Archive for September, 2022

Tanganyika 1954

Now this one is a favourite of mine – a film that doesn’t often see the light of day unfortunately but it is a good action packed adventure

Van Heflin and Ruth Roman star but there seems little chemistry between them although Ruth Roman looks very beautiful in those African locations – in fact the locations were Studio Sets on the backlot of Universal in Hollywood with some location work in the US plus stock footage – but to me, it all works pretty well.

I must have said this before, but again this is a film I saw many years ago in St. Albans where we always holidayed and stayed with my Mother’s family. So it would be shown at either The Odeon on London Road, The Gaumont or The Chequers – the Odeon is now the wonderful Odyssey Cinema after being saved from extinction by the local hard working community

The film made in Hollywood by Universal Pictures, TANGANYIKA (1954) takes place in 1903 in the territory of East Africa

The story is of a hunt for a fugitive white man who’s stirred up the a tribe of natives into making raids on white settlements. Directing the hunt is John Gale (Van Heflin) who leads a group of native porters from East Africa into Tanganyika.

On the way he picks up Peggy Marion (Ruth Roman), a schoolteacher from Canada, and her young niece and nephew (Noreen Corcoran, Gregory Marshall), after rescuing them from a native attack that killed Peggy’s brother. He also picks up a wounded white man, Dan Harder (Howard Duff) who, we learn early on, is the brother of the renegade white man, although he keeps that little fact a secret.

Above a Publicity Still from the film

The highlight of the film is the explosive climax that is typically well-staged by experienced action Film Director Andre De Toth.
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The Queen and Ronald Reagan

President Reagan and The Queen did seem to get on very well maybe that was because of their mutual love of horses and riding

The Queen and President Reagan are said to have bonded over their mutual love of horseback riding when they met at Windsor Castle in June 1982, riding side by side on an eight-mile, hourlong tour of the grounds. Mr Reagan was the first president to stay at the Windsor Castle.

Mr Reagan and his wife Nancy became the only presidential couple to host the Queen at their own home when they had The Queen and Prince Phillip stay at their ranch near Santa Barbara, California, in 1983.

The visit coincided with a spell of very heavy rain which continued for days

On the same trip, the royals were treated to a state dinner in San Francisco at the MH de Young Memorial Museum. The bad weather continued and during her remarks, the Queen joked: “I knew before we came that we had exported many of our traditions to the United States. But I had not realised before that weather was one of them.”

Over the president’s laughter, she added: “But, Mr President, if the climate has been cool, your welcome and that of the American people have been wonderfully warm.”

The Queen made Mr Reagan an honourary knight in recognition of America’s covert assistance to the UK during the Falklands War. Their meetings came at a time when the bond between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Mr Reagan was one of the strongest of any transatlantic parings of the special relationship, and at the height of the Cold War.

In London, after President Reagan was awarded his Honourary Knighthood, Mrs Thatcher held a Dinner Party at Number 10 at which occasion she invited Richard Todd and his wife – as we know Richard Todd and Ronald Reagan had starred together years before in The Hasty Heart made here in England – and the two met up and chatted about their time spent together on the film. When it was made in 1949 Ronald Reagan was struck by the fact that we had rationing and he was not able to buy all he wanted as things were in short supply. This experience really brought home to him the hardship that this country had endured during the War and went a long way to cementing the very close relationship we had with the USA.

In an earlier visit or maybe this visit Margaret Thatcher had presented Ronald Reagan with a set of Front of House Still from the Hasty Heart, because, as she later explained, whenever they met he always mentioned the time he spent in England with Richard Todd working on the film

Above: Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal have a look round  London 1949

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A Queen is Crowned 1953 – Technicolor

The 1953 Coronation of The Queen, was a very early Television spectacular which had us all watching, sometimes in other people’s homes who had a television set at the time – but of course it was in Black and White and shown in those days on 12 inch or 14 inch screens

However a film was also made and was released to cinemas shortly after the event – and this was in glorious Technicolor at it’s very best and that was about as impressive as it could ever be.

