Archive for October, 2019

Buddy Holly – The Buddy Holly Story – Theatre Musical

I drove a few miles today to see the matinee performance of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story which has been on in  the West End of London and toured regularly ever since in Britain.

 

What a vibrant show this is – and the music !!  We were all up dancing in the aisles at the end !!

Buddy The Musical

Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story appearing at this event

The Buddy Holly Story follows the tragically short life of Buddy Holly from his first recording contract through to his move to New York and concludes with his fatal tour of Midwest America with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper when – on 3 February 1959 he was tragically killed aged just 22.

The musical shows Buddy as he sings his way from the recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee to Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, culminating in a live rock’n’roll extravaganza at the ‘Winter Dance Party’ finale and features some of Buddy Holly’s greatest hits including That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, Oh Boy, Rave On, Heartbeat, Raining In My Heart and many more…

 

One interesting snippet – Buddy and his friends went to see The Searchers (1956) starring John Wayne.

The Searchers 1956

Several times throughout the film, John Wayne says “That’ll be the day”. This repeated phrase stuck with Buddy Holly and he wrote the song that would become his first Number One hit.

Interesting also that the famous British Group of the Sixties ‘The Searchers’ took their name from this film – so not just a classic film, which it is, but also an influence on the future of pop music in more ways than one.

The Searchers 1956 2

I just had to include the picture ABOVE – in one of the most touching scenes in the film John Wayne embraces his sister in law as he leaves on his long quest  – an unspoken gesture of  warmth and love for each another.

No words are needed here. Beautifully played by the actors -particularly Ward Bond who is just finishing his coffee as he notices but he just carries on and  averts his  eyes from the scene

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The Son of Captain Blood

 

I can remember seeing this and remember it as a good adventure film. Sean Flynn the son of legendary actor Errol Flynn attempted to do what his Dad had done so successfully – and so a lot of interest went into that aspect which I think was a little unfair.

In real life he did in fact seem, more of an adventurer than his father had been. He made more films than I had realised and this is the only one I remember.

He died – it is believed – when travelling in Cambodia in 1971. At that time he was a photo /journalist – he had previously been in Vietnam at the time of the war and had seen some action there.

He was only 29 when he died – just a bit older than Errol Flynn had been when he made Robin Hood

 

Son of Captain Blood

 

Here it is showing at the Regal in Aberdeen along with The Scarlet Blade – Jack Hefley, Lionel Jeffries and Oliver Reed

 

Regal Aberdeen

 

Filmed in Technicolor it was another swashbuckler – which I admit I rather like

 

The Scarlet Blade was filmed in Dyaliscope – which I had never heard of – it was another wide screen Cinemascope like format and The Scarlet Blade was in Hammerscope – as was ‘The Abominable Snowman’ I think

 

The Scarlet Blade 1962

 

ABOVE: In swashbuckling terms – this must be one of the best Double Features that you could get

 

The Scarlet Blade  – Royalist have been driven underground  in 1648 and are now concerned with rescuing King Charles I and kelping him escape  to safety.   Charles is now held prisoner by Colonel Lionel Jeffries and Captain Oliver Reed of Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads – they are taking The King to London for trial

Lionel Jeffries has set up headquarters in the manor of the Beverleys who were Royalists now dispossessed of their property.

Lionel Jeffries is a real baddie and certainly not living the spartan puritan life that the Roundheads  preach about. He’s even got a marriage arranged for his daughter June Thorburn to Oliver Reed but she is a  secret Royalist who is in love with Jack Hedley  – the elder of the two Beverley brothers who is the leader of a group of Royalists.

The Scarlet Blade 1962 2

The Scarlet Blade –

 

The Scarlet Blade 1962 3

The Scarlet Blade

The Scarlet Blade 1962 4

The Scarlet Blade

Jack Hedley an actor who we often saw on Television – he may not have been the best known actor in TV and films or the best paid by any means, but he was lucky enough to be left a five-bedroom house in Eaton Square, one of the most expensive residential areas in London – by his mother.

Jack is still alive I am pleased to say – and has had a long and reasonably successful film career

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The Franchise Affair 1951

 

This is one of my favourite films. Very quaint and typically English but with a powerful and intriguing storyline. Friends of ours came around yesterday and they had been very taken with this one having not seen it before – and if you haven’t seen it before, trying to work out just how things will turn out really taxes the mind.

Michael Denison plays a local family solicitor in a quiet country practice , here appearing with his real-life wife Dulcie Gray, in a story which keeps you guessing until the very end as Dulcie Gray and her mother are accused of kidnapping and false imprisonment.

