Paddy Ryan – Stuntman in action in Ivanhoe at Torquilstone castle

One of the most famous – and remembered stunts in 50s film history is this 100 ft dive from the top of Torquilstone Castle in Ivanhoe 1952. Although there are a lot of stunts in this film, there is one that stands out  and that is Paddy Ryan’s fall.  This was reported to be the highest fall at that time in films.



Mind you the publicity machine would be pleased to use this in the run up to the film release in 1952

Ivanhoe 1952

In the film Ivanhoe openly rides to Torquilstone castle to give himself up to the Normans if they will release his father and other hostages.

Ivanhoe 2 1952

Stuntman Paddy Ryan’s fall from the battlements of a castle into the moat below, became the stuff of legend amongst his stuntmen peers because it was so spectacular.

Ivanhoe 3 1952

Torqilstone Castle was built for the film in the grounds of the MGM Studios at Boreham Wood in Hertfordhsire – and in  fact was kept there for and used in later films of the mid Fifties.

Somewhere in my collection of Film Books / Annuals of the time, I have another – and better picture of this fall, so will try to look that up for a later article on this site – and we will also come back to Torqilsone Castle.

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Dunkirk 1958

A few nights ago in our local pub, we discussed the new film Dunkirk and one older man who had been to see it said that it was good – but not as good as the original.   A couple of us couldn’t think of a previous film about Dunkirk except for the ones such as Mrs Miniver which had parts of it concerned with the event but we couldn’t remember a so called ‘original’ film of Dunkirk – so we both concluded that he was mistaken.

I later looked on the imdb site – and found that he had been quite correct – and in fact came across the 1958 film Dunkirk starring John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Bernard Miles among many other well known faces. Not only that but quite a few of the reviewers who had seen both films concluded that in fact the 1958 film was the better of the two versions.

Now I am on a mission to acquire and see the older film. It was directed by Barry Norman’s Dad the Director Leslie Norman and much of it was filmed around Rye Harbour in Sussex and Camber Sands nearby. Dunkirk 1958 - Filming In the Studio Tank Leslie Norman recalls  ‘Dunkirk was bloody difficult to make from a logistics point of view. Yet it was made for ₤400,000 and came in under budget’ Action Scene - Dunkirk 1958

One Reviewer posted this – an extract from it here :-

Dunkirk is one of the best war movies I have ever seen. It was nice to see Sir John Mills in one of his best if not – THE best roles he ever was in. The makers of this fine film did a most excellent job in portraying as accurately as possible; the terrible events that made up Dunkirk.

The cast was excellent

Filming at Camber Sands

Above:  John Mills and Bernard Lee being filmed here with the travelling camera.

Dunkirk 1958

Above:  Admin work on he set OR maybe a scene from the film

Improvised Filming

It appears that the camera – Above – is adapted for filming close to the water

John Mills relaxes for a moment - Dunkirk 1958 Above: John Mills reads the script

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Kinematograph Weekly Christmas1951

Recently I purchased the Kinematograph Weekly magazine which seems to be the Bumper Christmas Edition of 1951 – in fact it is dated 20 December 1951. Fascinating reading from the era – which seems to advertise mainly trade items plus films available on 16 mm and many other interesting items which we will feature in the future.






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Elsa Martinelli

Kirk Douglas and Elsa Martinelli

Elsa Martinelli
(January 30, 1935 – July 8, 2017)

Elsa Martinelli was an Italian model and actress. She was “introduced” in The Indian Fighter (1955), which was produced by its star, Kirk Douglas, and directed by Andre de Toth.

Italian actress Elsa Martinelli, who starred opposite Kirk Douglas in the 1955 Western “The Indian Fighter” and went on to gain international recognition working with such directors as Mario Monicelli, Roger Vadim, Orson Welles, Howard Hawkes, and Elio Petri, died Saturday 8 July 2017 in Rome at the age of 82.

Born in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, Martinelli moved to Rome in the early 1950s and started a career as a model. She soon appeared in “Vogue” and “Life,” which is where she was noticed by Kirk Douglas’ wife, Anne Buydens.

Martinelli made her acting debut in 1954 in the Stendhal adaptation “Le Rouge et le Noir,” directed by France’s Claude Autant-Lara. But her breakthrough role came the following year in Andre de Toth’s “The Indian Fighter,” which Douglas produced.

