Here’s a frame from Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960), a real landmark in French cinema’s New Wave. That’s about the last thing this blog is about, so let’s focus on the marquee, as Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg stroll past a theater running Budd Boetticher’s Westbound (1959) — and go inside to avoid the police.
This is producer Leonard Goldstein. At Universal-International he produced the Ma And Pa Kettle and Francis The Talking Mule films, along with Westerns like Cave Of Outlaws (1951) and The Duel At Silver Creek (1952).
Moving to 20th Century-Fox, he formed Panoramic Productions to produce non-anamorphic films in the midst of Fox’s CinemaScope push. The Gambler From Natchez (1954) was one of those. When that contract was up, Goldstein started a production company with his twin brother Robert, but passed away in July, 1954 at just 51. Robert soldiered on without his brother and went on to make a few excellent low-budget Westerns.
Have a copy of the Fox Cinema Archives DVD of The Gambler From Natchez to give away. So it seems like a good time to have a contest. Look at the two-part question below. Be the first to email the correct answer(s) to fiftieswesterns@gmail [dot] com, and the DVD’s yours. Good luck.
Of the Westerns Robert Goldstein produced, one starred Joel McCrea. What was the film and what color process was used for it?
UPDATE: Lee was the first to come through with the right answers — Stranger On Horseback (1955) and Ansco Color. (It was Leonard that produced Saddle Tramp in Technicolor.) Thanks to everyone who sent in a response.
You’ve probably heard of getTV, the newest TV sub-channel from Sony Pictures Television. (It’s one of the digital broadcast channels we get here in Raleigh.) Tomorrow, March 1, they’re offering up the excellent Fred MacMurray Western Face Of A Fugitive (1959) at 7:00 and 10:40 PM. It gave James Coburn a really good early role. A great way to spend a Saturday night.
This is one I highly recommend, both to whoever out there has a chance to watch it — and to Columbia for a nice widescreen DVD release.
Robert Wagner and Virginia Leith on location for White Feather (1955). For some reason, this Delmer Daves-scripted picture has been overlooked. Seek it out.
Barbara Stanwyck and Allan Dwan chat between scenes on Cattle Queen Of Montana (1954). Dwan could do no wrong during this late phase of his incredible career.
Dan Duryea and Audie Murphy hanging out while making Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954). Both were at the top of their game on this one.
The event commemorates the building of the original Old Tucson sets in 1939 for Arizona. All of us who frequent this blog could probably recite a list of films made there since — Rio Bravo, Buchanan Rides Alone, Gunfight At The O.K. Corral, etc.
The 75th Anniversary Reunion celebrates this enduring history and the contributions of the gunfighter, musical, guest services and support staff who’ve hosted guests from the 1960s to today.
Jack Young is scheduled to be among the performers. Hired in 1962 by then-owner Bob Shelton, Jack was charged with putting together the original professional entertainment program for Old Tucson.
Character actor Hugh Sanders stayed busy throughout the 50s, in both features and on TV — with parts in pictures like The Wild One (1953), Jailhouse Rock (1957) and To Kill A Mockingbird (1962).
From Illinois, Sanders worked in radio before making the move to Hollywood in 1949. He made a number of Western features before his death in 1966 (at just 54), such as Last Of The Comanches (1953, above), The Guns Of Fort Petticoat (1957) and Warlock (1959, below). He played a lot of lawmen, as he did in City Of Bad Men (1953). And as is so common with character actors in this period, he often went without credit.
On TV, you’ll see him in Western shows like The Lone Ranger, Rawhide, Tales Of Wells Fargo and Maverick, along with Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Directed by Harmon Jones
Produced by Leonard Goldstein
Written by George W. George and George F. Slavin
Director Of Photography: Charles G. Clarke, ASC
Musical Direction: Lionel Newman
Film Editor: George A. Gittens
CAST: Jeanne Crain (Linda Culligan), Dale Robertson (Brett Stanton), Richard Boone (Johnny Ringo), Lloyd Bridges (Gar Stanton), Carole Mathews (Cynthia Castle), Carl Betz (Phil Ryan), Whifield Connor (Jim London), Hugh Sanders (Bill Gifford), Rodolfo Acosta (Mendoza), Pascual Garcia Pena (Pig), Don Haggerty (Bob Thrailkill), Leo Gordon, John Doucette, Frank Ferguson, James Best.
On March 17, 1897, in Carson City, Nevada, Bob Fitzsimmons knocked out “Gentleman” Jim Corbett in 14 rounds to become the World Heavyweight Champion.
This historic boxing match is the basis of City Of Bad Men (1953), as bandits are drawn like flies to the event’s box office. Among those ambitious outlaws are Brett Stanton (Dale Robertson) and his outfit, which includes his brother Gar (Lloyd Bridges), along with the gangs of Johnny Ringo (Richard Boone) and Bob Thrailkill (Don Haggerty). Complicating matters is that Brett is no stranger to Carson City, and he has some unfinished business with Linda Culligan (Jeanne Crain). It’s not long before Brett is torn between Linda and the money.
The story goes that Dale Robertson stayed away from acting classes in the early days of his career, and there’s a naturalism to his work that serves his Westerns well. While he’s known for Tales Of Well Fargo on TV, his feature work like City Of Bad Men is worth seeking out. If the part calls for it, he can drop his easygoing charm with ease. The more of his films I see, the more I like him.
Harmon Jones didn’t direct many features before heading to TV. His five Westerns — The Silver Whip (1953), City Of Bad Men, A Day Of Fury (1956), Canyon River (1956) and Bullwhip (1958) — are perfect examples of what a medium-budget studio Western could be. A Day Of Fury is a fantastic film, one of the best Westerns to come out of Universal in the 50s — and that’s saying something. If Jones had made more Westerns, I’m sure we’d be grouping him with directors like George Sherman, Gordon Douglas and Phil Karlson.
City Of Bad Men was produced by Leonard Goldstein, who produced many, many films for Universal (including the Ma And Pa Kettle series) and 20th Century-Fox. He clearly understood the importance of a strong cast and filled this one with pros like Frank Ferguson, John Doucette and Don Haggerty. He also gave a stage actor named Leo Gordon his first film work.
Leo Gordon: “They asked me could I ride a horse. ‘Yes. If I can’t ride it, I’ll carry it.’ So I came out to Hollywood. They put me on a horse, and I was on a horse for 35 years.”*
Much of the film was shot on the Fox lot, with the titles and opening scene making good use of Vasquez Rocks. This was a common location for Goldstein’s Westerns — his Cave Of Outlaws (1951) and Duel At Silver Creek (1952) also used them.
One of the utility stunt men on the film was Jack Young.
Jack Young: “I doubled Lloyd Bridges on that. I did the saddle fall when they shot him. I doubled Richard Boone for the fall into the boxing ring — and that hurt! It was a fake ring and they didn’t have any give in it. It was only about eight or nine feet, but it hurt! Knocked the coon-dog crap right outta me.”**
City Of Bad Men is yet another solid middle-budget 50s Western, with a good script, great cast and handsome production values. Director of Photography Charles G. Clarke, who spent the bulk of his career at 20th Century-Fox, makes sure everything look terrific.
All of this is nicely preserved and presented on the DVD-R from Fox Cinema Archives. There’s a blemish here and there, but the Technicolor is as eye-popping as you’d expect — and the audio is impressive. I preferred Jones and Robertson’s other films, The Silver Whip and A Day Of Fury, to this one, but have no qualms about recommending it highly.
* The Astounding B Monster by Marty Baumann; ** Interview with the author.