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Archive for August, 2011

In a recent comment, John Knight mentioned Stage To Tucson (1950), a Rod Cameron picture produced by Harry Joe Brown and shot in the Alabama Hills.

Reminded me of its gorgeous poster art. Wonder who painted that one?

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We’re almost two years into this blog, and Strother Martin still hasn’t made an appearance. We can’t have that, can we?

Here he talks about his experience with John Ford (from Bad At The Bijou by William R. Horner).

Strother Martin: “I did a tiny bit in The Horse Soldiers (1959) first, and that’s when I met him; and he liked me, I guess. Ford said to somebody I knew, ‘I’ve got to get something else for that Stuffer.. Smucker… Stoofer… whatever the hell his name is,’ and he put me in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).”

(In the still above, from The Horse Soldiers, that’s Denver Pyle standing between John Wayne and Strother Martin.)

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Two Flags West (1950)

Director Robert Wise’s first picture after leaving RKO — where he’d edited Citizen Kane (1941) and directed Blood On The Moon (1948), among many other wonderful things — was Two Flags West (1950) for 20th Century-Fox.

It was written by Frank S. Nugent, who did Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (both 1948) for John Ford, and who would later write The Searchers (1956) and Gunman’s Walk (1958). The Confederate prisoners fighting Indians plotline was based on something Nugent came across while researching Yellow Ribbon. It was originally announced with Victor Mature as the star.

Someone brought this picture up the other day, and I wanted to give it a little attention. It sure deserves it. It also deserves a DVD release.

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Was at our local Target store this weekend, and I heard some very familiar music being played on a Casio keyboard off in the distance.

Right away, I knew it was from a film. Getting closer, I decided it was from a John Wayne picture. And finally, I realized it was “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon,” one of the pre-programmed tunes Casio loaded into this thing (#43, to be exact).

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Have to admit, I’ve never seen Return To Warbow (1958). But looking at this still, I can’t wait to track it down — which is a pretty simple task, since it’s on sale right now from Warner Archive (widescreen, I believe).

Left to right, you’ve got Andrew Duggan, James Griffith and Robert J. Wilke — a Dream Team of 50s Westerns character actors. Add to that Phil Carey, Jay Silverheels and Paul Picerni. It’s directed by Ray Nazarro, who excelled at this sorta medium-budget thing. And it only runs 67 minutes!

The more of this type of picture I see, especially the ones from Columbia and Universal-International, the more I like them.

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Blake Lucas brought this to my attention — thanks, Blake! — and I’d be a terrible host if I didn’t bring it to yours. Encore Westerns (which I can’t stop calling The Westerns Channel) will run Reprisal! (1956) Friday at 11:15AM ET/PT.

Been a while since I’ve seen it, but I remember it as a lean, tough cowboy movie that says more about racism than a dozen message pictures — without forgetting to give us plenty of action. George Sherman demonstrates, yet again, why he should be recognized as a major Western director. Guy Madison is quite good, as are Felicia Farr, Kathryn Grant (seen above with Sherman) and Michael Pate.

This is one Columbia desperately needs to make part of their DVD-R program.

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Maury Dexter

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Maury Dexter. Along with great stories about the making of the Regalscope films, Forty Guns (1957) and many others, I learned that the house from House Of The Damned (1963, which Dexter directed) is still standing. Anybody know the address?

Some of this interview will be posted soon. His Western stories were so good, I completely forgot to ask what it was like working with The Three Stooges.

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The Command (1954)

Warner Bros.’ first CinemaScope release. The first CinemaScope Western. The first film shot in both CinemaScope and 3-D. That’s a lot of history, or trivia, for a single medium-budget cowboy picture to carry. But that’s what fate, and Jack Warner, did to The Command (1954) — and to director David Butler and cinematographer Wilfred M. Cline.

Production got under way as Rear Guard, based on the novel White Invader by James Warner Bellah, part of his series of Fort Stark stories. John Ford’s Fort Apache (1947), She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950) had already been adapted from these stories. Here, Guy Madison had the lead, with Joan Weldon, James Whitmore and Harvey Lembeck (Eric Von Zipper himself) rounding out the cast.

Director David Butler covered The Command in his DGA oral history —

“We made it very, very cheaply, but it looked great… We made it out at the Warner Bros. Ranch. Guy Madison was one of the nicest guys that I’ve ever met. He was a manly man. He’d never done much, and this picture put him over very big. Harvey Lembeck had a comedy part. Also, it was David Weisbart’s first picture as a producer. He had been a cutter, and he was a hell of a nice fellow. All of us were just delighted that this picture turned out the way it did. A swell little picture.”

“For 3-D, we had to line the people straight back because the dimension went that way, and in CinemScope we had to stretch them out. Every scene had to be staged differently. We would wind up with two pictures.”

The Command is available from Warner Archive, with its CinemaScope, WarnerColor and stereophonic sound nicely represented. The 3-D version seems to have never been released. Same with The Bounty Hunter (1954).

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Kid Colt: Outlaw

A 50s Western of a different sort: Kid Colt: Outlaw #21 from Atlas Comics, 1952.

By the time I was reading these in the late 60s and early 70s, they were part of the Marvel Comics empire — along with other great Western titles.

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Another announcement from the MGM Classics Collection, this one with a release date of “late September.” The titles include:

The Dalton Girls (1957) is a Bel-Air picture directed by Reginald Le Borg.

Top Gun (1955) stars Sterling Hayden and John Dehner. It was directed, on a tiny budget, by Ray Nazarro.

Trooper Hook (1957), from Charles Marquis Warren, has a great cast: Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck and John Dehner.

Valerie (1957), directed by Gerd Oswald, stars Sterling Hayden and Anita Eckberg. The underrated Oswald does a good job handling the picture’s complex, Rashomon-ish flashback structure.

War Paint (1953) packs plenty of action into its 89 minutes — just what you expect from Lesley Selander. It stars Robert Stack, Joan Taylor and Charles McGraw.

Also coming: Five Guns To Tombstone (1961) and one Ben Johnson fans have been waiting for, Grayeagle (1978).

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