Saturday, March 18, 2023

77 Sunset Strip Airing All Weekend!

Every weekend Decades TV ( Channel 35 if you live in the Cleveland area ) runs a marathon of a particular TV show....this weekend it happens to be the classic private-eye series 77 Sunset Strip. It is well worth tuning in to watch at least one episode because the series is rarely shown on television and has still not received a DVD release. 

77 Sunset Strip stars Efram Zimbalist Jr. and Roger Smith as two private detectives who operated an agency at 77 Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Aiding them in many of their cases is Ed "Kookie" Byrnes, a wanna-be PI who started as a valet parking attendant at Dino's, the club next to their office. 

The series ran for six seasons ( 1958-1964 ) and featured a number of entertaining one-hour cases. Decades TV began the marathon early this morning and it will continue to run until 5am EST on Monday. On Sunday, beginning at 10am EST the five-part episode titled "5" will be airing. This one has Efram Zimbalist tracking down an art thief and boasts an excellent cast including Peter Lorre, Herbert Marshall, Diane McBain, Burgess Meredith, William Shatner, Ed Wynn - and his son Keenan, Wally Cox, and Walter Slezak. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Classic St. Patrick's Day Films

It be St. Paddy's Day on the morrow and if ye be a classic film fan, ye'll be wanting to sit back and relax and watch a grand film set on the Emerald Isle. But what film would you be wanting to watch? Faith, man can watch The Quiet Man no more than twenty times before knowing the script word for word! This is where this wee list of classic films may be of service to ye. Not all of the films are about Irish lore and leprechauns but they have enough atmosphere to get you into the spirit of the "wearing of the green".

Aye, enough now with the babbling and on with the listing! 

1. Darby O'Gill and the Little People ( 1959 )

Can any film top Darby for St. Patrick's Day? This Walt Disney classic has everything - leprechauns, banshees, pots of gold, a pretty Irish girl....and even Sean Connery! Albert Sharpe gives an excellent performance as the wily old codger who manages to trick King Brian, the king of the leprechauns, into granting him three wishes. Charles Stinson of the Los Angeles Times sums up the film well: "Being a Disney product, it is as technically perfect a job as can be had; the Technicolor, the camera work, the special effects, the Irish music and all are a rich feast for anyone's eye and ear." The special effects are indeed wonderful and sixty years later are just as impressive as when the film was first released. 

2. The Luck of the Irish ( 1948 )

Honestly, this one nearly topped the list of great films to watch on St. Patrick's Day. It is a classic all-around...a wonderful cast, a whimsical story, and excellent direction by Henry Koster. Tyrone Power plays a freelance writer named Steven Fitzgerald who befriends a leprechaun ( Cecil Kellaway ) while he is stranded in a village in Ireland. He manages to capture him and demand his gold but, not wanting to take the old man's life savings, returns the pot to him. The leprechaun is so grateful he follows Fitzgerald back to New York City and helps him realize his heart's desire. 

3. The Quiet Man ( 1952 )

Who has not seen The Quiet Man? Nevertheless, if you happen to be one of those rare folk who avoids John Wayne films, then this is the film you should watch to change your opinion of The Duke. It has a wonderful script, gorgeous Technicolor footage of Ireland, and a cast of classic Irish actors. Wayne plays retired American boxer Sean Thorton, who returns to his hometown village in Ireland and begins a courtship with the spirited lass Mary Kate ( Maureen O'Hara ) through the aid of the local matchmaker Michaleen ( Barry Fitzgerald ). When her brother refuses to accept Sean as his brother-in-law, the entire village waits for Sean to assert himself and win Mary Kate as his bride. 

4. Little Nellie Kelly ( 1940 )

Mix together Judy Garland, George Murphy, a little romance, and some lovely Irish folk tunes and what have ye? A marvelous movie, that's what. If you are a Judy Garland fan, you may be sad to see her character die within the first 20 minutes of the film....but she pops again shortly after, this time in the form of the daughter of Nellie Kelly. Nellie is the apple of her father's eye and when she elopes with Jerry Kelly ( George Murphy ) behind his back, he fills his heart with spite against the young man. Jerry takes his new bride and his father-in-law ( Charles Winniger ) to America, gets a job as a policeman, and faithfully supports both his daughter Nellie and his father-in-law. When Little Nellie finds a beau of her own she decides it is about time that her grandfather and father made peace. 

