continuing to 16th January – HUMPTY DUMPTY
3rd January – O’ROURKE OF THE ROYAL MOUNTED
On the screen – for one day only – O’ROURKE OF THE ROYAL MOUNTED – (titled ‘Saskatchewan’ outside of the UK) is a 1954 American Technicolor Northern/Western film directed by Raoul Walsh starring Alan Ladd and Shelley Winters. The title refers to Fort Saskatchewan in modern Alberta. Shooting was in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, not far from the headwaters of the Saskatchewan River. The film was based on an original story by Gil Doud. Universal announced it in 1952 with Glenn Ford the first star mentioned. It was Alan Ladd’s second starring vehicle for Universal, for whom he had made Desert Legion. The arrangement was made in England, where Ladd was shooting Hell Below Zero. The film was shot on location in Canada, enabling Ladd to get a tax exemption from the US government. “I see absolutely no reason why I should not avail myself of the exemption because it is a law,” said Ladd.
Completing the double bill was AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ a 1955 musical film released by Universal-International and starring Rory Calhoun, Piper Laurie, Jack Carson and Mamie Van Doren.
10th January – DRANGO
On the screen – for one day – DRANGO – is a 1957 American Western film produced by Jeff Chandler’s production company Earlmar Productions, written and directed by Hall Bartlett, and released by United Artists. Starring Chandler in the title role, the film also features Ronald Howard, Joanne Dru, Julie London and Donald Crisp. Set in the town of Kennesaw, Georgia in the months immediately following the American Civil War, the story depicts the efforts of a resolute Union Army officer who had participated in the town’s destruction during Sherman’s March determined to make amends.
Completing the double bill was KISS OF FIRE, a 1955 American Technicolor adventure film directed by Joseph M. Newman and starring Jack Palance and Barbara Rush.
17th January – BUNDLE OF JOY
On the screen – for one day – BUNDLE OF JOY – GAUMONT –
Bundle of Joy is a 1956 Technicolor musical remake of the comedy film Bachelor Mother (1939), which starred Ginger Rogers. It stars Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (who were married in real-life at the time), and Adolphe Menjou. An unmarried salesgirl at a department store finds and takes care of an abandoned baby. Much confusion results when her co-workers assume the child is hers and that the father is the son of the store owner. During production, director Norman Taurog was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Very little was known about the illness at the time, so Debbie Reynolds and the rest of the cast and crew “just coped with” his unexplained memory losses and constant repeated instructions.
The supporting feature was WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS a 1956 film noir directed by Fritz Lang and starring Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Howard Duff, Thomas Mitchell, Vincent Price, John Drew Barrymore and Ida Lupino. Written by Casey Robinson, the newspaper drama was based on The Bloody Spur by Charles Einstein, which depicts the story of “Lipstick Killer” William Heirens. Five decades after the film’s release, critic Dennis Schwartz wrote, “Fritz Lang (‘M’) directs his most under-appreciated great film, more a social commentary than a straight crime drama.”
18th January – THE ROYAL BALLET
January 18, 1960 – on the stage – for six days – THE ROYAL BALLET – The full company of The Royal Ballet made their first visit to Southampton. The company was led by Svetlana Beriosova, Lynn Seymour, Donald Britton and Desmond Doyle. Ralph Mace conducted the Royal Opera House Symphony Orchestra. The week’s programme consisted of Coppelia on Friday and Saturday, A triple programme of A Blue Rose, Blood Wedding and Facade on Thursday and on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the four act ballet, Swan Lake.
This marked the first of many visits by the company of The Royal Ballet, which continued until the Arts Council changed their funding allocations which effectively prevented the company from touring.
24th January – THEY CAME TO CORDURA
On the screen – for seven days – THEY CAME TO CORDURA – a 1959 American CinemaScope Eastmancolour Western film released by Columbia Pictures and co-written and directed by Robert Rossen. Starring Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin and Tab Hunter, it was based on the 1958 novel by Glendon Swarthout set in 1916, as U.S. soldiers chase after Pancho Villa, Army Major Thomas Thorn (Gary Cooper) is assigned to be a battlefield observer and reward heroism. He has been suggested for this duty by a Colonel Rogers (Robert Keith), who is 63 years old and impatiently yearning to be promoted to general before mandatory retirement a few months hence.
