1969 October to December

5th October – THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN

On the screen – for seven days – THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN – GAUMONT – is a 1969 United Artists’ war film starring George Segal, Ben Gazzara and Robert Vaughn in Panavision. The film, which was directed by John Guillermin, was shot on location in Czechoslovakia. It is based on the nonfiction book The Bridge at Remagen: The Amazing Story of March 7, 1945 by writer and U. S. Representative Ken Hechler. The screenplay was adapted by Richard Yates and William Roberts. The film is a highly fictionalised version of actual events during the last months of World War II when the 9th Armored Division approached Remagen and captured the intact Ludendorff Bridge. Instead of the real week-long battle and several artillery duels fought between the Americans and German defenders, the film focuses on the heroism and human cost in gaining a bridgehead across the Rhine before the Allies’ final advance into Germany.

The trailer for the film

The supporting feature was YOUNG BILLY YOUNG a 1969 Color Western starring Robert Mitchum and featuring Angie Dickinson, Robert Walker Jr. (in the title role), David Carradine, Jack Kelly (who plays a villain), Deana Martin and Paul Fix. Released by United Artists the film was written by Heck Allen (from his novel) and Burt Kennedy, and directed by Kennedy.

12th October – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO AUNT ALICE?

On the screen – for six days – (Not Weds 15th) – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO AUNT ALICE? – is a 1969 American thriller film directed by Lee H. Katzin with Bernard Girard (uncredited), and starring Geraldine Page, Ruth Gordon, Rosemary Forsyth, Robert Fuller and Mildred Dunnock. The screenplay by Theodore Apstein, based on the novel The Forbidden Garden by Ursula Curtiss, focuses on an aging Arizona widow who hires elderly female housekeepers and cons them out of their money before murdering them. The music score was by Gerald Fried and the cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc. The film was funded by American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Palomar Pictures Corporation, and The Associates & Aldrich Company, and distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation.

The trailer for Whatever Happened To Aunt Alice

There was a full supporting programme

15th October – RICHARD III

On the screen – for ONE day only – RICHARD III – separate performances – a classic 1955 British Technicolor film from London Films, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s historical play of the same name, also incorporating elements from his Henry VI, Part 3. It was directed and produced by Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role. Featuring many noted Shakespearean actors, including a quartet of actors who later became knights, the film depicts Richard plotting and conspiring to grasp the throne from his brother King Edward IV, played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. In the process, many are killed and betrayed, with Richard’s evil leading to his own downfall. The prologue of the film states that history without its legends would be “a dry matter indeed”, implicitly admitting to the artistic licence that Shakespeare applied to the events of the time.

View the trailer

Of the three Shakespearean films directed by Olivier, Richard III received the least critical praise at the time, although it was still acclaimed. It was the only one not to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, though Olivier’s acting performance was nominated. The film gained popularity in the US through a 1966 re-release, which broke box office records in many US cities. Many critics now consider Olivier’s Richard III his best screen adaptation of Shakespeare. The British Film Institute has pointed out that, given the enormous TV audience it received when shown in the United States on NBC, Sunday afternoon, March 11, 1956, the film “may have done more to popularise Shakespeare than any other single work”.

19th October – CLOSED

20th October – THE KING & I

On the stage – for six days – THE KING & I – It had been 12 months since the Southampton Musical Society last appeared on the stage at the Gaumont when they produced Song Of Norway. The main factor of eliminating one show was the increasing costs of production and in particular the royalties needing to be paid. The Society recognised that without the support of the Rank Organisation and their staff the economics of putting on a large scale production such as The King & I would not be possible. Having the opportunity to stage the show in the South’s largest theatre enabled the company to perform in front of the largest possible audience, maximising ticket sales and revenue.

26th October – 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA

On the screen – for seven days – 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA – a major re-issue of the 1954 American Technicolor adventure film and the first science fiction film shot in CinemaScope. The film was personally produced by Walt Disney through Walt Disney Productions, directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre. The film is adapted from Jules Verne’s 19th-century novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It is considered an early precursor of the steampunk genre. At the time the film was the most expensive Hollywood movie ever made.

Watch the trailer

Supporting the main film was an animated short feature from Walt Disney, WINNIE THE POOH AND THE BLUSTERY DAY which won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The Academy Award was awarded posthumously to Walt Disney, who died of lung cancer two years before the film’s initial release.

