Rolf Wenkhaus; Child actor and Luftwaffe crew member

I was reminiscing on TV shows I watched as a kid in the Netherlands. One of my favourite shows was a series called “Q&Q”. It was about 2 teenage detectives. The boys named Aristides Quarles and Wilbur Quant accidentally snap a photo of a dead body in the woods. After finding the place where the body was, they find it to be gone. Nobody believes them except Grandpa. They decide to investigate themselves. I will spare you the theme song because once you hear it, it will be in your head for days.

Then I also remembered a German movie I watched about some German teenage detectives, nowadays with Google and IMDB, it was relatively easy to find the title. The movie is called “Emil and the Detectives” .Turns out it is the birthday of the young main actor today. Rolf Wenkhaus was born on September 9,1917. The movie I was referring to earlier was made in 1931.

Rolf only made tow more movies, the last one was a Nazi propaganda movie titled “S.A.-Mann Brand”

Ironically the screenplay for Rolf Wenkhaus’s 1st movie, “Emil and the Detectives” was written by Billy Wilder, a Jewish Austrian screenwriter who lived in Berlin. After the rise of the Nazi Party, he moved to Paris, due to rampant antisemitism and discrimination against the Jewish people. He moved to Hollywood in 1933. That movie was also based on a novel by Erich Kästner, a pacifist and an opponent of the Nazi regime. The Gestapo interrogated Kästner several times, the national writers’ guild expelled him, and the Nazis burned his books as “contrary to the German spirit” during the book burnings of 10 May 1933, instigated by Joseph Goebbels.

After the outbreak of World War II, Rolf Wenkhaus enlisted in the military. At the time of his death, aged 24, he was in the aircrew of a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, a four-engine bomber that specialized in attacks on shipping. Wenkhaus’s plane, with identification code F8 MH 0093, was shot down on 31 January 1942, off the coast of Bloody Foreland in County Donegal, Ireland by HMS Genista, a British Flower-class corvette being utilized as a convoy escort vessel.

The entire aircrew of six was killed. The body of the pilot, Werner Bornefeld, washed up at Bunbeg two weeks later, and was eventually reburied at a German War Cemetery at Glencree, Ireland.

Because Rolf Wenkhaus’s corpse has never been found they officially pronounced his dead only in 1948.

sources

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0921020/?ref_=tt_ov_st

https://prabook.com/web/rolf.wenkhaus/1928015

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_K%C3%A4stner#Berlin_1933%E2%80%931945

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Brats-Laurel and Hardy were so ahead of their time.

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I know I have written about Laurel and Hardy before but now with the biopic of their lives in cinemas across the world, I was reminded how brilliant they were.

Unlike their contemporaries like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy’s humor stayed fresh and still appeals to audiences nowadays.

Perhaps this is because they were so ahead of their time. Not only in cinematographic technical aspects but also in modern social settings. Nothing illustrates this more then the movie Brats.

The short movie is about 2 dads playing  checkers and snooker, minding their children, while the wife are out on the town.Just think about that for a minute,today that would not be a big deal, but in 1930 it most definitely was.

Even when you look at the special effects, Laurel and Hardy not only play the dads but also the boys they are minding. Using  over-sized props to give the impression of kids into everything from a bathtub to a wooden chest of drawers. Each room of the house was re-created on a  large scale to achieve the effect of both duos being in the same house.

The movie is only 23 minutes long but it has so many hilarious scenes. I must have seen it 100s of times but it never bores me.

Ending up with my favourite line from the movie” You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be led”

 

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The German actor who was ordered to shoot American soldiers, but refused.

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September 17,1944 saw the start of “Operation Market Garden” a failed allied operation during WWII, which had dire consequences for the Dutch population.

However this blog is not about that but about the movie made about ‘Operation Market Garden@ a star studded movie made in 1977 directed by Richard Attenborough, with the title ‘A Bridge too Far’

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More specifically about one of the actors in the movie.

Hardy Krüger played Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Karl Ludwig, the name of his character was fictitious. It was in fact based on Heinz Harmel, CO of the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg, but he did not want his name to be mentioned in the film.

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Hardy Krüger was born Eberhard Krüger in Wedding in the borough of Berlin on April 12 1928. His parents were enthusiastic Nazis.

