Friday, April 3, 2020


Paul Batters at Silver Screen Classics is our host for The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathan on April 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  Day 1  Day 2   Day 3

Jeopardy! early March 2020. Category: Literary Twins

"This alliterative title Dickens character works for the wealthy Cheeryble twins, and his sister Kate marries their nephew."

All three contestants stood silent until the time ran out. My husband laughed at my shock because, after all, Nicholas Nickleby was written a very long time ago and I had better get used to the world moving away from Dickens, with the exception of A Christmas Carol and possibly Oliver Twist. He almost convinced me there was merit to his argument.

Charles Dickens, however, to quote an earlier blog post of mine, "was one of the best idea men of all time." The movies are always going to need ideas, and to get them why not go to the best? Nicholas Nickleby is far from the most prolific example of Dickens screen adaptations, yet this story has been on screen in silent form, in short form, in motion pictures, and various television mini-series.

The Royal Shakespeare Company version of the 1839 novel adapted by David Edgar was a 1980s theatrical phenomenon that saved the fortunes of the Royal Shakespeare Company, won Tony Awards on Broadway and was awarded the BAFTA and Emmy for its television presentation.

The Chichester Festival mounted their production in 2006, with David Edgar trimming two hours off of his original 8-1/2 hour-long production. It is this production we enjoyed live at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre with David Yelland as Ralph Nickleby.

Dickens threw so many ideas into this successful third novel (after serialization) that you would think this was his last kick at the can. The villains are vile to equal the kindness which comes to our hero, and which he bestows on others. The long arm of coincidence reaches out thrillingly. It is a tale in which to lose oneself.

The first feature film of Nicholas Nickleby was released by Ealing Studios in 1947. Brazilian-born Alberto Cavalcanti directed following his well-received films Went the Day Well? and Dead of Night: The Ventriloquist's Dummy. John Dighton (Kind Hearts and CoronetsSaraband) adapted the unwieldy novel for the screen.

Cedric Hardwicke, Derek Bond
Ralph Nickleby, Nicholas Nickleby

Dickens's characters are so vivid that their names become associated with their characteristics. A misstep in casting would be immediately spotted by an audience familiar with the story. There are no such missteps with Michael Balcon's adaptation. Derek Bond was 27 when he played the leading character. Sally Ann Howes was 17 when she played Kate Nickleby. Bernard Miles was the perfect Joe Gargery in Great Expectations for David Lean and the perfect Newman Noggs in our picture.

Who among us wouldn't have cast Stanley Holloway as Vincent Crummles and Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Ralph? James Hayter is both the Cheeryble twins. He would bring Samuel Pickwick to life in the 1952 film The Pickwick Papers, and play Mr. Jessop in Oliver!, 1968.

Bernard Miles as Newman Noggs

From Wackford Squeers to the Mantilinis to the Brays and Miss La Creevy, care was taken that each one familiar with the story would say to themself "that is exactly how I pictured them."

Nicholas, his sister Kate and his recently widowed mother go to London in hopes that their late father's brother, Ralph Nickleby would find himself disposed to help these country relatives. Ralph Nickleby is a mean and miserly man who is annoyed by his grubby relations. He sets the women up in a derelict home he owns in the east end and arranges for Nicholas to be employed in a Yorkshire school for boys.

Dotheboys Hall under the leadership of the revolting Squeers family proves to be a hellhole for youngsters and an endless source of cash for its owners. Nicholas chaffs at the abominable Squeers, ultimately beating the schoolmaster and taking under his wing a poor misused soul called Smike.

Cecil Ramage, Sally Ann Howes, Tim Bateson
Sir Mulberry Hawk, Kate Nickleby, Lord Verispopht

Nicholas renounces any assistance from his odious uncle and strikes out on his own with Smike, as long as Ralph continues to protect his mother and sister. Nicholas's one true friend in London is Newman Noggs. Employed by the hated Ralph, Noggs can be depended upon to keep Nicholas apprised of the truth of his family's situation. Kate is secured work as a seamstress at a fashion house where she is ill-treated due to jealousy. Kate is a pretty girl whom Ralph uses to attract customers to his money lending business.

