Thursday, 14 July 2011

Laurel and Hardy - A Chump At Oxford

A Chump at Oxford, directed by Alfred J Goulding and released in 1940 by United Artists, was the penultimate Laurel & Hardy film made at the Hal Roach studios. Originally released as a streamliner featurette at forty minutes long, twenty minutes of footage largely unrelated to the main plot were later added for the British and European Distribution. The longer version is the one most often seen today.
Stan and Ollie are down to their last six bucks and call a lift to a job agency to find work. A City Water Dept. truck driver offers them a lift and drenches them with water as a joke and leaves them behind. They finally arrive in a badly damaged car that has been towed away. At the job agency a call comes from Mrs. Vandeveer looking for a Maid and Butler to help at a dinner party she is holding that night. Ollie tells the receptionist they can fill the post and to leave it to them. They arrive and Stan is dressed in drag, pretending to be the maid 'Agnes'. Stan curtsies to Mrs. Vandeveer and his underwear rips loudly. As he walks off they are around his ankles.
At the dinner party Stan eats the nibbles he's supposed to be giving to the guests and tips the rest into Mrs. Vandeveer's lap. Ollie calls the guests to the meal with a hand held xylophone. He says "there is everything from soup to nuts folks, come and get it". Stan is told to take the cocktails and instead of clearing them away he drinks them and becomes drunk. Ollie gets the guests to sit down with the men on one side and the women on the other side of the table.Mr. Vandeveer tells Ollie to change the seating arrangement and Ollie begins to move the guests around for a while until Mr. Vandeveer gets impatient and tells them to sit anywhere they like at the table. Mr. Vandeveer then tells the drunken Stan to "serve up the salad without dressing" so Stan serves the salad in his underwear. Seeing this, Mr. Vandeveer angrily storms into another room to take a rifle. Mrs. Vandeveer arrives, having changed her dress, and faints at the sight of Stan. Mr Vandeveer returns, rifle in hand, and chases Stan and Ollie out of the house. A single gunshot is heard and Mr. Vandeveer returns, followed by a Policeman, who tells him, "why don't you be more careful, you almost blew my brains out". When the cop turns to leave, the seat of his pants have a large jagged hole ripped in them, revealing smouldering undershorts.
Stan and Ollie then become road sweepers and wonder why they are always in the gutter. They decide to get an education because in Stan's words "we're not illiterative enough". They are sitting outside the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Commerce building eating a packed lunch, while a robbery is taking place inside. They inadvertently catch the robber when he slips on a banana peel tossed on the street by Stan. A grateful bank manager offers them a reward by suggesting that they could have a job in his bank. When Oliver mentions they wouldn't be much use since he and Stan don't have an education, the bank president expands on their goal to attend night school by saying, "If it's an education you want, you shall have the finest education money can buy." He enrolls Stan and Ollie at Oxford University in England, and they depart the U.S. towards Oxford by steamship.

When Stan and Ollie arrive at the University, the snobby Undergraduate students, led by the mischievous Johnson (Peter Cushing) decide to give them the "royal initiation," which involves a number of pranks. They are sent off into a maze in order to get a pass to see the dean and quickly became lost. One of the students (Henry Borden) dresses as a ghost in order to frighten Stan and Ollie, and while they sit on a bench to sleep, the ghost's hand comes through the hedge to help Stan smoke his pipe and cigar (substituting for Stan's actual hand).

They spend all night in the maze and exit the next morning. Johnson poses as the Dean and gives Stan and Ollie the real Dean's quarters to live in. They make themselves at home only to be confronted by the Dean. The prank is uncovered and Johnson is due to expelled. Before this happens the students decide to run Stan and Ollie out so they can't give evidence against Johnson. The boys are taken to their real quarters where Meredith the Valet recognises Stan as Lord Paddington, the "greatest athlete and scholar the University ever had". He says that Lord Paddington had lost his memory when the window fell on his head and wandered from campus. Stan and Ollie dismiss his story as a "dizzy spell".

The students arrive and decide to throw Stan and Ollie out of the window. Stan and Ollie decide to escape through the window and in doing so the window falls on Stan's head, which transforms him back into Lord Paddington. When the students accuse him of "squealing", he becomes angry and his ears wiggle - something that occurs whenever Lord Paddington becomes angry, according to Meredith's story - after which he throws all of the students out of the window. However, Stan doesn't remember Ollie any longer so he becomes furious when Ollie tells him of his former life and throws Ollie out the window as well.

