Archive for March, 2018

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’

Marilyn 2

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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