Archive for February, 2022

Philip Jenkinson -The Great Trailer Show –

Now who remembers this from Tyne Tees Television because I certainly do and remember it well

In 1989, Jenkinson fronted a series for commercial television, The Great Trailer Show, once again using material from his own collection. After several episodes, the series was pulled when distributors threatened to sue, having realised that substantial revenue was being lost to them by the use of unauthorised clips

Philip, it is said by someone who knew him, had a stubborn side and this led to the axing of The Great Trailer Show. Warner Brothers were threatening to take action if he showed a trailer from one of the Hammer Dracula films. It was suggested that he didn’t go ahead with the showing. as Warners seemed to be looking for a fight but he decided to take them on.

Warners frightened the life out of Channel 4 and this resulted in the whole series being binned.

After this, Philip Jenkinson disappeared from public view, living in semi-retirement and becoming rather reclusive, although fondly remembered by those who shared his passions.

I thought he was very knowledgeable on films and also extremely good appearing on Television – and interesting too.

I liked him and the things that he tried to do – particularly this show which I loved even though it only survived a few episodes – I wonder if any of them are available now or even still exist ? I hope so.

Philip on the LEFT joins quite a few TV personalities singing ‘There is Nothing like a Dame’ from South Pacific in a the 1977 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special

I also came across this tribute to Philip on the Britmovie Forum – it is very well written and I hope this gentleman Barry will forgive me copying it and including it in this article – it was published in March 2012.

This is what Barry wrote :-

I knew Philip Jenkinson extremely well. Given the interest shown here, I thought I’d share some recollections.

I grew up in south London in the ’70s, where my best friend at school was Phil’s son Lee. Phil’s movie collection at the time must have consisted of about two thousand five hundred titles on 16mm, yet it was the quality of the library that was even more notable than the size of it. Phil was a voracious film collector but also a true connoisseur; in his house in Blackheath he had a properly-built screening room with sealed-off projection. This was where I spent much of my teenage years and where Lee, and later, Phil (after he recovered from rather a long “lost weekend” that left him indisposed for much of 1974-1976) showed me almost every significant Hollywood movie of “the golden age”, i.e. pre-seventies American cinema. We went through the entire collection, director by director, genre by genre: Ford, Hawks, Cukor, Hitchcock, Welles, Busby Berkeley, Mamoulian, Nicholas Ray, Douglas Sirk, Billy Wilder, Wellman, Lang, in fact every important American film-maker with virtually no exceptions. Phil Jenkinson possessed astonishing rarities, such as perfect technicolor, Panavision prints of “Vertigo” and “Rear Window” when they were out of distribution for many years. He also loved and possessed hundreds of B-movies, introducing me to the work of genre directors like Sirk and Val Lewton (whose oeuvre Phil owned in its entirety). It was the greatest film school imaginable, in south London, no less. Phil adored musicals, westerns, film noir, comedy; this was where I first watched all of the Marx Brothers’ films, all the classic silent comedies and every so-called “screwball” comedy of the 1940s. It was before video; you could neither rent films on videocasette nor record them off the TV. Phil’s attitude to non-American cinema was more sceptical; in fact, any form of artsiness or pretention generally provoked hilarious, lengthy, profane torrents of abuse. However, he showed me Lindsay Anderson’s astonishingly good “This Sporting Life” and many French thrillers by Melville et al. He had, and screened for me, every movie made by Jean Renoir and Jean Cocteau. He even had a lot of classic American TV; I remember rolling around Phil’s sofa crying with laughter when he first ran comedy bits from Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows”. When I met Sid Caesar in Los Angeles in the early ’90s, I told him about Phil and, because even Sid had no record of those early broadcasts, I asked Phil to run off a VHS copy to give to the delighted comedy genius for his birthday.

