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What became of SOLDIERS WITHOUT UNIFORM (UK 1941) ?

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  • What became of SOLDIERS WITHOUT UNIFORM (UK 1941) ?

    Now, this is a REAL mystery.

    This featurette was - apparently - never distributed anywhere.
    Several films of the same title were produced, one in Australia, another in Russia, etc. but were totally different projects.
    However, the existence of this British production is absolutely certain, as it was submitted to the BBFC for certificate on Dec. 16, 1941. It got an "U", without cuts.
    According to BBFC, the running time was 33mins 19secs. (2,999 ft)
    The producer was Widgey R. Newman, who died some months later. As a director, Newman produced the two first British horror features in the early 1930s (one of them under the pseudonym "R.W. Lotinga"). So i's quite possible that he also directed "Soldiers Without Uniform", the BBFC has no information on this point.
    The production company was Associated Independent Producers of Great-Britain, Ltd.
    I first heard of this featurette in the book "British Sound Fims 1928-1959" by David Quinlan. As a featurette it got only a short mention, with the words "starring Tod Slaughter".
    I wrote to Mr. Quinlan but he was unable to give me other informations. However, in another of his books upon British Character Actors, the same title appeared in the credits of two of them, Ellen Pollock and Ian Fleming.
    Mrs Pollock was a stage & screen actress ("Horror Hospital", etc.) but also runned a little "Antiquities" shop in a gallery in London, I asked her if she remembered it, and the fact that Tod Slaughter was also in the featurette, but apparently she didn't remember anything, and argued that her first encounter with Tod was one or two years later, on stage, when both of them appeared in a famous series of Grand-Guignol plays...
    Curiously, the late Denis Gifford knew absolutely nothing about this film neither, and in fact it's not mentioned (under any title) in his famous "British Film Catalogue". He was interested by my letter and was planning to make some research but died before.
    Later, in a very short notice about this featurette in the US magazine "Billboard" I found another name to add to the cast: Margaret Yarde, who also was in two other Tod Slaughter films, "The Face at the Window" and "Crimes at the Dark House".
    According to Billboard, the film, then in production, was treating of "sabotage in Nazi-oppressed lands".
    So it COULD have been a kind of propaganda film (but apparently with some screenplay), and I wrote to War Film Archives with no result.
    According to BBFC, it was scheduled for distribution by General Film Distributors.
    When this company ended, their stock became the property of Rank.
    So I also wrote to Rank and they were totally unaware of "Soldiers Without Uniform"

    Apparently this movie disappeared from Earth's surface. Totally.


  • #2
    If you can find any proof of it being screened anywhere (not just that it exists/existed) then you should add it to the IMDb with all of the information that you have found.
    Then maybe other people will add more

    Steve

    Comment


    • #3
      I have no proof of any screening and the sudden death of Widgey R. Newman shortly after the BBFC classification could be the cause of it. What is surprising is the lack of information from General Film Distributors and / or Rank, as GFD was the planned distributor and later Rank really inherited the GFD movies (they even gave "Bothered By a Beard", another GFD featurette, for instance, to the BFI). Incidentally, if David Quinlan found some sources mentioning the names of Tod Slaughter, Ellen Pollock or Ian Fleming, it was maybe in an article about a preview, but he didn't remember anything about his sources, according to him...

      Comment


      • #4
        I’ve gone through all my Stoke-on-Trent area cinema programmes supporting films from December, 1941 to December, 1942, and can’t find it listed. Maybe the title was changed before release. But if that happened, it would have needed a new certificate from the BBFC with the new title on it.

        Comment


        • #5
          First of all, thank you very much for your answer.
          I don't think it was released under a new title neither, as it's not included in Gifford's The British Film Catalogue, under any title. I carefully read all the entries from, let's say, 1940 to 1945 and nothing has a cast with the four actors I mentioned. I also consulted IMDb, the list of movies produced by Widgey R. Newman, etc.
          But it was perhaps mentioned in the "Presently shooting in the Studios" section of such corporative magazines like "Daily Film Renter", etc.
          The BBFC site often contains fascinating informations. For instance the portmanteau movie (made of three TV episodes never aired on British television) MURDER AT SCOTLAND YARD was presented twice for a certificate, respectively on May 27, 1952 (the same day than KING OF THE UNDERWORLD, the other "feature" made from different episodes of the same series), presented by Ambassador, with a running time of only 57 mins (5120 ft). It got an "U".
          Apparently this first version, maybe composed of two episodes only, this explaining the short running time, wasn't released.
          Then, two years later, in 1954, the movie was re-submitted by Famous Films (a subsidiary of Ambassadors) for a re-certification for extra-footage. It got an "U" again, but this time the running time was 75mns (6720 ft).
          To complicate matters further, according to The British Film Catalogue, it was re-issued in 1962 "as two films" with 6 mins cut out !!!

          (Incidentally, can you find any information upon this 1962 release "as two films" ? and what were the titles ? Murder at Scotland Yard Part 1 and 2, or a new title for each ?)
          Last edited by Sweeney Todd; 20th December 2017, 04:53 PM.

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          • #6
            I can’t find anything with the title “Murder at Scotland Yard” being given a circuit or general release in 1962. It could have had what was then known as a floating release. That was where certain cinemas up and down the country booked the film as they saw fit. Such films could end up being shown occasionally in some areas of the country, but not others, and not necessarily during their initial year of release.