When he was age 13 Hardy enrolled in an Adolf Hitler School, which was a NSDAP boarding school and joined the Hitler Youth.

When he was  15, Hardy made his film début in a German picture, “The Young Eagles”.

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His acting career was interrupted though, when he was conscripted into the German Wehrmacht in 1944 at age 16.

In March 1945, he was assigned to the 38th SS Division Nibelungen where he was drawn into heavy fighting. The 16-year-old Krüger was ordered to eliminate a group of American soldiers. When he refused, he was sentenced to death for cowardice, but another SS officer stopped the order. The incident opened his eyes to what Nazism really was.

Hardy related how he “hated the uniform.” During the filming of A Bridge Too Far , he wore a top-coat over his S.S. uniform between takes so as not to remind himself of his childhood in Germany during WWII.

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In the TV mini series War and Remembrance televised in 1988/1989 he played Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.

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Sources

German Wikipedia

IMDb

 

 

 

In Old Arizona- The innovative movie that nearly didn’t get made due to a Jackrabbit.

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In Old Arizona is a 1928 American Western film directed by Irving Cummings and Raoul Walsh, nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film, which was based on the character of the Cisco Kid in the story “The Caballero’s Way” by O. Henry, was a major innovation in Hollywood. It was the first major Western to use the new technology of sound and the first talkie to be filmed outdoors. It made extensive use of authentic locations, filming in Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park in Utah, and the Mission San Juan Capistrano and the Mojave Desert in California. The film premiered in Los Angeles on December 25, 1928 and went into general release on January 20, 1929.

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Raoul Walsh was cast as the Cisco Kid, as well as being the director; but during a return drive to Los Angeles from Utah, a jackrabbit jumped through the windshield of Walsh’s car, with both the rabbit and the broken glass hitting Walsh in the face. (Safety glass was added to cars the following year.) The damage to Walsh’s right eye necessitated replacing him in the lead role, re-writing the script and re-shooting some scenes with a different director while Walsh recuperated; Walsh thereafter wore the eye patch for which he was known, and eventually lost the eye entirely. Some footage of Walsh, in chase scenes and long shots, remains in the film.

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In Old Arizona contributed to creating the image of the singing cowboy, as its star, Warner Baxter, does some incidental singing. Baxter went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.

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Other nominations included Best Director for Irving Cummings, Best Writing for Tom Barry, Best Cinematography for Arthur Edeson, and Best Picture.

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The forgotten James Bond

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Everyone knows there have been 7 actors who played the illusive 007. Sean Connery,Roger Moore,George Lazenby,Timothy Dalton,Pierce Brosnan,Daniel Craig and David Niven(who played Bond in the parody Casino Royale)

And when you exclude the parody Casino Royale there have been 24 movies and number 25 due out in the cinemas in April 2020.

Well on both counts you’d be wrong. Starting with the number of  feature movies there already have been 25 movies made. Never_Say_Never_Again_–_UK_cinema_posterAlthough “Never Say Never Again” does star Sean Connery as James Bond, It is technically not considered to be a James Bond movie.

A  High Court in London in 1963 allowed Kevin McClory to produce a remake of Thunderball titled Never Say Never Again in 1983.The film, produced by Jack Schwartzman’s Taliafilm production company and starring Sean Connery as Bond, was not part of the Eon series of Bond films.

McClory then took Fleming to the High Court in London for breach of copyright and the matter was settled in 1963. After Eon Productions started producing the Bond films, it subsequently made a deal with McClory, who would produce Thunderball, and then not make any further version of the novel for a period of ten years following the release of the Eon-produced version in 1965.

When it comes to playing the character James Bond there is an eighth actor who played him.In fact he was the first actor to play 007.

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In 1954 CBS paid Ian Fleming $1,000  to adapt his first novel, Casino Royale, into a one-hour television adventure as part of their dramatic anthology series Climax!, which ran between October 1954 and June 1958.GW200H303It was adapted for the screen by Anthony Ellis and Charles Bennett; Bennett was best known for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, including The 39 Steps and Sabotage.Due to the restriction of a one-hour play, the adapted version lost many of the details found in the book, although it retained its violence, particularly in Act III.

