Firstly, where I have referred to Captain Marvel Junior being re-vamped into Kid Marvelman is incorrect. It should read that Captain Marvel Junior was revamped into Young Marvelman. And on very, very, rare occasions, Marvelman Junior.
Due to technical reasons, I am having difficulty in both amending and submitting a reply to the comment on my Supershazagramme blog.
Firstly, where I have referred to Captain Marvel Junior being re-vamped into Kid Marvelman is incorrect. It should read that Captain Marvel Junior was revamped into Young Marvelman. And on very, very, rare occasions, Marvelman Junior.
It is with interest that I see, at the time of writing, that two motion pictures are being launched to the cinema public about Captain Marvel. One is named CAPTAIN MARVEL; and the other is named SHAZAM!
The CAPTAIN MARVEL film is about someone who originated in Marvel Comics, as Ms. Marvel. The other Captain Marvel is the proper one, who originated in comics published by Fawcett.( Pronounced Fossett). His film is named SHAZAM. His own name will not be used in the production. He will be known as Shazam, which is confusing, as that is the name of the person who empowers Billy Batson the right to change, via magic lightening, into the super-hero Captain Marvel, after saying Shazam. Although in the movie, Shazam will empower Billy Batson to change via magic lightening into Shazam after speaking the name Shazam. Eh!?
You might be a little confused by the aforementioned. Do not worry, so am I. To know more, please study the Penguin Book of Comics and a book about comics; published by The Smithsonian Institute. There are also many websites that will give details. It is best to refer to as many as possible.to gain a proper picture of what happened. In fact Fawcett's character, actually had been known to outsell Superman. He also had a 1940's highly praised cinema serial, which was considered by some to be better made than the Superman serial.
I will not bore or confuse you, fascinating though it might be, with the full background of the behind the scene arguments between Fawcett and National Comics aka National Periodicals aka DC Comics, but instead, I shall recall the time, as a child of five or six, I became, or thought I became, a superhero.
It happened like so...
My maternal grandmother took me to The Grand Cinema in Holloway Road. Later in the week my father took me to the same cinema. On both occasions, the cinema showed in its supporting programme, an episode from a serial about a character named Superman. I was fascinated. There was a shop in Holloway Road just around the corner from my home. The couple who ran it; I believe were Americans. They, coincidence or not, started to sell American comics. My mother asked me to choose one. I chose Superman. Later in the week, my father purchased a comic with yet another superhero. He was named Captain Marvel. My father read out to me what was being said. Was I was not good at reading? Or was it because it was an excuse for him to read the comic? Perhaps secretly enjoying the journal?
Later, his younger brother popped in. So while these grown-ups were conversing, I disappeared somewhere. This looked like a job for a superhero. I decided to transform myself into one by grabbing hold of my red dressing gown. I tucked its sleeves either down the sides of my shirt collar, or, the shoulders of my pullover. I was now the Holloway region's answer to it all.
I went to a room and decided to fly out of the window. I approached the said window and sill with bated breath. My brain temporarily left its fantasy world and studied the distance between the sill and ground outside. Would I be safe if I jumped? I was not that stupid. I then returned to my fantasy world standing there. I was poised. I then took the plunge and jumped. Then I imagined that I was flying around in the front surrounded by a privet. Whee!
Presently, a little girl; who was in my class at school, entered my turning with her mother. She called over from the other side of the street, "Hello Alan. What are you doing?"
"I am flying! Whee!" was my reply, hoping that she could not see my legs behind the privet; firmly on the ground
"You can't fly."
"Yes I can do too. Look Whee!"
"No you can't."
And with that they continued to the other end of the street and went home.
Then there was a horror of horror situation. On one side of the privet, there was a footpath leading up to the front door and step. The door suddenly opened. There in the entrance was my mother. She inquired how did I get out? I explained that I flew out the window. I was then ordered in, and that I was banned from reading those sort of comics again. The ban was not that bad. I used to have The Beano and Dandy. There was a superhero named Jack Flash - the flying boy from Mercury in one of those journals. Heh! Heh! Heh!
At a later date, I moved to Hemel Hempstead. Here I found some of my new friends were looking at these comics as well. However, this did not seem to detrimentally affect my behaviour. Eventually, the ban was lifted and I was back; officially, into superheroes.