Learning about movies at Phil Jenkinson’s feet in the pre-video age made me extraordinarily, precociously film-literate. It qualified me to write bumptious but well-informed film criticism at Cambridge in the early eighties when film was beginning to be seen as, if not exactly an academic pursuit, then worthy of academic scrutiny. And Phil’s preference for American film was soon reflected in the larger culture, too, as Fellini, Antonioni, Bergman and Godard were joined — arguably even replaced — on the podium not just by Hitchcock, who had always been the token “American” director in this company, but by Ford, Welles, Nick Ray and even the very young Martin Scorsese. Thanks to having seen it many times at Phil’s house, I knew Charles Laughton’s “Night of the Hunter” to be a neglected classic, so I wrote about it in the university arts magazine after which it was booked at the Arts Cinema for a week-long run, where it played to packed houses every night.

Phil steered me into a career in the movies, not only by giving me the most privileged education in cinema imaginable but by believing I could succeed, a belief not held by my parents at that time. For this reason, the Jenkinsons — Phil, Lee and Phil’s beautiful, long-suffering English rose of a wife, Sally — became a substitute family for me. After I learned to drive and all through my twenties, in fact right up until I emigrated to America in 1987, I spent two or three evenings a week, often until very, very late, watching movies at the Jenkinsons. By the mid-80s Lee had acquired a rock and roll lifestyle; the “straps”, as the screenings became known because it was as though you were strapped to your chair while Phil held forth, very eloquently but also at bladder-straining length, took on a somewhat bohemian flavour. I brought every girlfriend I had to a strap or two; it was a necessary rite-of-passage. If she didn’t like these people or this activity, the relationship was probably doomed. Most of them passed with flying colours, as it was difficult not to warm to Phil and enjoy watching superb movies while Sally made the tea and chimed in with acerbic, often very funny, commentary of her own (on Joan Crawford: “she was good at emoting in mink”)

By the late eighties video arrived with a vengeance. Phil understood its convenience –and, at about a hundred and eighty pounds, welcomed the break from hauling huge cans of 16mm film up two flights of stairs from his garage across the way — but the romance of film collecting was at an end. No longer was he invited to screen movies for Ringo Starr or lend them to Bob Monkhouse. Phil’s collection was the product of very specific circumstances; for example, while Phil was working as the presenter of “Film Night” for the BBC, Warner Brothers offered him their entire UK-housed stockpile of 16mm prints after their TV license deal expired rather than pay to ship them back to Burbank; that’s how Phil got to own, and I got to watch, every gangster movie made for Warners in the heyday of Jimmy Cagney, every Bette Davis weepie, in fact, everything made at the studio from “The Roaring Twenties” to “Bonnie and Clyde”

Oh, and how could I have forgotten to mention that Phil owned every foot of film shot by Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s cinema-propagandist-in-chief, who, in her mid-eighties and dressed in spandex leggings, showed up in Blackheath one winter’s night to see Phil’s mint-condition print of “Olympische Spiele”, in all it’s bonkers glory, for the first time since the mid-1940s?

Phil’s last years were not easy. He did not take well to obscurity. The once-magnificent film library was sold off after it ceased to provide a regular income. Sally, whose grace and common sense anchored the family, died, far too young, of cancer in the late ’90s, after which the centre ceased to hold. Phil experienced a slow, painful decline, yet, for a hypochondriac ex-alcoholic, barely-reformed ’60s party animal who smoked thirty Silk Cut a day for fifty years, he lived a long and productive life. My own would have been quite different if Phil hadn’t been in it. When I received an email last week, from his nephew, titled simply “Phil”, I knew what I was about to read before opening it. I had always loved Phil and suspected that I could never repay all the kindness, generosity and hospitality he bestowed on me for years; now I know I can’t.’

Thanks Barry for this

Another picture from the ‘Morecambe and Wise TV Christmas Special of 1977
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Paul Temple’s Triumph 1950

This was a film I watched on Talking Pictures a couple of days ago and in all fairness, it was very good.

It starred John Bentley as Paul Temple and Dinah Sheridan as Steve – also with Jack Livesey who, although I didn’t realise it was the brother of Roger Livesey. When you look at him, you can see the resemblance

The story took us on a thrilling ride and one where we were trying to guess just what was going on.

