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Happy Christmas

I would like to wish all readers of filmsofthefifties a Very Happy Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

This is a year in which we said our goodbyes to The Queen someone loved by all who had given a lifetime of service to this country – and was herself a film fan particularly of the era we cover.

The Queen delivering her much awaited Christmas Message.

A ‘must see’ event each year and very much part of Christmas

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‘The Admirable Chrichton’ and Cecil Parker Film Actor

I regard The Admirable Chrichton’ as the film that makes this actor stand out in my own memory

He was in so many films before and after the War and into the 70 s and he is instantly recognisable.

Another of my memories of him – in fact one I have only recently discovered – is the Radio Drama Series that he starred in as ‘Dr. Morelle’ which ran for 13 episodes in the late 1950’s – I wish they had made many more as I just love them and listen to them over and over again. This also starred Sheila Sim as Miss Frayle his sidekick

The Parker Family History

Tim Parker has written a book about the extraordinary life history of Cecil Parker and his family. Tim, now 84, lives in Brighton, only found out his real family name was Schwabe at the age of 43. “I was driving through London listening to Radio 3 when there was an announcement of Cecil Parker’s death,” he recalled. “It was an appreciation of him as an actor and mentioned that his real surname was Schwabe. I thought they had got it wrong but my mother told me it was true. I asked why she hadn’t told me and she said because it had all been so difficult.”

“I like to think it’s an extraordinary story,” he said. “I feel the honour of what my two uncles did. Not only did the first generation fight through the First World War but the second generation then fought in the Second World War. Yet people threw bricks through their hotel windows because of anti-German feeling during the First World War.”

The change of name became a family secret for decades but now the full remarkable story has been told in a new book, A Question Of Identity, by historian Tim Parker, the nephew of actor Cecil Parker.

The Parker family saga began when Charles August Schwabe was born near Frankfurt in 1860, the illegitimate son of Dorothea and a man described as “a hunter”. He arrived in England in 1890 and fell in love with church organist Kate Parker. She was 19 and he was 30, and after they married, they settled in Hastings to run The Albany hotel. They had 11 children, including sons Charles, the oldest, Sydney, Cecil and Tim’s father Eric.

In 1908 August was “proud” to become a British citizen but when war was declared in 1914, he was visited by Hastings police. They declared him a loyal subject but he suffered “shock and humiliation” by their visit.

His sons Charles, Sydney and Cecil signed up, Charles joining the Royal Fusiliers and the others joining the Royal Sussex Regiment, a battalion of local men raised for the army by Colonel Claude Lowther, the owner of Herstmonceux Castle. Sydney and Cecil spent 18 months training there.

“Cecil… was a shy and rather diffident soldier,” writes Mr Parker. “He did not like Army life but did his best and his great sense of humour carried him through, together with the joy of having his older brother Sydney with him.”

In 1915, August died of stomach cancer, leaving 45-year-old Kate alone, her youngest child just five, and now in charge of The Albany. She sold it and took over management of The Alexandra hotel in St Leonards, telling the children they had to change their surname to her maiden name and that “none of them were to talk about it”.

In 1916, Charles, now a captain with the Royal Fusiliers, was deployed on the Western Front, where he was injured and gassed before he simply disappeared for two and a half years.

The family later discovered he had been recruited by MI6 as a Secret Service intelligence officer and sent to revolutionary Russia.

Charles, a chemist, worked on ways gas could be used to defend Russia but also enjoyed partying in St Petersburg where author Arthur Ransome, a left-wing socialist, was among his friends.

A year after the Russian Revolution of 1917, militant Bolsheviks, the leaders of the country’s revolutionary working class, attacked the British Embassy in Petrograd and its staff, including Captain Schwabe, were incarcerated in medieval dungeons in the decaying Peter and Paul Fortress on an island on the Neva River. In just three weeks, 500 political prisoners were executed but Captain Schwabe escaped, jumping into the freezing Neva and swimming to the river bank before making his way to the American Embassy. Two days later, he left the embassy by night and made his way to Finland by swimming the frontier stream between the two countries. He was reunited with his colleagues and in 1919 returned to Britain, where he received the OBE.

