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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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The Robe – Victor Mature and ‘King of Kings’ 1961 Jeffrey Hunter

It is  Easter , and once again I want to post pictures from the film The Robe  on this site.  My father’s favourite actor in his favourite film – he was very moved by Victor Mature’s performance in this film particularly in the scene shown below.

A few days ago, I did an article on this site about ‘The Big Fisherman’ and made the comment that I didn’t think Howard Keel in the leading role, had much Box Office appeal.

You have to say the exact opposite to that with Victor Mature

At the time the film was made Richard Burton was not that well known in the USA and so it fell to Victor Mature for the financial pulling power and he was up to is. In fact this film really rocketed Richard Burton up to Star status – and also Jean Simmons


ABOVE:  Victor Mature in a superb piece of acting in the film. My Dad loved this scene and the acting performance of Victor Mature – and so did his co-star Richard Burton who was also full of praise describing Victor as a ‘wonderful man’ after having played opposite him in The Robe

Victor Mature with The Robe

ABOVE : Another still from the film :

In a previous Post I did say that producers loved Victor Mature because all the films he appeared in made money – and here is a classic example.

The Robe was the highest grossing film of 1952 – and the next one Demetrius and the Gladiators was 4th biggest of 1954. We must also remember that only a few years before in 1949 he had played Samson in Samson and Delilah which again was the biggest grossing film of that year.

Jay Robinson as Caligula in The Robe

Above: Jay Robinson as Caligula

Also cast was Jay Robinson  in his  film debut as Caligula, stealing much of the proceedings from the films’s actual stars Richard Burton and Jean Simmons.  Though his performance bordered dangerously on outrageous camp, his depraved Roman emperor nevertheless remains a most indelible image when reminded of the film.
After his Film  debut in The Robe, Jay went on to reprise the role as Caligula in Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)  again with Victor Mature and this time  Susan Hayward

This was a big film – and went equally big at the Box Office.   I remember my Father taking us to see it on the huge Cinemascope Screen – with Stereophonic Sound – and it did not disappoint in any way. Tremendous Film.

Richard Burton spoke very highly of Victor Mature calling him a ‘wonderful man’ – and I have to say that he lifted the acting honours with his convincing performance.

He was a very good film actor.  He was also well loved by film producers – the reason for that was that when he was in a film it usually made money and that tends to add a sparkle to the eyes of such people.

Victor Mature in The Robe 2

Victor Mature in The Robe

Victor Mature in The Robe

The Robe 4

Victor Mature in The Robe

The Robe

The Alfred Newman music from  the film – a record release.

The Robe 3
The Robe 2

Interesting item above which I spotted for sale  – at this time and later, it was possible to buy 8 mm home movies with scenes straight from the film.  I have one of Treasure Island and one of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men – both from Walt Disney – but I have not got this one.

These were  only  short films of maybe 5 to 10 minutes with selected scenes and with no sound on some of them. I don’t think the two Walt Disney films I have , have any sound.

ABOVE – a signed photograph of Victor Mature in the Robe

BELOW – a scene from the film

After this he played the same role of Demetrius in the follow-up ‘Demetrius and the Gladiators’ – both films doing extremely well at the Box Office.

My Dad loved Victor Mature in The Robe so much so that after this film, he went to see nearly every film that he was in. He was my Dad’s favourite actor. I do remember him going to see ‘Zarak’ – a film that was made in England and again one that did very well financially.

King of Kings 1961 – A later Biblical Epic and a very good one

King of Kings is a 1961 American epic film directed by Nicholas Ray and produced by Samuel Bronston for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The film tells the story of Jesus of Nazareth from his birth and ministry to his crucifixion and resurrection. It stars Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus, with Siobhán McKenna, Robert Ryan, Viveca Lindfors, Ron Randell, Hurd Hatfield, and Rip Torn.

Nicholas Ray was hired as director. Ray then hired screenwriter Philip Yordan to write a new script.

Filming commenced in April 1960, and right through to October 1960. Financing of the film was initially provided by Pierre S. du Pont III, but Bronston appealed for more funding from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which was interested in the film following its success with Ben-Hur (1959).

