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