Douglas Fairbanks Presents
156 films were made
from 1953 to 1956.

Reviews of recently seen stories

34 Silent Snow 4*
40 King High 3*
43 The Wedding Veil 3*
46 Second Wind 8*
48 International Settlement 5*
60 The Awakening 5*
62 Pattern for Glory 3*
63 A Line in the Snow 5*
65 Dream Stuff 2*
72 The Relative Truth 4*
73 The Lovely Place 2*
75 Silent Night 3*
78 Border Incident 2*
82 Counterfeit 2*
90 The Thoroughbred 4*
93 Little Big Shot 4*
100 Enchanted Doll 6*
105 The Milkman 5*
107 Atlantic Night 4*
108 The Hero
120 Jason's House 4*
123 Welcome My Wife 6*
125 A Flight of Birds 4*
127 A New Life 6*
128 The Dunce 2*
129 Ship Day 4*
130 The Murderer 5*
133 Story of Pan Yusef 2*
134 A Train to the Sea 6*
137 The Way Home 5*
138 Mister Purley's Profession 8*
140 Beloved Stranger 4*
145 Last Tour 4*
147 One Can't Help Feeling Sorry 4*
154 The Ludlow Affair 6*
155 Mark of the Scorpion 2*
156 Together 3*
Click highlighted titles for my reviews of surviving stories.
Star ratings are from 2* (poor) to 8* (very good)

It's one of life's minor mysteries why so many of this series of films are apparently missing. You'd have thought more ought to be around in this dvd age. It's not as though they were poorly made, or lacked star quality. Who is hiding all the originals? Or are so many lost for ever?
The series attracted a regular repertory of stars, including Fairbanks himself, other semi-regulars include Ron Randell, James Hayter and Eunice Gayson, while making one off appearances were greats such as Buster Keaton and Diana Dors. You can also find the likes of Wilfrid Hyde White, Christopher Lee and Honor Blackman if you dig deep enough.

Picture: from #72 with a young Nicholas Parsons alongside Patrick Holt
To Film Dramas Menu
Main TV Menu

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Silent Snow

The setting is a lonely Canadian mountain shack.
Harriet is the main character, she is longing to get away with Steve who has come between her and Jeb.
She is waiting, waiting for Steve to return through the snow to take her away. As the storm grows wilder, she sits there alone. A tap drips. A door creaks. At midnight she despairs of his coming and retires to bed.
The story has all the hallmarks of an early Armchair Theatre as she listens for Steve's return, "Steve is coming, relax." She talks to hersef, and next morning listens to the news on the radio. It's bad news, as the announcer tells of Steve's death in a road accident. It takes Harriet over the Armchair top, especially as she realises that "nobody knows I'm here."
"You're trapped," her inner voice explains to her other self. At the kitchen sink- where else?- the dripping tap drives her wild. "Keep calm," she attempts to compose herself, and she gathers positive thoughts, yes she could even survive here until next spring. But that thought of being so long incarcerated here serves to remind her that it was just that very loneliness that she had been seeking to escape from.
And so her introspection goes on. Jeb is soon to return. She smartens herself up for him, "my great big beautiful doll." But she knows she's kidding herself and by the time Jeb does rescue her she's delirious.

Though author Derry Quinn must have been hoping for some great acting triumph, his script never encourages it, and Ingeborg Wells as Harriet gives an adequate performance, quite moving at times, but never, one feels, quite the gut wrenching angst for which the author had been striving

from a film print

To Douglas Fairbanks Presents Menu

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King High

The date is c1900. Queen Nora and King Nicholas of Sabina (Douglas Fairbanks Jr) are fleeing into exile, dodging enemy bullets. From Zurich they phone their embassy in Paris. The ambassador arranges for them to stay in a posh hotel even though they are "financially embarassed." The ambassador is clearly siding with the new regime that should soon take over.
However in Paris, the ex-king and his wife receive kindnesses. One from Valda, a loyal embassy minion who advances a small loan. A "fast deal" with a newspaper photographer enables them to obtain some night attire.
The pompous ambassador informs them that the king is now deposed, the country has been declared a republic. Nicky must sign an abdication form. "Get out, you vulture." It's comedy, just about comedy.
The press are clamouring for the ex-king's life story. They should make good money out of it. But the Sabinian people are demanding their ex-king return, as king. Attitudes dramatically change, the ambassador offers his resignation. But the king tears it up. With his queen, together they re-enter Sabina in triumph, not to bullets but to cheers

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THE WEDDING VEIL (1954)

Fairbanks introduces this as a memorable ghost story but it's a pretty unbelievable plot.
A girl (Nanette Newman) has always been frightened of an old lonely house, but she has to go there to visit her dying aunt. She sees a ghost (Lana Morris) who takes away a picture of the girl's fiance. The ghost decides she wants to marry him and that instead of the aunt dying, he will have to have an accident to be taken away instead.
Also features Vincent Ball as the fiance, and Barbara Mullen as a housekeeper.
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SECOND WIND (1954)
A topical reference by Fairbanks to The Four Minute Mile starts this film off.
George (Michael Shepley) learns he's to be a grandad. His wife Alice (Nora Swinburne) decides it's time for him to stop working so hard and "start growing sweet peas." Trouble is, Alice realises, "noone likes to admit he's getting on in years," so she tries dropping a few hints about George's health - "he doesn't look "waxen" does he? And has he thought about making his will? George gracefully gives in and admits "he's not the man he was." He starts his counter campaign - "old girl," he tells Alice, "time has passed you by." So whilst George hands over the reins of the family firm to his children, Alice sells the house and arranges a holiday in St Tropez.
Then Alice receives a shock. She's going to have a baby! How will George take it? She finds it hard to break the news. Whilst he goes on about "the quiet years are the best years, we've still got those to look forward to," she tries to readjust and feel younger again. Finally George is told. He takes a long swig. On goes his bowler, and out he goes. .... He returns at last, rejuvenated- "never felt better - wonderful!"