5. Top O' the Morning ( 1949 )

This is another seldom-seen gem from the 1940s. Bing Crosby plays an insurance investigator sent to IReland to catch the criminal behind the recent theft of the Blarney Stone. The village constaple ( Barry Fitzgerald ) is not too pleased to have an American poking his nose into "official policing busyness" but his daughter ( Ann Blyth ) takes a shine to him. Top O' the Morning is one of those films that you may not think much of the first time you watch it but it grows on you with subsequent viewings. The sets are well-made and evoke an Irish air and the music is lovely. Ann Blyth sings "You're in Love with Someone" and Bing Crosby croons some newly-written but old-sounding Irish tunes. 

6. Brigadoon ( 1954 )

What has Brigadoon to do with St. Patrick's Day...or even Ireland? Absolutely nothing! Nevertheless, watching the fantasy realm of Brigadoon appear before my eyes from the Scottish midst, always puts me in an Irish mood. Perhaps it's the dancing...or perhaps it is the presence of Gene Kelly, that famous Irish-Canadian. Whatever it be, if you want to dance a jig, put Brigadoon on your tele. Gene Kelly and Van Johnson play two Americans who get lost in the Scottish highlands and discover the village of Brigadoon, where everyone is dressed in "funny clothing". They soon learn that the village is a mystical village and appears only once every 100 years. This certainly dampens the spirit of Tommy ( Kelly ) because he has fallen in love with a young woman ( Cyd Charisse ) from Brigadoon. 

7. The Secret of Boyne Castle ( 1969 )

Now, this is a rarity indeed! In our house, we watch it every March just prior to St. Patrick's Day, but even a hardcore Disney fan may not be familiar with the title. Several years before Kurt Russell took on the role of Dexter Riley in a series of college-themed comedies for the Walt Disney studios, he played this Hardy Boys-type character named Rich Evans. Rich and his pal Sean ( Patrick Dawson ) are at a boarding school in Ireland when a fatally wounded man gives Rich a dying message...."Boyne Castle, the hand iron, tell Tom he will find the papers there.". Rich and Sean are quickly embroiled in a spy chase leading them throughout the Irish countryside to the final showdown at Boyne Castle itself. This made-for-television film is great fun to watch. It is filled with non-stop chasing and some lovely location footage of Ireland in the 1960s. 

8. The Fighting Prince of Donegal ( 1966 )

Yet another Irish-themed film from Walt Disney Studios, this time about the legendary Irish prince Hugh O'Donnell and his fight against the British troops in the 16th century. Peter McEnery stars as the swashbuckling youth with Susan Hampshire as his lady love. 

9. Yankee Doodle Dandy ( 1942 )

What more famous Irish-American be there but George M. Cohen? Warner Brothers certainly thought he merited a biopic and, after investing 1.5 million dollars in the production, released Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942. James Cagney played the dandy who captured the hearts of thousands on Broadway throughout the early 1900s. In real life, Mr. Cohen wanted Fred Astaire to play him onscreen, but honestly, Astaire could never have delivered Cagney's Academy Award winning performance. 

10. The Irish in Us ( 1935 )

If you want to see a typical Irish family in action, then The Irish in Us is the film to watch. Mary Gordon plays Ms. O'Hara, the mother of three grown men, Danny ( James Cagney ), Pat ( Pat O'Brien ), and Michael ( Frank McHugh ). Pat is in love with his boss's daughter but is surprised when his brother Danny starts romancing his girl( Olivia de Havilland)! Prior to starting the film, one can easily guess that James Cagney will win the girl, but even so, it is fun to watch him spar with his brother in order to do so. 

11. My Wild Irish Rose ( 1947 )

If you enjoyed George M. Cohen's life story then why not take a gander at this biopic on Chauncey Olcott, the 19th-century singer-songwriter? Dennis Morgan gives a wonderful tune-filled performance of the popular Irishman and Arlene Dahl looks pretty in Technicolor ( incidently, this was her screen debut ). 

12. Finian's Rainbow ( 1968 )

Before Francis Ford Coppola filmed The Godfather, he made this whimsical Irish musical that starred Fred Astaire as Finian McLonergan, an Irishman who stole a pot of gold from the leprechaun Og ( Tommy Steele ). Og comes to Rainbow Valley, where Finian and his daughter ( Petula Clark ) reside, hoping to find his gold before he turns into a mortal man. Finian's Rainbow is not the best of films but it does indeed have some wonderful songs ( by Burton Lane ) and fancy dancing by Fred Astaire and Tommy Steele. 

