Monday, March 30, 2020

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

A bald-headed man on a deserted looking road. Could he be a hitchhiker? We'll let you ponder that. Guess the name of the film that this screenshot was taken from and you could win a prize, that's how the games goes! If you want to read more about the rules, simply click here

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Brigadoon ( 1954 )

"If you love someone deeply enough, anything is possible."

Aye, 'tis true. Tommy Albright ( Gene Kelly ) learns just how powerful love is when he comes to the enchanted village of Brigadoon and meets his true love Fiona ( Cyd Charisse ). Tommy and his friend Jeff Douglas ( Van Johnson ) come across the town of Brigadoon when they are lost in Scotland during a hunting trip. The town, which only appears for one day every 100 years, is stuck in the 1700s. Tommy meets and falls in love with the beautiful Fiona and then must make the decision whether to stay in Brigadoon and turn his back on the world he knows or whether to depart from it forever. 

"Why do people have to lose things to find out what they really mean?" -Tommy  

Of all of the musicals made during MGM's golden era Brigadoon has received the most motley assortment of reviews from critics and fans alike. Director Vincente Minnelli and Gene Kelly himself felt that the entire production did not reflect what they had originally envisioned for it. Most viewers can see the potential in Brigadoon that wasn't realized, hence, it feels like the film is only a shadow of what it could have been. However, that shadow alone is mighty entertaining!
Brigadoon has a lovely magical feel to it and I think the staged setting actually helps create this effect rather than hinder it. The balletic dance sequences - especially "Heather on the Hill" and its reprise - are beautiful to watch, as are the more lively numbers such as "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean". 

There are several elements that give the film a different flavor than most musicals, the most notable being its more downbeat tone. Unlike most of the characters Gene Kelly plays in musicals, Tommy isn't a happy-go-lucky fellow out to have a night on the town. Instead, we see him as a confused man. He went on a hunting trip to Scotland with his friend possibly with the hopes that a vacation would clear his mind and help him to decide what he wants in life, but it only helps to confuse him all the more. He is engaged to a beautiful socialite back in New York City but continually puts off the wedding knowing full well that he is discontented with his fiancee. Once he meets Fiona, his love for her clears the fog in his heart, but then he is torn between staying in what Jeff calls a "fairyland" or returning to "reality".
"Sometimes the things you believe in can become more real than all the things you can explain away or understand."

The film could have been developed into a light-hearted musical, much in the vein of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but then it would have risked losing its romantic mystic quality which really is the heart of the picture.  

Brigadoon, which was based on the 1947 Broadway show of the same name, features a number of excellent songs by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe including "Waitin' for my Dearie", "Almost Like Being in Love", the titular "Brigadoon", "Heather on the Hill" and "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean". Unfortunately, the film version cut "Come to Me, Bend to Me", "There But for You Go I" and "From This Day On".

Brigadoon went into production the same time that director Stanley Donen was planning his musical extravaganza Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer debated whether to drop one of the two productions because they felt they couldn't fund both projects at once. It was presumed that Brigadoon would be the more successful of the two films but Seven Brides producer Jack Cummings insisted they could make the film on a cut budget. The film ended up reaping in nearly four times its budget, while Brigadoon took a loss at the box-office.

Kelly was especially disappointed that the picture would not be shot on location in Scotland ( due to the weather ) and that, because of budget cuts, he would not be permitted to experiment with different dance sequences. But he was pleased to be starring alongside his friend Van Johnson. Originally, actors David Wayne, Donald O'Connor, and Alec Guinness (!) were considered for the role of Jeff instead of Johnson. Surprisingly, Oscar Levant was not considered, even though the sarcastic nature of Jeff would have suited him to a tee. 
Cyd Charisse was ideally cast as Fiona; she never looked or danced better. Charisse was happy to reunite with director Vincente Minnelli whom she worked with in The Band Wagon just one year prior. Albert Sharpe ( Darby O'Gill and the Little People ) and Barry Jones were also perfectly cast. Hugh Laing, a ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet, was cast as Harry Beaton, the one discontented citizen of Brigadoon. Jimmy Thompson ( Singin' in the Rain ) was the handsome Charlie Dalrymple and, if you keep your eyes peeled, you can spot George Chakiris and Stuart Whitman as extras. 

In spite of Brigadoon's failure at the box-office and its poor critical response, I believe it still remains a highlight in MGM's output of musicals. It may not be what the director or Kelly intended it to be, but what was created was a colorful gem in itself. Aye, a bonnie good film. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

From the Archives: Krakatoa East of Java ( 1968 )

Diane Baker and John Leyton examine a map of Krakatoa to see where the greatest volcantic eruption on record is about to hit. The adventure film Krakatoa, East of Java ( 1968 ) boasted an all-star cast which included Brian Keith, Sal Mineo, Maximilian Schell, and Rossano Brazzi. 

