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Archive for January, 2010

From Iwo Jima to Iraq.

A friend just sent me this, sent to him by a chaplain friend stationed in Iraq. It’s hanging up somewhere over there (and I’ll fill in the details if I get ‘em). Y’all stay safe!

It’s a line from Sands Of Iwo Jima (1949). I’m sure Duke would love to see this.

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Working in Advertising, I see art directors and designers crop, manipulate, combine and do all sorts of stuff to photos every day, as they work to make them fit the project they’re working on — and the idea they’re trying to illustrate. Sometimes the results are truly stunning.

Other times, not so much. Take the DVD release of Raoul Walsh’s Gun Fury (1953), for example. Above is an original still from the film. That’s Donna Reed and Rock Hudson. Now, look at the DVD package below. First, they moved Reed and Hudson closer together, no doubt to work better with the vertical shape of the DVD case. I’m OK with that, even though it makes her appear about three feet tall. They did a decent job coloring it, too. Next, look at Rock’s right hand. Photo, no gun. DVD, gun. They dropped someone else’s hand on the end of Rock’s sleeve. Perhaps they figured you can’t have a movie called Gun Fury and not have a gun in the hero’s hand. Now study the pistol — it’s way too modern. And if you look a little closer — Rock’s still got a pistol in his holster!

Most of these old films had such beautiful posters and ads (Reynold Brown’s work is a favorite of mine), so it really gets me when Columbia or whoever decides to take a still and just throw some Photoshop at it.

Good movie, by the way.

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My kinda place.

Here’s a quick photo from Raleigh’s Watkins Grill.

This is my favorite restaurant — for an obvious reason. Another reason is the incredible food.

If you’re in town, stop by. And if you run into John T. Chance, be sure to say hello.

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Warner Archive has announced another promotion, this one called the War & Peace Sale. One of the featured titles, offered at 35% off, is Quantrill’s Raiders (1958). This 68-minute Allied Artists picture, in CinemaScope, stars Steve Cochran as the head of the band of Confederate raiders. It’s directed by Edward Bernds.

Bernds started out as a soundman, then became a director of Columbia short subjects. He directed the later Curly-starring Three Stooges shorts (his first day as a director was trying to get the ailing Curly — he’d had a series of strokes — to hang wallpaper), then made the transition to the Shemps. Leaving Columbia for Allied Artists, he handled a number of Bowery Boys pictures — and stuff like Quantrill’s Raiders and Elvis in Tickle Me (1965).

Back to Warner Archive. There’s still a couple days left for their Wild Western Sale.

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The Bushwhackers (1952)

Producer Herman Cohen: “Lawrence Tierney, Wayne Morris (he’d just left Warner Brothers), Dorothy Malone, John Ireland … for a cheap picture, it had a hell of a cast. And we signed a young guy who had never directed before, named Rod Amateau… For The Bushwhackers, we rented the Western Street from Warners, and we also used the Western Street at Columbia a couple days. We shot in and around town, we didn’t go on location any further than the Western Streets.”

From a Tom Weaver interview found at The Astounding B Monster — he forgot to mention Lon Chaney!

more about “YouTube – The Bushwhackers (1952)“, posted with vodpod

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Pernell Roberts, Bonanza‘s Adam Cartwright, has passed away. Originally from Waycross, Georgia, Roberts came to Hollywood via the Marines and Broadway.

He’d appeared in an episode of Have Gun Will Travel before landing a prime part in Budd Boetticher’s incredible Ride Lonesome (1959), the next-to-last of the Boetticher-Randolph Scott pictures. (See above.) He’s excellent in it.

That same year, he’d start his run as Adam Cartwright. Roberts left the Ponderosa in 1965, over a number of creative differences — the same year he participated in the Montgomery-to-Selma marches. A number of TV appearances came next, followed by Trapper John, M.D.

I really hate filling this blog with news like this.

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James Mitchell, 1920 – 2010

Just saw at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings that actor-dancer James Mitchell passed away at 89. He appeared in a number of musicals, dancing his way through stuff like The Band Wagon (1953) and Oklahoma (1955) — and he’s known to a lot of folks for his almost 10 years on All My Children.

But Mr. Mitchell was also in one of my all-time favorite Westerns, Colorado Territory (1949) with Joel McCrea. (That’s him on the left.) He appeared with McCrea again the next year in Stars In My Crown. And he’s also in the incredible Anthony Mann film noir Border Incident (1949).

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Clothes make the man.

I’ve always wondered about jean jackets in 50s Westerns. Jimmy Stewart wears one in Winchester ’73 (1950, above), Richard Widmark in The Law And Jake Wade (1958, below). There are plenty of others.

The Levi jacket was hugely popular throughout the 50s, so I always questioned whether short-waist jean jackets were part of an authentic cowboy wardrobe, or just something the costume people thought ought to be in a cowboy wardrobe.

Hopping on the Internet, I came across an interesting document called “A Short History Of Denim” offered by Levi-Strauss & Company’s historian Lynn Downey. She writes that short jean jackets were offered in 1849, though not by Levis. And while this isn’t exactly Mythbusters, we’ll proclaim it not bogus that Stewart, Widmark and others ride the range in these things.

And by the way, I also came across the fact that John Wayne wore 501s in Stagecoach (1939).

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No doubt inspired by The Warner Archive, Universal has kicked off their Vault Series of DVD-R releases — released exclusively through Amazon — of stuff they figure nobody but us geeks and obsessives will care anything about.

As you know, Universal-International put out a slew of Westerns in the 50s. They weren’t big-budget affairs, but some of them are excellent (Pillars Of The Sky, No Name On The Bullet, The Naked Dawn). Some are quite good (Cattle Drive). And the rest — well, I always liked ‘em (The Star In The Dust).

However, I’m sorry to report that this first batch is Westerns-less. Not a one! (Well, there’s Shoot Out, but it’s from 1971, and I don’t know if I’d count the wonderful Ruggles Of Red Gap.)

The 1954 Dragnet feature is certainly nice to have, I’ve been wanting that one for years, and The Black Shield Of Farnsworth is really cool, but what about one of the six Joel McCrea U-I Westerns? An Audie Murphy picture? Or since they leaned heavy on Tony Curtis, how about Rudolph Maté’s The Rawhide Years (1955)?

The bulk of first string of titles:

40 Pounds Of Trouble (1962)
Black Shield Of Farnsworth (1954)
Blue Collar
(1978)
The Chalk Garden (1964)
Death Takes A Holiday (1934)
Dragnet (1954)
House Of Seven Gables (1940)
Kitten With A Whip (1964)
List Of Adrian Messenger (1963)
The Perfect Furlough (1958)
Ruggles Of Red Gap (1933)
Shoot Out (1971)
Spawn Of The North (1938)

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Making cowboy movies wasn’t all some of our heroes were up to in the 50s.

I’ve never tried Carling’s. Guess it’s about time. If it’s good enough for Randy…

Wayne’s lung cancer makes these cigarette ads a little creepy, but he sure looks cool in this one.

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