Friday, December 31, 2021

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

This rather blurry screenshot has a bald-headed man showing bug-eyes to his dance partner. We'll leave it up to you to guess where they are and what they are dancing. That will give you a hint as to which film this may be from. ;-)

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 the Tactful Typist for correctly guessing this scene from "Weekend in Havana" ( 1941 ) starring John Payne and Alice Faye. This unknown man is enjoying a samba with one of the show's dancers during the film's finale. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Age of Indiscretion ( 1935 )

Robert Lenhart's ( Paul Lukas ) book publishing business is suffering from a sales slump. He has to cut back on expenses at the office as well as at home to save enough money to pay his creditors, but his young ambitious wife ( Helen Vinson ) is aghast at the thought of wearing yesterday's clothes and leaves him to marry her wealthy lover Felix Shaw ( Ralph Forbes ), willingly leaving behind their son Bill ( David Holt ).

Robert is heartbroken but accepts the divorce. In the coming year, his loyal secretary, Ms. Bennett ( Madge Evans ), steps into his home life and acts as a surrogate mother to Bill. When Felix's mother ( May Robson ) starts yearning for a grandson she decides to use Ms. Bennett as a pawn to help her win custody of Robert's child. 

The Age of Indiscretion was one of many films MGM released in the early to mid-1930s that dealt with divorce, a common practice among society's rich. Lenore Coffee's story paralleled that of a popular news item of the time involving the Vanderbilt family trust. Instead of a grasping grandmother, it was an aunt who instigated the proceedings of a custody battle for young Gloria Vanderbilt and the four-million dollar trust. 

In this film, Mrs. Shaw witnesses an innocent pillow fight involving Ms. Bennett and Robert and uses it as grounds to obtain custody of Bill. May Robson portrays her usual crotchety character of a tough old dog whose bark is worse than her bite. Unfortunately, her scenes are brief and the reasons behind why she wants Bill are not adequately established. Much of the movie suffers from little incidents that are cut abruptly, leaving the audience to wonder what the motives behind certain actions were. This seems more like an editing error than the fault of director Edward Ludwig. 

Overall, The Age of Indiscretion is quite entertaining with the main draw being its winter setting (  Robert and his son rent a cabin in the mountains during the Christmas holiday ) and its principal cast. Paul Lukas gives a top-notch performance as the innocent publisher and Madge Evans is charming as the young secretary who is harboring a secret love for her employer. In one scene, Robert and she are enjoying an evening cocktail by the fireside on Christmas Eve. They discuss his recent divorce and her private life and, influenced by the scotch, she talks a little freer than usual....but never gives a hint of her true feelings. Nevertheless, Robert begins to see a side of her that he never realized she had. He saw her only as an efficient secretary and never imagined what she was like outside of that capacity. Little scenes like this give the film its sparkle. 

David Holt is also engaging as little Bill, even with his puzzling Southern accent. He was intended to be a male version of Shirley Temple but his career never reached such heights. Also in the cast are Shirley Ross, George Irving, and Minor Watson. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas to all our readers! 

We want to wish all of you a very jolly Christmas day and here's hoping 2022 will be a year filled with happiness, good health, and prosperity for you! 

Make sure you have a box of Lucky Strikes in your house because Joan Crawford just may stop by for Christmas dinner! 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Wintry Westerns - 8 Classic Westerns Set in Winter

I love westerns. I don't review them nearly as often as I should but I certainly do watch plenty of them! And, at this time of year, the best westerns to watch are the Wintry Westerns....those that are set in snowy locales. Most westerns take place in dusty desert areas such as Arizona and Texas or in lush green cattle-grazing lands like Wyoming and Colorado so this is a small niche. They are great to watch on a cold winter's day with a cup of hot cocoa, especially when the snow is falling outside.

I'll share with you some of my favorites ( from the oldest to the newest ) and hopefully, you'll share some of your favorite wintry western titles as well. 

