Sunday, April 18, 2021

Listen and Guess Game - Actors Who Sing!

There are a lot of actors who are equally well known as singers ( e.g. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich ), but there are also a surprising number of actors who it would astonish you to find out recorded an album... or at least a single ( e.g. Rock Hudson, Cheryl Ladd ). Over the years, my sister and I have come to discover ten or fifteen actors that are not known as singers but have a really nice singing voice regardless. While doing some research for a blog post on this topic, the number we discovered grew to over fifty actors! 

In a couple of weeks, we will share this post with you but, in the meantime, we thought it would be fun to make a game of identifying the actor who is singing. Below you will find ten sound clips featuring famous actors singing. Test your knowledge of voice recognition and see if you can name the star who is singing!

The first five sound clips feature the voices of actors/actresses who are best known for making films. They may have appeared on television, too, but they are primarily film stars. The last five sound clips feature the voices of actors/actresses who are best known for their television work. 

If you can guess 5 out of 10, pat yourself on the back, because these are tricky!

P.S: Hover your mouse slightly to the right of the play button in order to click on it ( the same goes with pausing ). Play button not working? Then click on the pop-out tab to download. Need a hint? Scroll down a bit and on the right column of this blog you will see two picture gadgets with the faces of all ten actors on it. 

Actors/Actresses from Movies

Mystery Singer Number 1
Mystery Singer Number 2
Mystery Singer Number 3
Mystery Singer Number 4
Mystery Singer Number 5

Actors/Actresses from Television

Mystery Singer Number 6
Mystery Singer Number 7
Mystery Singer Number 8
Mystery Singer Number 9
Mystery Singer Number 10

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Spring Reunion ( 1957 )

Maggie Brewster ( Betty Hutton ) has been looking forward to the fifteenth reunion of her high school class for weeks. It is the day of the big event and Maggie has a full schedule of things to do, one of which is going to the beauty parlor with her best friend Barnie ( Jean Hagen ), but before she does, she has to see a prospective client who is interested in buying a property her real estate firm has been trying to unload for years. It belongs to Fred Davis ( Dana Andrews ), once considered "The Boy Most Likely to Succeed" in Maggie's class. 

When she arrives at the property she is surprised to find Fred there. He tells her that a wave of nostalgia overcame him and he wants to cancel the sale. Her disappointment is short-lived when she realizes that Fred is as handsome as ever, single, and has an eye for her. Maggie's school friends are all married with children and, with her reunion coming up, she is beginning to wonder what she has made of her life. Fred is pondering the same question and the night of the spring reunion sparks off a romance between them. 

Spring Reunion is a delightful 1950s melodrama ideal to watch during springtime. The film addresses the concerns most people have when a school reunion approaches. We all see it as a mid-life assessment report - What Have You Done With Your Life? 

"Maybe I'm the one who never measured up, Dad." - Maggie

Jack Frazer ( Gordon Jones ) begins to realize that he may no longer be the physically fit football hero he was. Barnie thinks there may be more exciting things in life than being a mother to four children. Fred is tired of traveling across America, always searching for a better job. He wants to settle down and putter with his sailboat again. Maggie is tired of hearing her father say she is still "the prettiest, smartest and most popular girl" when she feels herself quickly heading towards spinsterhood. She wonders what became of the "Girl Most Likely". Both her and Fred's motives for a relationship are based on fear of future loneliness rather than love, but they seem to have a fighting chance for lasting happiness. 

Betty Hutton was well-established as a dramatic actress by the time she made Spring Reunion, but even though she matured she still adds a touch of that old light-hearted playfulness to her character. Gordon Jones and Jean Hagen provide more of the comedy relief, as do the character actors which include Irene Ryan, Florence Sundstrom, and Herbert Anderson. Also in the cast is James Gleason, Robert F. Simon, and Laura La Plante. 

The movie has a sparkling script by Elick Moll and Robert Pirosh ( A Day at the RacesI Married a Witch ) and is just overall entertaining to watch. Unlike a high school reunion, it is something that you can enjoy every spring. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

This fellow looks like he is dancing an Irish jig on the pavement but he is actually hurrying to catch a yellow cab. Who he is and where he is going is your job to remember!

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

Mary Brian - It's Hard to Grow Up in Hollywood

Mary Brian was one of the most beautiful actresses of the 1930s. She often played charming ingenues in college-themed romances, but it seems these roles were not her cup of tea. Evelyn Warmoll shares with us in this 1938 article from Hollywood magazine, that Mary Brian was looking for more dramatic "grown-up" roles while Hollywood while trying to keep her young and innocent: 

While most movie stars are sadly bemoaning the fact that they are growing old all too fast on the screen, Mary Brian, fresh from a season of personal appearances, is back in Hollywood to try again to gain recognition as a grown up, mature, young woman. 

Mary has been Hollywood's perpetual "little girl" for ten years. She's frankly tired of it. She wants to prove to producers and a loyal following of movie fans that she has outgrown co-eds and fairy princesses and younger sisters. She wants to play dramatic feminine leads. She wants to emote. She wants to be recognized as a dramatic actress. She is tired of playing pretty young things who flit hither and thither and seldom have a dominant scene in the story which goes on around them. 

