Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.
Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.
The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.
♦ Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].
Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.
Technically, today is also a bust for Flick Friday, just like my July 24 post. There were no movie releases, today, in 1950, either, so I will grab the August 6 release. Seventy years ago, yesterday, the western film Vigilante Hideout was released. Directed by Fred C. Bannon and written by Richard Wormser, it starred Allan Lane, Black Jack (Allan Lane’s horse), Eddie Waller, Roy Barcroft and Virginia Herrick.
Rocky (Lane), a Range Detective, arrives to help Nugget (Waller) with rustlers. When he learns Nugget owns only three cows, he stays on, anyway and, soon, becomes involved in Benson’s attempt to blow open the bank’s safe. When Rocky upsets his plans, Benson (Don Haggerty), supposedly, gets rid of him by having him declared an outlaw, wanted dead or alive. Then, Benson takes a load of explosives into an old mine located directly under the bank vault.
Double-barreled justice catches up with a cold-blooded killer when “Rocky” takes up the chase! Cattle detective, Rocky Lane, arrives in town to investigate cattle disappearances only to realize just three cows, owned by eccentric inventor Nugget Clark, are involved. However, the disappearances lead to a deeper mystery involving dynamite explosions, rampaging cowboys and a water shortage.
Lane and his trusty black stallion are on hand to help old-timer Waller find water for a town which is threatening to fold up due to drought. Some crooked townsfolk don’t want the water to be found because they want to collect on the $25,000 being stashed away for an aqueduct. Lane’s job is to make sure these people don’t pose too much of a problem, while Waller goes about finding the water. The characterization of Waller as a crazed inventor of gadgets is an added attraction to this oater with a realistic bent.
Full Synopsis (Turner Classic Movies)
American Film Institute
The Complete Movie
Three hundred, fourteen years ago, today…
The Treaty of Union is the name usually, now, given to the agreement which led to the creation of the new state of Great Britain [.] [It stated] that England, which already included Wales, and Scotland were to be “United into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain[.]” At the time it, was more often referred to as the Articles of Union. The details of the treaty were agreed on [July 22], 1706 and separate Acts of Union were then passed by the parliaments of England and Scotland to put the agreed articles into effect. The political union took effect on [May 1], 1707.
Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland, last monarch of the Tudor dynasty, died without issue on [March 24], 1603 and the throne fell at once […] to her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland, a member of House of Stuart and the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots. By the Union of the Crowns in 1603, he assumed the throne of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Ireland as King James I. This personal union lessened the constant English fears of Scottish cooperation with France in a feared French invasion of England. After [the] union, the new monarch, James I and VI, sought to unite the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England into a state which he referred to as “Great Britain”. Nevertheless, Acts of Parliament attempting to unite the two countries failed in 1606, 1667 and 1689.
Scots History Online
Union with England (UK Legislation)
Union with Scotland (UK Legislation)
Scottish Referendums (BBC)
Mob Unrest and Disorder (Web Archive/Parliament UK)
One-hundred, ten years ago, today…
The Duigan […] biplane was an early aircraft which made the first powered flight by an Australian-designed and built machine when it flew in Victoria in 1910. The aircraft was constructed by John Duigan, with help from his brother Reginald, on their family farm at Mia Mia. The effort was especially significant in that the brothers built the aircraft almost entirely by themselves and without input from the pioneering aviation community. [A] photo-postcard of the Wright Flyer inspired the design and Sir Hiram Maxim‘s book Artificial and Natural Flight provided the theoretical basis. The only components not built by the Duigans themselves were the engine, made by the J. E. Tilley Engineering Company of Melbourne and the propeller. However, both of these components were extensively modified by John before they could be used.
The aircraft flew for the first time on July 16, 1910, taking off under its own power and flying [24 feet] (7 meters). Within two months, this had been extended to [300 feet] (90 meters) and, soon thereafter, to [590 feet with an altitude of 12 feet] (180 meters [with] an altitude of 3.5 meters). By the end of the year, Duigan had made a flight of [nearly a mile] (1 km) at an altitude of [100 feet] (30 meters).
Duigan informed the Department of Defence of his achievements, hoping to claim a £5,000 prize that had been offered in September 1909 for the construction of an aircraft suitable for military purposes. Duigan was ineligible for the prize, which had expired at the end of March 1910 but, was asked to demonstrate his aircraft for the military anyway. He also flew it in a public demonstration in front of a crowd of 1,000 spectators at Bendigo Racecourse in January 1911. In 1920, Duigan donated the aircraft to the Industrial and Technological Museum of Victoria, which was later absorbed into Museum Victoria.
