Friday, May 31, 2013

After a Month of Stewart Granger Viewing...

The month of May found me being incredibly faithful to Stewart Granger.  While I did enjoy the occasional film of another---including a "new to me" Gary Cooper flick---far and away, Stewart Granger's films have been the only ones I have watched for the past 30 days.  I've re-watched old favorites, discovered some new faves, and, in the case of King Solomon's Mines, developed an appreciation for a film I didn't like the first time I saw it.

In all, I've watched (or attempted to watch) 20 Granger films in the past month.  (Sadly, time precluded me from reviewing all of them.) While the very top of my "favorite Granger films" list hasn't changed in the 3 weeks since the birthday post where they were unveiled, the lower half has; therefore, to cap off the centennial birthday celebration month, I thought I would provide a list of how I rank all the Stewart Granger films I've seen.  

5 star films:

1.  The Prisoner of Zenda  (reviewed HERE)

4 star films:

2.  Moonfleet  (almost 5 stars---reviewed HERE)
3.  Scaramouche
4.  Saraband for Dead Lovers  (reviewed HERE)
5.  Salome (I called this 3 stars in my review, but it's very close to 4---reviewed HERE)

3 star films:  (in about this order)

All the Brothers Were Valiant  (reviewed HERE)
King Solomon’s Mines
Adam and Evalyne  (reviewed HERE)
Harry Black and the Tiger  (reviewed HERE)
Footsteps in the Fog  (reviewed HERE)
Blanche Fury  (reviewed HERE)
Love Story (aka A Lady Surrenders)  (reviewed HERE)
Swordsman of Siena

2 star films:  (made it through these, but was pretty bored)

Green Fire  (even with Grace Kelly as the co-star, this one didn't do it for me)
The Crooked Road  (this one also stars Robert Ryan, so it's shocking that I didn't like it)
The Wild North 

1 star films:  (didn't make it through any of these films)

Fanny by Gaslight
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Secret Invasion
Waterloo Road

There are many more of Mr. Granger's films on my "want to watch" list, including these titles: Bhowani Junction (which TCM will be airing in June), The Whole Truth (on the TCM schedule for July 15th), The Secret Partner (have been unable to track down), North to Alaska (have had on hold at the library, but it hasn't come in yet), Madonna of the Seven Moons (available on YouTube, but I just haven't had time to watch it).  Even though Mr. Granger's centennial birthday celebration will be over, I'll post reviews of these films after I get around to watching them.

I hope you, my dear blog readers, have enjoyed the opportunity of getting to know Stewart Granger a bit more this past month.  I hope you've discovered some "must watch" films.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Harry Black and the Tiger (1958)

Another of Stewart Granger's action/adventure films is 1958's Harry Black and the Tiger. Shot on location in India, this film, which also stars Barbara Rush, Anthony Steel, and I. S. Johar, is based on David Walker's novel Harry Black.  Taking on such themes as lost love, courage, fear, and contentment, this Hugo Fregonese film tackles far more than just a tiger.

With a man-eating tiger on the loose and terrorizing the residents of a small Indian village, big-game hunter, Harry Black (Stewart Granger), is brought in to kill the animal.  Accompanied by a native guide, Pabu (I. S. Johar), tin-legged Harry tracks the animal, narrowly missing him on a couple occasions. One time, due to the misfiring of an accompanying man's rifle, the big cat jumps Harry, severely injuring him.

People from Harry's past live in the area, and his arrival has brought them back into his life. Desmond Tanner (Anthony Steel), is an old Army buddy, now overseeing a local plantation. As he spends time with Desmond while recovering from the tiger attack, Harry finds himself reliving the scene in which Desmond's cowardice resulted in the loss of his (Harry's) leg and the need for a prosthesis. Attempting an escape from a German POW camp, Desmond's fear paralyzed him, causing Harry to hesitate and lose precious moments. While he did manage to escape, the few-seconds' delay enabled the enemy to get a shot off, shattering Harry's leg, leaving him with no choice but amputation.

Upon being released from the hospital, Harry called upon Desmond's family, and he and Desmond's wife, Christian (Barbara Rush), ended up falling in love.  Knowing the futility and heartbreak of such a relationship, Harry said goodbye to Christian and moved into a life without her. Seeing each other once more, though, has brought their feelings for one another back to the surface. When Harry wonders if she has been happy, Christian responds that while there have been no flashes of lightning, she has been content. 

Unsettled by Christian's nearness and the realization that his love for her has never died, Harry's ability to capture the tiger is hampered, so hampered, in fact, that after his own moment of cowardice, he determines to give up the quest.  Yet when Desmond and Christian's young son, Michael, is thrown from his horse and is stranded alone in the jungle where the man-eating beast lurks, Harry will have to put his feelings aside.  How it all plays out is the balance of the film.

While Harry Black and the Tiger is not one of my most favorite Granger films, the character of Harry Black is one I like a lot. He is a very likable you can't help rooting for.  His rapport with young Michael is very sweet, as is his rapport with the guide Pabu.  Obviously, the on-screen chemistry with Mr. Johar was felt off-screen as well, for about him, Granger wrote, "His lilting accent and marvellous (sic) hand gestures were a joy, and our obvious affection for each other played a big part in the success of the film."  The scenery is beautiful, as is the tiger...and so is Stewart Granger.  The man looks fantastic with the touch of gray in his hair!

Having worked so well with Deborah Kerr in other films, Mr. Granger had really hoped to have her as his co-star/love interest once more.  However, "to his bitter disappointment, Twentieth Century wouldn't release her," so Barbara Rush was given the nod.  Even if Miss Rush wasn't to Granger's liking, though, the sexual tension between the star-crossed lovers seemed very believable to me.

In Sparks Fly Upward, Mr. Granger shares some fun facts about the making of Harry Black. During the early part of the filming, the star tiger (a tigress, not the male they had thought) was in season and loudly called to the males each night.  Besides being kept awake by all the racket, in the morning, they always discovered evidence that cats had been wandering through their camp the night before.  Eventually, "the star" went out of season, and things settled down. Also adding to the excitement of filming in India was the fact that there had recently been a cholera outbreak, resulting in water so "cleaned up" that they felt they were drinking pure chlorine.  Coupling that with having curry for every meal, he writes that his "memories of that enchanting camp were smells of curry and chlorine."  (The things people go through to bring a movie to us!!)

