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This long-lost series has been remastered and restored, and is
currently being shown on the Fox Movie Channel under the new title "Hour of
Stars". It is a fascinating curio made up of one-hour condensations of 20th
Century-Fox's biggest hit films, with entirely different casts. (There are
unproduced scripts featured on this series as well.) The scripts,
photography, and camera angles on these hour-long shows are virtually
identical to those in the films they are based on. Although this is part of
what makes this series so fascinating, and although it raises the level of
writing and photography far above that in the average TV series, this is
unfortunately where the resemblance ends, at least judging from the episode
I caught last night.
The episode was entitled "Operation Cicero", and was adapted from the hit 1952 spy film "5 Fingers". It had one advantage over the original in that the main supporting role of Moisewitch, Cicero's contact man, was played by none other than Peter Lorre, who naturally walked away with the acting honors. But the episode was compromised by the fatal miscasting of Ricardo Montalban (of all people) in the role of Diello, the traitorous valet played so memorably in the film by James Mason. Montalban may be a great Khan in "Star Trek", but he is the last person one would ever imagine playing a dryly cynical spy who is willing to betray the Allied cause in WWII just for money and his own amusement. He brings almost none of the nuances that Mason brought to his portrayal.
The other actors in this episode are not miscast, but strictly unmemorable in comparison to those in "5 Fingers". The only other actor who can stand comparison with his movie counterpart is Alan Napier (Alfred the butler in TV's "Batman"), who plays Travers, the British intelligence agent played in "5 Fingers" by Michael Rennie.
There will be more episodes in this series, and they will certainly be of interest as early TV artifacts, but if you expect the same experience that you had in seeing the original films they are based on, you might be disappointed. The impression this series gives is similar to that of watching a touring company of a Broadway show when you have already seen the original Broadway production.
This is a good show from the 1950's. It is currently (2003) airing as the Fox Hour of Stars with Robert Wagner as a host. Some of the shows are remakes, such as Laura, Cavalcade, Miracle on 34th St., etc. They are very well done, not as great as the originals perhaps, because they are only about 47 minutes long. But they are well cast with many big name actors (Teresa Wright, Joan Fontaine, Michael Wilding, Merle Oberon, Thelma Ritter, Joanne Woodward, Robert Preston). Some of the stories are also original stories, such as Child of the Regiment, a very good story about racism. These aired in some cinemas in America and England at the time and cast a lot of actors (like Woodward and Wagner) in them who were under contract to 20th Century Fox at the time. They are basically like little movies and it is fun to see different casts get to try the roles. For example, Thomas Mitchell is equally as wonderful as Kris Kringle as Edmund Gwenn was in the film of Miracle on 34th Street. All in all, a very good show and fun to see these actors in different roles that are basically shorter movies.
I love this show. Robert Wagner starts the show off as the host. He mentions that these TV shows were made to combat TV back in the 50's. And instead of going to the movies, the movies came to us at home. These are remakes of very famous movies such as Laura, Miracle at 34th St, All My Sons, the Ox Bow Incident. Some IMO are better then the movies because they are not as long as the originals. The remake of Laura was on par with the original because of its length. Laura was a movie which was very good but it only really needed 45 minutes to tell. Even though no one can replace Clifton Webb, it was still very good. Same with the Last Patriach, which is a remake of Broken Lance and All My Sons. John Cassavettes played the angry young son who served 5 years n prison only to have his 2 brothers turn on him when he comes home. No one can play the angry young man like him, no one. Also the remake was 47 minute, all I think was needed to tell this much duplicated story. Take a look at this show. You see a lot of future big names doing some of them. Or a lot of older established actors. The sets are not as lavish as the original movies and the shows are at the most 50 minutes longs. But in this case less is better
I cant seem to find this block anywhere on my Tivo schedule to
record... but Id really like to find "End Of A Gun" starring Richard
Conte - the Peckinpah directed remake of The Gunfighter (1950) with
Gregory Peck. It's a terrific episode that I'd like to record, but my
TV isn't bringing up any results for this series and I don't see it
listed on Fox Movie Channel's website either... has it been dropped or
something? If not, could somebody please post a schedule with upcoming
air dates and times?
This made-for-TV episode on the "Fox Hour of Stars" (re-telecast August
2005) is a shot-for-shot, word-for-word retelling of the fox film
classic, "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."
In Gene Tierney's place as Mrs. Muir is Joan Fontaine, giving a heartfelt performance. As the ghost sea captain is Michael Wilding, "replacing" Rex Harrison. As Mrs. Muir's bogus suitor, Tom Conway is cast--in the same role previously played by his brother, George Sanders. (And I must say the resemblance between the two brothers is at times uncanny). Elsa Lancaster is the trusting maid.
This is an excellent hour-long adaptation, with strong production values and fine acting. In fact, it is remarkably successful, rivaling the high standards set by the film.
Interestingly, no mention is made in the credits of the source material, as though the intent is to evade acknowledging the original. Whatever the case, this episode is an outstanding adaptation of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."
instead of showing these 47 minute tv remakes again and again. it is nice that they restored them, and they seem very proud of them, but the original films most of them are based on have better casts, are twice as long, and some of them are never shown at all on the fox movie channel, like christopher bean (1933) with lionel barrymore and at least 2 members of the broadway cast (george coulouris + beulah bondi), while the hour of stars remake is in heavy rotation lately. same situation with the late george apley with ronald colman and its hour of stars remake, and i'm sure several other cases as well.
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