Thursday, June 30, 2016

Secret of the Incas ( 1954 )

Before Indiana Jones, there was Harry Steele, a rugged, charismatic, and fast-quipping treasure hunter with a thick strain of thievery in him. Charlton Heston stars as this handsome ne'er-do-well in Secret of the Incas ( 1954 ), Paramount's contribution to the jungle bonanza that swept Hollywood in the early 1950s. 

Harry Steele has just one thing on his mind - getting his hands on the golden Sunburst, an Incan treasure. He works part-time as a tour guide in a small village in Peru, biding his time till a plane arrives en route anywhere out of that village. 

That day comes when Elena Antonescu ( Nicole Maurey ) sets foot in town. Elena left Romania illegally and currently has two immigration officials on her tail....they happen to arrive with a small plane. Along with the curvaceous red-head, Harry steals the plane and then sets off for Machu Pichu to search for the legendary Sunburst, a huge golden disc long thought to have been stolen by ancient grave robbers.  
Secret of the Incas was the direct inspiration for George Lucas' Indiana Jones trilogy, and it's no wonder, the film combines all of the elements of an ideal adventure flick : a tough-talking hero, a witty script, and loads of exotic this case, Incan atmosphere. Lucas even borrowed Harry's signature weathered leather jacket and wrinkled hat. 

The film also boasts a strong cast which includes Robert Young as a compassionate archaeologist, Glenda Farrell as a married hussy, and Yma Sumac, the Amazonian songbird. Sumac toured throughout the world during the 1940s and 1950s but rarely appeared in films. In her debut, she demonstrates her remarkable five-octave vocal range in three native-inspired numbers. Thomas Mitchell is also marvelous ( when is he not? ) as shyster Morgan. 

Like most jungle films of the 1950s, Secret of the Incas has its fair share of corny dialogue and cheap sets, but, nevertheless, it is high in entertainment value. Charlton Heston is especially appealing as the unscrupulous fortune hunter, a role that only he could play so well. It's a pity that another Harry Steele adventure did not follow. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

June Lockhart and her 1923 Fire Engine "Cordelia Delilah"

June Lockhart, the lovely actress best known as "Lassie's mother" from the long-running Lassie television series, had many other talents and interests aside from acting, a field which she regarded as "a other hobbies; only this one I get paid for." 

Hobbies were Ms. Lockhart's passion and they were fueled by her insatiable curiosity about everything. Gold mining, lighter-than-air aircraft, antique motorcars, and the old West were all interests of Ms. Lockhart. Medical texts were her bedside books. She was also a member of an adult kite flying club. As one reporter for the Gettysburg Times put it : "Like another well-known  well-bred actress, Deborah Kerr, June is the antithesis of rigid. But the contractual - as well as scriptual - limitations of Lassie reinforced a staid image." Off the camera, June was a veritable contradiction of her most famous role. She was an educated woman who enjoyed breaking conventions and striking out to learn and try new things. From a young age she had a thirst for knowledge, and her acting career was secondary, undertaken merely as a lark. 

A 1923 Seagrave, just like June's

One of her most notorious passions was her love of old-time steam engines. Yes, steam engines. Her and her husband, architect John Lindsay, were both ferroequinologists ( the technical term for iron-horse enthusiasts ) so it's no wonder that she had to own one herself. The iron maiden she adored best was a 1923 Seagrave pumper fire engine named "Cordelia Delilah Lindsay", a gift from her husband after she discovered that CBS was going to put the "big red" up for sale and expressed a desire to own it. It had 24 cylinders and got two miles to the gallon. Power steering was installed so that June could drive it to work each morning at the studio. It's not surprising that she owned the largest parking space at the studio! 

This entry is a part of our latest series entitled "Did You Know?".....sometimes we just feel like sharing interesting fragments of television and movie history and now we have a place to do just that. If you have a hot tip that you would like us to share on Silver Scenes, drop us a line!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Cowboy is My Hero - Guy Madison

When most people think of famous Hollywood fathers they think of the men whose children followed in their profession ( e.g. John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Danny Thomas ) or actors who are famous for being family men ( Paul Newman, Fred MacMurray ). I think the best testament to a truly great father is what his children remember and love about their dad. For this Father's Day I would like to share a special tribute - a poem - that one daughter made for her father....Guy Madison. 

For those who are not familiar with Guy, he was a hugely popular actor from the early 1940s-mid-1950s, primarily as a heartthrob. When his film career declined he found success on television as Wild Bill Hickok, who, along with his faithful sidekick Jingles ( Andy Devine ) rid the Wild West of its bad guys and taught children lessons of righteous living in The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok ( 1951 ). 

