Archive for May, 2023

Dennis Price

One of the great British Film Stars of the Forties and Fifties, his greatest achievement was as the elegant killer in Ealing Studios’ Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). His portayal of Louis Mazzini, murdering his way through the upper-class family the d’Ascoynes (all played by Alec Guinness), was just perfect as he combined his polite and well mannered style which masked a clinical and calculating killer

Kind Hearts and Coronets

It’s the film he is best remembered. Alec Guinness seemed to get the plaudits for his eight-role display but in my view – and I have said this often – Dennis Price is the real star who narrates the story and appears in nearly every frame of the film.

What a performance – deserving of an Oscar in my view

I now have a biography of Dennis Price, who was “very nearly Britain’s biggest film star.” Born into an upper-class family who expected him to enter either the Army or the Church, he broke away in the mid-30’s, getting himself sent down from Worcester College, Oxford, and got into films as an extra.

The Biography is very well researched and is well written and very detailed and well worth buying – The Authors are Elaine Parker and Gareth Owen and I say Thank You to both of them, for the work they have put into this first class book

After an early star role for the visionary director Michael Powell in A Canterbury Tale (1944), he starred in several of the popular Gainsborough melodramas—but unlike James Mason and Stewart Granger, they did not lead him to Hollywood.

As it turned out the film The Bad Lord Byron (1948), in which he starred as the scandalous poet and had high hopes for, was a critical and commercial disaster.

He played a murderer in the film ‘Holiday Camp’ another favourite of mine – and that was a film that was successful and had quite a string of well known actors.

By the mid-50’s, Dennis Price was drinking heavily, had been messily divorced, declared bankrupt and was largely starring in B features; it all led to an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

He turned to comedy to revive his career, becoming a member of the Boulting Brothers’ company (Private’s ProgressI’m All Right Jack) and turning up on radio, such as guest spots on The Goon Show and a sitcom.

In 1966, Dennis Price’s fortunes seemed to be restored when he starred as Jeeves in the BBC’s The World of Wooster, and then he went bankrupt again, and left Britain to live in tax exile on the tiny Channel Island of Sark which limited his later appearances/

There was a last good role as a critic called Hector Snipe in the splendid Theatre of Blood (1973), led on by Diana Rigg to being butchered by Vincent Price; but that year, he died in a public ward in a Guernsey hospital from cirrhosis of the liver.

ABOVE – Dennis Price and Joan Rice in ‘The Horror of Frankenstein’ 1970

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Shane 1953 – Alan Ladd – Rodd Redwing and Jack Palance

In terms of Classic Westerns, they don’t come any bigger than this one

Shane (1953).

Directed by George Stevens

Starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon deWilde, Jack Palance, Ben Johnson, Edgar Buchanan, Emile Meyer, Elisha Cook Jr., Douglas Spencer, John Dierkes, Ellen Corby

I am pretty sure that Jack Palance was billed as ‘Walter Jack Palance’- either way he plays a cruel, sadistic killer

The filming took place between July and October 1951 but it was not released until 23 April 1953 – this was due to the fact that Paramount wanted the print stretched and cropped to wide screen as, by now, Cinemascope was very much in vogue

Shane’s fancy gun twirling in the climatic showdown was actually performed by Rodd Redwing. Earlier, when Shane demonstrates his prowess for Joey, and it is clearly Alan Ladd himself on camera, the actor had been given a different, easier-to-use revolver for the scene and had had lessons from Rodd Redwing

In England Princess Margaret (1930-2002) meets actor Rodd Redwing (1904-1971), 1968..

Rodd Redwing ABOVE meets Princess Margaret In England in 1968 and during this visit I remember him appearing on British Television on, I thought, The Eamon Andrews Show in which he thrilled us with his use of the Western Six Shooter and demonstrated his quick draw technique. It was impressive

Many realistic shooting scenes were pioneered by Rodd Redwing. He first showed the violent impact of a .45 Colt cartridge.

