Friday, May 31, 2024

Mosquito Squadron (1969)

During World War II, Londoners not only had to contend with German bombers destroying the streets and homes of their fair city but with a new kind of ballistic missile as well. It was known as the "V2" and was developed by Wernher von Braun, whom the United States government later recruited for the U.S. Space program during the 1950s and 1960s. 

These V2 rockets were devilishly tricky to destroy since they were unmanned flying bombs that soared at speeds of over 2,000 mph and would land randomly on targets throughout London. Anti-aircraft guns positioned outside the city limits fired at them - if they were lucky enough to be forewarned of their approach - but rarely hit a V2.

In Mosquito Squadron, David McCallum plays Quint Monroe, a flight squadron leader whose mission is to destroy a factory where the new V3 long-range multi-stage rockets are being built. Sounds simple enough... until it is revealed that this "factory" is an underground bunker hidden in a tunnel within the confines of Château de Charlon, a chateau in Northern France. In order to drop bombs within the tunnel, the de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bombers are to be equipped with a newly developed "rolling bomb" (they bounce more than roll). Quint and his group have 10 days to practice aiming these rolling bombs with a makeshift tunnel set-up.

The mission becomes even more difficult when the Nazis drop a film canister at the RAF squadron base showing that the RAF prisoners they had previously captured are being held at Château de Charlon. "Come and bomb us!" they seem to tease, knowing a murderous mission such as that would be unthinkable.

Mosquito Squadron
is a grand WWII action-adventure film that packs in a lot of drama and tension within its 86-minute runtime. It also features a rousing theme by Frank Cordell (Khartoum). The film was made on a budget and so, if you're a WWII film fan, you will recognize some of the aerial footage from 633 Squadron which was released just five years prior by United Artists. 

David McCallum is a quiet leading man and not very expressive but fortunately his wooden features were convincing for this role. Like General Frank Savage in the television series Twelve O'Clock High, his character has seen a lot of this friends shot down and has come to view life impassively. When the plane of his surrogate brother Scotty (David Buck) is shot down before his very eyes, Quint has to break the news of his death to Scotty's wife and parents. Not an easy task. 

Suzanne Neve (Scrooge) portrays Scotty's wife Beth. Quint was once in love with Beth but after Scotty's death he finds it difficult to think of romancing her, even though she is welcoming to his approach. 

Unlike many films of the late 1960s, Mosquito Squadron is devoid of any bedroom scenes and what I like best about it is how colorful the movie is - another feature you don't often find in a film bordering the 1970s era of dark and drabby film-making. There are certainly no dark sequences in this picture and even the interior office shots are brightly lit. 

Quint drives a sporty red 1935 Godsal roadster and the scenes around the Hertfordshire country of England are lovely. Keen fans of The Avengers television series will recognize the old brick bridge where Diana Rigg fought an assailant in "You Have Just Been Murdered".

The remaining cast of military men include a number of familiar faces even though their names would elude most viewers: Charles Gray, Dinsdale Landen, Bryan Marshall, Robert Urquhart, and David Dundas. 

Mosquito Squadron is available via streaming on Tubi and also on DVD. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

British Pathe - Budgerigar Garden (1956)

For this month's British Pathé post, we have a very short film clip of Mrs. Rosemary Upton and her budgerigar garden in Margaretting, Essex. Mrs. Upton bred budgerigars and was courageous enough to add a flap to her aviary to let the little fellows get some free-fly time. 

Seeing her walk around hunting for the stray budgies reminded me of our own dear little budgie "Gigi" who twice escaped from her cage and flew loose in our neighborhood. I sent my dad after her with a butterfly net and was so glad when he managed to catch her in the backyard of a neighbor several houses away from ours. From then on, I always double-checked to make sure the door was closed on her cage before taking her outside with me. 

Budgerigars are an Australian species of parakeet, cute as a button. They became extremely popular pet birds all over Europe, the UK, and in the States. Our local drugstore used to stock them for only $5 a piece, but now they tend to sell at pet stores for $40 each.... still a great price for a wonderful little bird. 

In this British Pathé clip, Mrs. Upton has a fine collection of varied colored budgeriars. I wasn't able to find any follow-up information about this woman and her aviary in Essex but I hope she kept it running for many years. Be sure to check out the links below to see other videos featuring these feathered beauties.

Ready to watch Budgerigar Garden (1956)? Simply click on this link

Similarly themed British Pathe shorts:

Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

The sign reads "QUIET" and quiet means quiet! This librarian certainly wouldn't tolerate any hooliganism in the library during her shift.

