Sunday, June 30, 2019

Candleshoe ( 1977 )

Michael Innes, who is best known for his novels featuring detective Sir John Appleby, was a prolific author for over fifty years ( 1930s-1980s ). In 1953, he penned a little book entitled "Christmas at Candleshoe" which Walt Disney Studios subsequently produced as a family motion picture in 1977. Like many book-to-film adaptations, the film barely resembles its source; but, judging from Goodreads reader's comments about the original book, this is to its credit. 
Candleshoe is the name of a beautiful Elizabethan estate in England. Its owner, Lady St. Edmund ( Helen Hayes ), has been searching for her long-lost granddaughter Margaret for many years and has had a number of imposters come forward claiming to be this girl, the heir to Candleshoe. 

Con-artist Harry Bundage ( Leo McKern ) discovers Casey ( Jodie Foster ), a tough-talking wayward teenager in Los Angeles who has all of Margaret's birthmarks in their proper places and sees in her his ticket to a fortune. Unlike other cons, his primary intention is not to collect any reward for "finding" Margaret, but rather to use Casey as an agent inside Candleshoe to hunt for the real treasure - Captain Joshua St. Edmund's buried pirate treasure. 
Candleshoe is a fun family film that combines a Disney-esque Jolly Ol' England charm with Hollywood's fascination for a good treasure yarn. Helen Hayes is delightful as the prim and proper Lady St. almost forgets that she is an American playing an Englishwoman. Yet, it is Sir David Niven who is given the juiciest role, that of Priory, the faithful butler. He has known for many years of Candleshoe's thread-bare financial situation and, being the loyal sort that he is, decides to keep this information from Lady St. Edmund and takes over all of the duties of the house singlehandedly. Using multiple disguises, he becomes the chauffeur, cook, gardener, and Lady St. Edmund's dear friend "the major" as well. 

Director Norman Tokar ( Leave it to Beaver ) had thirteen other Disney feature films under his belt by the time he made Candleshoe. He was excellent working with children and brought out great performances from Jodie Foster and the other child actors ( Veronica Quilligan, Ian Sharrock, Sarah Tamakuni, David Samuels ). The character of Casey was tomboyish and thoroughly selfish, and yet Jodie Foster still managed to make her quite likable. Through her experience at Candleshoe, Casey learns that by being self-reliant and skeptical of others during her youth, she missed out on the nurturing environment of a stable home life. She sees in Lady St. Edmund a surrogate grandmother and, in a tear-inducing finale, confesses that having others to love and care for is indeed better than looking out solely for oneself. 
Candleshoe was filmed on location in England in the beautiful town of Hambleden in Buckinghamshire where two personal favorites, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ( 1968 ) and Murder Is Easy ( 1981 ) were also filmed. It is such a charming village and its proximity to Pinewood studios - where many Disney films were shot - made it ideal for location filming. 

Also in the cast is Vivian Pickles, John Alderson, Michael Balfour, and Sydney Bromley. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Impossibly Difficult Name That Movie Game

It's time to make an announcement! Or so it seems.....this comely duo look like they are happy to say something, but what could it be? If you know what film this screenshot is from, then drop a comment down below and see if you are the winner of this month's Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game. 

Not familiar with the game? Check out the rules here.


Congratulations to Damsbo for correctly identifying this screenshot from Walt Disney's The Barefoot Executive ( 1971 ). If you look in the background, you will see the famous Emmy emblem. This was taken from the Emmy awards scene when Steven Post ( Kurt Russell ) is announced "Man of the Year". 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Les Deux Anglaises et Le Continent ( 1971 )

While recovering at home from a leg injury, Claude ( Jean-Pierre Léaud ) meets Anne Brown ( Kika Markham ), the daughter of his mother's old friend, who has come to France to study art. She invites Claude to spend the summer with her sister Muriel ( Stacey Tendeter ) and her mother at their seaside cottage in Wales, an invitation that he accepts. Once there, Anne conspires to play matchmaker between Claude and Muriel and, over the course of the summer, succeeds. Claude wishes to marry Muriel but she feels that this is only a passing infatuation and declines his offer but later changes her mind. Their parents come to the decision that it is best if they were to separate for a year and then, if they still feel the desire to marry, they may do so. But once back in Paris, Claude has affairs with other women and does indeed realize that his love for Muriel was temporary. Anne, who is once again in Paris studying art, begins to see Claude more often and the two embark on an affair themselves. 

Les Deux Anglaises et Le Continent aka Two English Girls was based on the 1956 novel of the same name by Henri-Pierre Roché who also wrote "Jules et Jim". That novel told the story of a young woman who was in love with two men. "Les Deux Anglaises" inverts this premise. The book and the film center on Claude's indecision between his feelings for both sisters whom he met while yet a teenager. It is set during the early 1900s and spans nearly twenty years of Claude's life. It is a sad story but one which the audience can easily relate to. Claude obviously enjoyed his summer with both sisters and, as he got older, found it difficult to love one without the possibility of exploring his feelings for the other sister as well. Once having done so, he was all the more confused about whom he really loved the most. 

