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Jeremy Brett as D’Artagnan

This is a publicity picture for the BBS Serial ‘The Three Musketeers’ from 1966. It also had Brian Blessed as Porthos, Jeremy Young as Athos and Gary Watson as Aramis. Richard Pasco played The Cardinal and Mary Peach was cast a Milady de Winter.

Paul Whitsun Jones was also in it and in a smaller early role, Pauline Collins

I have to say, I don’t remember Jeremy Brett in this but I do recall Brian Blessed as Athos playing the part in his usual rumbustious style – but I would think they needed someone like that in the cast to lift it a little.

I also remember Paul Whitsun Jones from this adaptation

Not long before this Jeremy Brett had gone to Hollywood to take the part of Freddie in ‘My Fair Lady’ – probably one of the worst parts you could get. However he didn’t take to Hollywood at all, so even if better parts had been offered, he wanted to remain in England

Jeremy Brett in real life was twice married, first to Anna Massey, the actress, and secondly to Joan Wilson, the American producer (under the name Joan Sullivan) of Masterpiece Theatre for the Public Broadcasting Service, in the United States.

Anna Massey

The romantic story is that, when Brett, during the early Seventies, stood in for a period for Alistair Cooke as the presenter of Masterpiece Theatre, Sullivan was so overwhelmed by Brett’s handsome appearance that she vowed to make him her husband. Her death, after only seven years of marriage, came as a devastating blow to him.

He had a son with Anna Massey, but she described their marriage as being an unhappy one. She admitted to being young and naive when she married him and later stated that the fact that he was a manic depressive homosexual were not ideal traits to have in a a marriage

ABOVE – The look happy here though with their young son

Having fun with their son a few years later

Jeremy Brett, was an emotional man of great warmth and generosity of spirit, who cared deeply for his friends and colleagues and acted always spontaneously out of a good heart.

Quite a few years later, he got the part that seemed to fit him well and it gave him Worldwide popularity – as Sherlock Holmes

Wike Edward Hardwicke as Dr Watson

This time David Burke as Dr Watson

The dark shadow which lay across his overflowing good nature was an increasing tendency to manic depression, an illness (later coupled with heart disease) which began to show itself during the second series of Sherlock Holmes and which made the production of later episodes a determined and heroic struggle for him.

When he was well and stable he bravely treated his own disorder with a sharp sense of mockery and joked about his condition to his friends. 

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The Chiltern Hundreds – and David Tomlinson

Few actors could be better suited than David Tomlinson for the role of a doltish viscount unintentionally entangled in politics, and this brisk 1949 satire was a huge success both for the accomplished character player and his similarly gifted co-stars, Cecil Parker and eighty-year-old film veteran A.E. Matthews. The Chiltern Hundreds is directed by John Paddy Carstairs – whose in his later career he went on to direct a string of box-office hits with the likes of Frankie Howerd, Norman Wisdom and Tommy Steele

Young Viscount Tony Pym wangles National Service leave on the pretext of standing as a Tory candidate for a local seat held by his family for generations. The request is a feeble excuse to enable Pym to marry his wealthy American fiancee while she’s still in England, but his masterplan backfires when he finds himself swept into an election  campaign and beaten by Labour’s Mr Cleghorn – who is then made a peer. In an attempt to save face, Pym decides to stand again – as a socialist. It all proves too much for the Pyms’ loyal, true-blue butler, Mr Beecham…

David Tomlinson

But despite his image as a happy-go-lucky gentleman, David Tomlinson’s personal story was plagued by misfortune – including a tragic murder-suicide. Born in May 1917 and raised in the middle-class surroundings of Folkestone, Tomlinson – known as DT to friends – left school at 15 and took a job in accounting, before trying his luck as an actor.

“It was a profession that required no qualification of any kind,” he reminisced. “It is a very attractive way of spending one’s life.” Although his parents detested his fickle choice of career, David adored the life of a wandering actor, often lodging in shabby theatrical boarding houses piped with lukewarm water and lumpy beds.

