IN THE SHADOWS: HAROLD GOODWIN

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harold goodwin

Harold Goodwin in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969)

Welcome back to IN THE SHADOWS, that column where we look at character actors in the movies, especially horror movies.

Today we look at Harold Goodwin, a familiar face if you’re a Hammer Film fan.  Goodwin showed up as a burglar in the suspenseful opening scene in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969) and he also enjoyed a memorable bit in Hammer’s THE MUMMY (1959).

Goodwin appeared in a lot of movies and TV shows, but for horror fans, especially Hammer Films fans, he’ll always be remembered as the ill-fated burglar who in the opening moments of FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED unfortunately chose to break into a home owned by Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing).  In a memorable sequence, his character finds himself trapped in a mysterious laboratory, only to be discovered by a hideous man with a pock-marked face.  The man attacks him, there’s a struggle, which damages the lab, and at one point Goodwin’s burlgar crashes into a table, knocks over a container, and a severed head spills out.  He flees in terror, and once he’s gone, the pock-marked man removes his mask and we see that he is the Baron Frankenstein.  A rousing way to start a very exciting Frankenstein movie, and Goodwin was a big part of this scene.

Goodwin also enjoys a funny bit in THE MUMMY (1959) where he plays a man who is hired by a foreign gentleman to transport some crates full of relics to the foreigner’s house.  Of course, it turns out that the foreign gentleman is Mehemet Bey (George Pastell), the man  who is controlling Kharis the Mummy (Christopher Lee), and the crates of “relics” include Kharis himself!  In one of the film’s more exciting scenes, the horses pulling the wagon get spooked and Goodwin’s character loses the crate containing Kharis into the local swamp.

Before this happens, Goodwin’s character and his buddy get rip-roaring drunk just before they’re to deliver the relics, and on their way to the horse and cart, Goodwin’s character approaches the horses and says “A man’s best friend is a horse,” to which his buddy replies “It’s a dog!”  Goodwin then looks directly at the horse in front of him and says, “It’s a horse!  I’m not that drunk!”

Interestingly enough, there were two Harold Goodwins working as character actors in the movies at the very same time!  The subject of this article was British and appeared in mostly British movies, whereas the other Harold Goodwin was an American.  The American Goodwin appeared in such films as ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930), YOUNG MR. LINCOLN (1939), and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951), and made movies between 1915-1973, whereas the British Harold Goodwin worked in the biz between 1946-1992.

Here’s a partial look at the acting credits of Harold Goodwin, focusing mostly on his genre films:

THE MASQUE OF KINGS (1946) – Goodwin received his first screen credit in this made-for-TV movie.

THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE (1950)- Edwin- Goodwin’s first credit in a theatrical release was this comedy about the merging of an all-boys school with an all-girls school, starring Scrooge himself, Alastair Sim.

WHO DONE IT? (1956) – Pringle- uncredited peformance in this comedy, notable for being the film debut of British comedian Benny Hill.  Also featured in the cast, Dr. Pretorious himself, Ernest Thesiger, and Hammer Film character actor Thorley Walters.

THE LAST MAN TO HANG? (1956) – Cheed – Goodwin adds his support to this crime drama directed by the man who would go on to direct Hammer Film’s best movies, Terence Fisher.  Starring Tom Conway [I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943)] and Hammer Films’ actresses Eunice Gayson [THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958)- Gayson also appeared in the first two James Bond movies DR. NO (1962) & FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963) as Sylvia,in what was originally intended to be a recurring character in the series], and Freda Jackson [THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960)].

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957) – Baker –  The classic war movie by director David Lean, starring William Holden and Alec Guinness.  Winner of seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for Lean, Best Actor for Guinness, Best Adapted Screenplay by Pierre Boulle, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, and Best Music Score by Malcolm Arnold. Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle (PLANET OF THE APES).

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (TV Mini-series 1958-59- Colonel Gibson-  recurring role in this famous British TV production, later turned into a feature film by Hammer Films as FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1967).

THE MUMMY (1959) – Pat – Goodwin’s first appearance in a Hammer horror film, a humorous role as a local hired to transport a crate carrying Kharis the Mummy (Christopher Lee) only to lose it in a muddy swamp.

THE TERROR OF THE TONGS (1961) – uncredited appearance in this crime thriller by Hammer Films starring Christopher Lee as Asian villain Chung King.  Screenplay by Jimmy Sangster.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962) – Bill – Nice role here in the Hammer remake of Gaston Leroux tale, starring Herbert Lom as the Phantom.  Directed by Terence Fisher.

THE LONGEST DAY (1962)- uncredited role in this classic WWII epic chronicling the D-Day invasion.  All-star cast includes John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, and about 40 more major stars.

THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964) -Fred – Another brief appearance in this second Mummy movie from Hammer Films, unrelated to their first.

DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (1965) – Taxi Driver- Horror movie with an aged Boris Karloff playing a scientist in a wheelchair who discovers a mysterious meteorite and tries to harness its powers.  Also stars Nick Adams, and Hammer veterans Freda Jackson and Suzan Farmer.  Based on the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Colour Out of Space.”

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969)- Burglar, uncredited – the role I most remember Harold Goodwin for- the burglar who has the misfortune of breaking into Baron Frankenstein’s home where he must face the wrath of the Baron (Peter Cushing) himself. His final Hammer horror appearance.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed - Goodwin

Harold Goodwin’s unfortunate encounter in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969).

ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE (TV Series) (1992)- Window Cleaner – Goodwin’s final screen appearance in this British TV comedy.

There you have it.  A partial listing of Harold Goodwin’s screen credits.

Harold Goodwin passed away on June 3, 2004 in Middlesex, England, UK.  He was 87.

Hope you enjoyed this brief look at the career of Harold Goodwin.  Join me again next time for the next edition of IN THE SHADOWS where we’ll look at the career of another character actor from the movies.

Harold Goodwin – October 22, 1917 – June 3, 2004.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

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Marilyn Monroe Shines in RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954)

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River of No Return - posterStreaming Video Review:  RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954)

by

Michael Arruda

I recently reviewed MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (2011), the Oscar nominated flick about Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) filming THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL (1957) with Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh.)  Watching that movie and enjoying Michelle Williams’ performance as Marilyn Monroe, got me in the mood to watch a Marilyn Monroe film.

I decided to choose one I hadn’t seen before, and so I went with RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954), now available on Streaming Video.  In RIVER OF NO RETURN, Monroe co-stars with Robert Mitchum, and I have to say, it’s one of the finest performances by Marilyn Monroe that I’ve seen, mostly because it was so refreshing.  Monroe is not cast as a ditzy blonde but as a strong-willed feisty frontier woman, and she pulls it off nicely.

In RIVER OF NO RETURN, Matt Calder (Robert Mitchum), recently released from jail after serving time for murder, is reunited with his young son Mark (Tommy Rettig) at a gold rush town.  Before returning home together, Mark asks to say goodbye to the woman who’d been looking out for him, a saloon hall singer named Kay Weston (Marilyn Monroe).

Later, at their farm, Matt and Mark are approached by Kay and her gambler husband Harry (Rory Calhoun).  The couple is traveling by raft to the next town to register a mining claim Harry won in a poker game.  When Matt refuses to give Harry his only horse and rifle, Harry steals them and leaves his wife Kay behind.  Something tells me Harry isn’t winning any Husband of the Year Awards!

When Indians attack the farm, Matt, Mark, and Kay have no choice but to escape onto the river using Harry’s abandoned raft, and thus begins the excitement in this old-fashioned adventure yarn which pits Mitchum and Monroe against the natural elements of a raging river, a hungry mountain lion, vicious Indians, and ultimately, the weasel of a husband, Harry Weston.

RIVER OF NO RETURN is a fairly entertaining movie, standard western fare from the 1950s.  The script by Frank Fenton, based on a story by Louis Lantz, isn’t anything special.  The story of three people against a raging river is a good one, but compared to some of the classic westerns of the decade, it doesn’t measure up.

We don’t know a lot about Matt or Kay for one thing.  We know that Matt seems to be a good guy, but he served time for shooting a man in the back, and his character is darkened by a jarring rape scene in which he attacks Kay.  Thankfully for her, a hungry mountain lion comes along and Matt has to rush off to protect his son.  After a scene like this, one has to ask, how good a guy can he be?

Yet, Monroe’s Kay falls for him anyway, setting the stage for a happy ending that comes as no surprise.  This is 1950s cinema, after all.

Kay isn’t clearly defined either.  She keeps telling Matt that if he only knew the truth about her husband Harry, he wouldn’t hate him so much for stealing his horse and rifle.  But the only truth we continually see about Harry is that he’s a jerk and a weasel.  I’m not sure what Kay is talking about.  Is she a poor judge of character?  All her other actions imply that she’s a pretty smart person.

RIVER OF NO RETURN showcases some colorful cinematography by Joseph LaShelle, with some breathtaking background shots of the mountains of the northwest.  But the river scenes with Monroe and Mitchum on the raft were obviously shot in studio, and they look it.

The film was directed by Otto Preminger, a first-rate director, but RIVER OF NO RETURN is simply not on par with the classic westerns of the decade, films like THE SEARCHERS (1956) and HIGH NOON (1952).

But Marilyn Monroe is impressive, and by far, she’s the best part of the movie.  She has such a screen presence.  It’s difficult to take your eyes off her, and not just for the obvious reasons. She has a charisma here that is exhilarating.

While I certainly enjoyed Monroe in such films as SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) and THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955), in those movies she’s playing the role she will be forever identified with:  the ditzy blonde.  Here in RIVER OF NO RETURN, she’s not ditzy at all.  I had a lot of fun watching Monroe act, realizing just how good she was, and really just sitting back and enjoying her performance.  It’s easy to see based upon her performance in this movie that Monroe had a range that was rarely exploited.  It makes her untimely death all the more tragic.

Robert Mitchum is also very good, understated as usual.  I can’t say that this was one of his better roles however.  Matt Calder is a weird character, unsavory at times, heroic at others.  I found him kind of creepy, which I’m sure wasn’t the intention of the filmmakers.

And for you classic TV buffs, young Tommy Rettig who played the son, Mark, would go on to entertain TV audiences that same year as Jeff Miller on the LASSIE TV show.  Rettig would play Jeff for three years, before being replaced by Jon Provost as Timmy Martin for the show’s next seven years.

RIVER OF NO RETURN is nothing spectacular.  We’re not talking four star classic here.  However, it’s a phenomenal showcase for Marilyn Monroe’s acting abilities, and for that, I enjoyed it immensely.

So, if you’re in the mood for a river trip, take a ride on that raft with Monroe and Mitchum on the RIVER OF NO RETURN.  It’s an entertaining, colorful excursion, and hey, Monroe even sings.

Better yet, she acts.

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