6th July – CARRY ON CAMPING
On the screen – for 14 days – CARRY ON CAMPING – a 1969 British comedy film, the seventeenth in the series of Carry On films to be made. It featured series regulars Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Terry Scott, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Bernard Bresslaw and Peter Butterworth. The film was the most popular movie at the UK box office in 1969.
For the first week of the run the second feature was HELL IS ETERNITY, (aka A Place In Hell) an Italian war film about the U.S. defeat in the Philippines; Guy Madison leads a rag-tag group of U.S. soldiers against the Japanese occupiers.
The second feature changed for the second week to allow for a special Rank film marking the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales – the feature length documentary was titled A PRINCE FOR WALES.
The week of the 13th July marked the opening of licensed theatre bar for cinema patrons – always a feature for stage presentations but not for film. However a similar facility at the City’s Odeon had proved a success and so the Gaumont followed suit opening at 6pm every evening.
20th July – MACKENNA’S GOLD
On the screen – for seven days – MACKENNA’S GOLD – a 1969 American western film directed by J. Lee Thompson, starring an ensemble cast featuring Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif, Telly Savalas, Ted Cassidy, Camilla Sparv and Julie Newmar in lead roles. Originally planned to be shown in single lens Cinerama with reserved seat roadshow engagements, Columbia pulled the plug on that idea, and Mackenna’s Gold was drastically cut down immediately prior to its release, from nearly three hours (plus an intermission) to just over two hours. And although photographed in Super Panavision 70 and Technicolor it didn’t play either of Southampton’s cinemas (Odeon and ABC) equipped to show this type of big screen presentation. Instead it played as a ‘scope version here at the Gaumont. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Heck Allen using the pen name Will Henry, telling the story of how the lure of gold corrupts a diverse group of people. The film was a box office failure in North America and the UK, but went on to become a major overseas success, in regions such as the Soviet Union, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.
The programme was completed by an edition of Look At Life.
27th July – RUN WILD, RUN FREE
On the screen – for seven days – RUN WILD, RUN FREE – a 1969 British drama film from Columbia Pictures, directed by Richard C. Sarafian and starring John Mills and Mark Lester. The film was written by David Rook, based on his novel The White Colt, and shot on location in Dartmoor, Devon, England. It tells the story of Philip Ransome, a northern English boy who has been mute since age three and spends his days roaming the moors alone. His parents despair of a cure. One day, he sees a singular wild albino pony with blue eyes and befriends it avidly. A kindly retired Colonel, who accepts Philip as he is, a girl his age, and a pet falcon she gives him provide him with more things to love and care about. Gradually, Philip emerges from his shell. But the way out is full of heartbreak and setbacks. If it is not a milestone in its genre, its cloying quotient is decidedly low. As a dissection of the rapport between two youngsters and a couple of wild animals in a largely uncomprehending world, it has enough honesty and genuine sentimentality to move mere grown-ups too.
The supporting feature was FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, a re-issue of a 1964 British Technicolor science fiction film produced by Charles H. Schneer, directed by Nathan Juran, starring Edward Judd, Martha Hyer and Lionel Jeffries. The Columbia Picture is an adaptation by science fiction scriptwriter Nigel Kneale of H. G. Wells’ 1901 novel The First Men in the Moon. Ray Harryhausen provided the stop-motion animation effects, which include the Selenites, giant caterpillar-like “Moon Cows”, and the big-brained Prime Lunar.
3rd August – THE LOVE BUG
On the screen – for seven days – THE LOVE BUG, a 1968 American comedy film directed by Robert Stevenson and the first in a series of films made by Walt Disney Productions that starred an anthropomorphic pearl-white, fabric-sunroofed 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle named Herbie. It was based on the 1961 book Car, Boy, Girl by Gordon Buford. The film follows the adventures of Herbie, Herbie’s driver, Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), and Jim’s love interest, Carole Bennett (Michele Lee). It also features Buddy Hackett as Jim’s enlightened, kind-hearted friend, Tennessee Steinmetz, a character who creates “art” from used car parts. English actor David Tomlinson portrays the villainous Peter Thorndyke, the owner of an auto showroom and an SCCA national champion who sells Herbie to Jim and eventually becomes his racing rival.
The Volkswagen brand name, logo or shield does not feature anywhere in the film, as the German carmaker did not permit Disney to use the name. The car was later given the name “Herbie” from one of Buddy Hackett’s skits about a ski instructor named Klaus, who speaks with a German accent as he introduces his fellow ski instructors, who are named Hans, Fritz, Wilhelm, and Sandor. At the end of the skit, Hackett would say “If you ain’t got a Herbie (pronounced “hoy-bee”), I ain’t going.”