The hour-long Casino Royale episode aired on 21 October 1954 as a live production and starred Barry Nelson as secret agent James Bond, with Peter Lorre in the role of Le Chiffre and was hosted by William Lundigan.The Bond character from Casino Royale was re-cast as an American agent, described as working for “Combined Intelligence”, supported by the British agent, Clarence Leiter; “thus was the Anglo-American relationship depicted in the book reversed for American consumption”.

Clarence Leiter was an agent for Station S, while being a combination of Felix Leiter and René Mathis. The name “Mathis”, and his association with the Deuxième Bureau, was given to the leading lady, who is named Valérie Mathis, instead of Vesper Lynd.

So you see there were 8 Bond movies and in total 26 movies, 3 of which were titled “Casino Royale”.

 

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Operation Petticoat:well part of it.

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Operation Petticoat is a 1959 American World War II submarine comedy film in Eastmancolor from Universal-International, produced by Robert Arthur, directed by Blake Edwards, that stars Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.

The film tells in flashback the misadventures of the fictional U. S. Navy submarine, USS Sea Tiger, during the opening days of the United States involvement in World War II. Some elements of the screenplay were taken from actual incidents that happened with some of the Pacific Fleet’s submarines during the war.

The evacuation of one Navy nurse and several Army nurses from Corregidor to Australia by the submarine USS Spearfish

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On the night of 3 May, the submarine slipped into Manila Bay and picked up 27 passengers from Corregidor to be evacuated to Fremantle. She was the last American submarine to visit that beleaguered fortress before it surrendered. Navy nurse and Legion of Merit recipient Ann A. Bernatitus was among the 27 rescued by Spearfish.

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The sinking of the submarine USS Sealion at the pier at Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines.

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The torpedoing of a bus by the USS Bowfin.bowfin

Captain Sherman’s letter to the supply department at Cavite on the inexplicable lack of toilet paper (based on an actual letter to the supply department of Mare Island Naval Shipyard by Lieutenant Commander James Wiggins “Red” Coe of the submarine USS Skipjack.

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The need to paint a submarine pink due to the lack of enough red or white lead undercoat paint. The heat from the burning Sealion also scorched off the black paint of the nearby USS Seadragon and for a time this submarine fought with only her red lead undercoat visible. This led Tokyo Rose to disparage American “red pirate submarines.

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USS Balao starred as the “pink submarine” in the film Operation Petticoat.

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Grease,Elvis and Star Wars

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I am not going to apologize for this but it is a fact I am a massive Grease fan, and today happens to be the anniversary of the single “Grease” reaching the #1 position on the Billboard top 100.

However as the title of this blog suggests there is more to the story. Here are some lesser known fact about the most successful musical of all time.

Elvis was Offered a Feature Role

The story goes that the King of Rock was asked to be the Guardian Angel, Frenchy’s hair salon singing mentor, but when he turned it down Frankie Avalon was given the part instead.

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Carrie Fisher Almost Got The Role of Sandy

Yes it’s true. Our Star Wars favorite was considered for the role, but “Grease” director thought she didn’t have the right look for Sandy. Maybe his friend George Lucas talked him out of it.

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This Company Lost Out Big Time

Coca- Cola had initially had a lucrative deal with the film creators, but unfortunately for them their agreement stopped in the later stages of shooting. Because of this, any hints of Coca-Cola branding were blurred out of the last edits of the film.

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Elvis Died on the Same Day as Shooting Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee

To pay respect to the music legend, who almost played a part in “Grease”, the producers added a line to the Sandra Dee song. Next time you watch, try listen out for it, “Elvis Elvis let me be, keep that pelvis far from me”.

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Not A Teenage Heartbreak

Though most of the characters were supposedly high school sweethearts, the real life actors were far from it. Travolta was 23, Jeff Conaway was 26 and Olivia Newton-John was 28. Makes you look at them differently right?

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Danny was Almost Played by Someone Else

Initially, producers offered the main role to Henry Winkler, the Happy Days actor who played Fonzie. We are so glad he turned it down, giving John the limelight he deserved.

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Not having a Ball

Lucille Ball’s daughter was the first to be offered the role of Rizzo. Though after stating that she was better than the role offered, Rizzo became the character we know her as today.

