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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Not As A Stranger (1954) - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

"Gentlemen, this is a corpse. " - Charles Bickford (as Dr. Dave Runkelman in 'Not as a Stranger')

'Not as a Stranger' is a 1954 medical drama starring Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford and Charles Bickford with Lon Chaney Jr., Lee Marvin, Harry Morgan and Mae Clarke. The melodrama was directed and produced by Stanley Kramer, with it's screenplay written by Edna and Edward Anhalt based on the novel by Morton Thompson.

'Not as a Stranger' follows a group of medical students throughout their career from their medical studies, hospital internships and eventually as physicians. Lucas Marsh (played by Mitchum) is obsessed with becoming a doctor. His medical career is put into jeopardy after his father (played by Chaney) gambles the money Lucas was left by his mother. To sponsor his medical career Lucas married wealthy older woman Kristina Hadvigson (played by de Havilland).  Throughout the film, Lucas' obsession for perfection and success causes pain and and happiness for those around him.

An outdated film with relevant themes

'Not as a Stranger' is a product of it's time with some very obvious references to the 1950s including:
  • An all-male medical class, with no female students
  • All doctors in the film are male, and all nurses in the film are female
  • Doctors and nurses openly smoking inside the hospital

Despite these outdated events, many of the central themes to the film are still relevant today, including loveless marriage into wealth for material gain, marital infidelity, father-son conflict due to alcoholism, internal drive for perfectionism and success.

Did you know...

  • This was one of the first times a real human heart was shown in a film during an open-heart surgery scene
  • This was Stanley Kramer's directorial debut
  • In preparation for their roles, Olivia de Havilland and Robert Mitchum attended a number of operations - Broderick Crawford even attended an autopsy

Award nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Foreign Actor (Frank Sinatra)
  • National Board of Review Award winner for Best Supporting Actor (Charles Bickford)

Closing remarks

A very made and entertaining drama, albeit very long. 'Not as a Stranger' features fine dramatic performances by Mitcham, de Havilland and Sinatra. What I like about this film is unlike many other medical dramas, 'Not as a Stranger' is essentially a character study focusing primarily on the lives and relationships of the principle characters. The hospital and medical subplot as a backdrop to complete the story.

 You can watch the complete film on YouTube here: 

Blow Up (1966) - Spotlight on... Trailblazers

**Warning: The contents of this blog post may offend some readers**

"I'm only doing my job. Some people are bullfighters, some people are politicians. I'm a photographer." - David Hemmings (as Thomas in 'Blow-Up')

'Blow-Up' is a 1966 mystery/thriller directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, John Castle, Jane Birkin, Tsai Chin, Gillian Hills and 60s fashion model Veruschka.  The film's screenplay was written by Antonioni and Tonino Guerra, with English dialogue by British playwright Edward Bond. The story is based on a short story by Julio Cortazar called 'Las babas del diablo' (or 'The Devil's Drool'). Produced by Carlo Ponti, this was the first of three English-language films Antonioni was to make for MGM.

Thomas takes photos of Veruschka
in one of my favourite images

Fashion photographer Thomas (played by Hemmings) believes he has unintentionally taken photographs of a murder, whilst taking photos at a nearby park. Thomas is almost driven to insanity with his obsession and quest to uncover the truth.


A key theme in the film is voyeurism with Thomas willingly photographing anything he likes. That said, voyeurism it is not just seen through the lens of a camera. When Thomas walks into his friend's house and hears them in bed together, he doesn't leave as the average person would. He continues to walk through the house, into the hallway and watches their love making from the bedroom door. He watches them for over a minute before he decides to leave.

American release controversy

The American release of 'Blow-Up' was a significant milestone with it's explicit nudity and sexual innuendo. The strict Hollywood Production Code had initially refused to approve it. To bypass this, MGM created a new distribution company called 'Premiere Productions', which did not have an agreement to comply with the Production Code. The box office success and critical acclaim of the film led to the eventual destruction of the Production Code in 1968, and was replaced by the current classification system.