This 1953 feature film has been restored and was given a limited cinema release earlier this year 2022

I would love to have seen “A Queen is Crowned” in the cinema.

I am informed that in cinematic terms, it is jaw dropping. The brilliance of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey is shown in its full glory.

The sheer power of Great Britain’s history is on show. However the star must be Technicolor at the very end of the Technicolor era.The beauty of the young Queen, the deep reds, gold, blues and greens that only Technicolor can offer are contrasted with grey exterior shots of a cold and wet London warmed by huge crowds and a massive military parade.

The commentary was written by Christopher Fry, who was much in vogue as a poetic playwright at that time, and it is delivered with too much ‘ham’ by Laurence Olivier. He is in “Henry V” mode here

This is a film to be seen on the big screen. The colour and detail is simply not visible on DVD even on a large television.

Incredibly the film was released and is showing in cinemas on 7 June 1953 just five days after the Coronation.

Apparently the commentary had been written and recorded prior to the event and probably the musical score too.

Either way it was some achievement to see this wide screen colour film so soon after the event

The Advertisement above for the film at the Cinema in Slough shows it being teamed with an unlikely candidate but that seems to be how things went in those days. The programme had to have a supporting film so it seems whoever chose the teaming up just took what was on offer – or available after release – at that time

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The Royal Film Performance

For nearly 50 years the Queen has graced the red carpet at Royal Film Performances.

However, newly discovered documents show that in the early years of her reign she found the films so poor that she complained to then Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill during an audience at Buckingham Palace.

I am not sure how much truth is in the story below – I myself rather doubt it.

The 1954 Royal Performance of the film Beau Brummell – starring Stewart Granger and Elizabeth Taylor – was a particular cause of displeasure. The Queen and her officials were also unimpressed by three previous films – Where No Vultures Fly, Because You’re Mine and Rob Roy The Highland Rogue.

My own view on this is that she probably found two of them disrespectful to the monarchy – I can’t recall much about ‘Beau Brummell’ but in Rob Roy The Highland Rogue’ there was a scene where Rob Roy called the King who was George ‘German Geordie’ and when I first saw the film that grated with me also. As for ‘Where No Vultures Fly’ it really surprises me that the Queen did not think much of it – it had lovely colour and was well made.

In a memo concerning the Beau Brummell screening dated November 19, 1954, Churchill’s Private Secretary David Pitblado told Sir Frank Lee, the Permanent Secretary at the Board of Trade:

‘The Prime Minister asked me to look into this when he returned from his audience with the Queen. The Queen had told him what a bad film it was and he, on his own initiative, wanted to see what could be done about it for the future.’

The declassified documents show that both Buckingham Palace and Downing Street began to despair with the choice of films in the Fifties.

In a further memo dated November 25, 1954, Sir Frank noted: ‘There is no doubt at all that the quality of the films shown to HM on the last four occasions (which I have also had the misfortune to attend) ranged from the mediocre down to the vulgar and distressing.

Beau Brummell (1954) featured Stewart Granger and Elizabeth Taylor (right)
Walt Disney's Rob Roy (left)

Not amused: The Queen disliked the film Beau Brummel (left) with Stuart Granger and Elizabeth Taylor, so much she complained to the PM Winston Churchill

‘The whole evening is a long and garish ordeal; it is not surprising that both HM herself and most outside critics should ask whether the selection of the main film to be shown could not be radically improved.’

Officials at Downing Street and Buckingham Palace secretly lobbied the Film Industry to overhaul the event. Film bosses reluctantly agreed to drop the stage show which accompanied the chosen film and to cut back the number of ‘meet and greets’ expected of the Queen.

What an ordeal: Winston Churchill asked his private secretary to look into the choice of films when he returned from an audience with the Queen when she complained about ‘dreadful films’

They also accepted the appointment of an independent figure from outside the movie business to chair the panel that chose the film. He was given the power of veto over the final choice of movie.

The changes were a success and the Queen was delighted with the selection of Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief in 1955.

