1949 October to December

2nd October – TROTTIE TRUE

On the screen – for seven days – TROTTIE TRUE – is a 1949 British musical comedy film from GFD (Rank), directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Jean Kent, James Donald and Hugh Sinclair. It was known as The Gay Lady in the US, and is a rare British Technicolour film of the period. According to the BFI Screenonline: “British 1940s Technicolor films offer an abundance of visual pleasures, especially when lovingly restored by the National Film Archive. Trottie True is not among the best known, but comes beautifully packaged, gift wrapped with all the trimmings.”

Jean Kent in a scene from Trottie True

JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON is a 1949 film noir crime film from Universal and directed by William Castle and starring Howard Duff, Shelley Winters and Dan Duryea and tells the story of a narcotics agent who convinces a convict he helped send to Alcatraz go undercover with him to help expose a heroin drug smuggling ring. The unlikely pair travels from San Francisco to Vancouver and finally to a dude ranch in Tucson which is run by mob bosses. They end up getting help breaking the case from the gang leader’s dingy blonde girlfriend (Winters), who falls for the narcotics agent during the sting.

9th October – MAGIC TOWN

On the screen – for seven days – MAGIC TOWN – is a 1947 comedy film directed by William A. Wellman and starring James Stewart and Jane Wyman. The picture is one of the first films about the then-new practice of public opinion polling. The film was inspired by the Middletown studies. It is also known as The Magic City. As with Stewart’s previous film, It’s A Wonderful Life, the film was a notorious box office flop at the time of its release.

A scene from the film

Completing the programme was RACE STREET, a 1948 American crime film noir directed by Edwin L. Marin. The drama features George Raft, William Bendix and Marilyn Maxwell.

16th October – THE LOST PEOPLE

On the screen – for seven days – THE LOST PEOPLE – is a 1949 British drama film directed by Muriel Box and Bernard Knowles and starring Dennis Price, Mai Zetterling and Richard Attenborough. It is based on a play by Bridget Boland. After the Second World War, some British soldiers are guarding a theatre in Germany containing various refugees and prisoners trying to work out what to do with them. However, the displaced people, after uniting against fascism for five years, begin to disintegrate into their own ancient feuds: Serb against Croat, Pole against Russian, resistance fighter against collaborator and everyone against the Jews. Two people, Jan and Lily, begin a romance and decide to wed. However, one of the refugees is diagnosed with bubonic plague

Profile of star Mai Zetterling

In support, ESCAPE TO HAPPINESS was a reissue of a 1939 film called Intermezzo a romantic film made in the US by Selznick International Pictures and nominated for two Academy Awards. It was directed by Gregory Ratoff and produced by David O. Selznick. It is a remake of a 1936 Swedish film Intermezzo. It stars Leslie Howard as a (married) virtuoso violinist who falls in love with his accompanist, played by Ingrid Bergman in her Hollywood debut.

23rd October – CHICAGO DEADLINE

On the screen – for seven days – CHICAGO DEADLINE – a 1949 American film noir crime film from Paramount, directed by Lewis Allen starring Alan Ladd and Donna Reed. On Chicago’s South Side reporter Ed Adams finds the body of a dead girl. Her address book leads to a host of names of men frightened by her death but claiming never to have known her. Adams comes to know quite a lot, dangerously so.

Tiffany Thayer’s original novel was published in 1933 and was clearly inspired by the notorious Starr Faithfull case of the 1920s. Starr Faithfull (not her real name) was a beautiful girl found dead in the East River, seemingly a suicide. However, her address-book was found to be full of famous names and her diaries went unaccountably missing – rumors therefore abounded that she was a call-girl who had been blackmailing some of her clients and that she had been murdered.

A 1950 radio broadcast of the story featuring Alan Ladd

The programme was completed with FOLLOW ME QUIETLY, a 1949 semi-documentary film noir directed by Richard Fleischer. The drama features William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey, and others.

30th October – A SONG IS BORN

On the screen – for seven days – A SONG IS BORN – a 1948 Technicolor musical film remake of the 1941 movie Ball of Fire with Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. It was directed by Howard Hawks. Based on the Story “From A to Z” by Billy Wilder and Thomas Monroe. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn and released by RKO Radio Pictures. Filmed in Technicolor, it featured a stellar supporting cast of musical legends, including Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman (with Al Hendrickson as cameo), Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Carter. Other notable musicians playing themselves in the cast include Charlie Barnet (with Harry Babasin as cameo), Mel Powell, Louis Bellson, The Golden Gate Quartet, Russo and the Samba Kings, The Page Cavanaugh Trio, and Buck and Bubbles. Other actors include Steve Cochran and Hugh Herbert.