Watch the iconic controversial photography scene

Watch a controversial clip from 'Blow-Up'

Did you know...

  • This was Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni's first English language film
  • The character of Thomas was inspired by real-life swinging London photographer David Bailey
  • One of the first British films to show full-frontal female nudity
  • Antonioni did not like the colour of the grass in the park, and it painted green
  • Terence Stamp was originally cast as Thomas, but was dropped 2 weeks before filming began
  • Swedish actress Evabritt Strangberg was originally considered for the role of Jane 

Closing remarks

I would consider 'Blow-Up' to be one of the first arthouse films I ever saw. I first watched it when I was in 18 in my first semester of studying film at university. Words cannot express my experience of watching 'Blow-Up' for the first time. While the majority of students in my tutorial found the film to be very boring and slow, I enjoyed it very much.  

There are three reasons why I love 'Blow Up'
  • They say a picture says a thousand words - With very minimal dialogue throughout the film, I like the way in which Antonioni uses image as a storytelling medium
  • I like how the music soundtrack is diegetic - This means it is heard only when someone turns on the radio or puts on a record
  • The third factor I like is how the film cuts off and does not give the spectator closure on how the story ends -  We, as the spectator are left to consider our own perception of what happens to Thomas, and the corpse

With it's psychedelic music soundtrack by Herbie Hancock, and borderline-anorexic models with vacant facial expressions, 'Blow-Up' is the ultimate mod movie from the 1960s.

The Dark Mirror - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

'The Dark Mirror' is a 1946 psychological thriller directed by Robert Siodmark, and starring Olivia de Havilland and Lew Ayres with Thomas Mitchell.

Olivia de Havilland plays identical twins
Terry & Ruth Collins
After a doctor is murdered, witnesses identify one of identical twins Terry and Ruth Collins (both played by de Havilland) with the murder victim, just before his death. Matters are complicated when both twins refuse to turn in the other by each providing an alibi.

Lt. Stevenson (played by Mitchell) brings in psychiatrist and twin expert Dr. Scott Elliott (played by Ayres) to investigate and uncover the truth.

Did you know...

  • This was Lew Ayres' return to the screen after servicing in World War II

Award nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Writing - Original Story

Closing remarks

Despite being another evil twin film of the 1940's, along with 'A Stolen Life' (1946) and 'The Two Mrs. Carrolls' (1947), I like the way in which 'The Dark Mirror' manipulates the viewer. There are many moments when we are unsure of which sister is which, and are often surprised and shocked when the truth is revealed.  Although the ending is predictable, 'The Dark Mirror' is a satisfying viewing experience.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

"Where you are I could spit in your eye with no strain at all." - Bette Davis (as Charlotte Hollis in 'Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte')

'Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte' is a 1964 horror thriller starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Victor Buono, Cecil Kellaway and Mary Astor. The gothic melodrama was directed and produced by Robert Aldrich.

The film begins in 1927 at a party at the Hollis mansion in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. During the party John Mayhew (played by Bruce Dern) is murdered and decapitated. When Charlotte Hollis (played by Davis) returns to the party with blood on her dress, she is presumed to be the murderer.

The film then jumps to 1964, with Charlotte still living in the mansion, still unmarried and still traumatised by the horrific murder of John Mayhey. When Charlotte's cousin Miriam (played by de Havilland) comes to stay, Charlotte's sanity deteriorates further as she is haunted by mysterious music playing during the night, and horrific hallucinations. In an attempt to prove her sanity, Charlotte is forced to fight against the plot of insanity tormenting her.

Watch the trailer:

Whatever Happened to... Joan Crawford?

