Saturday, April 30, 2022

Way Down Cellar ( 1968 )

Three boys discover a secret tunnel under the vacant lot where they practice football and find that it leads to the old Burden house, where a gang of crooks is printing counterfeit money. 

Butch Patrick stars in Way Down Cellar, a made-for-tv movie that first aired on Walt Disney's The Wonderful World of Color in 1968. Butch was an established star of The Munsters and, when the series ended in 1966, he continued to have guest star roles in television series like I Dream of Jeannie, Gunsmoke, and Family Affair. This was one of two television films that Butch made for Walt Disney Studios that year, the other being The Young Loner

In Way Down Cellar, Butch Patrick plays Frank Wilson, a new boy in town, who quickly finds two chums, Beans and Skeeter ( Sheldon Collins, Lindy Davis ), who share his passion for flag football. The boys like to practice on the vacant lot next to the Burden house even though they know that the new owner of the place, Ethan Markus ( Ben Wright ), is rather mean and takes their footballs. When one of the boys accidentally falls into a trap in the ground, they discover an old tunnel dating back to the Revolutionary War that leads right to the basement of the Burden house. There they hear strange noises and bravely decide to investigate one evening when their parents are away....unfortunately, their snooping leads to capture!

Many of the films that were made for The Wonderful World of Color were aimed at a juvenile audience but entertained adults as well. Way Down Cellar is rather short on adult entertainment but it includes all the elements that you would want to see in a children's mystery - a secret tunnel, an intelligent crook ( with a bumbling sidekick ), some engaging lead characters, and a simple plot. 

The film was based on a book by Philip Strong ( State Fair ) which Herman Groves adapted for the screen. He did a lot of work for Disney, including the more engaging juvenile classic - Alvin the Magnificent aka The Whiz Kid and the Mystery at Riverton ( 1973 )

Way Down Cellar was shot on the Walt Disney Studio backlot so Disney fans will recognize familiar houses that reappeared in other Disney films. Car enthusiasts would also enjoy seeing the 1966 Lincoln Continental that one of the counterfeiters drive. 

Ben Wright is great as Ethan Markus, the elegant crook, but the best performance is by Richard Bakalyan, a favorite Disney character actor. Also in the cast is Frank McHugh as the sheriff, Grace Lee Whitney ( Yeoman Rand on Star Trek ), and David McLean as Frank's dad, Professor Wilson. 

Way Down Cellar is yet another film that Disney has yet to release on DVD or via streaming, but you can catch it here, thanks to a generous fan. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Is this screenshot impossibly difficult or is this super-simple to identify? It depends on if the film this scene is from is one of your favorites - in our house it certainly is!

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 Damsbo for correctly identifying this screenshot as being from "Murder Most Foul" ( 1964 ) starring Margaret Rutherford. This scene is near the finale. The police and actors are entering the back stage door when Eric Francis pops his head out the window. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Check it Out! - Rare TV Show Releases from VEI

Visual Entertainment Inc. has released a number of rare television shows of the 1970s on DVD and they are currently running a great sale on these discs. You can pick up the complete series of The Protectors or The Persuaders for only $2.50, the complete collection of Angie for $5, or grab Henry Fonda's short-lived sitcom The Smith Family for $10. 

While any of these series are good, what is most exciting is seeing Bill Bixby's 1973 series The Magician finally get a release. MeTV posted an article several years ago about this series and the reasons why it should have lasted longer than one season. You can read the full article here. Needless to say, it is well worth checking out the series. 

VEI also released DVD sets of the short-lived sci-fi series The Immortal ( 1970 ) starring Christopher George, the 1971 Emmy-Awarding series Longstreet ( featuring James Franciscus as a blind insurance investigator ), and Barry Newman's legal drama Petrocelli ( 1974 ). All we need to wait for now is The New Perry Mason and Nanny and the Professor to get their own DVD releases. 

Check out Visual Entertainment Inc's complete television lineup at their website here

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Film Albums: Inspired Themes from the Inspired Movies - The Fantastic Strings of Felix Slatkin

Inspired Themes from the Inspired Movies is our featured film album of the month. This is a really beautiful album to listen to and, as the title suggests, it showcases music from "inspired" films. "Religious films" could have been used in the title instead, but perhaps sales would not have been so good. Nevertheless, it is music from popular religious films of the 1950s and 1960s, lovingly performed by maestro Felix Slatkin. If you like lush string music and sweeping love themes sung with choral backings, then this is an album not to be missed. The arrangements are exquisite. We heard these themes so many times, my sister and I can recognize them from their first notes......and just about anyone can recognize the opening strains of Nepheridi's Theme from The Ten Commandments ( music by Elmer Bernstein ). 

Track Listing 

Side One: 

The Song of Delilah - Samson and Delilah

Love Theme from "El Cid" - El Cid

Forever Yours - A Man Called Peter

Theme from "Francis of Assisi" - Francis of Assisi

"The Prodigal" Love Theme - The Prodigal

Theme from "King of Kings" - King of Kings

Side Two: 

Nepheridi's Theme - The Ten Commandments

The Song of Bernadette - The Song of Bernadette

Love Theme from "Ben-Hur" - Ben-Hur

Rapture of Love - David and Bathsheba

Love Theme from "Quo Vadis" - Quo Vadis

Love Theme from "The Robe" - The Robe

Top Music Picks: The Ten Commandments, A Man Called Peter, Love Theme from Ben-Hur, Love Theme from The Robe. 

You can pick up this album on eBay for around $5 or, if you are lucky enough to find it at a second-hand store, for even cheaper. But for now, have a listen to The Robe on Youtube. 

