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James Roberston Justice – Again

Well here are two more pictures of this large than life actor – around the time of the release of The Sword and The Rose for Walt Disney in 1953

Here he is BELOW with his Falcon ‘Siubhlac ( Gaelic for Soft )

James Robertson Justice 2

 

He was quite a character no doubt and in some ways I admire how he grasped the chance to go into films and to become very successful. He was lucky enough to have a very good role as Little John in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men  and again – this time as the King in ‘The Sword and the Rose’  - Below – Both films for Walt Disney and both – particularly the first one – did very well at the Box Office on a Worldwide scale.  This gave him the publicity and credibility as an actor that he needed.

The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men 1952

 

 

 

The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men 1952

 

 

ABOVE        Two Stills from The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men 1952 where James Robertson Justice was ideally cast as 

Little John - What a wonderful film that was !!

 

As regards his many reputed exploits prior to the War – and after – I take much of this with a pinch of salt. He was a Storyteller and Fantasist not just  with his claim to have been born on the Isle of Skye which was  completely untrue but things like dropping his rifle in front of Hitler and fighting in the Spanish Civil War,  being a racing car driver – the list goes on.

I have a feeling though that there was some truth in the racing car driver claim.

Terrible tragedy struck him and his wife  when their son James died at the age of four in 1949 when he drowned in a mill stream near the family home in Whitchurch, Hampshire.

The loss of his son  must have been a heart breaking time for both  him and his wife – and it really broke their marriage as she blamed him for not fencing the access to the River nearby where their son lost his life. It must have been a devastating loss for them.

His wife eventually divorced him but not until many years later when his own health was breaking down.

James Robertson Justice

 

Really good colour picture from that time, I think – as Henry VIII in ‘The Sword and the Rose’ for Walt Disney

He was personal friends with Prince Philip and Prince Charles, who he seemed to take under his wing in that he taught him about falconry and other country pursuits  – I have a feeling that this may have when Prince Charles was at Gordonstoun and he lived just North of Inverness.

James Robertson Justice 2

Indeed Prince Philip attended the ceremony at which his friend James Robertson Justice was installed as Rector of Edinburgh University

ABOVE   Edinburgh University, Scotland. Actor James Robertson Justice is installed as the Rector - on 17 th February 1964

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Doris Day – One of the Greatest Stars in Hollywood History

 

 

Very sad to hear that Doris Day has died today although we have to say that she had reached the great age of 97

 

Doris Day

 

I make the claim in the title to this post of her being ‘One of the Greatest Stars in Hollywood history’ – and I stick by that

On Moonlight Bay

 

When it comes to ranking stars of a golden period in Hollywood, she would be in the very top echelon. I cannot think of another who compares to her.

 

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

The two films ABOVE were highly successful at the Box Office as was the one that followed it – Calamity Jane

Calamity Jane

-ABOVE  Scenes from  Calamity Jane

Calamity Jane 2

-ABOVE and BELOW -  Scenes from  Calamity Jane

Calamity Jane 3

I was listening this evening to a BBC Radio 4 programme paying tribute to Doris Day and it began with clips from the songs ‘The Deadwood Stage’  ‘ Secret Love’ and ‘ Que Sere Sera’ – and believe you me, they sounded wonderful – I had forgotten how good they were.

Reminiscing as you tend to do on these occasions, I always remember living in a village over 40 years ago, and there was a man in the local pub who had in the past over many years shown films in the local village hall – and these had been very popular.

He told me about it quite often, as he knew I was interested in the films – and he said that he had shown the film ‘Young at Heart’ with Doris Day and he described how wonderful it was to hear the projector and see the film  IN CLOUR as he stressed – and how lovely it had looked on the screen.  He of course mentioned Doris Day.  He seemed at that time almost lost in another world.  That little memory of how he described it and loved it, stays with me to this  day.

I can see and hear him now even though he was not someone I knew well at all.  Just a memory for me of Doris Day

This does not do justice I know to such a great star but I felt that today this had to be written.

I intend to  return to Doris Day in the future on this Blog

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Cliff Richard – In Films

 

When I was much younger, I remember going to see Cliff Richard and The Drifters ( as they would be before they changed their name to The Shadows ) over in the City of Hull where they were in a Pantomime – although it was less of a panto and more of a Rock n Roll show. They were fantastic and my brother and myself and some friends were so impressed by this live show of such stars. At that time Cliff was in his Rock n Roll early stage and to many of us, at his best.

 

Cliff In Panto 11 January 1960

An astonishingly long and successful career for Cliff Richard as regards his singing and to be fair his films also did very well from his first part in ‘Serious Charge’ with Anthony Quayle – this was a very good and dramatic film and then onto the two below which were more light hearted, colourful and with quite good storylines.