It doesn't seem so very long ago that Paramount announced that it was starting a worldwide search for a novice to play the title role of its silent production, Peter Pan. Mary Brian, just out from Texas, was at the Los Angeles Paramount theatre — dancing in the chorus — when Albert Kaufman, brother-in-law of Adolphe Zukor, saw her, talked with her and sent her out to the Paramount lot for a test for Peter Pan. Mary trembled as she made the test for it was her first movie experience, but the next day director Herbert Brenon phoned to say that a contract awaited her — not for Peter Pan but for "Wendy." When she stepped out of the dancing lineup and became Wendy, she began a series of young girl parts which lasted throughout her six and a half years as a Paramount contract player. 

She was pretty much the successor to Mary Pickford and Mary Miles Minter as Hollywood's sweetheart. No film debutante was more sought after for party lists than Mary. "The sweetest kid in Hollywood" she was called off-screen as well as on. No college picture was quite complete without Mary Brian as the fair young co-ed who turned the heads of the gridiron heroes, and finally arrived at her big romantic scene either in the booth of some campus ice cream parlor or under the ever-present sheltering oak in front of the girls' dormitory. 

When she wasn't decorating college pictures, romantic dramas of Civil war days claimed her for doll-like crinoline girls who made exquisite pictures of Mason-Dixon beauty, but never had much opportunity to lead the parade when the dramatic scenes began. 

When the talkies came in Mary Brian began intensive training for more dramatic and dominant roles. She tucked her collection of sunbonnets and middie blouses gently but firmly in the garage trunk, pinned up the curls that once hung on the back of her neck, and tried every way she knew to "grow up" in a hurry. Other diminutive girls had been given dramatic roles — Helen Hayes, Sylvia Sydney, Elizabeth Bergner, dozens of small girls had dominated dramatic pictures. While Mary made no comparisons, she yearned for just one chance to show what she could do. But to Hollywood she was still the "young sister type." 

Finally, Walter Huston's The Virginian gave her a deviation from her usual cast assignment and The Front Page offered broader opportunities as did The Royal Family but whenever a college picture was being cast the first name on every casting director's tongue was "Mary Brian." 

As often as she could afford to, Mary shook her pretty head and announced that she had her mind set on more dramatic parts. During one of the waits between pictures, Ken Murray induced her to resume stage work and to return to her dancing (which Hollywood never thought of at all). For a year Mary alternated between Broadway, road shows and pictures that offered her at least some hope of outgrowing the "little sister" roles. 

Her personal appearances were huge successes and she found that her fans were just as eager for her to grow up as she was. When fans saw her dance in local theatres they wrote letters by the score to variolas Hollywood producers asking them to make Mary Brian a dancing screen star. 

When the co-ed and little sister offers continued unbroken Mary Brian went to London for a British picture and one day Hollywood was startled to hear that "little Mary" was the star of the 1935 Chariot's Revue and "going over like a house afire." 

After an extended London season Mary returned to Hollywood and played a "heavy" in Spendthrift merely to get away from the girlish type of role previously given her. This was followed by two independent pictures which offered more or less straight dramatic leads and other personal appearances in which she was supported by a dancing trio, Gordon, Read and King and also by Arena and Hines. 

A few months ago Mary came back to Hollywood again in search of mature roles and was fairly successful in Three Married Men and Killer at Large but the recent summer season found her at the head of the casting office lists for co-ed roles in a half dozen football pictures and she began to wonder what she could do to create a new "1938 model Mary Brian." 

"I'm afraid you just can't grow up in Hollywood," says Mary. "I enjoy playing girlish parts but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that the day soon comes when I can play a dominant, dramatic part and show them that Wendy has grown up. I don't care whether I play a vamp, a society girl or a French apache; I just want a chance to assume a role that has some depth and determination." 

Mary Brian lives with her mother near Toluca Lake, a few miles north of the Hollywood studio where she began her screen career. At least once each year she is reported "this-a and that-a" about some currently popular young screen Lochinvar but isn't taking romance too seriously. After playing more than 50 girlish featured leads in as many feature films Mary seems far more anxious to play a dramatic role on the screen than take a demure walk to the altar in a real life romance.

This article was taken from a February 1938 issue of Hollywood magazine. You can view the scans of this article, as well as the entire issue, via the Internet Archive hereTo find more stories like this, check out the other posts in our series - Movie Magazine Articles. Enjoy!

Friday, April 9, 2021

From the Archives: April Love ( 1957 )

Shirley Jones is about to enjoy a kiss from Pat Boone in this scene from April Love ( 1957 ), a delightful musical remake of the 1944 film Home in Indiana. It was a big hit at the box office and the title song was nominated for an Academy Award. It is also one of Pat Boone's personal favorites, "the kind of movie I wish I could have made 20 more of".

