Brigadoon

The Legend: The legend of Brigadoon is the story of a mythical village in the Scottish Highlands.  The village became enchanted centuries ago remaining unchanged and invisible to the outside world except for one special day every hundred years when it could be seen and even visited by outsiders.   This enchanted day is spent in joy and celebration. Those who happen upon Brigadoon may remain in this beguiling place only if they love another enough to give up the world outside.

Visitors were even allowed to stay but if anyone left the village during the enchanted day,  then the miracle would be broken and it would mean the end for them all!

The 1966 Version of ‘Brigadoon’ stars Robert Goulet and Sally Anne Howes

Many people,were severely disappointed with the 1954 MGM film.The problem with it was that the studios handed it over to a (very talented) song and dance man – Gene Kelly.He cut quite a few of the songs,and extended the dance sequences but it just became something that wasn’t Brigadoon anymore.

However the 1966 film is a beautiful Version Of ‘Brigadoon’ ! With The Voices Of Sally Ann Howes, And Robert Goulet

This 1966 version sets the record straight,and given that it was the last film version, it has to be good, and it is. Yes,there are many stage versions,but some musicals require a film treatment,and this is one,and gets the sympathetic treatment it deserves.

Anyone who knows Scotland knows that there ARE in the Highlands, glens, lochs and mountains where it is still so quiet and set apart that sometimes you can really believe that somewhere there IS Brigadoon, just over your shoulder.

This is a review by Ray Kemper, CBS Audio Engineer, retired.

I was the audio engineer on this production and enjoyed every minute of working on it. Robert Goulet was extremely professional and very nice to work with, as were all the cast members. Fielder Cook was an excellent director and catered to my wishes for carefully crafted audio. We shot the production at CBS Television City, in Los Angeles, plus location shooting. It was aired on ABC. Unfortunately, I did not keep a copy of it. I believe ABC destroyed the original but, if anyone out there ever locates a copy, please let me know. I would dearly love to have it in my files. Thank you.

This wonderful production also had the cast album. One favorite song was “My Mother’s Wedding Day” sung by “Meg Brockie” – Marlyn Mason.

This was the one song that was left out of the 1954 Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse version

Very different from the 1954 film, this Brigadoon was quietly romantic and vividly atmospheric. With Robert Goulet and Sally Ann Howes, of course there was singing, but not in the Hollywood production number style.

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Odongo 1956

Warwick Productions seemed to be testing the water in many ways, with quite a few adventure films and this was one of them – following on swiftly from ‘Safari’ with Victor Mature which seemed to have a reasonable budget and I found very entertaining

This one ‘Odongo’ is again set in Africa and was filmed at the same time as ‘Safari’ which must have made economic senseif it can all be pulled together

The film was photographed in Cinemascope and Technicolor and set on an animal farm in Kenya and starred McDonald Carey and Rhonda Fleming.

MacDonald Carey plays Steve Stratton, a hunter who collects animals for zoos and circuses, and Fleming plays Pamela Muir, the shapely red-headed vet newly hired to look after the health of the animals being held for their buyers. When Stratton had hired “P.J. Muir,” he didn’t know she was a woman and is a bit upset, thinking the job will be too much for her. He urges her to leave but allows her to stay until he can find a new vet.

Meantime, there are plenty of animals to take care of and Muir plunges into her work with courage and dedication. Odongo is a spirited adolescent Indian boy (played by Juma) who works for Stratton, feeding and caring for the animals and also serving the whites at dinnertime. Stratton is an occasionally harsh father figure to the boy, scolding him for developing overly close relationships with the animals and taking him hunting to try to get him to learn to shoot antelopes (to get meat for the camp), all to no avail. The boy can’t bring himself to kill.

Serious conflict is introduced when Walla, a disgruntled native who’d been fired by Stratton, sneaks into camp one night, frees all the animals and then sets fire to the place. Odongo is blamed for the crime and he runs away. Walla finds Odongo and abducts him. When Walla is identified as the culprit by a wounded witness, whites and local natives join in the hunt. The chase is on.

