The Moonraker – George Baker and Paul Whitsun Jones

This film was on Talking Pictures earlier today – it still looks good.

 

A British swashbuckler full of  heroics, sword fights, and in glorious Technicolor too.  It is a shame that this film is not more widely seen but maybe  Talking Pictures will remedy that.

 

The Moonraker 2

 

George Baker  in the leading role as The Moonraker is a very likable handsome hero and he copes with the  fight sequences very well.

 

The Moonraker

 

An the excellent supporting cast also with  Marius Goring as Colonel Beaumont, and John Le Mesurier as a sullen, though surprisingly good looking version of the  Oliver Cromwell.   S

ylvia Syms looks lovely, even if the character doesn’t call for her to do an awful lot and Patrick Troughton does well  as the harassed and hard-nosed Captain Wilcox.

 

However,the Star-supporting actor has to be  Paul Whitsun-Jones as Mr Parfitt.. Paul Whitsun-Jones shows his fantastic versatility at the end of the film, throwing off his blustery comic role, and donning that of a hero-  doing his part for King and Country when he sacrifices his own life so the King, and his hero The Moonraker, can escape.

 

It’s a work of fiction, but much thought has gone into the period design and sets and filming locations Location work is spread about the place,  Wiltshire, Dorset and Kent prove to be appealing places for scenes.

The Moonraker 3

Ronnie Hilton who would be big at the time, sang the  theme song over the opening credits.

Back to Paul Whitsun Jones – his name used to crop up again and again on British Television throughout the 1950s

He had an early role in ‘The Quatermass Experiment’ and then in a Francis Durbridge serial ‘The Teckman Biography’ and just after that I remember him playing Porthos in the serial ‘The Three Musketeers in 1954’ These were all for BBC Television – well they would be because that was the only channel available at that time.

Paul Whitsun Jones

ABOVE – As the Reporter in The Quatermass Experiment – an early role for Paul Whitsun Jones.

He worked very regularly in Television and Films throughout his life which sadly was cut short – he died aged only 50 following appendicitis. That does seem to want clarification because normally such things would be dealt with medically quite easily – so there is maybe more to that.

He certainly had a busy and very full acting  career – and is an interesting character.  In many ways he was the best performer in The Moonraker – and I suspect he stole the honours in many of the productions he played in.

On stage he was in the original production of Oliver in the West End

 

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comments (6)

6 Responses to “The Moonraker – George Baker and Paul Whitsun Jones”

  1. David Rayner says:

    Although not generally released on the ABC circuit until August, 1958, I had the privilege as an eleven year old of seeing a Pre-Release screening of it at the now long gone ABC Empire in Longton, Stoke on Trent, in June, 1958. I was obsessed with it at the time and went three times to see it that week at the ABC Empire. George Baker was my hero and I loved Laurie Johnson’s score and Ronnie Hilton singing the theme song over the opening titles.

    At the time, I was reading the weekly serialisation of it in Express Weekly comic and because I saw the film when I did, I got to see the ending on the actual film before I read the ending in the comic, the last part of the serialisation coming two or three weeks after I went to see the film.

    I have an original British quad poster for the film as well as an original British Front-of-House set of eight colour stills for it and, of course, the theme music and theme song on two HMV 45 rpm singles.

    • Movieman says:

      David, You indeed were a lucky lad to see an advanced showing of this action packed film. It was very well made I have to say and the final sword fight filmed near Lulworth Cove in Dorset looked spectacular. George Baker had, just before this, a very different role in a film I like very much ‘ The Ship that died of Shame’. You mentioned the serialisation of the film in a comic – and I remember, a few years before this, that ‘King Solomons Mines’ was similarly serialised. I used to read that and eagerly wait for the next edition. Marius Goring was in The Moonraker and as always was very good. I liked the part that Paul Whitsun Jones had though – he seemed to be around in everything both before and after this film. He had a varied career no doubt. Thanks, Neil

  2. David Rayner says:

    ABC Film Review, July, 1958.

