Archive for August, 2020

Diane Cilento – The Persuaders – at Pinewood

This is a photograph of Diane Cilento explaining something that is going on in the filming of ‘The Persuaders’ at Pinewood back in 1971

I have included this article because, although this is not technically a 50 s snippet but many of the actors mentioned here had careers at that time in film land

Also in the picture is Roy Goddard the Pinewood Executive

Nichols Ridley, at that time, Films Minister, went to Pinewood on his first official visit since he took up the job – as reported in ‘The Studio’ magazine of Friday 9th July 1971. He spent three and a half hours there and met Executives Kip Herron, Denis Holland and Jack Horn there, then took a look at the sets where ‘Diamonds are Forever’ then ‘David and Catriona’ as well as this episode of ‘The Persuaders’ were being filmed.

The episode that she was in – and is being filmed here – is ‘A Death in the Family’

Members of Brett Sinclair’s family are being murdered to stop them gaining the title of duke. Who is the killer?

This mystery is presented with a light touch. There are also some interesting demises for the relatives – one or two almost Shakespearean. Guest stars include Denholm Elliott, Willie Rushton, and Roger Moore even plays his own elderly aunt.

With guns, poison, bombs, dummies, bagpipes and many other things featuring in the plot, this episode keeps you guessing and keeps you smiling.

The odd couple of Roger Moore as Brett Sinclair and Tony Curtis as brash American Danny works well, and the cast look as if they are having a great time.

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Last Train From Bombay 1952

This is a film that has resurfaced after 40 years of being tucked away somewhere. I can’t even pretend to know the film – or anything about it so am relying on things I can cobble together

Jon Hall, who made a big impact in 1937 in “The Hurricane” stars in this 1952 film 

Filming started 11 March 1952.

Jon Hall, usually to be found hanging out in Pago Pago or sailing to Tahiti, washes up in India for this B-movie, produced with every expense spared by Columbia. Hall plays an American diplomat whose friend (Douglas Kennedy) turns out to be a member of an insurrectionist group who plant bombs on trains. When the friend is murdered, Hall becomes both a murder suspect and a target for the terrorists. Shots of India are sort of glued into the picture.

It’s an interesting story , but not even remotely historically accurate but then again it is a fictional story so it does not need to be.

Director: Fred F. Sears Writers: Robert Libott (story and screenplay)   Stars: Jon Hall, Christine Larson, Lisa Ferraday, Douglas Kennedy, Michael Fox, Donna Martell, Matthew Boulton

Now watch BELOW the thrilling trailer :-

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The Technicolor Camera

Apparently the first commercial films in colour that were shown widely at the cinema was back in the mid thirties.

We all must have seen ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Gone with the Wind’ or even ‘The Adventure of Robin Hood’ with Errol Flynn. All in dazzling Technicolor.

To achieve the wonderful colour they got, there had to be huge banks of studio lighting giving out lots of heat and the large Technicolor camera was very heavy and not very mobile but in spite of this we got great action shots which coupled with smooth and expert cutting resulted in top rate films.

The above ones just spring to mind. There are many others

Ken Annakin directed the wonderful ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ at Denham film studios andin his Autobiography describes the difficulties of working with these cameras but he admitted that the results they got were well worth it. That film was a superb example of the use and end product of Technicolor at its best – as was The Prisoner of Zenda 1952

Here is Ken Annakin ABOVE directing a studio scene on Robin Hood – on a studio set at Denham

ABOVE another picture of the large Technicolor Camera being used

As regards colour in films like with so much else in the 20th century, it took the involvement of Walt Disney for things to really get going.

Technicolor was used for Walt Disney’s first feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The film community and the movie-going public were enthralled. This was the colour that they had been promised all along.

Some actors began to revel in colour. No one ever glittered like the Queen of Technicolor, Maria Montez, in Cobra Woman (1944).

The British probably did colour better than anyone else. Well at least three people did – the directorial team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger with their frequent collaborator Jack Cardiff – later to become a film director in his own right. From A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), or the very redness of The Red Shoes (1948), this is the Technicolor we all love.

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Prince of Pirates 1953

Now, I just think that this one is up me street – an action packed swashbuckler with John Derek and Barbara Rush.

John Derek had played Robin Hood a few years before and was good in this type of role – plus the fact that he looked the part.

Barbara Rush was very beautiful and a good actress too.

It was in Technicolor – so an added bonus for this type of film

Producer Sam Katzman offers us a 16th-century swashbuckler, with John Derek as Robin Hood-like buccaneer Prince Roland. Having lost his throne to his evil older brother Stephan (Whitfield Connor), Roland forms a band of volunteers to oust Stephan and bring peace and harmony to his land (by busting several heads along the way). Barbara Rush co-stars as Nita, the daughter of a deposed count and a fine swordswoman in her own right.

