Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Who Done It? (1956)

Benny Hill done it, that's who! Before the famed English comedian made a name for himself on television as the star of The Benny Hill Show, he made this fast-moving farce playing a detective who sets out to capture enemy agents bent on destroying England with a weather-making machine. 

Hill stars as Hugo Dill, an ice sweeper at a skating rink who long dreamed of becoming a private detective. When he wins £100 and a bloodhound in a contest, he feels he is ready to embark on his new career. Within one day of opening his office doors, he gets embroiled in a scheme by a ruthless Iron Curtain gang to control England by using Professor Stumpf's newly-invented weather-making machine. Can you imagine what havoc the enemy could wreak if they caused rain to fall on England on a daily basis? 

Benny Hill had a natural flair for comedy and he is highly entertaining in Who Done It?, his first starring film and the last. Later on, Hill had roles in Skywatch (1960) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1970) and guest appearances in a few other films, but he never got a picture entirely to himself again... which is a shame, since he could carry a film better than many of his comedic peers. 

The script, by T.E.B. Clarke, was written especially for Hill and has some amusing moments, especially during the finale where Hill appears in drag (of course!) but, at the theaters, the movie did not bring in the tickets expected and Ealing Studios decided not to make another Benny Hill film. In fact, after many years of outputting fine comedies, this comedy was Ealing Studios' last. Hill made a number of suggestions to improve the script prior to filming, but director Basil Dearden rejected them all. Too bad...audiences would probably have come in droves to see Hill's unique and cheeky humor on display in full force. 

Co-starring with Hill is the delightful Belinda Lee who was a busy up-and-rising star at the time. She made a number of British films before moving to Rome to focus on Italian pictures. Unfortunately, her life was cut short when she died in a car accident at the age of 25. 

Also in the cast is David Kossoff as the ringleader of the Iron Curtain group. Kossoff later appeared in one of our favorite Disney spy films The London Connection as Professor Buchinski. What makes Who Done It? so fun to watch is all of the familiar character actors who make brief appearances. These characters include Thorley Walters, Ernest Thesinger, Irene Handl, Arthur Lowe, Terence Alexander, Glyn Houston, and the always entertaining Nicholas Phipps, who was wasted in such a small part. 

While Who Done It? may not appeal to some due to its broad humor, it's a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon and get a few laughs. And, if you are one of the many Benny Hill fans, you'd be pleased to see him in his first screen appearance. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Film Albums: Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren (1960)

This month's featured film album is a departure from the usual soundtrack LP and features two popular stars of the 1960s - Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren - joining forces for a rollicking good time on a self-titled album. Peter displays his ability to change his voice for various characters on some comedic tracks and the remaining pieces are musical numbers performed as duets or just by Ms. Loren herself.

Sophia Loren had a charming singing voice with a heavy Italian accent. Her "Americano" number from It Started in Naples (1960) is probably her most famous song, but she also did the wonderful "Soldi, Soldi, Soldi" from Boccaccio 70 (1962) which I think was her best. On this album, she performs "Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo" and "I Fell in Love with an Englishman" with Peter Sellers contributing some funny commentary. But don't think he can't sing! For the "Fare Thee Well" number, you'll hear that he has a surprisingly pleasant voice. 

This album probably sold a good number of copies on its release because it features the song "Goodness Gracious Me!" which reached into the Top 5 in the UK. This comedy novelty number was conceived by George Martin, the Beatle's producer, as a nod to The Millionairess and told the story of an Italian woman visiting an Indian doctor to tell him about her heart going "boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom" and eventually causing his heart to do the same! 

The wonderful Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra provided the music for this LP which was released by Angel Records (33910). 

Click here to listen to Goodness Gracious Me! on Youtube. (You can also find all of the other songs online)


Track Listing


Side One:

Goodness Gracious Me

"Smith"

Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo


Side Two:

Oh, Lady be Good!

To Keep My Love Alive

Why Worry?

Grandpa's Grave

I Fell in Love with an Englishman

Fare Thee Well

Top Picks: Goodness Gracious Me, Fare Thee Well, Why Worry? Zoo be Zoo be Zoo

Saturday, April 6, 2024

From the Archives: Hazel (1962)

              


Caught in the act! Oh, Mr. B... you should be ashamed of yourself. Hazel caught you raiding the refrigerator again - and after you swore that you were going to stick with your diet! Tsk, tsk, tsk. 

