2nd July – UNDER MY SKIN
On the screen – for seven days – UNDER MY SKIN is a 20th Century Fox, 1950 American sports drama film directed by Jean Negulesco and starring John Garfield and Micheline Presle. It is based on the short story “My Old Man”, by Ernest Hemingway, about a jockey being threatened by a mobster after winning a race he had agreed to throw. American jockey Danny Arnold now rides horses in Italy, where a gangster named Bork insists he deliberately lose a race. Dan double-crosses him, then avoids Bork’s thugs, taking young son Joe with him to Paris. Intending to look up an old friend, Dan learns from cafe owner Paule Manet that the friend was murdered by criminals due to unpaid debts. British jockey George Gardner is able to find Dan gainful employment at the racetrack, while Joe persuades his dad that a new horse of theirs called Gilford would make a fine steeplechase racer. Dan disappoints his son by winning money on a fixed race that involved George. Bork and his henchmen turn up. They threaten to kill Dan if he doesn’t lose the next steeplechase race. They have their own jockey in the race to make sure things go their way, but Dan defies them, with George’s help. He wins the race, but when another horse runs into Gilford at the finish line, Dan is thrown off and killed.
In support was CANDIAN PACIFIC a 1949 historical Western, directed by Edwin L. Marin for 20th Century Fox and starring Randolph Scott and Jane Wyatt. Filmed in Cinecolor on location in the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park, Morley Indian Reserve in Alberta, and Yoho National Park in British Columbia, it spins a fanciful account of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
9th July – THE BIG LIFT
On the screen – for seven days – THE BIG LIFT is a 1950 drama film from 20th Century Fox, shot in black-and-white on location in the city of Berlin, Germany, that tells the story of “Operation Vittles”, the 1948–49 Berlin Airlift, through the experiences of two U.S. Air Force sergeants (played by Montgomery Clift and Paul Douglas). The film was directed and written by George Seaton, and was released less than one year after the Soviet blockade of Berlin was lifted and airlift operations ceased. Because the film was shot in Berlin in 1949, as well as using newsreel footage of the actual airlift, it provides a contemporary glimpse of the post-war state of the city as its people struggled to recover from the devastation wrought by World War II.
The supporting feature was THE DREAM OF OLWEN orignally called While I Live, a 1947 British drama film directed by John Harlow and starring Sonia Dresdel, Tom Walls and Carol Raye. While I Live is best remembered for its musical theme “The Dream of Olwen” composed by Charles Williams, reprised at intervals throughout the film, which became hugely popular in its time and is still regularly performed. The film itself became widely known as The Dream of Olwen as was retitled for this re-release. It was based on a play by Robert Bell, in which Sonia Dresdel also starred.
16th July – DOUBLE CROSSBONES
On the screen – for seven days – DOUBLE CROSSBONES – is a 1950 American comedy adventure film distributed by Universal International, produced by Leonard Goldstein, directed by Charles Barton, and stars Donald O’Connor and Helena Carter. It was shot in Technicolor and tells a story set in the late 1700s, in Charleston, South Carolina which has been overrun by pirates, who use the town as a safe haven to sell their plunder.