2nd November – THE UNDEFEATED

On the screen – for seven days – THE UNDEFEATED – is a 20th Century Fox 1969 American Western and Civil War era film directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and John Wayne (uncredited) and starring John Wayne and Rock Hudson. The film portrays events surrounding the French Imperial intervention in Mexico during the 1860s period of the neighbouring American Civil War with the Archduke Maximillian of Austria set up as Emperor in Mexico in 1863 by French Emperor Napoleon III and is also loosely based on Confederate States Army General Joseph Orville Shelby’s factual escape to Mexico after the American Civil War (1861-1865). and his attempt to join with Maximilian’s Imperial Mexican forces supported by French Imperial regiments sent by Emperor Napoleon III from Europe.

Watch the trailer

THE TAKING MOOD, a rod and rally race is the angle for this 1969 light comedy from New Zealand. Legendary angler ‘Maggots’ McClure lures “glamour boy” lawyer and fishing novice Applejoy (Peter Vere-Jones) into a contest to catch three trophy fish in Russell, Taupō, and Waitaki. The old dunga versus Alvis ‘Speed 20’, north versus south duel transfixes the nation; snags, shags and scenic diversion ensue. Directed by noted UK documentary maker Derek Williams, the caper was made with NFU help and funded by energy company BP. It showed with Gregory Peck western The Stalking Moon in New Zealand theatres.

9th November – DOPPELGANGER

On the screen – for seven days – DOPPELGANGER – a 1969 British science-fiction film released by Rank and directed by Robert Parrish and starring Roy Thinnes, Ian Hendry, Lynn Loring and Patrick Wymark. Outside Europe, it is known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, which is now the more popular title. In the film, a joint European-NASA mission to investigate a planet in a position parallel to Earth, behind the Sun, ends in disaster with the death of one of the astronauts (Hendry). His colleague (Thinnes) discovers that the planet is a mirror image of Earth. The first major live-action film of Century 21 writer-producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson— noted for Thunderbirds and other 1960s “Supermarionation” puppet television series—Doppelgänger was shot from July to October 1968, using Pinewood Studios as the principal production base. Parrish also filmed on location in both England and Portugal. The professional relationship between the Andersons and their director became strained as the shooting progressed, while creative disagreements with cinematographer John Read resulted in his resignation from Century 21. Actors and props from Doppelgänger would re-appear in a later Anderson TV series, UFO. Although the Andersons incorporated adult themes into their script in an effort to distinguish the film from their children’s TV productions, cuts to adult-oriented content—in this case a shot of a pack of contraceptive pills—were required in order to permit an A and, later, PG certificate from the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC).

Doppelgänger premiered in August 1969 in the United States, and October of that year in the United Kingdom. Although the film in general has been praised for the quality of its special effects and set design, the plot device of the parallel Earth has attracted criticism, with some commentators judging it to be clichéd and uninspired in comparison to the precedent established by earlier science fiction. In addition, although Doppelgänger has frequently been interpreted as a pastiche of major science-fiction films of the 1960s, including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), some of the devices and imagery used have been dismissed as weak imitations of the originals. Since release, it has been termed a cult film.

The trailer for the fim under it’s USA title – Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun

Making up a double bill was Universal’s DEATH OF A GUNFIGHTER a 1969 Western film. Directed by Don Siegel, it stars Richard Widmark and Lena Horne, and features an original score by Oliver Nelson. The theme of the film is the “passing” of the West, the clash between a traditional character and the politics and demands of modern society.

16th November – THE VIRGIN SOLDIERS

On the screen – for seven days – THE VIRGIN SOLDIERS – is a 1969 Columbia Pictures British war comedy-drama film directed by John Dexter and starring Lynn Redgrave, Hywel Bennett, Nigel Davenport, Nigel Patrick and Rachel Kempson. It is set in 1950, during the Malayan Emergency, and is based on the novel of the same name by Leslie Thomas. It tells of the exploits of Private Brigg (Bennett) a National Serviceman sent to Singapore during the Malayan Emergency along with a squad of naive new recruits. There he falls for Phillipa Raskin (Redgrave), the daughter of the Regimental Sergeant Major (Patrick).

See the trailer

Support was the feature THUNDER AT THE BORDER a 1966 co-production between West Germany and Yugoslavia, as part of a series of Karl May adaptations made during the decade. It was not a box-office success and was released by Bavaria Film in Germany, and by its parent company Columbia Pictures in other territories.