Museum Victoria also preserves a flying replica of the Duigan biplane built by Ronald Lewis and flown in 1990. It was donated to the museum in 2000.
Additional Reading & Sources:
John Duigan Truths Uncovered (Australian Flying)
A Flying Life (Museums Victoria)
Australian Aviator (Trove: National Library of Australia)
Duigan Biplane (Web Archive)
Duigan Centenary Of Flight (Web Archive)
Flight Global Archive (Web Archive)
Genesis of Military Aviation (Web Archive)
Duigan Pusher Biplane (Wikipedia)
This was going to be a post on the highest recorded heat level, listed in the Guinness (Book) of World Records. Supposedly, one-hundred and seven years ago, today, Death Valley got up to 134.4℉. I read Wikipedia, I read Guinness and I read History & Headlines. If it made it into Guinness, someone must have thought it was legitimate. Well, after taking a dive into Weather Underground‘s investigation of this record (this is a very long read), posted by weather historian Christopher Burt on October 24, 2016, I’m not so sure this event ever happened.
I have contacted Guinness for a challenge. We shall see how this plays out. ~Vic
Five hundred, fifty-eight years ago, today…
The Night Attack at Târgoviște (Romanian: Atacul de noapte de la Târgoviște, Turkish: Tirgovişte Baskını) was a battle fought between forces of Vlad III Țepeș (Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula), Prince of Wallachia and Sultan Mehmed II (Mehmed the Conqueror) of the Ottoman Empire on […] June 17, 1462.
The conflict initially started with Vlad‘s refusal to pay the jizya (tax on non-Muslims subjects charged at 2.5%) to the sultan and [it] intensified when Vlad invaded Bulgaria. In response, Mehmed raised a great army with the objective to conquer Wallachia and annex it to his empire. The two leaders fought a series of skirmishes, the most notable one being the Night Attack where Vlad attacked the Turkish camp in the night in an attempt to kill Mehmed. The assassination attempt failed and Mehmed marched to the Wallachian capital of Târgoviște, where he found a few men with cannons. After leaving the capital, Mehmed discovered 23,844 impaled Turks whom Vlad had killed during his invasion of Bulgaria. The number is mentioned by Vlad himself in a letter to Matthias Corvinus (Matthias I). The sultan, and his troops, then sailed to Brăila and burned it to the ground before retreating to Adrianople. Both sides claimed victory in the campaign and Mehmed’s forces returned home with many captured slaves, horses and cattle.
Additional Reading & Sources:
The Night Attack on Targoviste (Burn Pit Website)
The Night Attack on Targoviste (Weapons and Warfare Website)
Night Attack at Târgoviște (Wikipedia)
Ottoman War (Wikipedia)
Submission of Wallachia (Wikipedia)
Battle of Targoviste Part I
Battle of Targoviste Part II
Jumping into the 1620s…
[The English ballad], The Ballad of Chevy Chase, [tells] the story of a large hunting party upon a parcel of hunting land (or chase) in the Cheviot Hills (a range of rolling hills straddling the Anglo-Scottish border between Northumberland and the Scottish Borders), hence the term, Chevy Chase. The hunt is led by Percy, the English Earl of Northumberland. The Scottish Earl Douglas had forbidden this hunt and interpreted it as an invasion of Scotland. In response, he attacked, causing a bloody battle [where] only 110 people survived.
There are two extant ballads […], both of which narrate the same story. As ballads existed within oral tradition[s] before being written down, other versions of this once popular song also may have existed. Moreover, other ballads used its tune without necessarily referring to [this particular ballad].
This ballad was entered in the Stationers’ Register in 1624. The title is alternatively spelled Chevy Chace. The ballad is generally thought to describe the Battle of Otterburn. Some of the verses correspond to that battle but, not all. The Battle of Otterburn took place in 1388. At that [b]attle, Henry Percy (Hotspur) was captured, not killed. He was killed in 1403 in an uprising against Henry IV.
[A]nother possibility [was] border warfare between a Percy and a Douglas in 1435 or 1436. Henry Percy of Northumberland made a raid into Scotland with 4,000 men. He was met by William Douglas, Earl of Angus at Piperden. There were great losses on each side but, the Scots prevailed.
Over time, and the various evolutions of the ballad, events and personages have gotten confused.
