Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Master of the World (1961)

In Morgantown, Pennsylvania, in 1868, a giant voice was heard booming from the mountain ridge known as The Great Eyrie. It was quoting from the Holy Book. John Strock (Charles Bronson), an agent for the United States Department of the Interior, decides to investigate this phenomenon and asks inventor/arms manufacturer Mr. Prudent (Henry Hull) to journey up to the mountain with him in his air balloon. Going along the ride is Prudent's daughter Dorothy (Mary Webster) and her fiancée Philip (David Frankham). 

However, the foursome never make it to the summit because their balloon is shot down by a giant airship called The Albatross. At the helm is Robur, a Nemo-like character who wants to stop warfare by forcing nations to disarm by the threat of destroying their instruments of war. Strock and the others are held prisoners onboard the Albatross until Strock hatches a plan to destroy Robur and his flying weapon. 

Producer Samuel Arkoff is best-known for his budget horror films (War of the Zombies, The Raven) and beach-party comedies (Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo) but Master of the World, released in 1961, marked his foray into Irwin Allen's territory of family-friendly sci-fi adventure. It wasn't a bad venture, either. 

Charles Bronson plays a likeable hero; the rest of the cast are engaging enough (especially Henry Hull), and the set design and bright color schemes are pleasant on the eye. The story, based on two novels by Jules Verne, is pretty much "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" now set in the air. Vincent Price plays a good Robur, but he lacks the convincing anguish that James Mason gave to Nemo in the 1954 classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and it is hard to feel compassion for his character. Perhaps it is because the audience is never given a reason why Robur is bent against stopping warfare, unlike Nemo whose family was killed in a war. 

The film could have used a sprinkling of comedy. 20th Century Fox's excellent sci-fi adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth was released just two years prior to Master of the World but what a world of difference in terms of production quality and entertainment. Master of the World would have been marvelous with James Mason, Pat Boone, Diane Baker and perhaps Richard Haydn cast as the aerial prisoners. Vito Scotti's kitchen humor just wasn't enough to add the element of fun to Master of the World, something the film needed. 

Nevertheless, the movie is one that I can re-watch numerous times. It is a classic steampunk picture released years before the term was even invented. 

The music, by conductor Les Baxter, is lovely and the supporting cast, made up of several less-known players are good in their parts. David Frankham, who plays Philip, was a familiar face on the small screen where he did numerous guest appearances in sitcoms, westerns, and dramas throughout the 1960s. Mary Webster was also a television actress (Arkoff was always mindful of the budget) and this was one of the rare feature films she made. Henry Hull was one of the few big-names on the roster, being an old character actor from the 1940s.

American International Pictures released Master of the World along with Konga as a double-feature in 1961, so if sci-fi did not appeal to the audience they could be entertained by a gorilla.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

British Pathé: Royal Film Performance of 1962

This month's British Pathé newsreel features color footage from the 1962 Royal Film Performance which had Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, and Lord Snowdon in attendance....not to mention 16 big-name stars who were presented to the queen prior to the showing. These included Yul Brynner, Cliff Richard, Melina Mercouri, Pat Boone, Horst Bucholz, Peter Sellers, Janet Munro, Peter Finch, and Leslie Caron. Also in attendance was Richard Beymer and director Robert Wise, which may give you a hint to what film was chosen for the Royal Performance, something the announcer failed to mention: West Side Story. I think Queen Elizabeth was in for a treat at the movies. 

Instead of linking to the video on Youtube, we are just going to embed it right here so you can easily watch it. 

Other similarly themed British Pathe shorts: 

Royal Film Performance (1956) - 1:31 sec 

Royal Film Performance ( 1959 ) - 2:05 sec

Royal Film Performance (1969) - 1:11 sec 

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Film Albums: Lee Evans Plays Themes from Great Motion Pictures

There was a plethora of great piano music albums released in the 1960s. Most of them were from the "big names" like Ferrante and Teicher, Horst Jankowski, Liberace or Frankie Carle... but a name that deserves to rank among those famous ivory-ticklers is Lee Evans. 