Joan Crawford on the set of
'Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte'
before her sudden departure

Following the success of 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane' in 1962, director Robert Aldrich planned to reunite the three stars of the film (Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Victor Buono) in 'Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte'. After a few days on the set, Joan Crawford quit the film amid claims she was unwell. There has been speculation the true reason why Crawford left was because she feared she would be upstaged once again by rival Bette Davis, who had done so in 1962 with an Oscar nomination for 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane'.  After the role of Miriam was rejected by a number of well known actresses, Bette Davis suggested her friend Olivia de Havilland would be suitable.

The title song

The Oscar nominated title song, "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" became a hit for Patti Paige, where it reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Listen to Patti Paige's recording:

6 quick notes about the acting performances

Agnes Moorehead was nominated for an Oscar for her
performance as Velma Cruther

  • Bette Davis' exceptional dramatic performance as Charlotte is a cross between her Oscar winning performance in the southern epic 'Jezebel' (1938) with the gothic overtones of her Oscar nominated performance in 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?' (1962)
  • Olivia de Havilland delivers an effective and natural portrayal of Miriam
  • Agnes Moorehead is brilliant as Charlotte's maid, Velma Cruther, and was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress
  • Sadly Joseph Cotten's acting career has seen much better days
  • Victor Buono's appearance in the film is far too short to comment on
  • Screen legend Mary Astor delivers a memorable swan song in her final screen performance

Did you know...

  • After Joan Crawford's sudden departure, Vivian Leigh, Katherine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck and Lorreta Young all turned down the role of Miriam
  • The film was originally titled 'Whatever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?'
  • Footage of the exterior of the Hollis mansion were shot on location in The Houmas in Louisiana, while the interior of the mansion were shot in Hollywood
  • Victor Buono, who plays Charlotte's father Sam Hollis is actually 30 years younger than Bette Davis (who plays Charlotte)
  • The film was nominated for 7 Oscars - at the time of release this was the most Oscar nomination a horror film had ever received
  • Bette Davis was paid $200,000 for her performance
  • This was Mary Astor's final screen film

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Agnes Moorehead)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction in a black & white film
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography in a black & white film
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design in a black & white film
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Song ("Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte")
  • Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting actress (Agnes Moorehead)
  • Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award winner for Best Motion Picture Screenplay

Closing remarks

'Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte' is a chilling and gripping horror story of murder, insanity and deceit. While the overall film is well made and enjoyable to watch, the opening sequence in 1927 plays far too long.

I remember first watching 'Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte' when I was about 15 years old, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then I have seen the film a number of times, yet never seem to tire of it. Of all the films starring Olivia de Havilland, this is the one which I've seen the most, and is possibly my favourite.

Lady in a Cage (1964) - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

"Take anything you want, but in the name of humanity help me get out of this horrible cage!" - Olivia de Havilland (as Cornelia Hilyard in 'Lady in a Cage')

'Lady in a Cage' is a 1964 horror/thriller starring Olivia de Havilland, Ann Sothern, Jennifer Billingsley and James Caan.

The telephone... So near, yet so far
Cornelia Hilyard (played by de Havilland) is a wealthy middle aged woman living in a 3-story mansion with her 29 year old son Malcolm. Following hip surgery, Cornelia has a private elevator installed to help her commute from floor to floor.
Shortly after Malcolm leaves for a weekend away, there is a power failure, which leaves Cornelia trapped in her elevator, stranded between floors. A virtual prisoner in her home, Cornelia is robbed and terrorised by a drunk, a prostitute and a gang of 3 thugs.

Watch the trailer:

The opening title sequence

The opening title sequence is well crafted with montage shots of some disturbing images intercut with the credits. Some of the images include a dead dog, and a young girl rolling her roller skate over a homeless man laying in a gutter. This presents the spectator of a preview of the disturbing images to come.

Key themes

'Lady in a Cage' is a social commentary of 1960s United States, and the degradation and decaying of family values in society.

Firstly the rise of gang warfare and violence is presented with the gang of thugs breaking into Cornelia's home, and violently robbing and damaging her property. The film also explores violence against women with Randall beating his girlfriend Elaine for being smart, and also the scene with Esse pushing his knife against Sade's neck.

