1949 January to March

2nd January – HERE COME THE HUGGETS

On the screen – for seven days – HERE COME THE HUGGETS – is a 1948 British comedy film, the first of the Huggetts series, about a working class English family. All three films in the series were directed by Ken Annakin and released by Gainsborough Pictures. Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison head the cast as factory worker Joe Huggett and his wife Ethel, with Petula Clark, Jane Hylton and Susan Shaw as their young daughters (all with the same first names as the actresses portraying them) and Amy Veness as their opinionated grandmother. Diana Dors had an early role. Joe and Ethel had been introduced a year earlier in the film Holiday Camp and there would be two sequels, Vote for Huggett and The Huggetts Abroad (both 1949).

An excerpt from the film

In support was 13 LEAD SOLDIERS a 1948 American mystery film from 20th Century Fox, directed by Frank McDonald and starring Tom Conway as Capt. Hugh ‘Bulldog’ Drummond and an edition of THIS MODERN AGE.

9th January – MOTHER WORE TIGHTS

On the screen – fro seven days – MOTHER WORE TIGHTS – is a 1947, 20th Century Fox, Technicolor musical film starring Betty Grable and Dan Dailey as married vaudeville performers, directed by Walter Lang. This was Grable and Dailey’s first film together, based on a book of the same name by Miriam Young. It was the highest grossing film of Grable’s career up to this time, earning more than $5 million at the box office. It was also 20th Century Fox’s most successful film of 1947. Alfred Newman won the Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture. Josef Myrow (music) and Mack Gordon (lyrics) were nominated for Original Song (“You Do”), while Harry Jackson was nominated for Color Cinematography.

See Dan Dailey and Betty Grable perform one of the numbers from the film

In support was CHECKERED COAT, a 1948 American drama film directed by Edward L. Cahn and written by John C. Higgins. The film stars Tom Conway, Noreen Nash, Hurd Hatfield, James Seay, Garry Owen and Marten Lamont. The film was released by 20th Century Fox.

16th January – IT’S HARD TO BE GOOD

On the screen – for seven days – IT’S HARD TO BE GOOD –

Some films almost sink without trace and here are two good examples,

IT’S HARD TO BE GOOD is a 1948 British comedy film directed by Jeffrey Dell, from Rank through GFD, and starring Jimmy Hanley, Anne Crawford and Raymond Huntley. In the film, an ex-army officer and do-gooder finds his attempts to improve the world leads invariably to disasters. It was shot at Denham Studios. The film’s sets were designed by the art director Alex Vetchinsky.

The support was MANEATER OF KUMAON a 1948 American adventure film from Universal, directed by Byron Haskin and starring Sabu, Wendell Corey and Joy Page. The film was made after the success of the Jim Corbett book Man-Eaters of Kumaon, published in 1944. The film was not based on any of the stories of the Corbett’s bestselling book, but used a fictional plot.

23rd January – TAP ROOTS

On the screen for seven days – TAP ROOTS – a 1948 Technicolor Western war film, set during the American Civil War. It is very loosely based on the true life story of Newton Knight, a farm owner who attempted to secede Jones County from Mississippi. Made by Walter Wanger Productions and Universal Pictures, it was directed by George Marshall and produced by Walter Wanger from a screenplay by Alan Le May, based on the 1942 novel Tap Roots by James H. Street, with additional dialogue by Lionel Wiggam. The original music was by Frank Skinner and the cinematography by Winton C. Hoch and Lionel Lindon. The film stars Van Heflin and Susan Hayward with Boris Karloff, Julie London, Whitfield Connor, Ward Bond and Richard Long.

An excerpt from Tap Roots

Supporting picture was FOOL AND THE PRINCESS a 1948 British drama film from Rank and directed by William C. Hammond, starring Bruce Lester, Lesley Brook and Adina Mandlová. It was made at the Merton Park Studios.

30th January – LOOK BEFORE YOU LOVE

on the screen – for seven days – LOOK BEFORE YOU LOVE – is a 1948 British drama film directed by Harold Huth and starring Margaret Lockwood, Griffith Jones and Maurice Denham. Lockwood works in the British Embassy in Rio and marries Jones, a man with a dubious past. After their wedding she discovers he is wanted for fraud and other crimes, but he promises that he will mend his wicked ways. They return to England by ship and meet millionaire Wooland, who pays the unscrupulous Jones $40,000 to disappear so he can marry Lockwood. Ridiculous story played straight; as a farce it might have had some chance.

The stars of the film attend the oopening of the British Film Festival

The supporting programme comprised HOLD THAT GHOST, a 1941 horror comedy film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello and featuring Joan Davis, Evelyn Ankers and Richard Carlson, together with an edition of THIS MODERN AGE.