This isn’t really a pirate movie, though there are a few sequences set at sea in 16th-century sailing ships. Instead, most of the action takes place in a small kingdom in the Netherlands where the evil king is trying to squash a revolt led by his virtuous younger brother.

Carla Balenda, in a supporting role as a haughty Spanish princess, manages to impress. As for John Derek, he looks the real dashing hero

Director: Sidney Salkow

Writers: John O’Dea, Samuel Newman (screenplay) Stars: John Derek, Barbara Rush, Carla Balenda, Whitfield Connor, Edgar Barrier, Robert Shayne, Harry Lauter

Action scenes ABOVE and BELOW

An interesting snippet here – John Hart played a minor uncredited role at the very bottom of the cast list, but the very next outing he had was on TV playing The Lone Ranger – replacing Clayton Moore for a couple of seasons. Clayton Moore had contract problems with the producers – he eventually returned to the role though.

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Lonely are the Brave 1962 – with Kirk Douglas

A modern type Western featuring the escapades of a loner – a Cowboy played by Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas has said that Lonely Are The Brave is his favourite among the films he has made

Filmed in Black and White though – I am not aware that this has been ‘colorised’ but it may have been – I hope so

Kirk Douglas just loves to be the main attraction and here he is mainly because of the storyline that keeps him on screen for virtually the whole time.

When working for Walt Disney in ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ he gave an almost pantomime performance in one of the main roles in the film and he was shown up in the acting department when up against such actors as James Mason and Peter Lorre.

Another Disney ‘over the top’ performance that worked wonderfully well was that of Robert Newton as Long John Silver in the 1950 film ‘Treasure Island’ He was just perfect in the role that defined his acting career from that day onwards – and he also defined to this day, the way that pirates are played on film and the way they talk.

The difference between the two of them is that Robert Newton was just playing the role as he saw it and playing it beautifully – whereas Kirk Douglas, you always had the impression, was always ‘self promoting’

A very unappealing trait

Lonely Are the Brave (1962) is a film about a man who is content with life on the open range. He’s the last of his kind, the wandering cowboy. The problem is the open range is disappearing fast

A man like that can’t live off the land anymore because there’s no land for him to live off of. Everywhere he goes the land is either owned or forbidden for him to enter. Kirk Douglas stars as the last cowboy who just can’t get it into his head how much the times have changed.

Gena Rowlands – has had a good and long career in film and television

ABOVE – This still, in a way sums up the film – the old and the new although I have to say that one thing about this film that looks really dated is the style of helicopters of the time.

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Murder She Said 1961

Margaret Rutherford in her first outing as Miss Marple for MGM British which turned out to be a real money-spinner for the film production company – it was filmed at, and around the MGM Studios at Elstree

Arriving home, Miss Marple calls the police. Village Road in Denham, Buckinghamshire. ABOVE

After telling Police Inspector Craddock of what she witnessed, Miss Marple leaves the house. Filming Location is Village Road in Denham.

Miss Marple heads to the library to find her friend Mr. Stringer. Location for film is ooking north-east on Village Road, Denham.

ABOVE: Mr. Stringer (Stringer Davis) helps Miss Marple to look for clues along the railway.

ABOVE: After the case is solved, Miss Marple is collected from the hall by Mr. Stringer. Filmed at Radnor Hall on Allum Lane, Elstree, Hertfordshire.

James Robertson Justice – the same blustering, shouting performance as always. Not a subtle performance either

ABOVE – Miss Marple played by Margaret Rutherford in the first of four films she made playing this role. This film plus Murder at the Gallop with Robert Morley, Murder Most Foul and Murder Ahoy for MGM British – all done in the space of four years and all, particularly the first two were very successful

ABOVE – As she leaves the household where she found employment as a maid simply to solve the murder mystery – which she does – James Robertson Justice clumsily asks her to marry him. She replies that she is honoured but if she plans marriage ‘there is someone else’

To which he answers ‘ Rubbish that can’t be true. I mean who the devil would have you’

Miss Marple responds ‘Well you for one it seems’

They then say goodbye and part company, she leaves the Hall and is driven away by her Chauffeur Mr Stringer

I have read that after this film and her Oscar Winning Performance in The VIPs – she was for a short time the highest paid MGM film star

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Now and Forever 1956 in Technicolor

This is a real Technicolor beauty – the photograhy and locations on the beautiful colour print just shows the colour process at its best.