Evans name may not be familiar to most people because he worked behind-the-marquee as a music director for Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Carol Channing and others. He also was the creative talent behind nearly 90 songbooks released through Hal Leonard Publishing, so if you play the piano yourself, you've probably been playing Lee Evans arrangements. 

Evans released five albums in the 1960s with Capitol and MGM Records, all of which are excellent. If we had to choose a favorite it would be Lee Evans Plays Themes from Great Motion Pictures, naturally because it features film themes. 

Evans style is similar to Ferrante and Teicher with numerous trickly arpeggios and lush strings accompanying him, but the arrangements (by Dick Hyman) are unique and lovely to listen to. This album (MGM, SE-4460) has three particularly must-listen-to pieces: "Early in the Morning", a Frank DeVol piece from The Happening (1967), a sporty version of Georgy Girl, and a haunting rendition of "Wednesday's Child", made famous by Matt Monro. 

Track Listing

Side One

Born Free

Theme from "The Sand Pepples"

A Man and a Woman

Early in the Morning ("The Happening")

Warning Shot

Tara's Theme

Side Two:

Georgy Girl

Lara's Theme

Theme from "The Deadly Affair"

Wednesday's Child from "Quiller Memorandum"

Hurry Sundown Blues

This is My Song

Top Picks: Theme from The Sand Pebbles, Early in the Morning, Lara's Theme, The Deadly Affair, Wednesday's Child

Sunday, July 7, 2024

From the Archives: The Deadly Mantis (1957)


William Hopper is giving Craig Stevens a hearty hello handshake but the Air Force-man only has eyes for Alix does the men behind him. Of course, later all of them are more concerned about the giant mantis than romancing women from Washington. 

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, June 29, 2024

Tommy Ivo - Child Actor and Drag Racer

Tommy Ivo's name often comes up when one mentions child actors of the 1940s and 1950s, but did you know that his name is more recognized in racing circles than at film clubs? Ivo became popular as a drag strip racer in the 1960s-1990s where he was known as "TV Tommy". 

Tommy Ivo began making films when he was 7-years old and starred with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood (William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Donna Reed, etc) but, like many child stars, once he sprouted, he was no longer in demand. So, in the 1950s, Ivo turned his attention to his love of racing and floored anything with four-wheels. He raced the Twin Buick in the late 1950s which broke the speed records for a gas-powered dragster, it also won NASCAR's first National Drag Race. 

In the 1960s, he raced nitro-powered dragsters which he designed (notably "The Barnstormer" and "The Streamliner") and even toured England to promote drag racing. By the 1970s, he was one of the most popular guest performers at any drag racing event and in 2005 was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. 

AMT's Tommy Ivo Streamliner plastic model car kit

Today, at the age of 88, Tommy still makes rare appearances at racing events. To read more about Tommy Ivo and his career, check out his website

This entry is a part of our latest series entitled "Did You Know?".....sometimes we just feel like sharing interesting fragments of television and movie history and now we have a place to do just that. If you have a hot tip that you would like us to share on Silver Scenes, drop us a line!

Thursday, June 27, 2024

MeTV Toons - A New Cartoon Channel

On June 25th, 2024, MeTV debuted a new channel devoted strictly to cartoons: MeTV Toons. This was obviously in response to viewers requesting more cartoons than what was offered through MeTV's regular morning "toons" lineup on Toon in with Me

What a great selection of cartoons this new channel has to offer! In addition to Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo, Casper, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, there are also shows that are not as frequently shown on mainstream TV like Atom Ant, Wacky Races, The Peter Potamus Show, Marine Boy, Popeye and Pals, Inspector Gadget and The Underdog Show. Best of all is the Cartoon All-Stars Hour playing at 1pm EST and 10pm EST which features the oldies-but-goodies from the golden age of Hollywood (Warner Bros, MGM, Columbia, Fleisher and other studios). 