GUNS IN THE HEATHER is a 1969 Walt Disney adventure film directed by Robert Butler and produced by Ron Miller. It stars Kurt Russell, Glenn Corbett and Alfred Burke. It was originally broadcast in parts on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in the United States under the title Guns in the Heather, then re-edited for a European theatrical release under the title, The Secret of Boyne Castle, except for the UK. It was re-broadcast on American television in 1978 under the title Spy-Busters. The story is based on the 1963 novel Guns in the Heather, by Lockhart Amerman. The film was primarily shot on location in Ireland (St. Flannan’s College in Ennis, Corkscrew Hill, Corofin and Kilfenora, Co. Clare feature) with additional scenes shot at Pinewood Studios near London, England.
10th August – SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS
On the screen – for seven days – SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS – a major re-issue of the 1954 M-G-M American musical film, photographed in CinemaScope. The film was directed by Stanley Donen, with music by Saul Chaplin and Gene de Paul, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, and choreography by Michael Kidd. The screenplay, by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, and Dorothy Kingsley, is based on the short story “The Sobbin’ Women”, by Stephen Vincent Benét, which was based in turn on the Ancient Roman legend of The Rape of the Sabine Women. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which is set in Oregon in 1850, is particularly known for Kidd’s unusual choreography, which makes dance numbers out of such mundane frontier pursuits as chopping wood and raising a barn. Film critic Stephanie Zacharek has called the barn-raising sequence in Seven Brides “one of the most rousing dance numbers ever put on screen.” Seven Brides for Seven Brothers won the Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and was nominated for four additional awards, including Best Picture (where it lost the award to Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront).
In 1969 Seven Brides … had a major re-issue, destined as a roadshow attraction having been blown-up to 70mm with multi-tack stereo sound. Southampton was not lucky enough to see this version and so the Gaumont played a mono soundtrack copy of the CinemaScope film.
In 2006, American Film Institute named Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as one of the best American musical films ever made. In 2004, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
It was paired with THE SHEEPMAN making an entertaining double bill. A 1958 American western film from M-G-M, directed by George Marshall and starring Glenn Ford, Shirley MacLaine, and Leslie Nielsen. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen and for two BAFTA awards: Best Film from any source, and Glenn Ford for Best Foreign Actor.
17th August – GUNS OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
On the screen – for seven days – GUNS OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, a 1969 western, styled in the genre of a Zapata Western, the second sequel to the classic 1960 western action film, The Magnificent Seven, itself based on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The film was directed by Paul Wendkos and produced by Vincent M. Fennelly. It stars George Kennedy as Chris Adams, the character Yul Brynner portrayed in the first two films. The additions to the cast to make up the “new” seven are Monte Markham, Bernie Casey, James Whitmore, Reni Santoni, Joe Don Baker and Scott Thomas. Each have their quirks and baggage. They band together to help free a Mexican revolutionary (Fernando Rey) and help fight the oppresion of sadistic militarist Diego played by Michael Ansara. Elmer Bernstein once again provides the music.
In a bit of unfortunate timing, the picture hit cinemas at the very same time as ‘The Wild Bunch’; the two films have somewhat similar stories but, needless to say, Sam Peckinpah’s landmark film is otherwise light years ahead of this unambitious rehash.
The support came in the form of THE ONE-EYED SOLDIERS, a 1966 UK/Yugoslavian/Italian/US international co-production crime film shot in Yugoslavia that was directed and co-written by John Ainsworth under the name of Jean Christophe. The film, shot in Ultrascope starred and was co-produced by Dale Robertson for his United Screen Arts company.
24th August – THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN THE WORLD
On the screen – for seven days – THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN THE WORLD (or alternatively outside the UK called The Chairman), is a 1969 spy film starring Gregory Peck. A 20th Century Fox release, It was directed by J. Lee Thompson. The screenplay was by Ben Maddow, based on a novel by Jay Richard Kennedy. It tells the story of a Western agent who is sent to Communist China in order to retrieve an important agricultural enzyme. What he does not know is that there is a bomb implanted in his head; the forces behind his mission will detonate it if he fails to carry out the assignment.
In support, was the feature THE GENDARME OF ST. TROPEZ, a 1964 French film about Inspector Cruchot who takes his daughter to visit beautiful St. Tropez and ends up trying to arrest a beach full of nudists. Meanwhile, his daughter has her own problems when she pretends to be an heiress and ends up getting involved with art thieves. It stars top French comedian actor Louis de Funes.