With MGM now involved, rewrites and additional scenes were added to the film. Reshoots took place in December 1960 and again in May 1961.

The film premiered at Loew’s State Theatre in New York City and was a box office success.

Miklós Rózsa was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score

Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus
Robert Ryan as John The Baptist

King of Kings 1961

The story of Jesus has been told and re-told and this version, underrated when first released, is one of the best.

KING OF KINGS is a wonderfully dignified and entertaining film.

Jeffrey Hunter delivers a good performance as Jesus

Wonderful scenery, and photography, with spectacular scenes. – What a film on the big Cinemascope Screen

Can we please hire a Cinema able to show these two films as they should be shown

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The League of Gentleman 1960 Jack Hawkins

Well here we have a cast on top British Film actors all recognisable and very well know in that era.

Jack Hawkins plays the main character, a retired Colonel called Hyde . Pensioned off after 25 years loyal service in the military, he puts his meticulous planning skills to good use by plotting a bank robbery.

In order order to carry out the robbery, Hyde needs a team of experts.

Colonel Hyde carefully identifies seven former army officers to help put his plan into action, who have all fallen on hard times for one reason or anoth

Nigel Patrick is Major Race, a small time gambler and crook.

Bryan Forbes BELOW who both wrote and acted in this film is married but something of a womaniser.

His wife in real life is also in the film – in fact she plays Terence Alexander’s wife = he is another one of the gang BELOW

The League of Gentlemen (1960)
Terence Alexander above – he was in many roles in the Cinema On TV and Radio – I recall him playing ‘The Toff’ on radio – he was excellent as always

Richard Attenborough above as Lexi
Roger Livesey BELOW plays Padre – I always liked him in films and remember ‘I Know Where I’m Going” – quite a few years before this one

Kieron Moore is Captain Stevens BELOW.

Above – Norman Bird

BELOW – A young lad doing what many of us did in the day – collecting Car Numbers – and this proved the ultimate undoing of this well planned robbery

It really is a good and absorbing film – we really wanted them to get away with it but they seemed quite a mottled crew – who knows what might have happened to them all.

As it happens seeing them all loaded into a Police van we have a good idea of what did happen to them

Very enjoyable

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The Big Fisherman 1959

Walt Disney arranged for Buena Vista Distribution (a company formed to release Disney films instead of RKO) to release the film as he wanted a long biblical epic to compete with the other major studios. In particular, he wanted to cash in on their successes, particularly that of BEN-HUR.

THE BIG FISHERMAN was nominated for several Oscars, a testament to the quality of the film and its technical professionals.

The Big Fisherman 1959

The Big Fisherman 1959

My own view is that Howard Keel somehow did not have Box Office appeal and although he is always pretty good – as he was here – he never got film fans rushing to the Cinema for one of his films.

This one lost money as did ‘Jupiters Darling’ with Esther Williams – in fact the only Esther Williams film that did not succeed – and then ‘Kismet’ with Ann Blyth that also did badly so after these two he was released from his contract by MGM

He had been to England in 1957 for ‘Floods of Fear’ which was quite good and later ‘The Day of the Triffids’ again made in England.

Susan Kohner had the female lead in ‘The Big Fisherman’- I remember her so well in one of my favourite Westerns ‘The Last Wagon’ – she was strkingly good looking I thought.

She didn’t have a long career in films – probably active for a decade – after which she married and raised her family having retired from the film world.

Probably her best known and best remembered film was the classic ‘Imitation of Life’ – according to a poll by the BBC, this film came 37th on the ‘Greatest American Movies ever made’ poll. As she looks back now, she must be very proud of that film and her role in it.

Susan Kohner

Most of us well remember seeing BenHur, which came just before The Big Fisherman, and  Spartacus, which came just after it, but there not many who have a clear recollection of seeing Howard Keel in his only Biblical role.

It was shot in 65mm Super Panavision, had a huge cast, spectacular sets – everything, in fact that you would expect to see in such a film at that time – and yet it made virtually no impact.

The Big Fisherman

The Big Fisherman begins with the half-Judean, half-Arabian Fara (Susan Kohner), and Arabian prince Voldi (John Saxon), who’s love is blighted by rival prince Deran (Ray Stricklyn) revealing that Fara’s father – whom she has never known – is the evil Herod Antipas (Herbert Lom).