Meanwhile, in 1916 Sydney and Cecil sailed for France with three Royal Sussex Battalions and fought in the infamous Battle of Boar’s Head.

Sydney was badly injured and sent home. After he recovered, he returned to France in 1918 and was killed, aged 23.

Cecil was also injured and when he had recovered was given the job of dispatch rider. He had never ridden a motorcycle before and crashed during his first lesson, dislocating his neck.

He was sent back to Britain to be nursed back to health by his mother, who gave him a plot of land where he raised chickens. He had refused to change his name from Schwabe “to make quite sure the Army pays my dues”. Now, in 1919, aged 21, he became a song and dance man with an amateur dramatic group in Hastings. He made his professional debut at the Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne in 1922 and his West End debut three years later, falling in love with his leading lady, Muriel Brown. They were married in 1927, their daughter, Angela, born the following year.

Cecil Parker’s career took off and he became one of the great character actors of cinema’s golden age, with an ability to appear menacing, authoritative or stuffy. He appeared in 91 films between 1933 and his last film, Richard Attenborough’s Oh, What A Lovely War!, which was filmed in Brighton in 1969. He made his first real mark in films as nervous would-be adulterer Mr Todhunter in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 thriller The Lady Vanishes, starring alongside Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave, and he went on to appear in Carol Reed’s 1939 film The Stars Look Down.

Here is Cecil Parker in The Lady Vanishes 1938 ABOVR

Perhaps his biggest films were Caesar and Cleopatra, the 1945 Hollywood adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play, where he played Britannus opposite Claude Rains as Caesar, Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra and Douglas Fairbanks as Antony, and the 1958 romantic comedy Indiscreet with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.

He also had fun in the 1955 British classic comedy The Ladykillers and as a professor in The Pure Hell of St Trinian’s in 1960.

“My memories are of a gentle, courteous man, a little shy, but with a great sense of humour,” said Tim. “He was fun to be with and everybody who knew him liked him.”

Cecil and Muriel retired to Brighton after he shot his last movie and for the last two years of his life was in and out of the Royal Sussex County Hospital with bronchitis and a heart problem. He died in 1972.

Tim said: “It has taken me some 60 odd years to find out who the Schwabes are. This is the story of what I’ve discovered.”

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Montecito – the San Ysidro Ranch

Now to film lovers this place was on the map well before the recent arrival of Harry and Megan.

Back in the early thirties film actor Ronald Colman the legendary film actor along with his Business Partner Al Weingand purchased the San Y Sydro Ranch in Montecito which was a hotel complex set in extensive grounds which had individual bungalows set in there. It became very popular with the Stars and anyone famous – and it was seen to be – and was – very upmarket.

It is still marketed as one of the the finest hotels in the World

Gardens and a guest bungalow at the San Ysidro Ranch

Verdant gardens, groves of olive and citrus trees, and an array of California guest bungalows distinguish the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California. A couple of years ago it was restored following mudslides exacerbated by the Thomas Fire at that time

Just prior to purchasing San Ysidro Ronald Colman and Al Weingand had visited and inspected the vast site and found it to be in pretty good shape although maybe in need of some renovation


  • 1925 – Sam Goldwyn brings Ronald Colman to Hollywood.
  • 1927 – 1935 – 2092 MOUND STREET – HOLLYWOOD HILLS – Colman bought his first home, a Spanish – style, patioed house with a tennis court. It was on a winding road and secluded behind walls and gardens.
  • 1929 – 1935 – In 1929 he leased a small beach cottage in Malibu. It was near Warner Baxter’s beach house. Colman sold it in 1935.
  • 1935 – 1953 – 1003 SUMMIT DRIVE
  • In 1935 Colman and hotel manager, Al Weingard decided to get into the hotel business and had been shopping around for the perfect property when they heard about the 525 acre property south of Santa Barbara and nestled against the coastal mountain range. It even had it’s own beach facilities several miles away.
    • The ranch had been turned into a vacation resort in 1895 and private cottages were scattered around the grounds. Colman and Weingard toured the property and found it in better shape than they had expected. Though some minor repairs were needed, both men agreed that it was what they were looking for.
    • The Colman’s property, which they called “VERBOIS” and their house was set apart from the guest cottages,and had a private drive way. Overlooking the house was a barn and garage.
    • At the time Ronald Colman and actress Benita Hume and been together for four years. They would later get married at the ranch.
    • In the beginning Ronnie and Benita used the ranch for weekend get aways and vacations while they continued to use the Summit Drive house as their full time residence.
    • In 1942 “VERBOIS” was renamed “Random House” after one of Colman’s films.
    • In 1953 they sold the Summit Drive mansion and made the ranch their permanent home.
    • On May 19, 1958 Ronald Colman passed away. He is buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery.
San Ysidro

