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Archive for January, 2012

Today is Joanne Dru’s birthday. So today’s a good day to report that Southwest Passage (1954) is coming to MGM’s MOD program. No release date is listed.

This Edward Small production, released through United Artists, has a great cast: Rod Cameron, Joanne Dru, John Ireland, John Dehner, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams and Morris Ankrum. It was directed by Ray Nazarro, an old hand at this sort of thing. It’s got cowboys and camels. And it was originally in 3-D (and Pathecolor).

Dru and Ireland were husband and wife when Southwest Passage was released. They divorced in 1957.

Thanks to John Knight for the info.

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Many of you have already nabbed these pictures for your collections, but I like the box. Warner Archive has corralled their Randolph Scott releases and slid them into a nice-looking slipcover. It contains:

Badman’s Territory (1946) I’ve always liked the chemistry between Randy and George “Gabby” Hayes, and this may be their best picture together (though I’m a big fan of 1950′s Caribou Trail). Lawrence Tierney’s also on hand.

Trail Street (1947) casts Scott as Bat Masterson. Robert Ryan and Gabby Hayes lend support. Ray Enright directs, with an emphasis on action and pacing.

Return Of The Bad Man (1948) adds Robert Ryan as a very nasty Sundance Kid to the Randolph Scott/Gabby Hayes mix.

Carson City (1952) is a good one from Andre De Toth, which has been covered here before. The transfer’s gorgeous, showing that WarnerColor isn’t the end of the world. It was the first picture in WarnerColor, by the way.

Westbound (1959) stirs up a bit of controversy among 50s Westerns fans, since it’s a run-of-the-mill Scott picture that happens to be directed by Budd Boetticher. Scott owed Warners a picture and asked Budd to help him make the most of it. If you can come at it not expecting another Ride Lonesome (1959), you’ll really enjoy it.

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Red Sundown (1956) is a better-than-average Universal Western (of course, they’re all worth seeking out). Much of what sets this picture apart is the direction of Jack Arnold, a master of medium-budget, contract film-making. But it’s pretty inventive across the board, as this sequence (one of my favorites in all of 50s Westerns) makes clear.

Gunslingers Alec Longmire (Rory Calhoun) and Bud Purvis (James Millican) are on the run from a posse (led by Leo Gordon) after Alec shoots a ranch hand in self defense. They take refuge in a small cabin and are quickly surrounded. Buck tells Alec how he’d like to hang up his guns and settle down.

It’s not long before the shooting starts and Bud is gut shot. Then the ranch hands decide to burn the gunfighters out. Bud comes up with a plan to save Alec’s life.

Bud helps Alec bury himself in a shallow trench in the cabin’s dirt floor, using the stovepipe for air. Alec reluctantly agrees to the plan, and Bud makes him promise that if he survives, he’ll quit living by his guns.

With Alec concealed and the cabin an inferno, Bud runs outside and is gunned down. Once the fire dies down, the ranchers assume Alec has burned to death and ride away. Alex does indeed try to hang up his guns — but we all know how hard that is.

Briskly directed by Arnold, you never get a chance to think about how implausible it all is. A very memorable sequence — pulled directly from its source novel, Back Trail by Lewis B. Patten.

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I’ve heard good things about Rich Hall’s BBC4 documentary How The West Was Lost (2008) — a look at the Western genre and what happened to it.

Anybody seen it? if so, what’d you think?

Then, does anyone know where a copy of this thing can be found?

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From The Chicago Sun-Times, January 23, 1954:

“Dickie Barrett, 5, is going to get Guy Madison’s contribution to the forthcoming Heart Fund Campagn even if it means holding up “Wild Bill Hickok,” Madison’s TV role.”

While the photo caption references Madison’s Hickcok show, The Command (1954) — with Madison starring in the first CinemaScope Western — had just opened. By the way, The Command is a good, if minor, Western — worth seeing for James Whitmore alone. It’s available from Warner Archive.

Any experts out there recognize Dickie’s two-gun rig?

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Don’t know about you, but I’m sick of this whole SOPA/PIPA thing. The issue of copyrights and the Internet is a big deal, for sure, but a goofy blog about old cowboy movies doesn’t seem like the place to tackle it.

Especially when there’s a discussion going on of South Of Saint Louis (1949) — to be more topical, for today we’ll call it SOSL.

 

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For 50s Westerns fans, the Joel McCrea Westerns Collection has to be one of the biggest video releases of the year. We first heard it was coming in early December. There were no titles listed, and it was kind of assumed we’d be seeing the six pictures McCrea made for U-I from 1950-54.

