Smell O Vision

Possibly the most bizarre film gimmick involved film screenings enhanced with specific smells. “AromaRama” made its big-screen debut in 1959 with Carlo Lizzani’s “Behind the Great Wall,” using the cinema’s air conditioning system to disperse scents through the auditorium.

ABOVE: producer Mike Todd, Jr. and inventor Hans Lube display the “Smell-O-Vision” “Scent of Mystery” perfume apparatus

Only a few weeks later, producer Mike Todd, Jr.’s “Smell-O-Vision” premiered with the film “Scent of Mystery.” Todd’s system relied on a network of pipes connected to vents beneath the seats that would release perfumes at specific points during a screening. Both gimmicks were spectacular critical and popular flops, as audiences found they merely distracted from the viewing experience.

One contributor on a Film Site commented :

I was at the premiere in Hollywood (1960) –

Didn’t know what to expect .. but the pipe tobacco and peach smells (among SEVERAL more) were astounding! Each time you smelled the perfume… you KNEW something bad was going to happen! ..

I don’t know how they did it, maybe a hose or fan mounted on the seat in front of you, but when the scene changed, the smell did too !!

If I remember correctly, the program LISTED all the smells you would encounter during the film

ABOVE: A poster for “Scent of Mystery ”

One interesting comment from someone around at the time :-

“I’ve never even heard of anyone trying to re-create this. The problem is, how do you get the smells out once they’re in the cinema.

Many years later in 1981 John Waters did revive the scented film with “Polyester,” this time with “Odorama” whihc was supposed to have improved the original idea by giving audience members scratch-and-sniff cards numbered by scene. That seems even more bizarre to me


Smell-O-Vision was a way to add smell to television — so said the BBC in a 1965 April Fool’s Day report. The broadcaster pranked television audiences in England by claiming that they’d perfected Smell-O-Vision — and as ridiculous as this sounds it had been done a few years before

Like Percepto! before it, Smell-O-Vision was a short lived concept that never took off and it remains one of the strangest cinematic gimmicks that’s ever been dreamed up.

“Percepto!”. A $1,000 life insurance policy against “Death by Fright” for Macabre (1958) and sent a skeleton out  above the audiences’ heads in the Cinema  in House on Haunted Hill (1959).


“Percepto!” was a gimmick where William Castle attached electrical “buzzers” to the underside of some seats in cinemas where The Tingler was screened.

The Tingler in Perecpto

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Glenn Ford – The Man from the Alamo 1953

Glenn Ford (1 May 1916 – 30 August 2006)

Glenn Ford made his film debut in the 1939 drama Heaven With a Barbed Wire Fence. It is a wonder that, after this, Glenn continued with his career. The film’s director, Ricardo Cortez, bullied Ford the whole time. The harassment culminated in a mortifying incident where Cortez dressed Ford down in front of the whole crew, telling him that he was a bad actor and that he wished he’d never hired him.

Glenn Ford neither forgave nor forgot the incident.

Glenn Ford later met actress Eleanor Powell when he went on a cross-country 12-city tour to sell war bonds for Army and Navy Relief as the United States entered World War II. He soon proposed to her and they married in 1943. Their son named Peter Ford (later become singer and actor) was born on February 5, 1945. The couple appeared together in the 1950s film Have Faith in Our Children and eventually divorced in 1959.

According to Ford’s son, he had a decades long love affair with his famous co-star Rita Hayworth, that began during the filming of Gilda in 1945.

He has appeared in five films with Rita Hayworth: Affair in Trinidad (1952), The Lady in Question (1940), The Loves of Carmen (1948), The Money Trap (1965) and Gilda (1946).

He had intended to portray Hondo Lane in Hondo (1953), but backed out when John Farrow was chosen to direct. Ford and Farrow did not get on – while making Plunder of the Sun (1953), causing Ford to lose interest in the role. The role was subsequently portrayed by John Wayne.