Paul Temple’s Triumph was released in 1950 and was the third of the Paul Temple films distributed by Butcher’s Film Service between 1946 and 1952. It was based on Francis Durbridge’s radio serial News of Paul Temple.

This one is a spy thriller. A British atomic scientist, Professor Hardwick, has disappeared. The authorities seem rather unconcerned, something that puzzles Paul Temple. Even his old friend, Scotland Yard Deputy Commissioner Sir Graham Forbes (Jack Livesey), doesn’t seem to be taking the matter too seriously. The scientist’s daughter Celia is very worried though and Temple decides it might be worth looking into this affair.

Paul Temple finds himself up against the mysterious and sinister Zed Organisation, an unscrupulous  international freelance spy ring.

He does have a few clues. There’s a torn fragment of a map and there’s a letter. He has no idea what is in this letter but everyone seems to want to get hold of it so clearly it’s important. Important enough to kill for, as it turns out.

There are quite a few suspicious foreigners lurking about and there’s at least one glamorous and dangerous female spy.

There are thrills aplenty, with booby traps and secret passageways and some impressively imaginative techniques for murder.

As usual Paul Temple gets some useful assistance from his resourceful wife Steve who doesn’t mind putting herself in danger which she certainly does here

John Bentley played Paul Temple in three of the four adaptations.

In the middle of these four films, he played The Toff in a couple of films in 1952 – in many ways a similar role. Those were good films too.

Dinah Sheridan played Steve in two of the films and she fits the part very well indeed. In the other films Patricia Dainton took the role as Steve.

There are plenty of villains and other shady characters and the villains are menacing.

Director Maclean Rogers keeps things moving at a cracking pace and gives a genuine sense of danger to the proceedings.

The spy plot works well. The top-secret project that the missing professor was working on is pretty much a standard spy film but that is pretty much the norm for such a spy thriller. We never know much if anything about the invention but wee do know that some people will kill to get their hands on it.

Paul Temple is a very happily married man so there’s no scope for him to become entangled in romantic intrigues. The affectionate relationship with his wife does however provide at least a touch of emotional involvement (and of course we know that Steve will get herself into at least one tight spot and have to be rescued).

The Cold War had just begun so to make the villains freelance spies was actually quite a good idea and makes the film less dated that it would otherwise have been.

Paul Temple’s Triumph is a solid example of the British spy film of its era.

It is fair to say that this film did not have a big budget and this is evident in some of the rear projection used particularly when Paul Temple and his wife are driving through the countryside

That aside – and that didn’t matter much – the film is well worth watching. I enjoyed it

Release was in January of 1950 so, it is one of the first of the Fifties

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Prowlers of the Everglades

This is was one of the Nature films that Walt Disney made in the late forties and early fifties under the ‘True Life Adventures’ series and which proved very popular as supporting films at that time

This is not one I remember but I do recall ‘The Vanishing Prairie’

In the USA ‘Prowlers of the Everglades’ went out on the same programme as another Walt Disney main feature – ‘The Sword and the Rose’

Walt Disney had become concerned that, with some of his previous releases, he had no control over the supporting film and he felt that some of the ones chosen – particularly in England – were not ideal so the organisation chose to make these Wild Life films and use them.

As far as I can discover this didn’t result in any improved success for the main film.

At about the same time on Television, Walt Disney promoted clips from these films in his ‘Disneyland’ programmes and quite strongly – he was a pioneer in this promotion through TV.

I go back to the short promotional film ‘The Riddle of Robin Hood’ which was given to the BBC and they showed it along with their Test Card and Interlude snippets again and again. This was early 1952 on the release of ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’

I also remember similar promotion of ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ a little later although I don’t recall this one as being very exciting – it seemed to have a lot of underwater scenes which got a little tedious after a while

Earlier films in the series such as ‘Beaver Valley’ and ‘Seal Island’ and ‘The Water Birds’ were all made in Technicolor

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Street of Shadows 1953 – Cesar Romero

I remember this one possibly because it was shown in our Village quite a while after release I would think – we had a travelling cinema came with a man who, each week, set up the projectors etc – I think on a Tuesday – and offered us a full programme – something we all looked forward to

Street of Shadows is one of the more interesting examples of a good British film B-movie
Luigi (Cesar Romero) runs a pin-table saloon.