Well, we were right. Sorta. Almost.

Colin pointed out this morning that it’s been officially announced, with a release date of April 2 from TCM. The contents of this much-anticipated set, now that they’re finalized, has me scratching my head a bit.

Two of the six 1950-54 films are there: Cattle Drive (1951) and Border River (1954). Then there’s The Virginian (1946), which is already available from Amazon’s Universal Vault Series, and Mustang Country (1976), which would be McCrea’s last film.

This leaves Universal with four very good pictures to make up the Joel McCrea Westerns Collection Vol. 2. Let’s hope this first one is successful enough to make the second worthwhile. And now that we’re on the subject, where’s the Audie Murphy Westerns Collection Vol. 2?

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How cool is this? I’m the lucky recipient of the 7X7 Linked Award. Actually, two of them — 7X7X7X7? — from Colin at Riding The High Country and another from Kristina at Speakeasy.

Now that’s quite an honor, as I find these bloggers among the best I’ve read.

Like most of these blogging awards, the 7X7 Link Award comes with some conditions. These requirements are:

1. Tell everyone something no one else knows about.

I’m patiently waiting for life to present me with the ideal situation to quote The Tall T (1957): “Some things a man can’t ride around.”

2. Link to one of my posts that I personally think best fits the following categories:

Most Beautiful Piece  50 Westerns From The 50s isn’t exactly something you’d call beautiful — but the work of Reynold Brown sure is.

Most Helpful Piece  From the very beginning, I wanted to spread the word about Tim Holt and his RKO Westerns. When Tim’s grandson turned up with a comment, I felt liked I’d achieved my goal.

Most Popular Piece  Never underestimate the power of Charlene Holt in her underwear.

Most Controversial Piece  This film noir/Western/Tim Holt soufflé was controversial (to me, anyway) — I felt it was contrived and way off base. But it seemed to resonate with folks and got a good dialogue going.

Most Surprisingly Successful Piece  This was sort of a nothing post — I was in a hurry — that still gets lots of hits. I need to give The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) the attention it deserves.

Most Underrated Piece  I was excited to put the spotlight on James Griffith, one of my favorite character actors. But judging from the hits and lack of comments, my spotlight had a pretty dim bulb.

Most Pride-worthy Piece  After almost two years of running this blog, with Nicholas Ray’s The True Story Of Jesse James (1957), I felt like I finally got it right.

3. Pass this award on to seven other bloggers.

This is hard since so many of the blogs I frequent and bloggers I admire have already been recognized. But here goes:

Greenbriar Picture Shows. The film paper John offers up never ceases to amaze me.

The Classic TV History Blog. I’d like my blog to be more like Stephen’s, but with cowboys.

Forgotten Classics Of Yesteryear. Nathaniel’s blog keeps getting better and better, but it’s gonna be hard to top his short, informative piece on The Longest Day (1962).

Iverson Movie Ranch. This blog, and its curator, have been a tremendous help in my research. If you like old cowboy movies, this thing is like a Masters program.

The Timothy Carey Experience. A blog dedicated to Carey should be a lot of obsessive, goofy, whacked-out fun. This one delivers.

The Selvege Yard covers many of the things I’m obsessed with — movies, music, hot rods and the California surf culture of the early 60s. Jon’s excellent post on One-Eyed Jacks (1961) helped convince me there was a book in there somewhere.

The Ben Johnson Screencaps Page might not technically be a blog. But like the Timothy Carey Experience, it is every bit as wonderful as its subject.

This must be another example of my Roy Rogers Lucky Horseshoe at work.

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Have at it, folks! Five Warner Archive titles for just $45 with free shipping.

Lots of good stuff to choose from, from Devil’s Doorway (1950) to Yellowstone Kelly (1959) — with Carson City (1952) somewhere in between. Unfortunately, those Tim Holt sets don’t count.

And if you want a non-50s non-Western, I’d recommend On Borrowed Time (1939). What a wonderful little movie it is.

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Denise Darcel has passed away at 87. The French actress’s film career was a short one, but it included two important 50s Westerns.

Above, she’s seen with Gary Cooper in Vera Cruz (1954). This scene with Denise in a rain barrel does not appear in the film. (Do her shoulder straps look like photo retouching to you?)

She’d previously appeared in Westward The Women (1950, below) along with Robert Taylor and an incredible ensemble female cast. She’s great in this one, handling the demanding physical stuff with ease.

You’ll find obituaries for her here and here.

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