Happy Easter! 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Titanic ( 1953 )

On April 15th, 1912, in the early morning hours, the luxury liner RMS Titanic sank in the waters of the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. Over 1,500 passengers perished in one of the worst ocean disasters in history. Today marks the 110th anniversary of this tragic event, and so we'll be reviewing one of the many films that were made about the Titanic. 

Jean Negulesco's Oscar-nominated drama Titanic (1953) was not the first film telling of the famous tragedy, but it certainly ranks as one of the best with its lush setting and star-studded cast. Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck star as an unhappily married couple who struggle with family issues onboard the Titanic. These issues suddenly don't seem very serious when they face perishing in the icy waters. Traveling with them is their daughter Annette (Audrey Dalton), a young and beautiful socialite, and their son Norman (Harper Carter), a bright lad who is devoted to his father. Julia (Barbara Stanwyck) thinks her husband Richard is an elegant snob with very little character and sees that their children are becoming just as pompous as he, so she is whisking them off to America to get them away from the European society environment they are used to. Richard boldly sneaks onboard the ship and connives to lure the children back but when the iceberg hits the Titanic, he realizes their safety is more important than anything else. 

The story of this family may be fictional but it plays out within a framework of facts. The opening sequence states that "All navigational details of this film - conversations, incidents, and general data - are taken verbatim from the published reports of inquiries held in 1912 by the Congress of the United States and the British Board of Trade."

Titanic was one of 20th Century Fox's top productions of 1953 and it is clearly evident that all involved did their research in making the film historically accurate. The RMS Titanic sets are so meticulously crafted that the ship itself takes the center spotlight in every scene. Stanwyck probably never dreamt that she would have to vie with set props for the audience's attention. 

Lyle Wheeler, Maurice Ransford, and Stuart Reiss won an Academy Award nomination for their work on the film's art and set direction and must be applauded for their marvelous special effects, too, which included the sinking of a 22-foot model of the liner. 

Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch penned a great tear-inducing script that holds your attention from the start. It is amazing how much drama is packed into this picture considering its runtime is half the length of James Cameron's 1997 telling of the Titanic.  

The film also boasts a stellar cast of supporting players and character actors including a young and handsome Robert Wagner, Richard Basehart, Brian Aherne as the ship's Captain Smith, Thelma Ritter in a "Molly Brown"-ish role, Allyn Joslyn, and Frances Bergen. 

Titanic is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and through streaming via Tubi. You can also watch it for free online at

Friday, April 8, 2022

Hawaiian Eye to Air on Decades TV

Each weekend, the Decades TV channel picks one television show and airs it back-to-back in a weekend marathon. Usually, the shows they pick can be seen on other channels so watching a marathon of a popular series isn't all that special, but occasionally they unearth some not-so-frequently seen series, e.g. The Time Tunnel. This weekend, they really delved into the land of forgotten television shows and came up with a winner - Hawaiian Eye

This detective show premiered in 1959 on ABC and ran for four seasons before it was canceled in 1963. Anthony Eisley starred as private investigator Tracy Steele who operated a detective agency in Honolulu with his partner Tom ( Robert Conrad ). Usually, their cases involved security services in connection with the Hawaiian Village Hotel, one of their clients. Cricket Blake ( Connie Stevens ), who works at the hotel as a photographer/singer, helps them on occasion, as does cab driver Kim Quisado ( Poncie Ponce ). Later, when Eisley left the series, Troy Donahue and Grant Williams joined the Hawaiian Eye agency. 

The Decades TV marathon of Hawaiian Eye begins tomorrow at 12pm EST and will cover the entire first season of the series as well as part of the second season, ending Sunday at midnight. Since Hawaiian Eye has not yet been released on DVD and is unavailable through any streaming channel, be sure to tune in this weekend!

Thursday, April 7, 2022

From the Archives: Maverick ( 1957 )


James Garner is pictured here with Diane Brewster in a scene from "According to Hoyle", an early episode in Garner's popular western television series Maverick. Some of you may remember Diane Brewster as Miss Canfield, Beaver's first teacher, in Leave it to Beaver

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, April 2, 2022

Film Albums - A New Series

Since it is the beginning of April - and we just began the spring season - it seems an appropriate time to begin a new series here on Silver Scenes. This is a fun one called Film Albums where we will introduce a different film or television-related album dating from the 1950s-1980s. Judging from the number of albums I have discovered in the last few months, it should run for a very long time!

As far back as I can remember ( meaning the baby-food-age ), I have always loved listening to record albums on our stereo consel. My sister and I were introduced to the wonderful world of LPs when we were wee youngsters and we have many fond memories of dancing to the music of Enoch Light and Herb Alpert or enjoying the ballads of Frank Sinatra, Earl Grant, and Ed Ames before we even knew who these singers were. When we reached our teens, we began buying our own albums to add to the family collection and picked up dozens at second-hand stores, church rummage sales, and flea markets. 

Of course, being film buffs we were drawn to film albums. One of the very first albums we bought was this gem - Original Sound Tracks and Hit Music from Great Motion Picture Themes - from the United Artists label. It cost us only 25 cents....and we are still enjoying its music to this day. 

This album was released in 1961 and features some beautiful themes from United Artist releases of 1957-61. The Big Country, I Want to Live and The Vikings are particularly good. This album was followed up by another album in 1962 titled "More Original Sound Tracks and Hit Music from Great Motion Picture Themes" which did indeed include more great themes, and yet another album in 1967 called "Original Sound Tracks and Hit Music from Great Motion Picture Themes Volume 2".

Click here to listen to the album on Youtube. 

From here on, each post in the Film Albums series will be tagged "Film Albums" so you can simply click on the tag to see all previous posts.