THE WILD NORTH ( 1952 ) 

Stewart Granger plays a trapper accused of murdering a man in a Canadian village. He takes refuge in the mountains but can't shake a Mountie ( Wendell Corey ) off his trail. Instead, during a fierce snowstorm, they band together to battle the forces of nature and survive in the "wild North". This is one of my favorites, not only because of the great location scenery of Idaho ( not Canada ) but because of the presence of Stewart Granger and Cyd Charisse as an Indian maiden. 


Perhaps this might not qualify as a western, but it takes place in the 1870s in snowy Alaska, so that's close enough for me. Rock Hudson plays an American sea captain who is taking a cargo of furs down to the states from Canada via dogsled. Contending with the weather is harrowing enough, but Rock also has a broken leg and two dangerous villains on his heels. 

TRACK OF THE CAT ( 1954 ) 

Robert Mitchum stars in this visually striking western as the son of a ranching family who heads out into the snow to track down a panther who is killing the family's livestock. Diana Lynn and Teresa Wright co-star and yes, that's William Hopper Jr. with a beard. Director William Wellman's son stated that his father created the picture as a "black and white film shot in color" with specific pops of color adding a beautiful splash to the overall monochromatic look. 


"A day you'll never forget!" declares the poster to this Robert Ryan film. Unfortunately, I did forget most of this gritty western, but I do remember the winter landscape and Burl Ives cutting a powerful image on horseback. It's about a cattleman trying to save a small frontier town from Burl Ives and his gang of thugs. 

WILL PENNY ( 1967 ) 

This film starts off as a regular "sunny" western but about half way through we see the winter scenes. Will Penny ( Charlton Heston ) is an aging cowboy who gets a line camp job on a large cattle spread and finds that there is a woman ( Joan Hackett ) and her son already living in the cabin he is supposed to occupy by himself. He lets them stay over the winter and protects his "family" when the wicked Quint ( Donald Pleasance ) invades his home. 


Spaghetti westerns are one of those genres that you either love or hate. I could live without them - especially the brutal ones - but I had to include this film because it is set is a snow-covered Utah and is renowned for being one of the best spaghetti westerns ever made. It's about a mute gunfighter who takes it upon himself to defend a group of outlaws from a band of bloodthirsty bounty hunters. Jean-Louis Trintignant, a French actor who couldn't speak a word of English, starred as the mute gunslinger "Silence". 


Warren Beatty and Julie Christie star as a gambler and a prostitute who become business partners in a brothel in a remote mining town. Their business trives until a major corporation comes to buy them out. This film is often cited as one of the first "anti-westerns" because it features no gunfights and no heroes but our purpose it can be classified as a western. McCabe and Mrs. Miller really captures the cold environment of winter and features some beautiful filming from director Robert Altman. 


Robert Redford stars as mountain man Jeremiah Johnson in this outdoorsman's adventure set in the beautiful hills of Utah ( and filmed on Redford's recently acquired Sundance ski area ). Johnson is a  Civil War veteran who abandons mankind and heads for the mountains of Utah to become a trapper. With the help of another grizzled mountain man ( Will Geer ), he learns to live of the land but must contend with hostile natives when he incurs the wrath of a Crow chief. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

British Pathé : Stained Glass Windows ( 1956 )

The Christmas season is upon us and, for many, that means attending Christmas Eve and Sunday mass services at church. No matter which church you attend, you will probably see a stained glass window somewhere in the building. Have you ever thought about how these windows are made? 

Whether you did or not, it's a fascinating process, and this month's featured British Pathé newsreel gives a glimpse of just how this process is quite tedious! An artist first makes a detailed drawing of exactly how the window will look. This drawing is then enlarged to full size and numbered so that craftsmen can cut and lay pieces of colored glass over the individual segments much like a mosaic. The glass pieces are held together while the artist adds shading to the backside of the glass and then the whole arrangement is secured with lead ( which replaced the use of iron ). 