24-hours of toons. Sounds good to me! 

To see what channel MeTV Toons plays in your area, check out their website here. The colorful site also offers some great toon-related articles and games. 

Friday, June 21, 2024

June Bride (1948)

Hours before embarking on an assignment, magazine editor Linda Gilman (Bette Davis) has been thrust with a new reporter who happens to be her old lover, foreign correspondent Carey Jackson (Robert Montgomery). The two bickering sweethearts are heading to Indiana with a staff of workers to cover the wedding of two young lovebirds for the June issue of "Home Life".

From the onset, Linda finds herself beset with problems: the McKinley-era house needs updating to bring it into Truman-era style, the February snow outside the windows needs to be disguised to look like June sunshine but, worst of all, the bride needs to be found after she runs off with an old beau named Jim! 

This last problem Linda blames on Carey whom she believes lured Jim back with the intent to break up the wedding. Why? Because she thinks Carey sneers at old-fashioned happily-ever-after wedding stories and would rather have a fresh "angle" to an article then pen a simple straightforward love piece. 

Over the course of one busy week, Linda finds she may have misjudged Carey. 

If June Bride plays out like a filmed adaptation of a popular Broadway comedy, it is because it was a play, but one that went unproduced - "Feature for June" by Graeme Lorimer, Sarah Lorimer and Elaine Tighe. Screenwriter Ranald MacDougall adapted it but something was lost in the translation. The script is witty enough (it earned the Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Comedy) and the players all handle their parts capably but, overall, the picture lacks In short, it falls flat. Whether this is director Bretaigne Windust's fault is difficult to determine but June Bride certainly could have been enhanced in the hands of a better director. Preston Sturges would have done wonders with this material and cast! 

Nevertheless, on its release it was a critical and box-office success and Bette Davis' contract with Warner Brothers was renewed for four more pictures (Bette only made one more film with the studio before walking out on her contract).

Bette Davis looked chic and youthful in the film and was bedecked in outfits designed by Edith Head. In spite of playing a successful single working woman, her character would be pooh-poohed by modern feminists because ultimately she chooses to "carry the bags" and walk two steps behind her man. 

Supporting roles went to Tom Tully (a fine actor in every film he made), Fay Bainter, Jerome Cowan and Mary Wickes. The younger roles were well-played by Betty Lynn (The Andy Griffith Show), Barbara Bates and Raymond Roe (The Major and the Minor).

Thursday, June 13, 2024

AI Classic Movie Art

Whether you like AI (artificial intelligence) or not, it is the wave of the future and is here to stay. Right now, it is in its burgeoning infancy but even as a mere tot, it impresses me every day. For the past year, I've been enjoying playing with Midjourney AI, a text-to-picture image generator and - almost on a daily basis - I think of "prompts" to send it off on a picture-making journey. It is unlimited to what it can output and it is always exciting to think of new keywords to try. The only downside to this app is that I cannot think of a darn thing to do with all of the pictures it creates! 

Since I "made" a number of images already, I thought it would be fun to share some of the Midjourney creations here on the blog... especially since most of them are classic movie related. Each month I will post a few pictures from a hodge-podge of topics (feel free to suggest some, too) and all of the posts will begin with the heading "Midjourney at the Movies" so you can easily find them - or avoid them, if you'd rather. I will also share some images that others created with a classic movie theme. 

Before I begin however, let's give a brief overview of what Midjourney is capable of doing. I won't go into details on how AI works because I haven't a clue how it does, but I can tell you what it can and cannot do:

The app allows you to use phrases called "prompts" that dictate what you want it to create in the picture it is building. All prompts begin with "Imagine". Here is an example "/imagine a screenshot from a 1937 MGM film starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, Clark Gable is wearing a white suit and is standing next to Joan Crawford, they are at a racetrack"

Thirty-seconds later this image pops up:

By default, Midjourney gives you four variations to choose from. You can re-generate your prompt and it will give you four fresh choices, or you can pick one of them and refine it. Let's get four fresh ones instead because none of these fellows look like Clark Gable or an old movie. 