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Secret of Boyne Castle ( 1969 )

Walt Disney Studios produced a number of great made-for-television films for their series The Wonderful World of Color...one of which was The Secret of Boyne Castle. This grand little Irish adventure flick was aired on NBC in three one-hour segments between the weeks of February 9-23 in 1969. 
The story is set entirely in Ireland and was based on the 1963 novel "Guns in the Heather" by Lockhart Amerman. Kurt Russell stars as a young student who, along with his Irish friend Sean ( Patrick Dawson ), helps to deliver a secret message to Boyne Castle to aid an Eastern European agent in his defection. These two lads made a great Hardy Boys-like duo.

Rich Evans ( Russell ) is attending school in Ireland as an exchange student while his older brother Tom ( Glenn Corbett ) is working overseas. Since their parents are deceased, Tom takes care of his younger brother. Rich believes Tom to be a salesman for a steel company and has no idea that he is really a CIA agent...until a man arrives at his school and, with his dying breath, gives Rich a secret message to pass onto Tom. 

Rich is kidnapped shortly after hearing the message but manages to escape. He then sets off with his friend Sean to track down his brother - who has since also disappeared - and get the message to Lord Boyne at Boyne Castle before the enemy agents can intercept it. 

The Secret of Boyne Castle, which was retitled Guns in the Heather for its UK theatrical release, was filmed in and around the west coast of Ireland and the beautiful landscapes and villages of the country are wonderful to see. "Boyne Castle" is actually Dunguaire Castle in lovely County Galway. 

Director Robert Butler had a very long career in television directing numerous episodes for shows like The Fugitive, Batman, Mission Impossible and Remington Steele. His work on this telefilm led to him directing five feature films for Walt Disney Studios in the 1970s, three of which also starred Kurt Russell ( The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes; The Barefoot Executive; Now You See Him, Now You Don't ). 
Why Walt Disney never put Kurt Russell in a Hardy Boys series is a mystery in itself, but at least this movie has all of the elements of a great Hardy caper in it: a motorcycle chase, a secluded castle, a glider ride, and a really clever and dangerous spy.

Since the film was released in three episodes spanning several weeks, each episode features an escape, a new bit of information about the "secret" hiding at Boyne Castle, and some clues to the identity of "Kersner", the master criminal. This makes it great as a serial, but when watched in one sitting it plays out rather slowly and three-hours seems like a long stretch for a simple story, so it is best to watch it in parts like it was meant to be shown. 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Road to Glory ( 1936 )

Like many films before it, World War I provided the setting for Hollywood's favorite love triangle formula - two boys and a girl - in Howard Hawks' The Road to Glory

Warner Baxter and Frederic March star as the two men who vie for the love of June Lang, a pretty nurse. It is a simple formula that never gets tiresome, providing it is well-acted and in The Road to Glory it certainly is. Screenwriters William Faulkner and Joel Sayre used this formula as the basis of their script, but the real meat of the story was its depiction of the brutalities of the war itself and the courageousness of the soldiers who fought it. 

Warner Baxter stars as Captain La Roche, a soldier who has witnessed death first-hand many times in the trenches of France. His company of the 2nd Battalion of the 39th Regiment is often called upon to fight in the most dangerous situations and most of his men do not come back from the trenches alive. La Roche is always receiving new replacement soldiers which he must, in turn, send out on perilous missions. He is disgusted with death and the ravages of trench warfare and he drowns his disgust in liqueur and aspirin. His only comfort is Monique La Coste ( Lang ), a young nurse whom he met when he first came to his post. She is drawn to him out of pity and gratitude for his kindness to her and her family. Monique thinks she loves him but realizes what true love is when she meets Lt. Michel Denet ( March ), the new officer in La Roche's regiment. 
La Roche and Denet get off to a bad start when they first meet, but as Denet fights alongside La Roche, he comes to admire his captain and serves proudly under him. Naturally, when he discovers that his newfound love is his captain's sweetheart, he feels torn between being loyal to La Roche or being true to his heart.  

Howard Hawks was one of the most versatile directors that ever came out of Hollywood and while The Road to Glory is not often regarded as one of his most famous films, it certainly bears his trademark stamp of excellence. In fact, The Road to Glory should rank as one of the finest WWI films ever made. The cinematography is dark and moody and the depictions of all of the battle scenes are impressive. It is excellently paced and features all of the elements of a good drama...including a touch of humor. The film bears many resemblances to The Dawn Patrol ( 1930 ), which was also directed by Hawks. Both films are set in World War I and focus on the relationship between an officer and his commanding officer. Both also realistically depict the horrors of war. 

