1959 January to March

Continuing until 10th January – HAPPY GO LUCKY CHRISTMAS SHOW


On the screen – for ONE day – FOREIGN INTRIGUE – is a 1956 United Artist’s American Eastmancolor film noir crime film starring Robert Mitchum. The film is written, produced and directed by Sheldon Reynolds, who had produced a television series called Foreign Intrigue in 1951. Foreign Intrigue was one of the first major Hollywood films to be based on a popular TV series.

The trailer

Support was another earlier 1950’s film HUKI

11th January – THE SQUARE PEG

On the screen – for seven days – THE SQUARE PEG – a 1959 British war comedy film directed by John Paddy Carstairs and starring Norman Wisdom. Norman Wisdom plays two different characters: a man who digs and repairs roads, gets into a feud with the Army, gets drafted and is mistakenly parachuted into Nazi occupied France where his physical resemblance to the local German commandant triggers a hilarious chain reaction. The popularity of Norman Wisdom films had declined through the 1950s but The Square Peg halted the trend. The film was the 7th most popular movie at the British box office in 1959.

The trailer

In support was FURY UNLEASHED (aka Hot Rod Gang) a 1958 film starring John Ashley. The working title was Hot Rod Rock. American International Pictures released the film amd it features an appearance by Gene Vincent.

18th January – BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE

On the screen – for seven days – BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE – is a 1958 American Technicolor romantic comedy film from Columbia, directed by Richard Quine, based on the successful Broadway play by John Van Druten adapted by Daniel Taradash. It stars Kim Novak and James Stewart. The supporting cast features Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold, and Elsa Lanchester. The film is considered Stewart’s final as a romantic lead. It tells the story of a modern-day witch likes her neighbour but despises his fiancée, so she enchants him to love her instead, only to fall in love with him for real.

The trailer

KEEP IT COOL (Let’s Rock in the United States) is a 1958 rock and roll film starring Julius LaRosa as a crooner attempting to fight off the rival music rock and roll, Phyllis Newman as his songwriting girlfriend who convinces him to adapt rather than fight and Conrad Janis as LaRosa’s manager. The film, another rock-exploitation film aimed at the teenage drive-in crowd, was produced and directed by Harry Foster and also features performances from the Tyrones, Paul Anka, Wink Martindale, Roy Hamilton, Danny & the Juniors and the Royal Teens.

25th January – JOHNNY CONCHO

On the sreen – for one day – JOHNNY CONCHO – is a 1956 American Western film directed by Don McGuire starring Frank Sinatra, Keenan Wynn, William Conrad and Phyllis Kirk. This was Sinatra’s first Western and the role allowed him to play against type in his portrayal of the film’s villain. Sinatra plays the mean and boastful Johnny Concho who is also a coward, but the people of Cripple Creek, Arizona, let him have his way. They know that Johnny’s brother, who doesn’t live in town, is the notorious gunfighter Red Concho, someone they truly fear.

Mary Dark, daughter of the general store’s owner, is in love with Johnny, but isn’t yet aware of the kind of man he really is. Johnny has everyone so cowed that, in a card game, he needn’t even show his hand to claim the pot. That lasts until the day a man named Tallman comes to town. Tallman calls the bluff of Johnny at the poker table. Johnny wants the sheriff, Henderson, to take care of this, but Tallman stuns everyone by announcing that he recently stood up to Red Concho in another town and killed him. Exposed for the yellow-belly he is, Johnny rides off. Mary still loves him and follows, but wherever Johnny goes, word reaches that he is not a man to be trusted or feared. Tallman, meanwhile, has taken over Johnny’s role in Cripple Creek, appointing himself as the law and demanding to be paid a percentage from every business in town. Mary still wants to marry Johnny, but at the wedding his cowardice comes out once more. A man who knew his brother informs him that Red was actually just like Johnny, a blowhard with no guts.

Johnny pulls himself together and returns to Cripple Creek to face Tallman in the street. Tallman wounds him, but the townspeople are impressed by Johnny’s bravery and willing to help. Mary’s father shoots Tallman and kills him. Johnny prepares to leave town, knowing he’s not wanted here, but Mary and the others invite him to stay.

This film was unsuccessful for Sinatra. It was one of the earliest films to be named as filmed in Panavision.

Hear Sinatra sing the theme song from the film

Completing the double bill was TIME TABLE a 1956 American film noir crime film produced and directed by Mark Stevens, who also stars as the lead character. It was one of the first film appearances by both Jack Klugman and actress Felicia Farr.