While filming Shane (1953), Rod Redwing attached wires to a chest harness worn by Elisha Cook Jr., jerking him violently backward when he was shot down in the street by Jack Palance in one of the most brutal murder scened ever put on film

I have always thought that Jack Palance played a very similar role in ‘Barabbas’ where he played a Roman Champion Charioteer in Biblical times, who cruelly murders his victims in a Roman Arena in front of a baying crowd. He mows them down, or nets them and crashes them against the arena walls and then turns and acknowledges the cheers of the crowd.

That is until Barabbas ( Anthony Quinn ) appears and he has a plan – and that fight to a finish is one of the most gripping duels that I have ever seen.

What a film !!!!

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The Woman in Question 1951 Jean Kent

Jean Kent had a pretty big film career mainly in British Pictures and she was always able to give good performances in roles where she played strong characters – some of them not particularly appealing as in this one – and in one of my favourites ‘The Browning Version’ where she plays School Master Crocker-Harris’s cruel, heartless and unfaithful wife. Actually that was the film she made after ‘The Woman in Question’



A fairground fortune-teller, Agnes (Jean Kent), is found strangled in her home The police interview the people around her, but quickly establish that everyone saw the murdered woman in a different way. … Only when the police delve into the woman’s life and background, is it possible for them to learn the motive for her murder, and then unmask the killer

Duncan Macray ABOVE – plays the detective trying to unravel the mystery

Jean Kent

Jean Kent is excellent

Anthony Asquith directed the film – Robert Morley said that he always appeared on the Studio floor dressed in a Boiler Suit. His nick name was’Puffin’ Asquith

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Whispering Smith 1948 – with Alan Ladd

Just a little bit before the Fifties this one, but it had Alan Ladd at the peak of his career starring in his first Western and his first film in Technicolor. Of course his peak would last a few more years with ‘Shane’ released in 1953 as maybe, his most successful film

Rail company detective Luke “Whispering” Smith (Alan Ladd) reconnects with his old friend Murray Sinclair (Robert Preston) while on a mission to track down the Barton Brothers gang. When he finally catches up with the bandits at a telegraph office, Smith is wounded but kills two of the three outlaws.

Smith recovers at Murray’s house, reigniting his passion for his lost love Marian (Brenda Marshall), who is now Murray’s wife.

Smith doggedly goes after Blake Barton, the sole surviving brother, and finds him hiding under the protection of influential landowner Barney Rebstock (Donald Crisp) and his gunslinger henchman Whitey Du Sang (Frank Faylen). Smith starts to suspect that his friend Murray, who runs the rail company’s local wrecking crew, may be involved in sordid business with Rebstock. With his allies Bill Dansing (William Demarest) and George McCloud (John Eldredge), Smith starts investigating Murray and Rebstock, creating a deep rift in a lifelong friendship as well as romantic complications.


Paramount Pictures


Nebraska & Pacific 4-4-0 #19 belches black smoke during a scene from Whispering Smith.  This engine was most likely purchased by Paramount from the Virginia & Truckee railroad in Nevada and filmed on the Paramount Ranch back lot.

Based on the novel by Frank H. Spearman, Whispering Smith is a superior western.

Directed in Glorious Technicolor by Leslie Fenton. Paramount constructed a large western town complete with an active railway for Whispering Smith, and the set became a much-used stage for many later productions.

Here is created a town nestled against mountains and nature, with several highlight scenes featuring 1870s-era trains

For anyone interested in ‘train; films, this is on to look out for It uch in keeping with a previous, famous film Union Pacific  of 1939. 

Co-incidentally both films featured Robert Preston as the hero’s friend who turns out to be rather unpleasant  

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The Horse Soldiers 1959 – and a Tragedy on the Set

Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers, Althea Gibson, Judson Pratt, Ken Curtis, Willis Bouchey, Hank Worden

Tragically a stunt man was killed while on location for this film which really knocked the stuffing out of John Ford and he lost his enthusiasm for the film after that.

