Monday, October 16, 2017

Der Schönste Tag Meines Lebens ( 1957 )

This is such a sweet film. Most of the Deutsche Heimatfilms are sweet as apple strudel, but Der Schönste Tag Meines Lebens is especially wholesome and delicious. It centers around a little orphan Hungarian boy named Toni, portrayed by that talented youngster Michael Ande ( The Trapp Family ). He befriends old Herr Blümel ( Joseph Eggar ) when he arrives in Austria with a boatload of other Hungarian refugees. Herr Blümel and Toni become instant friends and Toni comes to live with this lovable fellow in his house by the river. One Sunday, while attending church, Toni sees the Vienna choir boys ( die Wiener Sängerknaben ) singing in the choir loft and desires to become a "Sängerknabe", too. So, off to Wien Herr Blümel and Toni trek and the boy gets the privilege of being admitted to the choir because he has such a fine singing voice. 

The true Vienna choir boys not only sing but study and live together at the palatial Palais Augarten in Vienna. It becomes their school and their home for as long as they are members of the choir. One day per week their family and friends are permitted to visit them. 
Our Toni gets along well at the school until the first visiting day. He eagerly awaits a visit from Herr Blümel but does not realize that the poor old man had motorcycle trouble en route and could not come. All the other boys have their families with them, except for Toni....so naturally, he feels unloved and unwanted. 

Schwester Maria, the den-mother/nurse at the school takes compassion on the boy and agrees to be his mother while he is there. Toni loves her so much that, later, when Schwester Maria gets blamed for losing 1,000 Deutsche marks from the choir's funds, Toni lies to save her job and wrongfully confesses that he stole the money. 
Der Schönste Tag Meines Lebens is a well-balanced mixture of melodrama, light-hearted comedy, and music. It gives us a glimpse of the work-and-play life of the Vienna choir boys in much the same way that Walt Disney Studios would later showcase these boys in their 1962 film Almost Angels. This Austrian production was filmed on location in Vienna and in Hinterbichl in the Lasorling mountain range in East Tirol where the Vienna boys choir used to stay during the summers. 

Like most Heimatfilms, there is plenty of mountain scenery and some beautiful songs, sung by the Vienna choir boys, of course. But what makes this film really stand out is the performances from its principal players....Joseph Eggar in particular. He reminds me and my sister so much of our "Opa" ( our grandfather ), in his mannerisms and his genuine love for the little boy. 
Ellinor Jensen is also adorable as the tender-hearted Maria whom Toni comes to adopt as his surrogate mother. Paul Bösiger has a small part as Maria's love interest, and that legend in the German film industry - Paul Hörbiger - portrays the director of the choir, a kindly man. Rounding out the cast is Thomas Hörbiger ( Paul's son ) as one of the kapellmeisters and Richard Eybner, who is present for comedy relief.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Shields and Yarnell - Living Toys

Is it possible to make a career of playing a mime? Robert Shields and Linda Yarnell proved that it is not only possible but quite a lucrative business. 

Without a spoken word, Shields and Yarnell made a name for themselves displaying mime acts of "controlled insanity" in over 400 television appearances throughout the 1970s and 1980s. One of their most famous portrayals was as "The Clinkers", a married robot couple who attempt to lead a regular human life but do so with uproarious results. Everyday tasks like doing the wash, reading a newspaper, or going to the office for work prove to be difficult for robots. 

"....let's go and meet the Clinkers and see what they don't have to say!"

Lorene Yarnell, an off-Broadway variety performer and dancer, had met Robert Shields, a mime artist, during the making of Fol-de-Rol a 1972 Sid and Marty Krofft television special. The two hit it off immediately and married that same year. Yarnell taught Shields dance, while Shields taught Yarnell mime, and together they formed an act that would knock the artistic art of miming off its lofty pedestal and make it entertaining for the masses. 

For several years they performed on the streets of San Francisco, occasionally making guest appearances on television. It was not until 1976, when they became regulars on The Sonny and Cher Show, that the American public fully embraced their unique - and highly amusing - routines. These appearances were so well received that CBS signed them to their own comedy-variety show The Shields and Yarnell Show ( 1977-1978 ). 
"As a team. Shields & Yarnell are magical, innovative and pure entertainment - Yarnell's tap dancing is flawless." - Gene Kelly

When their show ended, they continued to perform in Las Vegas, on Broadway, on numerous television variety shows, with orchestras across the country, and around the world. Robert Shields gave two presidential performances as well as a command performance for Queen Elizabeth. 

Their improvisational form of miming lent itself well to talk shows, too, and Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin especially enjoyed having them as guest stars. One of their most memorable appearances was on The Muppet Show ( 1979 ) where they performed a segment featuring The Clinkers having breakfast. 