Now and Forever, is based on the play The Orchard Walls by R.F. Delderfield, and tells the story of a romance between Janette, played by Janette Scott, and Mike, played by Vernon Gray. Both are young and from different backgrounds, and after realising that they will not be allowed to be together and maybe marry, so they decide to elope to Gretna Green in Scotland and tie the knot

Released in 1956, Now and Forever is not a very well known film sadly. As a former child star, Janette Scott was marketed as this being her first film role as an adult. The supporting cast also includes Kay Walsh as her teacher, Pamela Brown as her mother, and Jack Warner as Mike’s father.

Now and Forever is advertised as being a heart-warming love story, and from looking at the artwork for the film, you would probably think that this is a romantic film. Although this aspect is central to the plot, as we are following a young couple and their growing relationship, the film is much more dramatic than it may first appear including a lot of teenage angst between the two main characters and their parents.

The film is very charming, and the two leads do very well in their role as lovers separated by the class system. However, it is not easy to see how this film has been mostly forgotten over the years. It should not have been cast aside.

Bryan Forbes appeared briefly in the film with a few lines, among a host of British film character actors.

Below – The Film Premier at the Empire Leicester Square in London 1956

The filming locations as we will show are quite beautiful. As shown BELOW – Courtesy of Reel Streets.

The pictures will underline the beauty of the locations chosen and the Colourand just think, there are many more when you see the film

ABOVE: Janette Grant (Janette Scott) and Mike Pritchard (Vernon Gray) spend time by the river.

Above: As the two return from the theatre one evening, Mike’s car, ‘The Rocket’, stalls while passing through a ford. The ford takes the River Lea over Waterend Lane at Waterend to the east of Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire

ABOVE: Mike stops at the end of Janette’s drive before carrying her to the house where Mrs.Grant finds him in her daughter’s bedroom.

ABOVE: The disapproving Mrs. Grant drives her daughter into town. High Street, Chipping Campden with St. James’ Church in the left distance.

ABOVE: While her mother is sending a cable to Canada, Janette gets out of the car. High Street, Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire.

ABOVE: Janette heads for Pritchard’s garage to find Mike. Alongside the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water with the War Memorial in the left background and High Street on the right.

ABOVE: The lovers drive through the night. Facing south-west on High Street in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire with the Lygon Hotel to the left.

ABOVE: Having slept in the Rocket after travelling 107 miles, the couple wake up on the following morning.

ABOVE En route to Scotland where they plan to get married, Mike and Janette take a break for breakfast. Outside the Redesdale Arms on High Street in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.

A from St. James Church view at Chipping Campden – Mellingham in the film
Chipping Campden – Mellingham in the film

A Morris Oxford comes to a screeching halt as Janette runs across the road in front. High Street in Chipping Campden with the Market Hall to the left and the tower of St. James’ church in the distance.

The two pause to look at engagement rings and ask the Jeweller (Henry Hewitt) for prices before being invited inside his shop.

After buying a ring they can afford, Mike and Janette continue on their way. High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh with the Town Hall in the left background.

With Hal Osmond

ABOVE: The Pump Attendant (Hal Osmond) approaches the roadster as it comes to a halt.

Leaving the car for repairs at the garage, Mike and Janette look for a room for the night. Lake Road in Waterhead, Westmorland with Lake Windermere in the background.

Mrs. Grant and Mr. Pritchard examine the wreckage of Mike’s Austin Seven.

The couple reach a railway station and Mike walks onto the platform. Coniston railway station on Station Road in Coniston, Lancashire

A police car stops and Mike sees Mrs. Grant get out to speak with the Station Master. The station at Coniston opened in 1859 and was the terminus of the branch line from Foxfield to the north of Kirkby-in-Furness.

ABOVE: An idyllic setting – Farmer Gilbert (Charles Victor) and his wife Aggie (Marjorie Rhodes) discover that the runaways have spent the night in their stable.

ABOVE: Mike and Janette leave the farm and continue towards the border where their parents are waiting with the police.

From a Film Press Book BELOW :-

More from the Press Book below :-

BELOW : The Director Mario Zampi of Mario Zampi Productions, discusses a scene with Vernon Gray and Bryan Forbes :-

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Jungle Manhunt 1953

Johnny Weissmuller back as Jungle Jim in another film of the series for Columbia. This was the seventh and they were to make 16 in all – which has to be proof that these films were successful.

These Jungle Jim films were always entertaining, and to tell you the truth, if one of them appears on TV even now, I always make a point of watching it – and I always enjoy it.

Sheila Ryan was the female star of the film/ She had been around in films for a few years and had been married very briefly to Western star Allan ‘Rocky’ Lane. She had made quite a few films with Gene Autry before that

Johnny Weismuller with Bob Waterfield and Sheila Ryan ABOVE

The Skeleton Men – ABOVE

In this film Bob Waterfield a quite well-known American Footballer took a leading role – he was married at the time to Jane Russell – indeed they were wed for quite some time before they divorced.

