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Picture Show Annual – Snippets

These Film Annuals of the Fifties were remarkably detailed – as well as scenes from the films and Star Portraits, we had items on the Stars homes and home life – as well as these little bits below on shooting of the soon-to-be seen films – and there were a great many of them to cope with Cinema demand.

Below we have a location shot of work being done on the Film Trottie True which was quite a lavishly produced Technicolor film of the very early 1950s.  One I must say that I am not too familiar with although I always remember being in a conversation with a young lady in the local pub some years ago, and she remembers this film very well and the memory of it had stayed with her – so it was a film that did impress at the time.

Jean Kent Filming

In this picture ABOVE we seen the very large Technicolor Camera being set up to shoot a picnic scene featuring Andrew Crawford and Jean Kent.

In the same part of the Annual is this little item BELOW – and this is Finlay Currie between scenes on a film that I am pretty sure is  The History of Mr Polly made at Denham Film Studios with John Mills.

Finlay Currie - The History of Mr Polly

The caption describes the 71 Year Old actor stopping filming and enjoying a cigarette, I am pretty sure  in the lake at Denham Film Studios at the back of the site itself where John Mills, who produced the film, had a country cottage set built close to the water for the film.

And BELOW yet another unusual item from Film Land.

Birthday Party

Dennis Price happened to be filming Cockpit on the occasion of his Birthday so he threw a small party in the Studio during a break in filming. Guests included Mai Zetterling, Richard Attenborough, William Hartnell, Mila Parely, Herbert Lom, Maxwell Reed and Director Bernard Knowles with Producer Gordon Wellesley. Dennis Price usually spend his waiting moments studying his script but on this occasion he has obviously decided to celebrate. Very nice too !!!

These Snippets are from the Picture Show Annual of 1950.

Michael Wilding and Anna Neagle in Maytime in Mayfairon the front cover – BELOW

Picture Show Annual 1950 2

Jean Simmons and Donald Houston in The Blue Lagoon BELOW

Picture Show Annual 1950

 

 

 

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A Film Scrap Book from the Fifties

A good friend of mine over a lot of  years had been clearing out his former family home after his Brother had died last year and he came across a Film Scrap Book from the Fifties era that his brother, who had been a film fan, had collated in his younger years.

Scrapbook Nigel

He had taken these snippets from the many magazines we had at that time and created this lovely Scrap Book.  Today my friend John gave me this book as he knew it would be going to a home where it would be very much appreciated – and it is.

Scrapbook Nigel 2

Looking through it, it is a reminder of the many stars and also the many films which were made to cope with the cinema demand – usually Two films per programme – the supporting film and the Big Picture.

Scrapbook Nigel 3 W

This, as any personal book of its type, is unique. No one else can possibly have it because it is the work of one person, taking time out to choose the clippings and save them by sticking them in – in the sequence that that particular person chooses.

You have to have – or have had – a love of  films to do this.

Looking through it, it is a reminder of the many stars and also the many films which were made to cope with cinema demand – usually Two films per programme – the supporting film and the Big Picture

We are lucky to have access to such Memorabilia – and with this particular one – it is me who is lucky.

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Annette Day – A Brief Film Career – but with Elvis

Annette Day’s entire film career consists of her single appearance with Elvis in Double Trouble. After that she retired from films and never went back again.

Annette Day

Just over half a century ago Annette Day was filming Double Trouble with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

When she heard the news that Elvis had died she was living in Beckenham.

“I thought it was so terribly sad, he was a man of so many talents, who had so much more left to give.”

Annette, who now lives in Telford, Shropshire, knew about this better than most.

Because 10 years earlier, as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, Annette became the first and only English actress to star alongside Elvis on the big screen.

The 69-year-old grandmother played Jill Conway, a rebellious British heiress who led the singer through all sorts of wild escapades across Europe, getting mixed up with spies, jewel thieves and madcap detectives along the way.

