Peter Cushing and Ann Todd on BBC Television 1954

This would be done in the days that the big BBC Play / Drama would go out Live.



Peter Cushing and Ann Todd Cover Radio Times


Peter Cushing helping with the washing up, with his co-star Ann Todd on the front of the Radio Times January 1954,….. they where both starring in ‘Tovarich’ which was to televised on Sunday 24th January 1954, in which Peter played Prince Mikhail Alexandrovitch Ouratieff

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When Worlds Collide

I remember this film from being a child – not so much because I saw the film which I didn’t until years later, but more because of the publicity that surrounded it at the time – and seeing what I think was a comic strip of the launching of the space ship at the end of the film – heading to the New World.

Below :  Working on the large scale models.


when worlds collide

Preparations  for filming.




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Betta St. John

This is from an interview with Betta St John

Whether singing Marlene Dietrich’s song “Little Joe” in Destry Rides Again or swimming with Tarzan, actress Betta St. John savored life in the Hollywood jungle.

A long-time resident of Banning, Betta St. John was born Betty Striegler in Hawthorne, California, on Nov. 26, 1929. She started in movies as a background player in the late 1930s and early 1940s using her real name.

“Betta, how did you get into acting?”

“Those were the days of Shirley Temple. Many mothers sent their daughters to dancing school. At age 7, I started with theatrical schools on Saturday – dancing, singing, and all the bits you do at an early age. If the studios needed children, they contacted the theatrical schools.

“I was seven or eight when I got my first background part receiving my social security number at age 8!

“The nearest I came to playing a substantial part as a child was in the classic western Destry Rides Again in 1939 with Marlene Dietrich [as Frenchy, a dancehall girl of the Wild West].

“I’ll never forget that day because I was taken to meet her for her approval and I was extremely nervous. She was wearing her dance hall outfit and had gold glitter in her hair. My eyes nearly popped out when I saw her; I’d never seen anyone dressed like that and as a ten-year-old I thought she was simply marvelous!”

That same year St. John was offered a role in the movie The Wizard of Oz but her parents turned it down.

“How were you cast in Destry Rides Again?”

“The sequence is near the film’s end, where you see me sitting in the back of a moving wagon reprising Dietrich’s “Little Joe” number. That was the only time I’ve ever sung full-strength with my own voice and no inhibitions.”

“I can’t imagine landing a role like that at ten years old! You must have had a wonderful voice.”

“Oh, I loved every moment of it. It was much more fun than school!”

In 1944, St. John appeared in an Our Gang short and in Jane Eyre in an unbilled role.

Rodgers and Hammerstein took notice of this young, attractive singing and dancing talent and cast her in a role in Carousel in 1945. She played Louise, the daughter of the principal players. When the musical team was ready to cast the role of Liat for their new musical South Pacific starring Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza in 1949, they had to look no further than the beautiful, exotic-looking Betta.

Betta St John High Tide at Noon

“Tell me about your experience on the New York stage.”

“A couple of years after Destry, things really happened fast. I was contacted by the New York Theater Guild, which already had done stage productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and Carousel and were working on South Pacific.

The Theater Guild workers came out to the West Coast because they were putting together various companies and needed more actors and actresses. Whatever I did obviously impressed them enough, because they came straight back and asked if I would go to New York, where they would put me into either Oklahoma! or Carousel, whichever one opened first.

“There I was, a sophomore in high school, faced with the choice of ‘Do you want to go back to school, or do you want to go to New York?’ In New York a whole new world opened up for me – a world I didn’t even know existed. You have to understand that I came from an un- sophisticated family and was so wet behind the ears! Later on I was cast in South Pacific playing Liat, one of the principal roles.”

“How long did you perform in Carousel and South Pacific?”

“Appearing on Broadway was a major step in my career and I was only 16 when I made my debut in New York. As you know, both plays were a huge success and lasted for well over a year. After New York, I went to England and appeared in the 1951 West End production of South Pacific.”

“Didn’t you meet your husband in England?”

“Yes, I did. Peter Grant was my leading man in the South Pacific production in London. In 1952, he became my husband.”

“Wasn’t your husband also a opera singer?”

“Yes, he was an opera singer and also sang in musicals. He mostly performed in London, but his company also toured Australia, New Zealand and the United States.”

Betta St John

In 1999, St. John, along with the remaining original cast, attended the 50th anniversary of South Pacific in New York. Her husband passed away in 1992 and was unable to attend with her.

St. John’s big splash on the musical stage soon led her back to films.

“What was your first movie role as an adult?”

“In 1953 at the age of 22, I played my first grown-up movie part, a royal Middle Eastern girl, in Dream Wife opposite Gary Grant. When this part came along, my name was still fresh from playing Liat in South Pacific, and the part in that film was very Liat-like. So MGM called me and I was tested in London and brought back to Hollywood.

“Immediately following that, I did a film called All the Brothers Were Valiant, also for MGM, which filmed in Jamaica. That was a lot of fun. In that movie, Stewart Granger, Ann Blyth and Robert Taylor played the leading roles.

“Right on top of those two movies I was cast in The Robe, starring Richard Burton. Richard was a legit actor who felt he was only in Hollywood for the money, but it was a lovely experience working with him. I played a crippled girl in that movie.”

“I understand you worked in both big studio films as well as low-budget films. What was that like?”

“Actually I kind of enjoyed it. It was a faster shooting schedule, and you didn’t get all the pampering and spoiling you did on bigger pictures. It must be what people experience nowadays when making an independent film – much more of a feeling that you’re involved. You understand what the whole thing is about, and you aren’t just a puppet who dances on a string.

“Dream Wife was shot in eight weeks. Going from an 8-week picture to one done in 10 days, suddenly you’re much more under pressure, but I liked it. Being a bigger part of something small was almost more enjoyable than being a smaller part of something big.”

Relaxing on the set

Above – Relaxing on the set with Gordon Scott

“How did you land the part in Tarzan in The Lost Safari?”

“I wasn’t tested for it; I was sent the script because the studio thought I was right for the part.”

“Was the interior jungle set as large and impressive as it appeared on screen?”

“Oh, it was one big set. The whole thing was done on one huge soundstage, including the river scene. There was one shot that was great fun. It was when the crocodile chases me. Of course it wasn’t a real crocodile, but it still made me swim fast!”

“Do you think Gordon Scott was a good Tarzan?”

Tarzan The Magnificent Gordon Scott and Betta St.John

“Physically, yes, but he wasn’t much of an actor. It was an unbelievable character anyway Š don’t you think? He was convincing in the action shots, but I haven’t seen many Tarzans to compare. I enjoyed seeing Greystroke, which was based on a book. But that movie wasn’t anything like the old Tarzan movies.

“Do you have a favorite movie that you played in?”

“There are two favorites. I enjoyed playing Princess Johanna in The Student Prince. It was always a thrill to work with professional actors such as Ann Blyth and Edmond Purdom who played the prince. Another favorite was High Tide at Noon set on an island in Nova Scotia. The movie was based on a book by the same name.”

BETTA ST JOHN The Student Prince with Edmund Purdom

Above: Betta St John and Edmund Purdom in The Student Prince

“In The Student Prince wasn’t Mario Lanza supposed to play the prince?”

“Yes he was, but he had a dispute with the studio and didn’t get the role, however, they did use his voice.”

“So how long was your acting career and why did you decide leave the business?”

“I thought my career was long enough (1953 to the early ’60s) and I didn’t feel I was giving up very much at that point. But I gave it up mainly because I wanted to stay home and raise the children and my family was much more important to me.

“Very few actors, even if they’re extremely successful, can keep a family and marriage together, with a good career going, too. By that time I had come to terms that I didn’t have the kind of acting ability that would keep on going forever.

“My last film, Horror Hotel, was sort of an embarrassment because I didn’t like horror movies. But I’m glad I did it because apparently it’s a cult film, and very good in its way.”

“How did you happen to end up in Banning of all places?”

“Well, my parents had a cabin in the Morongo Valley and we enjoyed our visits there. After my father passed away, we decided to move here to be near my mother. I’ve lived in Banning over 30 years and my children were raised here. After my husband died in ’92, I decided to stay in the area because I liked it here and I still have my home in London as well.”

“You’ve very fit, what do you do to stay in such great shape?”

