Cast & Crew
Harry H. Corbett
Guy Kingsley Poynter
An innocent man convicted of murder befriends a woman who defends his innocence.
Harry H. Corbett
Guy Kingsley Poynter
W. T. Partleton
Earl St. John
Floods of Fear
Filmed in England at Pinewood Studios, Floods of Fear was Keel's second film production in Great Britain; the first was his movie debut, The Small Voice (aka The Hideout) in 1949. At this point in his career, Keel was no longer under contract to MGM (1955's Kismet was his last film for them) and he was accepting freelance work in television (a 1958 remake of Roberta) and film (Frank Borzage's big budget 1959 epic, The Big Fisherman). Floods of Fear, produced by Sydney Box (The Seventh Veil, 1945), was a decidedly different role for Keel, however, and played against his clean-cut hero image. In this film, he plays a hardened convict named Donovan who escapes from a prison detail while helping build a barrier for an impending flood. The raging waters not only sweep away Donovan but also a fellow prisoner, Peebles (Cyril Cusack), and the guard, Sharkey (Harry H. Corbett), who was supervising them. The trio wash up at the flooded farmhouse of Dr. Matthews (John Phillips), who is away attending victims at a crisis center. At first the three survivors think the house is abandoned until Elizabeth (Anne Heywood), the doctor's daughter, appears and the tension begins.
While Peebles is clearly a dangerous criminal with designs on Elizabeth, Donovan is a more brooding, tight-lipped enigma who is serving time for murdering the wife of his former business partner, Jack Murphy (John Crawford). It soon becomes obvious that Donovan was framed for that crime and now that he is free, he intends to find Murphy and take his revenge. But first the small group must survive the torrential rains and flooding that swamp the house and continue to rise with no help in sight.
In his autobiography Only Make Believe: My Life in Show Business, Keel recalled the filming of Floods of Fear: "All the flood scenes were filmed on one of the large stages at Pinewood Studios. The water had to be both dirty and cold, and it was. They couldn't heat it for fear it might get rancid. That was another tough picture. Anne Heywood never once protested about the water. [Charles] Crichton, who had a great sense of humor, had directed some very funny pictures. Cyril Cusack and I were good friends. We had a little contest over Anne. He was a real cutie, as well as a hell of an actor, but I won out."
If Floods of Fear was a change of pace for Keel, it was also true for the director as well. Crichton was best known for such popular Ealing comedies as The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953) and the late career hit, A Fish Called Wanda (1988). Yet, Floods of Fear is a minor gem which combines film noir elements with the excitement of a disaster film. Beautifully shot by award-winning cinematographer Christopher Challis (The Victors , Arabesque ) with a stirring score by Alan Rawsthorne (Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, 1951), the film is also distinguished by the fine ensemble acting, especially by Cyril Cusack as the malicious and homicidal Peebles. He has a volatile nervous energy and feral-like physical quality that could easily have served as an inspiration to Tim Roth, who somewhat resembles Cusack in size and manner in such movies as Made in Britain (1982) and Pulp Fiction (1994).
Producer: Sydney Box
Director: Charles Crichton
Screenplay: Charles Crichton; Vivienne Knight (additional dialogue); John Hawkins, Ward Hawkins (novel)
Cinematography: Christopher Challis
Art Direction: Cedric Dawe
Music: Alan Rawsthorne
Film Editing: Peter Bezencenet
Cast: Howard Keel (Donovan), Anne Heywood (Elizabeth Matthews), Cyril Cusack (Peebles), Harry H. Corbett (Sharkey), John Crawford (Jack Murphy), Eddie Byrne (Sheriff), John Phillips (Dr. Matthews), Guy Kingsley Poynter (Deputy Sheriff), James Dyrenforth (Mayor), Gordon Tanner (Lt. Colonel).
by Jeff Stafford
Only Make Believe: My Life in Show Business by Howard Keel with Joyce Spizer (Barricade)
Floods of Fear
TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th
PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE
Callaway Went Thataway (1951)
Ride, Vaquero! (1953)
War Wagon (1967)
"MGM Parade Show #14"
(Keel talks with George Murphy about his latest MGM picture "Kismet")(1955)
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
HOWARD KEEL (1919-2004):
Howard Keel, the strapping singer and actor whose glorious baritone took him to stardom in the early '50s in some of MGM's best musicals, including Showboat, Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died on November 7 of colon cancer at his home in Palm Desert, California. He was 85.
He was born Harry Clifford Leek on April 13, 1919, in Gillespie, Illinois. His father, was a coal miner and his mother, a strict Methodist, forbid the children from enjoying popular entertainments. When his dad died, his mother relocated the family to California when Harry was still a young teenager.
