Another Double Bill Film Programme from 1952



An injured soldier, Jeff Chandler, falls for nurse Loretta Young and the two soon wed and have a lovely daughter. Sounds typical with a poor girl marrying a rich, handsome businessman like Jeff. However she hides a dark secret – Loretta was in jail as no one believed her innocence in the participation of a robbery.


She never told Jeff about her former life. Years later, the guy who led her down this path, suddenly shows up one afternoon and kidnaps her with the child. After another robbery, there is a high speed chase and the guy is killed instantly. Loretta and daughter survive the wreck physically-but there are plenty of emotional problems as a result. An enraged Jeff accuses Loretta of being a tramp and immediately files for divorce and gains full custody of the child.


Loretta takes a job as an entertainer for children’s parties. Her sister-in-law takes her in but  since this is years later, the child does not know that Loretta is her mother. Unexpectedly, Jeff comes home and there are fireworks.


The  film is really well  done with Chandler showing that he was a good actor. His emotional outbursts are believable. Loretta Young is subdued but as always turns in a competent performance.

Because of You 1952


About making the film, Loretta Young said she found Jeff Chandler very attractive and he told her that he was falling in love with her. She further stated that the relationship never progressed beyond hand-holding outside their love scenes, “but I think until he died, we both felt it. If I’d see him on the street I’d walk the other way because I didn’t want to spark anything.”


Double Bill film programme


HORIZONS WEST 1952 In Technicolor from Universal

Horizons West has  Robert Ryan and Rock Hudson as the Hammond brothers, Confederate veterans of the Civil War who take different lessons from losing the conflict.    
Rock just wants to go back and settle down with their parents John McIntire and Frances Bavier and make their cattle ranch pay. Robert Ryan does not like being on the losing side and wants to be rich and powerful. Only problem is that Yankee carpetbaggers like Raymond Burr are grabbing everything in the South that’s of any value.
After a humiliating poker defeat from Burr, Ryan vows to get even and get Julie Adams who is Burr’s wife and whom he takes a fancy to.
Horizons West 1952
Budd Boetticher directed this and while Boetticher is more famous for some of the features he did with Randolph Scott, this one has a lot to recommend it. Robert Ryan gives a powerful performance as a man twisted by both revenge and defeat.
He does defeat Raymond Burr, but in the process loses his humanity and his family though he gains JulieAdams for what good that does him in the end.
Horizons West 1952 2
ABOVE – Robert Ryan and Rock Hudson
This western has the distinction of  performances by James Arness and Dennis Weaver before they co-starred in Gunsmoke. Arness plays a Confederate veteran friend of both Hammond brothers who gravitates to Hudson. Weaver is another Confederate veteran who becomes Ryan’s second in command in the rustling gang he first organises in his quest for power.
Horizons West still holds up well  - Recommended for Western fans.
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Conflict of Wings 1955 – Beautiful Colour and typically English

This was a British Film made in Colour – and I say this because, as we all remember, at that time it was a big attraction when a film was in Technicolor. Conflict of Wings 1955 2

The title in a way is intriguing and appealing and yet it is difficult to discern what it is until you either read about it or see the film



Conflict of Wings 1955 3



The film starred John Gregson, Muriel Pavlow and Kieron Moore

Conflict of Wings 1955 4 The film is splendidly English with villagers taking on the might of the Royal Air Force over nesting birds. Against this background “Conflict of wings” portrays the people of the beautiful county of Norfolk at odds with the Authorities over the potential damage to their bird sanctuary.

The RAF personnel are cast as the not very bad bad guys using an area frequented by nesting birds as a firing range.

Conflict of Wings 1955 5


The film makes its point and has  excellent performances in the British tradition and a wonderful support cast including ex – RAF pilot Humphrey Lestocq – at the time  as already mentioned on the Blog. on BBC children’s’ TV “Whirligig” with Mr Turnip.

“H.L.” as he was known, had a  career in film acting and Radio. P


lane enthusiasts  will love the shots of the Vampires and Meteors.   