But there is one situation that I am curious about. Belswains Farm House, the Hemel Hempstead dwelling where I lived, did have the capacity to accept more than one set of occupants. At the time one was a family which included a little girl. I often played with her. One day I was in her part of the house. Her mother was doing some ironing, whilst her daughter and I sat on their settee. Present happened to be one of these comics. We both looked at the pictures and started to enact the unfolding story. Suddenly, there was a look of horror on her mother's face. She quickly said to her daughter, firmly and politely, that she had told her not to play "that" game.
At the time, I wondered what was it about superheroes that grown-ups did not like; which inspired children to play games?
As an adult, an interesting thought has occurred to me. Did my mother say something to the little girl's mother? Did the mother become concerned when she saw us indulging in superhero activity. Did she think, "Not with him!" Did she think that I was mad? Who? Me mad?! Never! How could anyone think that?
End of blog
Useless (but possibly interesting) information:-
(This article was originally published in 2010)
HISTORY MISTORY OR HISTERY MISTERY OR IS IT HYSTERY MYSTERY?
According to documents that were retained in our records, we started up as a result of an advert being placed in THE HEMEL HEMPSTEAD GAZETTE. I also seem to recall hearing that the advertisement appeared in the December edition of that journal. Our founder was Frank Maidment and that the inaugural meeting occurred above a hairdressing establishment in Lawn Lane. To me this was very clean cut and clear. In fact evidence to back this up is by the minutes of our first AGM being held in April 1961.
However, I did hear from someone, who was in process of compiling a list of competition winners, that they had provisioned for the possibility of the club being in existence in the 1950’s. He was informed from someone of this possibility. He was going to investigate, but due to a promotional work situation, he had to leave. Further evidence of us originating in the 1950’s, arose when a chappy installed a new carpet at home and informed me that his father had belonged to this club. To the best of my memory, he referred to a town carnival which was filmed in 1959. And yet our early newsletters and yearbook state 1960.
But this still is intriguing as there are, or were, clippings from the local newspaper reporting our activities also in our records. In some we are referred to as The Hemel Hempstead Cine Club. And yet our name was The Hemel Hempstead Cine Society (This was our title prior to Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers). I, at first put this down to an error. Or was it?
A few years ago, I was conducting some research for something consisting of local history material. In order to do this, my activity involved looking through microfilms of old Hemel Hempstead Gazettes, which in turn were making me bleary eyed. I had by coincidence discovered reference to an organisation which during the post war years, put on film shows at local village halls. I also later discovered that they had made films. But they did not appear to be us. Nor am I clear as to what percentage of their shows were amateur, professional, pre-made or specially made. However, my eyes popped out of my head, when I saw a 1958 report of a meeting at The Bell for The Hemel Hempstead Cine Club. Also some familiar names appeared. This certainly disagreed with our year book which clearly states that we started in 1960 and the backup evidence of our first AGM in 1961.
In fact in a December 1960 edition of The Hemel Hempstead Gazette, Hemel Hempstead Cine Club is mentioned again. I had difficulty in finding the advert which is reputedly to have started us off, but instead this reference was yet another report of a club meeting.
In the wake of all this, I was pleased to meet John Walker, who joined this club some years after I had, but left during our Leverstock Green era, as he moved district. However, he did join our counterparts in Milton Keynes. At a visit during our previous hall’s era, (Bourne Methodist Church Hall), I spoke to him at the tea break. The reason being, his name appeared in the 1958 and 1960 press reports. He confirmed that he was the same John Walker. Then came the bombshell. He claimed that he had started our club. When asked about Frank Maidment, who was regarded as the founder member, he said that Frank had as well. When I also mentioned Vic White and John Pewsey, he said, ”Yes. We were all founder members.” Whether the Hemel Hempstead Cine Club formally folded up, started again immediately, took on a new name or another club came along is not clear and became a little grey area in the conversation. We had to continue with the meeting, and so the conversation never resumed. I also heard at a later meeting, that he might be coming back. But so far he has not. Irrespective whether he does or not, I think we should regard him with reverence.
