The Titfield Thunderbolt at The Kinema In The Woods

This Wonderful Ealing Technicolor film set in a dreamy part of the English countryside of a nostalgic age – a real treat from start to finish and if anyone reading this post has not seen the film then please go out and get it.

It was shown yesterday at the legendary, iconic Kinema In The Woods in Woodhall Spa – a most beautiful village in the heart of Lincolnshire

Not often do we get a chance to see this at the cinema -and sadly I blew that chance. Having purchased tickets well in advance things that cropped up made it not possible for me to attend – and I bitterly regret that

It was the first Ealing comedy shot in Technicolor  and one of the first colour comedies made in the UK.

The film was directed by Charles Crichton and starred Stanley Holloway, George Relph and John Gregson among many others.

 I do think that the above TWO pictures are a terrific examples of Technicolor at its best.   The colour in them is perfect

The film was released in 1953  – Made in 1952 by the famous Ealing Studios, the film it tells the story of how the Titfield villagers fight the closure of their local branch line by British Railways. The film was made on location on the Camerton branch line –  an ex GWR railway which ran through the beautiful Cam Valley just south of Bath.

ABOVE – One of the most famous cinemas in the Country in the beautiful small town of Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire.

It is the ‘Kinema in the Woods’

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

The Lady in the Iron Mask 1952 – Patricia Medina

I hadn’t realised that Patricia Medina was in Hollywood as early as this, but thinking about it, I seem to remember her travelling out there with her then husband Richard Greene. In fact she was in Hollywood making films in the late 40’s

Richard Greene and his Wife Patricia Medina 1949

The Above is an earlier Picture from February 1949 – Richard Greene and his wife Patricia Medina pack before flying to the USA.

In Hollyood Patricia was in quite a few of this type of film, and she really looked good and was well able to hold her own in the acting stakes. Around this time she appeared with Alan Ladd in ‘Botany Bay’ another one of my favourites and I am pretty sure she shared star billing with him in this.

Also with Alan Ladd shortly after this, she came back to England to star with him in ‘The Black Knight’ made at Pinewood Studios

Patricia Medina pictured when she had arrived back in England – probably towards the end of 1953 to filmThe Black Knight with Alan Ladd at Pinewood Studios.

Patricia Medina

This  picture  was taken after she had appeared as a panellist   on   Whats  My  Line in early December 1953

On visits to London she regularly appeared on BBC television as a panellist on What’s My Line? (1951-63) with personalities including Gilbert Harding and Barbara Kelly.

She made four films in 1953 alone, followed in 1954 by Phantom of the Rue Morgue and an adventure film  The Black Knight, made in England and in which she co-starred with Alan Ladd .

Shortly after her marriage to Joseph Cotten in 1960, the couple embarked on the first of several theatre tours of the United States. Her only significant film thereafter was The Killing of Sister George (1968), in which she played a prostitute.

Joseph Cotton referred to Patricia Medina as having the most beautiful face in Hollywood – and seeing that he had worked with some of the classically beautiful women of the era, that is some compliment. He was right I’m sure.

Their marriage was a long and happy one – I heard her, in an interview say that after they had married they never spent a night apart except when Joseph was admitted to hospital and then, she thought that being separated was terrible. They loved one another.

After Joseph Cotten’s career was terminated in 1981 by ill health, Patricia Medina devoted herself to caring for him until his death in 1994 . In 1998 she published her autobiography.

Patricia Medina and Joseph Cotten on their weddding day

Patricia Medina and Joseph Cotton on their Wedding Day – Above

They were  married at the Home of David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones  in Beverley Hills, Hollywood on 20 October 1960.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Sierra Baron 1958

Rita Gam is often featured in some of the Picturegoer and Pictures Show weekly magazines of the early / mid fifties and in fairness to her, she does seem to have had a lengthy film and Television career although never managing a really big role in what we might call a ‘big film’

This one ‘Sierra Baron’ – sometimes known as ‘Mohawk’ is quite a decent, reasonably big budget 20th Century Fox Western with some good stars – Brian Keith for one, who had some decent roles but never seemed to be the matinee idol type although, certainly a very capable actor = and in there too was Rick Jason, Mala Powers and Steve Brodie

This film had some lovely location filming in Cinemascope and DeLuxe Colour so it did look impressive mainly filmed in Mexico

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Colonel March – and Scotland Yard with Colin Tapley

It is Tuesday evening here in England, and this means that on the Talking Pictures Channel we have two half hour dramas from back in the early fifties – first on is Colonel March with Boris Karloff in the title role followed by Scotland Yard introduced as always by Edgar Lustgarten.

