4th October – TEMPEST
On the screen – for seven days – TEMPEST – is a 1958 Italian drama film directed by Alberto Lattuada, from Paramount. It is based on A History of Pugachev and novel The Captain’s Daughter both by Alexander Pushkin, For this film Lattuada was awarded a David di Donatello for Best Director. The cast includes Silvana Mangano, Van Heflin, Agnes Moorhead, Oscar Homolka and Vittorio Gassman. It was a very large scale Italian film in Technirama and Technicolor and ran for over two hours.
The story is of a young officer in the army of Empress Catherine of Russia on his way to his new duty station at a remote outpost. During a blinding snowstorm he comes upon a stranger who was caught in the storm and is near death from freezing. He rescues the man and eventually brings him back to health. When the man is well enough to travel, the two part company and the man vows to repay the officer for saving his life. Soon after he arrives at his new post, a revolt by the local Cossacks breaks out and the fort is besieged by the rebels. The young officer is astonished to find out that the leader of the rebellious Cossacks is none other than the stranger whose life he had saved during the storm.
There was a short supporting programme which included a documentary, GENERATOR 4
11th October – I WANT TO LIVE!
On the screen – for seven days – I WANT TO LIVE! – is a 1958 film noir from United Artists and written by Nelson Gidding and Don Mankiewicz, produced by Walter Wanger, and directed by Robert Wise, which tells the true story of a woman, Barbara Graham, an habitual criminal convicted of murder and facing execution. It stars Susan Hayward as Graham, and also features Simon Oakland, Stafford Repp, and Theodore Bikel. The movie was adapted from letters written by Graham and newspaper articles written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ed Montgomery. It presents a somewhat fictionalized version of the case showing a possibility of innocence concerning Graham. Today, the charge would be known as felony murder. The film earned six Oscar nominations, with Hayward winning a Best Actress Oscar at the 31st Academy Awards.
The supporting programme consisted of a cartoon and general interest short films.
18th October – CRAIG DOUGLAS
On stage – for one day only – CRAIG DOUGLAS – an English pop singer, who was popular in the late 1950s. His sole UK chart-topper, “Only Sixteen” (1959), sold more copies in the UK than Sam Cooke’s original version. His appearance at the Gaumont was primarily due to Craig being a local lad from the Isle of Wight. Voted ‘Best New Singer’ in 1959 in the British music magazine, NME, Douglas went on to record eight cover versions of former American hit songs, in his total of nine Top 40 UK singles.
For the night in support were THE MUDLARKS, a family group from Luton, Bedfordshire, originally comprising Jeff Mudd, Fred Mudd and Mary Mudd. According to press releases at the time, they all had jobs at the Vauxhall motor plant in Luton, and spent their spare time singing together. In 1958, they attracted the attention of BBC Radio music presenter David Jacobs, who won them an appearance on the Six-Five Special TV show, and a recording contract with EMI’s Columbia label. Their first release, “Mutual Admiration Society”, was unsuccessful but their second, a cover of the American novelty song “Lollipop”, rose to #2 in the UK Singles Chart. They followed this with another UK Top 10 hit, a cover of “Book of Love”. At the end of 1958, The Mudlarks were voted top British vocal group by readers of the New Musical Express. Jeff Mudd then left the group as he was called to do National Service. He was replaced by David Lane, a compere and entertainer on the Manchester club circuit. The Mudlarks had only one more hit, “The Love Game”, a minor #30 success in 1959.
19th October – I’M ALL RIGHT JACK
On the screen – for six days – I’M ALL RIGHT JACK – a 1959 British comedy film directed and produced by John and Roy Boulting from a script by Frank Harvey, John Boulting and Alan Hackney based on the novel Private Life by Hackney. The film is a sequel to the Boultings’ 1956 film Private’s Progress and Ian Carmichael, Dennis Price, Richard Attenborough, Terry-Thomas and Miles Malleson reprise their characters. Peter Sellers played one of his best-known roles, as the trades union shop steward Fred Kite and won a BAFTA Best Actor Award. The rest of the cast included many well-known British comedy actors of the time.
