John Ford’s Rio Grande (1950) is one of the major 50s Westerns I’ve somehow neglected over the life of this blog. As a small attempt to remedy that, here’s a photo of John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and the crew shooting a scene. Ford’s not visible here, unfortunately.
Archive for the ‘1950’ Category
Directed by George Archainbaud
Produced by Herman Schlom
Written by Norman Houston
Director Of Photography: J. Roy Hunt
Music by Paul Sawtell
Film Editor: Desmond Marquette
CAST: Tim Holt (Ross Taylor), Richard Martin (Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamonte Rafferty), Jane Nigh (Stella), John Doucette (Bat), House Peters, Jr. (Rod), Inez Cooper (Anita Castro), Julien Rivero (Philipe), Ken MacDonald (Sheriff Carrigan), Vince Barnett (Pokey), Robert Peyton (Del), David Leonard (Padre), Tom Monroe (Dimmick).
Here at 50 Westerns From The 50s, Tuesday belongs to Tim Holt.
When an earthquake hits Mexico, Senorita Anita Castro (Inez Cooper) organizes a relief effort in Arizona. Loading a mule train with donations of all sorts — including gold, silver and jewels — she heads toward the border. A gang of thieves, headed by John Doucette and House Peters, Jr. and assisted by Jean Nigh, get wind of Anita’s plan and plot to steal the treasure. Tim (called Ross Taylor this time) and Chito (Richard Martin) end up involved, of course — and lots of riding and shooting ensue.
Border Treasure (1950) is one of the later RKO Holts, and I’ve always considered it one of the stronger entries in the series. First, the bad guys are terrific — and Nigh has a good role as Stella, the saloon girl who falls in with John Doucette and House Peters, Jr. There’s a great, extended saloon fight between Holt and Doucette. And Richard Martin adds a nice touch as he shows compassion for Mexico and its people following the earthquake. (This one has Tim and Chito doing some real ranch work, mending fence, which I always find a cool addition. Come to think of it, Tim does the work — Chito conveniently disappears.)
This time, George Archainbaud directs. He got his first director credit in 1917, and spent much of his career at RKO. His The Lost Squadron (1932) is excellent. Archainbaud got heavily into TV in the 50s, with much of his work coming from Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions. For a while, he was alternating between Gene’s TV show and later features (including 1953′s Last Of The Pony Riders, which turned out to be Gene’s Autry’s final film).
Director of Photography J. Roy Hunt spent a number of years at RKO, where he shot Val Lewton’s I Walked With A Zombie (1943), The Devil Thumbs A Ride (1947) and Mighty Joe Young (1949) — in between many of these Holt films. Hunt retired not longer after the Holt series came to an end, never making the transition to television that kept so many of his contemporaries employed well into the 1960s.
These RKO Holts make great use of Lone Pine’s Alabama Hills, perhaps rivaled only by Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott’s Ranown Cycle. Some work for Border Treasure was also done at the area’s Anchor Ranch. The RKO Ranch in Encino and the beautiful San Fernando Mission of L.A.’s Mission Hills district are also featured. (Boy, I gotta get out to California — my Points Of Interest list is getting longer and longer.)
Border Treasure is one of 10 Holt pictures in Warner Archive’s Tim Holt Classic Western Collection Volume 3 — and it’s a beautiful thing from logo to logo. The Lone Pine scenes are sharp and bright, with a real feeling of depth. I’d love to take a frame from one of the Lone Pine scenes and hang it on my wall (over the sofa would be nice) — and this transfer seems sharp enough to let me do it.
In the early days of this blog, the Holt RKOs were high on our want lists. To have them presented like this is more than I expected. To say I highly recommend this — the DVD-R set or the movie itself — would be ridiculously redundant at this point.