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Barry Pearl AKA Doody, AKA Professor Erasmus Q. Tinkerputt.

Barry Pearl who played Doody in Grease also played , iProfessor Erasmus Q. Tinkerputt in the kids show Barney the dinosaur. In fact he earned more money in Barney then in Grease.

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Twilight Zone fatal accident

 

 

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On this day in 1982, Vic Morrow and two child actors, Renee Shinn Chen and Myca Dinh Le, are killed in an accident involving a helicopter during filming on the California set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Morrow, age 53, and the children, ages six and seven, were shooting a Vietnam War battle scene in which they were supposed to be running from a pursuing helicopter.

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The film featured four sequences, one of which was based on a 1961 Twilight Zone episode, “A Quality of Mercy.” In the script, character Bill Connor (Morrow) is a bigot who travels back in time to suffer through various eras of persecution, such as Nazi-occupied Europe and the racial segregation of the American South during the mid-20th century. He then finds himself in the midst of the Vietnam War, where he decides to protect some Vietnamese children from American troops.

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Special-effects explosions on the set caused the pilot of the low-flying craft to lose control and crash into the three victims.

 

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The accident took place on the film’s last scheduled day of shooting.

Twilight Zone co-director John Landis (Blues Brothers, Trading Places, National Lampoon’s Animal House) and four other men working on the film, including the special-effects coordinator and the helicopter pilot, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. According to a 1987 New York Times report, it was the first time a film director faced criminal charges for events that occurred while making a movie. During the subsequent trial, the defense maintained the crash was an accident that could not have been predicted while the prosecution claimed Landis and his crew had been reckless and violated laws regarding child actors, including regulations about their working conditions and hours. Following the emotional 10-month trial, a jury acquitted all five defendants in 1987. The familes of the three victims filed lawsuits against Landis, Warner Brothers and Twilight Zone co-director and producer Steven Spielberg that were settled for undisclosed amounts.

 

Landis’s career was not significantly affected by the incident, although he said in 1996: “There was absolutely no good aspect about this whole story. The tragedy, which I think about every day, had an enormous impact on my career, from which it may possibly never recover.”

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Film director Steven Spielberg, who co-produced the film with Landis, broke off their friendship following the accident.Spielberg said that the crash had “made me grow up a little more” and had left everyone who worked on the movie “sick to the center of our souls.” With regard to how the crash had influenced people’s attitudes towards safety, he said: “No movie is worth dying for. I think people are standing up much more now than ever before to producers and directors who ask too much. If something isn’t safe, it’s the right and responsibility of every actor or crew member to yell, ‘Cut!’

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Twilight Zone: The Movie opened on June 24, 1983 and received mixed reviews.

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Once upon a time in WWII

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Once upon a time in the West is not only one of my favourite westerns, it is also one of my favourite movies of all time. Many people don’t appreciate this fact but it is one of the few if not the only movie where Henry Fonda plays the bad guy.

But before I ramble on ,on how great the movie is and how the music in it is just magical, this piece isn’t called “Once upon a time in the West” but “Once upon a time in WWII”

There are 3 actors and one stunning looking actress on the poster. My focus is really on the 3 leading men of the movie Henry Fonda,Charles Bronson and Jason Robard, apart from the fact they starred together in this movie, they also served in WWII. The beautiful Claudia Cardinale was born in 1938 so she was just a child during the war.

Henry Fonda

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Fonda enlisted in the United States Navy to fight in World War II, saying, “I don’t want to be in a fake war in a studio.” . Fonda served for three years, initially as a Quartermaster 3rd Class on the destroyer USS Satterlee.

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He was later commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in Air Combat Intelligence in the Central Pacific and was awarded the Navy Presidential Unit Citation and the Bronze Star.

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Charles Bronson

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Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky

Buchinsky enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in 1943, serving as an aircraft gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron. In 1945 he became a Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group, based on Guam, and was assigned to a B-29 bomber, flying on 25 missions.

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Eventually he was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his service and left the military in 1946.

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Jason Robards

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Following the completion of recruit training and radio school, Robards was assigned to the heavy cruiser USS Northampton in 1941 as a radioman 3rd class.

