Over her 39 years as an actress Barbara Shelley portrayed 118 different roles. Strangely, Shelley's Horror and Science Fiction motion picture roles totaled only 8 of that number. For an actress so associated with Hammer Horror only 6 of the 8 came from that Studio. This article looks at each of them along with three other motion pictures and two British Science Fiction television "Guest" appearances and one straight to video release.
A Brief Background
The actress was born Barbara T. Kowin in the Marylebone section of London, England, February 13, 1932. After finishing school she became a model. Followed shortly by the start of her motion picture career in a detective thriller "Man in Hiding". The movie was released in the U.K. on March 10, 1953 and was made by Hammer Studios, before becaming known for Horror and Science Fiction.
There are two interesting names connected with Shelley's first on screen appearance. The director was Terence Fisher. Fisher would become the most known Hammer Horror director. His Horror directing started with 1957's "The Curse of Frankenstein" introduceing the Horror team of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Fisher would follow that film in 1958 with both "Dracula" and "The Revenge of Frankenstein".
The leading actress of "Man in Hiding" was Lois Maxwell. Who in 1962 became "Miss Moneypenny" in "Dr. No". Barbara Shelley's role was without even a screenplay name and listed 21st of 22 actors. Shelley was also billed as Barbara Kowin and the only film with her birth name.
The actresses next 8 motion pictures were made Italy. Plus a 1956 Italian mini-series of Alexander Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" featuring British actor Sebastian Cabot as "Porthos". Shelley portrayed "The Duchess" in just one episode. Other one episode "Guest Stars" were Honor Blackman, Irene Papas and Dawn Addams.
In 1957 Barbara Shelley returned to England to make American International Picture's first Anglo-British co-production Shelley had was seen in her first Horror role.
"THE CAT GIRL" released in the United States in September 1957 and the U.K. in November 1957
Above the poster for Barbara Shelley's first Horror motion picture and below the poster for producer Val Lewton's classic 1942 motion picture "The Cat People" for comparison.
Yes, AIP was doing their normal with an unauthorized rip off of another motion picture from 15 years earlier. In this case audiences and critics remembered the Val Lewton feature which was also showing on American television.
Instead of a disbelieving husband that his wife can turn into a black panther when she is angered. "The Cat Girl" had a disbelieving psychiatrist that Shelley's character can turn into a leopard. Although "The Cat People" did have Tom Conway as "Dr. Louis Judd". A character that would appear in Lewton's 1943 "The Seventh Victim" portrayed by Conway.
The screenplay was by American International's Lou Rusoff. By this time his work included 1955's "The Day the World Ended" and both "It Conquered the World" and "The She Creature" in 1956. Rusoff's original screenplay title was "The Wolf Girl".
Above Barbara Shelley as "Leonora Johnson" in "The Cat Girl" and below Simone Simon as "Irena Dubrovna".in "The Cat People".
In "The Cat People" "Irena" is a Serbian born fashion designer. Who is told by an old women that she is a descendant of an ancient race of people who can turn into black panthers when angered. In "The Cat Girl" "Leonora" is told there is a family curse and she can turn into a large leopard when angered.
I could not find a complete review of this film. Other than a review for the U.K. DVD release on "Kultguyskeep":
For those of my readers interested in Val Lewton and his work. My article on the producer can be read at:
Three pictures later and Barbara Shelley was back at Hammer Films with second billing..
"BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE" released in August 1958 in the U.K. and October 1958 in the United States
The screenplay was by a name that would be associated with many Hammer Horror and Science Fiction films Jerry Sangster. By this time he had written 1956's excellent "X the Unknown", 1957's "Curse of Frankenstein", its sequel 1958's "Revenge of Frankenstein" that starts at the exact spot the previous film ends and "Dracula". Also in 1958 Sangster wrote the motion picture screenplay for the mini-series "The Trollenberg Terror" as "The Crawling Eye".
In typical Hammer fashion, the movie opens in a 1874 graveyard as an executioner drives a stake through a shrouded body. He leaves and a deformed man appears accompanied by a drunken doctor. Who then performs a heart transplant on the body, is killed, and the movie switches to six years later.
