Overseas Press Club: DVD Featured

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 16:08
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Overseas Press Club - Exclusive! - out now from NetworkThis is an anthology of thirteen individual dramas dates from 1957, based on the adventures of famous foreign correspondents. They were witnesses to some of the most extraordinary stories of the twentieth century. Unseen for over fifty years, Overseas Press Club – Exclusive! is a lost treasure. Online and learned reference book accounts of the series are patchy, if there is any mention at all, and the on-screen opening credits only use the word Exclusive! as the show’s title.

The print quality of these monochrome adventures is excellent, and followers of Cult TV cast members are in for a treat with some very early performances, some little more than walk-on parts, for what would become household names. We’re talking the likes of Richard O’Sullivan, Peter Wyngarde, Frazer Hines, Roger Delgado, Nigel Stock, Anton Diffring, Alfred Burke, Stratford Johns, Dick Vosburgh and Leonard Sachs (twice!). Release label Network know the magnitude of the little gem they have unearthed!

Each episode begins with the following unattributed voiceover: “I'm the President of the Overseas Press Club of America, and this building is our headquarters, the gathering place of the top foreign correspondents of our time, who cover every corner of the globe in their search to bring the truth to you. From their personal files, we tell the stories behind the headlines. What you are about to see really happened and the people portrayed really lived”.

One website notes that, according to some information in a TV Times article, this initial series of 13 did so well in the USA that 26 further films were planned.  As they say, “the best laid plans...” as there is no record of this having happened, although current archive holders Studio Canal did go on record as saying they held 39, but this seems to have been a miscommunication. Indeed, IMDB suggests the show wasn’t screened in the USA until 1960, so this would have been a new production staged well after the first season ended.

Interestingly, the credits on the episodes on the DVD attribute one episode, “Santa in a Jeep” (episode 7) to a different production company.  Now, whether “Radiant Productions Inc” was the Stateside equivalent of Ardleigh Films Limited (listed on all the other episodes) is one thing to consider.  The other is whether this episode was made first (as a pilot?), or came last (as the setting-up of a new company to take forward production), brings forth another line for conjecture. Certainly, the top personnel involved remain the same, although the production credits at the end of this rogue episode are much shorter (hence the name of Jeremy Summers, listed as Assistant Direction on all the other episodes, not appearing).

There is a listing online which shows that these 13 telefilms were first screened in Britain from June to September 1957, on ABC North/Midlands, on Saturday nights. However, there are also records that ATV London did have certain episodes first; indeed, following the pattern perhaps ATV screened all of them the week before? I’ve listed these dates in the guide below.

It should be noted that when Network first released a cover mock-up for this title, it did not feature the word Exclusive! at the top of the front cover.  So, it may well be this is the name of the show in some foreign climes.  It’s been a long time since details of any show have been as sketchy as this!

Overall, despite these episodes now being 55 years old, they have stood the test of time remarkably well, and their historical aspect means their longevity has been sustained. It’s a delightful telescope into a bygone era in more ways than one.

Overseas Press Club – The Complete Series is out not from Network. This two disc set has a running time of 325 minutes approx, a ‘PG’ certificate, and a RRP of £19.99 – or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com  



Copyright MCMLVII Ardleigh Films Limited (1-6, 8-13), Radiant Productions Inc (7)

Distributed by Associated British-Pathe Limited (except 7 – ABC Film Syndication Inc)

Executive Producer: Bernard Luber (except 7)

Producer: David MacDonald (except 7 – Bernard Luber)

Associate Producer: Maurie M Suess

Music: Edwin Astley (with Sydney John Kay – 11)

Story Editors: Guy Morgan & Gene Feldman

Assistant Direction: Jeremy Summers (1-6, 8-13)


01. “The Man Who Changed Faces

Lars Hansen is a young and handsome Norwegian who submits to plastic surgery, in order to impersonate Major Hoffman, a scar-faced Nazi officer.

Starring: Kieron Moore (Major Hoffman/Lars Hansen), Andre Morell (Sven), Jon Farrell (Bob Considine), Martine Alexis (Gerta), Nigel Stock (Olaf), Gerard Heinz (Dr Borodin), Gerald Anderson (Colonel Simpson), Christie Humprey (Norwegian Mother), Llewelyn Rees (Chief Censor)

As told by Bob Considine of International News Service

Screenplay: Guy Morgan

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 15 June 1957


02. “The General’s War with Scotland

It’s the 1930s, and Miss MacPherson, a missionary at Sangchow, sets about wooing a Chinese warlord, in order to save the lives of a dozen children - the despot is going to execute them to prove his absolute power to the town.

