Archive for October, 2021

Macabre 1958 – and another similar one

Before the film ‘Macabre’ gets under way in the Cinema – we are warned:

Narrator: Ladies and gentlemen – for the next hour and fifteen minutes, you will be shown things so terrifying that the management of this theatre is deeply concerned for your welfare. Therefore, we request that each of you assume the responsibility of taking care of your neighbour. If anyone near you becomes uncontrollably frightened, will you please notify the management so that medical attention can be rushed to their aid? Please set your watches. It is 6:45 in the evening in a town called Thornton…

William Castle was the Director :

The first of William Castle‘s “gimmick” films. In this one, admission included a $1000 insurance policy against “death by fright” issued by Lloyds of London.

People in a small US town think that a doctor (William Prince) is responsible for the death of his wife due to his incompetence. Someone is so angry about this that they have apparently kidnapped the doctor’s daughter and have buried her alive. The doctor must scramble to figure this one out–and the leads point to her being buried in the cemetery.

William Castle as the Doctor Rodney Barrett and Jacqueline Scott as Nurse Polly Baron

In the late 1950s, director/producer William Castle began releasing horror thrillers with amazing gimmicks- such as electrifying seats and shocking viewers in “The Tingler” or sending skeletons flying over the audience in “The House on Haunted Hill”. “Macabre” was the first of these- with insurance policies on the patrons because the film was supposedly THAT scary. Unfortunately, the film just wasn’t scary!

Some years ago, we went over to the Manchester Opera House to see a play with a plot line not unlike this.

The Play was ‘Dead Simple’ by Peter James and the story was a very frightening one – here is the up-front publicity :-

Michael Harrison had it all: good looks, charm, natural leadership, a wicked sense of humour, and now, Ashley, his fiancée. While out celebrating with a group of friends a few nights before the wedding, Michael suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself enclosed in a coffin equipped only with a flashlight, a dirty magazine, a walkie-talkie, and a tiny breathing tube. It’s all in good fun — payback for the grief his mates suffered due to his own penchant for tomfoolery — that is until the four are killed in a drunk driving accident just moments after leaving Michael completely alone and buried alive.

Detective Superintendent Grace—himself dealing with the pain of losing his wife—is brought on to the case when Ashley reports Michael missing. Suspicions are raised when Michael’s only friend not at the bachelor party refuses to cooperate, and Ashley’s faithfulness—not to mention her increasingly mysterious past—are suddenly thrown in to question. As Superintendent Grace soon discovers, one man’s disaster is another man’s fortune.

‘Dead Sinple’ has been dramatised on ITV Television with John Simm as Inspector Grace

ABOVE and BELOW :  Richie Campbell and John Simm

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Man in the Saddle 1951

A good Western in Technicolor with plenty of action – what more could we want.

Plus Randolph Scott, Alexander Knox – I never would have thought of him in a Western but as the ‘baddie’ he was excellent – he was a very accomplished actor – then we had Ellen Drew – I remember her with Larry Parkes in ‘The Swordsman’ and also Joan Leslie.

So, all in all, a pretty good cast

‘Man in the Saddle’ is one featured on this 10 film Set

ABOVE – Alexander Knox and Ellen Drew

I always remember Alexander Knox for the film ‘The Night My Number came up’ which was a fascinating story of a dream of an aircaft flight that ended in disaster which when related in real life, gets so much into the minds of the people involved that it looks to be becoming self fulfilling.

Alexander Knox came to England in the early fifties – not long after ‘Man in the Saddle – where he pursued a long and successful career, mainly on the stage

He died in Berwick-Upon-Tweed

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Filming at Denham Film Studios

I have recently come across these fascinating pictures – the first two are aerial views of the large outside studio tank actually in use for Walt Disney’s ‘Treasure Island’ – so these would be taken in the hot summer of 1949

Difficult to gauge which part of the story would be done here – I suspect it would be the last few minutes of the film where Long John Silver – Robert Newton – escapes from capture in that small boat.

Jim Hawkins is with him and at the tiller and steers the boat into the sandy bank much to the annoyance of Long John who eventually manages to push it out into the water and then to the open sea.

ABOVE – I can’t think that the studio tank would be used that much on this film. The River Colne had been dammed in the grounds of the Studios for a while in order to film the pirate landing on the island – which was done in brilliant fashion.

When I read that the pictures ABOVE were taken during the making of that film, I just wonder. It is in the extensive grounds of the Studios though

ABOVE – In the grounds of Denham on the River Colne in the grounds of Denham Film Studios – but NO, we are landing on Treasure Island. This is a thrilling sequence with unmatched Technicolor photography – I just love it as it evokes such lovely memories from when I first saw it at the Cinema

BELOW – That same scene being set up

ABOVE – Here we are arriving at Treasure Island – the palm tress were added to the summer foliage and it really looks effective and good.