One bit of useless information – He is credited with being the fastest “gun” in Hollywood westerns, able to draw and fire in 0.4 seconds, he was faster than James Arness (Matt Dillon of “Gunsmoke” (1955)) and John Wayne. Well he did star in the excellent ‘The Fastest Gun Aiive’

Despite his illustrious career in films that spanned more than 50 years, he was never nominated for an Oscar.

Glenn Ford – The Man from the Alamo

Directed by Budd Boetticher

Cast: Glenn Ford (John Stroud), Julie Adams (Beth Anders), Chill Wills (John Gage), Hugh O’Brian (Lt. Lamar), Victor Jory (Jess Wade), Neville Brand (Dawes), John Day (Cavish), Myra Marsh (Ma Anders), Jeanne Cooper (Kate Lamar), Mark Cavell (Carlos), Edward Norris (Mapes), Guy Williams (Sergeant)


Budd Boetticher made some terrific pictures and  The Man From The Alamo (1953) is one of the best. It’s a film filled with action — from the attack on the Alamo to a number of fist fights to the climactic wagon train scenes. It’s all handled perfectly.

The actual filming seemed to be plagued by injuries, it’s easy to see why. I think I have read that Glenn Ford broke three ribs and the filming was halted for three weeks or so

John Stroud (Glenn Ford) is the one man who left the Alamo after Travis wrongly labelled him as a coward.

Stroud sees the chance to help other families make their way to safety as a way to clear his name — and get his revenge on Wade (Victor Jory), the leader of a band of mercenaries

Glenn Ford does a good job here as a man who’s lost everything, even his good name.

Victor Jory is Wade, the soldier responsible for the death of Ford’s family. Jory proves to be a great baddie – he’s at his absolute best in this film

Julie Adams is so beautiful in Russell Metty’s Technicolor — she was perfect for Universal International’s bright, colourful Westerns of the 50s.

The Technicolor here is incredible.

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Home at Seven – 1952

Ralph Richardson stars and also directs this intriguing drama abot a Bank employee who goes missing for 24 hours and finds himself in deep trouble for the theft of money from a social club and maybe even murder. In this film, and in his next one he would be joined by Margaret Leighton playing his wife whereas in the very next film ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ she plays his daughter

They very often appeared together on stage – where in fact, they were both at their best.

Another slice of news if true, is that Alexander Korda directed the film then handed over the credit to Ralph Richardson giving him his only directorial job in films.

Must have been the American Release title ABOVR

Jack Hawkins plays a Doctor who is a good friend of the couple BELOW

This is really a simple story that depicts a short period in the life of a middle-class couple in post-war England whose routine is suddenly disrupted by the memory lapse of the husband.

The story is brought to life by the acting of the three main actors – Richarson and Margaret Leighton as the couple and the doctor, Jack Hawkins.

Ralph Richardson plays the dutiful husband who is stricken with an anxiety attack that causes him to relive his days in conflict to such an extent that when this mental episode is over, he cannot remember what happened for a full 24-hour period.

Husband and wife are at a loss to know what to do and and so they turn to their friend and family doctor played by Jack Hawkins. He is sympathetic and not too worried but eager to find out the source of the problem.

To complicate things a theft and murder has occurred and it seems to implicate the husband – so the couple fear. Everything seems to point to him being involved – it all seems to fit

These are two decent people who are frightened as to what might happen to them – they fear the worse and to us watching the film, it all looks ominous

Ralph Richardson walks past this scene – seeing the police drag the river for a body – and he thinks it could be the body of a man that he may have murdered while enduring a 24 hour loss of memory

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Colonel March – with Josephine Douglas

Just over a week ago on Talking Pictures Television, we had another episode of ‘Colonel March’ with Boris Karloff. I have to say that we have watched all the episodes to date. After a pretty poor start these stories got progressively worse but the last two or three have been pretty good.