A pleasant light comedy, the sort of role that Michael Shepley excelled in. Also appearing is Tim (Invisible Man) Turner as the son, and as son-in-law another future TV star, Conrad Phillips, who's not in the on screen credits. Also uncredited is Sam Kydd, who plays Albert, fiance of the family's maid.

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INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENT (1954)

It's 1942 and a US pilot (Douglas Fairbanks Jr) crashes in a tornado in a lagoon on an isolated Pacific island.
He is rescued by a German, whose daughter (Mary Parker) nurses him back to health. He realises he must be a prisoner but is surprised to find two Japanese, a Scotsman, an Italian married to a fat Spaniard and a French priest also on the island and living in apparent harmony.
He learns that for 3 years they have been out of touch with the outside world, but have now built a boat and intend to get help.
Should he reveal the truth about the war? He agonises over what to do, and falls in love with his nurse.

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THE AWAKENING

"What happens when a man forgets the true meaning of freedom and sacrifices himself on the altar of regimentation?" asks an excited Fairbanks. Excited because Buster Keaton is the star of this adaptation of Gogol's short story The Cloak.
He stars as A Man in a nameless state where every human want is numbered. The man works for the State and can remember 400,000 serial numbers. It's his job to file things correctly - for example, he spots a case of a 34 year old woman with two children, ill with typhoid and who needs a new serum has been misfiled under 7935-M. When challenged as to whether the woman was helped, he doesn't know, that's not his job.
Why even "The Chief" (James Hayter) in this wonderful State has a number. It's a wonderful place he tells his people, where "our little tots will grow as fat and pink as sausages!"
The Man needs a new coat. Although he cannot afford one, he economises and eventually has a superb new coat, the envy of everyone. But it's stolen! File a report 6297-T. But will this get his coat returned? The Man wonders. The Man gets agitated over his lovely missing coat. His boss (Geoffrey Keen) gets cross with him when reports start getting wrongly numbered. But the Man is too upset to work properly. He sees the poster announcing "The Chief Cares." He goes to see him. The response? The Chief broadcasts what today is called Spin, a long speech all about his caring attitude. All those officials who dealt with the report of the theft of the coat are dismissed. But no sign of the overcoat. Disllusioned, the Man tells The Chief 'what for'. The Man has to be silenced. But the Man gets the final word, or at least a final vision.

Interesting, though I found the ending, as so often with this series, rather a puzzle, if also a surprise.

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PATTERN FOR GLORY
Douglas explains this is a story of a movie star "too often seen in real life."
It's been 8 years since Clint (Ron Randell) has written a hit script. He tells his disbelieving agent who's rejected his latest offering "if a star came in with this script, you'd do it then." Laura Barry,"the forgotten woman" (Anne Crawford) likes the story but has never acted in plays, only second rate films. Anyway her career is over, but Clint tries to encourage her "you've never had a chance to show what you can really do, and it's eating you up alive." Laura is finally persuaded to take on the star part and with Clint's encouragement they soon get emotionally involved. But is Clint's 'love' real, or is he trying to coax a performance from her?
Clint's girl friend Anne attends the dress rehearsal of Wife of the Governor. She tries to boost Clint who is trying to boost Laura, even though he can see she's a complete flop.
In the audience is actress Mary Holliday, and she just loves the star part."If Mary Holland wanted to do a part, it wouldn't be too late the night before opening," Clint's agent advises him. But what about Laura? Contracts are made to be broken. Clint has the unenviable task of informing her.
He tells her "the whole truth." After a while. "I did what I had to do" is Clint's corniest line in amongst a load of cliches. But hidden there also is a genuine tale with a well acted final scene. So we take our leave of Laura, unhappy. Clint has a bad conscience and Anne says he doesn't need her any more. I suppose that's show biz.

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A LINE IN THE SNOW

Five years, two months and eleven days, Canadian Mountie Warren (Robert Beatty) has been after the man who killed Gena his sister (Carol Marsh, in a non speaking role). The murder is shown rather pointlessly in a flashback. At long last, Warren has captured the killer Brackett (Christoper Lee), "if it had taken a lifetime, I'd have found him."
But in a driving blizzard, with his inexperienced helper Frank (Patrick Holt), their car overturns and they are forced to seek shelter in a log cabin. As the snowstorm intensifies, Brackett demands food, a ruse to trick Frank, and as he has snatched a gun, he has to be released, crashing through a window into the frozen waste. Frank can only apologise, "I don't know what to say." But in true Mountie style, Warren retorts philosophically, "we'll have to start all over again."
Next day, with the fierce storm still keeping them from leaving, gunshots and cries for help are heard. "I know it's him. he's lost"

