‘My Death is a Mockery’ 1952 – from a Douglas Baber novel

I only came across this film when I was looking into the career of the multi talented and famous Felix Felton – featured in the very last article

The film was made at the Brighton Film Studios and was from a novel by Douglas Baber

My Death is a Mockery (1952) is a dark tale of smuggling, murder and capital punishment. The film has been shown in recent years

This film stars Bill Kerr (Hancock’s Half Hour) in a rare dramatic role, Donald Houston and Kathleen Byron.

Kathleen Byron – five years or so after her great performance as Sister Ruth in ‘Black Narcissuss’

Donald Houston – not long after he had been out to Fiji with Jean Simmons for ‘The Blue Lagoon’

Liam Gaffney as Father Matthews – ABOVE – he was also in ‘Street of Shadows’ another film, like this one, made at the Brighton Films Studios

The film had a rare screening in London again – last year in May 2019. It can be acquired on DVD but not easily – still if you are determined to get it you will

This is a bleak and bullet-spattered sea-smuggling crime drama and tells the story of a ‘down-on-his-luck’ fisherman (British star Donald Houston) who is tempted into a dangerous but more lucrative line in black-market booze at the urging of his wayward wife (Kathleen Byron) after a brief bar-room liaison with a small-time spiv played by Bill Kerr, in a rare serious role.

This Adelphi FIlms’ crime drama was caught up in controversy upon its release, after it was reportedly the film Christopher Craig saw shortly before killing policeman Sidney Miles and apart from a single 1960 TV screening it has been largely unseen since.

DOUGLAS BABER – the Author

As mentioned before in this article, the film comes from a novel written by Douglas Baber and on the imdb site there is this comment from the novelist’s daughter – I hope she doesn’t mind me re-printing this from 2006 :-

This film was from a book of my fathers but I never saw it being too young! has anyone a copy? I never knew it existed only the book. Is it being re run? If you saw it anywhere please let me know as I am interested. This has to run for 10 lines so what can I say about something that is important. My father was a POW for some years and later found that the the family who took him in when he was shot down in Belgium were assassinated. This and the Prison Camp added stress to an already sensitive nature. He wrote some books under another name John Riston. He died in 1963 leaving just the one child – myself. He was a man of deep thoughts and reacted to these in a difficult way, perhaps that is why he wrote so well. I have all his books, and my favourite is The Slender Thread.

The above detail we would never know but for this comment which is quite sad to read, but it shows what people endured during those dark wartime days. Her father Douglas Baber was obviously a brave and heroic man

Books by Douglas Baber : BELOW

BRIGHTON FILM STUDIOS

 Between 1949 and 1964 at least a dozen feature films—mainly crime and thrillers and usually released as B features, supporting more prestigious productions—were made by Brighton Film Studios and a number of others made use of the facilities. It was also used to shoot television commercials in the early days of ITV.

The Studios were situated on St Nicholas Road, Brighton.

It became an auction house after the studio closed and was later converted into flats.

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The Spanish Sword 1962 Ronald Howard and June Thorburn

ABOVE = Ronald Howard comforts June Thorburn in a scene from the film

Great Britain’s Danziger Brothers–were responsible for this film.

“The Spanish Sword” is quite a slow-moving story of a knight who tries to thwart the plans of a greedy baron. This is not one of writer Brian Clemens’ finest hours, to say the least–his script is cliché-ridden – as someone once said but not of this one that the scriptwriters threw every cliché in the book at the audience and they threw them back’

Having said that when we went to the Cinema in those days, we weren’t too bothered about the script but just wanted a good story and plenty of action

Film Director Ernest Morris does his best within the short time he has to tell the story after all this was a supporting film with a running time of 62 minutes. I have a feeling that if I had seen this at the cinema I would have enjoyed it.

Nigel Green played the villain and was able to give us some good moments

Star Ronald Howard looks a little lost but battled away

Leading lady June Thorburn – she always looked pretty and was a great addition to the cast.

Director: Ernest Morris Writer: Brian Clemens (story)   Stars: Ronald Howard, June Thorburn, Nigel Green, Trader Faulkner, Robin Hunter, Derrick Sherwin
The British actor Ronald Howard was born in Norwood, London, England, in 1918.
After college, Howard became a newspaper reporter for a while but decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an actor. He got his first taste of acting when he appeared with his father in an uncredited bit part in ‘Pimpernel’ Smith (1941). In the early 1940s, Howard gained acting experience in regional theatre, later on the London stage, and eventually in films, with his official debut in While the Sun Shines (1947).