'Lady in a Cage' also plays on sexuality:
  • The scene where Randall, Elaine and Esse are in the bathroom together hints at a potential male-female-male threesome
  • Malcolm Hilyard, still living and home, is depicted as being homosexual having addressed the letter to his mother as "Dear Darling", with one of the thugs Esse commenting: "This whole letter. It sounds real... what you might say... gay", immediately followed by Randall asking Cornelia "Is your litle boy married?"

A domestic terror

The core of what makes 'Lady in a Cage' so terrifying is most of the events occurring within Cornelia's home - the one place where she should feel safe and secure. It leaves us as the spectator to consider, if Cornelia is unable to be safe within her own home, how can we be safe outside of our homes. In a desperate plea to stop the terror, Cornelia even makes an offer to her attackers: "I'll pay you to stop this animal orgy, $10,000 in cash."

The second domestic terror lies within Cornelia's mind. Towards the end of the film Cornelia's journey of self discovery brings her to the realisation of her controlling and manipulative maternal behaviour, driving her son to the verge of suicide. 

Did you know...

  • This was James Caan's first "credited" feature film role - Caan had previously appeared uncredited in 'Irma La Douche' (1963).
  • Joan Crawford was initially intended to play the role of Cornelia Hilyard
  • The film was refused certification in the UK by the BBFC and remained banned until 2000

Closing remarks

'Lady in a Cage' is a gripping, suspenseful and claustrophobic psychological drama with three brilliant, yet very different performances:

  • James Caan delivers a chilling and disturbing performance as the lead thug in his first credited feature film appearance
  • Olivia de Havilland (as usual) does not disappoint with her powerful portrayal of the victimised Cornelia
  • Screen legend Ann Sothern also steals every scene she's in as drunken prostitute, Sade.

Sadly this film was ahead of it's time and considered to be obcene. Had the film been released 10 years later, I am almost certain the three aforementioned performances would have received Oscar nominations.

When this film was first released in 1964, it terrorised and disturbed film goers, but watching it in 2012 we do not feel the same degree of terror. The disturbing thing about this is the realisation as to how desensitised we are to view films with violence and sadistic themes.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed 'Lady in a Cage' and would strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspense and thrills. 

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Screaming Woman - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

'The Screaming Woman' is a 1972 television film directed by Jack Smight, and starring Olivia de Havilland, with special guest stars Joseph Cotten and Walter Pidgeon. The film is written by Merwin Gerard and loosely based on the short story by Ray Bradbury.

The opening title card
Produced by Universal Television, the TV film was originally aired as an ABC Movie of the Week.

While walking the grounds of her property, Laura Wynant (played by de Havilland) hears a woman who has been buried alive screaming. 
Due to her mental history, Laura's family refuse to believe her, and use this as an opportunity to declare her insane and take control of her money. 

Terrorised by the sound of the screaming woman, Laura is determined to rescue her and prove to herself and those around her she is not insane.

Watch the film on YouTube:

Did you know...

  • As of July 2012, this was the last time John William's composed a music score for a TV movie

Closing remarks

Average television film production of the 1970s with suspenseful musical score.
Olivia de Havilland gives a chilling performance, and single handedly carries the film. Although very mild when compared to horror films of today, 'The Screaming Woman' terrorised television viewers when it was first shown in 1972.

Sex Lies & Videotape (1989) - Spotlight on... Trailblazers

"Are you having an affair?" - Andie MacDowell (as Ann in 'Sex, Lies and Videotape')

Laura San Giacomo as Cynthia is having an
affair with her sister's husband
'Sex, Lies and Videotape' (1989) is a controversial independent film directed by Steven Soderbergh, and starring Andie MacDowell, James Spader, Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo.

Sex, Lies and Videotape' was a very significant film at the time of it's release and highly influential in the progression of the independent film movement during the 1990s.