Although Leonard Maltin gave Harry Black and the Tiger 0 out of 4 stars, I'm going with 3 out of 5.  I found it to be an interesting, enjoyable, solid film.  For me, it's right up there with King Solomon's Mines as an exciting trek through the jungle (albeit on two different continents).  Both films feature a brave adventurer, native guides, superstition, danger, and a woman in love with a man other than her husband.  While there were times the film dragged, I found that to be true with King Solomon's Mines as well.  In the end, I was interested enough in the story to persevere through the slow parts, and even though I will probably never watch Harry Black and the Tiger again, I, nevertheless enjoyed it.  It even touched me a bit and got me lightly misty-eyed at one point.

While not on the TCM schedule in the near future and not out on DVD here in the U.S. (though a Region 2 disc has been released) the film is available in its entirety on YouTube.

Happy viewing!!

NOTE:  All quoted material derived from Sparks Fly Upward, by Stewart Granger, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1981

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Roles Stewart Granger Might Have Had

Through my reading of Stewart Granger's autobiography, Sparks Fly Upward, I discovered some high-profile film roles which could possibly have gone to him.  As in the careers of George Raft and John Garfield (HERE), taking on a particular role might have made a monumental difference in Mr. Granger's career.  Of course, it's useless to play the "what if" game, and, in the end, things generally work out the way they are supposed to.  Even so, it's interesting to learn what other roles might have come a star's way.  In Mr. Granger's case, here are a few of the big ones:

Ben-Hur---Originally, according to Sparks Fly Upward, Marlon Brando was wanted for the role of Judah Ben-Hur. When he wouldn't or couldn't, do it, the role was offered to Kirk Douglas, with the Messala role offered to Granger and the Esther role offered to Jean (Simmons).  By the time, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Granger agreed to the roles, they had already been given to others (and the title role had gone to Charlton Heston). His agent railed at him, "Why didn't you say you'd do it last week?  Metro has fixed Stephen Boyd and Haya Harareet."  Even though Mr. Boyd had been loaned out from another studio, the deal couldn't be broken, so Boyd played the part.  "And very good he was too," wrote Mr. Granger.  About the loss of this role, Mr. Granger wrote, "That one week (in getting back to his agent) made so much different to so many lives.  It caused an unnecessary death and I think an unnecessary divorce (his and Jean Simmons'), among other things."

I would have to add a hearty Amen Mr. Granger's words about Mr. Boyd's performance in Ben-Hur.  He was completely and totally brilliant in the role of Messala. (Truly, he ought to have been nominated for and won an Academy Award!)  I can see Stewart Granger in the role, and I think he would have done a great job, but loving that movie as I do, I love it as it is.  Stephen Boyd is Messala to me.

From Here to Eternity---When Harry Cohn (Columbia Pictures boss) tossed the script at him, saying "There you are, you Limey bastard, there's a part for you," Stewart Granger's first response was "Which part?"  When Cohn responded that it was the Marine sergeant lead, Granger was incredulous.  "I can't play an American Marine sergeant. I'm English."  Cohn's response was that Granger was an actor and could, of course, take on such a role.  To Mr. Cohn's amazement, though, Mr. Granger turned the role down, an action about which he wrote, "What an idiot I was.  If I'd played it, nobody would have known how marvellous (sic) Burt Lancaster was going to be and it was such a great part I'd probably have got away with it."

Can you see Stewart Granger in Burt Lancaster's From Here to Eternity role?  Though I love that movie and think Burt Lancaster was absolutely super in the role, I really can see Stewart Granger doing a terrific job as well.  (Portraying an American would not have been a problem for him, I know, as in The Wild North, he put his English roots aside in order to portray a Frenchman.)  Knowing how great the chemistry was between Mr. Granger and Deborah Kerr in The Prisoner of Zenda and King Solomon's Mines and remembering that Mr. Granger said the two of them had once been intimately involved (though Miss Kerr denied that), they may well have had even greater chemistry than that which was between Kerr and Lancaster.

Quo Vadis---Because  Mr. Granger had originally told his agent that he wasn't going to do the film, Robert Taylor had been cast.  By the time Granger said he'd take on the role, the studio refused to replace Mr. Taylor.  Mr. Granger's agent was irritated.  "You told me you weren't going to sign, Jim (Friends and family always referred to Granger as Jim or Jimmy).  If you had, it would have been easy, as you were the first choice."

Given how terrific Mr. Granger was in action/adventure films and Biblical epics, I can easily see him in the role of Quo Vadis' Marcus Vinicius.  He would have looked incredible in the Roman garb (he did in Salome), and the film would have paired him, once more, with Deborah Kerr, with whom he had such terrific chemistry.  I do adore Robert Taylor in this role, though. (Actually, I adore Robert Taylor period---he's among my top 10 faves; however, after a month of watching Granger films, I'm quite high on him too.)  Quo Vadis is the film which brought Mr. Taylor into my life, and it's my 2nd favorite of his films, so imagining anyone but him in the role is a bit of a hardship.

A Star Is Born---This was a film Granger very much wanted to do.  The 1937 Janet Gaynor/Fredric March version of the film had been one of his favorites, and he knew it would be a film which would boost his career.  He was thrilled to learn that he was under consideration to "try and repeat the magnificent performance of Mr. March."  He was thrilled, also, for the opportunity to appear opposite "the legendary Judy Garland."  During rehearsals, though, he found working with director George Cukor to be an exasperating experience.  In the end, he told Mr. Cukor to "take the script and shove it."   "What a shame," he wrote in his autobiography.  "I could have played that part on my head."

I really don't care for the '54 version of A Star Is Born, and it has nothing to do with the male lead.  It has to do with Judy Garland.  I'm not a fan at all, so it matters little whether it was Stewart Granger or James Mason in the Norman Maine role.  Because of Judy Garland, the film wouldn't work for me no matter who the co-star was.

Tell me, can you see Stewart Granger in any of these roles?  Would you even want to?

NOTE:  All information and quoted material derived from Sparks Fly Upward, by Stewart Granger, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1981.

Monday, May 27, 2013

To Hell and Back (1955)

In just a few days, Audie Murphy will be taking over Stewart Granger's role as "man of the month" here at They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To.  However, with this being Memorial Day weekend and Mr. Murphy being the most decorated U.S. soldier of the Second World War, I thought it was perfectly appropriate to showcase him today as well.  Additionally, tomorrow is the 42nd anniversary of his untimely death (May 28, 1971), so I think Mr. Granger would totally approve of giving Audie a bit of attention a few days early.