His chief claim to fame is in television with his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the series Sherlock Holmes (1954), in which Howard Marion-Crawford played Dr. Watson. Boyishly handsome with a pleasant peronality, Ronald Howard continued in film and television until the mid-1970s; however, he never caught on with audiences as well as his father had, prompting him to put aside his acting career to run an art gallery.
In the 1980s, he wrote a biography of his father.

J

The character actor Nigel Green, born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1924, was educated in England and studied chemical engineering before winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. By age 24, he was appearing on stage at both the Old Vic and Stratford-on-Avon, and in the early 1950s, he made his film and television debuts. In 1956, he received serious injuries in an accident, but he fully recovered and established himself as a familiar figure in British film and television. His forceful, dominant manner inevitably led Green to military and authoritarian roles throughout his career while his tall, muscular physique was appropriate for playing such characters as Fertog “The Bear” in the television series William Tell (1958), Little John in Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), and Hercules in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Green had a number of small film roles in the early 1960s until his appearance in the critically acclaimed Zulu (1964), after which his film roles improved. Perhaps his best-known performance is that of Michael Caine ‘s superior in the stylish spy film The Ipcress File (1965). In addition to a few British horror films, such as The Skull (1965), The Face of Fu Manchu (1965), and Countess Dracula (1971), Green also appeared in a number of Hollywood films, including Tobruk (1967), The Wrecking Crew (1968) and The Kremlin Letter (1970). Green’s later films brought him international recognition and a chance at stardom; however, his career was brought to an abrupt end by his sudden death in 1972 at age 47 from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.

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Felix Felton – Multi talented and a name well remembered from the Radio days !!

Now here is a name that seemed to around a great deal when we were listening to the Radio – probably in the early fifties, often on Children’s Hour where we would hear ‘By Felix Felton’ or ‘ with ‘Felix Felton’ or ‘written by Felix Felton’ or ‘Adapted by Felix Felton’ – so to me that just seemed to be name that was always around

An accomplished actor, writer and producer Felix Felton was the narrator of the Radio show ‘Toytown’. During the war he played the mayor in Toytown, which was a popular children’s radio programme that was part of Children’s Hour. This radio slot was a boost to the morale of many families whose lives had been disrupted by the war.

However I would not remember that far back so he must have been – and was – around much later.

Felix Felton, was a British film, television, stage and voice actor as well as a radio director, composer and author.

He wrote two orchestral suites which were played by the London Philharmonic and other orchestras.

Above – Felix Felton in ‘My Death is a Mockery’ 1952

My Death Is a Mockery is a 1952 British crime film directed by Tony Young and starring Donald Houston, Kathleen Byron and Bill Kerr.

It was shot at the Brighton Studios as a second feature.

Here he is with Joan Hickson in ‘Doctor in Distress”

He adapted the Radio play ‘The Eagle of the Ninth’ in 6 episodes for the BBC among many others.

In fact today he cropped up in the wonderful ‘The Pickwick Papers’ 1952 with James Hayter in the title role – on Talking Pictures

He appeared at the Coliseum in The Pajama Game with Max Wall, Edmund Hockridge and down the cast list was Arthur Lowe

Again BELOW a scene from one of his many plays – ‘No Quarter’ at the Hampstead Theatre Club

Felix Felton – a man of many talents

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Box Office Receipts in US Dollars for 1952

BELOW are the 100 Top Grossing Films of 1952.  They are listed in a table below showing who starred in them.

Also there how much each film grossed when it was released and how that gross means in today’s money.

I was amazed to see ‘Moulin Rouge’ in the Top Ten but it seems that although it did not fare well in the UK it did extremely well in the United States – difficult to know why that should be

Also we see that Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis had two films in the top ten and then another one at number 11 – I knew that they were popular but hadn’t realised the full Box Office clout that they had.