23rd November – THE MAD ROOM

On the screen – for seven days – THE MAD ROOM – is a 1969 American horror drama film directed by Bernard Girard from Columbia Pictures. It starred Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters, Skip Ward, Carole Cole, Severn Darden, Beverly Garland, Michael Burns, and Barbara Sammeth. It is a loose remake of the 1941 film Ladies in Retirement, itself adapted from a 1940 play of the same title written by Reginald Denham and Edward Percy and tells the story of Ellen Hardy who works as a live-in assistant to wealthy widow Mrs. Armstrongg. She gets a call from the mental institution where her younger brother George and sister Mandy have been living since they were accused of killing their parents when they were six and four years old. George is turning 18, and rather than send him and Mandy to an adult facility, Ellen takes them back to live with her in Mrs. Armstrong’s large house. Afraid of what their reception would be if the others knew the truth, Ellen conceals their dangerous history. One night Mrs. Armstrong discovers Mandy in her study, and confronts Ellen about her mounting suspicion that they are keeping something from her. The following morning, Ellen screams when she discovers Mrs. Armstrong dead in the “study”.

A short excerpt from The Mad Room

The programme was completed by the Columbia Picture LAND RAIDERS, an American Technicolor Western directed by Nathan Juran. It stars Telly Savalas, George Maharis, Arlene Dahl and Janet Landgard and was filmed in Spain and Hungary.

30th November – CROSSPLOT

On the screen – for six days (Not Weds 3rd Dec) – CROSSPLOT – a 1969 United Artists British film starring Roger Moore. Belgian actress Claudie Lange was also featured in her largest English-speaking role. Bernard Lee, famous for his role as M in the James Bond films, also appeared. The film is not particularly well regarded by critics. One suggested that the film quickly became “tedious” in spite of the numerous action sequences, and the plot was far too “convoluted” and “confusing”. [2] Another critic called it “dull”, “unsuccessfully trying to emulate the feel of a Bond film”[3] and it was also compared to feeling like an extended episode of The Saint. It is now seen largely as a dry-run for the Bond role Roger Moore would take on four years later.

The trailer for Crossplot

In support United Artists paired A PROFESSIONAL GUN, a 1968 Italian, Zapata Western film (originally titled THE MERCENARY), directed by Sergio Corbucci. The film stars Franco Nero, Jack Palance, Tony Musante, Eduardo Fajardo and Giovanna Ralli, and features a musical score by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai.

On the morning of the 2nd December at 10.30, a sponsored cookery and tastings show entitled “Housewive’s Shop In” was held for a couple of hours, ensuring that the theatre was cleared ahead of the regular film programme.

3rd December – OKLAHOMA!

On the screen – for one day only – OKLAHOMA! – Separate Performances – A revival of OKLAHOMA! a 1955 American musical film based on the 1943 musical of the same name by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, starring Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones (in her film debut), Rod Steiger, Charlotte Greenwood, Gloria Grahame, Gene Nelson, James Whitmore, and Eddie Albert. The production was the only musical directed by Fred Zinnemann. This was the version filmed in CinemaScope 35mm.

See the trailer

7th December – CHE!

On the screen – for seven days (Not Saturday Night ) – CHE! – is a 20th Century Fox, 1969 American biographical film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Omar Sharif as Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. It follows Guevara from when he first landed in Cuba in 1956 to his death in Bolivia in 1967.

Director Richard Fleischer stated “An enormous amount of pressure has been brought to bear on this film – both for and against the subject. Each group is afraid we’re going to favor the other. The picture will be a character study, and I will only say that it is neither pro nor anti Guevera. The printing of his diary caused only minor changes to the picture… I consider our sources for information impeccable and I cannot tell you who they are.” “We are doing purely the story Che, the person, not the movement,” said producer Sy Bartlett. “We want to show what happened with the people who touched his life.” Filming was in Puerto Rico. The island was chosen because South America was considered too politically unstable.

The original trailer

Support was the French film GENDARME IN NEW YORK the sequel to the French comedy film Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez. It stars Louis de Funès as the gendarme. With Michel Galabru, Christian Marin, Grosso and Modo, Alan Scott.

13th December – THE MOODY BLUES

Live – evening only (film matinee) – THE MOODY BLUES – an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1964, initially consisting of keyboardist Mike Pinder, multi-instrumentalist Ray Thomas, guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick. The group came to prominence playing rhythm and blues music. They made some changes in musicians but settled on a line-up of Pinder, Thomas, Edge, guitarist Justin Hayward, and bassist John Lodge, who stayed together for most of the band’s “classic era”.

Although the band had performed in Southampton bedore (notably at a King Edwards School dance in 1964) this was their first performance at the Gaumont and it was on the back of the success of their two most recent albums “ On the Threshold of a Dream” and “To Our Children’s Children’s Children”. This was the first of their albums to be released on their own label. The song “Watching and Waiting” was issued as a single on the Threshold label, but failed to chart.