Off screen, the pair enjoyed a close, if brief, friendship with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which even extended to him buying her a car as a treat.

It is 40 years today since Presley died in the bathroom of his Gracelands mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, after suffering from heart failure brought on by a drug overdose. He was just 42 years old and, if not at the height of his stardom, was still one of the biggest global stars having successfully reinvented himself for the glam rock era.

While there had been rumours about his health, particularly concerning his weight and dependency on prescription drugs, very few people were aware of the lonely, troubled individual behind the flamboyant jump-suited stage persona.

Double Trouble 4

Annette – above with Elvis – as she was in Double Trouble

Annette, who settled in Shropshire with husband Mike the year after Elvis’s death, remembered the singer as being like a big brother to the innocent teenager who had been plucked out of obscurity after being spotted working on a market stall by film producer Judd Bernard.

“He had a terrific sense of humour, he was always playing games,” she says.

“There were a couple of times, off-stage, when the light came on for me to go through the door onto the set, and he would grab my coat so I couldn’t walk, and the crew would be calling for me. I had a ball, it was tremendous fun.”

A scene from double Trouble, which was Elvis’s 24th feature-film

And she got a first-taste of the star’s legendary generosity at the end of filming, when she was making small talk about how youngsters back in Britain would have to save to buy their first car.

“After a day on set we were talking about how youngsters have to save every penny to buy a car after their graduation,” she says.

“In the US, most youngsters were given a car, not so in the UK.”

Then one day, in a car park, Elvis asked her to follow him, and asked her to close her eyes.

“At that moment I knew he had a surprise waiting for me, but never in my wildest dreams could I have thought of a sports car,” she says.

“It was a white Mustang convertible. Elvis handed me the keys and said ‘it’s your’s’.

“I couldn’t believe it, but I think he did things like that quite often,” she says. “I think if he was able to help somebody, he liked to do that.”

Annette Day with Elvis 2

Above: Annette and Elvis off camera, while director Norman Taurog set up their scene

Double Trouble was Presley’s 24th feature film, and it was reported that by this time he was getting quite weary of them, although he made seven more movies in the two years that followed.

It is said that when he found he would have to sing Old MacDonald Had A Farm for a scene in Double Trouble, Elvis screamed “It’s come to this?”, and Annette believes that he was definitely falling out of love with the movie industry.

Double Trouble 2

“I think, more than anything, he wanted to be back out on stage to his fans,” she says.

“I think he was quite pleased when the musicals had stopped. I think he would like to have got a more serious picture, he wanted to do more than just musicals. I think he could have been a very good actor, but the films he was in were all the same sort of thing, family films with a few more songs in between.”

Annette, who worked as a secretary at Telford-based SMP Security before her retirement, was offered a seven-year contract by MGM Studios after Double Trouble, but decided acting wasn’t for her. She rarely talks about her part in the film, and reckons many people have no idea about her previous career.

“I don’t watch the film very often, and when I do I don’t think I was very good in it,” she says.

“I went to be with my husband, and I’ve had my children and my grandchildren and I have no regrets about that at all. They say go out while you’re at the top, I had great fun, but it was very hard work, you would be there on set at eight in the morning, and you could be there until 6.30 at night, nobody could go until everything was perfect.”

She returned to the UK, not only leaving behind her brief film career, but also her Ford Mustang.

“I found it would cost rather a lot to bring it back to the UK,” she says. Today, of course it would be worth a fortune as a treasured piece of movie and musical history, but she gave it to her brother who was living in the US at the time. He used it for a few years, and then sold it when it broke down.

It all begs the question of what would Elvis be doing if he were still alive today at the age of 82?

Annette does not think he would be performing today, although she say s he would also have found it very difficult to give it all up.

“It must be very hard for somebody who is at the top like that to walk away from it all,” she says. And she has no doubt that if he had lived to a ripe old age, it would have done nothing to lessen the legacy of his work.