From the Archives is our latest series of posts where we share photos from the Silverbanks Pictures collection. Some of these may have been sold in the past, and others may still be available for purchase at our eBay store :

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Bishop Murder Case ( 1930 )

Before Basil Rathbone donned the deerstalker to play Sherlock Holmes in 14 films, he portrayed the dapper sleuth Philo Vance in The Bishop Murder Case ( 1930 ), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's first film to feature S.S. Van Dine's famous detective hero. 

Paramount Pictures brought novelist Dine's character to the screen in two successful pictures starring William Powell ( The Canary Murder Case and The Greene Murder Case ) so Metro quickly purchased the rights to his latest novel "The Bishop Murder Case" to film their own version with Rathbone portraying the urbane amateur detective. 

In this story, a fiendish murderer is on the loose at Professor Dillard's estate and he is using Mother Goose nursery rhymes as his motif. Excerpts from the rhymes are being left as clues with the murderer cryptically signing his notes "The B.I.S.H.O.P".

Basil Rathbone did a fine portrayal of Philo Vance and the familiar air of superiority that he gave to Sherlock Holmes could be seen in Philo's character as well. Leila Hyams played the leading lady, the pretty young niece to Professor Dillard. Also in the cast was Roland Young, Delmer Daves, Carroll Nye, Alec B. Francis, and George F. Marion. Clarence Geldert played John Markham, the New York County District Attorney who, like Lestrade, often needed Vance's helping hand to solve the murder. 

While The Bishop Murder Case has a great plot, the production seems dated by comparision to other mystery films of the 1930s. It was released in 1930, just when many of the major studios were transitioning from silent to sound pictures, and the film was issued as both a silent picture and as an "All-Talking!" feature. It seems more like a silent film with long pauses on the character's faces as if the audience had to "read" the lines from their expressions. In many scenes, the microphone is not positioned near the actor speaking, so their voice sounds faded. The staging is also more reminiscent of silent films. It's amazing how much films advanced just within five years! Especially at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer where they often utilized the latest technology. 

Nevertheless, if you want a good mystery and need your fill of Philo - or just want to see Basil playing detective - then The Bishop Murder Case is worth a look-see. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game


Something is happening on The Cyclone Racer, but what is it? One woman is obviously pointing it out. But what that something is is not so obvious. Time to put your thinking caps on and see if you can remember which film this screenshot came from!

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


Congratulations to The Tactful Typist for correctly identifying this scene as coming from "Half-Angel" ( 1951 ) starring Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten. In this scene, the two of them are telling a policeman that they left the rollercoaster cart running without an operator. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

I Love Lucy - Lucy's Night in Town

 A Shroud of Thoughts is hosting the 7th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon and I thought I would undertake the impossible and choose an episode from the beloved 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy. This comedy classic ran for six seasons and then switched to an hour-long format where twelve additional episodes were made. Every episode was so well-written, it is difficult enough trying to pick a favorite season, let alone a single episode! 

Lucy's Night in Town is a real winner however, not just because it is fun to watch but because within its 25-minute runtime it encapsulates the formula that the show is famous for: Lucy gets herself into trouble with Ricky, she then tries to get herself out of trouble, she gets herself deeper into trouble, and finally, she gets Ricky, Fred, and Ethel into trouble with her and they all end up with nothing! 

In Lucy's Night in Town, the Ricardos are living in a sprawling ranch in Connecticut that they purchased after moving away from their apartment in New York City. The Mertzes later come out to join them and move into the guesthouse on the property but, in this episode, they were still living in New York. 

Ricky and Lucy have four tickets for a sold-out show - The Most Happy Fella - and Lucy is excited about going into the city again after spending weeks in the country. Ricky and Fred plan to meet Lucy and Ethel at a restaurant just before going to the theater. They bought the tickets six months prior and since tickets are impossible to get, Ricky warns Lucy repeatedly "not to forget the tickets!"

With this kind of buildup, the audience knows that Lucy is going to forget the tickets...but surprisingly, she does not. Instead, as she and Ethel are about to order their dinner at the restaurant she realizes that the tickets are for the matinee performance. They missed it completely! Lucy says "Well, at least I didn't lose them. You have to admit that"...."Well bully for you!", Ethel replies. So Lucy's mental gears quickly spin into action and she tells Ethel to stall while they eat. You can only stall so long, but Lucy is desperate! Here begins a great scene with Lucy and Ethel eating as slow as they can while Ricky and Fred are gulping their dinners down. 

"What are you doin'? Would you please tell me what you are doin'?" - Ricky

"Chewing" - Lucy

"Well swallow it now and chew it later. We're in a hurry." - Ricky

Once Lucy realizes the jig is up she confesses that the tickets are no good. They head to the theater to see if they can get some last-minute tickets for a cancellation and are in luck when a couple turns in their tickets for box seats - but there are only two tickets. They decide that the girls will see the first half and the boys will see the second. So Lucy and Ethel go first and when intermission time comes Lucy realizes that the two seats behind them were empty the entire time. Lucy decides to sneak back after intermission, but Ethel objects. 

