Thursday, September 11, 2014

People you probably didn’t know were in The Robe


Habits, we all have them. Sometimes it’s watching a particular film at Christmas time. Or maybe it’s watching a certain number of films at Easter.  For me I’ve watched The Ten Commandments every year since I was 12. Sometimes it was with beer and pizza, but most of the time it was not. The habit of watching the film began when my mom would have “the girls” over for Bridge club. The Bridge club got together every month, and when it was time for my mom to host the monthly game they descended on my house with avengence.  The noise level would skyrocket as the girls exchanged gossip they had saved up for an entire month, and each one tried to be louder than the person next to them. My father and I immediately retreated into the basement. Sometimes we were accompanied by the family dog, but most of the time he went upstairs to fall asleep on my bed.

Easter was a time for two, and sometimes three films. The Ten Commandments was always #1 on the hit parade. The Robe was one of my fathers favorites followed by another film with Anthony Quinn called Barrabas. I didn’t know it until just last month when I bought The Robe on DVD but when the film was being made two versions were made. Some theaters simply could not make or afford the conversion to Cinemascope so a full screen version of the film was shot. Blocking, lighting etc., all had to be changed for the full screen version.  It simply wasn’t as spectacular.


Cinemascope was marvel to behold. The screen was enormous. It was 86% wider than it was tall. Consequently a long shot and a close up shot could be done at the same time. If a horse race started on the left half of the screen you would have to turn your head to see the horses on the right side of the screen. I wish I could see The Robe on a Cinemascope screen. The DVD version, while enhanced, cleaned up ( dirt and scratches removed ), with some pretty impressive color correction  just doesn’t do the film justice. This is a film meant for the really big screen.

The Robe made the transition from the really big screen to the really small screen or TV on Easter weekend in 1967. My dad told me I was really going to be impressed. “The Girls” arrived around 6:30 PM, we retreated about 6:45, and the film started at seven. In very unusual move the film was aired with only one commercial break. It isn’t a long film, it’s only 133 minutes long – 2 hrs. 13 minutes, so I guess whoever decided to air it wanted the whole family to see it. I don’t think my dad was impressed with the flat, full screen version. He had expected the Cinemascope version. 

  The Robe was the first film released in Cinemascope, but it not the first film produced in Cinemascope. That honor goes to the film How To Marry a Millionaire. HTMAM was finished first, but Twentieth Century Fox wanted The Robe released first as they had so much money tied up in the film and in retro-fitting theaters with the special screen.

Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Michael Rennie were the big names associated with the film, but ninety percent of the cast were made up of character actors, actors who have one very distinctive feature about them (actors that make you say or think “I know that voice ! I didn’t know he was in this film”), and actors just starting their careers.


0003  Richard Burton was just getting started when he did the film The Robe. However, he well on his way to becoming an alcoholic, and a ladies man. When Liz Taylor first met him she was very unimpressed with him, “he never stopped talking, and he was rather full of himself”.

0004  Burton played a Roman Centurion who had a ravenous taste for the grape. And an eye for the ladies. But that’s where the similarities stopped. He apparently didn’t like making The Robe, and at times it shows. At times he’s very stiff and proper, and at times he’s wooden and very uncomfortable. He doesn’t give a consistent performance. He may have been good on stage, but on screen his performance is pretty helter-skelter. While sets were prepared for filming Victor Mature taught him how to play Craps. They were caught gambling behind unused sets several times.

ba2e9f9c-05a9-4ebd-bba3-e72b85fdb35a Having watched Ernest Thesiger in The Bride of Frankenstein, as well as many others of the Universal studio classic movie monsters, I was surprised to see him tied up in a biblical film of this magnitude. His role is pretty insignificant in comparison to others in the film, but when I watched the film on DVD it was pretty hard to believe the actor on the screen was the same man who played the role of the undertaker in the film A Christmas Carol (1951) or Dr. Pretorius in The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935).


When I was watching the film I thought I recognized someone. It’s the guy in purple. He is not given any credits. . But if you were brought up in the sixties you saw him regularly – every week on the hit TV show I Dream Of Jeannie as Dr. Bellows. Hayden Rorke was no spring chicken to the stage having begun his

tve14947-19670206-164 career in the thirties. He made his first film, This Is The Army, in 1943. He later starred in An American in Paris with Gene Kelly, Pillow Talk with Doris Day and Rock Hudson, and in one of the first disaster films When Worlds Collide with Barbara Rush.

 Michael Ansara This next fellow is somebody you saw on almost every TV show. He played Judas in The Robe, but is probably best know for having created the character Kang on Star Trek in the sixties, and reprising the character on Star Trek:Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. He appeared in the Irwin Allen film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, its spin off TV series, as well as Lost In Space, and The Time Tunnel. Ansara was married in the fifties for a very brief period to the late Jean Byron who was the mom on The Patty Duke Show. He was married to Barbara Eden from 1958 to 1974. Michael appeared on The Untouchables, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, The Outer Limits, I Dream of Jeannie, the original Hawaii Five-O, the Centennial mini-series, and supplied the voice of “Mr. Freeze” in the animated Batman series.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Diary of Anne Frank–Episode 12

All dialog in brown text is taken from the movie script at

The Allies are starting to gain the upper hand. But Jews are still being rounded up like cattle. Everyone gathers in the attic area of their hiding place to watch comrades, friends, and total strangers marched through the streets on the way to their deaths.

160. roundup of some jews

Everyone is doing their best to be optimistic, and by early 1944 the talk of liberation is rampant. But with good news there is always some bad news, and we learn the persons who supplied the illegal rations cards for the Franks and van Daans has been arrested. And to top it off Mr. Kraler is in the hospital with ulcers. But the tension and uncertainty takes it’s toll, and the first to crack is Mr. van Daan. He resorts to stealing food from the little they have. He steals the food in the middle of the night. Mr. Dussell, who doesn’t seem to have kind bone in his body, registers his opinion “You dirty thief”. After Mr. van Daan is caught Mrs. Frank states her opinion “And all this time we thought it was the rats”. It was a very large two legged rat who would prefer to feed his own face than to offer it to children who already malnourished. When pressed for some sort of excuse all Mr. van Daan can say is “I'm hungry”. Mrs. Frank literally explodes in unvarnished fury, a fury that only a mother can muster. “We're all of us hungry. I see the children getting thinner and thinner.Your own son, I've heard him moan in his sleep, he's so hungry. And you come down and steal food that should go to them, the children. Mrs. van Daan tries to offer some sort of excuse for her husbands conduct. “He’s used to more. He’s a big man”. But the rage has been boiling for some time, and now she lets Petronella van Daan have it. “You're worse than he is. You're a mother. And yet you sacrifice your son to this man, this-this--Don't think I haven't seen you. Always saving the choicest bits for him. I've watched you.
Day after day, and I've held my tongue, but not any longer. Not after this!
Now I want him to go. I want him to get out of here!
”. Anne sees a side of her mother she has never seen before, and she is caught between two emotions – surprise and disgust. Surprise at her mothers actions and disgust at Mr. van Daan. Mr. Frank tries to make his wife see reason. “For 2 years we have lived side by side.We have respected each other's rights. We have managed to live in peace. Are we going to throw it all away?”. Mr. Frank is the voice of reason here. Mr. and Mrs. van Daan are hardly perfect human beings, but putting them out would make them no better than their aggressors. Coupled with the fact there is no place for them to go renders the possibility moot. While matters of import are being discussed Peter has withdrawn from the plight of his parents, and is wearing the headphones of the radio. He hears word of D

165a. Peter hears about D-Day via the radio

Day which he announces with great fanfare and gusto. Miep and Mr. Kraler make a sudden, unscheduled appearance announcing that the liberation of Holland is at hand. “Did you hear? Isn't it wonderful? When the nurse told me the news...I said to myself there's only one place for me to be-- with my friends” Mr. Kraler then sees Mr. van Daan sobbing and asks what’s happened. Everyone has done or said something that they’re ashamed of, and Mr. van Daan’s conduct is soon forgotten.

Peter makes adjustments to the war map his father started, and a song of praise for the invasion is sung - albeit quietly as the work men are about to arrive.

168. They sing to the invasion

With the exception of Mr. Kraler and Miep who go to work in the office one floor below, everyone gathers in the attic area to watch bomber contrails as bombers fly toward Germany that will hopefully hasten the end of the war, and their liberation.

173. watching bombers fill the skies

But the invasion does not proceed as swiftly as hoped. Soldiers continue to round up Jews, even though it is becoming abundantly clear that Germany has lost the war. The green grocer who has supplying vegetables is arrested for sheltering Jews.

174. Watching a friend get arrested175. still jews are rounded up

The Gestapo has found the typewriter that was stolen by a burglar. Everyone starts to stare at one another they become so dejected. The telephone starts to ring incessantly. Mr. Dussell comes to the brilliant conclusion that Miep is trying to send them some sort of signal. Miep misses coming to see her charges for three straight days. Mr. Dussell refines his theory to have Mr. Kraler dying. After a relatively short period of time Mr. Dussell cracks and tries to answer to answer the phone. He’s stopped by Mr. Frank who stated that he has no intention of answering the ring phone.

Anne and Peter have retreated to the attic area, one floor above the others. Peter is depressed, and Anne tries to improve his spirits. They talk of matters philosophical but a siren interrupts their conversation. They listen to it coming closer and closer. Both of them come to the same conclusion. They’re about to be arrested. In the only time available to them they do what they’ve secretly wanted to do. They kiss passionately. This was the first on screen kiss for Perkins and Beymer, and if you look closely at the screen capture it certainly shows. Beymer’s (Peter) face shows that scripted kiss was painful.

183. tonsil hockey time

The film returns to the present (1945). Otto is astounded how accurately Anne recorded life in hiding. And is ashamed that someone so mature and so very alive should die of typhus.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Diary of Anne Frank–Episode 11

All dialog in brown text is taken from the movie script at

With German soldiers literally feet away everybody is still and quiet. Everybody human that is. Mouchi, the cat, is licking an old can and creating an unholy racket. The cat gnaws at the lid to get every portion of food. At first the Germans hear Mouchi but they are unsure just what the noise is. The can falls into the sink, Mouchi meows a few times which brings a smile to the

130d. Mouschi is heard

German soldiers. The soldiers leave via the front door which is then locked. Mr. Dussell calls Peter a clumsy fool, and all sorts of theories about what the burglar will and won’t do are bandied about. In the end nothing is decided upon, and the remaining festivities regard Hanukkah are celebrated.

It should go without saying that Mouchi has outlived its ninth life and runs away. 1943 is relatively uneventful year with little being recorded in the diary. The next entry is made on January 1 1944. Anne is on the upper most floor of the attic. She tells of the van Daan’s arguments becoming more and more ferocious. She expresses her wonder at some of the changes in her life. Later that morning Miep and Kraler appear with a new year cake which really causes an uproar. Mr. Dussell makes a relatively simple request – he wants Mrs. Frank to cut the cake. Mrs. van Daan demands an explanation. “Just what are you trying to say?”. People try to let this comment slide, but Mrs. van Daan demands an answer. Mr. Dussell, never one to hold back, tells her exactly what’s on his mind and exactly what Mrs.van Daan did not want hear. “Everybody gets exactly the same. Except Mr. Van Daan gets a little bit more”. While everybody has a slice of cake Peter wonders about Mouchi. Mr. Dussell makes a comment the cat has becomes somebodies dinner. Mr. van Daan goes up stairs and in a moment returns with a fur coat. Miep, who is already in a rush, is asked to sell the coat. He neatly sandwiches in a request for more cigarettes. “I don't care what kind they are. Get all you can”.

140. Will you get me cigarettes any kind

Mr. Kraler tells Mr. Frank that somebody he may know suspects he, his family, and his friends are hiding in the attic. After some discussion it’s decided to pay this person half of what he’s demanding. Margot, who is already under the weather, just can’t stand much more and wishes for the end to come. Her mother immediately admonishes her. Anne who seems to understand her sister most of all comes to her defense.

144. Anne balls out adults for not coming to Margots defense145. Anne tries to go to her bedroom only to find Mr Dussel already there

You grown-ups have had your chance…It isn't our fault the world is in such a mess.We weren't around when all this started”. Her mother to admonish Anne but fails. Mr. van Daan goes around the room saying “She talks as if we started the war. Did we start the war?”. Anne stomps out of the living area, and into her room only to discover that Mr. Dussell has already taken up residence. Frustrated, she stomps up the ladder leading to the attic.

Peter follows her into the the attic and they have their first heart to heart talk. I think a romance may be blooming, but I’m not sure if it’s genuine attraction or because of the close quarters. The upshot of their discussion is Peter asking Anne to come to his room when she has to “let off some steam”.

At this point in the film Anne and Peter move to the foreground, and everybody else takes a back seat. The snarky remarks keep bubbling to the surface, but for once they really don’t have much impact. Anne gets ready for a “date” with Peter. Mr. Dussell is the wolf at the door wishing to be allowed in so he can go to sleep. Anne keeps telling him “I'm not dressed yet”. While Anne is getting ready she and her sister Margot have a talk. Margot wishes she had somebody and that she was good looking. At one point Anne wonders if she’s simply taking the place of Peters cat. Mrs. Frank goes Anne’s room to hurry things along, and after what probably felt like an eternity to Mr. Dussell Anne is ready. Anne’s mother returns to the living room and sits in a chair. “You know how young people are. Peter's room is the only place they can talk”. When Mrs. van Daan hears this she adds her own comment, only I got the feeling it was more acidic. “Talk?. That's not what they called it when I was a girl”. Peter is shaving like a person possessed. When Anne is ready she opens the door and says to her sister “Well, here I run the gauntlet”. As she crosses the living room area everyone glares at her. And to make her feel just a bit more uncomfortable one of her heels snap. Just as she reaches Peters door Mrs. van Daan picks that very moment to remind her son that there is a nine o’clock curfew. She adds that he’s a growing boy, just to remind her son that he is just that – a boy. But boys and girls have a habit of growing into men and women. And Mr. and Mrs. Frank as well as Mr. and Mrs. van Daan can plainly see that. Anne’s mother asked her to leave the door open. If she didn’t she might become the target of hurtful comments. But as soon as Anne crosses the threshold of Peters room the door is swiftly closed. They want some privacy that may never come again.

At first the conversation goes toward their parents attitude towards what they are doing. It rapidly changes to hoped for occupations. Then they exchange thoughts on they’re first impressions of each other. But the conversation quickly changes to kissing. Peter admits to having kissed a girl while being  blindfolded. Anne says she been kissed twice. Much sooner than either thought the church bells start to toll nine. And you probably know what happened.

157. Peter kisses her forehead 158. kising in the dark159. Holy cow zowee wow

                            HOLY COW…ZOWEE   Look at her eyes

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Diary of Anne Frank–episode 10

All dialog in brown text is taken from the movie script at

Ok, we’re half way through the film. But instead of writing another 9 separate blogs about the second half I’ll try to shorten things up.

The tension is starting to take its toll. Everybody is starting to snap at each other. However some things must carry on. So on Dec 7 1942 they celebrate Hanukah (I apologize to those of the Hebrew faith. I can’t find a correct spelling of the occasion). Mr. Frank reads aloud while the others pay attention.

102. It's Hanakuh

 It’s usually a time of great happiness and song, but this year everyone’s feelings are subdued. Mr. Dussell is very impressed by the reading, and when Mr. Frank finishes reading he assumes the holiday is over and tries to get up from the table. He is informed under normal conditions songs are sung and presents are exchanged which he immediately compares to “our Saint Nicholas day”. Mrs. van Daan seems to take great offense at this comparison and says “No, not like Saint Nicholas day. What kind of a Jew are you that you don't know Hanukkah?”.No one really expects any presents this year. So when Anne announces there are presents no one knows what’s going on, or what to expect. Margot gets a crossword puzzle book, Anne presents Mrs. van Daan with some shampoo, Mr. van Daan gets two cigarettes containing old pipe tobacco. The pipe tobacco came from the pockets of one of Mr. Franks jackets. The tobacco contained a dash of lint (probably included for flavoring). 110. Tobacco with a touch of lint109. Its real tobacco really

                                                  It’s real tobacco….really

When Mr.van Daan lights one of the cigarettes (after repeated assurances from Anne that real tobacco was used, and it’s not a practical joke) the cigarette flares (there goes the lint) causing a mild panic attack, and a great deal of laughter. Mrs. Frank gets an I.O.U. that reads “''Here's an I.O.U. that I promise to pay. ''Ten hours of doing whatever you say.Signed, Anne Frank”. Mr. Frank gets a muffler Anne knitted. Reminder – Otto Frank wears this muffler at the beginning of the film. Peter gets a safety razor, but Anne admits he really should have a razor. She goes out her way to mention the facial foliage sprouting on his upper lip. She gives Mr. Dussell some capsules he can insert in his ears that will act as earplugs.

As I understand it one candle is lit each night, and is to remain lit. But in the film Mr. Frank puts the candle out. When someone protests that he’s supposed to let the candle burn itself out he simply responds “I'm sure that God understands shortages”. There are some really good lines in this film.

When thing are being put away there is a noise at the front door. The burglar is back. The door handle is jiggled, followed by the breaking of glass. Then there are the sound of steps on the stairs. Not knowing who it is Mrs. van Daan is convinced that it’s the Green Police, a thought never far from her mind.

118a. Mrs va Daan tells her hubby to get the money and jewel for bribes

She tells her husband to get their money and jewels ready for bribes saying “You wanna be dragged off to a concentration camp?”. Mouchi suddenly makes an appearance, and Mr. van Daan insists Peter corral the wee beastie. But Peter trips on something metallic in the darkness. The burglar hears the ruckus upstairs, runs down the stairs, and bolts out the door. Mr. Frank announces he’s going downstairs as the front door is still open. Anne tries to stop him, but he explains that he has to it being Saturday, and that Kraler and Miep will not be back till Monday. The local watchman notices the open doorway, and moves close to investigate. Mr. Frank hides behind the door with a ballpeen hammer ready to strike if need be.

120. Otto hides while a air raid warden inspects121. otto gets ready to strike

The watchmen sees two German soldiers approach. The watchman explains the situation to them. After talking the situation over the three shine a flashlight into the doorway. Mr. Frank moves swiftly up the stairs. Anne

124. Warden and goons enter the doorway

who has gone to her fathers aid hides in a small alcove near the top of the stairs. Peter follows. As the soldiers approach their position Anne faints. Peter grabs her, and so she wouldn’t be seen pulls her limp body towards towards his. After the soldiers pass Peter quietly carries Anne up the stairs. The watchman and the soldiers are now in the office standing in front of the safe. The watchman makes a point by indicating burglar tools on top of the safe. But the soldiers more interested in the building. One of the soldiers takes such

126. Burglars tools127. Goons inspect

an interest he wanders up the stairs. He points his flashlight at the bookcase – the only thing separating everyone in the attic area from arrest, and certain death. He looks at the bookcase and sees nothing wrong with it. Little does he know his light is illuminating Anne and Peter.

130. bookcase gets all lit up130a. so do Anne and Peter