The 'line' of the story is a fishing line which Warren intends to use to find his way back to the cabin, once he has recaptured his Man. Ignoring Frank's idea of letting him "die like a dog," Warren wants his Man alive and ventures into the storm, Frank holding the other end, the rod. "He'll never find him."
The storm swirls ferociously. The murderer is lying injured in the snow, frozen. The evil Brackett snaps the lifeline before collapsing into death. It's up to Frank to follow the line to find his partner and help guide him back to safety.
Time is up, and a full realisation of the plot is not achieved - a pity. Well, the stories were made at breakneck speed!
from a 16mm film print
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DREAM STUFF
Alice and husband Dunc (Lee Patterson) are a "very ordinary young couple." So what are they doing in the city jail? This is their story.
They live at a boarding house. Whilst Dunc studies, Alice looks after her two friends who live it up - there's Candy (Kay Callard) whom Alice waits on hand and foot and Doris: "Johnny says that besides me orchids are like dandelions." Alice has what in modern jargon is called low self esteem, which sinks still further when Joan says she has a crush on Dunc. She thinks, as Dunc has told her so, that Alice is Dunc's sister.
Harris Watson is a gentleman caller who is dramatically shot. Alice phones the cops then picks up the murder weapon. "I did it," she shouts. She tells the police the same thing, adding that Watson had a crush on her, that they met secretly - lies similar to the stories she's heard her friends tell. The police seem unconvinced. She's asked if she can demonstrate how she fired the gun. She does. "I can cook too," she boasts. They call in a dismayed Dunc. "You're talking crazy," he tells Alice. She says she's looking forward to the electric chair. But when she meets Joan again, the one with a crush on Dunc, and Joan admits she's never actually met Dunc, Alice realises she's been a "jerk."
Betty McDowall does her best as Alice but one couldn't pretend this is any masterpiece.
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The Relative Truth
This tries to be a piece of light Irish whimsy, but it's not very Irish and has no lightness of touch.

There's a smell o' gas from room number 4 in an Dublin boarding house. Tell the landlady, only she's "out courting." So call the police, and a local constable arrives to size up the situation, and finally break down the door. The room is rented by newlyweds Mr and Mrs Brown. The four residents watch with excitement for a body to be revealed.
But there isn't any sign of one. "Someone must have removed the body." Battleaxe Miss McCardle explains to off duty Inspector O'Mara (Patrick Holt), who happens to live here too, that she knows a man named Eric called to see Steve Brown (Nicholas Parsons). Steve was out, but when he returned, she heard the two of them arguing, and Mrs Brown saying, "our chance to be rid of him for good." She declares for a fact that she saw Steve carry the corpse down the stairs.
According to one person, Eric is a Polish agent out to kill him. He saw the body being transported away also- "I would recognise his feet anywhere!" But this Polwarski (Martin Miller) is "a foreign crackpot."
Then O'Mara tries to get some sense out of Maggie O'Rorke (Barbara Mullen), who, as an enthusiastic reader of crime fiction, has her own theory. Mrs Brown is Mary Smith, an escaped murderess, "it all fits like a jigsaw."
There's a fairly simple explanation when O'Mara finds the Browns. They have won 50,000 in the Irish Sweepstake, Eric had been begging for a slice. O'Mara decides that's "cock and bull," but has to change his opinion when "the corpse himself," Eric, materialises. The murder story has collapsed

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THE LOVELY PLACE
Bob, a truck driver (Ron Randell) dreams of paradise in South America. A blonde and her child Roberta hide in his truck to hitch a ride to "some nice place." It transpires the two were once married. Lots of dull dialogue ensues. Act 2 sees the conversation rumble on like the truck. We learn he is concerned about his kid even though it was she who walked out on him.
Something's needed to rouse viewers from their torpor. What happens is a brake failure, and the truck is now hurtling downhill.
A lesson for all potential filmmakers - you can't make a story only built round a few close ups of Diana Dors, however nice she might look. Fairbanks concludes a disappointing half hour: "Well I guess that proves that most lovely places are either here (pointing to head) or here (pointing to heart)." Mmm
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Silent Night
Fairbanks is in Bavaria to introduce the well known tale of how the famous carol came about. This version makes a drama out of it, but is very piecemeal.

Oberndorf 1818. "Why are you singing like a pig?" the poor priest (Gerard Heinz) asks a choirboy during choir practice. Everyone's singing is lacklustre, ans the organ sounds awful, there's a mouse in the bellows. Organist Franz Gruber says it is unplayable, so why not have a tune on his zither, easy to play, "we'll write it ourselves."
He writes a tune which has the effect of sending his young son to sleep. The priest writes the words, with a little help from Franz and his wife, and the carol service goes off well. However the monseigneur is unimpressed, "shocked" in fact, and as the church is in such a poor state of repair recommends its closure.
However the archbishop is impressed by Franz's enterprise, and the specially composed carol, and agrees to provide a new organ for the village church.
Franz and his family have determined to start a new life in Pennsylvania. In America, we see him decorating their Christmas tree (as tradition that hadn't been invented!), but conditions are terrible, freezing weather, immigrants facing starvation. But they sing Silent Night, and are cheered by news from the old country that their church has been saved. Indeed everyone there is enjoying their carol.
To the present, American soldiers in Oberndorf enjoy Silent Night once more

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BORDER INCIDENT

A tense melodrama, suggests Fairbanks in his intro.
A fairer description might be dull. Jefferson (William Sylvester) has to replace his lost passport for 10 dollars. Jefferson 2 (Paul Carpenter) pays 1,000 dollars for a forged passport. Both have booked in to the Hotel d'Univers. Restless and lonesome Jefferson 1 spots the passport that he had lost and meets up with a girl (Balbina) whom he walks up a mountain. She's trying to retrieve this passport for her friend J2 who's so "desperate" he produces a gun. "It's his life or mine," decides J2, so he plans to push J1 down the mountainside. Whilst he prepares for this, the girl guards J1 - "why should anyone trust anyone?" J1 quizzes her. Profoundly she comments to him "the whole world is full of men and women hiding from one another." J1 is impressed by the girl's loyalty and he lets J2 have the passport. But she's had enough of J2's fugitive life and leaves him.
There's a final scene at the border ending with the corny "there's nothing you can do for him now." 2 out of 10 for the effort of those B film stalwarts, Sylvester and Carpenter.

