THE life of a Houghton-born movie star will be celebrated with a screening of one of her most famous movies in the town tomorrow.
Houghton Methodist Church is hosting a screening of the 1948 movie No Orchids for Miss Blandish to mark the centenary of the birth of one of its stars, Linden Travers.
Travers was born in Houghton on May 27, 1913, and died in Cornwall in 2001 at the age of 88.
No Orchids for Miss Blandish is a British-made but US-set gangster film directed by St John Legh Clowes, adapted from a novel by James Hadley Chase.
The film also stars Jack La Rue, Walter Crisham, MacDonald Parke, Lilli Molnar and Hugh McDermott.
Comedy legend Sid James, who famously suffered a heart attack and died on stage at the Sunderland Empire in 1976, makes an unbilled appearance as a barman.
The film, about a kidnapped heiress falling in love with her abductor, caused controversy on its release, because of what was regarded at the time as excessive violence.
Though restrained by today’s standards, it left many 1940s movie-goers horrified.
The Monthly Film Bulletin branded it “the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen”, and the Observer newspaper called it a “repellent piece of work”. Travers was a great-granddaughter of Houghton confectionery firm founder George Wheatley.
Her parents were Florence Wheatley, a grand-daughter of the confectionery company boss, and her husband, William Halton Lindon-Travers.
Travers is possibly best known for the 1938 Alfred Hitchcock classic The Lady Vanishes but starred in many other movies between her big-screen debut in 1935’s Children of the Fog and her retirement in the late 1940s.
Her silver-screen CV also includes 1938’s Bank Holiday, 1940’s The Stars Look Down, 1941’s The Ghost Train, Quartet in 1948 and The Bad Lord Byron and Christopher Columbus, both released in 1949.
Houghton Heritage Society chairman Paul Lanagan said: “She is often described by movie aficionados as being out of synch with the industry, seen as having arrived before her time, but it is comforting to know that a light still shines on her name in Houghton for there are two large framed photographs of her in the Wild Boar pub.”
“When the Boar was being renovated a few years ago I was asked to provide pictures of Linden Travers but at the time I didn’t have any.
“Most people around Houghton wouldn’t know who was but I went on to realise how famous she eventually became.
“As well as celebrating her birthday we want to spread awareness of her life.”
Admission to the showing at the Mautland Street church, at 1pm, will take the form of a collection after the screening.
Popcorn and refreshments will be available.