2nd April – THE RUGGED O’RIORDANS
On the screen – for seven days – THE RUGGED O’RIORDANS – is a 1949 Australian film originally titled Sons Of Matthew, directed and produced and co-written by Charles Chauvel. The film was shot in 1947 on location in Queensland, Australia and the studio sequences in Sydney. The film took 18 months to complete, but it was a great success with Australian audiences when it finally opened in December 1949.
Under its original title, Sons of Matthew is a legendary film in the history of Australian cinema, partly because of the adverse conditions in which it was made. Maxwell Dunn wrote later in his book How they Made Sons of Matthew that, during filming, it was the wettest season in 80 years in Queensland. For UK and US release Universal-International cut the film by 30 minutes, added some American narration and renamed it The Rugged O’Riordans. The movie falls into the “pioneering family” subgenre of Western like Little House on the Prairie or Cimarron – stories about people hacking homes out of the wilderness, falling in and out of love, fighting disease, prejudice, Indians and whoever. Most tend to be driven by female leads but this is about a set of brothers, although there is a smurfette, Wendy Gibb, loved by Michael Pate and Ken Wayne. It is more melodrama than Western, but it feels influenced by Westerns in its pace and action.
In support was BUCCANEER’S GIRL – a 1950 American Technicolor romantic adventure film from Universal, directed by Frederick de Cordova starring Yvonne De Carlo and Philip Friend.
9th April – MORNING DEPARTURE
On the screen – for seven days – MORNING DEPARTURE – (released as Operation Disaster in the United States) is a 1950 Gaumont British naval drama film about life aboard a sunken submarine, directed by Roy Ward Baker, and starring John Mills and Richard Attenborough. It is based on a stage play of the same name by Kenneth Woollard, which had also been shown as a live TV play by the BBC both in 1946 and 1948. It was the feature film debut of Michael Caine.
HMS Trojan is out on a routine exercise to test its new snorkel mast. She encounters an unrecovered Second World War magnetic mine. When she dives the mine is set off, and blows off the bows of the submarine. The after section floods from the displaced snorkel mast, killing the 53 crew-members in the bow and stern sections. She settles to the bottom leaving twelve crew members alive amidships, saved by the watertight doors which have been closed by order of the captain when he realises the imminent danger. When the shore base becomes aware that Trojan is overdue, surface rescue vessels are sent out to investigate. The captain of the submarine, Lieutenant Commander Peter Armstrong (John Mills), sensibly provides an indication of their position to these vessels by expelling a quantity of oil which rises to the surface. Following standard escape procedure, a diver is sent down with an air line while everyone prepares for the rescue. Armstrong selects the first four for release; they escape safely without incident, and are picked up on the surface. The eight remaining crew assume there are plenty of breathing sets for them all to escape successfully. However, the captain discovers that all but four have been destroyed in the blast. This means the final four will have to remain under water until a full salvage operation can be carried out, which may take a week or more.
Armstrong assembles the others to draw lots through a pack of cards he deals out, to decide who goes and who remains. Two, the cook A/B Higgins (James Hayter) and the first lieutenant, Lieutenant Manson (Nigel Patrick), with the lowest cards, select themselves to stay behind along with Armstrong. The top three, to go first, also select themselves with high cards. Of the other two, there is a tie, both knaves, between Stoker Snipe (Richard Attenborough) and E.R.A. Marks (George Cole). On losing a re-deal, young Snipe goes berserk with fear and has to be physically restrained. Armstrong approaches Marks and asks if he will forfeit his place for Snipe, sensing difficulties if Snipe is left behind. Marks agrees. They begin to prepare for escape, but Snipe now hangs back, falsely claiming he has hurt his arm in the scuffle. He insists that Marks should go. Marks and the other three escape safely through the hatch and are picked up by the salvage vessels. Below, Manson has a fainting fit, which he says is a result of having previously suffered from malaria, but Snipe catches him using both arms without difficulty. Cheerfully at first, the four begin the wait for the salvage operation.
