Archive for April, 2024

Autograph Hunters

Film Stars of the day – or even today – must always be available to sign autographs for their fans and most do so, after all it is the fans that put them where they are and most appreciated that

I have come across these pictures from the very early fifties that I found interesting

ABOVE – Enid Blyton signs for John Howard Davies

ABOVE – Maxwell Reed signs – not a good look with that cigarette drooping from his mouth

ABOVE – Probably my favourite of these photographs shown the lovely Natasha Parry using this very lucky man’s back in order to sign. She is smiling too – he must be pleased !!

ABOVE – J Arthur Rank no less, signs for children at the Children’s Club Choir Festival. He came from Hull and was a staunch Methodist – he has my admiration for the way he built and sustained the film industry in this country over the years.

Talking, as we are, of Autographs, I came across this fascinating piece from an Australian newspaper :-

Teenager’s autograph book captures big names of 1950s Australian radio, film

First day audiences attending the screening of King of the Coral Sea crowding the Victory Theatre, Sydney 10 September, 1954.
Lesley Cansdell’s first autographs were from the stars of 1954’s King Of The Coral Sea.(Supplied: National Film and Sound Archive)

Long before selfies with celebrities or following someone famous on Twitter, fans hounded stars for their autographs — often scribbled in a little leather book.

As a Sydney teenager in the 1950s, Lesley Cansdell collected dozens of signatures of her favourite Australian radio and film personalities.

Chips Rafferty's signature in Lesley Cansdell's autograph book.
Chips Rafferty (1909-61) achieved international fame as an actor.(Supplied: National Film and Sound Archive)

Her autograph book, recently acquired by the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), includes more than 90 signatures and handwritten comments from the big names of the day.

They include Chips Rafferty, Ruth Cracknell, John Meillon and Muriel Steinbeck.

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Village Film Shows – early 50’s

I often think back to the days when, certainly in our village, an entrepeneur of the time would hire the local village hall and put on a full programme of films much as any cinema would offer.

There would be the normal supporting picture, then maybe a Pathe News and trailer for the Coming Shortly ones – I loved these trailers – then on to the ‘big picture’

They were wonderful evenings – maybe once a week and usually in winter.

The films shown had been major releases but after only a few years they came available for hire for shiows such as these. I do remember seeing ‘Distant Drums’ and ‘Angels One Five’ in maybe 1954 or 1955 so they were not that old.

Anyway I have come across trade advertisements of the time for film hirers which are fascinating as below :-

Many of these above are well known and well remembered but I am very much intrigued by the company ‘Warner Bros. Sub.Standard Division – I can’t imagine any company advertising anything with the term ‘sub standard’ let alone the film world.

ABOVE – Ron Harris of Maidenhead had some really interesting ones- for instance ‘Kiss of Death’ with Victor Mature is a good film

These advertisements came from a very interesting little magazine from March 1950

BELOW – I am repeating an article from this same magazine that I did a couple of years or so ago which deals with a particular Village Film Show from Little Shelford in Cambridgeshire – this is NOT my village I hasten to add but a very similar operation to what I would remember :-

We are now going back to the very early fifties – At that time a visit to the Cinema was a big event and when the Cinema came to your village What a thrill that would be. I can confirm that because in the Village where I live in the mid 50;s we had a ‘once a week’ professional film show with a full programme including Newsreel, Advertisements, Supporting Picture and the ‘big’ film.

However I have come across this article that centres on two brothers who, after the War, purchased equipment and set up a travelling cinema – this is the one at Little Shelford Nr Cambridge.

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ABOVE – Russell Oddy is setting up the ‘film stills’ board outside of the entrance. This evening the ‘big’ picture will be ‘Mrs Miniver’ plus supporting programme

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Russell hen went inside to set up the projection room and make sure that all was ok there/

The projection room was made in such a way as to eliminate the projector noise from the main hall

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Russell Oddy was born in 1916 and at the age of 11 he had his own hand-cranked projector and held little shows in his father’s woodshed

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ABOVE Russel’s brother Douglas was busy at the other end of the hall setting up the screen and the curtains that he made to open and shut professionally when the film programme was about to start

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Outside a large crowd gathered – the Hall is next to the local Pub ‘The Chequers’ and the Pub Landlord Mr Beebe is very supportive of the venture – in fact his wife had attended and enjoyed the first house showing

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ABOVE – Tickets Please !!