An unsigned memo said: ‘Lieutenant Colonel Charteris, an Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen said that Her Majesty had enjoyed the film (as I did myself) and was happy with the revised arrangement .  .  . She had particularly welcomed the elimination of the stage show and the fact that, for her, the whole occasion had lasted for no more than 2 hours 40 minutes.

It is not clear to what extent the Queen knew about the lobbying or if she would actually have snubbed the event. A memo to Pitblado from Sir Michael Adeane, the Queen’s Principal Private Secretary, dated December 11, 1954, suggests courtiers may have been double-bluffing film bosses.

It said: ‘Although when the moment comes I am quite sure the Queen will go to the performance, if she is asked to do so, we are taking the line here that the present moment is by no means an appropriate one for the issue of an invitation.’

The Royal Film Performance was launched in 1946 and raises funds for cinema and TV professionals who encounter illness, bereavement or unemployment.

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The Queen meets Marilyn Monroe 1956

The two met at the premiere of The Battle of the River Plate in London’s Leicester Square. Marilyn was there to accompany her then husband Arthur Miller. =

At the time, both Marilyn and Queen Elizabeth II were just 30 years old. The Queen had ascended to the throne at the age of 25 following the death of her father, King George VI. Marylin had just finished filming The Prince and the Showgirl in London; the film premiered in June 1957.

Victor Mature was in the line-up to meet The Queen also – he was regularly over here making films at that time

Queen Elizabeth II meeting Marilyn Monroe at the Royal Command Film Performance at Leicester Square in London on October 1956

Queen Elizabeth II meeting Marilyn Monroe at the Royal Command Film Performance at Leicester Square in London on October 1956

On Monday, October 29, 1956—as the looming Suez Canal crisis dominated the headlines—Marilyn Monroe was to meet the Queen. When the day dawned, the actress was once again absent from the set of The Sleeping Prince, and while it is impossible to say if she had prior permission to have the day off, those keeping tabs on her timekeeping wrote down her absence as “Not available.” It is doubtful that the movie even crossed Marilyn’s mind that day, as her full attention was on readying herself for the evening ahead. These preparations included hours of hairstyling with Gordon Bond, and then her make-up was applied. Lastly, it was time to slip into a gown that would make headlines around the country.

Officials may have instructed the female attendees to dress conservatively, but the dress Marilyn chose to wear when meeting Queen Elizabeth II was like nothing they had in mind. Made of gold lamé, the gown was so low-cut that the tops of Marilyn’s breasts were on full display. Tight to the body, with spaghetti straps and a fold of material meeting at the chest and heading down towards the floor, the dress came complete with a matching cape and bag.

Marilyn Monroe, seen here with her husband Arthur Miller, arrived in London in 1956 to film The Prince and the Showgirl, and ended up meeting the Queen of England.

Several staff were on hand to help Marilyn get into the gown, before she slipped on long gloves and platform sandals, similar to those worn at the premiere of A View from the Bridge. A quick spritz of perfume, and Marilyn grabbed her handbag and descended the stairs. The driver was waiting outside, and the smiling actress crunched her way over the gravel drive and climbed into the car, accompanied by Arthur Miller and Milton H. Greene. For Jerry Juroe, Marilyn’s departure from Parkside House meant that he could breathe again. For the past few weeks, his major concern had been to ensure that Marilyn arrived at the theatre before Her Majesty, and although it would be a little tight, the actress accepted and achieved the challenge.

As the chauffeur pulled up outside London’s Empire Theatre, it was as though the entire population of Britain was gathered outside. It was a cold October evening and a biting wind blew its way around Leicester Square, but this didn’t stop fans from queuing for hours just for a glimpse of Marilyn, the Queen and an abundance of other famous folk. Dressed in winter coats, hats and gloves, the crowds screamed and pushed forward, while policemen tried to hold them back. As Marilyn exited the car, a photographer swooped in and took a picture, looking down the front of her dress. He moved aside, and then the fans’ excitement reached fever pitch.