Stanley Holloway, Aubrey Woods, Derek Bond
Vincent Crummles, Smike, Nicholas Nickleby

Nicholas finds work for himself and Smike in a theatrical troupe of dubious artistic endeavour, but of infinite benevolence and sense of fun. Vincent Crummles embodies in one, the conceit of the artist and the generosity of those who must share to get by.

Aubrey Woods, Derek Bond, Sally Ann Howes, Mary Merrall
Smike, Nicholas, Kate, and Mrs. Nickleby

The Cheeryble brothers mentioned above, are kindly men who take a liking to Nicholas, who returns their generosity with his loyalty and hard work. Nicholas and his hated uncle are brought together in, of all things, a matter of the heart that begins with a debtor named Bray and his lovely daughter Madeleine.

Circumstances and actions will bring happy romance to some, and deaths to others. One will be mourned and one will face a lifetime of vile actions leading to official and spiritual justice.

A mini-series is the best format to give the story its due. Time constraints force the omission of some characters and the unfortunate pruning of various incidents. Nicholas's story is one the audience should be allowed to immerse itself in, to replicate the emotional connection one gets through the novel. In the film, we flit from one incident to the other, not given the opportunity to fully enjoy the company of the characters we like or to see more of what makes the nasty ones tick. Nonetheless, it is a treat to see these memorable characters brought to life so vividly. 

Unfortunately, I find Lord Berners's score to this version a little too on the nose in backing up the melodrama. The assistance was not necessary. It is the force of the actor's portrayals that draws the audience into the abridged screen telling of the story, creating fond memories and a wish for more (if I may borrow from that Twist lad).

Monday, March 30, 2020


Julio (newsboy): "How's Martin Rome making out? ... I see his mother heading to church every day. I think he'd've saved 'em some grief if he'd died."
Lt. Candella: "Maybe you're right. See you tomorrow."

Involved in a shootout where he killed a cop, Martin Rome (Richard Conte) is in police custody and undergoing surgery. His family is praying for him. One way or another Rome is a dead man, either he doesn't survive the surgery or he goes to the chair a cop killer.

Richard Conte, Victor Mature

A crooked lawyer, W.A. Niles (Berry Kroeger) wants Rome to confess to a vicious torture and robbery to clear his guilty client. If there is one soft spot in this tough's make-up it is for Teena Riconti (Debra Paget), the naive and beautiful young woman Martin believes he loves. Through Martin's questionable choices, Teena is now in the sights of the gangsters who want him to give false testimony and the cops who think she may be the accomplice if they can tie Martin to the jewellery case. Will he be able to keep her safe?

Victor Mature, Tommy Cook, Richard Conte, Mimi Aguglia

Lt. Candella (Victor Mature) is conflicted. His conflict extends to Martin Rome only insofar as Rome's family is involved. Mama's (Mimi Aguglia) heart will be broken as if her first-born hasn't already been breaking it every day. The two men grew up in the same neighbourhood with the same disadvantages. Martin Rome went for the quick buck and the good times. Candella is an underpaid cop who can sleep nights. Will Candella be able to keep Martin's kid brother Tony (Tommy Cook) from following in Martin's footsteps?

The barely recovering Rome escapes from the prison hospital, pursued by the determined Candella and his cynical partner Collins (Fred Clark) with such aching feet. Like breadcrumbs, they follow those that Rome uses to get money, to get to Teena, and to get out of the country. Betty Garde as a sympathetic nurse, Walter Baldwin as a prison trustee, Shelley Winters as one of Marty's girls, Konstantin Shayne as a doctor working the wrong side of the law, and the heartbroken Roma family. Martin Rome brings violence and murder in his wake, with two bodies to his credit before the day is through. Violence is wrought upon Martin Rome when he traces a desperate windfall to a masseuse played by Hope Emerson.