The truth of this is confirmed by her mother, Arnon (Marion Seldes) on her death-bed, and in a rage, Fara swears vengeance on Herod for deserting her mother for the infamous Herodias (Martha Hyer). Consumed with anger, she disguises herself as a boy and leaves, vowing to kill Herod. Voldi is given permission to find her and bring her back, but in Judea he is detained by Roman soldiers under Proconsul Mencius. Fara, is befriended by John The Baptist (Jay Barney), who tells her, “ Seek Him.

You have need of Him”. Later, tired and bedraggled, she is discovered on the shores of the Sea of Galilee by Simon – the Big Fisherman, who takes her to the home of his mother-in-law, Hannah (Beulah Bondi), who soon discovers that Fara is really a girl and gives her some suitable clothes.

Fara and Simon are both greatly affected by the Sermon on the Mount, though Fara at first rejects Jesus’ message of “Love thine enemies”. Simon is overwhelmed when a blind baby he is holding in his arms is cured by the touch of Jesus’ hand, and is soon called to become one of the first disciples.

Though Voldi has managed to escape from captivity in Judea, he is once again arrested by the Romans, with orders to return him to Arabia, where his enemy Deran is now king. John The Baptist’s death has plunged Herod Antipas into a deep fear of retribution. He is confronted by Fara who reveals her true identity as she goes to kill him with a dagger, but her hand is stayed at the last moment as she recalls Jesus’ words, “Thou shalt not kill”.

Hastening to Arabia to help Voldi, they arrive just in time to prevent his flogging. Deran, crippled by paralysis, begs Simon to heal him, promising the release of Voldi and justice for all. Simon heals him, but Deran renages on his promise, which causes the paralysis to return with fatal results.

Voldi is acclaimed king, but destiny decrees that Voldi and Fara must first bring peace to their two countries before they can find happiness together.

The producer of The Big Fisherman, Rowland V. Lee, had met Douglas back in 1942, on the very day that he had completed the last chapter of TheRobe. On enquiring as to the subject matter of the completed story, Lee sat enthralled as the gifted speaker described his story, which ends with the robe of Jesus being passed to an old man with the closing words: “For the Big Fisherman”

I have to admit that I haven’t seen the film and the above is gleaned from other people who have. I must make an effort and view this as I have a feeling that I would like it

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Stormy Crossing 1958 – John Ireland

John Ireland had, in the early fities, suffered a career drop after the McArthy witch hunt and like others, he came over to England a few times and made films here.

When the attractive model Kitty Tyndall (played by Joy Webster) is drowned whilst taking part in a cross channel swim, her competitor, Danny Parker ( played by Sheldon Lawrence), is convinced she was murdered and sets out to investigate. When he too is killed his brother, Griff (played by John Ireland), along with hotel receptionist Shelley Baxter ( played by Maureen Connell) sets out to uncover the truth…

The film is also a pleasant reminder of a bygone era of British filmmaking with an interesting cast.

Aside from the American stars, Arthur Lowe shows up in a bit part as a mechanic as does John Schelsinger who would soon leave acting and become the director of films such as Billy Liar and Darling.

Derek Bond is excellent as the villain. Another highlight is the delightful period shots of 1950’s Dover, beautifully photographed by veteran cameraman Geoffrey Faithfull.

The film was directed by C. M Pennington Richards

It is more in the mystery thriller style and is a good looking film thanks mainly to the locations around Dover and St Margaret’s Bay in Kent and London.

John Ireland with Arthur Lowe

John Ireland had been in England a few years before to make ‘The Glass Cage’. I hadn’t realised that this film was available in a Colorised version – and looking at it, the process seems to have been very well done.

ABOVE John Ireland in ‘The Glass Cage’ – this is from the Colorised Version

ABOVE A young Honor Blackman in ‘The Glass Cage’ – again from the Colorised Version

ABOVE – John Ireland with Sam Kydd

ABOVE – We knew it was a British made film when we see Sam Kydd and Geoffrey Keen.