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The audience were all given a brochure / programme on the film

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ABOVE: Ice Cream is served just before the main feature

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ABOVE – The queue for the ‘second house’ in the cold and rain – the rain later turned to snow

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ABOVE – The second house audience is seated and ready. Just a view also at the back of the Hall of the small box like projection room which was soundproofed. Also a Poster for ‘Mrs Miniver’ on the side wall of the Hall

Much of the material above was taken from a magazine article dated March 1950 – so the pictures would have been taken just before then – maybe January or February 1950 – or even March 1950

A footnote about Russell an d Douglas Oddy

Russell had been in the forces during the War in the RAF on flying duties uin the Middle East. Later after being grounded, he worked in the Entertainments branch and after a while he was put in charge of setting up and running an open air cinema in the desert. This gave Russell the insight and interest in 16 mm films and after the War, with a budget of savings of £ 50 he and his brother Douglas who had been a Prisoner of War and had also some savings teamed up to set up the type of operation there now was at Little Shelford, Nr Cambridge.

Their first venture was at Bourn, Cambridgeshire where the programme was ‘Rainbow on the River’ and ‘Beau Chumps

After that the films steadily were more ‘up to date’ and they operated at least at a couple of locations including Little Shelford

I find this a fascinating and inspiring story

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Anthony Quayle – Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure and Others

Actor Anthony Quayle in his younger days – Pictured Below

He Joined the Royal Artillery as a gunner on the 8th Sept 1939 and was commissioned as a Lt in January 1940. Joining a coastal artillery unit in Gibraltar Quayle was to return to the UK in 1941 and did a stint as a intelligence officer for the HG “auxiliary units” in Northumberland a job which stood him in good stead for his later work with SOE in Albania .

Contracting Malaria and jaundice whilst in Albania he was repatriated home to the UK in April 1944 and continued intelligence work until the end of the war .

Anthony Quayle was reluctant to speak about much of his wartime experience but was ironically often seen in war films later – The Guns of Navarone , Lawrence of Arabia , Ice Cold in Alex and The Eagle has Landed.

However it is in this film that I remember him well – playing the most menacing of roles as Slade, opposite Gordon Scott as Tarzan in Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure

He comes to a sticky end as does his crooked colleague played by Sean Connery

Another film with Anthony Quayle was nowhere s good as the Tarzan one – ‘East of Sudan’ which was set in Africa – the other stars were Sylvia Sims, Derek Faulds and a very young Jenny Agutter

It was colourful with a lot of action but some of the rear projection shots around the elephant stampede were far from convincing.

ABOVE – All looking so young and all going on to become very well known in acting circles – Derek Faulds, Sylvia Sims and Jenny Agutter.

Veteran colonial Private Baker teams up with freshly arrived gentleman Murchison to evacuate the Emir’s daughter and her English governess from southern Barash.

It involves a perilous journey on the Nile. They must face crocodiles, Arab slavers, and a backward tribe, where King Gondoko’s missionary-raised brother Kimrasi saves and joins them.

Once in Khartoum, they find the revolt has reached there and the men join the fight.

Anthony Quayle had first trod the boards as an actor, when he joined The Old Vic in 1932. From there he launched a career that saw him appear on stage next to John Gielgud in the highly acclaimed 1937 production of Richard II and his direction of play, Crime and Punishment at the Globe Theatre in 1959 drew a great deal of praise.

He saw himself as primarily a stage actor and was in these films to boost his earning which they certainly did.

He was married to the very beautiful Dorothy Hyson – they had three children together – two daughters and a son – and remained happily married until his death in 1989

ABOVE Dorothy Hyson

Dorothy Hyson with the great George Formby in ‘Spare a Copper’ ABOVE

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The Little Red Monkey 1955

I do remember this, as a child, being a 6 part serial on the BBC. I had thought that this had been written by Francis Durbridge who at the time seemed to have his stories mystery drama on BBCTV all of the time it seemed – must admit that they were always good. However this was one that he hadn’t written

Anyway quite quickly after this went out, it was made as a film and from what I can find, the film did well at the Box Office

Richard Conte is the visiting American actor for this British-made thriller with Russell Napier (Harrington ) charged with investigating the deaths of British nuclear scientists.

A monkey creature seems to have been present at each of the killings.

The song and the theme tune from the BBC serial and from the film is quite well known – in fact at the time time very well known

Richard Conte came over to England to make this film and here he is in a scene with Rona Anderson ABOVE.

Also cast was Colin Tapley who was mentioned in the last Article . – ‘The Steel Key’.

I am always drawn to this actor because of where he was born, and he had such a film career both in Hollywood where he was in the first major Technicolor film ‘Becky Sharp’ and other quite big films before War came and he joined the forces. Upon his return he again went to Hollywood and was in the blockbuster ‘Samson and Delilah’ before coming back to England and a long run of films such as this one.

