Archive for February, 2024

World without End 1956

This was a Technicolor Cinemascope film with reasonable budget. It is one I like – or at least I did as a very young lad all those years ago.

World Without End 1956

World Without End 1956

The giant mechanical spiders that the main characters encounter in this cave look terribly lifeless and rubbery.

A spaceship’s crew is returning from a trip to Mars when something goes wrong and they find themselves transported to a future time where mankind has been forced to live underground to survive.

World Without End is inspired by H.G. Well’s classic novel The Time Machine  – Rod Taylor who plays Herbert in this film later went on to star in the 1960 film adaptation of The Time Machine).

World Without End perhaps lacks the originality that the H.G. Wells novel had, but as far as this type of film goes, it is pretty effective

When we look back on the science-fiction films of the 1950s most of us first think of the B-movies with low budgets and cheap effects and often Black and White.  World Without End is in Technicolor and Cinemascope – something that the the producers were keen to promote in posters of the day.

The reason World Without End was shot in Technicolor and CinemaScope despite having a low-budget and coming out in a time when most b-movies were in black-and-white is because Allied Artists, who produced the film, wanted to boost their image. . To do this they gave a little extra money to the film, allowing it to be shot in colour and wide-screen and to have a longer running time..

Some of the special effects look very good. The spaceship scenes are visually engaging. The design and costume work of the one-eyed mutated beasts is also impressive- they are grotesque. Some of the other effects aren’t quite as good.

The giant spider that jumps out on the astronauts in the cave is un-impressive – but I do remember all of us young lads that went to see the film, jumping out of our seats at the suddenness of the attack

Edward Bernds directed this feature. He directed dezens of b-movies throughout the 40s all the way to the 60s. Perhaps his most remembered work is Return of the Fly starring Vincent Price, which was a sequel to classic monster movie The Fly.

Hugh Marlowe stars in here, who also starred in 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still and later in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.

 The real star here is Rod Taylor in his first major role and he rises to the occasion. 

He later went on to star in films like The Time Machine and  The Birds

Another possibly recognisable face is that of the beautiful Nancy Gates.

World Without End is an enjoyable film. For a low-budget film it’s extremely watchable. It’s not the best of the best 50s sci-fi films. Not very impressive but enjoyable.

The film went on release along with Lon Chaney in ‘The Indestructible Man’ both from Allied Artists

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Colour in Films

As far back as 1923 feature films have used Colour as this still from ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ of that year shows – and the colour looks very effective although maybe a little muted,

Colour films had been around since 1908 and maybe before with various inventors coming up with their version and name.

By the late 1930’s – not that long after talkies had arrived, we began to see quite a few colour films emerge. For instance Walt Disney was insistent that Technicolor was used for his 1938 classic ‘Snow White’ even though it appeared that by doing this, he would put the company in financial peril. In fact it proved a master stroke with the film doing so well at the Box Office on it’s original release and being a money spinner again and again over the last 80 or more years.

‘Gone with the Wind’ too in 1939 beautifully shot in Technicolor proved a winner.

‘The Adventure of Robin Hood’ in 1938 with Errol Flynn was another Technicolor hit – and again still today a very popular and well watched film – very good one at that – and another one was ‘The Wizard of Oz’ again still popular.

Technicolor had emerged as ‘the one’ to use – even though it was a very expensive process and needed a lot of lighting, making studio work very hot indeed. Also special Cameras had to be used which were very heavy and bulky and difficult to move around.

After the War, in Britain Technicolor was used for Michael Powell’s remarkable films including ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’ and ‘Black Narcissus’ also the very successful ‘The Red Shoes’

I personally always think of the Walt Disney films made in England – ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ which are to me among the very best examples of Technicolor – some of the shots are breath-taking. These were released in 1950 and 1952

From Hollywood, we had ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ and ‘Distant Drums’ both resplendent in Technicolor at it’s very best

Trailer Distant Drums 1951

The above shot is a favourite of mine. It really sums up the film – Florida Everglades,  Gary Cooper and Mari Aldon.


The Florida setting certainly gave this film a different feel to just about every other western.  The alligators here ARE more frightening than the usual rattlesnake and there was one quite bloody sequence  shown when one of the men was killed by an alligator.

They all pause for breath – above – in the Everglades.

It is an action-packed film and I love the Technicolor here which gives the Everglades a realistic beauty.  The scenes where they are on the canoe on the water paddling through the trees is a beautiful shot.

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More Film News Snippets

Recently I acquired a very large and heavy book’Chronicle of the 20th Century’ and in it for each year there are small articles and pictures of all the major events including some film related ones.

It is fascinating and a book that you can go back to time after time with each visit producing another gem of information. It has an Australian angle – I purchased it last month on a visit to see my daughter and family and now am reading it on a near daily basis

This below is one with – very much a film angle :

Johnny Weissmuller sets swiming record

On July 9th 1922 one of sport’s classic time barrires was decisively broken today as Johhny Weissmuller an18 year old Austrian born American immigrant from Chicago became the first man to swim 100 meters in less than a minute.