His favourite story was of an old landlady telling him of the kindness of her previous guest. “Do you know,” she explained, “that man went out on Saturday night, met a sailor who had nowhere to stay and let him share his bed.”

When the Second World War interrupted his career, he was posted to Canada as an RAF flight lieutenant and flying instructor. In 1943 in New York, he married socialite and heiress Mary Lindsay Hiddingh, whose husband had been killed in action, and became stepfather to her sons Michael, eight, and John, six. “She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen,” he declared. “We were terribly in love.”

Mary, who had raven hair and almond eyes, worked at the British Ministry of War Transportation office on Broadway. “I was the luckiest fellow in the world,” Tomlinson gushed, as they excitedly mapped out a future life together.

However, even before the honeymoon glow had faded, he was recalled to Britain – leaving his new wife and the children in New York. Eventually, Mary was given permission to join her husband but was stunned when she learned the children would have to remain in America and wait out the war.

The following day – with the children in tow – she checked into the Henry Hudson Hotel on West 57th Street. The family took the lift to their 15th floor room. The next morning Mary ended her life and those of the children – in a manner everyone struggled to explain. Police records detail how she rose from bed, unlatched the window and plunged to her death, holding John to her body and Michael by the hand. All three were killed instantly after striking the roof of a business near 9th Avenue.

David Tomlinson was never able to bring himself to visit Mary’s grave. As this was all going on, back in Europe, his bomber pilot brother Peter was marched into a Nazi prison camp after crashing during a mission.

“It was a fearful blow,” Tomlinson remembered. Peter survived the war but was thin as a rake after suffering severe malnutrition. He spoke of how, after dragging himself on foot through a treacherous landscape on a forced march to Flensburg, advancing Allied troops set him free in 1945. Remarkably, after his own demobilisation, Tomlinson broke into films in 1946.

“There is nobody more interested in the successful development of my career than me,” he reasoned on refusing to engage an agent. His son Henry recalled how this decision manifested itself in an idiosyncratic way. “We would hear the phone ring and I would stand at the sitting room door listening, thinking, ‘Why is dad talking with an American accent?’ And then it became clear he had this imaginary manager-agent called Harry Gunnell.”

DT was known to friends as one of the best-natured of men but, as the actor Robert Morley observed, was “never one to cheerfully take orders from officialdom”.

“Dad had no safety mechanism,” his son Jamie explained. “He said exactly what he thought. He was also utterly fearless.” It was a trait which led to countless misunderstandings. As one former colleague put it: “He was a straight-talker. For some people, especially the more sensitive types, that could be shocking.”

As his star shone in the late 40s with appearances in Miranda, Broken Journey, and School for Secrets, the latter alongside Ralph Richardson, he was rarely without a girl but none of the short-lived relationships, including with film actresses Dinah Sheridan and Jill Clifford, provided what he sought.

Happiness finally came with his marriage to actress Audrey Freeman in 1953. Blessed with long legs and a stunning complexion, Barnsley-born Freeman had been starring in the West End alongside George Formby.

David Tomlinson and his family arrive back in Britain from America

“I was truly smitten with David,” she recalled with a hoot. “He had immense sex appeal. He didn’t know it and laughed when women were suggestive. I think comedians do have it, you know – people that make you laugh are very attractive.” The couple married in 1953 and had four sons, David Jr, William, Henry and James. They remained together for 47 years until his death.

David and Audrey with their newly born son William

Though he often played serious roles, comedy was his forte. With his perplexed expression and aristocratic voice, he shone in classics like Up the Creek, Hotel Sahara and Three Men in a Boat.

“David didn’t actually need funny dialogue,” Vera Day, who starred with him in Up the Creek, told me. “You just needed to look at his face… it could explode into exasperation in a millisecond. He could steal a scene without breaking a sweat.”

He breezed through a string of West End successes before Mary Poppins catapulted him to international stardom. “I couldn’t believe it. I clutched the script to my bosom and hurried home to Audrey,” he cried on winning the role. By then, well into his forties and by no means a matinee idol, his face had developed more folds and creases, leading Noel Coward to quip that he “resembled a very old baby”.

