Archive for December, 2019

The Story of William Tell 1953 -Errol Flynn

As most of us know, this big  Cinemascope Film was never completed and only around 15 to 20 minutes of the film was shot and exists somewhere on celluloid.

Errol Flynn had a dream of rivalling Hollywood and making a big Wide Screen picture that would rival anything on the market. He may have pulled it off if the money had not run out – he did invest a huge amount in the project.

He employed Jack Cardiff the world renowned cinematographer to direct this one – a village was built in Austria, and they then went to work and from what a friend told me, the results were excellent as far as they went.

William Tell 1953


Film Production began on 14th June 1953 with a three month shooting schedule.  However after three weeks filming at one of the most beautiful locations in Italy, the production ran out of money but Jack Cardiff and others continued without pay until the film was stopped on 31st August 1953.

The film never restarted and nobody was ever paid.


William Tell 2



Errol Flynn relied heavily on Jack Cardiff, who was well up for this in his directorial debut – things like tests he did in Rome – one of those tests was of the famous apple shooting sequence, but this was never filmed.

This would have been only the third film released in Cinemascope – and at this time even The Robe had not been released to the public.

Jack Cardiff says that filming in Cinemascope gave him many difficulties – one of which was the fact that it could not be in focus at any nearer that 7 ft which meant that any intimate close-ups were either impossible or very difficult. He did some close up tests though on Bruce Cabot which meant intense light in the studio which nearly fried the actor – but it did produce results.

On top of this the very wide screen meant that even if you got a close up, you still had to fill either side of the screen with something.


William Tell 3


As well as coping with Cinemascope, a new colour process had taken on called Esatmancolor, which was cheaper than Technicolor and easier to use so it did become popular. However what was not known at that time is that Eastmancolor prints faded badly in around 5 to 10 years which Technicolor did not.


William Tell 4



The film script, Jack Cardiff describes it as a very good script, was written by John Dighton an Ealing scriptwriter.

The village was built in the mountain location – and so all would seem to be well organised but for the finance situation.

Jack Cardiff had filmed the fight in the smithy and also completed the fight between Errol Flynn and Bruce Cabot in a lake – this was the last sequence to be filmed.


William Tell 5


My own thoughts are that Errol Flynn, although a vocal critic of the personnel at the top of the major American Studios, had nowhere near the financial expertise that they had, and his fund raising choices of personnel were at best naïve.


This led to the downfall of the project – and what a hit they would have had with something on this scale – and at that time  -with the new screen format, colour, beautiful locations, a good script and top actors – Errol Flynn was still a very big name in films  and very popular at the Box Office.

I have enjoyed writing this on Errol Flynn and Director Jack Cardiff and also the classic that never was ‘William Tell’  1953




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Happy Christmas to ALL – from Bedford Falls.


It wouldn’t be Christmas without seeing Its a Wonderful Life.  What need I say about this wonderful, wonderful film – which must be an absolute favourite of mine – and probably everyone else too.

Its a Wonderful Life - Christmas Card

Also I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads this Blog, a Very Happy Christmas and a Safe and Happy and Healthy New Year.

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Television Drama in 1956


It hadn’t struck me as such,  but I have come to realise that even in these early days of Television, quite prominent actors appeared. Below we have Marius Goring who had a quite illustrious career behind him in films – and ahead of him too.

As for Richard Greene, he had been a quite big star in England and in Hollywood both before the War and early afterwards. He really struck lucky in the role of Robin Hood in the excellent ITV series that went very well indeed in the US as it did here.   It certainly put him right back at the top of the tree – he also played Robin Hood in a film spin off for Hammer Films in the 60s

Memories from 1956

Marius Goring The Scalet Pimpernel


Marius Goring as The Scarlet Pimpernel

Richard Greene as Robin Hood


Richard Greene and Robin Hood and Bernadette O Farrell as Maid Marian#

Going a bit further back in time to around 1952, I seem to remember an adaptation of H.G.Wells ‘The Wonderful Visit’ about an angel who is flying over Southern England, and mistaken for a bird is shot down – shot in the wing actually, so has to spend some time on Earth at a small village.

Kenneth Williams played the Angel and Barry Jones played the Vicar who nurses him back to health. It was broadcast on BBC Television in 1952.  I do vaguely remember this as a  very young boy – and remember it as being very good.

I have read since that critics raved about his performance in this Television play which no doubt went out live  in those days.  I wish a print had been kept but I doubt it now.

A later film was made of the story – it was a foreign film and I think I do have a VHS copy – must have a look at it

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Happy Christmas 2019


Happy Christmas to everyone who has kindly visited this Film Blog and many who have made interesting comments which are always appreciated.

Hope that you all have a very Happy Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year

Happy Christmas


On a film note – I have just watched a second feature film from 1959 on Talking Pictures – called ‘ Witness in the Dark’ 1959


Excellent film. I will post more on this one later

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Childrens Television 1952


Needless to say that these were on the BBC – the only channel we had at the time but is was very good and varied.


