Archive for May, 2023

The Wasp Woman 1959

Often we have featured films from the early fifties – perhaps because there were far more of them – but this one ‘The Wasp Woman’ was one of the last of the decade – released in November 1959

The Wasp Woman – BELOW in the USA this great Double Feature did the rounds

The Wasp Woman

The plot of this film has the head of a cosmetics firm trying out a new formula formed from the jelly of a Queen Wasp. The make-up actually makes the woman younger, but has the horrible side effect in that it turns the woman into a killer human wasp

The Wasp Woman

This may be one of Director Roger Corman’s better early films, about reversing the ageing process to sell cosmetics. Susan Cabot, the lead, finished her film career with this one before returning to the theatre in New York after appearing in a lot of films throughout the Fifties.

The Wasp Woman – Some great Double Features below both cinema and DVD

BELOW – Film Stills giving us a taste of what is to come

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Roy Rogers TV Show and Others


The King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, was the last of the well known cowboy stars to come to US network television in late 1951. Hopalong Cassidy films were shown in 1949 and incredibly The Lone Ranger in Sept. ‘49.

Gene Autry’s films were on TV from in July ‘50.

Roy Rogers however was still under contract with Republic which was not scheduled to end until the end of May, 1951.

Actually, Roy wanted to do Republic features and produce his own TV series but unlike Gene Autry, who was producing his own films for release through Columbia – Roy was under contract to Herbert J. Yates at Republic.

Roy refused to sign a new deal without the right to do television and so Yates decided to sell his backlog of Rogers films to TV.

Roy was granted a temporary restraining order forbidding Republic from doing this – so there would be a delay until it was settled in court.

Not wanting to wait for a court decision—and feeling sure that the court would uphold his position—Roy Rogers Enterprises moved ahead on July 1 with production of four half hour telefilms. Thankfully, NBC had the foresight and confidence in Roy to advance him $100,000 for these four half-hour TV productions.

Under Roy’s new independent status, he was able to co-star with Bob Hope at Paramount in “Son of Paleface” – I am always surprised but in a way pleased, that Roy Rogers had the star status to enable him to share top billing with Bob Hope and Jane Russell

The Court case was settled pretty much in Roy’s favour – I must admit to being irritated by this. If someone signs a contract in my view that is binding. Around the same time we had Jean Simmons breaking her RKO contract and going to court – she did have to pay a substantial amount of money to free herself but she had signed initially to find Hollywood fame and when she did, she wanted out.

Some of these contracts made the actors very rich indeed – so it was by no means a one way street. Many stars of the time were not under long term contracts to anyone and just free-lanced in a notoriously precarious profession.

Roy and Dale, around this time in the very early fifties, were up at 5am ready to start work on location, often at Big Bear Lake, by 7am because time and money were strictly budgeted. They often worked til 9 or 10 at night.

Roy’s Frontiers Inc. company managed to finish its four films in time for Roy to start work for Paramount on time for “Son of Paleface”.

It was now autumn and “The Roy Rogers Show” was due on TV (and radio) under a dual contract between NBC and Post Cereals division of General Foods by December. Roy’s production company, was under the supervision of former Republic production manager Jack C. Lacey, and was to begin full-fledged production. In addition to Jack Lacey, Roy hired 35 former Republic employees

The series was set in the fictional town of Mineral City (where Dale operated the Eureka Cafe) but actually utilised many of the usual California filming locations. Roy and Dale played themselves – on Trigger and Buttermilk with German Shepherd Bullet running along beside them

Roy and Dale introduced us in various episodes to their children…Dusty (“Junior Outlaw”, “Three Masked Men”), Cheryl (“Outlaws of Paradise Valley”) and Dodie (“Little Dynamite”).

Oddly, songs (other than Dale’s themesong composition “Happy Trails”) were not an integral part of the series. Dale sings in “The Feud”, Roy lullabyes cattle in “Empty Saddles” and they duet on “The Bible Tells Me So” in “Ginger Horse”.

