Archive for December, 2020

Richard Todd – pictures from his Hollywood visits

Back in the early fifties following the success of ‘The Hasty Heart’ Richard Todd signed a 6 film contract with 20th Century Fox – on a one-a-year film basis. This meant him travelling to Hollywood each year where the films were mainly made

Probably the pinnacle of these came with ‘A Man called Peter’ in which he starred with Jean Peters

‘A Man Called Peter’ must rate as Richard Todd’s best screen acting performance – he was superb in this as Peter Marshall the Scottish Preacher

ABOVE – Richard with his first wife Catherine ( Kitty) both looking very young and happy too.

I think that the picture above was taken on his first Hollywood visit with his wife to film ‘Lightning Strikes Twice’ – with Ruth Roman.

Just read that this film was re-screened at the 70th Berlin Film Festival earlier this year – February before the ‘virus’ struck. It was shown as a retrospective tribute to Film Director King Vidor

The one BELOW – ‘A Man Called Peter’ was filmed a few years later – filming in September to November 1954

Richard told the story that when filming the scene below where Peter Marshall gave one if his stirring sermons from the pulpit, watching quietly in the studio was Marilyn Monroe who was moved to tears by his delivery and by the words he spoke.

Richard Todd would not, ever again, get a part as good as this – I am surprised that it is not a better known film. He certainly rose to the occasion when taking on this demanding role.

I think that Richard Todd would be much better thought of, and remembered if this film had become the classic that it deserved to be.

The film did very well at the Box Office grossing 4.5 million dollars in the USA – not sure that it did so well here for some reason.

Richard Todd ABOVE and BELOW filming ‘Lightning Strikes Twice’ with Ruth Roman – here they are on location in the Mojave Desert.

Director King Vidor looks on

Richard Todd – ABOVE – and Below with Jean Peters

A Man Called Peter – released April 1955 – In Cinemascope

BELOW – Richard Todd in Hollywood at some kind of event – maybe the Oscar Ceremony – seated in the foreground is Clifton Webb

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Merry Christmas

I would just like to wish all the visitors to this Website a Very Merry Christmas – and good wishes to all for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year.

This year as we all know has not been one of the best but as we approach the last days of the year, we can all be more optimistic because we now have a vaccine and better ways of treating people with the virus
We also have the Talking Pictures channel to watch with all the films we know and love – Well maybe, we don’t know a good many of them so we can just settle down and enjoy just how good they are.

I can’t think of many films that would be more welcome at Christmas than this one above

Happy Christmas to everyone from filmsofthefifties.com

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Movie Memories – Winter 2020

What a great Christmas gift came through the door yesterday – Yes the very latest edition of Movie Memories that wonderful magazine that just seems to hit the right note with all us Film fans of the golden era.

Chris Roberts has produced this magazine for a lot of years – as he describes it – ‘it has been my baby for the past 31 years’.

I would add that he has made a superb job of doing that and the work that must go into it is astonishing. It has been done so diligently for all that time, and he deserves a huge vote of Thanks from us all.

He admits that in recent years, he has, like us all, been so relieved and gratified to see the emergence of the channel ‘Talking Pictures’ showing all the films of the late forties / early fifties and onwards, that would never see the light of day.

In this Winter 2020 edition we have among many other articles – ones on Stephen Boyd, Norma Shearer, Ward Bond, Veronica Lake, Marjorie Reynolds, Bette Davis as well as Letters to the Editor. Pot Pourri and a lot of snippets from film land that are both interesting and fascinating.

All in all great reading for days

Sadly Chris says that 2021 will be the final year of production of ‘Movie Memories’

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The Secret of Treasure Mountain 1956 – More pictures from the film print

The-Secret-of-Treasure-Mountain-Scenes 6The-Secret-of-Treasure-Mountain-Scenes 6The-Secret-of-Treasure-Mountain-Scenes 9.The-Secret-of-Treasure-Mountain-Scenes 9.The-Secret-of-Treasure-Mountain-Scenes 10
The-Secret-of-Treasure-Mountain-Scenes 9.

