Archive for September, 2019

Bruce Seton – Fabian of the Yard

Who could forget this excellent BBC Television series in the mid 1950s – Bruce Seton was Fabian  in our eyes – such was the impact of the show.

I must admit I loved this series – particularly the Opening Sequence – when Bruce Seton as Fabian, sitting in the back seat of a speeding Humber Hawk said in a terse voice ‘This is Fabian – Of Scotland Yard’

Great stuff !!

Bruce Seton 2

ABOVE – Bruce Seton as Fabian of Scotland Yard

Fabian of the Yard


Fabian of the Yard 2


Fabian of the Yard 3


ABOVE – Bruce Seton in Scenes from an episode of  Fabian of Scotland Yard


However one piece of interesting information  has come to light – he re-married after a divorce within an hour

Now it appears the character actor from Edinburgh, who died in 1969, could hold the record for the shortest time between divorce and remarriage in Scotland.

Records of births, marriages and deaths, published online for the first time today, have uncovered the extraordinary love story of the dashing actor – and soldier – 1940 who married for a second time just an hour after being divorced in a Scottish court on St Valentine’s Day.

Bruce Seton

Bruce Seton married his second wife, actress Antoinette Cellier – Picture above –  in a special ceremony in Edinburgh – having only an hour before been granted a divorce in the Court of Session from his first wife, Tamara Desni, an actress of Russian descent. According to the National Records of Scotland, this may be the shortest time ever between a divorce and remarriage in Scotland.

Bruce Seton and his wife Antoinette Cellier did have a daughter Lydia Antoinette Seton born in November 1941

For his Wartime Service Bruce Seton was awarded the US Medal of Freedom

He  was also one of the founder members of the Lord’s Taverners in 1950 – so obviously a cricket fan like me

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Drums in the Deep South 1951


This Film was showed in the UK on Retro Movies yesterday and I saw quite a lot of the climax to it.


Drums In The Deep South


Barbara Payton is the mistress of a southern plantation -In the film’s prologue she and husband Craig Stevens are entertaining two old friends from West Point,  Guy Madison and Barbara’s secret love interest James Craig.


She is planning to run away with James that night, but news of the firing on Fort Sumter brings everybody’s plans to a halt as the men go off to war on their respective sides. Go forward to four years later and Stevens is in prison, but circumstance has brought Madison and Craig back to the neighbourhood.

Craig is given a rough assignment, bring a pair of cannons to the top of a hollow ridge called Devil’s Mountain and rain fire and destruction down on Sherman’s supply train on the railway tracks below. Guy has the unenviable duty of blasting him off the mountain. Of course neither knows the other is in command on the other side.

This film seems to get pretty good reviews from people who have seen it


posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Geoffrey Keen and His Father Malcom Keen – and others


Father and son actors in the film profession is not unique – I can think of Kirk Douglas and and Michael,  James Brolin and his son Josh and John Carradine and his son David – and a different relationship would be George Sanders and his Brother Tom Conway.


Father and Son - Geoffrey Keen and Malcolm Keen


However Geoffrey Keen and Malcolm Keen being English both featured in mainly British films although on checking further it seems that Malcolm Keen had a few years in Hollywood and appeared in a number of films there.


It appears that Malcolm was successful on stage in New York in the late fories and early fifties and from 1950 to 1952 seems to have done his films there also.


They did appear in the same film a few times - one being Rob Roy The Highland Rogue and later than that ‘Fortune is a Woman’ where I think they played father and son.

Now on to George Sanders his Brother Tom Conway

That highly underrated actor, Tom Conway — was the older brother (by two years) of the Oscar-winning, George Sanders.

Tom Conway

Tom Conway was born in St Petersburg in Russia – as was his brother – in 1904 under the name Thomas Charles Sanders.  When he followed George to Hollywood, he changed his surname to Conway. After a while  the likeable Conway was referred to as “the nice George Sanders.”

Comparisons with his much more successful younger brother apparently never bothered Conway as the two got on well.  It was George who persuaded his brother to try Hollywood after his radio and stage appearances in their adopted country.

The Sanders came from a wealthy St. Petersburg family who had fled the Russian revolution to England.


George Sanders 2


In Hollywood, George Sanders was a supportive brother.  The fact that Tom made an unsuccessful (screen) test should not depress him, he wrote in a 1937 letter to their father. I have made plenty of unsuccessful tests, and so has everyone else in the business, and the fact they said Tom did not photograph well should be no cause for alarm, since they said precisely the same thing to Ronald Colman!

