Filming on a new biopic about Judy Garland in the last year of her life began  in London  on 19 March, 2018.

48 year old Renee Zellweger is cast as Judy and below is the first photo released of Renee in makeup and costume.


Renee Zellweger


Renee Zellweger,  filming in London

The film is set in 1968 when Judy arrives in London for a 5 week engagement at the Talk of the Town nightclub.

-Also in the cast are Rufus Sewell as Sid Luft, Michael Gambon as impresario Bernard Delfont,Finn Wittrock as Judy’s 5th  husband, Mickey Deans, Gemma  Leah Devereux as Liza Minnelli and Bella Ramsey as Lorna Luft.

Reports  about the new film say that Renee will do her own  singing. Is that a good idea? Judy has such a recognisable voice, it reminds me of how right it was to have Al Jolson do his own singing in The Jolson Story.

I wonder if consideration was given to using Judy’s own recordings .



The Talk of the Town programme from 1969. The picture of Judy looks to be from A Star Is Born.  Judy was not on stage till 11pm.


The Hippodrome building , on the corner of London’s Cranbourn st and Charing Cross Road, was built in 1900 and  converted into the Talk of the Town nightclub in 1958. Run by Bernard Delfont, many stars appeared there including Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Ethel Merman and Frank Sinatra.

Presently it is the Hippodrome Casino.


What the Talk of the Town interior would have looked like when Judy appeared there.


The plaque commemorating Judy’s appearance at the Talk of the Town was unveiled by Judy’s daughter, Lorna Luft.

The film may be out before the end of the year.


An image new to me. This isn’t Marilyn Monroe’ s stand-in. It’s a dummy of Marilyn ( and Robert Mitchum), looking very life-like, presumably for the more perilous shots of the raft on the fast flowing river.

The gorgeous location scenes were filmed in Banff National Park and the Bow river in Alberta, Canada.

I love the title song by Lionel Newman and Ken Darby, sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Otto Preminger, whom I have written about  recently, was the unlikely director of this western. Still under contract to Darryl Zanuck, he had to take the assignment, but soon afterwards bought out his Fox contract to go independent.

Preminger had problems  with Marilyn during the filming, partly because Marilyn had her coach on the set with her which was sure to undermine any director.

But the film was very successful .



Tommy Rettig, Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe



A new German TV documentary about BETTE DAVIS has been released in Germany and France in December,2017. (It’s called “La Reine D’Hollywood”  in France).

The documentary , which runs 52 minutes, is supported  by the Bette Davis Foundation which was started by Bette’s adopted son, Michael Merrill.

Interviewees include Gena Rowlands who played Bette’s daughter in the TV movie, “Strangers: The Story of a Mother  and Daughter” – Bette won an Emmy in 1979 for her role.

Does anyone know if there will be a subtitled release of the documentary in Britain and America?


I remember “Strangers” being very good. And it looks like it did come out on DVD at some point. It can be viewed on You Tube in 10 parts!

It deserves  a re- release. I’d snap it up! Bette and Gena are a formidable duo.


Speaking of Strangers gives me an excuse to mention a Gena Rowlands film I love- GLORIA (1980). Directed by her husband John Cassavetes, Gena was Oscar-nominated for her  performance as the ex-gangster’s moll who, reluctantly, goes on the run in New York with a 7 year old boy ( played by John Adames) whose family have been wiped out by the mob.


Gena , now 87, received an Honorary Oscar in 2015.




(Hitchcock oversees that steamy kiss between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief.)


Madeleine Carroll,Robert Donat. The 39 Steps

Madeleine Carroll, Robert Donat. THE 39 STEPS. That ‘Scottish’ hillside!




(Hitchcock, Gladys Cooper, Nigel Bruce, Joan Fontaine. “Rebecca”.)




James Stewart looks casual as Hitch makes his point. The Man Who Knew Too Much.



Alfred Hitchcock,Robert Montgomery,Carole Lombard Mr and Mrs Smith

Relaxing on the set of MR AND MRS SMITH, with Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard.



Cary Grant,Joan Fontaine.Suspicion

Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine. SUSPICION.



John Williams. Dial M For Murder

John Williams. DIAL M FOR MURDER



Robert Cummings,Ray Milland. Dial M For Murder


Robert Cummings, Ray Milland. DIAL M FOR MURDER.




Cary grant, Ingrid Bergman. NOTORIOUS

Cosy trio. NOTORIOUS. Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman




With Tallulah Bankhead.LIFEBOAT


With Tallulah Bankhead. LIFE BOAT.



Another shot of that scene in Notorious. Ingrid Bergman.

Another shot of THAT key scene in NOTORIOUS.



In conference. Cary and Ingrid. NOTORIOUS

In conference with Cary and Ingrid.  NOTORIOUS.







With Lila Kedrova. TORN CURTAIN

Lila Kedrova who added so much to TORN CURTAIN.



With James Stewart,Grace Kelly. REAR WINDOW




Continuing my catch-ups with BBC Radio’s “Desert Island Discs”, one that did survive from 1980 featured director OTTO PREMINGER.

The choice of 8 records which each ‘castaway’ chooses generally reflects episodes of their lives , or simply music they love.