As anyone who reads this site knows, I really like this film although it was very much a B picture – a supporting one – but like so many of them often at least as enjoyable as the main feature.

I don’t think that this was the case in England, but in the USA ‘The Secret of Treasure Mountain’ was second feature on a programme with ‘The Great Locomotive Chase’ from Walt Disney – as this very poor scan below indicates

The bottom pictures are taken from the film print – and centre on one of the key scenes in the film – the finding of the third Braganza Cross – not quite what we thought but a clever twist

We had better not fill in the blanks or give away the ending – just let you see for yourselves from the DVD

The best part of the film was a sequence taken directly from Lust for Gold 1949 where the Indians attack gold prospectors in a remote valley many years before. Very much a studio set but extremely well done with production quality well ahead of the rest of the film. Interesting to note that the Englishman that played Valerie French’s father in the film was Reginald Sheffield who was the father of Johnny and Billy Sheffield who were boy stars in films – Johnny playing Boy in the Tarzan films and later Bomba The Jungle Boy.

I well remember seeing ‘The Secret of Treasure Mountain’ as a youngster and somehow the plot has always stayed with me. The production values of the film were not top class by any means but the flashback sequence to the man who had discovered the treasure 200 years earlier when the Indians attacked and killed the searchers and Braganza himself in the cave, was very well done – these scenes were pinched from an earlier – and much more expensive looking film – ‘Lust for Gold’ with Glenn Ford.

BELOW – a scene from ‘Lust for Gold’ 1949 with Ida Lupino

Lust for Gold 1949

ABOVE – ‘The End’ – ‘The Secret of Treasure Mountain’ 1956

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Peep-Scope – an interesting item

This item which I have seen for sale really took my interest with it’s older film theme. It isn’t a classic article for this Blog, I know but I thought it could be included for a bit of fun.

It would be quite exciting just picking out the film of your choice and having your own private showing – in miniature

I remember being fascinated by this sort of thing as a child – still am – I would have loved a projector in those days but of course we could not afford one.

I have one now – both 8 mm and 16 mm – I love the whirring sound when a film is showing – it seems to add to the excitement of the occasion.

When my parents took us to the cinema I remember shivering with anticipation when we went in. I remember this particularly for ‘The Flame and the Arrow’ and ‘Treasure Island’

For Sale in it’s original box by the looks of it – very much of its time but strangely appealing

This original Peep-Scope set comprises the viewer, 10 films and directions. The Films are as follows :-

Our Royal Family

Sports Today and Yesterday

At the Zoo

Dial 999

Olympic Champ

The Dog Show

The Motor Show

Wonders of the World

Fire Down Below

The Directions BELOW – seem to indicate that it works on the same basis as a cine film or a feature film in a projector – this is just a mini-projector I think

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Solomon and Sheba 1959 – Tyrone Power – sadly not the star

This film did not star Tyrone Power – it should have done but after quite a lot of the exterior scenes had been filmed with him in them, he sadly died on the set while filming a duel he was having with George Sanders.

It was a sad and early end to a glittering acting career both on stage and on screen – where he is best known.

Some of the vast outdoor scenes had already been filmed in very cold temperatures with easterly winds – and this weather persisted.

Tyrone Power had been a heavy smoker for years – something that probably contributed to his early death – alongside that physically demanding action he had to do in bitterly cold weather

ABOVE – A Newspaper Headline

ABOVE – Tyrone Power with Noel Purcell as King David – After Tyrone Power died and Yul Brynner took on the role, Noel Purcell for whatever reason was replaced as King David by Finlay Currie

ABOVE – Tyrone Power with Gina Lollobridgida and Director King Vidor demonstrating the whip technique

ABOVE – Tyrone Power in a scene with Marisa Pavan

ABOVE – Tyrone Power with Gina Lollobridgida and King Vidor at the Sevilla Studios

ABOVE – With George Sanders in what looks like a tense scene

ABOVE – One of the massive battle sequences

ABOVE Tyrone Power takes a break between scenes

ABOVE – Tyrone Power again with George Sanders

ABOVE – Tyrone Power has collapsed on the floor of the Studios

Tyrone Power, who had been born in Cincinnati, Ohio, had made his name as an actor on Broadway before turning to Hollywood. He became an overnight star on screen with his performance in Lloyds of London (1936). Subsequent films included The Mark of Zorro (1940, the year in which he was Hollywood’s top box-office draw), Blood and Sand (1941), and The Sun Also Rises (1957).