Other films and television programs: 

The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady ( 1950 ), a semi-sequel to Sweet Rosie O'Grady ( 1943 ) with June Haver in the title role; The Wee Men ( 1947 ), a delightful cartoon about the leprechauns from Noveltoons; The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold ( 1981 ), a little-known gem from Rankin-Bass; Irish Eyes are Smiling ( 1944 ), another biopic, this time on Ernest R. Ball. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Film Albums: Maureen O'Hara Sings Her Favorite Irish Songs

Now is a wonderful time to enjoy some classic Irish songs, what with St. Patrick's Day peeking just around the corner....and if you want a gem of an album to enjoy, check out this classic from 1961: Maureen O'Hara Sings Her Favorite Irish Songs

Maureen O'Hara had a wonderful high soprano voice but only recorded two albums during her career, this one here and "Love Letters from Maureen O'Hara" released in 1958. Jasmine Records released both albums in one compact disc compliation. 

The liner notes on the back of the album are penned by Ms. O'Hara herself ( 'tis herself! ) who shares that the songs on the album are her favorite Irish songs, most of which she heard in her childhood sung by her parents, relatives and neighbors. Many of these tunes will be unfamiliar to Americans - even Irish-Americans (!) - except the popular Danny Boy and Come Back to Erin but there is a nice variety of songs on the album and, as Maureen says herself "There's something for every one of you - and I hope everything for some of you."

Track Listing:

Side One: 

A Kerry Cow

Give Him to Me

A Rich Man Died

Wee Hughie

Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye

There Was an Old Woman

Danny Boy

There Was an Old Man

Side Two:

He Moved Through the Fair

Which of Them Will I Marry

Do You Remember that Night, Love

It's True that the Women are Worse Than the Men

The Next Market Day

Nora Lee: I Once Loved a Boy

I'm Going to Be Married on Sunday

Come Back to Erin

Top Music Picks: Danny Boy, Which of Them Will I Marry, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye

Click here to listen to Maureen O'Hara Sings Her Favorite Irish Songs on Youtube...and click here to see a lovely clip of Ms. O'Hara performing "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" on The Jimmy Dean Show

Friday, March 10, 2023

Beauty for Sale ( 1933 )

"I got a living to earn for two and I can't do it in Kentucky. You got to take your spoon where the soup is." - Letty

"Well, the soup's hot in New York, kid. You're likely to get burned." - Carol

Letty ( Madge Evans ) is a small-town girl who heads to New York City to work at Madame Sonia Barton's beauty salon. While there, she falls in love with Sherwood ( Otto Kruger ), the husband of one of her clients ( Alice Brady ). He does not want to divorce his wife and so Letty must decide whether to leave him or have a backstairs relationship with him for the rest of her life. 

MGM's Beauty for Sale was one of many variations of the oft-used three-working-girls plot first popularized in Sally, Irene, and Mary in 1925. It was still fresh in the 1930s and by altering the setting MGM was able to reuse it successfully throughout the decade in other films, none quite as good as this one. 

The three beauty parlor girls are played by Madge Evans, Una Merkel, and Florine McKinney, all of whom are low on lover's luck. Carol ( Merkel ) had a sour experience with real love that left her bitter and so she sets her eyes on catching a rich sugar daddy instead...which she does. Jane ( McKinney ) has fallen in love with Madame Sonia's son ( Phillips Holmes ) but is quickly abandoned when he learns she is pregnant. 

Letty judges her relationship with Sherwood in the light of both of her friend's experiences and decides to part ways with him. She reluctantly returns to her hometown beau ( Eddie Nugent ) but quickly regrets this decision. 

"I didn't make the world the way it is, but I gotta live in it."

A 1933 review from Variety magazine pegged Beauty of Sale perfectly: "Pulp magazine fiction made for subway-riding stenographers...romantic hoke skillfully dressed up." 

It may be hoke, but mighty entertaining hoke it is! Beauty for Sale has a well-shaken blend of drama and comedy. It begins with sentimentality, reaches a dramatic climax, and then takes a sudden and brief dip into screwball comedy. This may sound like a potent mixture for an MGM film, yet the final result is quite pleasing. The film was the forerunner of the lush - and much more dramatic - melodramas of the 1950s ( e.g. Three Coins in a Fountain, The Best of Everything ), and like those films, even when you know the ending you can sit through them over and over again and still enjoy it. 