Later Walla and pushes Odongo from a cliff into crocodile-filled waters.

Steve, luckily, is on hand to save him.

Then Walla encounters one of Odongo’s animals while trying to escape and he is killed. After all this excitement, Pamela agrees to stay

ABOVE – Juma had previously been in ‘Safari’ and had impressed the film makers to such an extent that he was quickly into this one – again he gets very good reviews

ABOVE – Still from the film – when we saw these in the glass case outside of the cinema, we just had to see the film. We couldn’t afford to miss this one !!

ABOVE – An excellent and very exciting poster

Two or three years before this, Warwick Films had scored a big box office hit with ‘The Red Beret’ starring Alan Ladd

‘Odongo’ did ok but was nowhere near as successful as ‘The Red Beret’

A snippet I did not know was that, later than this and beginning in 1965, MacDonald Carey appeared playing DR Tom Horton in the US Television series ‘Days of Our Lives’ – in fact not only was he in it, he played this part in 3828 episodes. Astonishing

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The Admirable Crichton 1957

We have featured this film before but today it was on Talking Pictures again and we watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it again.

It was apparently from a stage play of the same name by J M Barrie. The cast here was near perfect and it saw Kenneth More to my mind, in the best film part he ever got – and he took full advantage of his chance and was very good in the role.

Quite a big role too for Diane Cilento before she married Sean Connery and the whole ‘Bond’ thing got under way, and effectively ruined her family life and in a way, her career.

Here below is an excellent Trailer from the film – but this was the Americal release which had the title ‘Paradise Lagoon’

Cecil Parker also starred as did Sally Anne Howes whose character was transformed by her 2 years stay on the island in fact all the aristocratic family had their lives turned on its head – but they loved it

The film was a co-production between Alexander Korda’s old company and Columbia.

Lewis Gilbert the Director, said the film:

Was freely adapted from the J M Barrie play to suit Kenny More and it was a very successful film. I don’t think you owe total allegiance to the original text because you are, in a sense, making something that is very different. I was very fond of Kenny as an actor, although he wasn’t particularly versatile. What he could do, he did very well. His strengths were his ability to portray charm; basically he was the officer returning from the war and he was superb in that kind of role. The minute that kind of role went out of existence, he began to go down as a box office star

howes

She remains best remembered for being Truly Scrumptious in name and appearance in the children’s classic “Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang” [1968] — but almost a decade earlier Sally Ann Howes’ comic turn as an English aristocrat who is stripped of her pretensions [and most of her heavy Edwardian couture] in Bermuda endeared her to an older movie audience.

A witty adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s 1903 play of the same name, “The Admirable Crichton” is about an aristocratic Edwardian family and their servants who finds themselves marooned on a South Seas island — and how the normal social roles are reversed during the struggle to survive.

With Bermuda standing in for the imaginary Pacific island, the 1957 movie was directed by Lewis Gilbert and also starred Kenneth More and Diane Cilento.

At Loam Hall in 1905 England, Lord Henry Loam [Cecil Parker], the socially conscious master of the estate, preaches equality for all, even though he enjoys a life of privilege. To prove his point, Loam instructs his three haughty daughters, Lady Mary [Ms Howes], Catherine [Mary Haystead] and Agatha [Miranda Connell], to entertain the staff at tea that afternoon.

The Admirable Crichton (1957)

When Loam’s impeccable butler, William Crichton [Mr. More], informs his underlings that their attendance is required at tea, they are only slightly more mortified that Loam’s daughters. Also attending the soirée that afternoon is George Brocklehurst [Peter Graves], Mary’s snobbish fiancé and his mother, the pompous Lady Emily Brocklehurst [Martita Hunt]. The party abruptly ends, however, when word comes that Catherine has been arrested for attending a suffragette meeting, causing Loam promptly to renounce all attempts at equality.

