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.

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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.


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

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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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Safari 1956 – Victor Mature

This film was shown the other day on the wonderful TALKING PICTURES Channel. I was pleasantly surprised how good the filom was and it had high production values being filmed partially in Kenya – in Colour and Cinemascope – so we got the full blast. There may have been stock footage which I have seen mentioned but I do not think so – I reckon all that appeared was filmed on the location shoot.

The Story is as follows :-

An expert African guide, Ken Duffield ( Victor Mature) seeks revenge against the leader of a gang of rebellious Mau Mau who killed his family while he was away. His licence revoked for his own good, Duffield is hired anyway by a wealthy hunter, Sir Vincent Brampton, (Roland Culver) who is used to getting his own way and seems quite ruthless.  Also we have Sir Vincent’s fiancée, Linda Latham played by Janet Leigh.

John Justin also stars – he was a big star in English Films years before but he was away fighting for his country – and when he returned he did not seem to have the same status and popularity as before. A pity really as he was pretty good in his role here.

Safari 1956

Safari 1956 with the FOUR quite big Stars of the day – and they were all very good in this action packed film.

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Victor Mature in Safari with Roland Culver and Janet Leigh – ABOVE

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Victor Mature in Safari – Again with Roland Culver ABOVE

Safari 1956 4

Victor Mature in Safari – chats to Janet Leigh who he is getting close to ABOVE

Safari 1956 3

This is a  wonderful film and not what you might expect.  The scenery is breathtaking and clear and in Cinemascope.  The actors were well up to the job on this film. It was a great blending of talent and location. This film is not a documentary about animals but it . The film had suspense and  action – and COLOUR.

Safari 1956 2

Above: Janet Leigh and John Justin relax at the side of the river then John goes off to talk to someone and Janet Leigh decides to go for a ride on the river in the small boat they have there. This starts one of the film’s most thrilling sequences.

Janet Leigh on the River

Janet Leigh on the River with Hippos

Janet Leigh on the River with Crocodiles

Safari Crocodiles 2

Safari Crocodiles 3

Safari Crocodiles 4

Safari Crocodiles 5

Janet Leigh on the River 2

Janet Leigh on the River 3

Janet Leigh on the River 5Janet Leigh at the waterfall

Janet Leigh at the waterfall 2

Janet Leigh on the River 3

Janet Leigh at the waterfall 4



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An Ideal Husband – Alexander Korda

The well know Oscar Wilde play makes the screen here in 1948

An Ideal Husband - Film Set

Shooting took 66 days. Paulette Goddard’s husband, Burgess Meredith, was making the film  – Mine Own Executioner for Korda at the same time.    After filming, the two of them appeared on stage in Dublin in Winterset

Korda subsequently lent some of the costumes for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

An Ideal Husband - Film Set 3.

These wonderful structures were built at Denham

An Ideal Husband - Film Set 2

Work going on erecting the outside sets.

AnIdeal Husband 1947 Korda

Above: Alexander Korda – typically with Large Cigar in Hand – directing Glynis Johns in a scene from An Ideal Husband 1947

This film was shot in glorious Technicolor. It is a film I have not seen lately if at all if I think about it although it gets good reviews.

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Arnold Ridley

Arnold Ridley who as we all know, became so famous as Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army did have a very long acting career before he got that role.

In the Fifties he appeared in the film Green Grow The Rushes – which we have featured here and also an episode of White Hunter with Rhodes Reason.

He had been injured  during World War I ,and so the young Arnold Ridley was forced to give up a his acting career and turn to writing. He hit the jackpot with ‘The Ghost Train’ which was a great West End success and has been filmed at least twice. He had other plays during the 1920s and 1930s but with the success of The Ghost Train. 

The Ghost Train

The Ghost Train above – Arthur Askey in the Film Version – Very Good it was too !!

Arnold Ridley with his Son

Above – a really lovely picture of Arnold Ridley with his son, Nicholas – Born 1946

In later life he returned to acting, and was cast in  his most famous role as Private Godfrey in the BBC comedy series Dad’s Army (1968) from 1968 to 1977.

The horrors of World War 1  had come flooding back when, in September 1939, he went to war once more, returning to France with the British Expeditionary Force – this time with the rank of major.

In an unpublished memoir written towards the end of his life, he recalled: ‘Within hours of setting foot on the quay at Cherbourg, I was suffering from acute shell-shock again. It took the form of a mental suffering that can best be described as an “inverted” nightmare.

‘I (had) suffered badly from nightmares between the wars. They always took the same form. Somehow or other, my discharge had gone wrong and I was back in the Army again. Not amid shot, shell, bayonet and other horrors, but merely back in France awaiting orders to go up to the front line once more. These dreams were so real that sometimes it would take me an hour or more to persuade myself that what I had dreamed was impossible.

‘Now it was no longer impossible. My dream had caught up with me. My real and conscious life was now my nightmare – a nightmare from which I had no awakening.’

However the picture Below needs no introduction :

Arnold Ridley


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More Pictures from Disney – this time Treasure Island 1950

The Post before this was on the subject of the Walt Disney Classic The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men.

This starred Richard Todd – and once during a Radio Show he was introducing a clip from Treasure Island – and he said of Robert Newton – ‘What a Voice – and What an act to follow – and I should know because I was the person who did just that in Walt Disney’s next production made in England The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men.

Richard did indeed follow on in the Disney Live Action Film and The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men was a big success on a World Scale - so it appears Walt Disney chose wisely.

I have heard it said that Walt’s daughters had wanted Richard Todd to be cast as Robin Hood following his success in the The Hasty Heart which had gone so well in the USA.  It would seem that his daughters persuaded their father to cast him – and as a Father of two daughters, I can understand that they would get their way – but they were absolutely right on this.

Coming back to Treasure Island – Below

Again I have recently acquired some superb – and crystal clear pictures of Treasure Island as below :-

Treasure Island 1950

Above: On board the Hispaniola

Treasure Island 1950 3

Above: ‘One More Step Mr Hands, and I blow your brains out ‘

Treasure Island 1950

But of course Israel Hands did not heed the warning

Treasure Island 1950 2

Above: Long John escapes with Jim – who he releases on the shore further down.


Above: Long John chats with Captain Smollett and Squire Trelawney


NVS0616Above: Long John approaches the Stockade and asks for a Truce

Just for good measure, we have included  BELOW this Delightful Publicity Still from the Film – Bobby Driscoll here with Captain Flint

Bobby Driscoll with Captain Flint


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