Thursday, March 31, 2022

Geordie ( 1955 )

In the 1950s, English actor Bill Travers was at the peak of his popularity as a leading actor in British films. Between 1950 and 1955 alone he made twelve of which was Geordie, a light-hearted tale of a Scotsman who becomes obsessed with physical fitness. 

Young Geordie ( Paul Young ) is a wee laddie who is ashamed of being so small for his age. Even his best girl Jean ( Anna Ferguson ) is taller than him. So one day he subscribes to Henry Samson's correspondence course on strength training. Before long, he becomes a strapping youth ( Bill Travers ) and one of the strongest men in the village. 

After his father dies, Geordie takes over his position as grounds and gamekeeper to the Laird ( Alistair Sim ) but he does not cease in his exercises and decides to put his strength to the test at the local Scottish Highland Games and throw the hammer. When this proves to be successful, he is invited to partake in the 1956 Olympic Games in Australia to represent Great Britain. Here, he shames his girlfriend when he kisses a fellow Olympian in public. 

Geordie makes for passing entertainment but it is sadly lacking in compelling drama. It could have been an engrossing little melodrama or, on the opposite spectrum, a fine comedy. Alack, it is neither. The film starts off well enough but loses direction midway through. Bill Travers often plays characters that are indecisive and undetermined and Geordie is no exception. The poor lad does not know what he wants to do with his life and, having no motive, he makes a very lackluster hero. If he were a big comical lug, Geordie's character would be amusing, but instead, he just seems like a lost man. 

Sidney Gilliat and Frank Lauder ( Night Train to Munich, The Blue Lagoon ) based their screenplay on the 1950 novel Geordie written by David Walker. Critics of the book state that the film is a very faithful adaptation of the novel, but I would imagine that the novel connects the incidents seen in the film more fluidly. A few extra lines of narrative here and there would have given more depth to Geordie's character, too. Frank Lauder produced and directed the film as well, one of many that he made in partnership with Sidney Gilliat. 

Geordie does feature beautiful cinematography by Wilkie Cooper of the Scottish highlands and a fine theme by English composer William Alwyn, so if you happen to catch it on television it is worth a gander.....but I wouldn't go out of the way to hunt it down. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

MeTV Schedules - Old and New

MeTV has just announced a new line-up for their Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night block which includes the addition of Sventoonie, a new show based on their popular weekday morning cartoon host Toony, at 10pm EST and Batman at 10:30pm. Star Trek is now pushed to 11pm EST and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which previously aired at 11pm, is now moved to Sunday mornings at 6am EST. 

While I'm disappointed to see Buck Rogers leave the lineup ( we'll miss you Buck!! ) it's good to see Batman get some airtime again. This shuffling of the programming got me wondering how long I have been watching MeTV's Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night and enjoying Buck. So I let my fingers do a little walking on the laptop and tracked down old schedules from MeTV. If anyone else is curious about how the station's lineup has changed over the past five years, then you can take a gander at these listings. It looks like 2017 included the most change ( the blue highlighted shows denote changes ). The new 2022 schedule is available here: 

2022 MeTV Schedule

Previous MeTV Schedules

2016 MeTV Schedule ( back when Svengoolie was on at 10pm )
2017 MeTV Schedule ( Wagon Train premiered on weekdays at 4pm that year )
2021 MeTV Schedule - shucks, couldn't find the PDF for that year

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Avengers - You Have Just Been Murdered ( 1967 )

Terence Canote, the blogger behind A Shroud of Thoughts, is hosting the 8th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon and this year I could not resist sharing an episode from one of the best British shows of the 1960s - The Avengers

The Avengers were comprised of the crime-fighting duo of John Steed ( Patrick MacNee ), a dapper English gentleman, and his good friend and colleague Mrs. Emma Peel ( Diana Rigg ), a spunky young woman with a talent for karate. Together, they worked as field agents for the "Ministry", a top-top secret intelligence agency that handled highly unusual cases involving British defense and security. 

Unlike most crime dramas of the era, The Avengers was unique because the cases were strange and uncommon. For example, in The Bird Who Knew Too Much, they had to track down a missing parrot who memorized information about a secret missile base; in The Man-Eater of Surrey Green they tangled with a man-eating plant from outer space; in Dead Man's Treasure, they partook in a treasure hunt on a car rally to retrieve secret papers; and in The Cybernauts, had to wrestle with a robotic killer (!). Yet, our intrepid heroes handled all of these strange occurrences with customary British nonchalant efficiency and a good deal of humor. 

The Avengers ran for six seasons, between 1961 and 1969 with Honor Blackman co-starring with Patrick MacNee in the first three seasons and Linda Thorson taking over in the last season. Like most of the show's legion of fans, I feel the best episodes were from the "Emma Peel Era" with Dame Diana Rigg, especially the color episodes of 1967....which brings us to You Have Just Been Murdered, Episode 21 of Season 5. 