"It's a pity mother didn't drown you as a pup!" - Carol

Eve Green and Zelda Sear's script, based on the Faith Baldwin novel "Beauty", is positively sparkling with wit. Una Merkel is given the best wisecracks, Alice Brady the most humorous lines, and Madge Evans has some of the sauciest remarks in the script. The direction, by Richard Boleslavsky ( Theodora Goes Wild ), is fast-paced and the cinematography is lovely. James Wong Howe used some clever angle shots and an abundance of soft-focus lenses. Madge Evans' close-ups are particularly beautiful. 

Evans was one of the most irresistible actresses to ever come out of Hollywood. She was also one of only a handful of child stars to have made a successful transition into being a leading lady of the screen. Her pre-code films were her best and Beauty for Sale ranks as one of her most popular films. 

In 1933, Evans and Merkel were the most in-demand players on MGM's roster with Evans making 16 films between 1933 and 34. She was often teamed with Robert Montgomery but Madge seems more enthralled by Otto Kruger than she ever was with Mr. Montgomery. They have wonderful on-screen chemistry together which is especially evident in one scene early in their relationship. Letty comes out of a restaurant during a thunderstorm and runs under a stoop only to bump into Sherwood. "There are only two things I am afraid of," she tells him, "thunderstorms and caterpillars!" Then a clap of thunder sends her flying into his arms. 

Kruger is quite effective as the unassuming lover even though Edmund Lowe or Warren William could have made an equally charming Sherwood. The cast is a who's-who of recognizable 1930s film characters. Alice Brady plays one of her usual dithery society dames, Charley Grapewin has a great part as Carol's benevolent boyfriend, Hedda Hopper plays the lofty Madame Sonia, and the great May Robson has a wonderful part as the mother of Letty's hometown boyfriend, Bill. 

Beauty for Sale is available on Warner Archive's DVD and is shown periodically on television. If this film catches your fancy then be sure to check out Danny Reid's fabulous review at He has loads of screenshots to enjoy, plus some neat gifs ( some of which we stole above ). 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

From the Archives: Mary, Mary ( 1963 )

In this 1963 publicity photo, Debbie Reynolds is seen modeling one of the many beautiful dresses designed by William Travilla for the film Mary, Mary. Travilla should have released a special line of clothing for department stores with each dress copying a style seen in his most recent films. They would have been big sellers at Sears! 

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, March 5, 2023

Rewind Review: Me and the Colonel ( 1958 )

"In life, there are always two possibilities...."

It is quite common to find a film that begins terrifically, loses a bit of its appeal midway through and then flounders at the end. But it is rare to find a film that begins slowly and then gets better and better until it reaches its climax. This is because screenwriters desire to "hook" their audience within ten minutes through a compelling script. Me and the Colonel is one of those rare films that fall into the latter category of having a slow beginning. Yet, one cannot say that it does not feature a compelling script. Quite the contrary; Me and the Colonel is wonderful entertainment.

Danny Kaye stars as Jacobowsky, a Polish Jew who flees from town to town throughout France trying to avoid the Nazis - as this takes place at the beginning of WWII. He is a clever and extremely resourceful man, a practical survivor. He uses people and situations to help provide him with the tools and opportunities to make his escapes. It is during his attempt to flee Paris that he meets Colonel Prokoszny ( Curt Jurgens ), a proud and stubborn Polish officer, and his aide Szabuniewicz ( Akim Tamiroff ). 

Jacobowsky is reluctant to use the colonel in his escape plan since he is unapologetically anti-semitic and extremely unhelpful. However, as the colonel is Jacobowsky's only chance, he uses him to drive the car that will take them to southern France and to safety in Spain. Their flight from the Nazis is immediately complicated when the colonel "goes the wrong direction" and heads north into German-occupied territory to rescue his mistress Suzanne ( Nicole Maurey ). The colonel has a penchant for getting them into trouble and it is left to Jacobowsky to continually use his inherent wiles to rescue them from one scrape after another along their journey.  It is through Jacobowsky and the colonel's ordeal together that they manage to form a bond of friendship that transcends their differences. 
"You have one of the finest minds of the 12th-century"

Danny Kaye was a marvelous actor. His skill at drama was often hidden behind the humorous masks of the characters he played. Me and the Colonel leans more towards drama than comedy and Kaye does not play Jacobosky for laughs. The publicity department at Columbia Studios attempted to warn Danny Kaye fans who were expecting zany comedy and tongue twisters that "Kaye pulls a switch". It was an uncharacteristic role which he played with impressive ease....and won a Golden Globe for his endeavor.