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COUNTERFEIT

Bill (Fairbanks Jr) saved the life of Paul (Robert Beatty) in the war.
Now, in post-war Germany, they are Military Policemen. Bill wants to take Lili back to America, and persuades her, when he discovers the source of some counterfeit US dollars. He is demobbed, but Paul is still serving, and catches up with Bill's blackmailing. Will he remember Bill's kindness, or will he do his duty?
A good story idea, but the conflict isn't properly explored.
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THE THOROUGHBRED with Douglas Fairbanks

Fairbanks plays Fitzhugh an Irish horseman, for whom "everything he touches turns to dust." His luck's out and this once celebrated trainer of horses is living on handouts.
An old friend offers him a cut, if he'll tell an interested an American that Mistral, a sire of one of his ex horses, is well worth the 1,000 asking price. They're a little thrown when the American proves to be Nora (Eunice Gayson), but they continue their Irish blarney and persuade her to buy. She soon discovers the horse is a "bust" with no competitive spirit. But she's determined, even though she's nearly broke, and persuades Fitzhugh to train the horse, even though he admits the horse is no good.
Fitzhugh meantime, has found his past catching up with him. Kell (Cyril Cusack) wants Fitzhugh to throw the race. When Mistral improves under training, Kell gets wind of the success and threatens to expose Fitzhugh's shady past dealings. But Mistral is looking increasingly good - the one and a half miles is run in two minutes 55, then 2mins 48 and finally 2mins 35.
Race Day. The Irish Champion Stakes. The winner's time, an amazing 2mins 32. Nora collects her winnings whilst her trainer gets his packet. But at least he's proved he's still a good trainer. Inocuous stuff!

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THE LITTLE BIG SHOT (1955)
Fairbanks introduces the cast- "the wonderful and famous Diana Wynyard as the kidnapped actress, and Diana Decker, well, as her jailer."

Public Enemy No 1, Candy Nolan, is resting with his shoes on in bed, in the home of The Queen of Broadway, making her a prisoner in her own apartment. Her husband, Judge Livingstone, is the only judge who has ever sent Candy 'away.' Her 'jailer' is Florida, girl friend of Mitch Martin, Candy's lawyer. The main focus is on the two women who have two lengthy conversations - just who is really the prisoner?
These discussions are sensibly broken up with one between the Judge and Mitch, who is also a sort of prisoner - "you know the way he (Candy) operates - he's a killer. He doesn't let anything get in his way."
Florida is persuaded to phone the cops, but the line's dead. The police do come however, and the big shot has already run away. Shooting off camera.

Rather stagey, not only in the set, but in the dialogue and general lack of action.

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THE ENCHANTED DOLL
A London backwater in 1903.
"When I first saw this in the window, I thought it was an illusion," says newly qualified Dr Stephen Amony (Fairbanks), when he purchases an expensive 2 doll from a local shop as a present for his niece. So lifelike is she that "you'd almost think she was going to talk," and he decides he must keep the doll for himself. His colleague Dr Symonds (James Hayter) is fascinated by the doll also, "it's almost as if she were alive."
Amony's first patient, Angela has a grazed knee. In silent admiration she too gazes at the lovely doll. On a home visit Amony encounters Mary, a cripple, who's cared for by Rose. Mary's parents had been killed in a train crash and she herself aged fourteen had been badly injured. It's she who actually creates these dolls, but unlike her creations, she's pining away, jealously protected by Rose, who only sees her as a source of income. "Quite the Prince Charming," Rose remarks of the doctor to Mary. "But you're no Cinderella."
Dr Amony wants to help Mary walk again, since "her life's just ebbing away." He can't persuade her, or the suffocating Rose, to see a specialist. She's already been told she will never walk again. But gradually she comes out of her shell, as he brings her to talk about her happy childhood.
"We won't be needing you any more," Rose drops her bombshell. "There's nothing you can do."
However Amony manages to creep in again having ensured Rose is kept out of the house. He patiently explains to Mary that it's Rose who has drained away the life from her. "People can die from lack of love." Then he declares his own love. "Get up Mary and walk!" he shouts. This she does, and walks into a kiss.
The return of Rose is thankfully too late. There's a happy conclusion to this enchanting Paul Gallico tale.
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The Milkman (1955)