Rogers leads his regiment in an old-fashioned but poorly planned Cavalry charge on Ojos Azules, a villa owned by Adelaide Geary (Rita Hayworth) where Villa’s men withdrew after a victory over Mexican government troops, enjoying her hospitality. Thorn, excused from the fighting, observes through his binoculars various acts of heroism by Lt. Fowler (Tab Hunter), Sgt. Chawk (Van Heflin), Cpl. Trubee (Richard Conte) and Pvt. Renziehausen (Dick York) in defeating Villa’s men.
Rogers is proud of having personally led the charge, but furious when Thorn won’t nominate him for a citation. Thorn insists that leading his regiment in the charge was “in the line of duty” and refuses to consider a citation for the Medal of Honor, awarded for heroism “above and beyond the call of duty.” Rogers reminds Thorn that he protected him from an investigation for cowardice, which he did out of respect for Thorn’s father, but does not sway Thorn. Thorn intends to recommend the four soldiers for the Medal of Honor. He is ordered to take along Mrs. Geary, who is charged with “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” A fifth soldier, a private (Michael Callan) also nominated by Thorn for a medal after an earlier battle, rides with them to the expedition’s base at the Texas town of Cordura. This seemingly simple task becomes increasingly complex as the incessant squabbling between Thorn and the men threatens to destroy them all. Eager to learn more about their acts of bravery, Thorn finds the men to be hostile toward him. A series of harrowing incidents make it clear that the apparent heroes were motivated by ambition, terror, or chance, while it is the disgraced Thorn who possesses moral courage. The men soon become insubordinate ultimately turning against Thorn, forcing him to fight the soldiers to save his own life. The movie ends with the men learning personal, not physical, courage from Thorn’s example.
In support was SENIOR PROM, a 1958 American musical film from Columbia, directed by David Lowell Rich and starring Jill Corey and Paul Hampton, as well as a rare non-Stooge appearance by Moe Howard.
31st January – THE HORSE SOLDIERS
On the screen – for seven days – THE HORSE SOLDIERS – is a 1959 United Artists war film set during the American Civil War directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, William Holden and Constance Towers. The screenplay by John Lee Mahin and Martin Rackin was loosely based on Harold Sinclair’s 1956 novel of the same name, a fictionalised version of Grierson’s Raid in Mississippi. Exterior scenes were filmed in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, along the banks of Cane River Lake, and in and around Natchez, Mississippi. The film company built a bridge over the Cane River for the pivotal battle scene, and many locals were hired as extras. It also features scenes shot in Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, California. Holden and Wayne both received $750,000 for starring, a record salary at the time. The project was plagued from the start by cost overruns, discord, and tragedy. Holden and Ford argued incessantly. Wayne was preoccupied with pre-production logistics for another film project, The Alamo. Lukey’s dialog was originally written in a stereotypic “Negro” dialect that Althea Gibson, the former Wimbledon and U.S. National tennis champion who was cast in the role, found offensive. She informed Ford that she would not deliver her lines as written. Though Ford was notorious for his intolerance of actors’ demands, he agreed to modify the script. During filming of the climactic battle scene, veteran stuntman Fred Kennedy suffered a broken neck while performing a horse fall and died. “Ford was completely devastated,” wrote biographer Joseph Malham. “[He] felt a deep responsibility for the lives of the men who served under him.” The film was scripted to end with the triumphant arrival of Marlowe’s forces in Baton Rouge, but Ford “simply lost interest” after Kennedy’s death. He ended the film with Marlowe’s farewell to Hannah Hunter before crossing and blowing up the bridge.
In support there was a 30 minute documentary, LIFELINE.