"Do you know anyone who's missed the whole first act and still wants to see the show?" - Lucy

"Sure, Ricky and Fred!" - Ethel

Of course, the couple who bought the seats shows up but, instead of leaving to wait in the lobby, Lucy and Ethel simply push Ricky and Fred aside and try to sit two people in one chair! Things really get funny when Lucy knocks down Ethel's purse into the audience below....the purse that Fred just hid $500 in!

Surprise! The couple wants their seats. 

Lucy's Night in Town aired on March 25, 1957. It was part of the 6th season, a season that was full of great episodes like Lucy and the Loving Cup, Lucy and Superman, Lucy Raises Chickens and Building a Barbeque. This episode was always a favorite of mine because of its extra witty script and because it mixed the new country setting with the old city setting. Joseph Kearns, best known for playing Mr. Wilson on Dennis the Menace, has a great spot as a fussy theater manager. We also get to hear some wonderful Frank Loesser songs from The Most Happy Fella in the background and Lucy and Ethel's reaction to them are perfect. 

At the theater, Ricky asks, "I wonder what the show is about anyway." Fred responds, "Well, I can tell you one thing - the guy is not married." "How can you tell?"..."Look at the title!" Fred says pointing to the poster marked The Most Happy Fella. 

Interestingly, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball helped to finance the original production of The Most Happy Fella on Broadway and it turned out to be a smashing success running for 14 months straight. This was a clever way to promote their own investment. 

Lucy's Night in Town is just one of many favorite I Love Lucy episodes. What are your favorites? 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Movie Magazines & Memorabilia: TV Radio Mirror

Today we are launching a new series featuring short reviews of vintage movie magazines, books, and other memorabilia. My sister and I have been dealers in the movie memorabilia industry for nearly ten years now and we have discovered a lot of great magazines and other periodicals that are chock full of great articles, photos, film reviews, and interesting tidbits so we'd like to share these with our readers in the hopes that you will hunt for some of these periodicals yourself. We'll post some photos ( captured from eBay or our own collection ), a little background info about the magazine, and a summarization of its regular contents. 

Let's start off now with one of our favorites - TV-Radio Mirror magazine. This was a great magazine! It was an American magazine that was released monthly and every issue features wonderful articles about the radio and television stars that were popular at the time. Like most movie magazines, the pages were packed with on-the-set photos, "at home" snapshots, interviews, gossip, and a few full-color spreads. 

TV-Radio Mirror featured some great covers with Burns & Allen, Ozzie and Harriet, or the Lennon Sisters and other members of the Lawrence Welk Show often garnering the most coverage. The magazine was originally titled Radio Mirror, then Radio-TV Mirror, and later in the 1950s as television became more popular, it was changed to TV-Radio Mirror. It was launched in 1933 and ran all the way to 1977. 

We like this magazine the best because the quality of the articles is better than most and much more entertaining. Many of the articles were supposedly written by the stars themselves. For example, Barbara Eden told her fans how she fell in love with Michael Ansara, Ed Byrnes revealed the type of woman he was looking for in a wife, and Shirley Boone told the story of how she and Pat arrived in Hollywood. Whether these stories were true or not doesn't matter much, they are fun to read!

Regular features included interviews, reviews of the latest films, a station guide to radio programs and television shows, and a listing of great "old" movies playing on television. Like most magazines of the time, TV-Radio Mirror also issued an Annual that summed up the year in radio and television. If you come across one of these at a flea market/antique fair, grab it...they are worth it!

If you want to read full issues of TV Radio Mirror, check out the World Radio History website. This site has all issues of Radio Mirror from November 1933-December 1958. To see more reviews of movie magazines and other memorabilia in the future, simply click on the banner on the right-side column. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Mysterious Island ( 1961 )

A world beyond imagination! Adventure beyond belief! 

A band of Union Army prisoners, a Confederate soldier, and a journalist escape in a hot air balloon during the Civil War and are carried off by a storm to an uncharted island populated with giant creatures. This same storm blows in two ladies who were the only survivors of a shipwreck. They band together to survive, staving off giant chickens, bees and pirates before making an attempt to escape the island with the aid of Captain Nemo. 

Jules Verne's 1874 novel "Mysterious Island" was used as a basis for this marvelous adventure film. Special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen teamed up with producer Charles Schneer for the sixth time to create this dandy fantasy film that Time magazine declared would "thrill the geewillikers out of anyone!"

It does indeed! Mysterious Island combines a great cast with a fine script, a fantastic Bernard Herrmann score, and great special effects, making it a winner all-around. Even though it was released by Columbia Pictures, it is a British-made production with a primarily English cast playing Civil War soldiers. Michael Craig heads the cast as Captain Cyrus Harding. He quickly takes command when the balloon party lands on the island. Harding is your quintessential cookie-cutter captain who does things by the book. Even though he seems like the kind of character who would be given a love-interest, he remains single the entire film. 

Gary Merrill is excellent as Mr. Spilitt, an engaging journalist who enjoys jesting with Lady Fairchild, one of the shipwrecked ladies, played by the impeccably British Joan Greenwood. Percy Herbert plays a tough-talking Confederate, Dan Jackson is the loyal strongman Corporal Neb and, to draw in the teenage crowd, Michael Callan plays a young soldier who overcomes his cowardice when he attempts to rescue his new sweetheart, the miniskirt clad Elena Fairchild ( Beth Rogan ). 