Trench warfare was brutal. Just looking above the trench meant risking your head being shot off. One poor soldier gets stuck on barbed wire and wails for hours. The few soldiers that attempt to rescue him are shot down and, eventually, La Roche decides to shoot him just to put him out of his misery - like a horse with a wounded leg. 

Warner Baxter is excellent as Captain La Roche. This hagged officer has such a burden to carry on his soldiers and then his father ( Lionel Barrymore ), an old veteran of the Franco-Prussian wars, secretly enlists in his regiment and adds to his concerns. Throughout their missions, he now worries whether his father will come through unscathed. Barrymore does not make his first appearance until twenty minutes into the film, yet being the legendary character actor that he was, he makes his part as compelling as the two leading roles. 

Fredric March gives a fine performance ( as usual ) and June Lang is equally well-cast. Also in the cast is Gregory Ratoff as a whistling Russian soldier, Victor Kilian as a loyal sergeant, John Qualan, Paul Fix and Leonid Kinsky. 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Perfect Match ( 1968 ) - British Pathé

A stroll through Jo-Ann Fabrics will reveal an endless display of different colored and different patterned fabrics, but have you ever given any thought to how these fabrics are produced? Have you ever thought how patterned wallpaper is made, too? This 1968 British Pathé newsreel gives us a glimpse of the Sanderson wallpaper factory where fabric and matching wallpaper was made.
Sanderson is one of the most respected names in the wallpaper industry. They began in England in 1860 and continue today to offer a dazzling array of designs. On their website you can read about the history of this colorful company. 

In this newsreel, "old world" techniques such as block printing are demonstrated. This is a particularly tricky method of printing because the patterns must be matched precisely. Modern machine printing methods are also shown where "2,700 rolls per day" can be produced. Today, similar machines can produce even more rolls than that per day. 
The announcer proclaims that with the advent of "kaleidoscopic colors interior decorating has come a long way since father first papered the parlor." True enough, but when father papered the parlor I doubt he got a headache from the pattern on the wall! Some of the wallpaper shown is really out-of-sight. 

Ready to watch Perfect Match? Simply click the link below:

Perfect Match ( 1968 ) - 3:48 minutes

Similar British Pathé newsreels:

Fabric Painting and Printing ( 1955 ) - 1:59 minutes

Nature Designs in Fabric ( 1957 ) - 3:09 minutes

Wallpaper ( 1963 ) - 2:52 minutes

Saturday, February 29, 2020

From the Archives: The Fabulous World of Jules Verne ( 1958 )

Czech filmmaker Karl Zeman combined an inventive mix of animation, puppets, and live action to create "The Fabulous World of Jules Verne" released in 1958. In this original still photo, we see the underwater submarine of Captain Nemo exploring the ocean floor. 

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

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Journey to the Center of the Earth ( 1959 )

Back in 1864, Jules Verne penned "Journey to the Centre of the Earth", a novel about a group of intrepid individuals who undertake a subterranean journey to discover the very center of our Earth. Why would anyone want to take such a journey? As one of the explorers in this expedition explains, "Why does man freeze to death to try and reach the North Pole? Why does man drive himself to suffer the steam and heat to discover the Amazon? Why does he stagger his mind with the math of the sky? Once a question arises in the human brain the answer must be found, whether it takes a hundred years or a thousand years." 

It is the spirit of adventure that is celebrated in the act of exploring the unknown, and the ultimate aim of all Science is to penetrate this unknown. Scientists spent years exploring the many features of the earth's surface but who has penetrated its depths? Arne Saknussemm has! Or so this movie claims. The 16th-century Icelandic alchemist was ridiculed for his preposterous attempt to reach the Earth's core, but 350 years later, Professor Oliver Lindenbrook ( James Mason ) stumbles upon evidence that proves he did just that, and ventures forth to go there himself. 

By the time he leaves, the party has grown to five members: Alec ( Pat Boone ), a student of his at the University of Edinburgh; Carla ( Arlene Dahl ), the widow of a fellow explorer; a burly Icelander named Hans ( Peter Ronson ) and his pet duck Gertrude ( excellently played by herself ). Spending a year beneath the surface, they encounter a cavern of luminescent crystals, large deposits of salt, an ocean, the lost city of Atlantis, and even another explorer...bent on making sure his own name goes down in history as the first man to reach the center of the Earth!
Journey to the Center of the Earth was released in 1959 by 20th Century Fox and was the first film adaptation of Verne's popular novel. Producer Charles Brackett called the original story "a delightful book, written for young people. We simply couldn't have any solemnity about it. I wanted very much to do it at this time. I'm tired of all these films based on thoughts at the back of sick minds......Our picture describes action and events, with not the slightest shadow of Freud. The serious thing about Jules Verne is that all he does is tell a story in exciting episodes, but his stories have always pushed man a little closer towards the unknown. What we've tried to do is retell his story in the best way of all - in the Verne vernacular."
Indeed, the film captures all of the excitement of the original novel without getting bogged down with Verne's scientific details. Walter Reisch ( Gaslight, Niagara ), who had written a number of science fiction stories, was called in to adapt the novel into a script. He cleverly added story elements that made it more palatable for filmgoers, including adding an extra member of the expedition - Carla Thompson. This provided an opportunity for a touch of romance between her and Professor Lindenbrook. Arlene Dahl was excellent in this part. She made Carla an independent-thinker, strong-willed and capable and yet retained her feminine charms. Carla took on the mother-role of the group providing moral support and cooking skills and enjoyed letting the men provide for her and the rest of the group's practical needs.