Jacobowsky has such a beautiful soul and it is so appealing to watch him unfold the various layers of his character throughout the film. Suzanne recognizes what a rare individual Jacobowsky is and is lovingly drawn to him. He - and the audience - are left to wonder whether she feels a romantic attachment to him or simply honors him for his noble character. 

I have always been amazed at how well Danny Kaye was able to play the romantic. Perhaps it is because we expect him to be the clown that his moments of displaying genuine warmth are all the more touching. Me and the Colonel features one of the sweetest love scenes he ever did. Tucked away in a French palace during a thunderstorm, he confesses his love to Suzanne and the predicament he feels he is in due to his loyalty to the Colonel. Not revealing what she feels, she simply asks him if he would like to dance and there, on the beautiful marble floor of the palace, they waltz. 
"More and more I like this Jacobowsky"

Me and the Colonel was nominated for Best Motion Picture at the 1959 Golden Globes and at the Mar del Plata Film Festival. It was based on a play by Franz Werfel ( "The Song of Bernadette" ) and S.N Behrman ( "The Pirate" ) that played for 417 performances on Broadway in 1944 with Louis Calhern, Annabella, Oskar Karlweis and Edward Bromberg as the four intrepid escapees. 

It is a light-hearted but thought-provoking drama generously sprinkled with humorous dialogue. Touches of espionage and the serious undertone of its setting make it reminiscent of Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be ( 1942 ) and Howard Hawks' I Was a Male War Bride ( 1949 ). 
Curt Jurgens, who almost always gives a top-notch performance, overdid it in this role and his performance of Prokoszny borders on buffoonery. Yet, he redeems himself at the end of the film and we catch a glimpse of a more tender-natured colonel. Prokoszny is stiff-necked and ego-maniacal but nonetheless endearing. Jacobowsky is willing to give up his life for this man and understandably so. He is courageous and fiercely loyal. The colonel's aide shows equal loyalty to him, as does Suzanne, even though she knows very well that he had affairs with women in every city he stopped at.

"In the cathedral of my heart, a candle will always burn for you!"

The lovely French actress, Nicole Maurey, is always a delight to watch. She is perhaps best known for appearing opposite Bing Crosby in the post-war drama Little Boy Lost ( 1953 ) and for her part in The Day of the Triffids ( 1963 ) where she was once again fleeing France for the Spanish border. 

Me and the Colonel features beautiful location filming throughout France and a great supporting cast which includes Alexander Scourby, Françoise Rosay and the marvelous Martita Hunt in a brief part as a nun who aids our heroes in their escape. 

This post ( originally posted in 2019 ) is our contribution to The Danny Kaye Blogathon being hosted by Poppity Talks Classic Films. Danny Kaye is known for his comedic work but this film showcases his skill as a dramatic actor as well and so it is well worth spotlighting in a celebration of Danny Kaye's life. We hope you enjoyed it! To read more reviews of Danny Kaye films be sure to check out the blogathon here

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 " 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 :

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! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Mr. Forbush and the Penguins ( 1971 )

Richard Forbush is a rich young philanderer. He likes to woo girls and wear smart-looking clothes to college. His professor considers him to be one of the most academically brilliant students in his class with "the potential to be an outstanding biologist" but Forbush has little interest in biology, only mating. 

One day, he meets Tara ( Hayley Mills ), the new waitress at his local pub, and, smitten with her, attempts to impress her with tales of how he will go "down the Amazon" and be one of the last men to undertake a great scientific adventure. When his professor offers him the opportunity to live the great adventure by spending six months in Antarctica tracking the population and habits of a penguin colony, he turns it down....until a casual remark made by Tara changes his mind. 

"That's all you are. Wind. Empty wind."

He is aghast that Tara does not succumb to his charms and is downright offended when she calls him "empty wind". He decides to accept the position after all but begins to regret it soon after. 