After he graduated high school, Keel had a brief stint as a singing busboy, but had not considered a professional career as a vocalist....until one fateful evening in 1939. It was at this time he saw celebrated opera singer, Lawrence Tibbett, at the Hollywood Bowl. Keel was inspired, and he soon began taking voice lessons. Over the next several years, he carefully trained his voice while entering any singing contest he could find. It wasn't long before his talents caught the attention of Rodgers & Hammerstein.
In 1946, they signed him to replace John Raitt in the Broadway production of Carousel, changed his name to Howard Keel (His proper surname Leek spelled backwards), and Keel was on his way to international stardom.
After his run in Carousel ended, he sailed to London the following year to play the role of Curley in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma. He received rave reviews from the London press, and by the time he returned to the United States in 1948, he was ready to make his move into films.
Keel made his movie debut in the British thriller, The Small Voice (1948), but it would be his second film, and first for MGM, portraying Frank Butler, Betty Hutton's leading man in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), that sealed his success. Keel's several strengths as a performer: his supple, commanding singing voice; his athletic, 6'4" frame; striking, "matinee-idol" good looks; and his good humored personality made him one of the studios' top leading men over the next few years. Indeed, between 1951-55, Keel could do not wrong with the material he was given: Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look at (1952), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Kismet (1955). Clearly, he was a shining star in this golden era of the MGM musical.
By the late '50s, movie musicals began to fade out of fashion, but Keel returned to the stage and had success performing with several touring companies. He made a brief return to films when he was cast as a seaman battling carnivorous plants from outer space in the popular British sci-fi hit, The Day of the Triffids (1962). Television also provided some work, where he guest starred in some of the more popular shows in the late '60s including Run For Your Life, and The Lucy Show.
Keel would keep a low profile over the next decade, but he made an amazing comeback in 1981, when he was cast as Clayton Farlow, Ellie Ewing's (Barbara Bel Geddes) second husband in the wildly successful prime time soap, Dallas. Not only did he play the role for ten seasons, but Keel would also be in demand for many other shows throughout the '80s and '90s: The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Walker, Texas Ranger, to name a but a few. By the late-'90s, Keel retired to his home in Palm Desert, California, where still made public appearances now and again for a tribute or benefit. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Judy; a son, Gunnar; daughters, Kaija, Kristina and Leslie; 10 grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
by Michael T. Toole
Important Milestones on Howard Keel:
Moved to Southern California at age 16 (date approximate)
Worked as a singing busboy in a Los Angeles cafe
Worked for Douglas Aircraft as a manufacturing representative travelling among various company plants; work included singing; won a first prize award at the Mississippi Valley while on the road; also won an award at the Chicago Music Festival
Began singing career with the American Music Theatre in Pasadena, California
Chosen by Oscar Hammerstein II to perform on Broadway in "Carousel"; succeeded John Raitt in the leading role of Billy Bigelow; also took over the leading role of Curly in "Oklahoma"
Recreated the role of Curly when he opened the London stage production of "Oklahoma"
Made feature film debut in a non-singing supporting role in the British crime drama, "The Small Voice"
Signed by MGM; became instant star as the male lead of "Annie Get Your Gun"
Provided the offscreen narration for the Western saga, "Across the Wide Missouri", starring Clark Gable
First film opposite Kathryn Grayson, "Show Boat"
First leading role in a non-musical, "Desperate Search"
Made best-remembered film, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"
Last musical starring roles, and last musicals for MGM, "Jupiter's Darling" and "Kismet"
Went to Britain to play the leading role in the action drama, "Floods of Fear"
Last leading role, "Red Tomahawk"
Last feature film appearance for over 20 years, "Arizona Bushwhackers"
Starred on the London stage in the musical "Ambassador"; later brought the role to Broadway (date approximate)
Toured the nightclub circuit, sometimes teaming up with his co-star from three MGM musicals of the 1950s, Kathryn Grayson
Toured in stage productions of musicals and comedies including "Camelot", "Man of La Mancha", "Paint Your Wagon", "I Do! I Do!", "Plaza Suite", "Gigi", "Show Boat", "Kismet", "The Most Happy Fella" and "The Fantasticks"
Teamed with Jane Powell on record-breaking national theater tour of "South Pacific"
Reprised screen role of eldest brother Adam in a touring stage version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", opposite original screen co-star Jane Powell
Joined the cast of the CBS primetime serial drama, "Dallas", which had premiered in 1978; played Clayton Farlow
Recorded first solo album, "And I Love You So"
Was one of the hosts of the feature compilation documentary, "That's Entertainment III", revisiting the MGM musical from the coming of sound through the late 1950s
Keel was President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1958-1959.
TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1958
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1958