The comradery between all of the members of the expedition - and the actors who portrayed these characters - is what makes Journey to the Center of the Earth particularly enjoyable to watch. They strike out on an adventure into unknown territory and, like true Victorian explorers, are heedless to the dangers that lie ahead. In jolly spirits, they take all they encounter in stride, carefully making detailed observations for those who may follow in their path, never doubting that they will return to the surface of the Earth to show others the way.

Reisch also added some introductory material to his adaptation and set the events in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, we witness Professor Lindenbrook in his native habitat, teaching geology at the University of Edinburgh. The events leading up to the journey unfold when his prize pupil Alec, gifts him with an unusual volcanic rock, a lump of lava that contains a hastily scrawled message from long-lost explorer Arne Saknussem. The intrepid professor endeavors to set off at once to follow in Arne's footsteps, but soon discovers that his secret discovery is not so very secret. Two men are already on his trail and set to foil him, one of them being the villainous Count Saknussem ( Thayer David ), a burly descendant of Arne. 

James Mason was tailor-fit for the part of the professor and gives a rousing performance. Surprisingly, Mason was not the first choice for the part. Clifton Webb was originally cast but, having recently undergone surgery, had to withdraw from the production just before shooting began because the physicality of the role would have been detrimental to his health. 
Pat Boone was obviously cast to make the film appealing to younger audiences. He does an excellent job as well, singing only two songs throughout the film ( he had more musical numbers but they were later cut ). Diane Baker was added as his love-interest, the lovely Jenny Linden. The poor girl patiently waited two years to see her sweetheart re-emerge from the depths of the earth. Also in the cast is Alan Napier, Ivan Triesault, and Edith Evanson. 

Journey to the Center of the Earth did extremely well at the box-office, raking in nearly $10,000,000 ( it had a $3.4 million budget ). It had incredible fantasy elements and showed its audience that a whale of a good time could be had beneath the Earth's crust. The Lindenbrook expedition encountered everything from man-eating lizards and giant mushrooms to the lost city of Atlantis, all without the benefit of CGI. 
The film was nominated for these special effects as well as for its art direction. The talented Lyle Wheeler was responsible for these sets, which were highly imaginative and colorful. Wheeler captured the atmosphere of old Edinburgh in the opening scenes, created the beautiful interior sets of Lindenbrook's house ( including an impressive library ), and served up a veritable smorgasbord of fanciful sets for the center-of-the-Earth sequences, including a beautiful cavern of fluorescent rocks. 

Walt Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ( 1954 ) was one of the first color film adaptations of a Jules Verne novel and its success created a whole new genre of Victorian adventure films. Like Leagues, Journey to the Center of the Earth not only boasted beautiful sets but a striking color palette that set the tone for all other films in its genre, including The Time Machine ( 1960 ), The Lost World ( 1960 ), Mysterious Island ( 1961 ), and First Men in the Moon ( 1964 ). 
It also had an impressive score by Bernard Herrmann. The opening theme heralds the approaching adventure to be enjoyed and the rest of the score captured all the beauty, thrills, and wonderment to be found in the caverns of the deep.

Sixty years after its release, Journey to the Center of the Earth remains one of the best adventure films ever made because at the core of the film is rock-solid entertainment, pure movie magic that ignites your imagination and inspires you to set off on your own adventure. And that is the stamp of excellence for any adventure flick. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

"'Round and 'round it goes, where it lands, nobody knows..." The roulette table is spinning and some people seem to be winning. You can win, too, if you are able to guess which movie this screenshot was taken from. Leave your guess in the comment box below and see if Lady Luck is on your side. 

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Girl of the Golden West ( 1938 )

Ramerez ( Nelson Eddy ) is a carefree caballero with a tremendous sombrero on his head. Also on his head is the price of $5,000 in gold, for Ramerez is a great bandito. Along with his band of hard-riding hombres, he holds up stagecoaches and steals their passenger's gold. But he is a good man in spite of his thieving blood. Like a Robin Hood of the Wild West, Ramerez takes his portion of the gold that he steals and secretly gives it to Father Sienna to give to the poor Indians.

