Archive for December, 2021

Ivanhoe 1952

News of this at Christmas 2021 because only a few days ago, there was a new ‘Blu-ray’ release for this film

MGM’s sumptuous big screen adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s IVANHOE (1952) was released a few days ago on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection!

It has had a spectacular 4K restoration of the original three-strip Technicolor negatives, so we will view it in all its Technicolor glory – and in colour terms, this will be good as you would ever get.

What a colour process Technicolor was !! It fits this film perfectly

BELOW – These colour action shots below are impressive filmed at Elstree Film Studios with Torquilstone Castle built in the grounds

Robert Taylor had a very successful run in Britain in the early fifties with Ivanhoe – a big hit at the Box Office – then ‘Knights of the Round Table’ and later ‘The Adventure of Quentin Durward’

All pretty good – he doesn’t seem to be the ideal actor for these roles but looking back he was just that – an unlikely choice but a successful one. Also just before ‘Ivanhoe’ he scored another big hit in ‘Quo Vadis’

Studio Castle “Ivanhoe Will Be Shot At Elstree

The filming by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer of Scott’s Ivanhoe started at Elstree Studios, near London, at the end of June 1951. However the cameras will not go anywhere near Conisbrough Castle around which the opening chapters of Sir Walter Scott’s novel were woven. An imposing “castle” has been constructed on the sets at the London studios under the direction of Alfred Junger – the art director on the film.

We can see the finished castle in the stills above and it certainly looked very impressive

Use of Local Locations – local to Elstree that is

In a phone call at the time to Mr Paul Mills, Publicity Director, referred enthusiastically to the careful work on the castle scenes. The studio “castle” has been built for some time, and Mr Junger has been guided by the architecture of Torquilstone Castle, which also has a place in “Ivanhoe.”

Mr. Mills confirmed that there would be no location work at Conisbrough. “If there are any locations they will be done locally,” he said, and added that although Scott gave place-names it was only assumed that action took place where it did.

An enormous cast was assembled— in the region of 700 – and at the time the claim was that ‘all will be British’.

The Technicolor film was one of the major British film productions of 1952, and would rank among the most spectacular of post-war releases. Producing the film was Pandro S. Berman, with Richard Thorpe as director.

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The Holly and the Ivy 1952 – more from that classic film

‘The Holly and the Ivy from 1952 will be on Talking Pictures again tomorrow Christmas Eve – and what better Christmas film could you have.

How often do we hear people say ‘ nothing much on again this Christmas’ or ‘just full of repeats’

Well, I certainly don’t subscribe to any of those statements – I quite like to be able to see a film or programme again and when you have channels like ‘Talking Pictures’ there is always something worth watching – in actual fact, it is often like seeing a NEW film because quite a lot of them have not seen the light of day for years. Thanks to this channel we now can see them

I couldn’t resist this extra article on the film mainly because I came across this poster today – and I think it is the best one I have seen promoting the film.

it is an American one though from the spelling – I just wonder how well the film did in the USA – I have a feeling that audiences would have liked it

From a personal point of view, I wish this film had been colorised

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A Film for Christmas – ‘The Holly and The Ivy’ 1952

I like this film very much and it has featured before on this site. It is from a stage play of the same name written by Wynyard Browne and one that had had a West End run in London at the time.

It is a play that is sometimes put on even now in small Theatres throughout the land – I have never seen any of the stage versions though but I have seen this film.

It is to be shown on Talking Pictures on 20th December 2021 and again on Christmas Eve morning – if it had been down to me, I would have shown it on Christmas Day at about 8 pm

Home for Christmas – and a view from the Vicarage Window of the Church

Ralph Richardson is the Vicar of Wyndenham – a small village in Norfolk – who has lost his wife and so, as Christmas arrives, he plans host to his grown up family – his children and other relatives

The Vicar’s eldest daughter, Jenny (played by Celia Johnson), lived with him at the Vicarage since his wife – and her mother’s death ad has cared for him. Jenny wants to marry her sweetheart, David Paterson (played by John Gregson), but she can’t leave her father alone. David is an engineer and will leave in a month for a five-year job in South America. Will she – can she – leave her father behind and go with him ?

Margaret Leighton plays the youngest daughter, Margaret. She works in the fashion industry in London and seems to have a busy nightlife. Her situation and her life gradually are revealed during the family gathering – it is indeed a tragic story that hits us, the audience right between the eyes

Denholm Elliott plays the Vicar’s son, Michael. He is serving a year in the Army. His father expects him to go to Cambridge, but Michael has no desire to. He plays out a wonderful scene with his father when they both stand around the Christmas tree and really talk to one another – the film Director cleverly uses the tree as a sort of hide-out for Michael from his feelings as their conversation deepens. I have never seen this done before or since.

