continuing until 10th January – CARRY ON AGAIN DOCTOR
13th January – PETER PAN
On the stage – for five days – PETER PAN – Hayley Mills made her stage debut in this production of Peter Pan back in 1966 and for the Christmas season of 1969 she was coaxed back to lead the production again at London’s New Victoria (Apollo Victoria) and on its limited provincial dates. Hayley Mills started out as a young film star and in 1960 was the last recipient of the Oscar for Juvenile Lead. This time she was paired with Bill Travers as Captain Hook and Mr. Darling. Travers was a hugely successful British and international film star, whose most famous film role came when he played game warden George Adamson in the highly successful 1966 film Born Free.
This annual production raised huge sums of money for The Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. The original stage production of Peter Pan took place at the Duke of York Theatre, London, on 27 December 1904, it starred Gerald du Maurier as Captain Hook (doubling up as Mr Darling), and Nina Boucicault as Peter.
18th January – MIDNIGHT COWBOY
On the screen – for seven days – MIDNIGHT COWBOY – is a 1969 United Artists, American buddy drama film. Based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy, the film was written by Waldo Salt, directed by Briton, John Schlesinger, and starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, with notable smaller roles being filled by Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Salt, and Barnard Hughes. Set in New York City, Midnight Cowboy depicts the unlikely friendship between two hustlers: naive prostitute Joe Buck (Voight), and ailing con man “Ratso” Rizzo (Hoffman).
At the 42nd Academy Awards, the film won three awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Midnight Cowboy was the only X-rated film ever to win Best Picture. It has since been placed 36th on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American films of all time, and 43rd on its 2007 updated version. In 1994, Midnight Cowboy was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
The supporting feature was INSPECTOR CLOUSSEAU a 1968 British comedy film. It was directed by Bud Yorkin, written by Frank Waldman and Tom Waldman and stars Alan Arkin as Inspector Clouseau. It was filmed by Mirisch Films at the MGM-British Studios, Borehamwood and in Europe and it was released by United Artists. Screenwriter Frank Waldman would later co-write The Return of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Revenge of the Pink Panther, and Trail of the Pink Panther. Tom Waldman would co-write Trail with Frank. The film’s failure was down to the fact that it was not directed by Blake Edwards, did not have a score by Henry Mancini and the title role was not portrayed by Peter Sellers. All three were involved at that time with the film The Party. The Mirisch Company wanted to proceed with this film, so when Sellers and Edwards declined to participate, Mirisch decided to proceed without them. The film languished in obscurity and was not included in 2004’s Pink Panther Collection but was later added to the Ultimate collection released in 2008.
25th January – THE LOOKING GLASS WAR
On the screen – for seven days – THE LOOKING GLASS WAR – a 1969 British film released by Columbia Pictures directed by Frank Pierson based on the 1965 novel by John le Carré and stars Christopher Jones, Ralph Richardson, Anthony Hopkins, Susan George, Anna Massey and Timothy West. Polish defector Leiser (Christopher Jones) is offered a chance at UK citizenship by MI6 – but only if he agrees to undertake a highly dangerous espionage mission behind the “iron curtain” in East Germany. Leiser’s role is to replace an MI6 agent who has already been murdered, and gather photographic intelligence on a covert East German rocket system – in violation of international agreements. However, the mission goes wrong from the start when, shortly after arriving in East Germany, Leiser is forced to kill a young East German guard, and later murders a lorry driver who makes homosexual advances. Leiser’s objective is further undermined when he falls in love with an East German woman looking for a way out of the country.
The support feature was RAMPAGE AT APACHE WELLS, a 1965 West German-Yugoslav western film directed by Harald Philipp and starring Stewart Granger, Pierre Brice and Harald Leipnitz. The screenplay is based on a novel by Karl May and was one of a series of film adaptations of his work made by Rialto Film. The film was shot at the Spandau Studios in Berlin and on location in Yugoslavia. The film’s sets were designed by the art director Dusan Jericevic.