“He just had something about him,” she says.

Double Trouble 3

Double Trouble

 

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John Mills – a Reflective Moment

John Mills was an ardent lover of nature, so the production of the film  The History of Mr Polly – adapted from the  H.G. Wells  novel -  was much to his taste. The greater portion of the film was made out of doors in the lovely grounds of the Denham Film Studios.   Highly skilled craftsmen built the picturesque Inn on the banks of the River Colne which runs through the grounds.

They also built Fishborne High Street - the fictional town where Mr Polly had unhappily lived with his wife . Swans nested close to the scene of filming and they were extremely interested in their new surroundings.   Between sequences John Mills,  Star of the film and also it’s Producer, frequently spent time feeding the swans and cygnets there.

John Mills at Denham Film Studios 2

Above:  John Mills amuses himself by feeding the swans and six cygnets in the grounds of Denham Film Studios

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Talking Pictures TV Channel

Unbelievably this wonderful channel on satellite and Freeview here in England, is described as a ‘small family business’ – Well it is certainly a family business that is run by Noel Cronin and his daughter Sarah Cronin-Stanley, her husband Neil and only three members of staff.

This article appeared on the launch of the channel in May 2015 :-

LOVERS of vintage British film and television have a lot to look forward to when Talking Pictures TV launches.The 24-hour channel on Sky will see long-lost British classics, including some of Michael Caine’s earliest film work, screened at last. Sarah Cronin-Stanley is the powerhouse behind the channel, along with her father Noel Cronin, who has a tremendous background in British fi lm.“He started off in 1963 as a postboy at the Rank Organisation, but moved on to be an assistant in the cutting room and eventually became an editor at the Central Offi ce of Information, working with directors who went on to be famous in their own right, such as Peter Greenaway,” says Sarah.“Then he started a film distribution company called Dandelion Films, then Renown Pictures, which bought up the rights many British films.” Sarah began her career as a freelance foreign correspondent, with special expertise in Africa and the Arab world, and a producer/director, but confesses that being brought up with such a background in classic film and television, it was natural that she would end up working with her father in his business.
Talking Pictures“We sold films to the major broadcasters for many years but recently demand from them for the type of films that we specialise in had started to decline,” Sarah says, “but we know that there’s still a sizeable audience for them.“We don’t hold the rights for the big British classics such as The Lavender Hill Mob, but many films which were probably B-films at the cinema when they were originally screened. That doesn’t make them any less entertaining or historically important, though. Many major movie stars made their earliest appearances in these kinds of films.“Actually, we’re showing one of Michael Caine’s earliest, Blind Spot, made in 1958, in our first week. It’s always fun to watch the films and spot a future star.”

Talking Pictures TV really has an extraordinary breadth of material for film lovers. In its first week it has classic horror movie Blood Of The Vampire, with Donald Wolfit and Hammer pin-up girl Barbara Shelley; a 1963 teen movie called Live It Up!, starring David Hemmings, a young actor called Steve Marriott (who of course went on to be in the Small Faces), with music from acts including Kenny Ball, Gene Vincent and The Outlaws, a group that included Rainbow’s Ritchie Blackmore, and our gardening correspondent Chas Hodges!

There is also a 1932 crime drama called When London Sleeps, a musical comedy called Every Day’s A Holiday with a cast of what seems to be everyone who was famous in 1965 (John Leyton, Mike Sarne, Freddie And The Dreamers, Ron Moody, Richard O’Sullivan, Liz Fraser), and a 1980 movie called Richard’s Things.

Talking Pictures 2

There is also, a Paul Temple film starring John Bentley, who went on to play Meg Mortimer’s husband inCrossroads, as the suave detective.