After a stint at MGM, Conway shifted to RKO where he made his most memorable film appearances. He starred in 10 titles of the studio’s profitable Falcon mystery series, taking over the lead abandoned by brother George — who was on his way to bigger things.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

A visit to the Cinema in the 50′s


A regular  contributor to some of the Articles here on this Blog is David Raynor – someone who is very well informed on films of the era – and whose comments on here are always appreciated and are very welcome.


Last evening he made this comment which got me thinking:


‘There was an absolute magic about going to the cinema in those days that has completely gone now. It was a very exciting time.’


This resonated with me, of course  he is absolutely right and my own comment was


‘Like you on a visit to the Cinema in those days, I can remember the sheer excitement of going – and I was often shivering with anticipation.


I remember when I was very young and My Mother and Father took us to see King Solomon’s Mines. What a wonderful experience – the colour was outstanding and the thrill of seeing those African locations on that enormous screen, was unbelievable. I can nearly re-live it now – and when I watch that film again, I always think of that time.   This is my memory of going to the cinema at that time.

King Solomons Mines 1950


I also remember my parents took us to see ‘Treasure Island’ with Robert Newton. Here again the Technicolor was fabulous – never bettered.    We arrived later into the film just as Jim had hidden in the apple barrel and was nearly discovered when the look-out shouted ‘Land Ho’ but of course we did stay to see the film round again.

Treasure Island 1950


Another scene I well remember which frightened me was when Blind Pew played by John Laurie staggered out of the Admiral Benbow right under the wheels of the oncoming coach and the soldiers. That scene was cut from the later 70s release – and even though the latest DVDs state full original fun cut film – that is not the case as this scene is still missing. 


There was another one later when Long John Silver throws his crutch almost like a spear and kills one of the pirates as it hits him in the back when they are digging up what they thought was the treasure.


Again this scene was cut in the 70′s and is still not back.  I think there is at least one more such scene


Any way as an example of a trip to the cinema of the time , I have come across this about the Odeon Cinema in Boston  Lincolnshire which celebrated its 21 st Birthday in 1958 -


Odeon Boston Lincolnshire 1


In 1958 The Odeon Cinema celebrated its coming of age. It was estimated that in its twenty one years of being 11 million people had visited and 132 million feet of film had been seen!! Odeon Boston Lincolnshire 2 My Wife is from Boston, and I remember taking her to the Cinema here when we first started going out together – mind you that was a few years after this 21st celebration. The opening night  saw the Mayor of the day and the band of the 1st. Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment and patrons saw Vivien Leigh in “Dark Journey” together with a Technicolor film called “On ice”. The manager, when those first 1,592 patrons filled the cinema, was Mr. D. Wood.




Odeon Boston Lincolnshire 3  


In the early days of the 1939-1945 war came Sunday opening and the cinema had a Children’s Club started  and had a membership in 1958 of 900. The manager celebrated the 21st. in 1958  by splitting a birthday cake among his staff and a number of the town’s old age pensioners who attended the afternoon performance as his guests.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

I’ts a Great Day 1955


This is a film version of the  BBC Television Series The Grove Family which was quite popular in the mid fifties and ran for over two years.

The Grove Family


Ruth Dunning played Gladys Grove and Edward Evans Bob Grove – and these two characters with the same actors had been in the Norman Wisdom film ‘ Man of the Moment’ the previous year to the TV series starting – and I would reckon, even though they were uncredited in the film,  that this produced the idea for the BBC series.


The Grove Family 2

Granny Grove – who seemed to be, in some ways, the star of the film and the series, was played by Nancy Roberts

In this film version ‘ It’s a Great Day, building contractor Bob Grove is desperately trying to find floor tiles to complete the council housing estate, which is shortly to be opened by Princess Margaret.

The Borough Surveyor does not like Bob Groves and, when he suspects that the tiles were stolen, he sets the police on Bob and rescinds the invitation to meet the Princess.

Bob is cleared of any wrong doing in the end  but too late to get back on the guest list. However there follows a twist in the story here – and all ends very satisfactorily and happily.

Along the way, we are treated to son Jack’s and daughter Pat’s romantic interludes, young Lennie’s dangerous escapade on some unstable scaffolding and numerous  humorous, asides from Gran, played  by Nancy Roberts.