I mention the place he was born Dunedin in New Zealand – somewhere I have been to twice and each time fell in love with the place.

After the War he had returned with his wife briefly before heading back to England. He and his wife had a son who died aged 3 and who is buried in Wanaka New Zealand close to Dunedin and this is where Colin was laid to rest in December 1995 – next to his boy

ABOVE Colin Tapley in ‘Becky Sharp’ 1935 in Hollywood

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The Steel Key – Joan Rice

Probably my favourite actress in this – Joan Rice

I watched The Steel Key today and enjoyed it – with Terence Morgan at his most dashing as the confidence trickster Johnny O’Flynn who meets and falls in love with the lovely Joan Rice. Throughout the film, he is able to keep ahead of the police headed up by Insp Forsythe (Raymond Lovell) in his bid to outwit a ruthless gang behind a plot to steal a rare chemical formula.

Colin Tapley plays the villainous boss in a very suave and polite style – something Colin was always able to do

Follow the twist and double twist double twist in the storyline – and you may well feel dizzy by the end

Joan Rice is very good in this one = virtually at the end of her film career. I can never understand why that should be because she was a capable and very attractive actress

ABOVE – Joan Rice talking to Colin Tapley – by this time she had begun to suspect that all was not what it seemed and she was very suspicious.

ABOVE – The sanatorium. Old Quarry Hall on Springbottom Lane in Bletchingley, Surrey that was also seen in the film ‘Blackout’ SEE MORE DETAILS below

ABOVE – Terence Morgan keeps watch – a good job he did

Joan Rice ABOVE tells of her concerns as Terence Morgan listens intently – BELOW

An exciting scene BELOW

ABOVE and BELOW – A thrilling sequence at Newhaven when Terence Morgan – or most likely his stunt man, leaps from the side onto the passing boat. It is all done in one take so there were no tricks here

An impressive leap

ABOVE – Michael Balfour turns the boat round for home.

  • Below taken from the Reelstreets site

Old Quarry Hall

Old Quarry Hall, Springbottom Lane, Bletchingley, Surrey

Old Quarry Hall: Saturday 3rd March – Chaldon History Group
Old Quarry Hall, Springbottom Lane, Bletchingley, Surrey

Old Quarry Hall a 15-bedroom country house once stood on the corner of Springbottom Lane and White Hill Lane and appeared in the 1950 film Blackout as “The Grange”, as well as the 1953 film The Steel Key as  “Crabtrees Sanatorium”.

The property dated from the 1880’s but was acquired by Patrick’s Great Grandfather in 1908. Born in Liverpool in 1868, he was of German Jewish descent and was educated in Germany from the age of 12. He went on to become Chairman of the London based metals trading firm Brandeis Goldschmidt & Co Ltd. He and the Company led the development of the London Metal Exchange to becoming the most important of the world’s metals markets, indeed, following the first World War he helped the Government in the disposal of scrap metal.

Paul Kohn-Speyer, a serious collector of antiques and artefacts from around the world, expanded the Old Quarry Hall Estate during his ownership. Indeed, his own visiting card shows that he owned a considerable amount of land on either side of Springbottom Lane, almost 200 acres, as well acquiring another substantial property in Chaldon to the north.

His death in October 1942 necessitated the break-up of his Estate. His widow Anna, moved to another property that they had owned, with much of the furniture, a good example of which can be seen in the following photograph, was auctioned a year later.

Old Quarry Hall was used as offices by the Guarantee Trust Company of New York towards the end of WWll but in 1948 it was leased, firstly to Tempean Films and later to Stirling Film Distributors. Thereafter, without regular maintenance the property quickly fell into disrepair, indeed even the lead had been taken from the roof. Paul Kohn-Speyer’s Trustees knew that the sensible way forward was to dispose of the Estate and needless to say, three “prestige” properties stand there now.

Maybe these pictures will help us to identify the inclusion of the Hall in other Tempean Films.

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The Delavine Affair 1954

This was on Talking Pictures TV last week – ‘The Delavine Affair’ from 1954

In the film, Peter Reynolds stars as a reporter who finds himself the number one suspect in a murder case, however he holds one important clue that links the murder to a recent jewel theft. He then turns detective in order to clear his name. Aiding him are his wife and photographer friend.

Peter Reynolds is very nearly in every scene and in this film, and unusually takes the role as the hero

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Honor Blackman has the leading female part as Peter Reynold’s wife. and it is a pleasure to see Katie Johnson here in a small role, just before she was to play her career-defining role in The Ladykillers.

The film is mostly studio-bound,

Rex Banner ( Peter Reynolds) is running a freelance reporting agency with his wife Maxine (Honor Blackman) One evening he gets a phone call from an old contact, Gospel Joe, telling him to visit, because he has some very useful information.

