The Cinema Legend You Don’t Know

Robert Donat plays film pioneer William Friese-Greene in The Magic Box (1951), directed by John Boulting.

Robert Donat plays film pioneer William Friese-Greene in The Magic Box (1951), directed by John Boulting.

In the annals of forgotten inventors, unsung geniuses and visionaries who have fallen through the cracks of time, William Friese-Greene should be near the top of the list. Even though his gravestone bears the inscription, “The Inventor of Kinematography,” his reputation as an early film pioneer is still challenged by some movie scholars while others believe he was a victim of bad luck and deserved the credit and fame that others like Thomas Edison enjoy today. The Magic Box (1951), directed by John Boulting, favors the latter view and was one of the most prestigious productions of its year. It was produced exclusively for the Festival of Britain, a national exhibition that opened in London in May 1951 and marked the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition.   Continue reading

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Golden Salamander: Treasure and Death in Tunisia

Golden Salamander posterThough relatively unknown today, Golden Salamander (1950), Ronald Neame’s second directorial effort, is one of those unexpected but welcome cinema excursions that actually delivers on its exotic title. On the surface, it appears to be no more than pure pulp, a B-movie thriller, but the casting, direction, music score and atmospheric setting elevate it to A-picture status. It might not be great art but it’s total escapism, executed with flair.      Continue reading