Several weeks later Benita sold the ranch and moved back to England. She later married actor George Sanders. They remained together until her death in 1967 from bone cancer.

San Ysidro Rach, ca. 1900

The San Ysidro Ranch, located high in the Montecito hills, is today one of the area’s most exclusive resorts. It boasts a history that may be traced back to the earliest days of Santa Barbara.

San Ysidro was a working ranch throughout the 1800s.

The Johnston family sold the ranch to Ronald Colman and Alvin Weingand for $50,000 in 1935.Al Weingand was an experienced hotelier. Ronald Colman’s connections and Weingand’s managerial skills combined to produce the ranch’s most famous and elegant period.

San Ysidro soon became a favourite hideaway for the members of California’s film colony. William Powell, Jean Harlow, Audrey Hepburn, Jack Benny, Fred Astaire, and Bing Crosby were just a few of the guests. John Huston sought out the tranquil peace of the ranch to finish the script for The African Queen. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh married here in 1940; John and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned here in 1953. Discretion was an iron rule at San Ysidro.

Ronald Colman died in 1958, and Al Weingand carried on alone. A lifelong Democrat, he became deeply involved in California state politics and was a member of the state legislature for six years. He found juggling the demands of a political career and managing the ranch too difficult, and he sold the ranch in 1965. Financial troubles and litigation followed until the ranch was sold to James Lavenson in 1976, who restored it to its former glory.

Ty Warner bought the ranch in 2000. It continues to enjoy a glittering reputation for its natural beauty, its impeccable accommodations, and its wonderful cuisine. It is still a destination for many Hollywood film people who need to get away from it all.

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Kit Carson and the Mystery Riders

In 1952 there was only one channel to watch and that was BBC. During that year in the children’s Hour slot we had this Kit Carson serial which had been imported from America and was actually produced in the mid 30’s there under the name ‘Fighting with Kit Carson’

This was thrilling to us youngsters – so exciting and finishing each episode with a cliff-hanger leaving us desperately waiting for the thrillng next episode.

I have just acquired a copy of Film Director William Witney’s Autobiography and this is a film series that he worked on in his very early days in films – in fact the very first one that he worked on up at the famous Iverson Ranch.

Such was the flexibility of working practices at the time that he even had to appear in a cloak as one of the Mystery Riders .


Army scout Kit Carson (John Mack Brown) is ordered to transport a government gold shipment through Indian territory; however, among the frontiersmen recruited to assist him are several undercover members of the Mystery Riders, a ruthless outlaw band. These infiltrators kill the other gold-guards while Carson is off dealing with hostile Indians, but lose the gold itself when one surviving guard, Matt Fargo (Edmund Breese), escapes with it and hides it somewhere in the wilds.

Reynolds (Al Bridge), one of the secret Riders, tells the Army that Kit Carson was behind the massacre of the guards and the theft of the gold, forcing the scout to become a fugitive; to clear his name, he sets out to locate the gold and deal with the Mystery Riders, assisted by Fargo’s young daughter Joan (Betsy King Ross) and by Nakomas (Noah Beery Jr.), a Cheyenne chieftain whose father was murdered on the orders of the Mystery Riders’ leader.

That leader is Cyrus Kraft (Noah Beery Sr.), an outwardly honest trading-post proprietor who is determined to keep settlers out of “his” fur-trapping country, and who is equally determined to get his greedy hands on the missing gold shipment.

