Archive for April, 2022

Patterns of Power 1956 Van Heflin

I don’t recall seeing this film but I definitely saw the trailer because the Title remains a strong memory even from that small but intense clip all those years ago.

It is a film that gets very good reviews

Van Heflin, Everett Sloane, Ed Begley, Beatrice Straight, and Elizabeth Wilson star in “Patternsof Power” a 1956 film written by Rod Serling and directed by Fielder Cook.

This film is adapted from the Television play which was a great success and that had starred Richard Kiley in the Ven Heflin role.

Van Heflin plays a young man named Fred Staples, a small-town manager who is brought into a large firm by the President, Ramsey (Everett Sloane). It’s apparent to the viewer (and everyone but Staples) that he’s been hired to replace one of the vice presidents, Bill Briggs (Ed Begley). Staples admires Briggs and the humanity that he brings to his job, but he’s the last of the old firm back when it was run by Ramsey’s father, a compassionate man who cared about the workers. This Ramsey only cares about finance and efficiency. He’s determined to force Briggs out.

“Patterns of Power” is realistic with tremendous acting. The women don’t have any strong parts – mainly wives and secretaries – and this certainly reflects things in the early to mid Fifties.

Richard Kiley brought a naivete to the role of Staples that Van Heflin, because he’s older, doesn’t have, but he’s still very effective as an honest, smart and decent man who’s ambitious but doesn’t like Ramsey’s tactics. Ed Begley is sympathetic as a man past his prime who can’t let go but whose job and daily battles are killing him. Everett Sloane does a great job as the ruthless Ramsey, who won’t allow emotion into his business sense. We get a hint that he’s not as unfeeling as he appears, but he’s never going to let anyone else see it.

A really strong film

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Eddie Cochran

It’s hard to believe 62 years have passed since the tragic death of one of Rock n Roll’s greatest – the legendary Eddie Cochran.
It is hard to comprehend that he – like Buddy Holly – crammed so much into such a short musical career whilst only reaching the tender age of 21 years old. His extraordinary talent, thankfully, has not been forgotten and he continues to influence musicians, gaining younger generations of fans in the process.
Long live the memory and music of this great musician.
Eddie Cochran
Oct. 3rd, 1938 – April 17th, 1960

One of the true greats of the Rock n Roll era.

When it all kicked off, we had Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran and you could also add Fats Domino and they defined the new Rock n Roll era

Eddie, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly were originals who wrote their own material and performed it – in that regard Chuck Berry must have been way ahead of the others though – but they were all outstanding and iconic

In films Eddie appeared as himself in two films below :-

Go Johnny Go 1959

Untamed Youth 1957 ABOVE

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Jet Pilot 1957 – John Wayne and Janet Leigh

This is a strange film – in that it commenced filming in December of 1949, was finally completed in May 1951 and yet not released until 1957

Howard Hughes had taken control of RKO Radio Pictures and, as aviation was one of his passions, he worked on this film in great detail over many months, asking for more aerial filming to be done and added, and then he changed the musical score and countless other things came in to the mix. Maybe along the way, he lost a bit of interest in it – no one will ever know.

What a post production process that proved to be taking 6 years until the film was finally released in 1957

I have seen this comment which might explain what happened :-

The reason originally for the delay in release was great strides were being made in aviation post World War II. So he re-shot and re-shot the aviation sequences and then eventually lost interest. Jet Pilot was released seven years after it was originally filmed and by then the planes really looked out of date. 

When you think about it, with an estimated budget of 9 million US Dollars, Hughes would have had some urgency about him to try to recoup some revenue.

ABOVE John Wayne and Janet Leigh in Jet Pilot

Janet Leigh looks so young and attractive in these stills – but then again she was very young – she was 22 when this was made – and very attractive too.

Later, although in Film Release terms earlier, John Wayne was in a big budget aeroplane film this time as an airline pilot in ‘The High and The Mighty’ and this was very successful indeed.

William Wellman’s soap opera in the sky is one the first of the disaster films. John Wayne plays the harried pilot who experiences more than his share of turbulence including jealous husbands and an airliner that is slowly dismantling itself. Claire Trevor, Wayne’s old flame from Stagecoach, is on board along with Robert Stack as The Duke’s nerve-wracked co-pilot. Dimitri Tiomkin’s haunting theme song was nominated for an Oscar.