Two of my own favourites ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ and ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ did quite well. Both in beautiful Technicolor – at it’s best here

ABOVE – a Scene from ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ 1952


The Prisoner of Zenda 1952


Victor Mature had a hit along with Esther Williams in ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’ although the caption below just states the star as Walter Pidgeon – he was in it but these two were the stars with Box Office appeal
RankMovie TitleStar of the MovieDomestic Box Office Actual (millions)Domestic Box Office Adjusted (millions)
1The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)Charlton Heston & James Stewart$38.88$522.00
2The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)Gregory Peck & Ava Gardner$18.05$276.77
3Ivanhoe (1952)Robert Taylor & Elizabeth Taylor$17.38$266.45
4Hans Christian Andersen (1952)Danny Kaye & Farley Granger$16.66$255.45
5Singin’ in the Rain (1952)Gene Kelly & Debbie Reynolds$12.36$189.50
6Sailor Beware (1952)Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis$11.94$183.07
7Moulin Rouge (1952)José Ferrer & Directed by John Huston$11.81$181.02
8Jumping Jacks (1952)Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis$11.11$170.30
9The Quiet Man (1952)John Wayne & Directed by John Ford$10.55$161.78
10Come Back Little Sheba (1952)Shirley Booth & Burt Lancaster$9.73$149.11
11The Stooge (1952)Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis$9.72$149.01
12High Noon (1952)Gary Cooper & Grace Kelly$9.45$144.78
13Son Of Paleface (1952)Bob Hope & Jane Russell$9.44$144.75
14With a Song in My Heart (1952)Susan Hayward$9.16$140.49
15Stars and Stripes Forever (1952)Clifton Webb$8.39$128.10
16The Iron Mistress (1952)Alan Ladd & Virginia Mayo$8.36$127.75
17Just For You (1952)Bing Crosby & Jane Wyman$8.35$127.74
18Bend of the River (1952)James Stewart$8.33$127.72
19Road to Bali (1952)Bob Hope & Bing Crosby$8.32$127.71
20The World in His Arms (1952)Gregory Peck & Anthony Quinn$8.19$125.59
21Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)Walter Pidgeon$7.66$117.20
22Scaramouche (1952)Stewart Granger & Janet Leigh$7.65$117.19
23Room For One More (1952)Cary Grant & Betsy Drake$7.64$117.18
24April in Paris (1952)Doris Day & Ray Bolger$7.63$117.08
25Affair in Trinidad (1952)Rita Hayworth & Glenn Ford$7.49$114.95
26The Story of Will Rogers (1952)Will Rogers, Jr.$7.36$113.00
27Big Jim McLain (1952)John Wayne & James Arness$7.22$110.69
28Lovely To Look At (1952)Red Skelton$6.96$106.53
29The Crimson Pirate (1952)Burt Lancaster$6.95$106.44
30Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1952)Marjorie Main & Percy Kilbride$6.94$106.40
31Skirts Ahoy! (1952)Esther Williams$6.68$102.38
32Lone Star (1952)Clark Gable & Ava Gardner$6.67$102.28
33She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952)Virginia Mayo & Ronald Reagan$6.66$102.20
34Springfield Rifle (1952)Gary Cooper & Phyllis Thaxter$6.65$102.18
35Above and Beyond (1952)Robert Taylor$6.64$102.14
36Off Limits (1952)Bob Hope & Mickey Rooney$6.63$102.10
37The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)Kirk Douglas & Lana Turner$6.52$100.05
38The Merry Widow (1952)Lana Turner & Fernando Lamas$6.38$97.92
39Somebody Loves Me (1952)Betty Hutton$6.11$93.60
40Story of Robin Hood (1952)Richard Todd$5.87$89.60
41Pat and Mike (1952)Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn$5.86$89.55