Danny Kaye’s personal writer/composer, Sylvia Fine, who also happened to be Kaye’s wife, refused to take part in any more of his projects because Kaye had recently left her for actress Eve Arden. Kaye didn’t want anyone else writing songs for him, so he did not perform any songs in the film. Howard Hawks had almost no interest in the film, and only came to work on it because of the $250,000 paycheck. When speaking of the film, he said “Danny Kaye had separated from his wife, and he was a basket case, stopping work to see a psychiatrist every day. He was about as funny as a crutch. I never thought anything in that picture was funny. It was an altogether horrible experience.”

See the trailer

Completing the programme was a bargain basement animal short, FORTY MINUTES AT THE ZOO made by F. Radcliffe-Holmes.

6th November – DEAR MR PROHACK

On the screen – DEAR MR PROHACK – a 1949 British comedy film from GFD, directed by Thornton Freeland. It is a modern-day version of Arnold Bennett’s novel, Mr Prohack, as adapted in the play by Edward Knoblock. It stars Cecil Parker, Glynis Johns and Dirk Bogarde. Cecil Parker plays a civil servant who is extremely frugal with the government’s money, then suddenly inherits a large fortune and becomes a spendthrift.

The dream sequence from the film

Making up the programme was TAKE ONE FALSE STEPa 1949 film noir crime film from Universal, directed by Chester Erskine and starring William Powell and Shelley Winters.

13th November – DIAMOND CITY

On the screen – for seven days – DIAMOND CITY – a 1949 British drama film directed by David MacDonald and starring David Farrar, Honor Blackman, Diana Dors and Niall MacGinnis. From GFD it was based on the true story of Stafford Parker who was elected president of the Diamond Diggers Republic in 1871 South Africa. It was announced in 1945 as Digger’s Rest and was to star Stewart Granger from director Leslie Arliss. “This Parker was a born fighter, a great, husky guy”, said Arliss. “He’d knocked around in the States as a young man and was tremendously impressed by the sheriff system, as he’d seen it practiced in the West.” Patricia Roc was to play the Salvation Army girl with whom Parker falls in love. However Roc was named in a divorce case involving Fay Compton and Gainsborough reportedly dropped her from the film as a result. Eventually the starring role was given to David Farrar who had received acclaim for his performance in Black Narcissus. It was directed by David MacDonald, who had just directed The Bad Lord Byron and Christopher Columbus for Gainsborough. Diana Dors played the role of the saloon keeper when Jean Kent was unavailable. It was Dors’ biggest part to date. The film was seen as an attempt by producer Sydney Box to compete with Eureka Stockade (1949), another British film set and shot in a former colony. It combined location filming in the Kimberley region of South Africa with studio work at Denham Studios in England. MacDonald arrived in South Africa in November 1948 for location filming. This was meant to take 25 days but MacDonald finished it in 12, due to him using only local crew. Studio work began at Denham in January 1949. The film’s sets were designed by the art director George Provis. Bombardier Billy Wells taught Farrar how to box for the film.

Here is a tv promo for the film

In support was ABANDONED a 1949 American crime film noir from Universal, directed by Joseph M. Newman and starring Dennis O’Keefe, Gale Storm and Jeff Chandler. (It is also known as Abandoned Women and Not Wanted.)

20th November – HOUSE OF STRANGERS

On the screen – for seven days – HOUSE OF STRANGERS – a 1949 American film noir directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and starring Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward, and Richard Conte. The screenplay by Philip Yordan and Mankiewicz (who chose to go uncredited) is the first of three film versions of Jerome Weidman’s novel I’ll Never Go There Any More, the others being the Spencer Tracy western Broken Lance (1954) and The Big Show (1961). Gino Monetti is a rags-to-riches Italian-American banker in New York whose methods result in a number of criminal charges. Three of his four grown sons, unhappy at their father’s dismissive treatment of them, refuse to help Gino when he is put on trial for questionable business practices. Eldest son Joe seizes control of the bank and brothers Tony and Pietro side with him. Max, a lawyer, is the only son who stays loyal to his father. The film was entered into the 1949 Cannes Film Festival [5] and Edward G. Robinson won the prize for Best Actor.

See the trailer

The supporting programme included a 9 minute, award winning, animated film SKETCHES OF SCOTLAND

27th November – LUST FOR GOLD

On the screen – for seven days – LUST FOR GOLD – EMPIRE – is a 1949 American Western film from Columbia Pictures, directed by S. Sylvan Simon and starring Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford. The film is about the legendary Lost Dutchman gold mine, starring Ford as the “Dutchman” and Lupino as the woman he loves. The historical events are seen through a framing device set in the contemporary 1940s. It was based on the book Thunder God’s Gold by Barry Storm. The film was originally directed by George Marshall and known as Bonanza. Marshall quit four days into filming due to disputes with producer S. Sylvan Simon. Simon took over directing.

A short scene from the film

The double bill was completed with MARY LOU a 1948 Columbia Pictures American musical film starring Robert Lowery. The film featured Lynn Sousa, granddaughter of John Philip Sousa.