This week was of particular interest because in the Colonel March episode we had Hubert Gregg as the villain in ‘The Invisible Knife’ an episode that was Directed by Hammer Films maestro Terence Fisher. It struck me that here was an actor Hubert Gregg who three years before had played Prince John in the very expensive production – Walt Disney’s ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ and here he was in this low budget TV show – albeit a successful one in Britain and the USA. It seemed to say the least a come-down – but I know that this very versatile genius was able to turn his hand to anything – Musical Theatre, Song Writing, Theatre Director and Producer to name just a few of his talents. He was at that time married to Pat Kirkwood.

In ‘Scotland Yard’ Colin Tapley played the role of Police Inspector Turner in the episode ‘Late Night Final’

In his long years as an actor he had done everything – he had been to Hollywood, met many of the major stars appeared in films with them then came over to England and continued in TV and Films for many more years. He had settled here and married and had a family and seemed to have had a happy life

BELOW – I have re-hashed this from an earlier article I did :-

Colin Tapley – The Reluctant star

  The thing that interested me about him was that he was born and raised in Dunedin in New Zealand.   Earlier this year with my family, I was on a cruise ship out of Sydney that docked there for the day – the second time in a decade we had done this – and Dunedin was a place that I fell in love with – and so did my daughter.

I just love the place as I felt at home in this beautiful and welcoming city. It was summertime there and a beautiful warm to hot day – so that is always a factor.

Colin Tapley – Colin Edward Livingstone Tapley was born in Dunedin on 7 May 1909. He was employed by H L Tapley and Co Ltd, the Dunedin shipping agency, his late father had founded.

Dunedin 3

 ABOVE – The Centre of Dunedin as it is today 2020 – the former home and resting place of Colin Tapley

However in 1933 he entered and won a film talent contest that took him to Hollywood

Colin Tapley found his own cinematic niche playing character roles in American and British films for more than 30 years, without any real desire for stardom.

In 1933 Tapley won the New Zealand male section of Search for Beauty, a worldwide talent quest conducted in English-speaking countries by Paramount Pictures. His prize included a trip to Hollywood to cameo alongside the other winners in the Search for Beauty movie — a comedy romance set in a physical culture school.

The contest he had entered as a dare brought the additional reward of a contract with Paramount for his agreeable performance in the film, which was his first. Tapley was the contest’s male runner-up, and South African-born Eldred Tidbury the male winner. Tidbury changed his name to Donald Gray, and would appear with him more than 20 years later in British TV series The Vise.

Tapley meanwhile acted in several Paramount movies of the mid-late 1930s. “The most wonderful experience of my life,” is how he recalled those glorious years. “I adored every bit of it.”

Colin Edward Livingstone Tapley was born in Dunedin on 7 May 1909. At the time he won the contest that changed his life, he was employed by H L Tapley and Co Ltd, the Dunedin shipping agency, his late father had founded.

The screen test that took him to Hollywood was shot at Filmcraft, later National Film Unit, studios in the Wellington suburb of Miramar. Tapley and the other nervous finalists then waited three suspenseful weeks for the judges at Paramount Pictures to name the man and the woman to represent New Zealand.

Tapley’s wish to play character parts came early in his career. He wrote home enthusiastically to one of his brothers about his small, unbilled part in The Scarlet Empress (1934); he described in detail the long black beard and wonderful uniform that transformed him into the captain of the Queen’s Bodyguard.

Colin Tapley derived great personal satisfaction from playing Captain Dobbin in Becky Sharp (1935), the first film shot in three-colour Technicolor. But his favourite role from his Hollywood movies was probably Barrett, the spy, in Oscar-nominated adventure The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935).

Colin Tapley

His only starring role at Paramount was in Booloo (1938) ABOVE – playing Robert Rogers in a tiger hunt adventure set in the Malaysian jungle. During the eight months the crew spent filming in the country’s jungles more than 3500 millimetres of rain fell. One subtropical storm saw them climbing into the trees with the monkeys for survival, after streams rose 11 metres above normal. Tapley regarded the noise of the monkeys as the worst part of his tree-living experience.