42The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)Stewart Granger & James Mason$5.85$89.50
43Dreamboat (1952)Clifton Webb & Ginger Rogers$5.61$85.45
44The Battle at Apache Pass (1952)Jeff Chandler$5.60$85.40
45Belles on their Toes (1952)Myrna Loy & Jeanne Crain$5.59$85.35
46Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952)Mitzi Gaynor$5.58$85.30
47Francis Goes to West Point (1952)Donald O’Connor$5.57$85.25
48Lure of the Wilderness (1952)Jean Peters$5.56$85.22
49Monkey Business (1952)Cary Grant & Directed by Howard Hawks$5.55$85.20
50What Price Glory (1952)James Cagney & Robert Wagner$5.54$85.15
51Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)Abbott & Costello$5.53$85.05
52Retreat, Hell!Frank Lovejoy$5.52$85.02
53We’re Not Married (1952)Ginger Rogers & Marilyn Monroe$5.51$85.00
54The Wild North (1952)Stewart Granger$5.50$84.90
55Botany Bay (1952)Alan Ladd$5.49$84.86
56Plymouth Adventure (1952)Spencer Tracy & Gene Tierney$5.30$81.09
57Viva Zapata! (1952)Marlon Brando & Anthony Quinn$5.27$80.89
58Carrie (1952)Laurence Olivier & Jennifer Jones$4.99$76.63
59Ruby Gentry (1952)Jennifer Jones & Charlton Heston$4.87$74.60
60Because You’re Mine (1952)Mario Lanza$4.86$74.55
61Carbine Williams (1952)James Stewart & Jean Hagen$4.85$74.50
62The Winning Team (1952)Doris Day & Ronald Reagan$4.74$72.47
63Lydia Bailey (1952)Anne Francis$4.73$72.40
64Carson City (1952)Randolph Scott$4.72$72.37
65The Marrying Kind (1952)Judy Holliday$4.71$72.32
66Pony Soldier (1952)Tyrone Power & Cameron Mitchell$4.60$70.34
67Sudden Fear (1952)Joan Crawford & Jack Palance$4.59$70.24
68The Big Sky (1952)Kirk Douglas & Dewey Martin$4.58$70.19
69The Pride of St. Louis (1952)Dan Dailey$4.57$69.39
70One Minute To Zero (1952)Robert Mitchum & Ann Blyth$4.46$68.32
71Against All Flags (1952)Errol Flynn & Anthony Quinn$4.45$68.22
72About FaceGordon MacRea$4.44$68.17
73Jack and the Beanstalk (1952)Abbott & Costello$4.43$68.12
74Don’t Bother To Knock (1952)Marilyn Monroe & Richard Widmark$4.17$63.96
75Mara Maru (1952)Errol Flynn & Ruth Roman$4.16$63.86
76Scarlet Angel (1952)Rock Hudson & Yvonne De Carlo$4.15$63.76
77Lusty Men (1952)Susan Hayward & Robert Mitchum$4.14$63.66
78Island of Desire (1952)Linda Darnell & Tab Hunter$4.13$63.60
79Lost in Alaska (1952)Abbott & Costello$4.12$63.56
80Bugles in the Afternoon (1952)Ray Milland$4.11$63.51
81Clash by Night (1952)Barbara Stanwyck & Robert Ryan$4.10$63.44
82Red Ball Express (1952)Jeff Chandler & Sidney Poitier$4.09$63.36
83Untamed Frontier (1952)Joseph Cotten$4.08$63.32
84Where’s Charley? (1952)Ray Bolger$4.07$63.28
85Caribbean (1952)John Payne$3.89$59.65
86Diplomatic Courier (1952)Tyrone Power & Patricia Neal$3.88$59.60
875 Fingers (1952)James Mason & Danielle Darrieux$3.81$57.67
88Phone Call From a Stranger (1952)Shelley Winters & Bette Davis$3.80$57.57
89Everything I Have Is Yours (1952)Marge Champion$3.79$57.47
90Walk East on Beacon! (1952)George Murphy$3.78$57.43
91Way of a Gaucho (1952)Gene Tierney$3.77$57.40
92The Belle of New York (1952)Fred Astaire$3.76$57.37
93Back at the Front (1952)Tom Ewell$3.75$57.32
94The Cimarron Kid (1952)Audie Murphy$3.74$57.26
95My Cousin Rachel (1952)Olivia de Havilland & Richard Burton$3.61$55.38
96Deadline – USA (1952)Humphrey Bogart$3.50$53.51
97Kangaroo (1952)Maureen O’Hara$3.49$53.41
98Red Skies of Montana (1952)Richard Widmark$3.48$53.31
99Hangman’s Knot (1952)Randolph Scott$3.47$53.21
100The Duel at Silver Creek (1952)Audie Murphy & Lee Marvin$3.46$53.11
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Marilyn Monroe with Frankie Vaughan