If you love that quintessentially English county of Norfolk the scenery of its beautiful northern coast will enchant you.  “Conflict of wings” is rural England and its inhabitants coming together  


Conflict of Wings 1955 6 A Vampire Jet roars overhead Conflict of Wings 1955 7

ABOVE – John Gregson and Harry Fowler with a Meteor Jet

Conflict of Wings 1955 8   ABOVE - Actors again with a  Meteor Jet Conflict of Wings 1955 9 ABOVE - Niall MacGinnis and Muriel Pavlow play a scene together 


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Roy Disney – Walt’s Older Brother and Long Term Business Adviser

Roy Disney – the man behind the curtain

 No story of Walt Disney World would be complete without a tribute to the forgotten Disney. Roy was Uncle Walt’s older brother

Roy O. Disney 2

While Walt Disney was undoubtedly one of the most creative people to live in our time, Roy O. Disney was the man behind the scenes that made the dreams come true. He had a gift for getting Walt’s nutty projects financed and getting Walt to finish them.

Walt was always more of a  showman. He loved attention. He was  full of energy. From the time Walt was in high school he was a performer along with an artist. Roy was the quiet one.

Roy and Walt Disney

Walt Disney died in 1966 and the Disney company almost died with him. Walt’s dream of a “Disney World” was in disarray. There was no one left at Disney who could drive the project. Up until then every project had been driven by Walt and the company was leaderless.


Then came Roy to the rescue.

Roy O Disney


Like a lot of comic book hero’s Roy Disney led a life in the shadows. The shadows of a brilliant genius.


Roy O. Disney


Walt Disney was a man with lots of dreams, he just didn’t have any real money sense. After his first company went bankrupt (his last company without Roy) he moved to California and hooked up with his older brother. Roy was able to get some financing and the brothers pooled their resources and had $750.00 to work on Walt’s newest project  – and the rest as they say is history.


Roy spent his whole life making Walt’s dreams come true. He died just a couple of months after the opening of Walt’s Last Dream, Walt Disney World.

Roy O. Disney was the lesser known of the Disney brothers and that’s a shame. He made dreams come true for millions and especially for his younger brother.

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The Riddle of Robin Hood 1952 – Shown in the early days of BBC Television. A clever move by Walt Disney

A regular reader of this Blog David, made the comments below about the early days of BBC Television in late 1952 when he remembers his family getting a television set :

‘The programmes didn’t actually start in those days until gone 2 in the afternoon. In the mornings there were test films to enable television engineers to set up the sets, the most memorable of which was the BBC fit a surpressor to your car film. I remember watching Andy Pandy and throughout 1952 and 1953, I remember watching The Quatermass Experiment; Victory at Sea and Heidi with eleven years old Julia Lockwood.’

We got our first TV set very early in 1952 – and what David says is quite right – the Television service was a limited one.  As David also pointed out the morning transmissions were mainly

Test Cards and Test Transmissions.

The Riddle of Robin Hood



However, then came a very clever move by Walt Disney – an early classic piece of marketing and promotion.  In March of 1952 Walt Disney released ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ starring Richard Todd and Joan Rice and he had taken the decision of making a 15 to 20 Minute film called The Riddle of Robin Hood – which showed the actual making of the film – going to locations, studio scenes and work on the sets coupled with actual scenes from the film. 


Walt Disney then had that released to the BBC for them to use free of charge – and in fact they did use it by showing it again and again in the test transmission times – and I recall very well seeing this as it came on in the mornings or afternoons at regular intervals.


The Riddle of Robin Hood 2

 Carmen Dillon with her c olleague looking closely at the model of the set for Nottingham Square

The Riddle of Robin Hood

ABOVE: Another picture on the set of the Nottingham Square sequence as one of the horses is being led away – possibly after the action had been filmed

The Riddle of Robin Hood 4


Lawrence E. Watkin who wrote this, and more scripts for Walt Disney. Here he is  making notes for his finished script


The Riddle of Robin Hood 3


ABOVE – Perce Pearce and Walt Disney talk about The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men 1952 – and puzzle over certain aspects


The Riddle of Robin Hood 5


ABOVE: On a trip to Sherwood Forest and Nottingham, Richard Todd poses by a giant oak tree


The Riddle of Robin Hood 2

ABOVE: Richard Todd rehearses the Quarter Staff fight – this time with Paddy Ryan I think


The BBC had not known what to do with the film so just kept showing it.  It was – and is – a very good little film.  I managed to acquire a 16 mm print of this and transferred it to DVD.