In 2006, the film was added to the Library of Congresses National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".

David Spader as Graham watches
his videotapes
The film begins with Ann (played by MacDowell) confiding to her therapist about her unhappy marriage to husband John (played by Gallagher).  Ann is also annoyed John has agreed to let his college friend Graham Dalton (played by Spader) stay with them, without consulting with her first. Ironically after Graham arrives, Ann builds a strong rapport with him and the two develop a connection. That is until Ann discovers Graham's secret hobby of videotape interviewing women about their sexual experiences and fantasies.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Ann, her husband John is having an affair with her sister, Cynthia (played by San Giacomo).

Ann's video

I like the way in which we do not see the content of Ann's video as it is being filmed. After Ann says her name the scene cuts to when Ann returns home. It isn't until later when John visits Graham, that we see the content of Ann's videotape.  Through Soderbergh's technique, we (the film spectator) experience the video at the same time as John does, which empowers us to empathise with the feelings of shock and emotion.

Watch some memorable clips from the film:

Clip - "Ain't You A Picture"

Clip - "Finding the videotapes"

Clip - "Cynthia's Interview"

Clip - "Sex with Cynthia"

Clip - "Disarming her suspicions"

Closing remarks

'Sex, Lies and Videotape' caused a stir of controversy at the time of it's release. The film was instrumental in launching Soderbergh's career as a film director, and also made a star of Andie MacDowell.  Despite the perversion of the storyline, 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' is a very well made independent film and is enjoyable to watch.

Murder is Easy - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

"As long as no one suspects you, murder is easy" - Helen Hayes (as Lavinia Fullerton in 'Murder is Easy')

Olivia de Havilland with co-star Shane Briant
'Murder is Easy' is a 1982 television movie adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, starring Bill Bixby, Lesley Anne Down, Olivia de Havilland, Jonathan Pryce, Shane Briant and Helen Hayes.

The first edition cover of the novel
'Murder is Easy'
Whilst travelling on a train Lavinia Fullerton (played by Hayes) meets Professor Luke Williams (played by Bixby). Fullerton tells Williams she is on her way to Scotland Yard to provide information on some murders. Shortly after, Miss Fullerton is killed in a hit and run incident. Williams believes Miss Fullerton's death was intended to silence her and decides to continue her crusade. Aided with villager Bridget Conway (played by Down), Williams seeks to uncover who is murdering the villages. 

Closing remarks

Average murder mystery is not one of Christie's best stories or film adaptations. Luke Williams is no Hercule Poirot, but manages to get the job done (although I managed to figure out who the murderer was long before he did).

Olivia de Havilland is perfection in her portrayal of the eccentric Honoria Waynflete, as is Helen Hayes in her very brief appearance.

The Heiress - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

"The Heiress" is a 1945 drama directed by William Wyler and starring Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson and Miriam Hopkins.

Montgomery Clift and Olivia de Havilland as
Morris Townsend and Catherine Sloper
In 1996, the film was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".

'The Heiress' is based on the play by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, who also wrote the film's screenplay. The play was based on the 1880 novel 'Washington Square' by Henry James.

Naive and shy Catherine Sloper (played by  de Havilland) falls for charming Morris Townsend (played by Clift). Catherine's father, Dr. Sloper (played by Richardson) does not like Townsend, and feels he is interested in Catherine for her inheritance. Despite Dr. Sloper's decision to disinherit Catherine, she decides to elope with Townsend. 

An impersonating trio

I saw Australian film critic Bill Collins present 'The Heiress' on television a few weeks ago, and he explained a concept which I found fascinating.

Catherine is a victim of an impersonating trio:
 - Dr. Austin Sloper (Catherine's father), "a harsh and relentless father impersonating a concerned, loving parent"
- Morris Townsend (Catherine's fiancee) "a fortune hunter impersonating a sincere lover"
- Miriam Hopkins (Catherine's aunt) "a flibbity-jibbant aunt impersonating  a reliable confidante"

When you think about this concept as you watch the film, it distorts your perception of what is taking place, and makes for a emotionally disturbing spectator experience. 