Audie Murphy came into my life about six years ago, and he did so through the medium of homeschooling.  Teaching my children myself enabled me to tailor-make a curriculum for each of them.  While we studied the mandatory subjects, for those subjects which really grabbed my kids' attention, we delved deeper.  In fact, we often took two complete school years to do a more comprehensive study of certain topics, and for my son, World War II was one of the things he wanted to explore in-depth.  He devoured book after book about every aspect of the war---battles, soldiers, prisoners---and in the course of his reading, he learned about the most decorated soldier of the war...a brave and courageous young man who received over two dozen military medals, including the Congressional Medal of Honor...a man named Audie Murphy.

As surprising and hard to believe as it may be, I had never heard Mr. Murphy's name until my son mentioned him to me.  Back when I was going to high school (in the late '70’s), I never heard a word about him.  My American history book said nothing about him, nor did my American History teacher.  The most decorated soldier of the Second World War, and I never heard his name until well into adulthood?!  I find that shocking---and shameful!

Intrigued by Mr. Murphy's war experience and wanting to learn more about him, my son read Murphy's war memoirs, To Hell and Back.  Not long afterwards, we discovered the 1955 movie of the same name, starring none other than Audie Murphy himself.

The film, in which Audie portrays himself and which also stars Charles Drake, Marshall Thompson, David Janssen, and a few others, chronicles Murphy's years of service to our country during World War II. Underage and small in stature, Audie is rejected by other branches of the military, before being accepted into the U.S. Army. (In later years, Audie would admit to falsifying his age in order to enlist.) Though his size might dictate otherwise, Audie is courageous, capable, and committed and soon garners the respect of his superiors.  Seeing action in Africa and Europe, he proves his bravery again and again, ultimately fighting off the enemy from atop a burning tank, an action for which he would earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Even if you're not a fan of Murphy's Westerns, watch this movie---then read the book of the same name, which is superior to the film and which more vividly describes the incredibly dangerous conditions that brought about Murphy's medal---then be thankful for Murphy and men like him who so bravely fought for the cause of freedom.  (Isn't this an awesome photo?!)

5 stars for the film...5 stars for the book...10 stars for the man!!

Happy viewing!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sahara (1943)

In honor of Memorial Day, war films are on the schedule for the next two days here at They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To.  First up is 1943's Sahara, which features the all-male cast of Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett, Dan Duryea, Lloyd Bridges, J. Carroll Naish, Rex Ingram, Richard Nugent, Kurt Krueger, and a few others.  This film, as its name implies, showcases a bit of the North African fighting in World War II.  While films depicting European and Pacific theatres of war are numerous, there are precious few bringing life to what went on in Africa.  For that reason alone, this film is worth viewing.  Directed by Zoltan Korda, Sahara was the recipient of three Academy Award nominations, among them a Best Supporting Actor nod for J. Carroll Naish.

It's June, 1942, in the desert of North Africa; a 4-man U.S. Army tank unit led by Sgt. Joe Gunn (Humphrey Bogart) has been ordered to abandon their training mission and to retreat. Because of increased Nazi activity surrounding them, they are instructed to retreat to the South, a route which will require miles of harsh desert travel.  With their tank, Lulubelle, damaged, and a minimal amount of water, the retreat will be difficult, but only a short distance into the journey, it becomes even more so.

Stranded in the blazing desert are five Allied soldiers, all somehow the only men left from their respective units.  Though the American's water supply is hardly adequate to take on more men, they know that they really have no choice, for to leave a man behind means sure death. Because they need to live so they can fight again, the Americans take the Allies on board their tank.

As the nine soldiers make their way across the desert, desperately in search of water, two men are struggling through the harsh sands. One of them is an Ally---a British Sudanese, whose company died in battle; with him is his Italian prisoner (J. Carroll Naish).  With a knowledge of the desert terrain, the Sudanese soldier informs Sgt. Gunn that there is a caravan trail leading to a well 160 miles away; able to guide them there, he, also, is taken on board the tank. Although Sgt. Gunn at first intends to leave the prisoner behind in the desert since there isn't enough water or food for him, he relents and takes him on board.

As these 11 thirsty men traverse the unyielding desert in a tank low on fuel and plagued with engine problems, a Nazi aircraft fires on them, injuring one of their own.  Although they shoot the plane down and take its pilot prisoner, it just means one more mouth needing a land of sandstorms where water is nearly non-existent.  The Nazis, as well, are in need of water and seeking a well; inevitably, the paths of the two armies are destined to cross.  How many men will survive the grueling trek across the desert?

Filmed on location in the deserts of California and Arizona, Sahara gives a very realistic portrayal of the difficulty of desert warfare.  I could definitely feel the men's thirst and fatigue; in fact, I could quite relate to it, as my husband, kids, and I had a desert encounter of our own five years ago.  On the 470-foot-high sand dunes of southwest Idaho's Bruneau Dunes State Park (75-minutes from where we live), we found ourselves without water and with a long, arduous hike to get back to our car.  How we got ourselves in such a position is a long, complicated story, but suffice to say, we were exhausted and dying of thirst...and it was in the early evening during the second week of May (translation: unlike soldiers in the North African campaign, we had no hot mid-day sun bearing down on us from a cloudless sky.)  My experience with the harshness of desert conditions makes Sahara a very real film to me (even without the warfare). I could literally feel the dust and sand and the parched throats of the men.

The acting in the film is quite good, and there are some very profound moments; of course, there are also the usual flag-waving moments.  All in all, it's a very good, 4-star film, which I highly recommend, especially as we observe Memorial Day and remind ourselves that freedom isn't free.

Just an aside---the U.S. premiere of Sahara was at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Alhtough not on the TCM schedule in the near future, Sahara is out on DVD, so it should be fairly easy to track down.  War film lovers ought to quite enjoy it.

Happy viewing!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948)

For years, I have been fascinated by the British monarchy---and I'm not just talking about the current Mountbatten-Windsors.  I've been enthralled by the Tudors, the Stuarts, the Hanovers, and the Windsors.  In fact, my passionate interest in the monarchy extends back to the Lancasters and the Yorks and their War of the Roses.  So, upon looking through Stewart Granger's filmography and discovering a film based on an actual incident in the life of one who would become a British monarch, I knew it was a must-see for me.  That film---1948's Saraband for Dead Lovers---is about the real-life wife of the man who would become England's King George I.  Also starring Joan Greenwood and featuring Peter Bull, Michael Gough, and Flora Robson in supporting roles, this British film, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction, is easily a 4-star film for me.