It’s basically a bar laid out like an amusement arcade where patrons can play arcade games whilst indulging in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. It’s a thriving establishment and Luigi is reasonably wealthy. He’s also reasonably respectable. Luigi’s might be a bar but it’s a legitimate business. He makes sure there is no trouble and his relations with the local police are cordial.
Luigi’s character is established from the outset. He’s easy going and generous and kind but he’s also shrewd and determined and when the occasion calls for it he’s a tough guy. He is popular because he’s a decent person and he’s easy to like.

Limpy (Victor Maddern) acts as a kind of personal assistant and general-purpose dogsbody to Luigi. As his name suggests he is a cripple with a severe limp. His loyalty to Luigi is total. For his part Luigi has a great affection for his assistant and is careful to treat him always with respect. Unfortunately not everyone in this imperfect world has Luigi’s manners and Limpy does find himself made the butt of cruel jokes from time to time.
There’s also a girl. Angele Abbé (Simone Silva) had been Luigi’s girlfriend until he discovered that she was being too friendly with other men. Much too friendly, and to too many other men. Luigi, hardly surprisingly, dumped her. Angele has continued on her self-chosen downward spiral and is held together by alcohol, self-pity and the belief that somehow she can persuade Luigi to take her back. Which is not going to happen. Apart from anything else Luigi is the kind of guy who sticks to decisions once he’s made them. Angele has a great deal of pity for herself but none for other people and her behaviour towards Limpy is shocking in its casual cruelty. At the moment Angele has got herself involved with a rather nasty bad boy sailor.

There’s also another girl. Through a series of chance events Luigi makes the acquaintance  of Barbara Gale (Kay Kendall). Barbara is charming and classy but she always seems to be ill at ease. We soon find out why. She has fallen in with a very bad crowd and one of them is her husband. These are bad people and just how willing she is to go along with their schemes is open to question.
There’s an immediate attraction between Luigi and Barbara. In fact Luigi, being an old-fashioned romantic, has fallen for her.
It’s obvious that there’s plenty of potential here for things to get complicated and messy. In fact it’s the kind of situation that has been known to end in murder. And in this case there is indeed murder, but both the identity of the victim and the circumstances are not quite what we might have expected.

There’s a certain sense of inevitability in evidence here. We’re dealing with a number of characters who seem like they’re destined to get themselves into trouble.

This seems to be the only film made by writer-director Richard Vernon (although he does have a few producing credits). There wasn’t very much money spent on the film but what was spent was spent pretty well. There’s some authentic and atmospheric sets and Luigi’s pin-table saloon makes a great setting –

The script, based on a novel by Laurence Meynell, is well written

Cesar Romero gives a breezy and charming performance as a man who thinks he has life under control, until he finds out that he hasn’t. Kay Kendall has plenty of style and the two of them have the right chemistry. Edward Underdown is the Scotland Yard inspector.

It’s Victor Maddern as the crippled Limpy who really steals the picture though.

I once saw him interviewed in a TV afternoon show probably in the 70’s and he mentioned this film and working with Cesar Romero

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Great Expectations 1946

Outside of the Fifties, I know but this well loved film seems to have been shown regularly in every decade since it was made.

BELOW – I have come across some photographs From the making of the film – Pictures that I have never seen before

ABOVE – During the filming at Denham, The crew and cast very often did not leave the set and instead improvised their own canteen by bringing in desks and chairs so that they could all eat together – which they tended to do

ABOVE – Open air shots are of course weather dependent. All things were good for this scene early in the film where Magwitch first appears.