Starring Eric Pohlman (General Yin Chang), Dorothy Alison (Miss MacPherson), Ewan Roberts (Mr Frazer), John Laurie (The Reverend Ingram), Stanley van Beers (Mayor Kuo), Michael Mellinger (Eugene Li), Michael Peake (Colonel H’Su), Cyril Luckham (Maurice Dekobra), Lee Montague (Chen).

As told by Maurice Dekobra, Foreign Correspondent

Screenplay: Leigh Vance

Director: David MacDonald

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 22 June 1957


03. “The Monk of Chimay

This is the story of WW1 air ace Rene Fonck who, by the time of the second war, is a monk, Brother Joachim in a small Belgian town.

Starring: Claude Dauphin (Brother Joachim), Richard Thorp (Sergeant James Cross), Zena Howard (Madame Bonnet), Hugh Miller (Abbe), Jack McNaughton (Gaston Bonnet), James Dyrenforth (Frank Jerome Riley), Ferdy Mayne (Abwehr Officer), Wolf Frees (Gestapo Major), Dennis Edwards (1st German Officer), Stanley Meadows (2nd German Officer), Robert Crewsdon (3rd German Officer)

As told by Frank Jerome Riley, Foreign Correspondent

Screenplay: Guy Morgan

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 29 June 1957


04. “Father Tiger

The story of Father Maggiore Borrelli - a young Italian priest who lives and works amongst the ‘scugnizzi’ of Naples - wild backstreet gangs of abandoned children and teenagers.

Starring: Peter Arne (Father Maggiore), Harry Landis (Mario), Richard O’Sullivan (Thomaso), Mark Mileham (Toni), Alaric Cotter (Luigi), Gawn Grainger (Guiseppi), Wilfred Downing (Alberto), Philip Vickers (Frederic Sondern), John Ruddock (Headmaster), Maureen Beck (Gina).

As told by Frederic Sondern Jr, Foreign Correspondent

Screenplay: Leigh Vance

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 6 July 1957


05. “My Favourite Kidnapper

David Hamilton, an American officer, gets so far ahead of General Patch’s troops in April 1945 that he ends up in Munich, looking for Hitler himself, but ending up surrounded by Nazis. Pierre J Huss, a war correspondent arrives in the city in search of a world scoop, and in Hitler’s home, he finds and reveals one of the war’s strangest exploits...

Starring: Ron Randell (Lt David Hamilton), John van Eyssen (Captain Bauer), Ferdy Mayne (Major Vogel), Desmond Jeans (General von Epp), Robert Brown (Erik Richter), Bill Nagy (Pierre J Huss), Donald Morley (Sergeant), Stanley Meadows (Orderly), Walter Gotell (Gestapo Officer), Jerry Stovin (GI).

As told by Pierre J Huss, International News Service

Screenplay: Gene Feldman

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 13 July 1957


06. “The Billion Franc Mystery

Set in the 1930s, the Nazis attempt to create a monetary scandal to throw France off the scent of their rearmament plans. They nearly persuade an American correspondent to spread the story that France was double-printing the numbers of six billion Francs.

Starring: Lee Patterson (Geoffrey Foster), Nicole Maurey (Nicole Garvet), Anton Diffring (Louis Walleau), Alfred Burke (Inspector Maron), Martin Boddey (The Man in Gloves), George Howe (French Premier), Gordon Tanner (Charles Delaney), Enid Lorimer (Concierge)

As told by Morill Cody, Foreign Correspondent

Screenplay: Gregory Stone

Director: David MacDonald

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 20 July 1957


07. “Santa in a Jeep

Colonel Morgan fights the Greek Communist guerrillas by distributing socks and candy bars.

Starring: Ralph Bellamy (Colonel Andy Morgan), Robert Arden (Hal Lehrman), Martin Benson (Dimitrios), Alec Mango (Major Nikos), Gillian Owen (Helena), George Eugeniou (Petros), Wensley Pithey (Father Tsouderos), Alan Tilvern (Konstantin), David Spenser (Nicholas), Selma Vaz Dias (Peasant Woman),

As told by Hal Lehrman, Foreign Correspondent

Screenplay: Derry Quinn

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 27 July 1957 (ATV London: 20 July 1957)


08. “The Millionth Frenchman

Jean Renaud is the millionth Frenchman to be repatriated in France after the war, but refuses to be released from his Prisoner Of War camp! When he does, he insists on doing so on his own terms.