So, what about Frank Maidment, who according to current records, was the originator of the the society? Well he ran a business called Studio One. (Not to be confused with Brian Harris’ Studio One silk screen printing business.) Frank’s business was a photographic shop. Eventually it expanded into the holiday and travel scenario. This portion of business became larger and the photographic side got less. There is a report in a Hemel Hempstead Gazette plus publicity, when comedian Norman Vaughan opened Frank’s new premises. He donated the Studio One Shield for the holiday and travel competition and was chairman. But by 1963, his involvement with Hemel Hempstead Cine Society became less, due to his business commitments. During the 1980’s, by a chance in a million meeting, I was informed by his ex-wife that he had moved to Spain. [We subsequently heard in 2015 that he had died.]
Another early member, who died just before I joined, had a trophy dedicated to him called The Vic White Sound Memorial Trophy. John Pewsey, who until I found out about John Walker, was regarded as the last of our founder members. Although John Pewsey’s membership was more continuous. He left the club during our Leverstock Green era. He moved to Leighton Buzzard but sadly died.
Some of the ladies associated with us in our early years have been Hilda Stearn, Eve Bysouth and Joan Allen. I do not know what happened to Hilda. But I believe she did acquire the post of secretary. Eve starred in reputedly our first club production, TAKE THE ‘L’ OUT OF IT.(Circa 1962) She also, as far as I am aware became our first lady chairman/chairperson. Joan Allen was recently interviewed by the local press about her days when she was a nurse. I do not know if Vicky Rewell was a very early member with her husband Harry.
If anyone knows more about the origins of this club, irrespective of name, please let us know. Otherwise we will have to spend a large amount of money to hire out Sherlock Holmes. Alan French. 2009.
Useless information post script: Are you aware that according to the earliest rules and regulations that I have ever came across, that anyone who joined The Hemel Hempstead Cine Society, had to be sponsored by one of the members? A lot of people don’t know that!
A.What have the following in common? :-
B. What links Grace Kelly (aka Princess Grace of Monaco), Elvis Presley with the Jordanaires, George Harrison and Bing Crosby.
C. What do Joanna Lumley and Jodie Whitaker have in common?
D. Which member of Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers collided in a passageway with a famous comedy man and accidentally knocked him over into a nearby foyer? And who was the comedy man (possibly Benny Hill, Tony Hancock or Charlie Drake).
E. In our production NONE MUST KNOW (aka MEANWHILE IN LEVERSTOCK GREEN) there is brief reference to the children's television programme BLUE PETER. Why is this coincidentally appropriate?
F. Who is Daisy Duck's cartoon boyfriend?
G. Which famous comedy duo co-starred in PLANE CRAZY, GALLOPING GAUCHO and STEAMBOAT WILLIE? (These were the first 3 of many films that followed.)
H. Which year did EASTENDERS start being broadcast?
I. Which year was the first episode of CORONATION STREET broadcast?
J. What year did DOCTOR WHO first appear on television?
K. What years did production commence on the first Tarzan film, and its subsequent premier?
L. Who was 007 in SKYFALL?
M. Who had a chart hit with the above film's theme tune?
N. Which of the following songs, usually sung at Christmas time, is the odd one out?
There are two answers.
They are all songs but were not featured in the films which share their titles.
B. The song TRUE LOVE.
C. They have both portrayed Doctor Who (Joanna Lumley in a charity TV spoof for Red Nose Day, Jodie Whitaker for the main TV series.)
D. Member: Alan French. Comedy man: Benny Hill.
E. Christopher Trace co-presented with Leila Williams the first editions of BLUE PETER. Christopher Trace lived in Leverstock Green.
F. Donald Duck.
G. Minnie and Mickey Mouse.
K. Commenced 1917. Premiered 1918.
L. Daniel Craig.
N. Answer one = WHITE CHRISTMAS. The other two are not strictly Christmas songs.
Answer two = JINGLE BELLS. It was composed in the 19th century. The other two were written in the 20th Century.
[The following write up includes the term casus belli which means cause of the argument or, in this case, cause of the war.]
The year in which I write this article, commemorates the ending of one of the Twentieth Century's most horrible, tragic, and dreadful conflicts.
I have been to some of the areas where this conflict took place. If one takes their visit seriously, then they must in some way, be gripped by some emotional experience. Irrespective of what side of the casus belli, these people went through living Hell.
Although my visits were biased toward seeing my paternal grandfather's grave, I must not forget my maternal grandfather. He was a weak man. I am not sure whether he did not join the fighting forces due to health reasons, or whether it was because he had a reserved occupation. So he never witnessed conflict. However, sadly he died young, during December 1915.