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On December 7, 1941, Northampton was at sea in the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles (160 km) off Hawaii. Contrary to some stories, he did not see the devastation of the Japanese attack on Hawaii until Northampton returned to Pearl Harbor two days later.Northampton was later directed into the Guadalcanal campaign in World War II’s Pacific theater, where she participated in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.

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During the Battle of Tassafaronga in the waters north of Guadalcanal on the night of November 30, 1942, Northampton was sunk by hits from two Japanese torpedoes. Robards found himself treading water until near daybreak, when he was rescued by an American destroyer. For her service in the war, Northampton was awarded six battle stars.

Two years later, in November 1944, Robards was radioman aboard the light cruiser USS Nashville, the flagship for the invasion of Mindoro in the northern Philippines.

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On December 13, she was struck by a kamikaze aircraft off Negros Island in the Philippines.

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The aircraft hit one of the port five-inch gun mounts, while the plane’s two bombs set the midsection of the ship ablaze. With this damage and 223 casualties, Nashville was forced to return to Pearl Harbor and then to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, for repairs.

Robards served honorably during the war, but was not a recipient of the U.S. Navy Cross for bravery, contrary to what has been reported in numerous sources.

Another cast member from “Once upon a time in the West”, Jack Elam, also served two years in the United States Navy during World War II.

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High Noon

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I contribute this movie to have triggered my long lasting love affair with the silver screen.I vividly remember watching this movie on one of the German TV Channels.

Although even at a young age I found it annoying that the Germans just couldn’t resist dubbing any non German movie, I forget how often I have heard ‘John Wayne’, it still didn’t take away the magic of it.

It was on a Saturday morning, I must have been 8 or 9, and the movie started. You have to give it to the Germans, they sure know how to time manage. Since this movie was in real time,long before any other movie, the ZDF had timed it exactly that at the time when the clock struck High Noon in the movie, it would also strike High Noon in real time. I was absolutely in awe.

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65 years after it’s  first release High Noon is still one of my all time favourite movies. However it hasn’t been without controversy.

Both John Wayne and Howard Hawks hated the movie and shot another classic Western “Rio Bravo” in response 7 years later.

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john Wayne  called it “the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life”and Howard Hawks said, “I made Rio Bravo because I didn’t like High Noon … I didn’t think a good town marshal was going to run around town like a chicken with his head cut off asking everyone to help. And who saves him? His Quaker wife. That isn’t my idea of a good Western.”

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Best Actor nominee Gary Cooper was shooting a film (Blowing Wild) in Mexico and couldn’t attend the Oscars, so he asked his friend John Wayne to accept it on his behalf if he should happen to win.Nonetheless, when Cooper won, Wayne did the gentlemanly thing: spoke glowingly of his friend “Coop” as a person, and jokingly pretended to be resentful that he hadn’t played the lead in High Noon himself.

The writer Carl Foreman had been called before the HUAC-House Un-American Activities Committee- while he was writing the movie. The HUAC alleged he was an active communist.

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Foreman had not been in the Communist Party for almost ten years, but declined to ‘name names’ and was considered an ‘un-cooperative witness’ by HUAC] When Stanley Kramer (the producer)found out some of this, he forced Foreman to sell his part of their company, and tried to get him kicked off the making of the picture. Fred Zinnemann, Gary Cooper, and Bruce Church intervened. There was also a problem with the Bank of America loan, as Foreman hadn’t yet signed certain papers. Thus Foreman remained on the production, but moved to England before it was released nationally, as he knew he would never be allowed to work in America.

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Kramer hired the 21-year-old Grace Kelly after only seeing a photograph of her,to play Will Kane’s bride, Amy, without an audition or even a meeting. (He didn’t tell the director, Zinnemann, this until after the fact.) When it was all over, Kramer had second thoughts: “She was miscast. She was just too young for Cooper. She didn’t believe she did well in the role, and I didn’t think so, either.”

As the train pulls in to the station, you can see black smoke coming from it, a sign that the brakes were failing. But Zinnemann and his cameraman didn’t know that’s what it meant, and barely got out of the way in time. In fact, the tripod caught on the track and fell over, breaking the camera, but the film survived.

I don’t want to sound like an old fogey,because I am not, but they just don’t make them like that anymore.

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