In this film, as one of the passengers, was one of my favourite actors fresh from Treasure Island and Long John Silver – none other than Robert Newton in a much more restrained role. He never, to me, seemed to excel in the understated roles – he needed more and the role of Long John Silver in Walt Disney’s Treasure Island had given him just that – and he was superb

Robert Newton and Robert Stack
The Pilot John Wayne climbs aboard the airliner
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Black Horse Canyon 1955

This film was released six months after the film in the previous articleThe Outlaw Stallion – Black Horse Canyon has a Release Date of January 13 January 1955

Excellent Western in Technicolor! It’s about a wild black stallion that Mari Blanchard wants for stock rearing. Joel McCrea and Race Gentry as her neighbours set about to help her capture the horse. However there is another neighbour, Murvyn Vye who also wants the horse. To complicate things, Joel McCrea and Race Gentry fall in love with Mari Blanchard. There are no gun fights just some fist fighting.

Up until reading about this film I had not heard of Race Gentry – he had a fairly short career in films. In the fifties he mainly appeared in Westerns it seems, but latre on he was in a few well known Television series, such as Circus Boy, Whirlybirds and Rin Tin Tin – in just one episode of each

Back to the film and it has to be said that the scenery is incredible and beautifully photographed.

Another interesting aspect of this film was the close relationship between McCrea and Gentry. McCrea had raised Gentry after the death of his parents and they have a very close relationship.

Although not one of his better known films I’m sure that Black Horse Canyon must have been a favourite of Joel McCrea’s.

He had lived on a working ranch where he lived a normal life as a working cowboy much as he was here

This is an ideal film for those who love westerns and horses.

A straight forward and lovely film. The real ranch setting adds much to it.

The horse called Outlaw is also one of the stars of this film.

One of the supporting actors was a Murvyn Vye – again an actor who I had never heard of. Looking further he seemed to be in quite a few films and stage productions.

I came across this newspaper snippet – he was married once and briefly in 1935 to Patricia Savage but that ended in divorce as the picture below tells us with it’s own story. This does not give him a good look.

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The Outlaw Stallion 1954

A Technicolor Western from Columbia directed by Fred Sears has a running time of just over an hour and during that short time, we get a good story and plenty of action.

Phil Carey and Dorothy Patrick were the stars and in truth I did not know of them at all – nor any of the other members of the cast. Nevertheless they all pulled together to bring us a good little film.

The series of pictures below are from a thrilling sequence close to the end of the film

Fred Sears the Director had regularly been used by Columbia because he could bring a film in under or on budget and usually they were reasonably successful. Fred died very young at the age of 44 following a heart attack.

He had some really good ones in his portfolio as well as not so good such as ‘The Giant Claw’ but that was not his fault – he had completed the film and left the special effects to others who, constrained by finance, rather let Fred down with the ludicrous giant bird

This film had gorgeous scenery and a spirited plot making it just as enjoyable as many other Columbia westerns from the 1950s.

The film was shot on location in Utah, and the photography by Lester White is stunning – there are a number of great shots of the stuntmen handling the horses with great skill.

If you’re a Western fan, you’ll enjoy the bit where an abused horse ties one of the baddies to a tree – really getting his revenge

All in all, a film well worth seeing

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Separate Tables 1958

From another stage play by that brilliant writer Terence Rattigan and brought to the screen in an expensive production by Burt Lancaster’s Production company – he had a leading role and I have to say that he was mis-cast in my view. The company did, though, put together a Who’s Who of famous actors. Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, Gladys Cooper, Wendy Hiller, Felix Aylmer and David Niven as the Major.

It centred around long stay guests in a small seaside hotel – all different types put together but not necessarily with any perceived warmth for one another. Really a study in loneliness.

Gladys Cooper with Deborah Kerr ABOVE

ABOVE David Niven – as The Major – enters the dining room – in disgrace and fears the reaction of his fellow residents.

ABOVE Deborah Kerr hears the news that The Major will be leaving

Above and Below – The Major enters and proceeds to his usual seat

BELOW – An awkward breakfast with The Major very uncomfortable as the other residents look on

Terence Rattigan is one of my favourite playwrights, his dialogue is so intelligent, and witty, and the storytelling so beautifully constructed.

Along with ‘The Winslow Boy’ and particularly ‘The Browning Version’, ‘Separate Tables’ is a perfect example of Terence Rattigan at his best.