Frankie Vaughan may not have had a long film career but he did go to Hollywood to star alongside Marilyn in ‘Let’s Make Love’

He had of course made a couple of good films here namely ‘These Dangerous Years’ and ‘The Heart of a Man’ – the latter one I seem to remember very well and then later he was in ‘The Lady is a Square’

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

The British films were made by Anna Neagle’s husband Herbert Wilcox who was – and had been – a major player in British films, often with his wife in the them – and they were usually successful.

Frank certainly looks very relaxed here as he prepares for a scene with Marilyn Monroe –

I had forgotten that he did in fact make a film before the ones I mentioned above – he had appeared in Arthur Askey’s comedy Ramsbottom Rides Again (1956)

In this film, his film debut, Frankie sings “This is the Night” and “Ride, Ride, Ride Again.”

Ramsbottom Rides Again was a comic western ( filmed at the Beaconsfield Film Studios in England ) about the timid grandson of a tough guy sheriff. In the cast were Frankie Vaughan, Shani Wallis and Sabrina, Arthur Askey’s busty discovery from his BBC television series.

So when you think of it, within a few years, Frankie Vaughan had shared the screen spotlight with both Marilyn Monroe and Sabrina – I cant think of anyone else who did that !!

Whilst in Hollywood, Frankie made another film for 20th Century Fox which seems to get quite good reviews – it was ‘The Right Approach’ and would be his last film

Frankie plays a ruthless young Hollywood hopeful who uses his friends (and anyone else handy) as stepping stones on his way to fame as a singing star.

After moving into the communal bachelor pad he shares with his brother and three other struggling youngsters, he wastes no time in moving in on the girlfriend of one of the guys (Juliet Prowse) only to discard her in favour of a journalist (Martha Hyer) who he hopes will help his career

In this film we get to see Frankie Vaughan be really selfish and mean to people – even so he seems to make a charismatic and likeable bad guy.

It is a screenplay originally intended for Elvis.

I can’t think that this film did any good though – I can’t recall it at all and wonder if anyone else can

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Film Formats of the Fifties

Well probably we should start by saying ‘Technicolor’ although this was a process that had been around since the mid thirties in film land – but I mention it because it was certainly a big plus for the Cinema in that they had something really good that Television could not compete with.

I just loved the Technicolor prints of the early fifties – to me a colour print that has never been equalled let alone bettered.

BELOW: Cinemascope n- This is the Wide Screen process adopted by 20th Century Fox. It requires a single projector using a wide angle lens to throw a picture two and a half times the width of the normal screen.

ABOVE – Cinemascope proved to be much more popular and long lasting than the other two – it was branded under different names such as Regalscope and over here Hammerscope for the Hammer Film ‘The Abominable Snowman’

Initially film directors found it difficult to fill the very wide screen – that was relatively easy with an epic type film – such as ‘The Robe’ which was the very first Cinemascope film

As time went on though they just seemed to ignore the format and make the film as normal and that proved the best way

It certainly added to the spectacle at the cinema as you gazed up at that enormous screen and sometimes, depending where you were sitting, or how close you were to the screen. you were turning your head side to side in order not to miss any of the action.

In one sequence of ‘The King and I’ we had Yul Brynner at one side of the screen and Deborah Kerr right at the opposite side talking to each other – it looked good and impressive.

On a widescreen print, only then can the real grandeur, splendour and colour of the enormous sets and opulence of the film itself can be fully appreciated.

Cinemascope, had been used in the Rodgers and Hammerstein film “Carousel” before this one though

BELOW – 3 D which required us all to wear glasses but in my view it was very effective – I simply loved it.

Robert Stack starred in the first 3D film ‘Bwana Devil’ and he said that during the filming there was little difference only that they face two cameras. When they saw ‘the rushes’ two weeks later he said that they all seemed to have photographed well so they were pleased with that but the extra dimension 3 D dominated every scene.

The public loved this 3D experience and the film did well – however the critics were not so enamoured with the storyline and the film itself. However they did not matter – but the 3D experience did.

In fact it was marketed as ‘NaturalVision’ – and the film grossed 5 million dollars against a budget of around 325,000 dollars.

I have also just noticed that Nigel Bruce – so well known to us as Dr Watson – was in this film

BELOW – Cinerama which requires three projectors which throw three different images onto the very large curved screen which tended to engulf the audience.