His last film before World War II service was a Western –  Arizona (1940). The normally well dressed actor wore cowboy clothes, chewed tobacco, for this role,

He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. Posted to Britain, Flight Lieutenant Tapley met his future wife, Patricia (Patsy) Lyon, the widowed daughter of Major-General Sir Percy and Lady Hambro. They married quietly in London on 6 August 1943 and had a son, Martin, the following year. Colin cast his best friend, American actor Fred MacMurray, in the real-life role of godfather. Patsy had a daughter named Charlotte from her first marriage.

A brief retirement from acting followed Tapley’s World War II service.  He and his family had settled in New Zealand, where he operated a launch charter service at Wanaka.

The death of his son Martin  in November 1947 was the catalyst for the grieving family to leave New Zealand.   When back in Hollywood, he resumed his film career in a very different atmosphere to the Arabian Nights world that had existed prior to World War Two.

The town was now more coldly competitive,  television had now took a hold. Yet while sitting in a restaurant Cecil B DeMille offered him a role in Samson and Delilah (1949), a friendly gesture that he never ceased to appreciate. He was unrecognisable asone of the princes in the final temple scene.

British films now seemed more inviting than the bleak new Hollywood.    His move to Britain saw him cast in Cloudburst, a 1951 Hammer thriller starring Robert Preston, another former Paramount contract player.  Colin Tapley was third billed as Inspector Davis.

Cloudburst defined the path for much of his future career. Instead of the Ronald Young-type comedy parts he had earlier craved, he often played police officers in Britain. An exception was the slightly dishevelled, moustached and bespectacled scientist Doctor WH Glanville in The Dam Busters (1955).

Colin Tapley spoke in an article at the time about how the realistic approach to filming in British studios enabled actors to give a better performance than in the superficiality of Hollywood.

Tapley appeared regularly in the British TV series The Vise from 1955 to 1960, playing at least five different police inspectors. Donald Gray, his long time friend,  starred as ex-Scotland Yard detective Mark Saber.

Colin Tapley

ABOVE – Colin Tapley – the Matinee idol that might have been – But he didn’t want the leading man roles – he was a character actor all his life – and apparently very good and very well liked !!

Colin Tapley and his wife Patsy lived in New Zealand and Hollywood before settling down in Coates, Gloucestershire.  Colin Tapley had also lived in  lived in New Romney, Kent working for the first time in a regular job not as an actor – he  was employed by the CEGB in 1964 as a meter reader in the control room at Dungeness ‘A’ nuclear power station.

On night shifts he would keep his fellow workers amused with tales of Hollywood actors, their life and loves.  I would have loved to have listened to him on this subject as he would know exactly what went on there during the Hollywood Golden Era in the Thirties.

His last film was a small part as a general in Dino De Larentis spy thriller Fraulein Doktor (1969).

Colin Tapley died on 23 November 1995, survived by his wife, second son Nigel, and Charlotte. His ashes were buried at Wanaka alongside his first-born son, Martin

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

The 39 Steps 1959 – with Kenneth More and Taina Elg

This was shown in England over this last weekend -May 2023 – and I watched it again and enjoyed it all over again.

I loved the authentic Scottish Highlands settings and the striking colour of the era. which somehow added a touch of nostalgia to the whole thing

This versions of ‘The 39 Steps’ is directed by Ralph Thomas from the novel by John Buchan. It stars Kenneth More, Taina Elg, Brenda De Banzie, Barry Jones, Reginald Beckwith and Faith Brook and Andrew Cruikshank – just before his wonderful role as Dr Cameron in ‘Dr Finlay’s Casebook’ one of my most favourite Television series.

This version is a fun packed mystery with Kenneth More in fine form although really just playing Kenneth More – but at least we know what we are getting with his effervescent charm.

It is a terrific Story, where Richard Hannay ( Kenneth More) finds himself up to his neck in espionage after a mysterious lady is stabbed to death in his flat. Needlrdd to say, he is the prime suspect so is pursued by the police and also the ring of spies stealing this coutry’s military scerets. Trying to piece things together and make head or tail of it puts him in grave danger and takes him North to Scotland, where he hopes he can clear himself of being the the suspected murderer – and find out exactly what are – The 39 Steps.