Above, on the left, is the features star Donald Wolfit as "Callistratus" and character actor Victor Maddem as "Carl". Among Wolfit's films are 1954's "Sevngali", the very good 1956 Science Fiction "Satellite in the Sky", 1959's "Room at the Top", 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia" and 1964's "Becket".
Barbara Shelley was "Madeline who was to have married "Dr. John Pierre" played by Vincent Ball. However, "Dr. Pierre" is convicted of killing a patient by a failed blood transfusion and is sentenced to a prison for the criminally insane run by "Callistratus". Who uses the doctor to assist him in his own blood transfusion experiments related to keeping himself alive. There is no real vampire in this film, but "Callistratus" is using the inmates as test subjects.
"Madeline" and her Uncle get "Professor Meinster", Henry Vidon, to go to Transylvania and investigate. The "Professor" returns with the news that "John" and another prisoner were killed during an escape. "Madeline" doesn't believe it and goes to "Callistratus" prison to speak to him. While staying there she is almost raped, but "Carl" saves her.
"Callistratus" realizes the young women can expose his work and chains her and "John" up with the intent of using both of them as test subjects.
Above Barbara Shelley, Vincent Ball and Donald Wolfit.
In the end "Madeline" and "John" escape. "Carl", dying from being shot by "Callistratus", releases the hounds that, in the bloody Hammer style we love, rips "Callistratus" apart.
Starting on September 14, 1958, ITV premiered a television espionage series "The Invisible Man" later called "H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man". The series follows the adventures of "Dr, Peter Brady" who has become invisible and is working for British Intelligence. On December 19, 1959, Episode 13 of Season 2 premiered entitled "The Big Plot". Barbara Shelley was the main "Guest Star" as "Helen". In a story about parts of an atomic bomb being found in the luggage of passengers aboard a crashed airplane.
In 1957 writer John Wyndham wrote "The Midwich Cuckoos". Back in 1951 the Science Fiction writer had written "The Day of the Triffids". Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's British studio turned Wyndham's 1957 novel into a classic Science Fiction thriller.
"VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED" released June 16, 1960 in the U.K. and September 21, 1960 in the United States
The screenplay was by Stirling Silliphant. Silliphant was a major American television writer and would go on to write the screenplays for 1967's "In the Heat of the Night", 1972's "The Poseidon Adventure", 1974's "The Towering Inferno" and 1977's "Telephon".
This motion picture was directed by Wolf Rilla the author of several text books on film making.
The motion pictures starred George Sanders as "Professor Gordon Zellaby". Also in 1960 he appeared in a very good disaster movie about a sinking ocean liner "The Last Voyage" with Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone, in 1958 Sanders had appeared with Joseph Cotton in a low budget version of Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon".
Barbara Shelley portrayed Sanders' wife "Anthea Zelaby".
Martin Stephens portrayed their son "David". Stephens had appeared in small roles prior to this feature and would be seen in the classic "Possession" Horror tale 1961's "The Innocents" starring Deborah Kerr.
What makes this film more terrifying than the 1995 color remake are three factors. First its in black and white and Wolf Rilla uses shadows and shading perfectly to keep an eerie tone to the story. Second the picture only runs 77 minutes and concentrates on the three main characters to drive the story and not what the aliens might look like, or a Government Conspiracy. With his television series background, such as several episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", Stirling Silliphant was able to take the novel and tighten the story without loosing its overall terror. Lastly, Wolf Rilla's direction and camera set ups adds to the unsettling nature of John Wyndham's original narrative.
The story opens as the people of the small village of Midwich just seem to fall unconscious at the exact same minute. The military arrive and determine that even cattle and birds have fallen seemingly asleep. It is determined that this phenomenon happens at a precise distance in all directions around the village and the military sets up guard posts to prevent entry..
The military has an RAF aircraft fly over Midwich. When the pilot goes below 5,000 feet he looses consciousness and the plane crashes.
A soldier wearing an oxygen mask is sent over the marked line and just drops. When he is pulled back over the line he revives as if nothing happened.
After approximately four hours the villagers regain consciousness and appear, as the soldier, unaffected by their blackouts. However, two months later all the women of childbearing age are pregnant including a young girl who is still a virgin. One of the now pregnant women is "Anthea Zelby" who is excited that at her age she's pregnant.