Above, all goes well to begin with, in fine weather. Divers manage to secure cables under the submarine, which is slowly winched up, but only fifteen feet per day can be achieved. However, as the days go by, the weather turns, and soon there is a full storm at sea. As a result, the submarine shifts on the cables, and sinks again to the floor of the sea. Manson has remained in ill-health below, nursed with care by Snipe. However, chlorine begins to leak from a site next to his bunk. Manson is overcome by the gas, and dies. The storm is so bad that the captain of the salvage ship decides his own men are at risk, and abandons the salvage operation altogether. The three left in the submarine sense that there is no hope for them. The film ends with Armstrong reading from a naval prayer book.
From early scenes in the film, and from dialogue throughout, the viewer is given insights into the personal and home lives of the crew, their hopes, and their now thwarted ambitions. For example, Snipe is married to a wayward wife, whom he idolises; whilst Armstrong has been offered a lucrative shore job by his wealthy father-in-law, and had been planning to leave the Navy to take it up as soon as this patrol was over.
The opening titles feature a statement about the decision to release the film in the light of the loss of HMS Truculent. HMS Truculent sank in 1950, after an accidental collision with a freighter which resulted in the loss of 64 lives. The Truculent incident took place after filming of Morning Departure had been completed, but before it went on general release to the public. The producers decided to go ahead with the film release, as a tribute to the bravery of Royal Naval personnel.
There was a full supporting programme.
16th April – THREE CAME HOME
On the screen – for seven days – THREE CAME HOME – is a 1950 American post-war film directed by Jean Negulesco from 20th Century Fox,, based on the memoirs of the same name by writer Agnes Newton Keith. It depicts Keith’s life in North Borneo in the period immediately before the Japanese invasion in 1942, and her subsequent internment and suffering, separated from her husband Harry, and with a young son to care for. Keith was initially interned at Berhala Island near Sandakan, North Borneo (today’s Sabah) but spent most of her captivity at Batu Lintang camp at Kuching, Sarawak. The camp was liberated in September 1945.
Adapted and produced by Nunnally Johnson, the film stars Claudette Colbert. At the 1950 Vichy Film Festival, the film won the Best Film Award and Colbert won the Best Actor Trophy.
In support was 20th Century Fox’s IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING a 1949 American comedy film starring Ray Milland and directed by Lloyd Bacon. The story of a baseball pitcher is completely fictitious, and the main character King Kelly is not based on or related to the actual player.
23rd April – THE RECKLESS MOMENT
On the screen – for seven days – THE RECKLESS MOMENT – is a 1949 American film noir melodrama directed by Max Ophüls, produced by Walter Wanger, and released by Columbia Pictures with Burnett Guffey as cinematographer. It starred Joan Bennett and James Mason, The film is based on The Blank Wall (1947), a novel written by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. The Deep End (2001) would be based on the same source material. With her husband away on business Lucia Harper (Joan Bennett) has her hands full at home with her teenaged daughter Bea (Geraldine Brooks) who has been keeping company with an older man Ted Darby (Shepperd Strudwick) whom Lucia distrusts. Darby claims ties to the Art world and that his interest in Bea is for her artist abilities, then one night after a meeting in which Bea realizes that Darby wants to use her for his own pleasure, she hits him and leaves. The next morning Lucia discovers Darbys dead body and believes that daughter Bea will be blamed so she dumps the body in the lagoon far from their house. Knowing that the police will have a difficult time tying Darby to Bea, Lucia relaxes until charming gangster Martin Donnelly (James Mason) arrives to tell her that his boss, a burley opportunist named Nagle (Roy Roberts) has love letters that Bea had sent to Darby clearly implicating her affection for the older man and surely enough evidence to insure that the girl would be arrested and tried for murder. Lucia argues with Donnelly as he has sensitivity that seems un-gangster-like, and she agrees to give him money but must sell what she owns since she doesnt have all the money available in her bank account. As Lucia and Donnelly move from bank to pawn shop to grocery store for the family, the blackmailer develops sympathy for the mother and house wife, and decides to abandon the blackmailing crime. When Nagle discovers that Donnelly is backing down from Lucia he goes to demand the money himself engaging in a battle with his minion.