Richard Conte and Victor Mature are perfectly matched as opposite sides of the sword's edge in the dark world they inhabit. Henry Edward Helseth's 1947 novel The Chair for Martin Rome was adapted by Richard Murphy (Panic in the Streets). There is slick and enveloping darkness in Lloyd Ahern's cinematography and epic emotions in Robert Siodmak's direction. Alfred Newman's Street Scene is perfectly used as the musical motif placing the audience into the middle of this story.

Your plans are locked in for Tuesday, April 7 as TCM is devoting the evening to films-noir released in 1948. Cry of the City starts things off at 8:00 pm. The lineup continues with The Lady from Shanghai, He Walked by Night, Key Largo, Berlin Express, and The Naked City.

Movie connections:

Konstantin Shayne plays Dr. Veroff in Cry of the City. He is the brother of actress Tamara Shayne (Mrs. Akim Tamiroff), who played Richard Conte's mother in Thieves' Highway.

Hope Emerson and Debra Pagent of Cry of the City have featured roles in 1949s House of Strangers starring Richard Conte.

Friday, March 20, 2020

THE 6TH ANNUAL FAVOURITE TV SHOW EPISODE BLOGATHON: Magnum, P.I., Holmes is Where the Heart Is, 1984

Terence Towles Canote is hosting The 6th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon. This is one of my top favourites of the annual blogathons and I am looking forward to all of the contributions to be found HERE.

Written by Judy Burns and Jay Huguely
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxie
First aired Thursday, March 8, 1984 (Season 4)

Jonathan Quayle Higgins (John Hillerman) is a very busy man. As the caretaker of the Robin's Nest estate on Oahu for the successful author Robin Masters, Higgins has many duties that became more complicated with the arrival of private investigator Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck). What the two men have in common is a military background, Higgins attended Sandhurst and Magnum is a retired Navy Seal. 

Magnum has been installed on the estate as the head of security after having done a favour for Robin Masters. From this place of luxury, he works at his leisure, annoying Higgins, wrecking Mr. Masters' Ferrari, and tricking his friends, and fellow vets, T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) and Rick (Larry Manetti) into assisting on his assignments.

Tom Selleck

On his downtime, Higgins is busy writing his memoir. He appears to currently be involved in that activity, but something feels different. For the past few days, Higgins has been incommunicado locked in his den. The sound of the typewriter is driving Magnum crazy. It is not the noise, it is his curiosity that has been piqued, plus he needs a special lens for a job and that lens is in the den.

John Hillerman

Higgins: "It is the singular purpose of this narrative to factually present the details of my detective friend's adventure. Without bias, on his behalf, I offer his inferences, deductions, and solutions leaving to the reader the task of final judgment."

Higgins was appointed executor to the estate of his late friend Sir Alec Ramsay. Upon the sad occasion of Sir Alec's funeral, their mutual friend David Worth (Patrick Macnee) arrives, acting mysteriously and confusing Higgins by using Sherlock Holmes' alias "Sigerson."

Patrick Macnee

David, as if undercover, is deep into the persona of Sherlock Holmes. Nothing Higgins says about reality has an impact on David; he is "Holmes." Higgins' devotion to his friend makes him powerless to do anything other than become his "Watson."

Holmes is persuaded that Sir Alec's death was caused by murder, and that murderer is none other than Moriarty. Adding to the puzzle are two suspicious men, Hopkins (Maurice Roeves) and Lever (Michael Billington) claiming the right to Sir Alec's papers for the British Museum.

While the strangers' credentials check out, Higgins intuitively retains Sir Alec's diary. The diary leads Higgins to believe that his friend Holmes has a right to be skeptical about Sir Alec's death. It appears to Higgins that the illegal drug trade on the islands is involved.

Patrick Macnee

Holmes reveals to Higgins that he has tracked Moriarty who is in disguise as a respected Chinese businessman Hoon Ching (Danny Kamekona). Our modern-day Holmes and Watson find themselves in the midst of a power-play for the illegal drug trade between Ching and his son Victor (George Cheung).