Lord Paddington takes pity on Ollie and employs him to be his personal valet. He calls Ollie by the nickname "fatty" and criticises him which makes Ollie so angry he quits his job. Stan hears students come to cheer him outside and as he looks out of the window it falls on him once again, returning him back to his usual self. Stan and Ollie make up. The film has a happy ending rather than the more usual unfortunate ending.

A Chump at Oxford
A Chump at Oxford - 8 x 10 B&W Photo #1

Directed byAlfred J. Goulding
Produced byHal Roach Jr.
Hal Roach
Written byCharlie Rogers
Felix Adler
Harry Langdon
StarringStan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Wilfred Lucas
James Finlayson
Anita Garvin
Forrester Harvey
Peter Cushing
Charlie Hall
Music byMarvin Hatley
CinematographyArt Lloyd
Editing byBert Jordan
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date(s)February 16, 1940
Running time42 minutes (stream lined version)
63 minutes

Life Magazine: (21st March 1969)

Life Magazine, March 21, 1969 - Woody Allen
This edition of Life Magazine was printed in 1969 and on its cover featured comedy legend, Woody Allen. Inside, there's a superb interview with Woody in which he claims, "Bogart made me the lover I am today!"

Barbara Streisand - Evergreen (1976)

Barbra Streisand,Memory - Original Issue,UK,Deleted,7
Evergreen was a song about new love and was the theme to the 1976 remake of,"A Star is Born." The film starred Barbara Streisand and the song, Evergreen was so popular that it won the Academy Award for Best Song. Paul Williams who had written songs for the Carpenters and Three Dog Night, wrote this with Barbara Streisand. The songs for, A Star Is Born, had to be written before filming had begun since they were performed on camera. When Paul Williams signed on to the project Barbara had the music and one verse for the song, "Everything." Over the next seven weeks, Barbara & Williams wrote all the songs for the movie.

The Baron (1965)

The Baron was a British Television series, made in 1965/66 based on the book series by John Creasey, written under the pseudonym Anthony Morton, and produced by ITC Entertainment. It was the first ITC show without marionettes to be produced entirely in colour. (Previous ITC series Stingray and Thunderbirds had been filmed in colour, while The Adventures of Sir Lancelot in 1956-57 had the last fourteen of its thirty episodes shot in colour and Man of the World 1962 pilot episode was also filmed in colour.)

The show starred American Steve Forrest as John Mannering, an antiques dealer and undercover agent working in an informal capacity for the head of the fictional British Diplomatic Intelligence, Templeton-Green (Colin Gordon). Paul Ferris was originally cast as Mannering's assistant David Marlowe. However after pressure from the US network Marlowe was dropped in favour of the more glamorous Cordelia (Sue Lloyd) who had appeared in the first episode.

In Creasey's original novels Mannering was British and, after the few first entries, married. In transforming him into a bachelor and casting a Texan in the role, the producers decided that 'The Baron' would be nicknamed after the cattle ranch once run by his grandfather. In the books he was a reformed jewel-thief (the first few novels described that "career" from Mannering's decision to steal to his going straight) whose criminal ties served him well in investigating jewel, art or antiques-oriented mysteries.

Like other ITC shows, The Baron shared a lot of its production crew with the other productions of the time (Danger Man, The Saint etc.), including guest cast members Peter Wyngarde and Bernard Lee, and directors Roy Ward Baker and Robert Asher. The lion's share of the scripts were by Dennis Spooner and Dalek creator Terry Nation. A few episodes were written by 'Tony O'Grady', none other than The Avengers writer-producer Brian Clemens under a pseudonym.

The character of Mannering was like Simon Templar, a member of the jet set, whose glamorous lifestyle was typified by the (at the time) still-exclusive air travel to exotic locations. However filming never left the UK; indeed was filmed chiefly in and around Elstree Studios in Borehamwood in Hertofrdshire. Locations used included Haberdashers' Aske's School, St. Albans and Ivinghoe Becon. These featured prominently in several other ITC series of the same era. The backlot at Elstree in particular was extensively used, being transformed alternately into Mannering's antiques shop, a Mexican town, a Parisian nightclub, an East European police station and many others besides.

As with other ITC series, the American market was vital, and several episodes were overdubbed (e.g. 'petrol' becoming 'gas', 'whisky' becoming 'scotch') to ensure it was fit for US audiences. Unfortunately despite a promising start it did not do well enough on the US network and was syndicated midway through its run. This effectively ensured no second series would be made even though it was well received in the UK.