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

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Alive and Kicking (1958)

Every once in a while, you might come across a wonderful film and wonder why it is not more well-known than it is. At least, I do that....and, unfortunately, it is quite rare to find hidden gems; but Alive and Kicking is one such movie. I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it instantly. Granted, its plot would not appeal to a large audience so I can understand why it is as obscure as it is. 

Sybil Thorndike, Estelle Winwood and Kathleen Harrison star as three elderly women who escape from a nursing home when they learn that they will be relocated to other nursing homes and separated. They take what little belongings they have and hike out on foot. After an escapade at sea, they arrive on a small island off the coast of Ireland and discover an abandoned stone cottage. However, the cottage isn't empty for long. Shortly after they claim it, a gentleman (Stanley Holloway) arrives and tells them that he just purchased the cottage and plans to move in. Darn the luck! 

They hope to discuss renting one of the rooms of the cottage from him, but lo! he disappears from the cliffside where they left him. All they can find is his hat floating on the ocean waves below. Since no one in the village met the man yet, the three crafty dames decide to pretend that he is living in the house and that they are his nieces (!). Much of the film after this point deals with how these women settle into the village and make a new life for themselves in Ireland. 

Alive and Kicking was probably banned from being shown in nursing homes because of its uplifting message of independence for the elderly. These three women have only a few pounds in their purse but somehow manage to procure a house, furniture, and plenty of food (thanks to one of them being a good shot). Most impressive however, is the positive effect they have on the villagers, even going so far as to start a new industry for the sheep farmers and their wives. 

Among these villagers are some familiar faces including Marjorie Rhodes (who was excellent as the mother in The Family Way), a young Richard Harris, Paul Farrell, Liam Redmond and Colin Gordon as a bird watcher who decides to perch on their property.

The comedy has a definite "Irish air" to it...but shush, don't tell the Irish...the movie was actually filmed on Easdale, one of the Slate Islands of Scotland. Life on a small island in the 1950s centered around agriculture and the village people and, with a village of that size, the arrival of three strange women would not go unnoticed for long so our heroines must be given credit for coming up with so many delicate lies to fool the villagers as long as they did. 

Sybil Thorndike is the ringleader of the group and she boasts the most brains as well. It is her idea to start a sweater-making industry to earn money for themselves and for the village. Estelle Winwood is clever too, while Kathleen Harrison plays her usual kindly cockney character. All of the principal players went on to live long lives after this film with both Winwood and Harrison "alive and kicking" past the age of 100. 

Director Cyril Frankel does a wonderful job of keeping the movie entertaining from start to finish and composer Philip Green penned a delightful score with an especially lovely folksy tune "One I Truly Love" performed by Olive McFarland. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Film Albums: 1963 - The Year's Most Popular Themes


When you have listened to a lot of record albums, it is easy to dismiss an album just by a glance at the songs included. I've heard so many with the same songs (do you know how many versions of the themes to Lawrence of Arabia or Exodus were made?) that sometimes when I see nothing "new", I pass up listening to the album. 

Well, a few days ago, I came across Enoch Light's "1963 - The Year's Most Popular Themes" LP on Youtube and am so glad that I took a chance on it despite the familiarity of all of its selections. This album is a gem! Enoch Light was a sound engineer who produced some amazing albums for Command records, most of them boasting marvelous stereo sound. If you own a console record player, you can really appreciate the quality of the Command records.



As the back of the album states "You haven't really heard movie music until you listen to this fantastic record" - and that's the truth! In addition to the sound quality, the arrangements (by Lew Davies) are different than any I've heard of these popular songs. Robert Maxwell performs a lovely version of "Days of Wine and Roses" on the harp, there is a rousing rendition of "How the West Was Won" and a lilting "Put on a Happy Face" that is sure to put a smile on your face.