The film is a satire on British industrial life in the 1950s. The trade unions, workers and bosses are all seen to be incompetent or corrupt to varying degrees. The film is one of a number of satires made by the Boulting Brothers between 1956 and 1963.
In support was THE LEGEND OF TOM DOOLEY a 1959 western film directed by Ted Post. It stars Michael Landon, Jack Hogan, and Jo Morrow. It was based on the 90-year-old folk song Tom Dooley, which had been inspired by the real-life case of convicted murderer Tom Dula. The ballad, as sung by the Kingston Trio, was a big hit in 1958 and is the theme song of the film. The movie’s plot is consistent with the lyrics of the song but otherwise bears little resemblance to the actual murder case.
25th October – UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS
On The Screen – For Seven Days – UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS – is a 1959 British comedy drama film directed by Ralph Thomas from the Rank Organisation and starring Michael Craig, Anne Heywood, Mylène Demongeot, James Robertson Justice, Joan Sims, Joan Hickson, Sid James and features the first English language performance of Claudia Cardinales. It should not be confused with the popular British, BAFTA and Emmy award-winning hit television series Upstairs, Downstairs. Ralph Thomas and Betty Box made the film after a series of more expensive adventure films. “I’m glad we’re back in comedy,” said Box. “I like to make people laugh. I think they get enough crying in daily life. Also the results in comedy are more tangible. You hear where you succeed.” Ralph Thomas later called the film “a light comedy which I liked very much… I had a great cast in that one… For its period it was a very effective, very small little comedy, which I think was really very funny.
The supporting feature was a reissue of a 1957 film, ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, by the British writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and the last movie they made together through their production company, “The Archers”. The film, which stars Dirk Bogarde and features Marius Goring, David Oxley, and Cyril Cusack, is based on the 1950 book Ill Met by Moonlight: The Abduction of General Kreipe by W. Stanley Moss, which is an account of events during the author’s service on Crete during World War II as an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The title is a quotation from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the book features the young agents’ capture and evacuation of the German general Heinrich Kreipe.
1st November – THE MARTY WILDE SHOW
On the stage – for one night only – MARTY WILDE SHOW – Marty Wilde, a 20 year old English singer and songwriter. He was among the first generation of British pop stars to emulate American rock and roll. Wilde was born in Blackheath, London. He was performing under the name Reg Patterson at London’s Condor Club in 1957, when he was spotted by impresario Larry Parnes. Parnes gave his protégés stage names like Billy Fury, Duffy Power and Dickie Pride, hence the change to Wilde. The ‘Marty’ came from the commended 1955 film, Marty. Wilde was signed to the British recording arm of Philips Records, with US releases appearing on the Epic label via Philips’ reciprocal licensing agreement with Columbia Records stateside. From mid-1958 to the end of 1959, Wilde was one of the leading British rock and roll singers, 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.
At the time of this show Marty Wilde was at the peak of his career. He was appearing 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. It was on these tv shows that he met and married Joyce Baker, one of the Vernons Girls who were show regulars. The courtship was highly public but, after their 1959 marriage, Wilde’s popularity as a teen idol declined.
2nd November – THE STUDENT PRINCE
On the stage – for six days – THE STUDENT PRINCE – was the latest production to be toured by John Hanson. Hanson was born in Oshawa, Ontario, in 1922, to English parents. When he was three the family moved to England, where his talent as a boy soprano was recognised by the Scottish Broadcasting Corporation. It was there that he made his debut, at the age of 12. He was offered a scholarship to the Milan Conservatoire, but the Second World War put paid to that. For the rest of his life Hanson regretted losing that chance to become an operatic tenor. During the war he served in the RAF but was invalided out. He sang for the troops and was offered a long-term singing engagement but his father insisted he follow another career path – a proper job. So he qualified and worked as an engineer. He gave his first professional performance at Birmingham Town Hall, in 1946. Two years later he featured in Variety Bandbox and Songs From The Shows. Hanson was best known for his performance as the Red Shadow in The Desert Song, which led to his being dubbed “the last of the matinee idols”. He and his friend and fellow actor, Clifford Mollison, each put up £ 2,000 to put The Desert Song on, and it opened at the Opera House in Manchester in 1957. It was a gamble for both of them. “Pop” had taken over and musicals had declined. The show, however, was an immediate success.