For more than a decade Hawaiian Americans Duke Kahanamoka and Pua Kela Kealoha with their traditional island adaptation of the front crawl had dominated the speed events bringing the record down from 63 to 60.4 seconds. Now with a remarkable performance of 58.6 seconds Johnny had smashed the one minute barrier heralding a new era in sprint swimming and bringing the record back to America

Now another one – this time 35 years on in 1957

Diane Cilento a Big Hit in London’s West End

March 1 1957

A 24 year old blonde Australian actress, Diane Cilento is a big hit in London. She plays Tweeny in the film ‘The Admirable Chrichton’ and also has the lead role in ‘Zuleika Dobson’ whose beauty blinded and whose tragic death caused despair

Picture taken on February 28, 1957 of Diane Cilento and David Morton at rehearsal for the musical Zuleika Dobson.

I have since found out that although Diane Cilento did indeed earn rave reviews, she didn’t remain in the production for very long as she was taken ill during the run. That must have been very disappointing for her.

Diane Cilento from Queensland Australia, was indeed a pretty big star both in films and on the stage at this time – a much bigger name than Sean Connery who she married not long after this dat. , Sean Connery took a wife who was much more famous – but that was soon to change as we all know,

Diane has said that they were very happy until the Bond mania caught on and then they could hardly leave the house without being mobbed – it effectively wrecked their private life

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Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules 1964

I have to admit that I didn’t know anything about this film but I saw the DVD a few days ago in a shop in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia – I didn’t buy it but might acquire it when I get back.

Looking at the cover, I thought that it was two films – and The Sons of Hercules was the second one but not so – that is the full title.

It was an Italian Production released in 1964 and did well at the Box Office in that country but I don’t recollect it having a UK release

Ganor, the leader of the Desert People, murders Sandor, the Sultan of Baghdad, and imprisons his eventual heirs, Daykor and Soraya, thus becoming the sole power in the country.

Anthar, a young rebel, manages to get Soraya free. Eventually, she is captured by Akrim, a slave merchant, who sells her to Kamal, a wealthy Sheik. Soraya refuses to be the Sheik’s girl, and plunges from a tower into the river – where she would have drowned if Anthar would not appear to save her once more.

Together they go to Baghdad, where Anthar gets Daykor out of prison.

But Ganor captures Anthar, and sets him to fight a rhinoceros to get rid of the freedom fighter. Daykor and Soraya return to Baghdad at the head of the revolted people, and after a siege, they take the city and joining with Anthar, will finally prevail over the tyrant.

The alternative title probably in the USA and maybe in Britain was ‘Anthar The Invincible’

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Witchita – with Joel Mcrea

Another very good Western in Technicolor and Cinemascope

Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Starring Joel McCrea, Vera Miles, Lloyd Bridges, Wallace Ford, Edgar Buchanan, Peter Graves, Jack Elam

We knew we were in for a treat when we got the first shot of Joel McCrea on the distant horizon, riding slowly toward a group of cowboys on a cattle drive.

Joel McCrea plays Wyatt Earp, who arrives in Wichita planning to use his savings to start up a business. Trouble seems to go looking for Wyatt, however, and he feels honour bound to put a stop to it, especially when characters like Lloyd Bridges, Jack Elam, and Robert J. Wilke shoot up the town. 

Wyatt becomes marshal of Wichita, aided by young reporter Bat Masterson (Keith Larsen), who becomes his deputy. Wyatt also courts pretty Laurie McCoy (Vera Miles), whose father (Walter Coy) initially supports Wyatt becoming marshal, but who later fears Wyatt’s assertive tactics will harm the town businesses.

Wyatt copes with this sort of conflict on one hand and keeping law and order on the other.

It all ends in a climactic shootout on the streets of Wichita.

WICHITA is a fairly typical Western story — shot in familiar territory, in Santa Clarita and on Southern California ranches, with a cast of Western regulars.

Director Tourneur manages pull together all these elements.

The film has a well-paced and has Joel McCrea’s terrific performance as the dedicated Western lawman.

The film has a tight running time of 81 minutes and maintains the viewer’s attention throughout

The film is very attractively shot by CinemaScope and Technicolor by Harold Lipstein. It makes use of the widescreen, including that opening sequence which sets the scene for the film

The film score is by Hans J. Salter, with Tex Ritter singing over the opening and closing credits – he was used to this as we think of /High Noon’

For the BluRay release a while ago Wichita had a 4K scan of the original camera negative.

But no matter how you’re looking at it, Wichita is terrific. Tourneur was one of Joel McCrea’s preferred directors and they always seemed to strike gold when they worked together.

This one, with McCrea as Wyatt Earp cleaning up Wichita, Kansas, is one of their best.

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