Click here to listen to this album on Youtube: Enoch Light Orchestra - ''1963-The Year's Most Popular Themes''


Track Listing


Side One:

How the West Was Won

Anthony and Cleopatra

Put on a Happy Face

More (Theme from "Mondo Cane")

Lawrence of Arabia

Speak Not a Word


Side Two: 

Hud 

Theme from "Mutiny on the Bounty"

Days of Wine and Roses

So Little Time - The 55 Days at Peking Theme 

Spencer's Mountain

I Could Go on Singing


Top Music Picks: How the West Was Won, More, Days of Wine and Roses, Spencer's Mountain

Friday, March 22, 2024

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

 


This month's Impossibly Difficult screenshot is a from a well-known film and is a fairly easy one to guess, especially if you are familiar with women-talking-on-telephones scenes. Of course, if you aren't then you may be out of luck. 

As always, if you need to know the rules to the Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie game or the prize, click here!

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

Mix together Judy Garland, George Murphy, a little romance, and some lovely Irish folk tunes and what have ye? Little Nellie Kelly, that's what. This MGM musical from 1940 features Judy Garland playing not one, but two parts. You may be sad to see her character Nellie Kelly die within the first 20 minutes of the film but shortly after she pops again, 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 Michael (Charles Winniger) to America, gets a job as a policeman in New York, and faithfully supports both of them. When Nellie dies giving childbirth, Michael's stubborn anger towards Jerry increases but the two remain together to raise little Nellie.

Time goes by and Little Nellie (Garland again) eventually finds a beau of her own and then decides it is about time that her grandfather made peace with her father.

While Little Nellie Kelly is titled after its main character, most of the story revolves around Michael Noonan (Winniger) and his stubborn Irish ways. "If only he would work, then he wouldn't have so much time to complain," Jerry Kelly declares. And how right he is! I have an uncle just like Michael Noonan. He worked once when he was in his 20s and never again. So, without any hobby to fill his life, he spends all his time complaining... mainly about what his family is up to and how they should be supporting him. Mchael Noonan may seem like an improbable character, but he is quite common in many households, Irish or not!

Charles Winniger does a wonderful job at playing this curmudgeon, who's likeable in spite of his biting tongue, but some may find his stubbornness just too much to bear. Dear Jerry Kelly must have had the patience of St. Patrick himself to put up with him all those years! George Murphy gives a grand performance as the winsome lad whom Nellie first comes to love in Ireland and, later, he convincingly ages to become Little Nellie's father, a captain of a New York police force no less.

It is Judy Garland who is the star attraction, however. Little Nellie Kelly was based on the 1922 stage musical by George M. Cohan and it was rumored that Cohan sold the rights to MGM studios expressly on the condition that it be a vehicle for Judy Garland. She's a little sweetheart in this film. Had MGM decided to groom her as a rival for Deanna Durbin, she would have been wonderful in similar ingenue roles.

Several Irish songs that were supposed to be in the film were cut from the final release, including the famous "Danny Boy", but Judy does get to sing the lovely "A Pretty Girl Milking a Cow" as well as "It's a Grand Day for the Irish", which she sings with her Babes in Arms co-star Douglas McPhail. 

McPhail had a marvelous baritone voice and, in Little Nellie Kelly, he plays Nellie's sweetheart Dennis Fogarty, the son of Michael Noonan's friend Timothy Fogarty (Arthur Shields). Like Jerry Kelly, Dennis is patient enough to put up with Nellie's grandfather for her sake and eventually wins his approval. 

Little Nellie Kelly is one of those MGM classics that you watch once and soon find yourself re-watching it every year... on St. Patrick's Day, of course. While the film on a whole is entertaining, the first scenes set in Ireland are my favorite and I cannot help but wonder what a wonderful film this could have been had the entire picture been set there. 

Friday, March 15, 2024

The Luck of the Irish Airing Tomorrow

St. Patrick's Day, that most honored of Irish holidays, be comin' o'er the week-end and if ye be feeling for a bit o' whimsy then look no further than The Luck of the Irish, a gem of a film starring himself, that handsome lad Tyrone Power. 

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.

The Movies! channel will be airing The Luck of the Irish (1948) on Saturday at 11am EST and again on Friday, March 22nd, at 7:20am EST. 

To read our review of the film, click here. To read Movies! TV Network's article on a behind-the-scenes look at the film click here. 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

From the Archives: Carefree (1938)


Here's that dynamic dancing duo Astaire and Rogers tapping away on the beautiful hardwood floor of a set designed by Art Van Nest Polglase. Fred must have scuffed up many a floor in his day with all his toe-tapping. 

