Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh: Their 5-Motion Pictures Together With 2-Interludes

His name was Bernard Schwartz and she was Jeanette Helen Morrison, but motion picture fans knew them as Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.  The two were married on June 4, 1951, Tony would be her third husband, Janet was his first wife. The two would only make five motion pictures together and this is a look at them.



HOUDINI released July 2, 1953




He was Hungarian born motion picture producer Gyorgy Pal Marczincsak, but 1950's motion picture fans knew him as George Pal. 

Pal had created the stop-motion animated "Puppetoons", but in 1950 Pal released the "Academy Award Winner for Best Visual Special Effects", the science fiction motion picture, "Destination Moon", in 1951, Pal again released the "Academy Award Winner for Best Visual Special Effects", the science fiction motion picture, "When Worlds Collide", and in 1953, another George Pal science fiction production, "War of the Worlds", won that "Oscar" for "Best Visual Special Effects".

My article, "A Fan Remembers George Pal: From 'The Puppetoons' to 'Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze", may be read at the following link:

The backstory for the making of "Houdini" went back to September 1951, when "Paramount Pictures" announced that the studio had acquired the rights to the 1928 book, "Houdini: His Life Story", by Harry Kellock.

















In her column "Looking at Hollywood", in the September 21, 1951 issue of the "Chicago Daily Tribune", Hedda Hopper, told her readers about the plans for the movie that would be produced by George Pal. Hopper suggested the best choice for the role was amateur magician Orson Welles. However, everything was put on hold, after Pal stated he would not think about this production until he finished H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds". Which didn't premiere until April 3, 1953 in London, England.

The first draft screenplay was written by British writer Barre Lyndon, the pseudonym of Alfred Edgar, who wrote George Pal's 1953 "War of the Worlds". Back in 1944 Lyndon turned Marie Belloc Lowndes classic "Jack the Ripper" novel, "The Lodger", into a classic screenplay and in 1953, the screenplay was turned into a new version by Robert Presnell, Jr. as "Man in the Attic". Barre Lyndon also wrote Cecil B. DeMille's 1952 "The Greatest Show on Earth". 

For some reason I could not locate, his screenplay wasn't used, and Barre Lyndon received no credit at all for the motion picture. While, Philip Yordan was instructed to write a new screenplay from scratch.

The choice of Yordan was very good, in the past, he had written the screenplay for 1945's "Dillinger" with an uncredited William Castle as co-writer. Philip Yordan wrote the screenplays for the Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward, and Richard Conte's 1949 "House of Strangers", 1950's "Panic in the Streets" starring Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas, the Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, Stephen McNally and Sidney Poitier, 1950 "No Way Out", and 1951's "Detective Story" starring Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker. and Willian Bendix.

The motion picture was directed by George Marshall. As a director, Marshall started with short-subjects as far back as 1916, and through 1933, had only shot 13 full length feature films out of 108 movies he made. In 1939, the director made both W.C. Fields "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man", and the Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart "Destry Rides Again". William Marshall followed both with the Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard 1940 "The Ghost Breakers", and in 1946 it was the crime film-noir, "The Blue Dahlia" starring Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, and William Bendix. While in 1950, George Marshall directed Bob Hope and Lucille Ball in another classic comedy "Fancy Pants".

Tony Curtis portrayed "Harry Houdini". Curtis was under contract to "Universal Pictures" and his latest release was 1952's "Son of Ali Baba" opposite Piper Laurie and Susan Cabot. "Paramount Pictures" borrowed Curtis without problems and according to his 2008 "American Prince: a Memoir", he was happy to be in something other than action films.














Janet Leigh portrayed "Bess Houdini". Leigh had just co-starred with Van Johnson in the forgotten "Family Comedy", 1953's "Confidentially Connie". According to writer Tom Weaver in Issue #132 of the magazine "Starlog", July 1988, Janet Leigh is quoted as saying:

Metro [MGM] was not very happy about the idea of loaning me to Paramount, but I was excited at the thought of doing it.













Thorin Thatcher portrayed "Otto", a composite of several people in Houdini's life. The British character actor's latest release was 1953's "The Desert Rats", starring Richard Burton, with James Mason reprising his role of "Field Marshall Erwin Rommel", and Robert Newton. 

Thorin Thatcher appeared in many motion pictures such as Burt Lancaster's 1952 "The Crimson Pirate", director Billy Wilder's 1957 version of Agatha Christie's "Witness for the Prosecution", and stop-motion-animator Ray Harryhausen's 1958 "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad". 

My article, "TORIN THATCHER: The Career of a Great British Character Actor", can be read at: 



The Screenplay:

As I said, apparently Barre Lyndon's screenplay is lost and the film is based upon Philip Yordan's. Many Houdini scholars state that Harold Kellock's biography is filled with obvious lies, which may, or may not, have come from "Beatrice Houdini" protecting her husband's reputation. Whatever the truth may be, this was a family film with a sketchy storyline from Yordan, presented by George Pal and George Marshall.