As regards the film The Riddle of Robin Hood I do have the 16mm original film which is shot totally in Black and White and it lasts just 13 minutes with commentary.   Scenes from the film are used throughout the film but they are much less impressive without that fabulous 50s technicolor. However the behind the scenes detail is as follows:- Walt Disney in his Studio office chatting with Perce Pearce and Lawrence Watkin Some still shots of their visit to Nottingham with Richard Todd.
Fascinating brief shots of Richard Todd and another of the Merrie Men in an open car being driven to the set.

Elton Hayes in costume as Alan A'Dale


Then 2 more Merrie men on cycles and then a lady on a motor cycle who could be Martita Hunt, all riding over a make shift bridge, close to the spot I think where the dog attacked the Sheriff as he attempted to escape. Also shows the dog being trained with its master.

Also the camera and crew filming Peter Finch running through the stream just prior to the dog. Richard Todd in costume practices the quarter staff fight with an expert. Joan Rice leaves her house in Denham and cycles to the studios Studio shot of Ken Annakin and again with him directing the scene where King Richard goes off to the crusades.


Then a shot of the large colour camera on wheels with Guy Green being pushed along as it films the climatic scene where Richard Todd holds a knife to Peter Finch as they approach the drawbridge. I have been very lucky with this item which is very rare and possibly not shown in the UK in recent time. I wonder if it was made for general viewing because if it came out in advance of the film it would give away some of the scenes even though very briefly and also in Black and White it wouldn’t show the film off anything like so well. I

t is though fascinating because of the ‘behind the scenes’ shots. I love the film. It was beautifully made and acted. The sets by Carmen Dillon, who is shown in this film I forgot to mention with Walt Disney (must have been at Denham) showing how a drawbridge shot would be done with a model castle and camera, the sets were terrific. The sets where Robin meets Little John and then Friar Tuck are astonishing in their beauty and detail and she designed them.

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Marilyn Monroe – Her Story



(June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962), born Norma Jeane Mortenson,  she was christened Norma Jeane Baker. After spending much of her childhood in foster homes, Marilyn  began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946.




Her early film appearances were minor, but her performances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve (both 1950) were well received. By 1953, she had progressed to leading roles. Her “dumb blonde” persona was used to comedic effect in such films as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955).


Marilyn Monroe studied at the Actors Studio to broaden her range, and her dramatic performance in Bus Stop (1956) was hailed by critics, and she received a Golden Globe nomination. Her production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, released The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), – made in England – for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination and won a David di Donatello award. She received a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Some Like It Hot (1959).




The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a “probable suicide”, the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as the possibility of murder, have not been ruled out. In 1999, Marilyn Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute – My own view is that she should have been first.

In the years and decades following her death, she has become a pop and cultural icon.

Marilyn Monroe was born in the Los Angeles County Hospital on June 1, 1926, as Norma Jeane Mortenson (soon after changed to Baker), the third child born to Gladys Pearl Baker, née Monroe (1902–1984).


Marilyn 2

Her successful modeling career brought her to the attention of Ben Lyon, a 20th Century Fox executive, who arranged a screen test for her. Lyon was impressed and commented, “It’s Jean Harlow all over again.” She was offered a standard six-month contract with a starting salary of $125 per week. Lyo

In 1948, Marilyn Monroe signed a six-month contract with Columbia Pictures and was introduced to the studio’s head drama coach Natasha Lytess, who became her acting coach for several years.

During her short time at Columbia, studio head Harry Cohn softened her appearance somewhat by correcting a slight overbite she had.


