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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Eyewitness ( 1956 )

"A young woman lies dangerously ill in a hospital bed. Concealed in the shadows outside her window is a ruthless killer, ready to murder again to silence this woman, the only eyewitness to his crime..." 

So reads the press release to Eyewitness, a grand little thriller from Rank Studios. It was a Muriel Box film produced by her husband Sidney Box ( brother of the famous British producer Betty Box ). Janet Green penned the script, which was brisk and clever, albeit a bit far-fetched. 
Lucy Church accidentally witnesses a robbery at a movie theatre one evening and, while she is attempting to run away from one of the robbers, gets hit by a bus. Hard luck! She is taken to a hospital, suffering from a minor concussion. There, instead of getting much-needed rest, her life is in danger by the very same robbers. One of them wants to smother her before she comes to and can describe them to the police. 

Most of the action takes place within the hospital or on the grounds outside it. This facility, with its modern architecture, is predominantly glass - which at night time, with a killer on the prowl, can make it seem doubly dangerous. 
One of the patients at the hospital is "Granny", an old lady with two bulging eyes that see everything that goes on around her. Ada Reeve portrays this character and steals every scene she is in. "Nurse! Nurse! There's a man! I saw a man trying to come in!" she hollers. "She's always seeing men. Wishful thinking," the staff respond. 

Muriel Pavlow ( Murder, She Said ) was not a well-known actress but certainly a capable one, as she proves in her portrayal of Lucy... brief as it is. Belinda Lee, who plays the nurse at the hospital, was a lovely British bombshell whose life and career ended much too early. Michael Craig has a minor role as Lucy's husband, but the real stars of the film are Donald Sinden and Nigel Stock, who portray the two amateur crooks. Dangerous as they are, they are quite likable, which adds to the film's appeal. 
The film rarely appears on television but is available on DVD and through streaming on Amazon Prime. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

From the Archives: Island at the Top of the World ( 1975 )

Island at the Top of the World ( 1975 ) was another fun Disney adventure film of the 1970s....not quite in league with such classics as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but it had a nice steampunk style to it anyway.  This dirigible was designed by Peter Ellenshaw ( the famous matte artist ) and art director John B. Mansbridge, two men who often worked on Disney productions.

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, January 12, 2019

Olly Olly Oxen Free ( 1978 )

There are certain films that you have watched in your childhood that need to be revisited as an adult. This is one such film. It has everything in it that would appeal to children - air balloons, adventure, summer fun building stuff, collecting junk - and yet, growing up watching this movie, my sister and I had no interest in it. We found it boring. How our perspectives change with time! 

Olly Olly Oxen Free is really a very entertaining family film. 

Albie ( Kevin McKenzie ) and his friend Chris ( Dennis Dimster ) are two boys who are attempting to repair the hot-air balloon belonging to Albie's late grandfather, an adventurer who flew under the name of The Great Sandusky. Albie wants to celebrate his grandfather's upcoming birthday and decides that taking flight in his old balloon would make his grandpop proud. Helping him in his endeavors is the dotty Miss Pudd, played by Katharine Hepburn. 

The director was clearly targeting the adults in the audience and not children when he made the film and perhaps that is why it did not appeal to us growing up. The story is told in a puffy cloud of nostalgia. All it is missing is the narrative of Albie as an old man telling this story to his children. 

Albie and Chris are your typical young boys living in a not-so-typical surrounding. The Great Sandusky must have left a good fortune to his daughter, for Albie and his mother live in a sprawling century home filled with antiques and paraphilia from his grandfather's flying days. Outside of the house is an enormous greenhouse, now rundown. This is where the old balloon is stored and where much of the film takes place. They are clever and mechanically-minded lads, but rather impetuous. 
Miss Pudd is a character herself. She runs a local junkyard ( housed in and around a converted watermill ) but refuses to sell any of her junk....until she discovers that the boys have imagination and the spirit of adventure in them, just as she has. She is a dreamer, living in a world of hopes and unfulfilled projects. Meeting Albie and Chris breaths new life into her. Now, for the first time, she is working on a project that will become a reality. 

If she is in need of the boys, they are equally in need of Miss Pudd. She spurs them on and encourages them whenever they have their doubts about completing the repair of the balloon. She is also the one doing most of the sewing! 

Elements of Olly Olly Oxen Free are reminiscent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ( 1968 ), such as the vintage car and the aerial sequences. The eccentric Miss Pudd is rather like Professor Catactacus Potts' father and even bears a similar-sounding name, and the boys also own a sheepdog ( this dog must be part of the standard equipment for inventors ). 

Olly Olly Oxen Free has its moments of improbability but it is a great yarn. As children, we all dream of huge adventurous projects and completing them seems like such an easy task...until we discover that we do not have the knowledge or the resources to accomplish them. Miss Pudd represents that child who has never grown up, but she is given a chance to go on a truly adventurous outing and her determination allows the boys their chance of giving Albie's grandfather the birthday present he deserves. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

This jolly fellow is starting the new year off with some accordion music! I think that is a grand way to celebrate but the man behind him does not seem to be enjoying the music that much. 

Does the scene look familiar? Try and guess which film it is from, all you have to do is drop a movie title in the comment box below. 

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