It is an unnamed year within the 1890's, "Bess" and her girlfriends are on the Coney Island boardwalk. The group stops at the entrance for "Bruto, the Wild Man", watching the show, naïve "Bess" attempts to protect the poor Wild Man from his mad trainer, "Schultz", played by Sig Ruman. 


Of course, this is "Harry" wearing a mask, and next he is seen performing magic as "The Great Houdini". "Harry" spots "Bess" in the audience, invites her on stage, and flirts with her during his performance.













After his performance, "Harry" wearing the "Wildman" mask and his tux from his magic act follows "Bess" around Coney Island.















A couple of days later, "Bess" shows up to watch "Harry" perform and this recurs two more times as it becomes obvious she's falling in love with him.


One evening, the two go to "Harry's" "Mother", played by Angela Clarke, and he introduces "Bess" to her as his wife.

"Bess" becomes part of "Harry's" act, but  she also convinces him to take a job as a padlock tester at a locksmith factory. There, "Harry" starts thinking about being locked in one of the factory's safes and escaping from it. 






It is now Halloween, and the two are at a dinner for magicians at the Astor Hotel. A challenge, with a prize of a one-way ticket to Europe, is made by a magician named "Fante", no actors name is listed on the cast list for this role, for anyone who can escape a straitjacket. Something that has never been done before and "Harry" accepts with some others. 



While the other volunteers struggle with their straitjackets. "Harry" staying calm, looks up at the shinning reflective glass ball at the bottom of a chandelier, and seems to self-hypnotize himself , which concerns "Fante", working his way out of the straightjacket.

"Fante" warns "Houdini" never to escape from a straitjacket like he saw, because it’s not normal. He brings up a German magician named "Joseph Von Schweger", who retired at the height of his career after performing a similar escape, because he was fearful of his own talents. 

There never was a magician named "Joseph Von Schweger" and is a made-up plot element by Philip Yordan.

"Bess" now asks "Harry" to give her the prize, so she can cash it in for a down payment on a house they want. At work, "Harry" locks himself in a safe, but before he can escape, the foreman blows it open and fires him.

That night, in front of his mother, "Harry" and "Bess" argue about their future, and frustrated by his wife's insistence that he stop magic, "Harry" walks out. Shortly after his walk-out, "Bess" finds "Harry" performing magic at a carnival and presents him with two one-way tickets to Europe.

After concluding their magic act in London one evening, a reporter named "Dooley", played by Michael Pate...


…issues a challenge to "Houdini". "Dooley" wants him to escape from one of "Scotland Yard's" secure jail cells and appear at his next performance. The reporter had been paid by "Harry" to make the challenge, but when he sees the cells. "Harry" is taken back, because there are no locks to pick in the cell doors. 



However, "Harry Houdini" manages to escape and just in time appears on stage for his next performance and is now billed as the "man who escaped Scotland Yard". "Harry" and "Bess" begin a successful tour of Europe and arrive in Berlin.










There, "Harry's" mother joins the couple and he starts his search for "Joseph Von Schweger". While performing an impromptu levitation trick with "Bess", "Harry" is arrested for fraud.

During his trial, "Houdini" denies that he made any claims of having supernatural powers and insists that all his tricks are accomplished through physical means. To prove his point, "Harry" surprises the court by locking himself in the courtroom's safe and breaks out of it a few minutes later. "Bess" explains to her shocked mother-in-law, that safes have locks on them to keep people out, not in!



Vindicated, "Harry Houdini" now goes to meet "Von Schweger" who has finally responded to his letters about his "secret of dematerialization". However, according to "Von Schweger's" assistant, "Otto", the magician had passed away two days earlier. 



"Otto" tells "Harry" he will be his assistant and travels to New York City with the family. "Harry" discovers that he is unknown to the United States and performs a stunt, an escape from a straitjacket, while hanging upside down from a skyscraper flagpole. "Harry" makes the escape and a name for himself across the United States. 

He now prepares for an escape from within a locked and chained box in the cold Detroit River by bathing in ice. "Harry" is placed in the box and it starts to be lowered into the ice-covered river, but the chain holding the box breaks. The box containing a chained "Harry Houdini" drops uncontrolled into the Detroit River, the day is Halloween.

"Harry" escapes the box as planned, but now he is looking for air holes to breathe. Above the water the people assembled around "Bess” believe her husband has died. Later that night, a very cold "Harry Houdini" shows up at their hotel room. "Harry" tells "Bess" he was guided to the air holes by his mother voice, but he now receives word that his mother died at the exact time he heard her voice call to him.

The screenplay moves forward two years and "Harry Houdini" has not performed during that entire time, but he has been searching for a way to make contact with his dead mother through spiritualism. "Harry" has had no success! 

The real "Harry Houdini" had a private war with "Sherlock Holmes" author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a spiritualist, but Conan Doyle is not in the screenplay.

With a reporter named "Simms", played by Douglas Spencer, "Harry", "Bess", and "Otto" attend a séance and he exposes another fake medium.