As the story begins in 1700's Germany, a dying woman pleads to be allowed to write a letter to her son.  Knowing that he was brought up believing that his mother had brought dishonor to the House of Hanover, she longs for him to know the truth, and as she writes the letter, her story is brought to life.


For political gain, 16-year old Sophie Dorothea of Celle (Joan Greenwood) is wed to George Louis, Prince of Hanover (Peter Bull).  It's a marriage neither party wants, but because they must live their lives for politics, marry for politics, and bear children for politics, they do their duty.  First a son, then a daughter are born, and for Sophie Dorothea, the children are the only bright spot in her lonely life, as her husband has his share of mistresses and virtually ignores her.  All too soon, the children are taken from her to begin training for their futures.


In the summer of 1689, Count Phillip Konigsmarkk of Sweden (Stewart Granger) makes a visit to Hanover.  There is an immediate connection between him and Princess Sophie, and they soon fall in love.  Though their love may never have been consummated (according to history, there is some doubt as to whether it was), the Count's feelings for Sophie are not lost on the powerful, hateful Countess Clara Platen (Flora Robson).  Attracted to Konigsmarkk herself, Clara throws herself at him, but when he fails to respond to her, she is furious.  Of course, there is no fury like that of a woman scorned, and the Countess puts in motion a plan to separate the lovers forever.

This movie is fascinating, and it appears that it hasn't greatly altered any historical facts. Sophie Dorothea and Count Konigsmarkk really did fall in love (though they may or may not have been lovers).  He did, in fact, die under mysterious circumstances, presumably at the bidding of George Louis or his henchmen, and the Princess Sophie really did spend the final thirty years of her life imprisoned, while her husband took his place on the British throne.

Stewart Granger said the Saraband "script fascinated him, as he had no idea that love affair was the reason why the wife of George I of England, the mother of George II, spent the last thirty years of her life as a prisoner in the castle at Ahlden."  Further, he said, he loved the story and the character he was to portray.  In the end, according to his autobiography, Sparks Fly Upward, Saraband for Dead Lovers "is one of the few films he'd always been proud of."

Mr. Granger is so incredibly handsome here, and he is terrific in the role.  Also, he gets a chance to wield his sword a bit...which is always fun to watch.  Joan Greenwood is exquisitely beautiful and plays her tragic part to perfection.  Flora Robson, though, takes the prize for her performance.  She is evil and nasty in a way I have never seen her before.  Finally, the film's costumes are stunning---Oscar-worthy, in my opinion.  All these things, plus my interest in the subject matter, combine to make this a 4-star, "like it a lot" film for me, quite shaking things up on the bottom half of my "top-5 Stewart Granger films" list.

Though the film is not currently on the TCM schedule, nor to my knowledge is it out on DVD, it is available in its entirety on YouTube (in parts.)  I think it's well worth viewing, especially for those who like British drama, Stewart Granger, Joan Greenwood, Flora Robson, or British monarchs.

Happy viewing!!

NOTE:  For more information about Sophie Dorothea, her alleged affair with Phillip Konigsmarkk, and her imprisonment, go HERE.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It Happens Every Spring (1949)

It Happens Every Spring, from 1949, is a fun little baseball comedy I caught last month for my celebration of the beginning of another Major League Baseball season.  Directed by Lloyd Bacon, It Happens Every Spring stars Ray Milland, Jean Peters, and Paul Douglas and features Ray Collins, Ed Begley, Jessie Royce Landis, and Alan Hale, Jr. in minor roles.  For anyone who has ever wanted to pitch in the majors, this delightful film is for you.

Vernon Simpson (Ray Milland) is a baseball lovin' college chemistry teacher, who is working on his doctorate degree.  Although he and the university president's daughter, Debby (Jean Peters), are in love, because of his poor financial condition, Vernon has been discouraged by her father (Ray Collins) from asking for her hand in marriage.

Convinced that an experimental serum he has developed is going to be bought by a large corporation, Vernon assures Debbie that it won't be much longer until they can be married; hardly have those words left his mouth when a baseball from the university's game comes sailing through the classroom window, knocking into his experiment, and sending the prized liquid all over the floor.  Because of the time involved in recreating the project, Vernon is quite distressed by the loss.

Very much by accident, Vernon discovers that the culprit baseball---now saturated by the spilled liquid---is repelled by wood.  After two of the university's baseball players are unable to hit a ball rubbed with the compound, Vernon sees an opportunity to revolutionize the game he loves, join the majors, and earn enough money for him and Debby to get married.  Without any explanation to anyone (even Debby) as to what he's up to, Vernon requests a leave of absence from the college, heads off to St. Louis, and barges into the team owner's office.

Claiming he can win 30 games and the pennant, Vernon brags that he's the guy they need. Though the team officials think he's just a crackpot, they give him a chance to pitch, and what they see astounds them. Casually rubbing his finger onto the "stuff" and then onto the ball, Vernon's pitches are unhittable, and he puts away one batter after another.  Convinced that they have just discovered their sure ticket to victory, the team immediately offers Vernon a contract.

Wanting to keep his true identity a secret, lest the folks back home find out and he get fired from the university, Vernon adopts the name King Kelly.  Together with his catcher, Monk Lanigan (Paul Douglas), the new pitching sensation leads his team to a successful season, all the while trying to remain incognito.

Meanwhile, because of Vernon's hasty, unexplained departure and the fact that he has been out of touch, the university has put out a 5-state search for him, and after Debby's mother happens to see him in the company of five men at the train station, she is convinced he's gotten involved with a bunch of gangsters.  It all plays out in a very fun, screwball kind of way.  

Not a spectacular film, but definitely very cute and loads of fun..a solid 3 stars.  The cast is perfect, and each person plays their part well.  I was especially charmed by Ray Milland. Some of his expressions crack me up.  Though not an Academy Award winner, the film did receive a Best Writing nomination.  Those who enjoy baseball comedies ought to greatly enjoy this.

Out on DVD, It Happens Every Spring should be fairly easy to track down.  Additionally, it is on the TCM schedule for Sunday, June 30th, at 2:30 p.m. (ET).