If it were not for a chance encounter with the assistant to Henry Willson ( a David O. Selznick executive ) during WWII, Guy would have been just another man, beloved in the minds of those who loved him, but unknown to the rest of the world. Guy Madison and his brothers had all served in branches of the armed forces during the war years and it was while Guy was on liberty ( from the Coast Guard ) one weekend in Hollywood that he was spotted and asked to appear in Selznick's Since You Went Away ( 1944 ). This brief part, in a very popular film, launched his screen career which lasted into the 1980s. 

The Cowboy is My Hero 

As a young man, he worked hard on the farm along side his Dad.
Watching his Dad break horses for a friend or neighbor.
Raining a Blue Ribbon Bull, riding those cutting horses, roping those calves.
Not realizing the blessing God had in store for this young buck-a-roo.

Yes, this cowboy is my Hero, and he was other people's, too.
He was the shining star, standing with the best of them.
All those handsome cowboy's, wearing their leathers, saving those damsels in distress.
But this cowboy saved lives before he rode onto the silver screen, bravely pulling distressed people from a deadly sea.

Serving his country, a Navy Lifeguard, like most cowboy's, getting the job done regardless of the dangers-
Yes, this cowboy is my "Hero", the Wild Bill Hickok, this bullwhiping trail blazer,
this untamable hunter, he knew the value of using his hands, to create his own bows and arrows, always precise, not too wide not too narrow.

Yes, this cowboy is MY Hero, I will always keep in my heart the good times spent with Dad, My only cowboy Hero.

Author: Bridget Madison ©

Bridget Madison is the eldest daughter of Guy Madison and Sheila Connolly. Be sure to check out Bridget's touching website to her father and to her son Spencer ( who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom ).

To read more about Guy Madison and his way of life, check out this 1954 Modern Screen magazine article entitled "Right Guy" written in part by Guy's best friend, Rory Calhoun. 

Happy Father's Day to all Daddy Heroes!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

From the Archives : Ransom ( 1956 )

Donna Reed and Glenn Ford look at the telephone with apprehension and suspense.....who could be on the other end of the line? You'll just have to watch Ransom to find out.

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 :

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Batman ( 1966 )

The Joker, Catwoman, The Riddler and Penguin....all joining forces to destroy members of the United Nations. Holy Quartet! Did four of the fiercest criminals to ever exist truly set aside their differences to unite and hatch this nefarious scheme? Yes....they...did, and the world is stricken with panic at the thought. Only Batman and Robin can put a stop to these arch-criminals. If only they can do it in time!

With a Poh!, Zap!, and Zonk!, the caped crusader of comicdom splashed onto the big-screen in Batman, released in the fall of 1966. Adam West starred as the titular tight-clad hero, reprising the role that launched him to super-stardom on the television series "Batman"; with him was his sidekick, the young Dick Grayson ( Burt Ward ), better known as the boy-wonder, Robin.

Four of the most famous villains from the television series were brought together to cackle up a scheme to ensnare our heroes. Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, and Frank Gorshin all reprised their roles as Penguin, The Joker, and The Riddler, respectively, while former Miss America, Lee Merriwether, let her claws out as Catwoman, a purrrfectly marvelous role that Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar had made popular on television. 
With cries of "Yo, ho, ho!" these enthusiastic rascals unleashed methods of destruction and herds of stripe-suited minions on the duo in numerous attempts to capture them...all without success, of course. It is only by means of Batman's number one weakness - women - that they manage to lure him to a near-deadly doom. 

"Excuse me. I'll slip into something more comfortable while your cocoa's warming......"

With the aid of the fearsome foursome, Catwoman disguises herself as Kitanya Irenya Tatanya Karenska Alisoff ( "Kitka" ), a beautiful Russian journalist, who wields her accent to lure comrade Wayne into the lair of the United Underground, hoping to use him as bait for a rescue attempt by the elusive Batman. But holy mixup! they don't realize that millionaire Bruce Wayne and the crimefighter Batman are one and the same. 
If this plot doesn't pack enough excitement to give you heart failure, then there is the added bonus of seeing the Batcopter in action ( built especially for the film ), Batman shooting UP the batpole, and eight dignitaries of the United Nations babbling in a multitude of tongues....all in kaleidoscopic Technicolor. Bless my dustpan! 

