Monday, 12 December 2011

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. John Watson (Nigel Bruce) receive a visit from Dr. James Mortimer (Lionel Atwill), who wishes to consult them before the arrival of Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene), the last of the Baskervilles, heir to the Baskerville estate in Devonshire.

Dr. Mortimer is uneasy about letting Sir Henry go to Baskerville Hall, owing to a supposed family curse. He tells Holmes and Watson the legend of the Hound of the Baskervilles, a demonic dog that first killed Sir Hugo Baskerville (Ralph Forbes) several hundred years ago (seen in flashback) and is believed to kill all Baskervilles in the region of Devonshire.

Holmes dismisses it as a fairy tale but Mortimer narrates the events of the recent death of his best friend, Sir Charles Baskerville, Sir Henry's uncle. Although he was found dead in his garden without any trace of physical damage, Sir Charles's face was distorted as if he died in utter terror of heart failure. Dr. Mortimer reveals something not mentioned at the official inquest. He alone had noticed footprints at some distance from the body when it was found; they were the paw marks of a gigantic hound. He never dared report them because no one would have believed him.

Holmes decides to send Watson to Baskerville Hall along with Sir Henry, claiming that he is too busy to accompany them himself. Sir Henry quickly develops a romantic interest in Beryl Stapleton (Wendy Barrie), the step-sister of his neighbour John Stapleton (Morton Lowry), a local naturalist. (In the novel, she is forced to pretend to be Stapleton's sister, when in reality she is his wife.) Meanwhile, a homicidal maniac (Nigel De Brulier), escaped from Dartmoor Prison, lurks on the moor.

Holmes eventually makes an appearance, having been hiding in the vicinity for some time making his own enquiries. An effective scene, not in the original book, occurs when Holmes, Watson and Sir Henry attend a seance held by Mrs. Mortimer (Beryl Mercer). In a trance, she asks, "What happened that night on the moor, Sir Charles?" The only reply is a lone howl, possibly from a hound.

After some clever deception by Holmes, it is revealed that the true criminal is John Stapleton, a long-lost cousin of the Baskervilles, who hopes to claim their vast fortune himself after removing all other members of the bloodline.

Stapleton kept a huge, half-starved, vicious dog, (played by a Great Dane) trained to attack individual members of the Baskervilles after prolonged exposure to their scent. In order to make it seem truly diabolical, he daubed its coat with a luminous, phosphorus-based paint. However, when the hound is finally sent to kill Sir Henry Baskerville, Holmes and Watson arrive to save him just in time. They kill the hound, proving it is not a ghost, and Stapleton flees.

Unlike the original novel, the villain's fate is unknown in the film. Holmes does say ominously, "He won't get very far. I've posted constables along the roads and the only other way is across the Grimpen Mire."

Beryl and Sir Henry, who, unlike the novel, have become engaged earlier in the film, presumably marry, although this is never shown.

Because the studio apparently had no idea that the film would be such a hit, and that Rathbone and Bruce would make many more Sherlock Holmes films and be forever linked with Holmes and Watson, top billing went to Richard Greene, who was the film's romantic lead. Rathbone was billed second. Wendy Barrie, who played Beryl Stapleton, the woman with whom Greene falls in love, received third billing, and Nigel Bruce, the film's Dr. Watson, was billed fourth. In all other Holmes films, Rathbone and Bruce would receive first and second billing.

The Hound of the Baskervilles also marks the first of the fourteen Sherlock Holmes movies starring Rathbone and Bruce as the detective duo.


Chiquitita tell me what's wrong, you're enchained by your own sorrow.

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"Chiquitita" (which roughly means "little girl" in Spanish) was the first single release from the fab Swedish pop group ABBA's Voulsez-Vous album, their sixth for Polar, and their fifth for Epic and Atlantic. Originally, the track "If It Wasn't for the Nights" was going to be the album's lead single, but after "Chiquitita" was completed those plans were abandoned, and it would remain an album track.