Patrick Macnee, John Hillerman

In the course of their tracking the actions of the Ching criminal enterprise, Higgins learns some disturbing news. The British Museum men are actually MI6 agents tracking their former colleague who has escaped from a sanitorium. David had been placed in the facility when his mental health began failing him. No matter how befuddled, 30 years as a spy makes him too much of danger to be allowed to wander free.

After capture, Higgins is about to be tortured by Victor Ching when his dear friend Holmes comes to his rescue. Sadly, as David is about to, once more, escape MI6, it is his Watson who enables capture by his enemies. Holmes had solved the case but lost his freedom.

Throughout this day, Thomas keeps coming up with hair-brained schemes to get Higgins out of the den, and finally one of them works. While Higgins is walking with "the lads", the Dobermans Apollo and Zeus, Thomas invades the den and reads Higgins' confidential memoir. Higgins is naturally resentful of Thomas' trickery and his cavalier humour toward what he has read.

Chastened, Thomas sincerely asks about the case and what has made Higgins devote so much time to it now. David had forgiven Higgins for his transgression as Watson and during recent years, the two friends corresponded and enjoyed solving intricate puzzles. What led Higgins to relive this amazing and emotional adventure of ten years past?

Thomas: "Forgive me for being such a boor these last few days."
Higgins: "My obsession, as you call it. It did, however, seem terribly important that it be done now."
Thomas: "He died."
Higgins: "Last week. It seemed terrible for a man who so loved excitement. Simple pneumonia."

Patrick Macnee was perfect in the role of the fantasy Holmes, displaying tenacity, energy, and the surety of the rightness of his cause. The force of his personality took Higgins on a grand adventure with real world consequences. We should all be so crazy!

Homes Is Where the Heart Is has a lovely melancholy feel mixed with character-driven humour making it a charming and memorable episode in the series.

John Hillerman was nominated for the Emmy (4 nominations) and the Golden Globe (5 nominations) awards for Magnum, P.I. He won the Emmy for playing Higgins in 1987, and the Golden Globe in 1982.

Friday, March 13, 2020

THE POP STARS MOONLIGHTING BLOGATHON: Chad and Jeremy and Catwoman and Batman, 1966

Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde

Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews is hosting a unique blogathon devoted to the acting gigs of pop stars on March 12th to 14th. You'll find all the contributions by clicking on DAY 1DAY 2, and DAY 3.

Composer John Barry was influential in getting the folk-pop duo of Chad and Jeremy a recording contract and developing their sound. The duo enjoyed their greatest success with hit records and concert tours was in America between 1963 and 1968. After taking separate roads in their music and acting careers, Chad and Jeremy would reunite in the 1980s and then again in the 2000s. Chad Stuart is now retired and Jeremy Clyde tours with Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon.

We are returning to the 1960s when the classic send-up Batman was "new" and guest stars, like Chad and Jeremy, were a great treat for regular viewers.

Chad and Jeremy met while students at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. While the work in these television programs didn't stretch any acting chops, they ably played "themselves" as quirky British musicians.

The Cat's Meow
Wednesday, December 14, 1966
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by James B. Clark

Special Guest Villainess Julie Newmar as The Catwoman has fooled many citizens of Gotham City into believing in her reformation, particularly Commission Gordon played by Neil Hamilton. Chief O'Hara played by Stafford Repp isn't quite so certain Catwoman can be trusted. For once, the Chief may be unto something.

Catwoman has perfected a machine that steals voices (Holy Ursula the Sea Witch!). She has stolen the voice of morning television host Harry Upps (Peter Leeds) framing Penguin, Joker and the Riddler. The jig, however, is up when the too-sure-of-herself CW makes her presence and intentions known when she steals the voice of our beloved Commissioner Gordon himself!

Stafford Repp, Julie Newmar, Neil Hamilton

The Catwoman's reign of terror isn't the only big happening in Gotham City. Chad and Jeremy are in town to perform at the Policeman's Benevolent Society concert. Catwoman and the Kittens (Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Moe) were also scheduled to perform, but her recent outing as a not-so-reformed-criminal put a crimp in the lineup.

