Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Film Albums: From Russia with Love ( 1964 ) - Si Zentner and his Orchestra

If you ever heard the music of big band leader Si Zentner you would know that he is famous for his exciting bold brassy sound, so, when the James Bond films exploded onto film in the early 1960s with their bold sound as well, it seemed a natural choice that Si Zentner would release an album of Bond themes. And what a fun album to listen to! The title song, From Russia with Love is especially spunky. This album was released in 1964 by Liberty Records ( who also released Matt Monro's From Russia with Love theme ) as LST-3353.

Included with the 007 theme and other Bond themes, is a fantastic rendition of Charade ( by Henry Mancini ) as well as Mancini's famous themes to Peter Gunn and Mr. Lucky

Track Listing:

Side One:

The James Bond Theme

Burke's Law Theme

Mr. Lucky


The Third Man

Peter Gunn

Side Two:

From Russia with Love

M Squad Theme


Bond's "007" Theme

The Man with the Golden Arm

The Fugitive Theme

Top Music Picks: From Russia with Love, Charade, Mr. Lucky, The Fugitive

You can listen to Si Zentner's From Russia with Love album on Youtube as well as through Spotify, audio CD, and of course LP. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Men of Sherwood Forest ( 1954 )

Before Hammer Film Studios began its regular output of horror films, they made quite a number of dramas and also experimented in other genres...including swashbucklers. One year before Richard Greene became the idol of youth in television's The Adventures of Robin Hood, Hammer tried their hand at spinning a yarn of the legendary English outlaw with The Men of Sherwood Forest ( 1954 ). 

In this jolly outing, Robin Hood and Friar Tuck attempt to track down a band of thieves who had attacked an abbot passing through Sherwood Forest, an abbot who was carrying a secret message hidden within a small statue. King Richard, who was held captive in Austria, has been freed and is returning to England to reclaim his throne from Prince John. The message tells where and when he will land, but it is now in the hands of one of Prince John's noblemen who will use the information to set a trap to kill the king. Only Robin Hood and his band of merry men can save the king!

The Men of Sherwood Forest was the first film that Hammer Studios shot in color and it proved successful enough for them to continue making color productions, even though this was costly for such a small production company. In 1951, Hammer signed a four-year distribution agreement with Lippert Pictures, an American producer. Robert Lippert insisted that the films he would be receiving from Hammer have American actors in their leads so that they would be more marketable stateside. Hence, in The Men of Sherwood Forest, we see a band of British outlaws led by a very American Robin Hood - Don Taylor. At first, this bit of casting seems strange ( especially since Don makes no attempt at an English accent ) but as the film progresses, his portrayal of Robin Hood grows more likable and by the film's end you'll find yourself thinking what a fun Robin Hood he made!

The film is indeed a merry lark. The plot is not substantial, romance is minimal, and it is sorely missing the presence of Little John ( although Reginald Beckwith makes up for this omission with his amusing portrayal of Friar Tuck ), but the location filming in England is scenic and the antics and escapades that Robin finds himself in are fun to watch. 

It was refreshing to see a new Robin Hood tale being spun from its old familiar characters. Allan MacKinnon penned the screenplay. Val Guest ( The Abominable Snowman ) did a fine job directing the sprightly 77-minute film, keeping the action flowing and not allowing for boredom.  

Eileen Moore plays Lady Alys in the film, a winsome lass who is captivated by the presence of the famous outlaw. Douglas Wilmer makes a suitably contemptuous villain and Patrick Holt portrays the noble King Richard. Also in the cast are David King-Wood and Harold Lang. 

The Men of Sherwood Forest is available on DVD. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Yellow Rolls-Royce ( 1964 )

Rex Harrison, Shirley MacLaine, and Ingrid Bergman head up the all-star cast of The Yellow Rolls-Royce, a colorful anthology film of three stories linked together by a sparkling 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II. 

The opening segment shows the first owner of the beautiful Rolls, the Marquess of Frinton ( Rex Harrison ) purchasing the car as an anniversary present for his wife ( Jeanne Moreau ) who, unbeknownst to Lord Frinton, is engaging in an affair with his attaché John Fane ( Edmund Purdom ). When he spies them together in the Rolls...back it goes to the dealer!

Years later, the Rolls turns up in a showroom in Italy where it catches the fancy of Mae Jenkins ( Shirley MacLaine ), the "fidanzata" of big-time mobster Paolo Maltese ( George C. Scott ). He is giving his lady-love the grand tour of Italy but, when he is called back to America to "settle a score with O'Leary", she ends up having a grand time herself with the amoral photographer Stefano ( Alain Delon ). 