4th December – RED, HOT AND BLUE

On the screen – for seven days – RED, HOT AND BLUE – a 1949 musical comedy film from Paramount, starring Betty Hutton as an actress who gets mixed up with gangsters and murder. Frank Loesser wrote the songs and also acted in the film. The film was originally called The Broadway Story. It was the second film from Pioneer Pictures, a recently formed independent production company. Charles Lederer wrote the script based on stories provided by such Broadway columnists as Dorothy Kilgallen, Louis Sobol, Danton Walker and Earl Wilson. However Pioneer ended up selling the project to Paramount Studios in September 1948 as a vehicle for Betty Hutton. Frank Tashlin was hired to rewrite the script. Robert Fellows was to produce and John Farrow to direct. It was Hutton’s first film in two years. The film was retitled Restless Angel. Ray Milland was going to star, but it was decided to loan him out to Fox; his role was taken by Victor Mature, who had just made Samson and Delilah for Paramount. Mature and Hutton had never acted together before and Paramount hoped the novelty of this would prove attractive at the box office. The title was changed again to Red Hot and Blue.

See the trailer

In support was WILD HARVEST – a 1947 Paramount film directed by Tay Garnett and starring Alan Ladd and Dorothy Lamour. The film was based on an original screen story called The Big Haircut by Houston Branch, which focused on wheat harvesters who travel across the country doing their job. “The big haircut” was their slang term for the work they do; the topic was thought to be especially topical because of a world wide bread shortage at the time

The programme was completed with an edition of THIS MODERN AGE

11th December – ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE GHOSTS

on the screen – for seven days – ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE GHOSTS – (retitled from its original – Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein) is a 1948 Universal American horror comedy film directed by Charles Barton and starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello. The picture is the first of several films in which the comedy duo meets classic characters from Universal’s horror film stable. In this film, they encounter Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange), and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.). Subsequent films pair the duo with the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Mummy. (The comedians interacted with the last of the Universal Studios monsters, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, on live television on the Colgate Comedy Hour in 1954.) This film is considered the swan song for the “Big Three” Universal horror monsters, none of whom had appeared in a Universal film since House of Dracula in 1945. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed this film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, and in September 2007, Reader’s Digest selected the movie as one of the top 100 funniest films of all time.

The trailer under the film’s original title

In support Universal’s CITY ACROSS THE RIVER, a 1949 American film noir crime film directed by Maxwell Shane and starring Stephen McNally, Thelma Ritter, Sue England, Barbara Whiting, Luis Van Rooten and Jeff Corey. The screenplay is based on the novel The Amboy Dukes by Irving Shulman. The film is notable as the credited screen debut of Tony Curtis (billed onscreen as “Anthony Curtis”).

18th December – THE LOST TRIBE

On the screen – for seven days – THE LOST TRIBE – is the second ‘Jungle Jim’ film produced by Columbia Pictures. The film features Johnny Weissmuller in his second performance as the adventurer Jungle Jim, co-starring Myrna Dell and Elena Verdugo, along with Joseph Vitale and George J. Lewis as the film’s antagonists. It was directed by William Berke and written by Don Martin and Arthur Hoerl. The film follows Jungle Jim who rescues a beautiful native girl, Li Wanna, who is being chased by two sailors. She comes from a hidden village and the men were using her to find it. Jim visits the village and learns they are rich in diamonds. The village elder gives Jim a bag of diamonds which he wants delivered to the men looking for them. A bag of diamonds will not satisfy them however. Along the way, Jungle Jim faces several challenges.

See the trailer

In support was Columbia’s 1941 American Western Film TEXAS, directed by George Marshall and starring William Holden, Glenn Ford and Claire Trevor. Texas was an early picture for both Holden (his seventh credited performance) and Ford (his ninth).

25th December – CLOSED

For the first time it became standard practice for cinemas to close on Christmas Day.

26th December – THE ROMANTIC AGE

On the screen – for SIX days – THE ROMANTIC AGE – a 1949 British drama film directed by Edmond T. Gréville. From Rank/GFD. The screenplay by Peggy Barwell and Edward Dryhurst is based on the French novel Lycee des jeunes filles by Serge Véber. The film was retitled Naughty Arlette for the American release. Starring Mai Zetterling, Hugh Williams and Petula Clark the plot focuses on middle-aged Arnold Dickson, an art master who joins the staff of the girls’ school in which his daughter Julie is enrolled. He soon finds himself the target of Arlette, a sophisticated French exchange student who has more than education on her mind. On a dare, she seduces the professor into running off to Paris with her, a plot derailed by Julie when she orchestrates a scheme designed to help him put the affair into perspective.

In 1960, composer Charles Williams topped the American pop music charts with his theme for the film The Apartment. It originally had been written for and was heard in this film under the title “Jealous Lover”.

Hear the film’s theme that 10 years later would win an Academy Award

In support was THE STORY OF MOLLY X a 1949 film noir crime film from Universal, directed by Crane Wilbur and starring June Havoc, John Russell and Dorothy Hart. The screenplay concerns a woman who tries to reform after being sent to prison, but faces obstacles.

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