Millionaire Bruce Wayne has offered Stately Wayne Manor as the perfect stopping place to protect the British imports from their over-zealous teenage fans. Aunt Harriet played by Madge Blake is a little anxious due to the rowdy reputation of rock musicians and Alfred played by Alan Napier is none too keen on this "modern" stuff, but they perform their hosting duties diligently and find the boys to be pleasant company, even if they don't get their jokes.

Catwoman's attempt to case Stately Wayne Manor in the guise of a not so graceful dance teacher eventually led Batman and Robin to her dance studio hideout, and her frontman played by Joe Flynn. It is there the caped crusaders find themselves trapped by the special guest villainess and imprisoned in an echo chamber with a million times amplified refinement on the Chinese water torture. Their brains will be scrambled and Batman will belong to the lovestruck Catwoman!

Julie Newmar, Burt Ward, Adam West


The Bat's Kow-Tow
Thursday, December 15, 1966 
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by James B. Clark

Batman brilliantly comes up with a plan to affect his and Robin's release. "Every room has its sympathetic vibration. A note that will shatter glass like the great Caruso did with his voice. The note for this room should be F-sharp above high C." And, of course, it was!


Catwoman has thus far been unable to enact her true plan, stealing the voices of Chad and Jeremy to hold for ransom to the British government. Her opportunity presents itself at the Police Benevolent Society Concert where "thousands" of teenage fans keep Batman and Robin from pursuing the thieves.

Burt Ward, Adam West, Steve Allen

Batman and Robin attempt to assuage the fears of the citizenry by appearing on the Allan Stevens (Steve Allen) television program. Fear is only heightened when the Catwoman steals the voice of Allan Stevens!

Both crimefighters and criminals are stymied in reaching their goal by official British channels as represented in Gotham City by Sir Sterling Habits played by Maurice Dallimore. The word from Harold (Wilson, Prime Minister) regarding Chad and Jeremy, "Millions for their records, not a cent for their ransom!"

Don Ho visits Gotham City

In order to avoid those thousands of screaming teenagers surrounding the consulate, Batman and Robin leave the building by means of their bat-ropes and run into another visiting pop star, Hawaii's Don Ho.

Mr. Oceanbring's salon is in the middle of a Bat-Cat fight

Chad and Jeremy, voiceless though they may be, are desperate to attend the salon of the world-famous hairdresser Mr. Oceanbring played by trendy stylist Jay Sebring. Would you believe the salon is Catwoman's latest lair? Batman and Robin discover the hiding place and this time the fight falls in the favour of our dynamic duo.

Lovesick Catwoman cannot bring herself to vanquish Batman when the opportunity is presented. However, she does try to wrangle a date for when she next gets free from prison. Robin interrupts a smooch (Holy Mush!) cementing the Boy Blunder's place in the Catwoman's bad books.

Judy Strangis and thousands of screaming teenage fans

Catwoman's formula for returning the purloined voices consists of sweet basil, garlic, salt, and goat's milk in the right proportion, plus a stylish atomizer. The gift of song is returned to our Chad and Jeremy and thousands of screaming teenage fans are happy. Even the "old folks" get into the fun at the concert.

Madge Blake

Aunt Harriet: "Very hep, Alfred."
Dick Grayson: "It's 'hip', Aunt Harriet. They changed it."


Jeremy Clyde as Lord Buckingham in The Musketeer, 2001. One of the hundreds of movie and television credits listed on his IMDb page.

The Jungle Book has been a favourite of mine since childhood. These days my special needs son can imitate all of the characters. His only problem is trying to use his one voice to sound like all the vultures singing in harmony! 


Monday, March 9, 2020


Claire Trevor

Virginie of The Wonderful World of Cinema and Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood are hosting The 110 Years of Claire Trevor Blogathon this March 8 - 10. The tributes to the memorable actress can be found HERE.

Claire Trevor's Hollywood career features characters with an odd and appealing mix of toughness and vulnerability. From her first Oscar nomination as the pitiable prostitute Francey in Dead End, 1937 to her win as Gaye Dawn, the alcoholic mistress of a gangster in Key Largo, 1948 Claire Trevor made us cheer and fear for the women she brought to the screen.

