3rd July – THE SAVAGE INNOCENTS
On the screen – for seven days – THE SAVAGE INNOCENTS – a 1960 adventure film directed and co-written by Nicholas Ray. Anthony Quinn and Yoko Tani star, with Lee Montague, Marco Guglielmi, Carlo Giustini, Anthony Chinn, and Michael Chow in supporting roles, alongside Peter O’ Toole in his film debut. It was adapted from the novel Top of the World by Swiss writer Hans Rüesch about an Inuk hunter who kills a Christian missionary that rejects his traditional offer of food and his wife’s company. Pursued by white policemen, the Inuk saves the life of one of them, resulting in a final confrontation in which the surviving cop must decide between his commitment to law enforcement and his gratitude to the Inuk. The film’s themes include Inuit survival in the extreme arctic wilderness, as well as their raw existence and struggle to maintain their lifestyle against encroaching civilisation.
The film was an international co-production, distributed by Rank in the UK, with British, Italian and French interests involved; in the United States it was released by Paramount Pictures. The film was shot on-location in the Canadian Arctic, with interiors shot in Britain’s Pinewood Studios and in Rome’s Cinecittà studios. It was entered in the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.
The support was DEAD LUCKY a 1960 film shot in the Philipines with a story of boy meets girl.
10th July – THE UNFORGIVEN
On the screen – for seven days – THE UNFORGIVEN – is a 1960 American Technicolor Drama Romance Western film from United Artists. Filmed in Durango, Mexico, it was directed by John Huston and stars Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, Audie Murphy, Charles Bickford and Lillian Gish. The story is based upon the 1957 novel by Alan Le May. The film, uncommonly for its time, spotlights the issue of racism against Native Americans and people believed to have Native American blood in the Old West. The movie is also known for problems behind the scenes. Huston often said this was his least satisfying movie. Production was suspended for several months in 1959 after Hepburn broke her back when she fell off a horse while rehearsing a scene. Although she eventually recovered, the accident was blamed for a subsequent miscarriage Hepburn suffered. According to several published biographies of Hepburn, she blamed herself for the accident and subsequently all but disowned the film, although she did complete it when she was well enough to return to work. Hepburn took the next year off work in order to successfully have a child, and returned to the screen with Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).
In addition, Huston was constantly battling with Hecht-Hill-Lancaster, which was financing the movie. Hecht-Hill-Lancaster wanted a more commercial and less controversial film, while Huston wanted to make a statement about racism in America. The result is that neither got exactly what they wanted.
FULL SUPPORTING PROGRAMME
17th July – THE STORY OF RUTH
On the screen – for seven days – THE STORY OF RUTH – is a 1960 American historical romance film directed by Henry Koster, shot in CinemaScope and DeLuxe Color, and released by 20th Century Fox. The screenplay, written by Norman Corwin, is an adaptation of the biblical Book of Ruth. The film stars Stuart Whitman as Boaz, Tom Tryon as Mahlon, Peggy Wood as Naomi, Viveca Lindfors as Eleilat, Jeff Morrow as Tob, and introduces 19-year old Elana Eden as Ruth.
The first part of the film revolves around Ruth, visualized as a pagan idolatress in her youth who serves as the spiritual teacher of a young Moabitess girl, Tebah, who is being prepared to be sacrificed to Chemosh, a Moabite deity. Unhappy with the ritual crown created for Tebah, high-priestess Eleilat, along with Ruth, instruct Mahlon, the Judean artisan, to revamp the crown with jewels and glitter. Mahlon delivers the crown to Ruth at the temple, and he begins to question her about the existence of Chemosh. Ruth becomes doubtful of her religion and ultimately falls in love with Mahlon, sharing an interest in monotheism.
The non-biblical part ends with the sight of the Moabite girl being sacrificed, from which a distressed Ruth flees. The Moabites condemn Mahlon, his father Elimelech, and brother Chilion. Chilion and Elimelech die in the prison, while Mahlon’s punishment is to work at the quarries for the rest of his life. Ruth comes to free Mahlon, but he is wounded as he flees the quarry. He marries Ruth in a cave soon afterwards, and promptly dies.
The biblical storyline begins as Naomi (who was married to Elimelech), Orpah (who was married to Chilion), and Ruth are widowed. The second part is based more on the Book of Ruth, although a subplot is added, that of the Bethlehemites’ initial disapproval of Ruth’s pagan past and Naomi’s closest kinsman rejecting Ruth as his wife. As the next of kin after him, Boaz successfully obtains Ruth’s hand in marriage. As the film concludes, the final verses of the Book of Ruth are quoted.
FULL SUPPORTING PROGRAMME
24th July – MAKE MINE MINK
On the screen – for seven days – MAKE MINE MINK is a 1960 British comedy farce film directed by Robert Asher and distributed by Rank. The screenplay concerns a group of eccentric misfits who go on a spree, stealing mink coats for charity in a Robin Hood-style gang. It was based on the play Breath of Spring by Peter Coke, and its sequels. Seyler and Elspeth Duxbury reprised their stage roles from the London production of Breath of Spring.