“I practice yoga regularly and I attend Tai Chi classes in Yucaipa. I also like to hike; there’s so many great hiking trails in this area.”

“Do your children still live in this area?”

“No. My son is a television producer and lives in London. My daughter Deanna lives in Seattle and my other daughter Karen now lives in Utah. When Karen lived here, she did some acting and was involved with the local theater. For four seasons she played the lead role in the play Ramona that’s performed in Hemet every year.”

Betta St. John appeared in 38 films and a number of television productions. She has homes in Banning and England. In the summer she travels back to the U.K., where she enjoys activities like hiking the cliffs of Dorset.

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A View From the Bridge at a Theatre In London with a famous guest

Marilyn Monroe in England  for the filming of The Prince and The Showgirl 1956 is seen here at the Comedy Theatre in London and is waiting to see a performance of  a View From The Bridge – a play written by her husband Arthur Miller.

Marilyn at the Theatre in London 1956

I am sure she enjoyed it. Arthur Miller is seated on the Left of the picture

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Hells Island 1955

This is a film I do not know at all but came across this poster for it today. Hells Island 2     It is filmed in VistaVision – and stars John Payne and Mary Murphy. Mary Murphy and John Payne having fun on the set of Hells Island Above: John Payne and Mary Murphy having fun on the set of Hells Island 1955. I didn’t know anything about Mary Murphy but looking her up it seems that she was in quite a lot of films but none of them well remembered but she was a very attractive actress so would certainly have caught the Directors and Producers Eyes at the time I would think. She was briefly married in 1956 to Dale Robertson – in fact she was married to him from June 1956 to September 1956 – so even by Hollywood standards this was brief.  However they remained friends – they had met when they both appeared in the film Sitting Bull in 1954

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Angels One Five 1952 again with more filming shots

Much of the filming for Angels One Five was done at Kenley in Kent. This even involved converting one smallish building on the Airfield into a makeshift film studio.

Below:  Jack Hawkins acting out a scene in the film – I love the caption too.

Filming at Kenley 1951

Angels One Five - Refreshments

 Above – An Ultra Modern Kitchen Trailer owned by Len Camplin is on site to look after the Actors and Film Staff and along with his catering  crew they are able to ensure everyone has food and drink in those long filming hours – done o0ver the summer of 1951

John Gregson and Colleagues 1951 filming Angels One Five

Above:  John Gregson is carried shoulder high by his colleagues

Angels One Five 6

Above: Humphrey Lestocq in a scene .

and Below: John Barry, Humphrey Lestocq, John Gregson and Douglas Hurn

Angels One Five 7














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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I just love this publicity shot from the 1960 film The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huckleberry Finn It also starred former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Archie Moore – in his first real film role although he went on the make a few more including Breakheart Pass with Charles Bronson in 1975.

Archie Moore


Above – An unusual picture. It shows Archie Moore being visited on the set of this film by Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Ingmar Johanneson towards the end of 1959 and here they are lifting co-star Eddie Hodges off the ground. Charming picture.

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The Snorkel 1958

Just purchased and watched The Snorkel – actually bought  it with Spanish sub titles – but it was an English version. Very good too with Peter Van Eyck as the sinister murderer and Mandy Miller as his stepdaughter who suspects he has murdered her Mother who he had married and before that her Father a few years before.

Also in the cast was Betta St.John playing Candy’s governess – More about her in a later post.

Quite an ingenious plot

The Snorkel (1958)

On holiday from a British boarding school, Candy Brown (Mandy Miller) visits her mother and stepfather at their villa in a Italian coastal town. To her shock, Candy learns that her mother has committed suicide by sealing herself in a room and turning on the gas. Candy immediately suspects foul play, but the police inspector insists that’s impossible: the servants found Candy’s mother in a locked room completely sealed from the inside. The young woman remains unconvinced. She believes the murderer is her stepfather Paul (Peter Van Eyck). As a girl, Candy claimed that she saw Paul drown her father. No one believed Candy then and no one believes her now, not even her companion, Jean (Betta St. John). It appears that Paul has a perfect alibi. And besides, as the inspector pointed out, how could murder be committed inside a locked room?

Peter Van Eyck Above
 Mandy Miller was very believable as Candy. Peter van Eyck was sometimes downright creepy.


