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 :