The Scottish locations provided a wonderful backdrop to this compelling drama drama.

The Thirty Nine Steps 1959

The Thirty Nine Steps 1959

There is one thrill after another in the film – one of my favourites in terms of sheer excitement is the sequence on the Forth Bridge which on the big Cinema Wide Screen was so impressive

However on the pursuit all over The Trossachs in the Scottish Highlands, it is just one thrill after another as we speed through those stunning locations – all beautifully filmed

There is no doubt that Kenneth More was at his peak at this time – we had ‘North West Frontier’ the same year 1959 and before that ‘The Admirable Crichton’ and quite a few before and after that.

Like everyone though this ‘time in the sun’ does not last forever and he added to his downfall when making a speech at the Dorchester to an audience of film executives and staff, drink took a hand and he proceeded to insult and make a fool of the top man at The Rank Organisation; namely John Davis.

Kenneth was due to appear in The Guns of Navarone’ shortly after this event and when he had sat down from making the speech, a colleague asked him what his next job was and he named this film – This was in earshot of John Davis who leaned across and said ‘Oh No you’re not’

Next day Kenneth went into John Davis’ office and apologised and almost grovelled but he was told that the decision was final – which prompted him to let rip all over again at the top executive.

Ridiculous of him because John Davis had been a supporter for a few years and had handed Kenneth these wonderful parts up until then

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

The Wasp Woman 1959

Often we have featured films from the early fifties – perhaps because there were far more of them – but this one ‘The Wasp Woman’ was one of the last of the decade – released in November 1959

The Wasp Woman – BELOW in the USA this great Double Feature did the rounds

The Wasp Woman

The plot of this film has the head of a cosmetics firm trying out a new formula formed from the jelly of a Queen Wasp. The make-up actually makes the woman younger, but has the horrible side effect in that it turns the woman into a killer human wasp

The Wasp Woman

This may be one of Director Roger Corman’s better early films, about reversing the ageing process to sell cosmetics. Susan Cabot, the lead, finished her film career with this one before returning to the theatre in New York after appearing in a lot of films throughout the Fifties.

The Wasp Woman – Some great Double Features below both cinema and DVD

BELOW – Film Stills giving us a taste of what is to come

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Roy Rogers TV Show and Others


The King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, was the last of the well known cowboy stars to come to US network television in late 1951. Hopalong Cassidy films were shown in 1949 and incredibly The Lone Ranger in Sept. ‘49.

Gene Autry’s films were on TV from in July ‘50.

Roy Rogers however was still under contract with Republic which was not scheduled to end until the end of May, 1951.

Actually, Roy wanted to do Republic features and produce his own TV series but unlike Gene Autry, who was producing his own films for release through Columbia – Roy was under contract to Herbert J. Yates at Republic.

Roy refused to sign a new deal without the right to do television and so Yates decided to sell his backlog of Rogers films to TV.

Roy was granted a temporary restraining order forbidding Republic from doing this – so there would be a delay until it was settled in court.

Not wanting to wait for a court decision—and feeling sure that the court would uphold his position—Roy Rogers Enterprises moved ahead on July 1 with production of four half hour telefilms. Thankfully, NBC had the foresight and confidence in Roy to advance him $100,000 for these four half-hour TV productions.

Under Roy’s new independent status, he was able to co-star with Bob Hope at Paramount in “Son of Paleface” – I am always surprised but in a way pleased, that Roy Rogers had the star status to enable him to share top billing with Bob Hope and Jane Russell

The Court case was settled pretty much in Roy’s favour – I must admit to being irritated by this. If someone signs a contract in my view that is binding. Around the same time we had Jean Simmons breaking her RKO contract and going to court – she did have to pay a substantial amount of money to free herself but she had signed initially to find Hollywood fame and when she did, she wanted out.

Some of these contracts made the actors very rich indeed – so it was by no means a one way street. Many stars of the time were not under long term contracts to anyone and just free-lanced in a notoriously precarious profession.

Roy and Dale, around this time in the very early fifties, were up at 5am ready to start work on location, often at Big Bear Lake, by 7am because time and money were strictly budgeted. They often worked til 9 or 10 at night.