Although scheduled to run for only 12 weeks, their tour of the provinces lasted 10 months. After the success of The Desert Song, Hanson tset out on this tour of The Student Prince.
8th November – MON ONCLE
on the screen – for seven days – MON ONCLE – is a 1958 comedy film by French filmmaker Jacques Tati. The first of Tati’s films to be released in colour, Mon Oncle won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a Special Prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film, receiving more honors than any of Tati’s other cinematic works. The film centres on the socially awkward yet lovable character of Monsieur Hulot and his quixotic struggle with postwar France’s infatuation with modern architecture, mechanical efficiency and consumerism. As with most Tati films, Mon Oncle is largely a visual comedy; color and lighting are employed to help tell the story. The dialogue in Mon Oncle is barely audible, and largely subordinated to the role of a sound effect. The drifting noises of heated arguments and idle banter complement other sounds and the physical movements of the characters, intensifying comedic effect. The complex soundtrack also uses music to characterize environments, including a lively musical theme that represents Hulot’s world of comical inefficiency and freedom.
At its debut in 1958 in France, Mon Oncle was denounced by some critics for what they viewed as a reactionary or even poujadiste view of an emerging French consumer society, which had lately embraced a new wave of industrial modernization and a more rigid social structure. However, this criticism soon gave way in the face of the film’s huge popularity in France and abroad – even in the U.S., where rampant discretionary consumption and a recession had caused those on both the right and the left to question the economic and social values of the era.
A reissue made up the supporting programme, TWO GUN LADY a 1955 western about a girl who avenges the death of her parents.
15th November – CLIFF RICHARD
Live – one night only – CLIFF RICHARD – this was Cliff Richard’s second appearance at the Gaumont in 1959, but the first in his own right. He made his debut here in March as part of the touring version of ITV’s Oh Boy show. But this time, he was back as the star and officially supported by his own backing band The Shadows. Their most recent single was “Travellin’ Light”, the first as Cliff Richard and The Shadows, and it was at number one in the UK charts.
There was a mix of supporting acts, the format still being variety, it would be a few more years before pop shows became of age. As with all such shows there was the greasy and patronising compere, Tony Marsh, who would hail Cliff’s “modesty, charm and a lot of talent” and introduce him as “the biggest star in Europe today”. Cliff’s performance was basically light entertainment with a few polite guitar licks from his band, the Shadows. Here, though, was proof that teen screaming was invented before the Fab Four turned pop on its head, and pitifully little could set it off. Even the Shads’ insipid cover of All My Sorrows inspired a little gust of shrieking. In his own mind, though, Cliff was evidently convinced that rock’n’roll was the name of his game. “I’d like very much now to do another rock’n’roll song, if I may,” he tells the audience, sounding like a minor royal doling out prizes at a school speech day. Then he sings Razzle Dazzle, which rocks almost as hard as the theme from Blue Peter. You won’t be buying this for the artistic content, but it is a bona fide historical artefact.
Others appearing as virtual warm-up acts were The Tommy Allen Group, a young singer billed as Roy “Rock ’em” Young, he had recorded his first single, “Just Keep It Up” / “Big Fat Mama” in 1959 for Fontana Records; The Landis Bros and Jamaican/British vocal group, The Southlanders, formed by Edric Connor and Vernon Nesbeth in 1950. The group had several name changes, including The Caribbeans, South Londoners and Southerners, before settled as The Southlanders.
16th November – ASK ANY GIRL
On the screen – for seven days – ASK ANY GIRL – a 1959 American romantic comedy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, and Gig Young. MGM bought the rights to the novel in June 1958, before it had been published. Jeff Alexander composed the music for the film, with Harry James and His Orchestra releasing two songs from the film, “Ballad for Beatniks” and “The Blues About Manhattan,” on an MGM single. Shirley MacLaine plays wide-eyed Meg Wheeler who comes to New York City and takes a job in market research for a large firm. She’s also keeping an eye open to meet the right man, her research making her aware that the United States has five million more females than males. Upon meeting two clients, the reserved and somewhat stodgy Miles Doughton (Niven) and his playboy younger brother Evan (Young), it doesn’t take long for Meg to realize she’s romantically interested in Evan. Miles is willing to help. He has seen so many of his brother’s conquests come and go that he knows what Evan likes in a girl. Therefore, in a Pygmalion-like way, he sets out to transform Meg into exactly that kind of girl. What she doesn’t yet know is that Miles secretly comes to want her for himself.