I well remember seeing ‘Khartoum’ at the Coliseum in London on a very hot summer day – a few years after this in the mid 60’s

The London Coliseum

From 16th July 1963 it became the second of London’s four Cinerama theatres, first showing the 3-strip version of “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” which played for the first 5 months on the largest sized screen in London, the deeply curved 80ft wide, 30ft tall screen. Then from 2nd December 1963 70mm single strip film was shown beginning with “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Next came John Wayne in “The Magnificent Showman” from 16th July 1964 until 10th January 1965. Other 70mm films followed including some foreign made ones, then on 14th October 1965 Tony Curtis in “The Great Race” played for 4 months. In April 1966 3-strip Cinerama returned with “Cinerama’s Russian Adventure”. “The Bible…In the Beginning” was screened in D-150 from 6th October 1966 until 3rd June 1967. This was followed by “The Young Girls of Rochefort” in 70mm and several months of revivals and foreign films. “Grand Prix” which was transferred from the Casino Theatre in November 1967 was its next presentation. This was followed by a 70mm blown-up version of Elizabeth Taylor in “The Comedians” and a 70mm revival of Mike Todd’s “Around the World in 80 Days” which opened on 21st March 1968, and was the final film to be shown here, closing on 22nd May 1968.


ABOVE – A diagram to show what it was all about
ABOVE – How The West Was Won in Cinerama

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Movie Memories – Autumn 2020 Edition

Really a good day yesterday when this magazine came through the Letterbox.

Yes Movie Memories, which all us fans look forward to, has arrived in time to give us endless reading on such varying topics all related to the films of an era gone by.

We have loads of interesting articles in here – one on Van Heflin that I liked, letters to the Editor, a couple of Books about the British Film Studios and so on

Without giving too much away, our Editor Chris writes the opening piece in which whilst he admits to not being a fan of the Elvis films, he had really enjoyed King Creole’ when it was shown on Television recently. I agree with him in that this film was a cut above the normal ones he did – it had a great storyline, a top Director and good co-stars.

‘South Sea Sinner’ is a film that I do not know at all. However we have a good copy of the advertisement for it on the front inside cover

I have to say here that at Filmsofthefifties.com we have no connection at all with the magazine other than being admirers of it and avid readers of each and every precious edition through the years.

I know Chris who writes and produces the magazine has had a number of spam emails where ref is made to this Blog – we are not connected.

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Random Photographs

Here are some random photographs from the Picture Show Annual of 1952 – which I would have thought would be published in time for Christmas that year. So these would have been taken that year or possibly 1951

ABOVE – This is billed as ‘ A platform full of stars who appeared at the Daily Mail Film Festival.

From Left to Right : Leo Genn, Nigel Patrick, Jane Hylton, Patric Doonan, Peggy Evans, Dirk Bogarde, Jean Kent, Susan Shaw, Andre Morrell, Sheila Manahan, Barry Jones, Olive Sloane, Richard Todd, Glynis Johns, Herbert Lom, John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Andrew Crawford, Patricia Dainton, Dennis Price, Vanessa Lee, Trevor Howard and Anna Neagle

Now how unusual is this – or was it – ABOVE A plane about to take off to transport some film stars of the day to the Film Festival in Uruguay.

Including Phyllis Calvert and her husband Peter Murray-Hill, Glynis Johns, Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray and Mr and Mrs Robert Beatty

ABOVE Vice Admiral Earl Mountbatten of Burma presents the British Film Acamedy Awards of 1950 to Tyrone Power and his wife ( Linda Christian )

It was a Bronze Statuette for the best film from any source – Tyrone Power and Linda Christian accepted this on behalf of his studio 20th Century Fox.

I think this picture was from 26 February 1951

ABOVE – This picture is at a reception for the newly released film ‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’ and here these stars are meeting Mario Cabre – the Matador in the film. Here we see Left to Right: Dennis Price and Patricia Dainton, Mario Cabre and then Beatrice Campbell and, with his hands all over her, Richard Todd.

The description mentions Richard Todd in ‘Flesh and Blood’ which was released in England in April of 1951 – just about the time when he would be starting the filming of ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ for Walt Disney at Denham Film Studios. Filming started on 30th April 1951 which, as I have mentioned before, was an unusually snowy day

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Pat Kirkwood

One of our greatest stage performers – when I think of stars I place her right at the very top of the list – but not as a film star which she was very good at – but in all round entertainment with the stage at the centre of it

ABOVE – in a glamourous pose

She was also in films although she did not make that many0 but she did go out to Hollywood for MGM and in fact signed a contract with them but things did not work out for her there. In fact she became ill and returned home. My own view is that she was homesick for England

What a lovely girl she was

She was mainly a superb stage performer though – one of the very best – indeed she dominated the West End stage for almost two decades – Noel Coward even wrote a play for her such was her appeal and charisma, and yet, to me, she always seemed a kind and level headed person who never played on the fame she undoubtebly had.