I had started this article to focus on the film itself but the I learned that shocking news that one of the stunt man Freddie Kennedy and experienced and veteran stunt man

In her first Western film, 1959’s The Horse Soldiers, Constance Towers found herself in the middle of two Johns: the masterful director John Ford (seated) and the most famous cowboy actor of all time, John Wayne (standing). –

Lovely Constance Towers became a star after she played the female lead in two John Ford Westerns.

She later said “Pappy ( John Ford ) had a way of looking at women: she was to be respected, kind of on a pedestal. But she had to have a lot of spunk and fire. She was feminine, but had a backbone and was always a lady.”

John Ford insisted that Constance Towers be treated that way while filming. “No one ever used bad language around any women on any Pappy Ford set. We had tea in the afternoon, and it was all very gentlemanly. He treated you like a lady wants to be treated; but you had to have a sense of humour, because if you didn’t catch the subliminal things that went by you, it was a big disappointment to him.”

In The Horse Soldiers, Constance played Southern belle Miss Hannah Hunter, whose home is occupied by Union troops under Col. John Marlowe (played by John “Duke” Wayne). Hunter does her best to sabotage the colonel’s plans, though she gradually becomes romantically drawn to him, and to his medical officer and nemesis, Maj. Henry Kendall (William Holden).

“I was singing in the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel [New York City] and [Producer] Martin Rackin saw me and invited me to Hollywood to meet John Ford. The fact that I was Irish probably didn’t hurt. He screen-tested five of us. I had a call from an assistant to be at the Blessed Sacrament’s Church Monday afternoon. I was to sit midway in a pew and wait. I sat, and someone behind me whispered in my ear, ‘You got the part.’ It was Ford, and he insisted on leaving and not talking to me, which was typical of him. It was always intrigue.”

For three months, John Ford filmed exterior scenes in Mississippi and Louisiana, with Towers starring opposite two of Hollywood’s most dynamic leading men, Wayne and Holden. “They were delightful to work with,” she says. “They took care of me.”

She refutes claims that the two didn’t get along. “They even took an evening off. They cooked up a scheme to enable them both to have a night out on the town – they came in the next day not in the best condition

“But they were very different personalities. John Wayne was as big, friendly, as open as he was on the screen; terrific with fans. He’d be riding all day and acting, come back mud-caked, and he’d stand and talk to young people.

“Bill Holden was the opposite. He was very shy, and he believed strongly that the performance he was paid to put on the screen was all he owed the public. People would ask him for his autograph, and he’d refuse. He was the nicest, most polite gentleman, but he was just the opposite of Duke.”

A fatal fall shocked the cast of The Horse Soldiers and none more so than Constance Towers. When she ran up to Fred Kennedy, who was doubling for William Holden, to embrace him with an “Oh, my darling,” she found the stuntman unconscious. He died on the way to the hospital. He appeared in seven films with John Wayne, who Kennedy stands next to, shirtless, in this still from Rio Grande.

The shoot was enjoyable, but not easy. “Louisiana has swamps, and anything that happened on my horse, I had to do, except for one horse fall into the water. They had a stuntman do that,” she says.

John Ford appointed two men to look after her whenever she was on horseback. “Freddie Kennedy and Slim Hightower were wonderful old stuntmen. In the film, one’s ahead of me and one’s behind me, but we rode through a forest going what felt like 100 miles an hour through these trees. It was a tough location, but wonderful.”

On the very last day on location, during the very last shot, an unexpected tragedy occurred.

“Freddie was doing his last fall,” Constance says. “It was a simple shoulder fall, and Duke had told me to stand behind the camera and to run in. And they wouldn’t call ‘Cut’ until I had given Freddie a kiss on the cheek. I ran in, and when I picked up his head, I realized that he was mortally hurt. He’d fallen and broken his neck, so I really was the last person to hold him. He died on the way to the hospital, which certainly cast a pall on the closing shot of the location.”

