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Saturday, March 31, 2018

On the Set of The Ten Commandments ( 1956 )

Tonight, as part of television tradition, ABC will be airing The Ten Commandments in honor of Passover week. For those who are unfamiliar with the film ( were you wandering in the desert wilderness with Moses? ), this 4-hour production tells the story from the Old Testament of Moses, the prince of Egypt ( portrayed by Charlton Heston ), who discovered that he was the true son of a Hebrew slave woman and renounced the throne to join his people. Years later, on Mount Sinai working as a shepherd, he hears the voice of the Lord speak to him, selecting him to lead these Hebrews out of slavery and out of Egypt into the Promised Land.

2018 marks the 55th year that this epic Cecil B. DeMille production has been televised on ABC ( except for 1999, the only year they dropped it )...and so, to honor and join in the celebration of this favorite annual occasion, we have compiled a little gallery of snapshots featuring behind-the-scenes photos taken on the set of The Ten Commandments

Happy Passover and a Blessed Easter to all of our readers! 

John Carradine, Martha Scott, Charlton Heston, Olive Deering, and Anne Baxter discuss the script with director Cecil B. DeMille. 
Charlton Heston, dressed as Prince Moses, stands in front of one of the many massive sets seen in the film. 
"Hello, valet service? Would you bring my chariot around to the front gate in ten minutes? Thank you!"
Filming the spectacular scene featuring Moses' return from his journey to Ethiopia. 
Yul, with his ever-present camera, capturing a snapshot of a gritty looking Moses in chains. 
Heston gets his chains tightened for Moses' dramatic entrance.
Cecil B. DeMille getting a light-reading for the opening sequence featuring Miriam and Baby Moses in the reeds. 
The construction of Bithiah's bathing pavilion, complete with palm trees. 
Yvonne DeCarlo seeing what the behind-the-camera viewpoint is like. 
Anne Baxter, as Nefertari, smiles at the camera while Cecil B. DeMille gives some last-minute direction to Yul Brynner.
Extras waiting in the blazing California sun to make their brief appearance in the movie.
Donald O'Connor visits the set during the filming of the brick-making scene. 
Charlton Heston gives Yul Brynner a good-luck handshake before filming commences. 
Charlton Heston and extras standing before the "blue screen". Heston still strikes a powerful figure, even without the parting sea behind him.

COSTUMES, COSTUMES

Yvonne De Carlo, as Sephora, modeling her shepherd's gown for a wardrobe test. 
Edith Head discusses a wardrobe matter with DeMille about one of Sephora's costumes, while Yvonne DeCarlo adjusts her earring.
A John Jenson sketch of one of the costumes worn by Dathan ( Edward G. Robinson ). Perhaps another actor was considered for the role of Dathan because this man hardly resembles Robinson!
Heston, as Moses, poses for this costume test. This is the shaggy shepherd suit he wears before he heads up to Mt. Sinai to be transfigured.
Nina Foch, as Bithiah, lounging in one of the many beautiful Edith Head costumes seen in The Ten Commandments.
Not only did costumes undergo color tests but eye color, too! Here, Debra Paget, poses for a photo with her "own eyes" compared to using contact lens.... 
....as seen here. Can you guess which option they went with for the final film?
Anne Baxter and Yul Brynner had the best looking costumes in The Ten Commandments and this garment was especially impressive. The white and red colors on the hedjet/crown atop Ramses' head represents the unity of Upper ( white ) and Lower ( red ) Egypt.
Moses, looking splendid in his leather tunic. 
One of the many beautiful gowns that Anne Baxter gets to wear as Nefertari. This one may possibly have been designed by Edith Head but Dorothy Jeakins also worked on the film.
Another Nefertari costume sketch.
When it comes to the fashion industry, sometimes the sketches look better than the costumes in reality, but not in this case. Anne Baxter knows how to fill out this sheer garment!
Debra Paget as Lilia, complete with leather slippers and her water cask.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Mystery of Pirate's Cove - The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries ( 1977 )

Strange lights are seen coming from an abandoned lighthouse at Pirate's Cove. When Nancy Drew and her friends investigate, they discover the lighthouse completely locked with no visible means of anyone having entered there in the past five years. But activity of a ghostly nature is soon to be stirred up by Professor Wall, a ghost hunter who has just purchased the "haunted" lighthouse from Old Man Jenson. 

A Shroud of Thoughts is hosting the 4th Annual Favorite TV Episode Blogathon and "The Mystery at Pirate's Cove" certainly rates as one of my favorite television episodes. 

