MGM’s Technicolor Stills

MGM’s Publicity Department was doing something right in the late 50’s and early 60’s with their 8 by 10 color stills. These appear to have produced them using the same process responsible for true Technicolor… the gorgeous old Technicolor… dye transfer printing. That’s how they look to me, anyway – the color pops, and the consistently elegant tag lines also set the MGM stills from this period apart.

I post these examples for your consideration (and downloading – the files are huge, high-resolution images).

The stars are Julie Christie, Lee Remick, June Thorburn, and Yvette Mimieux. The fact that Alan Young and Rod Taylor, co-stars of The Time Machine, yet another of the hundred movies in my all-time top-ten, appear in the last two FOH (front of house) publicity stills is not a coincidence at all.

And that’s Paul Frees, of course, as the ring that talks.

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Stanley Baxter And The Fast Lady

No, that’s not The Fast Lady sitting on the bonnet. It’s Julie Christie as Claire Chingford in a movie titled The Fast Lady.

Below, Julie with the The Fast Lady – the 1927 Red Label Bentley that stars in Ken Annakin’s 1963 comedy.

The Fast Lady
is a terrific British comedy with a raft of great stars in it, an absolutely charming film which is not terribly well known here in the U.S. and is currently available on DVD only in the UK. Stanley Baxter, the film’s star, is even less well known here, which would come as a shock to those in the UK, where he’s a legendary comedian. In The Fast Lady, Baxter plays Murdoch Troon, a bicyclist who needs to learn how to drive in a hurry, in order to get a date with the lovely Claire.

That’s Stanley Baxter on the left, and a familiar British face – Allen Cuthbertson – as the examiner testing to see if Baxter is deserving of a driving license. (Murdoch Troon is not doing so well on his driving test.)

Unlike Genevieve, there’s nothing subtle about The Fast Lady.

The only thing that’s “subtle,” to an American audience, are the motoring references. We don’t have L-plates here (the red “L” on the front of The Fast Lady in the color picture indicates that the driver is a “Learner.”) Over here, we call them “Student Drivers” and they’re only identified if they’re driving a car that belongs to a driving instruction program.

You might get a blank stare from an American if you asked about “overtaking a lorry,” because here, we “pass a truck.”

So maybe that’s part of the reason the film isn’t better known in the U.S.. But judge for yourself: someone has thoughtfully placed the film’s concluding chase scene on YouTube. I think seeing it wouldn’t necessarily spoil any of your fun if you ever get to see the complete film… and in seeing this 6 minute scene, you might decide that’s exactly what you’d like to do.

More to come on The Fast Lady. For now, put on your “L” plate and learn how they handle slapstick in a classic British film.


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