"It's a grim prospect, all that ice. I don't know how I am going to get back in one piece. I feel rather like poor Captain Oates. Remember what he said when he walked into the blizzard to die,'I'm just going outside and may be some time'"

Within a few weeks, Forbush is dropped off at Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds with a two-way radio being his only link to the outside world. He is told not to interfere with nature but he grows attached to the penguins he is studying and their plight to survive. After months of watching skuas steal the penguins' eggs, he attempts to destroy them by building a catapult to hurl rocks at them. All is in vain and Forbush comes home realizing that every living creature depends in some way upon every other.

Mr. Forbush and the Penguins, also released as Cry of the Penguins, is not your typical arctic adventure film. Instead of the man-battling-the-elements plot line, this film focuses on how six months spent alone with penguins can change a man. It does indeed transforms Mr. Forbush dramatically. 

John Hurt gives a wonderful sensitive portrayal of the young playboy turned penguin fancier. It is hard to imagine that the man throwing rocks at the invading skuas at the end of the film is the same Mr. Forbush who showed little to no interest in arctic birds at the beginning of the picture. Hurt has such a marvelously silky voice that it is a pleasure to hear him narrate the penguin sequences. Hayley Mills also gives a good performance in what is strangely listed on the credits as a guest appearance. Also in the cast is Tony Britton as Forbush's professor, Dudley Sutton, Thorley Walters, and Judy Campbell.

The production for Mr. Forbush and the Penguins was rather rocky. Alfred Viola, a commercial director, was making his directorial debut when he signed on for the production but mid-way through was dismissed by producer Roy Boulting, who took over directing himself. Boulting also put his wife Hayley Mills in the role of Tara, in place of Susan Fleetwood. Swedish director Arne Sucksdorff flew to the Arctic for location filming and captured some beautiful footage of the penguins in their natural habitat while John Addison ( Tom Jones ) created a compelling score for the film. 

Unfortunately, after all that effort ( and a nearly £600,000 investment ), Mr. Forbush and the Penguins tanked at the box office.  The publicity department mistakenly tried to publicize the movie as a comedy, plastering the posters with corny taglines like "It's not often that 740,000 penguins can help a love affair!" and "the zaniest bunch of birds on the South Pole!". 

If one is looking for comedy, then this film would fall short. In fact, the first 15 minutes are rather a drag. But after the professor hands Forbush his opportunity to become an explorer of old, the film becomes an absorbing blend of documentary and drama. A look into the life of one man and over half-a-million tuxedo-clad arctic birds....quite a novel idea for a film. And speaking of novels, if you want to enjoy this story in print, read Graham Billing's original 1965 novel "Forbush and the Penguins". 

Monday, January 30, 2023

ReMIND Classic TV Magazine

Last week I discovered the neatest magazine and in the most unlikely location - Dollar Tree. The magazine is ReMIND and it is filled with articles and fun stuff related to classic television shows and pop culture of the 1950s-1990s, plus loads of trivia games. Little did I know that this magazine has been around for well over 7-8 years! 

The Past is a Blast! 

If you like Closer magazine, then you will love this one. We shared some pictures down below so you can see what the interior looks like and, if you click on this link, you can read through a full issue digitally. 

The cover price is $4.99 per issue, but with a subscription, it is only $2 an issue. Better yet, with code "DOLLAR5" it is only $1 an issue. What a deal! Plus they give you a bonus trivia book. We all love puzzles, don't we? Click here if you want to take advantage of that deal. We don't get any kickbacks from this, we're just sharing it with you. 

ReMIND back issues are available on their website for $7.99 each (including shipping ). Not a bad price, considering they have some collectible issues.... especially that one with The Munsters on the cover. 

Keep your eyes open for the next installment of The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game because we will be giving away a one-year subscription to the magazine for the first person who can guess the screenshot. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Rentaghost ( 1976-1984 )

"If your mansion house needs haunting just call Rentaghost..." 

Growing up in England in the 1970s, you would no doubt remember Rentaghost, a children's show that had a delightful blend of punny humor and downright silliness, not to mention an unforgettable theme song! A ghost never dies....and neither does Rentaghost, which is now being introduced to newer generations through streaming on BritBox. 

The series was created and written by Bob Block ( who was also responsible for devising the equally silly Pardon My Genie and Robert's Robots ) and concerned a ghost rental agency, run by Fred Mumford ( Anthony Jackson ) a recently deceased young man.