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries were an entertaining primetime series that premiered in the winter of 1977. The show was aimed at a juvenile-teenage audience and, in its first season, alternated each week between episodes featuring the brother-sleuths of Frank and Joe Hardy of Rockport, and the intrepid "part-time investigator" Nancy Drew of River Heights. 

The Hardy Boys episodes never appealed to me because they tended to focus on promoting squeaky-clean Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as teen idols and featured scripts that were a tad more serious and less amusing. Mysteries were also frequently interrupted by segments featuring Cassidy singing his bubblegum tunes. 

Nancy Drew, on the other hand, featured some really good mysteries and great scripts with witty banter between the main characters, which included Carson Drew ( Nancy's father, one of the best lawyers in River Heights ), Ned Nickerson, and George Fayne. And "The Mystery of Pirate's Cove" is an especially delightful episode. It was the premiere episode to the series and introduced audiences to Nancy, her companions, and her wizard detecting skills. 
Unlike most premiere episodes, all of the actors portraying the main characters are perfectly at ease from the get-go. Nancy and George ( played by Pamela Sue Martin and Jean Rasey ) truly seem like cronies from high school and the bespectacled Ned Nickerson ( George O'Hanlon Jr. ) like Nancy's old friend who is tired of being viewed as a brother and not as a love-interest. 

Monte Markham, the only face on television in the 1970s, has the starring guest role in this episode as Professor Wall, a professor of parapsychology. One flash of his boyish grin at George and she proclaims him "an Adonis!" whereas Nancy suspects his charming demeanor to be merely a front and is determined to discover what his real motive is behind purchasing the lighthouse. Clever gal she be. 
The plot to "The Mystery of Pirate's Cove" is a marvelous blend of everything you would want in a mystery: buried treasure, legends of pirates and bootleggers, secret maps, shadows in the night, thunderstorms, hidden caves, a haunted lighthouse, mysterious dead fish, and even the prerequisite obstinate Irish policeman. Surprisingly, the story was written directly for television with only a nod to Carolyn Keene for the use of her characters. 

Instead of divulging the episode in depth, I'd rather let you discover its charms for yourself. The complete Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries series is available to purchase on DVD or to rent through DVD.com. 

It's great fun and a perfect episode to watch on a cool autumn afternoon with a cup of hot cocoa. Sadly, only seven episodes of Nancy Drew were released with the threesome of Martin, O'Hanlon Jr. and Rasey. Darn, I wish more episodes were made! 

This post is my contribution to the 4th annual Favorite TV Show Episode Blogathon being hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts. Be sure to head on over to Terence's land of pop culture commentary to read more entries for this fun event. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game


Choo! Choo! The train is coming into the station. Stay on the platform until it comes to a complete stop. One little boy is anxious to board...until he learns that his mother will not be staying for the ride. Does this scene look familiar? If it does, you've just spotted an Impossibly Difficult screenshot...go ahead and type the title down in the comment box below and you've won yourself a prize! 

As always, if you are not familiar with the rules to the Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie game or the prize, click here!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Hunted in Holland ( 1961 ) - A Children's Film Foundation Production

For many years, Britain exercised an entertainment tax on its citizens which was charged when anyone indulged in sitting in the dark comfort of a motion picture theater. Proceeds from this tax ( known as the Eady Levy ) went towards British-based film producers for the production of.... more films, of course! 

The Children's Film Foundation was a non-profit film production organization formed in 1951 and was primarily subsided by this levy. It provided youngsters with a steady stream of relatively innocent fare that they could enjoy in the theater or on television on a rainy day ( which occurred quite often ) or when their parents happened to desire them out of the house. 
Over the course of thirty-five years ( 1951-1985 ) the "CFF" released nearly 180 films ranging in subject matter from traditional cops-and-robbers adventures to elaborate sci-fi stories and dramas dealing with runaways. 

When the Eady Levy was abolished in 1985, the CFF ceased producing new films and entertainment for the little tykes was once again left in the hands of independent filmmakers. 
In recent years, gems from the CFF archives ( now curated by the British Film Institute ) have been released on DVD in appropriately themed sets and, since I have a weakness for juvenile entertainment - being of that mind  - I have slowly been indulging in these films. Hence, a new series of reviews will be born - The Children's Film Foundation series - and Hunted in Holland is the subject of the first of these reviews. 