 

Cliff Richard

 

I can’t recall Cliff being dressed up as a cowboy though, but I have to say, he looks good and seems to fit the part. Maybe he should have gone to the USA and done a Western after all Elvis started with one – ‘Love Me Tender’ – and then on to King Creole which to me was his best – and then GI Blues – and the films then although very successful were not brilliant – but they gave the fans what they wanted.

However the picture of Cliff ABOVE – is from the film ‘Wonderful Life’

Cliff in Summer Holiday was on great form with a strong cast.

 

Cliff Richard 2

 

ABOVE:  Cliff with Una Stubbs and Jackie Daryl taking advantage of the location in the Canary Islands

Summer Holiday

Summer Holiday is one of those enchanting  films,  made when musicals were the rage in Hollywood. 

Cliff Richard really enjoys himself and displays to  the audience with his immense onscreen charisma as well as his songs and dance routines.

This well-cast film  also has Cliff Richard singing the theme song, which we can all sing along to –  “Summer Holiday”. Great entertainment and very good fun to watch

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Zulu – In 70 mm Technirama More Pictures


I did a Post on this film some months ago – and on the Technirama Process but have returned to it again – for today’s article.

Zulu, (1964), one of the last films made in Technirama, but a stunning example of the image quality available in the process, and a really good film, too.  Some lucky cinema – goers would have  seen the film in it’s 70mm format – and that would be impressive. 

ZuluThe film was produced by Cy Endfield and Stanley Baker, who also starred along with newcomer Michael Caine.

Zulu 2

Zulu is  a well made film recounting the historic battle of Rorke’s Drift, between a handful of British troops and a massive Zulu army.

Nowadays, I don’t know if there will ever be another showing of Zulu in Technirama 70 – there must be prints of the film that exist – but how wonderful it would be to have a suitable cinema with a 70 mm projector. On the huge screen this film – impressive by any standards – would be really mind blowing when screened as it should be seen. Very few of us have seen the film this way.

If, from my enquiries, I can find a print and a suitable 70 mm projection location then I will report back on this Blog.

Who knows, we just might be lucky.

A few scenes below from the film

Zulu 3Zulu 4Zulu 5Zulu 6Zulu 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dawn Adams and Anthony Steel

This is taken from a publication in November 1953 – at that time it appears that these two were close

Dawn Addams and Anthony Steel

 

ABOVE: Anthony Steel had just finished ‘Where No Vulture Fly’ and they were both watching the finished product in a Studio Screening Room

Dawn Addams and Anthony Steel 2

 

Film actors Anthony Steel, Dawn Adams, Robert Stack and Susan Stephens enjoying drinks at a nightclub after the showing of the Festival of Britain film “The Magic Box”, 1951

 

I really don’t know why Robert Stack was in England – he did not make a film here. He arrived in August 1951 and from this picture we see that he is still here in November 1951 but why ?  Maybe a stage play but I cant find any reference to one.

Anthony Steel and Dawn Adams -much later-  both appeared in the TV show ‘Crossroads’ along with another film actor of the 50s namely John Bentley who played Hugh Mortimer

Anthony Steel

Anthony Steel as Jocelyn Fortescue 

Another great role for Anthony Steel came in 1980 in an episode of ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ in which he starred alongside John Mills.    Both actors on top form – and Anthony Steel terrific as Foxley in ‘Galloping Foxley’.  This along with ‘The Sound Machine’ is my favourite of the ‘Tales of the Unexpected’

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Behemoth The Sea Monster 1959

 

In the Fifties we were treated to quite a lot of this type of film which must mean that they were successful at the Box Office.  Some of them like ‘The Giant Claw’ were quite frankly ludicrous and even at the time laughable – one of those films that was so bad that it was good.

However ‘Behemoth the Sea Monster’ was, for the time, a good film. Made in England at The National Studios, Borehamwood and much of the location work filmed in Cornwall.

 

Behemoth The Sea Monster 1959 4

There were many “giant-monster” films from the 50′s . Some were terrible. Most were good, including this one.  For the most part, the actors do a good job.  There is enough action to maintain interest and the story is pretty good - maybe not original though. This monster is not only radioactive but has an electric charge which emits  radiation.

Some use of stock footage as well which there often was in this sort of film.

 

 

Behemoth The Sea Monster 1959

BEHEMOTH THE SEA MONSTER is a British version of the classic GODZILLA story, although it’s more closely linked to THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS

British monster films are mostly entertaining  and this one is no exception –  the cast is full of decent, typically English types who  band together to tackle the menace coming their way.

BEHEMOTH THE SEA MONSTER tells a very typical storyline for the era.