From December 1951 to September 1957, 100 episodes of “The Roy Rogers Show” were produced and were shown on NBC Sunday evenings.

I can’t recall them ever being on British Television at the time even though we had The Range Rider, The Lone Ranger, Rex and Rinty and one I really remember well is ‘Fighting with Kit Carson’ – a serial from the mid 30’s which was really exciting – Can’t forget the Mystery Riders who were a key part of the plot. This had Johny Mack Brown as Kit Carson and Noah Beery Jr as Nkomas

THESE PICTURES BELOW are from the 1947 film and from Republic in Trucolor which looked very good.

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Pool of London 1951

This is a really good British film with marvellous location shooting, mainly in and around Tower Bridge and the docks in London . It is fast moving, with good story, well acted and directed by Basil Dearden

Some of the locations are interesting for anyone who kew the area – one sequence was shot in the Maritime Museum and we also see the power station billowing smoke and at that time no docklands development.

Earl Cameron plays a West Indian sailor and we have Bonar Colleano in the leading role and tragically he died in a motor accident eight years after making this film.

There were plenty of well known actors in this – Susan Shaw, Moira Lister, Alfie Bass, Leslie Phillips – and James Robertson Justice – he seemed to be able to get parts all the time – how did he do that ?

This has a really good story and anyone wishing to see a glimpse of early post-war London, trams and all – this film has it


ABOVE – Dan MacDonald (Bonar Colleano) and his best friend, Jamaican Johnny Lambert (Earl Cameron)

Into the Pool of London on the River Thames sails the Dunbar, a cargo ship out of Rotterdam, and the seamen on board disembark for a weekend of leave.

Dan MacDonald (Bonar Colleano) and his best friend, Jamaican Johnny Lambert (Earl Cameron) meet up with Dan’s girlfriend Maisie (Moira Lister) while Johnny befriends ticket seller Pat (Susan Shaw).

Dan supplements his wages with some light smuggling of cigarettes, nylons, bottles of brandy and the like. As he drops some cigarettes off for one of his contacts, he is approached by a stranger who offers him £100 to smuggle a small box to Rotterdam.

ABOVE Leslie Phillips, Bonar Colleano and Earl Cameron

It turns out that the stranger performed a jewel robbery with his gang but the robbery went wrong and they killed the night watchman. With Scotland Yard on the trail of the jewels, Dan asks Johnny to carry the box on board the Dunbar.

Maisie’s sister talks to the authorities and the ship is held in port by the police and custom’s officers who are waiting for Dan to appear so they can arrest him.

Meanwhile, the robbery gang are pursuing Dan also and he is bundled into a car at gunpoint, they demand he returns the diamonds – which he can’t do since he already gave them to Johnny.

He is shot in the shoulder but escapes and heads for the Dunbar to stop his friend from boarding the ship and being caught by the police. Arriving just in time, Dan collects the package from Johnny and turns himself in to the police.

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Raintree County 1957

Raintree County (1957)

In 1949, upon the release of The Heiress, Paramount Pictures demanded that Montgomery Clift do his share to promote the film. Stars were expected to do so, even those as difficult as Monty. It was through these promotional machinations that the actor found himself with a date for the premiere of the film. Though he would always call her Bessie May, the girl the studio had paired with Clift was none other than grown-up child actress Elizabeth Taylor.

This “date” was a multi-purpose arrangement. Elizabeth Taylor was looking to be seen as an adult after having established herself as a starlet during her girlhood. Her pairing with Hollywood’s hottest new property made her look more womanly to moviegoers. Also, since A Place in the Sun was already in development, Paramount was prepping the audiences to see this romantic couple illuminate the screen. The two rising stars were chaperoned by Clift’s acting coach, Mira Rostova, and they hit it off right away.