Additional Reading & Sources:
The Naming of Chevy Chase (Chevy Chase Historical Society)
Chevy Chase (Contemplations From the Marianas Trench)
Battle of Chevy Chase (Douglas History UK)
The Battle of Chevy Chase (Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature)
Who or What is Chevy Chase? (The Straight Dope)
Battle of Otterburn (Wikipedia)
The Ballad of Chevy Chase (Wikipedia)
The Ballad of Chevy Chase (A Cappella)
The Battle of Otterburn Ballad
Four hundred, twenty years ago, Renaissance composer, lutenist and singer John Dowland (a contemporary of William Shakespeare) publishes his Second Book of Songs in London. There were 22 song titles in the book and the most well known of these is Flow, My Tears. Written as an aria and for a lute, its style and form is based on a pavane, a slow, couple-dance common in the 16th century. It’s original 1596 title was Lachrimae Pavane (literally “tears dance”) and Dowland added lyrics later.
Additional Reading & Sources:
John Dowland (Edition HH Music Publishers)
John Dowland Part I (Millenium of Music)
John Dowland Biography (Study Website)
Lachrimae: Continental Context (University of London Goldsmiths)
Flow, My Tears (Wikipedia)
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Wikipedia)
Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
Exiled for ever, let me mourn;
Where night’s black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.
Down vain lights, shine you no more!
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their last fortunes deplore.
Light doth but shame disclose.
Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pity is fled;
And tears and sighs and groans my weary days, my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.
From the highest spire of contentment
My fortune is thrown;
And fear and grief and pain for my deserts, for my deserts
Are my hopes, since hope is gone.
Hark! you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world’s despite.
Moving forward to 1580…
A widespread belief exists that the song Greensleeves was composed by none other than King Henry VIII following an early rejection of his love by his future wife Anne Boleyn. The lyrics of this song of unrequited love have been seen to relate to his courtship of Anne in the 1520s. Many of the verses of Greensleeves imply a rich and extravagant courtship […]. Henry VIII was a composer and musician of some merit […]. [C]ourt officials […] attribute to Henry many compositions which were not his and the consensus of expert opinion, today, is that Greensleeves was composed rather later in the Tudor era, during the reign of Anne Boleyn’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. [T]he piece is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry’s death […].
A broadside ballad […] was registered at the London Stationer’s Company in September [of] 1580, by [a] Richard Jones, as A Newe Northern Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves. Six more ballads followed in less than a year, one on the same day […]. Needless to say the rights to the song were in very hot dispute. It was in 1584 that Jones printed his final version of the melody and this is the one we know today. It was titled A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves […].
Who was Lady Greensleeves
[W]hy would anyone be named for their green sleeves? Interpretations […] usually have a sexual connotation, most notably in the phrase “a green gown”, a reference to the grass stains on a woman’s dress from engaging in sexual intercourse outdoors. Was this lady a prostitute? [T]he song lyrics mention a “discourteous” rejection of the singer’s advances, suggesting to some that the lady in question was actually virtuous but, perhaps, was mistaken for a prostitute as a result of her green sleeves. [A]nother explanation is quite the opposite to promiscuity […]. [I]n heraldry, colour also had symbolisms and green indicated truth and fidelity […]. [A] knight may give a green armband to his true love to wear to show his devotion to her, giving rise to the familiar phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve” meaning, to show your true feelings.
None of these theories, however, really seem to reflect the song’s true meaning, which clearly expresses an unrequited love by a rich man for a fair lady. All that we can confidently deduce, is that “Lady Greensleeves” is a nickname, not a title. Exactly who she was, remains a mystery.
♦ In Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, the character Mistress Ford refers, twice, to “the tune of ‘Greensleeves'”.
♦ The tune was the basis for “Home in the Meadow,” a recurring song throughout the 1962 epic film How the West Was Won.
♦ A rendering of the tune, titled the “Lassie Theme”, was used extensively in the Lassie television show, especially the ending credits.
Everyone will remember this tune as What Child Is This? ~Vic
One-hundred years ago, today, the silent black & white drama film The Girl In Number 29 premiered (though not released, widely). Directed by John Ford and written by Philip D. Hurn, it was based upon the novel The Girl In The Mirror (1919) by Elizabeth Jordan. Starring Frank Mayo, Elinor Fair, Claire Anderson, Robert Bolder and Bull Montana, it is considered a lost film.
After turning out a successful drama, young playwright Laurie Devon settles down to a life of idleness. Alarmed and disgusted, his friends make every effort to get him to work again but, he refuses. One evening, while glancing into his mirror, Laurie sees a beautiful girl in the apartment across the way, holding a revolver to her head. Dashing out of his apartment house, he prevents her from pulling the trigger. He learns that her name is Doris Williams and discovers that her plight is caused by a man named Shaw. Soon after, Shaw and his thugs abduct her, and Laurie comes to her rescue, shooting her tormentor. Returning home, he confesses his crime to his sister and friends, and learns that the whole incident was a trick to restore his interest in life. The plot succeeds and Laurie writes another hit play in which his new wife Doris is the star.