26th January – CLOSED

27th January – PETER PAN

On the stage – for FIVE days – The star of this production was Julia Lockwood, who first played the role of Wendy opposite her mother in 1957 and then reprised the role the in this production with Sarah Churchill (daughter of Winston Churchill and Lady Clementine) in the title role. At the end of 1959 she would finally achieve her dream of playing Peter, she would go on to play the lead role a further three times in 1960, 1963 & 1966. She is one of only three actors to play both Wendy and Peter. She is the only actor to have played Wendy opposite her own mother in the lead role. John Justin played the roles of Mr Darling and Captain Hook.

Winston Churchill visits his daughter Sarah during the London Christmas season of this production

1st February – MAN OF THE WEST

On the screen – for seven days – MAN OF THE WEST – is a 1958 United Artist’s American Western film, starring Gary Cooper and directed by Anthony Mann, produced by Walter Mirisch and distributed by United Artists. The screenplay, written by Reginald Rose, is based on the 1955 novel The Border Jumpers, by Will C. Brown. The film co-stars Julie London, Jack Lord, Arthur O’Connell and Lee J. Cobb in supporting roles. The film is one of Cooper’s final western roles.

Former outlaw Link Jones (Cooper) travels from his small town to Texas to hire their first schoolteacher. When his train stops on the way, they are set upon by armed robbers but the train escapes leaving behind Jones, the fast-talking Sam Beasley (O’Connell) and saloon singer Billie Ellis (London). They start walking and eventually reach a place that Link knows well: the farmhouse where he once lived. There he finds the men who robbed the train and their leader, his uncle, Dock Tobin (Cobb), who wants Link to return to his old ways and re-join the gang, which consists of some of Link’s cousins. Link has no interest in doing so and has to find a way out for himself and his two companions, knowing that they will die once the gang finishes its next big job.

At the time of release, the film was largely panned by critics, but it was praised by Jean-Luc Godard, who, before he became a director, was a film critic. Godard claimed that Man of the West was the best film of the year. Decades after the film’s release, it has gained a cult following and greater acclaim, with film historian Philip French claiming the film to be Anthony Mann’s masterpiece, containing Cooper’s finest performance.

The trailer for Man Of The West

In support was HONG KONG CONFIDENTIAL – a 1958 American film noir crime film directed by Edward L. Cahn starring Gene Barry, Beverly Tyler and Allison Hayes


On the screen – for seven days – THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD – is a 1958 Technicolor heroic fantasy adventure film directed by Nathan H. Juran and starring Kerwin Mathews, Torin Thatcher, Kathryn Grant, Richard Eyer, and Alec Mango. It was distributed by Columbia Pictures and produced by Charles H. Schneer. It was the first of three Sinbad feature films from Columbia, the later two from the ’70s being The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). All three Sinbad films were conceptualised by Ray Harryhausen using Dynamation, the full color widescreen stop-motion animation technique that he created. While similarly named, the film does not follow the storyline of the tale “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor” but instead has more in common with the Third and Fifth voyages of Sinbad. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was selected in 2008 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The original trailer

In support was Columbia’s THE HARD MAN is a 1957 American Technicolor Western film directed by George Sherman and starring Guy Madison. The film’s sets were designed by the art director Carl Anderson.

15th February – THE LAST HURRAH

On the screen – for six days – (not Thurs 19th) – THE LAST HURRAH – a 1958 film adaptation of the novel The Last Hurrah by Edwin O’Connor. The film was directed by John Ford and stars Spencer Tracy as a veteran mayor preparing for yet another election campaign. Tracy was nominated as Best Foreign Actor by BAFTA and won the Best Actor Award from the National Board of Review, which also presented Ford the award for Best Director. The film tells the story of Frank Skeffington, a sentimental but iron-fisted Irish-American who is the powerful mayor of an unnamed New England city. As his nephew, Adam Caulfield, follows one last no-holds-barred mayoral campaign, Skeffington and his top strategist, John Gorman, use whatever means necessary to defeat a candidate backed by civic leaders such as banker Norman Cass and newspaper editor Amos Force, the mayor’s dedicated foes.

The original trailer

The supporting programme was headed up by THE FACE OF THE CAT, (original title La Chatte) a subtitled 1958 French war drama film directed by Henri Decoin and starring Françoise Arnoul, Bernhard Wicki and André Versini.The story is loosely based on that of the Resistance operative Mathilde Carré during the Second World War.