Fred was a failure all of his life and, unfortunately, he dies before he can rectify that situation. Now that he is dead, he decides to start a business back on Earth to have a second chance at starting a successful enterprise. He creates Rentaghost, a ghost rental service "Poltergeists in your parlor? Don't suffer from lack of exorcise - send for us!"

To aid him in this new business, he recruits two other ghosts who were failures when they were on Earth - Mr. Hubert Davenport, a Victorian gentleman, and Mister Timothy Claypole, a medieval court jester who is now a mischievous poltergeist. This threesome tries its best to make Rentaghost a success, but each undertaking turns into a dismal failure by the end of the episode. 

Their landlord Mr. Meeker ( Edward Brayshaw ) knows that his tenants are a "bunch of flippin' layabout spooks!" and, in spite of being disgusted by their ineptitude, becomes their business manager and tries to dream up new ways for the gang to make money. Each week they try their hand at different enterprises - a moving service, taxi business, storage service, detective agency, etc. There is no shortage of occupations a ghost can undertake!

Most of the humorous situations in the series arise from the ghosts running out of "psychic energy" or teleporting themselves at the wrong time to the wrong places. Fred is particularly lousy when it comes to teleporting since he is relatively new to the ghosting process, having just been dead for six months. All he has to do is hold his head back and pinch his nose but he always ends up landing somewhere he shouldn't be....such as in a closet. This is particularly embarrassing when Fred visits his parents. He never had the heart to tell them that he died and so he tries to act normal but strange things happen when you are a spirit. His mother is especially worried about Fred's lack of appetite. "He always chucks away his food!" she tells his father, not knowing that ghosts don't eat. 

Occasionally, Mr. Davenport's own mother ( long since dead ) visits to scold her son. She is a young woman in her twenties. Even Mr. Davenport finds it unsettling to have a mother half his age but she died much younger than he so naturally she would not be older in the spirit world. Mr. Davenport is quite a gentleman and much of the ways of the modern world shock him...especially "pop" music and those "frightfully noisy aeroplanes". 

Mister Claypole is even more astounded by modern technology! Being from the middle ages, much of what he sees amuses the box with the little people in it ( a TV set ) and the machine that talks back ( telephone ). Fred's modern lingo usually goes over his head and he tends to take everything said literally. When Fred tells him to help Mr. Meeker "move house", Mister Claypole moves his house....with Mr. Meeker in it!

Later in the series, Mister Claypole becomes the leading character and other ghosts are added to the cast, including Hazel McWitch, Miss Popov and a pantomine horse called Dobbin. Unfortunately, beyond the fifth season, Rentaghost became rather childish and it no longer had its sitcom structure. 

The principal actors all do a grand job of getting "into the spirit" of their characters. Anthony Jackson is especially appealing as the clumsy Fred Mumford. When Michael Darbyshire ( Mr. Davenport ) passed away in 1979, Jackson did not want to continue the series without him and so both characters were written off the series. They were said to be on an extended tour haunting the stately homes of England. 

In fact, all three lead actors have since passed on. Darbyshire died at the age of 62, Michael Staniforth ( Claypole ) at the age of 44, and Jackson at the age of 62. Even Edward Brayshaw ( Mr. Meeker ) died at the age of 57, so none of the original cast members are alive today. Perhaps the spirit world did not look kindly upon this playful spook sitcom. 

Rentaghost ran for a total of 9 series, beginning in 1976. The show only had 5-6 episodes per series, so there are not as many episodes as one may expect to find. BBC destroyed the few episodes that were made when, in the late 1990s, they wiped ( taped over ) many of their children's programming videotapes, discounting the programs as "low priority". Thankfully, the television station UK GOLD were airing episodes of Rentaghost at the time and had backup copies. 

Memorable as the characters may have been to youngsters, even more memorable is the Rentaghost theme song, written and performed by none other than Michael Staniforth himself. It's a catchy jingle that perfectly captures the light-hearted "spirit" of the show. 

Click here to have a listen to the theme.....and here to view one of the episodes. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The Family Way ( 1966 )

The Family Way is one of those films that you have probably heard a lot about but never bothered to watch, thinking it to be just a routine British drama. But it is not routine. And it is worth watching. The plot may sound simple, certainly not something one would build a film around, and yet it is deceptively rich. This is because the characters are so well created and so very well performed. 