7th February – LIBEL
On the screen – for seven days – LIBEL – is a 1959 MGM British drama film starring Olivia de Havilland, Dirk Bogarde, Paul Massie, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Robert Morley. The film’s screenplay was written by Anatole de Grunwald and Karl Tunberg from a 1935 play of the same name by Edward Wooll. The film’s location shots included Longleat House, Wiltshire (fictionalised as “Ingworth House”) and London.
While travelling in London, Jeffrey Buckenham (Paul Massie), a World War II pilot veteran from Canada, sees Baronet Sir Mark Sebastian Loddon (Dirk Bogarde) on television, leading a tour of his ancestral home in England. Buckenham recalls that he was held in a POW camp in Germany with then Major Loddon, who the Germans captured during the Dunkirk evacuation of 1940. Buckenham is convinced that Loddon is Frank Wellney, a British actor (also played by Bogarde). Wellney and Loddon shared their POW hut in 1945 and bore uncanny resemblances to each other. Buckenham confronts Loddon and, with encouragement from Loddon’s scheming cousin (Captain Gerald Loddon, played by Anthony Dawson), writes to a tabloid newspaper, claiming Wellney has usurped the young baronet’s seat; that Mark Loddon is a “Bogus Baronet”. Loddon sues Buckenham and the newspaper for libel, even though his mind is battered by experiences during his 1945 escape, after which he spent six months in hospital, from when he has little memory. During the libel trial, Buckenham and Loddon tell their versions of wartime imprisonment and their escape. Buckenham liked Loddon and despised Wellney. Beckenham saw striking similarities between Loddon and Wellney, culminating in Wellney telling Loddon he felt “more like one of the [Loddon] family”. In spring 1945, the three prisoners escaped their POW camp and headed towards the Dutch border, seeking advancing Allied forces. Loddon wore his British Army uniform and Wellney disguised himself in civilian clothes. One dark and misty night, having gone without food for days, Buckenham left Loddon and Wellney alone to steal food from a farm. As Buckenham returned he heard shots. In the mist he witnessed one man in British Army Battle Dress lying on the ground, apparently dead, and the other, in civilian clothes, running away. Although Buckenham was unable to get closer because German soldiers appeared the implication is Wellney fleeing the scene of Loddon’s murder.
During the trial it emerges Loddon is missing part of his right index finger, just like Wellney. Although Loddon claims this happened when he was shot that night, Loddon allegedly also misses a childhood scar from his leg. Wellney’s hair was prematurely grey, as is Loddon’s now. Buckenham recounts how Wellney often asked Loddon about his personal life during their imprisonment; Loddon even joked that Wellney could pass for him. As evidence mounts, even Loddon’s loyal wife (Olivia de Havilland) begins to doubt her husband’s identity. Hubert Foxley (Hyde-White), the defence barrister, produces a courtroom surprise. It turns out the third man in the British Army uniform seen by Buckenham did not die. Instead his face was horribly disfigured, his right arm was amputated due to injuries that night and his mind had become unhinged. He has been living in a German asylum since the war, known simply as “Number Fifteen”, his bed number. Foxley produces the man in court, including the Battle Dress worn when he arrived at the German hospital, which is of a British major, the same rank as Loddon. When the disfigured man and Loddon recognise each other, in a dramatic courtroom confrontation, Loddon’s memory starts to return.
In desperation, Loddon’s barrister, Sir Wilfred (Robert Morley), puts Lady Margaret Loddon on the stand, but she testifies that she now believes her husband is Wellney, the impostor, implying that “Number Fifteen” is the real Sir Mark Loddon. Later, Lady Margaret confronts her husband, who in desperation walks the night trying to remember more. Finally, seeing his reflection in a canal unlocks his memories. Wellney did try to kill him while his back was turned, but he (Loddon) saw Wellney’s reflection in the water and won their struggle. His memory returns of beating Wellney extensively with a farm tool before switching their clothes and fleeing. In court, Loddon remembers a keepsake hidden in his Battle Dress lining: a medallion his then fiancée gave him in 1939 before leaving for France. By finding it in Wellney’s possession all the time, Loddon wins the libel case and his wife back. Buckenham and Loddon also reconcile although Buckenham and the newspaper must pay damages.
