Saturday, July 15, 2017

Scaramouche ( 1952 )

"He was born with the gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad"

Raphael Sabatini's classic 1921 novel "Scaramouche" was made into three film adaptations over the years, including a 1956 television series, but hands down this Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer version starring the engaging English actor Stewart Granger tops them all. Why? Because the film accomplished that rare feat of improving upon the novel it was based on. Scaramouche ranks as one of the best swashbuckling films of the 1950s, and even boasts the longest and most intricate fencing duel in Hollywood's history. 

Stewart Granger stars as our dashing hero Andre-Louis Moreau, a young lawyer who dedicates years of his life to avenge the death of his best friend ( Richard Anderson ) who was killed in a duel by the Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr ( Mel Ferrer ), a master swordsman. He joins a traveling theatre group where he dons the mask of Scaramouche, the star comedian, in order to hide from the Marquis' soldiers who have ordered Andre arrested as a revolutionary. Even with his dogged determination to pin down the Marquis, Andre takes time off from his fencing lessons to woo Lenore ( Eleanor Parker ), a flaming red-headed actress and Aline de Gavrillac ( Janet Leigh ), the pretty young ward of the Marquis. 

"But who is Scaramouche? And why does he hide his face behind a mask?"
Scaramouche plunges the audience right into the action from the on-start, packing a lot of story in its 115-minute run time. It features a marvelous cast, excellent cinematography, stunning costumes and sets ( credit Gile Steele and Cedric Gibbons, respectively ), and a lovely Victor Young score ( the end music is especially apropos ). In short, it's a rousing good swashbuckler! 

Veteran director George Sidney, who was especially adept at filming musicals ( Anchors Aweigh, The Harvey Girls, Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss Me Kate ), took the helm of this classic, staging all of the sword-fighting sequences as though they were dance numbers. These fencing "ballets" are a highlight of this colorful film and the climatic eight-minute duel sequence between Granger and Ferrer is justly famous for it took these actors eight weeks of training to get their fencing movements precise. 

"Scaramouche, you have just given your last performance!"

European fencing champion Jean Heremans provided Stewart Granger with fencing lessons and he delighted in doing all of his own stunts. Granger was ideally cast as the rakish lad born with the gift of laughter. He brought a playful exuberance to the character which was a key element in bringing Sabatini's novel to life. 

Granger had seen the original 1923 silent version ( starring Ramon Navarro and Lewis Stone ) as a child and when he was offered a contract by MGM, he signed it on the condition that Scaramouche would be developed as a project for him. 

The studio had toyed with remaking the film for years, first in 1938 with Fernand Gravet, and then as a possible musical version with Gene Kelly or Fernando Lamas in the starring role, so when Granger suggested the book as a vehicle for himself it was swiftly put into production. Since MGM studios always treated novel-based films with reverence, Scaramouche went to the top of their release schedule as an A-picture. 
Elizabeth Taylor was originally slated to play the part of Aline de Gavrillac, but had to turn down the role because she was already signed for another picture. Ava Gardner was also to have been in the film, in Eleanor Parker's role. However, this was a fortunate swap for Eleanor Parker is excellent as the feisty Lenore. 

Rounding out the cast was Henry Wilcoxon, Nina Foch ( as Marie Antoinette ), Lewis Stone, Robert Coote, and Elisabeth Risdon. 

This post is our contribution to The Swashathon being hosted by Movies Silently. Be sure to head on over to Movies Silently site to check out other great reviews of classic swashbuckling films. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Yellow Jack ( 1938 )

For hundreds of years people on the island of Cuba - and throughout other parts south of the equator - were dying of yellow fever, a disease that many doctors believed was unpreventable and, if not caught in time, incurable. What baffled these men of medicine the most was the fact that they were unable to determine what triggered yellow fever. Was it caused by germs in the air? Bad food? Sweat from dirty clothing? Was the disease something that spread from person to person? 

According to MGM's Yellow Jack, all these questions were answered in 1898 when, at a United States Marine camp in Cuba, three doctors ( Lewis Stone, Henry Hull, Stanley Ridges ), along with the aid of five brave guinea pigs....ahem, volunteer soldiers....tested out the theory of Dr. Finlay, a Scotsman who believed that yellow fever came from the bite of an infected mosquito. Other scientists felt this was the likely cause, too, but with over 700 species of mosquitoes on the island, they didn't even know where to begin their investigations as to which species was the culprit. Thankfully, Dr. Finlay ( Charles Coburn ) made the study of those bugs his life's work and had solved that mystery years prior. Now, with five plucky soldiers on hand ( Robert Montgomery, Alan Curtis, Sam Levene, Buddy Ebsen, and William Henry ) he was given the opportunity to put his theories into action. 
Yellow Jack was based upon the 1934 Sidney Howard-Paul de Kruif play of the same name, which starred James Stewart in the lead role as the Irish sergeant John O'Hara. It was his performance in this play that led to him coming out to Hollywood and signing an MGM contract. He could have done an excellent job with this part, but Robert Montgomery was given the lead instead and unknowing film audiences didn't mind the change for Yellow Jack did fairly well at the box-office. Robert Montgomery and Henry Hull ( certainly an underrated actor ) both give good performances and George B. Seitz directs the action with a steady hand. Both Seitz and Louis Stone were probably enjoying this trek in the jungle as a change of pace from the Andy Hardy films. 
Pretty Virginia Bruce, the only female lead in the film, portrays the nurse whom Robert Montgomery's heart thumps for. He's not as concerned about finding a cure for yellow fever, as much as finding a cure for the love-bug. He fails to realize that the interest she pays to him is merely out of her itching desire to find a soldier willing to stake his life for the cause of science and humankind. But ultimately, she falls for the winsome ways of the sergeant and comes to admire his selflessness as much as the audience does. 