Let's not forget Captain Nemo.....Herbert Lom plays the famous inventor. He adds a bit more gruffness to the character than James Mason did in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ( 1954 ). A dash of humor and more showmanship would have given greater interest to his character, but he was in keeping with Verne's description so we're not complaining. 

Mysterious Island was shot at Shepperton Studios, England, and on location in Sa Conca Bay, Spain. Unlike some of Harryhausen's other films, this picture uses a number of matte shots and they really help to create the storybook-like setting of the island. Check out the site Matte Shot to see more screenshots of the mattes used in the film. 

Harryhausen must have had a ball creating the miniatures for Mysterious Island. He made a fantastic model of the Nautilus, a truly frightening giant bee, a giant baby chicken, man-eating crab, and an octopus. It took him months to film these creatures in stop-motion, moving each armature a little bit at a time until the scene played out just right. 

Impressive as these creatures are, my favorite of his creations was the miniature air balloon. As you can see from this behind-the-scenes photo, this miniature was not as tiny as you would think. The soldiers make their escape in the balloon during a heavy storm and Harryhausen had to create this setting within the confines of Shepperton Studios. It is amazing to see the balloon tossed about in the storm over the ocean, forgetting that there was no storm or ocean in reality!

Mysterious Island premiered in the theatres Christmas Week 1961 and was a huge box-office success. It played to packed theaters worldwide and the film received glowing reviews critically as well. It is currently available for viewing on DVD and in an excellent newly restored blu-ray edition from Powerhouse packed with special features. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

From the Archives: The World of Henry Orient ( 1964 )


In this publicity photo for The World of Henry Orient ( 1964 ), pianist Henry Orient ( Peter Sellars ) is surrounded by his two greatest fans Val and Gil ( Tippy Walker and Marrie Spaeth ) and is not pleased at all about it! Especially since he thinks they are agents sent by his mistress's husband to spy on him. 

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 :

Thursday, March 11, 2021

British Pathé: Ship Spotters Club ( 1958 )

This entry in our British Pathe series is about a group of boys from Margate who are all members of The Warpole Bay Ship Spotters Club. These nautical-minded youngsters have access to a keen telescope that they use to spot incoming ships...although oddly enough, none seem to be holding a ship's identification manual. 

The club was founded by Mr. Frederick Shelley, owner of the telescope, to help foster interest in seamanship. When the boys are older the club helps to "place them in suitable jobs in the Merchant Navy". Sounds like jolly good fun. 

The lads are also quite talented miniature makers and, with the help of Frederick Shelley ( founder of the club ), they build detailed little ship models. A simple sneeze would amount to a gale storm to these tiny vessels! 

I'm sure all of these lads became admirals-of-the-fleet when they got older....or turned into old sea salts telling yarns about their days spent at Warpole Bay. 

Ready to watch Ship Spotters Club? Simply click on the link below:

Ship Spotters Club ( 1958 ) - 2:19 minutes

Similiar British Pathé newsreels:

Model Ships ( 1954 ) - 1:02 minutes

29 Training Sailing Boats Start For the Canary Islands ( 1958 ) - 1:03 minutes

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Isn't this a great shot? The light hit this man's eyeglasses just as he looked up, making him all the more difficult to identify. Hee-hee-hee! And take a peek at the figure behind him...reminds one of Mr. Mystery, does it not? 

If you are not familiar with the rules of The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game, click here to find out what it's all about! 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Against All Flags ( 1952 )

On the coast of Madagascar lies a pirate's hideaway - Diego Suarez - a fortress for thieves. A narrow harbor is the only entrance to the city and this is heavily defended by cannons. The British Royal Navy wants to destroy this base and capture every pirate on it but they cannot find a way to enter the harbor without damaging their fleet. Lieutenant Brian Hawke ( Errol Flynn ) has a plan: he poses as a deserter and hopes to gain entrance to the base by joining their band and gaining the trust of the pirates. Captain Roc Brasiliano ( Anthony Quinn ) is suspicious of this new recruit but "Spitfire" Stevens ( Maureen O'Hara ), another pirate leader, approves of him. She dislikes men in general but this handsome rogue intrigues her. She gives him the use of one of her ships and even agrees to marry him ( who wouldn't! ), but Hawke's plan backfires when he is discovered by Captain Roc signaling to the British fleet and is captured. As the British warships are just about to enter the bay, Hawke must find a way to free himself and save the fleet from destruction. 

Against All Flags is a grand little pirate flick. The story, by Aeneas MacKenzie and Joseph Hoffman, is easy to follow and packed with action and a dash of humor. George Sherman's direction is taut and the settings are colorful, looking gorgeous in Technicolor. The film also boasts a strong supporting cast that includes Mildred Natwick, Harry Cording, Phil Tully, and Lester Matthews. Robert Warwick has a great part as the infamous pirate Captain Kidd. However, it is the three leading stars that make this film special. 