In support was MISSION OF DANGER an MGM assembly of three episodes of a US tv series “Northwest Passage” featuring Keith Larsen and Buddy Ebsen.
14th February – BELOVED INFIDEL
On the screen – for seven days – BELOVED INFIDEL – is a 1959 CinemaScope biographical drama film made by 20th Century Fox and was directed by Henry King and produced by Jerry Wald from a screenplay by Sy Bartlett, based on the memoir by Sheilah Graham and Gerold Frank. The music score was by Franz Waxman, the cinematography by Leon Shamroy and the art direction by Lyle R. Wheeler and Maurice Ransford. The film stars Gregory Peck and Deborah Kerr, with Eddie Albert and Philip Ober. Toward the end of his life, F. Scott Fitzgerald is writing for Hollywood studios to be able to afford the cost of an asylum for his wife. He is also struggling against alcoholism. Into his life comes the famous gossip columnist Sheila Graham, this film tells the story of the ensuing relationship.
The full supporting programme included the travel feature WALES.
21st February – ANATOMY OF A MURDER
On the screen – for seven days – ANATOMY OF A MURDER – a 1959 American courtroom drama crime film from Columbia, produced and directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Wendell Mayes was based on the novel of the same name written by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker under the pen name Robert Traver. Voelker based the novel on a 1952 murder case in which he was the defense attorney.The film stars James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Eve Arden, George C. Scott, Arthur O’Connell, Kathryn Grant, Brooks West (Arden’s husband), Orson Bean, and Murray Hamilton. The judge was played by Joseph N. Welch, a real-life lawyer famous for dressing down Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings. It has a musical score by Duke Ellington, who also appears in the film, and Anatomy Of A Murder has been described by a law professor as “probably the finest pure trial movie ever made”. In 2012, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
There was a FULL SUPPORTING PROGRAMME of short features
28th February – THE DEEP SIX
On the screen – for one day only – THE DEEP SIX – is a 1958 Warner Bros. World War II drama film directed by Rudolph Maté, loosely based on a novel of the same name by Martin Dibner. The story depicts the conflicts of a naval officer in combat with his shipmates and conscience over values instilled in him by his Quaker upbringing. The film stars Alan Ladd, who co-produced it, William Bendix, Dianne Foster, Keenan Wynn, James Whitmore, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr.. It also marked the film debut of Joey Bishop.
In support was SIX INCHES TALL (aka Attack of the Puppet People) a 1958 American black-and-white science fiction horror film starring John Agar, John Hoyt, and June Kenney. The film was produced, written, and directed by Bert I. Gordon for his Alta Vista Productions. He also worked on the film’s special effects.
29th February – I’M IN CHARGE
On the stage – for six days – I’M IN CHARGE – In 1958, an appearance with the comedian Dickie Henderson led to BRUCE FORSYTH being offered the job of compère of Val Parnell’s weekly TV variety show, Sunday Night at the London Palladium. During his spell of hosting Sunday Night at the London Palladium as part of the show he hosted the 15-minute game show Beat the Clock, which led to the catch phrase “I’m In Charge”. He hosted the show for two years, followed by a year’s break, then returned for another year but his schedule of stage performances forced him to give up the job of host.
This variety show titled with Bruce’s catchphrase “I’M IN CHARGE” was his first headlining opportunity. The supporting company included Italian singer, Tino Valdi; songstress Suzi Miller; variety stalwarts, Wilson, Keppel and Betty and two novelty acts, Alexander’s Dog Revue and The Skylons, aerial act. The company was completed by The Dancing Lovelies and Al Freid and his Orchestra.
7th March – ON THE BEACH
On the screen – for seven days – ON THE BEACH – is a 1959 American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama film from United Artists, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, that stars Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins. This black-and-white film is based on Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel of the same name depicting the aftermath of a nuclear war. Unlike in the novel, no one is assigned blame for starting the war; the film hints that global annihilation may have arisen from an accident or misjudgment.