She loved the stuntmen and remembered especially how John Ford looked after them: “Pappy didn’t pay them until their last weekend, so they would take money home. He gave them enough per diem to survive, but on location, there wasn’t much you could do with it, but gamble.”

After nearly 50 years, Constance Towers takes great pleasure in her memories: “You take it in your stride, then later look back, and it’s just amazing. To be in my first big, big film, with those actors, and have it be just joyous all the time, and John Ford guiding everybody. It was a rare and wonderful experience.”

In her first Western film, 1959’s The Horse Soldiers, Constance Towers found herself in the middle of two Johns: the masterful director John Ford (seated) and the most famous cowboy actor of all time, John Wayne (standing). – All The Horse Soldiers photos courtesy United artists –
Freddie Kennedy – the Stuntman who sadly died during the making of this film

John Ford’s ‘The Horse Soldiers‘ is a better picture than it gets credit for being, and getting better and better looking on video is a great way to crank up interest in it — and hopefully a bit of a reappraisal

A fatal fall shocked the cast of The Horse Soldiers and none more so than Constance Towers. When she ran up to Fred Kennedy, who was doubling for William Holden, to embrace him with an “Oh, my darling,” she found the stuntman unconscious. He died on the way to the hospital. He appeared in seven films with John Wayne

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The Titfield Thunderbolt at The Kinema In The Woods

This Wonderful Ealing Technicolor film set in a dreamy part of the English countryside of a nostalgic age – a real treat from start to finish and if anyone reading this post has not seen the film then please go out and get it.

It was shown yesterday at the legendary, iconic Kinema In The Woods in Woodhall Spa – a most beautiful village in the heart of Lincolnshire

Not often do we get a chance to see this at the cinema -and sadly I blew that chance. Having purchased tickets well in advance things that cropped up made it not possible for me to attend – and I bitterly regret that

It was the first Ealing comedy shot in Technicolor  and one of the first colour comedies made in the UK.

The film was directed by Charles Crichton and starred Stanley Holloway, George Relph and John Gregson among many others.

 I do think that the above TWO pictures are a terrific examples of Technicolor at its best.   The colour in them is perfect

The film was released in 1953  – Made in 1952 by the famous Ealing Studios, the film it tells the story of how the Titfield villagers fight the closure of their local branch line by British Railways. The film was made on location on the Camerton branch line –  an ex GWR railway which ran through the beautiful Cam Valley just south of Bath.

ABOVE – One of the most famous cinemas in the Country in the beautiful small town of Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire.

It is the ‘Kinema in the Woods’

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The Lady in the Iron Mask 1952 – Patricia Medina

I hadn’t realised that Patricia Medina was in Hollywood as early as this, but thinking about it, I seem to remember her travelling out there with her then husband Richard Greene. In fact she was in Hollywood making films in the late 40’s

Richard Greene and his Wife Patricia Medina 1949

The Above is an earlier Picture from February 1949 – Richard Greene and his wife Patricia Medina pack before flying to the USA.

In Hollyood Patricia was in quite a few of this type of film, and she really looked good and was well able to hold her own in the acting stakes. Around this time she appeared with Alan Ladd in ‘Botany Bay’ another one of my favourites and I am pretty sure she shared star billing with him in this.

Also with Alan Ladd shortly after this, she came back to England to star with him in ‘The Black Knight’ made at Pinewood Studios

Patricia Medina pictured when she had arrived back in England – probably towards the end of 1953 to filmThe Black Knight with Alan Ladd at Pinewood Studios.

Patricia Medina

This  picture  was taken after she had appeared as a panellist   on   Whats  My  Line in early December 1953

On visits to London she regularly appeared on BBC television as a panellist on What’s My Line? (1951-63) with personalities including Gilbert Harding and Barbara Kelly.