Within the Midwich households are accusations of infidelity and premarital sex being made by husbands and fathers. Initially "Anthea" and "Gordon" are thrilled at becoming parents until a discovery is made. All the women have been pregnant for five months, but their fetuses are at a seven month term. Then all the women give birth on exactly the same day.
The children have unusually narrow finger nails, all have platinum blonde hair, but the most "arresting" feature of each are their eyes. As they start to grow it becomes obvious that they have a telepathic bound with other and that what one learns the others learn also.
At the age of three the children have the intelligence levels of a 12 year old and look that age. "Gordon" and "Anthea" have a son "David" who appears to be the leader of the children. They all dress impeccably and walk in a group. When spoken too they respond very maturely, but all of them seem to have no conscience for what they do, or its result and do not seem to understand the concept of love.
"Gordon" attends a meeting of British Intelligence and learns that Midwich is not the only place that this has happened.
There are groups of children in other countries around the globe. All these other events happened at precisely the same time as the one in England with exactly the same results. Although in one Eskimo village all the women were immediately killed and the Soviet Union used an Atomic Canon to obliterate the town containing their mutant children.
"Anthea" has become protective of "David" and she argues with "Gordon" over harming him. Even after the children have mentally forced some people to commit suicide for harming one of them.
In the end "Gordon" will bring a bomb to the school he teaches the children and concentrate on a brick wall in an attempt to block their mind reading. At the moment the children's combined power breaches "Gordon's" mental wall, the bomb goes off, killing them and "David's" human addoptive father.
THE SHADOW OF THE CAT released May 1, 1961 in the U.K. and June 7, 1961 in the United States
Returning to a motion picture from Hammer Films was "The Shadow of the Cat" directed by John Gilling, In 1952 Gilling directed Bela Lugosi in a British comedy entitled "Vampire Over London" aka: "Mother Riley Meets the Vampire", in 1956 it was the Science Fiction film "The Gamma People", 1961 also saw Peter Cushing and the future "M", Bernard Lee, in the pirate picture "Fury at Smugglers Bay". This picture was followed in 1962 by another pirate yarn starring Kerwin Matthews and Christopher Lee "The Pirates of Blood River".
The screenplay was by American author George Best. In 1960 he created the fictional detective "Pharoah Love". Two interesting character points, especially for the time, "Love" was African American and Gay. The screenplay production by Best was small and mostly detective thrillers, but he also wrote the screenplay for 1960's "Circus of Horrors"
Andre Morell was "Walter Venable". Morrell had been "Dr. Watson" to Peter Cushing's "Sherlock Holmes" in Hammer's 1959 version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles". Back in 1958 he portrayed "Bernard Quatermass" in the BBC mini-series "Quatermass and the Pitt". Also in 1959 Morell co-starred in the Willis O'Brien stop motion animated "Behemoth the Sea Monster" aka: "The Giant Behemoth" and also "Guest Starred" on an episode of "The Invisible Man".
Barbara Shelley was "Beth Venerable" the niece of "Ella Venerable" played by Catherine Lacy.
The year is 1900 and late one night "Ella Venerable" is murdered by "Andrew" the butler, actor Andrew Crawford, and buried on the grounds of her large Estate. This is done at the direction of "Ella's" husband "Walter" and with the help of "Clara", actress Freda Jackson, the maid.
A touch of Edgar Allan Poe comes into the play as the only witness to the murder is "Ella's" tabby cat, "Tabitha". The cat instinctively knows what happened and now seeks revenge on the three murderers.
Earlier "Walter" forced "Ella" to sign another Will leaving everything to him, but he needs to find the original Will and destroy it to avoid his being contested. "Walter" informs "Inspector Rowles", played by Alan Wheatley, of "Ella's" strange disappearance and wants a full investigation knowing nothing will be proven.
He also invites "Beth" to the Estate for the real purpose of dealing with her over the Will. Additionally a local newspaper man "Michael Latimer", portrayed by Conrad Philips, is also invited by "Walter" to cover his wife's mysterious disappearance. Unbeknownst to him is that "Michael" and "Beth" are old friends.
"Walter" knows that the real Will is in the attic, but exactly where is not known to him. While searching he has a sudden falling accident and then notices "Tabitha" watching him. The fright of seeing the cat causes "Walter" to have a heart attack and becomes bedridden.