The cast reads like a Who‘s Who of British comedy led by Terry-Thomas and with Athene Seyler, Hattie Jacques, Elspeth Duxbury, Billie Whitelaw, Jack Hedley, Raymond Huntley, Irene Handl, Sydney Tafler, Joan Heal, Penny Morrell, Freddie Frinton, Michael Balfour, Noel Purcell, Kenneth Williams and Peter Vaughan.
In support was SNOWBALL a 69 minute, 1960 British crime film directed by Pat Jackson and starring Gordon Jackson, Kenneth Griffith and Zena Walker. It was made at Beaconsfield Studios for Rank release.
31st July – SLEEPING BEAUTY
On the screen – for seven days – SLEEPING BEAUTY – is a 1959 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney based on Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault. The 16th Disney animated feature film, it was released to theaters in the USA in January 1959, by Buena Vista Distribution. But its UK opening was delayed until a London cinema equipped with 70mm became availsable. This was the last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale for some years because of its initial mixed critical reception and underperformance at the box office; the studio did not return to the genre until 30 years later, after Walt Disney died in 1966, with the release of The Little Mermaid (1989). It features the voices of Mary Costa, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Barbara Jo Allen, Bill Shirley, Taylor Holmes, and Bill Thompson. The film was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi, with additional story work by Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, and Milt Banta. The film’s musical score and songs, featuring the work of the Graunke Symphony Orchestra under the direction of George Bruns, are arrangements or adaptations of numbers from the 1890 Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. However, unlike the previous feature films, this was the first Disney feature film that did not have the same background animation material, but instead it had new background animation material.
Sleeping Beauty was the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated feature film to be filmed in anamorphic widescreen, following Disney’s Lady and the Tramp four years earlier. The film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound in its premiere engagement at London‘s Astoria but not in Southampton where it could have played at the ABC. In 2019, 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”.
In support was TEXAS JOHN SLAUGHTER – an episode of a Walt Disney tv seroes in the USA, starring Tom Tryon and based upon an actual historical figure, Texas Ranger John Horton Slaughter. Tryon memorably wore an enormous white cowboy hat with the brim pinned up in the front.
7th August – FROM THE TERRACE
On the screen – for seven days – FROM THE TERRACE – is a 1960 American 20th Century Fox drama film in CinemaScope directed by Mark Robson, and starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Myrna Loy, Ina Balin, George Grizzard, and Leon Ames, with a young Barbara Eden appearing in one scene. The screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman, based on the 1958 novel by John O’Hara that tells the story of the estranged son of a Pennsylvania factory owner who marries into a prestigious family and moves to New York to seek his fortune.
This was the third movie that real-life spouses Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward made together.
The supporting feature was JESSY a 1960 British film that tells the story of a young girl with cerebral palsy. Her parents move to a new town so Jessy can attend a local special school. She makes friends with the neighbourhood children as soon as she arrives at her new house. They accept her and her need for a wheelchair, but conflict arises over misunderstandings about the nature and extent of Jessy’s disability. With the help of an understanding teacher from her school Jessy is able to reconcile with her friends and play an important part in a climactic battle against a rival gang of children.
The film was the result of a collaboration between Ian Dawson-Shepherd, a founding member of the National Spastics Society (now known as Scope) and Margaret R Johns, an actor turned documentary and travelogue producer who was in the process of setting up her own company, Libertas Films.
14th August – DOCTOR IN LOVE
On the screen – for FOURTEEN days – DOCTOR IN LOVE – a 1960 British comedy film, the fourth of the seven films in the Doctor series, starring James Robertson Justice as Sir Lancelot Spratt and Michael Craig as Dr Richard Hare. This was the first film in the series not to feature Dirk Bogarde, as he did not want to make any more Doctor films, so the filmmakers cast Michael Craig and Leslie Phillips as young doctors. Producer Betty Box later said the entire cast cost as much as Bogarde’s current fee at that time. She says “We all developed an affection for Doctor in Love. It was a gay, happy comedy which brought us into contact with some fine fresh talents.” The film was the most popular movie at the British box office in 1960.
Dr Richard Hare is a recently graduated medical intern at St Swithins Hospital. When his new romantic interest, nurse Sally Nightingale, suddenly leaves the hospital, he is devastated. He also leaves after being offered a job in private practice. But when his senior partner, Dr Cardew, has to visit California for a few months, Hare is left in charge. Dr Nicola Barrington joins the practice and Hare is suddenly in love again. The romance doesn’t go well, especially when Sally re-appears and takes the job of practice secretary. Nicola is hurt and stalks off. She is replaced by Dr Tony Burke who proceeds to airily order expensive equipment that the practice cannot afford. Hare struggles through various comedic and other complications, mainly stemming from Burke’s amorous attentions to female patients.
