1959 April to June

5th April – WOODY HERMAN HERD

on the stage – for one night only – WOODY HERMAN HERD  –  Woody Herman was an American jazz clarinettist, saxophonist, singer, and leader of big band “The Herd”, now 45, Herman had come to prominence in the late 1930s and played music that was cutting edge and experimental for its time; this was their only Southampton appearance; they would go on to receive numerous Grammy nominations and awards.

See Woody Herman and The Herd perform at a later UK appearance

6th April – MICHAEL HOLLIDAY SHOW

On the stage – for 6 days until 11th April 11 – MICHAEL HOLLIDAY SHOW support included Mike & Bernie Winters and Jill Day. Michael Holliday was born in Liverpool in 1924, his career in music began after winning an amateur talent contest, ‘New Voices of Merseyside’, at the Locarno Ballroom in Newsham, Liverpool.  He worked as a seaman in the Merchant Navy and finding himself in the U.S. he was persuaded to enter a talent contest at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and again he won, inspiring him to seek a career in show business. Holliday’s style of singing was heavily influenced by Bing Crosby, who was his idol. The style would earn him the title of “the British Bing Crosby”.

He first worked as a vocalist with Dick Denny’s band until he joined the Eric Winstone Band, who broadcast occasionally on BBC Radio. He made his first TV appearance on The Centre Show on 22 July 1955. This TV performance was seen by Norrie Paramor, then head of A&R for EMI’s Columbia record label, who signed him as a solo artist. This was Michael’s second appearance at the Southampton Gaumont but this was his first headlining performance by which time he’d had 4 top 20 hits and his first number one with ‘The Story Of My Life’. He continued to be a very successful recording artist but unfortunately he had a mental breakdown in 1961 and died two years later from a suspected drug overdose.

Support included comedy double-act Mike & Bernie Winters, who had come to the public’s attention the previous year as resident comedians on BBC-tv’s Six-Five Special. Also on the bill was singer Jill Day who unsuccessfully competed in the 1957 heats of the Eurovision Song Contest to represent the United Kingdom.

Michael Holliday performing one of his numbers from the show

12th April – THE HORSE’S MOUTH

On the screen – for seven days – THE HORSE’S MOUTH – is a 1958 United Artist’s release from director Ronald Neame in Technicolor. Alec Guinness wrote the academy award nominated screenplay from the 1944 novel The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary, and also played the lead role of Gulley Jimson, a London artist.

View the trailer for The Horse’s Mout

The supporting feature was RIDE OUT FOR REVENGE – a 1957 American Western film directed by Bernard Girard, starring Rory Calhoun, Gloria Grahame, Lloyd Bridges, and Joanne Gilbert.

19th April – DANGER WITHIN

on the screen – for seven days – DANGER WITHIN, (American title: Breakout) is a 1959 British war film from British Lion, set in a prisoner of war camp in Northern Italy during the summer of 1943. A combination of POW escape drama and whodunnit, the movie is based upon the 1952 novel Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert, who had been a prisoner of war, held by the Italians. It starred Richard Todd, Richard Attenborough and Michael Wilding.

The support was THE GO-GETTER, a 1959 American film of little merit, directed by Leslie Goodwins and Leigh Jason, it starred Hank McCune and Hanley Stafford.

26th APRIL – SEPARATE TABLES

On the screen – for seven days – SEPARATE TABLES, an American drama film starring Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Burt Lancaster, and Wendy Hiller, based on two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan and set in Bournemouth’s Hotel Beauregard. Niven and Hiller won Academy Awards for their performances. The picture was directed by Delbert Mann and adapted for the screen by Rattigan, John Gay and an uncredited John Michael Hayes. Mary Grant and Edith Head designed the film’s costumes.

Watch the trailer for Separate Tables

INNOCENT MEETING – a British crime film directed by Godfrey Grayson and starring Sean Lynch, Beth Rogan and Raymond Huntley. In the film, a young tearaway bonds with the daughter of middle-class parents after meeting her in a record shop. The screenplay was by Brian Clemens.

3rd May – BENGAL RIFLES

On the screen – for one day only – BENGAL RIFLES, a 1954 American adventure war film (originally titled Bengal Brigade) directed by Laslo Benedek and starring Rock Hudson, Arlene Dahl and Ursula Thiess. Set in British India in 1857, at the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny. A British officer, Captain Claybourne (Rock Hudson), is cashiered from his regiment over a charge of disobeying orders, but finds that his duty to his men is far from over. He loves his Colonel’s daughter (Arlene Dahl) and redeems himself in fighting renegade Sepoys.