Like most Mascot serials, Kit Carson is filled with strong action scenes–most of them centred around the excellent stunt work of Yakima Canutt, who doubles for Johnny Mack Brown throughout the film – and because of the amount of action, he had plenty to do

Fighting With Kit Carson--riders and scenery 1
Fighting With Kit Carson--riders and scenery 2

Above, top left: Indians riding on a raid. Top right: John Mack Brown and Noah Beery Jr. race up a hillside.

Fighting with Kit Carson makes for extremely enjoyable viewing, it has excellent action, first-rate cinematography, a good hero, and a great villain.

Fighting With Kit Carson--last


Fighting With Kit Carson--team leap
Fighting With Kit Carson--guardhouse fight

Above left: Yakima Canutt (doubling Johnny Mack Brown) prepares to leap from one pair of galloping horses to another. BELOW Edward Hearn and John Mack Brown grapple for a knife during their Chapter Eleven fight.

Fighting With Kit Carson--riders and scenery 3
Fighting With Kit Carson--riders and scenery 4
Fighting With Kit Carson--canyon hunt
Fighting With Kit Carson--rigged gun

Above: The Mystery Riders are on the verge of discovering Brown’s hiding place (Top picture), until a gun previously rigged by the hero goes off just in time.

Fighting With Kit Carson--knife cliffhanger 1
Fighting With Kit Carson--knife cliffhanger 2

Above: Top Picture Noah Beery Sr. starts tossing his pocket-knife around while talking to Johnny Mack Brown –a signal to henchman Maston Williams (Bottom Picture) to throw his own knife into Brown’s back.

We then had to wait for the next episode – Will Kit survive ??

Fighting With Kit Carson--Betsy King Ross
Fighting With Kit Carson--Noah Beery Jr

Above TOP: Betsy King Ross saddles up to go to Brown’s aid.

BELOW that : Noah Beery Jr. prepares to climb up the side of a barn.

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Dick Barton Strikes Back 1949

On Radio, Dick Barton Special Agent was very popular – in fact so popular that there were three films made to benefit from this Radio success and there would have been more but for the sad fact that Don Stannard the actor playing Dick Barton on screen was killed in a car crash near Cookham

‘Dick Barton Strikes Back’ was an exciting film with action across many English locations including Blackpool and Blackpool Tower

ABOVE and BEOW – In Blackpool

ABOVE – Dick Barton played by Don Stannard, wrestles with an assailant on the lift of Blackpool Tower

This Radio drama held our attention each evening – always finishing with a ‘cliff-hanger’ situation and then the stirring title music – leaving us, so as we had to tune in the next evening. When Dick Barton finished we then got – and still have – ‘The Archers’ which I like very much and have listened to over the years.

Because Dick Bartons’s popularity, it was decided that there should be a film version – and in fact in all there were three films. Apparently another one was planned to be called ‘Dick Barton in Africa’ – sounds as if it would have been very good – but plans were scrapped after Don Stannard’s tragic death

When Dick Barton came to the screen however, Dick’s sidekicks Snowy and Jock did not seem to be as we imagined and a friend of mine made this point – they just didn’t look right.

Duncan Carse

Duncan Carse – the second Radio Dick Barton – I remember him

Don Stannard as Dick Barton in Films
Dick Barton in Haslemere
Dick Barton in Haslemere 2

Hammer Films made three Dick Barton films – so they must have had success and they were planning another when the actor who played Dick on screen, Don Stannard was killed in a car crash   on July 9 1949 at Cookham Dean in Berkshire.

I just have to add that, I have written a similar article to this a few years ago – but having done well over 1,000 articles on here, then maybe I can be excused from repeating myself at times.

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The Haunted Strangler 1958 – or ‘Grip of the Strangler’

I have known this film as ‘Grip of Strangler’ but I see that it is being shown on Talking Pictures as ‘The Haunted Strangler’. Either way, it is the same film starring Boris Karloff and it was made in England at the same time, and alongside, one of my own favourites ‘Fiend Without a Face’

The two were released together on the same bill and MGM were very happy, as together, they made quite a good profit, having done good business both here and in the USA

The film is set in Victorian times, with Boris Karloff playing a writer who becomes obsessed with a twenty-year-old case surrounding “The Haymarket Strangler” and intends to prove that the young man who was hanged for the murders two decades earlier was in fact innocent. All evidence seems to point to a certain Dr. Tenant who used a surgeon’s knife not only to choke the life out of his victims, but to slash their flesh as well. Details of Tenant’s life and whereabouts remain a mystery, and Boris Karloff is keen to investigate but that gives him some uncomfortable surprises.