The Moody Blues in 1969

There were two supports, TRAPEZE, an English rock band from Cannock, Staffordshire. Formed in 1969, the band originally featured former The Montanas members John Jones (trumpet, vocals) and Terry Rowley (keyboards), and former Finders Keepers members Glenn Hughes (bass, vocals, piano), Mel Galley (guitar, vocals) and Dave Holland (drums). The other was TYMON DOGG who moved to London at 17, signed to Pye Records (under the name Timon) and recorded a single, “The Bitter Thoughts of Little Jane” featuring then-session musicians Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. Moving to Apple Records, Dogg recorded tracks produced by Peter Asher featuring Paul McCartney on piano and James Taylor on guitar. Dogg then, after this tour with The Moody Blues worked closely with Justin Hayward to produce many tracks,

14th December – THE GOOD GUYS AND THE BAD GUYS

On the screen – for seven days -THE GOOD GUYS AND THE BAD GUYS – A double bill of films that were released on the ABC circuit and unusually playing the Gaumont. THE GOOD GUYS AND THE BAD GUYS is a 1969 American western film directed by Burt Kennedy from Warner Brothers. It stars Robert Mitchum, George Kennedy and Martin BalsamAn aging lawman and an aging outlaw join forces when their respective positions in society are usurped by a younger, but incompetent, Marshal, and a younger, but vicious, gang leader.

A scene from the film

The double bill was shared with THE VALLEY OF THE GWANGI – is a 1969 American western fantasy film, produced by Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen, directed by Jim O’Connolly, written by William Bast from Warner Brothers and starring James Franciscus, Richard Carlson, and Gila Golan. Creature stop-motion effects were by Harryhausen, the last dinosaur-themed film that he animated. He had inherited the film project from his mentor Willis O’Brien, responsible for the effects in the original King Kong (1933). O’Brien had planned to make The Valley of Gwangi decades earlier but died in 1962 before it could be realised.

21st December – GENTLE ACT OF SEDUCTION

on the screen – for one day – GENTLE ACT OF SEDUCTION – a French- Italian comedy film orignally called ‘La chasse à l’homme’ and released in 1964, directed by Édouard Molinaro and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo. Released in the US under the title Male Hunt.

A scene from the film

Making up the double bill was another retitled european film GIRLS IN THE SHADOWS.

22nd December – ALICE IN WONDERLAND

on the screen – for FIVE days – ALICE IN WONDERLAND – A seasonal re-issue of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, a 1951 American animated musical fantasy-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the Alice books by Lewis Carroll. The film features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont as Alice, Sterling Holloway as the Cheshire Cat, Verna Felton as the Queen of Hearts, and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter.

Walt Disney first attempted unsuccessfully to adapt Alice into an animated feature film during the 1930s, and he revived the idea in the 1940s. The film was originally intended to be a live-action/animated film; however, Disney decided to make it an all-animated feature in 1946. The film was considered a flop on its initial release, leading to Walt Disney showing it on television as one of the first episodes of his TV series Disneyland. It proved to be very successful on television, especially during the psychedelic era. It was eventually re-released in theaters which proved to be massively successful. The film became even more successful through merchandising and subsequent home video releases. The theme song of the same name has since become a jazz standard. While the film was critically panned on its initial release, it has since been regarded as one of Disney’s greatest animated classics, notably one of the biggest cult classics in the animation medium, as well as one of the best film adaptations of Alice.

The original trailer

Providing support was RASCAL a 1969 American comedy-drama film made by Walt Disney Productions, based on the book of the same name by Sterling North, about a young man and his pet raccoon set in rural Wisconsin.

28th December – CARRY ON AGAIN, DOCTOR

On the screen – for TWO weeks – CARRY ON AGAIN DOCTOR – was the eighteenth in the series of Carry On films to be made. It was the third to feature a medical theme. The Rank film featured series regulars Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor and Hattie Jacques. Dr Nookey (Jim Dale) is disgraced and sent to a remote island hospital. He is given a secret slimming potion by a member of staff, Gladstone Screwer, and he flies back to England to fame and fortune. But others want to cash in on his good fortunes, and some just want him brought down a peg or two.

The original script for Carry On Again Doctor raised problems with Rank’s legal adviser, who felt it was too similar to an unfilmed ‘Doctor’ script that Talbot Rothwell, writer of Carry On Again Doctor, had previously submitted to producer Betty Box. Most notably, both scenarios featured the medical mission/slimming potion idea. As Box had not taken up the option on Rothwell’s ‘Doctor’ script, however, it was felt there were no legal problems with the use of those ideas in this film.

A scene from the film

Completing the programme was DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE TRAVELLING SALESLADY? a 1968 American comedy film from Universal, directed by Don Weis and written by John Fenton Murray. The film stars Phyllis Diller, Bob Denver, Joe Flynn, Eileen Wesson, Jeanette Nolan, Paul Reed, Bob Hastings and David Hartman.

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