Laurie Devon (Mayo) is a New York playwright who, having had one success, refuses to work on another play. One night he sees a woman (Anderson) in an apartment across the street take out a gun and place it to her forehead. He reaches her in time to save her and she tells him that she is under some terrible evil influence, which she will not disclose. Devon attempts to untangle the mystery and is led on an adventure. The woman is taken to a house on Long Island, where Devon, after a fight, rescues her. He takes out the revolver and shoots one of the pursuers, who falls to the ground. On returning home, he is heartbroken and tells his sister Barbara (Fair) and his friends that he is a murderer. His sister, and two of his friends, then confess that the whole thing was a frame-up. [T]hey had hired some actors to stage everything and that it was an attempt to get the ambitionless [sic] author to write again. The revolver used in the suicide attempt by the woman, and in the later shooting, had blanks. Devon and the woman from the apartment melt into each other’s arms at the final fade-out.
Forty-four years ago, today, the Apple Computer Company was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, though Wayne sold his share back within 12 days. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, it grew from the “two Steves” into a multinational company. Jobs and Wozniak met in 1971 via mutual friend Bill Fernandez. Their partnership began with autodidact Wozniak’s blue boxes build and Jobs salesmanship. Jobs split the blue box profits with Wozniak.
Wozniak designed a video terminal and, new microcomputers, such as the Altair 8800 and the IMSAI, inspired [him] to build a microprocessor into his video terminal and have a complete computer. [He] designed computers on paper, waiting for the day he could afford a CPU. When MOS Technology released its 6502 chip in 1976, Wozniak wrote a version of BASIC for it, then began to design a computer for it to run on. When Jobs saw Wozniak’s computer, which would later become known as the Apple I, he was immediately interested in its commercial potential.
Initially, Wozniak intended to share schematics of the machine for free but, Jobs insisted that they should, instead, build and sell bare printed circuit boards for the computer. Jobs eventually convinced Wozniak to go into business together and start a new company of their own. According to Wozniak, Jobs proposed the name “Apple Computer” when he had just come back from Robert Friedland’s All-One Farm in Oregon. Jobs told Walter Isaacson that he was “…on one of my fruitarian diets…” when he conceived of the name and thought “…it sounded fun, spirited and not intimidating…plus, it would get us ahead of Atari in the phone book.”
The information on Apple, Jobs & Wozniak is extensive. This post is a mere highlight of its beginnings. I won’t be reinventing the wheel, here. I will say, though, that the very first computer I ever programmed on in 1983, using BASIC, was an Apple II. ~Vic
Now, we are in the 1570s…
Spem in Alium is Latin for “hope in any other” or “hope in another”. A 40-part Renaissance Motet, it was composed in 1570 (thereabouts) by Thomas Tallis (Tallys). Written for eight choirs of five voices each, meaning there are 40 separate voices singing individual lines of music, it is considered to be Tallis’s greatest achievement and, possibly, one of the finest compositions of all time.
Information on where it was first performed is scarce. There appears to be some confusion regarding where it took place, as two locations…Nonsuch Palace, a royal Tudor palace in Surrey built by Henry VIII (not to be confused with Nonsuch Mansion) and Arundel House, a London townhouse originally for the Bishops of Bath & Wells…were both owned by Henry Fitzalan, the 12th/19th Earl of Arundel at one time. Most of what I have read leans towards Arundel House but, truly, I don’t think anyone really knows. It’s all a big guess. And, it is pure speculation as to why he wrote it. Some suggestions include a challenge due to an Italian composer doing same, Elizabeth’s 40th birthday or, perhaps for Mary as he was Catholic. Again, no one really knows.
The music, below, is soul stirring. ~Vic
The text of the motet:
Spem in alium nunquam habui
Praeter in te, Deus Israel
Qui irasceris et propitius eris
et omnia peccata hominum
in tribulatione dimittis
Creator caeli et terrae
respice humilitatem nostram
I have never put my hope in any other
but in Thee, God of Israel
who canst show both wrath and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins
of man in suffering
Creator of Heaven and Earth
Regard our humility
Additional Reading & Sources:
The Belle Jar (Blog Post)
Oxford Music Online
Spem in Alium History (PDF on Super Flumina Website)
How To Buy Spem In Alium (Classic FM Website)
Tallis and His Song of Forty Parts (Zenodo Website)