Sheila Sweet


Sheila Sweet ABOVE played daughter  Pat. In real life Sheila was first married to actor William Sylvester then later to another well know actor Richard Johnson by whom she had two children.  She didn’t have a very long TV or film career.   She died in 2003.

Nowadays, the film ‘It’s a Great Day’ is of more interest as a nostalgic piece of 1950′s family life.

This film is more for nostalgia fans like me,  and those interested in early British television – again like I am.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Old Yeller 1959 – Walt Disney


Walt Disney released this one ion 1957 in the USA but as far as I can see, it was not released in the UK until 1959 – I can’t think why that would be.


Old Yeller


Old Yeller 4


It was extremely successful at the Box Office – in fact Fess Parker, having been in the hit Davy Crockett scored bullseye again with Old Yeller.


It is a heart-warming tale of a boy’s friendship with a dog. Set in the late 19th century Texas, a homesteader leaves his wife (Dorothy McGuire) and his two sons for a few months to seek his fortune in the city. He leaves his elder son Travis (Fess Parker) in charge of the family. The very next day, the family comes across a stray dog. They name him Yeller and very soon he becomes a well-beloved family pet. Yeller is a smart dog and acts as a guardian for the family.


Yeller is in fact the protagonist of the story. His personality is well developed and he steals our hearts with no effort. The dog playing Yeller was one expressive canine. You can very clearly see the emotions on his face.


It is romanticised depiction of the old west but who cares. The location is picturesque. There are plenty of animals; lizards, snakes, toads, hogs, horses, cows, bears, wolves and of course dogs. They seem to be well-trained; most of their scenes look extremely natural. Add to that, the characters are all charming as simple, hard-working and good-natured folk and putting this all together  you have a very  enjoyable film  for both children and adults.


Old Yeller 2


Old Yeller 3


Old Yeller 5


Old Yeller 6



Old Yeller 7


Old Yeller 8


Old Yeller 9


Old Yeller 10


Old Yeller 11

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comments (4)

The Harder They Fall 1956

Humphrey Bogart puts in a great performance  in  “The Harder They Fall” (1956)-  a stunning indictment of the boxing profession.


The film also marks Humphrey Bogart’s final film performance. Here he plays  a former sports writer turned publicist along  with Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling and Mike Lane (as the giant Argentinian boxer)


Mike Lane


Mike Lane ABOVE – having a joke with the make-up artists.


In addition to Bogart’s  performance, Rod Steiger plays a corrupt manager. Their scenes together are really well done, and very well written.


There is one particular gripping  scene when, after the big fight where Bogart presses to find out how much their fighters will ultimately end up with, after getting so badly beaten in the ring.


The tension in the film derives from the ultimate conflict between Bogart’s decency and Steiger’s willingness to exploit. The two had great on screen chemistry in their scenes together. They employed very different acting styles, Steiger being one of the first Method actors to enjoy success in films whilst  Bogart was strictly old school, but he not only held his own, he dominated their scenes together.


The Harder They Fall


ABOVE – this shot just sums up the brutality depicted in this film



The Harder They Fall 2


Humphrey Bogart and Rod Steiger ABOVE trade verbal fisticuffs ABOVE.


I watched much of this film today on Talking Pictures ‘The Harder They Fall was released on 31 March 1956.

Two months before this in January Humphrey Bogart had been having trouble swallowing and eating and sought medical advice. He was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent a long operation soon afterwards. It was not completely successful and the cancer returned.

He died at his home on 15 January 1957 aged 57 – he was born on Christmas Day 1899.

When he died he weighed just 6 and a half stone

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

The Battle of the River Plate 1956

Battle of the River Plate 6

Filmed in VistaVision and shot in Technicolor - Written  and Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and released in 1956

The managed to bring together spectacular shots of many of the actual ships

This film was shown on BBC2 this afternoon – still looks good.

Battle of the River Plate 4

Peter Finch – ABOVE – stars as Capt. Langsdorf of the German “pocket” battleship Admiral Graf Spee. He is perfectly cast

Also starring  Anthony Quayle as Commodore Harwood  and John Gregson, who plays Capt. Bell of the British cruiser Exeter


I did a post some months ago on John Gregson and his former home on the River Thames – and that seems to get the most visits on this site. I think at around that time, there was a programme on Talking Pictures which had his Wife and family being interviewed on what would have been his 100th Birthday.

One of his sons appeared on the TV programme Eggheads – and it was mentioned that he was John Gregson’s son which caused a lot of interest from the resident team of experts.

