Tuesday, December 31, 2019

To You a Happy New Year! ( 1964 ) - British Pathe

Happy New Year to all our readers! We're bidding farewell to a grand old year - 2019 - and looking forward to a bright and beautiful 2020! A new decade!
The celebrations are underway in New York City but we are taking a look back at a New Year's Eve celebration that took place 55 years ago in London. Albert Hall to be precise. 

This 2-minute British Pathe news clip shows a number of English film personalities enjoying a night out at the famous Albert Hall where the annual New Year's Eve party is taking place....and a few revelers having a splash in the fountain at Trafalgar Square. 
They all seem to be having a good time and we hope you are, too. We wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! 

Click here to watch To You a Happy New Year ( 1964 )

Similiar British Pathe clips:

Brrr Happy New Year - Britain on Ice ( 1962 ) - 3:59
Happy New Year! ( 1965 ) - 7:17
New Year Show ( 1969 ) - 1:13

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The North Avenue Irregulars ( 1979 )

"Are you a minister or Batman??" 

Reverend Mike Hill ( Edward Herrmann ), the newly appointed minister at North Avenue Presbyterian Church, takes on the role of a crimefighter when he discovers that there is organized crime going on right in his parish community - illegal gambling. Helping him in his fight against the mob are five spunky women from the church activities committee: Vickie ( Barbara Harris ), Jane ( Karen Valentine ), Mrs. Carlisle ( Virginia Capers ), Claire ( Cloris Leachman ) and Rose ( Patsy Kelly ).

All of this gang busting upsets Anne ( Susan Clark ), the daughter of the former minister at North Avenue, who believes that the minister has no business using the church for personal or even city issues. "This is a matter for the police!" she exclaims. But how can one call on the police for help when even they are turning their eye away from the illegal gambling?

Walt Disney Pictures released a number of really fun family comedies in the 1970s and The North Avenue Irregulars is one of the best of the decade. It boasts a highly amusing script and tight direction by Bruce Bilson, but what really makes the film stand-out is the great cast, most of whom are character actors. The "church ladies" are exaggerated characterizations for sure but that is what makes them so fun to watch, especially when they are played by the likes of Barbara Harris and Virginia Capers. They are asked to trail men who may be taking the daily collections from the various bookie joints to "the bank" ( the main headquarters of the mob ) and so, armed with walkie-talkies, they follow them up and down the various side streets of Los Angeles. 
Most of the film takes place outdoors in and around the Los Angeles area and we get to see some great footage all over the city, including Burbank and Pasadena. It is like stepping back in time seeing Ralph's supermarket, car dealerships, pubs and other local businesses.
Other great character actors in the film include Michael Constantine and Steve Franken who play the Treasury Department agents that ask the Reverand for his help in smashing the gang, which is led by none other than Frank Campanella. Alan Hale Jr. has a wonderful guest role as a bookie known as "Harry the Hat" and the great Carl Ballantine plays a pants presser who operates the "front" for Harry. Also in the cast is Cliff Osmond, Herb Voland, Douglas Fowley ( as Patsy Kelly's fightin' Irish husband ), Ruth Buzzi, Dena Dietrich ( excellent as Jane's mother-in-law to-be ) and Louisa Moritz. 
Because of these talented actors the film is chock-full of wonderfully humorous little scenes, such as when Virginia Capers "trails" one of the pickup men on foot while pushing a baby carriage. Another great moment is when Reverend Hill asks Cloris Leachman if she is free that evening and tells her to meet him in Room 402 at the church. She gets dolled up thinking he wants to take her on a date...until she opens the door to Room 402 ( the children's Sunday School room ) and sees five other church ladies sitting on the little kid chairs waiting to hear what Reverend Hill called them there to discuss about the church. "My, how pretty you look!" they exclaim. Such good fun. 

The North Avenue Irregulars was based on the 1968 book of the same title by Reverend Hill which was an account of real-life events that happened to him when he took over the North Avenue Presbyterian Church in New Rochelle, New York, although it was naturally fictionalized and embellished to add humor. The title is a play on Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars, a group of ragamuffins who help gather information for Holmes. Overseas, the movie was released with the clever title Hill's Angels. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Now this is one classy-looking dame! And she is standing beside one of the most elegant cars of the era, too: a Lincoln Continental convertible. This is a screenshot from a film many of you may have seen multiple times...give a try and guess which film you think it is from and you may win a prize. But we warn you, sometimes these screenshots are tricky! 