“Marilyn! Marilyn!” they chanted, and the smiling actress turned and waved to everyone who greeted her. By this time, she was having trouble keeping her cape on her shoulders, and she and Arthur spent some time adjusting it, before fighting their way through the crowds and into the theatre.Marilyn Monroe, seen here with Arthur Miller during her 1956 London trip

Marilyn Monroe, seen here with Arthur Miller during her 1956 London trip

Inside the foyer, the place was alive with guests, staff, photographers and, as the film was to be The Battle of the River Plate, active seamen. As Marilyn wandered past, holding her wrap around her chest, most of the crowd turned and stared. She smiled broadly, then threw back her cape to reveal her spectacular dress. Flashlights popped, and then she and Arthur Miller ascended the steps and reached the space where the celebrities were lining up to meet the Queen. The rest of the audience, meanwhile, made their way into the auditorium, where they took their seats to the sound of musician Nelson Elms on the organ and the orchestra of the Royal Marines School of Music. Soon they would watch the Queen greeting the famous attendees via the cinema screen.

In the upstairs lounge, an excited but nervous Marilyn had removed her cape and was sandwiched between actors Victor Mature and Anthony Quayle (Miller was not being presented to the Queen). Quayle was one of the stars of The Battle of the River Plate, and the rest of the line-up read like a Who’s Who of cinema royalty. Stars included Brigitte Bardot, Peter Finch, Norman Wisdom, Anita Ekberg, Vera-Ellen, Sylvia Syms, John Gregson, Mary Ure and Marilyn’s arch-enemy, Joan Crawford. In addition, there was also a generous smattering of industry professionals, as well as Royal Navy-related guests who had been involved—or were related to a participant—in the real Battle of the River Plate.

Princess Margaret chats wit the stars

Marilyn Monroe also met Princess Margaret during her trip

As Marilyn waited with fellow celebrities in the long, buzzing lounge, the Queen arrived in Leicester Square with her sister, Princess Margaret. Also in the party were Lord and Countess Mountbatten, though the Duke of Edinburgh was absent, having already left for a four-month official trip on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Her Majesty, wearing a beautiful black, full-skirted gown and a diamond-and-emerald tiara, was greeted outside by Charles Penley, the Empire’s general manager, and then slipped into the foyer, where she was met by Reginald Bromhead, president and chairman of the Cinematograph Trade Benevolent Fund. That done, the Queen made her way upstairs, where she not only met the famous attendees, but also many journalists. Some of the pressmen crouched on the floor, others hustled for a better view, but all followed Her Majesty as she greeted her guests.

The line was long, and Marilyn was more than halfway down. At times the actress stared ahead, nervously waiting her turn, but as the Queen moved closer, Marilyn could be seen peeping out and then excitedly chattering to actor Victor Mature.

As the Queen shook hands with the stars, Reginald Bromhead discreetly glanced at his notes to make sure he named each celebrity correctly. And then it was Marilyn’s turn.

As the Queen gave her a brief look up and down, the actress took Her Majesty’s hand and then descended into a well-practiced curtsy. The two then chatted for several minutes, and covered subjects including being neighbours in the Queen’s beloved Windsor. “We love it,” Marilyn said. “As we have a permit my husband and I go for bicycle rides in the Great Park.”Marilyn Monroe with Laurence Olivier at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1956.

The Queen finally moved on, and then Marilyn repeated the process with Princess Margaret, who was wearing a rose-and-gold brocade gown. The women chatted about cycling, life in England and the making of The Prince and the Showgirl

Above: Sur Laurence Olivier with Marilyn

“It’s going on very well,” Marilyn told the Princess. “And it will be with regret that we have to leave in about a fortnight’s time.”