"Robert Shields is the greatest mime in America" - Marcel Marceau

During the mid-1980s, Shields and Yarnell broke up their act and divorced ( perhaps there was a lack of communication? ).....Yarnell later remarried and moved to Norway, where she died at the age of 66 in 2010. Robert Shields made a name for himself as an artist, working in ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, and painting, which he still does in his studio in Arizona. He is currently working on a documentary Robert Shields : My Life as a Robot. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Unidentified Flying Oddball ( 1979 )

The title says it all. This 1979 Walt Disney comedy is certainly an oddball. While the Disney films of the 1970s are generally considered sub-par to the films the studio outputted in the 1950s and 1960s, most of them were still very amusing. The Unidentified Flying Oddball ( UFO ) simply fails to lift off into the realm of laugh-out-loud comedy. It could have been a fun picture, the story element is certainly clever enough, but the script falls flat. And, oddly enough, it was written by Don Tait, who penned Snowball Express, The Apple Dumpling Gang, and Treasure of Matacumbe among others for the studio. 

Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" forms the basis of the film's plot with the lead character being replaced by young astronaut Tom Trimble ( Dennis Dugan ) who, during a moment of "chaos in the cosmos", accidentally pulls a lever on his spaceship causing it to careen into the past, to Camelot in the year 508. His arrival is opportune for he discovers that the wicked Sir Mordred ( Jim Dale ) and Merlin ( Ron Moody ) plot to usurp King Arthur ( Kenneth More ) from his throne. With the aid of some modern electronic gadgets and his look-a-like android Hermes, Trimble manages to foil this attempt, get himself a comely girl ( Sheila White ), and travel back to the present age. Not too bad for an accidental trip into the past. 

Tom Trimble takes a selfie with some of his Arthurian-age friends

In spite of its weak script, UFO does contain some amusing moments, such as when the android, Hermes, jousts with Sir Mordred and loses not only an arm but his head, too! And the professionalism of the cast does a great deal in redeeming the picture. Jim Dale is always a delight to watch - especially when he plays villains - and he is a particularly good Sir Mordred.


The Unidentified Flying Oddball just about broke even at the box-office, but that did not deter producer Ron Miller from investing 20 million dollars into making The Black Hole, Walt Disney's epic production made to capitalize on the space fever that Steven Spielberg's Star Wars had triggered two years earlier. It was a great gamble, for The Black Hole became one of the highest-grossing films of 1979. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

A scientist examining a substance in a vile.....is he a mad scientist?? Possibly. Possibly not. If you know the film this screenshot is from you would know how sane this man is.

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The High Commissioner ( 1968 )

Espionage films were all the rage in the mid-1960s, a fever that had been ignited by Ian Fleming's James Bond spy series. George Segal investigated neo-Nazis in The Quiller Memorandum ( 1966 ), Michael Caine had starred in the Harry Carter films ( Funeral in Berlin, The Ipcress File ), Rock Hudson was caught up with terrorists in Blindfold ( 1965 ), Paul Newman had to unmask an imposter in The Prize ( 1963 ), Gregory Peck got mixed up in an assassination plot in Arabesque ( 1966 ), and Rod Taylor found himself caught in a web of international intrigue in The High Commissioner. 

This mildly entertaining 1968 thriller was also released as Nobody Runs Forever, a Bond-ish pastiche title. Taylor stars as Scobie Malone, an Australian police sergeant who is sent to London to arrest a wanted criminal who escaped years earlier and is now using an assumed name. With his new name, this murderer climbed the political ladder to become Sir James Quentin, high commissioner for peace for Australia. 

Scobie's simple task of fetching Quentin back for a trial gets complicated immediately upon his arrival in London. Sir Quentin happens to be in the middle of peace negotiations with several countries and requests a few days delay so he can attend the conferences. Sir James is a charismatic man whom many people speak highly of. Within one day Scobie begins to question whether he is even capable of murder. Scobie saves Sir James' life in an assassination attempt and Sir James, taking him into his confidence then, tells Scobie that someone close to him is leaking information to his enemies, and "would you be willing to look into the situation"? It's a request that Scobie cannot deny. 
The High Commissioner boasts a wonderful cast with Lilli Palmer as Sir James Quentin's wife; Camilla Sparv ( The Trouble with Angels ) as his private secretary; Franchot Tone ( in his last film role ) as an American ambassador; and Dalilah Lavi ( Ten Little Indians ), Calvin Lockhart, Clive Revill, and Derren Nesbitt as some of our suspects. 

Unfortunately, like many of the 1960s spy thrillers, the pacing of The High Commissioner is uneven. It begins quite brisk, screeches to a halt midway through, and then begins to climb in suspense once again near the finale. Ultimately, what redeems the film is Plummer's spot-on performance, its colorful cinematography, and Georges Delerue's fantastic opening theme.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Les Anges Du Peche ( 1943 ) aka Angels of Sin

"If you hear God's word joining you to another, listen to no other words - they are merely its echo." - St. Catherine of Siena

Director Robert Bresson's first feature film, the underrated gem Les Anges du Peche aka Angels of Sin, explores the indistinguishable line between will and chance and the effect people have in determining each other's destinies, a theme that resonated throughout Bresson's later works ( The Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escaped ). 

The story follows Sœur Anne-Marie ( Renée Faure ) a young bourgeois-born novice at a Dominican convent who is convinced that she was sent by God to save the soul of Sœur Thérèse ( Jany Holt ), an impenitent murderess who joins the order to seek shelter from the police. 