 Michael Denison agrees to defend them, but the odds are stacked against the defendants, and in his legal world he is well out of his depth with such a case.   Along the way, he has of course fallen in love with the young lady that he is defending.

As well as this being a favourite film, the location filming for the town of ‘Melford’ was actually Chipping Campden a really lovely little town nestling in the Cotswolds  – and these scenes below give us an idea of life there in the very early fifties – it looks much the same now. 

Chipping Campden is one of my favourite places.

The Franchise Affair 1951

 Much of the exterior sequences of ‘Melford’ were filmed in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

The Franchise Affair 1951 2

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

The Franchise Affair 1951 3

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

The Franchise Affair 1951 4

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

The Franchise Affair 1951 5

ABOVE – Not sure where this is. I thought at first that the house in the distance was a matte painting but I don’t think it is – I think it is real. Lovely scene all the same

The Franchise Affair 1951 6

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

The Franchise Affair 1951 7

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

The Franchise Affair 1951 8

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

The Franchise Affair 1951 9

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

The Franchise Affair 1951 10

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England

Don’t miss this film the next time it is on Talking Pictures – which should be any time in the next week or two on Talking Pictures

 

 

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The Avengers – Diana Rigg

 

Something I did not know – and it comes as a surprise about that wonderful Television Series  The Avengers.

Diana Rigg  was not the original choice to play Emma Peel in The Avengers. The original actress cast for the role was Elizabeth Shepherd who, most unusually, had not been screen-tested.

The Avengers

ABOVE:  Patrick Macnee as Steed and Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers

The Avengers 2

ABOVE:  Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers

 

Julian Winkle was executive producer. and he made the choice of  Liz Shepherd who had done some things on television and she was undeniably very beautiful but it wasn’t until after one and a half episode that the decision to drop her was made.  She was  not a bad actress, but apparently didn’t have a sense of humour at all and that was essential in The Avengers.

So those episodes were scrapped and her services were dispensed with – and out of the tests came Diana Rigg. Other actresses were tested such as  Moira Redmond  and one or two unknowns like Sarah Brackett – sadly she died many years later in 1996 in Westminster – but Diana Rigg was head and shoulders above everybody else.”

Elizabeth Shepherd as Emma Peel

 

ABOVE: Elizabeth Shepherd

Brian Clemens worked for a total of six years on various Avengers series and then, when Diana Rigg left the show, he was suddenly thrown out.

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Cliff Richard – His Birthday

 

Cliff celebrated his 79 th Birthday yesterday 14 October 2019 – and his is still Rockin’

Cliff

Next year he embarks on a major tour – as he says ‘ the word Retirement does not exist in my vocabulary’

Serious Charge  

ABOVE – Cliff with Andrew Ray in Serious Charge 1959

Serious Charge 2  

ABOVE – Cliff surrounded by young girls in Serious Charge 1959

Serious Charge 3

ABOVE – Cliff with Andrew Ray in Serious Charge 1959 on Location for ‘Serious Charge’ in Stevenage

 

This  was Cliff’s first film –  ‘Serious Charge’ with Anthony Quayle and Andrew Ray and Sarah Churchill. Cliff did not have a very big part but did get to sing his hit ‘Living Doll’

Expresso Bongo

 

His very next film released in 1961 was ‘Expresso Bongo’ along with Laurence Harvey and Sylvia Sims  – so here he is again alongside  another top actor – or top actors. As we see above he sang for me – one of his best songs of the period ‘A Voice In The Wilderness’

Then onto one we all know – the delightful – and colourful ‘Summer Holiday’ in 1963. We all flocked to the cinema for this one

Summer Holiday 1963 2

Cliff above – with his friends setting off on the great adventure which we all shared. This was a good film

Summer Holiday 1963

Cliff in Summer Holiday ABOVE

He later made another hit ‘The Young Ones’ alongside none other than Robert Morley

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Love in Pawn 1953

Bernard Braden and Barbara Kelly play a young couple who are forced to take drastic measures to raise money because a large gift is coming their way from a distant relative – however it is dependent on them not being in debt – and so the wife takes drastic action and pawns her husband.

However his new family seem to really like him, particularly daughter Jeannie Carson  who does what she can to seduce him. Soon the situation becomes a national sensation, as Barbara Kelly is reluctant to retrieve her now confused husband. Farcial situations abound as you can imagine.

 

Love in Pawn 1953 3

ABOVE:  John Laurie offers legal advice.

I have featured this film before on the Blog when I said that, as a young boy, my brother and I were taken to see it 

There is lots of sharp, punning dialogue, presumably supplied by “additional” script writers, Frank Muir and Denis Norden.

