Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

Oh, now doesn't this scene look familiar! You may not know the name of this actress, but you know the film. Look at all that sheet music....and yet, she doesn't even look at it when she plays.

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Joan Fontaine - A Rising Star

JOAN FONTAINE comes close to her famous one-picture-to-stardom Rebecca role in her currently releasing Suspicion with Cary Grant. And so, the great question of whether Miss Fontaine - or Mrs. Brian Aherne, if you prefer - was a flash in the pan is definitely settled. She's not. 

She is an actress of the first water, crystal-clear, no flaws, and far outshadowing the sister who long cast a shadow over her, Olivia de Havilland. A moving, intensely human story lies behind this fait accompli. 

A blonde, Joan has more than her share of good looks and a bright and charming spirit that has made her a favorite with all Hollywood. However, as a child in Tokyo, Joan was ill a great deal of the time. She was a lonely little girl because she did not have the strength to play when her necessary schoolwork was done. After her family had moved to San Francisco, Joan regained her health in the dry, sunlit air of Saratoga. 

Five feet three inches tall, Joan weighs 108 pounds, favors outdoor sports for exercise, specifically swimming and tennis at which she is adept. Her favorite hobbies are reading history and indulging her life-long weakness for Japanese art. 

It probably was Olivia herself who first challenged Joan to be something besides Olivia's sister. Five years ago Joan was just a stock player, a girl for whom the screen producers held little promise. Olivia had arrived and great things were in store for her. She got many of them except the part of Rebecca which little sister Joan swiped right from under her nose. Joan also won or was won by the talented English actor Brian Aherne, and between them, their mutual romance worked wonders in giving Joan new self-assurance. So inspired, Joan delivered to director Alfred Hitchcock an amazing Rebecca, dissolved the shadow of Olivia, and all the time was having gruesome bouts with hay fever (which she still has in its meanest form every year). 
Suspicion, a picturization of "Before the Fact," with Alfred Hitchcock again wielding the megaphone, is the story, most difficult to convey, of what goes on in the mind of a young wife infatuated with her swashbuckling, loving husband, who in all respects but his marital fidelity is a no-good loafer with what apparently is a tendency toward homicide for funds. It is a thrilling, chilling and superbly acted drama by Grant and particularly Miss Fontaine ... despite her hay fever ... and Olivia. -Evans Plummer

Joan Fontaine never really outshadowed her sister Olivia, but she did have a unique presence onscreen and made a number of really fine films. The above portrait of her is one of the loveliest we've ever seen. This article originally appeared in Movie-Radio Guide ( Vol. 11, No. 7 ) dated the week of November 22-28th, 1941. 

Movie Magazine Articles, another one of our ongoing series, feature articles like this reprinted for our reader's entertainment. Links to the original sources are available within the body of the text. In the future, simply search "Movie Magazine Articles" to find more posts in this series or click on the tag below. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

British Pathé - Fabric Pictures by Eugenie Alexander ( 1958 )

Our latest entry in the British Pathé series spotlights a 1958 newsreel about an artist who worked with an unusual medium - fabric. Her name is Eugenie Alexander and her artwork was famous enough to warrant the publication of a book "Fabric Art" published just a year after this short 2-minute newsreel was filmed. 

These days this type of fabric artwork is often called "textile collage" and, while the announcer proclaims that it had existed since ancient Egyptian times, it was rare to find such an artist working with this medium in the 1950s and is still quite rare today ( most collage artists prefer working with paper and glue ). Still, it is a lovely and colorful form of art and Eugenie's designs bring to mind the work of Charles Wysocki who liked to evoke traditional American folk art style in his paintings. 

Eugenie's patterns also remind me of the opening title credits in Walt Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks ( 1968 ) which were created by David Jonas and made to look like the 12th-century Bayeaux tapestry....one of the most magnificent examples of ancient fabric art. Her figures are lanky and the facial features medieval. 
Eugenie's husband, Bennett Carter, holds up some of her works for the camera to see, one of which is this pretty turn-of-the-century tableau ( shown above ). Although Carter is introduced as an "artist and teacher" I was not able to discover any background history about him. 