The film features  American film actor Gene Evans, backed up by some heavyweight British talent in the form of a tough Andre Morell ( one of my favourite actors) and the likes of Jack MacGowran.

 

Behemoth The Sea Monster 1959 2

ABOVE – Behemoth rampages through the streets of London

Behemoth The Sea Monster 1959 3

ABOVE – Behemoth even attacks  The Houses of Parliament

Behemoth The Sea Monster 1959 5

ABOVE – A colour still from the film – probably and American Lobby Card.

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Charles Clarke OBE – Veteran of WW2 and The Great Escape has died

It is with great sadness this morning that I read of the death at the age of 95 of Charles Clarke OBE. 

He was also a member 617 Squadron – the Dam Busters – with its officers mess in The Petwood Hotel at Woodhall Spa – and it is there that I stayed along with my daughter and family  who were visiting from Australia in January of this year and met Charles Clarke and his friend who were also staying at the Hotel.

Charles Clarke

ABOVE – Charles Clarke – and right with his Squadron

The Petwood Hotel was a real favourite of his and he came back there often as it had great memories for him of those WW2 days. We were lucky enough to chat to him over breakfast and found him fascinating company – as did my young Grandaughters.

It was indeed a privilege to have met him and share a breakfast conversation with him.  He belonged to a young heroic band of men who risked their lives – and many gave their lives – in the cause of the nation and us all.

He was a very nice man -  an astonishing wartime story from a true War Hero.

Woodhall Spa

WORLD War Two hero Air Commodore Charles Clarke who was held as a prisoner during The Great Escape has died aged 95, it was announced last night.

The Lancaster Bomber crewman became a teenage prisoner of war in 1944 when his plane was shot down and he was captured by the Nazis.

The Officers Mess 617 Sqaudron

ABOVE The Officers Mess for 617 Sqaudron at the Petwood Hotel Woodhall Spa

Cdr Clarke was described as a “giant of our nation” by John Nichol, the former RAF navigator who was himself taken prisoner during the first Gulf War.

He tweeted: “V sad to say Air Cdre Charles Clarke has died aged 95. Shot down in 1944, 3 of his crew perished & he ended up in Stalag Luft 3 just before the Great Escape.

Then the prisoners at that camp – and Charles was one of them – were marched many miles in freezing conditions  back into Germany on what became  known as The Long March. Many prisoners did not survive.

“He was a wonderful man, a great friend, a supporter of countless charities & a giant of our nation. Blue skies Sir. RIP”

RAF Cosford in Shropshire also paid tribute to Cdr Clarke, who visited the training station in 2018 with fellow POWs.

“Devastated to hear this evening that Air Commodore Charles Clarke OBE has died. Lancaster bomb aimer and POW, he continued to inspire us all to the last,” the station tweeted.

Petwood Hotel 2

 

This post on the Blog filmsofthefifties.com – may not be film news but in a way it is.   Charles Clarke had been with 617 Squadron ( Dam Busters) and at the camp at the time of The Great Escape – and there are great links to the film world there.

BELOW: Air Commodore Charles Clarke was the man wielding the specially designed silver shovel at the groundbreaking ceremony today.

Charles Clarke at the Bomber Command Memorial Lincolnshire

Bomber Command veteran Air Commodore Charles Clarke OBE breaks the ground at Bomber Command Memorial in Lincoln in 2016

 

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Ronald Reagan – He loved riding horses

 

Ronald Reagan BELOW – on his favourite mare ‘Tar Baby’    He has just finished filming ‘Night Unto Day’ with Viveca Lindfors

Ronald Reagan

 

Ronald Reagan BELOW – Horse riding with The Queen at Windsor Castle in 1982

The Queen with Ronald Reagan at Windsor Castle in 1982

 

The Queen with Ronald Reagan at Windsor Castle in 1982 2

ABOVE – The Queen with Ronald Reagan riding in the grounds of Windsor Castle 1982

In 1983 The Queen and Prince Philip visited California on the Royal Yacht Britannia and hosted a special party there for President Reagan and His Wife.  Later in the visit she went to the Reagan’s Ranch but there had been a huge storm and a lot of rain and her motorcade had great difficulty going along the mountain road that led there.

On the Royal Yacht

They all seemed to get on very well and one senses warmth between them – maybe it was a shared love of horses and horse riding that gave them a common bond

BELOW : Alexis Smith is herself a horse lover – she was in her element when she was cast with Ronald Reagan in ‘Stallion Road’ – in the role of a horse trainer.