Princess Margaret then greeted actor Anthony Quayle, but this was not the last of her conversation with Marilyn. Hearing them talk about A View from the Bridge, the actress interrupted the conversation and asked the royal to go and see the play. “The Princess laughed and said she might,” Marilyn said afterwards and, sure enough, Princess Margaret did attend a performance a short time later. monroe and millerMonroe and Miller leaving the Comedy Theatre after a London performance of his play A View From The Bridge

Once she had made her way up the line, the Queen was greeted by six-year-old Nicholas Douglas Morris, who presented her with flowers and gave a little bow. Only when Her Majesty had spoken to every person in the line was it time to take her seat with the audience and celebrities in the theatre. The lights dimmed, a cartoon production called The History of the Cinema was shown and then it was time for the main feature, The Battle of the River Plate. In addition to watching the film, the attending celebrities were required to line up onstage and take a bow, one by one. As before, Victor Mature stood on one side of Marilyn, and Anthony Quayle on the other. However, because the actress had not been to the rehearsals, she had no idea what she should do next, and as the group stood behind the closed curtain, waiting for their names to be called, Marilyn panicked. In his 1990 autobiography, Quayle wrote that the actress asked him over and over what she should do when her name was called, but despite explaining several times, Marilyn was too anxious to remember.

As the line shuffled forward, she turned to actor Victor Mature, and asked him what she should do. “Fall on your ass baby,” he replied, and then slipped through the curtain. Marilyn was introduced several seconds later and, despite her nerves, she stepped forward, turned right, then left, and the crowd went crazy.

As Marilyn exited the theatre, she was buzzing with excitement. Before she could get into her waiting car, several reporters stepped forward and asked what she thought of the royal guests.

“The Queen is very warm-hearted,” Marilyn said. “She radiates sweetness. She asked how I liked living in Windsor, and I said, ‘What?!’ and she said that as I lived in Englefield Green, near to Windsor, we were neighbors. So, I told her that Arthur and I went on bicycle rides in the park.”

Another journalist asked if it was difficult to perfect her curtsy. “Not a bit,” Marilyn said, laughing, and then she demonstrated for him.

The previously nervous woman who had begged off the prior rehearsal was brimming with confidence as she slid into her car and headed back to Parkside. In contrast, outwardly confident actor Victor Mature said that he was so nervous he couldn’t remember a thing the Queen said to him; Brigitte Bardot admitted she was worried about her curtsy; and acidic Joan Crawford claimed that she had never been so scared in her life

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Margaret were all in attendance, and Her Majesty took time to speak to Jane Russell. The actress revealed that she was going to make Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, based on a book by Anita Loos, the author of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. During the conversation, Princess Margaret told Jane Russell how much she enjoyed Blondes, while the Duke of Edinburgh jokingly wondered if brunette Russell was getting even with Marilyn, since the latter had been the blonde in the earlier film.

In 1961, an article appeared in People that gave a glimpse of the Queen’s thoughts on Marilyn, through the eyes of an unnamed “friend.” The article said that after the Royal Command Performance in 1956, the Queen became fascinated with Marilyn and watched every one of her films. She apparently told the friend, “I thought Miss Monroe was a very sweet person. But I felt sorry for her, because she was so nervous that she had licked all her lipstick off.” Footage of the event seems to back this up, since Marilyn can be seen licking her lips as she waited for the royal guests to reach her.

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Queen Elizabeth has died

It is with the greatest sadness that I have to write here about the death today of The Queen – she died at her beloved Balmoral earlier this afternoon bringing an end to a 70 year reign of duty and service to her country and the Commonwealth – even to the World

She was probably the most famous person in the whole world.

I have vivid memories of the death of her Father King George V1 in February 1952 because as a child, my father and brothers and sister and I had, only days before this, lost our own mother – an event that defined our lives and devastated our family – and probably still does to this day.

We had only just got a Television and there was, then only one channel BBC, and this closed down for a few days and sombre music was played as seemed fitting.

As readers of this Blog will know one of my own favourite films is ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ released only days after these events – and I wonder if this is why I remember it so well and the events of the time. As Princess Elizabeth, she actually visited Denham Film Studios to spend a day watching this film being made and stood quietly at the side of one of those huge sound stages while filming was done. She also was taken on a tour of some of the outside sets, by Walt Disney in the summer of 1951

Sadly I don’t have any pictures of this – but I have always thought that, with The Queen’s excellent memory, if I had been lucky enough to talk to her she would have been able to tell me much about Denham Studios and this film,

She did though before this, visit Ealing Studios with her sister Princess Margaret and we do have photographs of that

I have always imagined that the Queen would be a big film fan and here she – when she was still Princess Elizabeth – is visiting the Studios – in this case Ealing Studios – to see something of the making of ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ which was released here in early April of 1947 – so it would be fair to say that this picture was taken during the summer of 1946 – not long after the War.

