Archive for April, 2018

Natalie Wood and her sister

Sisters who have appeared together on screen are Natalie Wood and her younger sister Lana who have been seen in The Searchers.

Matalie Wood and Her Sister Lana

Natalie says that her sister Lana was not too interested in films at first but later found out what a good time Natalie was having in the Film Industry so decided she would give it a go.

She did of course and had a reasonably successful career.

The picture below shows the sisters a few years later :

Natalie Wood and Lana

Although Lana Wood’s career never reached the heights of her sister’s, she did find some measure of her own fame as a “Bond girl”.

She played Plenty O’Toole in the 1971 James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever, opposite Sean Connery.

Lana’s career started out in Natalie’s shadow. She played a baby in Wood’s film Driftwood, although the role was cut from the end product, and she played a younger Natalie Wood in the iconic John Ford movie, The Searchers.

Lana Wood also starred in a series of well-known TV shows, including Peyton Place. She starred in a series of Hollywood films, and, later, in TV movies.


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Picture Show Annual – Snippets

These Film Annuals of the Fifties were remarkably detailed – as well as scenes from the films and Star Portraits, we had items on the Stars homes and home life – as well as these little bits below on shooting of the soon-to-be seen films – and there were a great many of them to cope with Cinema demand.

Below we have a location shot of work being done on the Film Trottie True which was quite a lavishly produced Technicolor film of the very early 1950s.  One I must say that I am not too familiar with although I always remember being in a conversation with a young lady in the local pub some years ago, and she remembers this film very well and the memory of it had stayed with her – so it was a film that did impress at the time.

Jean Kent Filming

In this picture ABOVE we seen the very large Technicolor Camera being set up to shoot a picnic scene featuring Andrew Crawford and Jean Kent.

In the same part of the Annual is this little item BELOW – and this is Finlay Currie between scenes on a film that I am pretty sure is  The History of Mr Polly made at Denham Film Studios with John Mills.

Finlay Currie - The History of Mr Polly

The caption describes the 71 Year Old actor stopping filming and enjoying a cigarette, I am pretty sure  in the lake at Denham Film Studios at the back of the site itself where John Mills, who produced the film, had a country cottage set built close to the water for the film.

And BELOW yet another unusual item from Film Land.

Birthday Party

Dennis Price happened to be filming Cockpit on the occasion of his Birthday so he threw a small party in the Studio during a break in filming. Guests included Mai Zetterling, Richard Attenborough, William Hartnell, Mila Parely, Herbert Lom, Maxwell Reed and Director Bernard Knowles with Producer Gordon Wellesley. Dennis Price usually spend his waiting moments studying his script but on this occasion he has obviously decided to celebrate. Very nice too !!!

These Snippets are from the Picture Show Annual of 1950.

Michael Wilding and Anna Neagle in Maytime in Mayfairon the front cover – BELOW

Picture Show Annual 1950 2

Jean Simmons and Donald Houston in The Blue Lagoon BELOW

Picture Show Annual 1950




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A Film Scrap Book from the Fifties

A good friend of mine over a lot of  years had been clearing out his former family home after his Brother had died last year and he came across a Film Scrap Book from the Fifties era that his brother, who had been a film fan, had collated in his younger years.

Scrapbook Nigel

He had taken these snippets from the many magazines we had at that time and created this lovely Scrap Book.  Today my friend John gave me this book as he knew it would be going to a home where it would be very much appreciated – and it is.

Scrapbook Nigel 2

Looking through it, it is a reminder of the many stars and also the many films which were made to cope with the cinema demand – usually Two films per programme – the supporting film and the Big Picture.

Scrapbook Nigel 3 W

This, as any personal book of its type, is unique. No one else can possibly have it because it is the work of one person, taking time out to choose the clippings and save them by sticking them in – in the sequence that that particular person chooses.

You have to have – or have had – a love of  films to do this.

Looking through it, it is a reminder of the many stars and also the many films which were made to cope with cinema demand – usually Two films per programme – the supporting film and the Big Picture

We are lucky to have access to such Memorabilia – and with this particular one – it is me who is lucky.

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Annette Day – A Brief Film Career – but with Elvis

Annette Day’s entire film career consists of her single appearance with Elvis in Double Trouble. After that she retired from films and never went back again.

Annette Day

Just over half a century ago Annette Day was filming Double Trouble with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

When she heard the news that Elvis had died she was living in Beckenham.

“I thought it was so terribly sad, he was a man of so many talents, who had so much more left to give.”

Annette, who now lives in Telford, Shropshire, knew about this better than most.

Because 10 years earlier, as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, Annette became the first and only English actress to star alongside Elvis on the big screen.

The 69-year-old grandmother played Jill Conway, a rebellious British heiress who led the singer through all sorts of wild escapades across Europe, getting mixed up with spies, jewel thieves and madcap detectives along the way.