As in the novel, much of On the Beach takes place in Melbourne, close to the southernmost part of the Australian mainland. Principal photography took place from mid-January to March 27, 1959 in Australia. Beach scenes were filmed at the foreshore of Cowes on Phillip Island. The film was shot in part in Berwick, then a suburb outside Melbourne and part in Frankston, also a Melbourne suburb. The well-known scene where Peck meets Gardner, who arrives from Melbourne by rail, was filmed on platform #1 of Frankston railway station, and a subsequent scene where Peck and Gardner are transported off by horse and buggy, was filmed in Young Street, Frankston. Some streets which were being built at the time in Berwick were named after people involved in the film. Two examples are Shute Avenue (Nevil Shute) and Kramer Drive (Stanley Kramer). The “Australian Grand Prix” in the novel had the racing sequences filmed at Riverside Raceway in California and at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, home to the present-day Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, conveniently located near Cowes at Phillip Island. These scenes include an array of late-1950s sports cars, including examples of the Jaguar XK150 and Jaguar D-Type, Porsche 356, Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing”, AC Ace, Chevrolet Corvette and prominent in sequences was the “Chuck Porter Special”, a customized Mercedes 300SL. Built by Hollywood body shop owner Chuck Porter and driven by a list of notable 1950s to 1960s west-coast racers, including Ken Miles and Chuck Stevenson, who purchased and successfully raced it in the early 1960s.
The U.S. Department of Defense refused to cooperate in the production of the film, not allowing access to its nuclear-powered submarines. Additional resources were supplied by the Royal Australian Navy, including the use of the aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne. It has often been claimed that Ava Gardner described Melbourne as “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.” However, the purported quote was actually invented by journalist Neil Jillett, who was writing for The Sydney Morning Herald at the time. His original draft of a tongue-in-cheek piece about the making of the film said that he had not been able to confirm a third-party report that Ava Gardner had made this remark. The newspaper’s sub-editor changed it to read as a direct quotation from Gardner. It was published in that form and entered Melbourne folklore very quickly.
Frank Chacksfield’s orchestral performance of the love theme from On the Beach was released as a single in 1960.
There was a FULL SUPPORTING PROGRAMME of shorts.
14th March – OPERATION PETTICOAT
On the screen – for seven days – OPERATION PETTICOAT – a 1959 American World War II submarine comedy film in Eastmancolor from Universal-International, produced by Robert Arthur, directed by Blake Edwards, that stars Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. The film tells in flashback the misadventures of a fictional U.S. Navy submarine, USS Sea Tiger, during the Battle of the Philippines in the opening days of the United States involvement in World War II. Some elements of the screenplay were taken from actual incidents that happened with some of the Pacific Fleet’s submarines during the war. Other members of the cast include several actors who went on to become television stars in the 1960s and 1970s: Gavin MacLeod of The Love Boat and McHale’s Navy, Marion Ross of Happy Days, and Dick Sargent of Bewitched.
Paul King, Joseph Stone, Stanley Shapiro, and Maurice Richlin were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Writing for their work on Operation Petticoat. The film was the basis for a TV series in 1977 starring John Astin in Grant’s role.
There was a FULL SUPPORTING PROGRAMME.
21st March – NEVER SO FEW
On the screen – for seven days – NEVER SO FEW – is an MGM 1959 CinemaScope Metrocolor American war film, directed by John Sturges and starring Frank Sinatra, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lawford, Steve McQueen, Richard Johnson, Paul Henreid, Brian Donlevy, Dean Jones, Charles Bronson, and Philip Ahn, and featuring uncredited roles by renowned Asian actors Mako, George Takei and James Hong. The script was loosely based on an actual OSS Detachment 101 incident recorded in a 1957 novel by Tom T. Chamales. Sinatra’s character of Captain Tom Reynolds is based on a real OSS officer and, later, sheriff of Sangamon County, Illinois, U.S. Navy Lt. Meredith Rhule.