"Harry Houdini" now returns to the stage, but wants a big escape to draw attention to his return and designs the "Torture Tank". The night of the first performance with the tank, "Bess" does not want "Harry" to do the dangerous trick and threatens to leave him. He agrees not to perform it, earlier during rehearsal for that nights performance, "Harry" admitted to "Otto", that his appendix appears tender, but he would still perform.  

The real "Harry Houdini" had a trick with his stomach and challenged people to knock him off his feet. It is believed that Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead repeatedly hit "Harry Houdini" in the stomach, rupturing his appendix, before he performed the "Torture Tank" the night he died.

 Wanting to please "Bess", in the screenplay "Harry" is avoiding the advertised "Torture Tank", but the audience is demanding the advertised escape and "Harry Houdini" now calls for it to be placed on stage.






















"Harry's" appendix ruptures while he's underwater, "Otto" breaks the glass, and a crying "Bess", at the side of her dying husband, hears him say, if possible, he will be back, and he dies

The day was Halloween, October 31, 1926. Many people still hold seances on Halloween in an attempt to contact "Harry Houdini" today!

Of note, this screenplay left out the silent movies "Harry Houdini" appeared in between 1918 and 1923.

The final words on George Pal's very successful "Houdini", again comes from Tony Curtis' memoirs:

My secret hope, however, was that Houdini was going to propel me into a whole new kind of filmmaking, where I would be recognized as the serious actor I had always wanted to be. When that didn't happen, I was terribly disappointed


The early 1950's had American motion picture studios facing "witch hunts", for alleged Communists within the industry, from both "Senator Joseph McCarthy" and the "House Committee on Un-American Activity".

This led to the creation of "Safe Films", mainly under five categories, "The Bible", "Westerns", "Musicals", "Science Fiction", and "Historical Dramas".

The studios had money tied up in British banks from before the Second World War and to avoid paying double taxes, from England and the United States, on those funds. American studios sent actors to the United Kingdom and made "Historical :Pictures" set in Medieval Times, either under an actual English King's rule, or "King Arthur" and "Camelot". My look at what happened to three actors can be found in:

"Tony Curtis, Alan Ladd, and Robert Wagner Visit King Arthur", will be found at:

As for Tony Curtis and his wife Janet Leigh, they  found themselves in "King Henry IV's" England.

THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH premiered at the San Sebastian, Spain, Film Festival in July 1954




The motion picture was based upon author Howard Pyle's 1891 novel "Men of Iron", which is still in publication.

Rudolph Mate was the director and was actually a cinematographer who, between 1919 and 1947, worked on 77 feature films. These included German director Carl Theodor Dreyer's classic horror movie, 1932's "Vampyr", the 1934 French film "Liliom" starring Charles Boyer and the basis for Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical "Carousel", director Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 "Foreign Correspondent", and Humphrey Bogart's 1943 "Sahara".

 Mate become a director in 1947, among his films prior to "The Black Shield of Falworth" were the classic 1950 film-noir starring Edmond O'Brien, "D.O.A.", the 1951 Tony Curtis film "The Prince Who Was a Thief", and George Pal's Oscar Winning, 1951, "When Worlds Collide", and the Tyrone Power, Piper Laurie, and Julia (Julie) Adams, 1953 "The Mississippi Gambler".

Oscar Brodney wrote the screenplay and among his work prior to this feature were both Abbott and Costello's 1948 "Mexican Hayride", and, 1949's "Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer Boris Karloff". Brodney's work also included the Maureen O'Hara, MacDonald Carey and Will Geer, 1950 "Comanche Territory", the classic James Stewart comedy, 1950's "Harvey", and the James Stewart and June Allyson 1954 "The Glenn Miller Story".

Tony Curtis portrayed "Myles". Curtis was last seen in the action comedy, 1954's "Johnny Dark" co-starring with Piper Laurie. He would follow this picture with the 1954 musical comedy, "So This Is Paris", co-starring with Gloria DeHaven and Gene Nelson.

Janet Leigh portrayed "Lady Anne". Two films earlier found Leigh in a similar role opposite Robert Wagner looking weird in 1954's "Prince Valiant", see the above linkJust prior to this film, also in 1954, Leigh was "Living It Up" with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and would follow this picture in the tough film-noir, 1954's "Rogue Cop", co-starring with Robert Taylor and George Raft.

David Farrar portrayed Gilbert Blunt--Earl of Alban". The London born actor had just been seen in director George Marshall's 1954 "Duel in the Jungle" co-starring with Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain. He followed this feature with the 1954 comedy fantasy "Let's Make Up" co-starring with Errol Flynn and Anne Neagle.

Herbert Marshall portrayed "William--Earl of Macworth". London born Marshall's recent on-screen appearance with in the second part of producer Ivan Tor's "Office of Scientific Investigation" trilogy, the 3-D 1954 "GOG". Marshall's next on-screen appearances were on the small-screen in four different dramatic anthology television series.

Barbara Rush portrayed "Meg" and had been seen in two 1950's classic science fiction movies, the previously mentioned 1951 "When Worlds Collide", and the 1953 3-D "It Came from Outer Space" co-starring with Richard Carlson. Immediately before this release, Rush had fifth billing in the 1954 Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson version of author Lloyd C. Douglas' "Magnificent Obsession". She would follow this feature film with 1955's "Captain Lightfoot" co-starring with Rock Hudson and Jeff Morrow.