Happy viewing!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Love Story (aka A Lady Surrenders) 1944

From Britain's Gainsborough Pictures, Ltd., comes Love Story, a wartime romantic drama from 1944. Starring Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger, this film bore the title A Lady Surrenders upon its release in the United States.  It's a film I had never even heard of until I went on the prowl for some of Mr. Granger's earlier works.

Wanting to do more for the war effort, concert pianist, Felicity Crichton (Margaret Lockwood), purposes to leave her career behind and take a position with the RAF WAC's.  In the physical exam required for admission to the corp, it is discovered that the fainting spells she had been having are not due to nerves as she had thought; rather, they are indicative of a fatal heart condition, resulting from her childhood battle with scarlet fever.  According to her doctor, death is inevitable...and not far off. Wanting to enjoy every single minute of the few months she has left to live, Felicity journeys to the English coast, taking on the name Lissa Campbell for anonymity.

Also visiting the English coast is Kit Firth (Stewart Granger), a former RAF pilot no longer able to serve, due to an optic nerve injury which has left him with a prognosis of blindness. Although a surgical procedure could repair the damage, the odds aren't in Kit's favor, so he has refused the operation, a decision reinforced by his childhood friend, Judy (Patricia Roc).  One of the few people aware of his condition, Judy is secretly in love with Kit and for that reason, views his impending blindness as a good thing, as it will keep him dependent upon her.

Though Lissa and Kit fall in love, in typical melodramatic fashion, neither will reveal their condition to the other.  Not wanting to burden one another, they vow a "no strings attached" kind of relationship, which means their love may not even survive the short time they could have together.

Though not spectacular, this film is well worth watching.  It is a bit on the slow side, but the story is sweet, Stewart Granger is incredibly handsome, Margaret Lockwood is lovely, and the music is beautiful.  Definitely, for me, an enjoyable, 3-star viewing experience.

Love Story is out on DVD and available through Classic Flix.  It is also available in its entirety on YouTube.

Happy viewing!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blanche Fury (1948)

Blanche Fury, from 1948, is a suspenseful period drama starring Stewart Granger and Valerie Hobson.  It's a film which had been in my Net Flix instant queue for many months, and I'm glad I used Mr. Granger's centennial month as an excuse to buckle down and watch it.  While not a favorite film, it is definitely an enjoyable and interesting viewing experience.

In 1860's England, proud but poor Blanche Fuller has had her fill of being a companion to rich, crochety old ladies.  Ambitious and very strong-willed, Blanche doesn't have the personality to be a successful long-term employee to those who patronize her, so she has left a whole host of positions prior to the one which begins the film.  A way out of the despised situation arrives in the form of a letter from her wealthy uncle, Simon Fury.  Due to differences of opinion between her father and her uncle, the families have long been estranged; however, Simon is in need of a governess for his motherless granddaughter, Lavinia, and Blanche is offered the position. Accepting immediately, Blanche takes up residence at Clare---the ancestral estate her uncle has recently acquired from the Fury family.  (At the time of the property acquisition, Simon Fuller chose to take on the Fury name as well.)

The estate's steward, Phillip Thorn (Stewart Granger), believes he is Clare's rightful owner, as his father was Adam Fury.  However, since documentation proving the marriage between his mother and Adam Fury has never been found, his legitimacy is denied, as is his claim to the property.  Unwilling to accept such circumstances, Thorn has become obsessed with finding a way to make Clare his own.

Simon's son, Lawrence, asks Blanche to marry him, and through her acceptance, she becomes mistress of the estate.  Though Blanche and Phillip Thorn had gotten off on a bad note, they soon become lovers; with Thorn obsessed with obtaining what he believes to belong to him, and Blanche, ambitious and having no love for her husband, the two put in plan a motion to murder those standing in the way of what they want. Whether their plan is successful or not will play out in the balance of the film.

While not a spectacular film, Blanche Fury is, nevertheless, solid and interesting...a definite 3 stars for me.  I had never heard of Valerie Hobson prior to seeing her here, but that doesn't matter.  She was quite believable as Blanche.  I really liked Stewart Granger in his role. Though his Phillip was an obsessed, driven, mostly unlikable man, I enjoyed the way Mr. Granger brought him to life.  Plus, he's always great to look at!  I might have rated the film higher had there not been some plot developments which I found totally inconsistent with the times.  Since I don't want to provide spoilers, I will just say that with the information which came out at the trial, I didn't find the townspeople's response to be in keeping with the era being portrayed.  For that reason, I decided to downgrade to 3 stars.

While not out on DVD, the film is available through Net Flix instant viewing and on YouTube.

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Naked Edge (1961)

When Gary Cooper comes to mind, one doesn't generally think "thriller" or "suspense." Similarly, when we think of sitting down in front of an edge-of-your-seat mystery, Coop is not who automatically comes to mind as playing the lead.  Well, 1961's The Naked Edge changes our preconceived notions, as Coop is the star, and the film is definitely a thriller.  Also starring Deborah Kerr and featuring Eric Portman and Michael Wilding in minor roles, this Michael Anderson film is based on Max Ehrlich's novel First Train to Babylon.  Filmed on location in London, it's a title I had been trying to track down for quite some time, and I finally found it on YouTube last week...just in time for a celebration of Coop's May 7th birthday.  Truly, this is Gary Cooper as you've never seen him before!!

Having witnessed the murder of his boss, Jason Roote, sales manager George Radcliffe (Coop) is a key prosecution witness at the trial of fellow Roote Air Freight Corporation employee, Donald Heath.  It is revealed through Radcliffe's testimony that a large sum of money, from the collection of the COD payments, was expected the evening of the murder, and that in addition to himself and Mr. Roote being present, Heath had volunteered to work overtime and was in the building as well.  Shortly after Mr. Roote departed George's office for his own, he was stabbed to death, and alerted to the crime by the victim's cry, George reached the hallway in time to see a man running from the building.  Following the retreating figure, George ended up in the building's boiler room, where he discovered Donald Heath.  Although the satchel of money was never found, the case is fairly open-and-shut, and the jury soon renders a guilty verdict, causing Heath to lose his composure and shout that he is innocent, that Radcliffe is, in fact, the murderer.

Several years pass, during which George Radcliffe and his business associate, Morris Brooke (Michael Wilding), become prosperous through a successful venture.  It is then that the contents of a mailbag stolen five years earlier are forwarded to those for whom they had originally been intended.  One of the pieces of mail, which George's wife, Martha (Deborah Kerr), opens is a letter from a Jeremy Clay, claiming that he knows Radcliffe was the man who really killed Jason Roote.

