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Back to IVANHOE again

Just come across this great picture of the actual filming of Ivanhoe during the summer of 1951 at Elstree.
Torquilstone Castle was built in the grounds of Elstree and this picture shows up to THREE Technicolor Cameras ready for an action scene – and a very busy set it looks to be.

Filming of Ivanhoe

Two years before the shooting, Torquilstone Castle had been built at Elstree, as a full-scale replica of a twelfth-century fortress. The moat was cut around the set and the castle and was twenty feet wide and ten feet deep !

Torquilstone Castle

At the same time as this was being filmed, at Elstree,  Walt Disney was filming The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men at Denham Film Studios.    Two big and memorable films in the making virtually at the same time.  I loved the Disney Story of Robin Hood film though.

Just imagine if any of us could have been around there at the time, we could have wandered between Elstree and Denham – and Burnham Beeches all of that summer – In film terms it would not get much better than that.

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Movie Memories – Summer 2017 New Edition

I was very happy yesterday to find this new edition of Movie Memories arrive in the post. This is a really excellent publication – and this one is the Summer Edition published a little later than normal because the Owner and Editor Chris Roberts has been unwell.  Happy to report that he is well and on the mend now.

I ask all readers here to have a look at


Above:  Victor Mature and Rita Hayworth in a lovely Colour Picture from the film.

These TWO were Film Stars in the real sense – OUT OF THE TOP DRAWER !!!


 On the back cover of this publication as another great Colour Poster – Shadow of a Doubt – a very good film indeed.

Joseph Cotton starred in this one – what a career he had  – just look at the films below – impressive by any standards :-

 1949 The Third Man

1944 Gaslight

1943 Shadow of a Doubt

1942 The Magnificent Ambersons

1941 Lydia

1941 Citizen Kane

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Film Annual – around 1950

I come back to a subject that we have done before – the  Film Annuals around in the early Fifties – and this ione is the Boys and Girls Film Cinema Clubs Annual for 1950 I would think.


This – above and below – is a scan of the Dust Jacket although, when taken off the actual hard back of the book has the same colour pictures. Inside we have a number of Colour Plates – and I have to say some of those have a colour that is stunning and that we rarely get today – and why that is I do not know.


This is a scan of the Dust Jacket – the rear cover in this instance. ( Above)

There is a nostalgic element to this of course, as we go back to our childhood and remember the Christmas Presents we got – and the Film Annuals were very much a part of that. That must have been the case for a lot of children, because there are so many of this type of book available – just think of those marvellous F.Maurice Speed Film Reviews that carried such detail about every film released in the year as well as previews of what was to come. There were many more – and I have a large collection of such books – but as is is the case with every collector no doubt, you are always looking for another one you have not seen – or an article or press release or whatever.  I purchased, some years ago, quite a lot of Film Annuals and inside there were a lot of press cuttings – in almost all of them – giving snippets of information on the Film Stars or on the films they were in.

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Diamond City 1949

I have a feeling that this film would have done well if it had been filmed in COLOUR – but it did not do well at all – even though it had some very well known, mainly British,  Stars of the era. There were FOUR jig saw puzzles issued at the time – Diamond City – and I have just been lucky enough to get hold of this one called Hope Town Bar. Diamon City 2 The other THREE are titled  Crossing The Vaal, The Can Can Girls and Looking for Trouble. As a child I remember getting at least one of these Jig Saw Puzzles for Christmas – and I think that would have been Christmas 1950 or 1951 and I seem sure one of them was Crossing The Vaal and also The Can Can Girls.

My Mother and Father would have bought these for me – I was like my Mother,  she loved the films too,  so no doubt she would have chosen these puzzles and probably helped me do them  too. The film is not easy to get hold of and is not one of those that come back time and again on Television – in fact I cannot remember it being on at all.  The story was set in South Africa and in fact a crew were sent out late in 1948 to film exterior scenes although I don’t know that any of the actors went – most of the filming was done at Denham Film Studios. However it did say in an article I read that filming was held up for a time due to the illness of David Farrar – one of the stars of the film. I do know that after retirement he went to live in South Africa, and in fact he died there in 1995.

So maybe he went out there to film some scenes, then became ill after he got back, and in the process of the filming he developed a love of South Africa – I don’t know – this is just speculation.

The Film was based on the true story of Stafford Parker who was elected president of the Diamond Diggers Republic in 1871. The film was planned in 1945 as Digger’s Rest and was to star Stewart Granger from director Leslie Arliss. “This Parker was a born fighter, a great, husky guy”, said Arliss.    Patricia Roc was to play the Salvation Army girl with whom Parker falls in love. However Patricia Roc was named in a divorce case involving Fay Compton sfter she had an affair with Fay’s husband at that time - Ralph Michael – who we remember from the classic Dead of Night 1946, and Gainsborough reportedly dropped her from the film as a result.

Eventually the male starring role was given to David Farrar who had received acclaim for his performance in Black Narcissus. It was directed by David MacDonald who must havebeen going through a sticky patch because he had direct Christopher Columbus earlier and that had proved a very expensive flop.

Diana Dors played the role of the saloon keeper when Jean Kent was unavailable. It was Diana Dors’ biggest part up to that time. The film was seen as an attempt by producer Sydney Box to compete with Eureka Stockade (1949), another British film set and shot in Australia.