I liked him in ‘Jesse James’ in Colour in 1939

He made repeated returns to the stage for dramas such as The Devil’s Disciple, by George Bernard Shaw.

The 1956 run of the play took him to Edinburgh and Glasgow; he is photographed here holding onto his hat on a visit to windy Edinburgh Castle.

Tyrone Power in Edinburgh

Tyrone Power died in November 1958, aged 44, having suffered a heart attack during the filming, in Spain, of the epic, Solomon and Sheba.

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Ellis Powell – Mrs Dale. The Private Life of ‘Mrs Dale’

We go back to a feature done here some months ago, on the Radio personality Ellis Powell who played Mrs Dale in the long running series Mrs Dale’s Diary. There had been reports of her losing the job as Mrs Dale due to drinking but there is no evidence of this and I think it is untrue.

She, very sadly, died shortly after this. However what is not often reported is about her own life – her own life story from quite well-to-do parents living in lovely surroundings and with a father who was influential and well connected in those days – to a fulfilling career as an actress both on stage in the early days to radio drama. Here we see a picture of a happy and fun loving girl from a loving family who found great happiness in touring the country with plays and dramas before settling into those radio days.

Also very important in this story – as with many others born around that time – her life was punctuated and no doubt marked by Two World Wars which ravaged the country and left people changed in their outlook and aspirations.

We did get something of a glimpse into the life of Ellis Powell in the first article on here – and now we have further information from 1954 – at the height of her ‘Mrs Dale’ popularity

Ellis Powell was often been asked if, like Mrs. Dale, she kept a diary – she said that she did not, simply because she just could not find the time to complete it each day – she receives many letters – more for Mrs Dale than herself .

When she first auditioned for the part, she was not really bothered about getting it – after all she had been mainly a comedy actress and this was very much a straight role.

Ellis Powell waves goodbye to her Radio Husband Douglas Burbidge at the entrance to Broadcasting House in London, after they had finished recording another episode for us

ABOVE – We have Ellis Powell with her husband in real life the film actor Ralph Truman

Ellis Powell could not remember why she became an actress – although as a small child she had written verses and received prizes for that and she had at times insisted on reciting some of those same verses.

Her Mother then decided to send her for elocution lessons.

At the time her family lived in a large house in North West London with 5 acres of garden and a lake. She was one of three children and they just loved the place – it was like being in the country but close to the City.

Her father was a Doctor of Science and a Bachelor of Law and for a long time editor of the Financial News. Among his friends was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He married Rose Alberta E. Badhams and they had three children

Ellis Powell as a young girl began writing sketches that she would also act in, and during the 1914-18 War, she appeared in concerts for the Adair Wounded Fund – these were at the Palladium – so she effectively started at the top. Her school teacher encouraged her with her writing and acting.

Her father died in 1922 and then she had to earn a living so she chose the theatre and went to RADA and then joined a Rep touring with plays – often farces such as ‘Rookery Nook’. During that time she lived along with three other women in various houses around the country as they travelled to each provincial location. She described the four years they did this as very happy ones. Apparently they all got on well together and she described them all as being ‘as happy off the stage as we were on it’

Around this time of course Radio or ‘the wireless’ was becoming very popular. She auditioned for a play on radio in 1927. She did not really take to this at that time so nothing materialised

She makes no mention of the fact that she married another actor Ralph Truman on 9 March 1928. However there is a reference to her having a son who in 1954 was in his early twenties, so he would probably have been born around 1929 or 1930.

ABOVE – a picture of her son Clive’s wedding in 1960 to Myra Vaughan.