Long John in menacing pose with Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins

I just love these shots both above and below

Jim has escaped from the small boat and ran inland – the ABOVE shot is definitely in the grounds of Denham Film Studios.

As the grounds covered 193 acres there was ample room to cope with ‘Treasure Island’ and the very next film from Walt Disney ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ both made at Denham – so after this those Denham exteriors were turned into Sherwood Forest

Farewell, Long John and Good Luck

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The Ritz Cinema Keighley

I have just been re-reading an earlier article I did about the late, great Gerald Parkes – Cinema Owner, Entrepeneur and a man with an unrivalled knowledge of films and the cinema over many decades.

Gerald Parkes

He became one of the youngest Cinema Managers in 1969 at the Ritz Cinema in Keighley

THIS view of Keighley’s Ritz Cinema can be dated to a week in mid-April of 1952 when it ran the “best film of the year”, the Academy Award-winning An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, with music by George and Ira Gershwin.

A special showing was put on for Easter Monday, starting at 10.40 in the morning.

The Ritz opened in 1938 and the first Film shown was the classic ‘Lost Horizon’ with Ronald Colman

Seating 1,526 and provided with a Compton 3Manual/5Rank organ and small variety stage the Ritz Cinema was the most luxurious theatre in the area and it even had the facility of a café-restaurant which seated 100. It was designed by the well respected firm of Verity & Beverley with Sam Beverley acting as the chief architect for the scheme.

It was renamed ABC on 30th July 1971 and showed its last film on 2nd February 1974

A stage and dressing rooms were intended for variety shows. Indeed, the Ritz would later accommodate productions of the Keighley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.

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Red Mountain 1951

A Good Western which I remember seeing at the Cinema as a child with by Mother and Father. My Mother loved the cinema as I do.

I can remember the last scenes of this film well.

It was in Technicolor and this was – and remains – impressive.

This is one of Alan Ladd’s lesser known and seldom-seen Westerns, a Civil War story with an excellent cast.  Alan Ladd plays Brett Sherwood, a captain from Georgia who has gone West in April 1865 to Colorado Territory to meet up with “Gen.” William Quantrell. 

The opening scene shows the legs of a person in the town of Broken Branch dismounting and killing an assayer, hiding his identity.  Since a rare form of Confederate ammunition was used, the locals figure that former Confederate soldier Lane Waldron (Arthur Kennedy), paroled after he was captured at Vicksburg, is responsible.

Lizabeth Scott was the female lead in this – her first Western. She was looking formard to starting filming but things didn’t quite live up to expectations. The very first day on location near Gallup New Mexico, the temperature was below zero and while the two male stars were quite well wrapped up, she had to appear in just a western shirt and slit skirt.

A few days later she slipped on a rock and injured her knee and that same afternoon she cut her hand during a scuffle and then to add insult to injury, she later fell in a clump of cactus.

She thought things would improve once they got back to Hollywood for the Studio scenes at Paramount but the director supervised a scene where Jeff Cory had to strike her after she rejected his advances. This called for quite a few re-takes before they were deemed to have success – so a painful time.

After the scene was completed Alan Ladd, who had been looking on asked ‘ How do you like Westerns, Liz ? To which she replied that this was her first and last one – and then said that if she gets any more Western scripts, she will just send them on to Dale Evans.

The final scenes

ABOVE – A tense scene

ABOVE – Alan Ladd with Lizabeth Scott – and BELOW she is with Arthur Kennedy.

She looks very serious in each picture.

ABOVE – That looks like Jay Silverheels – and it is. This was 1951 so he was shortly afterwards to star in ‘The Lone Ranger’ series that made him famous

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The Moment of Truth 1955 and Other Television Dramas

I am drawn to this, not from a memory I have but on reading an old Radio Times from 4 March 1955 what struck me was the cast which included Peter Ustinov – who had written the play – Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance, Janette Sterke, Hugh Griffith, Walter Rilla and a number of others – almost like a Who’s Who of Film and TV actors of the day

Peter Ustinov and Janette Sterke

This Television version starring Peter Ustinov must have been the first one to be done after 1951 – I don’t think that this survives as it would be just before TeleRecording began

First produced in 1951, The Moment of Truth saw Peter Ustinov drawing on recent history, presenting a situation not unlike that of France in 1940 facing imminent defeat by German forces.

In 1939 the French government then recalled Maréchal Pétain from retirement, a hero to the French because of his military leadership in World War One, and brought him into the government, making him Prime Minister just before the signing of an armistice with Germany and the creation of Vichy France.

However, this play is set in an un-named republic and takes a satirical approach to the situation but the comic edge does not blunt the seriousness of Peter Ustinov’s drama which must have been drawn from recent history of the time.