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


Congratulations to Fandex for correctly identifying this scene from The Trouble with Angels ( 1966 ). This scene appears briefly when Rosalind Russell - as Mother Superior - looks out the window of the convent school and spies this sophisticated woman who was brought along by Kent Smith ( playing Hayley Mills' uncle ). 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

TCM Big Screen Classics - 2020

Every year since 2015, Fanthom Events teams up with TCM for their Big Screen Classics series which brings classic films back to movie theaters across the country. Meet Me in St. Louis ( 1944 ) was showing most recently and the film looked and sounded marvelous.

Their 2020 line-up is a mixed lot with a number of not-so-classic pictures tossed into the bag. More pre-1975 films would have been welcomed, but nevertheless, this series is a wonderful way to see classic movies that normally would only be viewed on a television screen.

All plot descriptions are courtesy of Fanthom Events website: 


An American in Paris - January 19 & 22

Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron sing and dance to the music of George and Ira Gershwin in this winner of six Academy Awards®, including Best Picture.

Love Story - February 9, 12

Harvard Law student Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal) and music student Jennifer Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw) share a chemistry they cannot deny - and a love they cannot ignore. Despite their opposite backgrounds, the young couple put their hearts on the line for each other.

The Color Purple - February 23

Academy Award® winner Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey star in director Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Color Purple".

King Kong - March 15

In the classic adventure that made her a star, Fay Wray plays the beautiful woman who conquers the savage heart of a giant ape.

A League of Their Own - April 26, 27, 29

Big league box office stars Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty and Tom Hanks pitch up as The Rockford Peaches, a brash and ballsy team of tryers with a talent they were never meant to have and the guts to take it all the way!

Airplane! - May 17, 20

Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty join panicky passengers, inept ground controllers and an inflatable auto-pilot (named “Otto,” of course!) in the disaster-film spoof voted “one of the 10 funniest movies ever made” by the American Film Institute.

Annie - June 14, 17

Director John Houston's film adaptation of the Broadway smash hit, ANNIE, which in turn was based on the perennial cartoon favorite, Little Orphan Annie. This musical extravaganza features stunning performances by Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry and Albert Finney.

The Blues Brothers - June 28, July 1

Comedy icons John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd star in the outrageously funny musical comedy The Blues Brothers.

Ghost - July 19, 22

One of the most memorable romantic films ever and winner* of two Academy Awards®, Sam (Patrick Swayze), living as a ghost, discovers his death wasn’t just a random robbery gone bad.
Babe - August 9, 12

Academy Award® winner and Best Picture nominee, Babe is the inspirational story of a shy Yorkshire piglet who doesn’t quite know his place in the world. 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind - September 13, 14, 17

Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind - witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky. After this life-changing event, the inexplicable vision of a strange, mountain-like formation haunts him. 

Psycho - October 11, 12

Join the Master of Suspense on a chilling journey as an unsuspecting victim (Janet Leigh) visits the Bates Motel and falls prey to one of cinema’s most notorious psychopaths - Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - November 8, 9

A feisty misfit sent to a mental hospital inspires his fellow patients to assert themselves, much to the chagrin of the strong-willed head nurse, who turns out to be more dangerous than any of the inmates. Based on the novel by Ken Kesey and the play by Dale Wasserman. 

Fiddler on the Roof - December 13, 14

Director Norman Jewison offers this uplifting classic about a poor Jewish milkman (Topol) in Czarist Russia who, along with his devoted family, battles financial challenges and growing anti-Semitism within his village.

Monday, December 9, 2019

From the Archives: Dark Victory ( 1939 )

Geraldine Fitzgerald and Bette Davis are grinning in the presence of a young Ronald Reagan in this scene from Dark Victory ( 1939 ). Little did they know that he would one day become President of the United States. Unfortunately, Reagan's character spent most of this picture in a drunken state...but he was a fine actor in many other films. 

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, December 7, 2019

Lorna Doone ( 1934 )

R.D. Blackmore's classic novel "Lorna Doone" was brought to the big screen in 1934 for the first time as a talking picture. The thrilling romance was made into a silent film five times before ATP Studios made this production which stars John Loder and Victoria Hopper. 
Network Distributing released Lorna Doone on DVD in 2014 in Volume 11 of their Ealing Studios Rarities Collection. Usually, this company does excellent transfers but this time the film could have been restored better. Many of the scenes were dark and grainy. It is difficult then to watch a movie without judging it based on its transfer, especially since so many Hollywood films from this same time period have been beautifully restored through Warner Archives. 