Did you know...

  • Olivia de Havilland saw a performance of the play, and aspired to play Catherine
  • Olivia de Havilland requested William Wyler direct this film
  • Ralph Richardson reprises the role he played on the West End
  • Betty Linley reposed the role of Mrs. Montgomery, which she played in the original Broadway production
  • Wendy Hiller played the role of Catherine on the original Broadway production, with Peggy Ashcroft playing the role on the West End
  • Errol Flynn was originally considered for the role of Morris Townsend, which would have been Olivia and Errol's ninth film together
  • Basil Rathbone played the role of Dr. Sloper on Broadway
  • Ginger Rogers was first offered the role of Catherine, but turned it down

Awards and nominations

Olivia de Havilland clutches the Oscar she
won for her performance in 'The Heiress'
  • Academy Award winner for Best Actress (Olivia de Havilland)
  • Academy Award winner for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration in a black and white film
  • Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design in a black and white film
  • Academy Award winner for Best Music Score
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Picture
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Director
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Ralph Richardson)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography in a black and white film
  • Golden Globe Award winner for Best Actress - Motion Picture (Olivia de Havilland)
  • Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture (Miriam Hopkins)
  • Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Director - Motion Picture
  • National Board of Review Award winner for Best Actor (Ralph Richardson)
  • New York Film Critics Circle Award winner for Best Actress (Olivia de Havilland)
  • Writers Guild of America Awards nomination for Best Written American Drama

Closing remarks

"The Heiress" is a very powerful and compelling film with brilliant performances by all four principle actors.  The brilliant art direction by Harry Horner adds to the film's beauty, particularly the elegant and extravagant staircase. As the Heiress, Olivia de Havilland delivers a remarkable performance, deservedly winning her second and final Oscar.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is a 1938 action adventure starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland with Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Alan Hale.

Olivia de Havilland & Errol Flynn
as Maid Marion & Robin Hood
'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is set in 1191, after King Richard the Lion-Heart gave the Regency of his kingdom to his friend Longchamps, instead of his treacherous brother, Prince John. Robin of Loxely and his merry band rob from the rich to feed the poor.

Despite the many different film versions of Robin Hood, this is still considered to be the definitive version, and the best, with the dashing Errol Flynn here to save the day in the ultimate swashbuckler, in possibly his greatest role.

'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was very fortunate to have been filmed in glorious Technicolor. This was because Technicolor was very expensive in the 1930s, with the major studios making one or two Technicolor films each year, with the smaller studios not making any. During this time there were only 11 Technicolor cameras in existence, which were shared among each studio.

The Story of 'The Adventures of Robin Hood'

In the early 1930s, Warner Bros. were renowned for producing gangster films. When the Hays Production Code came into effect in 1934, Warner Bros. sought to change this image by producing  swashbucklers. The film was almost cancelled due to 2 unforeseen issues...

The first issue... Screen legend James Cagney was initially intended to play Robin Hood, however Cagney walked away from Warner Bros. following a dispute, and was unable to appear in the film - Cagney returned to Warner Bros. 2 years later.

The second issue... MGM had secured the rights to a operetta version of 'Robin Hood', to star Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. The compromise made between Warner Bros. and MGM was that Warner would call their film 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', and MGM would not release their film of 'Robin Hood' until a year after.

Having successfully resolved the MGM issue, Warner began to search for a new leading man to play Robin Hood. Following their successful pairing in 'Captain Blood' and several other films, it was decided Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland would again be reunited as Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

Did you know...