The Cast is impressive

BELOW – and a decade later, Kenneth More and Janet Suzman star in ‘Lord Raingo’

Joss Ackland, Joseph O’Conor and Kenneth More

In this production from Arnold Bennett’s book Kenneth More plays Sam Raingo a typical North Country business tycoon and newspaper owner who has a heart condition. The year is 1918 and the Prime Minister in office is Andy Clyth ( Joseph O’Conor ) a long time enemy of Sam.

Sam is bored with his squire-type life in Essex and his cold wife played by Sarah Churchill – and he is involved elsewhere anyway. His mistress Janet Susman is unhappy with the situation.

Sarah Churchill

Over a decade BBC Television gave us some really big productions. ‘Lord Raingo’ must have been just before ‘Ther Forsyte Saga’ but in the same year.

Kenneth More was in that too.

He later, of course, played Father Brown in a TV series that had just thirteen episodes – that was for ITV in 1974

Kenneth More as Father Brown in ‘The Hammer of God’

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Kenilworth – a BBC Serial from 1957

This was another of the BBC’s excellent six part dramatisations from the early days of Television – if fact Episode One was transmitted – probably ‘live’ – at 9 pm on Friday 8th February 1957

ABOVE – Robin Bailey as Robert Dudley, Earl of Lancaster and Ann Firbank as Amy Robsart – his ‘secret’ wife in the story

Others in the cats were Paul Eddington and Arthur Brough – who we all remember on the long running ‘Are You Being Served’

Margaret Tyzack – almost a decade before ‘The Forsyte Saga’ played Janet.

Ann Firbank in The Soldiers Fortune a West End play ABOVE

The action for the first episode – Kenilworth – takes place at Lidcote Hall, Devon and at Cumnor Nr Oxford in 1571

In a later episode Elizabeth I, Queen of England was played by Maxine Audley – and I remember her in this role but hadn’t realised it was in ‘Kenilworth’

British Actress Maxine Audley was born Maxine Hecht on 29th April, 1923 in London, England, UK and passed away on 23rd Jul 1992 London, England, UK aged 69.

A decade later in 1967, Maxine Audley played Miss Havisham in a BBC serial dramatisation of ‘Great Expectations’ – I didn’t know that until I looked further into her career.

‘Kenilworth’ may well have been transmitted before the days of tele-recording so nothing remains of it – but it does sound like a pretty good serial – the BBC normally made a good job of this type of historical drama and I would guess that this was no exception

My memory, as mentioned, is probably only of Maxine Audley as Elizabeth 1 – Queen of England and maybe that could only have come from this adaptation – so maybe I saw it

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No Time to Die – Daniel Craig

This is hardly a film of the fifties era but nevertheless I have decided to include it – it is a film to see on the big screen much as we all did in that decade

No Time to Die’ is a real treat for Film Fans the World over – not only as a Bond film, but as an action packed blockbuster. It is beautifully shot and wonderful visually. The Hans Zimmer score is just the best

No Time to Die’ is well acted, the pacing is good, there’s a fair amount of thrilling edge-of-your seat moments and the locations are varied and impressive on the big screen

It is also emotional and bold – just take a look at the trailer ABOVE

The team behind this last Bond film should be very pleased

In his five-star review of the film, Kevin Maher of The Times said: “It’s better than good. It’s magnificent.

“Daniel Craig is a towering charismatic presence from opening frame to closing shot, and he bows out in terrific, soulful, style.”

We can expect thrills galore – and we will not be disappointed.

Cars seem to be an important part of any Bond film and it looks as though the Aston Martin DB5 is back in action ABOVE.


A Land Rover Defender looks to have come to a sticky end so James Bond tries his hand on a Motor Bike. He seems to be able to everything

BELOW – Another astonishing crash on a Scottish Lochside

Car Chases, Car Crashes in spectacular fashion

ABOVE – The famous Aston Martin DB5 lookin a little the worse for wear

The Prince of Wales took a trip to Pinewood Studios on Thursday 20 June 2019 -over two years ago – to visit the set of the 25th instalment of the suave spy franchise, where he met with lead actor Daniel Craig as well as Ralph Fiennes, who plays M.

Prince Charles also met with actresses Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch, as he watched scenes being filmed.

The visit from Prince Charles came just days after Daniel Craig returned to filming after injuring his ankle after he slipped whilst shooting a running scene for the action blockbuster on location in Jamaica.

I mention the above because it just goes to underline how long this film has taken to some to the screen – it was originally scheduled for release at the end of 2019 and then put back to April 2020.

However events in the shape of Covid intervened.

It seems though that such a delay has not dampened the public’s eagerness to see the film – and they are not disappointed

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