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Crook's Tour (1940)
A Classic that should be on Video
6 June 2001
After the Lady Vanishes (1938) Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne reprised

their roles as the cricket mad rather inept upper class Englishmen Charters and Caldicott. They bumble through Europe their stiff accents and manners getting themselves into trouble and rubbing people up the wrong way. They are on a

Railway Station and they stop to show respect to the Ruritanian states national anthem. They stand rigid to all 23 verses which no one else takes any notice of and miss the train. They set out to conquor a mountain and they get covered in muck have all sorts of accidents but eventually the British bulldog comes out and they get there. Turning the corner at the summit they find a road and they follow it until they come to a sign. Getting out the phrase book it is deciphered as Bus Stop and just then it draws up. The road went up the other side of the mountain. Hilarious if only to look at Charters and Caldicott's deadpan

expressions. Charters and Caldicott reprised the roles twice more in the Night Train to Munich which returns to spies and Millions like us a wartime morale

boosting film.
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weak sentimental story panned by critics
3 March 2001
BBC radio actor Donald Gray was selected to play one of the leads as a Pilot Officer and the story was manipulated around the actor only having one arm having lost it in combat in the War. The story concerned Linda Darnell playing a Canadian Nurse to Tab Hunter playing a US Marine who are stranded during wartime on a Desert Island. A romance develops between the two until Gray is shot down over the Island and Darnell uses her nursing skills to save him. A triangle developes there is a film fight described by Director Henry Hathaway " he intended to make cinema history by staging the toughest and most earthy battle between two love struck beasts for a woman that had ever been filmed.

Hunter and Gray took all day to rehearse clout by clout and fall by fall. It came out very hammy with both actors bruised. It was most unlikely a 19 year old ex Life Guard losing to a 37 year old Gray supposedly recently having had his arm amputated. In the end Darnell chooses Gray but only thing about film described as any good was Darnell appearing sultry dressed in rags revealing more flesh than the censor would then have considered decent. The filming set in Jamaica won prizes and Gray's acting was praised. Otherwise it was a flop but did raise money for limbless ex servicemans association. Gray commented that cast were in a 5 star hotel with all expenses paid with warm twilights soft calypso music and the unbelievable beauty of caribbean beaches. Palms waved, frogs whistled and dressing for dinner in a white tuxedo. Gray was rather sad when weather broke and film completed in Elstree Studios. Gray went on to become a Newsreader and then Mark Saber whereas Darnell and Hunter made a name for themselves in Westerns. Unfortunately film shot in technicolour is now sadly not available on video but though dire outdoor locations were breathtaking.
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Paramount Beauties on Parade
22 February 2001
Film shot at Sherwood lake 35 miles from hollywood and in the tank where Paramount had replicated a swamp within the studio. A troop of marines lead by Richard Arlen is sent to rescue a group of ship wrecked girls lead by Ida Lupino. This being Hollywood the men were pictured in wet muddy clothes but the girls consisted of a beauty chorus all elegantly dressed and beautifully coiffeured. To lend authenticity the jungle battle scenes used real machine guns with live ammunition. The extras were provided by a large number of distinguished veteran marines under command of Major William McIvian. Handling the guns was gunnery sergeant George Daley and each marine had to have at least one citation for bravery. Shooting was held up on first day waiting for a stuntman. After finding out how much stuntmen got paid one of the featured players Harry Tenbrook volunteered making a perfect fall. He admitted afterwards to Director Henry Hathaway he had never done that before. Recently employed South African Bit player Eldred Tidbury showed skill in shooting so impressing Daley to suggest a military career. Hathaway thought girls a little too glamerous and ordered them to wander through mud and snag their dresses. To obtain speed Hathaway employed two film crews so their were no delays in between takes. The principal Roscoe Karns was known as a practical joker leaving a bedouin head in Eldred Tidbury's bed. One of the players got his revenge by spiking Karns dinner with laxative. A good effort but could have been better with only moderate return at box office.
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The Vise (1954–1961)
An Oddity that was so successful
1 October 2000
The Vise was produced by Danziger who rented space from other studios mainly Nettlefold at Walton-on-Thames. They bid for Beaconsfield Studios and tried to lease Twickenham but they opened their own film studios in 1956 situated in an old Aircraft testing station at Elstree and was named the New Elstree Studios. Its life was short opening in 1954 but closing less than ten years later in 1961. The new studios had six stages and employed 200 technicians including Terance Nelhams who left to become the singer Adam Faith. Brian Clemens of later Avengers fame was Chief Scriptwriter and Directors David Macdonald, Max Varnel Godfrey Grayson and Ernest Morris were responsible for Danzigers TV and Film output. The second feature market was pretty buoyant and these cost between £15,000 and 17,500 to make but few won them acclaim other than Tell Tale Heart Directed by Ernest morris starring Laurence Payne produced in 1961.

The two Danziger brothers had come to England from America in 1952. Edward had studied law and was involved with the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal whereas Harry Lee had played Trumpet in a Band. They were known as the experts at producing cheap films using same outdoor scenes and music cut from episode to episode. They contracted actors at a weekly fee together with another fee for World rights forever. The Vise comprised of 65 thirty minute films shown in United Kingdom as Mark saber. There was a follow up series Detectives Diary or Saber of London in the United Kingdom of 91 thirty minute films. The Vise was made at Nettlefold but Saber of London at New Elstree but by 1958 Danziger had made in all 156 episodes all with Donald Gray in title role. Public took to gallant Saber who always got his man he epitomised the British bull dog spirit. The standard of acting was described as poor but Gray saved some very poor scripts.

The series went out on NBC first and appeared on Associated Redifusion TV (LONDON) between 1957 and 1962 after the BBC monopoly had been broken much to the consternation of Lord Reith the Corporation's first Director General. In four years Saber went through five assistants : Barney O'Keefe played by Michael Balfour, Pete Paulson played by Canadian Neil Macallum, Bob Page layed by Robert Arden, Larry Nelson played by Gordon Tanner and Eddie Welles played by Gary Thorne. His secretary Stevie was played by singer Diane Decker but she was replaced by Judy played by Theresa Thorne until episode 65 but thereafter Saber had the very occasional love interest of Ann Somers played by Jennifer Jayne. When Donald Gray went to America in 1957 he was met by cheering crowds but they were disappointed when he signed his name as Donald Gray rather than Mark Saber. In a visit to Harlaam Gray was tackled on street by a plump Black lady who asked if he had come to sort out the crime. People blended reality with fantasy but unfortunately Donald Gray was badly typecast very rarely working after the series ended though he was the voice of Colonel White in the puppet series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.
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