In this classic, Steed receives a call from millionaire Gilbert Jarvis asking to have a word with him about a private matter. He tells Steed he has "just been murdered". A fair-haired well-suited man broke into his apartment and shot him! Only he didn't. It was a fake killing. But the intruder leaves an ominous calling card with only the words You Have Just Been Murdered printed on it. 

At a cocktail party at George Unwin's mansion, Steed and Mrs. Peel have a chat with Lord Maxted, chairman of British Banking, who informs them that a number of his clients have suddenly withdrawn £1,000,000 in cash. Sounds like blackmail. Gilbert Jarvis has just requested a million-pound withdrawal as well, which leads Steed to dash over to Jarvis' apartment...only to find that he has just been murdered - this time for real. 

The Avengers' cases are not mysteries that you are intended to solve. Quite the contrary, usually the audience sees what is happening and it is Steed and Mrs. Peel who need to put the pieces of the puzzle together to find the criminal. In this case, we clearly see that multiple millionaires are being threatened by mock stagings of their own death. If they pay the £1,000,000 blackmail, they will be left alone, otherwise, they die. 

It's a clever premise for an episode, one of many clever plots penned by Philip Levene for the series. He was the screenwriter behind other Avengers classics such as From Venus With Love, The Fear Merchants, Death's Door, Something Nasty in the Nursery, and Return of the Cybernauts. 

After Jarvis' death, the other victims of this blackmailing killer are doubly alarmed....but, in typical British fashion, not afraid enough to pay the ransom and "give in to the scoundrel". When George Unwin ( Barrie Ingham ) becomes the next target, Steed urges him to let Mrs. Peel and himself take the matter in their own hands, but Unwin insists he can defend himself and puts in a good effort, too. 

What makes this episode so enjoyable is its most ingenious plot and its appealing villian: the boisterous and scheming Mr. Needle, admirably played by George Murcell, a very familiar face in British television during the 1960s. The banter between Steed and Mrs. Peel and the location filming around Elstree ( especially Tyke's Water Lake ) are an added plus that make for an altogether delightful bit of viewing. 

To see a full list of The Avengers episodes, check out Wikipedia's summary here. And if you really want to explore the series, then stop by these two fan sites, which have some excellent material to gander at: 

The Avengers Fan Site 

The Avengers Forever 

And lastly, but not leastly, be sure to head on over to A Shroud of Thoughts to read more entries in The 8th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Dublin's Fair City - My Three Sons ( 1964 )

There were a great number of episodes from classic television shows of the 1950s and 1960s that featured characters visiting Paris and Rome, but there were very few that had characters going to Ireland. Since today be St. Patrick's Day, we'll be sharing with ye one of the best of these rare episodes - it be the 1964 classic "Dublin's Fair City" with none other than Steve Douglas and his brood of winsome lads visiting the Emerald Isle. 

This 2-part episode begins with William "Bub" O'Casey ( William Frawley ) receiving a letter from his cousin in Ireland announcing that he won the Irish sweepstakes. Bub had been sending his cousin money from time to time to buy sweepstakes tickets and they finally won the jackpot. With his share of the winnings, Bub decides to treat his family to a trip to Ireland to visit with his Irish side of the family. 

In Ireland, Bub reunites with his cousin ( Robert Emhardt ) and his aunt ( Jeanette Nolan ) and Steve Douglas finds himself being pursued by a young woman ( Mariette Hartley ) anxious to wed and come to America. The boys have little to do in this episode but strangely enough, their absence is not noticed.  

"Dublin's Fair City" is a fun episode to watch, primarily due to the presence of Jeanette Nolan as 103-year old Aunt Kate. She's a feisty biddy, yet lovable. Nolan steals every scene she is in and clearly enjoys spewing out nonsensical Irish sayings like "A man who mumbles often stumbles." She has a strong hold on her son Mickey and treats him like a little boy, even though he be in his 50s. One afternoon, when she catches him leaving his wood shavings on the ground outside after a bit of whittling, she sends him to his room without supper. Bub remarks that "that's telling him" and then she promptly sends Bub to his room, too! Mickey is portrayed by Robert Emhardt, who is best remembered for playing the visiting businessman in The Andy Griffith Show episode "Man in a Hurry". 

There is also a fun bit of not-so-romantic play between Mary Kathleen Connelly ( Mariette Hartley ) and Steve Douglas ( Fred MacMurray ). Mary takes a shine to Steve when she learns that he is a single man from America but her boyfriend Tom Grogan ( Sean McClory ) doesn't take to this lightly and, with his slingshot, aims acorns at Steve's head anytime he sees him with his girl. 

Naturally, the countryside of California becomes "Ireland" for the episode but it is really set quite well. With Irish music playing in the background, the episode does indeed have an Irish air to it and makes you feel like you went traveling with the Douglas' overseas. 