ABOVE – These dramatic scenes in the very early part of the film, when Pip played by Anthony Wager wanders in the Churchyard and turns and bumps into Magwitch – a meeting that is to change the whole course of his life

The Church in a later scene

BELOW – David Lean leads the charge across a chain of pontoons to where the filming of the river police chase for the fugitive Magwitch is to be done. This is much later in the film. John Mills is seen here in costume as the grown up Pip

BELOW – David Lean looks to be well wrapped up as he chats to Alec Guinness who is playing the part of Herbert Pocket.

BELOW – A very early scene. This time Anthony Wager as the young Pip plays out this scene – I think this is the one with the Church in the background – which was a model but beautifully done

ABOVE – The Crew ready to film the action with David Lean seated in the foreground

ABOVE – David Lean with J.Arthur Rank

For some reason I am not a fan of David Lean but having said that, you have to acknowledge what a great film director he was.

Maybe it was because of a TV documentary about the making of ‘A Passage to India’ – there was one sequence after Alec Guinness had just completed a scene and David Lean turned to one of his staff and said ‘ He is still good – the old bugger’

Maybe it was a joke but I felt it was uncalled for

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Raiders of the Seven Seas 1953

I like this film and saw it as a boy in St Albans, maybe at the Odeon – however I am pretty sure that it went out here on the same bill as a British thriller ‘The Fake.

John Payne had a busy career at this time and in fairness was quite a capable actor and fitted this sort of role well. Donna Reed also starred in this Technicolor swashbuckler

Scanning through Cinema Posters of the day, I came across this one BELOW from the Cinema in the lovely Hereford town of Ledbury which proves that my memory is correct from all those years ago – This film was on the same bill as ‘The Fake’ but it looks as though ‘The Fake’ was the main film – that can’t be so -surely :-

Maybe not the best scans but interesting

The Fake - 1953
I can remember this quite disturbing scene when gazing at the painting in the Gallery, they realise that it is a fake

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Lost Films

In 2010, the BFI issued a list of 75 films that they were trying to find ones not held in the National Archive and classified as ‘missing believed lost’

However there is some good news because 18 of these have now been found in complete form.

Two of the ‘found films’ interest me – ‘Salute the Toff’ and ‘Hammer the Toff’ both made back to back in 1952 and both released in the first three months of that year. The second one ‘Hammer the Toff’ went out as the supporting film to Walt Disney’s classic ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ one of the big films of that year – and one of the best of all time in my opinion. It was a pairing of films that really surprised me – I always thought that another Walt Disney wild life film was on the programme.

In ‘Salute the Toff’ John Bentley (much later cast as Meg Richardson’s husband in TV soap Crossroads) played the aristocratic sleuth – he is very suave too. He’s searching for a missing businessman wanted for murder after a body is found in his flat, but he soon finds that the story behind the murder isn’t quite as it seemed

Carol Marsh – A lovely girl

It also starred one of my favourite actresses – the lovely Carol Marsh

In the second film ‘Hammer the Toff’ John Bentley again plays The Honourable Richard Rollison – The Toff . Once again he investigates a murder, but this time also a valuable formula, a damsel in distress and an East End philanthropist called The Hammer. It’s good mystery story with a logical plot and a satisfying conclusion. Filmed at the same time as ‘Salute The Toff’ it shares some of the same actors like Valentine Dyall and Roddy Hughes. Patricia Dainton is the female lead and very attractive she is and also a very capable actress

The ‘Hammer’ character is well played by John Robinson

ABOVE – ‘Hammer the Toff’ on release with a very popular film

BELOW- John Bentley as the Toff and Patricia Dainton in a tight sport – with the ‘Hammer’ played by John Robinson

Scenes ABOVE and BELOW – with John Bentley as Richard Rollison ‘The Toff’

A character called The Toff was the hero of a series of thrillers written from 1938 onwards by John Creasey.

Incredibly I see that he actually wrote 59 books featuring ‘The Toff’

The hero, The Honourable Richard Rollison, was born a toff: the courtesy title is given to the eldest sons of Viscounts and Barons. He’s a man about town and an amateur crime solver whose manservant, Jolly, is a kind of sleuthing Jeeves.