It is a demanding role for Boris Karloff who was approaching 70 but he is very good in the part as a well-meaning but disoriented author going nearly mad.

Above – This Double Bill from MGM did very good business in the USA – I am not surprised as they are two good films

By the time this film was made Boris Karloff had been a star for almost 30 years mainly in Horror Films.

This film had quite a strong cast with Jean Kent and Elizabeth Allan who appeared from time to time on ‘What’s My Line’ as a panelist.

Also cast was Anthony Dawson who had a memorable role as the ‘murderer’ in ‘Dial M For Murder’ – who comes to kill Grace Kelly in a planned murder, but things do not go as planned. He also had a long and distinguished career in both Films and the Theatre

Anthony Dawson – Here with Grace Kelly ‘Dial M for Murder’ 1954

Anthony Dawson said that when he received the call from Alfred Hitchcock to do this film he was more or less told that he would do well financially out of it – which he did. It also opened doors for many other big roles including being in the Bond films.

This film was not of the standard of others in his career but nevertheless it would have been good.

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Where No Vultures Fly 1951

The Technicolor Cameras went to work in Kenya from around November 1950 on a four month shoot through the English Winter – so Anthony Steele, Dinah Sheridan and William Simons spent that winter in the warm African sun.

William Simons ABOVE – had quite a career and as a child actor he played in this one and the Sequel ‘West of Zanzibar’

Many years later though, for almost 20 years, he played Alf Ventress in the long running and very popular TV series ‘Heartbeat’

Anyway, back to the films – Maybe it was not all fun and games making ‘Where No Vultures Fly’ because, during the filming, Anthony Steele contracted Malaria – a very serious illness as we all know – while he was there and was hospitalised for a time

The Film was chosen as the Royal Command Performance for 1951

It did well at the Box Office particularly in the USA

It has just occurred to me that the filming of this would have been about the same time as MGM were doing ‘King Solomons Mines’ – a big and impressive picture – mind you Africa is a huge continent so they would most likely be miles away. Looking even further into this, it appears that most of the African location filming for King Solomons Mines was done by February of 1950 – whereas this one wasn’t started until later that year. Both were in that stunning Technicolor – still stunning to this day.

‘King Solomons Mines’ proved a massive hit at the Box Office for MGM

Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr were top billed – Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) is missing her husband, who departed on a quest to find King Solomon’s lost diamond mines.  She meets and hires a disenchanted safari guide – Allan Quatermain (Stewart Granger) to lead a search party to find him.

Richard Carlson, Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger

Along the way they are besieged with several challenges, including a tremendous animal stampede which even today makes one wonder how it was filmed – and this was way before the days of CGI special effects.

 Even now this must rank as one of the best stampede scenes ever done.

It strikes me that these films have many similarities although in many ways they are totally different. ‘King Solomons Mines has a much stronger storyline from H Rider Haggard’s magnificent novel – even though this film was only loosely based on the book – whereas ‘Where No Vultures Fly’ has an interesting take on African life at that time and is really a semi-documentary but very good at that.

I remember someone quite famous saying that he loved H Rider Haggard’s books and he used to encourage his children to read them – this is in quite recent times. He made a deal with them to read the first 50 pages of any one of his novels – and he said he knew that after that they would not be able to put the book down.

H Rider Haggard’s remains one of the greatest adventure story tellers in English Literaure of all time

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The Bullfighter and the Lady 1951

Earlier this year, saw the release on Blu Ray of the excellent ‘Bullfighter and the Lady’ Directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Robert Stack

Starring Robert Stack, Joy Page, Gilbert Roland, Virginia Grey, John Hubbard, Katy Jurado, Paul Fix

This BluRay – a special edition of Budd Boetticher’s wonderful Bullfighter And The Lady (1951) – includes the complete 124-minute cut and the 87-minute version released by Republic.

John Wayne produced the picture, for which Boetticher (and Ray Navarro) an Oscar nomination for Best Original Story.