“The Stolen Crime” begins with Peter Ridgway (Glyn Houston) asking Inspector Ames (Ewan Roberts) to arrest him for plotting the perfect murder of his wealthy wife.

At that point in the story, she is not actually dead, and when she does die within a few days, her death is put down to natural causes.

It doesn’t take long for Colonel March and Ames to travel to the house and get to the bottom of things but things are never quite what they seem to be

Josephine Douglas at that time a young actress, was in this one. Later we would see her presenting ‘Six Five Special’ along with Peter Murray. She was also a presenter, producer and director in Television. This episode was her last acting role – she obviously had a talent in many other areas of entertainment and pursued those

All the pictures below are of Josephine Douglas taken from the film

ABOVE – Josephine Douglas who according to various web sites was born Josephine Reckitt in Dewsbury West Yorkshire in 1926 – same year as The Queen.

However, without being totally sure, I think that her surname could have been Rickett or Ricketts. Quite a number of years ago when I had just started work, there was a person among the many employees called Ricketts and I do remember him and his wife attending the wedding of his cousin who would be Josephine and a picture appeared in the local newspaper at the time.

However that gives me another reason to query the Online Records because this would have been 1960 or 1961 maybe and yet her marriages are shown as before this.

Is there anyone out there that could shed some light on this please

I am sure that many would remember Josephine Douglas presenting ‘Six Five Special’

I have come across this BELOW which confirms that her real name was ‘Rickett’ as I thought :-

Josephine Douglas was born on October 6, 1926 in Earlsheaton, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England as Josephine Rickett. She was a producer and director, known for The Arthur Askey Show (1961), Love Story (1963) and Virgin of the Secret Service (1968). She was married to Christopher Doll and Pouton, Douglas.

She died on July 12, 1988 in Slinfold, Sussex, England. She was only 62.

I am pleased to have seen her starring alongside Boris Karloff in the last of her acting roles and also noting that her very first film part was in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Stage Fright’ in 1950,

I hope this article on Josephine Douglas helps brings her back in the memory of many people who remember her – as I do

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The Counterfeit Traitor – William Holden

In this film William Holden plays master spy Eric Erickson whose stranger than fiction adventures led him to be labelled ‘the man who did business with Himmler’

It is a very good William Holden performances in The Counterfeit Traitor where he plays an American born Swedish businessman who agrees to spy for British Intelligence

They made him an offer he couldn’t refuse after Holden is put on a list of undesirable businessmen who are doing trade deals with the Germans. Holden’s character is American born, but had become a Swedish subject after deciding he would be working and living out of Stockholm. By agreeing to spy William Holden will get cleared after the Allies win the war we assume.

Eric Erickson ( played by William Holden ) proves to be quite useful to the Allies giving them all kinds of information about where Nazi war production is so it can be targeted by Allied bombing. Of course each trip from Sweden to Germany brings new risks as the Gestapo crack down on traitors.

One of his contacts is Lilli Palmer, a prominent society woman with whom he begins an affair. Lili Palmer herself was a refugee from Nazi Germany so she was well able to understand and get into the part and the era

Hugh Griffith is very good as the cynical British agent who is Erickson’s contact. Also in there was Werner Peters the German actor who played a really terrific variety of Nazi types throughout the Sixties and later. Here he is very suspicious of Erickson from the outset.

The Counterfeit Traitor is a fine espionage film and definitely in the top ten of William Holden’s performances.

Lili Palmer

Actress Lilli Palmer fled Nazi Germany after her theater contracts were revoked and she was branded a “non-Aryan” and narrowly escaped arrest. She first fled to Paris and then to London, where she acted in her first film and married Rex Harrison in 1943. Following Harrison to Hollywood, she made a name for herself and was immortalized with a star on the “Walk of Fame.” In 1948, they moved to New York, where Palmer shifted from films to theatre. Palmer returned to Germany in 1953 to make several award-winning films. She later turned her hand to painting, writing, and hosting a talk show with Dick Cavett.