On ‘The Terence Rattigan Collection’ DVD issue there is available many of his best works as done by the BBC over a period of years. There is ‘The Winslow Boy’ with Eric Porter and Alan Badel, and the 1985 adaptation of ‘The Browning Version with Ian Holm and Judi Dench.

This is nowhere near as good as the Michael Redgrave film of 1951 ( one of the finest adaptations of any of Rattigan’s plays )

Then we have what is described as the ‘magnificent 1970 version’ of ‘Separate Tables’. This is reported to be ‘the standout’ of the Terence Rattigan Collection – I have yet to see this version though

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More Pictures of Joan Rice

We all remember Joan Rice so well for playing Maid Marian in the 1952 Walt Disney Film

Her journey then, very quickly took her to Hollywood and then on to Fiji for ‘His Majesty O’Keefe’ – then just as quickly her promising film career was over. Sad news for many of us.

Richard Todd and Ken Annakin do not speak well of her as an actress but Walt Disney did like her and was determined to cast her – which he did and very successfully.

My own view is that these two were in a way guilty of verbal bullying of this very young girl – Joan was naive and at that time, maybe thinking she was not good enough, and she needed kind and gentle people around her. Richard Todd at that time would give her little kindness – that can be seen by his awful and cruel treatment of his first wife Catherine Grant Bogle.

There was a bit of snobbery involved here too. It has been speculated that Diana Dors was put forward for His Majesty O Keefe and it struck me that if she had been in a film with these two, she would not have stood for any bullying – Joan Rice lacked the self confidence that Diana had.

I have a feeling that in later life Joan was able to stand up for herself – I really hope so.

When making ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ in the hot summer of 1951, Joan was only 20 years old.

Richard Todd and Ken Annakin were older and had been away in the forces- she deserved better that these two although in fairness to Ken Annakin, he did try to help her. I don’t think that Richard Todd did.

Joan in her flat in London

Washing up – we weren’t used to seeing film stars doing this !!

Keeping in shape – well she was already ‘in shape’ most of us would agree with that I think

Joan poses by the fireside

ABOVE – Joan Rice at the 1954 Film awards ceremony in London

ABOVE – Joan Rice and Shirley Abicair together at the time they were both in the film ‘One Good Turn’ with Norman Wisdom. These girls were very well known at the time, but now not really remembered at all, except by us film fans of the era.

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Another Double Bill – from RKO

Here we have ‘The Las Vegas Story’ with Jane Russell, Victor Mature and Vincent Price pitched alongside ‘Rancho Notorious’ with Marlene Dietrich and Arthur Kennedy – both of these films coming to us from RKO Radio – at that time under the ownership and influence of Howard Hughes

Victor Mature was in action again – he was good as always

Ward James takes Victor Mature by helicopter on a manhunt

On February 12, 1952, the premier of The Las Vegas Story opened at the Huntridge and Fremont Film Theatres is Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Story is a 1952 suspense film  starring Jane Russell and Victor Mature, it was produced by Robert Sparks and Howard Hughes. The film was the first full length feature to be shot on location in Las Vegas.

February 12, 1952, the premier of The Las Vegas Story

The plot: On a visit to Las Vegas, the wealthy Lloyd Rollins (Vincent Price) goes on a gambling streak, much to the dismay of his beautiful wife, Linda (Jane Russell). While in town, Linda decides to revisit her former work place – a casino, where she runs into Lt. Dave Andrews (Victor Mature). Though Andrews hopes to rekindle his romance with Linda, missing jewellery, murder and kidnapping hinder those plans, and he must get to the bottom of the crimes.

‘Rancho Notorious’ is not a film I particularly like and I think that is because I am not too keen on any of the three leading stars – Marlene Dietrich, Mel Ferrer and Arthur Kennedy – Well two of them anyway – because Arthur Kennedy was ok and did appear in some good roles in some good films and was a competent actor

Mel Ferrer

Also the film was not your normal Western – in some ways it was played for comedy but along with that was plenty of action. It was filmed in Technicolor.

Marlene Dietrich

This was a film shown on British Television in the late Fifties – of course that would be in Black and White – as it was part of a bundle of films sold to Television by RKO in 1955 for a reported 15 million US dollars

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ had been one of those 740 RKO Films sold to TV – – not deemed to be a classic in those days

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