/imagine a DVD screenshot from an old 1937 black-and-white MGM film starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, Clark Gable is wearing a white suit and is standing next to Joan Crawford, they are at a racetrack --ar 4:3 

I've added some more description and also changed the output aspect ratio to 4:3. The more details the better the output but if you add too many the machine jumbles things up (e.g. it may give Joan Crawford a Gable-like mustache). 20-seconds later here is what pops up:

Better, but they still don't look like Gable and Crawford. By default, Midjourney does not duplicate faces exactly... although sometimes it can come really close to capturing the features of a particular person. Also, you cannot prompt it to create anything indecent. Keywords like "topless" or "naked" would give you a rejection message. It abides by the Hayes Code, thank goodness. ;-)

But we can help it create faces closer to Gable and Crawford. So I will repeat the same prompt and this time provide it with image urls to Clark Gable and Joan Crawford facial portraits.  

It does a great job of smooshing hundreds of people's faces into one. These actresses all look like Hollywood stars and yet they don't look like any one actress in particular...and certainly not like Joan Crawford (although that woman in the bottom right image does have a hint of a Crawfordesque glance). 

Let's click on the Regenerate button and get four fresh shots:

I like the bottom right photo so I will upscale it (that means select it) and not only does it give you a larger resolution image but there are also more bells and whistles and magic buttons to play with then. My favorite is the Vary Region button. By clicking on this, I can lasso an area that I want to change/regenerate without affecting the rest of the image. Since the AI version of Clark Gable looks pretty good here, I just want to change Joan Crawford. 

And 30-seconds later, here is the result: 

Oops! Now how did that happen? Unfortunately, the machine can often take a turn into the Land of Bizarre on a whim. You just have to put up with its quirks. I wonder what became of the woman who didn't look like Joan Crawford?

Let's try this again. 40-seconds later: 

Oh dear. Perhaps it is past its bedtime. 

That dress with the little hands sticking out of it will never catch on. 

Anyway... you get the idea of how it works. You just have to play with the buttons. As Midjourney's own instructions state "Experiment and have fun!". Which is just what I will be doing. You can check out what I create in future posts but, for now, here are a few (better) creations from other Midjourney users as well as my own:

Here's a lovely 1940s style Kodak publicity photo of the famous redhead Lucille Ball. It did a good job of creating a 1940s-style dress and the image even looks hand-color tinted. 

This one is really neat. A user prompted "Rue McClanahan as a Southern belle" and look what Mr. Midjourney came up with. The texture of the dress and the feathers is quite amazing. 

As tempting as it is to use the generator to get an exact result, it's much more fun to "see what it comes up with". One user prompted a fictional name "Salarda de Cadenet, Hollywood actress, diva extraordinaire" and wow! what a great image. 

Martha Scott as Hera, the Ancient Greek goddess. Midjourney doesn't just make photos, it really excels at doing different textured images. This was prompted with the keywords "1960s magazine pulp art" and look how it captured the colors and the half-tone screen printing of an old magazine. 

Here's a book cover painting of "A 40-year-old John Wayne as a US Navy Seal". Clever prompt. 

A 1980s style painted movie poster with a lead character like Lee Majors. Pretty good. 

And speaking of paintings, this one is amazing: "a 1965 Rolly Crump concept illustration of Dame Judi Dench as Witch Hazel from the movie Pufnstuf". There are loads of possibilities to try with that prompt alone!

Well, I think that is enough to get started on. This "Midjourney at the Movies" series will reappear monthly or just when I feel like sharing some interesting creations... and there are a ton of them so I hope you will check out future posts in this series. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

We have a doozy of a screenshot to share this month. It is obviously a scene of a lab but what kind of lab we will let you figure out... once you get that clue then you might be able to guess what movie this scene is from. ;-)

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

Saturday, June 8, 2024

From the Archives: The Treasure of Lost Canyon (1952)


Three happy people... Julie Adams is looking lovely, Charles Drake is handsome as usual, and the little smiling boy is Tommy Ivo pictured here in this still from the little-known western The Treasure of Lost Canyon (1952). 