Father Bruckberger, an acquaintance of Bresson's, had suggested he read "The Dominicans of the Prisons" by Father Lelong and proposed a film about the Sisters of Bethany in France, an order of nuns devoted to working with female ex-convicts. The order, founded in 1866, gives these women the opportunity to overcome the sins that led them to become criminals. Some choose to remain at the convent and become nuns while others venture on to begin a new life. 

Although Bresson was ignorant of Bethany, he was intrigued by the premise and developed an engrossing scenario around it that weaves in key elements that Bresson would return to in every subsequent film he made. He was particularly fascinated with the theme of two lives coming together and forging a preordained course, one which ends in redemption for both. 
While Sœur Anne-Marie is the main character in Les Anges du Peche and dominates the majority of the scenes, her presence is merely a clever red-herring from Bresson for the film is truly about Sœur Thérèse. It is her soul's redemption that is the driving force of the picture, and all the events that take place at the abbey from the day of her arrival act as stepping stones of grace leading up to her redemption. 

In one scene, the nuns gather for a ceremony where each sister receives a maxim, a randomly chosen quote, that will become their motto for the year. These maxims miraculously suit the personality of each sister. St. Catherine's quote about hearing "God's word joining you to another" is handed to Anne-Marie and has a particularly awe-inspiring effect upon her because she felt an invisible Hand drawing her towards the prison, specifically towards Thérèse, ever since she arrived at the convent. 
Evidently, Sœur Anne-Marie's heavenly calling to save such a lost lamb as Thérèse was conceived before she even meets her, but she ultimately succeeds in her task only when she comes to recognize her own failures and humble herself. Her optimistic determination to accomplishing what she considers God's will, and her pride in her divine vocation, others perceive merely as sinful arrogance. She recognizes this when she subjects herself to "sisterly correction", and goes cell to cell asking each sister "How do you value me?". She finds that they see her as being selfish, ambitious, and showing no understanding of others. The nuns do not recognize her irrepressible fervor as being a sign of deeper spirituality. Only Thérèse refuses to rebuke her. 

Thérèse considers herself dead to sin. She is unrepentant. She has accomplished her murderous act of revenge towards the man who let her be wrongfully incarcerated and is now the most obedient nun at the convent, finding life there preferable - if not dissimilar - to life imprisonment. Yet, she is impatient with Anne-Marie's chastenings and is relieved when the prioress sends Anne-Marie away from the convent, not realizing that even that act is simply another step leading her towards her preordained destiny - the path of redemption.

Robert Bresson would later favor a sparse naturalistic approach to filming, using a minimum amount of background music, little dialogue, and completely renouncing professional actors. Les Anges du Peche and Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne ( 1945 ) were the only two films he made with professional actors, a choice which he strangely regretted. Bresson, who in his Notes cautioned himself against drawing "tears from the public with the tears of your models" failed to realize that naturalism can only entertain to a point. Its novelty wears off and the audience yearns for entertainment that can be appreciated repeatedly. 

The performances of Renée Faure, Jany Holt, and Louise Sylvie ( as La Prieure ) are expressive and beautiful and add depth to the characters in such a subtle way that non-professional actors could not have accomplished. Holt, in particular, gives a touching understated performance while Faure is convincingly innocent and saintlike.
A strong supporting cast ( Mila Parély, Silvia Monfort, Louis Seigner ), gorgeous cinematography by Philippe Agostini, and a powerful score by Jean-Jacques Grünenwald add up to making this an impressive directorial debut from Bresson and a true French cinema classic. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

From the Archives : Camelot ( 1967 )

"In short, there's simply not a more congenial spot for happily-ever-aftering than here in Camelot." 

This original program cover from the 1967 movie musical Camelot features gorgeous artwork from Bob Peak, a legendary commercial illustrator whose art graced the covers of TV Guide, Time Magazine, and hundreds of movie posters. 

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Passionate Summer ( 1958 ) aka Storm Over Jamaica

An island paradise...where all human emotions are exposed under a tropic sun.

In spite of its engaging tagline, Passionate Summer, also known as Storm Over Jamaica, gives its audience a light drizzle of drama compared to the raging storm promised. It focuses on the traditional one-man/two-women love triangle with a little time off to pursue some interesting side plots. 

Bill Travers stars as Douglas Lockwood, a gifted teacher at Leonard Pawley's experimental school situated in the outskirts of Jamaica. During one summer, a private plane crashes into the mountains a short distance from the school. Lockwood helps rescue passenger Judy Waring ( Virginia McKenna ) and quickly develops a romantic interest in her while she convalesces at the school, much to the chagrin of love-starved Mrs. Pawley ( Yvonne Mitchell ) who was openly pursuing Lockwood. 

One of Lockwood's students, Sylvia ( Ellen Barrie ) is a holy-terror, an unruly emotionally disturbed girl who only delights in testing Lockwood's patience. Since he is a well-bred English chap, he came equipped with plenty of patience and insists on trying to reform Sylvia without punishment, a practice that Mr. Pawley ( Alexander Knox ) supports. What Pawley doesn't realize is that Lockwood seems to have trouble getting his own life untangled, and wrestles with his love for Judy Waring, knowing very well that she may just be using him. 

Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, who married in real-life, were both talented actors even though their range was limited. They each bring a fair amount of passion to their parts, but never let their emotions get out of hand.....a quality that Hollywood would have eagerly exploited had they snatched the rights to Richard Mason's novel, which Passionate Summer was based upon. 
Yvonne Mitchell, on the other hand, did an excellent job of portraying the slightly neurotic wife of headmaster Pawley. Pawley's indifference towards her is plain and - during the titular storm - she shows no shame in flaunting her love for Lockwood. 

The film features some good set design and beautiful Jamaican location filming which was shot in Eastman colour, but fails to leave a memorable impression after viewing. Even the music, penned by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, is rather bland compared to his fine work on Conspiracy of Hearts ( 1960 ). 

Friday, September 22, 2017

James MacArthur and Janet Munro - A Disney Duo

Every once in a while when you are watching a film you probably find yourself proclaiming, "Hey! These two actors also played together in [fill in the blank]!" 
Well, like you, the bloggers behind The Flapper Dame and Phyllis Loves Classic Movies experienced this, too, and so they decided to launch The Duo Double Feature Blogathon giving us clever film buffs a chance to compare the different characters and films of a duo of our choice. I chose James MacArthur and Janet Munro. They were an adorable young couple who starred together in only two Walt Disney films: Third Man on the Mountain ( 1959 ) and Swiss Family Robinson ( 1960 ), and then went on their own separate acting paths, with MacArthur focusing on television work and Monro attempting to alter her wholesome image with spicier British dramas. 

James MacArthur, the son of screenwriter Charles MacArthur and actress Helen Hayes, made his Disney debut in Light in the Forest ( 1958 ), opposite Carol Lynley, and he proved himself to be a talented and very personable actor. Walt Disney liked his honest face and natural acting ability, and young girls liked his rugged good looks and shy demeanor. He was an ideal hero for Disney's live-action features. 

Third Man on the Mountain was his second feature for the studio and Janet Munro was selected to portray his sweetheart Lizbeth in the film. Munro caught the eye of Disney when she came to audition among 300 other actresses for the part of Katie O'Gill, the green-eyed winsome Irish lass in Darby O'Gill and the Little People ( 1959 ). She had an appealing spunky nature and was quickly signed to a five-picture contract for the studio.

Third Man on the Mountain tells the story of a boy who joins a famous mountaineer's climbing expedition in the hopes of discovering a route to reach the top of the Matterhorn, which was long deemed insurmountable. His mother and uncle aim to curtail the boy's desire to become a mountain guide but he is encouraged to pursue his passion by two dear friends, hotel owner Theo ( Laurence Naismith ) and Lizbeth ( Munro ). 

MacArthur's character, Rudi, is a bright lad who has a love for mountaineering ingrained in his heart. His father died attempting to find a path to the Matterhorn's pinnacle, and so he understands his family's fear for him when he takes off climbing but, at the same time, he knows that this is his passion and what he was meant to do in life. He is brave enough to stand up against the other mountain guides who ridicule him as a "mere boy" but he finds he must curb his impetuousness during his climbs, especially when it endangers the lives of those whom he is guiding. 
Munro's character, Lizbeth, is only happy when Rudi is happy. Together with Theo, she helps Rudi train for his climb up the Matterhorn, keeps him focused on climbing, and also strengthens his confidence. She is a sweet girl who always has a smile on her face. She is also frank and fearless. She tells Rudi exactly what she thinks of him if he fails in any way to live up to the hero she believes him to be. 

MacArthur and Monro's second film together came just a year later. Swiss Family Robinson was an adventurous re-working of Johann Wyss' famous 1812 novel about a family ( John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, Tommy Kirk, MacArthur, and Kevin Corcoran ) who get shipwrecked on an uncharted island. Janet Munro's character, Roberta, shows up unexpectedly when she and her father arrive on the island as prisoners of pirates.  

MacArthur's character, Fritz, is quite a different fellow compared to Rudi. He is practically a grown man; he displays admirable leadership qualities, is willing to work hard with his family to make the island a decent home, and demonstrates good judgment in difficult situations. Roberta admires these qualities, but at times he seems too proud and cock-sure of himself, and so she amuses herself with his younger brother Ernst ( Kirk ), sparking jealous feelings between the brothers. 

Roberta isn't the carefree country girl of Third Man in the Mountain. She is a well-bred young lady from London's society. To her the prospect of choosing to live in seclusion on a deserted island is preposterous. But Fritz's pioneering spirit and his hard-working ways eventually win her over and, at the end of the time, we are to suppose that they wed. 