A short clip from the film

Completing the bill was FIVE STEPS TO DANGER, a 1957 American film noir crime film directed, produced, and co–written by Henry S. Kesler. It stars Ruth Roman and Sterling Hayden. 5 Steps to Danger was based on the novel The Steel Mirror by Donald Hamilton.

4th May – ALMA COGAN

On the stage – for six days – ALMA COGAN

Alma Cogan was an English singer of traditional pop music in the 1950s and early 1960s. Dubbed the “Girl with the Giggle in Her Voice”, she was the highest paid British female entertainer of her era.           She was 26 at the time of this, her second headlining show at the Gaumont. Many of her recordings were covers of U.S. hits, especially those recorded by Rosemary Clooney, Teresa Brewer, Georgia Gibbs, Joni James and Dinah Shore. Her voice was often compared with Doris Day’s. One of these covers, “Bell Bottom Blues”, became her first hit, reaching no. 4 on 3 April 1954. Cogan would appear in the UK Singles Chart eighteen times in the 1950s, with “Dreamboat” reaching no. 1. Other hits from this period include “I Can’t Tell a Waltz from a Tango”, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, “Sugartime” and “The Story of My Life”. Cogan’s first album, I Love to Sing, was released in 1958. Cogan was one of the first UK record artists to appear frequently on television, where her powerful voice could be showcased along with her bubbly personality and dramatic costumes. Her hooped skirts with sequins and figure-hugging tops were reputedly designed by herself and never worn twice. Cogan topped the annual NME reader’s poll as “Outstanding British Female Singer” four times between 1956 and 1960.

Alma performing in 1959

Supporting bill included Eddie Calvert and Bill Maynard. Calvert was an English trumpeter, who enjoyed his greatest successes in the 1950s. Calvert had his first United Kingdom number one single in 1954, with the instrumental “Oh, Mein Papa”. In spite of being an instrumental, his theme music for the film The Man with the Golden Arm was banned by the BBC “due to its connection with a film about drugs”. Maynard was an English comedian He began as a variety performer, his first television broadcast was on 12 September 1953 on Henry Hall’s Face the Music. He was placed fourth in the British heat of the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest. With Terry Scott, he appeared at Butlins Holiday Camp in Skegness and partnered him in the TV series Great Scott, It’s Maynard! Then shortly after this performance at the Gaumont as a stand-up comedian, he became part of the team that presented the One O’Clock Show for Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle. His transition to comedy actor came later through the sixties and the transition was complete by the time he appeared in Dennis Potter’s television play Paper Roses in 1971.

10th May – THE 39 STEPS

On the screen – for 14 days – THE 39 STEPS, a 1959 British thriller film produced by Betty Box, directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Kenneth More and Taina Elg. It is a remake of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, loosely based on the novel The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. Diplomat Richard Hannay returns home to London, only to become inadvertently embroiled in the death of a British spy investigating the head of an organisation planning to sell the secret of a British ballistic missile. Hannay thus travels to Scotland to escape the police, and attempts to complete the spy’s work. This was the first colour version of the Buchan tale, and, unlike the mainly studio-bound original, features extensive location shooting. Several large set pieces (such as Hannay’s escape from the train on the Forth Bridge and the music hall finale) and much of the dialogue are taken from the original film. As with the Hitchcock version, the scenario was contemporary rather than the pre-Great War setting of Buchan’s original. It became the sixth most popular film at the British box office in 1959.

Watch the trailer for The 39 Steps

The supporting programme included NO ROOM FOR WILD ANIMALS, a powerful conservation piece. Kein Platz für Wilde Tiere (No Room for Wild Animals) protests the indiscriminate slaughter of Africa’s wild animals, showing the horrors inflicted on the defenceless creatures.

24th May – MARTY WILDE

Live on stage – one day only – MARTY WILDE.

At just 20 Marty was one of the youngest English singer/songwriters to headline at the Gaumont. He was among the first generation of British pop stars to emulate American rock and roll along with Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard. Wilde’s backing group was called the Wildcats. At various times they featured Big Jim Sullivan on lead guitar, Tony Belcher on rhythm guitar, Bobby Graham or Bobbie Clarke on drums; plus Brian Locking on bass guitar and Brian Bennett on drums who both later joined the Shadows. He appeared regularly on the BBC Television show 6.5 Special and was the main regular artiste on the Saturday ITV popular music shows Oh Boy! and Boy Meets Girls. There he met and married Joyce Baker, one of the Vernons Girls who were also show regulars. The courtship was highly public but, after the marriage, Wilde’s popularity as a teen idol declined.