For a decade after the release of The Story of Louis Pasteur in 1935, "medical discovery" pictures were a popular genre. These films usually featured stellar casts, engrossing scripts, and a touch of romance. Yellow Jack embraces all these aspects, too, with an added bit o' Irish humor. It is well worth watching on a hot and sticky day....just be sure to have your mosquito netting handy. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

From the Archives : Old Yeller ( 1957 )

Dorothy McGuire is spending a little bonding time off the set of Old Yeller with her leading player, Spike, in this rare candid photo. Spike portrayed "Old Yeller" in the 1957 Walt Disney classic. He later moved on to television work, appearing as a regular in The Westerner and a few episodes of Lassie

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 :

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Nugget Reviews - 23

Johannisnacht ( 1956 )  14k 

An opera singer divorces her husband shortly after an extended performing tour in America. Years later, she returns to Germany to see her daughter whom her husband hid away in a chalet in the valley. Willy Birgel, Hertha Feiler, Erik Schumann, Sonja Sutter, Wolfgang Grunner. MGM Pictures. Directed by Harald Reinl.

A sweet romance from Delos-Film studios. Austrian-born Hertha Feiler, who often starred in comedies with her husband Heinz Ruhmann, is given a decent dramatic part here and the location filming of this "Heimatfilm" is beautiful. There is also a nice sub-romance going on between Erik Schumann and Sonja Sutter. 


A Royal Scandal ( 1945 ) Elect.

A young idealistic lieutenant warns Catherine the Great of treachery within her court. She finds his loyalty and good looks very appealing and makes him her boy-toy, much to the chagrin of his true love, Queen Catherine's lady-in-waiting, Anna. Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Coburn, Anne Baxter, William Eythe, Vincent Price, Mischa Auer. 20th Century Fox Pictures. Directed by Otto Preminger and Ernst Lubitsch.

Ernst Lubitsch was a master at creating frothy comedies. He reached his prime in the early 1930s with such classics as Monte Carlo, The Smiling Lieutenant, One Hour with You and Ninotchka, but even he couldn't save this film from Preminger's heavy-handed direction. While there were a few amusing sequences in A Royal Scandal, overall the comedy seemed force. Tallulah Bankhead gave a grand performance as Catherine the Great, with some excellent support from character actors Charles Coburn and Sig Ruman, in spite of the circumstances.


King Richard and the Crusaders ( 1954 ) 14k.

While encamped in the Holy Land, two noblemen plot to murder Richard the Lionheart and make his death appear to be from a Saracen attack, but his loyal knight Sir Kenneth discovers the plan. Rex Harrison, Laurence Harvey, George Sanders, Virginia Mayo, Robert Douglas. Warner Brothers. Directed by David Butler. 

Rex Harrison and Laurence Harvey give engrossing performances in this otherwise run-of-the-mill Crusades adventure, based upon Sir Walter Scott's novel "The Talisman". George Sanders makes an unconvincing King Richard, and Virginia Mayo's presence serves merely as eye-candy, but the Technicolor is beautiful and it's fun watching Rex Harrison tackle an Arab role.


Scaramouche ( 1923 ) Elect.

A quiet French lawyer becomes a revolutionary after a nobleman kills his friend in a duel. Ramon Navarro, Alice Terry, Lewis Stone, Julia Swayne Gordon. Metro Pictures. Directed by Rex Ingram.

Production standards were high in this Rex Ingram silent classic, but the film fails to capture the excitement of Rafael Sabatini's novel and lingers on a bit too long. The zest that Stewart Granger brought to the part of Andre Moreau in the 1952 remake was non-existent in Novarro's portrayal. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford would have been ideal casting choices instead. However, the French Revolution sequences at the climax were truly hair-raising.


The Toy Wife ( 1938 ) 14k

A flirtatious and frivolous Southern belle marries her sister's serious-minded fiancee. He later comes to regret not having found himself a more sensible wife. Luise Rainer, Melvyn Douglas, Barbara O'Neil, Robert Young, Alma Kruger. MGM Pictures. Directed by Richard Thorpe.