Bob went on to remarry but died at the age of 62 a few years later.

See the exciting trailer BELOW

Sheila Ryan or

Katherine Buttram, died at the young age of 54 from a mysterious lung ailment at Motion Picture Hospital, Woodland Hills, California. Doctors were unable to diagnose the specific disease that claimed her life. She had been ill for several years. Besides her husband, she is survived by a daughter, Kerry, 19.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 – Not so well remembered

Unlike the classis 1939 film with Charles Laughton on brilliant form as the Hunchback, this remake does not seem to be remembered and nor does it seem to appear on Television – in fact I can’ t remember it ever been shown in England on TV.

It starred Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda – this picture above is taken from the front cover of Picturegoer of 14 November 1959 – so by this time the film had come and gone without causing too many ripples on the water by the sound of it.

Anthony Quinn played the Hunchback and apparently was very good in the role giving a different interpretation than had been previously done.

The film was made in France with a French Director and cast – apart that is from the two leading roles. It did prove very successful at the Box Office in France when released – and did quite well elsewhere.

Maybe it is not shown much because it is a French film although I can’t think why that would be unless the initial promotion was not as good.

ABOVE – A shocking scene as Quasimodo is mercilessly whipped. This really is terrible to see such cruelty

This version apparently is pretty faithful to the Victor Hugo novel

Unlike other  film versions though, this is the first known version where Esmeralda dies. However unlike the book her death is different. As the Court of Miracles attacks Notre Dame and Quasimodo defends it, Esmeralda goes to the door and meets the Court. They triumphantly carry her out but then the King’s guard fires an arrow at them. Esmeralda turns to run back inside Notre Dame but she is shot by an arrow and dies.

This was filmed in Cinemascope and EastmanColor – this was the very first version in colour – and I have always loved the Cinemascope format – doesn’t fit the TV screen so well though – but that does not mean anything because this film was made to be shown in the Cinema on that big screen – like so many more films were

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Ian Carmichael – a varied career

I have said this before, and probably will say it again, but I have been so fed up with listening to the Radio News either on the BBC or LBC with it’s doom laden bulletins and phone-ins that I have changed to listening in the car to a lot of Radio Plays – Full Cast type CDs rather than a book being read.

So have gone from Agatha Christie and The Pale Horse, to Sexton Blake, Paul Temple – and now Lord Peter Wimsey which stars Ian Carmichael in the role he fits so well. He played Lord Peter on Television and then produced the same stories on Radio – now released on CD.

They are really good and fascinating stories.

Before this, and back into the Fifties Ian Carmichael played in many British films of the day, often as upper class twits who come good in the end – and also have an appealing streak in them

It was the film version of his first stage success, Simon and Laura (1955) which established Ian Carmichael on the screen. The following year his portrayal of an artful conscripted dodger in the Boultings’ comedy Private’s Progress endeared him to everyone who had ever been called up and the character returned, fleetingly, in I’m All Right, Jack (1959). In this picture he had just been demobbed and, in looking for work, became caught in a wrangle between capitalists and trades unionists from which he emerged, inadvertently, triumphant.
Meanwhile there had been the title role in the not-very-successfully filmed Kingsley Amis novel Lucky Jim. Then came Happy Is The Bride, a Boultings’ comedy about rural society weddings.

In School for Scoundrels (1960) he attended an academy to learn how to shed his gentlemanly inhibitions in order to compete for a young lady’s hand, and then in Heavens Above (1963) he played a confused cleric in a Boultings’ satire about the Church.

ABOVE – Ian chatting away on the set of the film ‘Brothers In Law

ABOVE – Ian Carmichael in Picturegoer which had the heading ‘Britain’s Conquering Clown’ – trouble is that in the scan we still have the word ‘Clown’

On Talking Pictures at the weekend was ‘Left Right and Centre’ a British Comedy with Ian cast as the Conservative candidate in a by election who arrives by train and on the journey becomes somewhat taken with a very pretty girl – as she does with him. Trouble is she turns out to be the Labour Candidate in the same by election. They have fallen in love with each other, so the film has a happy ending despite a number of bumpy moments along the way.

Much later we all remember him as the Doctor in one episode of Heartbeat in 2003 before he then went on to play the same role Dr T.D. Middlewitch in The Royal – and he was in 28 episodes between 2003 and 2009. In fact the very last episode he had made was on Television in 2009 – and he had actually died before this was shown.

He did live up in that area of North Yorkshire where Heartbeat and The Royal was set – in fact in Grosmont – for quite a few years

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