Marilyn 3


Marilyn 4


She had a small role in the Marx Brothers film Love Happy (1949). She impressed the producers, who sent her to New York to feature in the film’s promotional campaign   Love Happy brought her to the attention of the talent agent, Johnny Hyde, who agreed to represent her. He arranged for her to audition for John Huston, who cast her in the drama The Asphalt Jungle as the young mistress of an aging criminal.

Her performance brought strong reviews, and was seen by the writer and director, Joseph Mankiewicz. He accepted Hyde’s suggestion of her for a small comedic role in All About Eve as Miss Caswell, an aspiring actress, described by another character as a student of “The Copacabana School of Dramatic Art”. Mankiewicz later commented that he had seen an innocence in her that he found appealing, and that this had confirmed his belief in her suitability for the role.

Following her success in these roles she got a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox.

Marilyn 5

Marilyn  enrolled at UCLA in 1951 where she studied literature and art appreciation, and appeared in several minor films playing opposite such long-established performers as Mickey Rooney, Constance Bennett, June Allyson, Dick Powell and Claudette Colbert.In March 1951, she appeared as a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards ceremony.

In 1952, she appeared on the cover of Look magazine wearing a Georgia Tech sweater as part of an article celebrating female enrollment to the school’s main campus.

Over the following months, four films in which Marilyn  featured were released. She had been loaned out to RKO Studios to appear in a supporting role in Clash by Night, a Barbara Stanwyck drama, directed by Fritz Lang. Released in June 1952, the film was popular with audiences, with much of its success credited to curiosity about Marilyn, who received  good reviews  from the critics.

This was followed by two films released in July, the comedy We’re Not Married, and the drama Don’t Bother to Knock.  In Don’t Bother to Knock she played the starring role of a babysitter who threatens to attack the child in her care. The downbeat melodrama was poorly reviewed, although Marilyn said that it contained some of her strongest dramatic acting. Monkey Business, a comedy directed by Howard Hawks starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, was released in September. This movie was a huge success.

Darryl F. Zanuck considered that Marilyn Monroe’s film potential was worth developing and cast her in Niagara, as a femme fatale scheming to murder her husband, played by Joseph Cotten.   During filming, Monroe’s make-up artist Whitey Snyder noticed her stage fright (that would ultimately mark her behaviour on film sets throughout her career); the director assigned him to spend hours gently coaxing and comforting her as she prepared to film her scenes.



Her next film was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) co-starring Jane Russell and directed by Howard Hawks. Her role as Lorelei Lee, a gold-digging showgirl, required her to act, sing, and dance. The two stars became friends, with Jane Russell describing Marilyn as “very shy and very sweet and far more intelligent than people gave her credit for”. She later recalled that Marilyn  showed her dedication by rehearsing her dance routines each evening after most of the crew had left, but she arrived habitually late on set for filming. Realising that she remained in her dressing room due to stage fright, and that Hawks was growing impatient with her tardiness, Jane Russell started escorting her to the set.

Marilyn with Jane Russell

At the Los Angeles premiere of the film, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell pressed their hand- and footprints in the cement in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  Monroe received positive reviews and the film grossed more than double its production costs. Her rendition of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” became associated with her.

How to Marry a Millionaire was a comedy about three models scheming to attract a wealthy husband. The film teamed Monroe with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, and was directed by Jean Negulesco. The producer and scriptwriter, Nunnally Johnson, said that it was the first film in which audiences “liked Marilyn for herself [and that] she diagnosed the reason very shrewdly. She said that it was the only picture she’d been in, in which she had a measure of modesty… about her own attractiveness.”

Her films of this period established her “dumb blonde” persona and contributed to her popularity. In 1953 and 1954, she was listed in the annual “Quigley Poll of the Top Ten Money Making Stars”

Then came a  western River of No Return, opposite Robert Mitchum. Director Otto Preminger resented Monroe’s reliance on Natasha Lytess, who coached Marilyn and announced her verdict at the end of each scene. Eventually Monroe refused to speak to Preminger, and Mitchum had to mediate.   Of the finished product, she commented, “I think I deserve a better deal than a grade Z cowboy movie in which the acting finished second to the scenery and the CinemaScope process.” 