Julie Andrews starred as the no-nonsense nanny taking charge of two unruly children, and turning their father, Mr Banks, from a stuffed shirt into quite the lad. Her mission accomplished, Poppins disappears on the next wind. “He knew he was good but was never unpleasant with it,” Julie Andrews recalled. “He always nailed every ‘take’ so well.”

The film included Tomlinson’s triumphant performance of Let’s Go Fly A Kite with his on-screen children, Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber as Jane and Michael Banks, and Dick Van Dyke as Cockney jack-of-all-trades, Bert. However, when the first preview took place at a small theatre near Walt Disney’s office, DT was aghast. “I thought it was the worst film I had ever seen, the most sentimental rubbish,” he lamented. “And I practically said to dear darling Walt, ‘Well, you can’t win them all, can you?’”

As Mr Banks in ‘Mary Poppins’

As it happened, Mary Poppins was not only greeted with almost universal critical acclaim, it won five Academy Awards, two Baftas, a Grammy and a Golden Globe. “I was wrong about that one,” he admitted.

It later transpired the inspiration for Tomlinson’s portrayal of Mr Banks came from his own life. He discovered in middle age that his father – a stiff and proper Edwardian lawyer – had been living a double life with a secret second family, including seven children.

It wasn’t long afterwards that Tomlinson and Audrey were devastated when William, their third son, began displaying unusual behaviour. Doctors believed he was hearing impaired but the couple weren’t convinced. After consulting anyone that would listen, it was found Willie was suffering from autism, then a virtually unknown condition. “Doing the right thing by Will became my parents’ greatest achievement,” David Jr reflected.

Although David Tomlinson was bombarded with social invites, he avoided showbiz circles and revelled in family life at his country cottage in Buckinghamshire.

David Tomlinson with his wife Audrey – Right

The success of Poppins was rewarded with a steady income and parts in two further Disney blockbusters; as villain Peter Thorndyke in The Love Bug and quack magician Emelius Browne in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a sobering experience. During a tense shoot in California, he failed to hit it off with co-star Angela Lansbury who constantly upstaged him. Audrey recalled. “ Angela Lansbury was terrified of him and made it very tough. He found it very awkward.”

Despite being a hit, the experience was sour and DT omitted the movie altogether from his memoirs. While nothing ever replicated the magnitude of Mary Poppins, he worked throughout the 1970s and 80s, appearing on radio, TV and tirelessly promoting autism charities. But his greatest pleasure was motoring around England in his vintage Bentley sniffing out antiques shop bargains.

A keen Collector

“He was an avid collector and that kept him busy,” says Audrey. “He got wonderful things at marvellous prices before those antiques programmes started on TV.”

However, even retirement was tinged with tragedy. In never-before-seen letters, Tomlinson wrote of his devastation at his brother Peter’s suicide in 1997.

The end came on the morning of June 24, 2000, when, aged 83, DT slipped away without any fuss. His final wish – made tongue firmly in cheek – was to have the tribute: “David Tomlinson, an actor of genius, irresistible to women,” on his headstone. “Obviously, our mum had her own thoughts about that and it didn’t quite happen,” says his son Henry.

Despite a life of ups and downs, David Tomlinson always maintained he was luckier than most. I think he probably was.

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Dr Finlay’s Casebook

This is a Television Series loved by us all I think. The very last season they ever did was filmed in colour but this picture is from a Christmas Special in 1965

ABOVE – A scene from the ‘ The Gifts of the Magi’ a Christmas Special written by Harry Green. The Episode tells how Alison Bell, a former BBC Radio producer, goes talent-hunting at the Cottage Hospital children’s party. Eventually for the sake of a very sick child, she persuades Doctors Finlay and Cameron, and Snoddie to do their party pieces. When the day arrives each doctor seems bent on outshining the others – only to find that someone else outshines them all.

ABOVE – We see the doctors preparing with Janet looking on.

The popular series Dr Finlay’s Casebook was set in the 1920s in a pre-NHS medical practice in the fictional Scottish town of Tannochbrae (the series was actually filmed in the Highland town of Callander).