Torin Thatcher portrayed "Sir James". Thatcher had just been in the Danny Kaye comedy, 1954's "Knock on Wood" and followed this picture with, 1954's "Bengal Brigade" starring Rock Hudson, Arlene Dahl and Ursula Thiess.

Dan O'Herlihy as Daniel O'Herlihy portrayed "Prince Hal". Irish actor O'Herlihy had portrayed "Macduff" in Orson Welles' 1948 production of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth". He had co-starred with Roddy McDowell in the 1948 production of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped", played one of the sons of Alexander Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" in 1952's "At Sword's Point" starring Maureen O'Hara, and was in the very good "Cold War" science fiction film, 1952's original, "Invasion U.S.A.". Fans of science fiction films, know Dan O'Herlihy, under heavy make-up, as "Grig" in 1984's "The Last Starfighter" and as "The Old Man" behind everything, in the original 1987 "RoboCop".





Craig Hill portrayed "Francis Gascoyne". His latest release was director Rudolph Mate's western "The Siege at Red River" starring Van Johnson, Joanne Dru, and Richard Boone. Hill followed this picture portraying the "Young Scrooge" in a 1954 television version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol".

Patrick O'Neal portrayed "Walter Blunt". O'Neal was "Police Lieutenant Alan Bruce" in the        3-D 1954 "The Mad Magician" starring Vincent Price and Eva Gabor.  Between that motion picture and this one, the actor appeared six times split between four different dramatic anthology television shows. O'Neal returned to television appearances for the next six years after this motion picture was released.


The Basic Screenplay:

This movie is still fun and starts by introducing "Myles" and his sister "Meg", two orphans raised as peasants, living on the farm of their guardian "Diccon Bowman", played by Rhys Williams. Unknown to "Myles" and "Meg", this is a charade to protect them, because their father was falsely accused of treason against "King Henry IV", played by Ian Keith, and was murdered by the real treasonous "Earl of Alban".

 A hunting party led by the Earl arrives on the farm to refresh themselves, but they make the mistake of molesting "Meg" and this results in "Myles" protecting his sister.













This confrontation pushes "Diccon's" plans for the two ahead of schedule and he starts by giving "Myles" his father's ring. On the ring is a black shield with a red falcon on it. "Diccon" warns “Myles" not to reveal that ring to anyone, or their real last names.

Above, Rhys Williams, Barbara Rush, and Tony Curtis. 

"Diccon" takes "Myles" and "Meg" to a friend of their father, "William, Earl of Mackworth". "Macworth" sees in "Myles Falworth" the means of ending the "Earl of Alban's" control of England and the King. "Myles" will be trained as a squire, become a knight, and be able to confront the "Alban" to avenge his father. However, to further protect "Myles", "Mackworth" takes the ring.

The major problem facing "Myles" comes from the senior squire and "Gilbert Blunt's" son, "Walter", and he is enjoying making things hard on the peasant squire. 


While, "Francis Gascoyne" has befriended "Myles", but like "Walter" and the others, has no idea who he really is. Overseeing the training is "Sir James", who unknown to "Myles Falworth", knows who he is and is making his training the most rigorous on purpose.




The "Lady Ann" and her new "Lady in Waiting, Meg" watch both "Myles" and "Francis" in their training. "Meg" is in love with "Francis" and "Lady Ann" in "Myles", although until he is a knight the two could never marry. However, "Gilbert Blunt" wants "Lady Ann" as his wife to consolidate his power base,













At night, "Meg" and "Lady Anne" meet "Francis" and "Myles", which means the two squires are breaking the rules and could be severely punished if caught.




"Prince Hal" and the "Earl of Mackworth" discuss the fact that the "Earl of Alban" has been scheming to overthrow "King Henry" and the hope that "Myles" may be the answer. "Prince Hal" is shown the ring and uses the book of heraldry to verify "Myles Falworth's" real position in the court. 








"Myles" keeps improving with his training under "Sir James" and becomes a higher level of squire equal to "Walter Blunt", when he first met him, but still has to secretly meet with the "Lady Anne".



"Francis", who has suspected and learned from "Meg" there is more to his friend, tells "Myles" where the book of heraldry is located and the two sneak in to look at it.

The time finally comes when "Myles" needs to challenge the "Earl of Alban", he enters the throne room where "Alban" is standing by the King's side and claims to the assembled Lords, Knights, and Ladies that the Earl murdered his father who uncovered "Alban's" treachery against "King Henry".




The King wants to know on what right "Myles", a squire, makes such a claim against the "Earl of Alban". The "Earl of Mackworth" states by his lineage, at which point, "Sir James" reveals "Myles" coat of arms on a shield he was hiding from those assembled in the court.









The "King Henry IV" orders "Myles" immediate arrest as the son of a traitor and, later, he is visited by "Lady Anne" and "Sir James" in his cell.