One day, after a small brawl with two pirates, Davey Crandall (Donald O’Connor) watches with his coworker, Tom Botts (Will Geer), the cargo-laden British ship Liverpool Queen enter the harbor. As soon as the cargo is unloaded and transferred to the shelves of cranky shopkeeper Caleb Nicholas (Morgan Farley), Charleston territorial governor Gerald Elden (John Emery) brings his charge, Lady Sylvia Copeland (Helena Carter), and British aristocrats Lord and Lady Montrose to view the imported treasures. While Sylvia and Davey flirt innocently, Lord Montrose recognises a pin stolen from an English friend amid the booty. Although the governor has secretly negotiated with Caleb to sell and profit from the stolen goods, he feigns shock and orders Caleb, Davey, and Tom to be arrested. As the three march through the streets, the soldiers guarding them are attacked by pirates, allowing Davey and Tom to escape. However, Caleb is brought to Elden’s home, where Elden shoots him to keep him from talking about their arrangement, and then, shocks Sylvia by proposing to her. When she spurns him, he orders her to accompany him to Virginia and, realizing that she loves Davey, vows to kill him. That night, Davey and Tom visit a pirate tavern in the hopes of convincing Captain “Bloodthirsty” Ben Wickett (Charles McGraw) to allow them passage on his boat, the Defiance. Although Davey impresses Wickett at first with a clever trick, the pirate refuses to board them without payment. To make money, Davey dances on the tavern’s stage but fails to merit attention until he improvises a song about a pirate. Although Wickett takes their newly earned money, he plans with his first mate, Isaac Wells, to throw them overboard when they reach the open sea. At sea the next morning, Wickett attempts to get the two drunk, but Davey, who is allergic to alcohol, refuses. After Wells sets out the plank for them to walk, Davey grabs a bottle for courage, and when his face breaks out in hives, the pirates fear that he has the pox and abandon ship in a panic. Davey and Tom sail on alone until they spot a ship. the Southern Gypsy. Forgetting and not realizing that the Defiance sports a pirate flag, they set off the ship’s cannons as a signal for help. The captain, who is carrying Elden and Sylvia as well as prisoners headed to debtor’s jail, assumes he is under attack by pirates and surrenders. Davey sees Elden on-deck and realizes he must disguise himself as pirate “Bloodthirsty Dave.”
After he and Tom board the Southern Gypsy and round up the crew, Elden immediately recognizes Davey from Caleb’s shop but Tom insists that being a shopkeeper’s apprentice was merely a ruse and that Davey is actually a pirate captain. Sylvia appears out onto the deck and hears Davey’s “threats” to the crew if his demands are not met. She denounces him and informs Elden that she will marry him in Virginia. Dave is given Elden’s prisoners to ensure that Dave and his “crew” will not attack and hereturns to his ship, despondent. He announces to the prisoners that he will free them if they help him sail to the pirate capital, the Isle of Tortuga. The grateful prisoners, many of whom are sailors, agree, and within days, they reach the island. On Tortuga, Davey is brought before a pirate tribunal, which includes Henry Morgan (Robert Barrat), Captain Kidd (Alan Napier), Mistress Ann Bonney (Hope Emerson), Captain Long Ben Avery (Glenn Strange), and Blackbeard (Louis Bacigalupi). They test Davey’s supposed killer instinct by pitting him against Blackbeard, and after Davey cuts off the pirate’s belt, he wins the fight and is accepted into the brotherhood. He learns that they are funded by a mysterious American, whose messenger Davey quickly recognises as Elden’s valet. Realizing the depth of the governor’s corruption, he begs the pirates to help him attack Elden in Charleston, but they refuse and he is forced to go alone. Back in Charleston, Davey disguises himself as a British aristocrat in order to infiltrate a costume ball Elden is holding for Sylvia. He spirits Sylvia away and, by describing the wedding gown that Elden bought from a pirate, convinces her of her fiancé’s unscrupulousness. However, Elden recognizes Davey and jails him. That night, Sylvia sneaks out to the Defiance and plans with Tom to paint a miniature armada on the lens of a telescope, which will trick Elden into thinking he is being attacked by pirates. She brings Davey the telescope, and when Elden seizes it, he is fooled by the picture long enough for Davey to force him to sign a confession. Davey then races to Lord Montrose’s ship, but Elden gets there first and shoots him. Afterwards, Tom and Davey’s crew arrive and a sword fight breaks out on the ship. Just as Davey chases Elden up a sail, the Pirate Brotherhood arrives to help. Panicked, Elden drops his sword and falls into the ocean. In Tortuga months later, Davey is married to Sylvia and is revered as a powerful pirate. He arranges for a pardon for his fellow pirates, and although they swear to go straight, news of a nearby ship loaded with gold quickly ends their reformation.
In support was DEPORTED a 1950 American film noir crime film directed by Robert Siodmak starring Märta Torén and Jeff Chandler about an American gangster sent back to his home country who falls in love with a widowed countess.
23rd July – ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD
On the screen – for seven days – ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD is a 1949 American animated package film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film consists of two segments—the first of which is based on the 1908 children’s novel The Wind in the Willows by British author Kenneth Grahame, and the second is based on the 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, called Ichabod Crane in the film, by American author Washington Irving. The film is the 11th Disney animated feature film, and the last of the studio’s package film era of the 1940s and features Bing Crosby and Basil Rathbone.