The Toff is not a snob — not only is he on first name terms with all the top brass in Scotland Yard, he also knows many of the lowly coppers on the beat as well. He’s a particular friend of Bill Ebbutt, ex-prizefighter and landlord of the Blue Dog pub and gymnasium in the East End. Even Ebbutt’s boys, trainee boxers, are devoted to the Toff and often act as a private police force, coming in all sizes from fly- to heavyweight

Terence Alexander played he Toff on Radio BELOW

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Now here is a name to remember from the great days of film making in fantasy style – Sabu.

I have a Book at home on ‘Elephant Boy’ signed by Sabuwhich is shown later in the article here

SABU (1924 – 1963) was born on January 27. He is perhaps best known for his role as Abu in the 1940 British film The Thief of Bagdad.

Director Michael Powell has stated that he had a “wonderful grace” about him.

In 1942 he once again played a role based on a Kipling story, namely Mowgli in Jungle Book directed by Zoltán Korda. This was made in Hollywood.

He also starred alongside Jon Hall and Maria Montez in three films for Universal Pictures: Arabian Nights (1942), White Savage (1943) and Cobra Woman (1944).

He was back in England for the classic ‘Black Narcissus’ in 1946

In the earliest years of his career he made his classics and many of those have more than stood the test of time.

During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Corps and did so with distinction having won several awards for service above and beyond the call of normal duty. Being of a diminutive size he easily could fit in bomber aircraft tail and belly gun positions. When the war was over and he was discharged from the service, he wanted to return to the film industry. Unfortunately, except for one superb film, Michael Powell’s “Black Narcissus”, most of the offerings were nor brilliant. Almost all of his best films were made in England.

After the War- and after ‘Black Narcissus’ Sabu pushed on with his film career but those great parts did not come again.

Sabu was transported back to Denham in England in the summer of 1936 where he met Alexander Korda who had put him under contract after ‘Elephant Boy’

The two of them got on very well – Sabu respected Korda who advised him to always go to be early to prepare for an early start in the Studios. Sabu followed this advice to such an extent that when he attended a social gathering of some kind and left early, he was asked why. He replied that he had promised Mr Korda that he would go to bed early and he couldn’t let him down.

ABOVE – Sabu having fun in the Studios at Denham. He looks to be having a skirmish with David Farrar – but I don’t think it is Mr Farrar – after all the man is smiling !!

Sabu with Valerie Hobson and Roger Livesey

This BELOW appeared at the time of his death in the Los Angeles Times:-

From the Archives: Sabu Dies of Heart Attack

Sabu and Jean Simmons in "Black Narcissus."

DEC. 3, 1963 

Sabu Dastagir, 39, the former “elephant boy” of films, died of a heart attack Monday at his Chatsworth home, 10901 Winnetka Ave.

The Indian-born actor, whose career started when he was spotted by the late producer Sir Alexander Korda, recently completed a part in Warner Bros.’ “Rampage” and had worked in films for Walt Disney.

Funeral services will be conducted at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Chapel of the Hills, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park Hollywood Hills.

He leaves his wife, former actress Marilyn Cooper, a son, Paul, and a daughter, Jasmine.

Sabu’s discovery as a juvenile performer came when he appeared with the mahouts handling elephants for one of Korda’s pictures, “Elephant Boy.” Sabu, the son of the veterinary for the maharajah-owner of the elephants, became Korda’s protege and later was induced to come to the United States.

His pictures included “Drums,” “The Thief of Bagdad,” “Jungle Book,” “The End of the River,” “White Savage,” “Cobra Woman,” “Black Narcissus,” “Song of India” and others.

In World War II, he won the Distinguished Flying Cross while serving with a B-25 bombing group in the Pacific.

He was a member of the Hollywood Masonic Lodge.

ABOVE – From my Film Book Collection – ‘Sabu of the Elephants- signed by the author Jack Whittingham

Then another one BELOW – Sabu The Elephant Boy – From the Film

This one Signed by Sabu

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