Film-noir is where Claire has perhaps her greatest acclaim, but she is a mainstay for western fans as well. Consider Stagecoach, Dark Command, Honky Tonk, Texas, Best of the Badmen, The Stranger Wore a Gun, Man Without a Star, and Columbia Studio and Claire's first Technicolor feature, The Desperadoes.

Ladies and gentlemen, is the daily grind getting you down? Do you want a good, old-fashioned oater to fill the early evening hours? Well, it's all here for you folks in Charles Vidor's 1943 production The Desperadoes.

You've got your stalwart lawman played by Randolph Scott, your good-bad man played by Glenn Ford, the tough but tender saloon owner played by Claire Trevor, the spunky romantic interest played by Evelyn Keyes, and the none-too-bright sidekick played by Guinn "Big Boy" Williams. There's Technicolor, stampedes, bronco riding, crooks, jailbreaks, and an explosion or two! So pop that corn and melt that butter.

Irving Bacon

What's that, you want more? You want scene-stealers? We have got the greatest. Watch Mr. Edgar Buchanan and Mr. Raymond Walburn commit grand larceny before your very eyes. Mr. Porter Hall and Mr. Irving Bacon also do their bit for the character actor fraternity. And for the "they had faces crowd" look for Noah Beery and Francis Ford.

Robert Carson (Western Union) wrote the screenplay from an original story by Max Brand (Internes Can't Take Money). Director of Photography George Meehan, whose bread and butter for many years were black and white westerns and crime pictures like The Whistler did an outstanding job with this important first for the studio. The outdoor sequences filmed in Kanab, Utah are particularly breathtaking.

Edgar Buchanan, Porter Hall

A crooked banker (Porter Hall) and a ne'er do well mailman/livery owner (Edgar Buchanan) plan a twisted plot to rob their own bank, cheating the local citizens and have them in their debt. They hire a gunman (Glenn Ford) to handle the delicate job who promises no killings. Anxious at the gunman's late arrival, the banker hires a local thug, Jack Lester (Bernard Nedell) who is not so squeamish about a killing or three.

Evelyn Keyes, Glenn Ford, Randolph Scott

Cheyenne Rogers had backed into the life of a gunfighter, but he's not a bad guy. There will be reasons for Cheyenne to want to change when he reaches Red Valley. The ne'er do well's daughter Alison (Evelyn Keyes) will be one reason and his friend Steve (Randolph Scott) being the town's sheriff is another.

Glenn Ford, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams

Cheyenne is also in town to meet up with his impulsive partner Nitro (Guinn Williams). Nitro did Cheyenne a favour once and is owed. Nitro is hiding out with The Countess (Claire Trevor). The Countess and Cheyenne grew up together. The Countess owns a hotel/gambling hall. She has influence in town because money talks. She also has a fondness for Cheyenne that goes beyond his for her.

Raymond Walburn, Francis Ford, Randolph Scott

The anxious banker tries to frame the earlier crimes on Cheyenne and Nitro doesn't help matters by impulsively robbing the bank. This places the two strangers in town at the mercy of a crooked Judge (Raymond Walburn) and a town ready to avenge the murders during the first robbery.

Claire Trevor is a force of nature as the Countess. Her strong personality is complemented by a number of colourful and eye-filling gowns. The producers draw your attention to this matter by the credit, "Miss Trevor's Costumes by Travilla."



The Desperadoes, 1943
Isn't Claire cute as a button in those shorts?

Charles Vidor (director), Evelyn Keyes, Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor
Edgar Buchanan, Glenn Ford, Sally Eilers, her husband Harry Joe Brown (producer)

Uncredited assistant director Budd Boetticher would join forces with Harry Joe Brown and Randolph Scott a decade later directing the well-regarded westerns The Tall T, Decision at Sundown, Buchanan Rides Alone, Ride Lonesome, and Comanche Station.


Paul Batters at Silver Screen Classics is our host for  The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathan on April 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  Day ...