My maternal grandmother re- married some years later. Her second husband, who had shaken hands with Buffalo Bill, I gather, had served in the cavalry. I have been informed that he had the task of putting down horses who were badly injured, and therefore saving them from misery. It was either he, or my blood grandfather, who would not tolerate cruelty to animals. If he saw an animal; such as a horse, being ill treated in the street, he would tell the offending person off.
It is believed that the last cavalry charge of the British army during war, was at the Battle of the Somme.
I have also heard, in more recent years, that my grandmother had a cousin who was highly praised for his work as a stretcher bearer. But sadly he was shot, during action on the battlefields, by the enemy.
But I do know more about my paternal grandfather who came from Somers Town in London. In fact, I have a colour tinted photograph of him, which a few years ago, I had digitized. It is included in this write up. He served with The 12th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifles. He died of wounds at the notorious Battle of the Somme on 02/09/1916.He was aged 28. He is buried at the Corbie Cemetery Communal Extension. I have seen his grave three times. His death, like many others, left behind next of kin, who, in turn, had to struggle and endure the hard realities of life.
My first visit, was during the 80th year's commemoration of the Battle of the Somme. Also known as The Big Push. Not only did the BBC's programme SONGS OF PRAISE follow us around, but they also stayed at the same hotel as myself.
I was touring with The British Legion. They in turn, also conducted the ceremony at The Thiepval Memorial. Here there is an enormous war memorial dedicated to casualties who have no known grave. The service was conducted by the Reverend William Scott. It was also televised on Breakfast Television. The Guest of Honour representing The Queen, was The Duke of Gloucester. This annual ceremony is held on July 1st every year, the anniversary of the date when the whistle blew for the soldiers to go over the top.
The British Legion party were treated as V.I.Ps. There was talking and the sound of military bands. There was eager anticipation and excitement as it was apparent that the proceedings were about to start. Suddenly, all went quiet. Then a lone piper commenced to march towards, and up to, the memorial. He played a piece of music that I know as A SCOTTISH SOLDIER.
But it was when The Rev. William Scott commenced speaking through the microphone, something strange and creepy occurred. I could hear something reminiscent of the sound of battle. At first I thought it was sound effects. Then I changed my mind. But what could it be? I then became concerned; as we were out in the open. A thunderstorm perhaps? I looked up at the overcast sky. To my anguish, I could see no lightning. The bangs eventually went away but returned every so often. I have had some strange experiences in my life, was this one of them? I did not like it. But then I rumbled what the sounds were. It was either the wind or the speaker's breath hitting the microphone. The P.A. system was in the arches of the memorial. The arches enhanced the sounds, making them very macabre. I have had the same experience two years later, at the same ceremony. This convinced me even more that my suspicions were correct.
The ceremony concluded with the the British band playing the French national anthem, and the French band playing the British. The crowd sang the the lyrics of both anthems. Our voices were enhanced by a choir, which I believe, was possibly from Wales.
After the ceremony, there was an area where we could converse and take refreshments. I was permitted to wear my grandfather's medal. I met the British Ambassador from Paris. I spoke to some locals in my limited French. I also spoke to the lone piper garbed in a Scottish uniform. I discovered that he was a policeman from Birmingham. Everyone was friendly. A few members from our coach were invited to meet The Duke of Gloucester, and rejoined us later. I also met some British veterans. One, who I shook hands with, was I believe, one hundred and four. I felt honored to meet them. The individual to whom I have referred was interviewed on television. He explained how his comrades were falling down around him. When asked was it worth it? He said that it was futile. And that all war is futile.
On the trip, we saw many things, such as the tragic Lochnagar crater at La Boiselle. We also visited Delville Wood, where only one tree survived the conflict. The rest of the wood was destroyed. It has since re-grown. I entered one area of it, and saw a film or television crew. I asked as best I could in French, were they from Television Francaise, ITN, or BBC? The friendly crew informed me that they were not from television. They were from Germany, and were making a film about the battle.
But for me, the big moment was seeing my paternal grandfather's grave. Unlike many other graves, his was in civilization. Many are on roadsides and in secluded spots in farmers' fields. It was quite a moment for me.