A wedding between MacArthur and Monro is something that I for one would have liked to have seen happen in real life because they made such a lovely couple onscreen. Offscreen, there was no spark of romance between them ( Munro was actually married at the time of filming Third Man on the Mountain ), but had Munro or MacArthur pursued their careers with Walt Disney studios I'm sure they would have been teamed up again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

In Kaye's Kitchen : Danny Kaye Cooks More than Comedy

Danny Kaye loved to try new things and was always open to learning the necessary skills and then plunging right into an experience...with no fear of making a fool of himself. With this bravado he acquired proficiency in a number of different fields over the years: flying commercial aircraft, conducting world-famous orchestras ( without knowing a note of music ), dancing, juggling, playing baseball....and cooking. In fact, he became quite an accomplished chef. 

Chef Ruth Reichl, a good friend of Kaye's reminisced about the man shortly after his death and said "Danny Kaye didn't cook like a star. He didn't coddle you with caviar or smother you in truffles. He had no interest in complicated concoctions or exotic ingredients. His taste was absolutely true, and he was the least-pretentious cook I've ever encountered. The meals he made were little symphonies--balanced, perfectly timed, totally rounded. "

French chefs, including Paul Bocuse and Jacques Pepin, often said the best restaurant in California was Danny Kaye's house. Dana Kaye, Danny's daughter, recalled the kitchen in their wisteria-covered Beverly Hills home : 


"This room, with ruffled curtains and a huge island, was the pulse of our lives. My father, in par­ticular, loved the tiny break­fast nook with walls full of cookbooks and an old-fash­ioned wooden table covered in a red-and-white-checked tablecloth. Many mornings he’d sit in his terry cloth robe, make phone calls and offer a cup of coffee to whoever wan­dered in, like the plumber. "

Chinese cooking was his specialty. It all started when Kaye began frequenting Johnny Kan's Chinese restaurant in San Francisco in the late 1960s. He loved the cuisine, the simplicity of the ingredients, and the quick preparation of Chinese food and began a self-appointed apprenticeship to learn what he could about cooking these meals himself. 

Suddenly, Kaye's simple kitchen sprouted a new "Chinese Kitchen" wing that featured a 10-foot long three-wok restaurant stove, shelves which held his hand-made cleavers, a vertical roasting oven, Chinese lanterns, and a round table that accommodated eight. Guests who enjoyed his nine-course Chinese dinner were varied and during any night you may have seen Roddy McDowall, Rudolf Nureyev, Audrey Hepburn, or Zubin Mehta seated in Kaye's Kitchen. 
“The trouble with Danny's cooking,” Olive Behrendt, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, once said, “is it spoils you forever for going to restaurants. You could eat in this home every night for a month and never be served the same dish twice.” Luciano Pavarotti considered Kaye's fegato alla veneziana the best in the world.

His fame as a chef spread throughout Hollywood and those who doubted his mastery in the kitchen quickly sang a different tune after tasting one of his meals. In 1979, Kaye was honored with the ultimate compliment: when he guest-starred on The Muppet Show he was permitted to cook alongside the famous Swedish Chef! 

This entry is a part of our 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!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Raising a Riot! ( 1955 )

What does a man do when his wife asks him to mind their three youngsters when she must leave the country for a few weeks to care for her aging mother? 

If you think he would raise a riot, you're quite mistaken, for the man in this situation is played by Kenneth More....and any character that More portrays would never balk at caring for children. In fact, this chap - Tony, a naval officer - begs for the opportunity to spend some quality time with his children: Anne, Peter, and Fusty. He's been away at sea for so long he fears they may come to think of him as a stranger. And so, in one frantic afternoon, he packs the brood into his convertible and whisks them off to Seaview, a windmill house in the country where his father "Grampy" lives. 

The children adore the place. Father thinks it needs a heap of work. Over the next few weeks, he attempts to put some order in the place while the children enjoy a good romp in the countryside.
Raising a Riot was filmed in Technicolor in 1955 and received moderate box-office success upon its release. The film is clearly based on a book for it lacks a driving plot and instead is built up of a series of amusing incidents centering on household disasters at the old windmill. It delivers gentle humor at a leisurely pace. British comedies like this were quite common in the 1950s-1960s but, unfortunately, they are no longer being made. Studio execs probably don't want to waste time and money on a picture that has no chance of being the "comedy hit of the year". Such a shame, for they are such entertaining films. 

The youngsters ( played by Mandy Miller, Gary Billings, and Fusty Bentine ) are all well-suited to their roles, as is Grampy ( Ronald Squire ), and Jan Miller is especially adorable as a young American neighbor with a crush on the handsome officer. Parts like Tony were tailor-made for Kenneth More, who had such a winning personality. It's no wonder he attracts young women in addition to winning the hearts of his own children! 
Alfred Toombs, who penned the titular book in 1949, had a number of children of his own, and this account was autobiographical. Toombs had been away in the Navy for three years and, upon his return home, had to care for his kiddies when his wife left the country. Housework, cooking, and child-rearing were all new experiences for him and he wrote about them in such a humorous fashion that the resulting book sold quite a number of copies. In the film, Tony is frequently seen typing about his day-to-day mishaps with the little ones, but oddly enough the audience is never told what becomes of Tony's writings. Instead, at the end of the film, he finds himself called back into service again and blesses his wife with the words: "I wouldn't be a woman if the entire United Nations got down on their knees and begged me! Do you know what a woman has to be? She has to be a cross between a saint and a drayhorse, a diplomat and an automatic washing machine, and a psychologist and a bulldozer!" 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game


"Inspection!!" Never look a gift horse in the mouth.....but this commanding officer doesn't like the looks of one the horses. Do you remember this scene? Unfortunately, it's yet another blurry screenshot. However, put your thinking cap on! There are enough clues in this scene to solve the puzzle. 

