Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Road to Utopia ( 1945 )

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are on the road once again in the 1945 comedy classic Road to Utopia, this time heading out to Alaska during the Klondike gold rush at the turn of the century. Hope and Crosby play a couple of down-in-their-luck vaudevillians named Chester and Duke who find a map to a gold mine, a map stolen by Sperry and McGurk, two murdering thugs who are hot on the twosome's trail to retrieve the map. En route to Alaska, Chester and Duke lose their money and stow away on a steamer. After they are caught, they assume the identities of Sperry and McGurk in order to disembark unobserved. This is when the film really gets fun watching the cowardly Chester and mild-mannered Duke swagger and snarl as they masquerade as tough guys. 

"I'll have a lemonade," Chester barks at the bartender and then, realizing he was supposed to be Sperry, adds "....in a dirty glass!"

Also on the trail of the map to the gold mine is the curvaceous Sal ( Dorothy Lamour ), whose father was murdered for the map. Ace Larson ( Douglas Dumbrille ) and his gal Kate ( Hillary Brooke ) claim they will help her retrieve it but they too are after it for themselves.  We never do get to see this elusive gold mine but the fun of the chase for the map makes up the best parts of the picture.

Road to Utopia was the fourth film in the Road Pictures series and it ranks as one of their most hilarious. Crosby and Hope are clearly having a ball and their verbal sparring is furious and fun. Their dialogue is delivered so off the cuff that one wonders how much of it was written in the script and how much was impromptu. The words that were written on paper earned screenwriters Melvin Frank and Norman Panama an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. 

"Am I dead?" - Chester

"I can't tell, you always look that way." - Duke

Like many of the Road pictures, the "fourth wall" is often broken with Bob Hope making sly glances and remarks to the audience. This one also features humorous breaks from Robert Benchley who comments on the silliness of the script. 

Silliness it indeed is, but this is what makes the film so amusing. Hope and Crosby deliver their lines and then add some personal comments and a little playful bickering before going back to playing their parts. Plus, der Bingel takes time to sing a few songs including the memorable "Welcome to My Dreams". Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen penned the songs for the film and Dorothy Lamour's sizzling rendition of "Personality" hit #1 on the music charts that year. 

Hope and Crosby would return to the sweltering climates of the other Road pictures in Road to Rio ( 1947 ) but for wintertime fun you can't beat this Alaskan outing with the twosome. The film is available on DVD ( in multiple editions ) and via streaming. 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

British Pathé: Jemima's Journey Through Switzerland ( 1963 )

Jemima's Journey Through Switzerland is not one of the usual British Pathe newsreel clips that we share. This seven-and-a-half-minute film follows in the footsteps of a group of people who are re-enacting the trip taken by Ms. Jemima Morrell in 1863, a young woman who journeyed to Switzerland and wrote of her adventures in a diary. It was to mark the 100th anniversary of her trip. Obviously, the sight of a group of people dressed in period costumes going around Switzerland in 1963 caused quite a commotion because she drew crowds wherever she went. 

The narrator of this clip, Tim Brinton, talks with Jemima ( portrayed by Janet Edwards ) as though she were alive at the time. She relates her thoughts about the customs, people, and landscape of Switzerland as she saw it then. 

The film has some beautiful footage of the Alps and gives its audience a wonderful look at what it must have been like to travel throughout the Alpine region in the mid-1800s. My sister and I are restoring photos and paintings for our Alpine Collection project on Kickstarter and, judging from the photographs that we have seen, this is exactly how it was then. Women often went mountain climbing with the men in their wide skirts with just a little walking stick to guide them. 

At the end of the clip, the narrator asks Ms. Morrell whether she would like modern times and she replies that "I should be happy here. I should be happy in company with people like those," ( referring to the men and women playing the parts of her contemporaries ) to which he replies, "But clothes don't make those people Victorians, their values are different." How true! Times changed quite a bit between 1863 and 1963 and have changed even more from 1963 to 2023. 

Ready to watch Jemima's Journey Through Switzerland? Simply click on the link below: 

Jemima's Journey Through Switzerland ( 1963 ) - 7:34 minutes

Similar British Pathé newsreels: 

Victorian Beach Dance ( 1961 ) - 3:14 minutes

Victorian Fish Bar ( 1962 ) - 2:06 minutes

Victorian Hardware Shop ( 1963 ) - 1:38 minutes 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

We have a special edition of The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game this month. Instead of the usual prize, the first person who can guess which film this screenshot came from will receive a one-year subscription to ReMind classic television magazine. If you are not familiar with the magazine, simply click here to read our latest review of it. 

The contest is open to everyone but only those residing in the USA are eligible for the prize. Good luck! 


Congratulations to Anon for correctly identifying this screenshot as being from Dear Heart ( 1962 ) starring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page. This fellow was the hotel clerk at the Metropolitan hotel where Glenn Ford attempted to check in as a married man. 

Friday, February 17, 2023

Snowbound ( 1948 )

Dennis Price and Stanley Holloway head to the Swiss Alps in the 1948 British thriller Snowbound. Price is assigned to pose as a screenwriter gathering material for a new film when in reality he is to gather information about the people who are staying at a mountain chalet and report that information to a former British espionage agent ( Leo Genn ). Within days, his cover is exposed and he quickly finds that everyone staying at the chalet is there for a secret reason...and not for "their health" as they claim. Among the suspicious characters are Marcel Dalio, Mila Parely, Herbert Lom, and Guy Middleton.

Snowbound is a quick thriller that has some nice Alpine location filming. While the story is easy to follow, the film could have been improved upon by a little less dialogue and more action. Aside from an occasional visit to the hotel down the mountain, most of the action takes place within the chalet, making it seem rather stage-like. This is surprising since the story is from a novel ( The Lonely Skier by Hammond Innes ) that was adapted directly to the screen. 

Variety magazine's review of the film claimed that the "main failing of the yarn is that situations do not thrill sufficiently", which is quite true. The action does not build up until the second half of the film, but then it does conclude with an exciting finale. 

Sydney Box produced the film, which was distributed stateside by RKO. Sydney was the head of Gainsborough Studios and produced a number of fine British films on his own as well. His sister Betty Box was also a prolific producer of many great British classics. 

Snowbound is worth watching for its cast of character actors ( Dennis Price makes a good "spy"  ) and its snowy mountain location. It is especially enjoyable to watch on a winter afternoon, but if you miss it airing on television, it really is not worth going out of your way to hunt it down.  

Friday, February 10, 2023

From the Archives: Sabrina ( 1954 )

Audrey Hepburn falls in love in the delightful romantic comedy Sabrina ( 1954 ). In this scene, the chauffeur's daughter Sabrina ( Hepburn ) has just arrived home from Paris and catches the eye of her father's employer David Larabee ( William Holden ). 

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 : http://stores.ebay.com/Silverbanks-Pictures

Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Happiest Millionaire - Valentine Candy ( 1967 )

Valentine's Day is only ten days away, so we have a clip to share of Lesley Ann Warren's beautiful rendition of "Valentine Candy" from The Happiest Millionaire ( 1967 ). What has this to do with Valentine's Day? Absolutely nothing. It's just fun to listen to!