Aunts Lydia and Gretchen have backgrounds that add meat to the story. And, cousin Richard Wyndham is an always present member of family gatherings.

All aspects of this film are superb. The screenplay, direction, technical production and acting all contribute to making this a wonderful drama about life – and, it is a most fitting story of family love for Christmas. Please watch it if you can

Wyndenham Post Office

The Opening sequences of the film as one member of the family drives home to the Vicarage at Wyndenham

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Movie Memories – The Farewell Edition

When I opened that large white envelope this evening, my wife thought that it would be some knitting patterns she had ordered but No – it was the latest edition of Movie Memories. It really is a great day when this arrives as I can plan for hours of absorbing reading and also it is a publication you can go back and read again and again as the years roll by.

This time however, it is different because this is the Farewell Edition. Compiled and written all these years by Chris Roberts – this has been a labour of love for him – however he has decided reluctantly to bring things to an end

Kim Novak


I would like to wish Chris All the Very Best for the future.

I know that with his involvement with Movie Memories, which is very much his creation, he has met many film stars, interviewed them and been part of the team that held the Talking Pictures events in Stockport and St Albans.

He will be greatly missed – however I may be speaking prematurely here because I think Chris will still attend those events and maybe carry on the interviews – I hope that he does.

Thank You Chris for your contribution to the films and film stars of the era –

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Mystery on Bird Island 1954

‘Mystery On Bird Island’ was filmed in Guernsey and Alderney, and ‘Bird Island’ was Burhou, a small islet off Alderney.

It is from a story by Mary Cathcart Borer. The 57 minute film was released in 1954 by ‘The Children’s Film Foundation’

It is the Story of Four youngsters who discover birds’ nest thieves on a sanctuary island, and go head-to-head with the smugglers to try and stop them.

A few years later came this better known story :-

Five on Treasure Island 1957

The first of Enid Blyton’s popular adventures about four young cousins and their dog with a taste for investigating takes them to an island off the Dorset coast that it is full of mysteries, scrapes and, of course, lashings of ginger ale. However the promise of lost riches from a shipwreck also attracts the attention of greedy men who might put our heroes in danger.

This is the earliest filmed version of the story, made by the Children’s Film Foundation. The eight episodes were originally meant for the kids-only Saturday morning showings that used to be run at cinemas.

The Famous Five are Julian, Dick, Anne, George [Georgina] and Timmy the dog. This film tells the story of how the Famous Five have an exciting but sometimes scary adventure searching for treasure on the island left to Georgina by her grandfather

A young actor in the film was John Charlesworth who had quite a busy career in Films and Television. I remember him very well for playing Harry Wharton in the famous BBC Billy Bunter Television series.

John Charlesworth

Also he had a key role in ‘The Blue Peter’ another favourite of mine which starred Kieron Moore, Greta Gynt and Sarah Lawson also in the cast.

It was a thrilling film set at an Outward Bound School in Aberdovey North Wales. In Colour and Cinemascope

John Charlesworth
Harry Fowler, John Charlesworth and Kieron Moore

Harry Fowler and John Charlesworth filming a scene in Aberdovey
‘The Blue Peter’ 1955

Sad to say that John Charlesworth died at the age of 24 in tragic circumstances – he took his own life on 2 April 1960.

What a waste of such a young man who had become quite well known to many of us through the fifties and I am sure that he would have had so much more to give to films and to Television and to life itself

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Richard Todd as Robin Hood

This is a picture I have never seen before and must have been taken around the time that Richard Todd was making the film ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ for Walt Disney at Denham Film Studios in the Summer of 1951

There seems to be loads of pictures about this film – not sure that this is an official one though.

The ones BELOW are from the Walt Disney promotion of the Film

The Image ABOVE appeared on the original Video release in 1983

‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ – Walt Disney Production was not often shown after it’s original 1952 release Worldwide although it was re-released in England in the Seventies as a supporting film to ‘Scandalous John’ starring Brian Keith which came out in 1971 and did not fare well at the Box Office – although I have read this very good review of the film :-

‘Scandalous John is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. The crazy adventures that John McCanless lives with his ranch worker Paco while taking John’s only cow to sell it and get money to save his home are hilarious.