This is a good film showing the horrors of bullfighting with excellent photography and directed by a former bullfighter himself, Budd Boetticher.

John Wayne produced this picture but did not appear in this film and presented a film that was originally cut into pieces but has been restored to its original print, which is seen today.

Robert Stack, (Johnny Regan) plays the role as a U.S. Citizen who has connections with Hollywood and has become interested in becoming a bullfighter – he travels to Mexico to meet a real famous matador.

Johnny meets up with Manolo Estgrada, (Gilbert Roland) and he soon makes an arrangement with Manolo to teach him how to shoot birds in exchange for Matador lessons.

ABOVE Joy Page in Casablanca

This film goes into great detail about how to fight a bull and the dangers of the sport. Johnny falls in love at first sight with Anita De La Vega, (Joy Page) who initially doesn’t show much interest in him but slowly thing develop

Bullfighter and the Lady was Boetticher’s first film as an A-list Hollywood director. It was a personal and, in many ways, an autobiographical project. The young Budd Boetticher had spent some years in Mexico as a gringo obsessed with bullfighting. He had trained as a bullfighter and achieved some degree of success – just as Johnny Regan (Robert Stack) does in this film. Returning to the United States, he broke into movies as a technical consultant on the bullfight scenes in Blood and Sand (Rouben Mamoulian, 1941).


Joy Page, who died aged 83 in 2008 had previously had a strong supporting role in ‘Casablanca’ – playing the part of Annina, a young newlywed Bulgarian girl who, with her husband, wishes to escape to America, but has no money for an exit visa. For this, she is willing to sleep with Captain Renault (Claude Rains).

“Monsieur Rick, what kind of a man is Captain Renault?” she asks Humphrey Bogart, owner of Rick’s Café Américain. “Oh, he’s just like any other man, only more so,” he says wryly. She then has a speech that crystallises the central love story between Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, though Annina is referring to her own dilemma. “Oh, monsieur, you are a man. If someone loved you very much, so that your happiness was the only thing that she wanted in the whole world, but she did a bad thing to make certain of it, would you forgive her? … And he never knew and the girl kept this bad thing locked in her heart? That would be all right, wouldn’t it?

Because, as the song goes, “the world will always welcome lovers”, Bogart saves her from selling herself, by letting her husband win at the roulette table.

Merely the fact that she was part of the cast of Casablanca is enough to gain Joy Page enduring fame. Nevertheless, her performance in her first screen role was so refreshing and touching that it is surprising that her career never took off. She seemed to have had all the advantages. Born in Los Angeles as Joy Paige, she was the daughter of silent-screen Latin lover Don Alvarado (real name José Paige) and Ann Boyar, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants. The latter married Jack Warner, head of Warner Bros studios, after she and Alvarado divorced. Joy was 12 years old when Warner became her stepfather.

She was a 17-year-old senior at Beverly Hills high, when she was prompted to read for the part of Annina in Casablanca by Sophie Rosenstein, her acting coach at Warner Bros. Though Warner was pleased with her performance, he did nothing to encourage her acting subsequently, and she never made another film for her stepfather’s studio.

Exploiting her dusky looks, inherited from her Mexican-American father (who died in 1967), and despite her name, Joy Page played a number of señoritas in both films and television until she retired in 1959.

However, her first two post-Casablanca film roles were as an Arab girl, daughter of beggar Ronald Colman, who schemes for her to marry the caliph of Baghdad in Kismet (1944) and an Indian girl (married to Sabu), mauled by the tiger in Man-Eater of Kumaon (1948).

She then did this one – The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) as Anita de la Vega, with whom an American (Robert Stack) on holiday in Mexico becomes fascinated, almost as much as he is by bulls. She co-starred with Stack again in Conquest of Cochise (1953), in which she suffered beautifully as Mexican aristocrat Consuelo de Cordova, held hostage by John Hodiak as the Apache leader.

Joy Page was then an Italian partisan helping American pilot Sterling Hayden in Fighter Attack (1953), and played “the other woman” in The Shrike (1955), notable for allowing June Allyson to play against type as a shrewish wife. Subsequently, Page appeared mainly in episodes of television series produced by her husband William Orr, whom she had married in 1945. Minor film actor Orr was swiftly made a producer by Warner, who later put him in charge of Warner Bros Television, thus engendering such comments as “the son-in-law also rises”.

