Saturday, August 6, 2022

Judith Durham of The Seekers Passes Away at 79

We generally do not write about music on Silver Scenes ( unless, of course, it is film music ), but a legend in the music industry passed away yesterday - Judith Durham. This lovely woman was one of the founding members of The Seekers, a group that had hits in the 1960s with "Georgy Girl", "I'll Never Find Another You" and "A World of Our Own". 

The Seekers were comprised of Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, Athol Guy, and Durham. They formed as a group in 1962 and catapulted to stardom in 1964, becoming the first pop band from Australia to achieve international success. In 1968, Judith Durham launched a career as a solo performer while Keith Potger went on to form and manage The New Seekers. The group reunited in 1992 and continued to perform in concerts throughout the world. 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the group. 

Judith Durham had such a beautiful voice that truly captured the spirit of Australia, especially in all of the traditional folk songs she performed. Judith passed away at age 79 from complications from a chronic lung disease. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Masters of Venus ( 1962 )

Before America became stricken with space fever in the mid-1960s, Britain was already coming down with symptoms of this consuming affliction. Evidence in proof of this can be seen in television and film series of the era, especially those aimed at youngsters. 

One such program was Masters of Venus, an 8-part science-fiction serial that was released between September 1962 and November 1962 throughout the UK. It was an engrossing serial that was shown in theaters on Saturday mornings, usually before a matinee feature, in 16-minute parts.  

Masters of Venus was a production of the CCF ( Children's Film Foundation ), which produced a number of serials like this in the late 1950s and 1960s. The story is about a team of scientists who are preparing to launch a rocket - Astarte - to Venus. One day two saboteurs break into the rocket center in an attempt to destroy the Astarte, but they were thwarted in their plans by Jim and Pat, the two intelligent children of the rocket's inventor, Dr. Ballantyne ( Norman Wooland ). The pilots are knocked unconscious and, unbeknownst to the children, the rocket is prematurely sent into outer space - with them in the capsule! 

Like most Saturday morning serials, every episode ends with a cliffhanger, and Masters of Venus has some jim-dandy ones. The pilots ( Patrick Kavanagh, Robin Hunter ) revive in time to set Astarte's course to Venus, but once they land on the planet they discover it to be inhabited by rather hostile Venusians, who are actually a band of super-advanced survivors of the ancient kingdom of Atlantis. 

The plot may seem far-fetched and the sets and "scientific procedure" rather simple, but the series is very entertaining to watch, especially for children. The principal actors all do a wonderful job of making the story seem real. Robin Stewart, who portrays young Jim, went on to become a popular actor in the UK on television ( Bless This House ) and in films ( The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires ). Mandy Harper, who plays Pat, was a child actress who had a number of uncredited roles in films of the 1950s. The same year she filmed Masters of Venus she starred in Swallows and Amazons based on Arthur Ransome's famous novel. 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Film Albums: Doctor Dolittle ( 1967 ) - The Mike Sammes Singers

When Doctor Dolittle was released in 1967, 20th Century Fox studios thought it would have received a much better box-office reception than it did. In fact, they were not the only ones who thought so. The music was so beautiful that The Lawrence Welk Show featured an episode that included many of the upcoming songs and Sammy Davis Jr. and Bobby Darin both released albums on the music from Doctor Dolittle, hoping to capitalize on the success of the film. Another group that did a fantastic recording of songs from the film were The Mike Sammes Singers. This fabulous British group did some work for Walt Disney Studios in the 1960s and they ended up recording a number of albums for the studio's Disneyland Records label, all of which were led by the great Camarata, more familiarly known by Disney fans as "Tutti" Camarata. 

This album ( ST-3979 ) featured beautiful recordings of all of the main tunes from the film plus a "magnificent full-color illustrated book" that children could enjoy while they were listening to the songs. Instead of listing the tracks like we usually do, we have pasted a picture of the back of the album. 

If you enjoy Leslie Bricusse music, then this album should not be passed over. Where are the words to describe the beautiful things about it to enjoy? 