Supposedly, Monty was instantly charmed when, before the premiere, Liz insisted they stopped at a burger joint to fill themselves with a bit of tasty greasy food in preparation for the red-carpet spectacle. Still, what blossomed out of that evening wasn’t a romance, but a lifelong friendship. He stuck with her through thick and thin, through endless scandals, and five failed marriages. As for Taylor, she saved his life.

After From Here to Eternity, Montgomery Clift dropped out of Hollywood for a couple of years. He had started drinking and taking pills at the end of the previous decade and, by the mid-50s, he was an addict with a reputation to match. Along with his pickiness, this made him victim to the dangers of career stagnation as well as increasing debts. Knowing all that, Liz Taylor is said to have convinced MGM to sign Monty to a three-picture deal.

The first of those projects would be Raintree County.

The picture, which was the latest attempt at making “the next Gone with the Wind“, had a famously large budget. MGM splurged on the Civil War melodrama, making it the most expensive film ever shot exclusively on American soil up to that point in history. Production started according to plan in the first half of 1956 and, by early May, the interior scenes had been filmed in Hollywood. Afterward, the production was scheduled to go to Kentucky where exterior shoots would take place. 

They were meant to fly on a Sunday to Kentucky. On Saturday, May 6th, 1956, Liz Taylor threw a grand dinner party. She had to cajole Monty into coming as he was reluctant. So vehement was he that he wanted to stay home that Monty had dismissed his chauffeur. As a consequence, when his friend succeeded in convincing him, Monty had to drive himself to Liz’s mansion. By all accounts, he only drank a glass and left early, sober, and tired.

What happened next is the stuff of nightmarish Hollywood legend.

Kevin McCarthy, Monty’s dear friend who had been driving ahead of him was the one to sound the alarm. He returned to Taylor’s mansion crying about a car accident. Clift had driven off the road and into a telephone pole, smashing his car and himself in the process. Remembering that tragic evening, McCarthy would be quoted as saying “his face was torn away—a bloody pulp. I thought he was dead.” 

The men tried to prevent Liz from seeing Monty mauled, a mask of torn flesh and broken bone where the visage of Hollywood’s most handsome star used to be. Nobody could stop her, though. Cradling her bloodied friend, Liz reached down into his throat and pulled out Monty’s front teeth that had been knocked off by the crash and were choking him. He would have died if it weren’t for Liz, who also made sure no photographs were taken of his wrecked state. 

Every bone in the actor’s face was mangled, his nose broken and his jaw torn to pieces. While he recuperated, production on Raintree County was shut down temporarily. One might wonder why MGM didn’t just recast the role. For starters, the film was already a huge expense and most of the actors agreed to have their pay cut to allow for the needed delays in shooting. Also, Taylor would have walked off the project if MGM dared to replace Monty, ruining any hope at recouping their investment.

And so it was that Montgomery Clift returned to Raintree County after laborious reconstructive surgery and physical therapy. Director Edward Dmytryk tried his best to hide the sorry state of his leading man, shooting him predominantly in profile and using shadows to mask the truth. Nonetheless, Clift’s face changes noticeably from scene to scene, sometimes varying wildly in a short time. 

His lip was freshly sewn up, his jaw still wired together, so brittle that it made alarming sounds when he tried to move it too much. He couldn’t eat either and was in constant pain, suffering from insomnia and recurring nightmares which plunged him in a state of perpetual exhaustion. Furthermore, a nerve on the left side of his face had been severed, partially paralyzing his muscles. It’s not that he looks ugly, just that he looks off and inconsistent throughout. How can we expect someone to give a good performance under those circumstances?

The drinking didn’t help matters either. Clift was so often intoxicated that the cast and crew developed a code to signal each other about his current state – Georgia meant he was bad, Florida was worse, Zanzibar was catastrophic. By all accounts, the second half of the shooting of Raintree County was a nightmare for everyone involved and, at the end of it, Clift described the movie as a bloated mess. He wasn’t wrong.