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

Back to School! - Classic Films About Teachers

Labor Day has passed and the crisp air of September has set in, so that can only mean one thing - it's back to school time! Teachers across America who have enjoyed three months of blessed silence are now back to facing a brood of bright-eyed and mischievous youngsters.

Their task at hand is trying to instill into their heads a little bit of wisdom and a lifelong love of learning....within the span of one school year. Some do it, other fails...but almost all give it a good college try. 

In celebration of these teachers, we've assembled an assortment of pedagogic productions from the 1930s-1970s. Take your seats now and get ready for the lecture. The good, the bad, and the brilliant are hidden somewhere among these teacher-features :

Goodbye, Mr. Chips ( 1939 )

The best film adaptation of James Hilton's classic novel which reflects on the life of a timid British schoolmaster and the winsome ways he had with his pupils. Robert Donat won an Academy Award for his performance. Greer Garson, John Mills, and Paul Henreid also star. 
Cheers for Miss Bishop ( 1941 )

The life, loves, and incidental happenings of a Midwestern school mistress named Miss Bishop are portrayed by Martha Scott in one of her most recognized films. William Gargan and Edmund Gwenn also star. 

Remember the Day ( 1941 )

An old school teacher ( Claudette Colbert ) pays a visit to one of her former pupils ( Douglas Croft ) who is currently a presidential-nominee. While she awaits her appointment she thinks back on her teaching days in the 1910s and the man ( John Payne ) she wanted to marry. 

The Corn is Green ( 1945 )

A determined middle-aged schoolmarm ( Bette Davis ) converts her Welsh home into a school for coal miners and discovers a young man ( John Dall ) with an extraordinary appetite for learning hidden among the sooty faces. This beloved MGM classic was based on the true life story of screenwriter/actor Emlyn Williams. Nigel Bruce, Rhys Williams and Joan Lorring also star. 

The Village Teacher ( 1947 )

This Russian classic spans pre-revolutionary tsarist times to the 1940s through the eyes of a young teacher who leaves St. Petersburg to teach children in a country village. While Russia changes around her, her pupils do not, and she sees them grow into statesmen, military generals, and even professors like herself. It's a cross between Cheers for Miss Bishop and Twenty-Four Eyes. Vera Maretskaya and Daniil Sagal star. 

The Browning Version ( 1951 )

Michael Redgrave stars in this rather sad story of a schoolmaster who realizes that he failed in life not only as a teacher but as a husband, too. Terence Rattigan's novel was filmed numerous times over the years, but never was Crocker-Harris given such a sympathetic performance as Redgrave brought to the role. Jean Kent, Nigel Patrick, Wilfred-Hyde White, and Brian Smith also star. 

Olivia ( 1951 )

An English schoolgirl ( Marie-Claire Olivia ) falls in love with Mademoiselle Julie ( Edwige Feuillère ), the vivacious headmistress at the private girls' school she attends in France. This Jacqueline Audry production, based on the Dorothy Strachey novel, caused quite a stir when it was first released, but earned Feuillère a BAFTA nomination for her performance. It tackles a subject rarely discussed: what happens when admiration for one's teacher turns to idolatry and then passion?

Bright Road ( 1953 )

Dorothy Dandridge stars as Miss Richards, a fourth-grade school teacher who has her hands full with C. T. Young, a backward rebel....until she finds that he has an interest in nature. Bright Road was based on an award-winning short story that appeared in the "Ladies Home Journal" in 1951 and sheds the spotlight on how a sympathetic teacher can find ways to re-channel negative classroom behavior into positive action. Look for the screen debut of actor/singer Harry Belafonte.
Her Twelve Men ( 1954 )

Jan Stewart ( Greer Garson ) is hired as the first woman to teach at The Oaks Boarding School for Boys and, from her first day at the school, she clashes heads with fellow faculty member Joe Hargrave ( Robert Ryan ). With no prior teaching experience, Stewart struggles to learn the ropes and gain the respect of the children, until an unlikely fellow gives her a helping hand. Barry Sullivan, Richard Haydn, Rex Thompson and Tim Considine also star. 

Twenty-Four Eyes ( 1954 )

On a small Japanese island during the war, a young new kindergarten teacher ( Hideko Takamine ) reaches out to her twelve pupils. She remains in contact with them throughout their lives witnessing some make good in life, while others marry, die in war, or be stricken with poverty. It's a very touching film that earns its reputation as one of Japan's most endearing classics. 
Blackboard Jungle ( 1955 )

Sentimental tales of beloved teachers were out of vogue in the 1950s and Blackboard Jungle was one of the first to realistically portray the hooliganism that was becoming prevalent in high schools at the time. Glenn Ford stars as a WWII vet who takes on a teaching position at a rough NYC boys school and fights resistance from both his students and the faculty. Anne Francis and Louis Calhern co-star. 