Roy’s Frontiers Inc. company managed to finish its four films in time for Roy to start work for Paramount on time for “Son of Paleface”.

It was now autumn and “The Roy Rogers Show” was due on TV (and radio) under a dual contract between NBC and Post Cereals division of General Foods by December. Roy’s production company, was under the supervision of former Republic production manager Jack C. Lacey, and was to begin full-fledged production. In addition to Jack Lacey, Roy hired 35 former Republic employees

The series was set in the fictional town of Mineral City (where Dale operated the Eureka Cafe) but actually utilised many of the usual California filming locations. Roy and Dale played themselves – on Trigger and Buttermilk with German Shepherd Bullet running along beside them

Roy and Dale introduced us in various episodes to their children…Dusty (“Junior Outlaw”, “Three Masked Men”), Cheryl (“Outlaws of Paradise Valley”) and Dodie (“Little Dynamite”).

Oddly, songs (other than Dale’s themesong composition “Happy Trails”) were not an integral part of the series. Dale sings in “The Feud”, Roy lullabyes cattle in “Empty Saddles” and they duet on “The Bible Tells Me So” in “Ginger Horse”.

From December 1951 to September 1957, 100 episodes of “The Roy Rogers Show” were produced and were shown on NBC Sunday evenings.

I can’t recall them ever being on British Television at the time even though we had The Range Rider, The Lone Ranger, Rex and Rinty and one I really remember well is ‘Fighting with Kit Carson’ – a serial from the mid 30’s which was really exciting – Can’t forget the Mystery Riders who were a key part of the plot. This had Johny Mack Brown as Kit Carson and Noah Beery Jr as Nkomas

THESE PICTURES BELOW are from the 1947 film and from Republic in Trucolor which looked very good.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Pool of London 1951

This is a really good British film with marvellous location shooting, mainly in and around Tower Bridge and the docks in London . It is fast moving, with good story, well acted and directed by Basil Dearden

Some of the locations are interesting for anyone who kew the area – one sequence was shot in the Maritime Museum and we also see the power station billowing smoke and at that time no docklands development.

Earl Cameron plays a West Indian sailor and we have Bonar Colleano in the leading role and tragically he died in a motor accident eight years after making this film.

There were plenty of well known actors in this – Susan Shaw, Moira Lister, Alfie Bass, Leslie Phillips – and James Robertson Justice – he seemed to be able to get parts all the time – how did he do that ?

This has a really good story and anyone wishing to see a glimpse of early post-war London, trams and all – this film has it


ABOVE – Dan MacDonald (Bonar Colleano) and his best friend, Jamaican Johnny Lambert (Earl Cameron)

Into the Pool of London on the River Thames sails the Dunbar, a cargo ship out of Rotterdam, and the seamen on board disembark for a weekend of leave.

Dan MacDonald (Bonar Colleano) and his best friend, Jamaican Johnny Lambert (Earl Cameron) meet up with Dan’s girlfriend Maisie (Moira Lister) while Johnny befriends ticket seller Pat (Susan Shaw).

Dan supplements his wages with some light smuggling of cigarettes, nylons, bottles of brandy and the like. As he drops some cigarettes off for one of his contacts, he is approached by a stranger who offers him £100 to smuggle a small box to Rotterdam.

ABOVE Leslie Phillips, Bonar Colleano and Earl Cameron

It turns out that the stranger performed a jewel robbery with his gang but the robbery went wrong and they killed the night watchman. With Scotland Yard on the trail of the jewels, Dan asks Johnny to carry the box on board the Dunbar.

Maisie’s sister talks to the authorities and the ship is held in port by the police and custom’s officers who are waiting for Dan to appear so they can arrest him.

Meanwhile, the robbery gang are pursuing Dan also and he is bundled into a car at gunpoint, they demand he returns the diamonds – which he can’t do since he already gave them to Johnny.

He is shot in the shoulder but escapes and heads for the Dunbar to stop his friend from boarding the ship and being caught by the police. Arriving just in time, Dan collects the package from Johnny and turns himself in to the police.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Raintree County 1957

Raintree County (1957)

In 1949, upon the release of The Heiress, Paramount Pictures demanded that Montgomery Clift do his share to promote the film. Stars were expected to do so, even those as difficult as Monty. It was through these promotional machinations that the actor found himself with a date for the premiere of the film. Though he would always call her Bessie May, the girl the studio had paired with Clift was none other than grown-up child actress Elizabeth Taylor.