Aside from the horror story happening behind the scenes, Raintree County is a hapless epic whose sense of desperate prestige is too grand and obnoxious to bear. It’s a self-conscious movie, so preoccupied with being perceived as good that it forgets to be so. Even its glamour is over-calculated, with Walter Plunkett’s monstrosities of wide crinolines and corseted waists parading through the screen with evident opulence but little storytelling purpose.

The narrative, adapted from a novel by Ross Lockridge Jr, attempts to portray America’s Civil War schism. It centers on Clift’s John Shawnessy, a studious Yankee who happens to fall in love with a vivacious Southern Belle, Taylor’s Susanna Drake. He marries her, turning his back on fellow abolitionist Nell Gaither with which he had a kindling attraction, and finds himself embroiled in his wife’s spiral of self-hatred, racism, hidden secrets, and barely contained psychosis. 

As the war roars and Susanna’s mental health goes down the drain, John becomes a soldier, another military man in Clift’s filmography. He sees horrors and, once the conflict is over, returns to his studious ways, becoming a teacher whose company incentives to follow a career in politics.

Pedagogue, warrior and leader, devoted husband, and tragic lover, John is actually a complicated character whose torments are plenty and whose interiority is a fascinating conundrum. You wouldn’t necessarily know that by suffering through the picture’s torturous three hours. Clift sleepwalks his way through the picture and only some pre-accident scenes ring with vitality. Among them is a lively ball and the first taste of alcohol where a nervous energy coalesces into comedic verve cutting a temporary hole in the funereal seriousness of Raintree County. There is also some electric charge in most of his scenes with Taylor, even when the turgid drama is otherwise as lifeless as a taxidermized critter.

What we know of the stars helps the movie achieve its slivers of watchability. John and Susanna hardly seem to make sense as a couple and we often wonder why he stays with her apart from the chains of the social norm. His devotion, as defined by the script, runs deep but that rarely registers in the performances, only through the metatextual reading and chemistry that the movie stars bring to the project. 

Raintree County is the nadir of Montgomery Clift’s career as a movie actor, but there’s still some faint value to be found within its depths of mediocrity. As the actor himself had predicted, it was a success among audiences, though its high cost meant that MGM still reported a loss. Many were sure to have played a macabre game of ‘spot the difference,’ gazing in terrified awe at the new face of Montgomery Clift.

One should acknowledge that Clift already looked and acted differently from what people expected in the pre-accident scenes. In the years since From Here to Eternity, Clift’s drinking had spiraled out of control. Christopher Isherwood wrote that, by 1955, the actor was “drinking himself out a career”. It had been four years since audiences had seen him and Clift looked like he had aged over a decade, and the intense energy he once brought to the screen was gone, even if only temporarily.

Montgomery Clift was never the same after the accident, but he and Liz Taylor remained loyal, devoted friends. Their third and last movie together is still up ahead but, even beyond ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ – they were a constant in each other’s lives. Unlike Monty’s career, that friendship was a straight continuous line that only ended in death. Professionally, however, the legacy of the actor is broken into two violently divided halves.

Raintree County marks the beginning of the second era of Montgomery Clift as a film star. It’s the beginning of the end.

Much of the above – not all – is taken from another Blog

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Love Me Tender – Elvis

What was originally a straight Western starring Richard Egan and Debra Paget also became the first film starring a new Rock ‘n’ Roll sensation named Elvis Presley.

He gets quite an acting challenge here and does it pretty well, something he rarely got to do in most of his later films. He also does, however, perform four songs including the hit title tune.

His role is that of Clint, who’s the brother of returning Civil War veteran Richard Egan.

When the film was released, as we can see, Elvis Presley took star billing with his name above the title.

The original ending where Elvis was killed had to be re-written and filmed again and in later prints, he survives.

Elvis is killed in the original release

The leading lady in this film was the beautiful Debra Paget. It is reported that Elvis fell in love with her during the filming, and proposed marriage but she turned him down because she was in love with Howard Hughes at that time. That was confirmed by Debra herself – I find it incredible – he must have been the best part of 30 years older than her but apparently that’s how it was.