1st February – TOPAZ
On the screen – for SIX days (not Thurs 5th) – TOPAZ – a 1969 American espionage thriller film from Universal, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Based on the 1967 Cold War novel Topaz by Leon Uris, the film is about a French intelligence agent who becomes entangled in the Cold War politics of the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and later the breakup of an international Soviet spy ring in France. The story is closely based on the 1962 Sapphire Affair, which involved the head of French Intelligence SDECE in the United States, and spy Philippe Thyraud de Vosjoli—a friend of Leon Uris—who played an important role in “helping the U.S. discover the presence of Russian offensive missiles in Cuba”. The film stars Frederick Stafford, Dany Robin, John Vernon, Karin Dor, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret, Claude Jade, Michel Subor and John Forsythe.
Like his previous films Rope and The Trouble with Harry, Hitchcock intended the film to be an experiment for whether colours, predominantly red, yellow and white, could be used to reveal and influence the plot. He later admitted that this did not work out. The original cut of the film ended with a duel between André and Jacques in a French football stadium, shot by associate producer Herbert Coleman when Hitchcock had to return to the U.S. for a family emergency. This ending was panned by audiences during test screenings, who also said the film was far too long. Under pressure from the studio, Hitchcock shot a second ending he actually liked better, with Jacques escaping on an Aeroflot flight to the Soviet Union as André and Nicole board their adjacent Pan Am flight back to the United States. However, this ending apparently confused audiences. Additionally, screenwriter Samuel Taylor objected to the villain escaping unpunished, and there were fears that this ending would offend the French government. As a compromise, Hitchcock used existing footage to create a third ending: Granville is exposed and expelled from a NATO meeting, and over a shot of the exterior of his apartment, the sound of a gunshot tells us he commits suicide behind his drawn curtains (since no footage of his doing so existed). The film was released with this third ending, and also edited down by nearly 20 minutes, to a final length of 127 minutes. The “airport ending” briefly appeared on UK prints of the film, by mistake, but those prints were soon altered to match the version released elsewhere.
In support was STORY OF A WOMAN, an Italian-American co-production released by Universal, starring Bibi Andersson, Robert Stack and James Farentino.
5th February – WISHBONE ASH
Live – one night only – WISHBONE ASH – are a British rock band, formed in Torquay, Devon, in 1969, out of the ashes of trio The Empty Vessels (originally known as The Torinoes, later briefly being renamed Tanglewood in 1969), which had been formed by Wishbone Ash’s founding member Martin Turner (bass & vocals) in 1963 and complemented by Steve Upton (drums and percussion) in 1966. The original Wishbone Ash line-up was completed by guitarists/vocalists Andy Powell and Ted Turner.
This early date in 1970 preceded the release of the band’s first album “Wishbone Ash” which wouldn’t be released until December. It was one of their first large gigs and was considered a warm up for an upcoming tour supporting Deep Purple.
8th February – THE GRADUATE
On the screen – for six days – (not Tues 10th) – THE GRADUATE – The return of THE GRADUATE, a 1967 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols and written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. The film tells the story of 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). It won the Academy Award for Best Director and was nominated in six other categories.
It was paired with another re-issue, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR a 1968 American heist film directed and produced by Norman Jewison and starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning Best Original Song for Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills of Your Mind”. Both pictures were from the United Artists stable.
