Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Today's game features a spooky scene from a film that is very fitting to watch on Halloween. A front view of this character would have been too easy for our readers, so in keeping with the title of the game we hope this is "impossibly difficult"!

Have no idea what this game is about? Simply click on this link here for the rules and the prizes.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Phantom Stage - Universal's Haunted Stage 28

The old story of a phantom haunting a Hollywood sound stage was brought to television in a number of episodes of various series throughout the 1970s-1980s ( most notably in the two-part "The Hollywood Phantom" episode from The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries ) but did you know that this plot idea was actually based on a real legend? 

Stage 28 was one of the oldest sound stages built on the Universal Pictures lot in Hollywood. The studio was planning to film the horror classic The Phantom of the Opera ( featuring Lon Chaney ) and needed a stage large enough to house their own creation of the interior of the Paris Opera House. Construction on the 21,000 square foot stage began in July of 1924 and was completed in a few months. Because the set would need to be able to support hundreds of extras, the stage was built with steel girders in concrete...one of the first steel stages of its kind. The beautiful Opera House set was built inside and filming of The Phantom of the Opera began shortly thereafter. A strange occurrence also happened at that time: an electrician fell to his death, presumably while maneuvering around the catwalks at the top of the stage. 

Years later, rumors began to circulate that the ghost of a "phantom" running along the catwalks was seen. Others reported the lights flickering on and off suddenly and doors opening and shutting. 

The set to the Opera House remained at Stage 28 long after the film was completed. The studio thought that it may come in use in a future production...and indeed it did. Its most famous reappearances were in Todd Browning's Dracula ( as The Royal Albert Hall ), the 1943 color remake of The Phantom of the Opera starring Claude Rains, and the theatre sequences in Charade ( 1963 ). 

Even with the Opera House set still in place, there was plenty of space in Stage 28 to construct other sets and this stage was one of the most used at Universal Studios. The special effects department from The Bride of Frankenstein ( 1935 ) used this stage to film the destruction of Frankenstein's laboratory, Abbott and Costello's Here Come the Co-Eds ( 1945 ) was filmed within its doors, and the interiors of the Bates Motel in Psycho ( 1960 ) was also filmed inside Stage 28. 

In 2014, Universal Studios demolished the stage to make room for expanding their theme park but not before carefully dismantling The Phantom's famous Opera House set and putting it in storage. Perhaps one day, it will reappear in another film or be put on display for film fans to see. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

British Pathe: Model Racing Cars ( 1956 )

This 1956 British Pathe newsreel takes us to the workshop of Alban Adams and Christopher Crockett who are building 1/16th scale race cars modeled after authentic Formula 3 automobiles. 

Adams claimed to have been the inventor of slot cars ( check out this website for more details about that ) and his little racers featured motors that ran on diesel fuel and were capable of up to 60mph (!).

Unlike American slot cars, the metal rails do not have an electric current running through them and the "slot" is used primarily to guide the cars around the track. They are highly-detailed and it looks like Adams made everything himself ( the chassis, motor...even the tires! ). I think eventually when sales skyrocketed he must have hired lots of help. 

Ready to watch Model Racing Cars? Simply click on the link below:

Model Racing Cars ( 1956 ) - 2:07 minutes 

Similar British Pathé newsreels:

Cable Racing ( 1967 ) - 1:32 minutes

Monday, October 12, 2020

From the Archives: Doctor Dolittle ( 1967 )

Rex Harrison performed with a number of different actresses throughout his long career but he probably never expected to act with this fine lady. In this scene from Doctor Dolittle ( 1967 ), Sophie is posing as a baby in order to be smuggled out of the circus so that the kindly doctor could return her to the ocean to search for her husband. 

This original lobby card looks a little different than others that we have posted because it is from the UK release of the film. Note how much room they give for credits compared to the American lobby cards. 

From the Archives is our latest series of posts where we share photos from the Silverbanks Pictures collection. Some of these may have been sold in the past, and others may still be available for purchase at our eBay store : http://stores.ebay.com/Silverbanks-Pictures

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm ( 1951 )

Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride made their fifth film appearance as country yokels Ma & Pa Kettle in Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm ( 1951 ).  This delightful comedy had the pair returning to their old ramshackle home in the country and discovering uranium on the property. 

The characters of Ma and Pa Kettle first appeared in The Egg and I ( 1947 ) as farm neighbors to Betty and Bob MacDonald ( Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray ). They were then given their own film - Ma and Pa Kettle ( 1949 ) which in turn launched a ten-film series. Each of the movies could easily be watched on their own, but to understand the characters better, it is best to see them in order. 

Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm was the fourth film in the series and had their eldest son Tom and his wife Kim expecting their first child. Ma struggles to get along with Kim's Bostonian parents, especially Kim's mother Barbara whose notions of proper child-rearing clash with Ma's. In order to stay clear of them for a spell, Ma and Pa Kettle move from their new suburban house back into their old farm. While there, Pa decides to dig a well and thinks he has discovered uranium when he finds he carries an electric charge on him.

This movie isn't the best in the series but it still provides a number of chuckles, especially Ma fussing over wearing a face mask ( apropos for the pandemic today ) and the conclusion with Pa Kettle driving madly in a jalopy to outrace a train. The script features a number of small dramas happening to the various characters, all of which intersect and conclude by the end of the film. Tom's mother-in-law Barbara Parker ( Barbara Brown ) clearly does approve of the Kettles but it is good to see her have a change of heart by the finale. Jonathan ( Ray Collins ) and Barbara Parker would later travel to Paris with the Kettles in the next film, Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation ( 1952 ).

"Ma, I bet you once had an hour-glass figure" - Barbara

"Yeah...but the sand sure shifted!" - Ma

All of the Kettle films featured recurring characters from the first film and, in this installment, we see Pa's Indian friends Crowbar and Geoduck ( Teddy Hart and Oliver Blake ), shopowner Billy Reed ( Emory Parnell ), and Sheriff John ( Rex Lease ). Sadly missing is Birdie Hicks ( Esther Dale ), the Kettles arch-nemesis. 

The homespun humor of the Kettle series was box-office gold for Universal Pictures and this film alone raked in over $2 million dollars in ticket sales. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Did You Know? 9 Striking Notes about The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band

There are so many great articles online and everyday we come across some that have facts and trivia that are too tempting not to share. So, today, we are beginning a new series of passing along these links so you can enjoy our finds, too. "Check it Out!" is the name of this new series and you can simply click on the tag/label to find other similar posts in the future. 

We begin with a page of trivia relating to Walt Disney's The One and Only Genuine Family Band ( 1968 ) posted by D23, Disney's official fan club site: Did You Know? 9 Striking Notes about The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band. 

This colorful film had a stellar cast ( John Davidson, Walter Brennan, Lesley Ann Warren, Buddy Ebsen, Janet Blair, etc ) but was not a big success for Disney Studios when it was released and still receives mixed reactions even from Disney fans. The plot - based on the real-life Bower family and their family band - had a little bit of something for everyone but its political theme was too heady for young ones. It's redeeming features were the presence of Davidson and Warren ( who were reunited from The Happiest Millionaire ), the great Richard and Robert Sherman songs, and its beautiful Black Hills of Dakota-in-autumn setting. 

John Davidson tells Lesley Ann Warren its "'Bout Time" their romance began

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Diamond Triangle - The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries ( 1977 )

Nancy Drew and her friend George take to the skies in a glider in "The Diamond Triangle", the fourth episode in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries ( 1977 ). 

While soaring high above River Heights, Nancy witnesses an antique Auburn Cord plunge off a dirt road. Once back on the ground, however, she is informed by the sheriff that the road has been unused since the bridge collapsed and no automobile could possibly have been on that road. No accident had been reported, either. Quite a mystery. 

Things get stranger when Nancy and George track down the owner of one of the few Cords in River Heights and discover that his car has been stolen...from a locked barn! 

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was an entertaining television series that aired on Sunday nights on ABC between 1977-1979. These one-hour episodes alternated with mysteries featuring juveniles sleuths Frank Hardy and his brother Joe and River Heights' famous "part-time investigator" Nancy Drew. The Hardy Boys episodes were the more popular of the two because they featured teen-heartthrobs Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy but I always preferred the spunky Nancy Drew, admirably portrayed by Pamela Sue Martin. 

This episode is particularly fun because of its antique car theme and the presence of Nancy's friends George Fayne ( Jean Rasey ) and Ned Nickerson ( George O'Hanlon Jr. ). The threesome were quite a team and George and Nancy's witty exchanges always livened up the mysteries. "'We'll be down in a few minutes"...."That's what I'm afraid of!" There is also some nice glider footage and we get a good look at Nancy's sporty Mustang which appeared in just a few of the episodes. 

Guest-starring in The Diamond Triangle were some very familiar television character actors including Phillip R. Allen ( The Bad News Bears ), Len Lesser ( Seinfeld ), Robert Karnes, Gordon Jump as Officer Hooper, and William Schallert in his recurring role as Nancy's father Carson Drew.