The Baron's car was a silver Jensen CV-8 MII with the registration 'BAR 1'. Unlike the Volvo driven by The Saint, the exclusivity of the car meant the series did not generate the same sales boost as The Saint had done for Volvo. Cordelia drove a considerably less upmarket Daf33.

The episode Something For A Rainy Day featured a clip of the now-famous white Jaguar plummeting over a cliff. It was apparently filmed for this episode but was deemed so expensive the clip went on to be used in many episodes and series later, effectively becoming an in-joke. Whenever someone got in a white Jaguar it inevitably ended in doom!

The episode Portrait of Louisa was a reworking by Terry Nation of his earlier script for an episode of The Saint entitled "Lida."

The Sweeney Board Game (1975)

The Sweeney by Omnia Games (1975)
This is the Sweeney Board Game from Omnia Games and released back in 1975 and was based on the classic Thames Television series which starred John Thaw & Dennis Waterman.

John Wayne is Brannigan (1975)

Brannigan was a 1975 British action film set in London, it was directed by Douglas Hickox and starred the Duke himself (John Wayne) and Richard Attenborough. Brannigan tells the story of a Chicago Detective sent to Britain to organise the extradition of an American mobster (John Vernon).

After turning down the role of Dirty Harry and seeing the subsequent success of the film Wayne made two police thrillers in quick succession. After McQ he made this "cop out of water" film in the same vein as Clint Eastwood's Coogan's Bluff..

Tough Chicago cop Jim Brannigan (John Wayne) is sent to London to extradite a notorious American gangster, Ben Larkin (John Vernon). Brannigan is assigned a local officer, Jennifer (Judy Geeson), to help while he is in London. Before he can collect him Larkin is kidnapped, by Mel Fields (Mel Ferrer) and Brannigan spends the rest of the film running around London in search of Larkin. Whilst struggling to adapt to the British way of life, and the restrained style of policing, he employs techniques not usually seen in Britain. In the meantime, a contract has been put out on Brannigan's life by Larkin to prevent him from being extradited to the United States. The contract is picked up by Gorman (Daniel Pilon).

Commander Swann (Richard Attenborough), in charge of helping Brannigan get Larkin to America, is a stuffy, upper class, Metropolitan Police Commander who's not afraid to get his hands dirty. There is continual conflict between Brannigan and Swann about Brannigan's carrying, and use of, his handgun.

The film is notable for its well-executed action sequences, including a spectacular car chase through Battersea's Shaftesbury Estate, Wandsworth and Central London featuring Brannigan jumping a yellow Ford Capri coupe across the half raised Tower Bridge. One sequence features shots of the interior and exterior of London's famous Royal Automobile Club, which has changed little since the shooting of the film.

Conversely, the film's opening sequence and first several minutes display Chicago roadways, riverside buildings and an early O'Hare Terminal 1 that have all been replaced. For example, a squad car is seen making the former turn on Upper Lake Shore Drive where East Wacker Drive now exists. The 300 block of North Canal Street, where Brannigan conducts an investigation using "enhanced interrogation techniques", rapidly developed between this film, Doctor Detroit, and Raw Deal.

In the scene when Brannigan and Cmdr. Swann are at the bar in the Garrick Club (known as the actors' club), there is a portrait of Sir Lawrence Olivier in Garrick Club tie.

After a Chicago Police officer was depicted in a less than flattering light in an episode of the 1957-1960 television series, M Squad, then-Mayor Richard J. Daley thereafter discouraged motion picture and television location filming in the city for the rest of his administration and its aftermath. Brannigan is one of the few films approved and granted police assistance during the two-decade era.

Some of the music featured was cut up to form the jingle backings for the Euroscope Marketing "Single Jingles" series for DJ's.

Brannigan - 14 x 36 Movie Poster - Insert Style A
Directed byDouglas Hickox
Produced byArthur Garnder
Jules Levy
executive producer:
Michael Wayne
Written byMichael Butler
Christopher Trumbo
StarringTony Robinson
John Wayne
Richard Attenborough
Judy Geeson
Mel Ferrer
John Vernon
Ralph Meeker
Daniel Pilon
Music byDominic Frontiere
CinematographyGerry Fisher
Editing byMalcolm Cooke
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date(s)March 26, 1975
Running time111 minutes
Country USA