Fairbanks starts the story off, standing by a sundial.
"Utter devotion to time," is the motto of the milkman in this tale. He's William Potter (Leslie Dwyer). "Set your clock by our milkman," is the legend displayed on his float, woe betide his assistant (Harold Goodwin) if they encounter any delay. 7am he always departs the depot, 1pm he always returns, though his schedule always includes spare time for some human niceties along the way, helping customers, chatting to them.
Mr Berns his boss congratulates him on his punctuality. Potter will receive a presentation, never since Merriweather in 1903 has anyone been so punctual, "you've earned it," his boss informs him.
William dreams this might lead to his promotion, and prepares his speech of thanks for the big day. This must last exactly two minutes thirty seconds. However there's a nice touch of irony, for his wife Vera (Mary Mackenzie) has somehow been neglected in all this thoughtfulness towards customers. Not that William notices, "a man gets a certain satisfaction knowing he does something better than anyone else."
That one thing he has failed to do, he has neglected his own wife. She buys him a new alarm clock on the very day of the presentation. It's been set wrong so the unthinkable, William leaves for work 27 minutes behind time. Did Vera do it on purpose? "I'll never forgive you." After he leaves for work, late, she leaves also.
The whole morning is a frantic rush to make up for lost time. Niceties must be forgotten, like seeing the new baby of Eulenspiegel (Eric Pohlmann). But when you're late, certain delays cause further delays, and on top of it all, there's a serious fire in one road, and how can Potter make the 22 deliveries there? He can't, so actually it does save him time and thus at 1pm William draws into the depot, on schedule as usual.
To cheers, the presentation is made, a fine clock, but instead of his own speech of thanks, William recalls Vera, no time for his speech, he dashes home to find her gone.
She does return however and a melancholy William brightens at the sight of her. He apologises for neglecting her and they can now laugh over that clock. William admits he had been acting like a machine, remembering customers, but never his own wife.
Here's a fine little story, but never quite hitting the right mark, unable to decide if it's a comedy or sentimental, so it misses the mark even if it is so well acted

from a 16mm print

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ATLANTIC NIGHT with Andre Morrell. The story of the Titanic.

This is "so unusual", a semi- documentary, according to Fairbanks. Of course the story is well known, but this is an early effort to retell the tragedy. It's told from the viewpoint of a nearby freighter and her cap'n.
Because of all the ice, his ship heaves to. We meet various of the crew. The Titanic, we learn, is speeding rapidly towards them, though cap'n isn't convinced even such a great new vessel could keep up such a pace across the ocean. A wireless warning is sent about the ice.
But on board the "floating palace", the warning is never received- too busy sending passengers' wireless messages to shore.
From five miles distance the Caledonian notice the ship has stopped. There's still speculation whether it is the Titanic. But she wouldn't have stopped would she? Finally Titanic sends out an SOS, but Fred, the Caledonian's wireless man is having a rest. Then at last! The engineer sees a distress flare. Cap'n is awoken from his dreams- "call her up and see what she wants," is his answer, as he turns over to his slumbers.
On deck the Caledonian crew watch the big ship list, then "the stern light fading".... and lastly "she's disappeared!"
Next morning it's too late of course, when news of the sinking is received.
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Jason's House
Introduced by DF behind a toy castle.

An East African valley is to be flooded to create hydro electric power. One house owner, the original settler, Jason (Finlay Currie) refuses to be evicted. The high handed methods of Fletcher the demolition engineer (Robert Raglan) don't help.
Engineer Jeff Engels (Patrick Holt) is all for the soft approach, he is sweet on Jason's daughter Laura (Gene Anderson), and even she cannot persuade Jason he ought to move. He is attached to his home, and threatens to shoot anyone who attempts to shift him. It has all been done better before, but the interest is in whether Jason will ever budge. "What's he going to do?"
The Police Commissioner (Arnold Bell) tries to reason with the old man. "You can't stop this." The eviction order will take effect tomorrow.
The impatient Fletcher threatens Jason, chucking a petrol bomb into his garden. Jason's response is to lock himself in his bedroom.
Next morning the bulldozers hover. The boss himself (Charles Lloyd Pack) decides to hold a face to face with Jason. They are both old timers. Gunfire however greets him as he walks up the garden path. But all bullets miss. The two men chat. "You're holding me up." Answer, "I'm not budging."
As they mull over the old days, Jason comes to see everything has changed. The house could be shifted to another location. Instead Jason sets fire to his beloved home, rather a sad finish

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WELCOME MY WIFE
Fairbanks tells us that this play about "warm people" is "played to the hilt" by the cast. He's not far out either, this is a good piece of blarney set in the Emerald Isle, County of Cork.
Barney (James Hayer) is a relative newcomer to Ticklemaclorragh, but he's appreciated as a wise man, always able to act as peacemaker. As for example between Martin (Barry Keegan) and his wife Katie. Though Barney's not married himself, his wisdom works the oracle, as he advises them to throw away their dearest possessions (for Katie it's her grandfather clock), and lo the couple are soon back in each other's arms.
But then "the blow fell." It transpires that Barney had once been married, to a regular harridan, and she's on her way to the village to rejoin him, if only for reasons of her own respectability. Barney confides in Martin that he'd only married her because "she could darn socks," and when she inherited a fortune, 700 actually, she took off, "well rid of me." Though this is only revealed in confidence, soon of course it's the talk of the village. Folk generally agree that poor Barney is a "goner."
But villagers rally round, so that when She arrives in the village, She discovers a lot about the life her husband is leading. As for Barney, "I can't face her," he admits. Just as well, for in his home She finds ladies' underwear, planted there by Katie, and she leaves in utter disgust. As he watches her leave, there's a smile on Barney's face.

from a 16mm film print
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A FLIGHT OF BIRDS (1955)

