Studio Classics: Set 6 [Fox 75th Anniversary] [4 Discs] [DVD]

This sixth volume of features commemorating 20th Century Fox's 75th anniversary presents three family-oriented features -- a trio of adventures and a musical -- produced over a span of nearly 30 years. It begins with the 1959 Cinemascope epic Journey to the Center of the Earth, directed by Henry Levin with an all-star cast that includes Pat Boone and James Mason, in an adaptation of Jules Verne's tale about a professor who stumbles upon a route that takes him and several other explorers on an expedition into the Earth's core. The 1938 musical Little Miss Broadway stars Shirley Temple, Jimmy Durante, and Edward Ellis in the story of a talented orphan girl (Temple) who draws the good will of a hotelier (Ellis). 1943's classic My Friend Flicka (the inspiration for the CBS/NBC series of the same name) headlines then child star Roddy McDowall (Shock Treatment) as a rancher's son who determines to overcome all obstacles to ride a wild horse that he loves. Finally, the 1965 Oscar nominee Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, from director Ken Annakin, takes place in 1910. It stars Robert Morley as Lord Rawnsley, who attempts to increase the circulation of his newspaper by offering 10,000 pounds to the first individual who can fly across the English Channel.
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Overview

Synopsis

Journey to the Center of the Earth
There was neither a heroine nor a villain in Jules Verne's 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, but scenarist Charles Brackett evidently knew what he was doing by adding both to the 1959 film version. The picture proved to be a significant success in an otherwise disappointing year for 20th Century Fox. James Mason stars as amusingly absent-minded professor Oliver Lindenbrook, whose first step on a fabulous journey is prompted by a lump of lava brought to him by his student Alec McEwen (Pat Boone -- and, yes, he gets to sing). Melting down the curiously composed lump, Lindenbrook discovers a hastily scrawled message from long-lost explorer Arne Saknussem, with directions for reaching the earth's core. Accompanied by Carla (Arlene Dahl), widow of a famed geologist, and Icelandic guide Hans (Peter Ronson), Lindenbrook and Alec head down, down below. They are closely followed by the villainous Count Saknussem (Thayer David), descendant of the lost explorer who wrote the directions; the count hopes to use Lindenbrook's discoveries for his own personal and political gain (we know he's really bad when he eats Han's lovable pet goose). What follows is a festival of superb special effects, fabulous subterranean sets, and gigantized reptiles posing as dinosaurs, all brilliantly accompanied by Bernard Herrmann's ominous musical score. Journey to the Center of the Earth would later be adapted into a Saturday-morning cartoon series, again produced by 20th Century Fox. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Little Miss Broadway
Child star Shirley Temple was getting a bit long in the tooth (at age 10!) by the time she made Little Miss Broadway. Facing the possibility that Temple's appeal was beginning to slip, the producers overstocked the film with top musical-comedy performers and character actors. The curly-topped actress is cast as orphan girl Betsy Brown, discharged in the care of her uncle Pop Shea (Edward Ellis), the manager of a theatrical boarding house. Before long, Betsy is the darling of the clientele, including bandleader Jimmy Clayton (Jimmy Durante), animal trainer Ole (El Brendel), and a pair of wisecracking midget entertainers (George and Olive Brasno). Snooty Sarah Wendling (Edna Mae Oliver), owner of the hotel building, is fed up with "show people" and demands that they pay their back rent or move out post-haste. But Sarah's nephew Roger (George Murphy), in love with Pop Shea's daughter Barbara (Phyllis Brooks), comes to the aid of the hotel's occupants. With the help of Betsy and her friends, Roger pleads his case in the courtroom of judge Claude Gillingwater by staging a lavish musical revue. The specacle of George Murphy dancing with Shirley Temple will prove particularly amusing to those aware of both stars' future political careers. Songs include "Be Optimistic", "If All the World Were Paper", "Hop Skip and Jump" and the title tune. Incidentally, outtakes of Little Miss Broadway exist showing Shirley Temple doing a frighteningly accurate impersonation of her costar Jimmy Durante (ha-cha-cha-cha-cha!) ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

My Friend Flicka
An utterly enchanting Technicolor filmization of Mary O'Hara's novel, My Friend Flicka is the story of a beautiful colt and the boy (Roddy McDowell) who loves her. The boy's rancher father (Preston S. Foster) isn't keen on the horse that his son chooses to train: Flicka, the offspring of a tempestuous mare that has shown traces of madness. The training of Flicka is an arduous process for both boy and horse, and there are times that it appears that father was right. But by applying both love and perseverance, the boy raises the colt into a magnificent specimen. My Friend Flicka was filmed in the Rocky Mountains on a near-epic scale by director Harold Schuster and cinematographer Dewey Wrigley. The film was popular enough to spawn two theatrical sequels and a 1956 weekly TV series. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
Ken Annakin's large-canvas comedy Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines is set in 1910. In order to boost circulation of his newspaper, Lord Rawnsley (Robert Morley) offers 10,000 pounds to the first person who can fly across the English Channel. A huge number of hopefuls enter the contest, including the scheming Sir Percy Ware-Armitage (Terry-Thomas), who, with the help of his henchman Courtney (Eric Sykes), attempts to sabotage the other entries. There is also a love triangle featuring Orvil Newton (Stuart Whitman) and Richard Mays (James Fox) competing for the heart of Patricia Rawnsley (Sarah Miles). ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Pat Boone
    Pat Boone - Alec McEwen
  • Arlene Dahl
    Arlene Dahl - Carla
  • Diane Baker
    Diane Baker - Jenny
  • Image coming soon
    Peter Ronson - Hans
  • Thayer David
    Thayer David - Count Saknussem
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