The support was INNOCENCE IS BLISS, orignally titled Miss Grant Takes Richmond, is a 1949 comedy film from Columbia, starring Lucille Ball and William Holden, directed by Lloyd Bacon and released by Columbia Pictures.
30th April – BAGDAD
On the screen – for seven days – BAGDAD – is a 1949 Technicolor adventure film from Universal and directed by Charles Lamont starring Maureen O’Hara, Paul Hubschmid, and Vincent Price. It tells the story of a Bedouin princess (Maureen O’Hara) who returns to Baghdad after being educated in England. She finds that her father has been murdered by a group of renegades. She is hosted by the Pasha (Vincent Price), the corrupt representative of the national government. She is also courted by Prince Hassan (Paul Hubschmid), who is falsely accused of the murder. The plot revolves around her attempts to bring the killer to justice while being courted by the Pasha.
In support was BORDERLINE a 1950 American crime film noir directed by William A. Seiter and starring Fred MacMurray and Claire Trevor.
7th May – AFRICA SCREAMS
On the screen – for seven days – AFRICA SCREAMS – is a 1949 American adventure comedy film from United Artists and directed by Charles Barton, starring Abbott and Costello. It parodies the safari genre. The title is a play on the title of the 1930 documentary Africa Speaks! The supporting cast features Clyde Beatty, Frank Buck, Hillary Brooke, Max Baer, Buddy Baer, Shemp Howard, and Joe Besser.
Africa Screams was filmed at the Nassour Studios in Los Angeles. The film was produced by A&P heir Huntington Hartford. The film was the second of the independently financed productions Abbott and Costello made while they were under contract with Universal. Clyde Beatty provided his own animals for the film. The subplot regarding the affectionate gorilla originally presented a female simian pursuing Costello. However, the Breen Office censors that enforced the Production Code in Hollywood demanded that the gorilla’s gender be changed because they felt a female gorilla’s pursuit of a man would be on par with bestiality.
In support was OUTPOST IN MOROCCO a 1949 action adventure film directed by Robert Florey, starring George Raft and Marie Windsor. Paul Gerard (George Raft), a Moroccan Spahi officer and his French Foreign Legion garrison, holds off attacks from the native tribes of the Emir of Bel-Rashad (Eduard Franz), the father of Cara (Marie Windsor), the woman he loves. As a rarity amongst American films of the Foreign Legion genre, the Legion cooperated with the producers. A second unit led by Robert Rossen filmed scenes in Morocco.
14th May – THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND
On the screen – for seven days – THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND – is a 1949 American romantic comedy Western film from Fox, starring Betty Grable and featuring Cesar Romero and Rudy Vallee. It was directed by Preston Sturges and written by him based on a story by Earl Felton. The film, Sturges’ first Technicolor production, was not well received at the time it was released, and was generally conceded to be a disaster – even Betty Grable bad-mouthed it – but its reputation has improved somewhat over time, though it is not considered to be in the same league as the intelligent comedies Sturges made at Paramount Pictures for which he is known. The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend would turn out to be the last American film on which Sturges would work – although he would receive credit for films that were remakes or adaptations of his earlier films. Sturges directed only one more film in his life, the 1955 French comedy Les carnets du Major Thompson.
As was usually the case on Sturges’ films, the censors at the Hays Office had concerns about the script for The Beautiful Blonde… which had been submitted to them. Joseph Breen, head of the Production Code, warned Fox that it “contains entirely too much dialogue and action which concerns itself – in a quite blunt and pointed way – with sex.” The office finally approved a draft script submitted on 23 September 1948.
The support, Hammer Film’s MEET SIMON CHERRY is a 1949 British mystery film directed by Godfrey Grayson, and an adaptation of the popular BBC radio series Meet the Rev., featuring the crime solving cleric. When the Rev. Simon Cherry (Hugh Moxey) sets off for a much needed holiday, his car breaks down and he is forced to stay overnight in a manor house belonging to Lady Harling (Courtney Hope). The following morning, the body of Lady Harling’s invalid daughter (Zena Marshall) is discovered, apparently murdered, and the Rev. Simon Cherry must bring his crime solving skills to the case.