Francis Coudrill with Hank and Silver King


Children’s Television – Francis Coudrill with Hank and Silver King   ABOVE

Humphrey Lestoq with Mr Turnip


Children’s Television – HL or Humphrey Lestocq and Mr Turnip. HL looking very downcast I wonder why


Valerie Hobson with Timothy Telescope


Children’s Television – Valerie Hobson with Timothy Telescope ABOVE.


I can’t remember this at all from those days.

Apparently Timothy,  who is a glove puppet lives in Valerie Hobson’s Bathroom just out of reach of her own children


Treasure Island BBC Television 1952


Children’s Television ABOVE Treasure Island from 1952 with Bernard Miles as Long John Siler and John Quayle as Jim Hawkins.

John Quayle made his acting debut in this and he must have been good, because he then went in to Billy Bunter and after that a production of Vice Versa.

I must admit the picture above – at the Stockade –  shows the set looking remarkably similar to the one used for the 1950 Walt Disney film with Robert Newton memorable as Long John Silver.

I am pretty sure that Bernard Miles also played Long John on stage – maybe at  The Mermaid Theatre which he either owned or was very active in, for many successful years.    Wasn’t he good as Joe Gargery in the 1946 classic ‘Great Expectations’

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Quiet Weekend 1946

This film was on Talking Pictures this Sunday afternoon – I have seen it before but it is still enjoyable in a slightly old fashioned way, which to me makes it all the more appealing.

Quiet Weekend 1946


Quiet Weekend



Quiet Weekend 1946 3

Derek Farr with Barbara White ABOVE


Barbara White had been in the film The Voice Within (1945), and whilst on the set she had met  Kieron Moore , who became her husband and to who she was married for 59 years.


They were married in 1947.    She is a beautiful girl and to me she was the highlight of this film.

She did play opposite him again in a better received film ‘Mine Own Executioner’ in 1947  

Quiet Weekend 1946 2

The Royd family go down from town for a relaxing weekend in the their cottage in the country.

Denys ( Derek Farr ) brings with him his girlfriend Rowena, but sparks fly between the city girl and Denys’s young cousin, Miranda played by the lovely Barbara White.

The menfolk meanwhile engage in a spot of salmon poaching.

Quiet a light comedy with lots of dialogue but very entertaining – and relaxing.

Really enjoyed it

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Arthur Howard – Wacko and the film ‘Bottoms Up’

His famous actor brother Leslie Howard was about 20 years older than the character actor Arthur Howard who had his greatest success on television when he played the role of the deputy headmaster Pettigrew to Jimmy Edwards’s  incompetent head in Whack-O! in the late 1950s.

For many years Athur Howard had brightened the cinema screen with a series of cameos (often uncredited), specialising in nervousl type teachers, vicars or “men from the ministry”.

Though a distinct family resemblance was apparent, he lacked the finely chiselled features that made a matinee idol of his brother, and leading men or his nephew Ronald or his son Alan.

Born Arthur Stainer in 1910, he made his screen debut in one of his brother’s films, The Lady is Willing (1933), the first film to be made by Columbia’s British studio but, despite a script by Guy Bolton, the film was a failure. He did not make another film until 1947, when his role as a town hall clerk issuing ration books and identity cards in Frieda started a long and active period as a supporting player, contributing telling cameos to some of the best comedies of the era including The Man in the White Suit (1951), Laughter in Paradise (1952) and The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954).

Arthur Howard in Passport to Pimlico (1949)(left)

ABOVE – In Passport to Pimlico 1949

Arthur Howard

ABOVE – Arthur Howard a signed picture

In Henry Cornelius’s classic Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico (1949) he was a councillor in favour of selling wasteland to prospectors rather than accept Stanley Holloway’s plans for a playground, and in Frank Launder’s hilarious The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950), in which a girls’ school is unwittingly billeted with a boys’, he was the distracted science master barely aware of the chaos being generated around him.

He was a butler in both David Lean’s The Passionate Friends (1948) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950) and in Sidney Gilliat’s atmospheric story of life in a London boarding house London Belongs to Me (1948) he was the head of the “South London Psychical Society”, offering lobster-paste sandwiches to members before a seance.

In Lewis Gilbert’s Cosh Boy (1952), controversial in its day for its depiction of juvenile crime, he was the registrar who marries the delinquent’s widowed mother to the man who brings discipline to the boy’s life.

Arthur Howard


Whack-O!, which started on radio before achieving its very suddessful run on television (1956-60), made him a household name as the none-too-bright assistant to Jimmy Edwards’s conniving and often inebriated headmaster.

Written by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden, the series became a feature film, Bottoms Up!, in 1960 with Athur Howard in his original role, though when the series was revived on television in 1971 Julian Orchard played Pettigrew.