Although Martha insists that she doesn't believe the words of the letter, she is, nevertheless, very troubled by them.  Recalling an angry altercation George (whom she calls Cliff) had with a man after the trial, and reflecting on the prosperity which he fell into around that time, Martha begins to get suspicious of her husband.  She's not at all sure that he didn't kill Mr. Roote, and it doesn't help that Cliff's behavior is becoming erratic.  As Cliff sees it, Martha is acting like a wife who has just begun to suspect a mistress, only her suspicions are worse.

Terrified that her husband is a murderer, Martha begins her own investigation, and the more she digs, the more she is convinced of his guilt.  She knows she'll have to turn him in, yet she is also aware that Cliff would never allow her to do that...that he would do whatever it takes to keep her silent.  She begins to fear for her own life.

Did George Radcliffe kill Jason Roote?  Did he frame an innocent man and then send him to prison with his testimony?  Will Martha discover what really happened?  Will she go to the police with her suspicions, even if it means turning in her own husband?  These are the questions which will play out in the balance of the film.  By the end of the film, you will know who killed Jason Roote...and, in the same spirit as in Witness for the Prosecution, you will be asked to not reveal the secret to those who have not yet seen it.  (I'm not one for spoilers anyhow, but with the movie's producers requesting discretion, I would certainly not reveal how everything turns out.)

This film is fascinating, and it has some very Hitchcock-esque qualities to it, particularly the scenes on the London streets and the scene in which Martha is listening to a Philharmonic concert on TV, while a man prepares to silence her in the bathroom upstairs.  The musical score is terrific and adds greatly to the suspense.  Deborah Kerr is perfect as the "I don't want to believe it, but I just can't help it," terrified wife.  I thought she played the part with absolute believability.  Gary Cooper, on the other hand, seemed uncomfortable in his role.  Oh, he wasn't horrible, but he just seemed stiff and wooden.  Of course, his character was meant to be mysterious, so that could be it.  Or perhaps he was uncomfortable portraying a man who may have committed a murder and is about to commit another.  Even more likely, the early stages of his final battle with cancer were upon him here, and he was undoubtedly feeling the effects of them.  Whatever it was, my darling Coop just seemed a bit out of his element here in The Naked Edge.

Despite Coop being a bit off, though, I really loved this film and found every minute of it be exciting.  I was quite on the edge of my seat through the entire thing and, in fact, had considered it to be a 5-star film. I realize, however, that my effusiveness is somewhat because of my love for Coop, my excitement at discovering a "new to me" film of his, and the suspense of not knowing how it would turn out.  In truth, I don't think repeat viewings (when you know how everything will turn out) will have quite the same effect on me; thus, I think future viewings will see me going with 4 stars, so that is how I am rating it now.  Regardless---4 or 5 stars---it's an exciting, interesting, suspenseful, "Gary Cooper as you've never seen him before" film, well worth seeing and which I highly recommend.

There is a real bittersweetness to catching this film, though, because it is Coop's final film. The knowledge that my beloved guy's long and distinguished career had reached its end and that his beautiful, charismatic presence would never again grace the silver screen, is quite sorrowful. Adding to the sorrow is my awareness that it wasn't just Coop's career which was was his very life.  Not long after completion of this film, he would succumb to cancer and depart this world at the too-young age of 60.  In fact, The Naked Edge wasn't released in the U.S. until after his death.  (His hometown of Helena, Montana, was the first U.S. city to screen it---June 28, 1961---two days before its New York screening.)

The film is not out on DVD, nor is it on the TCM schedule in the near future.  However, it is available on VHS, plus it's available in its entirety on YouTube (HERE).  Do try to catch it if you can.

Happy viewing!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)

The Prisoner of Zenda---so far---is in no danger of losing its status as my favorite Stewart Granger film.  Although many blog readers thought Scaramouche---which I caught for the first time last week and will be reviewing later this month---would usurp that #1 position, it didn't. Oh, I liked the film tremendously, and I thought Mr. Granger was more handsome in that film than in any other I have seen (and I think he's always gorgeous---at least when he is clean-shaven); however, The Prisoner of Zenda is so dear to me that it was able to withstand the competition and remain my favorite Stewart Granger film.  Loving that film as I do, I thought re-working and expanding on its previous post was a definite must for Mr. Granger's centennial celebration here at They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To.

Based on Anthony Hope's 1894 adventure story, The Prisoner of Zenda has seen several film adaptions through the years.  Perhaps the best known of them is the Ronald Colman/Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. one from 1937; this lavish Technicolor 1952 version---which stars Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr and features Louis Calhern, Jane Greer, and James Mason in support---is, according to Robert Osborne, nearly the exact likeness of the 1937 film.  In fact, the same script was used, as was the same Alfred Newman score.  The only differences, according to Osborne, were a new cast and the addition of technicolor.  Many people prefer the '37 film; I, however, have not yet seen that one, so I cannot compare the two and am basing my rating solely on how this particular film affected me.

The film begins just before the coronation of Rudolph V, king of the fictional country of Ruritania.  Just happening to be on his way through the country at the time is a distant cousin of the king, an Englishman who also bears the name of Rudolph.  Except for the fact that the Englishman has a mustache and is graying at the temples, he is the exact image of the king. (Stewart Granger plays this dual role.)  The Englishman is invited to dine with the king on the eve of the coronation.  In his usual fashion, the king drinks to excess; later, however, he collapses...having been poisoned through his wine.

King Rudolph's allies know that the king's half-brother Michael, who wants the crown for himself, is likely the one behind the poisoning; they also know that if the coronation does not go on as scheduled, Michael will be crowned instead.  Since Rudolph the Englishman looks virtually identical to the king, it is suggested that he impersonate the king for the coronation ceremony, after which time, the effects of the poisoning will have worn off, and Rudolph can take his throne and the Englishman may continue on his journey, with no one ever knowing that it was not the real king who was actually crowned. Convinced that the plan will work, Rudolph the Englishman takes the king's ring and the plan is set in motion, with the real king being hidden away in the wine cellar.