“There was never any doubt in my mind that I would become an actress,” Lilli Palmer wrote in her autobiography. Defying the wish of her physician father Alfred Peiser (d. 1934) that she study medicine, Palmer fulfilled her own prophecy by following instead in the footsteps of her mother, actor Rose Lissmann. Palmer became not only a prominent actor in numerous successful plays, films and television programs, but also a painter and an author of both fiction and non-fiction.

Early Life and Family

Lilli Peiser was the middle daughter born to an assimilated Jewish family in Posen, Germany (now Poznan, Poland) on May 24, 1914. She had two sisters, Irene (?) and Hilde (b. 1921). As she later wrote in her memoirs, she was reminded in her childhood only once a year that she was Jewish, when she was discouraged from participating in the school Christmas play. But she acted in many other performances at the Open Air School in Berlin-Grunewald—where she already took the stage name of Palmer, who was a friend and colleague of her mother—and secured a contract with the well-reputed Darmstadt State Theater upon graduation from drama school. After Hitler came to power in 1933 Palmer soon faced grave reminders of her Jewish heritage. Her recently negotiated two-year contract with the Frankfurt Playhouse was cancelled. Branded a “non-Aryan” she came near to being arrested by local Nazi authorities during a performance in Darmstadt. After a harrowing opening before rows of Storm Troopers, Palmer was spared at the last minute when they learned of the World War I Iron Cross medal earned by her father, who was at this point serving as chief surgeon at Berlin’s largest Jewish hospital.

Acting in Exile: London, Paris, Hollywood, Broadway

These events forced Palmer into exile, the first year of which she spent in Paris. Hindered by linguistic, cultural and bureaucratic barriers, Palmer and her sister Irene barely scraped by with performances at the Moulin Rouge and at nightclubs. But Palmer was able to establish connections which led to a screen test in London, where she landed a part in her first film, Crime Unlimited (1935). Soon she signed a contract with the Gaumont-British film company and after various hurdles in obtaining work permits in England she was eventually granted a permanent permit, lending some security to her life in exile.

In London Lili Palmer met one of her greatest influences, Elsa Schreiber, considered by many to be a mediocre actor but a marvelous acting teacher. Schreiber taught her the subtleties of refining a character and a script—a method which later brought Palmer into conflict with some of her directors—and helped Palmer with her roles for years to come.

Lili Palmer married actor and frequent co-star Rex Harrison (1908–1990) in 1943 and had their son, Carey, in 1944. The family narrowly survived air-raid bombings during wartime in England. They moved to Hollywood in November 1945 for Harrison’s role in Anna and the King of Siam. Palmer quickly resumed her career with the lead role opposite Gary Cooper in Cloak and Dagger, amid heated disputes with émigré director Fritz Lang (1890–1976) which nearly caused her to withdraw from filming. With such films asBody and Soul (1947), My Girl Tisa (1948) and No Minor Vices (1948), Palmer continued to make a name for herself in Hollywood, where she was eventually immortalized with a star on the “Walk of Fame.”

After a scandal involving the 1948 suicide of Harrison’s lover, actor Carole Landis, Palmer and Harrison moved to New York and sought work on Broadway. Palmer quickly revived her reputation with such successes asGeorge Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra (1949) and, starring with Harrison, John van Druten’s Bell, Book and Candle (1950). Harrison and Palmer divorced in 1957, and Palmer married Argentine movie star and writer Carlos Thompson (1923–1990) the following year.

When Palmer returned to Germany to make the film Fireworks (1953) she realized her German had grown rusty during her prolonged absence: she did not know the technical terms for making movies in German. In addition, she struggled with being back in her home country for the first time since 1933 and was haunted by the question “What did a former Nazi party member look like today?” (Change Lobsters—and Dance 257). Palmer made several more German films, including Devil in Silk (1956), Anastasia: The Czar’s Last Daughter (1956), Between Time and Eternity (1956) and Tempestuous Love (1957). She won the Berlin Film Festival’s best actress award for the drama Devil in Silk in 1956, three years after winning the Venice Film Festival’s Volpi Cup for The Four Poster.