Elsa Martinelli

Martinelli went on to alternating roles in European and U.S. productions, working with Monicelli in “Donatella” (1956); with Vadim, opposite Mel Ferrer, in “Blood and Roses” (1960); with Hawkes in “Hatari!” (1962); with Welles in Kafka adaptation “The Trial” (1962); and with Petri in campy social satire “The 10th Victim” alongside Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress (1965).

Elsa Martinelli 2

Martinelli’s role as a lower-class young woman mistaken for a high-society lady in “Donatella” won her the Silver Bear acting award at the 1956 Berlin Film Festival.

Elsa Martinelli 3

She appeared in more than 40  films and, starting in the 1970s, moved more towards TV work in Italy, most recently in hit miniseries “Orgoglio” in 2005, in which she played the Duchess of Monteforte.

Martinelli’s last role in an English-language film was as Carla the Agent in Eugene Levy-directed ensemble comedy “Once Upon A Crime,” in 1992.

Martinelli married twice, first to Franco Mancinelli Scotti di San Vito and subsequently, in 1968, to Paris Match photographer Willy Rizzo.

She is survived by a daughter from her first marriage, Cristiana Mancinelli, who is also an actress.

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With the introduction of, CinemaScope in the very early Fifties, Cinemas had hit back at the success of Television – Cinemascope had done what it set out to do — help bring back some of the audiences lost to television. With TV still in Black and White for years to come , 20th Century-Fox insisted that all their CinemaScope pictures had to be in Colour and Stereo, although the stereo sound stipulation was not long adhered to,  but they did keep the Colour  rule.

Regal Films – a B Movie company managed to persuade Fox to let them use the Cinemascope format for Black and White films – by changing them to REGALSCOPE.  Effectively the same as Cinemascope but in Black and White.

Around  50 RegalScope films were made in the late Fifties  — all of them cheap, most of them Westerns. These Westerns star folks like John Agar, Jim Davis, Beverly Garland and Forrest Tucker.

Eventually as time went on Fox would drop its colour for Cinemascope stipulation and so we got  some terrific black and white CinemaScope films like Forty Guns (1957), Sink The Bismark! (1960) and The Innocents (1961).  Regalscope films tend to be  hard to find but I do have a wide screen version of The Abominable Snowman with Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker which is very good, but usually a pan-and-scan transfer doesn’t look good at all.


Above: The Quiet Gun (1957), a good little RegalScope picture directed by William F. Claxton.

Lure of the Swamp 1957

Another film I have just come across filmed in Regalscope  is LURE OF THE SAMP 1957. Not a film I know of though but extracts from a review I came across are as follows :-

It is a decent enough thriller, seemingly filmed entirely in the Florida Everglades, which does lend a dramatic background. The storyline centre on Simon ( Marshall Thompson) who rents boats for swamp excursions and as a result he gets mixed up with bank robbers who hide their contraband in the swamp somewhere.

The Production Company got their money’s worth with Marshall Thompson who is nearly in every shot, not so surprising as the cast is very small. He does a good job.  The real scene-stealer is, of course,  Jack Elam in typical Elam-style. There’s been nobody like him before or since, and here he is on fine form.

The action may be slow to build, but is still not without interest.


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Cricket in a Hollywood Golden Era

The Hollywood Cricket Cub was founded in 1932 by C Aubrey Smith, an ex-pat British character actor who specialised in officer-class types, and was a good enough player to have captained England for one Test match in South Africa in 1889. Smith was helped by the hugely famous  actor Boris Karloff – in reality a south Londoner called William Pratt – and in its pomp the club could put out teams that featured Karloff, David Niven, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce – who played Dr Watson to Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes – and Ronald Colman. Female stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland would take tea in the clubhouse on Sunday afternoons.

Boris Karloff, pictured above bowling, at an match in 1948 for the OCC (Overseas Cricket Club).


Novelist Evelyn Waugh satirized the HCC and  C. Aubrey Smith in his novel “The Loved One”,  calling him Sir Auberon Abercrombie.


The city authorities gave a portion of Griffith Park, close to the film studios in Burbank. Another $30,000 was raised to build a clubhouse and English grass seed was imported for the pitch. PG Wodehouse, the highest-paid scriptwriter in Hollywood at the time, took the minutes at the first meeting. It was very much the thing to do and the place to be to seen for British actors – Laurence Olivier played one game.” Famously Olivier arrived at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood in 1933 to find a handwritten note from Smith: “There will be nets tomorrow at 9am. I trust I shall see you there.”
 Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant attend a benefit match.


