Modelmaker - Crown Film Unit and Pinewood Studios - orginal graphic copyright

pinewood studios

This page covers various films that my grandfather worked on at Pinewood Studios, with the exception of Battle of Britain, Thunderball & Goldfinger, and Malta Story which have their own pages.

Please also take a look at our unidentified photos page, you may recognise people, places and productions which would be of great help!

GREEN FOR DANGER (Sidney Gilliat, 1946) A murder/mystery set in a rural English Hospital during World War 2. Starred Alastair Sim as Inspector Cockrill. Alastair Sim was apparently very down to earth, and would happily chat with cast and crew alike. During the filming of Green for Danger, one scene required Cockrill to hammer on an operating theatre door, as he believed one of the characters was about to kill another. The scene called for him to smash one of the round panes of glass in the theatre doors, and my grandfather had made a fake pane which would break easily upon impact.

The cameras started rolling, and Sim duly hammered on the door ... and hammered ... and hammered ; unfortunately it was the wrong pane of glass and refused to break ! At this point, my grandfather, who had chatted with Sim on many occasions, forgot he was on set and shouted out "you bloody idiot !". Filming halted, and everyone, including Sim, fell about laughing; many actors would have been aloof, but Sim was one of the few who treated everyone as an equal, and didn't have airs and graces.

Green for Danger poster, donated by Mark Simpson
Poster from "Green for Danger", kindly
donated by Mark Simpson, who is researching
the life and work of Alastair Sim

APPOINTMENT WITH VENUS (Ralph Thomas, 1951) Also known as Island Rescue. Starred David Niven and Glynis Johns in a comedy about a World War 2 commando raid to rescue a pregnant prizewinning cow from the occupied Channel Island of Sark. The production photo at right is annotated with "Appointment with Venus, Sark location, March 1951". The photo below is not annotated but I believe it to be from the same location.

Appointment with Venus production photo, click for larger image
Probable "Appointment with Venus" production photo
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Appointment with Venus production photo, click for larger image
"Appointment with Venus" production photo
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You can just see a cow's tail and hind leg in the "tent" contraption!

THE BEACHCOMBER (Muriel Box, 1954) Starring Robert Newton, Glynis Johns, Donald Sinden, Donald Pleasence and Michael Hordern. Previously filmed as Vessel of Wrath with Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester. It is based on a Somerset Maugham novel about a drunken beach bum (Newton) and a "prissy" missionary lady (Johns). Filmed (and based in) the Welcome Islands, this photo is of the crew, my grandfather can be seen at the rear right, wearing a white carpenters apron.

The Beachcomber production photo, click for larger image
"The Beachcomber" production photo
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ALL FOR MARY (Wendy Toye, 1955) Starring Leo McKern and Jill Day. Plot summary from the IMDb - in a Swiss Alpine resort shortly after the War an army officer and upper-class Humpy Miller both set their sights on Mary (Jill Day), the landlord's daughter. When the two come down with chicken pox they are put in the charge of fellow guest Miss Cartwright, who turns out to be Humpy's old nanny. The two Englishmen unite not only against her tyranny but against a dense Greek (Leo McKern) who is also after Mary.

Some of the location shooting took place in Switzerland, on the Jungfrau in the Bernese Oberland. The photos at right and below were taken during location filming.

All for Mary - on location
"All for Mary" production photo - not annotated
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All For Mary - on location - click for larger image
"All for Mary" location photo
Annotated "Jungfrau, 4168m, 18th March
to 3rd April 1955, All for Mary"
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All for Mary production photo, click for larger image
"All for Mary" production photo - camera setup
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VALUE FOR MONEY (Ken Annakin, 1955) Starring John Gregson and Diana Dors. This is a recent addition to the list after discovering the two photos shown at right and below. Both are annotated with the film's name and the date of December 1954. Value for Money is a comedy-romance concerning a young man (Gregson) from Yorkshire who has inherited his father's fortune, and decides to try the nightlife of London. He becomes involved with a nightclub singer (Dors) who decides to pursue him. Both photos are of a model "set" of Isleworth Baths and playground. I had assumed this features somewhere in the London sequences, not having seen the film to confirm. However this is not the case - the following information was kindly supplied by Phil Anderton:

"Regarding the photos of the model for the Isleworth swimming baths and playground, these feature not in London but back in the Yorkshire town where John Gregson's character lives. Diana Dors' glamour girl character has worked out that Gregson is loaded and suddenly shows a great interest in him. As he is expected to stand for election and become mayor and keep up the family tradition, he is persuaded to part with his tightly held cash to help finance the building of new swimming baths in his town and prevails upon Dors to come and open them. She does so willingly, believing she's going to be treated like royalty, but gets a rude shock when she arrives to find she's been given a decidedly grim room with an old lady he knows by way of accommodation. I remember the sequence clearly and therefore can be sure that this was up in Yorkshire and not in London. London, as I recall, only featured briefly, when the men of the town have a charabanc outing one Saturday to see a match and then hit the town later."

Value for Money - Isleworth Baths and playground model set
"Value for Money" - Isleworth Baths and playground model set
Annotated "Value for Money Dec 1954, Isleworth Baths and Playground"
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Value for Money - Isleworth Baths model set under construction - click for larger image
"Value for Money" - Isleworth Baths and playground model set under construction
Annotated "Value for Money 23/12/54, XMAS 1954
Click for larger image

CHECKPOINT (Ralph Thomas, 1956) Starring Anthony Steel and Stanley Baker. Another recent addition to the list, filming took place in 1955 around Florence and the Italian Lakes. The story is based around motor racing and includes original footage from the (1955?) Mille Miglia. I believe we have photos from the Italian location filming, pending positive identification. There was a serious accident during filming resulting in the death of a continuity girl.

CLEOPATRA (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963) This film originally began shooting in England, and my grandfather was involved in building the huge sets required. However, Elizabeth Taylor became ill, and since her presence was required for almost every scene, production soon closed down. It later resumed in Rome with a new director, after the resignation of Rouben Mamoulian.

In addition to the above, we also know that he worked on many of the Norman Wisdom films made in the 1950s and 60s. My father can confirm this as he worked at Pinewood himself for a short time, chasing up invoices for props that had been hired, sometimes years ago! This would often involve a long trek around the studios looking for the appropriate person, and more often than not my father would be on a set when filming recommenced and would have to stay until it was over! He often had to explain long absences with "well they closed the set!"