“I think the vintage boom has been very good for us,” says Sarah.“Younger audiences want to see the styles and hear the sounds of the past. I’m very much a vintage girl myself. As well as working here, I run a vintage ice-cream van.“I also think that you can learn a lot about film history from old movies. All the special effects that you see in films today started with a smoke effect in something from the 1950s and 1960s.”However, Talking Pictures TV isn’t just offering vintage movies, restored to a high standard, it also has access to American TV series from way back.They will be showing Burke’s Law, starring Gene Barry as millionaire policeman/spy Amos Burke, and Honey West – Sarah’s favourite – a 1960s series about a sexy lady private detective, starring Anne Francis.

They’ll also be showing The June Allyson Show, a series of one-off dramas with an incredible roster of guest actors, including David Niven, Bette Davis, Ginger Rogers, James Coburn and then-movie star Ronald Regan (whatever happened to him?).

Sarah says that Talking Pictures TV is currently looking into the rights to show vintage adverts in the “intermissions” between films and programmes, and that they will be interviewing actors from the classic films on the channel.

Sarah and her father have for many years run a club for fans of B-movies (The Renown B Movie Fan Club) and a company selling DVDs of their films. “I know everybody who’s a member of the club, and I really love hearing from them.

We’ve even got a widow of an actor who is in several of the films as a member, and she always writes to find out if we’re releasing another one of his films on DVD.”

Sarah clearly feels very close to the films she represents, and to the people who enjoy them, and hopes that Talking Pictures TV will resonate with the viewers, of any age. “I hope that people will enjoy spending time with the channel; sitting down with a cup of tea and recalling some happy memories that watching the films and programmes bring back.”

 

 

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The Robe – with Victor Mature

It is  Good Friday, and once again I want to post pictures from the film The Robe  on this site.  My father’s favourite actor in his favourite film – he was very moved by Victor Mature’s performance in this film particularly in the scene shown below.

Below:  Victor Mature in a superb piece of acting in the film. My Dad loved this scene and the acting performance of Victor Mature – and so did his co-star Richard Burton who was also full of praise describing Victor as a ‘wonderful man’ after having played opposite him in The Robe Victor-Mature-in-The-Robe-1953 My wife and I watched the film again this afternoon – shown on British Television in its Widescreen format – and that is how it should be shown. It really is an excellent film and watching today I thought how very well made The Robe was with superb acting  – and I thought that the very best performance came from Victor Mature  as Demetrius – a role he would again pay straight afterwards Demetrius and the Gladiators

Below: Another still from the film : The Robe

In a previous Post I did say that producers loved Victor Mature because all the films he appeared in made money – and here is a classic example.

The Robe was the highest grossing film of 1953 – and the next one Demetrius and the Gladiators was 4th biggest of 1954. We must also remember that only a few years before in 1949 he had played Samson in Samson and Delilah which again was the biggest grossing film of that year.

 

Jay Robinson as Caligula in The Robe

Above: Jay Robinson as Caligula

Also cast was Jay Robinson  in his  film debut as Caligula, stealing much of the proceedings from the films’s actual stars Richard Burton and Jean Simmons.  Though his performance bordered dangerously on outrageous camp, his depraved Roman emperor nevertheless remains a most indelible image when reminded of the film.
After his Film  debut in The Robe, Jay went on to reprise the role as Caligula in Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)  again with Victor Mature and this time  Susan Hayward

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William Tell

Conrad Phillips played William Tell in the ITV series of the 1950s – it followed the success of Robin Hood with Richard Greene that had been a worldwide hit for ITV – but somehow William Tell didn’t make the same impact  although it was popular, Jennifer Jayne played William Tell’s wife Hedda , and his adversary throughout the series was Landburgher Gessler played very impressively by Willoughby Goddard. Conrad Phillips and his son in the Tree House Conrad Phillip at Home – ABOVE and BELOW Conrad Phillips with his Wife and son

 The Above Picture is with his first wife  Jean Moir – and his son.

Conrad Phillip’s marriage to Jean Moir, a fellow student at Rada, in 1949, ended in divorce. Their son, Patrick, died in 1982.