Elvis Presley thought Love Me Tender co-star Debra Paget was “the most beautiful woman he had ever seen”. The King was obsessed with finding “The Debra Paget look” in future co-stars and Priscilla Beaulieu even styled herself after her. The talented actress was “touched by the hand of God” said legendary director Cecil B DeMille and went on to make one of the most risque films of the 1960s.

At the time, Debra was already an established Hollywood star at 22, with 19 films under her belt. That same year she also starred opposite Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner in Cecil B DeMille’s Biblical epic The Ten Commandments. The director didn’t screen test her, saying he knew she was “touched by the hand of God.”

By contrast, Love Me Tender was The King’s first movie – and the last time he appeared with his natural, lighter hair colour. Originally titled The Reno Brothers, its name was changed when the soundtrack ballad sold over a million copies. The King’s role was also expanded. Its success meant future projects would be shaped around Elvis and, usually, his music, often to the detriment of the movie and the star’s own acting ability

Elvis Presley, Debra Paget and Priscilla Presley

Elvis Presley, Debra Paget and Priscilla Presley 

Elvis and Debra Paget kiss for promo pics

Elvis and Debra Paget kiss on screen

Like many of Elvis’ co-stars, Debra later commented that he could have been a very fine actor If he had been given meatier roles. Like so many of his co-stars, she also found herself pursued by him. But she was the first and, many believe, set the template for Elvis’ “obsession with the ‘Debra Paget look.'” It was even reported that young Priscilla Beaulieu updated her hair and make-up when she heard about it. 

Elvis soon established a pattern that would follow him on every film set, “flirting with Paget almost from day one and following her around the set like a lovesick puppy.”

He also went to meet her parents and was determined to marry her

Elvis and Debra Paget promo pics

Elvis and Debra Paget promo pics 

Debra Paget later recalled in 1997: “I was very shy, very quiet and very immature for my age. I was in my very early 20’s but I was emotionally more like a 16-year-old. Elvis and I just sort of came together like a couple of children really.”

Debra also took him home to meet her parents who he charmed with his manners, leaving the room once to go and get Mrs Paget a chair: “From the time he first came to the house, my folks considered Elvis a member of the Paget clan – which I believe, he reciprocated. I had the feeling that our closely-knit family life resembled his own.”

The besotted star would even drive over at night and park nearby, watching the house jealously to see if Debra had any other callers.

Debra Paget in The Ten Commandments

Debra Paget in The Ten Commandments 

Like Elvis, Debra was deeply religious

From the start, Elvis thought she was “the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.”

In 1997 Debra revealed: “Following the film, he did ask me to marry him but my parents objected to my getting married. I cared about Elvis, but being one not to disobey my parents, that did not take place.”

In fact, she was actually already engaged in a two-year affair with the billionaire industrialist and film producer Howard Hughes – a man far more rich, famous and powerful than Elvis.

But Debra always spoke highly of Elvis in the following years, saying: “He was a precious, humble, lovely person. Elvis had a lot of talent; there was a lot of depth they never used. He could have been a fine actor.”

In 1958, Debra travelled to Germany to film Fritz Lang’s epic two-part historical Indian saga, The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb. The latter contains an extraordinarily daring (for the time) snake dance sequence, where the star appears to be almost entirely naked

Back in the US, her career was in decline with diminishing film roles and a few TV appearances, mainly in Westerns like Rawhide and Johnny Ringo.

Her parents might not have wanted her to marry Elvis, but she made two short-lived mistakes – a four-month marriage to actor David Street in 1958, followed by an even shorter marriage to director Budd Boetticher, from who she separated after just 22 days.

Debra Paget snake dance

Her third and final marriage lasted much longer. In April 1962 she married American-Chinese oil magnate Ling C Kung

Debra had one son, Gregory Teh-chi Kung. Her husband’s position and her new family prompted her retirement from acting in 1964, although the marriage ended in 1980.

