Archive for January, 2014

Republic Pictures

Republic Pictures was an American independent film production and distribution company with studio facilities, operating from 1935 until 1959, mainly specialising in westerns,  serials and B films usually combining mystery and action.

I rather like the above colour logo that Republic used – it is sort of classy in an old fashioned way – but I expect that if they ceased to exist as long ago as 1959 then it would look a little dated !!

The studio was also responsible for financing and distributing  several of the films of John Ford during the 1940s and early 1950s. It was also notable for developing the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

In 1991 there was a documentary film made about Republic  as follows :-

There is a terrific TV documentary on the History of REPUBLIC PICTURES which was clearly lovingly crafted and well edited with dozens of clips from every genre of feature film made at the studio from 1936 to the mid 50s. The serial chapters and the musical chapters are possibly the most interesting. This film is a must for any collectors of B movie magic.

The way the studio was formed and why it collapsed in 1958 is told here.  Anyone who watches this film  will find it fascinating.

Above – An aerial view of the Republic Studios – Looks like one of the sets for a John Wayne film.

As the demand and market for B-pictures declined, Republic began to cut back,
slowing production from 40 main films annually in the early 1950s to 18 in 1957.
A tearful Herbert Yates informed shareholders at the 1958 annual meeting that
feature-film production was ending; the distribution offices were shut down
the following year. In the early 1960s, Republic sold its library of films to Television.
CBS bought Republic’s studio lot but they had in fact been using these facilities for some years.
Republic Pictures is one of the first major independent movie studios best known for creating B-movies. Founded in 1935 by Herbert Yates as a merger of several smaller “poverty row” studios, Republic produced memorable feature films and launched the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry, Rex Allen, and Roy Rogers.

Republic Pictures earned its greatest reputation for its numerous serials, which were generally considered the best in the business. The company introduced choreographed fight scenes, and excelled in the special effects of model work, explosions, and simulating superheroes’ ability to fly.

Republic exploded into national prominence with its focus in westerns, movie serials and B-films emphasising mystery and action, the staples of Saturday afternoon matinees. The studio rocketed serials like The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe into the public imagination throughout its fabled 24-year history. Notable Republic Pictures include Under Western Stars (1938), Flying Tigers (1942), Macbeth (1948), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), The Red Pony (1949), The Quiet Man (1952), and Johnny Guitar (1954).

Out of interest Under Western Stars (1938), was the first film for Roy Rogers.  He had been in a number of films before this – under his own name Leonard Sly and the last two as Dick Weston but Republic decided that for his first starring role he would be Roy Rogers – and that was how he remained.

Under Western Stars film poster.jpg

Above:  Roy Rogers – Under Western Stars.

The original Republic Pictures as a feature-film production unit closed down in 1959. NTA (National Telefilm Associates) acquired the Republic library for television. In 1967, the Republic studio facilities were sold to CBS, and their location today is part of CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California



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Play It Cool 1962 – The Late Great Billy Fury

Billy Fury was auditioned during one of Larry Parnes touring stage shows in the late fifties, and he was then, quite incredibly, pushed out onto the stage and performed his own song – and one of my own favourites – Maybe Tomorrow.

The rest is history. He joined that show and for a number of years was one of Britains finest Rock n Roll artists – equally well known on  record, TV and film – and this was his very first film and was directed by Michael Winner who always spoke very highly of Billy Fury.

This is not quite a Film of the Fifties but Billy was discovered and released records towards the end of that decade so I am cheating a bit but it seems a good idea to include someone of his stature.

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Woman’s World 1954

This is a film I have to admit – from the fifties – that I do not remember at all.

It does however have some quite big stars in it so maybe I should take a look. I have in the meantime been helped by this synopsis :-

WOMANS’S WORLD  has everything a Fox film of the 50’s had. CinemaScope, colour, stereo sound, all star cast, New York settings and a sensational musical score. The seven stars really shine here. Clifton Webb, Cornel Wilde; Fred MacMurray and Van Heflin couldn’t be better. The women are even better. Lauren Bacall is her usual sophisticated self and is at her best, even better than in HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE. June Allyson is a delight as the not-so-in with it wife, and Arlene Dahl steals the show with her red hair and ample figure. Although I think Marilyn Monroe might have really excelled in the role.  The plot line is fun and quite exciting as to who will be the new general manager of a car company. Who gets the job and why is a nice twist to the story




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Ramar of the Jungle TV 1952-54

Jon Hall made 52 episodes of this a very popular TV series.