31st August – ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS
On the screen – for seven days – ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS, a 1961 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney and based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wolfgang Reitherman, it was Disney’s 17th animated feature film. The film tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the villainous Cruella de Vil, who wants to use their fur to make into coats. Their parents, Pongo and Perdita, set out to save their children from Cruella, all the while rescuing 84 additional puppies that were bought in pet shops, bringing the total of Dalmatians to 101.
This was the first nationwide re-issue of the film which was originally released in 1961, by Walt Disney. One Hundred and One Dalmatians was a box office success, pulling the studio out of the financial slump caused by Sleeping Beauty, a costlier production released two years prior. Aside from its box office revenue, its commercial success was due to the employment of inexpensive animation techniques—such as using xerography during the process of inking and painting traditional animation cels—that kept production costs down. It was remade into a live-action film in 1996.
In support, Disney’s RIDE A NORTHBOUND HORSE, made for US tv but released overseas as a cinema feature.
7th September – THE LONGEST DAY
On the screen – for 13 days – (not Weds 17th) – THE LONGEST DAY – (Sep Perfs; normal prices). A major reissue of the landmark 1962 film, THE LONGEST DAY. Re-released to mark the 25th anniversary of D-day, it tells the story of the build up to D-Day. It concentrates on events on both sides of the channel, such as the Allies waiting for a break in the poor weather and anticipating the reaction of the Axis forces defending northern France. The film pays particular attention to Gen. Eisenhower’s decision to go, as Supreme Commander of SHAEF, after reviewing the initial reports of bad weather and reports about the divisions within the German High Command as to where an invasion might happen or what their response should be. Numerous scenes document the early hours of June 6 when Allied airborne troops were sent in to take key locations inland from the beaches. The French resistance is also shown reacting to the news that an invasion has started. The Longest Day chronicles most of the important events surrounding D-Day, including the British glider missions to secure Pegasus Bridge, the counterattacks launched by American paratroopers scattered around Sainte-Mère-Église, the infiltration and sabotage work conducted by the French resistance and SOE agents, and the response by the Wehrmacht to the invasion and the uncertainty of German commanders as to whether it was a feint in preparation for crossings at the Strait of Dover, where the senior German staff had always assumed that it would be.
17th September – THE BOLSHOI BALLET: ROMEO & JULIET
September 17, 1969 – on the screen – for one day only – BOLSHOI BALLET – ROMEO & JULIET. In 1955, Mosfilm made this film version of Romeo & Juliet with Galina Ulanova as Juliet and Yuri Zhdanov as Romeo. This film won the Best Lyrical Film and was nominated for the Palme d’Or in the 1955 Cannes Film Festival, but was not screened commercially in the West until 1969.
Completing the programme was the Bolshoi Ballet’s film of Cinderella made in 1960, and starring Raisa Struchkova as Cinderella.
21st September – JUSTINE
On the screen – for seven days – JUSTINE is a 1969 Twentieth Century Fox American drama film directed by George Cukor and Joseph Strick. It was written by Lawrence B. Marcus and Andrew Sarris, based on the 1957 novel Justine by Lawrence Durrell, which was part of the series The Alexandria Quartet. Set in Alexandria in 1938, a young British schoolmaster named Darley (Michael York) meets Pursewarden (Dirk Bogarde), a British consular officer. Pursewarden introduces him to Justine (Anouk Aimee), the wife of an Egyptian banker. Darley befriends her, and discovers she is involved in a plot against the British, the goal of which is to arm the Jewish underground movement in Palestine.
The supporting programme included a feature length travelogue, THE ALGARVE which explored the remote quarter of Portugal’s southern coast.
28th September – THREE INTO TWO WON’T GO
On the screen – for seven days – THREE INTO ONE WON’T GO – a 1969 British drama film from Rank, directed by Peter Hall and starring Rod Steiger, Claire Bloom and Judy Geeson. Steve Howard, a British sales executive living in Middlesex, England, begins an affair with a young hitchhiker, Ella Patterson, to emotionally get away from his marriage to his wife Frances. But when Ella moves into a room in Steve and Frances’s house, he must keep the true nature of his relationship with Ella under wraps at all costs. The film was Britain’s entry into the 19th Berlin International Film Festival.
Supporting film was EYE OF THE CAT a 1969 American horror film from Universal and directed by David Lowell Rich, starring Michael Sarrazin, Gayle Hunnicutt and Eleanor Parker. The screenplay is by Joseph Stefano, best known as the author of the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.