Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


MY PARENTS, rest their souls, were home-theater hip in the 1950s. This was a half-century before movie streaming, Amazon Fire, Hulu, Netflix and the like, but our shared experiences remain vivid to me.

A Cleveland TV station (there were three at the time) had a Sunday Afternoon Foreign Film Festival. Dad would relocate our rabbit-eared seven-inch TV onto a side table in the kitchen so we could eat dinner while enjoying comedies from Ealing Studios.


Several Ealing comedies: The Man in the White Suit, 1951. The Lavender Hill Mob, 1951. The Ladykillers, 1955.

Long before anyone knew Obi-Wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness displayed a wonderfully comedic touch in films from Ealing Studios in west London: Kind Hearts and Coronets, 1949; The Man in the White Suit, 1951; The Lavender Hill Mob, 1951 and The Ladykillers, 1955.


Passport to Pimlico, 1949. Genevieve, 1955.

Others of our Sunday Afternoon Foreign Film Festival viewing included another Ealing production, Passport to Pimlico, 1949; and Genevieve, 1955, a romp about the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run that came out the year I started reading R&T.

Who would have guessed?


Alec Guinness Collection [DVD]. This collection includes all of the Guinness delights cited here, plus another, The Captain’s Paradise.

Alec Guinness’s multiple roles in Kind Hearts and Coronets were echoed in 1959 by another Englishman, Peter Sellers, in The Mouse That Roared. By this time, the days of Cleveland TV’s Sunday film viewing were gone. I recall theater visits for this one and the Alec Guinness flick, The Horse’s Mouth, 1958.

More recently, I’ve seen several of these films (and a less than successful remake of one). The magic of the originals continues on screens of all sizes. Plots of them reside in my memory as firmly as last week’s episodes of favorite TV shows (many of which, by the way, are PBS broadcasts of British fare).


Image from, “Specializing in Bad Taste from a (Feminist) Chick Perspective.”

The art here has little to do with the narrative that follows. However, it sets a cowboy theme representing another bit of my mom and dad’s home theater of the 1950s. Dad bought a 16-mm silent-film projector and got movies from a store specializing in cartoons, old newsreels and cowboy one-reelers.

One particular cowboy flick is vivid in my memory. I had no luck whatsoever in searching out an online video of it to share here. Thus I offer the SimanaitisSays exclusive of A Day at the Dude Ranch, complete with cinematographic dialogue.


An Easterner and his Girlfriend attend a dude ranch run by the Cowboy, assisted comically by his Sidekick. Easterner and Girlfriend examine the horseflesh. Cowboy examines the Girlfriend. The Easterner is in apparent command.


The Cowboy is wearing a bit too much mascara, but he’s still the strong, silent type (helpful in the flick, as it’s silent to begin with). He frowns and responds.


The Girlfriend expertly mounts up with a confident rejoinder.


The Easterner does something that spooks the horse. It rears and bolts.

The Cowboy mounts up and races after her. Deftly, he pulls even, reaches across and brings the Girlfriend onto his own saddle.

The Girlfriend is returned to the Easterner, who reaches into his coat pocket, pulls out a wallet, extracts a bill and hands it to the Cowboy.


The Cowboy examines the bill like he’s never seen one before. He holds it up to the light, peers at it on either side, folds it in half, then folds it again and puts it in his pocket. He responds.


The Sidekick laughs and slaps his thigh with his hat.



© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2016


  1. Michael Rubin
    April 27, 2016

    You’re largely in the 50’s, but the final car scene in the original Pink Panther is worth the rest of the film, with Peter Seller, David Niven, and Robert Wagner and a police contingent constantly crossing paths at a six-way (I recall) intersection while a late-hour habitue of a road front trattoria tries to cross the road multiple times. He finally gives up, pulls up a chair and waits for the inevitable pileup of all involved. Wonder what happened to the Ferrari (? Or was it a Maserati?) involved.

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