One day, en route to Monterey, this masked bandit holds up the stagecoach carrying Mary Robbins ( Jeannette MacDonald ) and, instantly smitten with the feisty lass, pursues her to Monterey to the governor's ball. There, incognito as Lieutenant Richard Johnson, he woos her beneath the Monterey pines with fancy words and sweet melodies. 

"I suspect you tell all your girls that their eyes are like two spoonfuls of blue Pacific." - Mary

Ramerez is playing the part of a gentleman and Mary is also playing a part. She is not the lace-and-satin lady he believes her to be, but the owner of a saloon - "The Poker". Mary is proud of her saloon and, being the only woman in the gold-mining town of Cloudee, she is beloved by all the men there, especially Sheriff Jack Rance ( Walter Pidgeon ) who intends to wed her.

When the sheriff gets wind that Ramerez is town, he sets up a trap to catch the bandit at "The Poker". This is when Mary realizes that her beloved lieutenant is none other than the infamous Ramerez and must decide whether her love for him is great enough to shield him from the law and the sheriff. 

The Girl of the Golden West was the fourth film to feature "America's Singing Sweethearts": Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald ( known as "MacEddy" to fans ). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer struck gold when they first teamed them up in the operetta Naughty Marietta in 1935. They were a dynamic duo whose on-screen personalities were a match made in heaven. They were often cast in operetta films with period settings and the Old California atmosphere of this picture suited them particularly well. 

Like many of their films, The Girl of the Golden West was based on an opera - Puccini's La Fanciulla del West which, in turn, was based on David Belasco's original play. Instead of featuring Puccini's music, MGM producers decided to hire Sigmund Romberg to write an entirely new score for the picture. Romberg had penned many popular operettas including The Student Prince, New Moon, and The Desert Song. Along with lyricist Gus Kahn, he wrote seven songs for this film: the robust "Soldiers of Fortune", the lovely ballads "Shadows on the Moon" and "The Wind in the Trees", the duets "Who Are We to Say?" and "Señorita", the grand "Mariachi" and Buddy Ebsen's solo "The West Ain't Wild Anymore". MacDonald also performs two classical pieces: "Ave Maria" and "Liebestraum". 

The Girl of the Golden West received mixed reviews at the time of its release but has since become a MacEddy classic. It is a charming mixture of romance and adventure with a touch of humor. What is especially appealing is the back history of Mary and Ramerez as children. Prior to becoming the great bandito, Ramerez was a little boy ( played by Bill Cody Jr. ) known affectionally as "Little Gringo" by his surrogate father, "The General" ( Noah Beery ). While riding with the General's gang, Little Gringo witnesses a group of settlers gathered around a campfire and hears a girl singing a song that he would never forget - "Shadows on the Moon". That girl is Mary. The long-lost love from his youth is found again...in true operetta fashion. 
Jeanette MacDonald was such a spunky actress and her character Mary is a glove-fit for her. Mary has no qualms about living by herself in a cabin in the mountains, nor does she mind being the only gal in town...on the contrary, she basks in the attention she receives from "the boys"! If such a character was portrayed in a film today, she would probably be acted out in an overly masculine fashion, but MacDonald doesn't lose any of her womanly charms in her portrayal. 

Nelson Eddy, who was often referred to as a wooden actor, was quite lively in this production and it is easy to see why Mary falls for the handsome luuuu-tenant. Eddy makes a hero out of his bandit character, just like Errol Flynn did with Robin Hood. 

The Girl of the Golden West also boasts an impressive supporting cast. Walter Pidgeon is ideal as the gamblin' Sheriff Jack Rance. He is not a bad man in any sense, yet he becomes the villain when he threatens the happiness of the two lovebirds. Leo Carillo also stars as Mosquito, Ramerez's right-hand man. H.B. Warner is the kindly Father Sienna; Buddy Ebsen has a charming part as a blacksmith smitten with "Miss Mary" and some of the bar-room boys include Bob Murphy, Cliff Edwards, Billy Bevan, and Brandon Tynan. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

From the Archives: The Sands of Iwo Jima ( 1949 )


John Agar and Adele Mara enjoy a posed smooch for the photographer for this publicity photo from the war drama The Sands of Iwo Jima ( 1949 ). The publicity department was trying to promote the romantic story angle of the film. Adele Mara, born Adelaida Delgado, was a popular pin-up gal of the 1940s and in this particular image she bears a striking resemblance to another bombshell of the era - Gloria Grahame. I wonder if Shirley Temple was jealous of her husband ( John Agar ) enjoying his "work" at the studio!

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

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Der Klosterjäger ( 1953 ) aka The Monastery's Hunter

Haymo ( Erich Auer ) is the official "jäger" ( forest ranger ) for the monastery at Berchtesgaden. One day while patrolling the mountains he hears a cry for help. It is Gittli ( Marianne Koch ), a young woman who lost her footing on a dangerous cliffside while picking flowers. Haymo rescues her and falls in love with her at first sight. 