If this episode is new to you, then it is well worth checking out. Watching it may become a new St. Patrick's Day tradition in our house. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Once again we have a downright tricky screenshot to share with all of you. Most of you can probably guess who these boys are, but you are asked to name the film they appear in - not their occupation! Good luck!

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

Friday, March 11, 2022

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie ( 1978 )

In the winter of 1978, Scottish Television, a branch of ITV, released The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, a seven-part miniseries based on Muriel Spark's 1961 novella of the same name. The story centers on the life of Miss Jean Brodie ( Geraldine McEwan ), a Scottish schoolteacher, focusing primarily on her "prime" years at the Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh in the 1930s. 

Miss Brodie is a highly educated, enthusiastic, and well-meaning teacher but her idea of what kind of curriculum should be taught to her pupils clashes with headmistress Miss Campbell's more conservative guidelines of education. 

Miss Brodie believes that "goodness, truth, and beauty" should reign supreme in life and regards men such as Mussolini as men of heroism who "fight for what they believe". She hangs fascist posters on her classroom walls alongside prints of religious art by Giotto and Rossetti, both of which scandalize the provincial Miss Gaunt ( Georgine Anderson ), one of Brodie's most disapproving colleagues. 

Even though some of the staff find her viewpoints dangerous, she has a loyal group of worshippers among her students who become known as the "Brodie set". These girls are the creme de la creme of her class whom Brodie takes under her wing. They spend time outside of the school with her and often have tea at her apartment on weekends. 

Another one of Miss Brodie's worshippers is Teddy Lloyd ( John Castle ), the married art instructor at the school. Mr. Lloyd wants to paint one masterpiece in his life and selects Jean to be his inspiration...and his mistress. This clashes with her goodness-and-truth precepts so she never visits Mr. Lloyd's studio unchaperoned by her girls, nevertheless, she finds his romantic advancements exhilarating. 

Teaching is Miss Brodie's passion, her very life, and so she remains single to devote all her attention to her gairls and their molding into modern Scottish women. It cuts her to the core when she discovers that one of her girls turned against her and approached the headmistress to get her expelled from school. 

"Life is full of surprises and one of the greatest is the sudden blossoming of a woman's prime. One's prime is the moment one is born for and you shall have the fruit of mine."

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was first brought to the screen in 1968 with Maggie Smith giving an Academy Award-winning performance as the dedicated teacher. No film or television adaptation can improve on that masterpiece of entertainment, but this ITV production still has its merits. 

Geraldine McEwan gives a fine performance of Miss Brodie, even though she lacks Maggie Smith's beauty and regal presence. McEwan endows the role with her own charm and mannerisms and the relationship her character has with her students is much more sympathetic and compassionate. She really tries to live up to her ideals and be a virtuous role model to her girls, not just an image to be worshipped. 

The cast of girls playing Brodie's set was well-chosen, too. Jean McKinley plays the awkward Mary MacGregor, Amanda Kirby ( The Clifton House Mystery ) is pretty Jenny, Tracey Childs is Rose, and Lynsey Baxter ( Chancer ), Sandy. This was an interesting choice because Baxter's portrayal of Sandy is not at all like Pamela Franklin's portrayal of her in the film version. Franklin's Sandy was a mature and self-assured young woman whereas Baxter's Sandy is more childish and - seemingly - impressionable.

Also in the cast is Vivienne Ross as headmistress Miss Campbell, who is much more of an ally to Miss Brodie than Miss MacKay ever was. 

Jay Presson Allen penned a marvelous script for this series, which was based on her own play. Muriel Spark's original story was a scant 170 pages. Allen took this and turned it into a riveting 116-minute script for the 1968 film and, ten years later, managed to expand it into a 350-minute miniseries. Allen's new dialogue is as cleverly written as the original script and, in the first episode, she gives the audience a fascinating peek at Miss Brodie's life prior to her arrival at the Marcia Blaine School for Girls. We see her wrestle with the frustrations of a narrow-minded English school system and also get to witness her turn down a marriage proposal from George Jenkins ( Robert Urquhart ) who, although not the Lord Lyon King of Arms, was a prominent businessman who loved Jean deeply.  

Like most British miniseries of the era, ITV's production was filmed in video with "halos" sometimes appearing around the actors' bodies. Fortunately, the series is not as stagebound as other filmed plays of the 1970s and there is some nice outdoor location filming around Edinburgh. The series was released both in England and in the United States when it first aired and today it can be seen in its entirety on DVD or streamed via Acorn TV. 

Saturday, March 5, 2022

From the Archives: Three Cheers for the Irish ( 1940 )


Priscilla Lane and Dennis Morgan are making eyes at each other while Thomas Mitchell looks on in this scene from "Three Cheers for the Irish" ( 1940 ). You can read our review of this American-Irish themed film here:

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 :