But Mr. Preminger , unlike any other guest that I have heard over the years, chose 8 pieces of music from his own films!

And why not, you may rightly say.  The recordings were:

Frank Sinatra. ‘Laura’.

Elmer Bernstein’s terrific theme from MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM.

Marilyn Horne singing ‘Beat out that rhythm on a drum’ from CARMEN JONES

Sally Sweetland. ‘The Moon Is Blue “.

Duke Ellington. ANATOMY OF A MURDER.

Title music from ADVICE AND CONSENT.

Robert McFerrin. ‘A Woman is a Sometime  Thing.’ From  PORGY AND BESS.

Sinfonia of London . “Exodus” theme.’Fight for Survival.’

And only Mr. Preminger could take ,as the one book he would choose to take to his desert island, his own autobiography!

His luxury item choice  was a beautiful watch.

He said that his first independent film was THE MOON IS BLUE – “I wanted complete autonomy.”  He had directed The Moon Is Blue on Broadway but chose newcomer Maggie MacNamara for the lead although Barbara Bel Geddes was his leading lady on stage.


Otto Preminger (1906 – 1986) had a Hollywood career which started in 1936 at Twentieth Century Fox. After only two years and arguments with Darryl Zanuck, he was fired and left Hollywood for 4 years. He went to New York and directed on Broadway.

With Zanuck in the army, Preminger was invited back by acting head of the studio, William Goetz who gave him a 7 year contract.

Reportedly, Zanuck wasn’t pleased when he returned to find Preminger under contract. But when Rouben   Mamoulian wasnt handling LAURA the way Zanuck wanted it, he allowed Preminger to take over the direction in addition to his producing duties on the film.

And in the 1950s, he replaced Mamoulian again – “Goldwyn called me and asked me if I’d take over from Rouben Mamoulian on “Porgy and Bess.”

Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb. LAURA

He denied being a tyrant on the set though he did say,

I can’t stand actors who are late or don’t know their lines.”

(Seems reasonable!)

(In a 1977 interview  on You Tube, Preminger ,talking about Marilyn Monroe, said, ” Even when she was there, she was late – part of her personality.”)

After arriving in Canada’s Jasper National Park for River Of No Return, Preminger said,

I guess it doesn’t really matter where I point  the camera. We are absolutely surrounded by scenery.”


Preminger was an actor too, but only appeared in a few films like Stalag 17. In another You Tube interview, he said,

My strong German accent meant that I was cast in quite a particular register – sadistic, Nazi officer.”

William Holden, Otto Preminger.STALAG 17.



Frank Sinatra, Otto Preminger.MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM.

Once Preminger had more control over his films, he tackled controversial subjects and fought against the Production Code.

Preminger sued Columbia for allowing Anatomy of a Murder to be cut for television. He said,

I had   a contract where they couldn’t cut my films, but they sold it to television and did not forbid them to cut it……….I make a film, the film is shown in theatres under a certain title. The audiences are now turning on their television set and they are entitled to see the same film on television.”

” How would you like to buy a book and suddenly have 10 pages  cut out.”


Some of the wide range of  Otto Preminger’s films.


Robert Mitchum, Otto Preminger, Jean Simmons. ANGEL FACE.






And Otto Preminger’s last film in 1980:





The BBC’s long running radio programme, DESERT ISLAND DISCS, welcomed ALFRED HITCHCOCK in 1959.

Sadly, only 8 minutes of the Hitchcock episode survives.

“Desert Island Discs” has been running on BBC Radio since 1942. Each guest chooses 8 favorite recordings  to take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. Hitchcock’s musical choice is listed on the BBC website and was mainly classical.

One that he chose was Gounod’s ‘Funeral March of a Marionette’ which became the theme for his TV series, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”.

When asked by presenter, Roy Plomley, about his next film, the director said,

“I’m planning a psychological film. It’s called PSYCHO and it’s in the nature of, shall we say, a rather gentle horror picture.!”

Roy also asked if Hitchcock would make a brief appearance in the film:

“Oh, I always make a brief appearance, but now, of course in America, one’s visage is so familiar now, that I have to get into the picture and out as quickly as possible, so as not to spoil the story.”

Hitchcock was also asked which of his films was his favorite:

“My favorite is, I think,SHADOW OF A DOUBT because this film  combined many elements – the element of suspense, the element of the local atmosphere of a small town, and quite an amount of characters.”

‘Castaways’ on the program get to choose one book and one luxury item to take with them to the mythical island. Hitchcock chose as his book, “Household Management ” by Mrs. Beaton , written in 1861.

His luxury item  was a Continental Railway Timetable.

Sadly, most of the 40s and 50s editions of Desert Island Discs haven’t survived but I’m planning to listen to at least two – Bebe Daniels and Tallulah Bankhead.



What a rare photo from the MGM soundstage  of Mount Rushmore in NORTH BY NORTH WEST.

We can see the scale of the Rushmore models. Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant are along side two sets of ladders.

Workman  bottom left. No sign of ‘Fred’.


Still on the set, lighting at the top of the picture. The profiles of the Presidents are so well done.