Off screen, the pair enjoyed a close, if brief, friendship with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which even extended to him buying her a car as a treat.

It is 40 years today since Presley died in the bathroom of his Gracelands mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, after suffering from heart failure brought on by a drug overdose. He was just 42 years old and, if not at the height of his stardom, was still one of the biggest global stars having successfully reinvented himself for the glam rock era.

While there had been rumours about his health, particularly concerning his weight and dependency on prescription drugs, very few people were aware of the lonely, troubled individual behind the flamboyant jump-suited stage persona.

Double Trouble 4

Annette – above with Elvis – as she was in Double Trouble

Annette, who settled in Shropshire with husband Mike the year after Elvis’s death, remembered the singer as being like a big brother to the innocent teenager who had been plucked out of obscurity after being spotted working on a market stall by film producer Judd Bernard.

“He had a terrific sense of humour, he was always playing games,” she says.

“There were a couple of times, off-stage, when the light came on for me to go through the door onto the set, and he would grab my coat so I couldn’t walk, and the crew would be calling for me. I had a ball, it was tremendous fun.”

A scene from double Trouble, which was Elvis’s 24th feature-film

And she got a first-taste of the star’s legendary generosity at the end of filming, when she was making small talk about how youngsters back in Britain would have to save to buy their first car.

“After a day on set we were talking about how youngsters have to save every penny to buy a car after their graduation,” she says.

“In the US, most youngsters were given a car, not so in the UK.”

Then one day, in a car park, Elvis asked her to follow him, and asked her to close her eyes.

“At that moment I knew he had a surprise waiting for me, but never in my wildest dreams could I have thought of a sports car,” she says.

“It was a white Mustang convertible. Elvis handed me the keys and said ‘it’s your’s’.

“I couldn’t believe it, but I think he did things like that quite often,” she says. “I think if he was able to help somebody, he liked to do that.”

Annette Day with Elvis 2

Above: Annette and Elvis off camera, while director Norman Taurog set up their scene

Double Trouble was Presley’s 24th feature film, and it was reported that by this time he was getting quite weary of them, although he made seven more movies in the two years that followed.

It is said that when he found he would have to sing Old MacDonald Had A Farm for a scene in Double Trouble, Elvis screamed “It’s come to this?”, and Annette believes that he was definitely falling out of love with the movie industry.

Double Trouble 2

“I think, more than anything, he wanted to be back out on stage to his fans,” she says.

“I think he was quite pleased when the musicals had stopped. I think he would like to have got a more serious picture, he wanted to do more than just musicals. I think he could have been a very good actor, but the films he was in were all the same sort of thing, family films with a few more songs in between.”

Annette, who worked as a secretary at Telford-based SMP Security before her retirement, was offered a seven-year contract by MGM Studios after Double Trouble, but decided acting wasn’t for her. She rarely talks about her part in the film, and reckons many people have no idea about her previous career.

“I don’t watch the film very often, and when I do I don’t think I was very good in it,” she says.

“I went to be with my husband, and I’ve had my children and my grandchildren and I have no regrets about that at all. They say go out while you’re at the top, I had great fun, but it was very hard work, you would be there on set at eight in the morning, and you could be there until 6.30 at night, nobody could go until everything was perfect.”

She returned to the UK, not only leaving behind her brief film career, but also her Ford Mustang.

“I found it would cost rather a lot to bring it back to the UK,” she says. Today, of course it would be worth a fortune as a treasured piece of movie and musical history, but she gave it to her brother who was living in the US at the time. He used it for a few years, and then sold it when it broke down.

It all begs the question of what would Elvis be doing if he were still alive today at the age of 82?

Annette does not think he would be performing today, although she say s he would also have found it very difficult to give it all up.

“It must be very hard for somebody who is at the top like that to walk away from it all,” she says. And she has no doubt that if he had lived to a ripe old age, it would have done nothing to lessen the legacy of his work.

“He just had something about him,” she says.

Double Trouble 3

Double Trouble


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John Mills – a Reflective Moment

John Mills was an ardent lover of nature, so the production of the film  The History of Mr Polly – adapted from the  H.G. Wells  novel –  was much to his taste. The greater portion of the film was made out of doors in the lovely grounds of the Denham Film Studios.   Highly skilled craftsmen built the picturesque Inn on the banks of the River Colne which runs through the grounds.

They also built Fishborne High Street – the fictional town where Mr Polly had unhappily lived with his wife . Swans nested close to the scene of filming and they were extremely interested in their new surroundings.   Between sequences John Mills,  Star of the film and also it’s Producer, frequently spent time feeding the swans and cygnets there.

John Mills at Denham Film Studios 2

Above:  John Mills amuses himself by feeding the swans and six cygnets in the grounds of Denham Film Studios

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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.

Talking Pictures 2

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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