To escape the scandal of Catherine’s arrest, Crichton suggests that the family take a cruise, with the staff in attendance. Also joining the group is Alex Wooley [Gerald Harper], the second son of a Lord, a vicar [Jack Watling] and Eliza [Diane Cilento], the servant known as “Tweeny” because she has not yet achieved the position of lady’s maid.

crichton2

Once at sea, Lady Mary questions Crichton about his ambition, and he replies that he is content to be a butler, the highest rank in the hierarchy of servitude. One blustery night, a storm hits, and after the engines explode, the captain gives the order to abandon ship. When the lifeboats are launched, Crichton goes below deck to rescue the sleeping Eliza.

After jumping overboard, the two are picked up by the boat carrying Loam, his daughters, the vicar and Wooley, who have become separated from the others.

Spotting an island in the distance, the group eagerly makes their way to land. Upon reaching shore, the inept vicar and Wooley tie the craft to a turtle who then tows it out to sea.

After surveying the island, Crichton reports that it is deserted and begins to take charge of the situation, assigning sleeping quarters and kindling a fire.

 Eliza, who is smitten by Crichton, describes herself as a bumbling oaf compared to the polished butler. Soon after, they see the “Bluebell”, their abandoned yacht, approaching the shore and watch as it founders on some rocks.

Swimming to the wreck, Crichton retrieves the basic necessities, prompting the others to order him to return to the boat and bring back frilly dresses and a formal dining service. When Crichton questions their frivolity, Loam fires the butler for insubordination, and Crichton leaves the camp followed by Eliza.

Hungry and helpless, that night Loam and his fellow aristocrats smell the scent of roasting pork and follow it to Crichton’s camp, where the butler beneficently offers them a pork chop.

One day while swimming to the wreck, she begins to flounder in the water. Crichton, nearby, presses her to continue on, and upon reaching the boat, she sobs on his shoulder.

crichton4

Two years later, life on the island is thriving under the benevolent rule of Crichton, whom everyone now addresses as “Guv.”

Even Loam treats his former butler with deference, happily pressing his pants and running his errands.

As Crichton rallies the others to build a boat to sail back to England, it becomes obvious that no one wants to leave the idyllic life on the island.

Later, Crichton confides to Mary, with whom he has fallen in love, that he is afraid of losing her once they return to civilisation. When Crichton informs Eliza that he and Mary have become engaged, the heartbroken Eliza puts on a brave front.

On their wedding day, Mary and Crichton are in the midst of exchanging their vows when a ship is spotted offshore.

admirable-crichton-5

Although Mary opposes lighting the beacon they have built to signal passing ships, Crichton, putting the welfare of the others above his own happiness, orders the beacon lit. By the time the ship’s crew arrives on the island, Crichton has reverted to his role as butler. Some time later, a ball is held at Loam Hall to celebrate the return of the survivors.

Lord Loam now takes total credit for their success and Wooley has published a book about the adventure, painting himself as the hero. While they all fear that Crichton will expose their incompetence, Lady Brocklehurst, suspecting that something is amiss, decides to uncover what really happened and so assembles the survivors in the drawing room.

When she asks Crichton if they were all equals on the island, he assures her that the social order was preserved.

crichton5

After the celebration ends, Crichton announces that he plans to leave service because there are “too many Lady Brocklehursts in England.” Crichton explains that he plans to finance a business with the pearls that he pried from the oysters on the island.

When Mary begs him to return to the island with her, he replies that they cannot fight civilisation.

Afterward, on the servants’ staircase, Eliza asks Crichton to take her with him. Later, Crichton bids the family farewell and is then joined by his fiancée, Eliza.

The film was the third most popular one at the British box office in 1957 and was a critical and popular hit in the US as well where it was released under the title “Paradise Lagoon.”