Top Music Picks:  At the Crossroads, When I Look in Your Eyes, Talk to the Animals, Beautiful Things

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Check it Out! - Giant Movie/TV Posters on Sale

If you have an afternoon free then here is something that will take up a good hour of your internet time - AllPosters is running a sale for new customers - 55% off all items plus free shipping. We're not affiliated with AllPosters and actually never bought from them before but this just seemed like too good a deal not to share. They have a great selection of 8x10" photos but more impressive is their line of photo posters. 24x32" and 30x40" posters are only $12.15 each after the markdown. Gadzooks! Once you start jotting down your favorite films and television shows to search, you'll likely end up spending more than one hour shopping.  

Check out some of the images they have down below: 

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game


Look at all these fancy-dressed people...and they seem to be happy about something, too. I'll give you three guesses who they are cheering. Actually, we'll give you more than three guesses to try and name the film this screenshot came from. Just drop your guesses in the comment box below and you might win a prize.

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 Dambso for guessing this scene from "The Yellow Rolls Royce" ( 1964 )! Rex Harrison and Jeanne Moreau just left the car park of the racetrack in their yellow Rolls Royce after winning the gold cup and the onlookers cheer them on. 

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Check it Out! - Maureen O'Hara singing "Heather on the Hill"

During the 1960s, Maureen O'Hara guest-starred a number of times on The Andy Williams Show where she got a chance to entertain the audience with her beautiful singing voice. Maureen made a lot of dramatic films but, surprisingly, no musicals....even though she sang like a lark since she was a lass in Ireland. 

In this particular episode, she gives a lovely rendition of "The Heather on the Hill" from Lerner and Lowe's Brigadoon. Check it out! And if you enjoy this clip, be sure to look at Ms. O'Hara's performance of "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" on the short-lived The Jimmy Dean Show here

Friday, July 8, 2022

From the Archives: On Moonlight Bay ( 1951 )

Gordon MacRae serenades Doris Day in a wooden "canoe" while a man who looks a lot like Gower Champion paddles in this publicity photo from Warner Brother's musical On Moonlight Bay ( 1951 ). 

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, June 26, 2022

The MGM Blogathon is Here!

Kick up your heels and start singin' in the rain, for the MGM Blogathon is here!! 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, founded in 1924, is one of the oldest studios in Hollywood and certainly ranks as the best in movie-making history. To celebrate this legendary establishment, we are hosting The MGM Blogathon, a three-day event featuring wonderful posts about the marvelous films that they made and the talented people that called MGM their home.

Below you will find the entries listed in no particular order. Since the event will take place over three days ( June 26th-28th ), we will be adding the links to the posts as they are published. 

If you missed the blogathon announcement and want to add a post during or after the blogathon has ended, just shoot us an email and we will be glad to add your post to the list. 

So without more are the entries! Scroll down below for snippets.


Irving Thalberg, MGM's Boy Genius - The Lady Eve
Arthur Freed and The Freed Unit at MGM - Silver Scenes

First, take a look at some candid snapshots taken on the set of famous MGM films with our Behind-the-Scenes at MGM post. It must have been a wonderful studio to work at. 

Taking Up Room tells us the story of The 1970 MGM Auction and how the Hollywood villain Kirk Kerkorian almost single-handedly dismantled MGM as a film studio. 

Critica Retro shares with us a review of Dancing Lady ( 1933 ), a milestone in Joan Crawford's film career. 

What would MGM have been without The Thin Man series? This low-budget 1934 film reaped such profits at the box office that the studio reunited William Powell and Myrna Loy for five sequels...the first of which was After the Thin Man ( 1936 ), reviewed here by Hamlette's Soliloquy.

One of the most popular comedy teams at MGM was undoubtedly The Marx Brothers, and one of their best films is reviewed by Critica Retro: A Day at the Races ( 1937 )

Gene Kelly made his home at MGM studios as well and Silver Screen Modes shares with us an excellent look at the making of the Academy Award winning, An American in Paris ( 1951 )

Father of the Bride was a big hit for MGM stars Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor. The wedding at the end of the film clearly hinted that a sequel was to come....and within a year it was released. Realweegiemidget Reviews gives us the story of Father's Little Dividend ( 1951 )

Warner Brothers Studio had Errol Flynn, but MGM had Stewart Granger, an English import who specialized in swashbucklers. Scaramouche was one of his best and to this day it remains one of the finest screen tellings of Raphael Sabatini's novel. The Caffeinated Fangirl shares her review of this classic. 