While "Myles" sits in a cell in the castle, a debate takes place, in the end "King Henry IV" has "Myles Falworth" brought to the court and to settle the charge against the "Earl of Alban", he Knights "Myles" and a trial by combat will take place.


























While the trial by combat is taking place, "Walter Blunt" leads his father's men in an attack against the king, but "Francis" and the other squires stop the attempted overthrow. 





In the end "Blunt's" plans are blunted, "Myles Falworth" marries "Lady Anne" and 'Francis" marries "Meg".

One piece of Tony Curtis trivia that I would like mention, is found in my article that I have linked and reads:

Even in his obituaries on September 20, 2010. Writers mentioned a legendary quote attributed to Tony Curtis possibly from "The Black Shield of Falworth". A quote that never happened.

 The line is question was:

Yonder lies the castle of my father! 

According to the "Legend", in his thick Brooklyn, New York, accent, the line became:

Yonder lies the castle of my Fodder (or Faddah)

Again, quoting Curtis from his "Memoirs":

After the film came out, Debbie Reynolds, who would later marry Eddie Fisher, went on television and said: "Did you see that new guy in the movies? They call him Tony Curtis, but that's not his real name. In his new movie he's got a hilarious line where he says, "Yonder lies the castle of my fodda".

You could chock up her ridicule up to my New York accent, but when she mentioned the issue of my real name on television. I began to wonder if there was something anti-Semitic going on there. I'm probably hypersensitive on that topic. But either way, she got the line wrong. Unfortunately, her version stuck with the public, and for a while it became popular for people to quote the incorrect line in a thick New York accent.




Between "The Black Shield of Falworth" and the next motion picture I want to mention, Tony Curtis made nine feature films, two co-starring with Burt Lancaster, 1956's "Trapeze", and 1957's "The Sweet Smell of Success". 

During this same period, Janet Leigh made six feature films, but technically, Leigh only made five motion pictures. Premiering on September 25, 1957, and co-starring with John Wayne, was producer Howard Hughes' "Jet Pilot". Filming had started in 1949, and was completed in May 1953, but Hughes kept playing with the look of the picture for another four-years. When "Jet Pilot" was finally released in 1957, besides the pre-Korean War aircraft, the audience was seeing a seven-years-younger Janet Leigh, in 1949 and 1950 fashions.















However, the real difference in the number of pictures made by the husband-and-wife actors, can be attributed to the birth of their first daughter, actress, director, and producer, Kelly Lee Curtis, on June 17, 1956. The following photo of Kelly and her father is my lead-in to the next motion picture her parents appeared together in.









THE VIKINGS premiered in New York City on June 11, 1958

The motion picture was produced by two independent companies, Bryna Productions established by Kirk Douglas in 1949, and, Curtleigh Productions established by Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh in 1955.

The motion picture was directed by Richard Fleischer, whom Kirk Douglas first met at the end of the "Feud" between Richard's father, animator Max Fleischer and Walt Disney. When Richard directed Walt Disney's 1954 classic version of French author Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". 

Among Richard Fleischer's other motion pictures are Robert Mitchum and Gilbert Roland's 1956 "Bandido!", the Orson Welles starring 1959 "Compulsion", the 1966 science fiction "Fantastic Voyage", and the American sequences of 1970's "Tora! Tora! Tora!".

The feud between the two giants of the animation world was the subject of my article, "The Great Walt Disney, Max Fleischer Animation Feud", available for reading at:


The screenplay was based upon the 1951 story "The Viking" by Edison Marshall. Two other of Marshall's story's had been turned into motion pictures, 1942's "Son of Fury" starring Tyrone Power, and 1954's "Yankee Pasha" starring Jeff Chandler.

Dale Wasserman adapted Marshall's story for a motion picture screenplay, Wasserman was mainly a television writer and it wouldn't be until 1966's "Mister Buddwing", starring James Gardner, Jean Simmons, and Suzanne Pleshette, that he would work on a project not related to television again.

Calder Willingham wrote the actual motion picture screenplay. Just before this film, Willingham wrote the screenplay for director Stanley Kubrick and star Kirk Douglas' 1957 "Paths of Glory". For both men, in 1960, he wrote all the battle sequences in "Spartacus". After "The Vikings", Calder Willingham also wrote, Marlon Brando's 1961 "One-Eyes Jacks", and director Mike Nichols 1967 "The Graduate".

Kirk Douglas 
portrayed "Einar". Instead of being paid to play that role, Douglas took 60% of the motion pictures profits, or $3,000,000 dollars, which equates, as of the date of this article’s publication to $28,984,431 dollars.

On the motion picture screen, Kirk Douglas' latest release was "Paths of Glory", and he followed this feature with 1959's "Last Train from Gun Hill" co-starring with Anthony Quinn.

Tony Curtis portrayed "Eric". Curtis was last seen on the television anthology, "Schlitz Playhouse", February 21, 1958, in the comedy drama, "Man on a Rack". The actor would follow this picture in 1958's "King's Go Forth" co-starring with Frank Sinatra and Natalie Wood.