There was a full Supporting Programme.
22nd November – THE DEVIL’S DISCIPLE
on the screen – for seven days – THE DEVIL’S DISCIPLE – a 1959 British-American film adaptation from United Artists of the 1897 George Bernard Shaw play The Devil’s Disciple. The Anglo-American film was directed by Guy Hamilton, who replaced Alexander Mackendrick and starred Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier. Lancaster and Douglas made several films together over the decades, including I Walk Alone (1948) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), which fixed the notion of the pair as something of a team in the public’s imagination. Douglas was always second-billed under Lancaster in these films but, with the exception of I Walk Alone, in which Douglas played a villain, their roles were usually more or less the same size. Here he is the black sheep of the family and with the local minister they discover their true vocations during the Revolutionary War.
In support was PIER 5, HAVANA a 1959 crime film directed by Edward L. Cahn from United Artists starring Cameron Mitchell and Allison Hayes, with the unique distinction of being perhaps the only American drama filmed in Cuba just after Fidel Castro’s revolution
29th November – NORTH BY NORTHWEST
On the screen – for seven days – NORTH BY NORTHWEST – is a 1959 American MGM thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. The screenplay was by Ernest Lehman, who wanted to write “the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures”. North by Northwest is a tale of mistaken identity, with an innocent man pursued across the United States by agents of a mysterious organization trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to smuggle out microfilm which contains government secrets. This is one of several Hitchcock films which feature a music score by Bernard Herrmann and an opening title sequence by graphic designer Saul Bass, and it is generally cited as the first to feature extended use of kinetic typography in its opening credits. North by Northwest is listed among the canonical Hitchcock films of the 1950s and is often listed among the greatest films of all time. It was selected in 1995 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The length of the feature meant that the SUPPORTING PROGRAMME was restricted to a short travelogue.
6th December – SOS PACIFIC
On the screen – for seven days – SOS PACIFIC – a 1959 British drama film directed by Guy Green and starring Richard Attenborough and Pier Angeli. The film was shot in black and white, but later underwent colourisation. A flying boat is forced to ditch in the Pacific during a thunderstorm. Aboard are the owner-pilot Jack Bennett (John Gregson), the navigator Willy (Cec Linder), the flight attendant Teresa (Pier Angeli) and six passengers: a policeman, Petersen (Clifford Evans); his prisoner Mark (Eddie Constantine); Whitey Mullen (Richard Attenborough), a witness against Mark; Dr Strauss, a German scientist (Gunnar Möller); Miss Shaw, a middle-aged Englishwoman (Jean Anderson) and Maria, a young European woman (Eva Bartok). The plane comes down near an island. The navigator has been killed by toxic gas produced when the wrong kind of extinguisher is used on an electrical fire aboard the plane but the others make it to land in two rubber dinghies. Just offshore a fleet of derelict ships is anchored. On the island are two concrete bunkers. In one, a number of goats are tethered. The other, which is lead-lined, contains cameras and measuring instruments. The cameras are trained on a device standing on a smaller island some distance away. The castaways realise that they are in the middle of an H-Bomb testing range and that a bomb is to be detonated in a few hours.
The supporting feature was STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL, a 1959 British comedy film from Rank, directed by Charles Saunders and starring Richard Murdoch, William Kendall, Maya Koumani and Neil Hallett. Two con-men, recently released from prison, are enlisted by a widow to help her recover control of her late husband’s business which has been taken from her.