Is Rudolph the Englishman successful at convincing everyone that he is the real king?  And what about when he meets the Princess Flavia (Deborah Kerr), the woman promised to the king?  Do Michael and his cohorts sit back quietly and allow their plans for Michael to usurp the throne to be thwarted?  These are the questions which play out in this exciting little film. The dashing (and beautiful voiced) James Mason portrays one of Michael's partners in crime, and there is a terrific fencing scene between him and Stewart Granger.

According to Stewart Granger's autobiography, Sparks Fly Upward, it was his idea for the remake.  While he and Jean (Simmons) were dining with Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Colman, Mr. and Mrs. David Niven, and Deborah Kerr and husband one evening, Mr. Colman ("Ronnie," as Granger refers to him) asked if they would like to see one of his old films, and since Mr. Niven had also appeared in The Prisoner of Zenda, that is the film the guests were shown.  Enthralled with the film, Granger announced that he was going to suggest to Dore Schary (Metro) that he buy the rights and do a remake, which, of course, he did and Mr. Schary did. Though Granger had no illusion that "he could ever compete with Ronnie Colman as an actor, at least (he said), he could fight better"...or so he thought.  At one point in the filming of the sabre fight, he forgot to "parry to the left" and was caught in the mouth by the sword.  Though not a serious injury, it spilled forth quite a bit of blood and required a few stitches; however, the next day, Granger was able to get back to filming, and in only twenty-eight days, this extravagant Technicolor version of The Prisoner of Zenda was completed.  "Bloody hard work but great fun," according to Granger.  Sensational, captivating, and charming, according to me! I absolutely love this film!

Out on DVD as part of the Literary Classics Collection, The Prisoner of Zenda should be quite easy to track down.  Additionally, it is on TCM's schedule for Monday, June 24th, at 2:00 p.m. (ET).  Definitely, try to see's an exciting, entertaining, 5-star gem of a film.

Happy viewing!!

NOTE:  All quoted material derived from Sparks Fly Upward, by Stewart Granger, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1981.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Sparks Fly Upward---One Terrific Read

I just finished Stewart Granger's autobiography, Sparks Fly Upward, and I absolutely loved it! What an entertaining read it is...easily 5 stars. (And that is quite saying something, because the biographies/autobiographies of my beloved guys, Montgomery Clift, James Cagney, and John Garfield, are all 4-star books to me.)

Mr. Granger writes about his childhood years, living in a home with his mother, father, sister, and his mother's boyfriend (whom he had thought for years was his uncle); his friendship with well-known Brits Michael Wilding, Vivien Leigh, and "Larry" Olivier; behind the scenes stories from both his British and American film careers; the struggle he and his first wife endured to become parents; his 10-year marriage to the "ravishing young beauty" Jean Simmons, whom he said "could outsparkle anyone"; his and Jean's battles with Howard Hughes and his own murderous thoughts toward Hughes; his desire for good roles and his struggles with the studio to obtain them; roles he might have had, but didn't (From Here to Eternity and 1954's A Star is Born being two of them); telling off Hedda Hopper; his years as a rancher; and a host of other things.

Like a kiss-and-tell teenage boy, Mr. Granger writes of his many love affairs.  From the loss of his virginity at the hands of a French prostitute, to his acquisition of an STD while cheating on his first wife, to a near-episode with Hedy Lamarr, to a backseat limousine fling with Deborah Kerr, he recounts some of his more memorable sexual escapades.  (It must be noted that Deborah Kerr has said no such affair ever took place.  It is definitely a case of "he said, she said.")

With an absolute comic flair, Mr. Granger recreates the stories of his life, and I found myself positively howling on several occasions...such as when, at a Polynesian restaurant, chopsticks in hand, his dinner companion completely startled him by reaching under the table and groping at him, causing him to nearly choke on the shrimp in his mouth; or when older, established actor, Henry Kendall, mistakenly assumed that the naive, young Granger would be interested in having a same-sex encounter with him; or the roundabout way with which he credits himself for launching Anne Bancroft to a successful career; or his "it's not as easy as I thought it was" introduction to cattle breeding; or his determination to remain faithful to Jean while on location with Ava Gardner during the filming of Bhowani Junction.  All those episodes---and many more---are brought vividly and humorously to life in Mr. Granger's wonderful memoir.

Although published in 1981, the book abruptly ends in the early 1960's, shortly after the filming of North to Alaska. There is no mention of Granger's third marriage (which would also end in divorce) or of the daughter born from that marriage.  I found that strange.  He ended his story with these words, "I remembered Mrs. Perryman's (a fortune teller) prediction. "You'll cross the sea again and continue your success and later I see another marriage."  I wondered what she'd look like..."

He could easily have transitioned from that sentence into who she was and what she looked like, but for whatever reason, he opted to end the story in 1960.  I, for one, was completely enthralled and would have loved to have kept on reading and learned more.

I rate this book 5 stars---informative, fun, and very entertaining.  While there are a few inaccuracies and confusing statements (such as saying he missed out on making a Hitchcock film with Gary Cooper---not sure what he's talking about, as Coop never made a Hitchcock film; referring to his next-door neighbor Gene Tierney's husband as Igor Cassini, rather than Oleg; referring to Deborah Kerr's husband as Tony Bartlett instead of Tony Bartley; citing his appearance on the cover of Life magazine as June, 1952, rather than May 26, 1952), in all, Sparks Fly Upward is a totally terrific read.  Mr. Granger definitely had a flair for writing, and that is very evident here.  The book reads like an exciting novel, which is what sets it above the other biographies/autobiographies.  Not a list of dry, boring dates and facts, Sparks Fly Upward is alive with humor, adventure, and passion. While I checked the book out from my public library, it is one I definitely will be purchasing and adding to my own collection.

Occasional language and sexual situations give this book a PG rating.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Mad About Music (1938)

In memory of Deanna Durbin, who passed away recently at the age of 91, I thought I would review 1938's Mad About Music, which I watched about a month ago.  The third feature film for Miss Durbin, who was 16 years old at this point in time, Mad About Music also stars Herbert Marshall and features William Frawley, Arthur Treacher, and Gail Patrick in small, supporting roles.

Sent off to a Swiss boarding school because her teenage presence is a detriment to the glamour-girl image her actress mother's agent wants for her, Gloria Harkinson (Deanna Durbin) has invented a make-believe life for herself.  Although her Navy flier father died when she was a baby, she has never revealed that to her friends and, instead, has bragged that he is an important explorer.  Through weekly letters presumably from her dad, Gloria charms her schoolmates with tales of his African adventures.  One girl, however, doesn't believe a word Gloria says and is determined to prove she's lying.

