Monday, April 29, 2019

Heimweh....dort wo die Blumen Blüh'n ( 1957 )

Somewhere I read that if you watch one Heimatfilm you've seen them all. That is a bit of a stretch, but it is true that after seeing twenty or so, they begin to blur together. 

In Hollywood pictures you would find character actors who appeared more frequently in one type of genre than in others...e.g Harry Carey Jr. or Edgar Buchanan liked westerns while Marjorie Main and Mary Wickes preferred comedies. In Germany, this was also the case, and many of the main actors and supporting players who starred in Heimatfilms enjoyed that genre and made a number of them. So you cannot rely on the actor's faces to bring to mind the title. Then, the similarities of the titles do not help matters much either. This film, Heimweh....dort wo die Blumen Blüh'n ( 1957 ), is not to be confused with Heimatlos ( 1958 ), Wenn die Alpenrosen blüh'n ( 1955 ), Solange noch die Rosen blüh'n ( 1956 ), or Dort oben, wo die Alpen glühen (1956). Lots of bloomin' titles! 

In this film, you will find a little more drama than usual in a Heimatfilm. A young woman ( Sabine Bethman ) attempts to commit suicide by throwing herself into a river but is saved by a priest  ( Hans Holt ) who is traveling with a busload of sängerknaben ( choir boys ). The priest takes her to the monastery and the boys and the parish staff all try to cheer her, but to no avail. It is not until she enters confession with Father Benedict and tells him the story of her lost romance that she feels her depression begin to subside. Of course, this flashback sequence is for the benefit of the audience who get to witness a little romance between her and her engineer supervisor ( Rudolf Prack ). 

Heimweh has some pleasant moments but on the whole, it is very forgettable. The only memorable part of the film is its theme song "Heimweh" performed by Freddy Quinn and played throughout the movie. Freddy was an extremely popular entertainer from Austria and "Heimweh" ( the German version of Dean Martin's "Memories are Made of This" ) was his first million-selling hit single. So it seems as though Heimweh...dort wo die Blumen Bluh'n was the result of some screenwriters who hurriedly typed out a script to cash in on the popularity of the song. 

The film also features a great supporting cast but unfortunately, their talents are all wasted in parts that are too insignificant. The lovable Joseph Egger could have been a comforting character to the poor young woman but instead, he is in only a few scenes tinkering with a radio or bickering with Annie Rosar, another great actress who has too small a part. 

Hans Holt may be familiar to The Sound of Music fans because he played Captain von Trapp in the original Die Trapp Familie ( 1956 ). Rudolf Prack is always a pleasure to watch, and also in the cast is Paul Horbiger, a legend in German cinema. 

Heimweh....dort wo die Blumen Blüh'n is not yet available on DVD but if you are willing to see where "the flowers bloom" then you can view it on Youtube.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Hot Diggity! Onion soup on Friday! My favorite! And you can be sure that this fellow will give you a generous portion. Don't mind the flies in the soup, they only add to the flavor. 

If you can guess which film this screenshot is from, you have a prize coming your way. If you have no idea what movie this is from, guess a title anyway! There is no penalty for a wrong answer. Check out the full rules to the game here. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Charlie Chan in Panama ( 1940 )

Detective Charlie Chan finds himself once again in the midst of treachery and danger when he heads down to Panama in this 22nd installment of 20th Century Fox's Charlie Chan film series.

A sinister criminal by the name of Reiner is intent on destroying the U.S naval fleet as it passes through the Panama Canal. Chan, who is working undercover in Panama City, has only one clue to Reiner's identity - he or she was one of the nine passengers aboard the Trans-Panama Airways clipper ship that arrived in Panama City the morning of the death of Chan's contact agent Mr. Godley. Within 48 hours, Chan - with the aid of his Number 2 son - must unmask Reiner and discover how this mastermind will attempt to destroy the fleet.

There were 28 Charlie Chan films made for Fox studios and Charlie Chan in Panama ranks high as a fan favorite. It was based on the 1934 film Marie Gallante starring Ketti Gallian and Spencer Tracy. Screenwriters Lester Ziffren and John Larkin heightened its entertainment value immensely by adding numerous suspicious characters and clever red herrings.
Among the suspects are novelist Clivedon Compton ( Lionel Atwill ), scientist Dr. Grosser ( Lionel Royce ) who is experimenting with infecting rats with the bubonic plague, engineer Richard Cabot ( Kane Richmond ), schoolteacher Miss Finch ( Mary Nash ), tobacconist Achmad Halide ( Frank Puglia ) and a cabaret singer by the fanciful name of Kathi von Czardas ( Jean Rogers ). 

"Bad alibi like dead fish, cannot stand test of time."

Sidney Toler is always wonderful to watch. After Warner Oland's untimely demise, Toler took over the role of the world-famous Honolulu detective and added his own unique touches to the character. Victor Sen Yung makes his fourth appearance as Jimmy Chan, Charlie's Number Two son, and he is a delight as well. Later, he would become famous on television as the chef Hop-Sing in Bonanza
As in most of the Chan films, the atmospheric settings are excellent, with credit going to art director Richard Day ( How Green Was My Valley ) for his beautiful sets. Charlie Chan in Panama was tautly directed by Norman Foster who helmed most of the Mr. Moto series of films. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Wings of Mystery ( 1963 )