On the way back home, we called in a Canadian area at Beaumont-Hamel. The BBC's Songs of Praise people were busy taking pictures. We were warned that if we saw any strange metal, do not touch it. Report it immediately to the people in charge of our coach trip. I thought it would be interesting to walk around a neatly kept trench, and take a continuous stabilized shot of this action, with my recently purchased video camera. I eventually had to force myself to concentrate on this. Looking at the scene, I could easily imagine and sense the evil horror of battle there. The situation caused my body to experience emotion. I am not ashamed to admit, that had I stopped, I would have definitely been overcome with emotion.
The last we saw of Songs of Praise, they boarded our coach. Somewhere along the line, we were all asked to sing IT'S A LONG WAY TO TIPPERARY. Afterwards, they left. I had not been feeling too good, possibly due to some French wine earlier. But somehow, this experience made me feel better. Eventually I felt great.
We made a stop at Arras. It was here we met some people from another coach party. One of them referred to the bangs, the previous day at Thiepval. I assured him that it was wind hitting the microphones.
We also stopped at Vimy Ridge. Here was a very impressive Canadian memorial. And a trench system preserved in cement.
There is a lot more I could say, but I will leave it there. But one thing that impressed me was that all war graves were kept well by The Commonwealth War Graves' Commission. And furthermore, not one blade of grass was out of place.
As far as film is concerned, there were numerous shots taken during the conflict. These newsreel images brought home to the public in cinemas, the dreadful things that were happening, although there is some talk that the newsreel cameramen had some soldiers pose especially for them.
Despite that there is a lot more that I can say, I shall now approach the end my write up. I did, a few years ago, get my grandfather's photo digitized and it is at the end of this blog.
You might also be interested in some articles that I contributed to the BBC's People's War website. Some, but not all, contain some references to WW1.
About the contributor - Former coding Marvelman.
Alan French: War Baby Interview Part One.
Alan French: War Baby Interview Part Two.
The Three English Brothers French.
Uncle Jim: Send Him Pictorious!
The White Figure - A True Wartime Ghost Story.
There is also, surprisingly, a reference to the Thiepval Memorial, in my blog about Quatermass on both Herts Memories and Our Dacorum websites.
The adjacent image is that of William Thomas French, my paternal grandfather who served with The King's Royal Rifles. It is a copy of a very large blow-up of an original hand-tinted photograph. In 2014 I had it copied by Studio 57 who at the time, was based in Hemel Hempstead, High Street. It has a glass front and there were problems removing it from the frame.
Oh what a frightening, perhaps horrific, thought! During our new 2017-2018 season, which commences in September, I celebrate being a member for fifty years! There have been many changes in that time.
Firstly, our name was orginally Hemel Hempstead Cine Society. There had been a suggestion to change our name for a few years. But to no avail. But eventually, we did during 1987, due to cine getting less, and video getting more.
At the time of joining, the main argument was: is Super 8 better than Standard 8? Today it is, are DVDs better than USB, or any other technical methods regarding the video scene? We even have facilities to show some of our productions on the internet.
But sadly, a number of movie-making clubs are becoming a shadow of their former selves, and even more sadly, packing up. Even HACCA is in jeopardy. Hopefully, it will survive. Some people have speculated whether our club will last. But pleasingly, we still manage to plod along.
Oddly enough, this is not exclusive to movie-making. A number of clubs and societies seem to be in the same boat.
But on the brighter side, we have achieved a lot in my half century as a member. And some people have held us in some reverence. Hopefully, they still do after they see our movies. OK, some productions might be better than others, but good, or not-so-good, we are still keeping the art of movie-making alive.
Nor are our productions the only example of the changing methods of presentation. Guess what else? Our magazine aka newsletter aka year book. Now it is a website.
So who knows? Who will be writing the equivalent of my blog-spot in fifty years time? Interesting thought!
Useless Information: Out of those who attend regularly, only one member has been in the club longer than me. Who is it? David Harrington (in the photo below, front row: right-hand end; I am second from the left of the front row) (plus one of our honorary members, Keith McKnight).
Many moons ago, in one of my over-enthusiastic moments, I rightly or wrongly dreamed up some publicity characters that I thought could be of use to the club.
They did make most of their appearances on the notice boards at Lucas Aerospace. Having chosen a character I would reduce their appropriate image on a photocopy machine. Then their artwork would be combined with the write up from the club's programme or any other source, regarding the next meeting. When satisfied with the result, I would then place them on the notice board or wall at Lucas Aerospace.