It is harder for the audience to sympathize with Muriel. She feels as though she is unworthy of Claude even though she knows him to be untrue to her, and so she continues to spurn him...which only serves to drive him away. 
The film is filled with many beautiful images symbolic of what the characters are feeling, but it is also very crude, very frank, and quite erotic. Director Francois Truffaut ( who also directed Jules et Jim ) acknowledged that "the film was so romantic, possibly even melodramatic, that it had to be balanced by some very physical scenes." This did not go over well with audiences. In France, the reception to the film was so bad that Truffaut pulled it from the theatres and re-edited it. Years later, he succeeded in adding back twenty minutes that he had originally cut. 

"Rather than a film about physical love, I have tried to make a physical film about love." - Truffaut

The harsh reception that the picture received disappointed Truffaut who considered it to be his best film up to that time. It has only been in recent decades that Les Deux Anglaises et Le Continent has been acknowledged to be the fine film that it is. 

Les Deux Anglaises is not a happy picture and it is devoid of humor, but it is beautiful, both in its cinematography ( by Nestor Almendros ) and in its soulful expression of despair. The film plays out like a novel. It is filled with numerous vignettes that resemble short rich chapters that you want to re-read again and again. Almendros avoids close-ups and, instead, stunning long shots of the Welsh landscape are mixed with medium shots and various techniques from Truffaut's bag of tricks which include superimpositions, lightning-fast cuts, fade-ins and the iris effect ( reminiscent of The Music Man ). 
"Between them was a dead girl whom they would not name. Only a child would restore the trio that they once were."

Kika Markham is excellent as level-headed Anne, as is Stacey Tendeter as Muriel, who appears to be more sensible than she acts. However, Jean-Pierre Léaud makes a rather childlike main character. His thin frame emphasizes his boyish features. Perhaps this was what Truffaut intended, but a stronger leading man would have made the film even more compelling. Claude, who puts on the airs of being a mature adult, seems to be only a boy who cannot make up his mind to what - or whom - he desires. 

Throughout the film, there is the voice of the narrator who acts as an omniscient presence to relate to us the feelings of the characters, primarily Claude. Without the authoritative voice of this narration ( the voice of Truffaut himself ), the film may have suffered from relying upon only Léaud's presence. 
While the characters in the novel were based on Henri-Pierre Roché's own feelings, Truffaut felt that the novel also reflected the situation that the Bronte sisters were in, with both of them longing for the love of their half-brother Branwell. Throughout the film, Claude and Muriel relate to going back to their "brother-sister" relationship, realizing they could never be lovers when they feel such a close sibling-like bond to each other. 

Truffaut also suffused the film with a sadness which he was experiencing at the time. Shortly before filming began, Truffaut had been treated for severe depression. Like Claude, he too was in love with two sisters - the actresses Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac - one of whom had died only three years before he began work on the film. 

Two English Girls is currently available on DVD in an excellent Criterion Collection release and through the Criterion Channel. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

From the Archives: Charade ( 1963 )

Mrs. Lambert ( Audrey Hepburn ) just received the news of her husband's death from the French police inspector ( Jacques Marin ) in this scene from Stanley Donen's comedy-thriller Charade ( 1963 ). Marin, a native of Paris, was a popular character actor both in Europe and in America. In 1966, he was reunited with Hepburn in How to Steal a Million...another film set in Paris. 

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 :

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Happy Road ( 1957 )

Gene Kelly was at the peak of his career in the early 1950s, making such memorable musicals as Summer Stock, An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain and Brigadoon. One side adventure he took away from musicals was a delightful family film called The Happy Road ( 1957 ). It had no singing or dance sequences. Kelly directed the picture himself and you can see his little touches throughout the film, especially in the mannerisms of the two leading child actors Bobby Clark and Brigitte Fossey.  

The story revolves around these two children - Danny and Janine - who escape from a private school in Switzerland in order to be with their parents in Paris. Danny's father Mike ( Gene Kelly ) is a widower who is in France on business. He is frustrated with the inefficiency of the French workers and just wants to finish up his work in order to return to the States, where he believes people are much more sensible. Janine's mother Suzanne ( Barbara Laage ) is a divorcee who is about to be remarried in Monte Carlo. 

After these two parents discover that their children have run away together they decide, with the aid of the police, to head the children off before they get too far along the journey to Paris. Much to their chagrin, these youngsters travel at a faster pace then they imagined and are always one town ahead of them on the chase. It is this chase through France that makes up much of the picture. 
Filmed entirely in France, The Happy Road takes its audience throughout the petites villes enroute to Paris. Danny and Janine find aid from other children and people they meet along the way, including a mute giant, a picnicking family, and members of a bicycle road race. They travel by foot, truck, and canal boat whereas Mike and Suzanne go via the main roads by motorcycle and scooter. 

While the story itself revolves around the children, the main characters are the parents, who realize that perhaps they were putting their own interests and desires before their children. Mike comes to learn that the French people are indeed living the better way; they consider life itself more important than the busyness of life that Mike takes part in. 

The Happy Road is a charming film and it earned the UN award as well as the 1958 Golden Globe for best film in Promoting International Understanding. Also in the cast is Michael Redgrave as a thoroughly British military general and Roger Treville. Maurice Chevalier sings the sparkling title song. 
The Happy Road is available on DVD from the Warner Archive Collection.