Working with New Media: Painting, Television, and Writing

Palmer once noted that she wanted to be remembered simply as a person who had led an interesting life (Huebner, 235). The varied activities undertaken in the last few decades of her life only increased her chances of this commemoration. She began to pursue more seriously her hobby of painting, even receiving advice and encouragement from the renowned painter Oskar Kokoschka. An exhibit at London’s Tooth Gallery showcased twenty-five of Palmer’s paintings, most of which were sold on the spot. Palmer also displayed her writing talents in a witty and best-selling autobiography, Change Lobsters—and Dance, as well as four novels and a short-story collection.

Gradually decelerating her movie-making, Palmer began work in another popular medium: television. In 1972 she acted in a German comedy, “A Woman Remains a Woman” (Eine Frau bleibt eine Frau), for which she won a Golden Camera award. She also did much of the show’s writing under the pseudonym of her grandfather’s name, Herrmann Lissmann. Palmer soon became a familiar television personality, hosting a talk show with Dick Cavett in 1979 and conducting a candid interview with German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1982. In 1987 she received a posthumous Golden Globe nomination for her supporting part in the American mini-series Peter the Great. Despite her fame in many diverse areas, resulting in occasional mud-slinging from the press, Palmer always made time for her fans, whose books she happily autographed.

In May 1985, as she worked fervently on her final book, When the Nightbird Cries, Palmer hid her diagnosis of abdominal cancer from friends and family. She died in Carlos Thompson’s arms in Los Angeles on January 27, 1986, having left her mark as an accomplished actor of stage and screen, painter, and writer

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The Fastest Gun Alive – 1956 Glenn Ford

Another Box Office hit – at this time Glenn Ford had a run of Westerns that were VERY good indeed

Directed by Russell Rouse
Starring Glenn Ford, Jeanne Crain, Broderick Crawford, Russ Tamblyn, Allyn Joslyn, Leif Erickson, John Dehner, Noah Beery Jr., J. M. Kerrigan, Rhys Williams, Virginia Gregg, Chubby Johnson, John Doucette, Paul Birch, Glenn Strange, Kermit Maynard, Dub Taylor, John Dierkes

Glenn Ford made so many terrific Westerns around this time — Jubal (1956), 3:10 To Yuma (1957), Cowboy (1958), The Sheepman 1958 etc.

Glenn Ford was perfect for this role as he played the part of a reluctant gunfighter but was uneasy that he was saddled with the fact he was fast with a gun. That in itself makes for a good Western and this one hits the bullseye

It’s a really terrific with and George Folsey’s cinematography outstanding. I just wish that it had been in colour and wonder now – has it been colorised ?

The answer is YES – that means that I just have to get it as soon as I can

The original Trailer ABOVE is nothing like as exciting as it should be – I thInk that MGM could have made a much better job than this.

Now Colourised

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Cripple Creek 1952

This is a very good Western although classed as a B Movie by some – not me.

It is in Technicolor and came up on Television earlier this week. I had not seen it before

George Montgomery stars

George Montgomery, Jerome Courtland and Richard Egan are undercover agents in the old west trying to break a gold smuggling ring working out of the town of Cripple Creek.

This is good a good western with plenty of action. It is well paced, and well written and acted. It has some plot twists along the way too

For the Western Film fan, there are a few familiar faces among the cast, and everyone gives a good account of themselves.

The ABOVE shot from the film was a quite good Matt Shot but not in the same class as Peter Ellenshaw – the Matte Artist genius – would have put his name to.