19th February – COUNT BASIE

On the stage – for one night only – Count Basie – This was a stop on The Count Basie Orchestra’s third tour of Britain in two years but the first in Southampton. There are in this Basie band several talented soloists, and the scant opportunity any of them got to prove themselves must have puzzled many members of the audience. Trumpeter Joe Newman was hardly heard from, and the only substantial feature he did get was in “The Midgets,” a muted trumpet-flute duet which has by now degenerated into comic relief. Frank Foster, a virile if somewhat unoriginal tenor saxophonist, was heard not at all during the first half of the concert, while Frank Wess, certainly not Foster’s superior, was heavily featured by comparison. To many the most disappointing facet of this curious programme was the neglect of a gifted saxophonist like Billy Mitchell. Stylistically, Mitchell is the most interesting member of the orchestra, for besides being the only new recruit to the band since the last British tour, he is an ex-member of the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, a group far more advanced harmonically than the Basie band.

Between Mitchell and Basie himself lie several periods of jazz development, and the sentimentalists in the audience, must have found the constancy of Basie’s piano solos most reassuring. The highly stylised understatement, the deft economy of notes, and the consummate sense of time, together with the disarming descents into the pounding bonhomie of the late Fats Waller, were identical to the solos of the vintage years. The current Basie reputation is based on a few uncomplicated factors, the return to a simple, uninhibited beat, the use of themes and settings enabling the ensemble to phrase with the same apparent freedom of a single man improvising, and the masterly control of dynamics, by now something of a fetish. When these factors are combined in a single performance, as in the slow-medium themes “In A Mellow Tone” and “Little Darling,” sixteen men play with a mutual sympathy unmatched anywhere in the world of jazz, and the precise nature of Basie’s contribution to jazz is made apparent.

Much of the programme selection is influenced too heavily by the presence of Joe Williams, a blues singer with tremendous potential and an even larger fan following. To those raised on his great predecessor, Jimmy Rushing, perhaps Williams is a shade too mannered, but there is no question of the power and beauty of his voice and his jazz affinities. When the subtlety and emotional power of his singing matched the finely poised band accompaniment, as in “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You,” his presence seems justified, but not all his songs reach this standard.

A number being performed on this tour in early Feb 1959

22nd February – HOUSEBOAT

On the screen – for seven days – HOUSEBOAT – is a 1958 American Technicolor romantic comedy VistaVision film from Paramount, starring Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Martha Hyer, and Harry Guardino. The movie was directed by Melville Shavelson, The love theme “Almost In Your Arms”, sung by Sam Cooke and “Bing! Bang! Bong!”, sung by Loren, were written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

For several years, Tom Winters (Grant) has been estranged from his wife and their three children, David (Petersen), Elizabeth (Gibson), and Robert (Herbert). The film begins as he returns home from Europe shortly after his wife’s death. The children want to stay in the country with their mother’s wealthy family, including her parents and her sister Carolyn (Hyer), but Tom takes them to Washington, D.C., where he works in the US State Department. The children resent their father and at an outdoor concert, Robert runs away. He is found by Cinzia Zaccardi (Loren). She too is running away and is enchanted by little “Roberto” and his harmonica. When she brings him back home, Tom offers her a job as a maid, unaware she is the daughter of a famous Italian orchestra conductor. She eventually accepts.

Carolyn, now divorced from her husband, offers Tom and the children her old guest house, which was supposed to be moved to a new foundation. However, while the guest house is being towed down the road, it is smashed by an Atlantic Coast Line passenger train after the tow-truck driver, Angelo Donatello (Guardino), flirts with Cinzia and accidentally hits Tom’s car. Feeling guilty, Angelo sells Tom his leaky, run-down, old houseboat. Once moved in, Tom discovers that Cinzia is unable to cook, do laundry, or make coffee. Carolyn and others incorrectly assume that Cinzia’s relationship with Tom is sexual, while she innocently wins the affection of Tom and the children. Meanwhile, Tom spends his evenings with Carolyn, who is secretly in love with him. On the 4th of July, she tries to embarrass Cinzia by selecting a gaudy dress for Tom to buy for her, but Cinzia transforms it into an elegant evening gown. She looks so beautiful in the gown that Angelo, a confirmed womanizer, cancels a date with her out of a fear of falling in love and proposing to her.

