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Archive for November, 2010

Roy Rogers and Bob Hope.

Yesterday, I spoke with Cheryl Rogers-Barnett, daughter of Roy Rogers, about appearing alongside her dad in Trail Of Robin Hood (1950).

Son Of Paleface (1952) also came up, and she explained the culture shock of going from Republic to Paramount.

Cheryl Rogers-Barnett: “Poor Dad, when he worked on Son Of Paleface, that was just so totally different. He was used to being in every scene and the set-ups just going bang, bang, bang. Forty set-ups a day was nothing for Republic. Over at Paramount, if they did five in a day, they thought they were being overworked… I know working with Mr. Hope just drove him nuts, because at Republic, you did not get to rewrite your script. You knew your lines before you arrived in the morning. They hardly ever changed anything, because they didn’t have time to do much in the way of changes. Mr. Hope never gave the same line twice, so Dad was always waiting for his cue. It took him a couple of days to find a rhythm and be able to work with that. Ad-libbing wasn’t something Dad had done.”

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Yvonne DeCarlo made a ton of movies at Universal, from Arabian adventure pictures to, of course, Westerns.

In The Raw Edge (1956), she’s paired with Rory Calhoun, who gave her away at her 1955 Reno wedding to stuntman Bob Morgan in the middle of shooting Shotgun (see inset). That same year, she’d appear as Sephora in The Ten Commandments.

Some of Yvonne’s U-I Westerns are better than others, but you can’t really go wrong with any of them. And while none are available Stateside on DVD, Spain’s doing her proud. Out, or on the way, are Border River (1954) with Joel McCrea, Black Bart (1948, co-starring Dan Duryea and Percy Kilbride) and Calamity Jane And Sam Bass (1949) with Howard Duff. It’s a good start.

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Only a dime?

Came across this on eBay.

A ride on Trigger’s gone up a bit. The Buy It Now price is $8,500.

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Leslie Nielsen, 1926 – 2010

Leslie Nielsen has passed away at 84. His career is an odd one, almost two careers, going from handsome leads and second leads in serious films (Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure are two I love) to endearing goofball in pictures like Airplane! (1980) and The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad (1988). I’m sure there’ll be lots of “stop calling me Shirley” cracks over the next few days, but I prefer the “Is this some kind of bust?” gag.

His lone 50s theatrical Western (there was a lot of TV) is a good one — The Sheepman (1958) with Glenn Ford and Shirley MacLaine.

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Tis the season for the Deep Discount Winter Sale. Through December 10, you’ll get an additional 25% off their “everyday low prices PLUS FREE SHIPPING.”

So far, two codes have emerged — 25MORE and DVDTALK25.

Do I have any recommendations? Not really (there’s so much good stuff), but I’ll be going for Apache Territory (1958) with Rory Calhoun and John Dehner. I’ve heard the Columbia DVD-Rs look great, and I’m on a bit of a Calhoun kick after watching the terrific Red Sundown (1956) again the other night. (Man, I wish Universal would put that one out.)

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The next wave of titles in Columbia’s DVD-R program has been announced, with release dates of January 2011. Among the pictures are a handful of 50s Westerns, including Randolph Scott in The Nevadan (1950), co-starring Dorothy Malone and Forrest Tucker. Directed by Gordon Douglas, in Cinecolor, it’s one of the better non-Kennedy/Boetticher Scott-Brown productions.

Also coming are three Ray Nazarro Westerns — Streets Of Ghost Town (1950, wth Charles Starrett, The Black Dakotas (1954) and Return To Warbow (1958) — and two from Sam Katzman and William Castle: The Battle Of Rogue River (1964, with George Montgomery) and The Gun That Won The West (1955).

You’ll find these already listed for pre-order on Deep Discount.

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This one may look like a stretch, but it’s not really. Warner Archive has done us a huge favor by adding The Outfit (1973) to its roster. This tough crime picture, based on a Richard Stark novel (as was the mighty Point Blank) and starring Robert Duvall, boasts a cast full of 50s Western (and film noir) veterans.

Marie Windsor (my all-time favorite actress) from Little Big Horn (1951), Bounty Hunter (1954) and others.

Timothy Carey of The Last Wagon (1956) and One-Eyed Jacks (1961).