As usual, we have a few suggested clips to watch if you enjoyed this one and we highly recommend checking them out. Cemented Stained Glass gives a preview of the new style of stained glass windows: cemented glass chunks instead of thin glass panels held by iron, while Stained Glass ( 1963 ) shows a more in-depth view of both of these methods. 

Ready to watch Stained Glass Windows? Simply click on the link below:

Stained Glass Windows ( 1956 ) - 2:24 minutes

Similar British Pathé newsreels:

Cemented Stained Glass ( 1956 ) - 2:28 minutes

Stained Glass ( 1963 ) - 2:55 minutes

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

From the Archives: How to Steal a Million ( 1966 )

We often come across movie stills that feature scenes that were later cut from films. This particular one is from the classic caper How to Steal a Million ( 1966 ) starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. We believe this scene - at an office using IBM machines - may have appeared before Nicole ( Hepburn ) goes on her dinner date with David Leland ( Eli Wallach ). It was probably considered unessential to the story, so instead, we see Nicole simply mentioning to her father that she met an American tycoon who has a computer business. Whether this cut footage exists somewhere or was scraped is a mystery. 

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 :

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Entertainers ( 1964-1965 ) - Television Series

Youtube always puts the most unusual clips on their homepage when I log in. They claim the clips are suggested based on what I previously viewed but I rarely see the connection. Anyway, a few weeks ago there was a black-and-white thumbnail for a clip that I simply couldn't resist clicking on - Carol Burnett, Chita Rivera, and Caterina Valente dolled up like Morticia Addams singing "I Enjoy Being a Girl" in a fog entrenched graveyard. It's the funkiest version of the song I've ever heard and quite catchy. Boris Karloff introduces the ladies and afterwards performs a wonderful version of "Chim Chim Cher-ee" along with the Lee Hale Singers. Mary Poppins premiered in 1964 and that was the year of the clip. 

As interesting as it was watching these ghouls perform, what I found even more exciting was learning that it came from a television series I never heard of before - The Entertainers. This one-hour variety show premiered September 25, 1964, and lasted only one season ( it was canceled March 27, 1965 ). The show was produced by Carol Burnett's husband Joe Hamilton ( The Garry Moore Show ) and Bob Banner ( The Carol Burnett Show ) with hosting duties rotating between Carol Burnett, Caterina Valente, and Bob Newhart. Quite a lineup! 

The Entertainers had a great assortment of, well, entertainers, that ranged from singers and dancers to comedians, magicians, and actors. Some of the guest stars who appeared on the show were Phil Silvers, Peter Lawford, Imogene Coca, Buddy Ebsen, Chad and Jeremy, The Dave Clark Five, Vivian Vance, John Davidson, Thelma Ritter, Dom DeLuise, Rosemary Clooney, and Craig Stevens. 

The Entertainers has not yet been released on DVD and it is rare to find even a clip from the show online making me wonder whether whole episodes of the series even exist. Still, it is fun to discover something "new", especially with such great hosts as Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett and Caterina Valente ( if you are not familiar with this talented singer, look up some of her performances on Youtube ). 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

The Way of an Eagle by Ethel M. Dell.....hmmm, now what could this be? We've got a really tricky screenshot for this month's Impossibly Difficult puzzle, so we will be kind and offer a hint: it is from a British film. Now you'll have to put on your thinking caps and see if you can remember which British film you saw this scene in!

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

Friday, November 26, 2021

Come Fly With Me ( 1963 )

"A Romantic Round the World Manhunt!" 

Three airline hostesses jet-set across Europe searching for handsome rich men to marry in the engaging 1963 MGM romantic comedy Come Fly With Me. Like How to Marry a Millionaire, all three women find themselves attached to men who are very much different than what they had in mind but they nevertheless have fun hunting and the audience has fun watching them on the prowl. 

Dolores Hart stars as pretty Donna Stuart, a cynical girl who has her heart set on wearing sable. She meets the dashing Baron Franz von Elzingen ( Karl Boehm ) and believes she found her Prince Charming....until she realizes that he is using her to smuggle stolen diamonds between Paris and Vienna. 