Against All Flags was made seventeen years after Errol Flynn became famous as a swashbuckling hero in Captain Blood ( 1935 ). He wasn't as youthful but he certainly was just as dashing. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was originally slated to star in the film but when Universal Pictures purchased the rights to the script they managed to snag Errol Flynn for the lead instead. This turned out to be Flynn's last Hollywood swashbuckler. 

Anthony Quinn signed on early to play the villain. He was probably delighted to find out that Maureen O'Hara was going to star in it as well. This was the fourth time these two cronies would be united - and the third pirate-themed film they would make together. Quinn is wonderful as the jealous Captain Roc. He wanted to make Spitfire Stevens his woman but could never arouse romantic feelings from her, hence he becomes doubly jealous when the handsome Lt. Hawke not only earns her admiration but her love as well. 

Maureen O'Hara was initially hesitant to star opposite Errol Flynn after he made an amorous advance towards her years earlier, but "he had won me over. I respected him professionally and was quite fond of him personally. Father Time was slowly calming his wicked, wicked ways, and deep within that devilish rogue, I found a kind and fragile soul."*

Her character is aptly named Spitfire Stevens because she has a fiery temper and a jealous streak, too. O'Hara always had a knack for playing women who were very strong and independent and yet still feminine with not a trace of tomboyism. She looks particularly dazzling in this film. 

Against All Flags premiered on Christmas Eve in New York and was a great success at the box office. Variety wrote that it "takes a tongue-in-cheek attitude towards the plotting at times without minimizing the story's chief concerns with swashbuckling movement." The plotline really took a comedic turn when it was later remade as The King's Pirate in 1967 ( starring Doug McClure and Jill St. John ). 

Hamlette's Soliloquy is hosting a pirate's party - We Love Pirates Week - running from February 22-26th. If you want to be reading more posts about pirates matey, then be sure to head over here and check out the entries! 

* 'Tis Herself - A Memoir by Maureen O'Hara. Thorndike Press ( 2004 )

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Rich Little's Impersonation of Cary Grant

Rich Little ranks as the best impersonator of Hollywood actors and deservedly so....he can not only mimick their voices but their body language and facial expressions, too. Mr. Little was a frequent guest star on evening programs like The Perry Como Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Tonight Show, The Dean Martin Roasts, etc. throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

In this clip from 1980, Rich Little was performing at a dinner show honoring Frank Sinatra. It aired as a television special called Frank Sinatra - The First 40 Years. He does imitations of Jimmy Stewart and Jack Nicholson and then Cary Grant....only to discover that Cary Grant was in the audience! Check it out! 

If you enjoy this clip, then be sure to see Rich Little's impersonations of Humphrey Bogart and Jack Benny. He also did a marvelous skit on The Lennon Sisters Hour that featured John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas, and Walter Brennan singing around a western campfire. A real hoot! 

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Solitaire Man ( 1933 )

Herbert Marshall made his MGM debut in 1933 with a quickie called The Solitaire Man where he played the titular character, a jewel smuggler who decides to go straight. 

Oliver Lane aka "The Solitaire Man" wants to settle down and live the life of an honest nobleman. He just purchased a farm in England and proposed marriage to his long-time partner-in-crime Helen ( Elizabeth Allan ). Together with their thieving friends Mrs. Vail ( May Robson ) and Mr. Bascom ( Ralph Forbes ) they board a plane for London, but the flight is anything but smooth when they discover that a Scotland Yard investigator ( Lionel Atwill ) is on board ready to put the handcuffs on them all. 

The Solitaire Man, based on Samuel and Bella Spewack's play, is an entertaining mystery that packs in quite a bit of story in its 67-minute runtime. The first half is especially good; once the story moves into the airplane sequence it becomes more of a psychological drama. It would have been nice had it played out like Raffles and moved from its Monte Carlo setting to a country estate for more mystery and thievery. 

Herbert Marshall's star quality was apparant even in this minor production. He never had the striking appearance of a leading man but in every film he played he clearly took command. Another actor commanding attention was Mary Boland who played an outspoken American plane passenger. She, too, was making her debut at MGM and would go on to have a long career with the studio, notably garnering attention in The Women ( 1939 ). Also in the cast is Lucille Gleason ( James Gleason's wife ) and Robert McWade. 

The Solitaire Man is not yet available on DVD.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

British Pathé: St. Valentine's Cards ( 1961 )

L'amore, l'amore....all the world is filled with love on Valentine's Day. Or, at least, it should be! If you have a difficult time expressing your love for that certain special someone in your life, then you'll probably use a Valentine's card to get your message across. For generations, the young and old alike have used cards to send messages of love. Even the beatniks sent Valentine's cards! 

This 2 minute British Pathé newsreel from 1961 gives us a glimpse of how these cards were designed and made. Some antique Valentines are also put on display and one is particularly clever - a note from the Bank of Love...signed by Cupid! 

Ready to watch St. Valentine's Cards? Simply click on the link below. 