There did come a phase when the Personnel Department tightened up on private notices being plonked upon boards and walls. And so all prospective material would have to be submitted to them.
I am pleased to say that our adverts met with approval. And lo and behold, up popped references to our club. Their approval was made official when a member of the Personnel Department actually did the plonking on the official notice board. My plonking days were over. I could now go to bed knowing these ads met with approval.
The big question is however, did they ever gain us any members? Well, they did attract a lot of attention. People interested in movie-making would come up to me and have a good chat. But no matter how much I rack my brains, I cannot remember any one joining. Almost joining and interested yes. But actually joining, I must confess no.
However, the club did take part in a hobbies exhibition at the now sadly demolished Pavilion. This time the characters found themselves photocopied in A4 colour. I was also at the time involved with The Leverstock Green Players who were also taking part both as contributors to the exhibition and performers. So I was mentally in two places at the same time but physically sharing myself between two organizations. I think that someone else plonked the pictures on whatever. Thus these characters blended in with the rest of our display.
The question again is, did we acquire any new members? The answer is no. At least as far as I can recall. The Leverstock Green Players, I recall, had one organization complain about their performance being too risque. But that is all I can recall.
I remember an ex newsreel man at the end of his visit to our club, taking an advert home. But I regret the characters do not seem to be the rousing success that I had hoped.
I conclude with images of the said characters. There is one who is missing. They were dreamed up after the main ones. If the art work turns up, I shall feature them in a future write up. There are two new ones I have only just recently dreamed up, but they have not been designed. So I leave you with The Hemel Hempstead Publicity Character Art Gallery (click on the image to see complete and full-size)
Our latest satirical production has stimulated me in thinking about previous adverts made by the club, and some members, both before and after I joined in 1968.
The oldest club advert, as far as that I am aware, was made on black and white standard 8 film during the early 1960's. I think the soundtrack was magnetic stripe. It may not look exciting, but today, might, to some people, seem 'quaint'. Certainly a museum archive piece.
Apart from the aforementioned, I am not sure how many other ads were made prior to the commencement of my membership. But I know there was at least one other. And in colour!
Circa 1970, I learned at a meeting that there were two incomplete productions. A member enquired could they be completed? One was a story film which despite having some material we added to it was, and is still not completed. The title is THE LONG WAIT. Therefore, we are still waiting. However, the other production, WE WANT YOU, was completed. And yes. It was a comedy advert to join our club. It had members of the public being kidnapped. Then bound and gagged and dragged to a club meeting. Then horror of horrors! They were forced to watch our films. A voice-over stated that we did not always have to do this, and then gave details of our activities to join. It is sad to relate that a member named Vic White died after the initial shots were made. In fact, I believe it was the last club meeting that he attended. I never met him. But I did appear in the later shots. A memorial trophy was dedicated to him for the best use of sound. The relevant competition ran for several years.
There probably were other small ads that might have been made.
So far, I have referred to ads made on standard 8.
However, eventually, we started to produce ads in super 8.
The first was possibly IS THIS YOU? Again, a storyline was utilized. We had a man, portrayed by Tom Lowrence (correct spelling), buying a cine camera. He then went around filming. Afterwards, he then sees an advert for our club, and joins. However, when we project his film for him, it is a load of rubbish. Even Tom is cringing. Then he is shown the error of his ways, resulting in him becoming a member.
However, another super 8 film made during the 1970's was suggested by the late Phil Empson. I am not sure if there was a storyline in this, or whether its content was just showing the advantages and joys of joining our club. Or is it that my memory is failing me, and it was the same film as above?
We also sometimes had set theme competitions. Occasionally, the theme was 'make an advert'. I remember two that I entered. One was an eye catching advert in a shop window. The material used was a long strip of foil. It was twisted, like the foil used in Christmas decorations. However some print was on it. It read, "HILLMAN. THINK OF THE BRAIN or POWER BEHIND IT. It was set up so the foil revolved. I thought it was very effective in a shop window. Hence my filming it. But there was another advert competition I was not sure that I would enter. However, something hit me all in one go. I noticed that not only a street lamp post near me needed urgent repair, but there were other lamp posts needed attention here and there. Quickly, I thought if these posts needed attention, why not dog owners buying their own private lamp posts for their respective canines? So I made an ad. Toward the end, I gave a fictitious name and address where the owners could purchase them by mail order. The name and address was:-
MR. AL SATION,
It got some laughs. However, the then chairman thought it in bad taste as an entry for HACCA, the annual county film competition.
