladd plays an Indian fighter recruited by President Grant to find a way to peace with the Modoc.

However the tribe wants peace, but a chief named Captain Jack (Charles Bronson) and his band of renegades are causing problems and despite repeated attempts for a peaceful resolution that does not happen, and consequently we get a very exciting end to the film.

 

$_57-17

My job is to protect the wagon train. When somebody shoots at my people, I shoot back.”
— Alan Ladd

Alan Ladd and Delmer Daves  shot Drum Beat in Warnercolor and CinemaScope. As with Cinemascope at that time, they avoided close-ups, went for long takes whenever possible, and gave us lots of gorgeous vistas of Sonora, Arizona, and the Coconino National Forest.

Drum Beat 2

Delmer Daves always showed off the landscape in his Westerns,  making each setting an essential element of the film, and none more so than in Drum  Beat – my own view is that in this respect ‘The Last Wagon’ made a couple of years later showed the scenery at least as well.

Drum Beat 4

Charles Bronson makes quite an impression as Captain Jack in his first film under his new name (it had been Buchinsky, which was considered too Russian-sounding at the time).

This is a really good film, and a real treat in widescreen

Drum Beat 5

 

Alan Ladd ABOVE with Audrey Dalton

Alan Ladd and Delmer Daves reunited for The Badlanders (1958), also available from Warner Archive.

Drum Beat 6

Alan Ladd  with Marisa Pavan who plays an Indian maiden – also keen on Alan  Ladd.

This western is one of Alan Ladd’s best films - he is the peace commissioner turned Indian fighter who finally brings peace in the far west. The film is based on factual events as Modoc boss Captain Jack ignores repeated overtures for peace and leaves the cavalry no choice but to resort to arms to stop the killing and outrages.

 

Alan Ladd and Charles Bronson, the Indian leader Captain Jack, make fine adversaries and the film has lots of action and beautiful scenery.

 

A great cast of western favorites are in this film and Alan Ladd even has a moment or two to hold pretty Audrey Dalton in his arms.

capa_2007

Delmer Daves directed this film, which is another in a succession of excellent Delmer Daves Westerns – just think of one of my own favourites just after this ‘The Last Wagon.

Alan Ladd

 

The Western career of Alan Ladd (1913 – 1964) Alan Ladd was very well known as a Western star, notably of course because of Shane. In fact though, his Western career was relatively limited: he was in 13 Westerns in all.

He had a minor part as a ranch hand (blink and you’ll miss him) in The Light of Western Stars in 1940 and first had a lead part, alongside Robert Preston, in a Western in Whispering Smith in 1948, when he was 35. Then came Branded, not bad, in 1950, and Red Mountain, a Civil War drama, quite a gripper, in 1951. In early 1952 he starred as Jim Bowie in The Iron Mistress before becoming world famous in one of the best-known Westerns of them all, Shane.

After Shane, there was nothing as remarkable. In 1954, Saskatchewan was a Canadian Western, if such a thing exists, and Drum Beat was a kind of remake of Broken Arrow, though not nearly as good.

In the late 50s, we had in 1957 The Big Land, a rather turgid big-budget plodder about Ladd building a frontier town, and his best late Western, Proud Rebel, in 1958, which he made with his son David. There followed a so-so Western heist movie with Ernest Borgnine the same year, The Badlanders, and two late, rather B westerns in 1960, Guns of the Timberland and One Foot in Hell, in which he did not look well at all.

So really Ladd’s Western career lasted little more than a decade from Whispering Smith to The Badlanders, 1948 – 58, with a PS of a couple of B movies at the end of the 50s.

Nevertheless, Ladd was extremely famous: from 1948-1950, in a poll of movie fans organized by the Motion Picture Herald, he ranked number one. He was mobbed by (female) fans at guest appearances on network radio programs such as The Lux Radio Theater and in the 1940s his films grossed almost $55 million, big bucks in those days. His appearances in gangster movies in particular were greatly admired. And as far as Westerns were concerned, Shane put him (rather to his own surprise) right up there with the great cowboy actors.

As Ladd himself would have been the first to admit, he was never really cut out for such roles. Nicknamed ‘Tiny’ in his youth and standing at 5 foot 6 inches, he didn’t have the stature. His good looks were almost feminine rather than rugged and his blond coiffed hairstyle didn’t suit. He looked awkward in Western clothes – they were too obviously costumes. He seemed a gentle man at heart and was fine in Shane romancing Marian, dancing elegantly with the frontier woman and charming her with his good manners, but when it came to fist-fighting in the saloon, he didn’t convince at all.