The only scene where Olivia de Havilland appears
without wearing a headpiece
  • David Niven had originally considered to play Will Scarlet
  • Anita Louise was originally considered to play Maid Marion
  • Guy Kibbee was originally considered to play Friar Tuck
  • At the time of its release, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was the most expensive Warner Bros. film made
  • Olivia de Havilland's horse (called Golden Cloud) was later play Trigger, the horse used by Roy Rogers in his many films
  • The extras appearing in the film were paid a daily salary and received a boxed lunch
  • King Richard's castle was partially built on the Warner Bros. film lot, with a matte painting above
  • All actors who were hit with an arrows wore special body suits under their clothing to absorb the arrow and prevent it from impaling their bodies
  • The earliest known film of 'Robin Hood' was made in 1908
  • The word Sherwood derives from "Shire of Wood"
  • Some scenes without principal actors were directed by William Dieterle
  • The scene in Maid Marion's bedroom is the only scene in the film where Olivia de Havilland is shown without wearing a headpiece
  • During World War 2, this was the most popular film shown to armed forces
  • The film was re-released in 1948 with a new promotional campaign, and then again in the mid 1950s
  • In 1977, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was the 5th most shown film on US TV, after 'Casablanca' (1942), 'King Kong' (1933), 'The Magnificent Seven' (1960) and 'The Maltese Falcon' (1941) 
  • 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' was first shown on TV in colour during the late 1960s
  • Alan Hale also played Little John in the 1928 film with Douglas Fairbanks, and in 'The Rogues of Sherwood Forrest'

Closing remarks

Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn are perfectly cast in this film, as are Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone, the two ultimate villain actors playing the two ultimate villain characters.

'The Adventures of Robin Hood' is a very special film, and I have seen it so many times, yet never get sick of it. Even after all these years, the film does not look dates and there is still something within this film with the ability to entertain virtually anyone. I challenge anyone to watch this film, and not enjoy it.

Glorious Technicolor (1998) - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

"You haven't seen color until you've seen Technicolor. It was like a painting" - Evelyn Keys

'In Glorious Technicolor' is a 1998 documentary narrated by the great Angela Lansbury. It tells the story of colour in film, focusing on the invention of Technicolor. The documentary also features interviews with actors Arlene Dahl, Evelyn Keyes, Esther Williams and Kim Hunter, and cinematographers John Alton, Jack Cardiff, Vittorio Storaro.

The documentary begins with an exploration into the art and science of colour, and how it corresponds in painting. We are then treated to some very early images of colour, including George Melis' 'La fée Carabosse ou le poignard fatal' (1906).

We are then provided some background on the forgotten pioneer and inventor of Technicolor Herbert T. Kalmus, where we see footage from early Technicolor films: 'The Toll of the Sea' (1922), 'The Black Pirate' (1926) and 'The Hollywood Revue of 1929' (1929). 

Something which I found interesting was that while most studios were opposed to colour, Walt Disney was supportive of it, and allowed 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (1937) and 'Fantasia' (1940) to be filmed in colour.

The documentary concludes with a segment on the brilliant Technicolor British films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Other dazzling Technicolor films excerpted into the documentary include 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' (1938), 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939), 'Gone With the Wind' (1939) and 'Singin in the Rain' (1952).

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About... - Spotlight on... Trailblazers

***Note, some readers may find the content of this blog offensive**

"You hear these strange stories, you know, like there's a pill these women take, or sometimes guys will slam their head against a wall of hard rubber." - Woody Allen (as Sperm in 'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)')

'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)' is a 1972 comedy directed by Woody Allen. Based on the book of the same name by Dr. David Reuben, the film is an anthology of short episodes featuring cameo appearances by some of the biggest stars of the day including Tony Randall, Lynn Redgrave, Louise Lasser, Burt Reynolds and of course, Woody Allen (who appears in no less than 4 different roles). 

I have structured my blog into short episodes to mirror the structure of the film:

Main titles - 'Let's misbehave'

Woody Allen is a big fan of jazz, so it's no surprise he chose to open this film with a recording of Cole Porter's 'Let's Misbehave'.  I find Allen's interpretation of the song rather amusing, as we see thousands of breeding rabbits.