Gittli brings the flowers that she picked to the bailiff hoping to win his favor as she pleads on behalf of her brother Wolfrat ( Kurt Heintel ) for extra time in paying the rent that is due for their family's hut. During the 1600s ( the time of the story's setting ), provinces in Germany were owned by princes who required their tenants to pay them rent money for their farms. Gittli's brother is a desperate man. He not only has no money for the rent, but his daughter is also terribly ill. The local "bader" ( country doctor ) tells him that only the sweat of an ibex can cure his daughter. 

Hunting game of any kind is strictly verboten, but Wolfrat decides to risk being caught by the jäger Haymo in his attempt to shoot an ibex ( a large wild goat ) to save his daughter. However, he is spotted and, in fear, he stabs the jäger as he tries to escape. Poor Gittli then attempts to save the life of her beloved Haymo, while worrying that her brother will be caught for his crime. 
Der Klosterjäger was the third film adaptation of Ludwig Ganghofer's classic novel of the same name. It paired two actors who were extremely popular in the Heimatfilme genre - Erich Auer and Marianne Koch. They made a lovely couple onscreen. Auer was an Austrian actor who became a rather unlikely leading man in the 1950s, often playing in historical films. Marianne Koch had a long career both in Germany, Italy, and the United States and is best known to American audiences for playing Marisol in A Fistful of Dollars ( 1964 ). For many years she was a panelist on the German version of "What's My Line?" and later switched careers to become a doctor. 
Like most fairy tale romances, Der Klosterjäger has a predictable plot, yet this doesn't mean it fails to be entertaining. There is a mountaintop bear fight, plenty of drama, and the location filming in the Bavarian Alps is beautiful. The sets are also excellent, and the supporting cast is made up of many familiar German character actors including Willy Rösner, Karl Skraup, and Paul Hartmann. Also in the cast is Paul Richter who starred as Haymo in the 1935 film adaptation. 

Der Klosterjäger is still shown frequently on ZDF, a German television channel, as one of the "classics". It is not available on DVD in the United States but appears occasionally on Youtube. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Paris Underground ( 1945 )

During World War II, it was difficult enough trying to aid one British airman in escaping Germany under the watchful eyes of the Nazis, but one woman not only managed to sneak one airman out of the country but 150 soldiers! This woman was Etta Shiber, a Manhattan housewife who adopted Paris, France, as her new homeland. 

In the spring of 1940, she was fleeing from her apartment in Paris, along with her friend Kitty and her two French poodles, in order to escape the Nazi invasion. As they were traveling south, they stopped at an inn where the innkeeper informed them that he had rescued a British airman and was hiding him. Etta and her friend decided to smuggle him across the border to safety in the trunk of their car. And then they were brave enough to remain in France and contact the "Paris underground" to see if there were any other airmen needing passage back to Britain. 

Etta and Kitty were both captured by the Nazis in December 1940, just six months after she began this rescue operation. Etta was freed in the spring of 1942 when the United States did a prisoner swap and exchanged her for Johanna Hofmann, a German who was convicted of spying in the States. 

One year later she wrote a novel about her experiences smuggling soldiers and titled it "Paris Underground". This novel was turned into the film Paris Underground, released in Britain as Madame Pimpernel.
The film, produced by Constance Bennett, switches the main character to Kitty ( portrayed by Ms. Bennett ) and makes Etta, renamed Emmie, a secondary character. This part was given to Gracie Fields, the wonderful English actress/singer. Together, they make quite a good team. 

Paris Underground was tautly directed by Gregory Ratoff ( All About Eve ) and features all the elements one would want to see in a World War II espionage film: underground agents, quaint "Parisian" settings, secret passageways, diabolical Gestapo men, and plenty of action. The film focuses on two smuggling missions that the gals undertake and then hastily skims over several months until we find them captured and put into prison. They are supposedly released together and honored with medals for their heroism, but in reality, Etta did not know whether Kitty was alive, even at the time of writing her novel. 

Dame Gracie Fields, lovingly called "Our Gracie" by the Brits, had a long career in film, stage, radio, and television. Paris Underground was her last picture before she retired to the Isle of Capri where she operated a restaurant. The film does not showcase Gracie at her best ( comedy was her forte ) but she does a marvelous job with the role....as does Constance Bennett as Kitty. Also in the cast is George Rigaud as Kitty's husband, and Kurt Kreuger as the Nazi captain. Character parts were given to Eily Malyon, Vladimir Sokoloff, Andrew McLaglen, and Leslie Vincent ( who memorably played Dr. Watson's "nephew" Nicholas Watson in Pursuit to Algiers ). 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

A Hitch in Time ( 1978 )

What would it be like to travel back in time? This is a fantasy most children indulge in thinking about but for Paul ( Michael McVey ) and Fiona ( Pheona McLellan ) it becomes a reality when they meet Professor Wagstaff ( Patrick Troughton ) on the way to school one day. 
The professor has invented a time-traveling machine that operates on a computer named OSKA. He intends to use it to travel back in time himself but the machine cannot hold his weight and so the children volunteer to go in his place. However, when the machine begins to malfunction, Paul and Fiona realize that traveling back in time can be awfully confusing. They never know what era they are going to stop in!