I always think of Geoffrey Keen when he played Israel Hands in the classic 1950 Walt Disney version of ‘Treasure Island’ – he looked so young in that, as did Ralph Truman – another British film stalwart who wasn’t in this one.

Sam Kydd was also cast in ‘Treasure Island’

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Peter Cushing in Hollywood

As an aspiring young actor before the War, Peter Cushing set off to see if he would be able to make his mark in Hollywood. It was certainly a very brave thing to do in those days as it meant an ocean voyage and then a lengthy – but I imagine wonderful – train journey across the width of the USA.

His father paid for his passage and so Peter arrived in Hollywood – with just 60 dollars in his pocket – so it was to be make or break !

ABOVE: When Laurel and Hardy made their film A Chump at Oxford, United Artists had been scouring Hollywood for anyone who sounded even a little bit British. They found Peter Cushing and signed him on to play the role of “Student”. It was still a small part, but he finally had an actual role.

While filming A Chump at Oxford, in one scene Peter had to fall into a pond with some other extras. Of course he got fully soaked – then Oliver Hardy who had seen this insisted that the extras get fresh towels and clothes—and even food—for their efforts. 

A later film ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ – a film starring Louis Hayward and directed by James Whale. Peter got a part in this one because he said that he was trained in fencing so the sword play would be no problem. He had, in fact, no knowledge at all and had never handled a sword. However he quickly came clean to the fencing instructor / expert, a man by the name of Cavern, who took pity on him and said that he would train him in the techniques – which he did for which Peter was eternally grateful.

Peter Cushing’s first Hollywood film ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’

Peter Cushing must have done reasonably well in Hollywood – here he is BELOW – polishing his new Car – a symbol of his Hollywood success

Peter Cushing – ABOVE relaxes in the California sunshine

ABOVE – Peter Cushing in the USA in the 1941 film ‘Vigil In the Night’ – here with Carole Lombard

Peter Cushing pictured above with Ida Lupino – he stayed at her family home in Hollywood for quite a time

Peter CushingABOVE as Osric in the 1948 film ‘Hamlet’

ABOVE – Peter Cushing in ‘Women at War’ one of the films that he made in Hollywood

Peter Cushing returned to these shores from Hollywood in 1942. He was declared unfit for the forces in the War and so signed on with ENSA giving theatrical performances to our troops at many locations. It was in May 1942, that Peter met his wife Helen Beck who had replaced Sonia Dresdel in a touring play Noel Cowards ‘Private Lives’

Violet Helene Beck to give her full name was born on February the 8th 1905 in St. Petersburg, now Leningrad in the USSR.

She was the daughter of a wealthy cotton mill owner and lived a life of luxury with her three sisters and two brothers. When the Russian revolution began in 1917, Helen and her family fled from Russia, settling into England. Fortunately for Helen, she fluently spoke several languages… English, French, Russian, and German,and took a job as a tutor. A little later she turned to acting

Peter Cushing – a Collector of model soldiers – there were over 2,000 in his collection

Peter Cushing with Helen. I hadn’t realised that she was in fact 8 years older than him but that didn’t seem to matter as they had a long and happy marriage.

In an interview some years ago Peter said that his wife had been a musical-comedy actress and dancer who had played in Hollywood films in her teens. She had been selected from 500 girls for a part in a Cochran revue staged in America.

Later she switched to the ‘legitimate’ stage and toured the United States.

I had never heard that history of his wife Helen – most interesting – but then again she would be well into her late Thirties when she met Peter so as an actress, she would certainly have had a career of some sort – Wish we knew more

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The Ghost of Rashmon Hall 1948 – with Valentine Dyall

Valentine Dyall stars and narrates us through the film – and who better with that voice, so famous in the day as ‘The Man in Black’

I was left wondering today, if Valentine Dyall had been at his peak in this present era, he would have been a major star – no doubt worth a fortune but like so many actors at the time, he just continued in Theatre, Films, Television and more to the fore, Radio where his voice could be used to maximum chilling effect.

In this film ‘The Ghost of Rashman Hall’, he effectively carries the film.