Carol Brewster ( Pamela Tiffin ) is more sensible and sets her eyes on the pilot ( Hugh O'Brian ). She thinks he is her knight in shining armor until she discovers he is having an affair with a married woman ( Dawn Addams ). 

It's the lovely Hilda Bergstrom ( Lois Nettleton ) who ends up with the cream of the crop: Texas millionaire Walter Lucas ( Karl Malden ). She's a thrifty girl who wants her man to be saving his pennies as well, little does she know that he has $40 million dollars to spare. Like most good comedies of the 1960s, the film ends with each of the girls happy with their romantic choices. 

Come Fly With Me is light-hearted entertainment that will take you back to an era when jet travel was oh-so-glamorous ( and when airlines gave you room to stretch your legs ). The script seems like it was penned directly for the film but it was actually based on a chick-lit novel called "Girl on a Wing" by Bernard Glemser. The working title was The Friendliest Girls in the World but was later changed to Come Fly With Me to capitalize on the popularity of the Frank Sinatra hit. In the opening of the film, the song is swingingly rendered by Frankie Avalon.

Director Henry Levin keeps the pace of the film moving swiftly and the location scenery throughout Paris and Vienna is beautifully filmed by cinematographer Oswald Morris ( Moby Dick, Scrooge ). Interiors were shot at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in Boreham Wood, England. 

The movie is notable for being Dolores Hart's final picture before she retired from acting and entered the Abbey of Regina Laudis. She looks particularly beautiful in this film and gives a wonderful farewell performance. Lois Nettleton also gives a good performance as the level-headed "Bergie" and Karl Malden is excellent as usual. Richard Wattis, James Dobson and Lois Maxwell, who was filming Dr. No in England that same year, are also in the cast. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

TCM Big Screen Classics - 2022 Schedule

Every year, 12 classic films are chosen by TCM to be brought back to theaters across the nation as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series. Some years the selection of films is better than others and, for 2022, the line-up is particularly good with a nice mixture of genres. Lately, they have been playing films that mark an anniversary of so many decades and next year is no exception. 

Please note, most of these films play on two dates each but, at the moment, we are only aware of one release date, so circle your calendar if something catches your fancy. 

January 23rd - Casablanca - 80th Anniversary ( 1942 )

February 20th  - Lady Sings the Blues 50th Anniversary ( 1972 ) 

March 13th - The Quiet Man 70th Anniversary ( 1952 ) 

April 10th - Singin' in the Rain 70th Anniversary ( 1952 ) 

May 29th - Smokey and the Bandit ( 1977 ) 

June 12 - Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? 60th Anniversary ( 1962 )

July 17th - Cabaret 50th Anniversary ( 1972 ) 

September 4th - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ( 1982 ) 

September 25th - Poltergeist 40th Anniversary ( 1982 ) 

October 16th - In the Heat of the Night ( 1967 ) 

November 13th - To Kill a Mockingbird 60th Anniversary ( 1962 )

December 18th - It's A Wonderful Life 75th Anniversary ( 1947 ) 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Check it Out! - Chita Rivera on The Hollywood Palace

The lovely and leggy Chita Rivera made a marvelous guest appearance on The Hollywood Palace in November 1965 performing a peppy showstopper titled "Blue". I wasn't able to find out who wrote this piece but it certainly sounds like something penned from the hands of Jules Styne. Just a few months earlier, Chita had finished her run in the stage musical Bajour and would soon go on to play Jenny in the Threepenny Opera

Chita returned to The Hollywood Palace in 1968 with a go-go dance but that performance did not suit her as well as this classy dance. Check it out for yourself right here!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

From the Archives: Until They Sail ( 1957 )


Jean Simmons and Paul Newman are enjoying the first blossoms of love in this beautiful photo from Until They Sail ( 1957 ), Robert Wise's disjointed adaptation of James Michener's novel of the same name about three sisters who fall in love with American soldiers in New Zealand. 