Alexis Smith

 

Anne Francis with her horse

Ann Francis above – another horse woman

Ronald Reagan 3

Ronald Reagan ABOVE – his greatest love is horse riding – here he is with a few of his horses

 

 

 

 

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Richard Todd and Walt Disney

 

As we all know, Walt Disney cast Richard Todd in three of his films – made here in England. 

 

The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men,  The Sword and The Rose and Rob Roy The Highland Rogue – the first one doing very well at the Box Office with next one quite good although Rob Roy didn’t fare that well.

 

Richard Todd and Walt Disney at Colney Island

 

The picture ABOVE and BELOW - has Richard Todd and Walt Disney on the ‘big dipper’ on Colney Island, New York in August 1953. 

Walt Disney Richard Todd Colney Island

 

Richard Todd was over there to promote  The Sword and The Rose and with that in mind  during his visit he did 26 Radio and TV appearance in the space of 23 days.   Only a few years before Elton Hayes had done the same promotional tour for The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men – in fact I am pretty sure that his was a larger and longer promotional visit – and it seems a very successful one.

Richard Todd recalled that the trip over to the USA was on the new Boeing Stratocruiser – and that the trip which was funded by Walt Disney stayed initially in an apartment at the Waldorf Towers.   However although this was luxurious,  there was no Air Conditioning – and the weather was VERY hot indeed so he said that one night he even thought of somehow getting g into the fridge for a while !!

After three weeks there, Richard’s wife Kitty joined him in New York but the very next day they flew on to California where they were booked into the Beverley Hills Hotel.

The next day, Walt Disney visited to welcome them and was just as kind and genial as ever. He then asked the two of them to join him and his family at their home in the Holmby Hills – where they saw his large rambling house set in large and beautifully kept gardens.

Walt Disneys Railway at his home

 

He had in the grounds a Barn resembling the one his family had somewhere in the mid-west of America when he was growing up – and of course he also had in the grounds  his own miniature railway

Not many actors who worked for Walt Disney were ever invited to his home but Richard Todd was one of those – I think that a few years later John Mills and his family went there also.

 

Walt Disney seemed to be , at that time, fascinated with the English and Richard Todd , for reasons I do not know, seemed very well connected at quite high levels in society of the time.

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Michael Gough – Dr Terror’s House of Horrors 1965

 

Michael Gough was poised and distinguished-looking, with an eloquent speaking voice.

 

I am doing this post today because this afternoon I watched ‘Dr Terrors House of Horrors’ with Peter Cushing and in one of the story segments Michael Gough appeared along with Christopher Lee – the story ‘the severed hand’ was quite gruesome as you can imagine

The Severed Hand

 

ABOVE – Christopher Lee is tormented by the severed hand – every where he goes – after he deliberately runs over Michael Gough a Painter, who has his hand severed – and the hand  seeks revenge – and is successful. BELOW:  Michael Gough makes a fool of Christopher Lee who plays the snobbish Art Critic  

 

Michael Gough

 

He was able to play seducers, serial killers and other well-bred villains to menacing effect as a deranged writer in Herman Cohen’s Horrors of the Black Museum (1959), a film which begins with a girl being killed by binoculars with steel spikes which shoot out from the eyepieces.

 

Michael Gough  also featured in Black Zoo (1963), Berserk (1967) and Trog (1970), and Konga (1961), as a mad scientist who turns a baby chimpanzee into a giant gorilla.

Michael Gough in Dracula

 

He played in Four films with Peter Cushing – Dracula (1958), Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965), The Skull (1965) and Top Secret! (1984). and three of these films also starred  Christopher Lee

 

Michael Gough 2

Prior to these films. I remember him playing the villain opposite Richard Todd in Walt Disney’s ‘The Sword and The Rose’ in 1953 which ended with the two of them sword fighting in the film’s climax.  They were fighting on the sea shore in a set resembling Lulworth Cove – and a very good duel it was with both giving their all.

The Sword and The Rose

 
In his middle and later years,he tended to be cast as the archetypal remote British gentleman. He played Anthony Eden in the  television play Suez 1956 (1979) and Livingstone in the epic television series The Search for the Nile.
However when Tim Burton was looking to cast Batman’s butler it was Gough’s role in this type of horror film, so bad that Burton had been unable to forget them, that commended him: “I know that man, he’s in terrible films!” Gough recalled Burton exclaiming.
Beginning with Batman (1989), he played Alfred Pennyworth in four Batman films and continued to work with Burton on such films as Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Alice In Wonderland. Yet he always regarded the stage as his true calling.
Michael Gough was born in Malaya on November 23 1916
Michael Gough was married four times. His first three marriages, to Anneke Wills (who played Dr Who’s sidekick Polly during the 1960s), Anne Leon and Diana Graves, were dissolved. He is survived by his fourth wife, Henrietta, and by a daughter and two sons.
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