            Comment


            • #7
              [QUOTE=darrenburnfan;n51743]I can’t find anything with the title “Murder at Scotland Yard” being given a circuit or general release in 1962. It could have had what was then known as a floating release. That was where certain cinemas up and down the country booked the film as they saw fit. Such films could end up being shown occasionally in some areas of the country, but not others, and not necessarily during their initial year of release.[/QUOTE]

              Yes, it awaits input. [URL="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0125504/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3"]http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0125504/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3

              http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0125504/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3[/URL]

              Comment


              • #8
                The IMDb entry for Charles Chauvel's SOLDIERS WITHOUT UNIFORM contains a mistake. It was only 10 mins long, certainly not 39. It's a mismatch with the Widgey R. Newman featurette of the same title that had this running time, according to the BBFC .

                Comment


                • #9
                  [QUOTE=Sweeney Todd;n51801]The IMDb entry for Charles Chauvel's SOLDIERS WITHOUT UNIFORM contains a mistake. It was only 10 mins long, certainly not 39. It's a mismatch with the Widgey R. Newman featurette of the same title that had this running time, according to the BBFC .[/QUOTE]

                  Can you submit a correction, giving your reasons for doing so?

                  Steve

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Darrenburnfan: Thank you very much for the answer. Yes, we can also have this kind of problem in France, particularly for movies released in one French Region (North, South, etc.) and not in others, and not in Paris. I have this case with the 1940 movie "Crimes at the Dark House", apparently the one and only Tod Slaughter title even released in this country. It was shown in December 1948 in Lille and its area, and never elsewhere in France ! some poster was probably made, but as you can imagine it must be exceedingly rare. The same movie was released in Italy (as "Lo strangolatore", I have the poster and some bustas) and probably also in Belgium... The French title was "Meurtres à la maison noire".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      [QUOTE=Steve Crook;n51802]

                      Can you submit a correction, giving your reasons for doing so?

                      Steve[/QUOTE]

                      Sorry, but I totally stopped to send corrections, informations, etc. to IMDb. For years I corrected a lot of their entries, giving all the necessary proofs and explanations, in many cases the corrections / additions were published, then came another person who "corrected" or "erased" my contributions. I asked them many times to make TWO entries for Julien Duvivier's "Marianne of My Youth", as the German and French versions are totally different movies, with alternate actors for certain characters, etc. Same thing for the three versions (French, Swedish, English) of Christian-Jaque's "Singoalla". Il all these cases I have these different versions on video so my informations / corrections were 100% verified, taken directly from the screen - but apparently the IMDb prefers to have ONE entry for two or three different movies, so their cast credits are a total mess, mixing different actors for the same role. A curious decision, when every foreign-language version of Laurel & Hardy has (and rightly so) its own entry !

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        [QUOTE=Sweeney Todd;n51853]

                        Sorry, but I totally stopped to send corrections, informations, etc. to IMDb. For years I corrected a lot of their entries, giving all the necessary proofs and explanations, in many cases the corrections / additions were published, then came another person who "corrected" or "erased" my contributions. I asked them many times to make TWO entries for Julien Duvivier's "Marianne of My Youth", as the German and French versions are totally different movies, with alternate actors for certain characters, etc. Same thing for the three versions (French, Swedish, English) of Christian-Jaque's "Singoalla". Il all these cases I have these different versions on video so my informations / corrections were 100% verified, taken directly from the screen - but apparently the IMDb prefers to have ONE entry for two or three different movies, so their cast credits are a total mess, mixing different actors for the same role. A curious decision, when every foreign-language version of Laurel & Hardy has (and rightly so) its own entry ![/QUOTE]
                        Did you query their decisions? Citing the examples you’ve given here. Or are you just morning about a decision that you disagree with and not doing anything about it? The IMDb are very open to discussion and persuasion - unless you get a bad reputation with them by providing information which is later proven to be incorrect

                        ​​​​​​ Steve

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I never sent anything wrong to the IMDb forum, but in some cases these informations were erased by people who found their own informations in books, and a lot of movie books contain mistakes as you probably know. And when the same mistake is repeated again and again it became the truth for many people. An example ? look at their page on "Sous les verrous", the French-language version of "Pardon Us", with Laurel & Hardy. Two different pages erroneously exist for THIS version on IMDb, and one of them is totally ridiculous as it has the complete cast... of the American version. And of course Boris Karloff, who played one of the convicts in the French version, doesn't appear in this list. How can you loss your time to persuade the IMDb staff that this long list is almost totally false ? For my own corrections / additions I was always referring to the original source, I mean, the movie itself. I'm a film researcher and historian and started to write articles in French magazines in 1958, incidentally.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=Sweeney Todd;n51925]I never sent anything wrong to the IMDb forum[/quote]
                            But did you ever query any of their decisions? That was my first and main question. The part about submitting bad information wasn’t really an accusation or a question. It was just an example of how & why submissions can be ignored

                            Steve

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yes, I even sent them corrections for my own IMBd page: [URL]http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1485462/?ref_=fn_nm_nm_2[/URL]

                              And in spite of this they continue to print erroneous informations.

                              In the past it was impossible to make them admit that Stella Vitelleschi and Stella Rho were the same person, even when I mentioned her own autobiography, "Out of My Coffin", and the fact that the "Mrs. Lovett" of SWEENEY TODD (1936) and the servant of Charlton Heston in BEN-HUR (1959) and some other Italian movies are visibly the same woman even after 23 years. Finally another person came and the two IMDb pages were mixed together. But it took months and frankly, I have better use of my time...
                              Last edited by Sweeney Todd; 28th December 2017, 08:21 AM.

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