Luise Rainer was fresh from her Oscar-winning performance in The Good Earth when she starred in The Toy Wife, MGM's consolation project after losing the book rights to Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind". This southern belle story put the spotlight on Rainer, allowing her - as "Frou-Frou" - to swoosh her hoop skirts around New Orleans and playfully toy with the heart-strings of not one, but two, gentlemen. It makes for engrossing soap. Barbara O'Neil earned the role of Ellen ( Scarlett's mother ) in Gone with the Wind, thanks to her performance in this film as Frou-Frou's sister. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Foundation

Back in 1958, Hugh O'Brian, the handsome star of the popular western television series Wyatt Earp received a cable from Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a renowned humanitarian who was currently working in a hospital he built on the banks of the Ogooue River in French Equatorial Africa. The message simply read that Schweitzer would welcome O'Brian at any time for a visit. So Hugh packed his bags and was off to Africa, by bush plane and then canoe, where he spent nine days observing first hand volunteer doctors and nurses caring for patients and working without electricity or running water. 

Dr. Schweitzer was impressed that the young television star took the trouble to visit him and Hugh was impressed with the doctor's work. Every evening he shared stories and life lessons with him, stirring within him the importance of having young people think for themselves. Schweitzer believed that the United States should take a leadership role in achieving peace and that there was an urgency for change. "Hugh, what are you going to do with this?" he asked the cowboy star as he departed. Well, Hugh was a man of action and within two weeks he had outlined a prototype seminar for young leaders and formed the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership ( HOBY ), a non-profit organization. 

HOBY's format for acheiving this mission was relatively simple : bring a select group of high school sophomores with demonstrated leadership abilities together along with a group of distinguished leaders in business, education, government, and other professions, and let the two interact. It gave these students a realistic look at what it takes to be a true leader, thus better enabling them “to think for themselves.”

"I believe every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny with great power for a specific purpose: to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love." - Hugh O'Brian

The organization is still active today and has even spread to Canada, Asia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and the Philippines. Had Hugh O'Brian not taken the initiative to fly to Africa and meet with Dr. Schweitzer in 1958 he may never have begun HOBY, and yet, because he did take action, his organization has helped more than 400,000 students find the confidence they needed to become leaders.  

To learn more about HOBY, check out their website :

This post 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!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Summer Magic ( 1963 )

Kate Douglas Wiggin's popular 1911 novel "Mother Carey's Chickens" was an ideal bit of literary property for Walt Disney Studios. It featured genteel characters, old-fashioned humor, a sweet story line, and a healthy dose of gaps in the plot ideal for musical intervals.

The story centered around a widowed mother ( Dorothy McGuire ) from Boston who moves her brood out of the city and into a long-vacant farmhouse in Maine. With the generous help of the local general store owner/postman/justice-of-the-peace Osh Popham ( Burl Ives ), they renovate the house unbeknownst to its owner, Tom Hamilton ( Peter Brown ), who is away in China. When Mr. Hamilton returns, he certainly is surprised to find his house being occupied by a family ( and rent free, at that! ).....but he soon comes to be smitten with the eldest daughter and everything turns out honky-dory. 

When Walt Disney decided to film the story in 1963 as Summer Magic, he gathered together some of his favorite leading players ( Hayley Mills, Dorothy McGuire, and Deborah Walley ) and a crackerjack pair of homespun character actors ( Burl Ives and Una Merkel ), dressed them up in colorful Bill Thomas period costumes, and surrounded them with bright and cheerful Carroll Clark sets. But he felt the story still needed some extra pizzazz, and so he asked the Sherman Brothers to pen some nostalgic-sounding tunes.... they came up with seven songs ( you could always trust the Sherman brothers to give more than what was needed ). What resulted was a pleasing, albeit fluffy, version of "Mother Carey's Chickens".
Summer Magic is a leisurely paced film that meanders along like sleepy folk heading home from an evening picnic. It captures that gentle lazy spirit of summer but not in so entertaining a way as Disney's own Pollyanna ( 1960 ) or MGM's Two Weeks with Love ( 1950 ). 

While the songs are fabulous ( especially noteworthy are "On the Front Porch", "The Ugly-Bug Ball", and "Femininity" ), the clever little touches of humor that are present in most Disney films was lacking, and both Hayley Mills and Deborah Walley's talents were wasted in parts that could have had more punch. The few scenes they played together were fun - especially the summer party croquet sequence - but there simply weren't enough of them. Screenwriter Sally Benson is at fault here, which is unusual considering she was the talented writer behind Meet Me in St. Louis ( 1944 ), Junior Miss ( 1946 ), and Come to the Stable ( 1949 ). 
Still, Hayley is a delight to watch and, even with the absence of the traditional Disney sparkle, sitting back with Summer Magic makes a pleasant way to spend a hot summer evening. Also cast in the film were Eddie Hodges, Michael J. Pollard, James Stacey, Peter Brown, and Jimmy Mathers ( younger brother to Jerry "Beaver" Mathers ). 

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

"Mangiare, Mangiare!" This family is getting ready to sit down for a hearty supper and if you look closely you may recognize Mama and Papa. They both made many great films! 

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


Congratulations to Betty who has correctly guessed "It's a Big Country : An American Anthology" ( 1951 )...a big film with an all-star cast including none other than Fredric March who is pictured here as Papa ( with Angela Clarke as Mama ) in the one of the sequences in this entertaining extravaganza. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bill Bixby and Fatherhood

"Reach out for your child. Reach out and touch him, because I didn't and my father didn't. I couldn't even talk to my parents. Maybe that's why this show ( The Courtship of Eddie's Father ) is so important to me. It probably represents a lot of things I didn't have." 