Poster

Ms Howes, now 82 and living in West Palm Beach, was recently greeted by 1,500 adoring fans when she attended a January Turner Classic Movies screening of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in Florida.

Born into a theatrical family, she made her acting debut as a teenager and went on to appear on Broadway and in the West End in such musical productions “My Fair Lady”, “The Sound Of Music” and “Caprice” as well as dramas like an adaptation of James Joyce’s “The Dead.”

Long-time friends, such as Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies, rave about her.

“Sally Ann is extremely attractive, level-headed, talented, a credit to both the theatrical profession and womanhood in general,” says Mr. Osborne. “I’ve never heard even a hint of temper tantrums or diva behavior from her; it’s clearly not part of her DNA. She has great respect for the profession that’s always been an integral part of her life and it shows in her work on stage and her outlook off. I’ve been an enormous fan of hers since I saw her light up a theatre in a magnificent production of ‘The Sound of Music.’

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Prince Philip – Duke of Edinburgh – with the stars

On occasions the Duke of Edinburgh rubbed shoulders with the Film Stars of the day – or maybe that should be the Film Stars rubbed shoulders with him

Here he is Above with American actress Rhonda Fleming

ABOVE – Not sure of the occasion but this photograph is taken at Pinewood Film Studios with a young lady suitable dressed serving a drink to Prince Philip – is that Lord Louis Mountbatten on the far left of the picture ?

ABOVE – Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh having a jolly time at a function – Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner to the Left of the picture – and I think that is Ginger Rogers on the right. No real idea who the lady in the centre is.

Anyway the Duke seems to be making them laugh.

A later photograph shows a very relaxed Roger Moore sharing one of his anecdotes with The Duke of Edinburgh – Cubby Broccoli seems amused by whatever has been said.

This is an occasion that Roger Moore would rake in his stride

In 1948, the Duke of Edinburgh, 27, was introduced to actress Pat Kirkwood in her dressing room at the Hippodrome Theatre in London.

That evening Philip drove Pat also 27, erratically to a Mayfair restaurant in his sports car — nearly causing an accident in the process – where the pair enjoyed dinner together at Les Ambassadeurs.

Afterwards they headed to a nightclub, where they stayed up until dawn dancing cheek-to-cheek.

Pat Kirkwood was later quoted as saying: “He was so full of life and energy. I suspect he felt trapped and rarely got a chance to be himself. I think I got off on the right foot because I made him laugh”

Philip and Pat are said to have enjoyed each other’s company a further six times – sparking alleged romance rumours.

But the time spent together soon turned sour when their friendship resulted in headlines worldwide such as “The Prince and the Showgirl”.

Pat Kirkwood always denied there was any affair, and even went as far to say their friendship “ruined her life” as the Palace refused to deny the rumours.

Her friends believe that her association with Philip is the reason she never received any official honours, despite 60 years of stardom.

Letters between her and Philip that came to light after her death in 2007, aged 86, referred to the gossip as a “ridiculous rumour” spread by “evil-minded” people, indicating an affair never happened.

  • Pat’s first husband was theatrical manager Jack Lister in 1940. The marriage broke down when Pat suffered a nervous breakdown and spent eight months in a New York sanatorium.
  • In 1952, she married Greek shipowner, Spiro “Sparky” de Spero Gabriele. He died two years later from a heart attack.
  • Actor, playwright and composer Hubert Gregg became her third husband in 1956. He wrote hit songs such as Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner. Their marriage ended 23 years later.
  • Pat met husband number four just two years later. Peter Knight, a retired lawyer and president of the Bradford & Bingley Building Society.

ABOVE – As I remember the very young Pat Kirkwood with George Formby in ‘Come On George’ one of his very best films

Another of the Duke of Edinburgh’s friends for a time was James Robertson Justice – I thought that he was a part of the ‘Thursday Club’ that met in London’s West End in the early fifties.