Ernest Borgnine portrayed "King Ragnar Lodbrok". Borgnine had also just been seen on the "Schlitz Playhouse" in "Two Lives Have I", February 28, 1958. He would follow this motion picture with 1958's "The Badlanders" co-starring with Alan Ladd.

Janet Leigh portrayed "Morgana". Leigh had co-starred with Orson Welles and Charlton Heston in director Welles' classic film-noir, 1958's "Touch of Evil". She would follow this picture with the next motion picture I will be looking at:





James Donald portrayed "Lord Egbert". The Scottish actor may not be known to American audiences by name, but his face was known. In 1956, Donald was Kirk Douglas' "Vincent Van Gogh's" brother, "Theo" in "Lust for Life", and in 1957, Donald was "Major Clipton" in director David Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai". James Donald was guest starring on several American and British television anthology series at the time, including "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "The Errol Flynn Theatre", "ITV Play of the Week", and the "BBC Sunday-Night Play".

One of the uncredited roles went to two-years-old Kelly Curtis as a "Young Viking Girl".

The Screenplay:

The story opens with a Viking raid on Northumbria led by "King Ragnar". The last Northumbrian King had died childless and, months after the raid, his cousin "Aella", played by Frank Thring, will be crowned.


Above, the late king's wife, "Queen Enid", played by Maxine Audley, observes the "Royal Sword of Kings Requiter", with its distinctive pommel stone. Below, she takes the sword, passes it to a member of the church, "Father Godwin", played by Alexander Knox, and the sword is presented to "Aella". However, the pommel stone suddenly falls out and is replaced in "Requiter", as "Father Godwin" wonders is this some omen?











Above, as "Father Godwin" escorts "Queen Enid" from the court, she reveals her secret to him.

"Queen Enid" retires to her quarters and isn't seen for months, rumors spread of a true heir to the throne having been born and the pommel stone has disappeared. "Enid" had been raped by "Ragnar" and their son, "Eric", will be sent to Italy with the pommel stone tied around his neck. 


However, the ship carrying the baby will be intercepted by Vikings and the boy is taken to be raised as a slave. The story switches to "Eric" as a grown young man.

In England, "Eric's" parentage is discovered by "Lord Egbert", a nobleman opposed to "King Aella", who is accused of treason. The Viking's rescue him, because "Egbert" was the source of vital information for their raids.




Meanwhile, "Eric" is out with a mute slave named "Sandpiper", played by Edric Connor, and a falcon he rescued and trained. 




"Ragnar's" son and heir, "Einar" finds the two and reminds "Eric" that a slave cannot have a hunting, Falcon. 

The two argue, and "Eric" tells his falcon to kill "Einar", and the bird goes for the face and claws the right eye.








"Lord Egbert" sees the pommel stone around "Eric's" neck and asking him about it, "Eric" just says it was always around his neck. "Lord Egbert" does not reveal the significance of the stone and keeps his own council until the proper time.

"Einar" wants "Eric" put to death, but the royal volva, a woman said to be able to see future events, "Kitala", played by Eileen Way, warns those assembled that "Odin" will curse whomever kills "Eric".









"Lord Ragnar" decides to have "Eric" placed in the tide pool and when the tide comes in, he will be killed by no man, but "Kitala" reminds him it is under his order. "Lord Egbert" asks "Ragnar" what happens if "Eric" stays alive, and is told that if he still lives when the tide goes out, anyone can claim the slave.

"Lord Egbert" goes to the tide pool and tells "Eric" if he lives, he may tell him about the pommel stone around his neck, and "Kitala" starts praying to "Odin".




As they watch the winds seems to change directions, as if by magic, and the tide goes out. "Egbert" makes his first move to get even with "Aella" and claims "Eric" as his slave. The next day, "Egbert" has the slave collar removed from "Eric", but says nothing about the stone.

Meanwhile, events are taking place in "King Aella's" court involving the "Lady Morgana", who is now pledged to be the evil "Aella's" wife.

"Lord Egbert" puts the second part of his revenge plan into effect. He informs "Ragnar" and "Einar" about the ship that will be caring "King Aella's" bride to be and a kidnap plan is made for a ransom.

 "Einar" takes out a ship and intercepts the one carrying "Morgana" and her servant "Bridget", played by Dandy Nichols, kills those on board except the two women, and sinks the ship.

While the kidnapping was taking place, "Kitala" showed "Eric" a strange metal fish that always points North and a plan to escape from "Lord Ragnar" is created as "Einar's" ship arrives.




"Einar" is met by his father, and shown "Morgana", but "Einar" expresses keeping her for himself. His father obviously sees why, but stands fast for ransom. "Morgana" recognizes "Lord Egbert" and accuses him of being a traitor to "Aella".






"Eric" has also seen "Morgana" and is falling in love with her from afar. While, "Einar" from the moment he saw her, has been in love with "Morgana". In the great hall Viking beer flows and a drunken "Einar" tells his father he must have "Morgana" and "Ragnar" gives in to his son. "Einar" now rows out to the ship in the fjord that holds "Morgana" and 'Bridget" prisoner, drunkenly tosses the guards overboard, chases "Bridget" out of "Morgana's" quarters and thinking she will fight him back, attempts to rape her, but "Morgana" doesn't resist him, knowing this will deny him his wish of taking her by force. As he starts to back-up, "Einar" is knocked out by "Eric". 