With such a cast, one imagines life was lively at the club. David Niven and Errol Flynn lived down on the beach in a place nicknamed Cirrhosis-by-the-Sea.

They enjoyed all the benefits that being a film star brought them to the absolute full. I think they were very naughty boys.  Sadly the glory days of the Hollywood Cricket Club are over. In the early era those actors knew their stock-in-trade was their Englishness and they maintained it through their lifestyle with the Hollywood Cricket Club. The more English they were the more saleable they were, in a way. It was a brand extension. Today though British actors routinely play American roles and what was once a three-week journey from the UK to LA can now be done in ten hours. So the social side, almost inevitably, died out.

Below:   Bob Hope and Bung Crosby with Joan Collins filming The Road to Hong Kong – the picture has no connection with the Hollywood Cricket Club – this film was made in England at Shepperton Film Studios – BUT then again the connection could just be CRICKET !!!

 Playing Cricket




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Goodbye Roger Moore – the finest 007 of them all

Sir Roger Moore has died earlier this week on 23 May 2017. We saw him with his touring show in  York a couple of years ago – the first half he chatted with a colleague on stage about his career and after the interval opened up for questions from the audience – and it was a very full house that evening including the Archbishop of York  – another fan it seems. He was witty, funny and had many stories from his varied film and TV life. He always  looked like a Film Star. NVS0351 When you stop to think about it, he started in films in 1945 as an extra on Caesar and Cleopatra and has completed films still to be released so his career spanned so many years – in fact astonishingly Eight Decades Roger Moore as Ivanhoe Above: Roger Moore as Ivanhoe His Television fame started with Ivanhoe which was a very good attempt to capitalise on the success of the Robin Hood series with Richard Greene and after that he did The Alaskans in the USA and Maverick in which he played Beau Maverick. After that came The Saint and then The Persuaders with Tony Curtis. ( with that great them song by Tony Christie)


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New Spring Issue of ‘Movie Memories’ magazine

Through the letterbox yesterday came this great magazine – and what a Red Letter Day it is when this one arrives. This is Issue No. 88 and our Editor Chris Roberts has done his usual superb job with snippets from films, film stars, events and so on.


Chris gives us a lot of fascinating items from his visit to the Renown Festival of Film held earlier this year at Rickmansworth in February this year. Then there is an article on  film actress Beverley Garland who I remember appeared with BOMBA ( Johnny Sheffield) in Killer Leopard in 1954.


After that we can read about Winchester 73,   Yield to the Night with Diana Dors  and a picture of George Formby and Dinah Sheridan in Get Crackin – and on the back page a great colour poster of Ronald Colman in A Double Life – for which he won an Oscar. If you wish to subscribe to this excellent magazine just go to the web site   :-  

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Burnham Beeches 1949

I just could not resist posting these TWO images of Burnham Beeches – shot in that lovely soft and bright colour process of the day.

These pictures were take in 1949

Burnham Beeches in AutumnBurnham Beeches in Winter 1949


Burnham Beeches has been used in many films as a location but never used  better than in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men  filmed in the summer of 1951 – just two years after these photographs were taken.




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Bobby Driscoll with Captain Flint

My previous post was all about Walt Disney and his family in Norton Disney Lincolnshire, when he were over here overseeing the filming of Treasure Island in 1949.  This item covers the actual film :-

I have just come across this wonderful still – a publicity still from Treasure Island 1950 (  film released in 1950)


Bobby Driscoll came over here for a few months in mid 1949 to star in the Disney film – made at Denham Film Studios. Apparently he had to get a work permit and had difficulty with this but when he did, it was for a limited time. Consequently all the scenes that he played in had to be completed quite quickly so he would comply with the Government regulation at the time. This was, after all, only 4 years after the end of the war.

Actually I do think that his parents were taken to court over his outstaying this period – and below is information I have located on this situation :-

Treasure Island was filmed in the United Kingdom, and during production it was discovered that Bobby Driscoll did not have a valid British work permit, so his family and Disney were fined and ordered to leave the country. They were allowed to remain for six weeks to prepare an appeal, during which director Byron Haskin hastily shot all of Driscoll’s close-ups,using his British stand-in to film missing location scenes after he and his parents had returned to California

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