Next "Walter" invites his criminal nephew "Jacob Venable", actor William Lucas, Jacob's father "Edgar Venable", actor Richard Warner, and Jacob's wife "Louise Venable", actress Vanda Godsell, to the Estate. He tells the three he will cut them in on "Ella's" money, if they find and kill the cat. Watching and seemingly understanding this conspiracy is "Tabitha".
There are now several attempts to kill "Tabitha", but one such attempt backfires and results in the death of "Andrew" followed shortly by "Clara". In both deaths "Tabitha" is seen watching and apparently may have caused them.
"Jacob" captures the cat and lets it into "Walter's" room causing a second and fatal heart attack from fright as "Tabitha" walks upon the bed. "Walter's" Will gives the Estate to "Jacob", but the search for the real one goes on.
"Inspector Rolwes", "Michael" and "Beth" have come to the conclusion that "Ella" was murdered, but they have no proof without the real Will.
In the end all the conspirators are killed by "Tabitha" in some way, or another.
"Ella's" Will is found leaving the entire Estate to "Beth". However, "Betha" tells "Michael" she doesn't want the house. It is sold and another family consisting of a grandfather, mother, father and daughter move in. The grandfather talks about dying of boredom as the others talk about changing his Will. While "Tabitha" is seen watching the new arrivals.
THE GORGON released August 21, 1964 in the U.K. and February 17, 1965 in the United States
This was Barbara Shelley's first Hammer Horror film directed by Terence Fisher. The screenplay was by John Gilling.
Christopher Lee was "Professor Karl Meister". Lee was at the height of his Horror roles. Prior to this film he was seen in the 1964 Italian features "Il castello del morti vivi (The castle of the dead alive)" aka: "Castle of the Living Death" and "La cripta e l'incubo (The crypt and the nightmare) aka: "Crypt of the Vampire". Lee would follow this picture in 1965 with Hammer's version of H.Rider Haggard's classic "SHE" starring Ursula Andress and "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors".
My article about Christopher Lee's Foreign language films, in which he read his lines fluently in either Italian, Spanish or German, may be read at:
Peter Cushing was "Dr. Namaroff". This same year Cushing was once again "Dr. Frankenstein" in 1964's "The Evil of Frankenstein" and followed this film with three 1965's features. They were "Dr Terrors House of Horrors", "SHE", and the controversial "Dr. Who and the Daleks".
Barbara Shelley was "Carla Hoffman".
Patrick Troughton was "Inspector Kanof".Troughton was the second "Dr. Who". Although the majority of his acting was on the BBC. He was the blind "Phineas" in Ray Harryhausen's 1963 "Jason and the Argonauts", was seen in 1974's "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell" and Ray Harryhausen's 1977 "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger" as "Melanthius".
Richard Pasco was "Paul Heitz". Pasco was mainly a television mini-series actor on both the BBC and ITV.
In the year 1910 in the rural German village of Vandorf people are being turned into stone. "Professor Meister" comes to investigate and meets both "Dr, Namaroff" and "Inspector Kanof". Who is investigating these events occurring during the full moon. There is no werewolf, but the last of the three Gorgon sisters "Megaera".
"Paul Heitz" had received a letter from his father "Professor Julius Heitz", actor Michael Goodlife, that was completed just before the gaze of "Megaera" completely turned him to stone and the reason for his arrival in Vandorf.
"Paul" meets "Dr. Namaroff"and his assistant/ward "Carla Hoffman". It seems the doctor knows more than he's willing to reveal to either"Paul", or "Inspector Kanof" about what's going on in the village.
"Paul" and "Professor Meister", who knew his father, team up to solve the mystery of "Megaera".
In the end during the full moon "Carla", who is possessed by the last of the Gorgon sisters, becomes "Megaera". "Paul" is saved from completely turning into stone, but one of his hands is not.. "Dr. Namaroff" is killed and it is up to "Professor Meister" to end "Carla's" dual lives.
In the U.K. "The Monthly Film Bulletin" for October 1964 wrote that "The Gorgon's" appearance was:
belated, vague and insufficiently spectacular. Still, it makes a change from vampires, and though the film has little genuine flair for atmosphere it is quite well acted by Richard Pasco and an appropriately blank-eyed, statuesque Barbara Shelley.
DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS released January 9, 1966 in the U.K. and January 12, 1966 in the United States
Hammer films wanted to revive "Dracula" and this film became the first of several sequels giving Christopher Lee less and less to do and less and less lines to say.
The film was directed by Terrence Fisher and the screenplay was by Jimmy Sangster.
Barbara Shelley was "Helen Kent".
Andrew Keir was "Father Sandor". Keir had been in the real story of the sinking of the Titantic 1958's "A Night to Remember", he was "Agrippa" in the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton 1963 "Cleopatra" and "Polybius" in Samuel Bronson's 1964 epic "The Fall of the Roman Empire". For Hammer Keir had been in two pirate films: 1962's "The Pirates of Blood River" and 1964's "The Devil-Ship Pirates" both starring Christopher Lee.
Suzan Farmer is "Diana Kent". Farmer was a familiar face on British television and just before this film was seen in the Boris Karloff and Nick Adams 1965 "Die Monster, Die" aka: "Monster of Terror". Which was loosely based upon H.P., Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space".
Francis Matthews was "Charles Kent". Matthews was in 1958's "The Revenge of Frankenstein", the Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee 1958 "Corridors of Blood" and many British television historical drama mini-series.
Charles Tingwell was "Alan Kent". Tingwell had been in the Peter Lawford 1952 movie "Kangaroo" and 1953's "The Desert Rats" starring Richard Burton and featuring James Mason as "Rommel". He had fourth billing in Hammer Films' 1965 World War 2 drama starring Barbara Shelley "The Secret of Blood Island" just before this feature.
The story opens with the final scene from 1958's "Dracula" as Peter Cushing's "Van Helsing" destroys Christoper Lee's "Count Dracula". Move ten years later and two married couples "Alan" and "Helen Kent" and "Charles" and Diana Kent" are on vacation and eating in a local village inn. Enter "Father Sandor" to warn the English couples not to visit the town of Karlsbad the location of "Castle Dracula". Of course they ignore him and hire a coach, but before they can reach the town the sun is setting. The frightened driver dumps their suitcases and the "Kent's" from his coach to lighten it and heads for Karlsbad.
A driverless carriage arrives and the four decide to get in. Don't even attempt to ask why and it takes them to the nearby castle.
The carriage leaves the four off at the entrance, leaving their luggage in the coach, again don't ask why, they find the door unlocked, enter, to find a table set for four and then, don't ask why, they go up stairs wondering around the seemingly empty castle, to find their bags unpacked and neatly put away in two bedrooms per proper husband and wife. Next they return downstairs deciding to eat.
Then they meet the caretaker "Klove" the perfectly cast Phillip Latham. Who informs them that his master, the late "Count Dracula", wanted the castle always ready for welcomed strangers.
During the night "Alan" hears a noise and goes to investigate and finds his way to the underground crypt containing the ashes of "Count Dracula". "Klove" kills "Alan" and lets his blood drip upon the ashes bringing "Dracula" back to life.
The weakened "Dracula" comes out of the crypt and "Klove" lures "Helen" to it. She becomes the Count's first victim and Barbara Shelley seemed to have a fun time playing the sexy vampire.
The next morning "Charles" and "Diana" can't locate either "Alan", or "Helen". "Charles" decides to take "Diana" away from the castle and leaves her at a woodman's hut. While he returns to the castle to search for the others. He finds "Alan's" dismembered body and by now it is getting dark. "Klove" appears at the woodman's hut and convinces "Diana" to return to the castle.
"Helen" now enters "Diana's" room and the female vampire attempts to attack her. "Dracula" appears and warns "Helen" not to touch "Diana" as she is his, but then "Charles" appears as his wife, just now, realizes she is wearing a crucifix and uses it upon the vampires. "Charles" makes a larger one, as Cushing did in the original motion picture, and husband and wife escape.
"Diana" and "Charles" escape in a carriage they find, but loose control on the curves of the road and it crashes. "Diana" is knocked unconscious. Carrying his wife for several hours through the woods. The two are finally rescued by "Father Sandor" who takes them to a local monastery. Where the "Father" and "Charles" make plans for "Dracula" and "Helen".
