December 13th, 1961: “Actress Katharine Hepburn is photographed as she leaves her plane after arriving from Paris this evening. She was met at the airport by ballet dancer Robert Helpmann. Miss Hepburn is here to have dinner in London this evening.”
Get a piece of true movie history with lots like the Child Catcher's (Robert Helpmann) Coat and Caractacus Potts' (Dick Van Dyke) Grey Jacket from the 1968 British musical adventure fantasy film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in this year's #PropStoreLiveAuction ! Bid now on 600 amazing items now over at propstore.com/liveauction...
[Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 1968.]
Based on the onomatopoeic titled book written by Ian Fleming for his son Caspar. Yes, the same man who authored the Bond series also wrote one hit children's book, published in 1964.
I loved watching growing up, but have to admit to still being utterly terrified of the Child Catcher, played by the brilliant Australian dancer Robert Helpmann.
And if anyone was going to have a step-mother, in a complete antithesis of the evil stereotype, Truly Scrumptious really does live up to her delectable name.
In her famous stint to help rescue the children, she sings my favourite song of the film:
"What do you see
You people gazing at me
You see a doll on a music box
That's wound by a key
How can you tell
I'm under a spell
I'm waiting for love's first kiss
You cannot see
How much I long to be free
Turning around on this music box
That's wound by a key
I'm turning around and around..."
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the greatest musical ever made. Fight me. In all seriousness though it stands as a nostalgic beacon of my childhood in a genre that I just never took to, save for a few others in the same boat (The Sound Of Music is class, but that's a another story). I grew up with Chitty, watched it from a very young age when I was still impressionable, and since then I've probably seen the thing over a hundred times as the years passed, with new eyes each time I revisited it at a later age. It's a miraculous marvel of visual storytelling, a film that truly employs the sentiment "they don't make em' like they used to." They really don't though, films with this much hands-on imagination, passion for storytelling and ear for music just aren't a common thing in our newfound age of computer dominated franchise giants. This is a film that is fuelled by wonder and whimsy, a monumental undertaking when you consider it's length and scope, a pure oasis of childlike escapism, and a thoroughbred bona fide classic. Based on a short, slight storybook by Ian "James Bond 007" Fleming, this is one of the extremely rare occurrences in which a film adaptation surpasses it's literary source material in every way. How does it achieve this you ask? Two words: Roald Dahl. Dahl, a beloved novelist himself, concocted a scrumdiddlyumptious screenplay that let what was conserved and clipped in the book run positively wild for the film, not to mention dreamed up some achingly beautiful, endlessly catchy songs that have since become timeless. The titular machine is a souped up jalopy that has a few gizmos under it's hood including the ability to fly and float on water, lovingly built up by master inventor and father of the year for the next ten centuries, Characticus Potts, played by Dick Van Dyke in the performance I'll always remember him for. After a sincerely charming opening act set in rural England, it's off to fairytale land as he, his two darling children Jeremy and Jemima (Heather Ridley and Adrian Hall) and lovely Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes) embark on a dazzling adventure to Germanic country 'Vulgaria' to rescue eccentric Grandpa Potts (Lionel Jeffries) and
First up today is the infamous Child-Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang portrayed by Robert Helpmann
Real Name – Unknown
Powers/Abilities – uncanny sense of smell, able to gain the trust of children
Affiliations – N/A
Nemesis – children
Origin – employed by the Baron and Baroness of Vulgaria, the evil Child-Catcher is the resident…child-catcher; seeking to rid Vulgaria of all children, the Child-Catcher uses enticing lollipops, a massive butterfly net and hook to snare every young one that he comes across
Popular Appearances – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Final Fate – capturing the two Potts children when they arrive on Chitty with their father and company, the Child-Catcher takes Jeremy and Jemima to the Baron’s dungeon to be held prisoner. However, their father Caractacus and Truly Scrumptious devise a plan and storm the Baron’s castle. Releasing the imprisoned children, the heroes succeed in capturing the evil Child-Catcher and his masters
Vivien and The Old Vic World Tour (1961-1962): Australia - Part 5
The positive feedback about Vivien’s performance continued: “As Viola Vivien Leigh gave a faithful performance... Vivien Leigh as Viola is slim and gamin-like in her hose and doublet.” Vivien arrived at Sydney on September 26. She stayed at the Fernleigh Castle. “Trudie and I and Bobby and Jack Merivale are all happily settled in this lovely quiet hotel overlooking the harbour. It is most peaceful and pleasant.” The opening night was on September 28 at the Theatre Royal. They played there until December 9.
In October the British Council feedback a little bit changed. “The Old Vic are at present in a very worried state. We could have advised them on their choices of play and would certainly have cracked down on two of them: they realise now that their choice was bad. They have assumed that Vivien Leigh would be the draw she was when she first came out, but this has not happened: they have seen Vivien Leigh already and they saw her with Olivier. The current male lead is nothing very special, and their publicity angle of keeping Miss Leigh in the public eye out of the theatre, is not bringing people into the theatre.