10th February – SOUL TOGETHER
LIVE – one night only – SOUL TOGETHER – GAUMONT – This was an extensive UK tour involving some of soul music’s biggest names led by SAM & DAVE, an American soul and R&B duo who had been performing together from 1961. The tenor (higher) voice was Sam Moore (born 1935) and the baritone/tenor (lower) voice was Dave Prater (1937–1988). Among their hits were ‘Soul Man’ and ‘Hold On I’m Coming’. Also on the bill was JOE TEX who gained success in the 1960s and 1970s with his brand of Southern soul, which mixed the styles of funk, country, gospel, and rhythm and blues; ARTHUR CONLEY a U.S. soul singer, best known for the 1967 hit “Sweet Soul Music” and CLARENCE CARTER another American blues and soul singer, musician, songwriter and record producer. His most successful songs include “Slip Away”,”Back Door Santa”, “Too Weak to Fight” and”Patches”,
15th February – DAVID COPPERFIELD
On the screen – for seven days – DAVID COPPERFIELD – is a 1969 British American international co-production film directed by Delbert Mann based on the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens adapted by Jack Pulman. The film was made in the UK for 20th Century Fox to be shown on tv in the USA and released theatrically elsewhere. Some exteriors were filmed in Suffolk with interior scenes filmed at The Swan Hotel in Southwold. The film starred Robin Phillips in the title role and Ralph Richardson as Micawber. Among other well-known actors featured were Richard Attenborough, Laurence Olivier, Susan Hampshire, Cyril Cusack, Wendy Hiller, Edith Evans, Michael Redgrave and Ron Moody. The score was the last Malcolm Arnold wrote for a film.
Watch the movie in its entirety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMGYwnWXbY8
There was a full supporting programme.
22nd February – TWINKY
On the screen – for seven days – TWINKY – GAUMONT –
TWINKY – (released as Lola in the USA and also known as London Affair) is a 1969 film directed by Richard Donner and starring Charles Bronson and Susan George. A 38-year-old writer of pornographic novels named Scott (Charles Bronson) meets and falls in love with a sixteen-year-old school girl (Susan George) whilst living in London. When Scott is refused a permanent visa to remain in Britain, the couple get married in Scotland and move to America where by state law Twinky must go to school. Tensions arise when Twinky wants to engage in pastimes, while Scott struggles to complete his novels in order to earn a living. She runs away and is found by Scott in the cellar. Twinky then leaves for London the next day after writing Scott a tearful farewell letter.
The idea and script for the film was written by Norman Thaddeus Vane, which author Simon Richter believes was the key force behind the film. Vane’s script has been suggested to be somewhat autobiographical, as it mirrors the author’s own marriage to 16 year-old model Sarah Caldwell, whom he married in the mid-1960s when he was 38.The title song and two other original numbers are composed and performed by Jim Dale.
The support was DIAMOND RUSH (originally titled La Paria) a French action film from 1969. It was directed by Claude Carliez, written by Claude Rank and starring Jean Marais and Marie-José Nat.
1st March – ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE
On the screen – for THREE weeks – ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE – a 1969 spy film and the sixth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions. It is based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. Following Sean Connery’s decision to retire from the role after You Only Live Twice, Eon Productions selected an unknown actor and model, George Lazenby, to play the part of James Bond. During the making of the film, Lazenby announced that he would play the role of Bond only once. In the film, Bond faces Blofeld (Telly Savalas), who is planning to hold the world ransom by the threat of sterilising the world’s food supply through a group of brainwashed “angels of death”. Along the way Bond meets, falls in love with, and eventually marries Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg).
It is the only Bond film to have been directed by Peter R. Hunt, who had served as a film editor and second unit director on previous films in the series. Hunt, along with producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, decided to produce a more realistic film that would follow the novel closely. It was shot in Switzerland, England, and Portugal from October 1968 to May 1969. Although its cinema release was not as lucrative as its predecessor You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was still one of the top performing films of the year. Critical reviews upon release were mixed, but the film’s reputation has improved greatly over time.
This was the first time that Gaumont had experimented with late shows and for each of the three Saturdays of the film’s run, there was an 11.30pm screening with circle seats bookable.
In support was SCHOONERS OF THE CARIBBEAN an American documentary released by United Artists featuring the tall ships that still sailed the Caribbean.
22nd March – THE RECKONING
On the screen – for SIX days (Not 27th Mar) – THE RECKONING – a 1970 British drama film released by Columbia Pictures directed by Jack Gold and starring Nicol Williamson, Ann Bell, Rachel Roberts and Zena Walker. It features music by Malcolm Arnold. The film is about Michael Marler, a successful business man in London, who is about to make his way to the top. The death of his father brings him – after five years – back to his hometown Liverpool, where he is confronted with his lost Irish roots. He finds out that his father died because of a fight with some anglo-saxon teddy boys. It becomes “a matter of honour” for him, to take his revenge without involving the British police.