In late 1953 Monroe was scheduled to begin filming The Girl in Pink Tights with Frank Sinatra. When she failed to appear for work, 20th Century Fox suspended her.

Marilyn and Joe Di Maggio

She and Joe DiMaggio were married in San Francisco on January 14, 1954. They travelled to Japan soon after, combining a honeymoon with a business trip previously arranged by DiMaggio. For two weeks she took a secondary role to DiMaggio as he conducted his business, telling a reporter, “Marriage is my main career from now on.” She then travelled alone to Korea where she performed for 13,000 American Marines over a three-day period. She later commented that the experience had helped her overcome a fear of performing in front of large crowds.

Returning to Hollywood in March 1954, she  settled her disagreement with 20th Century Fox and appeared in the musical There’s No Business Like Show Business. This film did not do well at the Box Office.  Marilyn had made it reluctantly, on the assurance that she would be given the starring role in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit The Seven Year Itch September 1954, she filmed one of the key scenes for The Seven Year Itch in New York City. In it, she stands with her co-star, Tom Ewell, while the air from a subway grating blows her skirt up. A large crowd watched as director Billy Wilder ordered the scene to be refilmed many times. Among the crowd was Joe DiMaggio, who was reported to have been infuriated by the spectacle. After a quarrel, witnessed by journalist Walter Winchell, the couple returned to California where they avoided the press for two weeks, until Monroe announced that they had separated. Their divorce was granted in November 1954. 

Milton Greene had first met Marilyn Monroe in 1953 when he was assigned to photograph her for Look magazine. While many photographers tried to emphasize her sexy image, Greene presented her in more modest poses, and she was pleased with his work. As a friendship developed between them, she confided in him her frustration with her 20th Century Fox contract and the roles she was offered. Her salary for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes amounted to $18,000, while freelancer Jane Russell was paid more than $100,000.Greene agreed that she could earn more by breaking away from 20th Century Fox. He gave up his job in 1954, mortgaged his home to finance Marilyn, and allowed her to live with his family as they determined the future course of her career.


In May 1955, Marilyn  started dating playwright Arthur Miller; they had met in Hollywood in 1950 and when Miller discovered she was in New York, he arranged for a mutual friend to reintroduce them.


On June 1, 1955, Marilyn’s birthday, Joe DiMaggio accompanied her to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch in New York City. He later hosted a birthday party for her, but the evening ended with a public quarrel, and she left the party without him. A lengthy period of estrangement followed.

The Seven Year Itch was released and became a success, earning an estimated $8 million. Marilyn received positive reviews for her performance and was in a strong position to negotiate with 20th Century Fox.On New Year’s Eve 1955, they signed a new contract which required her to make four films over a seven-year period. The newly formed Marilyn Monroe Productions would be paid $100,000 plus a share of profits for each film. In addition to being able to work for other studios, she had the right to reject any script, director or cinematographer she did not approve of.

The first film to be made under the contract and production company was Bus Stop directed by Joshua Logan.

In Bus Stop, Monroe played Chérie, a saloon singer with little talent who falls in love with a cowboy.  Bosley Crowther of The New York Times proclaimed:  Marilyn Monroe has finally proved herself an actress.” he later wrote at she struck him as being a much brighter person than he had ever imagined.

During this time, the relationship between Marilyn and Arthur Miller had developed, and although the couple were able to maintain their. They were married on June 29, 1956.

Bus Stop was followed by The Prince and the Showgirl directed by Laurence Olivier, who also co-starred. Prior to filming, Olivier praised Marilyn Monroe as “a brilliant comedienne, which to me means she is also an extremely skilled actress”. During filming in England he resented her  dependence on her drama coach, Paula Strasberg, regarding Strasberg as a fraud whose only talent was the ability to “butter Marilyn up”.

Marilyn with Arthur Miller Cycling


Marilyn In England

Despite Monroe and Olivier clashing, Olivier later commented that in the film “Marilyn was quite wonderful, the best of all.