She never re-married or returned to showbusiness but became a born-again Christian in the mid-1980s and worked on numerous faith-based projects including hosting her own show on a Christian network.

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Princess of the Nile 1954 – Debra Paget

This film seems to get really good reviews from all who have seen it. From 20th Century Fox – it is in Technicolor and boasts romance, excitement, intrigue and action and the beautiful Debra Paget

“Princess of the Nile,” is 20th Century Fox’s Fox’s in Hollywood’s mid-’50s fascination with these tales – we had “Land of the Pharoahs,” “Valley of the Kings,” and more.

Pure, unadulterated, mindless fun and we loved it , lavishly produced (low-budgeted but using sets and costumes left over from “The Robe,” this Technicolor spectacle looks like it cost millions.

The film offers the audiences the delectable sight of Debra Paget wearing an assortment of veils.

Fox’s handsomest young contract player, Jeffrey Hungter is the male lead opposite Debra Paget who is top=-billed I am pleased to say, while Michael Rennie lurks around in the background, plotting who knows what.

Debra Paget and Jeffrey Hunter were again cast together a few years later in “White Feather”.

“Princess of the Nile” still stands in a class by itself as a cheerfully mindless, breathlessly fast-paced, dazzling testament to the glories of Technicolor.

Put this one as a classic at the top of your list in terms of colouful adventure and great fun.

Debra Paget ABOVE

Debra Paget, from a very young age, had been in films and she got a good, and very early break when she was cast opposite James Stewart – two years or more before this – in a classic Western ‘Broken Arrow’

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Dan O’Herlihy

Very recently we did an article on ‘Robinson Crusoe’ which had been filmed mainly on location in Mexico.

Dan O’Herlihy who played Robinson Crusoe, gives an account of the filming experiences of the film in one of the Hollywood Film Annuals.

In all, he says, he was in Mexico for seven and a half months – five and a half on Robinson Crusoe and then he stayed on to make ‘Tehuantepec’ with Katy Jurado – a film I have never heard of but apparently it was quite popular at the time in Mexico. This one though was mainly done at the Churobusco Studios in Mexico City.

By contrast ‘Robinson Crusoe’ was mainly filmed on location in the jungle about 15 miles inland of a small town called Manxanillo. It was a location swarming with Scorpions, so much so that Dan wore heavy boots as protection when he could – otherwise locals were sent in with sticks to beat the ground to scare them off. These were small blond scorpions as he describes them, who gave a deadly bite – and when they were there a local doctor died after being bitten by one.

Enormous rattlesnakes were an added problem

He was very careful for a time, not to drink the local water and some special purified water was shipped in to the hotel for the guests- however one day, he saw one of the waiters filling the receptacle up from the mains tap, so he thought he would just take a chance – luckily he did not become ill and he says that his upbringing in rural Ireland up to the age of 27 when he just drank whatever water was available, meant he had some kind of immunity built into him because of this. Maybe he was right – we will never know

In ‘Robinson Crusoe’ until the arrival of “Friday”, the only other featured character was Robinson Crusoe so for Dan this turned into a tour-de-force one man show, a compelling, wordless portrayal of agonised solitude.

However with this being a Mexican production it was considered merely a B-movie in Hollywood terms, and in fact Dan O’Herlihy was forced to invest his own money to have the film shown in Los Angeles. This proved a good move because it was widely seen and he was rewarded with an Oscar nomination, but it did not lead to any meaningful parts coming his way.

I wonder if his long bearded appearance in Robinson Crusoe proved off-putting to casting directors – after all he was a quite good looking man who you would have thought would have done well but this ‘look’ was not good

Dan O Herlihy

I hadn’t realised until I came across these Front of House Stills that he had been in the 1948 film ‘Kidnapped’ which is one that is rarely shown but I have always wanted to see it and up to now, never have.