Rat Pack cohort Sammy Davis, Jr. was originally slated to play McQueen’s role, but Sinatra yanked it away after Davis mildly criticized Sinatra during a radio interview. McQueen was mainly noted at the time for the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive and the horror movie The Blob. Never So Few marked his introduction to working with director John Sturges, who went on to cast McQueen in his breakout role the following year, as second lead in The Magnificent Seven, and later as the motorcycle-jumping lead in the classic The Great Escape.
Opening to middling reviews, Never So Few was praised for its action sequences, but criticised for a romantic sub-plot that bogged the film down. Newcomer McQueen garnered the bulk of the film’s good notice. Variety commented that “Steve McQueen has a good part, and he delivers with impressive style.”
The supporting programme included the travelogue SAMOA which is inhabited by a very proud race of people who don’t particularly like Westerners so tourism is not really encouraged. Catherine and John try to understand the source of intense pride in their culture. Theyintroduce us to Samoan culture and find the most beautiful seascapes – the sort of sights that shape our image of the South Pacific.
28th March – A TOUCH OF LARCENY
On the screen – for seven days – A TOUCH OF LARCENY – a 1959 British black-and-white comedy film, produced by Ivan Foxwell for Paramount and directed by Guy Hamilton, that stars James Mason, George Sanders, and Vera Miles. The film co-stars Harry Andrews, Rachel Gurney, and John Le Mesurier and is based on the 1956 novel The Megstone Plot by Paul Winterton, written under the pseudonym Andrew Garve, about a British World War II naval war hero, Commander Max “Rammer” Easton (James Mason), is charming and a bit of a rake. He holds a mid-level staff position at the British Admiralty, but spends most of his free time playing squash and pursuing women. While at his private club, he meets Sir Charles Holland (George Sanders) and later Holland’s American companion, Virginia Killain (Vera Miles). As soon as Holland goes away for a few days, Max makes a play for Virginia, but she is engaged to be married to Holland and is offended by Max describing him as “dull”. Undaunted, he continues to slowly charm her until she agrees to have lunch with him.
They later go sailing on Easton’s sailboat, and he continues to put his charm on display. Max can tell that Virginia is impressed by Holland’s old school wealth. He claims that it is easy to acquire money, which she challenges, so on the spot he comes up with an unscrupulous scheme to demonstrate to her just how easy it is: After suddenly disappearing under suspicious circumstances, he would leave behind clues and red herrings leading others to jump to the conclusion that he is a traitor, having stolen top secret British Admiralty documents from his division, then defected to the Soviet Union. The scandal would leak and spread though the British press like wildfire. Upon his sudden and surprising return, he would sue the press for libel, raking in thousands of pounds in out-of-court settlements.
To prove that he is quite serious about her, he decides to implements his complex scheme. Max is later publicly branded a traitor by the press, all according to his plan. Virginia is at first amused by all this, then she becomes annoyed when she realizes he has actually gone through with it. When she tells Sir Charles, he is outraged and says something must be done. Max’s elaborate plan backfires, however, when just as he is about to return, he becomes marooned for real on an out-of-the-way rocky island off the Scottish coast and cannot get home. After eventually being rescued, Max learns that Sir Charles has revealed to authorities everything that Virginia told him about Max’s hoax. When confronted by authorities about his deception, Max cleverly frees himself from suspicion of any wrong-doing. He then continues to charm Virginia by saying he now plans on selling his story of survival and rescue to the very same press he originally intended to defraud. Against her better judgment, having now split from Sir Charles over the incident, she agrees to marry him, finding him irresistible.
It was nominated for the BAFTA award for Best British Screenplay but it lost out to The Angry Silence.
In support was Paramount’s NIGHT TRAIN FOR INVERNESS a black and white 1960 British drama film directed by Ernest Morris and starring Norman Wooland, Jane Hylton and Dennis Waterman. It is notable as the film debut of Dennis Waterman