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, October 31, 2021

Dell Comics - The Universal Monsters Series

During the Halloween season, several television stations ( and streaming channels ) have been broadcasting the classic Universal monster movies. These include The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. These films are considered classics because they were responsible for launching the entire "horror" movie genre.....or at least, they made the genre popular at the box office. And unlike most films of the 1930s and 1940s, they were brought back to the theatres every decade to be re-introduced to new generations of fans. 

During the 1950s and 1960s, most movie-going youngsters devored comic books, so in 1962 comic publisher Dell, hit on the brilliant idea of releasing a series of comics based on the Universal monster movie classics. They were issued under their "Movie Classics" series and featured some really top-notch cover art. 

The comics are collectible today and luckily, not overly rare. They can be easily found on auction sites and at various vintage comic shops. We don't have any full issues to share with you, but we do have some great pics of the covers that you can enjoy!

The Mummy ( Movie Classics #211 ) - Issued Nov. 1962

Dracula ( Movie Classics #212 ) - Dec 1962

The Creature ( Movie Classics #302 ) - Feb 1963 

Frankenstein ( Movie Classics #305 ) - May 1963

The Wolf Man ( Movie Classics #308 ) - Aug 1963

Happy Halloween to our readers! 

Friday, October 29, 2021

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Whooooo could be playing spooky music on this old organ? Someone with super-smooth hands, that's who! See if you can guess what movie this screenshot was taken from and then share your guess in the comment box below. This is an easy one so don't overthink it!

As always, if you are not familiar with the rules of the game or the prize, simply click here.


Congratulations to DespinaV for correctly identifying this screenshot from William Castle's The Night Walker ( 1964 ). In this scene, a wax mannequin plays the organ as Barbara Stanwyck reluctantly heads down the aisle to marry her Dream Man. 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Hold That Ghost! ( 1941 )

Gas station attendants Chuck (Bud Abbott) and Ferdie (Lou Costello) happen to be present when gangster Moose Matson (William Davidson) is shot by the police during a car chase. His last will and testament leave all that he owns to those who are present at his death, hence the boys inherit Moose's fortune which happens to be a rundown roadhouse in the outskirts of town. While checking out the property they inherited, they get stranded there on a stormy night with an odd conglomerate of travelers from the cab they were sharing. Moose's old cronies believe that Matson hid a fortune in the roadhouse and so they attempt to frighten Chuck and Ferdie and the other guests away from the house so they can search for the loot. 

Hold That Ghost was the fourth of 35 films that the comedy team of Abbott and Costello made during the 1940s and 1950s and it ranks as one of their best. It has all the spooktacular features you would want to see in a haunted house comedy plus the added bonus of a great cast. Scream-queen Evelyn Ankers joins the duo as one of the guests at the roadhouse, as does Richard Carlson and slapschtick sensation Joan Davis. Marc Lawrence, one of the most famous film gangsters of the era, plays Charlie Smith who turns up stiff. Also making appearances are Shemp Howard, Mischa Auer, Bobby Barber (who later played Stinky on The Abbott and Costello Show), and Ted Lewis and the Andrews Sisters. 

Abbott and Costello never needed any help from supporting players to add to their comedic fun, but Hold That Ghost is a real treat because of the presence of Joan Davis. This marvelous comedienne made a number of films as a leading star but her best performances were in films where she had a supporting role. In Hold That Ghost, she plays a fellow passenger who is stranded at the inn. Ferdie (Costello) finds her annoying and it is in the scenes where the two banter that most of the humor is to be found. They also share one of the best comedic dance scenes put on film. Davis should have reteamed with Costello in their second mystery-comedy Who Done It? ( 1942 ) but instead that film featured Mary Wickes.

"You boys ready to leave?" - Joan Davis

"I was ready to leave when he put the key in the front door!" - Lou Costello

From its wonderful animated opening credits to its peppy closing number ("Aurora" sung by the Andrews Sisters ), Hold That Ghost never lets up on the laughs. Many of the routines that Abbott and Costello would perform in this film, such as the moving candle trick, were later reused in future films and television episodes. 