The supporting feature was THE CAPTURE a 1950 drama film directed by John Sturges, starring Lew Ayres, Teresa Wright, Victor Jory and Jacqueline White. Some film historians have categorised it as a noir. The story, told in flashback deals with an ex-oil worker driven by guilt at causing the death of an innocent man to find out the truth about a robbery.
30th July – THE DIVIDING LINE
On the screen – for seven days – THE DIVIDING LINE (original title was The Lawless) is a 1950 American film noir released by Paramount Pictures and directed by Joseph Losey and features Macdonald Carey, Gail Russell and Johnny Sands. A newspaper editor in California becomes concerned about the plight of the state’s fruit pickers, mostly immigrants from Mexico. Film critic Thom Andersen identified the film as one example of film gris, a more cynical variety of film noir with leftist themes.
The programme was completed by THE EAGLE AND THE HAWKa 1950 American Technicolor Western film directed by Lewis R. Foster and written by Lewis R. Foster and Daniel Mainwaring. The film stars John Payne, Rhonda Fleming, Dennis O’Keefe, Thomas Gomez, Fred Clark and Frank Faylen. The film was released by Paramount Pictures.
6th August – NIGHT AND THE CITY
On the screen – for seven days – NIGHT AND THE CITY – is a 1950 British 20th Century Fox film noir directed by Jules Dassin and starring Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney and Googie Withers. It is based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Kersh. Shot on location in London and at Shepperton Studios, the plot revolves around an ambitious hustler whose plans keep going wrong. Director Dassin later confessed that he never read the novel the movie is based upon. In an interview, Dassin recalls that the casting of Tierney was in response to a request by Darryl Zanuck, who was concerned that personal problems had rendered the actress “suicidal,” and hoped that work would improve her state of mind. The film’s British version was five minutes longer, with a more upbeat ending and featuring a completely different film score. Dassin endorsed the American version as closer to his vision.
The film contains a very tough and prolonged fight scene between Stanislaus Zbyszko, a celebrated professional wrestler in real life, and Mike Mazurki, who before becoming an actor was himself a professional wrestler.
In support was TROPHY ISLAND a general interest film about the Isle of Man and a record of the Tourist Trophy Race.
13th August – DANCE HALL
On the screen – for seven days – DANCE HALL – is a 1950 British film directed by Charles Crichton. The film was an unusual departure for Ealing Studios at the time, as it centres on four young female factory workers who escape the monotony of their jobs by spending their evenings at the Chiswick Palais, the local dance hall, and having problems with their boyfriends or hoping to find some. Made at Ealing studios and distributed by GFD, the film starred Donald Houston, Diana Dors, Petula Clark and Kay Kendall.
The supporting feature was THE OVERLANDERS a 1946 British film about drovers driving a large herd of cattle 1,600 miles overland from Wyndham in Western Australia through the Northern Territory outback of Australia to pastures north of Brisbane, Queensland during World War II. The film was the first of several produced in Australia by Ealing Studios, and featured among the cast Chips Rafferty. It was an early example of the genre later dubbed the “meat pie western”.
20th August – LOUISA
On the screen – for seven days – LOUISA – a 1950 American comedy film from Universal, directed by Alexander Hall starring Ronald Reagan, Charles Coburn, Ruth Hussey, Edmund Gwenn and Spring Byington. Grandma Louisa (Spring Byington) begins dating grocer Henry Hammond (Edmund Gwenn), much to the disgust of her son Hal (Ronald Reagan) and the rest of the family. To make matters worse, Hal’s boss, Mr. Burnside (Charles Coburn), also becomes a rival for Louisa’s affections. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound (Leslie I. Carey).
Watch the film in its entirety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jh4iuAbOAI
The programme was completed with COMANCHE TERRITORY a 1950 American Western film directed by George Sherman and starring Maureen O’Hara and Macdonald Carey. Jim Bowie is sent into Comanche country by the government on a mission to draw up a treaty allowing the government to mine silver on the Indian’s turf. Filming was done in and around the Oak Creek Canyon area of Arizona. It was released by Universal.