Marty Widle and The Wildcats performing in 1959

On the support bill were Wee Willie Harris and Johnny Duncan. 26 year old Wee Willie Harris was best known for his energetic stage shows and TV performances where he was known as “Britain’s wild man of rock ‘n’ roll”, for his unrelenting energy, multicoloured dyed hair (often green, orange or pink), and clothes including “larger-than-life stage jackets that looked like the coat hanger was still inside, tight drainpipe trousers, and a huge polka-dot bow tie”. Paul McCartney and John Lennon reportedly queued for his autograph when he played in Liverpool in 1958. Johnny Duncan was a 27 year old American musician. He was born in the Windrock coal-mining camp overlooking the town of Oliver Springs, Tennessee, and became a member of Chris Barber’s Jazz Band where he replaced Lonnie Donegan who left to pursue a solo career. Duncan soon followed suit becoming a star in 1957 with the hit record “Last Train to San Fernando”, which reached number two in the UK Singles Chart. Although Duncan continued to record for a period of time, but as skiffle faded and so did his success. He emigrated to Australia where he married for a second time.

25th May – TIGER BAY

On the screen – for six days – TIGER BAY was a 1959 British crime drama film from the Rank Organisation, based on the short story “Rodolphe et le Revolver” by Noel Calef. It was directed by J. Lee Thompson, produced by John Hawkesworth, and co-written by John Hawkesworth and Shelley Smith. It stars John Mills as a police superintendent investigating a murder; his real life daughter Hayley Mills, in her first major film role, as a girl who witnesses the murder; and Horst Buchholz as a young sailor who commits the murder in a moment of passion. The film was shot mostly on location in the Tiger Bay district of Cardiff, at Newport Transporter Bridge in Newport and at Avonmouth Docks in Bristol. It features many authentic scenes of the children’s street culture and the black street culture of the time, along with many dockside shots and scenes in real pubs and the surrounding countryside. It marks a vital transitional moment in the move towards the British New Wave cinema exemplified a few years later by A Taste of Honey.

The opening credits for Tiger Bay

In support was Badman’s Country a 1958 American Western film from Warner Brothers, directed by Fred F. Sears and written by Orville H. Hampton. The film stars George Montgomery, Neville Brand, Buster Crabbe, Karin Booth, Gregory Walcott and Malcolm Atterbury.

31st May – CARLTON BROWNE OF THE F.O.

On the screen – for seven days – CARLTON BROWNE OF THE F.O. a 1959 British comedy film made by the Boulting Brothers and released by British Lion. It centres on an inept Foreign Office (F.O.) diplomat (played by Terry-Thomas) who is sent to re-establish good relations with the mineral-rich island of Gaillardia, a former British colony that has been forgotten for 50 years and is attracting the attention of both the USA and the USSR.

Watch the trailer for the film

In support was THE MAN WHO DIES TWICE, a 1958 American crime film from Republic Pictures, directed by Joseph Kane and written by Richard C. Sarafian. The film stars Rod Cameron, Vera Ralston, Mike Mazurki, Gerald Milton, Richard Karlan and Louis Jean Heydt.

6th June – BANDIDO

On the screen – for one day only – BANDIDO, a 1956 American Western film starring Robert Mitchum. The supporting cast includes Ursula Thiess, Gilbert Roland, and Zachary Scott. The film, set in the Mexican Revolution and filmed on location around Acapulco, was written by Earl Felton and directed by Richard Fleischer. Robert Mitchum also co-produced the film through his DRM Productions company.

The trailer for Bandido

The other half of this reissue double bill was THE SHARKFIGHTERS, a 1956 American adventure film from United Artists, about U.S. Navy scientists working to invent a shark repellent to protect military personnel down at sea. Directed by Jerry Hopper, it stars Victor Mature, James Olson, and Claude Akins. The fictional storyline is based on the invention of “Shark Chaser,” an historical shark repellent developed by researchers during World War II.