This “date” was a multi-purpose arrangement. Elizabeth Taylor was looking to be seen as an adult after having established herself as a starlet during her girlhood. Her pairing with Hollywood’s hottest new property made her look more womanly to moviegoers. Also, since A Place in the Sun was already in development, Paramount was prepping the audiences to see this romantic couple illuminate the screen. The two rising stars were chaperoned by Clift’s acting coach, Mira Rostova, and they hit it off right away.

Supposedly, Monty was instantly charmed when, before the premiere, Liz insisted they stopped at a burger joint to fill themselves with a bit of tasty greasy food in preparation for the red-carpet spectacle. Still, what blossomed out of that evening wasn’t a romance, but a lifelong friendship. He stuck with her through thick and thin, through endless scandals, and five failed marriages. As for Taylor, she saved his life.

After From Here to Eternity, Montgomery Clift dropped out of Hollywood for a couple of years. He had started drinking and taking pills at the end of the previous decade and, by the mid-50s, he was an addict with a reputation to match. Along with his pickiness, this made him victim to the dangers of career stagnation as well as increasing debts. Knowing all that, Liz Taylor is said to have convinced MGM to sign Monty to a three-picture deal.

The first of those projects would be Raintree County.

The picture, which was the latest attempt at making “the next Gone with the Wind“, had a famously large budget. MGM splurged on the Civil War melodrama, making it the most expensive film ever shot exclusively on American soil up to that point in history. Production started according to plan in the first half of 1956 and, by early May, the interior scenes had been filmed in Hollywood. Afterward, the production was scheduled to go to Kentucky where exterior shoots would take place. 

They were meant to fly on a Sunday to Kentucky. On Saturday, May 6th, 1956, Liz Taylor threw a grand dinner party. She had to cajole Monty into coming as he was reluctant. So vehement was he that he wanted to stay home that Monty had dismissed his chauffeur. As a consequence, when his friend succeeded in convincing him, Monty had to drive himself to Liz’s mansion. By all accounts, he only drank a glass and left early, sober, and tired.

What happened next is the stuff of nightmarish Hollywood legend.

Kevin McCarthy, Monty’s dear friend who had been driving ahead of him was the one to sound the alarm. He returned to Taylor’s mansion crying about a car accident. Clift had driven off the road and into a telephone pole, smashing his car and himself in the process. Remembering that tragic evening, McCarthy would be quoted as saying “his face was torn away—a bloody pulp. I thought he was dead.” 

The men tried to prevent Liz from seeing Monty mauled, a mask of torn flesh and broken bone where the visage of Hollywood’s most handsome star used to be. Nobody could stop her, though. Cradling her bloodied friend, Liz reached down into his throat and pulled out Monty’s front teeth that had been knocked off by the crash and were choking him. He would have died if it weren’t for Liz, who also made sure no photographs were taken of his wrecked state. 

Every bone in the actor’s face was mangled, his nose broken and his jaw torn to pieces. While he recuperated, production on Raintree County was shut down temporarily. One might wonder why MGM didn’t just recast the role. For starters, the film was already a huge expense and most of the actors agreed to have their pay cut to allow for the needed delays in shooting. Also, Taylor would have walked off the project if MGM dared to replace Monty, ruining any hope at recouping their investment.

And so it was that Montgomery Clift returned to Raintree County after laborious reconstructive surgery and physical therapy. Director Edward Dmytryk tried his best to hide the sorry state of his leading man, shooting him predominantly in profile and using shadows to mask the truth. Nonetheless, Clift’s face changes noticeably from scene to scene, sometimes varying wildly in a short time. 

His lip was freshly sewn up, his jaw still wired together, so brittle that it made alarming sounds when he tried to move it too much. He couldn’t eat either and was in constant pain, suffering from insomnia and recurring nightmares which plunged him in a state of perpetual exhaustion. Furthermore, a nerve on the left side of his face had been severed, partially paralyzing his muscles. It’s not that he looks ugly, just that he looks off and inconsistent throughout. How can we expect someone to give a good performance under those circumstances?