"Where are we??" - Paul
"You mean, when are we?!" - Fiona 

A Hitch in Time, also known as Professor Wagstaff's Time Machine, is a fun Saturday morning children's film that was released in England through the CFF ( Children's Film Foundation ) in 1978. 

T.E.B. Clarke's script was clearly aimed towards juveniles and spirals into silliness towards the end, but the film can be appealing to adults as well, especially those who enjoy Patrick Troughton's work. It is amusing to see him in another time-traveling predicament like he often was in on Doctor Who, where he played the second Doctor. 
The story seems like it was based upon a book but T.E.B. Clarke wrote it directly for the film. Clarke was quite a popular screenwriter in England and was equally adept at writing comedies ( The Titfield Thunderbolt, The Lavender Hill Mob ) as well as dramas ( The Blue Lamp, Sons and Lovers ). A Hitch in Time is definitely more amusing than dramatic and Clarke adds a few clever touches to the story to make it less predictable than one may think. What is especially clever is that the children continually run into ancestors of "old Sniffy" ( Jeff Rawle of Harry Potter fame ), the schoolmaster Paul dislikes, and Fiona's grandfather.

The film has a runtime of less than one hour which speeds along like a flash of light. It is available online to rent via the BFI Player and is also available on the DVD collection of CFF films called Weird Adventures

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

From the Archives: The Vintage ( 1957 )

Pier Angeli and Michele Morgan portray sisters in MGM's The Vintage ( 1957 ),  a drama about two brothers ( Mel Ferrer and John Kerr ) hiding out at a vineyard in France. Color mini lobby cards for this film are difficult to find and this scene, in particular, is quite rare. 

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

Thursday, January 23, 2020

John Barry - Composer

John Barry ( November 3, 1933 - January 30, 2011 )

John Barry is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and talented composers in cinema's history. He is most famous for his themes to the James Bond movies and his scores to Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves but his body of work extends well beyond these films. Bearing the true mark of a great composer, his scores are quite capable of standing on their own, apart from the film they were written for. 

"Ever since I was a child I've considered poetry and music to be two twin sisters, completely inseparable. Over the years I've always tried to develop a poetic universe of my own, not only for filmmakers but, through their films, for audiences too." - John Barry

When one thinks of film composers, it seems that John Barry's name was always ranked at the top, but few realize how great was the shift he had chosen to make in the persona he would assume in the music world. 

John Barry Prendergast was born in York, England in 1933 and spent his childhood working in a chain of cinemas that his father owned. He took up the trumpet when he served in the British Army and shortly after his discharge formed his own band - The John Barry Seven. The young Barry was greatly influenced by American jazz and rock n' roll and he wanted his band, modeled after Bill Haley and the Comets, to usher in a new era of music; of vibrant and youthful jazz and swing beats. Between 1957 and 1960, the band had a number of hits that were released through EMI's Columbia label and these were formative years for Barry himself. He loved arranging and composing music and other groups were asking him to arrange their music as well. 
EMI later hired Barry to arrange orchestral accompaniment for many of the studio's other signed artists, including teen sensation Adam Faith. When Faith was asked to make his first film, Wild For Kicks aka Beat Girl ( 1960 ), Barry came along to compose, arrange and conduct the score. This began a forty-year career in composing for films. 

Producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman caught wind of the young Barry's arranging talents and asked if he could work his magic on a theme for the first James Bond film they were making - Dr. No ( 1962 ). Monty Norman's opening theme needed some extra punch so Barry was paid £250 to rework it and was also given a promise to be contacted if another Bond film was to be made. Barry went on to write the scores for 11 Bond films, including the themes to Goldfinger and Thunderball

The success of his work on From Russia with Love ( 1963 ), Zulu ( 1964 ), and King Rat ( 1965 ) skyrocketed him to musical stardom. Barry was no longer the leader of a youthful rock n' roll band. Now, his music represented the "new sound" of film and by 1972 he was dressed in white tie and tails conducting The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the Filmharmonic concert at the Royal Albert Hall, sharing the stage with the great Miklos Rozsa. 