It has been claimed Philip was first introduced to the club by his good friend Baron Nahum, a society photographer, with the help of the actor James Robertson Justice and several others.

The Duke of Edinburgh at the ceremony where James Robertson Justice became Rector of Edinburgh University

The Duke of Edinburgh and James Robertson Justice on occasions went wildfowling together in the Wash close to Sandringham

Jack Mills a Holbeach Lincolnshire resident, had been told an amusing story concerning Prince Philip’s stay at The Bull Hotel in Long Sutton, from actor James Robertson Justice, who was a regular wildfowler in the area.

Prince Philip joined the actor during a morning shoot on the outmarsh in 1954.

Prince Philip had been ordered out The Bull Hotel in Long Sutton in the 1950s
Prince Philip had been ordered out The Bull Hotel in Long Sutton in the 1950s

Mr Mills, of Holbeach, said: “Arriving secretly the two of them laid out all their gear in the scullery before loading into the car.”

This created some problems for a staff member who had arrived early to clean.

Mr Mills said: “To her horror, she saw the clobber on the scullery floor and was unable to start work.

“She knew Justice well but had no idea who the other fellow was, and ordered them both to get out in no uncertain terms.”

She put them both in their place on this occasion

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Prince Philip with the Queen visiting Ronald Reagan and his wife – California

As we pay tribute to Prince Philip for his service over a lifetime to the Queen and Country we go back to a happy visit for them both to California when they met film star of the fifties and before, Ronald Reagan, and his film star wife Nancy.

Prince Philip, as always, was at his wife, The Queen’s side, during this memorable visit

I always remember this visit coincided with an enormous amount of rainfall and the Queen and Duke’s party had a real job even getting to the ranch owned by President Reagan and his wife Nancy.

I have the idea that they came on the Royal Yacht or at least it was nearby.

On her historic first visit to Santa Barbara, thousands braved cold rain to get a glimpse of her at the Santa Barbara Airport, Courthouse and Mission.

But what promised to be a festive occasion for her scheduled landing at Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf was washed out by a persistent rainstorm.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip left the royal yacht Britannia in Long Beach and flew instead on an Air Force DC-9 and spent six hours in Reagan’s home town.

The improvised arrival was shifted to a large Tracor Aviation hangar at the airport.

From there he motorcade sped through flag-decked streets to Highway 101 and the Reagan’s 688-acre Rancho del Cielo.

The parties had to use four-wheel drive vehicles to ford swollen crossings of Refugio Creek.

A horse ride at the ranch was scrubbed even though it wasn’t raining at the time. Lunch was enchiladas, chile rellenos, refried beans, tacos, rice, guacamole and fresh fruit.

The queen’s press secretary, Michael O’Shea, said she found the rugged trip through flooded creeks up the mountain “very enjoyable and very exciting.”

Ronald Reagan riding with The Queen

The Queen presents Ronald Reagan with an Honour in London

Ronald Reagan di not make that many films involving horse riding but below is one of them :-

The Last Outpost 1951

Ronald Reagan was always a good rider and would have loved to do more westerns in his career and it seems that he was really pleased to accept the role in The Last Outpost after he was give permission to ride his own horse which was named Tarbaby

The Last Outpost casts Ronald Reagan and Bruce Bennett who are brothers and who have split their loyalties during the Civil War. Fate has brought them together in the west with Bennett taking command of a Federal outpost in Arizona territory to deal with a band of Confederate raiders. Little does Bennett know that Reagan is commanding those raiders and little does Reagan know that the girl he left behind played by Rhonda Fleming is out west and unhappily married to trading post owner John Ridgely.

John Ridgely gets killed early on in the film, but not before he sets in motion a plan whereby he will be legally allowed to sell whiskey and arms to the Apaches.