I will keep a look-out for more of these puzzles from the film

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Marilyn and Robert Mitchum

This wonderful colour plate is from the 1954  F.Maurice Speed Film Review Annual NVS0459   Of Course this is a publicity still from River of No Return 1954 which starred these two and a young Tommy Rettig in that beautifully photographed film in very wide ‘CINEMASCOPE’  -  a format that I loved when viewed in the cinema. It doesn’t or certainly didn’t fit well with the Television screens though – and some were scanned to reshow which effectively meant cutting the ends of the screen off or focusing on the person talking on the screen but that was not wholly saticfactory. Tommy Rettig later that year appeared in another Cinemascope production this time ‘The Egyptian’ starring Victor Mature, Jean Simmons and Edmund Purdom.

Later in his film career, he appeared in 116 episodes of Lassie for Television. In fact he started making these from 1954 and this went right through to 1957. He played Jeff Miller in the series.

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Vera Miles – Some early details of her life and career

Vera Miles (Born August 23, 1929)

It was her 88th Birthday last month.

Vera Miles

This picture is taken from The Searchers which gave Vera Miles a really good part among some great film actors of the era – John Wayne and Ward Bond to name but two.

Vera Miles also appeared in a few of the finest films ever made: The Searchers, Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

A few facts we have come across :-

She was born on a farm near Boise City, Oklahoma, one of four children of Tom Ralston, a preacher-electrician, and his wife.

Then she moved with her family north to Kansas

Her father went off to Alaska, leaving his family behind, She  attended school in Pratt and Wichita, Kansas, and later worked at a pasteboard factory.She was crowned “Miss Kansas”, and then was placed third at the “Miss America” pageant in Atlantic City.

At the “Miss America” pageant, she was signed by RKO to a $125-a-week contract and brought to Hollywood in 1948, Howard Hughes then sent her to acting school. She then met and married  Robert J. Miles, Jr., a driver for Howard Hughes. When Hughes learned about it, he was very angry.  Hughes negotiated a deal that then sent her to 20th Century-Fox,  In 1949 She was dropped by 20th Century-Fox after only six months. In 1957 Bob Miles recalled: “After that, things got tough. I lost my job. Debts started to mount up. For a while, I went back to college, hoping to become a lawyer.  Our two daughters came along, and with more mouths to feed, things got even tougher.”  On 9 April 1950 her daughter Debra Lynn was born in Los Angeles, and later her daughter Kelley Frances  born in Los Angeles on 5 November 1952 . She will later become a TV actress and composer.

Vera Miles - On Set

Feb 1955 films Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle opposite Gordon Scott in Hollywood.  October 1955 columnist Louella Parsons writes: “What a compliment to blonde fast-zooming Vera Miles that she is the first actress ever to be put under personal contract by Alfred Hitchcock. November 1955 sees Vera get a trip to London for 23 Paces to Baker Street. “P.S. Gordon Scott who will be in London at the same time with the Tarzan and the Lost Safari company.”

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Ivanhoe 1952 – A much better picture

I knew that somewhere I had seen a large and clearer pictures of Paddy Ryan’s impressive and very dangerous stunt dive in the 1952 film Ivanhoe. As below :-

Stunt Dive in Ivanhoe 1952



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The Karnak Playhouse Nr Mossman QLD Australia – Diane Cilento’s Home

The visions and dreams of internationally acclaimed actress and director Diane Cilento and the late playwright Anthony Shaffer were realised when the Karnak Playhouse opened in 1992.


Finding the location for the spectacular amphitheatre with its Daintree National Park backdrop was not by chance and the spiritual ambience of the setting provided a unique theatre going experience.

Karnak-Playhouse 2

Diane Cilento and Ray Barrett starred in the Stage Production below – put on at  The Karnak Playhouse

Love Letters - Ray Barret and Diane Cilento at the Karnak Playhouse

Above: Diane Cilento and Ray Barrett starred in ‘Love Letters’ at  The Karnak Playhouse – as photographed by my daughter Joanna.

This would be one of many stage events put on by Diane Cilento and her friends at Karnak Theatre. We will try to find more

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Stars and their Cars again

Again from the Preview Annual of 1950 – and maybe of interest to see,  firstly the Film Stars of the time and secondly their choice of cars

Dirk Bogarde with his Sunbeam Talbot

Above: Dirk Bogarde with his Sunbeam Talbot

Michael Dennison with his Triumph Saloon

Above: Michael Dennison with his Triumph Saloon

Derek Farr with Armstrong Siddeley


Above: Derek Farr with his Armstrong Siddeley

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Diame Cilento’s Karnak Playhouse – Open Day 26 August 2017

This Open Day at the Karnak Playhouse looked to be a  wonderful day. Wish I had joined everyone there  at this beautiful location built by Diane Cilento  – star of many films including The Wicker Man.

The Karnak Playhouse

Last time we went there we could not get in but last Saturday August 26th 2017 there was a ‘Re-Awakening Day’ with an open invitation to visit Diana’s home up inland of Mossman in Queensland, Australia – just inland from Port Douglas on the lovely Pacific Ocean.

Diana Cilento’s home there is in such a beautiful location on the edge of the Daintree Forest – she had bought a small farm years ago and ran it and developed this Theatre.

The Karnak Playhouse 3

The Karnak Playhouse 2

My Daughter Joanna, and her family, however did attend this event – and he comments are below :-

 It was an amazing place to see! Still a bit of work to go, but they all have clear passion to make Karnak a nationally recognised creative hub where people can go and express their talents in a relaxed, positive and supportive environment. Informative speech from Diane Cilento’s daughter and close friend. I think they had lots of fun their in the 70′s ad 80′s!
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