 Even had a Ramar of the Jungle comic in those days.

With the coming of television, the smaller Hollywood studios, which had specialised in low-budget B  movies and serials, were pushed out of Cinemas, but found a new market ideally suited for the disciplines of their ‘assembly-line’ productions (short shooting schedules for each episode, reliance on standing sets and stock footage, simple action-oriented plots) in the new media, and many series appeared. “Ramar of the Jungle” was one example, and while it didn’t enjoy the success of “The Adventures of Superman” or “The Lone Ranger”, it was still a fast-paced, exotic-looking adventure show which captivated younger viewers.

Jon Hall, best-known for his RKO ‘Arabian Nights’ swashbucklers during WWII, starred, as Dr. Tom Reynolds, a man dedicated to healing (‘Ramar’ was a native term for ‘Medicine Man’), who seemed to spend most of his life working out of his tent in the middle of the jungle. His partner, Prof. Howard Ogden (played by happy-go-lucky Ray Montgomery, another film veteran), had a habit of getting the pair into hot water, but also had the scientific skills to get them out trouble. There were evil hunters and thieves who would come to the jungle to plunder, Reynolds would always arrive in the nick of time to defend the African natives, and save the day.

It wasn’t a particularly intellectual show, but it was fun, and Hall and Montgomery had an easy-going chemistry together (and they looked very cool, dressed in khakis!)

The early days of Television.

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The Last Command 1955

The Last Command  is a 1955 Trucolor film about  the fall of the Alamo  in 1836. Filmed by Republic Pictures, it was an unusually expensive undertaking for the low-budget studio.


Here are a few stills from the film.


It is Republic’s take on the story of the Alamo, directed by Frank Lloyd — made after John Wayne left the studio.


Sterling Hayden is Jim Bowie, Richard Carlson is William Travis, Arthur Hunnicutt is Davy Crockett and J. Carroll Naish is Santa Ana. Ernest Borgnine, Jim Davis, John Russell and Slim Pickens are also in it.


  Anna Maria Alberghetti and Sterling Hayden – above.

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Pinewood Film Studios – A visit

Pinewood is the Home of some of the Very Best of British Films – and today the studios produce globally targeted films as well as shows for TV.

This is a very interesting film clip on the Link below – a visit to Pinewood with Richard E. Grant :-

The James Bond set at Pinewood Studios was destroyed in a fire  in 2006 during the making of Casino Royale.- See picture below.

Luckily no-one was hurt.

 This is an interesting picture of the fire at Pinewood from outside the Studios back in  2006.



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Rio Grande 1950

John Ford’s Rio Grande (1950) is one of the major 50s Westerns.  This photograph shows John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and the crew shooting a scene. John Ford’s not visible in this shot – but he must have been around and closely by.

I always like to see this sort of picture showing the camera track and camera and lighting – even in an outdoor scene – as this is


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The Chiltern Hundreds 1950

Interesting film from the stage play by William Douglas Home


Young viscount Pym – played by a young David Tomlinson – manages to to get  army leave on the grounds that he is running for the Conservative Party in the next local election. However his real aim in fact is to marry June ,a rich American heiress, before she returns to America.   Due to unexpected circumstances he is driven to take part in the election campaign but loses.    Humiliated, Tony must win June back, so why not stand again, – for the Labour Party !!

William Douglas-Home wrote around 50 plays, most of them comedies in an upper class setting.

He wrote two plays which were successful in London in 1947. The first Now Barabbas was based on his experience in prison and in the latter some of the characters were drawn from his family.Although Douglas-Home was a prolific playwright, his works have neither the depth nor the durability of such near contemporaries as Rattigan or Coward. However, his play The Reluctant Debutante has been adapted twice into film. The first film, called The Reluctant Debutante, made in 1958, featured Rex Harrison and Sandra Dee with a screenplay by the playwright himself. The second was released in 2003, under the title What a Girl Wants, starring Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth and Kelly Preston.

The remake features a hereditary peer in the House of Lords who disclaims his title in order to stand for election to the House of Commons, which Sir Alec Douglas-Home did in 1963 to become Prime Minister.

John Paddy Carstairs – Director – On the set with Helen Backlin  and  Marjorie Fielding.

I can’t find out any information on Helen Backlin who has a leading role in this film but was not in much else. Does anyone know anything about this actress ?

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