"Klove" arrives at the monastery in a wagon carrying the coffins of "Dracula" and "Helen". However, the monks will not let him enter, but a patient at the monastery named "Ludwig", the excellent character actor Thorley Walters, is also under the spell of the Count, think "Renfield", and opens a window to let the vampire inside.
"Helen" appears at a window, convinces "Diana" that she has escaped "Dracula", and to let her into the room. Don't ask why, but "Diana" opens it.
Next "Helen" bites "Diana" on the arm, but "Dracula" arrives. Suddenly, "Charles" bursts into the room and the two vampires flee. "Father Sandor" places crucifixes in each of the vampires coffins to prevent them from returning.
"Helen" easily find "Charles" and attempts to bite him, but he is part of a trap and the monks capture her.
As the other Monks hold "Helen" down. "Father Sandor" drives a stake through her heart.
Meanwhile , "Dracula" has "Diana" and heads for his castle. "Father Sandor" and "Charles" arrive and rescue her in front of the castle. There "Dracula" falls into the frozen moat and is placed in hibernation until the next sequel.
RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK released March 6, 1966 in the U.K. and April 6, 1966 in the United States
Although not one of Hammer's Horror films this entry is worth mentioning.
The film was directed by Don Sharp. Prior to this picture he directed 1963's "Kiss of the Vampire". 1965's "The Face of Fu Manchu" starring Christopher Lee and followed this picture with 1966's "Brides of Fu Manchu".
The screenplay was by Anthony Hinds the son of the founder of Hammer Films. Among his previous screenplays are several using the name of "John Elder". Hinds. who produced many of the classic Hammer Horror films, was known to put his name on the work of other writers and take the credit. In 1961 he took credit for the screenplay for "Curse of the Werewolf". Which was actually written by Black Listed American Guy Endore. Endore also wrote the original classic novel "The Werewolf of Paris" considered to Werewolves what "Dracula" is to vampires. Hinds also took "Original Story" credit for Jimmy Sangster screenplay for 1966's "Dracula Prince of Darkness". Other "John Elder'' screenplays included 1962's "Phantom of the Opera", 1964's "Evil of Frankenstein" and 1967's "Frankenstein Created Women". Hinds produced many of the Hammer Horror and Science Fiction classics like 1955's "The Quatermass X-periment", 1957's "The Curse of Frankenstein" and the above mentioned features.
Christopher Lee was "Grigori Rasputin".
Barbara Shelley was "Sonia".
Richard Pasco was "Dr Boris Zargo".
Francis Matthews was "Ivan" This film is based upon the non-fiction work written by one of the original conspirators to kill "Rasputin". "Prince Felix Felixovich Yusopov" the "Count Sumarokov-Elston", was still alive his name had to be changed to "Ivan" to use the story.
Suzan Farmer was "Vanessa".
Renee Asherson was the "Tsarina". The film does not mention her full name as "Alexandra Feodrovna". Asheron was mainly a British television actress, but appeared in the 1961 Science Fiction motion picture "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" prior to this film.
The story opens with "Rasputin" healing an Inn Keepers wife. He runs afoul of a local Bishop who accuses him of having powers from Satan, because of his sexual immorality and open drunkenness. However, his fame for healing comes to the attention of the "Tsarina" whose son is very ill in Saint Petersburg.
After healing the "Tsarina's" son. "Rasputin" becomes her personal adviser. In the film he has hypnotized the "Tsarina" to his will.
"Rasputin's" influence emboldens and he has the "Tsarina" replace the Royal Physician with "Dr. Boris Zargo" and starts to manipulate one of the ladies-in-waiting, "Sonia", for further court access and sex.
"Rasputin" wants more wealth and power that is already coming his way from controlling the Royal Household. A conspiracy to murder him is formed.
"Rasputin" is tricked by "Ivan" into believing his sister "Vanessa" is in love with him. This leads to a meeting with "Vanessa" with the other conspirators waiting in hiding to murder "The Mad Monk". Which is how the movie ends.
QUATERMASS AND THE PIT released November 9, 1967 in the U,K,
FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH released February 16, 1968 in the United States
The feature was directed by Roy Ward Baker. Baker directed the 1958 classic "A Night to Remember" about the sinking of the Titantic, but mostly worked in television.
The screenplay was by Nigel Kneale who had created the character of "Bernard Quatermass" for the BBC series "The Quatermass Experiment" in 1953. He also wrote the BBC series "Quatermass 2" in 1955 and the 1958 BBC series that this film was based upon "Quatermass and the Pitt". As with this motion picture Nigel Kneale turned his previous two BBC series into Hammer Films motion picture screenplays.
I wrote a four part article on Hammer Films. Part One is about the "Quatermass" mini-series and motion pictures. Part Two is about the films of Terence Fisher, Part Three is about character actor Michael Ripper and the Fourth Part is about Make-up Artist Phillip Leakey.
That article can be read at:
Andrew Keir, in this production, is "Bernard Quatermass", portrayed by Andre Morell in the BBC series, and the head of "The Rocket Group".
Donald Woods was "Doctor Roney". Americans know Woods from the Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn 1956 "Lust for Life", 1957's "The Bridge on the River Kwai", the 1958 Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Lee and Ernest Borgnine "The Vikings" and 1963's "The Great Escape".
Barbara Shelley was "Dr.Roney's" assistant "Barbara Judd".
Julian Glover was "Colonel Breen". Glover as many British actors had the majority of his appearances on television, but after this picture. He was seen in 1980's "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back", 1981's "James Bond" film "For Your Eyes Only", 1989's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and 2004's "Troy".
"Bernard Quatermass" is at a meeting about his "Rocket Groups" plan to colonize the moon. He is told not only is that plan off, but his group is now under the co-direction of the military with "Colonel Breen" as their representative. The two men are having disagreements, but agree to go out to diner to discuss their co-control.
Meanwhile, workers on an extension to the London underground line at Hobbs End have uncovered some skeletal remains. "Dr. Roney" is called in and with his assistant "Barbara" surmise that the humanoid skeletons are five million years old. However, his work is interrupted by the uncovering of what may be an un-exploded World War 2 Nazi bomb. "Breen" and "Quatermass" redirect themselves to the site.
"Breen" and the military take over sealing off the site and "Bomb Disposal" starts to remove the soil around the bomb. While this starts "Quatermass" speaks to "Dr. Roney" about the humanoids. "Barbara" becomes interested in local superstitions about strange dwarfs with pointed horns. Her own investigation discovers that the street was once "HOB LANE". "HOB" being an original name for "The Devil"."Quatermass" at first dismisses her, but events are about to unfold that change everything.
The bomb is completely uncovered and does not look anything like a "V" weapon "Breen" insists, at first, it is. The "Bomb" is discovered to seemingly have no moving parts and is anti-magnetic.
The soldiers also are uncovering more humanoid remains including one that surprises both "Quatermass" and "Roney". The skull was found "Inside" the so called "V" weapon. "Quatermass" and "Barbara" start to further investigate the sightings on "HOB LANE" by visiting a rectory.
"Quatermass" and "Roney" are starting to think "Breen's" weapon is something not of this Earth, because of the discovery of that five million year old humanoid skull inside. Raising the obvious question of "How Did It Get There?" "Breen", on the other hand, is now thinking this was a Nazi propaganda weapon that was sent to cause mass hysteria like the other two are starting to have.
A man with a Borazon drill fails to make any progress opening what appears to be a sealed chamber within the craft. A chamber that also appears to have a pentagram on it. However, as "Quatermass", "Roney" and "Breen" look at the sealed chamber it starts to disintegrate revealing insect like creatures insides.
"Roney" and "Barbara" get the soldiers to help remove them and begin to preserve the insect creatures with a special spray. "Quatermass" explains to "Breen" that they are disintegrating from exposure to air after five million years of being hermetically sealed.
A soldier who was inside the vehicle by himself has a fit of hysterics. He claims to have seen the insects alive. "Breen" thinks it was nothing more than claustrophobia.
Back in his laboratory "Roney" has modeled what he believes the humanoid's looked like.
"Quatermass" reveals his theory, to the press, that the craft came from the planet Mars which was dying and took apes back to perform modifications to preserve their races memories.
"Breen" now is completely convinced that this is all a Nazi Hoax and tells this to the press. The British government agrees with him and states that a public press conference will be held the following day. Shortly afterwards "The Pit" will be opened to those who might want to see the propaganda weapon.
"Roney" and his team invented a machine that can see human thought and memories. He explains how it works to "Quatermass" and that he can make video tapes of the brains images.
Meanwhile, the workman returns to "The Put" to get his drill and other equipment. As he dismantles his drill he is overcome by telekinetic energy coming from the space craft. Things start to float around him and in panic he runs past "Barbara", who had come to get something for "Roney", and the workman runs into the street still causing paranormal activity.
"Barbara" and "Quatermass" go back to the rectory she saw the workman enter. Speaking to him he tells about seeing insects running all around and jumping off cliffs. "Quatermass" has "Roney" bring his equipment to the pit and plans to reconstruct what the workman did wearing the headgear.
It doesn't seem to be working until "Quatermass" sees "Barbara" and realizes she is seeing something. The headset is placed upon her head as telekinetic movement takes place.
"Barbara" is being lifted off the ground as things fly through the air around her.
The next morning in an effort to stop the public opening of "The Pit" "Quatermass" and "Roney" show "Breen" and government representatives a tape of what they call a repressed memory of a Martian purge. However, this does not convince anyone that "Colonel Breen", who believes the other two faked the tape recording, is wrong.
Reporters and government officials arrive at "The Put".
As "Breen" explains what their witnessing a power line is accidentally dropped on the craft and it seems to come alive. People panic and rush out of the underground as the craft starts to pulsate. While "Colonel Breen" goes down on his knees in fascination. As telekinetic energy is outpouring from the Martian craft it overcomes "Breen" and he literally burns up.
In the streets people are being killed by others using their own telekinetic energy. We are the Martians and the purge of those that are different continues.
"Barbara" is now one of those doing the purging and "Quatermass" fighting it himself finds her.
Coming out of the Martin Space Craft is a giant horned image of the Devil. "Roney" locates both "Quatermass" and "Barbara". "Roney" has a metal plate in his head and that is keeping him unaffected by the Martian crafts power. The craft itself now looks like it has blood vessels on the outer haul and is looking more like a large Martian brain.
Outside of the building there is a giant crane surrounded by water. "Quatermass" and "Roney" remember that according to legend the Devil could be defeated by iron and water. They figure to move the crane into the giant Devil and discharge its energy to the ground. "Roney" needs to climb the crane and in the power house move start it moving toward the image and get out. The crane isn't moving properly and to get it to move. "Roney" will die riding the crane into the Martian image.
For the next seven years Barbara Shelley "Guest Starred" on fifteen television programs.
GHOST STORY released March 19, 1974 in the U.K.
In this feature, Barbara Shelley, in her last motion picture appearance, had ninth billing out of nine as "The Matron" seen below. I could not locate what her role actually did, or if it was any longer than a quick appearance. The film is set in the 1930's and is about two University friends invited to an Estate to game hunt by a third who owns it. That friend seems to have forgotten to mention that the Estate might be haunted and apparitions start to appear from previous years.
The movie was directed by Stephen Weeks who directed the excellent 1971 "Monster". Christopher Lee was in the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" role. Although the characters, for some unknown reason, are called "Dr. Marlowe" and "Mr. Blake".
DR. WHO: PLANET OF FIRE first episode February 23, 1984 in the U.K.
This was an adventure featuring Peter Davidson as the Fifth Doctor. Anthony Einley was "The Master" and Barbara Shelley had sixth billing as "Sorasta".
For a complete description of all four episodes. This link will take my reader to "The Tardis Core" website:
Barbara Shelley continued on British television into 1989. In 1992 she made a 43 minute video entitled "More Than A Messiah" as her last work, before officially retiring, The video starred the one time Sixth "Dr. Who", Colin Baker, as "The Stranger". It was a Science Fiction story about "The Stranger" and a young lady coming to the Paradise Planet Majus 17 and discover rotting corpses and people being drowned by the ocean waters. They have to solve this "Whovian" style mystery. Barbara Shelley was in the role of "Charlotte", but I could not locate any more about the story than I have written, or find any photos.Apparently this was Colin Baker's second of three "The Stranger" straight to video shorts.
Another British Actress popular during the 1960's is Hazel Court associated more with Roger Corman's "Edgar Allan Poe" motion pictures.