Good Morning, Miss Dove ( 1955 )

Students in the small New England town of Liberty Falls reflect back on their school days and their favorite teacher Miss Dove ( Jennifer Jones ). This Fox Cinemascope production looked pretty but the story was overly mushy and Jones' performance fails to convince anyone that Miss Dove would be remembered so fondly on her sickbed. Also in the cast: Robert Stack, Chuck Connors, and Kipp Hamilton. 

The Unguarded Moment ( 1956 )

Esther Williams attempted to evolve from being the million dollar mermaid into a dramatic actress for The Unguarded Moment. Here she stars as a beautiful high school teacher who is victimized by a student ( John Saxon ) in and out of school. After he assaults her she seeks the aid of the police, which comes in the form of handsome Lt. Harry Graham ( George Nader ).
Because They're Young ( 1960 )

New teacher Neil Hendry ( Dick Clark ) locks horns with the stodgy principal ( Wendell Holmes ) of his high school over his teaching methods but manages to win the heart of the pretty school secretary ( Victoria Shaw ). Tuesday Weld, Michael Callan, and Doug McClure also star. 

The Miracle Worker ( 1962 )

William Gibson's engrossing stage play about Helen Keller's first year with her lifelong teacher Anne Sullivan was made into an equally enthralling 1962 film starring Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft, both plucked from the original stage version. Seeing Miss Sullivan struggle with Helen, who could neither see, speak, nor hear, is difficult to watch at times, but Anne knew what the girl was capable of and you have to admire her for sticking to her task and bringing out the best in Helen. 

To Sir, With Love ( 1967 )

Sidney Poitier, who had a prominent role as a student in Blackboard Jungle ( 1955 ), took on the part of the teacher, now instructing rambunctious high school students in London's East End. Lulu, Judy Geeson, and Suzy Kendell portray some of his students. 
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie ( 1969 )

A free-spirited Scottish schoolteacher unknowingly leads her "gairls" astray, instructing them in becoming non-conformists, Fascists, and giving their love freely...until one student reports her to the headmistress. Ronald Neame's powerful production gave added depth to Muriel Spark's 1961 novella and earned Maggie Smith a Best Actress Oscar. Pamela Franklin, Robert Stephens, Gordon Jackson, and Celia Johnson also star. 

La Maestra Inolvidable (1969)

Maria Rivas stars as an idealistic young woman who takes a position as a schoolteacher in a small backwoods town. She encounters more than a bit of trouble when she meets the students of the area's two feuding families and finds herself in the middle of their war. Enrique Lizalde and Fanny Schiller also star.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Dort Oben, Wo Die Alpen Glühen ( 1956 )

"Up There Where the Alps Glow"....a rough translation of the title of this 1956 German production starring Vienna-born Albert Rueprecht. Like most Heimatfilms, it features its fair share of mountain scenery, romance, and drama, and in this case, the drama is spread on as thick as butter.

Rueprecht stars as Bertl Bruneder, a young woodcarver who guides tourists up mountains as a sideline job. When a pretty young woman named Andrea ( Ingmar Zeisberg ) arrives in the village with her uncle ( Erik Frey ), she becomes intrigued with the "mountain with no name", a mountain that can only be climbed by way of a dangerous wall. She asks for a guide to take her up there but all the local guides refuse....except Bruneder. He had climbed the wall once before to win a wager against the local innkeeper Jakob ( Hardo Hesse ).

This morning saunter eventually turns into an overnight adventure when heavy cloud coverage prevents the couple from returning down the mountain. It is while they are up in "the heavens" that Andrea finds herself falling in love with Bertl. Her feelings aren't mutual, however.
There is a legend that when a man plucks edelweiss - the white star-shaped flower that grows precipitately on the side of a mountain - it signifies that he has been true and faithful to his lover. When Bertl relates this story to Andrea, she asks if he will risk gathering some edelweiss for her, but he simply shakes his head. 

He's a handsome fellow and back in the village he already has two blondes pining for him: Anna ( Lotte Ledl ) whom he fancies he loves, and Linda ( Gerlinde Locker ), the younger sister of Jakob. She is a lovely girl who is perfectly suited to Bertl, but he doesn't realize this. 
After his adventure on the mountain, Anna teases him over his unfaithfulness towards her with Andrea and Bertl climbs up the "Gottesfinger" mountain to bring edelweiss to her to prove his devotion. It's a foolish undertaking for a foolish woman and Bertl nearly dies in his attempt to retrieve the elusive edelweiss.

Unlike most American productions, where the film studios were fearful of endangering the lives of their stars, the principal players of Dort Oben Wo Die Alpen Glühen all performed their own stunts, and so you can clearly see them tackling the side of a mountain while clouds drift by a mile below them. It's a wonder how they managed to get the camera crew up there, too. Location scenery was shot in Kals, a mountain village in Tirol, Austria. 
Dort Oben, Wo Die Alpen Glühen is an engrossing drama and it features some good performances from Rueprecht and Zeisberg. However, the film lacks humor - and heart - which would have greatly added to its appeal. Also in the cast is Rudolf Carl and Peter Gruber.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

From the Archives : The Women ( 1939 )


Two cats ready to show their claws......Rosalind Russell and Norma Shearer in a scene from MGM's classic comedy The Women ( 1939 ). In this scene, they are on friendly terms, but they'll begin their fight shortly!