7th June – LONNIE DONEGAN SHOW

Live on stage – for six nights – THE LONNIE DONEGAN was a British skiffle singer, songwriter and musician, referred to as the “King of Skiffle”, who influenced 1960s British pop musicians. Born in Scotland and raised in England, he was Britain’s most successful and influential recording artist before The Beatles.  in July 1954 he recorded a fast version of Leadbelly’s “Rock Island Line”, featuring a washboard, with “John Henry” on the B-side. It was a hit in 1956 (which also later inspired the creation of a full album, An Englishman Sings American Folk Songs, released in America on the Mercury label in the early 1960s), but, because it was a band recording, Donegan made no money beyond his session fee. It was the first debut record to go gold in the UK, and it reached the Top Ten in the United States. This recording has proved greatly influential on musicians who heard it in their younger days and for whom it seems to have been a catalyst in their musical motivation and careers. At the Abbey Road Studios in London he began recording for EMI’s Columbia label and his next single “Lost John” reached No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart. He appeared on television in the United States on the Perry Como Show and the Paul Winchell Show. Returning to the UK, he recorded his debut album, Lonnie Donegan Showcase, in summer 1956, with songs by Lead Belly and Leroy Carr, plus “I’m a Ramblin’ Man” and “Wabash Cannonball”. The LP sold hundreds of thousands. Donegan’s “Gamblin’ Man”/”Puttin’ On the Style” single reached number one in the UK in July 1957. Donegan went on to successes such as “Cumberland Gap” and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On the Bedpost Overnight?)”, his biggest hit in the U.S. and it was on the back of this that he came to the Gaumont.

Lonnie Donegan performing ‘Times Are Getting Hard Boys’

Main support of the night was provided by Miki & Griff a British country music duo, who had several hit singles on the UK Singles Chart. Their actual names were Barbara Macdonald and Emyr Morus Griffith; Barbara was Scottish and Emyr was Welsh. They first met while singing in the George Mitchell Choir in 1947-48. After leaving the group, they sang with Johnny Dennis & the Ranchers. While doing variety shows with Max Bygraves, they began using the name Miki & Griff, and did comedy skits in addition to pop and country music. Lonnie Donegan discovered the duo and had them record with Pye Records.

The show was hosted by young comedian Des O’Connor, he was becoming seasoned at hosting tours, having previously appeared at the Gaumont with Buddy Holly.

14th June – IMITATION OF LIFE

On the screen – for seven days – IMITATION OF LIFE, a 1959 American romantic drama film directed by Douglas Sirk, produced by Ross Hunter and released by Universal International. It was Sirk’s final Hollywood film and dealt with issues of race, class and gender. Imitation of Life is the second film adaptation of Fannie Hurst’s novel of the same name; the first, directed by John M. Stahl, was released in 1934.  The film’s top-billed stars are Lana Turner and John Gavin, and the cast also features Sandra Dee, Dan O’Herlihy, Susan Kohner, Robert Alda and Juanita Moore. Kohner and Moore received Academy Award nominations for their performances. Gospel music star Mahalia Jackson appears as a church choir soloist. In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected Imitation of Life for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” just like the original 1934 film. In 2015, BBC Online, the website of the British Broadcasting Corporation, named the film the 37th greatest American movie ever made based on a survey of film critics.

Watch the trailer

The support was MONEY, WOMEN AND GUNS a 1958 American Western film from Universal and directed by Richard Bartlett and written by Montgomery Pittman. The film stars Jock Mahoney, Kim Hunter, Tim Hovey, Gene Evans, Tom Drake, Lon Chaney Jr., William Campbell, Jeffrey Stone, James Gleason, Judi Meredith and Phillip Terry.

21st June – WARLOCK

On the screen – for seven days – WARLOCK, a 1959 20th Century Fox, American western film directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn and Dorothy Malone. The film is both set and filmed in Utah, including at Dead Horse Point State Park, Arches National Park, Professor Valley in Moab as well as White’s Ranch – Milepost 14 Utah Hwy 128, Moab (which was also a set for a number of other western films from the same era). The picture is an adaptation of the novel Warlock by American author Oakley Hall. Fonda portrays Clay Blaisedell, a freelance marshal in the fictional town of Warlock with implacable methods of dealing with troublemakers. A subplot centers on Blaisedell’s club-footed assistant, Tom Morgan, played by Quinn, who has sublimated his relationships and ambition into a warped devotion to Blaisedell, the only person Morgan thinks does not look down on him for his disability.

Watch the original trailer for Warlock

Completing the programme was THE LITTLEST HOBO, a short feature about a German Shepherd dog that helps a lamb to escape the slaughter house.

28th June – IT HAPPENED TO JANE

On the screen – for seven days – IT HAPPENED TO JANE, a 1959 Columbia Pictures romantic comedy film starring Doris Day, Jack Lemmon, and Ernie Kovacs, directed by Richard Quine, and written by Norman Katkov and Max Wilk. The film was co-produced by Quine and Day’s husband at the time, Martin Melcher. Jane Osgood runs a lobster business, which supports her two young children. Railroad staff inattention ruins her shipment, so with her lawyer George, Jane sues Harry Foster Malone, director of the line and the “meanest man in the world”.

The trailer for It Happened To Jane

There was a supporting programme.

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