Sadly she suffered a miscarriage on August 1, 1957. With Miller’s encouragement she returned to Hollywood in August 1958 to star in Some Like it Hot. The film was directed by Billy Wilder and co-starred Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wilder had experienced Monroe’s tardiness, stage fright, and inability to remember lines during production of The Seven Year Itch. However her behaviuor was now more hostile, and was marked by refusals to participate in filming and occasional outbursts of profanity.

Some Like it Hot became a resounding success, and was nominated for six Academy Awards. Monroe was acclaimed for her performance and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Wilder pointed out Marilyn Monroe’s “certain indefinable magic” and “absolute genius as a comic actress.”

However  she had only completed one film, Bus Stop, under her four-picture contract with 20th Century Fox.

In 1956 Arthur Miller had lived briefly in Nevada and wrote a short story about some of the local people he had become acquainted with, a divorced woman and some aging cowboys. By 1960 he had developed the short story into a screenplay, and envisaged it as containing a suitable role for his wife. It became her last completed film. The Misfits, directed by John Huston and costarring Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter. Shooting commenced in July 1960, with most taking place in the hot Northern NevadaMonroe was frequently ill and unable to perform, and away from the influence of Dr. Greenson, she had resumed her consumption of sleeping pills and alcohol. .

The Misfits received mediocre reviews, and was not a commercial success.

During the following months, Monroe’s dependence on alcohol and prescription medications began to take a toll on her health, and friends such as Susan Strasberg later spoke of her illness. Her divorce from Arthur Miller was finalised in January 1961.

Illness prevented her from working for the remainder of the year; she underwent surgery to correct a blockage in her Fallopian tubes in May, and the following month underwent gall bladder surgery.She returned to California and lived in a rented apartment as she convalesced.

In 1962 Monroe began filming Something’s Got to Give, which was to be the third film of her four-film contract with 20th Century Fox. It was to be directed by George Cukor, and co-starred Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse.

On May 19, 1962, she attended the birthday celebration of President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, at the suggestion of Kennedy’s brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford. Monroe performed “Happy Birthday” along with a specially written verse based on Bob Hope’s “Thanks for the Memory”. Kennedy responded to her performance with the remark, “Thank you. I can now retire from politics after having had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.”

Marilyn returned to the set of Something’s Got to Give and filmed a sequence in which she appeared nude in a swimming pool. Commenting that she wanted to “push Liz Taylor off the magazine covers”.

On August 5, 1962, LAPD police sergeant Jack Clemmons received a call at 4:25 a.m. from Dr. Ralph Greenson, Monroe’s psychiatrist, proclaiming that Monroe was found dead at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California.She was 36 years old. At the subsequent autopsy, eight milligram percent of

On August 8, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was interred in a crypt at Corridor of Memories 24, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles. Lee Strasberg delivered the eulogy.


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Associated British Contract Stars – March 1949

Robert Clark  was Executive Director  of Associated British at that time


At this time these film stars as below were under contract to Associated British


Associated British Contract Artistes


Top Row  Left to Right:  Stephen Murray,  Joan Dowling and Laurence Harvey

Middle Row: Richard Todd,   Patricia Plunkett and Michael Dennison

Bottom Row: Joan Hopkins,  Derek Farr and Beatrice Campbell


At the time of this picture, Associated British were just completing the filming of  ‘The Hasty Heart’

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Kirk Douglas – from his early years


This man may not be a favourite of mine but you have to admire the way he went from such a low start in life to become the major film star he has been.


Film Actor Kirk Douglas was born on 9th December 1916 so he is 102 and a bit years old.

His parents were very poor Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, located in present day Belarus. Kirk was a very keen student and athlete. He was fond of acting and at a very young age realised that getting a scholarship for acting would be the road to salvation from his poor and wretched condition.

He had enough talent to get enrolled at the ‘American Academy of Dramatic Arts’ which opened the door to fame and riches.

Kirk Douglas


He describes his early life in New York. His father, who had been a horse trader in Russia, got himself a horse and a small wagon, and became a ragman, buying old rags, pieces of metal, and junk. … Even in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder. He had five sisters. He then got into acting and the rest is history. I have to say, he is not one of my favourites but reading the above, you have to have some admiration for him, someone who is able to rise from such humble beginnings to achieve what he did.