Actor Bill Bixby spoke these words in a 1971 magazine interview shortly after the death of his father to coronary thrombosis. Bill, who was born Wilfred Everett Bixby III in 1934, was an only child. His father had left him during his formative years to join the Army and serve overseas, and upon his return Bill resented him greatly. A growing distance spread between them. 

During the 1960s, while he was busy starring in the popular sitcom My Favorite Martian, Bill was known throughout Hollywood as being a playboy. He was a real life bachelor who dated every gorgeous girl he met and professed that he did not care for children. So he was an odd choice to be cast as widower Tom Corbett in the 1969 series The Courtship of Eddie's Father.....and yet, the part was a blessing to him because it made him change his outlook towards marriage and children. 
"The reason this show is so important to me is because it represents a lot of things I didn't have"

Bill Bixby recognized that the series had the potential to share with television viewers what a meaningful relationship between a father and son could be like. Bill did not have that kind of relationship growing up and playing the part of Tom Corbett allowed him to be the father that he did not have. It gave him the opportunity to show what fatherhood really is all about, and for so many youngsters who tuned in to watch the series, Tom Corbett became their surrogate father.

Indeed, he was such a good dad on screen that it is amazing that he was still single while the show was being filmed. It was Brandon Cruz ( "Eddie" on the show ) who had a lot to do with this change of heart. "Make no mistake, this little boy changed my life!" The comradery he had with little buddy onscreen and off made him yearn for a son of his own. He knew that having a child would not be an answer to his own problems, but he liked the thought of focusing his constant stream of energy into the loving and caring for another human being.

In July 1971, just a month after his father passed on, he married his long-time friend Brenda Benet and, in 1974, she bore him a son, Christopher. Their marriage lasted until 1979 and, after their divorce, Benet had custody of the boy. Bill remained close to him and was adamant that his son not be allowed to watch any episodes of The Incredible Hulk, worrying that his transformation from the mild-mannered doctor into the giant green monster would give the boy nightmares. 

Both Bill and Brenda doted on Christopher, but he was a sickly child and had respiratory problems. During a camping trip to Mammoth Lakes with his mother, the six-year old came down with epiglottis and suffered cardiac arrest during an emergency tracheotomy at the hospital.

"Christopher's death was the greatest shock in my life," said Bixby years later. He rented a house on the beach after his son's death and "I never left the second floor of that house. I didn't go out onto the sand for four months." It was a shock he never fully recovered from, nor did his wife Brenda Benet, who committed suicide just one year later. 

Brandon Cruz, who named his own son Lincoln Bixby in honor of his best friend and on-screen dad, once said "Bill was such a professional, such a giving actor, and caring person that it didn't even seem like work. It seemed like I was hanging out with my best friend. It was corny, but he was so wonderful to work with, you could not pay anybody to say a bad word about Bill. He was giving to a fault, basically."

Warner Archive Instant has just released the complete series of "The Courtship of Eddie's Father". A great series to enjoy! 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

From the Archives : Bon Voyage! ( 1962 )

Deborah Walley bids farewell to Michael Callan in this charming scene from Walt Disney's Bon Voyage! ( 1962 ). One year later Walley would team up with Callan's look-a-like, James Stacey, in Disney's Summer Magic. 

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, June 9, 2017

Listen, Darling ( 1938 )

For many years Freddie Bartholomew was one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's biggest box-office drawing child actors but, like most child stars, he found his popularity waning as he grew into adolescence. In 1938, he was no longer a wide-eyed little aristocratic tyke, but had matured into a handsome - if a tad bit scrawny - teenager, just ripe enough in age to play a second-fiddle beau to the child actor who would succeed him as star of the studio - Judy Garland - in the family melodrama Listen, Darling

Judy Garland had been signed to a MGM contract in 1935 and had quickly become such a favorite with audiences across the country that within three short years the studio was already preparing an adaptation of Frank L.Baum's The Wizard of Oz to be a starring vehicle for their newfound talent. 

Her characters were often shy, giggly, awkward little girls, but they were strangely appealing. Judy had a way of brightening up the screen the moment she walked into a scene and, when she opened her mouth to sing, that powerful voice would transfix audiences. Her singing was very mature and heart-felt for one so young. 

Judy had starred in only a handful of roles, her most recent being opposite Mickey Rooney in Love Finds Andy Hardy, when she was cast in Listen, Darling, a light-hearted melodrama aimed towards juvenile audiences. Today, it is remembered primarily for her performance of the song "Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart" ( which Judy kept in her stage repertoire until her final show some thirty years later ) but the film itself has many endearing qualities. It's quite touching, and often humorous. 
Judy stars as young Pinkie Wingate who, with her pal Buzz ( Freddie ), will stop at nothing - including kidnapping  - to keep her mother ( Mary Astor ) from entering a loveless marriage with the town's pompous banker ( Gene Lockhart ). Together they stow mother and baby brother into the old family trailer and head onto the open road to look for a handsome man who could whisk her mother off her feet. They think it will be a bumpy road to love but their mother quickly catches the eye of two suitors ( Walter Pidgeon and Alan Hale ), who, in Pinky's eyes, are both preferable to the banker.