The Children's Film Foundation made a number of good little mysteries in the 1960s, one of which was Wings of Mystery, released in 1963. This British film tells the story of a brother and sister ( Hennie Scott and a young Judy Geeson ) who try to help their brother Ted ( Richard Carpenter ) when he is accused of stealing a new secret alloy from the iron plant where he works. The children suspect McCarthy, another employee, who will be taking a trip to Belgium to race pigeons. They believe he snuck the alloy sample out of the plant by tying it to the feet of a pigeon and will be selling it to foreign agents. Since the children are also avid pigeons racers, they follow him to Belgium in an attempt to apprehend him. 
Pigeon racing films are quite rare and this is one of the best in the genre. Audiences get to witness some splendid action shots of the pigeons in flight, especially that of Sir Lancelot who was the lead pigeon in Wings of Mystery

Unfortunately, the performances of the human actors are rather stiff, but CFF films were never known for featuring quality acting ( most of them cast new young actors or children from the villages where the pictures were being filmed ). Wings of Mystery does have one talented youngster - Judy Geeson, who was only 15 years old at the time. Geeson would go on to have quite a long career in both film and television starring opposite Sidney Poitier in To Sir, with Love ( 1967 ), Joan Crawford in Berserk ( 1968 ), and John Wayne in Brannigan ( 1975 ). 
Also in the cast is Patrick Jordan, Arnold Ridley, and Anthony Jacobs. The movie is only 55-minutes long so it is worth checking out, and if you enjoy it, take a peek at Sky Pirates ( 1977 ), another CFF release, this time with children who use their model airplanes to battle diamond smugglers. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

From the Archives: Twilight for the Gods ( 1958 )

Rock Hudson and Cyd Charisse in a scene from Twilight for the Gods ( 1958 ). Don't let the black-and-white photograph fool you, this Universal picture was filmed in eye-popping Eastman Colour. Hudson plays a boozy sea captain who must take his passengers ( including a call girl ) "out of the raging fury of wind and water" to safety. It was based on a book by Ernest K. Gann, who also wrote "The High and the Mighty" and "Fate is the Hunter", both of which were made into motion pictures. 

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 :

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Gnome-Mobile ( 1967 )

"Hunting for gnomes in the Gnome-Mobile...."

Jaspar ( Tom Lowell ) and his grandfather Knobby ( Walter Brennan ) fear that they may be the last of the gnomes residing in the giant redwoods of California. As many of us know, gnomes live forever, but Knobby is so disheartened at the thought of his grandson never marrying that he loses his will to live. This causes him to become "see-throughish". As he fades away more each day, Jaspar, in desperation, seeks the aid of a doo-deen ( human ) that happens to come to the forest on a picnic one day - little Elizabeth ( Karen Dotrice ). 

Knobby, who is at first skeptical of trusting humans, agrees to accompany Elizabeth, her brother Rodney ( Matthew Garber ), and their grandfather ( Walter Brennan, again ) in their antique Rolls-Royce to be transported to a virgin forest where they hope to find more gnomes. But imagine Knobby's surprise when he discovers that the old man who is escorting him is none other than D.J. Mulrooney, the owner of Mulrooney Timber Company which cut down most of the woods in his home forest!

"Timber! Timber!" 

The giant redwoods of California provide the backdrop for one of Walt Disney's most delightful fantasy films of the 1960s. This was one of the last films that Walt Disney was able to personally oversee. He passed away shortly after the picture's release. 

The Gnome-Mobile is packed to the brim with fun moments and is never tiresome. Eustace Lycett, Disney studio's resident magic-maker, created the convincing special effects, utilizing the same method he did in Darby O'Gill and the Little People ( 1959 ) to make the gnomes look like they were only two-feet tall.

Our father was an auto mechanic so, growing up, we watched a lot of films that featured cars or chase scenes and this was a childhood favorite of ours. The Shaggy Dog was one of the first films Walt Disney made that featured a car chase as a climax and it would become a trademark of the Disney comedy films throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The Gnome-Mobile features a particularly exciting chase sequence through the forest with Richard Deacon in a Cadillac pursuing Grandpa Mulrooney and the children in their Rolls Royce. Bouncing along the dirt road, the Cadillac sheds its hood, fender, bumper, wheels, and doors as the race gets faster until it finally lands on the top of a pile of wrecked cars at a junkyard. A similar chase sequence would later be used in The Love Bug

"In the Gnome-Mobile, the Gnome-Mobile, hunting for gnomes in the Gnome-Mobile, Sooner or later we feel that we'll find where they are in the Gnome-Mobile."
The Gnome-Mobile also features great color styling and art direction by Carroll Clark ( Mulrooney's hotel is especially fetching to the eye ) and Bill Thomas created the colorful costumes which included the bright pixie-like dresses of the lady gnomes at the end of the film.

Like most Disney films, the casting is spot-on. Michael Garber and Karen Dotrice ( billed as "The Mary Poppins Children" ) are excellent and their acting is so expressive for their ages. Walter Brennan is convincing in his dual-role and the rest of the cast is made up of veteran character actors: Sean McClory as Horatio Quaxton, a disreputable owner of a traveling freak show; Ed Wynn as Rufus the gnome, Richard Deacon, Jerome Cowan, Charles Lane, Maudie Prickett, Ellen Corby, and Frank Cady and Alvy Moore ( both regulars from Green Acres ). 
The Gnome-Mobile shows us just how much fun a picnic in the woods can turn out to be, especially if you meet a gnome along the way. And if you want to take a ride in the Gnome-Mobile itself, head on over to the Gilmore Car Museum at Hickory Corners, Michigan where the Rolls-Royce Phantom II that was used in the film, as well as the larger-than-life interior replica, are on display.