Brian Keith is terrific as the loud and unpredectible John McCanless. This film is the story of Don Quixote set in the early 1970’s of the American West, with John McCanless has the crazy Don Quixote and Alfonso Arau has his sidekick Paco Martínez. If you want to see a great comedy and have a great time, watch Scandalous John’

Well, as ABOVE, that is someone’s review of the film – and it sounds good. I must watch it when I get chance but it is a film that I can’t recall being on Television

The ABOVE Advertisement shows – as it should do – Joan Rice raised to the Star Billing that she deserves – sometimes nowadays, we see the film coming up on Television and she is not mentioned.

In the 1952 release it was very much – Richard Todd and Joan Rice whose names were, rightly to the fore

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High Wind in Jamaica 1965 – The Child Stars

Quite an interesting snippet in the Daily Mail recently – in their ‘Lost and Found’ feature.

A former child actor who was in the film, Henry Baltram was looking for the other five youngsters who appeared with him in this production

With Vivian Ventura – having fun

A High Wind in Jamaica

Henry Baltram was a child actor who appeared in a few films including ‘A High Wind in Jamaica’ (starring Anthony Quinn and James Coburn) which was screened in Chichester recently.

Henry appeared in the film along with five other youngsters who had been selected – he had recently , through the Daily Mail – been trying to locate three of them with whom they had lost contact. One, Roberta Tovey, did respond and made contact but the missing two have yet to be found.

This proved a little late for Roberta to attend the ‘reunion’ in Chichester when the film was screened again – and apparently very well received

Another actor from the film – Deborah Baxter did attend. In the film she had put in an astounding performance as an 11-year-old and stole virtually every scene that she was in

A few years later she was cast as Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter in “The Wind and the Lion.” 

At the reunion screening of ‘High Wind in Jamaica’, Henry, Deborah, and Deborah’s sister Beverly (an extra in the film) hosted a Question and Answer session after the film was shown.

ABOVE: Viviane Ventura and Henry Baltram as they appear in the film

Something that I didn’t know though, was that, one of the stars of the film, Viviane Ventura was the official mascot for England’s winning World Cup squad of 1966

BELOW – The Chichester New Park Cinema where ‘High Wind in Jamaica’ was shown recently

Chichester Cinema
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El Paso 1949

Another good Western filmed in Cinecolor – which I quite like – and starring John Payne and Gail Russell.

This was shown on British Television this weekend

EL PASO – a Cinecolor Western starring John Payne and Gail Russell

The film is set just after the Civil War, when Clay Fletcher ( John Payne), a lawyer from Charleston, arrives in El Paso on business. Clay also hopes to reunite with his long-lost love Susan ( Gail Russell), who moved to El Paso while he was away fighting for the South.

El Paso is a lawless city run by Bert Donner (Sterling Hayden) and his crony Sheriff La Farge (Dick Foran). They keep Susan’s father, an alcoholic judge (Henry Hull), well supplied with alcohol and under their control as they scheme to use taxes to take control of local farms. Clay successfully defends a former friend (Arthur Space) on a murder charge after he kills one of Donner’s men in self-defence, but eventually Clay is forced into a situation where he has to to deal with the town’s criminals with guns rather than law books.

The climactic action sequence is a gun battle during a dust storm.

ABOVE – Gail Russell with John Payne

Gail Russell with John Payne made a few films together – this was a good one.

An interesting aspect of the film is its use of Cinecolor, a relatively inexpensive process. In certain films Cinecolor looks good — it works quite well in Randolph Scott’s  The Nevadan (1950) — and also in this one El Paso ( 1949 )

I remember the process being impressive in the Jon Hall ‘Prince of Thieves’ from 1948 and some later Roy Rogers films which, by then, had a bigger budget

Super Cinecolor followed which was even better.

The film has an excellent cast, including a small but colourful appearance by Mary Beth Hughes as a clever thief, “Stagecoach Nellie.” John Payne and Gail Russell do well in their roles, and their strong performances are central to the film.

There’s also an appealing turn by Eduardo Noriega as the friendly Don Nacho Vazquez.

ABOVE – John Payne and Mary Beth Hughes

The film starts out well and has an entertaining first half, which includes Vazquez training Clay in the art of being a quick draw.

ABOVE – A big finish at the film’s end

ABOVE – A rousing ending

BELOW – The Film Premier in Oklahoma City on 25 March 1949

Back stage waiting to appear at the premiere of “El Paso” in Oklahoma City on March 26, 1949 are (L-R standing) Paramount exec Duke Clark, actor Paul Hogan (husband of Helen Forrest), Frank Faylen, Eduardo Noriega, theatre manager George Spelvin, co-producer Bill Thomas, songwriter Harry Revel. (L-R sitting) famous songtress Helen Forrest, Mr. and Mrs. Gabby Hayes, Mary Beth Hughes, John Payne.

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