The Snorkel may not be the best movie produced by Hammer Films, but it’s a good film





The film had its premier aboard the luxury liner Queen Elizabeth, during a crossing of the Atlantic in May 1958

The Snorkel (1958)
Paul Decker murders his wife in her Italian villa by drugging her milk and asphyxiating her by gas. He cleverly locks the bedroom from the inside and hides inside a trapdoor in the floor until after the body is discovered by servants. He uses a scuba snorkel connected to tubes on the outside to breathe during the ordeal. Decker’s stepdaughter Candy suspects him immediately, especially since no suicide note was found. She also is convinced that he murdered her father years before, but her accusations fall on deaf ears. The ruthless Decker even poisons the family spaniel when the pet takes too great an interest in the mask and realizes he will ultimately have to get rid of Candy too.

The Snorkel (1958) 3

The Snorkel (1958) 2

The Snorkel (1958) 1

 William Franklyn pictured above also featured in the film. He had a long career in both films and television where he was a familiar face – one thing he is remembered for is the Schweppes advertisements which he was in for a long time.


There is a very exciting swimming sequence in the film – which looked like ending in disaster for Candy but for the intervention of Betta St John who swims out to the two of them and effectively saves Mandy Miller.

I has read that Peter Van Eyck commented after the film was done that the Producers when casting his role had not asked him if he could swim. Luckily he could because, as he said, there was quite a bit to do in this sequence – mind you they could have used a double I reckon. Mandy Miller also swam just as much as he did – maybe more – as in this shot below :

The Snorkel 1958













It is

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Angels One Five 1952

This film I remember was shown in the local village hall where I live sometime in the mid fifties. We had at that time a full film programme every Tuesday evening and we loved it – and the films we saw there as youngsters were memorable to say the least. This was one of those – a film about the Battle of Britain with terrific sequences filmed at Kenley Airfield in Kent – over which the famous battle was fought. One scene from the film – which was on BBC TV in England today Saturday 7 th. January 2017 – showed the RAF fighters scrambled and then we saw maybe seven Spitfires / Hurricanes taxiing out to the runway – a scene that could not be done today – and then even better, as Dulcie Gray  walked beside the airfield the fighters took off two at a time in a spectacular sequence that would be more impressive today than when the film was released I reckon because people would still remember it well from only 7 or 8 years earlier and also they would not be looking at it with the same nostalgic eyes that we would today.

Angels One Five 5

Above: Spitfires and Hurricanes  over Kent.



There was a cast of stalwart British Actors taking part – many of them would have served in the forces only a few years earlier so knew exactly what it was all about.

Angels One FiveAngels One Five 1

Filmed mainly at RAF Kenley and at the real operations block at RAF Uxbridge.

Angels One Five 4

Above: A German Fighter is shot down over Kent.

Based around events at a RAF fighter station in the summer of 1940,  T.B. ‘Septic’ Baird (John Gregson) arrives in a heap by landing his Hurricane on its nose in a garden at the end on the runway.  Captain ‘Tiger’ Small is played by  Jack Hawkins.

Angels One Five 2Angels One Five 3


Jack Hawkins: Group Captain \’Tiger\’ Small
Michael Denison: Squadron Leader Peter Moon
Dulcie Gray: Nadine Clinton
John Gregson: Pilot Officer \’Septic\’ Baird
Cyril Raymond: Squadron Leader Barry Clinton
Veronica Hurst: Betty Carfax
Harold Goodwin: AC 2 Wailes
Norman Pierce: \’Bonzo\’
Geoffrey Keen: Company Sergeant Major

Production Team

George More O\’Ferrall: Director
Frederick Pusey: Art Direction
Christopher Challis: Cinematography
Daniel Birt: Film Editing
Polly Young: Makeup Department
Kenneth Mackay: Makeup Department
Derek N Twist: Producer
John W Gossage: Producer
Derek N Twist: Script
HL Bird: Sound Department
Harold V King: Sound Department
Alfred Wilson: Sound Department

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Going Fishing – with Jack Hawkins

This picture was in a Film Book of  1957


Jack Hawkins with his wife and son Nicholas. They have another son Andrew and a daughter.

They live close to the Thames so maybe this is where they are in this shot. Lovely picture though.

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