Ellis Powell kisses the bride – her son is reported in the caption to be called Clive Roman but why I just can’t imagine

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Ralph Truman and Ellis Powell remained married until 1963 when she died. It says on the imdb site that their marriage foundered but I can’t find any evidence for that at all.

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The next thing she refers to in the interview is getting back into radio in 1938. She auditioned again and described it as ‘a very different audition to the first one’ – she was in a better frame of mind.

When War came, she was often asked to appear in productions with the BBC Rep Company, mainly in Evesham and sometimes Manchester.

She was offered the part of Mrs Williams in ‘The Robinsons’ a ‘true-to-life’ series and grew to love all the people in the Robinson’s family circle. It was after this had finished – and after the War had ended – that she got the part of Mrs Dale – which she is famous for. She got to love the role – there were similarities between her and her character though – they both had sons about the same age – Mrs Dale had Bob and Ellis Powell’s son was Clive.

She also said that ‘like Mrs Dale’, she loved people and was interested in everybody and everything because at some point everyone is the central point in a history story.’

Now to a link which I have never seen mentioned before in any reporting of Ellis Powell – her father – quite famous and well connected he was.

Thomas Ellis Powell, born 1869 in Ludlow, England. Ellis married Rose Alberta Badams and they had three children – Mary Elizabeth Rose, Sidney & Agnes Estelle, born 1904 in London.
From 1909 – 1920 Thom. Ellis Powell held the position of Editor of the newspaper ‘Financial News’ He was a prolific author and his interests included politics, music and Psychic research.
In 1913, the eldest child, Mary, married Wilfrid Lindsay Sturt. To my knowledge they had one child, a girl.
Sidney was interested in film making.
Agnes became an actress using the professional name of Ellis Powell. During the 1950’s Agnes became a household name when she took the leading role in the B.B.C’s daily radio programme “Mrs. Dales Diary.”

Ellis Powell was named after her father, quite famous in his own way, and certainly a man of some standing with influential friends – details of his life as below :

Her father :-

Powell, Ellis T(homas) (1869-1922)

British barrister, journalist, and Spiritualist. Powell was born in Ludlow, Shropshire, and educated at Ludlow Grammar School. He served an apprenticeship to a draper in Ludlow, then came to London, where he became a journalist on the Financial News, eventually becoming editor. He mastered several languages, including Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. In his spare time, he studied law and became a barrister. Powell was a fellow of the Royal Historical and Royal Economic Societies, the Institute of Journalists, and the Royal Colonial Institute (member of council). He lectured at the London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London).

Powell became a supporter of the Spiritualist movement, travelling throughout Britain and lecturing on psychic subjects. He was a member of the British College of Psychic Science and was a council member of the London Spiritualist Alliance. He frequently contributed to the Spiritualist journal Light.

As a good friend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Powell’s name figured in the séance conducted by Doyle and his wife for Harry Houdini. In 1922, when the Doyles were in Atlantic City, they met Houdini on the sea front. Lady Jean Doyle offered to give Houdini an automatic writing séance. This took place at the Ambassador Hotel, where they were staying.

Lady Doyle produced automatic writing purporting to come from Houdini’s dead mother. At the end of the message, Houdini took up the pencil and wrote on the pad—the name “Powell.” This convinced Doyle that Houdini was a medium, since his friend Ellis Powell had died a few days earlier. Houdini later stated the message claimed to be from his mother was not evidential, since she would have been unable to communicate in fluent English, moreover he had been thinking of Frederick Eugene Powell, a fellow stage magician.

As a barrister, Powell brought his legal training to the problem of what he termed the “barbaric legislation” against mediums, campaigning to amend the Witchcraft Act of George II, still used against mediums during the twentieth century. He died June 1, 1922. He was only 52 or 53

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I wonder if he died of Influenza in the terrible epidemic of that the early twenties that ravaged the world. By 1922 it had all but fizzled out – but I just wonder

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‘Waters of the Moon’ – a 1952 Stage Play

In 1983 we were lucky to have a Television version of N C Hunter’s classic English play ‘Waters of the Moon’ – a production which is full of traditional English characters living at a small Devon Hotel in 1950 – and living their own routine way – which seemed to suit them – until a family descends on the hotel. Their car has been stranded in a snow drift nearby, and their arrival seems to upset the life structure the hotel residents have – for a short time

I do have a CD copy of the Radio Play which starred Marjorie Westbury in a play she herself chose to mark her 50 years in BBC Radio Drama.