I honestly could never imagine having to write this article – Her Majesty seemed such a constant in our lives – we felt we all knew her – and she was someone who commanded the ultimate respect from everyone from the World over.

I have included some Photographs below which I hope show her at her best – with her husband and family.

The Queen just loved her long summer holidays up at Balmoral where it is said that she was at her happiest

The first colour photograph of Princess ANNE, taken in 1951, in the arms of her mother Queen ELIZABETH II while her father, Price Philip holds her brother Prince CHARLES.
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Cavalry Scout 1952 – Rod Cameron

I certainly remember this as a child – the title seemed so exciting but why I just don’t know. A recent viewing confirmed that is was in fact a quite action packed Western and was pretty good I have to say.

It came from Monogram Pictures noted for their low budget films, serials and supporting pictures with quite a lot of Westerns

The Colour used was Cinecolor which later became Super Cinecolor and that was much better. The Cinecolor here was dull and lifeless but I got used to it

The picture is set in 1870’s Montana where former Confederate officer turned civilian scout for the US Cavalry ,Kirby Frye (Rod Cameron) is sent to find out who has stolen a consignment of Gatling Guns with the aim of using them on robberies and also selling them to the Cheyenne and Sioux who are readying for battle.

The villain is a local freight hauler Martin Gavin (James Millican ) .Frye is helped in his task by Lieutenant Spalding (Jim Davis) and he also finds time to romance the lovely local business woman Claire (Audrey Long)

Also an early role for James Arness in a rare bad guy role .

ABOVE – The Gatling Gun which would have wreaked havoc in the wrong hands which it nearly was

Indians return fire – just before they get the Gatling Gun into action

BELOW – The Gatling Gun opens up

ABOVE – The Gatling Gun in action

ABOVE The end chase

ABOVE Rod Cameron and Audrey Long

Rod Cameron is an actor who I always associate with Westerns and it seems most people see him the same way – but in fact when he came to Hollywood and got into acting – first as a stunt man and then as an actor – like Jack Mahoney did also – he was cast in a Western and as he said he had never ridden a horse before, but as he says, after he got on one, he was never able to get off.

He was Canadian

One bit of gossipy news about him – it seems that in 1960 he divorced his wife and married her Mother. Probably because of this, Film Director William Witney described him as the bravest man he ever knew

Audrey Long didn’t have that long a career although she seemed to be in a lot of Westerns – her second marriage was to Leslie Charteris who was the author of ‘The Saint’ stories. They remained married for 40 years right up until Leslie Charteris died – he died in Windsor England so maybe they lived there.

Audrey Long – A Very Attractive Girl
Audrey Long and John Loder in ‘A Game of Death’ 1945

The above is a Studio Set Publicity Still – we see many like this and I always think how good they look

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Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, often proclaimed “the most beautiful woman in the world.” The 26-yr-old Hedy Lamarr was doing well in Hollywood when, in September 1940, Nazi U-boats hunted down and sank a cruise ship trying to evacuate 90 British schoolchildren to Canada.

Seventy Seven of them drowned in the North Atlantic. Hedy Lamarr was a Jewish immigrant from Nazi-occupied Austria, and had made America her home since 1938 – she was absolutely outraged at this shocking act. She fought back by applying her engineering skills to development of a sonar sub-locator used in the Atlantic for the benefit of the Allies.The principles of her work are now incorporated into modern Wi-Fi, CDMA and Bluetooth technology, and this work led to her to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014

Later of course, she would became very famous following her portrayal of Delilah alongside Victor Mature in the 1949 film ‘Samson and Delilah’

Two Top Stars

These two really added sparkle’ to the film – they were outstanding in their roles

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