Playwright Bill Naughton's tale focuses on a working-class family in England. Arthur Fitton ( Hywel Bennett ) has just married his childhood sweetheart Jenny ( Hayley Mills ) and they are both looking forward to taking their honeymoon in Majorca. Unfortunately, the travel agent absconds with their money and they find themselves starting their marriage in the upstairs room of Arthur's parents' house...where the walls are "paper thin". Arthur is a sensitive young man and he finds it difficult to make love in a house where one can hear every whisper. So he sits and listens to Beethoven while Jenny patiently waits for him to come to bed. Their marriage remains unconsummated several weeks later and Arthur and Jenny begin to feel frustrated - for different reasons. Jenny feels she may not appeal to Arthur and Arthur thinks something must be wrong with himself. Their struggle with arousing sexual urgings generates much of the humor of the story but it also stirs up revelations from Arthur's parents about their own marriage which leads into the real heart of the story. 

John Mills and Marjorie Rhodes give stellar performances in the role of Arthur's parents, Ezra and Lucy. The Frittons are an everyday family from Yorkshire with Papa Fritton going off to work each morning leaving his wife to tend to the washing and cooking. Arthur works, too, but, unlike his father, he does not spend his free time in pubs drinking with his friends. He is a loner who would rather spend time at home reading and listening to his records. This clash in personalities has made Arthur feel distant from his father and closer to his mother. 

The Frittons have another son, Arthur's younger brother Geoffrey ( Murray Head in a non-singing role ). Geoffrey is not like his father either but this does not seem to bother Ezra much, perhaps because he is not the eldest. Ezra wants Arthur to be a man and his quiet interests make him worry that Lucy's gentle upbringing of the lad has made him queer. 

Surprisingly, when Jenny's parents come to the Fritton's house for a private talk "about Arthur", we discover that Ezra's friendship in his youth with an old pal named Billy may have looked strange to outsiders as well. After all, how many newlywed men take along their best friend on their honeymoon?

Lucy's recollections of her unorthodox first days of marriage bring up memories best forgotten. This old friend, Billy, who "suddenly left" one day without a word may have meant more to Ezra and Lucy than both are willing to admit. 

Ezra's final line "He looked just like Billy" ( speaking of Arthur as he was leaving ) makes one wonder whether Arthur even was Ezra's son at all, and not Billy's. Naughton's script gives the audience only vague hints about the Frittons' past, which lends the story a richness that would have been spoilt had all been revealed. 

The Family Way began as a television play ( titled Honeymoon Postponed ) by Bill Naughton for ABC's Armchair Theatre in 1961. Naughton later adapted it into a theatrical play that premiered in 1963 with Bernard Miles in the role of Ezra Fitton. John Mills happened to catch this performance and was so enthralled with the part that he went backstage hoping to discuss purchasing the film rights as a vehicle for him and his daughter. He was told that the Boulting brothers and an American had already purchased the rights. Roy Boulting had hoped to make the film with Peter Sellars in the lead but after the project was put on hold for several years, he contacted John Mills, who was tickled pink and considered it to be "the best part I've had since Hobson's Choice". 

Indeed, it was. Mills gave a wonderful performance of a lower working-class father whose thoughts and ways are quite different from his more sensitive son. Marjorie Rhodes deserves equal credit for a powerfully understated performance. Also excellent are the two young leads. Hayley Mills, whose acting always standouts, looks especially lovely in this film. Perhaps it was the glow of a young woman in love captured on film ( Mills was having a romance with The Family Way's director Ray Boulting at the time ). 

Hywel Bennett was relatively new to film but had experience in theater. The success of The Family Way led to a contract with British Lion films and two more pictures opposite Hayley Mills ( Twisted Nerve and Endless Night ). Roger Ebert called Bennett "one of England's best young actors" in 1969. Today, he is best known for his role as James Shelley in the popular sitcom Shelley ( 1979-1984 ) and for his voiceover work for the British Rail television adverts of the 1980s. Also in the cast are Liz Fraser, Avril Angers, John Comer, and Barry Foster. 

In addition to its empathetic script and fine performances, The Family Way is noted for its soundtrack, particularly its theme song by Paul McCartney. It is George Martin who really deserves credit for creating the score, having just a 15-second piano piece from Paul to work with. He turned a simple tune into a beautiful and subtle score. 

You can watch The Family Way for free on Tubi ( via Roku or online at ) or on DVD.