Freddie Bartholomew and Judy Garland make a winning team of cupids but, since they were at opposite arcs in their careers, this would be their only screen pairing. Bartholomew confessed that he had a crush on Judy during the making of the movie but she only looked upon him as a younger brother, being a whole two years older than he. 

Listen, Darling is a sweet film and features that unabashed sentimentality which only MGM could capture on film so well. I especially enjoy it because of the fond memories I associate with the movie. One beautiful Saturday morning, my father, sister, and I were returning home from a camping trip at the lakeside town of Geneva, Ohio, when we stopped at a small library and found a mother-load of classic movies on VHS tape in their collection.... one of which was Listen, Darling. On most Saturday nights we watch MGM musicals or Walt Disney films, so we saw Listen, Darling that very evening to cap off that wonderful day and zing! went the strings of my heart....the film drew me in completely. Its fun camping theme and the spot-on performances from all the principal players made it a delight to watch and it has always remained a favorite. 

This post is our contribution to The Judy Garland Blogathon being hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Click here to read more posts about Judy, her films, and her career. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fred Astaire and his Long Lost Hair

A bald Fred in 1944
Fred Astaire has always been more famous for his fancy feet than for his hair, but if one was to take a closer examination of his hair style one would notice that it was quite unique. So unique that even as a Rankin/Bass puppet ( in The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town ) he was recognizable. Not too many Hollywood actors could boast such a large forehead as Fred. 

But what many do not know is that some of that hair was attached. Like other actors such as Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, and John Wayne, poor Fred had a receding hairline....even at an early age he was showing signs of baldness. His toupee stylist did a marvelous job of creating a piece that not only looked natural but appeared to be thinning itself. And what's most impressive is it stayed on while Fred waltzed with Ginger, jumped up on tables, and tapped his way around rooms, even up walls! 

Like most men of his generation, Fred never went out of doors without a hat and always wore his pieces on stage and for public performances. But he was happy to be rid of them when the public eye was not on him. After filming wrapped for Blue Skies, what Fred thought was his final film, he was said to have tore off his hairpiece and stomped on it in glee! Alas, his film career did not come to an end in 1946 and Fred continued to appear in films and television up until the mid-1980s, always sporting his "top hat", that famous hair-piece. 

Astaire, with and without his hair

This post 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!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Tim Considine - A Disney Legend

Tim Considine was one of Disney’s most popular television actors and was in fact one of the very first of TV’s teen idols in 1955.

Born Dec. 31, 1940 in Los Angeles, California, Tim grew up not very much unlike his first screen roles – the restless son from a wealthy family. His family background included an Oscar-nominated movie producer ( John Considine Jr. ); a vaudeville impresario grandfather ( John Considine ); a sports writer for King Features Syndicate ( Bob Considine ); and a theatre magnet grandfather ( Alexander Pantages ). It’s no wonder that at a young age Tim wanted to enter into show business and try his hand at making a name for himself.

By-passing traditional “bit-part” starts, Tim was fortunate to have an endearing personality that made him appealing to producers from the start. He was given the lead in The Clown ( 1952 ) opposite Red Skeleton at the tender age of 12. It was a remake of MGM’s previous success The Champ ( 1932 ).

A few brief television roles followed an appearance in the star-studded Executive Suite ( 1954 ), where Tim played the son of William Holden and June Allyson. In later years he would return to television guest-starring on such television shows as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Untouchables , Johnny Ringo and The Fugitive. His most successful characterization was that of a boarding school snob, a role which he played in Her Twelve Men ( Greer Garson, 1954 ) and The Private War of Major Benson ( Charleton Heston , 1955 ). These performances caught the attention of Walt Disney Studio executives who wished for him to continue these roles and offered him the lead in an upcoming serial for The Mickey Mouse Club – “Marty Markham”. Considine, however, didn’t want to be pigeon-holed and asked for the part of cool kid Spin Evans instead.
When the newly retitled The Adventures of Spin and Marty debuted, Tim Considine and costar David Stollery were instant successes. Fan mail began to pour in and Tim’s flat-top buzz-cut hairdo became the “in” style of the teen set of the 1950s.

The popular Hardy Boy’s serial The Mystery of Applegate’s Treasure followed in the heels of Spin and Marty’s success, as well as several other third and fourth season reprises of their signature roles, and a recurring role in The Swamp Fox with Leslie Neilson.
In 1959, Walt Disney decided to cast Tim Considine opposite his Hardy Boy brother Tommy Kirk in The Shaggy Dog, a film which grossed big at the box-office.

In spite of his blossoming success at the Walt Disney Studios, Considine wanted to branch out and try his hand at other things. A growing love for automobile racing was sparking as was a thirst for writing. Living in an apartment with his older brother John, Tim collaborated with him on several scripts and teleplays before serving overseas with the U.S. Air Force.
Upon his return in 1963 he was back in front of the cameras though- this time as Mike Douglas….Fred MacMurray’s eldest son in the popular My Three Sons television series. While working on the show he tried to contribute to the teleplays and direct sequences of episodes. Don Fedderson ( the producer of the show ) didn’t want Tim directing full episodes and after a disagreement over this, Tim walked out on the series in 1965.