21st May – TELL IT TO THE JUDGE
On the screen – for seven days – TELL IT TO THE JUDGE – is a 1949 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Foster and starring Rosalind Russell as a divorcee who tries to get back her ex-husband, played by Robert Cummings. The Columbia Pictures release was originallytitled What My Next Husband Will Be and was announced as a vehicle for Lucille Ball but within months the lead had gone to Rosalind Russell. Buddy Adler became producer. Filming was to begin in January with John Lund as co-star., however Norman Foster signed as director in December and signed Fred MacMurray as co star and Bob Cummings signed to star. At the end of principal shooting Charles Vidor was called in to direct re-takes.
In support was HOUNDED (originally called “Johnny Allegro”) a black and white 1949 American film noir, starring George Raft, Nina Foch, Will Geer, and George Macready. An ex-gangster (Raft) working as a federal agent runs afoul of a crime lord (Macready) who enjoys hunting humans for sport. The picture was directed by Ted Tetzlaff and produced by Columbia Pictures. It was one of several thrillers Raft made in the late 1940s.
28th May – APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER
On the screen – for seven days – APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER – Paramount’s APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER is a 1950 American crime film noir directed by Lewis Allen and written by Richard L. Breen and Warren Duff. The drama features Alan Ladd, Phyllis Calvert, Paul Stewart, among others. Al Goddard (Alan Ladd) is a U.S. Postal Inspector of the United States Postal Inspection Service. He is assigned to locate and arrest two men who have allegedly murdered a U.S. Postal Inspector. Goddard must find a witness, an attractive young nun named Sister Augustine (Phyllis Calvert). He later poses as a corrupt inspector, and gains the confidence of the killers’ honcho Boettiger (Paul Stewart), who has worked out a plan to steal one million dollars that is being transported by the U.S. Postal Service. Once they discover the deception, the villains take Goddard and Sister Augustine prisoner. This leads to a shoot-out in an industrial district.
The supporting programme consisted of the feature BEWARE OF BLONDIE a 1950 black and white comedy film which was the last of the 28 Blondie films in 12 years and a new cartoon short, A FANTASY OF LONDON LIFE.
4th June – THE BODY SAID NO!
On the screen – for seven days – THE BODY SAID NO! – is a 1950 British crime comedy film directed by Val Guest and starring Michael Rennie, Yolande Donlan, and Hy Hazell. In a British TV studio, Michael Rennie (as himself) is performing live in a dramatic broadcast. On a neighbouring set, cabaret singer Mikki Brent thinks she sees a coded plot being discussed to murder Rennie. Her friends are sceptical, but she warns Rennie, and various adventures and investigations ensue.
The supporting feature was LOST BOUNDARIES, a 1949 American film directed by Alfred L. Werker that stars Beatrice Pearson, Mel Ferrer (in his first starring role), and Susan Douglas Rubeš. The film is based on William Lindsay White’s book of the same title, a nonfiction account of Dr. Albert C. Johnston and his family, who passed for white while living in New England in the 1930s and 1940s. The film won the 1949 Cannes Film Festival award for Best Screenplay.
11th June – OH YOU BEAUTIFUL DOLL
On the screen – for seven days – Oh, You Beautiful Doll – is a 1949 musical film from 20th Century Fox. Directed by John M. Stahl (his final film), starring the musical queen June Haver and Mark Stevens. Co-stars included S.Z. Sakall, Charlotte Greenwood, and Gale Robbins. The film is a fictionalized biography of Fred Fisher, a German-born American writer of Tin Pan Alley songs. Tin Pan Alley promoter (Mark Stevens) turns serious composer Fred Breitenbach (S.Z. Sakall) into songwriter Fred Fisher. Fred Fisher is his assumed name in real life and Breitenbach is his birth surname. In the film, many Fisher songs were given a symphonic arrangement that was performed at Aeolian Hall.