    THE MOONRAKER

    A Cavalier comes riding along a rutted track in the moonlight. The sky is filled with scudding clouds and the wind sighs in the long grass. The lone rider’s cloak flies out behind him as he gallops into a sleeping village, pausing only to pluck from a barn door a Proclamation offering “A reward of one hundred pounds for one calling himself The Moonraker – wanted as an enemy of the Commonwealth.”

    As the first streaks of dawn break over the horizon, this dashing figure emerges from the cover of some trees and sets off across open country towards the circle of Stonehenge. It is in the shadow of these ancient monoliths that The Moonraker (alias Anthony, third Earl of Dawlish, alias George Baker) has an assignment with two other enemies of the Commonwealth. They are Lord Harcourt (Clive Morton) and none other than Prince Charles Stuart, later to become King Charles II (Gary Raymond).

    Having recently sustained a crushing defeat by Oliver Cromwell (John Le Mesurier) at the Battle of Worcester (1651), the young prince is travelling incognito and The Moonraker is making plans to smuggle him out of the country.
    Colonel Beaumont (Marius Goring), “the most feared man in Cromwell’s Army”, has been ordered to prevent this and informed that a secret agent, one Major Gregg, will be working for the Roundheads in his vicinity. The assumed name and habit under which the Major masquerades cannot be divulged at this stage.
    Later, at Windwhistle Inn, a charming period house perched high above a bay washed by the English Channel, The Moonraker meets Colonel Beaumont’s fiancee, Anne Wyndham (Sylvia Syms). Anne’s father and brother were both killed during the Civil War and she has sworn vengeance on all Royalist Cavaliers, but the handsome Moonraker, becomingly disguised as a puritan scholar, is a different matter. Then accidentally, Anne discovers the scholar’s true identity. She nevertheless completes a letter to Colonel Beaumont, reporting The Moonraker’s presence at the inn.

    It is when our hero is wounded in a fight with an Anglican priest (Peter Arne), who suddenly reveals another and more sinister identity, that he and Anne really get to know each other. She tends his wounds in her room and, alone together, they acknowledge their true feelings. “You taught me to laugh again. You brought me a happiness I did not know existed.” They are in love and, for a few precious moments of tenderness, nothing else matters.

    But The Moonraker has a duty to perform: a duty that means holding a troop of Roundheads at bay at the point of his sword while Charles Stuart is rowed aboard a waiting ship; a duty that means sailing away on that ship with his royal master. As he vanishes into the distance, Anne remembers his last whispered words to her – “If I reach the boat alive, we will meet again…”

    Charming as this romantic interest may be, it’s only half the story. The scales are more definitely weighted on the side of adventure. And what adventure! There’s racing and chasing and dashing and bashing and falling and brawling and every sort of ingenious swordplay that the mind of man can skillfully invent and the hand of man energetically execute.

    It is nothing out of the ordinary for the hero to engage a dozen Roundheads in single combat and triumph on the strength of his sheer audacity and irrepressible optimism. The film moves at such a staggering speed that you can’t count the number of people who get killed in the course of it, but you’ll remember Parfitt (a decidedly round Cavalier, played in just the right spirit by Paul Whitsun-Jones) who lives dangerously and dies a gallant death.

    When I visited the studios to see them making The Moonraker, George Baker had this to say: “I see the film as a fine British Western. It’s got plenty of action, plenty of colour, plenty of excitement, and, after all, action is the main thing in pictures. I’m sure The Moonraker will be very popular.” Now that I’ve seen it for myself, I’m sure too.
    Davina Muir.

    • Movieman says:

      Thank You David – that is a great article. I have this Annual so will look back and see – there may be pictures also. George Baker certainly fitted the role well but as I stated Paul Whitsun Jones stole the honours with a great character portrayal. I like this film – and was pleased that it was on Television as well. On the big Cinema screen it would be even more impressive. Neil

  3. David Rayner says:

    No, Neil, that’s the review of the film in the monthly ABC Film Review magazine, not F. Maurice Speed’s yearly Film Review annual…although the annuals for that era do contain two stills from the film. Anne Wyndham tending The Moonraker’s wounds in her bedroom and the sword fight on the beach at the end.

    • Movieman says:

      David, What a fool I am. Of course you do say that it is from the ABC Film Review at the very top of the Comment. Thanks again for reading. Neil

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