His second wife was  Jennie Slatter, whom he married in 1968, and had two daughters, Kate and Sarah. He also had two grandchildren, Alice and Leo.

Actor Conrad Phillips, who gained fame in the 1950s as the star of The Adventures of William Tell, has revealed his swashbuckling adventures nearly cost him his life in his Autobiography  titled  Aiming True.

The book begins in the late 1930s when he joined the Navy aged 17 in the Second World War and goes on to follow his career as an actor.

He said it was tough to be an actor as a family man because he did not always get a regular pay packet, and he often had to be away from home, but playing William Tell in the black and white television series that ran for 39 episodes was a big thrill.

He said: “It was an adventure every week, I had sword fights, knife fights and fist fights every week and we were always up against time to shoot the film.

“I did the last episode from a wheelchair. During the first shot I came out and jumped and broke my ankle.

“I was sword fighting from a wheelchair and someone else did the long shots.”

However, that wasn’t the only danger the father-of-two faced while filming for the show.

Mr Phillips recalled: “Once I was sitting on a horse being hanged with my hands tied behind my back when the clapper board snapped shut.

“The moment the horse heard the noise, it reared up.

“I just got my hands free to swing onto the scaffolding, otherwise I would have been hanged.”

Mr Phillips, who wrote his autobiography while living in Normandy for 20 years with his wife Jennie, hopes to inspire young actors. He will give a talk to the Chippenham Youth Theatre on April 23.

His nine-year-old granddaughter, Alice Atkinson, is a member of the theatre group.

Mr Phillips said: “I had a very humble background and eventually became the star for a television series which was sold all over the world.

“From humble beginnings you can make anything work.

Willoughby Goddard had a long and varied career – an Actor who preferred the stage and did quite a lot of Shakespearean roles.

He became one of British television’s most famous character actors. I remember him mainly for William Tell but also for an appearance in

The Avengers – in fact when I checked he had made Two such appearances.

The burly, 20-stone actor was best known for his role as the villainous Landburgher Gessler in the long-running fifties adventure series The Adventures of William Tell. The series was sold all over the world and featured early appearances by stars such as Christopher Lee and Michael Caine.

Goddard found further fame playing Sir Jason Toovey in the Thames TV detectice drama The Mind of Mr J G Reeder (1969-71). The Thames TV detective drama ran from 1969-71 and was based on the twenties stories of Edgar Wallace.

Born Willoughby Wittenham Rees Goddard in Bicester, Oxfordshire on July 4, 1926, Goddard also had a distinguished stage career appearing in plays at the Royal Court Theatre and in the West End. He made his first appearance on stage at the Oxford Playhouse as the Steward in Saint Joan and he made his West End debut in 1948 at the Arts Theatre and Gog and Magog.

Throughout the fifties and sixties, he divided his time equally between West End theatre and television roles. Among his most notable stage credits were The Diary of a Nobody (1955), The Power and the Glory (1960) and The Lily White Boys (1960). He played Mr Bumble in the original Broadway production of Oliver! and orginated the role of Cardinal Wolsey in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons. In 1968, he played a memorable Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night for the Prospect Theatre Company.

He won critical acclaim for his role as Marmaduke Muleygrubs in the musical Jorrocks and in 1980 he played the Duke of Venice opposite Donald Sinden’s Othello for the RSC. In 1984 he was seen at the Old Vic in John Arden’s Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance.

The Adventures of William Tell brought him worldwide fame but he was also seen to great effect in series such as Space 1999, The Invisible Man, Public Eye and Richard the Lionheart. He also appeared in several TV comedies such as The Charlie Drake Comedy Hour.

He was also a prolific film actor and played leading roles in The Green Man, The Millionairess, The Wrong Box, The Charge of the Light Brigade and Porterhouse Blue.

