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Archive for August, 2010

Many of the obituaries (picked up from the LA Times, I believe) of Patricia Neal — who passed away August 8 at 84 — noted that she was placed on suspension by Warner Brothers for refusing to appear in a “western with Randolph Scott.”

That “western with Randolph Scott” was Sugarfoot (1951). I’m not sure what Neal’s complaint was about being in a Scott picture, but her part went to Adele Jergens.

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“Frank from Duke”

You sure don’t see these very often. John Wayne presented cups like these to the cast and crew of The Searchers back in 1956. This particular one went to Frank S. Nugent, who wrote the screenplay (based on Alan LeMay’s novel).

Nugent was a New York Times film critic who made his way into screenwriting. Beginning with Fort Apache (1948) and up through Donovan’s Reef (1963), he wrote many of John Ford’s finest films. Wonder how much of his dialogue Ford threw out over the years?

Nugent also wrote a couple of Phil Karlson Westerns I’m quite fond of — They Rode West (1954) and Gunman’s Walk (1958).

Coming from Mr. Nugent’s estate, this cup is currently on eBay for $3,750.00. Any publishers out there wanna come up with an advance on my book? Say, uh, $3,750.00?

By the way, this is the 200th post on 50 Westerns From The 50s. Thanks to those who’ve been reading ‘em.

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Gun Brothers (1956) is a cheap Western released by United Artists, featuring Buster Crabbe, Ann Robinson, Neville Brand and an incredible supporting cast — Slim Pickens, Roy Barcroft, Michael Ansara and others. It was directed by Sidney Salkow, and shot on the Corriganville Ranch.

It’s currently available on Hulu. The transfer is beautiful, though it needs to be cropped to 1.85. These low-budget things are a matter of personal taste, I guess, but they’re a great to spend an hour and some change.

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Western Pennsylvania’s a long way from The West, but thanks to the Spotlight 88 Drive-In Theatre, it was crawling with cowboys in May of 1957.

Stagecoach To Fury (1957) is a Forrest Tucker Regalscope picture, directed by William Claxton. The year before, Tucker and Claxton gave us The Quiet Gun (1956), one of the better Regalscope films. Scope must’ve looked really cool on that wide drive-in screen (right).

Gun Duel In Durango and The Iron Sheriff are both United Artists pictures from 1957 directed by Sidney Salkow.

The Spotlight 88 closed in 1985 after being hit by a tornado. It boasted a train, rollercoaster and other attractions to keep the kids occupied while you watched people shoot each other. Those were the days.

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Howard & Theodore Lydecker

As part of the Republic Pictures 75th event, Bob Burns and George Lydecker will speak on the work of Howard and Theodore Lydecker, Republic’s incredible special effects team — and two of my all-time cinematic heroes.

From the fleet of planes, trains and rockets they built for the many Republic serials to their miniature work on Flying Tigers (1942), Flame Of Barbary Coast (1945), and what may be their masterpiece, The Great Train Robbery (1941), the Lydecker brothers gave Republic production values far beyond what Herbert J. Yates was actually spending on these things.

While looking for a picture of a Lydecker rocket or something to put on here, I came across a site dedicated to Howard’s terrific Los Angeles home, which thankfully has remained much as it was when he lived in it.

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Not long ago, I passed along a tip that 7th Cavalry (1956) was coming on DVD in the UK from Ellstree Hill Entertainment.

Starring Randolph Scott, co-starring Jay C. Flippen and Frank Faylen, and directed by Joseph H. Lewis, this would be a great addition to anybody’s collection of 50s Westerns on DVD.

If only the DVD looked like something.

The word is that the DVD looks terrible. (The tip I received wasn’t quite as nice in its description.) Ellstree Hill releases a lot of public domain titles, which makes you wonder what’s going on with this film’s rights.

It’d be great to see 7th Cavalry ride onto our TVs looking as nice as the print above. The picture typically has beautiful Technicolor. But with this current release, that’s sadly not the case.

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Got the list of Republic Pictures to be shown at The Egyptian Theatre during the Republic Pictures 75th Celebration

Under Western Stars (1938)

Roy Rogers, Smiley Burnette, Carol Hughes

Directed by Joe Kane

___

Meet Roy Rogers

___

South Of The Border (1939)

Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, June Storey, Lupita Tovar

Directed by George Sherman

___

It’s A Grand Old Nag (1947)

The only Republic Cartoon, directed by the great Bob Clampett

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Here’s a shot from Saddle Tramp (1950). That’s Joel McCrea, and the credit for director Hugo Fregonese has just dissolved away.

Shot on the Iverson Ranch, that’s “Wrench Rock” looming over his head. It appeared in many, many films over the years, including another excellent 50s Western, Fury At Showdown (1957, below).

Found the Fury At Showdown shot on the Iverson Ranch blog and cropped it slightly to approximate the picture’s 1.85 framing. You really should check this blog out — it’s a great resource — when you can dedicate a couple of hours to it! From the same blog, here’s a recent photo of “Wrench Rock.” It’s a little hard to see behind the tree that’s grown up over the last 50 years.

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Republic Pictures 75th Anniversary Event

Saturday, September 25, 2010 — 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

CBS Studio Center

(the former Republic Pictures lot)

4204 Radford Ave., Studio City, California

Presented by the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Studio City Neighborhood Council and the Museum of the San Fernando Valley, this free event is part of a month-long celebration of Republic Pictures.

Check the website for the list of guests, events, talks and screenings of Republic films and serials (at The Egyptian Theatre) that make up the rest of the celebration. Can you think of anything in this world more worthy of celebrating than Republic Pictures?

The shot above is Joan Leslie from Woman They Almost Lynched (1953), a pretty atypical Republic picture (it was directed by Allan Dwan, so I couldn’t resist). Far more representative is Trail Of Robin Hood (1950), which my daughter and I would hitchhike to The Egyptian to see. (Unfortunately, the films to be shown don’t seem to have been announced yet.)

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Ernest Borgnine will receive the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Read all about it.

Here he is (far left) in Johnny Guitar (1954).

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