Bruce Bennett plays the solid dependable brother, but Ronald Reagan has the dash and charm in his role

The Last Outpost is a good entertaining western with the cast giving fine performances

ABOVE – A Scene from ‘The Last Outpost’

and BELOW

A scene from another Ronald Reagan Western – and one I well remember ‘ Cattle Queen of Montana’ with Barbara Stanwyck.

I remember seeing this and being impressed yet again by the VERY wide screen – In ‘Superscope’

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Prince Philip – ‘The Queen in Australia 1954’ film

Today we learn of the death of the Queen’s loyal and devoted husband Prince Philip – someone who has been with her every step of the way throughout her long reign and before and someone she relied on both to support her and to advise her.

Her Majesty, The Queen is a woman who has served as Queen for 68 years and barely put a foot wrong in those seven decades.

She has today lost the love of her life, and the man who helped her throughout.

Britain today has lost one of its greatest servants.

We Thank You Prince Philip for your service to our country in both Wartime and later as The Queen’s most loyal husband and companion throughout your long life. Thank You again

We pay our tribute to The Duke of Edinburgh here by linking to a film made of The Queen and Prince Philip’s tour of Australia in 1954 showing to the world, in an era long before live Television, a cinema released colour film of the whole tour – made in Ferraniacolor

To put the success of this visit in perspective when the 27 year old Queen sailed into Sydney harbour on 3 February 1954, she practically stopped the nation. Her arrival at Farm Cove, attracted an estimated 1 million onlookers in a city with a population of 1,863,161 (1954 ABS Census). Those who couldn’t be there in person could listen to ABC radio’s nation-wide coverage of the historic occasion.

Here again as always Prince Philip was at her side

The Duke of Edinburgh had in fact  six decades as an official and very colourful Royal visitor to Australia.

As head of the Commonwealth, the Queen is the head of state in 16 nations, including the English-speaking, Westminster democracies of Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  


The Queen is always warmly welcomed wherever she has travelled in Australia.

On some occasions, however, the Duke has visited Australia without the Queen, such as when he opened the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the 1962 Empire Games in Perth and the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra in 1965.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 16: The Queen And Prince Philip Chatting Together During The Royal Windsor Horse Show In The Grounds Of Windsor Castle.



He was also by the Queen’s side when she opened the Sydney Opera House in 1973 and the new Parliament House in 1988 as Australia was commemorating its bicentenary. 

ABOVE – This 1954 film— in CinemaScope and Eastman Color/Colour—covers the earlier-in-the-year six-months tour of the British Commonwealth by Queen Elizabeth and Philip, later joined by Prince Charles and Princess Anne toward the end of the trip.

This film includes visits to the Fiji Islands, Tongo, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Africa, New Zealand as well as Australia.

We see lots of native music and tribal dances and scenery in between shots of the Royal pair arriving and departing.

For many of these visits The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh travelled by the Royal Yacht – and they loved it. It must have been so exciting for them to sail from Australia to New Zealand then on to Fiji and Tonga through the Pacific Ocean. They would just be able to make those visits and then return to their ‘little home’ on the ocean

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Larry Parks – The Swordsman

Larry Parks had hit stardom in a very big way before this with ‘The Jolson Story’ a huge hit at the Box Office starring as the legendary Al Jolson

After ‘The Jolson Story’ Larry appeared in two swashbucklers for Columbia first this one and then quickly afterwards in ‘The Gallant Blade’ both faring very well at the Box Office

The Swordsman 1948 with Ellen Drew

ABOVE – Looks like a happy ending which I am pleased about

BELOW – Larry in the saddle

After these two films he went back and did ‘Jolson Sings Again’ another big hit financially. It has to be said that he was great as Al Jolson and the way he mimed to the songs was about as perfect as I have ever seen.