Elisha Cook, Jr. from Shane (1953) and The Lonely Man (1957).

Those three were all in Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956). Then, for good measure, there’s Robert Ryan from The Naked Spur (1953). That’s quite a supporting cast, folks.

It was directed by John Flynn, who also gave us the disturbing, excellent Rolling Thunder (1977, which is also making its way to DVD-R).

The Outfit used to turn up on TCM every once in a while, badly needing its 1.85 framing. Warner Archive seems to have taken care of that.

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No matter what the genre, I tend to prefer small movies to big ones. For instance, I’ll take No Name On The Bullet (1959) over, say, Warlock (1958), or It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) over Alien (1979). But lately I’ve been immersed in one of the really big Westerns, The Big Country (1958). It’s an epic that wears its hugeness quite well. I must admit (again), this is a picture I was convinced to revisit by posts on other blogs (thanks, Laura and Colin).

John McElwee of Greenbriar Picture Shows recently admitted that “Boeing, Boeing took on added interest after all I’d read about its troubled production.” Similarly, my interest in The Big Country was enhanced by its behind-the-scenes stories — seven writers, Jean Simmons refusing to talk about it for decades, a lasting feud between producer/star Gregory Peck and director William Wyler, etc.

Researching this one has been a blast. Here’s just a sampling.

Gregory Peck: “After seven writers, I don’t think either of us [Peck and Wyler] was completely satisfied with the script. But by this time, we had made expensive commitments with an all-star cast and a cameraman. We had financing from United Artists. So we got ourselves painted into a corner, where we were obliged to go ahead with a script that neither of us were fully satisfied with.”

Jean Simmons: “We’d have our lines learned, then receive a rewrite, stay up all night learning the new version, then receive yet another rewrite the following morning. It made the acting damned near impossible.”

Charlton Heston: “Charlie Bickford was a fairly cantankerous old son of a bitch.”

Jean Simmons: “Willie Wyler was downright nasty and impossible to work with. He always selects a victim to go after on each picture. This time it was me.”

Burl Ives: “I found Willy delightful. I never got annoyed at him. I learned a helluva lot from him. He was enigmatic sometimes, but that’s what he did to make me figure things out.”

Gregory Peck: “We have one hour of film — one million dollars worth — that was absolutely wasted, thrown on the cutting room floor. That’s the difference between profit and loss for me.”

William Wyler: “Would I cut it today? Yes, I would cut it. I would probably cut 10 to 15 minutes out which would make you feel as though you cut half an hour out.”

Gregory Peck: “I suppose that any movie that grosses $9,500,000 can’t be classed as a failure. The exhibitors made money, the grips made money. Everybody on the picture made money but me — the producer and star.”

Sources: A Talent For Trouble, The Big Country laserdisc*, A Charmed Life, The William Wyler Interviews, The Ocala Star, classicimages.com

* If you have this old laserdisc, don’t discard it in favor of the DVD. The LD boasts a ton of supplemental stuff, while the DVD is as bare bones as they get. UPDATE: The Blu-ray, which is gorgeous, didn’t include any of that material, either.

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From November 12, 1951. 59 years ago. Jimmy Stewart returned for the radio adaptation of Anthony Mann’s Winchester ’73 (1950), one of the 50s Westerns that defined just what a 50s Western was.

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Recently posted on the Criterion Forum —

Netflix Instant seems to have added a slew of not-on-DVD Paramount and Republic titles during the last couple of weeks, presumably as a result of this part of the Epix deal, including: Leo McCarey’s My Son John (!); Bride of Vengeance, No Man of Her Own, Captain Carey USA, The Mating Season (all Mitchell Leisen; boy, does the Universal/Paramount purchase do violence to his filmography’s availability); The Sad Sack, Don’t Give Up the Ship, Visit to a Small Planet, It’s Only Money (all Jerry Lewis); Silver City, Denver and Rio Grande, and Warpath (all Byron Haskin); The Redhead and the Cowboy; Flame of the Islands; The Missing Lady, Behind the Mask, and Hell’s Island (all Phil Karlson); Magic Fire (Dieterle); Botany Bay (John Farrow); Jivaro; Alaska Seas; The Vanquished; and Sangaree.

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