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

I love this Film Still ABOVE

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

Fortunately, this is one of the better Monogram films. It was produced by Roddy McDowall and Ace Herman. When you look at the cast line-up, you see some good names there including of course, Roddy McDowall himself (perfectly cast as a convincing, young David), and Dan O’ Herlihy (cutting a fine figure as Alan Breck)

Sue England starred alongside the two men – I remember her a couple of years later, in one of my own boyhood favourites ‘Bomba and the Hidden City’ with Johnny Sheffield

Another Film – and a later one – was The Purple Mask with Dan O Herlihy – Tony Curtis starred in this, as he did in ‘Black Shield of Falworth’ earlier and Dan O Herlihy was in that one too

ABOVE – Dan O Herlihy studies the script of ‘The Purple Mask’ along with Angela Lansbury

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The Last Hunt 1956

‘The Last Hunt’ was a quite big MGM Cinemascope production with much of the filming done in Dakota.

The film showed what an interesting actor Robert Taylor was – he is totally believable in this film – in a really villainous role. He had the longest contract ever with MGM and basically caused few ripples and would do the films that he was asked to do without any drama. This film proves that he could handle difficult roles. .

Stewart Granger plays a retired buffalo hunter who is revered in the West as one of the best. Robert Taylor seems to just want to slaughter buffalo, and lures Stewart Granger into business with him. They hire two helpers played by Lloyd Nolan and Russ Tamblyn.

Stewart Granger becomes haunted by the buffalo he has killed, knowing if they become extinct, the Native American way of life will greatly suffer. Robert Taylor soon reveals a sadistic side.

BELOW – Some Front of House Stills from the film – I can remember walking up to school in our town, past one of the cinemas on the way, and I always looked at the film stills outside in a glass case. For some reason I remember the stills from this film although I can’t recall these particular ones.

Earlier Stewart Granger had appeared in some very big MGM films among them Scaramouche – however he does not seem to have been popular with his fellow actors if this is anything to go by :-

His co-star Eleanor Parker  said that Stewart Granger was the only actor she did not get along with during her entire career. “Everyone disliked this man…Stewart Granger was a dreadful person, rude…just awful. Just being in his presence was bad. I thought at one point the crew was going to kill him.” However, the resulting film was a notable critical and commercial success.

The film ‘The Last Hunt’ was directed by Richard Thorpe who went on to marry Jean Simmons in 1960

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Teachers Pet 1958 Doris Day


In the academic world of journalism, problems can arise, and when James Gannon ( Clark Gable ), the newspaper editor for the Evening Chronicle collides with journalism professor, Erica Stone ( Doris Day ), clashes do happen.



Doris Day is perfectly cast as the headstrong Erica Stone, a worldly woman who exudes knowledge, and is not afraid to prove her expertise even when she is being challenged by the brash James Gannon ( Clark Gable) posing as Jim Gallagher.

In the middle of all this is Gig Young who received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Dr. Hugo Pine, a psychologist whose knowledge and skills supposedly encompass every chapter of an encyclopedia. For most part of the film, Dr. Pine is the object of Gannon’s jealously.

Quite a while after this in 1966 , Gig Young came to England to film’The Shuttered Room’ – a film I really like which was released in 1967


Much off the filming of ‘The Shuttered Room’ was done at Hardingham Mill in Norfolk – which was destroyed by fire at the end of the film

Hardingham Mill

Gig Young chats to a News Reporter from Anglia Television during the filming

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The Solitary Child 1958

The Solitary Child is a 1958 British murder mystery which begins some time after the murder has taken place.

Captain James Random (Philip Friend) brings his new wife Harriet (Barbara Shelley) back to Random Farm. Captain Random had been accused of murdering his first wife but had been acquitted.

At first Harriet isn’t worried as she was convinced that Random’s first wife’s death was an accident. Soon however she begins to have her doubts.

However doubts have crept into her mind because yhere does seem to be secrets at Random Farm.

Everyone seems to know something about Eva Random’s death and, disturbingly, these include things that had not come to light at all at the trial.

