To mark the occasion, here’s George Montgomery and son at Melody Ranch while shooting Black Patch (1957).
Director Allan Dwan’s career was as old as the Movies themselves, and many of the early technical developments were his doing. Going into the mid-50s, he was still making innovative, unique, personal films — usually for smaller studios that would leave him alone and let him do what he did best.
I went Wig City over Allan Dwan’s films of 50s, thanks to DVDs of his work from VCI, and that helped spawn this blog. So I was really stoked to hear about The Museum of Modern Art’s Dwan series — which will include several of those Westerns.
From the MoMA web site: The Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Dwan’s films in 1971, with Dwan in attendance, and while another exhibition was certainly due after 42 years, this series was prompted by the publication of Frederic Lombardi’s definitive study of Dwan’s work, Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the of the Hollywood Studios (McFarland, 2013).
If you can make it to any of these, by all means do so. The Westerns are:
June 14-15, 18
Frontier Marshal (1939)
With Randolph Scott, Nancy Kelly, Cesar Romero, John Carradine, Ward Bond.
This was once almost impossible to see (the bootleg tape I had of it was impossible to see). Another take on the O.K. Corral story. I prefer Randolph Scott with more age on him, but this is a really cool film.
Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)
With Audrey Totter, Joan Leslie, John Lund, Brian Donlevy, Ben Cooper.
Dwan made a string of films for Republic that are worth seeking out (Olive Films, you reading this?), with Sands Of Iwo Jima (1949) being the best known. Dwan approaches this as a spoof — evidently, he didn’t see any other way — and the results are terrific.
The Restless Breed (1957)
With Scott Brady, Anne Bancroft, Jim Davis, Scott Marlowe, Evelyn Rudie.
Dwan’s last Western. A revenge tale gets a light comic touch.
Tennessee’s Partner (1955)
With John Payne, Rhonda Fleming, Ronald Reagan, Coleen Gray.
John Alton’s Superscope cinematography almost steals the show, making the Iverson Ranch look like the most beautiful place on earth.
July 3, 6
Silver Lode (1954)
With John Payne, Dan Duryea, Lizabeth Scott, Harry Carey, Jr.
A key 5os Western, and the damnedest McCarthy comment you’ve ever seen. Again, Alton and his cameras roam the ranches of Hollywood to amazing results.
Be sure to look at the complete listing. I highly recommend Slightly Scarlet (1956), an incredible Technicolor, Superscope film noir shot by John Alton.
Thanks to Stephen Bowie.
Posted in 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, Allan Dwan, Books, Cinematographers, Coleen Gray, Dan Duryea, Festivals, screenings, Harry Carey Jr., John Payne, John Wayne, Olive Films, Pre-1950, Randolph Scott, Republic, Rhonda Fleming, RKO, Ronald Reagan, VCI Entetainment, Ward Bond | 4 Comments »
Character Actor Of The Day is something I’ve been meaning to kick off for a while, and when discussion of the great Frank Ferguson (1899-1978) cropped up the other day, I knew I’d waited too long.
As a kid, I came to know Ferguson as Mr. McDougal, owner of the house of horrors in Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Once he was on my radar, it became obvious he’s in just about everything (as a gauge, the IMDB gives him 600 credits). He’s seen here with Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar (1954), one of the many 50s Westerns that benefitted from his (often-uncredited) presence.
The other day, Blake Lucas called Ferguson “essential,” and that’s the perfect word for him. Boy, I would’ve loved to interview him.
The first drive-in theater, a 400-car outfit in Camden, New Jersey, opened 80 years ago today.
In the 50s, Westerns and monster movies ruled the drive-in. I’ve never seen a 50s Western at the drive-in, and I’m awed by the very thought of something like Pillars Of The Sky (1956) taking up my entire windshield. (I did take in a twin-bill of the two Terence Hill Trinity flicks at Raleigh’s Forest Drive-In, just a few weeks after moving here in 1974.)
Which 50s Westerns did you see under the stars?
I get to publicize a lot of great screenings on this blog, and I’m happy to be able to actually attend one for once.
This Friday at the Carolina Theater in Durham, NC, they’ll run Delmer Daves’ 3:10 To Yuma (1957). It stars Glenn Ford, Van Heflin and Felicia Farr. It’s based on a story by Elmore Leonard. And it’s surely one of the best Westerns of the 50s. (Clint Eastwood’s 1973 High Plains Drifter screens at 7; Yuma follows it.)
Jim Carl at the Carolina does a great job of throwing great old movies on the big screen — on film if possible. This is a bit of an experiment with a Western. Let’s hope there’s a big turnout. If anyone’s planning on attending, let me know — and let’s say hello.
Depending on your outlook, this latest set from Sony and Turner Classics might be seen as a prayer answered. The Randolph Scott Westerns Collection gathers up four really good ones for a September release:
Coroner Creek (1948) This tough Cinecolor picture from Ray Enright, based on a Luke Short novel, is one of Scott’s best pre-Boetticher Westerns. His character here is practically a prototype for the burned-out, obsessed guy we know from the Ranowns.
The Walking Hills (1949) is John Sturges’ first Western. Scott is joined by Ella Raines, Edgar Buchanan, Arthur Kennedy and folk singer Josh White. The crisp black and white location work in Death Valley is really something to see.
The Doolins Of Oklahoma (1949, above) comes from Gordon Douglas. George Macready, Louise Allbritton, John Ireland and Noah Beery Jr. are on hand. Douglas has Yakima Canutt on his second unit, and as you’d expect, the action scenes are excellent.
7th Cavalry (1956) comes up on this blog quite often, as we’ve warned each other about some lousy DVDs. It’s a Joseph H. Lewis cavalry picture in Technicolor and widescreen (1.85), with Barbara Hale, Jay C. Flippen, Frank Faylen, Leo Gordon, Denver Pyle, Harry Carey Jr. and Michael Pate. It’s not as strong as A Lawless Street (1955), Scott and Lewis’ previous collaboration, but the cast and director alone make it worthwhile. Cross your fingers that it’s presented 16×9.
Leslie Townes “Bob” Hope
(May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003)
He’s not a cowboy star. But his Son Of Paleface (1952) — directed by Frank Tashlin and co-starring Jane Russell and Roy Rogers (and Trigger, seen here) — is not only one of the best Western spoofs, but I’d hold it up as a strong contender for Funniest Movie Ever Made.
Bob Hope would be 110 today. And while most of those TV specials are wretched, his movies of the 40s and 50s are terrific and ripe for re-evaluation. OK, now I gotta watch Son Of Paleface.