The advert competitions continued every-so-often throughout our standard 8, super 8, video tape and DVD eras.
The last few years we have not had internal competitions.
However, undeterred, I did some DVD ads. to try out on my computer before it went kaput, irrespective whether they were experimental, for self amusement. Surprisingly, I produced one which was chosen for either HACCA or The IAC competition. Guess what? The judges did not think much of it. It was about washing dishes.
However, there is one advert that holds a mystery. It was called INTERVAL. It was made on super 8. It has been referred in one of my blogs on our previous website. And hopefully, it will get returned, with some others, eventually, to our archives. The idea behind it; was to project the advert to join our club during the interval of any film show that we did. It started with a story of a film show. Then it is interval time. Then the audience rudely make a dash for the poor vendor selling the refreshments, thus leaving him rather dishevelled. Then there is a notice atop of a piano. It states that the show is being presented by Hemel Hempstead Cine Society - See projectionist for further details. In addition, there was a notice next to it advertising the pianist who was playing an out of tune version of O SOLE MIO! This was also known at the time as JUST ONE CORNETTO! I think that at this point, the lights were supposed to go on, while the genuine real life interval took place. Therefore, our advert was on for much of the duration of the break. Although my hands are seen, and I am heard playing the piano, the part of the pianist was visually performed by David Harrington - at least, for the first filming session. This was sadly due to the fact that my father died the day before. In the script, the pianist was to be called Albert Makepeace. A creation by Brian Harris. But the name does not appear in the film. Tom Lowrence was the refreshment vendor. The notice boards were designed by Brian Harris. The fictitious audience were members of the club and guests. But the query is, what has happened to the film? I am suspicious that it is possible that the last time that it was shown, it may not have been wound back to its proper spool. However, an early slide and musical production that I made, does feature some photographs somewhere, that I took when I was able to attend the second filming session. For reference, the title of the DVD production is A FRENCH: MOVIE MAKER: THE STILLS. The reason why the small placards call us Hemel Hempstead Cine Society, is because that was, at the time, our name.
However, as far as DVD is concerned, Paul Welton, was responsible for submitting an advert. It had nothing to do with joining the club. It was THE ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD. I got involved late in the planning, and was to act as a man cleaning the windows. It was a very interesting part. I acquired a superfluous volume of water upon my person as a result. I then had to sit out in a back garden to dry out.
Now we are in process of making a political satire about Brexit. This is in the form of an advert. Watch our website for more details.
During my earlier years on the planet, I liked puppets. Not only that, I sometimes bored people with puppet shows. But as time and age progressed, my puppetry became less. But having said that, one type of puppetry that intrigued me was that of the ventriloquist's dummy. This is something that I sometimes wondered if I should have continued with. Or did I?
I can remember having a go at this. I practised with an Archie Andrews dummy. With it were instructions on how to be a ventriloquist. I did what the instructions said. Apparently, I had to recite the alphabet with my mouth as still as possible, whilst looking into a mirror. This way I could monitor if I had any lip movement. People would say that ventriloquists throw their voices. Many people took this comment literally. Including me. I eventually gave up, as I could not master throwing my voice. After more years than I can remember, I learned that vents did not throw their voices as people thought. It was an optical illusion. I suppose similar, if not identical, to the one, when we see films with dialogue. The soundtrack comes from a loudspeaker system, not the projected image on the screen. However, my would-be attempts were not for nothing, unbeknown and thanks to Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers.
Somewhere along the line a tragi-comedy became the order of the day. I believe it possible, that an actual writer, might have been commissioned to supply a script. The script concerned a third rate concert party, about to make its final appearance. My part was that of a shady ventriloquist. I studied the words carefully. I noted that there was a conversation between the dummy and myself. This I thought required some ventriloquism. I put on a cravat to cover my dewlap, so that there was minimal notice of my neck moving. I concentrated in front of a mirror, acting the part involving the the interaction of the vent and the dummy.
The sarcastic conversation involved talking about the concert party's conjurer, a man named Walter portrayed by Mike Quinlan.
The following is to the best of my memory. Words were to the effect:-
VENT: Ah! Walter! Dear old Walter! What would we do without poor Walter?