Nevertheless, Lorna Doone is a fascinating story, a true classic romance, and this particular adaptation - although quaint - captures the excitement of the tale and the period setting ( the English moorlands of the 1600s ) beautifully. John Loder stars as John Ridd, a farmer whose father was murdered by a thieving band of rogues known as the Doones. The law has never been able to capture any of the Doones because they live in their own community in a valley hidden away from other villages. One day, as a young boy, John is rescued by a pretty girl near a waterfall. He never forgets her and years later, when he grows to manhood, he catches sight of her again near that same waterfall. Her name is Lorna Doone and she is the adopted daughter of the king of the thieves, Counsellor Doone. 
A love blossoms between the two even though Lorna is aware that she could never leave the Doones, especially to wed one of the Ridds. John sees his only chance of marrying Lorna would be to kidnap her before she is betrothed to another member of the rogues....which he does, sparking an all-out war between the families. 

Lorna Doone was filmed on location in Exmoor, Somerset, England and this really brings the rural atmosphere of the novel to life. There is a thrilling scene near the end when John Ridd rides on horseback chasing after the vile Carver Doone to fight with him singlehandedly. The music in the film is also lovely. Composer C. Armstrong Gibbs interspersed the dramatic story with lyrical pieces that were inspired by the music of the 17th-century. 

A young Roger Livesey has a supporting role as Tom Faggus, a lovable rascal who has his eyes on John's sister Anne, played by Margaret Lockwood who was making her film debut. Lockwood would play a highwayman herself in one of her most famous films, The Wicked Lady ( 1945 ), which was also set in 17th-century England. 

Roy Emerton portrays the evil Carver Doone and also in the cast is George Curzon ( as King James II ), Edward Rigby and Mary Clare. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Anna ( 1951 )

Silvana Mangano was a beautiful and talented actress who was popular in Italian films of the 1950s, when Italy was going through its post-war film renaissance. This sensuous bombshell ascended to stardom after a sizzling performance in the 1949 drama Bitter Rice. She married Dino De Laurentiis, an emerging producer, and he cast her in some fine films, one of which was Anna (1951). 

This melodrama, like many Italian films, conveys raw emotions in such a frank and simple manner. The story switches back and forth between the present life of novice nun Sister Anna (Mangano), who works as a nurse at a busy hospital in Milano, and her steamy past life. Anna was a nightclub entertainer at a popular cafe. She had a sexual yen for Vittorio (Vittorio Gassman) and would often spend her nights with him. One day, she meets a rich farmer named Andrea (Raf Vallone) who does not see her as an easy pick-up but respects her and treats her as the beautiful young woman she is. 

After a brief courtship, he asks her to visit his mother and proposes marriage, but Anna, who is still spending her nights with Vittorio, feels unworthy of the gentle-hearted Andrea. It is this unworthiness that eventually leads her to become a nun - or so we are led to think. What makes Anna such an interesting film is that there is a lot of unspoken dialogue which makes it ripe for interpreting the story in various ways. 
Anna may have chosen to become a nun because she felt she was a "bad influence" and would never have made Andrea a good wife, or it may have been because she felt a true calling to help others as a nurse. She hints several times that this is the reason and yet she makes her decision to join the holy order prior to knowing anything about nursing. It seems as though it is the confinement of the walls of the hospital that appeals to her more, or perhaps the chance to atone for her past through service to others. 

Anna was beautifully filmed by director Alberto Lattuada. It is a wonderfully soapy melodrama bubbling over with fine performances from all of the principal cast members. Silvana Mangano gives an especially appealing performance. She was such a beauty in her time and, like many of the stars of silent era pictures, she was able to convey so much through her eyes alone. 

Raf Vallone, the leading man, was a handsome actor with great virility. Unlike actors such as Marcello Mastroianni or Vittorio Gassmann, Raf Vallone does not look like a movie star. He was a representative of Italy's "everyman" and often took on roles of commoners: farmers, soldiers, miners, and machinists. No matter what role he was given or how brief it was, he always made a memorable impression. 

Vittorio Gassmann, Raf Vallone, and Silvana Mangano all had major roles in Bitter Rice, so Anna marked a reunion for these actors. Also starring in the film are Silvana Mangano's two sisters: Patrizia, who plays Anna's sister Luisa, and Natascia, who portrays Andrea's younger sister. The wonderful actress and voice-over performer Tina Lattanzi is Andrea's mother and two great French actors, Jacques Dumesnil and Gaby Morlay, play in the hospital sequences as, respectably, the doctor and Mother Superior. 
Anna also features two excellent nightclub music sequences where Silvana dances and sings to the beautiful "Non Dimenticar" - popularized in the US by Nat King Cole - and the enticing baiĆ£o "El Negro Zumbon" (click here to watch). This song became an instant classic in Italy and Spain, but it was not until 2004 that American audiences heard it through Pink Martini's rendition. 

Anna is often overshadowed by other Italian film classics of the era, but it was a huge commercial success at the time and its entertainment value has not diminished over the years.