Arthur Howard

Other television appearances included guest spots on George and Mildred, Robin’s Nest, Ever Decreasing Circles, Happy Ever After, Never the Twain, The Eric Sykes Show and, as Professor Plum, the children’s series Plum’s Pots and Pans.

Arthur Howard played in a season of Crossroads, in 1984, and appeared last year in “The Last Englishman”, an episode of Heroes and Villains.

His stage work included classics (the Duke of York in Richard II at the Ludlow Festival: Love for Love at the Bristol Old Vic, the Earl of Caversham in An Ideal Husband at Greenwich) and modern farce (several years in No Sex, Please, We’re British). His later films included Moonraker (1979) and Another Country (1984); his last screen appearance was in Tristram Powell’s American Friends (1990).

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Jean Simmons – Her 21st Birthday

Jean Simmons celebrated her 21st Birthday which would have been on 31st January 1950

Jean Simmons with J Arthur Rank and his wife

Jean Simmons with J. Arthur Rank and his wife.

J Arthur Rank was the saviour of the British Film Industry – born in Hull.


He would have been 61 years old at the time of the picture ABOVE.


Jean Simmon's 21st Birthday


Jean Simmons celebrated her 21st Birthday WITH above – Left to Right Earl St.John,  Sir Michael Balcon,  Lord Archibald and Sydney Box.


Jean Simmon's 21st Birthday with her Mother


Jean Simmons with her Mother ABOVE

Jean Simmon's 21st Birthday Cutting the Cake

Jean Simmons celebrated her 21st Birthday and cuts the cake

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The Far Country 1954

Directed by Anthony Mann  This film starred  James Stewart, Ruth Roman, Corinne Calvet, Walter Brennan, John McIntire, Jay C. Flippen, Henry Morgan, Steve Brodie

The Far Country was Anthony Mann and James Stewart’s fourth Western together, and it’s a good one.

“The Far Country” just seems to get better every time you see it. It is a beautiful film to look at. It has James Stewart at his best – and that is very good. It has a unique setting and story. It’s filled with characters that you can care about and others not so appealing. 

“The Far Country” is quite a fast moving film and is very exciting.

Ruth Roman is the female star – I do remember her in another Western ‘Lightning Strikes Twice’ with Richard Todd – not one of the better ones but she looked lovely in that as she did in all her films.  I really liked her.

A couple of years after this she was involved in a dramatic real life adventure when she and her three year old son boarded the liner Andrea Doria in Cannes, South of France

On the night of July 25, the Andrea Doria collided with the Swedish passenger liner MS Stockholm. Ruth Roman was in one of the ship’s Lounges when the collision happened and she immediately  scrambled back to her cabin to retrieve her sleeping son.

Ruth Roman and her son Richard

Several hours later, they were both evacuated from the sinking ship along with many other passengers.

RuthRoman and her Son Richard

The collision happened off the coast of Massachusetts as the liner neared New York Richard was lowered first into a waiting lifeboat, but before she was forced to get  into the next boat but thankfully all the 750 passengers  from the Andrea Doria were rescued by the French passenger liner SS Île de France.  Ruth Roman’s son  Richard was rescued by the Stockholm but was not reunited with his mother until they arrived in New York.

That must have been torture for Ruth Roman


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Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe


This picture must date from the early to mid fifties – in fact February 1955




BELOW – is a claim made in a recent publication :

Ella Fitzgerald was not allowed to perform in Hollywood’s most popular nightclub, The Mocambo, because of her race and  body size. Marilyn Monroe, who was a big fan, called the owner and explained that if he booked Ella, she would be there every night, which guaranteed huge press coverage.

He booked Ella and Marilyn was there, front table, every single night as promised. Ella said, “After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman, a little ahead of her time, and she didn’t even know it.”


However the truth is :

Marilyn Monroe did help to persuade the Mocambo night club to book Ella Fitzgerald.

It seems that the other assumptions are not correct :

While race may have been a contributing factor, black entertainers had performed at the Mocambo club prior to Ella Fitzgerald. The owner of the popular night club was reportedly hesitant to book a true jazz singer and thought that Fitzgerald wasn’t glamorous enough to perform at the West Hollywood hot spot.




Above – a Memo from Ella Fitzgerald’s Agent – and this is dated 15 February 1955

When once asked about her favourite singers, Marilyn Monroe answered, “Well, my very favorite person, and I love her as a person as well as a singer, I think she’s the greatest, and that’s Ella Fitzgerald.” Not only was Marilyn Monroe an Ella Fitzgerald fan, but she was also a friend who used her status as a Hollywood star to boost Fitzgerald’s career.

Their friendship would last until Monroe’s untimely death. And even after Marilyn  had died,  Ella remained grateful for the support the star had provided during her lifetime.



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