St. Valentine's Cards ( 1961 ) - 2:27 minutes

Similiar British Pathé newsreels:

Greeting Cards Record ( 1955 ) - 2:31 minutes

Candy Cards ( 1956 ) - 1:15 minutes

Friday, February 5, 2021

From the Archives: Two Guys from Texas ( 1948 )

Jack Carson is cuddling up with an Indian maiden in this publicity photo for Warner Brother's Two Guys from Texas ( 1948 ) that featured the comedy duo of Carson and Dennis Morgan. The "Indian" pictured is Cleatus Caldwell, wife of actor Robert Hutton. 

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, January 31, 2021

Within These Walls: The Animals Went in Two by Two ( 1975 )

Within These Walls was an award-winning British television series about life "within the walls" of HM Prison Stone Park, a woman's prison. It ran for five seasons between 1974-1978. The beautiful English actress Googie Withers starred as prison governor Faye Boswell in the first three seasons and was later replaced by Katharine Blake and Sarah Lawson.

The episodes were all excellent productions with well-written scripts. Each lasted an hour and, since the inmates changed every episode, the stories featured a new drama surrounding one or two of the recent admittees. They also focused on the problems and personal lives of the regular staff at the prison. These regulars included Faye Boswell, deputy governor Charles Radley, chief officer Mrs. Armitage, prison doctor Peter Mayes, Assistant Governor Martha Parrish, and Miss Clarke. 

The Animals Went in Two by Two was an especially well-made episode that featured a thought-provoking script by Susan Pleat, who often wrote for the series. It addresses the need people have for relationships. As Dr. Peter Mayes explains, "We can't all be self-contained, nor is it right that we should be. People pair off. They need to couple. Adam and Eve....Noah's Ark...the animals went in two by two." 

This need to couple is not often satisfied as simply as one would expect. Nurse Jean Trevelyn ( Patricia Garwood ) finds it particularly disquieting to discover that her need for love draws her to other women...women who in turn need her. Sharon ( Ann Holloway ) is a young woman whom Jean meets in the hospital ward while visiting Claire ( Angela Thorne ), her former cellmate. Jean begins tutoring Sharon in reading and writing and, when Sharon comes to the main prison wing, she asks to room with Jean, who takes her under her wing. 

The other women in the prison whisper that Jean is a lesbian, but Jean herself hasn't come to terms with that label. When she found out that her former ( female ) employer wanted to run away with her she "hated her for it". Yet, she cares for Sharon. This is what makes Susan Pleat's script so good. Within These Walls often tackled issues that other series tended to shy away from. Lesbian relationships were common in all-women prisons and several other episodes of the show had lesbian characters, but The Animals Went in Two by Two is not about lesbianism, it is about relationship...and where and with whom people find it. The way people feel about others often cannot be described by a predefined label. 

One certainly cannot label Dr. Mayes' ( Denys Hawthorne ) desire. He wants to start a relationship with Miss Clarke ( Beth Harris ), the welfare officer. He's lonely, she's lonely, so why not pair off? But once again, matters are not that simple. Miss Clarke is middle-aged and has never been married. She looks at relationships in an intellectual way and does not feel she knows the doctor well enough to make love to him. "What does that mean, 'You don't know me well enough'?" asks Dr. Mayes, "Do I have to rack up points? A point a month, you reach twenty and you score?" He wants to find comfort in bed with her...and something more. When that doesn't work, he confesses, "I'm used to little trixi things, carefree, without a thought in their heads". This revelation causes Miss Clarke to pity him... It's good to see the vulnerable sides of the regular cast members. 

The Animals Went in Two by Two stands out not only for its script but for its fine direction by Tony Wharmby. He uses close-up shots almost entirely and this adds to the confined feeling of the prison. It also allows us to see how well the cast performs without the aid of additional dialogue. They use their eyes and subtle facial gestures to reveal their character's emotions. 

All of the principal players give impressive performances. Ann Holloway is excellent as the emotional Sharon; Angela Thorne subtly reveals the clinging nature of Claire, and Patricia Garwood gives a fine and tender performance as Jean. Denys Hawthorne is excellent as usual as Dr. Mayes, and Beth Harris is especially intriguing as the prim Miss Harris. Who would have guessed busy Miss Harris was such a lonely woman? Jean Holness also gives a good performance as Mrs. Evans, a nosy elderly prisoner. 

One need not be familiar with Within These Walls and its regular cast of characters to enjoy The Animals Went in Two by Two. It can easily stand on its own and could have aired as an individual play on Play for Today. The episode is available on DVD as part of the Within These Walls Collection ( Season 3, Episode 15 ) and also on Youtube

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Child of Glass ( 1978 )

"Murder, Mystery...and Ghosts!" So reads the VHS cover of The Child of Glass and the film did indeed feature murder, mystery, and ghosts. The story, based on the novel "The Ghost Belonged to Me" by Richard Peck, tells the tale of a young boy - Alexander Armsworth ( Steve Shaw ) - who befriends Inez, the ghost of a Creole girl, in an old barn on the property his family just moved into. It's a sprawling Louisiana colonial that was once owned by a riverboat captain and is rumored to have a hidden treasure on the property. The ghost of Inez is not interested in treasure. She just wants to be reunited with her parents and pleads with Alexander to help release her from a decades-old curse by solving this riddle: 

Sleeping lies the murdered lass.
Vainly cries the child of glass.
When the two shall be as one,
the spirit's journey will be done.