"Eric", "Morgana", "Sandpiper", "Bridget", and "Kitana" now head out to open sea in a small boat "Eric" had made for "Lord Egbert". However, "Einar" regains consciousness and gives the alarm, the Viking ships set sail. They see a fog bank and not seeing the stars mean death to seaman at the time, but "Eric" guided by "Kitana" and the strange metal fish that always points north enters the fog bank. "Ragnar" orders the ship into the fog, panic sets in among the Viking's and "Lord Ragnar" falls overboard and is thought drowned, but he was picked up by "Eric".

On the way to Northumbria, "Morgana" and "Eric" truly fall in love.

The boat reaches Northumbria and "Aella" is glad to have his "Bride" returned to him, but he now orders that "Lord Ragnar" be thrown into a pit filled with starving wolves. 

"Ragnar" asks for a sword to die like a Viking and enter Valhalla, but "Aella" refuses the request and "Lord Ragnar" turns to "Eric". "Eric" gives his sword to "Ragnar", neither knowing they're father and son, and the Viking Lord jumps to his death fighting "Aella's" wolves. 


After which "Aella" wants to execute "Eric" for treason, but agrees to spare him for saving "Morgana". However, he has "Eric's" "Treasonous" left hand, that gave "Ragnar" the sword, held out and "Aella" cuts the hand off.





"Eric" is set adrift in his boat, but goes for the Viking fjord and "Einar". There he reveals that "Lord Ragnar" did not die alone in the fog, but was given a sword by him to die as a Viking and shows his missing hand. "Einar" and "Eric" form a uneasy alliance to take down "King Aella" and rescue "Morgana", but for who?



























The Viking ships set sail for Northumbria under good omens.









The battle starts and once the drawbridge gate is breached, it is almost decided as the English soldiers are outnumbered by the Viking's. Both "Einar" and "Eric" go in search of "Morgana". "Eric" finds "Aella" and shoves him into the wolf pit. “Einar" believes that  "Morgana" is in the chapel with "Father Godwin".


Above, "Father Godwin" sees the pommel and asks "Morgana" where she got it? She responds it was "Eric's" since his birth and "Father Godwin" reveals that "Eric" is the true king and "Lord Ragnar's" son.

"Einar" kills "Father Godwin" and goes for "Morgana", who tells him that "Eric" is his brother and she loves him. 
"Einar" grabs "Morgana" and drags her outside, and calls to "Eric" for their long delayed final battle. The two rivals for "Morgana" begin a sword fight across the top of the castle.
























"Eric's" sword is broken and "Einar" is ready to make the fatal stroke, when he sees "Ragnar" in "Eric's" face and holds that stroke. 



"Eric" not knowing why "Einar" hesitates, uses his broken sword to kill "Einar".


"Eric" becomes the leader of both the Vikings and remaining English, and orders a Viking funeral for his brother.




Five months after the release of "The Vikings", daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, was born on November 22, 1958.



In 1978, Jamie Lee Curtis' acting career took off, after meeting director John Carpenter and his girlfriend producer and co-writer Debra Hill. My article, "JAMIE LEE CURTIS: From Michael Myers to Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Back Again", can be read at:

Back on June 29, 1958, at the "Berlin International Film Festival", Tony Curtis' next movie "The Defiant Ones", co-starring Sidney Poitier, premiered. Janet Leigh's first movie after "The Vikings" and Tony Curtis' second was:




The motion picture was directed by Blake Edwards. Edwards latest release was the Debbie Reynolds, John Saxon, and Curt Jurgens comedy, 1958's "This Happy Feeling", he would follow this picture with 1959's "Operation Petticoat" starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. Trivia: Jamie Lee Curtis co-starred in the 1977 to 1979 television show based upon her father's motion picture.

The screenplay was by Stanley Shapiro, who also wrote "Operation Petticoat". Shapiro was a television writer, but his motion picture work would include the Doris Day comedy's 1959 "Pillow Talk" and 1962's "That Touch of Mink", and the Rock Hudson's 1961 "Come September".  

Tony Curtis portrayed "Army Corporal Paul Hodges". The next movie for Curtis would be Billy Wilder's 1959 "Some Like It Hot" co-starring with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon.

Janet Leigh portrayed "Army Lieutenant Vicki Loren". As this motion picture was released only eight-days after Jamie Lee was born. I was wondering when it was actually filmed? "The Perfect Furlough" was filmed in January into February 1958 and Janet Leigh did not return to on-screen work until July 20, 1959.







Keenan Wynn portrayed "Harvey Franklin". Wynn's latest release was the Second World War motion picture 1958's "A Time to Love and a Time to Die". He followed this movie with seven guest appearances on five different television anthology drama series, and the last in April 1959, was what became the two-part pilot for television's "The Untouchables", on the "Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse".

