Hutton Playtime in Hollywood – Sea of Sand 1958
This was perhaps the first movie where I ever noticed the Hutton Playtime. I’m a movie nut. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I would go several times a week to the Everyman or the Scala and sit through two or three movies at a stretch. Also in those days BBC2 and later Channel 4 would have an afternoon vintage movie every single day. Hard to imagine now, but it was part of my ritual when I wasn’t working and if I was I’d set the video recorder to catch them.
Sea of Sand is a really cracking movie that is so under the radar that aside from a free DVD on a sunday newspaper some years ago, it’s not even available for download. There’s a poor quality 360px version on YouTube right now.
The movie covers the Long Range Desert Patrol, a kind of renegades commando that operated behind enemy lines and was a constant worry to Rommel. A rag tag mix of insubordinates and other ne’er do wells take turns to make runs deeper into the German territory to destroy ammo and fuel dumps that were a strategic necessity for the Afrika Korps to function across Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.
The movie features then British heartthrob Michael Craig, along with stalwarts like Richard Attenborough, John Gregson and a young Barry Foster.
Officers in those days would have had their uniforms made to measure at places like Gieves & Hawkes and would have worn things to their liking that fit within the regulations. The soldiers operating in this theater would have worn pretty much whatever they liked and this is where we have our first glimpse of Hutton Playtime – Michael Craig with his foot on his bunk tying his shoelaces. The unmistakable silhouette of the Playtime.
Later when the crew is sneaking under a barbed wire fence we see the Playtime in all its glory. What we don’t know of course is if the actors were using 1950s footwear of choice when making the movie. The same thing is true of 1968’s near remake ‘Play Dirty’ which features desert boots and at least one commando in Playtime.
The thing is that the memory of the second world war in 1958, and 1968 was still fresh enough that costume designers would have had first hand knowledge of what clothing the LRDP guys wore. But at the same time we know that no one pays a lot of attention to shoes in movies, even today. Suede boots with crepe soles? Oh yeah, they sell those down Pinewood High St, pick some up.
I’m tempted to think that as we know that Hutton were selling and exporting this model from 1936 onwards that the chances are high that the LRDP guys really did wear them back in the day. The truth will probably be lost to time.
See Hutton Playtime in this movie.
John Gregson arrives at LRDP HQ and Michael Craig is lacing up his Playtime.
"Don't move your foot!" John Gregson's turn to show off his Playtime whilst it's nearly his last moment on earth.
Watch Sea of Sand 1958 on YouTube
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