The duo had skyrocketed to stardom after their first picture was released just a year earlier and it is amazing how quickly they had to be able to come up with comedy routines thereafter. Universal Studios had screenwriters penning scripts for them and the boys were busy filming month after month. In 1941 alone, four Abbott and Costello movies were released. 

Hold that Ghost, originally titled Oh, Charlie!, was slated to be released right after Buck Privates but when that film became a blockbuster hit for Universal, the studio decided to put Oh, Charlie! on the shelf to give them time to make another service comedy in the vein of Buck Privates. In the Navy was quickly put into production and released right after completion. Since the Andrews Sisters had appeared in both films, it was decided that they would make a great addition to Hold That Ghost as well, so Abbott and Costello were brought back to the studio to film a new opening and closing that featured the singing threesome. 

In spite of the popularity of both Hold That Ghost and Who Done It?, Abbott and Costello did not return to the mystery/horror genre until 1948 when they made Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which not only brought them back to the top of the box-office charts but launched a series of similarly themed monster comedies....unfortunately, none of which were as good as this gem. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Addams Family Mugs - The Mystery of Charles Addams' Halloween Mugmates

Back in 1964, the Pan-American Coffee Bureau released an ad that featured some eye-catching custom-designed mugs by Charles Addams. As most television fans are well aware of, Charles Addams was a cartoonist whose bizarre and yet amusing characters "The Addams" became the basis for a popular 1964 television series, The Addams Family, starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones. 

I first saw this ad in a graphic design book about 15 years ago and liked the mugs immediately. Every year when Halloween came around, I remembered the mugs and thought how nice it would be to find them at a second-hand store or rummage sale....but no such luck. So I finally searched for them on eBay and, again, came up with no results. That's when I decided to look at that graphic design book again and read the ad more closely. It appears that Mugmates were blank mugs that you could draw on. The ad was not promoting a set of Charles Addams mugs to purchase but rather giving you inspiration if you wanted to create your own matching coffee cups. "How interesting!" I thought. "I wonder what other famous artists created Mugmate designs?" That was another thought that led to a dead-end because I was not able to find other custom-designed Mugmates. But what I did discover was a very interesting radio broadcast from another curiousity-seeker that shared of the story of these Mugmates. Believe it or not, there was even a song written about them! 

Check it out here! 

The Mystery of Mugmates -

It remains a mystery as to where these particular Charles Addams mugs reside today, but if I had to bet money I would say the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation have the set tucked away in a box in their archives. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

From the Archives: The Wolf Man ( 1942 )

Poor Larry Talbot, all he wanted was to enjoy himself at the gypsy fair with his newfound sweetheart.  Instead, he got himself cursed and covered from head to toe with hair.....wolf's hair! In this publicity photo from The Wolf Man ( 1942 ), Lon Chaney Jr. dons the makeup of the wolfman and strikes this great pose with a bare tree. 

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 :

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Clifton Webb's Bachelor Abode

In the 1950s there was a great film magazine called Film Show that released an annual book filled with articles written by the stars themselves or as they so aptly subtitled it "The Stars Tell Their Own Stories". Whether or not the actors really did write these articles does not matter because they are very entertaining to read regardless. One which we will share with you below is by Clifton Webb who decided to tell his fans a little bit about his "bachelor abode". This one does indeed seem to be written with the haughtiness/snobbery you would expect from Mr. Belvedere or Waldo Lydecker. 


When I first arrived in Hollywood to make Laura all I had was a solitary suitcase in my hand. With me were my mother and Earnest, my French poodle. 20th Century-Fox had persuaded me to sign a contract. They liked a test they had made of me for a part in Laura. Otto Preminger, who had seen me in "Blithe Spirit" when it played in Los Angeles, had suggested the test. While he was finishing the script of Laura I was still on the road tour of "Blithe Spirit". Word reached me that I was needed at 20th to begin work on Laura

Spring floods sweeping the Middle West disarranged all train schedules, and in the upset my six trunkfuls of wardrobe were lost en route. They caught up with me later, but in the meantime we settled in the house I had leased from Constance Bennett. It had twenty-two rooms, a tennis court, and a swimming pool. 