The drinking didn’t help matters either. Clift was so often intoxicated that the cast and crew developed a code to signal each other about his current state – Georgia meant he was bad, Florida was worse, Zanzibar was catastrophic. By all accounts, the second half of the shooting of Raintree County was a nightmare for everyone involved and, at the end of it, Clift described the movie as a bloated mess. He wasn’t wrong.

Aside from the horror story happening behind the scenes, Raintree County is a hapless epic whose sense of desperate prestige is too grand and obnoxious to bear. It’s a self-conscious movie, so preoccupied with being perceived as good that it forgets to be so. Even its glamour is over-calculated, with Walter Plunkett’s monstrosities of wide crinolines and corseted waists parading through the screen with evident opulence but little storytelling purpose.

The narrative, adapted from a novel by Ross Lockridge Jr, attempts to portray America’s Civil War schism. It centers on Clift’s John Shawnessy, a studious Yankee who happens to fall in love with a vivacious Southern Belle, Taylor’s Susanna Drake. He marries her, turning his back on fellow abolitionist Nell Gaither with which he had a kindling attraction, and finds himself embroiled in his wife’s spiral of self-hatred, racism, hidden secrets, and barely contained psychosis. 

As the war roars and Susanna’s mental health goes down the drain, John becomes a soldier, another military man in Clift’s filmography. He sees horrors and, once the conflict is over, returns to his studious ways, becoming a teacher whose company incentives to follow a career in politics.

Pedagogue, warrior and leader, devoted husband, and tragic lover, John is actually a complicated character whose torments are plenty and whose interiority is a fascinating conundrum. You wouldn’t necessarily know that by suffering through the picture’s torturous three hours. Clift sleepwalks his way through the picture and only some pre-accident scenes ring with vitality. Among them is a lively ball and the first taste of alcohol where a nervous energy coalesces into comedic verve cutting a temporary hole in the funereal seriousness of Raintree County. There is also some electric charge in most of his scenes with Taylor, even when the turgid drama is otherwise as lifeless as a taxidermized critter.

What we know of the stars helps the movie achieve its slivers of watchability. John and Susanna hardly seem to make sense as a couple and we often wonder why he stays with her apart from the chains of the social norm. His devotion, as defined by the script, runs deep but that rarely registers in the performances, only through the metatextual reading and chemistry that the movie stars bring to the project. 

Raintree County is the nadir of Montgomery Clift’s career as a movie actor, but there’s still some faint value to be found within its depths of mediocrity. As the actor himself had predicted, it was a success among audiences, though its high cost meant that MGM still reported a loss. Many were sure to have played a macabre game of ‘spot the difference,’ gazing in terrified awe at the new face of Montgomery Clift.

One should acknowledge that Clift already looked and acted differently from what people expected in the pre-accident scenes. In the years since From Here to Eternity, Clift’s drinking had spiraled out of control. Christopher Isherwood wrote that, by 1955, the actor was “drinking himself out a career”. It had been four years since audiences had seen him and Clift looked like he had aged over a decade, and the intense energy he once brought to the screen was gone, even if only temporarily.

Montgomery Clift was never the same after the accident, but he and Liz Taylor remained loyal, devoted friends. Their third and last movie together is still up ahead but, even beyond ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ – they were a constant in each other’s lives. Unlike Monty’s career, that friendship was a straight continuous line that only ended in death. Professionally, however, the legacy of the actor is broken into two violently divided halves.

Raintree County marks the beginning of the second era of Montgomery Clift as a film star. It’s the beginning of the end.

Much of the above – not all – is taken from another Blog

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments

Love Me Tender – Elvis

What was originally a straight Western starring Richard Egan and Debra Paget also became the first film starring a new Rock ‘n’ Roll sensation named Elvis Presley.

He gets quite an acting challenge here and does it pretty well, something he rarely got to do in most of his later films. He also does, however, perform four songs including the hit title tune.

His role is that of Clint, who’s the brother of returning Civil War veteran Richard Egan.

When the film was released, as we can see, Elvis Presley took star billing with his name above the title.

The original ending where Elvis was killed had to be re-written and filmed again and in later prints, he survives.