He had been suffering from arthritis for many years and died on April 11, 2008. He was married to Ann Phillips, with whom he had a son

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Film Double Bills – Fascinating Combinations

I always love to see these old advertisements – they were so exciting as somehow they are able to link the imagination to the film – or what we think the film will be. When you see these advertisements you just want to head for the cinema and see them. As a boy I would pass at least one cinema on my morning walk into school  and love to look intensely at the Front of House Stills from the film.

They painted an even better picture – you really had to go when you saw these – particularly the Colour ones.  There was something magical about entering the foyer of a Cinema, getting the ticket and then been ushered through to your seat to await a brilliant night.

Film Double Bill

 

It is interesting to see the films that are put together on these programmes – particularly the one above. This must date back to 1959 or just after.

Film Double Bill 2

I have seen Gunmans Walk – an excellent Western with Van Heflin and Tab Hunter but am not familiar with the other one.

Film Programme in England

The One above is for me the strangest combination – and it comes from the release of the wonderful The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men in 1952.

This film had a lot of publicity, even on television where in those days – we only had the BBC Channel – there was a limited service – and Walt Disney had very cleverly produced and released a short 15 min film of the making of this film – called The Riddle of Robin Hood which was shown again and again in the daytime when there was nothing on but the Test Card – something you never see nowadays.

This constant showing in the daytime mainly, meant that the already intense publicity for this film – from when it was being made, right up until release and afterwards – made us all go to the Cinema for this one. I have even heard of youngsters who went again and again to see the film.

I can’t remember many films with this scale of publicity.

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Marilyn Monroe – more pictures

It is always good to post anything about Marilyn Monroe on this Blog – She was a Film Star among film stars.

Marilyn

She was lovely and as they say ‘the camera LOVED HER’

Marilyn 2

One of the Great Stars of any era in Hollywood or anywhere really.

Marilyn outside her Home

Above: Marilyn outside her Hollywood Home

Marilyn in Bus Stop

She did come to England to star in The Prince and The Showgirl

Marilyn 3

One of her earlier roles was in River of No Return with Robert Mitchum – see Below – they seemed to get on very well and enjoyed making the film both studio-wise and on location in the Rocky Mountains.

River of No Return

 

This is a wonderful publicity still ABOVE for River of No Return

 

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Hedy Lamarr – New Film ‘Bombshell’

Hedy Lamarr was a beautiful Viennese-born film star who, after laying a trail of scandal and allure with her first international hit Ecstasy came to HollywoodHedy Lamarr 4

Above – A beautiful picture of Hedy Lamarr

In the daytime she was a film star but her hobby afterwards was inventing.

First she told Howard Hughes how to change the shape of his aeroplane wings to increase velocity. Then, with film composer George Antheil, she patented a frequency-hopping system for guiding radio-controlled torpedoes in the second world war to resist enemy jamming. The Navy didn’t take it up though until much later but by then she had let the patent lapse in 1959, thereby losing potential millions or billions — an invention that was the blueprint for Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS and more.

Hedy Lamarr 5

The new film / documentary ‘Bombshell’ is now out on release in this country. It’s told by filmmaker Alexandra Dean, who raids the archives, the scrapbooks, the photo albums and the cast of family survivors and of course the films. Hedy was fabulously beautiful – in her film career she is best-known role for playing  Delilah of DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949) with Victor Mature.

These were TWO Film Stars who knew how to pack a punch at the Box Office – and this film was a colossal hit.

Hedy Lamarr 3

Above – As Delilah  in Samson and Delilah 1949

This film is highly recommended.  It’s very well done, with lots of interesting film clips, interviews, and insight into Hedy Lamarr’s life and times.  She may, to a large extent,  be almost forgotten as a Hollywood beauty, and the value of her contribution to modern technology is – or was – even less known - but maybe this film will put that right.

However after this film – and the publicity it has had in the British Press – I think her career will now be much better known – Film Star and Inventor – quite a combination.

 

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