When I decided to settle in Hollywood, I bought my own place - a Spanish-style home [ Author's note: This house was located at 1005 Rexford Drive and was once owned by Grace Moore. Webb claimed it was haunted by her but we'll cover that story in another post ]. Eventually, instead of building a new house, I set about changing the architecture and some of the interior. What I have achieved is rather a mystery as far as style goes - perhaps it has some relation to Georgian, but it is just what I wanted as bachelor quarters. A new house could hardly have cost more. However, I think I have managed to make my home the setting for a civilized life. 

Clifton Webb's House - Image Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
During my travels I acquired paintings that have interested several museum directors who have seen them. One, a painting of me as a youngster of thirteen, always attracts attention - not because I was the subject matter; it happens to be signed by the late George Bellows whose work is now coveted by collectors. In my collection, I have the works of artists who were more or less obscure when I bought their paintings. For instance there are examples of Fabrizzio Caricci, Buffet, Stumpfig, Pagliacci. I value highly several paintings by Bakst. Don't think I'm posing as a man of rare judgment, but I do feel there is real satisfaction in recognizing merit in the work of an unknown. I will admit, too, it is cheaper - much; to acquire the work of a popular and established artist takes money - lots of it. 

Portrait of Clifton Webb by George Bellows
My bachelor adobe is presided over by Maybelle - with charm; she's my invaluable friend - my mother. Around us are pieces of furniture and treasures gathered from various trips to Europe. Many things too, have come from friends. Some have interesting histories or recall pleasurable associations. For instance, beneath the Bellows painting of me is a marble-topped bench which I brought from my New York apartment which the late Lady Mendly, when she was Elsie de Wolf, helped me furnish. In those days she was a well-known interior decorator. 

On the bench are three vases, treasured because they were once the property of my very good friend Syre Maugham, a woman of great taste who was at one time the wife of Somerset Maugham. 

Many friends ask about a rather odd little chair with short legs that stands in the hall outside the living room. It's a Sixteenth-Century prie-dieu. It came from Hier, France, and those who have a knowledge of antiques have often tried to get it away from me. 

My most treasured possessions are the dining room table and chairs which I first had in a home in London while playing in the theatre there. The dining room is Georgian with a chandelier of crystal - it is elaborate and I like it. 

In the living room are overstuffed chairs covered with chintz to give an informal air, and a green sofa. I'm not dedicated to antiques or period furniture -in this room, there is a touch of California; in front of the sofa stands a long teak coffee table I designed myself. 

At times I wonder why I should have such a large house for just the two of us - or I should say four, Razor and Baci share it with us  - they are two lovable French poodles ( Earnest has departed ). But, through my years in the theatre and films, I have gathered many things and I like to have them around. Many are housed in the playroom which opens onto the swimming pool. There is a fire chief's helmet given to me by Philadelphia's Poor Richard's Club. The Lamb's Club in New York sent me a baton used by the late John Philip Sousa. The walls are hung with autographed photos of many stage and screen stars. 

Those who know me only by the type of role I play might not recit me with having much sentiment. I'm willing to admit I'm not a hundred percent the sophisticate. I'm a fellow who loves a home and garden - I am especially fond of camellias. I enjoy digging, pruning, and the hundred and one things that have to be done. It might be disappointing to some who visualize me only as a dapper man-about-town as my pictures would have you believe. At home, I'm just someone who has fallen for the dolce far niente life of Hollywood. 