So many good things to be had here. How about Rod Cameron in The Short Grass (1950)? Or Robert Taylor in The Last Hunt (1956)? Or Joel McCrea in Wichita (1955)? Or Glenn Ford in The Fastest Gun Alive (1956)? Or…
Directed by Lew Landers
Produced by Herman Schlom
Written by Norman Houston
Director Of Photography: Nicholas Musuraca, ASC
Music by Paul Sawtell
Film Editor: Robert Swink
CAST: Tim Holt (Ross Taylor), Richard Martin (Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamonte Rafferty)*, Lynn Roberts (Mary Madden), Regis Toomey (Dan Madden), Robert Shayne (Jay Wingate), Don Harney (Missouri), Cleo Moore (Lulu), John Dehner (Anson Thurber), Don Haggerty (Sheriff), Ross Elliott (Stryker), Denver Pyle (Whip).
Here at 50 Westerns From The 50s, Tuesdays belong to Tim Holt.
From 1940 to 1952, Tim Holt made 46 B Westerns for RKO. Well written, sharply directed and beautifully filmed (usually by Nicholas Musuraca in Lone Pine), they stand as some of the best series Westerns ever made. While Holt served in the Air Force during World War II, the series was interrupted — Robert Mitchum filled in for a couple titles — but was picked up again when Holt returned. At this time, Richard Martin was added as Chito Rafferty, Holt’s Mexican-Irish sidekick. By the early 50s, television was hurting the series Western, and at RKO, Howard Hughes scaled back on B-movie production — and the Holt series came to an end in 1952.
Dynamite Pass (1950) came toward the end of the run, and RKO’s cost-cutting was beginning to show. Dan Madden (Regis Toomey) is a surveyor hired to lay a new road from Mesa City to Clifton, accompanied by his wife Mary (Lynn Roberts). Rancher John Dehner has the only road between the two towns and charges the locals outrageous tolls to pass through his land. Naturally, Dehner doesn’t want the new road to go through, and they sabotage Toomey’s effort to survey the area by stealing his equipment. However, the Maddens have Ross Taylor (Tim Holt) and Chito (Richard Martin) on their side. And, yes, there is some dynamite.
It’s impossible for me to be objective about these films. I love them. And while Dynamite Pass isn’t one of the better ones, it’s plenty good enough. Holt and Martin have a real easy-going chemistry, and their friendship seems very real (turns out it was). It’s a joy to watch them at work in these things.
John Dehner makes quite an impression as the greedy rancher, even though his screen time is limited. And it’s always good to see Regis Toomey turn up in something.
One of Hollywood’s most prolific directors, Lew Landers (real name: Louis Friedlander) worked for every studio in town, with the bulk of his work coming from RKO and Columbia. Westerns, jungle movies, crime pictures — he made them all. Like a lot of B directors, he bounced between features and TV in the 50s. He’s remembered today primarily for the 1935 Karloff-Lugosi film The Raven. Landers’ Holt pictures don’t have the snap to them that Lesley Selander’s do, but that’s more of an observation than a complaint.
At this time, Dynamite Pass has not turned up in one of Warner Archive’s Tim Holt Classic Westerns Collection sets. Like the rest of the series, it turns up on TCM from time to time.
* I’m usually strict about listing the cast according to the titles, but there was no way I could put Richard Martin last.
Turner Classic Movies’ Summer Under The Stars heads West with Randolph Scott. Of the 15 movies scheduled, 12 are Westerns.
The pick of the litter might be Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend (1957), which isn’t the best film on hand, but is very hard to track down these days.
Thanks to Blake Lucas for the tip.
Warner Archive has announced another group of Westerns, with only one from the 50s: Short Grass (1950). Directed by Lesley Selander, it boasts quite a cast: Rod Cameron, Cathy Downs, Johnny Mack Brown, Alan Hale Jr. and Morris Ankrum.
Based on the novel by Thomas W. Blackburn, who also wrote the screenplay, Short Grass is quite ambitious for an Allied Artists picture from the period. The cowboys here are cowboys, not gunfighters — which really distinguishes what could’ve been just another series Western range war tale. This is a good one.