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

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Counter-Attack (1960)

A little-known fact of World War II history is that the German forces occupied the Channel Islands for five long years. We all know that stalwart English citizens such as Professor Emelius Brown and Eglantine Price helped to stave off coastal attacks from German troops, but how many of us know that nearly 20,000 Germans were parked only 80 miles from England's shore?

Whether this is news to you or not, you are sure to enjoy Counter-Attack, a wonderful seven-part children's miniseries that showed how three youths - Terry, Cliff, and Carol - reacted to the Nazi occupation of their homeland in 1940. 

Like most Brits, they instinctively knew to spit in the eyes of the Nazis. However, Terry (14-year-old Jeremy Bulloch) the eldest of the main characters, feels that tripping soldiers and throwing mud in their face isn't quite enough and so he decides to turn the children's club - the Argos - into a counter-attack unit of resistance. 

Hidden away in an old mill and armed with a crude radio set, the children plan out their attacks and then relay messages to British forces on the mainland. The British officers receiving these messages do not realize that the mysterious "Argo" are a group of children and so they tell them to be on the lookout for an agent that they will be sneaking onto the island at midnight. Their task is to hide him from the Nazis and aid him in destroying the German's ammunition dump. How exciting! Things get really hot to handle when Major Wolf (Joseph Furst) of the German army and his junior officer Kurt billets the house where the children are staying.

Counter-Attack was released on television in the U.K. in January of 1960...just twenty years after the occupation of the Channel Islands, so many viewers vividly remembered the experiences and feelings the characters were going through. While the series was aimed at children, it is entertaining for all ages. Cliff and Carol's older sister Jean (Etain O'Dell) has a slight romance with the agent (Oliver Neville) the children are hiding out and there is enough wartime excitement to keep the adults hooked. 

ITV producer Sidney Newman announced in a TV Times interview that "..if [the series] is one tenth as fantastic as the truth about the wartime occupation of the Channel Islands, I will be happy!" Well, he had much to be pleased about with Peter Ling's script even though Ling knew that the teatime adventure series would be "on the cautious side". Mary Field, the programme advisor, drew on her own experiences of growing up on the Channel Islands during the occupation and Ling wove these reminiscences into his script. 

All of the child actors do a good job with their parts, especially Jeremy Bulloch who did a number of children's series in the early 1960s but is probably best known for playing Boba Fett in the Star Wars franchise. Young Cliff (Murray Yeo) could be a handful at times, but that was what created most of the drama for the episodes' cliffhangers. Children aren't always as cautious as their parents would hope. 

Counter-Attack has not yet been released on DVD but is available for viewing online. 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Film Albums: Nelson Riddle Plays TV Themes

Nelson Riddle's name seems to be synonymous with Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, but this talented arranger/composer cut a pile of albums bearing his own name. "Route 66 Theme and Other Great TV Themes" and "More Hit TV Themes" are two albums that feature Riddle's sizzling arrangements for television themes... and some of them are very imaginative! 

This is the first LP we've ever come across that had a reinterpretation of the famous Andy Griffith Show theme and Riddle's cha-cha rendition of My Three Sons is so catchy it should have been swapped with Frank DeVol's original version.  Riddle also included a lot of brassy versions of the famous detective and legal drama themes of the day, including The Untouchables, The Defenders and Sam Benedict. Among the western shows, Bonanza and Have Gun Will Travel are included, but - my personal favorite - is the not-often-heard Lucy Show theme. 

Click here to listen to both albums on Youtube.

Route 66 and Other TV Themes

Side One:

Route 66

The Alvin Show

The Andy Griffith Show

Ben Casey

My Three Sons

The Untouchables

Side Two:

Naked City

Sing Along

The Defenders

Sam Benedict

Dr. Kildare

This Could Be the Start of Something Big

More Hit TV Themes

Side One:

The Beverly Hillbillies


Moon River

Stoney Burke

McHale's Navy

The Dickens and Fenster March

Side Two:


Have Gun, Will Travel

The Lucy Show

The Lawrence Welk Show

The New Naked City

The Dick Van Dyke Show

Top Picks: The Andy Griffith Show, This Could Be the Start of Something, Lucy Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show

Thursday, May 9, 2024

From the Archives: Another Time, Another Place (1958)

Glynis Johns had a whale-of-a-tale to tell about how she caught that fish... although I suspect it was the gentleman who really snagged this shark. This was taken on the coast of England in Polperro during the making of Another Time, Another Place (1958).

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: