Monday, 30 November 2015

Third Blackpool 1977 Photo Album 5 - Pleasure Beach At Night

I seem to be spending all my time back in 1977 at the moment! This time we travel back without endangering the Space-Time Continuum to have a look round the Pleasure Beach during September/October 1977. It's likely that these photos were not all taken on the same visit.

We'll start by heading into the Pleasure Beach through the north entrance. I always think of this as the main entrance. To the left is the Casino Building and in front of us is Noah's Ark with the Hiram Maxim Flying Machine visible behind it.

The latter ride could be seen to advantage from a balcony reached by walking up a flight of steps at the side of the Ghost Train. It could also be accessed from the side of the Gold Mine ride up on the raised platform above Watson Road.

Another view from ground level with the Grand National and Auto Shooter in the foreground.

Having walked in through the north entrance, a turn to the right brings us onto the main route towards the Big Wheels, The Whip, Wild Mouse and River Caves.

Following this route brings us towards Watson Road, on the other side of which is the station for the Big Dipper, underneath the iconic first turn.

The tear drop shaped finial was still only three years old in 1977, having replaced a spherical finial (say that 3 times fast!) that had long been in place.

The double Big Wheel - they were Ferris Wheels, having been designed by the Ferris company - had a huge figure of a clown articulated to look as though the figure was cranking the northernmost wheel around. At some point the clown's head was replaced with Mr Funshine's head, this not necessarily being an improvement.

A row of sideshow stalls sited opposite The Monster ride and leading up to the northern station of the Cableway and the Fun House. The 1922 Reel can be seen behind the row.

The wonderful Fun House. It had lots of traditional fun attractions inside - a walk-through rolling barrel, a spinning disk that threw riders off, huge wooden slides and a shorter metal one with a near-vertical drop, cakewalk etc.

A glimpse of the Space Tower from a spot in front of the Alice in Wonderland ride. The top of the Ghost Train can be seen on the left.

The Space Tower was so successful that a smaller version was created aimed at younger visitors.

The Ghost Train. Mainly a dark ride, it had two small loops on the track where the car came out into open air. One is partially visible to the left. These helped promote the ride to visitors passing outside. There was also a single dip which again came out into the open at the rear of the station, clearly visible here.

And I'll end this time with a shot of the Gold Mine which was accessed from the raised level above Watson Road. I used to love the Gold Mine, it too was a dark ride but had fast running sections where the small car whizzed down a track, swerving past little tableaux of miners and equipment. At one point it emerged into an open space over the boats of the River Caves and became visible to patrons of a small cafe.

I'm drawing to the end of this particular photo album. The final article has only a few photos left to show us. They will show some of Blackpool's illuminated tram fleet.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Film Review, August 1977 Issue

The eighth of my series looking back at the 1977 magazine Film Review and through its pages, the cinema of that year. This is a bit of a bumper article. Not that the magazine was any larger than usual, but it had much of interest this particular month. Roger Moore makes a concious effort not to raise one eyebrow, remembering he is no longer Simon Templar, but James Bond.

The Spy Who Loved Me ditched the story from Ian Fleming's book - he had specifically said he never wanted it filmed - and ditched John Barry, bringing in Marvin Hamlisch for the score, ditched the title for the title song - Carly Simon sings "Nobody Does It Better" rather than "The Spy Who Loved Me", though the phrase does appear in the lyrics. And most crucially due to legal problems they were forced to drop the villain Blofeld and create a new character Carl Stromberg, who probably has the least screen time and least lines of any major Bond villain...

Alcohol is unceremoniously kicked off the inner cover this month for our toiletry advert of the issue, Earth Born. At this time the advertising world had woken up to the existence of acid Vs alkali and the advertising potential of a balanced natural pH. This one shows the "indicator paper" but advertising moguls would soon become almost beside themselves with glee at discovering they could legitimately call it by the more glamorous name: "litmus test"!

The Contents page features a large photo of Dana Gillespie playing "a swinging jungle girl" in The People That Time Forgot.

A regular feature of the magazine was Viewfinder which reported on films currently in front of the cameras. Angela Grant was then filming What's Up Nurse?, a sex comedy that was included in my last article. She also had a part in Spectre - not the current 2015 Bond film, but the 1977 occult thriller also mentioned in a previous article. Sadly I have to report I haven't seen either of Angela's films...

Also shooting at the time was Slavers with Terence Howard and Ron Ely seen here with Dom Jack Rousseau on the left. Following the success of Roots on TV and Mandingo and its follow-up Drum on the big screen, slave trade films were suddenly in vogue.

Hurrah! Smirnoff kick off a witty advertising campaign with this shot of a Titanic survivor still clutching her glass of vodka. Not the best start perhaps, but the series would later throw up some excellent visual jokes.

Ah... once I've got through all these mags, I must turn to TV sitcoms... er... wait... come back!!! Harold Bennett as Young Mr Grace, ably supported by his secretary Penny Irving turns up in a tank to rescue the staff of Grace Brothers department store in the film version of Are You Being Served. As a young man I once worked in a department store for several months. That programme (though perhaps not the film) didn't even exaggerate what went on...!

Dinosaurs and early technology, don't you just love it! The People That Time Forgot starred Patrick Wayne (son of John) and reduced Doug McClure's role to that of Guest Star after his starring role in The Land That Time Forgot (1975).

Barbara Paskin, the magazine's correspondent from Hollywood had a two-page spread this issue as she interviewed the gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset, who had just completed filming underwater thriller The Deep. She is seen here with co-star Nick Nolte. She was already pegged to play the lead in her next film The Greek Tycoon.

The Spy Who Loved Me again claims the centre page spread with photos of Bond Girls, Anika Pavel and Dawn Rodrigues.

Flip another couple of pages and here's another two-page spread for a competition sponsored by Veeto ("smoothes away unwanted hair gently, swiftly, as if by magic"). Like a previous competition to win a Ford Fiesta you had to name the starlets shown in the black and white photos (come on now... I've already featured three of those photos and therefore the answers, in previous articles!) And of course you had to complete the tie-break - "I use VEETO because..." I can't unfortunately say what the winning caption was, but probably something along the lines of "I use VEETO because my legs look like the hide of a yak if I don't"...

The Cassandra Crossing is another film I've never seen, but after reading the plot synopsis given in the magazine, I would really like to watch this! The plot concerns terrorists who, in an attempt to bomb a laboratory, succeed in giving themselves a form of plague virus. One dies horribly and the other escapes, carrying the highly contagious disease, onto an inter-continental train. With no known antidote the train is to be quarantined in the Carpathian Mountains, but to get there they have to risk the Cassandra Crossing - a bridge on the verge of collapse. Richard Harris plays Dr Chamberlain, doing his best for the stricken passengers trapped on board the train. Together with his ex-wife (Sophia Loren) he leads a revolt of passengers against the certain fate of abandonment to death.

We have already met Patrick Wayne this issue from the advert for the film The People That Time Forgot. He also crops up playing Sinbad in the latest Charles H. Sneer / Ray Harryhausen stop-motion adventure Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger. Picture with the son of John Wayne is Taryn Power, the daughter of Tyrone Power. She plays Dione, the daughter of a philosopher.

Two previously successful films starring Clint Eastwood are given a new lease of life, released back-to-back as a double-feature. I used to love going to the cinema to see double features. My first exposure to James Bond was seeing Dr No and From Russia With Love shown together in the old Kings cinema on Kingsway, Rochdale. The building closed as a cinema in 1969.

Another magazine regular feature was a round-up of films: Movie Miscellany. This issue the topic linking the films in the article is "Love-In". No.1 is Love in a plane - Kumi Taguchi does the Sylvia Kristel bit in a plane in Tokyo Emmanuelle. Her mid-air lover was played by Mitsuyasu Maeno whose last film this was before in real life he crashed his own plane deliberately into the home of power broker Yoshio Kodama as a protest against the Japanese Lockheed scandal.

No.2: Love in the rain - Haylee McBride plays the title role in Young Lady Chatterley who having inherited the Chatterley estate, finds her ancestor's diary and decides to follow in the family tradition.

No.3: Love in a laboratory. Starring Fiona Richmond (do I need to say more?) in a film called Hardcore (I mean - really???) If there's one thing for certain, it is that the film title set higher expectations than I expect the film content reached...

No.4: Love in a torture chamber - These just get better and better, don't they? Apparently this film - Seven Women For Satan - was conceived as a follow-up to the 1933 horror classic The Hounds Of Zaroff. In case anyone hasn't heard of it, The Hounds Of Zaroff was a film by the makers of 1933's King Kong. It had Leslie Banks as an evil aristocrat who loved hunting so much that he engineered shipwrecks onto his island home and then hunted their crews and passengers one by one each night. Not only was it made back to back with King Kong, it shared the same sets. The first time I watched it on TV I cheered when the hunted couple ran over the log bridge that Kong would tip into the gorge it spanned! It also shared many of the cast. Fay Wray was the heroine of the piece. Well worth watching if you get the chance.

However, back to the sequel. In this, a young couple's car breaks down (as it would if they sailed in it to an island...) and they seek shelter at the infamous castle where the Count Zaroff's son, Boris, gives them dinner and a tour of the torture chamber. In this place the young couple agree "just for fun" to lie on the "love bed" which has a lid with nails to ensure lovers spend eternity in each others' arms. As you would... Anyway, you'll never guess what happens next...

Well that's another four films for my avoid at all costs list...

The second part of the article celebrating 50 years of musicals this time looks back to High Society from 1956.

...and forward to the forthcoming release of A Little Night Music with Elizabeth Taylor and Len Cariou.

On the back cover is an advert for perfume from the retail chain Boots.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Third Blackpool 1977 Photo Album 4 - The Illuminations

Once again I turn the pages of a photo album created in 1977. This time we will have a look at the Illuminations.

As much as possible I used to take photos on a wet night. The reflections on the pavement and roadway enhance the look of the Illuminations.

Of course, it did mean that we had to go out festooned with hats, heavy coats and some protection for the camera. I always have some sort of filter on the front of my camera lens anyway. During the day a polarising filter helps me get those blue skies. At night though I want something that doesn't cut down the amount of light going through the lens. So I used to use a UV filter.

I would put the camera into a polythene bag and cut a hole in it for the tip of the lens to come through. The polythene bag would be taped to the side of the filter to keep rainwater out of the bag and a rubber band kept the big hole tight around my wrist so that my hand could operate the camera with water getting to the camera.

One of the great things about living in Blackpool is that it does change fairly regularly. Imagine taking photos every year of Stonehenge. This year's photo would be almost exactly the same as 1977's photo. But the Illuminations change. Other attractions in Blackpool change more than you might find elsewhere too.

We often take photographs of scenery that won't change over decades or hundreds of years. The best memory-jerkers are those photos from your own past that show something you can no longer look at. I have lots of photos of cars that make me smile and remember. Also of family - perhaps the most important memories of all.

But if I were to have thought about things that change and cannot easily be found after the event I would have taken many more photos of shops - which change very regularly over the years. Also things like household items that you don't even think about with a camera to hand.

Mugs. How many of those have you broken in your life? Every now and then when looking at photos of family parties I spot a mug in someone's hand and think "Cor, I remember those..." Another thing I wish I'd taken photos of - or at least wish my parents had taken photos of - are my childhood toys. All you parents - your kids will thank you 30 years on for any photos of things like that I promise!

So these old photos of the Illuminations don't just remind me of old Illuminations, but the older buildings of the Golden Mile, cars of the 70s and fashions of the time worn by people who I hardly noticed at the time of taking the photos.

Or litter bins on the Promenade... Or (look carefully!) the days when cars had radio aerials sticking up from the front wing!

The view from Central Pier. (I was starting to feel guilty at not saying anything about the Illuminations!) The red neon of Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium adds a spot of interest to the Golden Mile - another thing that cannot be seen any more.

Tramcar 680, originally the powered half of a twin-car set was often to be seen operating without a trailer. Both this and the previous photo have been affected by something that has disappeared with the advent of digital photography. A bit of light has got into the film either before or after it went through the camera and it has "fogged" the top of the photos. Seen as little bits of light, on a daytime photo you probably wouldn't even notice it. Against the dark night sky though it becomes very obvious.

The 1977 frontage of Louis (not Madame) Tussaud's waxworks was a bit less ostentatious as the 2015 version! In the next article we will still be at large during the night, but will leave the Promenade behind and go for a wander around the Pleasure Beach.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Film Review, July 1977 Issue

We move into the second half of 1977 with this issue of Film Review magazine.

Kris Kristofferson - hang on whilst I check that spelling - is on the front cover and also named are Sylvester Stallone, then seriously lowering the alliterative standards are David Carradine and Roger Moore. We'll check with the latter gentleman in a while... And yes - I know you will have excitedly spotted the text "Are You Being Served" and I promise not to disappoint you on that score later on too!

On the inside cover the smooth, if a little fiery, temptations of that fancy Southern liquor invites you to forget your own humble surroundings in the sawdust-floored Dirty Duck - er... Black Swan - and transports us to New Orleans where the jazz ensemble has swung into a hot routine - oh wait... no... it's Donna Summer on the jukebox...

And so onto the films. Robin Askwith poses with two of his lovely co-stars in the upcoming Confessions From A Holiday Camp. On the left is Julia Bond who already has a couple of 70s sex-comedies under her belt. The surprise is Caroline Ellis on the right, who had played the character, Joy, in 17 episodes of a childrens' show The Bugaloos. Seeing her strip off entirely was a bit like suddenly being confronted with Valerie Singleton in the buff - only much more enjoyable... (I imagine...)