Linda Cristal portrayed "Sandra Roca". Cristal had just been in the interesting change of setting, from 1945's New York to an American wild west setting, remake of director Henry Hathaway's film-noir, 1945's "Kiss of Death", misleading entitled 1958's, "The Fiend Who Walked the West". In 1960 she was in love with John Wayne's "Davy Crockett" in his epic "The Alamo". From 1967 through 1971, Linda Cristal co-starred on television's "The High Chaparral".






Elaine Stritch portrayed "Liz Baker". Broadway actress, singer, and four-time "Tony Award" nominee was guest appearing on television shows at the time of this motion picture.



The Basic Screenplay:

This is early Blake Edwards and certainly not his best, but it was a showcase for Tony Curtis' untapped comedic skills he would showoff for Billy Wilder in his next movie. 

The Army has 100 male soldiers stationed at an Artic base going stir crazy. 

Army psychiatrist "Lieutenant Vicky Loren" comes up with an idea to solve that morale problem. Her brilliant idea is to let the men have a lottery and the winner, representing all of them, will get a three-week trip to Paris, France, with "sexy Argentine bombshell" "Sandra Roca". "Roca's" agent "Harvey Franklin" loves the publicity angle, if not "Sandra"!


"Lt. Loren's" plan for "The Perfect Furlough" is "Perfect", except, she didn't count on scheming "Corporal Hodges", who rigs the lottery and wins the trip.














In predictable "adult comedy style" of that period, that writer Stanley Shapiro would perfect for the Doris Day and Rock Hudson 1959 "Pillow Talk", "Lt. Loren" discovers that "Corporal Paul Hodges" is a womanizer with plans to seduce "Sandra Roca" and she calls in the Military Police to keep an eye on him. While, "Harvey" assigns "Liz Barker" to chaperone his client.


Meanwhile, as this light sex farce continues, "Lt. Loren" and "Corporal Hodges", again predictably, will fall in love with each other.








In the end, the straitlaced by the book army psychiatrist and the scheming soldier get married











As I wrote above, shooting on what was both Janet Leigh's next motion picture and her last with than husband Tony Curtis started on July 20, 1959.

WHO WAS THAT LADY? released on April 5, 1960




The motion picture was directed by George Sidney. Back in 1952, Janet Leigh co-starred with Stewart Granger and Eleanor Park in Sidney's adventure comedy "Scaramouche". Sidney's previous motion picture was the 1957 musical "Pal Joey" starring Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, and Kim Novak. He would follow this picture with the musical comedy 1960's "Pepe" starring Mexican comedian Cantinflas, Dan Dailey, and Shirley Jones.

The screenplay was by playwright Norman Krasna, based upon his 1958 play, "Who Was That Lady I Saw You With?". Krasna's latest release was also based upon one of his plays, 1958 "Indiscreet" starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Krasna would next write the screenplay for 1960's "Let's Make Love" starring Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand.

Tony Curtis portrayed "David Wilson". He had just been seen in the previous mentioned feature from director Blake Edwards', 1960's, "Operation Petticoat", and followed this feature with 1960's "The Rat Race" co-starring with Debbie Reynolds and Jack Oakie.

Dean Martin portrayed "Michael Haney". Martin's latest motion picture was 1959's "Career" co-starring with Anthony Franciosa and Shirley MacLaine. He followed this picture with the musical comedy 1960's "Bells Are Ringing" co-starring Judy Holliday and Fred Clark.


Janet Leigh portrayed "Ann Wilson". Her next motion picture was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and was 1960's "Psycho". That motion picture, 1958's "Touch of Evil", 1962's original "The Manchurian Candidate", 1980's "The Fog", and 1998's "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later" make-up my article, "Janet Leigh Going 'PSYCHO' Within 'THE FOG" at:


James Whitmore portrayed "Harry Powell". Whitmore had just portrayed "Ulysses S. Grant" on the television anthology series, "Sunday Showcase". The program was entitled, "Shadow of a  Soldier", and was shown on February 21, 1960. The actor followed this movie with "Thunder of Silence", June 5, 1960, on the television anthology series "The Chevy Mystery Show".








The Very Basic Screenplay:

This comedy is why your don't listen to your best friend. "David Wilson" is an "Assistant Professor of Chemistry" at "Columbia University" and his wife, "Ann", catches a young woman transfer student giving him a kiss. Obviously, this has happened before and "Ann" wants a divorce. "David" goes to his friend "Michael" for advise, because in this instance the kiss was innocent as a thank-you for helping the transfer student out.

"Michael", who writes for "CBS Television" advises "David" to lie and tell "Ann" he's working for the FBI and the kiss was part of his undercover work. The shock comes, when "Ann" buys into the ridiculous story.

What follows is a mix-up of identities and the FBI thinking the couple are foreign spies, the real spies thinking they're CIA, and what should have been a throwback to the 1930's and 1940's screwball comedies, that except for the cast, doesn't completely really work, but is fun.





















I have to wonder if Jamie Lee Curtis thought of this movie by her parents while making 1994's "True Lies"?


The divorce of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh was official on July 12, 1962.




















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