She made four films in 1953 alone, followed in 1954 by Phantom of the Rue Morgue and an adventure film  The Black Knight, made in England and in which she co-starred with Alan Ladd .

Shortly after her marriage to Joseph Cotten in 1960, the couple embarked on the first of several theatre tours of the United States. Her only significant film thereafter was The Killing of Sister George (1968), in which she played a prostitute.

Joseph Cotton referred to Patricia Medina as having the most beautiful face in Hollywood – and seeing that he had worked with some of the classically beautiful women of the era, that is some compliment. He was right I’m sure.

Their marriage was a long and happy one – I heard her, in an interview say that after they had married they never spent a night apart except when Joseph was admitted to hospital and then, she thought that being separated was terrible. They loved one another.

After Joseph Cotten’s career was terminated in 1981 by ill health, Patricia Medina devoted herself to caring for him until his death in 1994 . In 1998 she published her autobiography.

Patricia Medina and Joseph Cotten on their weddding day

Patricia Medina and Joseph Cotton on their Wedding Day – Above

They were  married at the Home of David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones  in Beverley Hills, Hollywood on 20 October 1960.

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Sierra Baron 1958

Rita Gam is often featured in some of the Picturegoer and Pictures Show weekly magazines of the early / mid fifties and in fairness to her, she does seem to have had a lengthy film and Television career although never managing a really big role in what we might call a ‘big film’

This one ‘Sierra Baron’ – sometimes known as ‘Mohawk’ is quite a decent, reasonably big budget 20th Century Fox Western with some good stars – Brian Keith for one, who had some decent roles but never seemed to be the matinee idol type although, certainly a very capable actor = and in there too was Rick Jason, Mala Powers and Steve Brodie

This film had some lovely location filming in Cinemascope and DeLuxe Colour so it did look impressive mainly filmed in Mexico

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Colonel March – and Scotland Yard with Colin Tapley

It is Tuesday evening here in England, and this means that on the Talking Pictures Channel we have two half hour dramas from back in the early fifties – first on is Colonel March with Boris Karloff in the title role followed by Scotland Yard introduced as always by Edgar Lustgarten.

This week was of particular interest because in the Colonel March episode we had Hubert Gregg as the villain in ‘The Invisible Knife’ an episode that was Directed by Hammer Films maestro Terence Fisher. It struck me that here was an actor Hubert Gregg who three years before had played Prince John in the very expensive production – Walt Disney’s ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ and here he was in this low budget TV show – albeit a successful one in Britain and the USA. It seemed to say the least a come-down – but I know that this very versatile genius was able to turn his hand to anything – Musical Theatre, Song Writing, Theatre Director and Producer to name just a few of his talents. He was at that time married to Pat Kirkwood.

In ‘Scotland Yard’ Colin Tapley played the role of Police Inspector Turner in the episode ‘Late Night Final’

In his long years as an actor he had done everything – he had been to Hollywood, met many of the major stars appeared in films with them then came over to England and continued in TV and Films for many more years. He had settled here and married and had a family and seemed to have had a happy life

BELOW – I have re-hashed this from an earlier article I did :-

Colin Tapley – The Reluctant star

  The thing that interested me about him was that he was born and raised in Dunedin in New Zealand.   Earlier this year with my family, I was on a cruise ship out of Sydney that docked there for the day – the second time in a decade we had done this – and Dunedin was a place that I fell in love with – and so did my daughter.

I just love the place as I felt at home in this beautiful and welcoming city. It was summertime there and a beautiful warm to hot day – so that is always a factor.

Colin Tapley – Colin Edward Livingstone Tapley was born in Dunedin on 7 May 1909. He was employed by H L Tapley and Co Ltd, the Dunedin shipping agency, his late father had founded.

Dunedin 3

 ABOVE – The Centre of Dunedin as it is today 2020 – the former home and resting place of Colin Tapley

However in 1933 he entered and won a film talent contest that took him to Hollywood

Colin Tapley found his own cinematic niche playing character roles in American and British films for more than 30 years, without any real desire for stardom.