ABOVE Rashmon Hall

Valentine Dyall is in that same hall years later and with quite a few people and the subject of Ghosts crops up. Some do not believe but this young man says that he does because he has actually seen one and begins to tell the story which is quickly taken over by Valentine Dyall who does a superb chilling job.

It is the story of a young newly married couple who are desperately searching for a home and are offered this quite run down old hall which they, at first are unsure of, but then they warm to the idea and put a lot of effort into making a large part of it habitable.

Then strange things begin to happen – the filming is very atmospheric and draws us in – I must admit to finding it quite scary.

The running time is barely an hour and it is a cheapish production BUT it is well done considering that

It looks as though it went out on release with ‘ House of Darkness’ – a film that I don’t know but it was the film debut of Laurence Harvey who had star billing.

As a matter of interest, ‘Wausau’ is in Wisconsin USA – I had never heard of the place

ABOVE – Arriving at Rashmon Hall

I watched ‘The Ghost of Rashmon Hall’ a few days ago and have to say, I really enjoyed it – it was, of course, on the wonderful ‘Talking Pictures’ Channel

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Whirligig – BBC Childrens TV

The very early days of Television when BBC was THE only channel, saw memorable programmes and on Children’s Television on a Saturday teat-time we had Whirligig – I recall that it alternated the Saturday slot with ‘;Saturday Special’ and as childrenwe loved them both


ABOVE – Humphrey Lestocq or HL looking quite puzzled because he looks to be in trouble again with Mr Turnip although BELOW he seems to be much happier

ABOVE – Peter Hawkins tries to conduct an auction but again HL intervenes – Patricia Driscoll looks worried as she is holding a box full of crockery.

I hadn’t realised that Patricia was on TV as early as this – I thought it all started with ‘Robin Hood’ but this is a few years before that

ABOVE – Steve Race – very versatile on the piano and vital to Whirligig was born in Lincoln where he went to school. After Wartime service he took up employment with the BBC and was seen a lot in those early days

ABOVE – A very young Harry Corbett along with Sooty started his long TV Career in Whirligig

ABOVE – Francis Coudrill with his puppets.

Hank ( left ) had his own slot on the show – I always remember his adversary Mexican Pete. I always remember my Dad at the time singing

‘ I’m Mexican Pete Ze bad Bandit’ from this show – he loved it

In those early days I expect the show would go out ‘live’ which must have given those involved some scary moments

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The Shamrock Spitfire

This is a VERY new film so not really for films of the fifties, but I thought that I had to include it as it evokes an era that is now no more but aligns with the normal films we include here.

The true story of Irish fighter pilot Brendan “Paddy” Finucane, who at the age of just 21, became the youngest ever Wing Commander in the Royal Air Force, and one of its greatest and most celebrated fighter aces during World War Two.

The Shamrock Spitfire chronicles the epic true story of Brendan Finucane, or Spitfire Paddy as he was increasingly known, who was killed when a “one in a million chance” bullet from ground fire pierced the radiator of his spitfire during a mission over France. With his plane rapidly losing altitude, he attempted to fly back across the English Channel but was forced to ditch into the sea and he subsequently vanished. 

He remains listed as missing in action to this day.

The future of Europe hangs by a thread as the fierce battles rage in the skies over southern England. Pilots from countries invaded by Germany were involved, including a handful of volunteers from Ireland.  Brendan was one of these Irishmen.  
RAF pilots were already seen as glamorous, and Brendan’s fame spread after he shot down the best-known German fighter pilot of the time, Adolph Galland.

Battling at more than 10,000 feet with enemy aircraft requires a mixture of bravery, tactical awareness and brute force.  Brendan had it all.

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Anthony Forwood as Will Scarlett

A Photograph of Anthony Forwood in the saddle whilst on the set of ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ at Denham Film Studios

Anthony was very comfortable riding a horse which shows here

Film fans probably know him best for his portrayal of Will Scarlet in Walt Disney’s ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ released in 1952

Also he was the long term partner of Dirk Bogarde right up until the time of his death. Anthony was married only once to Glynis Johns and they had a son Gareth together before the marriage ended and he went back to Dirk for the rest of his life.

Dirk Bogarde and Anthony Forwood first met on 28 October 1940 at the Playhouse Theatre. Bogarde was acting in Grief Goes Over, which Tony only saw because the Regent Cinema was sold out.