6th February – WHISPERING CITY

On the screen – for seven days – WHISPERING CITY – (also known as Crime City) is a 1947 black-and-white film noir directed by Fedor Ozep and starring Paul Lukas, Mary Anderson, and Helmut Dantine. It was filmed on location in Quebec City and Montmorency Falls, Quebec, Canada in both English and French. A French language version entitled La Forteresse, with different actors, was made simultaneously.

Taking place in Quebec City, the film tells the story of a lawyer and a patron of the arts, Albert Frédéric, who, earlier in life, caused a murder and made it look like an accident for financial gain.

Later in life, a dying woman tells a reporter the tale of how she thinks the accident was actually murder. The young American reporter, Mary Roberts, begins investigating the case, unaware that the charming lawyer may be behind it all. Meanwhile, Michel Lacoste, a classical composer, who is supported by Frédéric, is having marriage troubles. Finally his wife kills herself and leaves the husband a note. Frédéric sneaks into the apartment, takes the note and convinces the man that he killed her in a drunken rage. Michel, whose night was indeed blacked out by drink, can’t remember anything. The lawyer then offers the composer a deal: kill reporter Mary Roberts in exchange for legal representation that will guarantee to get the younger man off the hook. The man, seeing no other choice, agrees reluctantly. The man and woman meet but he does not have the heart to kill her. The two begin to fall in love, gradually figure out that the lawyer is the real killer and set about a scheme to drive the lawyer into confessing to the crime.

See the film in its entirety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH9SuCLx098

For support, a re-issue, SAN DEMETRIO LONDON is a 1943 British World War II docudrama based on the true story of the 1940 salvage of the tanker MV San Demetrio by some of her own crew, who reboarded her after she had been set on fire by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer and then abandoned, during the Battle of the Atlantic. The film was produced by Michael Balcon for Ealing Studios and directed by Charles Frend.

13th February – CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA

On the screen – for seven days – CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA – a 1945 British film directed by Gabriel Pascal and starring Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh.Some scenes were directed by Brian Desmond Hurst who took no formal credit. It was adapted from the play Caesar and Cleopatra (1901) by George Bernard Shaw. The film was produced by Independent Producers and Pascal Film Productions, and was distributed by Eagle-Lion Distributors. Filmed in Technicolor with lavish sets, the production was reported to be the most expensive film ever made in Britain at the time. Pascal ordered sand from Egypt to get the right cinematic colour. The production also ran into delays due to being filmed during the Second World War. During the shoot, Vivien Leigh tripped and miscarried her pregnancy from husband Laurence Olivier. This incident set off Leigh’s manic depression, initiating an emotional breakdown in her and halting production for five weeks.

The film was described as a “box office stinker” at the time and almost ended Pascal’s career. It was the first Shaw film made in colour, and the last film version of a Shaw play during his lifetime. After Shaw’s death in 1950, Pascal produced Androcles and the Lion, another Shaw-derived film, in 1952. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Art Direction for John Bryan.

The original trailer for the film

The supporting programme featured an edition of THIS MODERN AGE.

20th February – THE LUCK OF THE IRISH

On the screen – for seven days – THE LUCK OF THE IRISH – a 1948 American film from 20th Century Fox with Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, Lee J. Cobb, Cecil Kellaway, and Jayne Meadows. It tells the story of Stephen Fitzgerald, a newspaper reporter from New York, who meets a leprechaun and beautiful young Nora, while traveling in Ireland. When he returns to his fiancée Frances, and her wealthy father David C. Augur in the midst of a political campaign in New York, he finds that the leprechaun and the young woman are now in the big city as well. Stephen is torn between the wealth he might enjoy in New York or returning to his roots in Ireland.

A scene from the film

The supporting feature was 20th Century Fox’s THE COUNTERFEITERS, a 1948 American crime film directed by Sam Newfield and written by Fred Myton and Barbara Worth. The film stars John Sutton, Doris Merrick, Hugh Beaumont, Lon Chaney, Jr., George O’Hanlon and Robert Kent.

27th February – THE SAXON CHARM

On the screen – for seven days – THE SAXON CHARM – is a 1948 film noir drama film written and directed by Claude Binyon based on the novel of the same name by Frederic Wakeman Sr.. It starred Robert Montgomery, Susan Hayward, John Payne and Audrey Totter. In a hospital, theatrical producer Matt Saxon is introduced to writer Eric Busch, and ends up offering to produce Eric’s new play with financing from millionaire Zack Humber. Alma Wragg, a singer, is Saxon’s girlfriend, but she warns Eric’s wife Janet about the producer’s notorious “Saxon charm” that coaxes others into doing his bidding, only to end up badly for everyone involved. Sure enough, Saxon’s behavior soon ruins Alma’s nightclub audition.

