Sophia Loren: The Beauty and the Movie Poster

Mike's Take On the Movies .......... Rediscovering Cinema's Past

I’ve long been of the opinion that when Sophia Loren smiles on camera she discharges enough positive energy to light up a large room. Especially my movie room here at Mike’s Take that I generally refer to as the vault. On the flip side, if she cries on camera I’m sunk. She’ll melt my supposedly hardened heart. Me the one who proclaims to be a fan of the Charles Bronson school of film.

My first Sophia film seen as a youngster? Sad to report I can’t recall but I’m guessing it would have been something like Legend of the Lost, The Black Orchid or A Countess from Hong Kong. Of course at the time I didn’t tune in because of Miss Loren, it was the Duke, Quinn and Brando that I wanted to see as a kid who had begun to identify who his movie heroes were.

It’s when I…

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Now Playing Monday October 18th, 1954

Mike's Take On the Movies .......... Rediscovering Cinema's Past

The Toronto Daily Star has plenty to offer us classic film fans who plan to spend a night on the town in search of a good movie that’s hopefully part of a double bill. Pick your favorite movie star and you’re bound to find something playing locally at one of the movie houses or drive ins.

Stars like that new sensation, Rock Hudson opposite Arlen Dahl in technicolor no less.

Bring the kiddies along at no charge and hit the Scarboro Drive-In for the Alan Ladd classic. And if you go, see if you can barter an original one sheet for me. Please and thanks.

Why not catch Rex Allen making an appearance in town as he promotes his singing cowboy career.

How about England imports, Stewart Granger or Dirk Bogarde? If not then catch that Doris Day – Joel McCrea double feature.

Just what kind of western is this…

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China (1943) Alan Ladd Day 4 of 5

Mike's Take On the Movies .......... Rediscovering Cinema's Past


Alan Ladd proves himself Expendable material here as an American doing business with the Japanese in war torn China before the United States declared war upon Japan following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Directed by John Farrow this film opens with a tremendous shot of William Bendix working his way through a Chinese village under attack by Japanese airplanes. It’s well choreographed and lasts almost a full two minutes as Bendix avoids incoming torpedoes. It’s a great start to a film that is solid in the action department but less so with the teaming of Ladd and lovely Loretta Young on the romance side of things.


Ladd portrays an unlikable sort who is out for number one and isn’t about to stop and allow a group of young female refugees to hitch a ride on his truck. Even if his pal, big hearted Bendix doesn’t mind. The girls are under…

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Calcutta (1947)

Mike's Take On the Movies .......... Rediscovering Cinema's Past


From Paramount studios comes another Alan Ladd thriller where he tangles with foreign police, a beautiful club singer, his old pal William Bendix and a lovely but possibly lethal leading lady in beautiful Gail Russell. Ladd was pretty much at the height of his popularity around the time of this production and would remain a leading man to the end of his career in 1964. Many of his films are forgotten today other than Shane and that’s unfortunate as they are usually quite enjoyable and the studio always seemed to team him with a respectable leading lady and was in the habit of throwing scene stealer Bendix into the cast as well.

This time out Ladd and Bendix are cargo pilots who have a third buddy murdered in Calcutta. This calls for an immediate leave of absence as our two hero’s begin tracking the guilty party. Before they know it…

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Salty O’Rourke (1945) Day 2 of Alan Ladd Fest.

Mike's Take On the Movies .......... Rediscovering Cinema's Past


Alan Ladd stars once again alongside his faithful companion William Bendix in this tale of…….. HOLD ON, scratch that. Make that Alan Ladd stars alongside William Demarest subbing in on a role that is usually reserved for William Bendix. That’s better.


When it comes to sports and gambling it’s either boxing or the horse track in Hollywood’s golden era. This time out we hit the race track with Ladd in hawk to a local shark played by Bruce Cabot through no fault of his own. Teaming with pal Demarest they figure to buy a horse that no jockey can seem to tame but can run like the wind. Enter Stanley Clements, formerly of the Dead End Kids. Clements is a disbarred jockey with a penchant for women and wine who Ladd gets reinstated by dubious means.


Comedy ensues when Clements has to report to school because of his supposed age still…

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Saskatchewan (1954)

Mike's Take On the Movies .......... Rediscovering Cinema's Past

Break out the bright red uniforms of the Canadian Mounties because Alan Ladd has come north and enlisted. He’s sure to tangle with an incompetent commander, a blood brother who has turned his back on him and according to his scout J. Carol Naish who quips “Where did you trap the pretty beaver?”, he has to contend with an unlikely blonde in the form of uncouth Shelley Winters.

saskatchewan half sheet

It’s 1877 in the beautiful backdrop of the Canadian wilderness. Ladd and Jay Silverheels begin our journey as brothers on a hunting excursion. Their peaceful existence is about to take a serious turn when they encounter the remains of a few wagons burned to the ground and bodies left to rot. It seems that there is one lone survivor hidden under a canopy. Yup! It’s Shelley Winters.

Cree Indian Silverheels proclaims that the Sioux are on the warpath. They’ve moved into Canada after…

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13 West Street (1962)

Mike's Take On the Movies .......... Rediscovering Cinema's Past

In what would prove to be Alan Ladd’s final leading role, this plays as a cross between Blackboard Jungle and the 80’s revenge flick, The Class of 1984 featuring a student gang from hell. Considering Ladd is looking rather frail and weak in voice, I do think the film may have been better served if the two leading actors had switched roles.


What we do have from Ladd’s own production company is Alan starring as a Government worker staying late at the office as the film opens. Travelling home late at night he finds himself running out of gas and in the wrong place at just the right time. A group of high school students led by Michael Callan happen by aiming to get themselves into trouble. Words are exchanged and Ladd finds himself the victim of a vicious beating sustaining a head injury and a broken leg. Before moving…

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The McConnell Story (1955)

Mike's Take On the Movies .......... Rediscovering Cinema's Past

Not only does this Warner Brothers feature have James Whitmore which gives it instant credibility but it’s star players Alan Ladd playing opposite June Allyson sparkle on screen together making me wish the duo had done other films as a team. Ladd’s the energetic youngster who wants to be a fighter pilot and June is as always the spunky young gal that captures his heart and joins his lifetime adventure.

If he’s to be a flier it would appear as if Ladd is in the wrong branch of the service. He’s constantly going AWOL and taking flying lessons with Dabbs Greer while being pursued by MP, Gregory Walcott. It’s not exactly sitting well with his sergeant either played by Frank Faylen. It’s on one of his off base adventures that he comes across June and he’s smitten. From here forward the two are inseparable until the war intervenes. Ladd finally…

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