Ready to watch Fabric Pictures? Simply click on the link below. 

British Pathé - Fabric Pictures.

Other similar British Pathé clips : 

Nature Designs in Fabric  ( 1957 ) - 3:09 min
Fabric Painting and Printing ( 1955 ) - 1:58 min

Monday, November 6, 2017

From the Archives : Miracle in the Rain ( 1956 )

Van Johnson and Jane Wyman tenderly embracing in a scene from Miracle in the Rain ( 1956 ), a touching World War II romance film. In this scene, Johnson's character was about to be called away overseas and he had a feeling it would be the last time he would see his sweetheart. 

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Devilry and Magic in Miracles for Sale ( 1939 )

Mike Morgan ( Robert Young ) is a skeptic. He was a former magician who now makes his living selling his magic tricks to other New York City magicians. "Miracles for Sale" is his tagline, and creating illusions is his racket. So, when he comes across a real-life mystery he naturally attempts to pick it apart to discover just what the "trick" is behind what he is seeing. 

Judy Barclay ( Florence Rice ) seeks Morgan's aid in unmasking a fraudulent medium and invites him to attend a seance at the apartment of Dr. Sabbatt ( Frederick Warlock ), a renowned magician. When the body of Dr. Sabbatt turns up dead in his own apartment and then disappears just minutes after being examined by the coroner, Morgan tries to unveil the trickery behind the disappearance but finds himself truly stumped. 

"Don't kid yourself....For several thousand years the human race has attempted to cross the threshold into the darkness of the unknown - call it the other world, if you like - because there is something there. And once in awhile, somebody gets pretty close to it."
Director Tod Browning, who made a name for himself with the pre-Code horror classics Dracula ( 1931 ) and Freaks ( 1932 ), directed this taut and tantalizing mystery that cleverly mixes devilry and witchcraft with modern-day magic acts. 

Miracles for Sale unites Young and Rice in the last of seven feature films they made together in the 1930s and boasts a wonderful supporting cast which includes Henry Hull, Lee Bowman, Cliff Clark, Gloria Holden, and William Demarest. Frank Craven also stars as Morgan's dad, a well-grounded man from the country who detests the hustle and bustle of New York City. 
While the gimmicks behind Miracles for Sale are quite clever ( especially the self-typing typewriter and the ghostly apparition next to Madame Rapport ), the real killer is easy to guess if you keep your eyes open wide. Diana, who has a knack for recognizing voices and faces, solved this caper within 20-minutes. 

Still, if you're looking to watch a good old-fashioned spine-tingling mystery for Halloween, you can do no better than Miracles for Sale. Tauro's snake-like eyes alone will give you the willies! 

Happy Halloween! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Quiet as a Nun ( 1978 ) - Armchair Thriller

Armchair Thriller, a short-lived British television horror series of the 1970s, featured a number of genuinely creepy serials guaranteed to cover your skin with goosebumps. One of their best was Quiet as a Nun, a six-part serial that aired between April 18th and April 27th, 1978.

This episode centered around investigative TV reporter Jemima Shore, portrayed by the lovely Maria Aitken. Shore is an independent career woman who is having an affair with a married member of Parliament. She claims to be an agnostic and yet glimpses into her heart reveal that she still carries strong feelings for the convent school where she was educated as a girl. When she reads in the newspaper that Sister Miriam, a close friend from these school years, has passed away, she heads back to Blessed Eleanor's Convent in Sussex to attend the funeral. The nun's death was shrouded in mystery, her body being found in the secluded tower of the convent just days after she had announced her plan to change her will. Sister Miriam was an heiress who was to inherit one of the largest fortunes in Britain. 