The riddle must be solved by the stroke of midnight on All Hallow's Eve. Alexander has no clue what it means, but since Inez tells him that he has only a few days to solve it before she disappears in limbo forever, he sets to work on it with the aid of his friend Blossom ( Katy Kurtzman ). 

Blossom Culp lives with her palm-reading Aunt Lavina ( Nina Foch ) who insists that Alexander is gifted "to perceive the spirits!". He doesn't believe in such nonsense but Blossom and her crazy aunt are the only two people he can turn to for help. His parents ( Biff McGuire and Barbara Barrie ) are busy preparing the house for an old-fashioned costume party and his older sister ( Denise Nickerson ) doesn't have much interest in Alexander's ramblings about ghosts and curses. 

The Child of Glass is not a scary ghost story in any way, nor is it particularly engrossing as a mystery, but - like most Disney films - it still remains very entertaining. This is in no small part due to the engaging performances of the child actors playing the two leads - Alexander and Blossom. Steve Shaw is adorable as the southern-talking mop-haired lad. Olivia Baresh also gives a good performance as little Inez, the blue-glowing ghost. Also in the cast is Anthony Zerbe as a drunken handyman, Jack Radar as the local sheriff, and character actress Irene Tedrow as the high-and-mighty Miss Merrywether. 

The Child of Glass premiered on television as part of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color on May 14, 1978 and was rebroadcast periodically on television throughout the 1980s. Today, you can find it on DVD as part of Disney's Generation Collection. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game


We're feeling terribly sneaky this Friday and decided to post an especially tricky image for this month's installment of The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game. Put your thinking caps on and see if you can solve this enigma! 

Not familiar with the rules of the game? Simply click here to read all about it ( it's a quick read ). 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Portrait of a Lady ( 1968 ) - BBC

In 1968, BBC produced an excellent television adaptation of Henry James' critically acclaimed 1880 novel "The Portrait of a Lady". It aired as a two-part mini-series in January of that year. 

Suzanne Neve starred as Isabel Archer, the beautiful and spirited American woman who travels to England and becomes heir to a large fortune. This sudden windfall was meant to give her the opportunity to live her life as she pleases, to do as she likes without feeling an obligation to marry for "security".  Unfortunately, she wastes this opportunity when she decides to wed Gilbert Osmond ( James Maxwell ), an artist with extremely high-standards of living. She realizes her mistake too late and - having pride and a great deal of dignity - decides to simply bear it. 

If you are familiar with the work of Henry James then you will realize that The Portrait of a Lady plays James' usual tune of sorrow and disappointment. However, his extremely direct dialogue makes it a highly entertaining lament. 

This BBC production is not lavish in any way but the cast play their roles so well that even if they were standing on a bare stage their characters would come alive. Suzanne Neve is excellent as Isabel. Her character is so admirable that even her misguided decisions can be easily forgiven. Her cousin Ralph Touchett ( Richard Chamberlain ) certainly forgives her for letting him down. He put her on a pedestal the first moment he met her and delighted in watching her dare to dream and do all the things he could not due to his illness. Once she met Gilbert, those dreams vanished, and although Ralph warned her against marrying Gilbert, he still found it easy to love her for the eagle-like spirit she once displayed. 

Henry James often wrote stories that featured unusually spirited women ( for his time ). Ms. Archer is a woman who seems to have a glorious destiny ahead of her and yet no one is able to tell her what that destiny may be....and she certainly hasn't an inkling of what others expect of her, nor of what she expects of herself. When she meets Gilbert, she believes that becoming his benefactor may just be the greatest service she could render to the world but quickly discovers she was mistaken and finds herself in a disastrous marriage. 
Fortunately, this television adaptation focuses more on the events leading up to her marriage and does not spend much time dealing with the details of her marital sufferings. These events include Isabel meeting the handsome Ralph, being courted by the kindly Lord Warburton ( Edward Fox ), trying to dodge Casper Goodwood ( Ed Bishop ), and traveling the world with her Aunt Lydia ( Beatrix Lehmann ). 

Richard Chamberlain gives a stand-out performance as the sickly, but always happy, Ralph. Chamberlain had just completed his television series Dr. Kildare and this was quite a change from the kind of role that one would expect him to play. His performance garnered such critical acclaim that he remained in England and continued to do period films and other literary adaptations, eventually becoming known as the "King of the Miniseries". 

The Portrait of a Lady also features excellent performances by Rachel Gurney ( as Madame Merle ), Kathleen Byron ( as Countess Gemini ), Sarah Brackett, Alan Gifford and Sharon Gurney ( Rachel's real-life daughter playing her daughter on screen ). 

Like most of the BBC stage-to-screen teleplays, The Portrait of a Lady was split into episodes and aired over the course of several weeks. This play was aired in six parts ( 45 minutes each ). Despite the minimal set decor and simple direction, the episodes are never tiresome. In truth, there should have been one extra episode because some of the scenes skim over large spans of time too quickly.