Made in Germany, nearly a fairy tale of gipsy children Mark and Tamara who live in a refugee camp. They find it more a prison and long to be "free" as the birds they see flying in the air.
They 'escape' to the forest and live like the animals sleeping wild. Their innocence is hard to imagine these days, and dialogue such as when she proposes in all sincerity is hard to take. Their wedding ceremony by a stream is mercifully short, yet at the time it was probably merely twee.
To earn a living of sorts, Marks 'borrows' a violin, but the villagers catch them and take them to the baron's castle for sternest judgement.
He proves a kindly old soul, patiently explaining that stealing is wrong. Mark plays the violin and she dances and he is so enchanted that in his loneliness he invites them to stay with him.
"He's in his second childhood," and though he is contented enough the baron's kitchen staff are not. Nor surprisingly are the children, for they miss the open road. even though they like the old man. He promises them that they will inherit his castle when he dies, for his wife and son are sadly dead.
Mark and Tamara fear that the kitchen staff will get them sent back to their camp, so they decide to run away. But what they don't know is that the baron has passed away in his sleep, so this doesn't end quite as you expect, or hope

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A New Life

Dr Braden (Renee Asherson) is the new assistant doctor at a Malayan hospital, run by Dr Lambert (Ron Randell) of the old school.
She has to speak up about his treatment of a pregnant girl Hasina, too many locals, she tells Lambert, are not coming back for treatment because of his harsh diagnoses. He dismisses the "sentimental reassurance" that she is wanting to offer.
Trouble is, he looks down on the native population, and expects unquestioning obedience from his staff. Maybe unwisely, Dr Braden treats Hasina privately, "we're going to be friends."
Lambert thaws ever so slightly when he takes Dr Braden to a lecture in Kuala Lumpar, though it ends up a sightseeing tour and a pleasant meal. But he is less pleased when Hasina is admitted to hospital. This is on the order of an interfering nurse.
He does agree to let Dr Braden continue her treatment. But "if the girl dies...."
Hasina is given renewed confidence to have her baby. It's a difficult labour, and when Hasina's pulse drops, Dr Braden has no choice but to turn to Lambert for advice.
Together, they ensure a successful birth. Of course it had to be
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THE DUNCE
Made in Germany, and it makes for slightly awkward viewing since some of the cast are not apparently 100% fluent in English. For instance, at one point a character utters the word "kindship."

A bitter seaman named Paul has returned to his native Rotenkirch to clear his name, for he had been suspected of killing his friend Martin, before the war.
Everyone nicknamed him The Dunce. His only friend now is Anna. He wants to find out who killed Martin, and when he does so, "I'll kill him."
Two of his enemies attack him in the street, "someone doesn't seem to like you." Leave Rotenkirch, the police warn Paul, a little unfairly.
Paul must find the killer. He "plays detective" and questions the local chemist, the stationmaster, and the innkeeper's flirty wife. "I've got to find out," he repeats to Anna, but his quest has become far too tedious. Motive for the killing unknown.
But in the best detective tradition, Paul plays a hunch and forces the murderer to confess. At least he doesn't go through with his threat, and so leaves the town happily in Anna's arm

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SHIP DAY

The story is introduced by Fairbanks, pointing us to a ship's compass.
Captain Dickson (Clifford Evans) is stopping off his vessel on a small tropical isle to deliver goods and collect their cargo of copra. He's in a hurry to get away because there's a typhoon in the offing- as a side note, it would seem while most of us would want to stay IN harbour, he wants to enjoy his battle with the elements in his ship!
Also in a hurry on board is the irascible owner Hubert Marks (Alexander Gauge), who is taking the rogue of a company doctor to attend to an epidemic. This Dr Macey (Cyril Cusack) is asked, while the ship is in port, to check the condition of the wife of the manager Wayne, who is expecting another baby. Macey is not competent and partial to a drop or two, but Hippocratic enough to promise to help the mother-to-be. It will take a while, he explains to the captain, for the baby's position is upside down.
"I order you aboard," commands Captain Dickson, but Macey must refuse, for he cannot desert his patient. Marks, frustrated at the delay, orders Dickson to leave. The conflict of duties, captain's and doctor's is highlighted briefly in their exchange, the captain perceiving the doctor has priority. When the owner insists they go, slight engine trouble is the excuse for remaining. But a deadline is set and the ship has to depart minus Macey. A baby girl is born and at the very last moment, Macey is taken on board the departing vessel, "nicely judged."
Good idea for a conflict, though for me there wasn't enough made of contrast between sympathy for the doctor and his patient, and those on the ship

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The Murderer
DF promises us a story with "several sudden and surprising twists."
Set in South Germany, hired killer Karl Peters approaches another of his ilk, with a view to business. Karl wants this hired assassin Art Sullivan to kill the husband of the woman he loves. A price of $5,000 is agreed, Karl doesn't know the victim's name, but will tell Art when and where he can be got.
Art thinks that his wife Jenny is unaware of his profession. He takes her to the mountains for a rest and they book into a hotel, room 18. Surprisingly Karl shows up. The victim is in, yes, we can guess, Room 18.
We hear that Jenny's brother Kurt had been murdered by an unknown killer She wants revenge. Karl has informed her that Art did the job. So she 'fixes' Art's car. He sees her drive away with Karl and pursues them. "It's all worked out."
80km/h. 100 km/h. "He's got to hit 100 for ... the bomb to work." But maybe Art is not that stupid. They slow down, the action slows badly too. Karl stops the car. Art does so too, calmly.
"What are you waiting for?" Jenny demandes of Karl. But Art gets in the first shot and shoots Karl. The truth of who really killed Kurt emerges. With the traditional dying breath, now that Jenny is the wiser, Karl shoots her.
Art rushes her to the nearest hospital. She's too ill to warn him of the bomb. Boom.
Concludes DF, "evil brings its own reward"

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A TRAIN TO THE SEA (1955)
Adapted from Hugh Walpole's short story, this is claims Fairbanks about "an average household of an average London suburb."