13th December – KILLERS OF KILIMANJARO
On the screen – for seven days – KILLERS OF KILIMANJARO – is a 1959 British CinemaScope adventure film directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Robert Taylor, Anthony Newley, Anne Aubrey and Donald Pleasence for Warwick Films and released by Columbia. The movie was announced in 1956 and inspired by the story of the Tsavo maneaters recounted in the 1955 book African Bush Adventures by J.A. Hunter and Daniel P. Mannix. The screenplay was originally by Peter Viertel, who had worked on The African Queen, and written a novel of the experiences called White Hunter, Black Heart. Alan Ladd, who had made three films for Warwick, was the announced as male lead – it was meant to be part of a six-picture deal between Ladd and Warwick that also included The Man Inside and It’s Always Four O’Clock. In the final event Ladd made no further films for Warwick – the lead role went to Robert Taylor. Filming took place on location in Moshi Tanganyika, the same location used for Mogambo and Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure.
Watch the fim its entirety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOK3iaBk8xo
The supporting feature was BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA is an American 1959 war film directed by Paul Wendkos from Columbia Pictures. It stars Cliff Robertson and Gia Scala about the crew of an American submarine on a reconnaissance mission photographing Japanese installations through a periscope camera. When attacked by the Japanese (with similarities to the USS Perch) the submarine is scuttled and the crew is captured. Tortured by the Japanese, with the help of British and Australian prisoners the submarine’s officers make an escape bid to get their information to the Allies. The film ends with footage of the Battle of the Coral Sea that according to the film was made possible through the information brought back by the submariners.
20th December – CLOSED
24th December – HUMPTY DUMPTY
On the stage – for FOUR weeks – HUMPTY DUMPTY – was the first pantomime that the Gaumont had hosted over the Christmas period and it couldn’t have been bigger. Producer, Bernard Delfont brought all the style of his Palladium pantos to the show, including a star studded cast. Taking the lead as the King Of Carolia was British comedian Tommy Cooper a British prop comedian and magician. He habitually wore a red fez, and his appearance was large and lumbering, at 6 feet 4 inches. He was no stranger to Southampton having become a shipwright in Southampton after he left school whilst living in Shirley. After the war he made his debut on the BBC talent show New to You in March 1948, which led to him starring in his own shows, and was popular with audiences across the country. Playing his bodyguard, Captain Valentine, was Edmund Hockridge a 40 year old Canadian baritone and actor who had an active performance career in musicals, operas, concerts, plays and on radio. According to The Guardian, his life could have provided the storyline for one of the musicals he starred in. His big break, in 1950, came with the chance to play Billy Bigelow in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel at London’s Drury Lane. Hockridge went on to make two more musical roles his own – Judge Forestier, in Can-Can, and Sid Sorokin in the original London production of The Pajama Game, an instant hit with the British public. His hit single, “Hey There”, from what quickly became a hit show, ensured that his name became more well-known. Seven years of musicals were followed by public appearances, concerts, pantomimes, Royal Command Performances, London Palladium seasons, before this his first season in pantoland.
The King’s daughter, Princess Marigold, was played by 27 year old, British singer and actress, Petula Clark. Her career ws launched in 1942 when she was 9 and frequemtly toured the UK with fellow child performer Julie Andrews. She was contracted by the Rank Organisation, for whom she made over 20 films through the forties and fifties. At the same time she had a recording career and recorded her first release in 1947, “Put Your Shoes On, Lucy”. She scored a number of major hits in the UK during the 1950s, including “The Little Shoemaker” (1954), “Majorca” (1955), “Suddenly There’s a Valley” (1955) and “With All My Heart” (1956). “The Little Shoemaker” was an international hit, reaching No. 1 in Australia, the first of many No. 1 records in her career. Naturally, Humpty Dumpty gave her every opportunity to show off her vocal talents to give the audience a tatse of what was yet to come.
The large cast also included Betty Jumel as Humpty Dumpty. She had spent her life on tour in variety halls. She was known for her unfailing instinct for the mildly grotesque, as she interrupted herself during a piano recital, or took a drink of water from a vase of wilting flowers. Over more than half a century of performing her craft resulted in her simple, but brilliantly timed acts making her renowned wherever she went. The dame was played by Derek Roy whose BBC Radio show, Hip Hip Hoo Roy, was written by amongst others Spike Milligan, and was the show where Milligan’s Goon Show character Eccles first appeared. Roy’s star-vehicle Happy Go Lucky also gave the first writing break to Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.
Edmond Hockridge performing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C2kfKcrKU4
Petula Clark sings Romeo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQIX8aJmXo4