DUMMY: Forget about Walter. Most people do, even when he is on stage!
After this dialogue, both the dummy and I, were supposed to simultaneously laugh. For this, I decided to put my hand over my mouth. I was also supplied with a borrowed dummy for my role.
After constant conscientious practice at home, I felt that maybe I was getting somewhere. I even tried out the positioning of my lips to what I thought was best for the microphone.
Then came the action. The big day and night had arrived. I am not sure how many filming sessions we had for the production. It was shot at various locations in Leverstock Green Community Centre. Dennis Patience was in charge. The Title was THE FINAL CURTAIN.
Eventually, I had to deliver my well-rehearsed lines. I was anxious to perform. I could not wait to to bare the verbal fruits of my labours. I was garbed in a blazer, cravat and boater. Without giving spoilers, I had cause at this point of the story, to look slightly older than I was. For this, I utilized some flour which I obtained from visiting a windmill at the top of the hill, where the grand old Duke of York led his 10,000 men. I looked right. I felt right. I was ready to deliver.
It was then lights! camera! action! I felt great. Confident. Armed with the knowledge that it was an optical illusion. I could not wait. Then disaster struck. Dennis wanted to capture close-ups of the dummy when it spoke. Oh! Frustration of frustrations! My rehearsals at home were in vain.
I did however, perform some ventriloquism, in a scene where the concert party attempt to attract selfish attention in front of a press reporter; portrayed by Brian Harris.
However, there was someone who was praised and awarded for acting in the movie. Guess who it was?! It was Vilma Quinn!
I remember seeing the completed work being shown at The Harrow Arts Cenrte in Hatch End or Pinner for a round in the IAC's Triangle Competition. But I cannot remember the judges' comments. Nor do I remember the result of the competition.
Oh! Well! Win some. Lose some.
One dressing room scene had to be re-shot. I had to get angry. Unfortunately, my voice was considered too loud for the microphone, recording the dialogue. Especially as David Harrington, wearing earphones, nearly fell off his chair, due to the sound volume.
For younger people. Archie Andrews was a famous dummy who had a BBC Radio series. His operator was Peter Brough.
Dewlap. A very famous example which gives reference to this anatomical item, is spoken by Puck in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM by William Shakespeare.
I learned that from someone, that he had used the term ventriloquist in conversation. His granddaughter asked what is a ventriloquist? He explained. His granddaughter remarked that it was a pity we do not see many of them. It sounds like fun. She was right. Ventriloquist acts are not the household names that they used to be.
I am off to the pub, where I shall have a gottle of geer.
With Christmas and New Year festivities in full swing, here is a quiz for you to have a go at, if you wish.
1: Irrespective whether the spelling is with a 'y' or an 'ie', what do Bing Crosby in HOLIDAY INN and Dale Robertson in TALES OF WELLS FARGO have in common?
2: Who is the leading lady who sings I'M DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS with Bing Crosby in the film HOLIDAY INN?
3: Which British presenter duetted with Bing Crosby in a chat show? Was it Michael Parkinson, Jonathan Ross or Russell Brand?
4: Which member of our club has recently been on television in an edition of THE NATION ON FILM?
5: Which famous wild west supporting character was seen in Errol Flynn's version of Robin Hood? Was it Gabby Hayes, Smiley Burnett or Trigger?
6: Brenda Joyce acted opposite Johnny Weissmuller as Jane. Who else had acted the part with Johnny Weissmuller?
7: Who portrayed Tarzan's Jane in the first Tarzan film?
8: Who were the original screen Batman and Robin?
9: What have the following film and television titles have in common? THE CREATURE, 1984 and the Laurel and Hardy film CHUMPS AT OXFORD.
10: Which club member won a special and possble unique award, for filming well beyond the call of duty?
The answers are as follows:
1= They both portrayed a character with the same name. Jim Hardy / Hardie.
2= Marjorie Reynolds.
3= Michael Parkinson.
4= Alan Willmott.
6= Maureen O'Sullivan..
7= Enid Markey.
8= Lewis Wilson was Batman and Douglas Croft was Robin.
9= Believe it or not, they all feature Peter Cushing.
10= Brian Harris for making a comedy film WHERE THERE IS SMOKE. It was about renovation of a house that had a roof fire. It featured genuine footage of a house's roof on fire. Problem was that it was his house!.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.