Although Tim Considine continued to make films throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, he has devoted most of his time to writing, and pursuing his love of automobiles and photography. Three talents which he combined in his award-winning book “American Grand Prix Racing: A Century of Drivers and Cars” ( 1997 ).

Considine currently lives in California with his wife of 38 years, where he continues to write as a freelancer about sports, automobiles, travel, and photography.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

From the Archives : Dolores Hart and Carl Boehm

Carl Boehm and Dolores Hart take a break from filming Come Fly With Me ( 1963 ) to have some lovely publicity photos of which is this shot. They are posing in front of a beautiful schloss in Vienna, Austria. 

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, May 23, 2017

Sir Roger Moore - An Endearing Bond

Today we witnessed the passing of Sir Roger Moore, at the ripe age of 89 years. As the media notes, this marks the first death of a Bond actor.....but, for me, Roger Moore was so much more than 007. He was one of the most manly and charismatic personalities since Errol Flynn leaped onto the big screen. Not to mention he was devilishly handsome. 

I think what appealed to me most about Roger was his stately bearing. He was a gentleman in an age of very few gentlemen. Tailored suits, the finest cuff-links, impeccable hair...he always dressed for the occasion. Sometimes that occasion was yachting on the Riviera, other times hosting a race in London. If one was to look up the word debonair in the Webster's dictionary "Sir Roger Moore" should be the definition. It was like a real baron, no - a prince - took time off from his royal duties to try acting for a lark, to have the pleasure of entertaining the masses. And what pleasure he gave us! 

From his awkward first films in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer swashbucklers ( oh, but was he dreamy in spite of his acting! ) to his television success playing heroes such as Simon Templar aka The Saint, the roguish cowboy Maverick, or the English aristocrat Lord Sinclair ( The Persuaders ), Roger Moore always slipped into his characters like they were custom-fitted gloves and generously shared his true personality with his audience. He was marvelously witty ( his books will tickle you to death ) and quite modest considering he had absolutely nothing to be modest about. Self-deprecating wit was what he was famous for, with quotes such as this : "If I kept all my bad notices, I'd need two houses."
And then there was Bond. Roger Moore was my favorite James Bond. Always least, ever since I was a youngster and watched A View to a Kill ( 1985 ) with my father and my sister every summer. It was, and still is, a family favorite. Years later, I discovered that Moore was 58-years old when he played in that film, his last performance as Bond. I never knew a 58-year old could be so exciting. 

But in spite of all these wonderful traits, the most impressive quality of all about Sir Roger Moore was his large heart and his zest for living. 

"Teach love, generosity, good manners and some of that will drift from the classroom to the home and who knows, the children will be educating the parents."

Moore succeeded Audrey Hepburn as the goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, a position which earned him his knighthood. Moore considered his work with UNICEF to be the most rewarding thing he ever did, and for nineteen years he used his celebrity status to open doors for the betterment of children's lives. 
Indeed, this man was a true gentleman...humorous, compassionate, modest, dashing, and - dare I repeat myself? - so devilishly handsome! 

I miss you already, Roger. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

There's nothing quite so memorable as an evening of dinner and dancing...especially in such a beautiful location as this. A few of these characters remembered this evening well, but how sharp are your memory skills? Does this scene look familiar? If it does, tell us the title of the film you think it is from and you'll win a prize! 

( Click on the image to view it larger...but alas, it won't be any clearer.)

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Majority of One ( 1961 )

“Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one”

Leonard Spigelgass’ poignant story of racial prejudice, A Majority of One, focuses on emphasizing the truth of the above quotation as well as teaching a gentle and humorous lesson on the folly of judging others by their ethnicity and not by their hearts. It is a story of a cross-cultural romance between two widows – Mrs. Jacoby, a Jewish Brooklynite ( superbly played by Rosiland Russell ) and Mr. Asano ( Alec Guinness ), a Japanese industrialist.  

Mrs. Jacoby spent most of her life in Flatbush and loves the neighborhood and her apartment dearly. Her daughter Alice ( Madlyn Rhue ) and diplomat son-in-law Jerry ( Ray Danton ) worry about “Mama” living on her own while they spend years at a time in foreign nations moving wherever Jerry’s position takes them. Mrs. Jacoby is not getting any younger and, as her neighbor Mrs. Ruben blatantly points out, the neighborhood is changing and “that element is moving in”....a statement which brings up a conversation that sets the tone for the film: 

“What element, Mrs. Ruben?” ( Jerry )
“You know..colored, Puerto Ricans...”
“Really? I seem to remember in this very neighborhood not so long ago they didn’t allow Jews.”
“What does one have to do with the other?”
“Everything. The only way to stop prejudice is to stop it in yourself”.
When Jerry receives his new assignment Alice pleads with Mama to come with them. “But you haven’t said where”...“Japan, Mama.” Japan! Mrs. Jacoby lost her only son in combat in Japan during WWII and the memory – the hatred – is still painfully fresh. However, for love of her children, she reluctantly agrees to follow, and so they’re off across the sea to the Land of the Rising Sun. En route on the voyage they meet Mr. Asano, a Japanese millionaire industrialist who will not only play a pivotal role in an upcoming international trade conference that Jerry will take part in, but will change Mrs. Jacoby’s feelings toward the Japanese in a remarkable way.
A Majority of One was penned by Spigelgass in 1958 and debuted on Broadway on February 16, 1959, starring Gertrude Berg and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. It played for 556 performances and was a critical and box-office success. It was nominated for four Tony awards ( Berg won for Best Actress ). 