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Maxine (Honor Blackman)

On reaching the old man’s flat, Rex finds the him dead on the floor, apparently having been battered with an iron bar. In his hand Joe clutches a news clipping about a major theft, a few months before, of the Delavine jewels.

Naturally Rex concludes that Joe was murdered for what he knew about the burglary.

Rex (Peter Reynolds) arrives for his rendezvous with Gospel Joe.

Just then Inspector Johnson (Neil) of the Yard arrives, having received a telephone tip-off that Rex would be there. It’s obvious someone is trying to frame Rex for the murder

Inspector Johnson (Peter Neil, left) questions Rex (Peter Reynolds)

A complete coincidence leads the journalist to diamond dealer Julius Meyerling (Swanwick), whom he instantly suspects of having been approached by the Delavine thieves. Meyerling denies the suggestion forcefully, but his sultry wife Lola (Vernon) seems to have more to tell—enough that Rex agrees to meet her later.

The trail eventually leads Rex to a remote farm in Ashdown Forest, about thirty miles from London, where deaf Fred Bissett (Daly) and his unnamed wife ( Katie Johnson) live as tenants. It is here that the diamonds are hidden, and here that the murderer is unmasked . . .

The Delavine Affair is quite an enjoyable little film but keep in mind what this was, a B feature, just over an hour long, with a small budget!

Honor Blackman a few years later earned what would become worldwide fame as Cathy Gale in the TV series The Avengers (1962–4) and then as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964). Gordon Jackson is probably best remembered for his TV work as the butler Hudson in Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–5) and as secret service boss George Cowley in The Professionals (1977–83).

Michael Balfour was one of those stalwarts of UK stage and screen whose face became immediately recognisable. Michael had the most astonishing career – I remember that during the early fifties he seemed to be in nearly every drama on Television – one I recall was when he played ‘Mogs’ in ‘Gravelhangar’ a serial that over 6 weeks – very exciting for us youngsters at the time.

Last but certainly not least, not so long after The Delavine Affair Katie Johnson went on to achieve immortality as the sweet old widow Mrs. Wilberforce in The LADYKILLERS (1955).

Honor Blackman, Peter Reynolds and Michael Balfour

Maxine (Honor Blackman), Rex (Peter Reynolds) and loyal photographer Sammy (Michael Balfour).

Peter Reynolds’s story is a sad one – he died at the age of just 53 in a tragic domestic fire thought to have been caused by his falling asleep while smoking a cigarette at his home in Sydney Australia in 1975

BELOW – These are TWO scenes from ‘The Last Page’ in which Peter played the ‘baddie’ – he was very good and sinister too

Here he is with Diana Dors

The Last Page

The Last Page

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The Crimson Pirate – Burt Lancaster

This was in many ways similar in style to ‘The Flame and the Arrow’ although nowhere near as popular and nothing like as good.

In the opening sequence Captain Vallo (Burt Lancaster) swings by rope across the screen, astounding the audience . “Gather round lads and lasses! You’ve been shanghaied for the last ride of the Crimson Pirate!” Vallo tells us to believe only what we see, before performing the same stunt in reverse! “No. Only half what you see”, he adds with a wink.

In the early 1950s, as he was pushing himself as an actor and star, Burt Lancaster did a series of films where the settings were quite colourful. Soon after this he was heading to Fiji to film ‘ HIS MAJESTY O’KEEFE’ which also starred Britain’s own Joan Rice

The Crimson Pirate 1952

His role in The Crimson Pirate was colourful, as a cheerful Captain Vallo who even wears outrageously crimson coloured pants. This is a salute to his silent film hero Douglas Fairbanks Sr., who had played THE BLACK PIRATE. Like Fairbanks (who would do his famous “cutting the sail of the captured boat with his cutlass, and descending to the deck that way”

Burt Lancaster turned this film into a showcase for his acrobatic skills with his old partner Nick Cravat (as the mute Ojo), trying to recapture Consuelo (Eva Bartok) and trying to even the score with Baron Gruda (Leslie Bradley) the Spanish colonial governor, and try to prevent a mutiny by his own crew, led by Humbell Bellows (Torin Thatcher )

However the most memorable part of this adventure comedy was the involvement of James Hayter and Noel Purcell as two local patriots who are trying to free the colony of the Spanish government.

James Hayter plays Professor Prudence. He is a scientist and an inventor.

He gets involved with Burt Lancaster and designs a set of weapons for them to use against the impregnable Spanish fortress on the island.

An early art directing credit for future James Bond production designer Ken Adam, along with British horror director Vernon Sewell on the second-unit.