Also in the cast were Mary Wimbush, Patricia Hayes and Martin Jarvisher friends in everyday life

I must admit that Mary Wimbush is one of my favourite radio actors – her distinctive voice tends to add a quality to whatever production she is in

One Review about Marjorie Westbury in the famous play:

It was a joy to hear Marjorie Westbury in Waters of the Moon, in the Edith Evans part. She celebrated her jubilee in style, projecting glamour and sophistication (as, long ago, she did for Steve in PAUL TEMPLE). The New Year Party was admirably done – there was a real sense of a group of diverse people interacting, in Graham Gauld’s production


Two of the co-stars of the 1983 TV production were Carry On actors – Joan Sims and Dilys Laye. As well as being wonderful actresses and veteran Carry On characters, Joan and Dilys were also the best of friends. They had been friends right from the early days of revue in the 1950s and it was a friendship that endured right up until Joan’s death in 2001. 

I think both Joan and Dilys were extremely talented and to a certain extent, undervalued performers. Both were successful actors, beloved by fans and their peers but they were never true stars as we would know them.

Anyway, back to ‘Waters of the Moon’ – if you fancy an interesting diversion, check out this television play. It also stars Penelope Keith, Virginia McKenna, Ronald Pickup and Lesley Dunlop. Quite a cast. So sit back and enjoy!

Somewhere I have a Video copy of this version and I am frantically looking through my mountain of old VHS Tapes to try to find it – up to now with no success

It started as a stage play in the West End of London, where it ran successfully for two years or so on its first run

The 1983 Television Production with Penelope Keith and Ronald Pickup is a very handsome production of this N.C. Hunter play and has several excellent performances to recommend it.

A drawing-room drama starts out and sets the scene, by establishing the lives of a group of people in a residential hotel in the Devonshire countryside. The four residents form an ill matched crowd but they have lived alongside one another for a few years and got used to each others ways. There’s the retired colonel (Richard Vernon) who sleeps away his life when he’s not shooting birds. There’s a displaced Austrian (Ronald Pickup), and two women at opposite ends of the pole: Mrs. Whyte (Virginia McKenna), a brittle upper-class woman who’s lost her money, and Mrs. Ashmore (Joan Sims), a cheerful working-class type. The hotel is run by the dour Mrs. Daly (Dilys Laye) and her adult son who is ‘sickly’ possibly has had TB but that is never said.

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My Darling Clementine – Victor Mature as Doc Holliday

A top-rated Western from John Ford even though it is from before the Fifties – in fact was released in 1946. I wish that this had been in Technicolor – however it is possible to get the colorized version on DVD and to me that is the one to see

The acting contains a number of career-best performance from two top actors — Victor Mature and Walter Brennan. Victor Mature takes the Doc Holliday role which has tended to be the one most sought after and he gives the most moving and arguably the finest of all interpretations.

In fact in the film there is a Shakespeare scene where Victor Mature performs the great Hamlet soliloquy from Hamlet, ‘To be or not to be’.

The character Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) completes the soliloquy when the actor falters. The inclusion of this scene is seen as a meditation on America’s transformation from wilderness into civilisation.

Famous actor Alec Baldwin describes this as ‘the most beautiful Shakespeare recitation you’ve ever heard in your life.’

Walter Brennan plays the dark and vengeful Ike Clanton – very much against the type of parts he had before or after this one

ABOVE – Victor Mature

ABOVE – Henry Fonda looks very dated in this shot

Walter Brennan above – as Ike Clanton – a very different part to the ones that we are used to seeing him in.

He looks a lot younger here – which of course he was.

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