In support was MODEL SHOP a 1969 American film by French writer-director Jacques Demy starring Gary Lockwood, Alexandra Hay, and Anouk Aimée, featuring a guest appearance by Spirit who recorded the soundtrack. Demy made Model Shop, which was his first English-language film, following the international success of his film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Aimée reprises the title role from Demy’s 1960 French-language film Lola. Model Shop makes explicit the fact that Demy’s films take place in the same narrative universe. It weaves together the plots of Lola, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Bay of Angels. Catherine Deneuve appears as herself on the cover of a coffee-table magazine in Lola’s apartment.
27th March – THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
On the screen – for one day – at 2.45 and 6.45 – THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD – GAUMONT – Seats at 7/- to 9/-. Filmmaker George Stevens chose Monument Valley, Utah for his exterior sequences in THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, this ($20 million) adaptation of Fulton Oursler’s best-selling book. The “Greatest Story” is, of course, the life of Jesus Christ, played herein by Max Von Sydow. The large supporting cast includes Dorothy McGuire as Mary, Claude Rains as Herod the Great, Jose Ferrer as Herod Antipas, Charlton Heston as John the Baptist, Donald Pleasence as Satan (identified only as “The Dark Hermit”), David McCallum as Judas Iscariot, Sidney Poitier as Simon of Cyrene, Telly Savalas as Pontius Pilate and Martin Landau as Caiaphas. Even Robert Blake as Simon the Zealot, Jamie Farr as Thaddaeus, and motorcyle-flick veteran Richard Bakalyan as Dismas, the repentant thief, are well-suited to their roles. Originally roadshown at 260 minutes, this version ran for 195-minutes.
The trailer for the film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK5Otybh-34
29th March – THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES
On the screen – for seven days – THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES – GAUMONT – a 1969 American comedy film starring Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, Joe Flynn and William Schallert. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions and distributed by Buena Vista Distribution Company. It was one of several films made by Disney using the setting of Medfield College, first used in the 1961 Disney film The Absent-Minded Professor and its sequel Son of Flubber.
Dexter Riley (Kurt Russell) and his friends attend small, private Medfield College, which cannot afford to buy a computer. The students persuade wealthy businessman A.J. Arno (Cesar Romero) to donate an old computer to the college. Arno is the secret head of a large illegal gambling ring, which used the computer for its operations. While installing a replacement part during a thunderstorm, Riley receives an electric shock and becomes a human computer. He now has superhuman mathematical talent, can read and remember the contents of an encyclopedia volume in a few minutes and can speak a language fluently after reading one textbook. His new abilities make Riley a worldwide celebrity and Medfield’s best chance to win a televised quiz tournament with a $100,000 prize.
Riley single-handedly leads Medfield’s team in victories against other colleges. During the tournament, a trigger word causes Riley to unknowingly recite on television details of Arno’s gambling ring. Arno’s henchmen kidnap Riley and plan to kill him, but his friends help him escape. Arno’s home is being painted and in the rescue effort, Riley’s friends put paint in the gas tanks of the henchmen’s cars, causing them not to start, and following a brief chase in his own car, Arno ends up in a pile of hay. During the escape, Riley suffers a concussion which, during the tournament final against rival Springfield State, gradually returns his mental abilities to normal; one of his friends, however, is able to answer the final question (“What is the geographic center of the contiguous United States?”, with the answer “Lebanon, Kansas”). Medfield wins the $100,000 prize. Arno and his henchmen are arrested when they attempt to escape the TV studio and crash head-on into a police car.
In support was Disney’s MY DOG THE THIEF, about an air-traffic reporter who discovers that his partner – a St. Bernard dog – has accidentally stolen a priceless necklace from a jewel-smuggling gang.