"Chiquitita" proved to be one of ABBA's biggest hits. It was featured in a 1979 UNICEF charity event, the Music for UNICEF Concert, broadcast worldwide from the United Nations General Assembly. As a direct result of this event, ABBA donated half of all royalties from the song to UNICEF. "Chiquitita" hit No1 in Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland, while reaching the Top 5 in Australia, West Germany, Norway and Sweden, making it the most successful single from the Voulez-Vous album in terms of global charts and one of the most famous charity songs ever. In Great Britain, the track debuted at No8 in the singles chart, making it the highest place d├ębut for any ABBA single release.
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In their native Sweden, it peaked at No2, with Blondie's "Heart of Glass" keeping it from reaching the top spot. However, despite this success, "Chiquitita" was less popular in France (only reaching No13), Canada (where it peaked at No17), the United States (reaching No29), and Italy (peaking at No48). But to this day, 50% of the proceeds from the song go to UNICEF in recognition of the International Year of the Child in 1979. In May 2007, "Chiquitita" had gained UNICEF over 15,000,000 SEK (about $2,500,000)
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"Chiquitita" was one of the very few singles ABBA released without a custom-made video. Since then, on compilations of the team's videos, a contemporary TV performance of the song has been used. This clip was taped by the BBC for the show Abba in Switzerland, broadcast across Europe at Easter 1979. In this, ABBA is seen performing the song on a mountainside, with a snowman in the background. Throughout the clip, there was an obvious problem with the fan during filming, which affected Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad, her hair constantly flew in her face, and she was forced to keep moving it out of her eyes.

Christmas TV Times (December 1978)

Morecambe and Wise adorn the cover of this Christmas edition of TV Times from 1978. Oh, with a cardboard cut out of Sean Connery in the background!

Classic Corrie: Jack Walker (1960 - 1970)


John "Jack" Walker was portrayed by the lovely Arthur Leslie between 1960 and 1970.Jack was born on 26 April, 1901 in Accrington, Lancashire. He was born to parents Joan and Amos, who was a veterinarian. Jack married the love of his life Annie Beaumont in 1937, and shortly afterward the couple bought the Rovers Return Inn. They ran it together and Annie fell pregnant and gave birth to a son, Billy, in 1938 and later a daughter Joan, the apple of Jack's eye. Jack soon had to go and fight for his country in the Second World Warand Annie was left to run the pub on her own until Jack returned. Jack was a long-suffering husband as Annie was a snob and saw herself as a more educated person than the rest of the people on Coronation Street, Jack had to put up with Annie's antics and enjoyed watching his daughter Joan marry in 1961.
Jack and Annie were also offered the Royal Oak by the brewery but the decided that their heart belonged in the Rovers Return. In 1964, Annie left Jack after she suspected him of cheating on her. Jack remained calm as he knew that her accusations were untrue and he had not been having an affair. Annie soon realised her error and returned to the Rovers. Three years later, Annie again suspected that Jack was having an affair, this time with Elsie Tanner, in 1967, but Annie had incorrectly interpreted the situation as Jack wanted Elsie to make some clothing for Annie. Jack also helped his good friend Ena Sharples recover from the death of her daughter in 1967.

In 1969, the residents of Coronation Street arranged a trip but the coach crashed and Jackwas left in a bad way, which left Annie in tears. But Jack recovered in time to serve behind the bar again.
Jack and Annie had run the Rovers for 33 years when in 1970, Jack fell ill and went to stay with his daughter Joan in Derby. Jack died of a heart attack while staying at Joan'shouse after a bout of ill health. His death occurred off-screen, the result of actor Arthur Leslie dying. At the time his death was a huge shock as Jack was the first major character onCoronation Street to have to be written out because of an actor's death. Jack left a devastated street of residents and a heartbroken wife, but as Jack would've wanted, theRovers remained open and Annie continued to be landlady for another thirteen years.

The Magpie Annual (1976)

When I was a kid, TV Annuals were just as big business as toys and games. Here are some pages from the Magpie TV Annual 1976.
Takes you back doesn't it?