The above article was reprinted from the 1952 issue of The New Film Show Annual.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Loves of Joanna Godden ( 1947 )

"I'll run the farm myself....A farm can't have two masters"

Joanna Godden ( Googie Withers ) is a determined woman. After the death of her father, the townsfolk of Romney Marsh assumed that she would marry her childhood friend and neighbor-farmer Arthur ( John McCallum ), joining her father's farm with his to make it one of the largest in the county. Instead, she boldly declares that she does not wish to marry Arthur and, defying the conventions of the time, wants to run the farm by herself. Her farmhands are none too pleased with the notion of a single woman taking charge of the farm and Arthur is certainly disappointed to hear that she does not wish to marry him. If this wasn't news enough, she announces that she will take her father's pedigree sheep and crossbreed them. "She's a filly that's never been properly broke in, that's what she is!" the farmers exclaim. 

The Loves of Joanna Godden may seem like just another British film about farming and shepherding but it is much more than that. It is the profile of a headstrong young Edwardian woman and the decisions - mainly regrettable ones - that she makes within a several-year span that leads to her growth as a woman. Joanna does indeed take control of the farm as she wanted, but she stubbornly refuses to listen to the admonitions of her neighbor farmers who warn her against crossbreeding sheep and soon regrets not heeding their warning. The new breed of sheep has a coat much too thin to brave the cold wind that blows on the marsh and many of them die. When she does choose to marry a man ( Derek Bond ) that turns out tragic as well. 

Director Charles Frend does an admirable job of creating a unique Edwardian English-country atmosphere for The Loves of Joanna Godden. The only other film that comes close to capturing this setting is 20th Century Fox's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which was released the same year. Both films are similarly themed and focus on a two-year period in the life of a strong-willed Edwardian woman. Widow Mrs. Muir ( Gene Tierney ) wishes to be independent of her in-laws and make her own life in the seaside town of Whitecliff-by-the-sea. 

In The Loves of Joanna Godden, Joanna is content to stay at her childhood home but wants the freedom to run it as she pleases without taking orders from a man. Eventually, both characters regret not having a husband to "take the helm". If these films were made today, their directors would probably take a more feminist approach and show audiences that a woman can be independent and happy as well, but these old classics reflected Edwardian sentiments and personally, I like that. 

H.E. Bates' screenplay condenses Sheila Kaye-Smith's 1921 novel into a concise 90-minute film without losing any of the major plot points or its biting dialogue. The Loves of Joanna Godden also features a sweeping score by Ralph Vaughn Williams and beautiful cinematography. Oscar-nominated cinematographer Douglas Slocombe ( Dead of Night, The Great Gatsby ) is often considered to be one of the best in the industry. Through his lens, we get to travel to Kent and see the beauty of Romney Marsh throughout the seasons. 

Googie Withers gives a wonderful performance as the headstrong Joanna. She's a stubborn character and she could easily have been a dislikable woman but Googie lets the audience know that beneath Joanna's hard exterior is a soft and vulnerable woman. Arthur knows this already and that makes it painful for him to stand by and witness Joanna shun all help in her attempt to stand on her own feet when he would willingly work beside her. 

John McCallum was a popular and extremely capable actor who made many British films in the 1940s. He and Googie wed shortly after filming was completed on this picture. McCallum later turned to producing ( the Australian children's series Skippy was one of his productions ) and Googie went on to have a long career on stage and television, notably as Governess Fay Boswell in Within These Walls.  

Jean Kent, another popular leading lady in British films, has a supporting role as Joanna's sister Ellen. At first, Ellen is quite a charming young lady but she quickly becomes a conniving and spoiled brat and the cause of ruination for Arthur. Derek Bond gives a good performance as the young aristocrat Martin who sweeps Joanna off her feet, and Australian legend Chips Raffery has a small part as Joanna's looker ( shepherd ). Also in the cast are character actors Henry Mollison and Edward Rigby. 

The Loves of Joanna Godden is available on DVD as one of four films on Network's "Ealing Studios Rarities Collection, Volume 4".

This post is our contribution to the 8th Annual Rule, Britannia blogathon being hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts. This is a jolly good event that allows bloggers to review British films from all eras, so if you want to explore some new-to-you titles, be sure to head on over to the event for a full listing of entries.