 

In Western clothes he looked almost

I have always thought Shane a fine film but fatally flawed by Ladd’s performance. It needed Coop, Peck or Fonda. Someone gutsy yet quietly underplaying. Not that you don’t have sympathy for Alan Ladd. He comes across as a very nice man. Just not right as the lone, tough Western hero.

He was a rather sad person in many ways. Alcohol, depression and insomnia loomed large in his life. His mother was a depressive who had committed suicide by poison. He too may have attempted to kill himself. When he was asked in a 1961 interview, “What would you change about yourself if you could?” he replied brusquely, “Everything.” He died aged only 50 of an acute overdose of “alcohol and three other drugs”.

 

We’ve already reviewed Shane on this blog and referred to it often (it is a sort of paradigm) and we also discussed The Iron Mistress (only a semi-Western anyway) but in the next few days we’ll look at Ladd’s other Westerns.

Meanwhile, happy trails!

 

 

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Pat Boone, Frankie Vaughan and Shakespeare

Well now, in Film terms that seems like an unlikely mix – but a mix it was as I will explain.

I took out an old Audio Tape which I had used a number of years ago to record a Memories Programme from what was then Great Yorkshire Gold.

As the tape was not titled or had any identification I just let it play -

 

The first song was Frankie Vaughan with The Heart of a Man – that was the song title and the film title too – I can remember my brother and I went to see it at one of the cinemas in St.Albans where we often stayed, to see this film.

 

The Heart of a Man

 

This was really a rags-to-riches story, a part with  Frankie Vaughan in mind , although  we also had  Anthony Newley and Anne Heywood.

 

Tony Britton carries off the role of the upper-class criminal with ease, and there’s good supporting performances from Michael Medwin and Harry Fowler as two of his henchmen.

 

Frankie’s very next film saw him whisked off to Hollywood to star opposite none other than Marilyn Monroe – in ‘Lets Make Love’ with Yves Montand

 

Frankie Vaughan with Marilyn

 

Next on the tape came ‘ Brush up Your Shakespeare’ a song from the film ‘Kiss Me Kate’

 

Kiss Me Kate

 

 

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

 

 

and lastly Pat Boone singing ‘I’ll Be Home’ Pat had quite a good film career but the one I remember best was ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth with James Mason and Arlene Dahl.

 

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

 

This was a big Cinemascope production.  It took $10 million at the Box Office – so a resounding success.

 

This is the first and best version of  Journey To the Centre of the Earth has been made several times since this 1959 release.

 

Pat Boone with Arlene Dahl

 

Pat Boone with James Mason

The cast is excellent too with  James Mason, Pat Boone (who also sings), Arlene Dahl – all of them in the pictures above.

On a sad note though – and coming up to date – I just read that Pat Boone’s wife of 64 years has died quite recently – in January 2019

 

 

 

 

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The Pacific Ocean – and Films

 

By far the largest Ocean in the World – and certainly during the 20th Century it was always looked upon as a far flung paradise full of exotic and beautiful islands – as it is of course. Over the years film-makers have used these location to great effect and we, the film goers have loved it.

Filming The Blue Lagoon 1949  

The Blue Lagoon 1949I have never seen this picture before of the actual filming. The English men seem to prefer decorum as it would be, and dress traditionally in a suit – to be honest so would I

 

The Blue Lagoon 1949 2

 

The Blue Lagoon 1949 ABOVE – a dreamy scene on the beach

 

His Majesty O Keefe

His Majesty O Keefe 1954

South Pacific 1958   Bali Hai

South Pacific 1958

Mutiny on the Bounty 1962

 

Mutiny on the Bounty 1962

Elvis in Blue Hawaii

 

Blue Hawaii with Elvis    

A few years ago my wife and myself boarded a Cruise liner across the Pacific Ocean from Sydney to Los Angeles – and we were lucky enough to call at all these locations.  I also remember that when we were touring the Suva area in Fiji the guide asked if anyone had seen the film His Majesty O Keefe – to which I answered Yes I had – a number of times – and he showed us some of those locations.

I did think that Tahiti was perhaps the most beautiful island.

We must bear in mind though that although we see the exteriors done on location many of the inside scenes are done back in the Film Studio – although I believe in the case of His Majesty O Keefe all filming was done in Fiji

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