Husband and wife team Bernard Braden and Barbara Kelly – those Television stars of the 50’s – fitted well into this  family-friendly comedy –  the type that the film industry churned out throughout the decade. 

They play a pair of bohemians living the artistic life on a houseboat in Chelsea.

Among the cast  is Reg Dixon who had succeeded George Formby in the West End in  the hit musical ‘Zip Goes a Million’ when George had a heart attack.   He played one of the pawn shop partners, perpetually harassed by his family.

Love in Pawn 1953 2

He never really made it in films,  He had been a big Radio Star as well as having the West End hit.

ABOVE – We see Reg Dixon with Bernard Braden and Jeannie Carson

John Laurie is well cast a stuffy lawyer who gets caught up in the couple’s schemes.  Laurence Naismith is also cast

 

Script: Guy Morgan, Frank Muir, Denis Norden

Director: Charles Saunders

Other actors: Jeannie Carson, Walter Grisham, Avice Landone, Tom Gill, Alan Robinson, Dorothy Gordon, Benita Lydell, Hal Osmond

Love in Pawn 1953

Love in Pawn is a pleasant way of spending an hour and twenty minutes and it is quite good fun entertainment.

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The Last of the Long Haired Boys 1968 – Help with this one Please !!

Well, I don’t know anyone who has ever seen this film – and I do know that even the star of the film Richard Todd never saw it.

There seem to be no pictures or film stills for us to use from this film

It starts out in a curious fashion in October of 1967.  Richard Todd was staying at his flat in London one evening when a knock came at the door and he opened it to quite a forlorn looking character who was Peter Everett. He had written a script for a film and was producing and directing it. He begged Richard Todd to read the script which Richard did later that night.  

The following evening Peter Everett came round again and was almost in tears and imploring Richard Todd to take the leading role in his film – he explained that Richard was vital to the film.

Richard Todd had , however been very impressed by the script that Peter Everett had written – they story centred on a former RAF fighter pilot who had seen much action in the War, and now the War was over seemed unable to adjust to the realities of post war life. He became more and more engrossed with memories of those finest hours and about the colleagues who had perished – he became lost in a hideous dream world much to the contempt of his son and the agony of his long suffering wife.   He had in the story, taken on a Pub close to a Wartime airfield in Kent – and proceeded to cram it with memorabilia of the conflict.

Finally almost deranged he dons his RAF uniform and wanders on to the airfield, surrounded in his mind by ghosts of the past.  His son finds him and at last seems to understand his inner turmoil and quietly talks him back to safety.    This is a touching scene that bridges the generations.

Richard Todd was profoundly disturbed by the script – however he found it beautifully written by Peter Everett who was a novelist and poet.

Richard Todd agreed to do it – he had by this time been told that filming would start in a few days time down at Hawkinge in Kent – and he learned that quite a strong cast of well-known British actors had been lined up including Patrick Barr, David Markham, Sonia Dresdel, Sue Jameson and Malcolm Tierney.  Then a  new cast member Gillian Raine was brought in to play the Airman’s wife – on Richard Todd’s recommendation. He said that he loved working with her.

The first day’s filming proved a nightmare of incompetence and chaos – a young cameraman had been assigned who had been a still specialist and no experience of this type of work.  That evening Richard Todd phoned up contacts he had and an experienced film cameraman and crew arrived on set  the next day.

Scenes in the local Pub at Paddlesworth went well –

Other studio scenes were done in a converted Hangar at Panshanger, a former RAF airfield Nr Welwyn.

This film was finished in November 1967. Richard Todd thought that they had managed to produce something really good.

However, he added ‘ What happened to ‘The last of the Long Haired Boys’ I don’t know’ 

Apparently he was out of the country when it was due for release – and he never saw any share of the profits from the film – if indeed there were any.

However one day some time afterwards he was sitting in a Restaurant in London when an old acting friend Trevor Howard came up to him and said ‘ Just seen your film Ther Last of the Long Haired Boys.  Bloody marvellous, Dicky old boy’

As Richard said ‘ I could not have asked for a finer accolade than that from my screen hero’

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If anyone out there knows of – or has seen this film please let me know. I have searched around for years for it – but to no avail. There must be a 16 mm or 35 mm copy somewhere.

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Betta St John and Peter Grant

Betta St John came over to England in  1952 to play one of the leading roles in South Pacific at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane – and here she met one of the male leads in the production – Peter Grant.

They fell in love and were married shortly afterwards on 27 November 1952 in London at the Caxton Hall Register Office. Later they settled in California – he dies there in 1992.