‘The Jolson Story’ and ‘Jolson Sings Again’ were close to being the biggest commercial successes of 1946 and 1949 respectively

Jolson Sings Again 1949

   
Larry Parks wed the love of his life, Betty Garrett, who he’d met at The Actors Studio and for him at least, it was love at first sight. They stayed married until Larry died of a heart attack in 1975.    Following the success of “Jolson” he went on to star in “The Gallant Blade” “Down to Earth” with Riat Hayworth, The Swordsman” with Ellen Drew and was voted 1947’s Bobby Soxers Man of the Year.

Then Larry and Betty put together a Song and Dance Variety Act to play The London Palladium after which the successfully toured England and Scotland to packed crowds.    
In 1949 Larry reprised his Jolson portrayal for the Hit sequel “Jolson Sings Again”, his performances reviving Al ‘s career and putting him back in the spotlight selling records to a whole new generation.   After this came “Emergency Wedding” with Barbara Hale, who had played the second ‘Mrs Jolson’, the first played by Evelyn Keyes.   

Larry then starred with Elizabeth Taylor in “Love is Better than Ever” (1952, which I think would have been better if it had been in Colour!)     Then with Betty they again took their Variety Act back to Europe and from there to Las Vegas playing at El Rancho  and The Desert Inn, at this time Larry was also Guesting on TV in ‘Dr Kildare’ and The Ford All Star Theatre. 

He went back to England in ’55 to make “Tiger By The Tail’ and then on returning to the USA, Larry took the Lead Touring in “Teahouse of The August Moon” for three years (when Marlon Brando was offered the part in the film, he went to watch Larry and visited him).

Following this he toured in “The Marriage Go Round, “Any Wednesday” “Bells are Ringing” “High Button Shoes”, “Plaza Suite” (which he loved and played again in 1970)”Cactus Flower” “The Tender Trap” some of these were with Betty Starring with him. he then did more TV  (Hitchcock, The Untouchables) and his last Film Role was in John Houston’s “Freud” with Montgomery Clift in 1962. He also continued playing Theatre with Betty and their two sons, Garrett and Andrew.

Above – A Scene from ‘The Swordsman’

ABOVE – The 750-seat Elgin Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, opened as a single screen theatre on November 15, 1937 with Leslie Howard in “Stand-In”. It was designed by architectural firm Kaplan & Sprachman. The Elgin Theatre added another auditorium on December 25, 1947 opening with Larry Parks in “The Swordsman”, making it one of North America’s earliest two-screen theatres.

Larry and Betty had put together a Song and Dance Variety Act and came to England with it and this must have been one of the venues

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Visit to Elstree Film Studios

Back in what would have been the summer of 1958, in the Fans Own Film Annual there is featured a very interesting article on two young ladies who were obviously film fans who were invited to pay a visit to tour the studios and see what was happening and, maybe, meet some of the stars.

The two young ladies in question were 20 year old Judy Pickering and 23 year old recently married Pamela Hoisington

Pam and Judy arrive at Elstree to a cheery greeting

Judy writes :

I think every film fan must have wondered sometimes about all the work that goes into a film before it appears on the screen. I don’t just mean how many times a certain scene is shot before the director is satisfied, or how much time is devoted to the arduous task of learning lines, but how long it takes to construct the sets needed for the film and the materials used, the job of obtaining unusual props, how costumes are designed and made, the work of the continuity girl, the time spent in hair-dressing, make-up, tea making – the list is never ending.

My friend Pam and I found the answers to a great many of these questions in our visit to Elstree Studios

Pam and Judy are greeted by Stanley Baker who is at Elstree filming ‘Violent Saturday’

Our charming host, Mr Toy Curtis-Bramwell, the Publicity Editor, met us at the main doors and led us into his spacious office with portraits of our favourite stars on the wall. He introduced us to Mr Bob Penn, our photographer. Together they showed us around the immense buildings and surrounding countryside that forms Associated British Studios.

First to the Props rooms which are housed in an enormous two-storeyed building

ABOVE – Pam among the bottles – plenty to drink there by the looks of it

This is just the start of Judy’s recollections of a very interesting day.