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

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Parent Trap ( 1961 )

All of us have favorite films that are a little extra special to us because we grew up with them. The Parent Trap, featuring Hayley Millsis one of those films for my sister and I. It was a favorite to watch on Saturdays when we were wee ones and it is still a beloved Saturday film that conjures up good feelings and happy memories of childhood. 

Not surprisingly, The Parent Trap has been, and still is, a family favorite for many worldwide. It encapsulates everything that family entertainment should be, appealing to both parents and children. It features a wonderful cast, great music ( courtesy of Richard and Robert Sherman ), gorgeous sets ( thanks to Carroll Clark and Emile Kuri ), and a witty script. What more could you ask for?

Hayley Mills was one of the Disney Studio's prime assets and, after proving her worth in Pollyanna a year earlier, Walt Disney cast her in a double role for The Parent Trap ( 1961 ), playing twin sisters Susan and Sharon. If there is anything better than watching a Hayley Mills performance, it's watching two Hayley Mills performances! 

"The nerve of that girl, coming here with your face!"

The Parent Trap tells the simple tale of identical twin sisters who were separated at birth by their divorced parents and who accidentally meet up at a posh summer camp. When the girls discover they are sisters each rave about the parent who raised them and decide to get together to reunite father and mother "for now, for always". What is their brilliant scheme to accomplish this? Swap places. California-native Susan attempts a Boston accent while Bostonian Sharon gets her hair clipped and chews her nails so Dad won't have any suspicions about her. Strangely enough, both parents are so busy with ranch duties and charity work they don't realize the change in their daughters. It is Grandpa McKendrick ( Charlie Ruggles ) who first notices the difference in "Sharon" and faithful housekeeper Verbena ( Una Merkel ) who sees through "Susan". 
The twin's plan to spend some quality time with their parents gets foiled when Sharon discovers that her dad is about to wed a catty young gold-digger named Vicki ( Joanna Barnes ). As "nicely put-together" as Vicki is, it's all just a front and she oozes venom in her speech. It takes a surprise visit from mother and a camping trip in the woods to send this cunning fiancée home packing. 

"Get me outta this stinkin' fresh air!"

This outdoor camping sequence, as well as the opening one, act as bookends to The Parent Trap and reinforce the California summer atmosphere of the film. Camping, hiking, horseback riding, and canoeing are the ideal recreational activities that most young girls fantasize about when they look forward to a summer vacation. 
The Parent Trap was based on Erich Kastner's 1949 best-selling novel "Das doppelte Lottchen" about twins who reunite at a Lake Bohren summer camp. It was brought to the silver screen twice before Disney purchased the rights to the novel.... first in Germany in 1950 as Das doppelte Lottchen, and then again in 1953 in the UK as Twice Upon a Time with Hugh Williams and Elizabeth Allen playing the parents ( and Emeric Pressburger directing ). 
Some critics claim that the Disney film is much too long and, while it's true that certain sequences are stretched, The Parent Trap is never tiresome. The comedy deftly hops between broad humor and subtle satire. Brian Keith is especially amusing in his interchanges with Sharon, whom he believes to be Susan. For instance, in one scene when Sharon inquires about her mother, Keith misunderstands the drift of the question and awkwardly attempts to relate to her the "facts of life". It's one of many scenes where'll you find your chuckle develop into a belly laugh. Walt Disney certainly deserves credit for recognizing Brian Keith's comedy and romantic lead potential. Prior to The Parent Trap, Keith was primarily a serious action/western actor. 

Maureen O'Hara was always adept at comedy but never was she more lovely than she is here playing Susan and Sharon's mother. She makes middle-aged maturity an enviable stage in life, and the romantic scenes between her and Keith are especially touching. Bill Thomas, who was the costume designer for the majority of Walt Disney's live-action films, decked O'Hara out in one beautiful ensemble after another. Even the cooking outfit she had on to make stew was eye-catching!

Supporting the principal players were a bevy of talented character actors including Charlie Ruggles, Leo G. Carroll ( as the priest who finds Keith's marriage situation "fraught with humor" ), Una Merkel, Cathleen Nesbitt, Nancy Kulp, and Linda Watkins. 

"It's none of my business....if he wants to make a ninny of himself with all those women. I don't say a word!"

Upon its release The Parent Trap was a smashing box-office success, raking in over $25 million in the U.S. alone. It received a number of fine reviews from critics as well, most of whom singled out Hayley Mills persuasive duel performance. Indeed, we'd rank Hayley as the best child actress of the 1960s. Not only did she convincingly portray two separate characters in this film but she also captured the "American spirit" and made you believe one girl was truly Californian and the other Bostonian, while Hayley herself was British! 
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