The poverty for his family then would be on a scale not imaginable today. In his 1988 autobiography, The Ragman’s Son, Douglas notes the hardships that he, along with six sisters and his parents, endured during their early years in Amsterdam, New York:

My father, who had been a horse trader in Russia, got himself a horse and a small wagon, and became a ragman, buying old rags, pieces of metal, and junk for pennies, nickels, and dimes. … Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder. And I was the ragman’s son.

Growing up, Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread to help his family. Later, he delivered newspapers and during his youth worked at more than forty different jobs before getting a job acting.


BELOW – In his acting career and in one of my favourite Westerns – Gunfight at the OK Corral playing Doc Holliday with Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp.


Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday


Below – with Burt Lancaster


Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday 2




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Wimbledon 1952 – and Film Links


BBC TV – well that is all there was at the time  – covered Wimbledon in 1952.  This is quite topical because of course we start the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament today.


TV News 1953


This Poster is actually the front cover of the magazine ‘TV News’  of June 1953 which shows the scene at Wimbledon as HRH The Duchess of Windsor presented the Women’s Singles Trophy to a young Maureen Connolly after she had defeated the famous Louise Brough the previous year 1952. 


It also adds ‘ Viewers will be anxious to see whether the scene will be repeated this year’  ( 1953)   In fact it Maureen Connolly did win in 1953 but this time she was against Doris Hart- although  she again defeated Lousie Brough in the final in 1954 but Louise Brough won the title in 1955 – not against Maureen.


We can link the sport of tennis to film land with pictures as below :-


Terry-Thomas School for Scoundrels 1960


ABOVE: Terry-Thomas – ‘School For Scoundrels’ 1960


Fraley Granger Strangers on a Train 1951


ABOVE: Farley Granger from  ‘Strangers On A Train’ .   This was part of the storyline as Farley Granger’s character was a Professional Tennis Player.


Katharine Hepburn plays tennis


Katharine Hepburn – Just a leisurely game


Patricia Roc had a sister Barbara who was married to the legendary Tennis Player Fred Perry

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The Conqueror 1956 with John Wayne and Susan Haywood


The Conqueror was written for Marlon Brando but he did not want to do it - he had a film  contract with another studio.


Meanwhile, John Wayne was at the peak of his career – virtually his next film was one of – if not his best – The Searchers  – and producer Howard Hughes knew that John Wayne wanted to play Genghis Khan.


So he got the part


The Conquerer 1956 6


There was no denying the sweep and spectacular production values of this expensive epic which was made in Cinemascope and stereophonic sound and Technicolor’- and it was an epic even though it tends not to be well regarded.

It is also well documented that many of the actors in the film and crew, suffered with Cancer in later years probably as result of the filming being done in the Utah Desert – the scene of a number of Above Ground Atomic Tests -  done in that location a few years before.


The Conquerer 1956


The Conqueror was filmed in the Utah’s Escalante valley in 1954, just downwind of a lake bed where the Atomic Energy Commission had tested 11 nuclear weapons the year before. During shooting, levels of radiation were high. By 1980, 91 of the 220 cast and crew had been diagnosed with cancer. Forty-six had then died of it, including John Wayne and director Dick Powell. Though journalists have often linked the radiation exposure and the disease,  a 41% diagnosis rate and 20% death rate from cancer is about the same as in the general US population – though more cases may have occurred since 1980.

 Either way, The Conqueror will probably never live down its reputation for being not only poor, but perhaps literally toxic as well.


The Conquerer 1956 2


The Conquerer 1956 3



The Conquerer 1956 4



The Conquerer 1956 5


ABOVE:   Great Action Scenes from the Film

This was described yesterday in the Daily Express as a flop but the Box Office figures state that the Budget for the film was 6 million US Dollars and the Receipts were 9 million US Dollars – so not really that much of a flop it seems.