"There are children here. I can smell them..." ~ The Child Catcher, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Who remembers this chilling character? As a child, to me The Child Catcher scene was one of the scariest that I had ever seen. Robert Helpmann's portrayal and facial features were so convincing that I literally covered my eyes upon seeing him for the first time. More sinister to me was the ambiguity of his voice and mannerisms, I just didn't know what to make of him or her...
Helpmann was nearly killed during the production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when the carriage that he was driving spun out of control and turned over. Thanks to his dancer reflexes, he was able to leap off of the moving vehicle and land safely on his feet.
Thanks to @pattyhaswag for her recent Chitty post that reminded me of this Top Hatted villain 🎩
Vivien and The Old Vic World Tour (1961-1962) - Part 4
On July 3, 1961 (which was Monday) the Canberra Times reported that Vivien had arrived at Sydney’s Mascot Airport at the weekend. She was with John Merivale and the rumour was published again: they would be marrying during the tour in Australia. Then she traveled to Melbourne, where she stayed at the Hotel Windsor.
A couple of days later the Australian Women’s Weekly had announced all of the “big three” of the Old Vic Company had arrived and the Australian tour started on July 12 in Melbourne. The “big three” were actress Vivien Leigh, who would be in Australia for about twelve months, Canadian actor John Merivale, who was Vivien’s companion, and Robert Helpmann, the tour director.
In Australia the Old Vic presented three plays: “The Lady of the Camellias”, had adapted by Andrew Allan from the Dumas classic; Christopher Fry’s adaptation of “Duel of Angels,” by Giraudoux; and Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Leading the company, Vivien played Marguerite in “The Lady of the Camellias”, the tempestuous Paola in “Duel”, and Viola in “Twelfth Night”. For “The Lady of the Camellias”, dresses and decor had been done by Carl Toms, who decorated the Kensington Palace for Princess Margaret and Mr. Antony Armstrong-Jones.
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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Huggo / edited by statmanjeff
In England, circa 1910, eccentric Caractacus Potts works as an inventor, a job which barely supports himself, his even more eccentric father, and his two children, Jeremy and Jemima; but, they're all happy. When the children beg their father to buy for them their favorite plaything - a broken down jalopy of a car sitting at a local junkyard - Caractacus does whatever he can to make some money to buy it. One scheme to raise money involves the unexpected assistance of a pretty and wealthy young woman they have just met named Truly Scrumptious, the daughter of a candy factory owner, but Caractacus eventually comes into another one-time-only windfall of money, enough to buy the car. Applying his inventing skills, Caractacus transforms the piece of junk into a beautiful working machine, which they name Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the noise its engine makes. At a seaside picnic with his children and Truly, Caractacus spins a fanciful tale of an eccentric inventor, his pretty girlfriend, his two children, and a magical car named Chitty, all involved in the faraway land of Vulgaria. The child-like ruler Baron Bomburst, ruler of Vulgaria, will do whatever he can to get his hands on their magical car; but, because of Baroness Bomburst's dislike of children, youngsters are outlawed, even the unsuspecting offspring of foreign inventors of magical cars.
Vivien and The Old Vic World Tour 1961-1962: Australia (Part 3)
By @szilviaperes “The Old Vic Overseas Tour opens in Melbourne, Australia (in association with J. C. Williamson Theatre Ltd.) on the 12th July, 1961.
The company of 37, headed by Vivien Leigh, will be visiting five Australian cities – Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. Early next year the Company will be visiting New Zealand and will play in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. The itinerary for the first eight months of the tour will be as follows:
July 12th to August 26th - Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne
August 28th to September 16th - Her Majesty’s Theatre, Brisbane
September 28th to December 9th - Theatre Royal, Sydney
December 11th to December 30th - Theatre Royal, Adelaide
January 1st to January 13th - Her Majesty’s Theatre, Perth
January 24th to February 10th - Opera House, Wellington
February 12th to February 24th - Theatre Royal, Christchurch
February 26th to March 17th - Her Majesty’s Theatre, Auckland”
Vivien played Viola in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, Paola in Giraudoux’ “Duel of Angels” and Marguerite Gautier in Dumas’ “The Lady of the Camellias” in a new version by a Canadian writer, Andrew Allan. (This was the first occasion when Vivien played Marguerite Gautier.) All Three plays were directed by Robert Helpmann...
Yesterday was Robert Helpmann's 108th birthday Anniversary. Helpmann was a dancer, actor, theatre director and a dear friend to Vivien. He directed her in many plays being some of them 'Lady of the Camelias' and 'Twelve Night' from the Old Vic World Tour (1961/2). Here's an early photo of Vivien with Robert (pictured next to her) and Ninette de Valois at the Vic-Wells Costume Ball, 1938 #vivienleigh#roberthelpmann#theoldvic#theatre#shakespeare#oldhollywood#1930s