Having made the claim that her father would be stopping at the school for a 1-hour visit, Gloria suddenly finds herself in completely over her head.  With all the students and even the headmistress congregating at the train station to welcome Mr. Harkinson, Gloria realizes the need to produce a father.

Composer Richard Todd (Herbert Marshall), who has traveled to Switzerland for a bit of R & R, alights the train at the school's stop, and Gloria immediately pounces on him, hugging him and welcoming him to town.  She convinces him to pose as her father, and though he is at first reluctant, he may just end up embracing the role.  How it all plays out is the balance of the film.

Nominated for four Academy Awards, Mad About Music is a sweet, enjoyable, very charming film.  Herbert Marshall is his dashing, wonderful self, and Deanna is pure delight.  She sings several songs, including "I Love to Whistle" and "Ave Maria." This is a very solid, entertaining, 3-star viewing experience.

Out on DVD, this film should be fairly easy to track down.  I think it's a film all Deanna Durbin fans will want to see.

Happy viewing!!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Happy Birthday, Gary Cooper!!

Happy 112th birthday to one of my most beloved guys---the great Gary Cooper.  (May 7, 1901 - May 13, 1961)

I celebration of this beloved man's birthday, I'll be breaking today from the films of Stewart Granger and, instead, watching one of Coop's.  Not sure what one yet; I have a couple of "new to me" Coop films on my computer, so I'm pretty sure it will be one of those.  Or maybe it will be one of my all-time faves, like Ten North Frederick or Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.  Whatever film it is, I'm sure I'll be smiling all the way through it, as I remember this very beloved guy on his birthday.

"Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them."  (George Elliot)

We have not forgotten you, dear Gary...and we never will!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Happy 100th Birthday, Stewart Granger!!

Happy 100th birthday to one of the up-and-comers on my favorite actor list...Mr. Stewart Granger (May 6, 1913 - August 16, 1993).

Born James Lablache Stewart in London, this handsome Englishman began his show business career as a film extra, before taking to the British stage, alongside such greats as Robert Donat, Laurence Olivier, and Vivien Leigh.  Theatre work eventually led to film work, with success coming first in Britain, then in America.

In the very early days of Stewart's film career, it was determined that a name change was in order.  With a popular young American actor also having the name of James Stewart, confusion would undoubtedly result.  Thus, James Lablache Stewart dropped the James, moved Stewart to his first name, and took on the surname Granger---the maiden name of one of his grandmothers.  Although officially Stewart Granger and no longer in danger of being confused with the American James Stewart, his family and friends would always call him "Jimmy."

Since I've only gotten to know Stewart Granger in the last two years, there are many of his films I have yet to see.  So, while my list of favorites may change as I catch more of his films, at the present time, my all-time favorite Stewart Granger film is The Prisoner of Zenda.  Also starring Deborah Kerr and James Mason, this completely charming film features a terrific swashbuckling scene.  (Reviewed HERE)

Rounding out my list of five favorite Stewart Granger films are:

2.  Moonfleet  (with George Sanders, Joan Greenwood, and John Whiteley---reviewed HERE)

3.  King Solomon's Mines  (with Deborah Kerr, it took me 2 viewings to appreciate this film)

4.  Salome  (with Rita Hayworth---reviewed HERE)

5.  All the Brothers Were Valiant  (with Robert Taylor and Ann Blyth---reviewed HERE)

With Scaramouche and Beau Brummell on my list of soon-to-watch Granger films, this list could find itself changing very shortly.

So, here's to you, Mr. Stewart Granger, on your centennial birthday!  You were a wonderful, very entertaining actor, and you will always be one of my faves.  I'm glad you left so many great films by which we can remember you, for in the words of George Eliot, "Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them."

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Moonfleet (1955)

When I think of Fritz Lang, I think of gritty noirs, but as 1955's Moonfleet bears out, he was quite capable of other things as well.  An action/adventure period drama starring Stewart Granger and child star John Whiteley, Moonfleet is based on J. Meade Falkner's 1898 novel of the same name.  Featuring George Sanders, Joan Greenwood, and Viveca Lindfors in support and a terrific Miklos Rozsa score, this film is right up there with The Prisoner of Zenda as my favorite Granger film.  (I have yet to see Scaramouche, so things could soon change.)

In 18th-century coastal England, young John Mohune (John Whiteley) makes his way, by night, to the little town of Moonfleet, where, directed by a letter from his recently-deceased mother, he will be able to find Jeremy Fox (Stewart Granger), who according to the letter, will be a friend to him.  Recently returned from the colonies and now living in the home once belonging to the dead woman's family, Fox and the woman appear to have been in love in their youth.  Though her family drove Fox away and married her off to a more suitable man, the dead woman is confident that Fox's former love for her will cause him to help her now-orphaned son.

Not the law-abiding man the writer of the letter once knew him to be, Fox is now the leader of a band of smugglers, with no interest in the everyday responsibility of a young boy. Wanting to be rid of the child, yet wanting to do the right thing by his mother, Fox intends to send him away to be educated; however, convinced that Fox is his friend, the lad is just as determined to remain in Moonfleet.  The little boy's unconditional love and trust eventually work their magic on Fox's cold, selfish heart.  At one point, Jeremy is forced to spar with one of his own gang in order to keep John alive.

Though in his autobiography, Sparks Fly Upward, Mr. Granger refers to Moonfleet as "another dreary costume epic, directed by the once brilliant Fritz Lang," I don't agree with his opinion at all.  I quite enjoyed this film---it is interesting, exciting, and well-acted.  Complete with a long-lost diamond, a coded treasure map, a supposedly-haunted graveyard, a cutthroat hideaway, and a short, but exciting, swashbuckling scene, this film is pretty much non-stop action.  Add to that, Mr. Granger never looked more handsome, and little John Whiteley is a charmer.  There were even a couple of touching moments which got me misty-eyed.  For me, this is easily a 4-star movie...and very close to 5.

Having never read the book upon which the film is based, I can't compare the two.  However, whether the two stories differ from one another matters little to me. In fact, it never bothers me if a film is significantly different from the book which inspired it; I see them as two separate entities, both of which can stand on their own.  I'm not sure why people get so bent out of shape when a story is changed---after all, both can have merit.

Out on DVD, Moonfleet should be fairly easy to track down.  Adventure-loving film fans ought to greatly enjoy it.

Happy viewing!!