Today I am looking back at one particular Borehamwood-made movie shot in 1963. I am prompted by the fact that two of its stars passed away within a few weeks of each other without much media attention as both were of yesteryear.

I refer to the death of Australian star Rod Taylor who made several movies at MGM in Borehamwood in the 1960s but may be better remembered as the star of the classic The Time Machine film from that era. Rod was what we call a ‘difficult star’ and although he continued with guest roles up to Inglorious Bastards, his star had long since faded before his death at the age of 84.

The other star we lost this year was the suave French actor Louis Jourdan who starred in many Hollywood films while tinseltown liked having a token French actor. He was long retired when he died at the age of 93 in his Beverley Hills home.

The common link was that they both starred in a great but almost forgotten film made at MGM in Borehamwood in 1963 called The VIPs. The running time was nearly two hours and it was basically all dialogue but you got to know the characters and it was entertaining. Personally, I am surprised it has not been remade but would modern cinema audiences sit through a movie with CGI and an explosion every few minutes?

At MGM they built a wonderful set of terminal three at Heathrow Airport. The story revolved a group stranded due to fog and encompassed comedy and tragedy in the plot.

The main stars were Richard Burton and Liz Taylor. Local residents can still recall them dining at the old Thatched Barn, demolished in 1989, and at the King's Arms, now the Harvester at Stirling Corner.

The film cost about $4 million to make but grossed nearly four times that amount making it a box office success. The other Hollywood star in the picture was the legendary Orson Welles who played an over the top film director. I love one line that was inserted as a joke. Orson is trying to escape by midnight before he has to pay a fortune in income tax to the British Government. At one point he laments “my accountant has got himself lost in a wood called Boreham.”

Margaret Rutherford played a comedy role as the often confused Duchess of Brighton and was so good she won an Oscar. The Oscar was apparently stolen from her home after her death. Unless sold privately it can never be put on public sale as the Academy have the legal right to purchase any Oscar back for a few dollars.

Maggie Smith played Rod Taylor's secretary in the film, but alas when I asked for her memories of the film she declined to comment. Maggie went on to get two Oscars, be made a Dame and today's generation know her from Downton Abbey, in which she is as great as ever.

Finally, I must mention the supporting cast who create the texture of any film. The VIPs had the likes of Dennis Price and Ronald Fraser to name just two but to me the stand out was Richard Wattis. Never heard of him? That is sad as the bespectacled actor appeared in countless films and played Eric Sykes neighbour in that long-running television series. Sadly, Richard died from a heart attack in a London restaurant whilst choking on some food in 1975.

I still think it could be remade today with some star names and some great supporting actors but has the era of movies where character development and dialogue no longer appeals to the average age of cinemagoers ranging from 18 to 35? Yes we get the odd freak result like The King's Speech but I am no longer certain. Anyway I have just bought hundreds of episodes of the 1950s and 1960s TV series Highway Patrol and Dr Kildare, along with 1950s remakes for television of 20th Century Fox movies. I am about to settle down to the TV remake of Laura, starring George Sanders, Robert Stack and Borehamwood raised lady Dana Wynter. Until next week take care.