ABOVE – The cover of the Scottish Radio Times

The beautiful ‘Tannochbrae’

The little town of Tannochbrae – in truth, not much more than a village – had a 26-bed cottage hospital, with the Lanark Infirmary nearby, and an ambulance available when needed from the police station or neighbouring Knoxhill.

Arden House

The residents of Arden House were Dr Angus Cameron (Andrew Cruickshank), a confirmed bachelor who loved chess, was prone to asthma and was the type of old-fashioned doctor who intimidated patients into recovery.

The ‘young’ Dr Alan Finlay (Bill Simpson),  and no-nonsense housekeeper Janet MacPherson – played to perfection by Barbara Mullen.

ABOVE – A postcard from Tannochbrae

The original book


This delightful BBC TV series – which first appeared on our screens on 16 August 1962 – became hugely popular.

The last series was filmed in Colour which showed off Scotland’s beauty to great effect

Bill Simpson was plucked from reading the news with Scottish ITV in Glasgow. Like Dr Finlay, he was an ex-farmer and hailed from the Ayrshire fishing village of Dunure, almost an exact replica of Tannochbrae. In fact, the prodigal son returned to Dunure to film an episode in the series.

The BBC took great pains to maintain period detail in the series and there was a surprisingly large amount of location footage, clearly shot in rural Scotland. This helped create a realistic setting for the stories as well as provide a sense of isolation.

Among its active population, Tannochbrae numbered a good few workers from the colliery and shipyard not far away and – being near the Clyde and a pleasant loch – it attracted businessmen who commuted from their offices in Glasgow.

The daily medical needs of a sleepy lowland community between the wars proved hugely successful with viewers and Dr Finlay’s Casebook was a Sunday evening must for millions of viewers during the 1960s.

During the final season, the inhabitants of the Arden House surgery also appeared on radio, where they carried on dispensing common sense and rubbing ointment for a further seven years.


The show made stars of the dapper Bill Simpson, veteran actor Andrew Cruickshank and Barbara Mullen.

ITV revived Doctor Finlay in 1993 with Ian Bannen, Annette Crosbie and David Rintoul playing the parts of Doctor Cameron, Janet and Doctor Finlay and, in 2001, John Gordon Sinclair took on the title role in new adaptations of Cronin’s stories for BBC Radio 4.

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Fu Manchu – Christopher Lee

This was a productive role for Christopher Lee – I hadn’t realised that he had made Three such films but in fact, looking further into it, I discovered that had actually made five of them. These three came between 1965 and 1968 and were churned out quite quickly you would, think although they were in Colour and had some good actors

This one – ABOVE – also starred Douglas Wilmer as Nayland Smith – Fu Manch’s arch enemy – and Howard Marion-Crawford

The Brides of Fu Manchu – Christopher Lee

‘The Brides of Fu Manchu’ again had those two as well as Burt Kwouk

Richard Greene this time played Nayland Smith in ‘The Blood of Fu Manchu’ as well as Howard Marion-Crawford and this time Shirley Eaton.

Harry Towers was the producer who had started in Television, then tried his hand with ‘Death Drums Along the River’ starring Richard Todd and filmed in Africa. It wasn’t a bad film at all and so next he made ‘Mozambique’ with Steve Cochran, and staying in Africa, he again used Richard Todd in ‘Coast of Skeletons’ and this one had Dale Robertson in the cast. I wouldn’t know how they performed at the Box Office but I would think fairly average

Not long after that he produced these three films and a great many more.

Richard Todd in a scene from ‘Death Drums Along The River’

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Cecil Parker as Dr Morelle

During lockdown and even before, I had got fed up with the constant stream of gloomy news from the media peddling the same old gloom and doom whether it be Brexit of Coronovirus. So I took to buying CDs of old radio plays such as Lord Peter Wimsey and Sexton Blake.

Then more recently I came across another interesting programme and quite by accident at that. It was Dr Morelle which was on BBC Radio 4 Extra

In 1957 a new Radio series began featuring sleuth Dr Morelle played by Cecil Parker

Cecil Parker with Sheila Sim

Dr. Morelle is referred to as a Harley Street Doctor of Psychiatry, specialising in criminal psychology. He is also possessed of an unshakable confidence in his opinions, conclusions and psychological impressions of virtually everyone he meets.