Same with the one BELOW – although my pictures is not too good either

More Scenes from the film

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Interesting Advertisements

When I first saw this in a Kinematograph Weekly, I was more interested in the films -that were advertised – still am – but I couldn’t help seeing that it was from Renown Pictures Corporation Ltd – currently a very well know name alongside Talking Pictures. I wonder if Noel and Sarah purchased this Company which may have been dormant

Looking at the films ABOVE – ‘Scrooge’ with was and is a classic with Alistair Sim producing a wonderful performance and portrayal which in my book has never been equalled

Pickwick Papers’ was another cracker

I had heard of ‘Mother Riley Meets the Vampire’ with Be4al Lugosi but not heard of ‘Mother Riley’s Trip to Mars’

I am surprised to see that ‘The Great Caruso’ tops the Box Office Winner’s chart ABOVE – but not surprised to see ‘Samson and Delilah’ right up there

ABOVE – More picks from 1951 – ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ – I loved that one with all the publicity that went with it

‘Across the Wide Missouri’ another popular one but I found it quite dull although I didn’t see it at the time of release and have only viewed it on Television

There are some talking points here – just imagine getting together with friends of a similar age and interest – you could discuss these for hours !!

The one below I did see along with my Mother and Dad and Brothers – it was good !!

It was in Technicolor and this was – and remains – impressive.

This is one of Alan Ladd’s lesser known and seldom-seen Westerns, a Civil War story with an excellent cast.  Alan Ladd plays Brett Sherwood, a captain from Georgia who has gone West in April 1865 to Colorado Territory to meet up with “Gen.” William Quantrell. 

Lizabeth Scott was the female lead in this – her first Western.

The final scenes

ABOVE – Alan Ladd with Lizabeth Scott – and BELOW she is with Arthur Kennedy

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Peter Noble – Multi talented man of Films, Theatre and Books

Here is a name that is so recognisable – Peter Noble a man with a Show Business connection throughout his whole life – he could be summed up in so many ways king of the name-droppers, Memory Man of the Movies and so on.

He wrote and edited so many books including the ones here

What a varied career he had as this Obituary in one of our Newspapers describes :-

Peter Noble was born in Clerkenwell, which in 1917 was still known as Little Italy. His father, a watchmaker, was dead by the end of the First World War, and the slum orphan was sent to live at the Farningham Home for Boys. His Aunt Betty sent him a copy of Arthur Mee’s Children’s Newspaper every week, and he spent his pocket money watching silent films – His favourites were the cowboy star Hoot Gibson, the serial hero William Desmond, and Charlie Chaplin’s “Kid”, Jackie Coo[er

His first job was as apprentice to Boots the Chemist in Cheapside, but childhood visits to the local variety theatres had given him a taste for the stage. At 17, nattily attired in green shirt, red tie, grey suit and tan suedes, he went to the Theatrical Garden Party. Noel Coward took one look at him and said, “What a delightful ensemble!” Despite that, the two later became friends.

Like many thinking young men at the time, Noble went to the Unity Theatre at King’s Cross where the mighty Paul Robeson sang and acted in a political piece called Plant in the Sun. (“I sat next to Michael Redgrave”, he was fond of recalling.) Noble immediately joined the company, did his first acting in a political travesty of Babes in the Wood , and toured in the famous Waiting for Lefty. (“With John Slater, Alfie Bass and Bill Owen – when he was still Rowbotham!”) In 1939 Noble narrated Symphony of Youth in an open-air production in Brockwell Park. Joss of the Star caricatured him; Noble bought 25 copies.

With the start of the Second World War, Noble, using his chemistry training, volunteered as a stretcher bearer in Civil Defence. One day a wall collapsed on him, and that was the end of his weekly wage of pounds 2 18s 5d. He returned to the stage as Strindberg’s rapist butler in Miss Julie opposite Marcella Salzer, and a first flutter in films followed.