As an aside to the ABOVE – ‘Casablanca’ was released 80 years ago this month

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Patricia Driscoll as Maid Marian

Well I have to admit hat Joan Rice is my own very favourite Maid Marian from the 1952 Walt Disney film ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’

Only a few years later though we have the Television series The Adventure of Robin Hood with Richard Greene and first Bernadette O’Farrell as Maid Marion and then a very surprised Patricia Driscoll was offered and accepted the role as Maid Marian

She had been doing the Children’s TV programme ‘Picture Book’ when she received the call to go for a test. She was surprised but went along – not really expecting anything to come of it – and lo and behold, she got the part.

Patricia Driscoll with her husband Duncan Lamont

Duncan Lamont was Patricia’s husband and also an actor – very busy on Television and in films – in fact he played Victor Caroon in ‘The Quatermass Experiment’ which scared me and my brother so much so that Dad would not let us see the last episode.

His character, on his sick, bed reached out for a ‘cactus-like’plant which gradually grew on him and eventually took him over to become the monster. Memorable Television of that early era.

At that time, he was working a lot, but Patricia on Picture Book had a good but more relaxed life style – that changed with ‘Robin Hood’ when she had to be up at 5-30 am to travel to the Studios, often not getting back home until 7 pm. which left Duncan for much of the time as head cook and bottle washer. Mind you as she admitted her pay rose to three times what it had been.

As we all know this series was a monster hit Worldwide – particularly in America – and Patricia Driscoll received very many fan letters from there.

She had starred before this with Max Bygraves in a really pleasant Colour Film ‘Charlie Moon’ and she was also in an episode of ‘Scotland Yard’ and ‘Fabian of the Yard’ – an episode called ‘The Poison Machine’ one of the only episodes that I have much of a memory of – it was to me at the time quite disturbing.

Patricia Driscoll died in 2020 at the age of 92 but her husband Duncan Lamont had passed away in 1978.

I had always thought that they didn’t have children but in fact they did have two – one was a daughter not sure of the other

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Flame of the Islands 1956

From Republic Pictures and in Truclor. Well – What more could you want – and with an exciting title

Flame of the Islands (1956)

Republic Pictures. With Yvonne DeCarlo in the leading role.

She’s a tough, sensual and glamorous presence as our heroine Rosalind Dee. Yvonne DeCarlo even gets to sing in the film

French language poster for Flame of the Islands (1956)

ABOVE: Zachary Scott and Yvonne DeCarlo in Flame of the Islands (1956).
Republic Studio’s ‘Trucolour’ process was used here , the poor man’s Technicolour. . The better-than-life colours (like the blue of a swimming pool, Yvonne DeCarlo’s ice-pink dress) really stand out on the screen

In fact, for a relatively low-budget film,  ‘Flame of the Islands’is a great viewing experience – the action is set in the Bahamas.

It was definitely filmed on location in the Bahamas and that somehow gives the film an exotic ‘ holiday type’ look

Rosalind upset some of the snobby locals as she belts out’ a raunchy musical performance at the Christmas cocktail party!  

Above: Yvonne DeCarlo and Howard Duff in Flame of the Islands /
Howard Duff comes over as weak a character Doug Duryea, the rich boy who broke DeCarlo’s heart years before – and who she longs to reunite with.

The reliably intense character actress Barbara O’Neil wrings maximum drama from every second she is onscreen as Duff’s neurotic socialite mother Charmaine.

Of course, Charmaine is mortified that her son is entangled with a disreputable nightclub singer with a scandalous past.

Barbara O’Neil ABOVE whose supporting roles in films include ‘ All This and Heaven Too‘ (1940) and ‘Angel Face‘ (1952) / 
James Arness is cast as Reverend Kelly Rand.

The scene where Kelly takes DeCarlo marlin fishing on his boat is one of Flame’s highlights.

Then we come to Zachary Scott who plays Wade Evans, DeCarlo’s best friend who tags along for the adventure.

ABOVE: Zachary Scott in Flame of the Islands (1956)

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