Toiletry advert of the month is for Day-Long anti-perspirant deodorant roll-on. And photos of Sue Barker making a racquet...

A couple of pages on and once you have stopped sweating you can have a drink and fend off the sharks with Bacardi.

"Costliest Cast Ever..." is the headline of an article about war epic A Bridge Too Far. Five million pounds had been spent on securing a cast with no less than 14 huge stars. It was based on the true tale of the disastrous allied attempt to secure the bridges in the Netherlands and gain access to the German border.

But, hey! This is what you have been waiting for, right? The TV cast of Are You Being Served take to the stage with a story of a works trip to the Mediterranean. We went to see them during its summer season run in Blackpool. The special effects included a bottle brush on a wire zipping about to represent a centipede... We laughed so much that they turned the same stage play into a full length feature film. No expense was expended. The bottle brush made it into the film...!

Richard Harris is seen in the title role in Gulliver's Travels. The Lilliputians were animated by BelVision, the first time the technique to mix animation and live action had been used throughout a feature-length film.

Charlton Heston dons a beard to play King Henry VIII in a new version of The Prince And The Pauper. It brought Mark Lester back to the screen for the last time until the present day. He made a short film in 2011 (Metered) and is pegged to play King Harold in 1066 which is currently in pre-production and is also currently (2015) filming Fighting Talk. In 1977 he was playing two parts: those of both the pauper, Tom Canty, and Prince Edward, later King Edward VI. It was the sixth version of The Prince And The Pauper to be filmed, the first version being made in 1909.

Roger Moore and Barbara Bach as the leads in the latest James Bond outing: The Spy Who Loved Me. The book was a very strange affair. Written by Ian Fleming, he wrote it from the point of view of a girl who finds herself alone in an American motel with two hoodlums. She is rescued by Bond who happens to drive in by coincidence. The story of the book was ditched entirely for this film which has Curt Jurgens playing the necessary super-villain Karl Stromburg.

This was Roger Moore's third Bond film after Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun and his three-film contract was about to run out. It was uncertain whether he would return as Bond at this time, but as we now know he would continue to make another four Bond films over the next eight years. This is his own favourite of his seven Bond films however.

Which is surely down to the lovely presence of this lady, Caroline Munro. I am biassed - I've been a friend of Caroline's for almost twenty years and a nicer person just doesn't exist. She plays Naomi, the assistant to Stromberg and gets blown up in her helicopter after shooting up Bond's car and watching it drive off a jetty into the sea. The car turns into a submarine (don't try this with a real Lotus Esprit...) and lets fly with a guided missile. (Again - an optional extra...)

So here's a little tale that is not in the magazine... an early appearance by Caroline in the film has her roar up to Bond's hotel in a speedboat, a brown bikini and a filmy little wrap. Not shown on screen is the moment when she sat down in the speedboat on top of a bee and got stung... The bee perished in the deed but what a way to go... Caroline was one of nine Bond girls in the film - I rather think we'll meet others during the next few articles as the film is released!

But this is the Seventies and the sex-comedies just keep on coming...! For the second time in this article, here again is Julia Bond (second from left) with Kate Williams, Graham Stark and the film's star, Nicholas Field in the film What's Up Nurse? attempting to remove a broomstick from the a... er... anatomy of a poor unfortunate soul... By crikey, those were the days...

1977 marked the 50th anniversary of talking pictures. Al Jolson had starred in The Jazz Singer in 1927 and to celebrate, Film review starts a series of articles looking back over the history of different genres of film, starting with Musicals. If anyone wants to liven up their night then I heartily recommend viewing this film. Made in 1933, Ruby Keeler dances her socks off in the wonderful 42nd Street. Stay awake and listen carefully. How did they manage to get some of those wonderful one-liners through the strict Hays Code? Answer: although it came out in 1930, it was not enforced until 1934 - the year after this film came out. An example: a gorgeous 22-years-old Ginger Rogers sits on the knee of a male dancer during rehearsals of a musical number. Embarrassed he shouts "Hey! What are you sitting on?" to which she responds wearily, "Just a flag pole, dearie..."

One of the regular articles in Film Review was Track Events where each month a number of LP albums would be given a short review. This example of fine journalism caught my eye and although there was no photo of the album, I just had to go searching for it. The review starts: 'Another all-star disc is "The Very Best Of The Very Best" which is a sampler of the artists in EMI's "Very Best Of..." series.' That helps, yes?

In the small ads this month Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky from TV's Starsky and Hutch) seems to be fave rave of the ladies whilst the men are placing wanted ads for photos, clippings and info about Raquel Welch, Susan George, Ingrid Pitt and Liz Fraser.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...