Noble’s screen roles were so small that he seldom rated mention in the credits. He was an auxiliary fireman supporting Tommy Trinder in Ealing’s The Bells Go Down (1942), the head boy of an acting school in Gainsborough’s version of Tommy Handley’s top radio series It’s That Man Again (1943), a prisoner of war in Powell and Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), and a bewhiskered musical hall chairman in Butcher’s Variety Jubilee (1943). A larger appearance in a smaller picture was The House of Dr Belhomme, a B-movie which ran out of money and eventually turned up in 1947 as Escape Dangerous. On the film he co-starred with Marianne Stone, the actress who became his second wife the same year.

ABOVE Peter with his wife Marianne Stone

Noble tried his hand at composing music, and the song “You Do Things To Me” sung by the Welsh comedienne Maudie Edwards in the Will Hay comedy My Learned Friend (1943) was by him, as were all the songs in the very minor, virtually unseen musical film Walking on Air (1946). This starred a shy, slender newcomer Patsy Sloots; Noble suggested she rename herself and as Susan Shaw she swiftly shot to stardom.

Years later Noble would return to films, this time behind the camera. He worked as associate producer on The Runaway Bus (1954), a starring vehicle for the young Frankie Howerd, To Dorothy a Son (1954), with Shelley Winters, Lost (1955) with David Farrar, and Fun At St Fanny’s (1956) which was built around Cardew “The Cad” Robinson, with the fat Fred Emney as the plump Dr Jankers. Noble co-wrote the screen play.

But the real career of Peter Noble, show business journalist, writer and film historian began in 1946 – 1945 if we include his first book, Transatlantic Jazz. An incredible number of one-off paperbacks flew from his typewriter during those post-war years. Small companies like Pendulum Publications issued his series of shilling film quiz books, and even a Peter Noble Film Book Club was launched with cinema books sent to members on subscription.

There was Spotlight on Filmland, Screen Survey (20 star biographies with stills), Hollywood Screen Stars, and on the heavier side, biographies of Orson Welles, Bette Davis, Erich von Stroheim and Ivor Novello. He edited magazines called Cinema Monthly and Film Quarterly. He wrote the first book to treat black cinema seriously, The Negro in Films (1947), and made his greatest contribution to the history of the medium with the first ever British Film Year Book, which started in 1946 with an introduction by the tycoon J. Arthur Rank and continues in differing form to this day. This first volume is a true collectors’ item, with its detailed history of British cinema and a near complete listing of all the feature films produced during the Second World War.

This massive amount of work made Noble the best known name in popular screen journalism, seconded only by Raymond Leader, the pen name he was forced to use when his own appeared rather too frequently. Soon he was broadcasting regularly in the BBC’s Film Time, where he resided for four years, and Luxembourg’s Movie Magazine, hosted by Wilfrid Thomas and sponsored by Silvikrin Hair Tonic. (“The studio was so cold that Godfrey Winn lent me his black overcoat – it was lined with mink!”)

Then came the television years. Current Release, hosted by John Fitzgerald, used Noble as their film star interviewer. His first was the teenager Joan Collins. (“I got just one crit”, recalled Noble, “Peter Noble seems to need a haircut!”). This series led to The Other Screen (1956) on Associated- Rediffusion, the first London commercial station, followed by Film Fanfare (1957) every week on ABC-TV. He was seen on a quiz panel with Richard Todd, Glynis Johns and Hollywood’s June Havoc.

Noble’s biggest television hit was as a panellist on the game show Find the Link (1955), teamed with Moira Lister, Jo Douglas and Kenneth Horne. (“I took Gilbert Harding’s advice – if you can’t sing, act, dance or be funny, then television is the place to make your name!”) It made Noble’s, and he went on to chair the all-girl chatterama, Yaketty-Yak (1956), perhaps the first feminist chat show, which sported the glamour queens Therese Burton, Shirley Ann Field and Carole Leslie. Later in life he would return to television quiz games on the nostalgia show Looks Familar (1980).