Average means a pretty impressive detached residence where the master Tom Godley (Ian Hunter) is brought his morning cuppa in bed by a maid.
Tom is rather peeved as he's spending the nights in the spare room, since Mary his wife (Nora Swinburne) is looking after their grandson in "my own bedroom once." Getting up, Tom takes some exercise in their gym (!) where a house guest rather insults him by implying he's a little on the plump side. Then it's breakfast, also a nightmare, in company with the noisy guests of his adolescent children.
Off to work and maybe some peace! He reminisces about happier days when he actually had time to talk to his wife. Plimpton on Sea in 1930 that was- on their honeymoon. There he'd promised her "noone must keep us apart." He realises "it didn't work out that way." He decides "she's got to stop being everyone's mother." So he dashes home to tell his wife, only of course her response is "not now darling, there isn't time."
Finally "the downtrodden husband rebels" and he forces her to relive that honeymoon... now! So it's off to catch the 1045 to Eastbourne (amazingly a steam train) and they detrain at Plimpton.
In October this resort isn't quite the paradise he remembered from the summer of 1930. "What a time to come," exclaims the hotel porter. Cold is the honeymoon suite. "What a pathetic fool" he calls himself. But their memories at least warm them and they remember beyond the howling wind and peeling wallpaper to the good times. They kiss and get warmed.

Quite a pleasant little parable, quite "Average" in fact.

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THE WAY HOME
with Mary Kerridge as Rachel.

Returning to England following years languishing in a Chinese gaol, Rachel, after a debriefing from her kindly doctor (John le Mesurier), is discharged from hospital. The story centres on her difficulties in readjusting to her new life.
Her sister Cathy (Honor Blackman) and Cathy's husband (William Franklyn) try to assist her in meeting people and making decisions. But it's like "living in a world of strangers" and she runs away.
She ends up back in hospital. The doc persuades her that she's actually made the first step towards rehabilitation - she made a decision, to run away.
"The worst thing about being shut away, is the absence of love," she tells him.
This she finds, finally.
The time confines means a lot of the action is too conflated and the end appears rather too suddenly.

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MISTER PURLEY'S PROFESSION (1955)
with Roland Culver in the title role.

Actually, as he's always telling people, Mr Purley's job is a bank robber.
We see him leaving the scene of one of his crimes, calmly helping a blind man across the road, before he returns to his suburban home.
After one last job, he promises the wife, he'll have enough to retire. The second act, promises Douglas Fairbanks, has a surprise.

In his retirement Purley joins the golf club, letting members know that he's a bank robber. Noone believes him of course. When he's nominated as treasurer, we can guess what the 'surprise' will be. But Purley has definitely retired.
Then his local bank is robbed, the day after he's made a deposit of his stolen banknotes, and even his wife wonders. The police (a typecast Robert Raglan) hear that a man saying he's a bank robber was in the bank. They prick up their ears and visit Mr P.
But when the crime is finally solved it's clear Purley really has retired. Only his fingerprints happen to have been at the bank, and they match those left at the scene of some other robberies.....

One of the best of the series.

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BELOVED STRANGER

Based on 'Pas de Quatre', this story is set in Switzerland where Claire (Ella Raines) has been dying for the last year. In a sense she died when she learnt of her rare terminal illness. She tells Digby, her husband (Hugh Sinclair) that she hopes he will marry again, perhaps to Laura (Betty McDowall). She bluntly asks Laura if she loves Digby. Laura admits it. Now Claire feels she can fall in love with her doctor (Douglas Fairbanks Jr).
An experimental serum is Claire's last hope. She recovers. But what about all those home truths, uttered whilst everyone thought she was breathing her last?

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THE LAST TOUR

Made in Munich, Fairbanks reveals to us, only the director (Derek Twist) was British.

Karl Brandt, theatre agent, offers ex-Hollywood star Julia Stahl (Charlotte Thiele) a road tour. She is definitely not impressed. "A few years ago I could have.... " etc etc is her complaint. But her film contract hasn't been renewed, and maybe now, Karl tells her "it's time to join the human race." Finally, she does sign up for the tour, where at least she has star billing.
Peter her estranged ex-husband is getting remarried to Sarah, daughter Maria's university teacher. He's now one of the most successful lawyers in Munich. Julia meets up with them and learns a few home truths. But Maria gets caught up in her mother's career - can she go with mum? Might Peter rejoin her?
Sarah adds a touch of reality to Julia. "This time you'll ruin him - they're dazzled because the great Julia Stahl has finally acknowledged they exist."
In fact noone knows the truth about Julia, except herself. She's no longer a great star. Karl phones to say she's through. Words such as incompetence are used. Her histrionics have finally come home to roost.
Maria however admires her- "I want to be just like you, " she tells Julia naively. This prompts the ageing star to have the courage to act one last role, as she walks out on them all.

An interesting study of the veneer of showbiz. Charlotte Thiele is excellent, though was this the only reason why this ageless parable was filmed in Germany?

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One Can't Help Feeling Sorry

DF begins by talking about fingerprints, that play a vital part in this tale. He tells us it was filmed in Bavaria.