Watch the opening sequence - 'Let's Misbehave'

Woody Allen as The Fool in
'Do aphrodisiacs work?'
#1 - Do aphrodisiacs work?
Woody Allen plays The Fool to the King. The Fool finds out if aphrodisiacs work after he gives the Queen (played by Lynn Redgrave) a love potion. One problem... the Queen is wearing a chastity belt, complete with a padlock. While trying to remove the Queen's chastity belt, the Fool gets his hand caught, with fatal consequences.

#2 - What is sodomy?
Gene Wilder as Dr. Ross
The most disturbing (and possibly most unforgettable) of the seven episodes.  Dr. Ross (played by Gene Wilder) falls in love with one of his patients, Daisy... only thing is Daisy happens to be a sheep.

Dr. Ross wines and dines Daisy behind his wife's back at a fancy hotel, ordering "a chilled white burgandy, some cavier and some plain green grass" from room service. His fetish for sheep-loving eventually destroys his medical career, his marriage and every other aspect of his life. 

Here is a memorable clip from the 'What is sodomy?' segment

#3 - Why do some women have trouble reaching an orgasm?

Woody Allen & Louise Lasser as Fabrizio & Gina
A homage to the perversions of Italian cinema, this segment is spoken entirely in Italian (with English subtitles). Fabrizio (played by Woody Allen) is having trouble pleasing his wife Gina (played by Louise Lasser). After some experimentation he discovers Gina is only able to reach an orgasm in public. 

This segment drags on a little, but does have some very funny moments. 

#4 - Are transvestites homosexuals?

Sam Musgrave (played by Lou Jacobi) is a middle aged man who visits his daughter's fiancees parents. While visiting Sam feels the need to experiments with women's clothes. This is one of the funniest sketches in the film.

#5 - What are sex perverts?

Game show spoof of 'What's my Line?', called 'What's my Perversion?'. Filmed in black and white, four contestants must accurately guess the perversion of the panelist, in this instance, "likes to expose himself on subways". There is even a mock TV commercial for a hair product.
This is the most offensive of each of the chapters, ending with an image of a rabbi eating pork.

#6 - Are the findings of doctors and clinics who do sexual research and experiments accurate?

Sex researcher Victor (played by Allan) and reporter Helen (played by Heather MacRae) visit the evil and psychotic Dr. Bernardo (played by John Carradine), who is conducting sexual experiments on abducted humans. One of his experiments goes horribly wrong, generating a "gigantic tit", which terrorises the local town, crushing the innocent and spitting milk. This spoof of the scifi b-movies of the 1950s in my opinion is the slowest and least enjoyable segment within the film.

#7 - What happens during ejaculation?

Woody Allen as Sperm
Amusing segment positioning a man's brain as a NASA-like mission control centre operated by Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds. Woody Allen makes his fourth appearance in the film as a nervous and scared Sperm. 

A memorable and rather appropriate conclusion to the film.

Deleted segment - What makes a man a homosexual?

A photograph from the deleted sequence -
The Black Widow (Lasser) prepares to eat
the Common Spider (Allen)
An eighth segment filmed but cut from the film was called "What Makes a Man a Homosexual?" and featured Woody Allen as a common spider, with Louise Lasser playing a black widow. After making love, the black widow ate the common spider. The segment was not included in the final film as Allen was unable to write an appropriate ending. 


Very funny and highly inappropriate, 'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex...' was a very controversial film at the time of it's release. Although not visually graphic or explicit, the clever innuendo and provocative subject matter caused a stir.

Closing remarks

This film welcomed the world to the perverted yet intelligent mind of Woody Allen. After watching this film, it would come as no surprise to anyone when Allen later married his stepdaughter. Although not Allen's best film, 'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex...' makes for an entertaining and amusing spectator experience.