27th August – SO LONG AT THE FAIR
On the screen – for seven days – SO LONG AT THE FAIR – is a 1950 British thriller film from GFD, directed by Terence Fisher and Antony Darnborough, and starring Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde. The general plot derives from what appears to be a 19th-century urban legend, known variously as “The Vanishing Hotel Room” or “The Vanishing Lady”, which has inspired several fictional works. The first published version of the story was written by Nancy Vincent McClelland as “A Mystery of the Paris Exposition” in The Philadelphia Inquirer dated November 14, 1897. It next appeared in the Detroit Free Press in 1898 as “Porch Tales: The Disappearance of Mrs. Kneeb,” by Kenneth Herford. The German author Anselma Heine’s novel Die Erscheinung (1912) covers the same idea, and it was filmed as a segment called ‘The Apparition” in Unheimliche Geschichten (Uncanny stores) (1919, remake 1932). Belloc Lowndes’ 1913 novel The End of Her Honeymoon also contains the tale, as does Lawrence Rising’s 1920 She Who Was Helena Cass, Sir Basil Thomson’s 1925 The Vanishing Of Mrs. Fraser, and Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 The Torrent Of Spring. The German film Covered Tracks (1938) was based on the story, with a script by Thea von Harbou, and portions of the idea also featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 film The Lady Vanishes. The radio play “Cabin B-13” by John Dickson Carr tells a similar story. It aired three times in the series Suspense (twice in 1943 and once in 1949), and gave rise its own short-lived mystery radio series, Cabin B-13. The film’s title derives from the nursery rhyme Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be?.
In 1889, young Englishwoman Vicky Barton (Simmons) and her brother Johnny (David Tomlinson) arrive in Paris to see the Exposition Universelle. This is Vicky’s first time in Paris, and after checking into a hotel, she drags her tired brother to dinner and the famous Moulin Rouge. She finally retires for the night, while Johnny has a late-night drink. When English painter George Hathaway (Bogarde) drops off his girlfriend, Rhoda O’Donovan (Honor Blackman), and her mother (Betty Warren) at the hotel, he asks Johnny for change for a 100 franc note to pay a carriage driver; Johnny lends him 50 francs and gives him his name and room number.
The next morning, Vicky finds a blank wall where Johnny’s room used to be. When she questions hotel owner and manager Madame Hervé (Cathleen Nesbitt), the latter claims she arrived alone. The room number now adorns the common bathroom. Madame Hervé’s brother Narcisse (Marcel Pontin) and the day porter (Eugene Deckers) back up her story.
Frantic, Vicky goes to see the British consul (Felix Aylmer), followed secretly by Narcisse. She has no proof of her brother’s existence, so the consul can only suggest she find a witness, Nina (Zena Marshall), the hotel maid who attended her. Nina had informed her that she was going up in a balloon with her boyfriend at the Exposition that day, so the consul takes her there. Tragically, she is too late. Before she can talk to Nina, the balloon ascends, bursts into flames, and plummets to the ground, killing the two passengers.
Vicky tries the French police commissaire (Austin Trevor). He questions Madame Hervé and her brother, but can find nothing amiss in their story. Since her room has been reserved for only two nights, Vicky has to leave the hotel. Madame Hervé offers her a ticket home to England, which she is forced to accept, as she has little money left. However, unbeknownst to either party, Rhoda O’Donovan has been asked by George Hathaway to deliver a letter containing his loan repayment to Johnny. Not finding his room, Rhoda slips the envelope under Vicky’s door, where she finds it.
Vicky goes to see George. When he confirms having met her brother, she bursts into tears. He offers his assistance. George notices there are six balconies, but only five rooms on the floor, and finds the missing hotel room, the entrance having been covered over to be part of the wall.
Under questioning by the police, Madame Hervé reveals where Johnny has been taken. It turns out that he became sick with the Black Plague during the night. The news would have been disastrous for the Exposition, so he was secretly taken away to a hospital. George brings along Doctor Hart (André Morell), who tells Vicky her brother has a chance of living.
In support was THE GREAT PLANE ROBBERY a 1950 American crime film directed by Edward L. Cahn and written by Sam Baerwitz and Richard G. Hubler. The film stars Tom Conway, Margaret Hamilton, Steve Brodie, Lynne Roberts, David Bruce and Marcel Journet. The film was released by United Artists.