"As a tower points towards heaven, so shall a man build his life in the direction of God. Yet even the highest tower can never reach the sky. Nevertheless, Man, by the grace of God and his own faith, may expect to reach heaven one day."
Mother Ancilla ( Renée Asherson ) is disturbed by her death, as is Jemima, and she asks the reporter to spend a few weeks holiday at the convent while quietly looking into the matter. After a second nun is mysteriously murdered, Jemima finds that not only has she been swept into a dark and sinister storm of fear but that other lives, as well as her own, may be in danger.

Quiet as a Nun was based upon the 1977 Antonia Fraser novel of the same name, a novel which P.D. James called "a judicious mixture of puzzle, excitement, and terror." The book played out like an adult version of one of Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew series, but Julia Jones' engrossing screen dramatization instead paralleled Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede which featured a similar business-minded female protagonist who broke off an adulterous relationship after a visit to a convent. 

Both the Quiet as a Nun book and the television series circled around the mysterious faceless "Black Nun" who haunts the hidden passages underneath the convent, a story plot which was well adapted for both children and adult tastes, even down to the Scooby-Doo-like conclusion. 

The serial was revived for British and US audiences in 1982 as a PBS Mystery! television presentation. The popularity of this episode led ITV to produce a spin-off series in 1983 entitled Jemima Shore Investigates, which starred the equally appealing Patricia Hodge as the slender sleuth. Unfortunately, the scripts were not nearly as well written nor was the filming as expressive as in Quiet as a Nun
The serial is ideal viewing for a rainy autumn afternoon, particularly during this week approaching Halloween. It encaptures all the features you would hope to find in a ripping good mystery: secret passages, shadowy figures, cobweb invested crypts, disappearances, kidnappings, and even the prerequisite reading of a will. 

Also in the cast is Brenda Bruce as Sister Elizabeth, Sylvia Coleridge as Sister Boniface, Susan Engel as Sister Agnes, Doran Goodwin, Patsy Kensit, David Burke, and James Laurenson.

Ready to view Quiet as a Nun? Simply click here to watch it on Youtube. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

British Pathé - Masks

There is such a wealth of visual material to be found online and delving into it on a daily basis is as refreshing as taking a swim in a cool pool. One of the most interesting fountains in the Youtube stream of entertainment is the British Pathé Collection, an archive of 85,000 newsreel and documentary clips dating from the 1910s to the 1970s. 

Since we enjoy sharing the film/TV treasures we are continually discovering, we are going to launch a new series highlighting some of the gems to be found in the British Pathé collection. These short posts will be released on a monthly basis, but please don't let this schedule stop you from perusing these clips in your own free time. They're inexhaustible. And quite entertaining. 

With Halloween fast approaching, we're going to start the series off with Masks, an approximately 4-minute collection of three separate newsreels dating from the mid-1930s. The first briefly shows the famous Polish artist Władysław T. Benda and his wife with some of the beautiful life-like masks that he made for costume parties and theatrical shows. Benda also created the original mask for the 1932 film The Mask of Fu Manchu. In the photo above, Jean Arthur is holding up one of Benda's creations. 
The next is a short clip of Swiss people in costume for their annual springtime celebration, and lastly, we see Duncan Melvin displaying some traditional ancient masks of African, Indian, and Australian cultures for initiations, witch-doctoring, and devilry. 

Mr. Melvin was the host of a 1937 television documentary series called Masks of the World ( yes, by golly, television was around back then ). For this series, he not only showed his audiences various masks from around the world but he would also demonstrate different mask-making techniques from artists such as Oliver Messel, Angus MacBean, and Henry Moore. 
For the British Pathé series, we'll be showcasing clips that cover a wide variety of rare and unusual subjects: the history of beards, miniature model-makers, cowboy artists, legends of Scotland, convent life, English royalty, sheep-herding, wallpaper production, etc. We hope you'll follow along and enjoy the series! 

Ready to watch Masks?

British Pathé  - Masks 
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