Betta St John is still alive and living in California, I am pleased to report aged 89

Actor and singer Peter Grant of Longwell Green , Gloucestershire had been in  the R.A.F. – he had been on the chorus of a company at the Bristol Hippodrome and I suppose that it was there that he was spotted – after all it is a big jump from Bristol to such a huge  musical  as ‘South Pacific’ at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane.        Peter Grant’s  parents lived  in Longwell Green, Bristol – Peter had at one time worked Messrs W. D. and H. O. Wills.   He acted in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s musical, “South Pacific”, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London, England with Mary Martin, Wilbur Evans, Muriel Smith and Larry Hagman in the cast. Betta St John 1952   A BOVE:    Muriel Smith,  Betta St John and Peter Grant 1952 Theatre Royal Drury Lane – in South Pacific     Peter Grant was also an Opera Singer and also sang in musicals. He mostly performed in London, but his company also toured Australia, New Zealand and the United States.” South Pacific 2 In this Production Larry Hagman played one of the seamen – he was, of course , Mary Martin’s son. In a later programme in 1953 a young 22 year old Sean Connery had a small role. South Pacific ABOVE is a rare November 1st, 1951 programme (playbill) from the Original West End production of the RICHARD RODGERS and OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II musical “SOUTH PACIFIC” at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London. (The Original Broadway production opened April 7th, 1949 at the Majestic Theatre in New York City and ran for 1925 performances. The London production opened November 1st, 1951 and ran for 802 performances.) This Production  starred MARY MARTIN as “Ensign Nellie Forbush”, the role she had originated on Broadway and featured WILBUR EVANS, RAY WALSTON, MURIEL SMITH, HARTLEY POWER, BETTA ST. JOHN, JOHN McLAREN, PETER GRANT, GERALD METCALFE, ARCHIE SAVAGE, WALLY PETERSON, BILL NAGY, MICHAEL MELLINGER and LARRY HAGMAN Music and Lyrics by RICHARD RODGERS and OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II   Betta St John   Betta St John had played the same role in South Pacific on Broadway before coming to England with the show. – See above with Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary

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The House on Marsh Road 1960

 

Husband David (Tony Wright) is an unsuccessful writer –   His wife Jean Linton is played by (Patricia Dainton).  The pair live in a succession of boarding houses, suffering from a  lack of money.

 

Their luck suddenly changes – or seems to – with the death of Jean’s auntie who has left her a house in the country.

The House in Marsh Road 1960 4

 

ABOVE – Patricia Dainton and her husband David 

David is all for selling the house and a good offer is made

 

When Jean refuses he finds alternative entertainment in the form of local girl Mrs Stockley (Sandra Dorne ) supposedly employed as his typist.  Jean, meanwhile, is comforted by local estate agent Derek Aylward.  

 

Gradually David comes round to the idea of murdering his wife for her inheritance.

 

The House in Marsh Road 1960

 

The House in Marsh Road 1960 3

 

The House in Marsh Road 1960 2

 

The film is  75% domestic murder story, 25% supernatural thriller. Jean inherits a house, moves her drunken no good partner David in, and he meets someone else, a voluptuous blonde, Valerie Stockley. Valerie persuades David to kill his wife, but Jean is protected by a poltergheist,  named Patrick by the potty Irish maid Mrs O’Brien.

It’s unusual to say the least.  Patricia Dainton appeared in some good  films in the 50’s and 60’s, including The Third Alibi, and once again she’s pretty good. Sandra Dorne too is really good in her role.

Directed by veteran Montgomery Tully, The House in Marsh Road  is an interesting theme in combining a crime drama with a supernatural one

 

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The Diary of Samuel Pepys 1958 BBC TV with Peter Sallis

When I remember Peter Sallis, it is not for Last of the Summer Wine or indeed ‘Wallace  and Gromit’ – it is for this BBC TV series which only ran for one season and 14 episodes.

 

Peter Sallis

 

Peter Sallis as Pepys  in this portrayal plays the role of Pepys with humour – as the picture above indicates – but also conveys  first and foremost that he is a devoted public servant.

This was Peter Sallis’ very first television role – and it was a starring role.

Also cast was Douglas Wilmer – who later played Sherlock Holmes – who played King Charles II with all the requisite charm and style we imagine, aided and abetted by  a well-trained spaniel.

Also cast was Paul Eddington as Sir William Coventry and Wensley Pithey who had played Friar Tuck in a BBC Robin Hood serial with Patrick Troughton as Robin Hood – I do remember that one.

Others cast were Bernard Archard and a very young Nannette Newman

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