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T.H.E. Cat – Who Remember this TV Show

Now here is one to test the memory – Not from the Fifties but from the late 1960s – and was an American  import and went out on ITV possibly only in certain regions. I was living in London at that time and tuned in to this occasionally – and it is one I have remembered mainly, I think, for the title — which seemed so odd.

T.H.E.Cat 4

It starred Robert Loggia in the title role – and always introduced with these words :

“Out of the night comes a man who saves lives at the risk of his own. Once a circus performer, an aerialist who refused the net. Once a cat burglar, a master among jewel thieves. Now a professional bodyguard. Primitive… savage… in love with danger.  T.H.E. Cat!”

His full name was Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat which he spoke and then followed with ‘T.H.E. Cat’

T.H.E. Cat 2

He drove around in a Black Corvette Sting Ray – I reckon Cliff Richard owned one briefly. The one below is a 1967 model and I don’t think is was exactly like this one – may have been customised for the series, I don’t know.

Corvette Sting Ray 1967

 

A former aerialist and trapeze artist for the circus, and cat burglar, THOMAS HEWITT EDWARD CAT (T.H.E. Cat ) now finds employment as a freelance bodyguard and investigator in San Francisco. He works out of an “office” at the Casa del Gato nightclub, a joint run by his good friend, and sometime cohort,  Pepe. His police contact is Captain McAllister, he of the one arm and bowler hat.

The plots weren’t terribly complex, and you could count on a few good thrills every week just watching T.H.E. Cat  clad entirely in black, scaling tall buildings to death-defying heights, skulking around in the shadows, armed only with a grappling hook and some rope.  He relied instead on intelligence and agility, although odd times  he was known to carry both a sleeve knife — a small dagger which he used to lethal effect.

It had a rather gritty, dark mood to it, lots of shadows and some pretty mean characters.T.H.E.Cat 3

Here are a couple of reviews I have come across

  • “One thing I remember is him having a knife in a contraption up his sleeve. When he needed to, he would swing his arm real fast, and the knife would slide down into his palm — ready for action. I don’t recall him ever actually using it on people, but every episode featured a martial arts type fight with lots of karate stuff, which was the really cool part.”

         . “Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat was possibly the coolest customer on TV.

 

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Alex Bryce – Film Director

An interesting character is Alex Bryce who was involved with Directing or photographing or Producing Films before, during and after the War.

Richard Todd and Alex Bryce

 

Alex Bryce (1905-1960) was a Scottish screenwriter, cinematographer and film director.

In the picture above we can see Alex Bryce and Richard Todd (Robin Hood) on location at Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire for The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men for Walt Disney. Filmed in England at Denham Film Studios

Alex Bryce on location for The Story of Robin Hood 1952

In the picture above we can see Alex Bryce  on location at Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire  chatting to Perce Pearce ( Producer) and Carmen Dillon ( Art Director)

I spoke with Alex Bryce’s Daughter,  Elspeth Gill, in the summer of 2011, mainly about her actually being on the set of The Story of Robin Hood throughout the masking of the film. One thing that struck me was that she seemed to be so very fond of her father and spoke about him and told me that he suffered a stroke only a few years later while he was on the continent filming The Cockleshell Heroes in 1955. She herself had been an extra on Rob Roy and danced with Richard Todd in one scene. She also said that it was her father who had persuaded Walt Disney to employ Ken Annakin as the film director for Robin Hood so he was the one that set Ken on his way as an International Film Director.

One other thing also – I sent her the picture above – which had the caption ‘Mr and Mrs Perce Pearce’ and she immediately said ‘ That’s not Perce Pearce’s wife – it is Carmen Dillon. She was right of course.

One of the few people I thought were still around who had actually been there throughout the filming of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men – seems I was wrong as she sadly died in 2012 but what wonderful memories she had

During the filming of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, Alex Bryce was in charge of theSecond Unit’, which specialised in all the outdoor, woodland and action shotsand fight scenes.

The Director of the film was Ken Annakin who worked very closely with Alex and you can tell from Ken’s Autobiography that the two of them got on very well , and worked closely together, dovetailing the studio footage with the Outside action scenes – they did it very effectively too,

Alex Bryce had worked in The Film Industry throughout the Thirties often as a photographer and occasionally as a writer, and Assistant Director.

Following Robin Hood in which he was  Assistant Director, he again fulfilled this role on another British made Walt Disney film The Sword and the Rose, Rob Roy The Highland Rogue  and then on The Dark Avenger with Errol Flynn.

 

Back to Elspeth Gill – Alex Bryce’s Daughter – She did send me some fascinating pictures of her chatting with Richard Todd on the set of Robin Hood at Denham and maybe Burnham

Beeches as below :-

elspeth bryce and richard todd 1952 2

Above Richard Todd chats with Elspeth – Actually she looks to be in costume too, so maybe she played one of the Merrie Men in the horse riding sequences.

elspeth bryce and richard todd 1952 robin hood

Above Richard Todd gives Elspeth a demonstration of Archery – he would know after this film.

I must say that I am very proud of these pictures that Elspeth sent me – very kind of her. She was the most knowledgeable person on this film that I had ever heard from.

 

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Longcross Film Studios

I have often featured such studios as Denham ( my own favourite ) as well as Pinewood, and Ealing, but I did not know of Longcross Film Studios Near Chertsey in Surrey -  just off the M3 and M25 – until the release of the new version of Murder on The Orient Express.

It was made at Longcross which is a former MOD facility.

Longcross Studios Near Chertsey 2

Pictures showing the Studios as well as an aerial shot that shows the Orient Express covered in fake snow BELOW :-

Longcross Studios Near Chertsey

 

The Wonderful BBC drama series ‘Call the Midwife’ is filmed here too

 

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More Information just found on Diamond City 1949

I came across this information in the 1950 Preview Annual

I mentioned having TWO jig saw puzzles from the film – Crossing the Vaal and The Can Can Girls. In this Film Annual I have found the same pictures as the puzzles - but these are Black and White and I know the puzzles were colour pictures :

Diamond City 1949 Crossing the Vaal

Diamond City 1949 The Can Can Girls

This is from the 1950 Preview Annual – if anyone knows or has one of these JIG SAW PUZZLES for sale then I would be very interested.

The film is available from Renown Pictures – and has no doubt been cleaned up and I have no doubt the print will be excellent – as they are these days.

The computer world has certainly transformed some of the older films we see – with the picture now rock steady and clear – in some ways it takes away a little of the fun from when the titles seemed to jump around a little and the odd blemish appeared on the screen at times during the film.

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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 www.moviememoriesmagazine.com

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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 !!!

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 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.

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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.

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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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