Burt Lancaster was reunited with director Robert Siodmak who gave him his first film role in The Killers (1946). Burt had a very bad and quick temper and had threatened a number of Film Directors that he worked with – notably later in his career, Michael Winner who he threatened to kill three times. What a volatile character Burt Lancaster was – people wouldn’t stand for that nowadays and rightly so, Unpleasant man !!

One of his nastiest altercations came in February 1984, in Mexico, on the set of the film Little Treasure. Burt Lancaster, then 70 and recovering from heart bypass surgery, brawled with his 35-year-old female co-star Margot Kidder. The actress, who rose to fame as Lois Lane in the Superman movies, was playing Lancaster’s estranged daughter.

“I wanted to do something in a scene he didn’t want me to do, and I said ‘No, you don’t understand,’ and he started whacking me… I virtually whacked him back ,” the late Kidder said in 2009. She admitted she had hurled a “horrible” insult at Lancaster, shouting “You washed-up old f–!” at him, during a brawl that left both with bloody cuts.

Burt Lancaster The Crimson Pirate

In this film Burt Lancaster shows off his gleaming grin and acrobatic prowess. He is clearly having a great fun.

Eva Bartok is very good. She brings glamour and grit to the heroine role.

The Crimson Pirate

The film also features a notable role for Christopher Lee as the island governor’s right-hand man.

The Crimson Pirate 1952

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Eight O Clock Walk 1954

Highly watchable courtroom drama set in London .

Taxi driver, Tom Manning (Richard Attenborough), is led to an abandoned bomb-site by an eight-year-old girl as an April fool prank. The girl is later found murdered and Manning is picked up by Scotland Yard for questioning and is arrested and charged with murder.

The trial is scheduled for London’s Old Bailey. Manning’s wife, Jill (Cathy O’Donnell) , convinced he is innocent, fights for and wins the sympathy of Defence Solicitor, Peter Tanner (Derek Farr), and he is opposed at the trial by his father, prosecuting attorney Geoffrey Tanner (Ian Hunter).

The trial is presided over by Justice Harrington, whose wife is in hospital undergoing an operation. It soon becomes evident, following the testimony of prosecution witness Horace Clifford, that the evidence points to Manning’s guilt.

During a recess, Peter Tanner sees Clifford outside the courthouse, giving candy to a young girl.

Derek Farr identifies the candy as being the same brand as that found on the murdered girl. The judge’s wife has died, but the trial resumes with Tanner recalling Clifford for cross-examination.

This is a classic Black and White movie, that has been colorized.

It was filmed while Richard Attenborough was starring in the first run of Agatha Christie’s London West End play The Mousetrap, in which he appeared for two years.

The screenplay by Katherine Strueby and Guy Morgan is based on an original story by Gordon Harboard and Jack Roffey, in turn based on a true story.

It is shot at Shepperton Studios and on location in London.

It did well. On a budget of £49,216, the UK box office was £94,602, but it was the final film of the independent producer George King.

It was released by British Lion (UK) and Associated Artists (US).

ABOVE Richard Attenborough in the Colorised version

Solicitor Derek Farr meets Richard Attenborough.

ABOVE :Solicitor Derek Farr chats with Cathy O Donnell

ABOVE :Solicitor Derek Farr in action in the court room

 Eight O’Clock Walk (1954) Richard Attenborough in the dock

Eight O’Clock Walk (1954)

They are not in the leading roles but two actors I like are in this one – Bruce Seton and Kynatson Reeves

Bruce Seton I will always think os as Fabian of the Yard in that classic fifties TV Series. He was great and just seemed t fit the part.

Kynaston Reeves will always be ‘Quelch’ to me in the role he took in the Billy Bunter series. Also much later he was in ‘Fiend Without a Face’great British Horror Film. Bit unfair really because he was an actor who was around a long time and was in so many TV and film productions as well as many Theatre roles

billy bunter
Billy Bunter Set BBC

This Picture  ABOVE is one showing the BBC Studio for a ‘live’production of Billy Bunter. Just look how tight the whole thing is – to the right we have the boys in their room then behind that could be one of he school corridors – then on to the school room with a view through the window. To the left there looks to be the school garden or outside area even with small trees  and shrubs.  All seems to be done with two cameras.

The ABOVE  photograph was taken in Studio H of the Lime Grove Studios

BIlly Bunter

The ABOVE Picture shows a scene which you can see was done at the Studio On the set above towards the left of the picture in the ‘outside’ area.

It shows Headmaster Quelch played by Kynaston Reeves on the floor with Billy Bunter Gerald Campion looking on.

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