Kurt Remo, Public Enemy No 1, is living in an idyllic mountain setting. Miss Carmichael (Lois Maxwell) is the fourteenth American reporter to come to interview him. Locals tell her that "he's not in his right mind."
Remo is virtually a recluse, yet an attraction for tourists, who flock to the village where this legend grew up. "He is extremely unhappy."
When she is introduced to him he offers the incredible statement that, "I am not Kurt Remo." End of interview, unless she wishes to follow this up tomorrow.
He is pleased that she does see him again, at which time he explains that Remo's gangsters had persuaded him to impersonate Remo for a fortnight, for a consideration of $20,000. He is Remo's double. That was five years ago. Now "jailers" guard him, even Lt Shroder of the police is in Remo's pay.
Like all the other reporters before her, Miss Carmichael finds it hard to believe the man, more proof is needed. He offers his fingerprint. However all the other journalists had done this and that had been the last he'd seen of them.
But this journalist finds out that zealous locals are replacing a glass with the man's fingerprint with that of a genuine Remo print. She is wise enough to obtain a second copy of the stand-in's fingerprints, to take to the authorities...

Note: curiously Ron Randell comes on screen to close part one, in the role usually taken by DF

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THE LUDLOW AFFAIR

Typifying "the spirit of bravery," Fairbanks announces, is Bulldog Drummond the archetypal British hero, "played in the best tradition" by brylcreamed Robert Beatty.

So the opening scene must be Bulldog speeding through Town in his flash sports car. A sniper shoots. Missed! Bulldog's had a call from Harriet Ludlow (Greta Gynt) but is of course warned "steer out of affairs that are none of your business." He's never going to yield to that, even when he's informed Felix, Harriet's husband, has been kidnapped. His ransom- the secret antibiotic formula that he had been working on with her and colleague Richard Benning (William Franklyn). The swines. Anyway, since the formula's kept locked in the safe and only Felix has the key, Bulldog has to crack it, in secret, and move the formula to a safer location.
In an Irish accent, he phones Mrs Ludlow demanding a 100 reward. Kelly (Michael Ripper), Drummond's batman, hands Harriet an empty envelope after which she's trailed to Kinsella's Club.
She reports to Drummond that the formula has now been returned, even though it's still in Drummond's possession. Puzzled eh?
Douglas Fairbanks promises us his usual "surprise in the second act."
This starts as we see Drummond travelling to Kinsella's home where he is jolly lucky to overhear Kinsella complaining "I ought to have my head examined doing business with a woman." He's been promised the formula by the scheming wife, if he'll bump her husband off. No wonder the Great Gynt was cast in the wife's role! Bulldog breaks in. There's Felix all tied up. He's released. Bulldog comes face to face with the boss of the whole outfit. Exposed at last! Bulldog's about to be shot! He manages to turn the tables and finally the police inspector (John le Mesurier) strolls in- "hello inspector, took you long enough to get here!"

This story has a certain style, and a dashing pace, without ever quite rising about the average. parable was filmed in Germany?

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Mark of the Scorpion
A tired story that starts with an assassin shooting Demetrios in Tangiers. The gunman is seen to be wearing a scorpion tattooed on his wrist, so to provide a fall guy, the baddies find a dupe and give him an identical tattoo.
The guy they choose is an American sailor Joey (Ron Randell) who is enjoying himself in a bar, chatting up a girl Louisa (Eunice Gayson). He is given a doped drink and as soon as he passes out, two men carry him away, advising Louisa, "better not to have seen things."
Kessamer is a tattoo artist who he makes the mark of the scorpion on to the unconscious Joey's wrist. When Joey comes round, he finds a wad of notes in his wallet, and the tattoo. That frightens everyone off when they see it, noone will talk, even when he returns to the bar where it had all started. Smashing up the place solves nothing, Louisa, with a little bribery, hurries him away.
Petros (John Bailey) is on Joey's track now. Joey tries to get the scorpion removed by Madame Blanchard, a tattoist and clairvoyant, but like the others she refuses to help or say anything.
But Joey does find the man who did the tattoo, Kessamer, and there's a fierce fight, ending with Joey the victor. Petros who has been tailing Joey shoots a fleeing Kessamer and thus the story mysteriously concludes.
(from a 16mm film print)

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Together
An exceptionally slight storyline. Filmed in Rome.
Saturday midday, the weekend begins. A seventeen year old girl sees her family off at Central Station, leaving her alone. Her loneliness is heightened by the clever use of film of her standing in a vast emptiness, but in the distant background crowds are hurrying about their business.
To the Spanish Steps she walks, "a meeting place for lovers." Tommy Naylor, a twenty year old student happens to be there too, out of cash. They brush past each other before he returns to his lonely room. He tries to date a girl by phone, without any luck. In her home, the girl answers the phone, hopefully. Wrong number.
He goes to a cafe and chats up the cashier, unsuccessfully. They bump into each other again here, but that's all.
A tourist guide provides him with some conversation, "you want to meet some nice girls?" Her conversation is with a elderly English speaking tourist, they hit it off briefly.
He sees his student acquaintances, but they are busy right now. He wanders round the city enabling us to see the sights. So does she, and it is among some ruins that he sees her a third time, crying. She runs off.
But he tells her he's lonely and that strikes a chord. They agree to "go some place together." that's cue for more Rome pictures. It's half a study of romance, half a wistful portrait of isolation, mostly beautifully shot but also mostly a mere time filler.
At the end, DF reminds us there'll be another story next week, even though this was the last ever tale.
(from a 16mm film print)

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