In support was MOTHER DIDN’T TELL ME a 1950 American comedy film written and directed by Claude Binyon. It is based on the 1949 book The Doctor Wears Three Faces by Mary Bard. The film stars Dorothy McGuire, William Lundigan, June Havoc, Gary Merrill, Jessie Royce Landis and Joyce MacKenzie. The film was released on March 3, 1950, by 20th Century Fox.
18th June – ALL THE KING’S MEN
On the screen – for seven days – ALL THE KING’S MEN – is a 1949 American film noir written, produced, and directed by Robert Rossen. It is based on the Robert Penn Warren novel of the same name. The Columbia film stars Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Mercedes McCambridge, and Joanne Dru. The plot focuses on the rise and fall of the ambitious and ruthless politician, Willie Stark (Crawford) in the American South. The movie won three Academy Awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture and the award for Best Actor, which went to Crawford.
The support was BEAUTY ON PARADE a 1950 American drama film directed by Lew Landers and starring Robert Hutton, Ruth Warrick and Lola Albright. Having given up her own dreams of beauty queen stardom twenty years earlier to get married, a mother channels her ambitions through her young daughter who win a local competition and is entered into a national contest.
25th June – CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR
On the screen – for seven days – CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR – is a 1950 American farce film about a quiz show contestant, directed by Richard Whorf and written by Fred Brady and Hans Jacoby. The movie stars Ronald Colman, Celeste Holm, Vincent Price, Barbara Britton and Art Linkletter. The film was produced by Harry M. Popkin for his Cardinal Pictures and released by United Artists. Beauregard Bottomley (Ronald Colman) is a polymath who lives in Los Angeles with his piano-instructor sister Gwenn (Barbara Britton) and an alcohol-guzzling parrot they found named Caesar (voiced by Mel Blanc). Beauregard is knowledgeable on any subject — except how to hold a job.
In front of a store window, Beauregard and Gwenn watch a quiz show, “Masquerade for Money”, hosted by Happy Hogan (Art Linkletter), sponsored by Milady Soap. In the film, the show is simulcast on CBS, similar to how You Bet Your Life was broadcast as a simulcast by NBC. Each contestant dresses up as a historical personage, an inanimate object, or an animal (anticipating, by more than a decade, that audience members would wear costumes, particular to themselves, on Let’s Make a Deal, trying to gain Monty Hall’s supposed favor to participate as contestants). The contestant’s costume determines the type of questions asked, with the prize money doubling with each correct answer (in the style of the 1940s radio show “Take It Or Leave It”), starting at $5 and reaching up to a maximum of $160. A contestant can quit anytime, but an incorrect response results in no money won, only in a reward of the consolation prize of Milady Soap. Beauregard is contemptuous of the show and what he deems its dumbing down effect on the country.
A representative of the State of California Department of Employment encourages Beauregard to interview for a job at the Milady Soap Company, which he does. Beauregard meets the company’s eccentric owner, Burnbridge Waters (Vincent Price), who disapproves of Beauregard’s humor and rejects him. To get even, Beauregard enters “Masquerade for Money” as a contestant, dressed as an encyclopedia, and because he does, and consistent with the rules of the show, the host can ask him about anything. Before the questions begin, Happy starts to praise the qualities of Milady Soap, but Beauregard says that it works just like any other soap, outraging Waters. Beauregard easily answers correctly the maximum six questions, then requests one more, which he also answers correctly, earning $320. Beauregard turns down the money and asks to return next week.
Waters decides to invite Beauregard back for one question per show for six weeks and heavily publicizes it. During that time, “Masquerade for Money” tops the ratings, and sales of Milady Soap skyrocket.
In support was D.O.A. a 1949 American film noir directed by Rudolph Maté, considered a classic of the genre. The frantically paced plot revolves around a doomed man’s quest to find out who has poisoned him and why. This film marks the debuts of Beverly Garland (as Beverly Campbell) and Laurette Luez. The film stars Edmond O’Brien and Pamela Britton.