Elvis is killed in the original release

The leading lady in this film was the beautiful Debra Paget. It is reported that Elvis fell in love with her during the filming, and proposed marriage but she turned him down because she was in love with Howard Hughes at that time. That was confirmed by Debra herself – I find it incredible – he must have been the best part of 30 years older than her but apparently that’s how it was.

Elvis Presley thought Love Me Tender co-star Debra Paget was “the most beautiful woman he had ever seen”. The King was obsessed with finding “The Debra Paget look” in future co-stars and Priscilla Beaulieu even styled herself after her. The talented actress was “touched by the hand of God” said legendary director Cecil B DeMille and went on to make one of the most risque films of the 1960s.

At the time, Debra was already an established Hollywood star at 22, with 19 films under her belt. That same year she also starred opposite Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner in Cecil B DeMille’s Biblical epic The Ten Commandments. The director didn’t screen test her, saying he knew she was “touched by the hand of God.”

By contrast, Love Me Tender was The King’s first movie – and the last time he appeared with his natural, lighter hair colour. Originally titled The Reno Brothers, its name was changed when the soundtrack ballad sold over a million copies. The King’s role was also expanded. Its success meant future projects would be shaped around Elvis and, usually, his music, often to the detriment of the movie and the star’s own acting ability

Elvis Presley, Debra Paget and Priscilla Presley

Elvis Presley, Debra Paget and Priscilla Presley 

Elvis and Debra Paget kiss for promo pics

Elvis and Debra Paget kiss on screen

Like many of Elvis’ co-stars, Debra later commented that he could have been a very fine actor If he had been given meatier roles. Like so many of his co-stars, she also found herself pursued by him. But she was the first and, many believe, set the template for Elvis’ “obsession with the ‘Debra Paget look.'” It was even reported that young Priscilla Beaulieu updated her hair and make-up when she heard about it. 

Elvis soon established a pattern that would follow him on every film set, “flirting with Paget almost from day one and following her around the set like a lovesick puppy.”

He also went to meet her parents and was determined to marry her

Elvis and Debra Paget promo pics

Elvis and Debra Paget promo pics 

Debra Paget later recalled in 1997: “I was very shy, very quiet and very immature for my age. I was in my very early 20’s but I was emotionally more like a 16-year-old. Elvis and I just sort of came together like a couple of children really.”

Debra also took him home to meet her parents who he charmed with his manners, leaving the room once to go and get Mrs Paget a chair: “From the time he first came to the house, my folks considered Elvis a member of the Paget clan – which I believe, he reciprocated. I had the feeling that our closely-knit family life resembled his own.”

The besotted star would even drive over at night and park nearby, watching the house jealously to see if Debra had any other callers.

Debra Paget in The Ten Commandments

Debra Paget in The Ten Commandments 

Like Elvis, Debra was deeply religious

From the start, Elvis thought she was “the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.”

In 1997 Debra revealed: “Following the film, he did ask me to marry him but my parents objected to my getting married. I cared about Elvis, but being one not to disobey my parents, that did not take place.”

In fact, she was actually already engaged in a two-year affair with the billionaire industrialist and film producer Howard Hughes – a man far more rich, famous and powerful than Elvis.

But Debra always spoke highly of Elvis in the following years, saying: “He was a precious, humble, lovely person. Elvis had a lot of talent; there was a lot of depth they never used. He could have been a fine actor.”

In 1958, Debra travelled to Germany to film Fritz Lang’s epic two-part historical Indian saga, The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb. The latter contains an extraordinarily daring (for the time) snake dance sequence, where the star appears to be almost entirely naked

Back in the US, her career was in decline with diminishing film roles and a few TV appearances, mainly in Westerns like Rawhide and Johnny Ringo.

Her parents might not have wanted her to marry Elvis, but she made two short-lived mistakes – a four-month marriage to actor David Street in 1958, followed by an even shorter marriage to director Budd Boetticher, from who she separated after just 22 days.

Debra Paget snake dance

Her third and final marriage lasted much longer. In April 1962 she married American-Chinese oil magnate Ling C Kung

Debra had one son, Gregory Teh-chi Kung. Her husband’s position and her new family prompted her retirement from acting in 1964, although the marriage ended in 1980.

She never re-married or returned to showbusiness but became a born-again Christian in the mid-1980s and worked on numerous faith-based projects including hosting her own show on a Christian network.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have No Comments