At the age of 19, Dirk Bogarde had joined the Amersham Playhouse a few months earlier. He had decided to become an actor whilst studying at the Chelsea School of Art but unable to take up a place at the Old Vic School because of the outbreak of the war, seized the opportunity to learn the craft as an apprentice actor in weekly rep.

His painting skills were also put to good use creating scenery! Anthony Forwood was also an actor and occasional theatrical agent and was impressed by Dirk Bogarde, so he recommended him for a revue with Peter Ustinov and Joyce Grenfell which opened at Wyndham’s on New Year’s Day 1941. He also took him to meet his grandfather, Ernest Forwood, at Bendrose House. Shortly afterwards Dirk Bogarde was called up to serve in the British Army.

Six years later, demobbed and looking for a job, Dirk Bogarde knocked at Anthony Forwood’s door in Chesham Mews, Belgravia. Within a year Bogarde had made his first Rank film and Anthony Forwood, now separated from his wife, the actress Glynis Johns, had moved in. Although their relationship was a closely guarded secret, they were together for nearly 40 years, until Anthony’s death in 1988.

Anthony Forwood at Beel House

Beel House was purchased for £4000. Privacy was a major attraction as the house is located at the end of a long, tree-lined drive, half a mile from Little Chalfont village and surrounded by acres of gardens and grounds. Bogarde’s restoration included pulling down the 11 room servants’ wing, building a swimming pool and creating a studio. The elegant drawing room was hung with crimson damask, and filled with Bogarde’s collection of Georgian silver, paintings, and antiques, including a satinwood and red silk spinnet, identical to one made for Queen Victoria.

Beel House soon became a destination for anyone visiting from Hollywood. Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor, were just some of the guests featured in Anthony Forwood’s home movies, which also starred their corgis, Bogie and Sinhue, and the parrot, Annie.

Dirk Bogarde at Beel House

Incredibly Bogarde still found time for the local community. An annual horse show was held in Beel House Park with over a thousand entries, probably attracted by the fact that Bogarde was presenting the prizes. He was also honourary president of Amersham Film Society and the Chesvale Dog Training Club, where the Dirk Bogarde Challenge Cup was presented to the seniors! His favourite tailor was Nancarrow and Temple in Amersham-on-the-Hill, who also made his suits for films such as Darling with Julie Christie and Doctor at Sea with Bridgitte Bardot. With Tony Forwood he was a regular at the Regent Cinema in Amersham (always in the 3 shilling 2 pence seats) and campaigned against its closure in 1962.

Sadly, by then the couple had left Amersham for Drummer’s Yard near Beaconsfield. By 1960 the Council had approved the building of Dr Challoner’s High School just 200 yards from Beel House. Bogarde, who had strongly objected to the school, had already built a large mound with earth excavated from building work at the neighbouring Radiochemical Centre. Nicknamed “Bogarde’s Bastion”, it was 20 feet high, 200 yards long and 15 feet wide to shield the house from the sight of the school, and the schoolgirls from the sight of Dirk Bogarde!

Shortly afterwards he sold Beel House to his friend Basil Dearden, the film director and his wife, the actress Melissa Stribbling. At the time Bogarde was starring with Sylvia Syms in Dearden’s ground-breaking thriller Victim, about a married but secretly homosexual barrister. Bogarde later wrote: “It was the wisest decision I ever made in my cinematic life. It is extraordinary, in this over-permissive age [c. 1988], to believe that this modest film could ever have been considered courageous, daring or dangerous to make. It was, in its time, all three”.

2021 is the 60th anniversary of Victim and the centenary of Dirk Bogarde’s birth. See and for more on the history of Beel House and Dirk Bogarde’s life and career.

It is still this picture of Anthony Forwood that remains with film fans – as Will Scarlet in that great 1952 film.

Ken Annakin the Film Director said that he remembers Anthony Forwood in costume in this role wandering around the sets of Sherwood Forest in the Denham Film Studios, with great affection as they were all such a happy band during the summer of 1951 working on the film.

He said that he thought Anthony brought a great deal to the role although it was not a major part

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