It isn’t long before Saxon makes a pest of himself, interrupting a beach vacation Eric and Janet take, closing the show after a poor review, then persuading Eric to go off by himself to do rewrites. Saxon loses the financial backing of Humber so he works on his ex-wife to put up the money, not knowing she is broke. Alma gets a chance to be in a Hollywood movie, but Saxon interferes with that as well. Janet, upset by Eric’s absences, begins drinking and threatens to leave him. Eric finally punches Saxon, who is so oblivious to his destructive nature, he even contributes to his ex-wife’s suicide. Eric and Janet get away from him just in time.

A clip from the film

The support was Universal’s FEUDIN’, FUSSIN’ AND A-FIGHTIN’ a musical comedy film starring Donald O’Connor. Also featured are Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, (who later reprised essentially the same roles as Ma and Pa Kettle), with Penny Edwards as the perky love interest. Donald O’Connor plays Wilbur McMurtry, a traveling salesman who is captured and held hostage by the local authorities in a small town, who wish to compel him to run in the annual foot-race against a rival town. A highlight of the film is his brilliant dance routine, in a barn, to the Al Jolson song, “Me and My Shadow”, which involves running up a wall, which later inspired his “Make ‘Em Laugh” routine in Singing in the Rain

6th March – BRITANNIA MEWS

Britannia Mews for seven days – on the screen – A 20th Century Fox British drama made from studio funds that had been frozen by the British War Government, directed by Jean Negulesco and starring Dana Andrews, Maureen O’Hara, Sybil Thorndike, Fay Compton and A. E. Matthews. It opened at the Empire 4 days after its London premiere and some 3 weeks before general release. Shortly after release and ahead of its US opening it was retitled as – The Forbidden Street – the title it is still known by today.

Watch the original film

The supporting film was a reissue of a 1939 comedy, So This Is London, starring George Sanders, Fay Compton and Stewart Granger.

13th March – EUREKA STOCKADE

Eureka Stockade played the Southampton Empire – on the screen – for seven days. It is a 1949 British film of the story surrounding Peter Lalor and the gold miners’ rebellion of 1854 at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. It was produced by Ealing Studios and directed by Harry Watt and released across the Gaumont circuit. It starred Chips Rafferty, Jane Barrett, Jack Lambert and Gordon Jackson.

See excerpts from the film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JvvAawjByU

The supporting feature Badger’s Green is a 1949 British comedy film directed by John Irwin and starring Barbara Murray, Brian Nissen, Garry Marsh and Kynaston Reeves.  It was based on the play by R.C. Sheriff, which had previously been turned into a 1934 film of the same title. It was shot at Highbury Studios and released as a second feature.

20th March – THE PARADINE CASE

THE PARADINE CASE -on the screen – for seven days – a 1947 American film noir courtroom drama film, set in England, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by David O. Selznick. The screenplay was written by Selznick and an uncredited Ben Hecht, from an adaptation by Alma Reville and James Bridie of the novel by Robert Smythe Hichens. The film stars Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Alida Valli, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore and Louis Jourdan. It tells of an English barrister who falls in love with a woman who is accused of murder, and how it affects his relationship with his wife. This film was not a happy experience for the director, producer or its stars, internal wrangling and constant reshoots and a number of significant re-edits meant a delay to its release of almost 18 months. Today, we know of 5 release versions varying in length from 94 mins to 132 mins.

Watch the trailer

The support was an episode in the documentary series THIS MODERN AGE which was a Rank produced programme filler and pre-dated their highly successful Look At Life series.

27th March 27 – BLOOD ON MY HANDS

An entertaining double bill showing fon the screen – for seven days – Blood On My Hands – a 1948 American film noir crime film from Universal, directed by Norman Foster starring Burt Lancaster, Joan Fontaine and Robert Newton. Based on the novel Kiss the Blood Off My Hand by Gerald Butler, which was the title of the film on it’s US release. It tells the story of Bill Saunders, a disturbed ex-soldier who kills a man in a postwar London pub brawl. Fleeing, he hides out in the apartment of lonely nurse Jane Wharton. Jane becomes involved with Bill, who resolves to reform.

The American trailer – Kiss The Blood Off My Hands

Coupled with – Pirates Of Monterey – an American Technicolor Western directed by Alfred L. Werker starring Maria Montez and Rod Cameron. It was the last movie she made for Universal.

A short extract from the film
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