In 1933 Tapley won the New Zealand male section of Search for Beauty, a worldwide talent quest conducted in English-speaking countries by Paramount Pictures. His prize included a trip to Hollywood to cameo alongside the other winners in the Search for Beauty movie — a comedy romance set in a physical culture school.

The contest he had entered as a dare brought the additional reward of a contract with Paramount for his agreeable performance in the film, which was his first. Tapley was the contest’s male runner-up, and South African-born Eldred Tidbury the male winner. Tidbury changed his name to Donald Gray, and would appear with him more than 20 years later in British TV series The Vise.

Tapley meanwhile acted in several Paramount movies of the mid-late 1930s. “The most wonderful experience of my life,” is how he recalled those glorious years. “I adored every bit of it.”

Colin Edward Livingstone Tapley was born in Dunedin on 7 May 1909. At the time he won the contest that changed his life, he was employed by H L Tapley and Co Ltd, the Dunedin shipping agency, his late father had founded.

The screen test that took him to Hollywood was shot at Filmcraft, later National Film Unit, studios in the Wellington suburb of Miramar. Tapley and the other nervous finalists then waited three suspenseful weeks for the judges at Paramount Pictures to name the man and the woman to represent New Zealand.

Tapley’s wish to play character parts came early in his career. He wrote home enthusiastically to one of his brothers about his small, unbilled part in The Scarlet Empress (1934); he described in detail the long black beard and wonderful uniform that transformed him into the captain of the Queen’s Bodyguard.

Colin Tapley derived great personal satisfaction from playing Captain Dobbin in Becky Sharp (1935), the first film shot in three-colour Technicolor. But his favourite role from his Hollywood movies was probably Barrett, the spy, in Oscar-nominated adventure The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935).

Colin Tapley

His only starring role at Paramount was in Booloo (1938) ABOVE – playing Robert Rogers in a tiger hunt adventure set in the Malaysian jungle. During the eight months the crew spent filming in the country’s jungles more than 3500 millimetres of rain fell. One subtropical storm saw them climbing into the trees with the monkeys for survival, after streams rose 11 metres above normal. Tapley regarded the noise of the monkeys as the worst part of his tree-living experience.

His last film before World War II service was a Western –  Arizona (1940). The normally well dressed actor wore cowboy clothes, chewed tobacco, for this role,

He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. Posted to Britain, Flight Lieutenant Tapley met his future wife, Patricia (Patsy) Lyon, the widowed daughter of Major-General Sir Percy and Lady Hambro. They married quietly in London on 6 August 1943 and had a son, Martin, the following year. Colin cast his best friend, American actor Fred MacMurray, in the real-life role of godfather. Patsy had a daughter named Charlotte from her first marriage.

A brief retirement from acting followed Tapley’s World War II service.  He and his family had settled in New Zealand, where he operated a launch charter service at Wanaka.

The death of his son Martin  in November 1947 was the catalyst for the grieving family to leave New Zealand.   When back in Hollywood, he resumed his film career in a very different atmosphere to the Arabian Nights world that had existed prior to World War Two.

The town was now more coldly competitive,  television had now took a hold. Yet while sitting in a restaurant Cecil B DeMille offered him a role in Samson and Delilah (1949), a friendly gesture that he never ceased to appreciate. He was unrecognisable asone of the princes in the final temple scene.

British films now seemed more inviting than the bleak new Hollywood.    His move to Britain saw him cast in Cloudburst, a 1951 Hammer thriller starring Robert Preston, another former Paramount contract player.  Colin Tapley was third billed as Inspector Davis.

Cloudburst defined the path for much of his future career. Instead of the Ronald Young-type comedy parts he had earlier craved, he often played police officers in Britain. An exception was the slightly dishevelled, moustached and bespectacled scientist Doctor WH Glanville in The Dam Busters (1955).