He his also not without his own eccentricities for instance we learn that he is afraid of going up stairs – which he admitted was a throwback to his childhood.

He was introduced in a thirteen-week comedy-detective drama, A Case for Dr. Morelle, featuring successful Film actor Cecil Parker as Dr. Morelle and Sheila Sim as Miss Frayle. 

Cecil Parker was an inspired choice, having portrayed several Film characters with many of Dr. Morelle’s traits and aloofness.

The programme was an instant hit. Dr. Morelle is reintroduced in the first episode by way of a chance meeting with his ‘former’ assistant Miss Frayle.

Miss Frayle comes to Dr. Morelle hoping to enlist his interest in the problem of an acquaintance of hers. Dr. Morelle, has just lost his assistant of many years and spends as much in the first episode solving a murder as trying to win Miss Frayle back as his assistant.

This first episode, Alarm Call, also gives Cecil Parker an opportunity to establish his characterisation of Dr. Morelle. 

Cecil Parker was a gifted international character actor, who was as at ease playing straight dramatic roles as light comedy which suited this role well.

As is the case in more recent Radio and Television shows , we get a compelling preview portion of the story before the theme music and announcement of the episode’s title.

Robert Beatty – Another Radio drama character

In very recent times, again on BBC Radio 4 Extra I came across  Destination – Fire! Stories of a Fire Investigator which had been originally on the BBC Light Programme (1962-1966)

This starred Robert Beatty in the lead role here in these half hour episodes which cleverly manage to set the scene, establish the possible crime and solve it by the end – as well as introducing all the characters

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The Secret Place 1957 – Belinda Lee and Ronald Lewis

Belinda Lee should have had a much better career than she did because she was a very good actress – and this ‘The Secret Place’ is regarded as one of her best films.

Sadly she died in California in a car crash – she was not the driver – a few years after this, in 1961

Belinda Lee in The Secret Place (1957)
ABOVE – Belinda Lee

The Story of the film – Gerry Carter (Ronald Lewis) and his pal Steve (Michael Gwynn) are planning a jewel robbery in London’s Hatton Garden, but they need a policeman’s uniform to do the job as planned. That is how Molly Wilson (Belinda Lee) ends up involved as not only is she Gerry’s girlfriend but her brother Mike (David McCallum) is also involved in the plan. Molly’s part is that a young boy called Freddie (Michael Brooke) is besotted with her and will pretty much do anything she asks of him and that includes taking one of his police father’s uniforms.

‘The Secret Place’ – Gerry and his gang pull off the robbery but afterwards discover things haven’t gone to plan, leading to them wanting to stash the stolen jewels at Molly’s place in her gramophone. Then the gramophone changes hands to complicate things

David McCallum in The Secret Place (1957)
David McCallum- his first film

“The Secret Place” has a good cast with David McCallum, Belinda Lee and Michael Brooke all delivering solid performances. In fact young Michael Brooke stands out because he delivers that childhood infatuation of young Freddie quite brilliantly yet we also get to see the conflict as he realises Molly used him to get a police uniform.

If you want to get a good feel for 1950s Britain, this is the place for you. The street scenes in this film are pure gold. The destruction rendered on the country by the Second World War is still all around. Children play among the rubble of bombed-out houses and and perilously tumbled-down factories. Cars are few.

ABOVE – Michael Brooke in ‘A Secret Place’

This is the background for the story of a young boy whose naive crush on a pretty young woman is repaid with betrayal. However she, too, is a victim, being manipulated by the scheming Gerry Carter, played by Ronald Lewis.

The premiere of The Secret Place was at the Gaumont Theatre in London on 6 February 1957

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‘Stranger From Venus’ 1954

This film is due to be shown on Talking Pictures next week.

