Friday, 20 July 2007

Well wadya Know some old ghosts appeared from the past today

Today my wife and I were watching 'Parkinson' interview the late Sir John Mills on Foxtell TV, A re run from four years ago. I made a casual remark that I remembered a movie he was in; back in 1935.
The Movie had several titles, which I discovered on Google, listed downwards from the more recent it was numbered 117, then there were others down to the number 130 his first movie.
The 117 number titles were 1, Brown in the resolution 1935, 'Albert Brown'. 2, AKA, Born for Glory USA. 3, AKA, Forever England, UK re issue title.
I had no recollection of The death of Sir John Mills, although at the time of this interview he was aged 93 years, but there was one indelible thing in my mind and that was he was cast in that movie as a 17 year old British Navy sailor at the age of 27.
This Movie is without doubt the most remembered movie I can recall, it is mentioned as such in my Pseudo Memoirs, a Novel by J L Spencer,'Waving Goodbye to a Thousand Flies'. Quite a few of you reading this will have read this already. Below is anexcerpt.
Beautiful English summers do not last long. (I believe summer was on a Thursday last year.) I remember standing on the parade ground during the winter wearing shorts, a thin shirt, and football boots, waiting to play an hour of soccer. Our breath formed into icicles and the wind froze our pitifully underfed frames. The broken chill blains on our hands and pale scurvy faces were very painful. It was awful, especially when the smug people giving us orders were wearing great coats and scarves! It was hardly surprising that the main occupants of the small school cemetery were eleven and twelve-year-olds. It was obvious to most that only the strong would survive the early years.
The winter highlight was a cinema show in the dining hall on a Saturday after an early shower. I have a copy of ‘England Forever’ (1935. John Mills) it was shown quite frequently to expound the values of the Royal Navy. This movie shows the British putting one over the German navy in 1914,WW2.
The name of the school in my book states it is 'Halls Naval Academy' but in real life it Was 'Watts Naval Training School' WNTS College. Nth Elmham Norfolk. close by was the river Wensum. The college was demolished in 1949 or thereabout.
A further excerpt reveals the pseudo from the reality, and some of the creature discomforts I put up with and survived as a child.
Halls Naval Academy was a charity school with a nautical theme run on militaristic principles. The estate was located in the Suffolk rural countryside far from the outside world. It was situated on the edge of a plateau that sloped east to a valley near the river Eastham where the school farmed the land.
HNA had a population of a large staff and about three hundred students between eleven and sixteen years of age. The students were allowed to take two three-week vacations each year during the summer and at Christmas. All other holiday periods were spent at the school. Students without guardians never left the school. Students had no access to the outside world, arbitral access, or personal rights. Discipline was strict. Hunger and fear of punishment were constant. Love and affection were non-existent. All communication to and from the school was censored. Those boys who never left the school on vacation became conditioned to their surroundings and were probably happier at the school than those of us who had occasional release from our incarceration.

BTW. My real initials are L J B, and my school number strange as it may seem was 117. at W N T S.

Now we have a Short biography of Sir John Mills. This is what gave me the big surprise today.


Date of Birth
22 February 1908, The Watts Naval Training College, North Elmham, Norfolk, England, UK


Date of Death
23 April 2005, Denham, Buckinghamshire, England, UK. (chest infection)


Birth Name
Lewis Ernest Watts Mills


Nickname
Johnny


Height
5' 8" (1.73 m)


Mini Biography
Sir John Mills, one of the most popular and beloved English actors, was born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills on February 22, 1908, at the Watts Naval Training College in North Elmham, Norfolk, England. The young Mills grew up in Felixstowe, Suffolk, where his father was a mathematics teacher and his mother was a theater box-office manager. The Oscar-winner appeared in more than 120 films and TV movies in a career stretching over eight decades, from his debut in 1932 in The Midshipmaid (1932) through Bright Young Things (2003) and The Snow Prince (2007).

After graduating from the Norwich Grammar School for Boys, Mills rejected his father's academic career for the performing arts. After brief employment as a clerk in a grain merchant's office, he moved to London and enrolled at Zelia Raye's Dancing School. Convinced from the age of six that performing was his destiny, Mills said, "I never considered anything else."

After training as a dancer, he started his professional career in the music hall, appearing as a chorus boy at the princely sum of four pounds sterling a week in "The Five O'Clock Revue" at the London Hippodrome, in 1929. The short, wiry song-and-dance man was scouted by Noel Coward and began to appear regularly on the London stage in revues, musicals and legitimate plays throughout the 1930s. He appeared in a score of films before the war, "quota quickies" made under a system regulating the import of American films designed to boost local production. He was a juvenile lead in The Ghost Camera (1933), appeared in the musical Car of Dreams (1935), and then played lead roles in ***'Brown on Resolution (1935)', Tudor Rose (1936) and The Green Cockatoo (1937). His Hollywood debut was in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) with Robert Donat, but he refused the American studios' entreaties to sign a contract and returned to England.

It turns out Sir John Mills Father was a Math's teacher at WNTS college, Where I Vest Number 117
was forcibly educated; but prior to the time that I was there, between Wednesday Dec 16 1936 to Wednesday January 7 1942.

Vest Daily Gaggle.

7 comments:

lower deck lawyer said...

sounds like the school of hard knocks that you attended vesty old mate, very interesting. Mike.

Anonymous said...

Sir John Mills
adieu

Vest said...

LDL: I can wholeheartedly agree with you, definitely a 'No Frills' no Silver spoon more kicks than halfpennies place of learning.
Although having watched that movie several times plus while an 11 to 15 yr old, I probably failed to notice who the actor was and why it was so significant to the school at the time, it was only when I recorded this movie about 15 years ago that I became familiar with its prime actor 'John Mills', but only yesterday did I find that he was actually born at the W N T S College in 1908 during the time his father taught at the College, that was when I googled to obtain J M's date of birth, I thought someone was pulling my leg when info about about my infamous old school flashed before me, a sort of shock horror thingy.

amy from Swansea. said...

Hello Vest, I had had a look in my copy of your book and understand what it is all about now , got a bit confusing at first, I have researched your old college and I just can't imagine any one in this day and age putting up with the crap served out there and most of the kids in the grave yard under twelves, holy horrors, will email you soon as I can, bye for now, Amy.

Anonymous said...

my school days SUXED

had terrible guilt feelings about my horniness

the padres in those days told u that your Dick was not to be touched

and u shudnt look at a girl with lust

and the girls shudnt wear sleeveles blouses and short skirts

Vest said...

View my post on Watts Naval College 5-10-07. Quite an eye opener, lots of brutality. I know; I was there.

JohnBraun said...

jA1Li9 write more, thanks.

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