Lastly, the Rolls becomes a transport bus for mercenary soldiers in Yugoslavia when the snooty but socially prominent Mrs. Millett ( Ingrid Bergman ) decides to aid a rebel ( Omar Shariff ) in his fight against the Nazis. 

The Yellow Rolls-Royce was one of only a few anthology films to be released in the 1960s. This was a style of storytelling more frequently seen in British and American films of the 1940s and 1950s ( e.g. Encore, Tales of Manhattan ). These kinds of films are entertaining when all three segments are equally engaging but when one segment is boring it tends to pull the entire film down. In The Yellow Rolls-Royce, the last segment featuring Mrs. Millet is the weakest, even though it is the only segment that hints that the Rolls could be of more use than just a cozy love nest. 

Terrance Rattigan's script tries to include a little adventure and romance in each segment but it ends up leaning heavily on the side of romantic drama. This is just as well as all the leading actors were well-equipped to handle romantic drama. Rex Harrison gives an especially good performance as the jilted husband in the first story. 

The film features beautiful costumes and cinematography by Jack Hildyard ( The Bridge on the River Kwai ) with location filming in England, Italy, and Austria...which was standing in for Yugoslavia. But the most entertaining aspect of watching The Yellow Rolls-Royce is spotting all of the supporting players which included Art Carney, Joyce Grenfell ( affecting a Southern accent ), Wally Cox, Roland Culver, Isa Miranda, Moira Lister, and Michael Hordern. 

Riz Ortolani's musical score is also delightful and includes the catchy "Forget Domani" theme which was performed onscreen by his wife actress Katyna Ranieri and later made popular by Frank Sinatra. Ortolani had a huge success with his song "More" from the pseudo-documentary Mondo Cane released two years earlier. 

The Yellow Rolls-Royce received mixed reviews from critics but was a great hit at the box-office, becoming one of the top ten films of the year. MGM later released a 10-minute promotional short titled "The Car that Became a Star" which gave audiences a glimpse of the grand vehicle on the set of the film. 

The film is currently available on DVD and by streaming through Amazon Prime.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

From the Archives: Good Neighbor Sam ( 1964 )

Jack Lemmon as Sam Bissell, proudly posing with his "junk art" in this publicity photo from Good Neighbor Sam ( 1964 ). As Bissell's mother so aptly put, "I don't know a thing about art, I just know what I don't like". Such a great comedy film. 

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, September 10, 2022

Check it Out! - Mitzi Gaynor singing "Love is Blue" ( 1968 )


Can anyone top a Mitzi Gaynor performance? This glamorous woman was the full package deal....a fantastic dancer, singer, and actress, plus she had a fabulous figure! This performance from 1968 features Mitzi performing "Love is Blue", a Eurovision ballad that French orchestra leader Paul Mauriat made popular in the United States in 1967. 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

For a Greater Attendance: 1962 Release Schedule Promotional Book

Last year I came across a great series of annual promotional books called "For a Greater Audience" that were released by American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres Inc. in the 1960s. Each catalog contained a section devoted to each studio where the current release schedule for that studio was posted along with movie posters, photos or blurbs describing their upcoming projects. 

These books were most likely distributed to theater chains in America in the hopes that the theater owners would take a greater interest in the various studios' upcoming releases. They are wonderful books to look at but, unfortunately, are quite rare. I managed to snag the 1962 book which has a great selection of films in it and I'll be sharing images from the 1964 and 1966 issues in a future post. 

The catalog is made of colored cardboard with tabbed fold-out sheets separating each studio's release schedule between August and December of '62. It begins with Paramount Studios which, as you can see, were promoting their two big releases of the year: Elvis in Girls, Girls, Girls and the ( now forgotten ) Charleton Heston comedy The Pigeon That Took Rome. Also on their release schedule were two Jerry Lewis comedies and several re-releases ( including Rear Window ). 

20th Century Fox had two epics in their late 1962 lineup: The Longest Day and Cleopatra, which was slated for an early 1963 release. The Spartans was due out in September, Gigot in October, and The Lion in November. 

The photos and posters are great to look at, but what I found most interesting about these books were all the films that were being promoted that later had their titles changed or their casts changed. For example, The Grand Duke and Mr. Pimm starring Glenn Ford and Hope Lange later became Love is a Ball; Not on Your Life starring Robert Preston and Tony Randall became Island of Love; Jason and the Golden Fleece became Jason and the Argonauts, and Gidget Goes to Paris eventually was changed to Gidget Goes to Rome. One can only guess what film Touch Fire-Catch Flame starring Cary Grant was ( Father Goose? ) or Monsieur Cognac starring Tony Curtis referred to.