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb"

Batman combines campy comic-book action with witty dialogue by Lorenzo Semple Jr. ( the script is so entertaining it's worth reading in itself ) and great tongue-in-cheek performances by Adam West and Burt Ward, two actors who truly enjoyed their roles. A slew of great character actors top off the sundae, including Alan Napier as Alfred the Butler, Neil Hamilton as Commissioner Gordon, Milton Frome as Vice Admiral Fangschliester ( the dumkopf who sold an atomic submarine to Penguin ), and Reginald Denny as the tea-drinking Commodore Schmidlapp. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

This screenshot is not only impossibly difficult because of its subject matter, but because it's unfocused! Alas, it was the best version of the film that we could find, so a little accordionist, a magnificent view, and lots of happy boys are the only clues you have to go on. Good luck!

Don't know what this game is all about? Then check out the rules to the Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie game ( and the prize ) here

GAME OVER. Congratulations to Ms. Foley who correctly guessed Walt Disney's Almost Angels ( 1962 ). In this scene the Vienna boys choir have just departed on a holiday around Austria via steamer and are waving to a passing boat. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pippi Longstocking - The TV Series ( 1969 )

Astrid Lindgren's little freckled face imp, Pippi Longstocking, made an immediate impression on her readers when she appeared in "Pippi L√•ngstrump" ( 1945 ), the first in a series of children's story books. Pippi is the embodiment of the mischievous elf hidden within every child. Parents are always telling their young ones to behave, and sometimes they just want to run amuck with wild behavior. She's friendly and kind to everyone she meets - including criminals - but has no "proper manners" whatsoever, and as far as Pippi is concerned, who cares! 

Pippi, whose mother is an angel in heaven, and whose father is king of a South Seas island ( actually a stranded sea captain ), lives alone in a mansion called Villa Villekulla, and has learned to take care of her own inimitable way. She washes the kitchen floor by pouring buckets of soap water on it, and then skates around the kitchen in shoes strapped with brushes. She cleans the dinner table by folding the four corners of the tablecloth into the center, leaving all the dishes on it, and then throwing the sack into a drawer. If she finds a bit of old food later, it's all the tastier. 

Pippi isn't just a red-headed rascal...she has superhuman strength, too, like being able to lift a horse single-handedly. Where Pippi got her powers from is never explained ( nor how her pigtails stay air-born ), but since these are children's stories, why bother with explanations? The little girl never has to worry about money troubles because her father gave her a treasure chest full of gold coins to survive on. 

Annika and Tommy are two well-behaved youngsters whom Pippi befriends in town when she first arrives. They like to spend the day with Pippi and see what antics she can get herself into, vicariously enjoying her mischievousness without getting into trouble themselves. 
In 1949, Pippi popped onto the silver screen for the first time in the Swedish film Pippi L√•ngstrump, starring Viveca Serlachius, an actress who resembled the dynamic Betty Hutton. She was such a hit with audiences, that ten more films followed, even though it was obvious that she was a woman playing a part meant for a child. It was not until Shirley Temple's Storytime ( 1961 ) that a child actress - Gina Gillespie - got to play Pippi. 

While this was an adequate version for American audiences, the best series that captured the true Pippi was the 1969 television series, starring Inger Nillson, a funny looking moppet who resembled the original book drawings of Pippi perfectly. Nillson had a natural charm about her that really brought Pippi to life and, unlike many child actors do today, she played her part without displaying an ego. 

The series was filmed throughout the charming villages of Kyrktrappen and Visby, showing Sweden in her days before the "modern look" took over. What makes the series truly entertaining is its gentle pace. It makes you feel like you are another child, tagging along with Tommy and Annika, to watch what Pippi is up to today. At one moment she may decide to go riding on her speckled workhorse, or buy out the candy shop. When the circus comes to town you can be sure Pippi will treat everyone to free tickets. No outing is boring because Pippi uses her imagination to spice things up all the time. 

This series, simply called Pippi Longstocking, was so popular that it was dubbed and released throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, repeatedly airing on television for many years. Children in the States who grew up with the show either remember with fondness the American voices who dubbed the main characters or the British voices ( which are featured on the DVDs ). 

The same year the series was released, its producers decided to edit segments from the show into a feature film version. This film, Pippi Longstocking ( 1969 ), was released throughout Europe and, in the US, and spawned another butchered compilation, Pippi Goes on Board ( 1969 ). 
Inger Nillson and the cast reunited then for two feature film versions of Pippi - Pippi in the South Seas ( 1970 ) and Pippi on the Run ( 1970 ), which were hurriedly made because all of the children were having growth spurts. Alas, these films lacked the laid-back charm of the television series which, to this day, remains the most beloved version of Lindgren's Pippi legacy. If you have a little one with a mind bent towards adventure, then this series is well worth checking out.