It just goes to show that even today, John Gregson remains well known and popular. Talking Pictures does indeed take a lot of the credit for that in that they have shown the full TV series of  ‘Gideon on the Yard’ which he starred in – as well as many films such as this one.

Battle of the River Plate 2

Some of the location work was filmed in Malta and Gozo and well as Argentina

There are so many good and well known actors in this film including Bernard Lee,  Andrew Cruikshank, Ian Hunter, Barry Foster, Douglas Wilmer and Roger Delgado to name but a few.

Another name in the cast would be Patrick MacNee,   and in a small part John Le Mesurier

Christopher Lee has a minor role as Manolo, the jealous bar owner.

Battle of the River Plate 3


In the early years of WWII, the Royal Navy struggled to keep British supply routes clear. This film tells the true story of the hunt for one of their biggest threats, the German warship Graf Spee.


Battle of the River Plate 5

In places this was an Action packed film

Battle of the River Plate


The Picture Show of 1956 carried this cover picture

Battle of the River Plate 7

Above:  Ian Hunter, John Gregson and Anthony Quayle in a scene from the film – Not sure who the actor on the right is though.




posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comments (4)

Glenn Ford marries Eleanor Powell

The date was 23 October 1943 when Glenn Ford married Eleanor Powell.

Glenn Ford marries Eleanor Powell


Glenn Ford was in his US Marine Corps uniform.

They had a son Peter Ford who also became an actor – he was born in February 1945.

Later Eleanor Powell turned to God and became a Minister in the Church.

Her son Peter had been struck down with severe arthiritis at the age of 21 and he went through a long period when he could hardly move – then one day he woke up and the affliction had completely left him.    He attributes this to his Mother’s prayers

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Richard Todd Dairy Farmer

The year is 1964 and the smartly dressed driver delivering cartons of cream to the village grocer in the Shiplake area,  from his Land-Rover did not seem to be just another tradesman. 

Eagle eyed  onlookers were reminded of  Robin Hood, Rob Roy or even Guy Gibson from  from The Dambusters film. They were right. The driver was none other than  actor Richard Todd. The cream came from his farm in Shiplake, near Henley on Thames from a growing herd of pedigree Jersey cattle.

In order to test local markets and discover the problems of producing and transporting the cream, Mr. Todd carried his first deliveries in his estate Land-Rover.

The products caught on and soon a driver and small van were delivering regular supplies. So good was the quality that demand exceeded supply. Alternative sources had to be established.

In September 1964, with Richard  Todd as chairman and managing director, Shiplake Dairies Ltd. was formed and became the heart of a small group of companies of which Richard Todd Farms is the marketing company for all dairy produce.

Richard Todd Dairy Farmer 2


ABOVE: Richard Todd looks proudly at his Refrigerated Delivery Van

After experimental work with a number of home-made types of transport refrigeration, Mr. J. Coates, general manager of Shiplake Dairies, enlisted the aid of Mr. Alex Schepen, of Abingdon. Mr. Schepen suggested Petter mechanical transport refrigeration units and with the assistance of the bodybuilding manager of City Motors, Oxford, designed their first economically successful refrigerated vehicle.

A Bedford KB 2-ton chassis, it was equipped with a Thermo-King HPA2OD transport refrigeration unit, hydraulically operated from a gearbox p.t.o. There was a single-access rear door with mounting step incorporated in the rear bumper.

Vehicle insulation was made up from 3M. polystyrene foam on sides, rear and roof with 4in. thickness on the bulkhead, body lining of 18swg aluminium and a galvanized steel floor.

To overcome the problem of maintenance of vehicle livery, extensive use was made of glassfibre-reinforced polyester sheeting which undoubtedly helped the efficiency of the insulation.

Richard Todd Dairy Farmer 3

ABOVE - One of the Richard Todd Farms Delivery Vans.

Richard Todd with his wife and family lived at Haileywood House Nr Shiplake.

He became a Dairy Farmer and loved it but as he later said it did get in the way of his film career which was about on the wane by 1964 when these pictures were taken. This venture did not last that long.

He sold the house and moved to the Cotswolds which was a mistake as he later admitted – and shortly after that he left his wife Kitty and eventually married Virginia.

Richarsd Todd and His Son Peter

The picture above shows Richard Todd with his son Peter taken a little time before the pictures at the top of the article I would think



posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments