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: 


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:

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:


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)


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)