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, March 2, 2024

Streaming Picks for March


This month's lineup of films available for streaming features some entertaining British pictures including the comedy Genevieve (1953) about a man and his wife who take part in the Brighton run with their antique 1904 Darracq and the excellent adventure flick Flame Over India (released stateside as Northwest Frontier) starring Kenneth More and Lauren Bacall. Also, be sure to check out some of the Powell and Pressburger productions which are now available on FreeVee including our personal favorite I Know Where I'm Going which is set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and features the dashing Roger Livesay alongside Wendy Hiller.


Tubi TV

The Adventures of Tartu (1943)

Scott of the Antarctic (1948)

The Third Man (1949)

Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950)

Genevieve (1953)

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Flame Over India (1959)

The Apartment (1960)

The Children's Hour (1961)

Tomorrow at Ten (1964)

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Also, most of their lineup from January is still available and can be seen listed here: 

https://silverscenesblog.blogspot.com/2024/01/tubi-picks-for-january.html

Roku 

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)

Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956)

The 39 Steps (1959)

Mr. Lucky TV Series

Death on the Nile (1978)

FreeVee

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

I Know Where I'm Going (1945) 

Great Expectations (1946) 

Black Narcissus (1947)

The Red Shoes (1948)

The Great Escape (1963)

Hawaii Five-O TV series

My Favorite Martian TV series

Columbo TV series

Somewhere in Time (1978)

"I Know Where I'm Going" (1945)

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Rewind Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Back in 1864, Jules Verne penned "Journey to the Centre of the Earth", a novel about a group of intrepid individuals who undertake a subterranean journey to discover the very center of our Earth. Why would anyone want to take such a journey? As one of the explorers in this expedition explains, "Why does man freeze to death to try and reach the North Pole? Why does man drive himself to suffer the steam and heat to discover the Amazon? Why does he stagger his mind with the math of the sky? Once a question arises in the human brain the answer must be found, whether it takes a hundred years or a thousand years." 

It is the spirit of adventure that is celebrated in the act of exploring the unknown, and the ultimate aim of all Science is to penetrate this unknown. Scientists spent years exploring the many features of the earth's surface but who has penetrated its depths? Arne Saknussemm has! Or so this movie claims. The 16th-century Icelandic alchemist was ridiculed for his preposterous attempt to reach the Earth's core, but 350 years later, Professor Oliver Lindenbrook ( James Mason ) stumbles upon evidence that proves he did just that, and ventures forth to go there himself. 

By the time he leaves, the party has grown to five members: Alec ( Pat Boone ), a student of his at the University of Edinburgh; Carla ( Arlene Dahl ), the widow of a fellow explorer; a burly Icelander named Hans ( Peter Ronson ) and his pet duck Gertrude ( excellently played by herself ). Spending a year beneath the surface, they encounter a cavern of luminescent crystals, large deposits of salt, an ocean, the lost city of Atlantis, and even another explorer...bent on making sure his own name goes down in history as the first man to reach the center of the Earth!

Journey to the Center of the Earth was released in 1959 by 20th Century Fox and was the first film adaptation of Verne's popular novel. Producer Charles Brackett called the original story "a delightful book, written for young people. We simply couldn't have any solemnity about it. I wanted very much to do it at this time. I'm tired of all these films based on thoughts at the back of sick minds......Our picture describes action and events, with not the slightest shadow of Freud. The serious thing about Jules Verne is that all he does is tell a story in exciting episodes, but his stories have always pushed man a little closer towards the unknown. What we've tried to do is retell his story in the best way of all - in the Verne vernacular."
Indeed, the film captures all of the excitement of the original novel without getting bogged down with Verne's scientific details. Walter Reisch ( Gaslight, Niagara ), who had written a number of science fiction stories, was called in to adapt the novel into a script. He cleverly added story elements that made it more palatable for filmgoers, including adding an extra member of the expedition - Carla Thompson. This provided an opportunity for a touch of romance between her and Professor Lindenbrook. Arlene Dahl was excellent in this part. She made Carla an independent-thinker, strong-willed and capable and yet retained her feminine charms. Carla took on the mother-role of the group providing moral support and cooking skills and enjoyed letting the men provide for her and the rest of the group's practical needs.

The comradery between all of the members of the expedition - and the actors who portrayed these characters - is what makes Journey to the Center of the Earth particularly enjoyable to watch. They strike out on an adventure into unknown territory and, like true Victorian explorers, are heedless to the dangers that lie ahead. In jolly spirits, they take all they encounter in stride, carefully making detailed observations for those who may follow in their path, never doubting that they will return to the surface of the Earth to show others the way.

Reisch also added some introductory material to his adaptation and set the events in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, we witness Professor Lindenbrook in his native habitat, teaching geology at the University of Edinburgh. The events leading up to the journey unfold when his prize pupil Alec, gifts him with an unusual volcanic rock, a lump of lava that contains a hastily scrawled message from long-lost explorer Arne Saknussem. The intrepid professor endeavors to set off at once to follow in Arne's footsteps, but soon discovers that his secret discovery is not so very secret. Two men are already on his trail and set to foil him, one of them being the villainous Count Saknussem ( Thayer David ), a burly descendant of Arne. 

James Mason was tailor-fit for the part of the professor and gives a rousing performance. Surprisingly, Mason was not the first choice for the part. Clifton Webb was originally cast but, having recently undergone surgery, had to withdraw from the production just before shooting began because the physicality of the role would have been detrimental to his health. 
Pat Boone was obviously cast to make the film appealing to younger audiences. He does an excellent job as well, singing only two songs throughout the film ( he had more musical numbers but they were later cut ). Diane Baker was added as his love-interest, the lovely Jenny Linden. The poor girl patiently waited two years to see her sweetheart re-emerge from the depths of the earth. Also in the cast is Alan Napier, Ivan Triesault, and Edith Evanson. 

Journey to the Center of the Earth did extremely well at the box-office, raking in nearly $10,000,000 ( it had a $3.4 million budget ). It had incredible fantasy elements and showed its audience that a whale of a good time could be had beneath the Earth's crust. The Lindenbrook expedition encountered everything from man-eating lizards and giant mushrooms to the lost city of Atlantis, all without the benefit of CGI. 
The film was nominated for these special effects as well as for its art direction. The talented Lyle Wheeler was responsible for these sets, which were highly imaginative and colorful. Wheeler captured the atmosphere of old Edinburgh in the opening scenes, created the beautiful interior sets of Lindenbrook's house ( including an impressive library ), and served up a veritable smorgasbord of fanciful sets for the center-of-the-Earth sequences, including a beautiful cavern of fluorescent rocks. 

Walt Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) was one of the first color film adaptations of a Jules Verne novel and its success created a whole new genre of Victorian adventure films. Like Leagues, Journey to the Center of the Earth not only boasted beautiful sets but a striking color palette that set the tone for all other films in its genre, including The Time Machine (1960), The Lost World (1960), Mysterious Island (1961), and First Men in the Moon (1964). 
It also had an impressive score by Bernard Herrmann. The opening theme heralds the approaching adventure to be enjoyed and the rest of the score captured all the beauty, thrills, and wonderment to be found in the caverns of the deep.

Sixty years after its release, Journey to the Center of the Earth remains one of the best adventure films ever made because at the core of the film is rock-solid entertainment, pure movie magic that ignites your imagination and inspires you to set off on your own adventure. And that is the stamp of excellence for any adventure flick. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Sh! The Octopus (1937)


"Gripping!..Daring!....Too Too Touching"

So reads the advertisement. 
I thought I saw 'em all, but this film tops the Beyond Incredulous list.



Kelly and Dempsey, two befuddled detectives, are driving along a secluded road one dark and stormy night when they hear a scream and out from the woods dashes a young Joan Crawford look-alike. She promptly faints in front of them as any good Joan Crawford look-alike ought to do and then proceeds to tell them that she saw the body of her stepfather... muuuurdered....  hanging by his feet from the top of the lighthouse.... dripping blood!

"What lighthouse?" 

"The lighthouse a few miles from shore." 

"Why?" 

"My stepfather is the inventor of a radium ray gun....so powerful that whoever controls it controls the world. Every nation is searching for it!"