Collie Knox, the famous newspaper critic, called Noble “Britain’s walking encyclopaedia of films” when he introduced “Can You Beat the Expert”, a new regular feature to the monthly magazine ABC Film Review in March 1951. Readers’ tricky questions were pulled out of the hat and Noble’s off-the-cuff answers were taken down and published. The first was an easy one – “What was Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film?” – as Noble had recently written on Hitch for the British Film Institute. “Rebecca”, came the answer. But he was eventually caught by Mr Atkinson of Sheffield when he identified Things To Come as George Sanders first film. The answer should have been Strange Cargo, but even the editor got this wrong, giving the date as 1929 when it should have been 1936!

Eventually Noble’s writings disappeared from the public’s prints, for he was signed as columnist for the trade paper Daily Film Renter. This later conjoined with Today’s Cinema to form a new glossy weekly, Screen International, on 6 September 1975. Noble was appointed editor. But far from fading out, his gossip writing grew. At last he was legitimately part of cinema showbiz. His weekly column, called “In Confidence”, name- dropped at a rate of one per line, it seemed, the first one embracing Herbert Lom, Michael Winner, old-timer Sebastian Shaw’s return, Harry Alan Towers setting up two productions abroad, and Tony Hancock’s widow Freddie running a Brook Street Bureau in San Francisco. Noble wrote his last column on 11 September 1992, when with some reluctance he retired. He signed off, as ever, with his catch-phrase: “So what else is new?”.

Peter Noble, actor, producer, songwriter, journalist, writer and broadcaster: born London 18 July 1917; married first Sylvia Durham, second Marianne Stone (two daughters); died London 17 August 1997.

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What a Line-up

It was while writing the last article on Alan Ladd and ‘The Proud Rebel’ that I came across this advertisement which I found fascinating and in many ways surprising when I looked at the films paired together. Also looking at it made me think that I would have paid to see ALL of these

Just look at the first one – ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Treasure Island’ on the same bill and then ‘Carry On Sergeant’ alongside ‘Dial 999’ = this must have been the early film version rather than the series now on ‘Talking Pictures’

This time ‘The Proud Rebel# goes out with ‘Handle with Care’ – not a film I know

The classic ‘Dunkirk’ stands alone – a very fine picture

I recall going to see ‘Barnacle Bill’ at the local cinema and the film was quite good – here it has a James Mason film with it ‘ The Decks Ran Red’. Then James Mason is on again in ‘Cry Terror’

ABOVE – Not quite the Double Feature in the advertisement above – but a Walt Disney one including the classic ‘Treasure Island’

I am not that familiar with ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ but do remember it from the title all those years ago – it starred Yul Brynner and Maria Schell – and actress I really like having seen her a few years earlier in the wonderful film ‘So Little Time’ opposite Marius Goring

Apparently though Marilyn Monroe was first choice for the part she played and there seems to be co9nflicting reports on why she didn’t get – or take the part

Much of the film was made in London

Film Director Richard Brooks felt shackled at MGM because, as a contract director, he didn’t like to be told what to do or to have his creativity stifled.  However he seemed very pleased with the assignment he was given to direct a massive production of Dostoevsky’s tale of a feuding family in The Brothers Karamazov

This 1958 film seemed to gather more publicity in the run up to production because Marilyn Monroe made it known that she wanted to play the leading female role of Grushenka.  She wanted to get away from her sex kitten roles and to be taken seriously as an actress.  In this instance it didn’t work out for Marylin or for next choice Carroll Baker who MGM wanted but Warner Bros wouldn’t release.

Yul Brynner with Claire Bloom

Maria Schell

So instead we got the very beautiful Maria Schell.  with a role that was as different from any other role she would play.  Grushenka is a temptress who torments men because of past treatment.  She is the girlfriend of the Karamazov patriarch and is spirited away by one of the sons.  By the end of the story, she seeks redemption.  Her famous scene was a gypsy dance.  She got on very well with her difficult costar, Yul Brynner

‘The Decks ran Red’ seems to receive good reviews

I have made no mention of ‘The Tommy Steele Story’ but that would certainly do good business at that time

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