BELOW are a series of pictures from 1994 when she was the subject of ‘This is Your Life’

ABOVE – Michael Aspel surprises Pat Kirkwood

THIS IS YOUR LIFE – Pat Kirkwood, actress, singer and dancer, was surprised by Michael Aspel during a mock interview in the bar of the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.

Pat made her professional debut at the age of 14 as a singer on the BBC radio programme, The Children’s Hour. A year later, she made her first appearance on stage, billed as the Schoolgirl Songstress at the Royal Hippodrome in Salford. Her first big break came in the revue Black Velvet at the London Hippodrome in 1940.

Pat was one of the West End’s liveliest and most glamorous musical stars in the 1940s and 1950s, appearing in such plays as Noel Coward’s Ace of Clubs in 1950, which he wrote especially for her, and the 1955 London production of Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town. In 1954 she became the first female star to have her own series on British television, The Pat Kirkwood Show.

This edition of This is Your Life was the last Thames Television production of This Is Your Life to be screened on ITV – something I didn’t know

Above – Pat greets her brother who had flown in from Los Angeles – they had not seen one another for a few years up until this moment

Van Johnson came in from Hollywood – he had starred with Pat Kirkwood during her years there

Pat Kirkwood proved a delight in her only Hollywood film ‘No Leave, No Love’. Miss Kirkwood said that on the first day of shooting, Van Johnson greeted her and told her, “This picture is going to be a real stinker, so we might as well have a few laughs and forget it.”

Actually, the film is quite good fun and includes Pat Kirkwood’s bouncy song “Love on a Greyhound Bus”

ABOVE – Her Wedding to Hubert Gregg

and

BELOW – with the great Gorge Formby in ‘Come on George’ – he did get to kiss her in this scene much to the displeasure of his wife.

When you look at her here with George as a very young girl and then the much later pictures on This is Your Life, she hasn’t really changed at all

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Passage Home 1955

Diane Cilento was born in Mooloolaba, Queensland, in 1933. She was one of six children of Lady Phyllis and Sir Raphael Cilento, both eminent doctors. Diane achieved international acclaim as a stage and screen actor in the 1950s and 1960s.

She was a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Her marriage to actor Sean Connery in 1962 attracted feverish attention the world over.

When they married he was a little know actor but the marriage

came under strain when he got the part of Bond and media attention made heir lives intolerable. They eventually divorced after she had accused him of striking her – he hadn’t made that any better when he said that sometimes a wife needs a slap.

In an interview with Playboy magazine in 1965, Sean Connery said: “You can do a woman a lot more harm by moral torture than with a slap.

“I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong in hitting a woman, though I don’t recommend you do it the same way that you hit a man.”

You just can’t work out why he would want to say that – I know that he was notoriously tight-fisted and I think back to Roal Dahl’s comments after he had written the screenplay for ‘You Only Live Twice’ and was on location with the unit.

Dahl was in Japan for the filming of You Only Live Twice, the new James Bond movie he had adapted – very loosely – from Ian Fleming’s novel. The shoot was based for a time around the city of Kagoshima in the country’s sweltering south, and at the end of the day the cast and crew would relax with a cold beer on set. Sean Connery joined in with the drinking but, as Dahl quickly noticed, left the business of paying to other people.

“He was the only man making a million in the film and he never stood anyone a round,” Dahl later observed. “This was known. They all talked about it. He is not an attractive personality.”

Marriage to Sean Connery really wrecked Diane Cilento’s acting life although she did later come back in such films as ‘The Wicker Man’

Later in her life she returned to Queensland Nr Mossman and lived in there until her death in 2011

I have digressed a bit here because this film ‘Passage Home’ was made before she married her first husband and well before she even met Mr Connery

ABOVE: At Pinewoods Studios, during filming of ‘Passage Home’.

Her first leading part was in Roy Ward Baker’s J Arthur Rank drama Passage Home (1955), as the only woman on a cargo ship from South America to London.

Her sultry presence naturally gets the crew all steamed up, especially the captain Peter Finch and first mate Anthony Steele.

I am tempted to say that Diane Cilento and Peter Finch were both Australians – well she certainly was but he was actually born in London but spent much of his childhood and early life in Australia – so in a way they were kindred spirits.

The film was made at Pinewood in November of 1954

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