The super-duper high-power radium ray gun is gone? Stolen by the arch-villain The Octopus??!! ( Shhh.. )

Holy tentacles, Batman! 

Our intrepid heroes, not ones to leave a lady in distress (even though Kelly's wife is having a baby and he is leaving her in her distress), decide to pop on over to the lighthouse to investigate. After all, it's only a few miles across the ocean via motorboat in a thunderstorm...with seven foot waves. What's a little water? 


GLAboutMeBedtimeBookCover

And so begins one of the wackiest films to ever be churned out of Warner Brothers studio. 

Sh! The Octopus (1937) has rather a cult reputation of being a wild parody of old-dark-house parodies themselves. When you find a film with supporting actors such as Hugh Herbert and Allen Jenkins playing the leads, you know you are in for watching a B movie, but in this case the "B" should be for "bewaaare". It truly is surreal, folks. 


A remote lighthouse, octopi, stolen plans, secret panels, an old sea captain, a hag with a witch's cackle...all prime ingredients for a thrilling mystery are thrown in this soup and then heaped on with a goodly dollop of unabashed burlesque. 


You can tell this was originally a stage play. For a lighthouse that is miles out at sea, it can get awfully crowded and the cast members are continually disappearing into rooms we never see. There is the so-called artist who purchased the lighthouse, then a retired seaman comes into the picture, Captain Hook (don't ask), the damsel's nanny (she was out for a stroll and stumbled upon the lighthouse), and a wise-cracking dame who happened to come ashore after her ship went down. Margaret Irving plays this role and she really is the highlight of the film. If this was an Abbott and Costello picture co-starring Joan Davis this would be a six-star picture. Casting can make all the difference. 


"Sh! The Octopus" was the concoction of Donald Gallagher and Ralph Murphy, who wrote the original stage play. Donald Gallagher had scored a success with The Gorilla on stage (later made into a film) and so in 1928 he teamed up with Murphy to bring this play to the Royale Theatre in New York, where it continued on for 47 performances. Harry Kelly and Clifford Dempsey starred as Kelly and Dempsey (who else?). 


In the film version, Allen Jenkins, the Irish Brooklynite, is excellent in his role as straight-man Dempsey, while Hugh Herbert performs his routine flibberity-jibbit quite flibberly. 

My sister and I watch movies in parts just before we head off to slumberland, usually 20 minutes per night, and we laughed ourselves silly with this film. Obviously, it held our attention for 3 days! The old witch's unmasking at the end is truly harrowing too. It has amazing special effects for its time (if you don't look at the strings on the octopus). 



" Quiet, while I do a little deducting...I'm just commencing to add two and two"

" Next week you'll be working on the alphabet"

There were a number of good one-liners and alot of "woo-woo"s but the funniest aspect of the picture is the film itself. Sh! The Octopus has a hypnotic attraction that makes you want to continue watching it even though it is woefully incoherent and just plain rotten. That's the beauty of it. The playwrights either thought their audience were complete idiots or just assumed that they can feed the public any mumbo-jumbo and get away with it so long as they take on the "Surprise! it's all a dream" ending. It didn't work this time, Mr. Gallagher.


Actually, I enjoyed the exploding lighthouse end much better. They should have cut the umbilical cord right there and left the audience walking out of the theater wondering "did we really just watch that??"...something we are left wondering anyway. 

You really need to see it to believe it. 


This post is our contribution to the So Bad It's Good Blogathon being hosted by Rebecca Deniston at her blog Taking Up Room. Be sure to stop by to read more reviews of awful films that are so bad you just have to see them! 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

By Candlelight (1933)

Paul Lukas stars as Josef, a butler employed to Prince Alfred, portrayed by the dashing Nils Asther. Josef loves working for the prince because he not only admires him but wishes to emulate him... especially when it comes to the prince's wooing technique, for the prince has a reputation of being a "great lover". 

One of his favorite methods of enchanting women is by candlelight. This method involves Josef turning off the electricity in the apartment while the prince is entertaining his latest lady love. In her surprise state, the prince steals a kiss, at which point Josef enters with candles in hand and declares, "It is a power outage, milord." A simple trick, but one that the prince enjoys.