Blackburn wrote a number of excellent Westerns films throughout the 50s — Colt .45 (1950), Riding Shotgun (1954) and Cattle Queen Of Montana (1954, story only), to name just a few — before making the move to TV — often for Walt Disney. He not only wrote the Disney Davy Crockett shows (which of course became the 1955 film Davy Crockett: King Of The Wild Frontier). His place in popular culture history is secured by the fact that he wrote the lyrics for “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett.”
Another tip from John Knight.
Here’s John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in Rio Grande (1950). This excellent film, the third part of John Ford’s cavalry trilogy, is known as the movie that let John Ford make his Irish picture, The Quiet Man (1952) — which will no doubt be inserted into many DVD and Blu-ray players today.
Rio Grande, of course, is plenty great in and of itself.
Posted in 1950, 1951, Alan Ladd, Audie Murphy, DVD reviews, releases, TV, etc., George Sherman, Joel McCrea, John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Paramount, Pre-1950, Randolph Scott, Ray Enright, Universal (-International), Van Heflin, Yvonne DeCarlo on March 6, 2013 | 5 Comments »
If you don’t have these, consider this essential. If you do, it’s a good way to free up some shelf space. Universal has packaged 10 previously-released Westerns — including a couple only available on DVD-R — in a snazzy package. You get:
When The Daltons Rode (1940) George Marshall directs. Randolph Scott leads an incredible cast — Kay Francis, Brian Donlevy, Broderick Crawford, Andy Devine, George Bancroft, Edgar Buchanan. I prefer Scott with more age on him, but this picture has do much action, you don’t have time to care.
Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940) A 67-minute Paramount Western — a sequel to their Texas Rangers (1936) — starring Ellen Drew, John Howard, Broderick Crawford and Anthony Quinn.
The Spoilers (1942) John Wayne and Randolph Scott in the same movie. (Yet some people still wonder if there’s a higher power.) Marlene Dietrich and Harry Carey are in it, too. The climactic saloon brawl is terrific.
The Virginian (1946) Joel McCrea is stunning Technicolor. Universal’s getting a lot of mileage out of this one — it’s also available on DVD-R from the Universal Vault Series and as part of the Joel McCrea Westerns Collection.
Albuquerque (1948) Ray Enright directs Randolph Scott again, this time in color and with Gabby Hayes, Scott Hayden and Lon Chaney on hand.
Whispering Smith (1948) Any movie that has both William Demerest and Frank Faylen in its cast is worth seeking out.
Comanche Territory (1950) The great, and unsung, George Sherman directs Maureen O’Hara and Macdonald Carey.
Sierra (1950) Audie Murphy is joined by Wanda Hendryx, Burl Ives, Dean Jagger, Tony Curtis, Houseley Stevenson and James Arness. It was directed by Alfred E. Green, in Technicolor. Murphy and Hendryx were husband and wife at the time.
Kansas Raiders (1950) Audie Murphy again,backed by Brian Donlevy, Marguerite Chapman, Scott Brady, Tony Curtis and Richard Arlen. Ray Enright directed.
Tomahawk (1951) stars Van Helfin and Yvonne De Carlo and was directed by George Sherman. Also available as part of the Universal Vault Series, where this one film costs more than the set we’re looking at here. Do the math, order one today.
By the way, its release date is Tuesday, March 12. Thanks to Mike for the tip.
The word is that hundreds of Criterion titles will be available on Hulu for free over the weekend. There are some very, very great films in that list — from Wages Of Fear (1953) to Kubrick’s The Killing (1956) to Le Cercle Rouge (1970) and beyond.
One I’d particularly recommend is Anthony Mann’s The Furies (1950) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston (in his last role).
Here’s something that’ll add another day or two to our current Anthony Mann/James Stewart/Dan Duryea fixation.
Anthony Mann’s Winchester ’73 (1950) is one of the first, and best, of the 50s Westerns. It’s one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. And it’s playing in 35mm at Emory University in Atlanta.
White Hall, Emory University
March 27, 1913
Thanks for the tip, Paula.