MGM produced films of all genres and Rick at the Classic Film and TV Cafe shares his review of the taut James Garner WWII thriller 36 Hours ( 1965 ).

Everyone can recognize MGM's famous logo with the roaring lion but do you know the name of that lion....or that there were multiple ones used throughout the years? Ruth gives us A Brief History of the MGM Lions over at her blog, Silver Screenings.

MGM's shining star Jean Harlow was the first and most famous of the "blonde bombshells" and Whimsically Classic shares with us an excellent bio of this talented actress with her post Jean Harlow - The First Blonde Bombshell.

What makes a star a "star"? Norma Desmond knew what it took...and A Person in the Dark convinces us that Joan Crawford knew the secret formula as well. She shares her thoughts in her post Joan Crawford - Channeling the Spirit of Norma Desmond.

Behind-the-Scenes at MGM

The MGM Blogathon is taking place today right here on Silver Scenes, so we thought we'd kick off the event with a photographic peek behind-the-scenes at one of the most famous film studios in the world. 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was founded in 1924 after Marcus Loew merged Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures into one company. They hired a number of well-known actors of the time, as well as top-notch screenwriters, plunged lots of money into lavish sets, and then, with the benefit of Loew's own nationwide chain of motion picture theaters, released the films they made to the public, catapulting MGM into the top studio of the 1920s. 

The MGM logo bearing the famous roar of Leo the Lion was the trademark of a studio of quality. At MGM, there were no "B" films, all of their films were "A" productions or secondary features ( e.g. the Maisie or the Andy Hardy series ) made with just as much care but on a lower budget. 

For years, they reigned as the best studio in Hollywood, one which any actor longed to have a contract with. And then, in the 1950s, with the death of Louis B. Mayer and the dismissal of studio head Dore Schary, MGM began to flounder, relying heavily on big-budget productions such as Ben-Hur to give the studio a profit. By the 1960s, they were just a shadow of the wonderful studio they once were. In 2024, MGM will be celebrating its 100th anniversary, but clearly its golden age is over, so let's take a trip down memory lane by seeing a view of the MGM studios the audience rarely got to see - the behind-the-scenes view. 


King Vidor directing John Gilbert in one of MGM's first major productions, The Big Parade ( 1925 )

Greta Garbo, soon to become MGM's biggest star, is looking a little anxious to be sitting so close to Leo the Lion

Tarzan tries to make love to Jane but he has a lot of onlookers

The MGM Wardrobe Department as seen in the early 1930s

Lace-makers are busy working on the bridal veil for Helen Hayes in White Sister ( 1933 )

W.S. Van Dyke directs William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man ( 1934 ), a film that launched one of the studio's most popular series

Norma Shearer getting a bite of lunch between scenes during the filming of Marie Antionette ( 1936 )

Leslie Howard on the ( massive ) set of Romeo and Juliet ( 1936 )

Studio head Louis B. Mayer playing a game of Sunday baseball with producer Irving Thalberg 

Director George Cukor and producer Hunt Stromberg with the "women" from The Women ( 1939 )

Lewis Stone celebrating his birthday on the set of one of the Andy Hardy films, another popular series
Basil Rathbone and Angela Lansbury enjoy some steak and hamburgers at the MGM commissary

Judy Garland displaying her ballgown for Little Nellie Kelly ( 1942 )

Frank Sinatra discusses a scene with director George Sidney on the set of Anchors Aweigh ( 1945 )

Greer Garson is getting a view from the scaffolding on the set of That Forsythe Woman ( 1949 )

Some of MGM's stars gathered for the studio's 25th anniversary....see how many you can recognize!

The Irving Thalberg Building at the MGM Studios at Culver City

Acting certainly isn't a private affair! William Welman directs the cast in this scene from The Next Voice You Hear ( 1950 )

Gene Kelly gets to take a seat in the cameraman's chair on the set of An American in Paris ( 1951 )
Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, and the Show Boat ( 1951 ) cast gather for a publicity photo

Esther Williams being filmed by a special underwater camera

Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman look over the script on the set of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ( 1958 )

Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd at the premiere of Ben-Hur ( 1959 )

The crew filming Carroll Baker in a scene from How the West Was Won ( 1962 ), one of MGM's last great epics