James Random had been, and still is, surrounded by women. ‘

His sister Ann (Sarah Lawson) owns a half share of the farm and has been ages deciding whether or not to marry local vet Cyril (Jack Watling).

There seems no reason for her not to marry him. He’s a thoroughly amiable fellow and she obviously loves him and yet the wedding never seems to happen.

Jean (Rona Anderson) is a Devlin and the Devlins used to own Random Farm. Jean’s mother is not merely an dreadful snob but a malicious gossip.

Then we have Random’s daughter Maggie (Julia Lockwood), a rather troubled and slightly scary teenager.

Eva Random had been carrying on a notorious affair with Jean’s young and very disreputable brother. James Random who would seem to have a motive for murder.

Now it seems that someone wants Harriet out of the way. Quite possibly they want her dead. There are several mysterious accidents and soon rumours are sweeping the village.

Harriet is determined to untangle the mystery of Eva Random’s death since her own life might depend on it.

By now Harriet is getting quite scared and James Random is becoming even more withdrawn and morose than usual.

This is a really good plot with plenty of twists and turns.. The tension builds. Can Harriet stay alive long enough to solve the puzzle?

Director Gerald Thomas was better known for the Carry On comedies but he proves himself to be well able to handle such a drama

All the characters have things to hide but they could have quite legitimate reasons for wanting to keep their secrets. Julia Lockwood does a fine job as Maggie. Maggie is a troubled and disturbing child but she’s in a situation in which a girl might well be troubled.

Barbara Shelley is at her most ravishing and she delivers a very effective performance.

The Solitary Child is a very well-crafted murder mystery with a fine cast.

Barbara Shelley, who died Jan. 4, 2021, at 88 years of age, was one of Hammer Film’s celebrated “Scream Queens.”

She became part of the Hammer’s acting repertoire, adding glamour to the grisly proceedings.

A rising film star throughout the late 1950s and early 60s, in such films as Village of the Damned (1960), Barbara Shelley’s professional world changed forever with the 1964 Hammer film, The Gorgon. Thereafter, throughout the 1960s, she was to be identified with Hammer Horror.

The friendships she made with fellow stars, such as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, were genuine and enduring.

She was born Barbara Kowin in 1932 in London. Eventually, the family settled in Wealdstone, northwest London. It was to this house throughout most of her adult life.

She would later tell how it was by accident that she ended up appearing in a school play. However, from the moment she stepped on stage she said she knew her life’s calling was no longer in doubt.

Early in the sixties she began a relationship with Jeff Chandler, who she had met on the set of the 1961 film A Story of David, and she later confessed that he had been the love of her life.

Here she is with Jeff Chandler

Their love affair was short-lived, however, on account of Chandler’s death from a bungled operation deemed medical malpractice that same year. She never married. 

Following the death of her parents, Barbara Shelley lived alone in her childhood home for the last decades of her life. She was a gifted interior decorator. She sewed and painted props for the BBC, and was skilled at making elaborate wedding dresses.

Brought up in a devout Roman Catholic home, during the last years of her life Barbara Shelley returned to her childhood faith. She attended daily Holy Mass at the nearby St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Wealdstone, as well as going on pilgrimage to Lourdes. In her latter days, she could be seen in church often alone praying the Rosary. This deepening of her faith seemed to put all else in perspective — so much so that, by the end, she had to be coaxed to speak of her former glamorous career.

Nevertheless, in the last decade, Barbara Shelley found herself rediscovered on the retro–film-festival circuit, especially among devotees of the horror genre.

ABOVE Barbara Shelley at the London Film Convention

She was surprised and flattered by this, while taking it all in her good-natured stride. Her last appearance on television was in 2010 when she was interviewed for a BBC documentary series on horror films.

In 2009, Barbara Shelley suffered a stroke. From then on, she lived with impaired and decreasing mobility. As a consequence, with deteriorating health. Independent all her life, and determined to retain her family home, she was frustrated at having to rely increasingly on the assistance of others. Nevertheless, her mind and her wit remained as sharp as ever. 

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