‘Stranger From Venus’ is one of the fore runners of the wave of excellent British science fiction films from Hammer Films thhat brought in now familiar names like Terrence Fisher and Val Guest

‘Stranger From Venus’ is not in the same league as some of the films to come, but it is quite an interesting one nonetheless

Patricia Neal had recently married Roald Dahl (with whom she settled in Buckinghamshire to raise a family) and she was offered this part in this British made Sci Fi film

Helmut Dantine
plays the mysterious stranger – Derek Bond is a Government official who alerts the Authorities that an alien has arrived.

The film was made at MGM British Studios at Boreham Wood and filmed in Black and White with a 1 hour 15 minutes running time so I am not sure if this would go out as a second feature

By 1954 the British had entered the science fiction market again after some trepidation, although it was still a genre reserved for cheap knock-offs. However, the hugely popular live TV-series The Quatermass Experiment (1953 ) had left the British public hungry for more. Hammer and small outfits like Gainsborough had started dabbling in the genre with mixed results.

Just like in Devil Girl from Mars, the lion’s part of the proceedings take place in a very British-seeming inn in the middle of nowhere. Young Susan North (Patricia Neal) drives home from a meeting with her friend, and is blinded by a light in the sky, which causes her to crash her car – seemingly to her death. Later the same evening a strange man appears at the inn. We know he is strange because he only drinks water and we just see the back of his head. And he assures Susan’s boyfriend, a government official called Arthur Walker (Derek Bond) that Ms. North is quite alright. And fair enough, she later walks into the inn – her wounds miraculously healed, and with no memory of who or what saved – or resurrected – her.

Turns out the strange visitor, played by Helmut Dantine, is actually a stranger from Venus, in possession of superhuman powers of healing, invulnerability and mind-reading. It turns out he is a scout for a Venusian mothership that has planned to land in ”Britain” to hold a conference with all world leaders to warn them about the dangers of mankind’s newfound discovery of nuclear weapons. He holds a minor conference around the pub table with some dignitaries from the ”British” authorities as a warm-up. He is most interested in working in the inn’s garden, which he finds enchanting.

Patricla Neal: An Unquiet Life, Neal and her husband, famed author Roald Dahl had just bought a summer house in Britain, and needed money to fix it up. Encouraged by Dahl, Neal took the part, as it would only be a couple of weeks’ work in the British summer.

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So Little Time 1952 – Location work in Belgium

Even though this was a Box Office disappointment at the time of it’s release, this film has very recently found the popularity that it always should have had.

When the film was being made, a crew of about 25 or more technicians went out to Belgium and stayed in a hotel in Brussels. One or two of the outdoor scenes were filmed around the outskirts of Brussels. Close by the small town of Leau with a population of about 2000 people, about 45 miles from Brussels, was where around 4 days of filming was done.

Other important scenes were around the Chateau de Sterrebecke. This Chateau was the real centre of filming although already the interiors had been constructed at Elstree film studios.

The steps up to the Chateau with the railings can clearly be seen in the film – SEE BELOW

The Chateau used in a scene from the film ‘So Little Time’ 1952
The Chateau as it is today
The Chateau as it is today
The Balcony and Steps with the handrails are clearly to be seen – as they were in the film

Twenty Five minutes of film were shot on location in Belgium which led to about 15 minutes being used in the final film.

ABOVE – The Nazi flag flies from the Town Hall and the names of the executed townsfolk appear on the notice board

ABOVE – Maria Schell, the only artist to stay with the unit during location work, in a scene where she reads that, among others, her father is among the dead.

Both Barbara Mullen and Marius Goring were out there in Belgium and both were in some of the scenes shot there.

Back st Elstree BELOW as Director Compton Bennett who had been out to Brussels for the filming, is seen here back at Elstree discussing the piano playing sequence with Maria Schell and Marius Goring

This was Compton Bennett’s very next film after he had directed the ‘blockbuster’ at the Box Office – ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ 1950

He must have been in Hollywood then because just before that he had directed ‘The Forsyte Saga’ with Greer Garson and Errol Flynn as Soames – a part he was very good in.