Colin Tapley spoke in an article at the time about how the realistic approach to filming in British studios enabled actors to give a better performance than in the superficiality of Hollywood.

Tapley appeared regularly in the British TV series The Vise from 1955 to 1960, playing at least five different police inspectors. Donald Gray, his long time friend,  starred as ex-Scotland Yard detective Mark Saber.

Colin Tapley

ABOVE – Colin Tapley – the Matinee idol that might have been – But he didn’t want the leading man roles – he was a character actor all his life – and apparently very good and very well liked !!

Colin Tapley and his wife Patsy lived in New Zealand and Hollywood before settling down in Coates, Gloucestershire.  Colin Tapley had also lived in  lived in New Romney, Kent working for the first time in a regular job not as an actor – he  was employed by the CEGB in 1964 as a meter reader in the control room at Dungeness ‘A’ nuclear power station.

On night shifts he would keep his fellow workers amused with tales of Hollywood actors, their life and loves.  I would have loved to have listened to him on this subject as he would know exactly what went on there during the Hollywood Golden Era in the Thirties.

His last film was a small part as a general in Dino De Larentis spy thriller Fraulein Doktor (1969).

Colin Tapley died on 23 November 1995, survived by his wife, second son Nigel, and Charlotte. His ashes were buried at Wanaka alongside his first-born son, Martin

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The 39 Steps 1959 – with Kenneth More and Taina Elg

This was shown in England over this last weekend -May 2023 – and I watched it again and enjoyed it all over again.

I loved the authentic Scottish Highlands settings and the striking colour of the era. which somehow added a touch of nostalgia to the whole thing

This versions of ‘The 39 Steps’ is directed by Ralph Thomas from the novel by John Buchan. It stars Kenneth More, Taina Elg, Brenda De Banzie, Barry Jones, Reginald Beckwith and Faith Brook and Andrew Cruikshank – just before his wonderful role as Dr Cameron in ‘Dr Finlay’s Casebook’ one of my most favourite Television series.

This version is a fun packed mystery with Kenneth More in fine form although really just playing Kenneth More – but at least we know what we are getting with his effervescent charm.

It is a terrific Story, where Richard Hannay ( Kenneth More) finds himself up to his neck in espionage after a mysterious lady is stabbed to death in his flat. Needlrdd to say, he is the prime suspect so is pursued by the police and also the ring of spies stealing this coutry’s military scerets. Trying to piece things together and make head or tail of it puts him in grave danger and takes him North to Scotland, where he hopes he can clear himself of being the the suspected murderer – and find out exactly what are – The 39 Steps.

The Scottish locations provided a wonderful backdrop to this compelling drama drama.

The Thirty Nine Steps 1959

The Thirty Nine Steps 1959

There is one thrill after another in the film – one of my favourites in terms of sheer excitement is the sequence on the Forth Bridge which on the big Cinema Wide Screen was so impressive

However on the pursuit all over The Trossachs in the Scottish Highlands, it is just one thrill after another as we speed through those stunning locations – all beautifully filmed

There is no doubt that Kenneth More was at his peak at this time – we had ‘North West Frontier’ the same year 1959 and before that ‘The Admirable Crichton’ and quite a few before and after that.

Like everyone though this ‘time in the sun’ does not last forever and he added to his downfall when making a speech at the Dorchester to an audience of film executives and staff, drink took a hand and he proceeded to insult and make a fool of the top man at The Rank Organisation; namely John Davis.

Kenneth was due to appear in The Guns of Navarone’ shortly after this event and when he had sat down from making the speech, a colleague asked him what his next job was and he named this film – This was in earshot of John Davis who leaned across and said ‘Oh No you’re not’

Next day Kenneth went into John Davis’ office and apologised and almost grovelled but he was told that the decision was final – which prompted him to let rip all over again at the top executive.

Ridiculous of him because John Davis had been a supporter for a few years and had handed Kenneth these wonderful parts up until then

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