We will continue this with more details and pictures – we will see them finding memorabilia from ‘Tommy the Toreador’ a film that had starred Tommy Steele. It had been filmed to a great extent in Spain with the interior scenes done at Elstree

Filmed at Elstree
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A New Cinema Venture – Maybe Not

From time to time, I purchase a film of the era on celluloid and on reels – often 16 mm ones which I don’t think were used so much in cinemas – I may be wrong on that.

Anyway a few weeks ago I purchased this 35 mm Film of Walt Disney’s classic ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ made here in England in 1951 and released in 1952.

This 35 mm format would have been used in cinemas

I must admit that I am pretty chuffed to have acquired this from the USA

The pictures of the cardboard box containing the film are pretty mundane I know but it is what is inside that is exciting – now all we need is a 35 mm Film Projector and away we go.

When we load up the projector, dim the lights and press the button we are there in the greenwood and in TECHNICOLOR

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Mrs Dale – Ellis Powell and Ralph Truman

Just following up on recent articles.

BELOW – This is a picture that was taken at the time of the 2,000 th episode of Mrs Dale’s Diary with Ellis Powell as Mrs Dale and James Dale as Dr Dale. This episode coincided with their son Bob’s wedding

In the last weeks of her life, Ellis Powell is reported to have worked at the Ideal Home Exhibition and as a hotel cleaner. She had been invited to become an announcer at boxer Freddie Mills’s Nite spot in London, but died before she could take the job.

On 19 February 1963, Ellis Powell a fifty-six-year-old character actress walked out of Broadcasting House for the last time. In fact she had earned less than £ 30 a week playing Mrs. Dale in Mrs Dale’s Diary but her voice was as well known in Britain as that of Queen Elizabeth II, for it was heard twice a day by seven million devoted listeners.

The BBC had decided the programme needed a facelift and got rid of Ellis Powell. Typical of the BBC – they haven’t changed much over the years – they have a successful programme like this one with 7 million listeners and then decide to get rid of the mainstay of the show – the leading actress. It defies belief but this is the way it is done there it seems.

Three months later, at the age of fifty-seven, she died. Her friends believed she never recovered from the shock and distress of her sudden departure from the BBC. In the last weeks of her life she worked as a demonstrator at the Ideal Home Exhibition and as a cleaner in a hotel.

Freddie Mills Nite Spot

Freddie Mills Nite Spot

Ellis Powell had been married to fellow actor Ralph Truman who I always remember for playing George Merry in Walt Disney’s ‘Treasure Island’ in 1950.

The Director Byron Haskin allowed and in fact encouraged Ralph Truman to go head to head with Robert Newton in the acting stakes and this he did with much success the resulting in making Robert Newton seem to be almost underplaying his role of Long John Silver at times when they were both on screen together.

Having said that Byron Haskin was full of praise for Robert Newton who had worked so hard on the film with barely a day off

Ralph Truman as George Merry in ‘Treasure Island’

Anyway, I digress – Ralph Truman had a long and successful career as a film actor and his wife too had a good career in Radio drama from before the War and during the War and afterwards.

Ralph Truman was also in a very good Hitchcock film ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ in 1956 as Inspector Buchanan – and later he appeared in Ben Hur and El Cid

Ralph Truman on the Left in The Night My Number Came Up

As for his wife Ellis Powell, her treatment by the BBC afterwards was nothing short of shameful. They even seemed to go along and promote the story that she had a problem with alcohol – but when this is looked into there is very little evidence to support that

Ralph du Vergier Truman, 1900 – 1977

Ralph du Vergier Truman was born 7 May 1900, in London Ralph married Ellis Agnes Estelle Truman (born Powell).Ellis was born in 1905, in London, England.

After her death Ralph married Maria “Mimi” Vittoria H Truman (born Cooper).Maria was born on November 13 1918, in Brentford, Middlesex, England

Ralph Truman died in Ipswich in 1977

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