This film follows the adventures of an English lad who gets tangled up with diamond smugglers during his visit to Holland. Like most of the CFF productions, Hunted in Holland runs a mere 60 minutes ( childrens' attention spans are rather short ), and features beautiful locales, a jolly good script, but alas, lame acting that carries on at a snail's pace. All of the films could have used the magical "Disney touch" but since they are British productions, we'll just assume that speed wasn't a trait that they were anxious to foster in their youngsters. 
Sean Scully, who would later appear in Walt Disney's Almost Angels ( 1962 ), stars as Tim, the English boy, who is spending a week-long holiday in Holland with his penpal Piet, portrayed by Jacques Verbrugge. Verbrugge is an engaging young lad, not unlike the Quebecois child-star Gilles Payant. Along with his sister Aanike ( Sandra Spurr ), the two boys head into Holland's countryside via bicycle to meet up with Piet's parents who operate a channel boat...but their journey turns into an adventure when they discover that a diamond smuggler is tailing them to retrieve a bracelet that they inadvertently picked up. 

Hunted in Holland manages to pack in quite a bit of adventure in its short run-time but, due to the amateur acting talent and simple direction ( by Derek Williams ), it lacks that punch that could have made it a children's classic. Nevertheless, there are some great scenes involving the Dutch thugs: the introductory theft of the bracelet by a man in drag, the stuffing of the hot jewels in a hollow cheese wheel, and a chase through a greenhouse....which includes a scene that pays tribute to Louis Lumière's 1895 short silent film L'Arroseur Arrosé.
Currently, Hunted in Holland is not available on DVD in the United States or abroad, but since an existing print is available it is probably only a matter of time before it appears on a BFI issued CFF collection

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

From the Archives: So Evil My Love ( 1948 )

In this still photo from So Evil My Love ( 1948 ), Olivia ( Ann Todd ) is beginning to realize that those seemingly innocent eyes of Mark ( Ray Milland ) may be harboring evil thoughts.

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, March 10, 2018

Hayley Mills & The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Windmill

Every fan of the 1968 musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang remembers inventor Caractacus Potts' beautiful workshop, but what many do not know is that the windmill where it was filmed was once owned by Hayley Mills, the star of numerous Walt Disney films of the 1960s. 

In 1967, producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli sent location scouts throughout the English countryside to select a picturesque windmill to become the workshop of the magnificent inventor Professor Potts, portrayed by Dick Van Dyke. In the parish of Ibstone in Buckinghamshire, they discovered Cobstone Mill, a lovely 1816 smock mill that was used to grind cereal until the late 1800s. After a fire damaged the center post, the mill went into disrepair and, by the time the scouts discovered it, it needed extensive renovation. Broccoli footed the bill for a cosmetic restoration....of the exterior only. Paper sails were fitted to mock blades that actually worked, making the sails turn in the wind. Since the scenes featuring the interior of the workshop would be shot on a soundstage, there was no need for repairs to be made on the inside of the mill. 
Three years after Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was released in theaters, Hayley Mills and her husband, director Roy Boulting, discovered the mill and purchased it at an auction for £30,000. Over the next four years, they invested nearly £90,000 in restoring the mill, which proved to be quite a challenge. By 1975, they had the mill up for sale...at a cost that just about covered their restoration expenses. It looks like Mills was put through the mill for that purchase.

Since the 1960s, Cobstone Mill has been seen in television episodes of The New Avengers, Midsomer Murders, Jonathan Creek, and Little Britain. Today, it still stands proudly overlooking the village of Turville and is admired by the occasional Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fan who happens to be passing by. 

This entry is a part of our 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, March 4, 2018

British Pathé: Matchbox Toy Cars ( 1965 )

Seeing a manufacturing process in action is always interesting, but this particular 1965 British Pathé film clip is extra fun to watch because it covers the process - from start to finish - of a toy Matchbox car being made....and what a detailed process it is!
In 1953, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's coronation, Lesney Products issued a tiny replica model of the coach used by the queen during the procession. It was such a big-seller that Lesney began a line called "Matchbox Cars" which featured detailed scale-models of all of the popular British automobiles, and later, American models, too. They were known as the Matchbox series because each model was packaged in a little yellow box which resembled a matchbox.

This 1 minute 59 second British Pathé film clip from their "How They Are Made" series shows how these little motorcars are designed, carved out of wood, molded, and then put into production. It's amazing what effort went into these toys and today's manufacturing process of Hot Wheels and other models is just as fascinating. 

Ready to watch Matchbox Toy Cars? Simply click on the link below.

British Pathé - Matchbox Toy Cars ( 1965 ) 

Other similar British Pathé clips: 

Model Cars ( 1962 )  - 2:32 min

Dinky Cars ( 1967 ) - 1:10 min

Outtakes from Matchbox Cars ( 1965 ) - 9:09 min