Jack Warner at Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to the comedy in 1960 for the princely sum of $500,000 and approached Rosalind Russell for the starring role. Russell was aghast. “You’ve been drinking,” she told Warner according to her 1977 autobiography Life is a Banquet. “What would I be doing playing a Jewish lady from Brooklyn? I’m a little Irish girl from Waterbury, Connecticut. Use Gertrude Berg, it’s her part.” Warner insisted however, refusing to cast Berg since she made a disastrous film at Paramount years earlier. It was not until he suggested that Alec Guinness could be her co-star that Russell reconsidered. “Well, that’s another cup of chicken soup,” she told him. “I’ll think about that little item.”

When she approached Alec Guinness with the idea he said, “I want the dollars, so if you’ll do it, I’ll do it.” To which Russell replied,  “I want to work with you, so if you’ll do it, I’ll do it.”

So they did it. And they couldn’t have been a more delightful combination. Russell shines in her role as the Jewish widow, Bertha Jacoby. With just the right about of mamish chochmeh she dispenses bits of neighborly advice – and Smith Brothers cough drops - to all she comes in contact with. She handles herself and her children with respect, but upon occasion, when they overstep their boundaries, she can be firm and immovable.
Guinness was touching and endearing and portrayed Mr. Asano with a graceful maturity befitting a Japanese gentleman of illustrious birth. However, in spite of the heavy makeup and authenticity he gave to his role ( he spent ten days in Japan prior to filming taking a crash course in Japanese culture ), many viewers felt a Japanese actor was called for. Perhaps because a Caucasian portrayed the role on Broadway ( interracial romance was a scandalous subject at the time and was dealt with by using English actors in the roles of Asians ), or because the studio wanted top drawing names, Japanese actors such as Sessue Hayakawa were overlooked. 

Marc Marno and Mae Questel were plucked from the Broadway production for supporting roles to round out a cast which also included Frank Wilcox, Francis De Sales and Alan Mowbray.
A Majority of One is a humorous blending of schmaltz and saki and went on to win three Golden Globes for Best Picture, Best Actress ( Russell ) and Best Film Promoting International Understanding. How did it win that last award? Because all cultures are different, the movie tells us, but those differences are just superficial. As they become acquainted, Mr. Asano and Mrs. Jacoby mention aspects of their respective cultures that, at first, seem different but after comparison are revealed to be relatively the same.  
For example, Japanese people worship in shrines; Jewish people worship by blessing Sabbath candles – ultimately, "God's house is God's house," as Mrs. Jacoby says after being invited to a Japanese shrine. Japanese people eat raw fish; Jewish people eat gefilte fish. Japanese people toast with "Kanpai" and Jews say "L'Chaim." 

Jews put up with a lot: "Whatever comes into your life, you take." So do Japanese: "You transcend. It's the philosophy of the Zen Buddhists." ..."You mean, if you have tsouris – trouble – you come out of it a better person for having lived through it." ...."Obviously you have studied Zen Buddhism, Mrs. Jacoby!”

In addition to emphasizing the importance of embracing other nationalities “whether they are white, black, pink or purple” the more subtle lessons of forgiveness and tolerance are taught, lessons which Mrs. Jacoby - and her children - needed to be taught. When he first makes her acquaintance, Mr. Asano approaches Mrs. Jacoby to inquire why she is so cold towards him. After telling him that her son was killed in action by the Japanese, he explains that he, personally, did not want war nor did anyone he knew, and that he lost both his son and daughter in Hiroshima. Mrs. Jacoby then realizes that he’s had a cupful in life too and hatred quickly dispels into kinsmanship. As the voyage progresses they find each other to be the most pleasant of companions, with Mr. Asano particularly drawn to Mrs. Jacoby’s warmth and friendship.

Later, as Mama considers the proposition of “crossing over the bridge” with Mr. Asano, she finds she must first deal with the prejudism right in her own family. In the first half of the drama we perceive Mrs. Jacoby to be old-fashioned and set in her customs while her children are shown to be adaptable and open to new viewpoints and new changes. However, the tables turn midway through and we find that it is Mrs. Jacoby’s daughter and husband who are narrow-minded. The words Jerry spoke in Brooklyn echo back to him when he faces the prospect of Mama and Mr. Asano’s impending courtship... “If you want to stop prejudice you must first stop it in yourself”. He must come to learn that being friendly and welcoming should not be a diplomatic “front of face” but stem from a sincere consideration for others.
A Majority of One is as relevant today as it was when it was first released in 1961. The film is a hidden gem, a truly entertaining foreign affair, completely unique and as lovely as cherry blossoms in spring; it is sure to bring shtick naches to those who take the time to watch the film.  