Starring: Serge Reggiani (Jean Renaud), Eugene Deckers (Armand Lefoyer), Lionel Murton (Larry Blochman), Austin Trevor (camp Commandant), Launce Marascel (General Coley), Nicholas Bruce (Colonel Lortel), Sandra Francis (Paulette).

As told by Lawrence G Blochman, Foreign Correspondent and Author

Screenplay: William Templeton

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 3 August 1957 (ATV London: 27 July 1957)


09. “The George Polk Case

Correspondent Helen Zoos fights to prove her innocence when an American she knows is led to his death by a Greek journalist, as he attempts to interview the Greek Communist guerrilla leader.

Starring: Faith Domergue (Helen Zotos), Eric Pohlmann (Major Macridis), Peter Wyngarde (Andrea Bakolas), Larry Cross (George Polk), Helen Misener (Madam Bakolas), Lloyd Lamble (Jeff Pritchard), Julian Sherrier (Captain).

As told by Helen M Zotos, Associated Press, Greece

Screenplay: Robert Wallsten

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 10 August 1957 (ATV London: 3 August 1957)


10. “The Littlest Sergeant

A parachutist, a ten year-old Ukranian boy stowaway wearing a USAF Sergeant's uniform, is found on a British cargo ship. He is taken prisoner and adopted by Lanahan, an American Sergeant himself.

Starring: Eddie Byrne (Sergeant Lanahan), David Hannaford (Johnny Kalisch), Patrick Allan (Corporal Brunowski), Alan Gifford (John R Wilhelm), Betty McDowall (Thelma), Lionel Murton (Captain), Robert Ayres (Colonel), John Harvey (Ship’s Captain), Hal Osmond (Ship’s Steward), Deering Wells (Doctor), Murray Kash (Airman), Dick Vosburgh (News Photographer), Frazer Hines (Bellhop).

As told by John R Wilhelm, Foreign Correspondent

Screenplay: Guy Morgan

Director: David MacDonald

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 17 August 1957


11. “The Unknown Man

Boleslaw Wierzbianski is a Polish journalist, who sets about helping an imprisoned Pole to be rescued from a Communist ship moored in the Port of London.

Starring: Kieron Moore (Boleslaw Wierzbianski), Karel Stepanek (Rubici), Leonard Sachs (Horko), Robert Raglan (Police Inspector), John Chandos (Embassy Official), Julian Somers (Polish Captain), Howard Lang (Polish Bosun), Carl Duering (Antoni Klimowicz), Jack McGowran (Jimmy Walsh), Stratford Johns (Tom Paddock), Jack McNaughton (1st Reporter), Anna Steele (2nd Reporter), Jack Lambert (1st Member of Parliament), Gerald Cross (2nd Member of Parliament), Frederick Treves (Radio Announcer).

As told by Boleslaw Wierzbianski, Foreign Correspondent

Screenplay: A R Rawlinson

Director: David MacDonald

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 24 August 1957


12. “Tatiana The Czar's Daughter

Newsman George Herald meets a hospital matron, Tatiana, in Germany. She claims to be the Czar's youngest daughter. She is one of several claimants to the Romanov fortune.

Starring: Phyllis Calvert (Tatiana), Paul Carpenter (George Herald), Leonard Sachs (Baron von Kiel), Helen Haye (Baroness von Kiel), Richard Shaw (Russian Agent), Ewen Solon (Mihailov), Sylvia Childs (Nurse), Enid Lorimer (Mrs Kraus), Laidman Browne (Father Sterojev), Diane Aubrey (Young Tatiana), Silvia Herklots (Peasant Mother), Alan MacNaughtan (Captain Bluecher), Bruno Barnabe (Head Waiter), Phyllis Morris (Mrs Grodzinski).

As told by George W Herald, International News Service

Screenplay: Mel Goldberg

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 31 August 1957


13. “Two Against the Kremlin

The story of Eddy Gilmore's fight to secure exit visas for his Russian ballerina wife and children.

Starring: Ralph Bellamy (Eddy Gilmore), Julia Arnall (Tamara Gilmore), Nicola Braithwaite (Vicky Gilmore), Marianne Walla (Natasha), Guy Deghy (1st MVD Officer), John G Heller (2nd MVD Officer), Alexis Bobrinskoy (Chief of Protocol), Robert Henderson (American Ambassador), Harold Lang (An Azerbaijanian), Ralph Nossek (An Official), Roger Delgado (Argentine Diplomat), Julian Strickland (Pablo), Arthur Gross (Security Policeman).

As told by Eddy Gilmore, Associated Press

Screenplay: Derek Twist

Director: Edward Sutherland

Original ABC North/Midlands Transmission: 7 September 1957

Last modified on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 16:35

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