That evening, Carolyn arrives at the boat with Captain Alan Wilson (Murray Hamilton) and his wife. Alan, who is somewhat drunk, jokes about Cinzia’s living arrangement with Tom and slaps her on the behind as she serves drinks. She calls him an ill-mannered lout and throws a drink in his face before walking off. Tom asks Alan to leave the boat, but Carolyn takes Alan’s side, following which Tom asks all three guests to leave. David cheers Cinzia up, and they make plans to go fishing, but Tom ruins David’s plans by inviting Cinzia to the country club dance. Once there, Tom reconciles with Carolyn, and they agree to get married. As he dances with Cinzia, he finally realizes he is in love with her, but she learns of the proposal, becomes upset, and runs away. Tom catches her and breaks it off with Carolyn. A little while later, David unhappily finds them passionately kissing in a rowboat. The children do not want Tom to marry Cinzia. David calls her ugly, Robert rejects her as a mother figure, and Elizabeth wants to continue sleeping in Tom’s bed with him. Discouraged by this, Cinzia returns to her father, Maestro Zaccardi, but Tom follows her and she accepts Tom’s proposal after her father (Ciannelli) scolds her. The wedding takes place on the houseboat. The children initially refuse to participate in the ceremony, but as it begins, Elizabeth and David join Tom and Cinzia at the altar, and Robert joins them, playing “Here Comes the Bride” on his harmonica.

The trailer for Houseboat

In support was THREE CROOKED MEN a 1958 Paramount British crime film directed by Ernest Morris and starring Gordon Jackson and Warren Mitchell. Three crooks break into a store hoping to gain access to the bank next door. When the store keeper returns unexpectedly, the men take him hostage. A passerby sees trouble and tries to help, but he too is captured. The police arrive and arrest the crooks, but also the owner and passer-by, thinking they are part of the gang.


8th March – STARS OF OH BOY!

Oh Boy! We were treated to a non-stop extravaganza of British Rock ‘n’ Roll at its very best, the Saturday tea time ITV show on tour and calling at Southampton Gaumont. This was Cliff Richard’s first of 11 appearances at the Southampton Gaumont and was 2 months before he first appeared on BBC-tv. Cliff complete in pink jacket really rocked the joint, ably backed by The Drifters (soon to be known as The Shadows) the support included Lord Rockingham’s X1, The Dallas Boys and the Vernons Girls.

Cliff Richard and The Drifters performing High Class Baby


On the screen – for six days from Monday – A 1959 British action film from the Rank studios, directed by Michael McCarthy, and featuring Peter Finch, Eva Bartok and Tony Britton. It is based on a true story as described in the book ‘Adventure in Diamonds’, by David E Walker. The action of the story covers a few days in May 1940 when the Germans invaded the Netherlands. The composer Philip Green composed two original pieces of music for the film, the Pierement Waltz and the Amsterdam Polka.

Watch the trailer for Operation Amsterdam

The supporting programme included a short documentary ‘Song Of The Forest’.


On the screen – Sunday for one day only – Drums Across The River was a 1954 American Technicolor Western film from Universal and directed by Nathan Juran; starring Audie Murphy, Walter Brennan and Lyle Bettger. It is quite striking just how much plot was woven into these 80 minute westerns, it’s just a treat to watch it unfold at a blistering pace. The action never lets up and the story layers are simple but significant.

Drums Across The River – trailer

The second part of the double bill was – IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD – a 1956 British musical film directed by Val Guest and starring Terence Morgan, George Cole, Mylène Demongeot (in her first English-language film and listed in the credits as Mylène Nicole) and Kathleen Harrison. It also features Dennis Lotis, a popular singer at the time. It was made at Shepperton Studios and featured these songs –  Rosanne, When You Came Along, Girls! Girls! Girls!, A Few Kisses Ago, and The Hawaiian War Chant.


Monday for six days live – on the stage – DAVID WHITFIELD SHOW – David Whitfield was a popular British male tenor vocalist from Hull. He became the first British Artist to have a UK No.1 single in his home country and in the United States at the time with “Cara Mia”. At 34, this was his second headlining visit to the Gaumont and this time he was supported by recording star Petula Clark and an up and coming young song and dance man Roy Castle.

David Whitfield singing one of his big numbers from the show
David Whitfield

March 22nd – THE BIG COUNTRY

From Sunday – on the screen – for 14 days – The Big Country an American Technicolor epic Western film directed by William Wyler (his next film would be the iconic Ben-Hur) and starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston and Burl Ives one of the first films in Technirama. The supporting cast features Charles Bickford and Chuck Connors. The picture was based on the serialized magazine novel Ambush at Blanco Canyon by Donald Hamilton and was co-produced by Wyler and Peck. The opening title sequence was created by Saul Bass. The film is one of very few pictures in which Heston plays a major supporting role instead of the lead.

Ives won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as well as the Golden Globe Award. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for the musical score by Jerome Moross.

Watch the trailer for The Big Country

At almost three hours there was no billed support.

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