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:

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:

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

PBS Retro - A New TV Channel

Last year I was feeling nostalgic and wanted to watch some older episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood but sadly, I couldn't find any free episodes on any of the streaming services on Roku. Every episode since the beginning of Mister Rogers Neighborhood was available on Amazon Prime for $1.99 an episode, but shucks.... none for free! Luckily, I discovered and this site offers six episodes of the show rotated twice a month, so that fed my desire temporarily. 

However, patience is always rewarded. This morning, I discovered PBS Retro, a new channel available on Live Roku and - surprise! - 1970s and 1980s-era episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood play every morning from 10am-12pm EST (also at other times during the day).

A quick search online told me that PBS Retro is only a few weeks old. This channel is one of six free PBS channels available to stream, including PBS Food, PBS Antiques Road Show, Antiques Road Trip, PBS Nature, and the Julia Child channel. 

In addition to airing episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, PBS Retro also includes 1970s, 80s, and 90s classics like Kratts' Creatures, Thomas and Friends, Reading Rainbow, and Zoboomafoo. Unfortunately, no Wishbone, Electric Company, or NOVA, but I haven't checked out the channel at all times during the day, so perhaps they will pull out on occasion some rarities from their archives. Anyone remember 3-2-1 Contact? But right now, I am pleased that they are offering this - and the commercials are few. If you are looking for episodes of Painting with Bob Ross, old episodes of Fireman Sam, or This Old House there already are channels devoted to these shows on Roku. 

Happy days are here again!

Saturday, April 27, 2024

April in Paris (1952)

S. Wintrop Putnam made a terrible mistake. As Assistant Secretary to the Assistant to the Undersecretary of State, his task was to send an invitation to Ethel Barrymore asking her to visit Paris as a personal representative of the American theater at the International Festival of Arts. Instead, he addressed the invitation to Ethel "Dynamite" Jackson, a New York City chorus girl(!).

His faux-pas turns out to be "a stroke of genius!" and S.Wintrop (Ray Bolger) is sent to accompany the well-built Miss Jackson (Doris Day) on her ocean voyage to Paris - and naturally falls in love with her en route. 

April in Paris was one of the many comedy-musicals that Doris Day made in the early 1950s. It does not rank as one of her best, but it has its funny moments, especially during the shipboard scenes. Director David Butler, always a reliable professional, seems to have done his best with the material he had but the material he had was not substantial to begin with. Jack Rose's script needed more broader humor to support its thin plot or else a stronger - and sillier - leading man, such as Danny Kaye. 

As it is, the film feels like it was rushed into production and the script was hastily written while shooting began. Gay ooh-la-la Paree deserved better. 

French actor Claude Dauphin was given a large supporting role as a friend of both Ethel and Wintrop, but even this part needed a man with a more vibrant personality, like Fernandel. Fortunately, both Doris Day and Ray Bolger had plenty of opportunity to sing and dance and they were best in their numbers together. The "I'm Gonna Ring the Bell Tonight" performance is especially fun. Other songs included the titular "April in Paris" by Yip Harberg, and "That's What Makes Paris Paree", where Doris Day showed off one of the many beautiful Leah Rhodes costumes for the film.

The supporting cast of April in Paris included Eve Miller as Winthrop's betrothed, Paul Harvey and George Givot. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game


Good heavens! Just when you think these games couldn't get any harder, you see a scene like this....blurry men walking blurry dogs. It just happens to be a lousy screenshot, because the film is quite clear - in fact, it has been released several times on DVD in various restored editions.

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


Congratulations to Damsbo for correctly identifying this screenshot from the 1932 Rouben Mamoulian film "Love Me Tonight" starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. In this scene, Maurice has just saddled up to the wild horse Solitude and is about to embark on his first stag-hunt. 

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.