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Another Double Feature from the Fifties

Interesting to see this particular double feature – and the stars of the day. About a decade before this film – Steel City – was made, we had a classic which centred on the Coal Mining Industry ‘ How Green Was My Valley’ which told of family life, love, happiness and tragedy in one of those pit villages in the Welsh mountains – although it was filmed in Hollywood.

‘Steel Town’ was filmed in Technicolor and had a more dramatic and different storyline in some ways although the similarity was it’s link to another major industry – Steel – this time in America

Steel Town is a nice B film from Universal studios .

The film centres on Steel Works with all the dangers therein at that time.

In it John Lund plays the son of the company owner, who has not forgotten his roots and because of this he sends his son to work there starting at the bottom.

John Lund is sent to lodge with an old friend from his father’s early days – William Harrigan and his wife Eileen Crowe. Also at the house is Ann Sheridan their daughter and the romantic lead.

James Best is cast as a young steel factory worker whose dad was killed at the mill in an accident. He’s a reminder of what can go wrong.

John Lund has a rival for Ann Sheridan in Howard Duff another worker at the steel plant.

The scene is set for an interesting situation

In – Flesh and Fury

Tony Curtis and the very pretty Mona Freeman ABOVE

Tony Curtis plays a deaf boxer who Jan Sterling takes an interest in. However he does have a kindly manager Wallace Ford, but she wants him to hit the big time as soon as possible with all the financial advantages that gives, even if it means facing dirty fighters who will cripple him.

When Mona Freeman turns up to interview Tony Curtis for her magazine, she takes a more sympathetic view of the him because her own father had also been deaf.

Universal was putting Tony Curtis into a lot of films at that time.

In real life Jan Sterling was brought up at the upper end of New York society, travelled the world as a child, was instructed by private tutors, and by the time she hit Broadway in the late 1930s, playing aristocratic English women.

Jan Sterling

A role in the touring company of BORN YESTERDAY brought her to Hollywood’s attention.

Jan Sterling had been married to John Merivale from 1941 until 1948, who later lived with Vivien Leigh from 1958 until her death in 1967,

In 1986 he married his long-time friend and actress Dinah Sheridan

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Richard Denning – The Flying Doctor

Once described as having “one of the most photogenically perfect male faces in movies”, the affable and athletic, blonde and blue-eyed Richard Denning was never a major Hollywood star but was popular.

He had one major starring role – with Dorothy Lamour in Beyond The Blue Horizon – prior to war service, after which he starred in B thrillers and westerns (he was married to one of the great B-movie heroines, Evelyn Ankers).

In the Fifties he developed a cult following for his leading roles in such monster films as The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Target Earth and The Black Scorpion, while television viewers will remember him as the Governor on Hawaii Five-0, a part he played for 12 years.

Born Louis Albert Heindrich Denninger Jnr in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1914, he was the son of a garment manufacturer and attended Woodbury Business College, graduating with a Masters in Business Administration. His father wanted him to join the family business, but Denning had already become interested in acting.

After a night-school course in drama, and performances in a small theatre, he entered a radio contest, “Do You Want To Be An Actor?”, choosing to perform a scene from the film Lives of a Bengal Lancer, and won his heat – one of 13. All winners were given a screen test by Warners in the spring of 1936. “I never saw the test, and wondered if they actually put any film in the cameras, but I was later told by my agent that Warners had been impressed but told him that I was too much like another young man they had under contract – Errol Flynn!”

Securing a long-term contract with Paramount, he was advised by the head of the talent department, Ted Lesser, that a change of name was necessary.

From 1937 to 1942 Denning made over 50 films for Paramount, many of them fleeting bit roles.

The following year he had his best role to date when loaned to Columbia for Adam Had Four Sons (1941). In this popular drama (Ingrid Bergman’s second Hollywood film) Denning was stoically honourable as he rejected the advances of his brother’s scheming wife (Susan Hayward). Paramount then gave the actor the leading role apposite Dorothy Lamour in Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942). This film movies was to remain Richard Denning’s favourite Hollywood role.

I have to say that ‘Beyond the Blue Horizon’ was a really entertaining film with the most beautiful Technicolor locations you could dream of. The colour on that film is just as good as anything you would see on screen.