After enlisting Sir Lancelot Spratt’s assistance to save a young dying boy, he diagnoses Spratt with appendicitis and decides to operate, despite Spratt’s loud objections. He objects even more when Dr Burke fills in at the last moment as the anaesthetist. Despite Spratt’s vociferous protestations, the operation is a success. Hare is reunited with Nicola and returns to St Swithins.
In support was NOOSE FOR A GUNMAN a 1960 Western filmfrom United Artists,starring Jim Davis and Barton McLane. It was later remade as The Quick Gun.
28th August – INHERIT THE WIND
On the screen – for seven days – INHERIT THE WIND – GAUMONT –
Inherit the Wind is a 1960 Hollywood film adaptation of the 1955 play of the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. The film was directed by Stanley Kramer for United Artists. It stars Spencer Tracy as lawyer Henry Drummond and Fredric March as his friend and rival Matthew Harrison Brady, also featuring Gene Kelly, Dick York, Harry Morgan, Donna Anderson, Claude Akins, Noah Beery Jr., Florence Eldridge, and Jimmy Boyd.
The script was adapted by Nedrick Young (originally as Nathan E. Douglas) and Harold Jacob Smith. Stanley Kramer was commended for bringing in writer Nedrick Young, as the latter was blacklisted and forced to use the pseudonym Nathan E. Douglas. Inherit the Wind is a parable that fictionalizes the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial as a means to discuss McCarthyism. Written in response to the chilling effect of the McCarthy era investigations on intellectual discourse, the film (like the play) is critical of creationism.
There was a supporting programme of short interest films including the latest editon of Look At Life.
4th September – SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER
On the screen – for Fourteen days – SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER – a 1959 Southern Gothic mystery film from Columbia Pictures, based on the 1958 play of the same name by Tennessee Williams. The film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Sam Spiegel from a screenplay by Gore Vidal and Williams with cinematography by Jack Hildyard and production design by Oliver Messel. The musical score was composed by Buxton Orr, using themes by Malcolm Arnold.
The plot centres on a young woman who, at the insistence of her wealthy aunt, is being evaluated by a psychiatric doctor to receive a lobotomy after witnessing the death of her cousin Sebastian Venable while travelling with him in Spain the previous summer. The film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift with Albert Dekker, Mercedes McCambridge, and Gary Raymond.
Elizabeth Taylor selected Suddenly, Last Summer as her first project after recently ending her contractual commitment to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At the time, she was the biggest box office draw in Hollywood, and she used this power to insist that Montgomery Clift be hired for the film. As a result of a May 1956 car crash near the home of Taylor and her then-husband Michael Wilding, Clift had become heavily dependent on drugs and alcohol. When he was unable to find a doctor willing to attest to his insurability, producer Sam Spiegel approved his casting and went ahead with filming anyway. Clift found the long scenes exhausting and had to have his longest scene shot in multiple takes, one or two lines at a time. His shaky performance led director Joseph Mankiewicz to ask Spiegel several times to replace the actor. Most of the crew were sympathetic toward Clift, but Katharine Hepburn was especially resentful of the poor treatment to which Mankiewicz subjected him. Indeed, Hepburn found Mankiewicz’s conduct so unforgivable that as soon as he called the final “cut” of the film, she asked him to confirm that her services were no longer required, and when he did, she spat in his face. Sources differ as to whether she also spat in Sam Spiegel’s face.
Production on Suddenly, Last Summer took place at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England. The “Cabeza de Lobo” sequence was filmed at Majorca in the Balearic Islands; Begur, Spain, Castell-Platja d’Aro, Costa Brava, and S’Agaró in Gerona, Spain.
There was a full supporting programme.
18th September – THE GALLANT HOURS
On the screen – for seven days – THE GALLANT HOURS – a 1960 American docudrama from United Artists about William F. Halsey, Jr. and his efforts in fighting against Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II. This film was directed by Robert Montgomery, who also did uncredited narration, and it stars James Cagney as Admiral Halsey. Featured in the cast are Dennis Weaver, Ward Costello, Vaughn Taylor, Richard Jaeckel, and Les Tremayne. The screenplay was by Frank D. Gilroy and Beirne Lay, Jr., and the unusual a cappella choral score was composed and conducted by Roger Wagner, although the theme song was written by Ward Costello.
The film was produced by Montgomery and Cagney, and it was the only film made by their joint production company. It was also Cagney’s last starring role in a dramatic film.
In support was Oklahoma Territory – an insignificant film about a District Attorney who tries an Indian chief for the murder of an Indian agent, but begins to believe that the chief is possibly being framed by powerful interests who want to start a war between the Indians and the locals. Directed by Edward L. Cahn, it starred Bill Williams, Gloria Talbott and Ted de Corsia.