Sometimes the prince's romances are interrupted by his lover's husbands. After his latest encounter with an irate husband, Josef suggests that the villa in Monte Carlo be opened to provide the prince with a change of scenery. "A capital idea!" the prince declares. 

Josef then takes the train a day ahead of the prince to make preparations and, onboard, meets a young woman named Marie (Elissa Landi) in the dining car. He sees this as a marvelous opportunity to apply the mannerisms and phrases he learned from the prince for impressing women. Unfortunately, his play acting the prince goes a bit too far and Marie believes that Josef really is a prince, a charade he then tries to keep up in Monte Carlo. When the real prince arrives, he amusingly takes on the role of the butler!

By Candlelight, released in 1933, is an entertaining and surprisingly fast-moving romantic comedy from Universal Studios. Paul Lukas was ideally cast as the butler Josef and is charming in the role. However, it was hard for him to hold his own in any scene with Nils Asther. That Swedish actor had a mesmerizing way of stealing the spotlight. Asther played a debonair and quite convincing cad of a prince.

Since By Candlelight was filmed before the Hays Code was strictly enforced, the dialogue and visual situations are much more straight-forward then the subtle hinting techniques employed in the late 1930s sex comedies. Prince Alfred pinches women and openly flirts with married socialites while Josef proudly looks on. 

Director James Whale did a wonderful job of keeping the film amusing and not letting it get stage-bound, something that could have easily been done since it originated as an Austrian stage play. P.G. Wodehouse (the Jeeves and Wooster author) adapted "Candle Light" by Siegfried Geyer and Karl Farkas into an English play which, in turn, was purchased by Universal Pictures for filming. 

While James Whale is best known for directing horror films (The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, etc) he had the right touch for comedies and could have made a name for himself in that genre had he pursued it. He later filmed an equally amusing - and forgotten - comedy called Remember the Night? (1935).

Fortunately, By Candlelight is not so rare as to be unreleased and is available both on regular DVD and on Blu-Ray. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

From the Archives: The Light Touch (1951)

George Sanders is looking as affable as ever in this still from the 1951 thriller The Light Touch starring Stewart Granger and Pier Angeli. Pier looks like she is falling in love with Stewart..which is a shame because the film's poster foretells: "If she knew what he was, she'd never give him her youth and innocence!" You'll have to watch the film to find out if she really goes that far. 

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

Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

 

"This is a most serious matter, a most serious matter!" 

At least, that is what it appears that this man is saying. He certainly is standing in the right environment to have a serious matter on his mind, but we'll not sway you too much by sharing our thoughts. Let's see how many of you remember this scene. It's trickier than you might think!

As always, if you are not familiar with the rules to the Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie game or the prize, click here.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Our Debut Book! - Classic Films is now available on Kickstarter

 After ten years of writing posts for Silver Scenes, I have finally decided to publish a book! It is called "Classic Films - Famous and Forgotten Films" (Volume 1). This has long been a pet project that I kept putting off working on but now the gears are in motion and this book is set to become a reality in the summer of 2024. Hoorah!

Every January, the crowd-funding site Kickstarter hosts an initiative called "MAKE 100" where creators must offer a reward limited to only 100 editions. I usually take part in the MAKE 100 by restoring historic photographs, but this year I launched Classic Films and, surprisingly, it was funded within 4 days! The campaign still has 11 days to go before it concludes but I have already begun work on the book. Such fun!

If you would like to support this project, just click on the link below: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dianam/classic-films-famous-and-forgotten-films-1930-1985-vol-1?ref=2tel2s

The paperback costs $14 and the deluxe limited-edition set (includes a signed book, DVD and photo) costs $40. This will, hopefully, be the first volume in a set of 4-5 books. As most of you well know, there are thousands of films that can be reviewed so a series like this could be endless. 

Ten years' worth of reviews now being put into book-format


Each book will have about 45-60 film reviews as well as lots of themed lists to get you to explore other films in similar genres. It will also be profusely illustrated in the style of the old movie magazines of the 1930s. If there is room, I may even sneak in a few bios. 

I'm having a ball putting this project together! It is re-capturing the feelings I had when I was young and first fell in love with classic films...and I hope that anyone who reads the book will get these feel-good sensations, too.  

"Put it in me book exactly as I dictate!"