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Randolph Scott – Trail Street 1947 from RKO Radio

Trail Street 1947 RKO Radio Pictures

Trail Street TC
Directed by Ray Enright Produced by Nat Holt Cast: Randolph Scott (Bat Masterson), Robert Ryan (Allan Harper), George “Gabby” Hayes (Billy Burns), Anne Jeffreys (Ruby Stone), Madge Meredith (Susan Pritchett). R Scott blogathon badgeWhen Randolph Scott films are talked about it is more often than not his Renown films released mainly through Columbia Pictures . These films could be considered  “Western classicx.” Randolph Scott, however, had  been a major Western star long before his association with Budd Boetticher. Most of his films after 1950 were made or released by either Warners or Columbia However his earliest Western successes were probably those produced by Nat Holt and often released by RKO. The Nat Holt productions quickly became favourites. One that doesn’t seem to get a mention very often is Trail Street from 1947. So I am a little bit early with my film here – as it is technically not a 50s film – although it must have been shown on Television here in England in the fifties possibly – I am not sure. trailstreet19462_th
The story is a range war drama with the matter of law and order interwoven as farmers and ranchers are at loggerheads. The farmers cannot get their wheat to grow due partly to climate but mainly due to the free roaming of the ranchers’ cattle. 
On top of this there is a  lack of local law and order. Into this situation rides Bat Masterson (Randolph Scott) who is enlisted as town marshal to bring a degree of order.
He has with him non e other than George ‘Gabby’Hayes in one of the best parts he ever had. Randolph Scott also deputises Robert Ryan who has discovered  a wheat species  that will withstand the drought conditions, so making a brighter prospect for the farmers and local families
There is of course plenty of action
As if the presence of Scott and Hayes wasn’t enough, we have the beauty of Anne Jeffries in support and of course –  Robert Ryan too.
Randolph Scott had been in films for quite a few years in 1947 yet had only recently decided to concentrate exclusively on Westerns and as a result his star was on the rise (within a year or two he was in the Top Ten most popular male stars at the box office ) and Robert Ryan was also on his way building a name in both westerns and dramas.
Trail Street 1947 2
ABOVE:   Randolph Scott with Madge Meredith and Anne Jeffreys
I quite liked this post below from someone who had seen the film – and one scene stuck with him all his life :
I watched this film a few days ago and realised that the scene where Robert Ryan is given a glass of milk and the lady rancher elevates the horizontally hinged panel beside the table to reveal a field of waving wheat was an image that had stuck with me for many years without me being able to remember the film’s title. I saw this film in my local picture house as the featured film of a saturday matinee about 1960 -the image was indelible but the title and actors were a total blank -until a few days ago. Do cinematographers/directors realise they are creating a haunting image when they set up shots like this?The film itself is watchable but not a classic – apart from the image of the wheat
Trail Street 1947
This was an RKO Radio film
Just a foot note to this, the same year that this film was released 1947  - Madge Meredith was convicted and sentenced to prison for 5 years to life for complicity in an assault of her former manager, Nicholas D. Gianaclis, and his bodyguard, Verne V. Davis.
She was later fully cleared.
Madge Meredith
ABOVE  Madge Meredith
Gianaclis and Davis testified that were beaten, kidnapped, and robbed by a group of men as they neared Meredith’s home in the Hollywood Hills. In March 1951, the California Assembly Interim Committee on Crime and Corrections issued an official report concluding that Meredith had been framed. The case was handled sloppily in court and inconsistent allegations by the perpetrators were overlooked by police.
In July 1951, Gov. Earl Warren commuted her sentence to time served and issued a statement of disgust at how her trial had been handled. Mr. Gianaclis was found to have set-up Miss Meredith to gain ownership of her home. Following her release from Tehachapi, prison, the court ordered that Miss Meredith receive back ownership of her home from her accuser.
Mr. Gianaclis, an immigrant from Greece, was afterwards denied U.S. citizenship by the U.S. Immigration Service.
She did resume her film career with some success but also started to help people wrongly accused of crimes – which she had been.
On a happier note – she got married in 1953 and on 10 July 1955 gave birth to her Daughter – and hopefully this helped her put a dark period in her life well and truly behind her.
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