Barry composed so many excellent scores throughout the 1960s and 1970s ( Born Free, The Lion in Winter, Deadfall, King Kong ) as well as the themes to the television series Vendetta, The Persuaders!, and Orson Welles' Great Mysteries. In the 1980s he was composing one beautiful theme after another, including the romantic classics Somewhere in Time and Out of Africa. His composing talent remained in high demand until his death at the age of 77 in 2011. 

Throughout his career, John Barry earned six Academy Award nominations, four BAFTA awards, ten Golden Globe awards, and won four Grammy awards. These were well-deserved accolades for such an accomplished composer. 

Signature Style

Barry's trademark stamp of excellence is a unique mixture of lush strings, very precise harmonic mechanisms and jazz elements. His melodies are often sensuous and usually involve complex key shifts. Barry was influenced by his love for jazz, big band music, and Russian romantic composers. Quite an intoxicating combination!


The Noteworthy Five

Goldfinger ( 1964 ) - This was the theme that set the bar for all James Bond films to follow. It was bold, brassy and extremely classy. The golden voice of Shirley Bassey increased its worth tenfold. 

Born Free ( 1966 ) - The theme to Born Free is a lovely musical salute to freedom and the yearning wild animals have for their native habitats. It sounds beautiful whether it is performed strictly as an instrumental or sung by the English singer Matt Monro. Notice how the french horns majestically sound the "Born Free" notes as the Columbia logo appears on the screen just prior to the introduction of the melody. 

The Lion in Winter ( 1968 ) -  Like his score to Zulu, The Lion in Winter is very menacing and yet it captures the atmosphere of its medieval setting beautifully. Without the presence of Barry's score, this film would be dreary indeed. The version linked here is an easy-listening adaptation by Percy Faith but Ferrante and Teicher also made an excellent cover on their album "Listen to the Movies".

Out of Africa ( 1985 ) - This one is truly breathtaking. The main melody does not make its entrance until nearly a minute and a half into the theme yet that seems to matter very little since the orchestration is so lush and sweeping. Like Bernard Herrmann, Barry loved french horns and used them profusely. 

Dances with Wolves ( 1990 ) - The John Dunbar theme to Dances with Wolves is one of those melodies that most everyone instantly recognizes, regardless of whether they have seen the film or not. The movie is set in the American West during the time of the Civil War and so John Barry implements motifs that evoke traditional American folk tunes, yet always remaining distinctly Barry in style. 

Highlights from his Discography

  • Zulu ( 1964 )
  • Goldfinger ( 1964 )
  • King Rat ( 1965 )
  • The Ipcress File ( 1965 )
  • Born Free ( 1966 )
  • Deadfall ( 1968 )
  • The Lion in Winter ( 1968 )
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service ( 1969 )
  • The Last Valley ( 1971 )
  • Mary, Queen of Scots ( 1971 )
  • Love Among the Ruins ( 1975 )
  • The Day of the Locust ( 1975 )
  • King Kong ( 1976 )
  • The Black Hole ( 1979 )
  • Somewhere in Time ( 1980 )
  • A View to a Kill ( 1985 )
  • Out of Africa ( 1985 )
  • Dances with Wolves ( 1990 )
  • Chaplin ( 1992 )

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game


What a happy guy! What is he grinning about? If you know the film, you know what he is looking at. Go ahead and share the name of the movie this fellow appears in...just type the film title in the comment box below. 

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

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Art of Kim Novak

Last Sunday, the CBS Sunday Morning show aired a segment about Kim Novak and her rarely publicized hobby: painting. The beautiful actress - who is best known for her roles in Picnic ( 1955 ) and Vertigo ( 1958 ) - uses art to relax and to express herself. As she writes on her website, “I never dreamed of becoming an actress or a movie star. As a young girl I won two scholarships to the prestigious Chicago Art Institute where I hoped one day to become a great artist."

Ms. Novak left Hollywood in the late 1960s to focus on art and continues painting to this day, at the age of 86. Her work was recently part of a 2019 exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. The exhibit describes her work as "impressionistic and surrealistic, [having] a dynamic effect where surrealism meets traditional realism".

It was an interesting Sunday Morning clip ( you can view it here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-art-of-kim-novak/  ) and after watching it, I wanted to see more of her work. Fortunately, she shares many of her paintings on her website - https://www.kimnovakartist.com/ - along with verses that she wrote to go along with them. 

Her paintings have a Southern Californian air to them and flow in all directions, much like the tide hitting the sand upon a beach. They are bright and colorful and feature a lovely mixture of pastels and watercolor. Ms. Novak is a wonderful example of someone staying true to their first passion and following their dream.

All images were obtained from Kim Novak's website where prints can also be purchased.

The Magic of Music

Finding the Way Back Home
Transformation - Nelson Mandela
Vertigo - Vortex of Delusion
River Dancers
The Tides of Humanity
Self-Portrait