This post is our contribution to CMBA's Underseen and Underrated Blogathon being hosted by the Classic Movie Blog Association. To check out more reviews of unsung classics, simply click here

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Five Stars Blogathon - National Classic Movie Day

In celebration of National Classic Movie Day, The Classic Film and TV Cafe is hosting the Five Stars Blogathon, an event that lets bloggers share their top five favorite actors and actresses.....undoubtedly a tough decision for any avid film fan to make, but I'm giving it the old college try.  

Much like the Miss America pageants, these favorites had to satisfy a few rules before they were even considered. 

Rule 1 : My heart has to skip a beat when I see their name on the back of a DVD case or appearing anywhere online. 

Rule 2 : No matter how bad some of their movies are I must still conclude that the film was enjoyable simply because that favorite actor/actress was present. 

Rule 3 : There has to be an eager desire to watch ALL of their movies, even the ones that normally I wouldn't consider watching due to its plot content, release year, or supporting cast. 

Rule 4 : When I see a photo of this actor/actress I have to find myself smiling, because it is like recognizing an old and dear friend. 

Simple stuff, but would you believe that few actors meet this criteria? So many actors whom I thought were my favorites were labeled that simply because I enjoyed their performances in a handful of select films. So here are the ones that lived up to these points : 

Don Ameche

Look at that smile. Oh man, just look at that smile! Hands down, this dapper Dan ( ahem, Don ) ranks at the top of my favorite actors list. I love him so much his photo is framed and has a prominent place on our living room mantle. He isn't the best actor ( although better than many ), and he made a number of dud films, but Don is my I'll hear no arguments about him. There aren't many actors who can play a cad so well as he and yet leave you pining for him as badly as his leading lady. I enjoy every movie he ever made. Mr. Ameche has the most winsome personality that ever hit Hollywood and even boasted a fine singing voice. If you're not convinced of his appeal, take a gander at Midnight ( 1939 ). 

Favorite Films : Down Argentine Way, Confirm or Deny, Midnight, Ladies in Love. 

Deborah Kerr

I'm not quite sure what it is about this prim English rose that makes her so appealing, but I cannot resist any of her films. Her characters are always beautiful, elegant, and oftentimes courageous even though she brings a shyness and vulnerability to every part. Kerr had the gumption to tackle a variety of different roles and the meatier the better, but she was truly in her element playing sophisticated modern society women. I would have liked to have befriended her in real life. 

Favorite Films : The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The End of the Affair, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, Separate Tables, The Sundowners, The Grass is Greener, The Chalk Garden.

Gene Kelly

Errol Flynn has long been one of my all-time favorite actors and, even though I grew up with Kelly's films, I was never particularly fond of him....but within the last few years he swept me away with his charm. Poor Errol got bumped off of this list because of him. Gene Kelly was equally adapt at playing comedic or dramatic parts but he was best when he was prancing around the screen or flashing his smile in a light-hearted role. Ah yes, a winsome Irish lad he was! Incidentally, my friend Cynthia just published the definitive Gene Kelly biography, He's Got Rhythm, which is the first biography published since his death. I'll be reviewing it in depth later this month, but I'll say now it is well worth reading. 

Favorite Films : Thousands Cheer, The Three Musketeers, On the Town, Summer Stock, The Happy Road, Les Girls.

Claudette Colbert

Colbert brought a vivacious Continental flair to all of her films. Her characters take the hardships of life with a cheery smile and a sticktoitiveness that is extremely admirable. I like that trait in movie characters. Plus, she was beautiful, never proud or arrogant, and just so captivating. Colbert never won an Oscar but she put her whole heart into every role she played, even the minor films. What a woman. 

Favorite Films : I Met Him in Paris, Midnight, Since You Went Away, Family Honeymoon, Let's Make it Legal.

Anne Baxter

Anne Baxter is an actress I never even considered as my favorite until this blogathon*, when I realized just how excited I always feel when I know our next film to watch has Anne Baxter in it. Thinking of it now, there were a number of movies where I was wishing she was among the cast ( especially if the leading lady failed to capture the essence of the part she was playing ). Anne is one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood's history and deserves to be ranked among Bette Davis and Helen Hayes as one of America's great talents. 

Favorite Films : The Magnificent Ambersons, Five Graves to Cairo, Sunday Dinner for a Soldier, The Razor's Edge, The Luck of the Irish, O'Henry's Full House, The Ten Commandments

A few other favorites I have to acknowledge : 

Errol Flynn, Robert Young, Ann Sothern, Hayley Mills, Frances Dee, Debbie Reynolds, Norma Shearer, Agnes Moorehead, Charles Coburn, Bob Hope, and Deanna Durbin.

* I think if this event were called the Fifty Stars Blogathon it would still be a tough decision to make. 
Head on over to The Classic Film and TV Cafe to find out which stars other film bloggers have selected as their favorites!
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