Both me and my daughter love this film

After the war, Denning could not get an acting job for 18 months. “We lived in a trailer on the ocean front, and I put down a hundred lobster traps. We ate and sold lobsters and made a good living. Later we realised that was the happiest 18 months of our lives.”

Denning then got a major break on radio when asked to replace Lee Bowman as a banker married to a scatterbrained wife (Lucille Ball) in the hit series My Favorite Husband. His film work was now in B movies or playing supporting roles in major ones – in both When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948) and An Affair to Remember (1957) he was in love with the heroines (Betty Grable and Deborah Kerr respectively) but withdrew gracefully when he realised they loved another, and he good-naturedly played a physical- fitness enthusiast made the butt of much humour in Douglas Sirk’s Weekend With Father (1951).

But America was now at war, and after a loan-out to Fox to play a detective in the ingenous thriller Quiet Please, Murder (1942), Denning joined the Navy as a First Class Petty Officer in the submarine service. During the filming of Quiet Please, Murder, he had eloped to Las Vegas with Evelyn Ankers, who broke her engagement to the actor Glenn Ford to marry him. Known as “Queen of the Screamers” for her horror roles at Universal, Ankers frequently co-starred with the heavy drinker Lon Chaney Jnr, with whom she did not get along, and at a Universal function, the friction between Chaney and Denning reached a point where Denning threw his sundae into Chaney’s face and Chaney had to be restrained from throwing hot coffee into Denning’s.

Jack Arnold’s classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), which practically saved Universal from bankruptcy, was the first of Richard Denning’s monster films and gave him a rare unsympathetic role as a single-minded scientist.

He then battled earth-conquering robots in Target Earth (1954), produced by Herman Cohen . In Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), he unmasked a scientist who revives the dead with the help of brain tissue under high voltage then uses the zombies to take revenge on his enemies. The Day The World Ended (1956) was Roger Corman’s first science-fiction film, with Denning playing a geologist, one of seven survivors of a complete nuclear holocaust.

Several fading Hollywood stars at this time accepted offers to star in British B movies, and in 1956 Denning made a film for the production company Butchers, Assignment Redhead.

In Hollywood it was back to horror with The Black Scorpion (1957) co-starring Mara Corday and distinguished by the stop-frame animation work of Willis O’Brien, famous for King Kong.

He returned to England in 1960 to film a 39-episode television series, The Flying Doctor. This was quite successful and it gave him increased popularity in England

Richard Denning and his wife and daughter lived in North London in the fifties – he made at least one film here and this TV Series – Flying Doctor -which was made in England with exteriors shot in Australia

The same year he appeared with his wife in No Greater Love, a film produced under the auspices of the Lutheran church, of which the couple had become active members. After appearing in the horror anthology Twice Told Tales (1963), Denning retired from films and moved with his wife to Maui in Hawaii, where he became an executive of the Boy Scouts of America. He stated at the time, “My wonderful wife suggested that, since we had worked and saved together since our marriage, perhaps the time had come to do the things we really enjoyed and at a comfortable tempo,” and he described their home as “about as close to Paradise as we could find on earth – and we love it more each day.”

When he accepted the role of the Governor in Hawaii Five-0 in 1968, Evelyn Ankers was offered the part of his wife but declined. “She prefers to go to Honolulu and shop,” said Denning.

Evelyn Ankers I remember so well from ‘Tarzan’s Magic Fountain’ with Lex Barker – one of the best Tarzan films and certainly Lex Barker’s best – it was his first as Tarzan.

The ones that followed were all good though.

Before this she had been in Universal Horror films appearing along with Lon Chaney Jr who she is pictured with below. They seem to be having a laugh

She appeared in ‘The Ghost of Frankenstein’ ‘The Wolf Man’ and ‘Son of Dracula’ – all of which also had Lon Chaney Jr.

She said of him that when he wasn’t drinking, he could be one of the sweetest men in the world

I hadn’t realised that she had been engaged to Glenn Ford but when she met Richard Denning she broke it off with Glenn who was away on location filming at the time.

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