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Archive for the ‘1953’ Category

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Directed by Allan Dwan
Screen Play by Steve Fisher
Photographed by Reggie Lanning
Film Editor: Fred Allen, ACE
Special Effects: Howard and Theodore Lydecker

CAST: John Lund (Lance Horton), Brian Donlevy (Charles Quantrill), Audrey Totter (Kate Quantrill/Kitty McCoy), Joan Leslie (Sally Maris), Ben Cooper (Jesse James), Nina Varela (Mayor Delilah Courtney), Jim Davis (Cole Younger), Reed Hadley (Bitterroot Bill Maris), Frank Ferguson.

Allan Dwan approached Woman They Almost Lynched (1953) as a parody. As he told Peter Bogdanovich, “If you treat that seriously, where would you be?”

Released a few months before Nick Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954), and from the same studio, Republic, Dwan’s picture is just as personal. To me, it feels like he’s trying to see just how much he could get away with, really biting the hand that was feeding him. Maybe he was. His time at Republic was almost up, and he’d soon begin a terrific run with producer Benedict Bogeaus.

Olive Films has announced Woman They Almost Lynched for DVD and Blu-ray release in January. It’s good to see Olive come through with another key Republic title. As a huge fan of Dwan’s late-period work, I’d put this on the esential list. (At the same time, Robert Aldrich’s World For Ransom, released by Allied Artists in 1954 and starring Dan Duryea, will hit the streets.)

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The upcoming Gene Autry Collection from Timeless Media Group, number 8, contains some good ones. It’ll be available November 18. I haven’t seen one of these yet where the quality wouldn’t knock your socks off.

Saginaw Trail (1953)
One of Gene’s last features, this one mixes things up by taking place in the 1820s. Which means Gene’s Levis and flashing shirts are nowhere to be seen — and there’s a swordfight!

Riders In The Sky (1949)
With a picture built around the song “Ghost Riders In The Sky,” how could it not be terrific?

Riders Of The Whistling Pines (1949)
Gene’s up against crooked loggers as deadly insects infest our forests.

Trail To San Antone (1947)
Gene’s involved in horse racing this time, with Peggy Stewart along for the ride.

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I’ve always loved creaky old movies, especially Westerns, and have gotten used to people turning up their noses at whatever film I might mention. So one of the joys of riding herd over this blog for the last five years has been running into a gang of folks who enjoy these things as much as I do. Who discuss them, study them, and give them a level of respect that “regular people” can’t understand.

That’s one of the things that makes David Schecter’s work at Monstrous Movie Music so special. He’s one of us. We’re his customer base. And he continues to deliver the goods.

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Western Medley
, a two-CD set, presents the scores to three Westerns from Lippert Pictures: The Great Jesse James Raid (1953, composed by Bert Shefter), The Baron Of Arizona (1950, by Paul Dunlap) and Last Of The Wild Horses (1948, from Albert Glasser). It’s a terrific release, from the music itself to the lavish packaging to the thorough liner notes.

I’m particularly enamored of Shefter’s work for The Great Jesse James Raid. Evidently, no one bothered to tell him this was just some cheap 73-minute cowboy movie. While in some ways it’s pretty conventional stuff, there’s enough music for over half the film’s running time–and it’s so well done. The film doesn’t deserve this score (or Wallace Ford, come to think of it).

Haven’t spent as much time with the other scores. I’m very familiar with Sam Fuller’s The Baron Of Arizona and a fan of Paul Dunlap. He never disappoints. Last Of The Wild Horses is a nice score; many of us know Albert Glasser for his work on 50s horror and science fiction stuff.

This is a set you’ll want to spend some quality time with. Recommended. Let’s hope there’s a Western Medley Volume 2 someday. And by the way, the films themselves are available through Kit Parker Films and VCI (Jesse, Wild Horses) and Criterion (Baron).

a_1980-Cover-GatlingGun--3Out at the same time is Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter’s music for The Gatling Gun (1971), a near-impossible-to-see picture with a production history that’s probably more entertaining that the film itself. Before release, the film was confiscated when one of the producers was brought up on racketeering charges.

It was directed by Robert Gordon and stars Woody Strode, Guy Stockwell, Robert Forster, Patrick Wayne, John Carradine and Pat Buttram. The score’s very good, and now I’m really wanting to see the movie.

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The great Julie Adams will throw out the first pitch at Dodgers Stadium this Thursday (August 21) as the Dodgers take on the Padres. I’ve been wanting to get to a Dodgers game for years, and this would sure be the one to see.

While we’re focusing on one of my favorite actresses, here she is with Van Heflin in Wings Of The Hawk (1953).

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Fred M article

Want to pass along the link to a piece on Fred MacMurray’s 50s Westerns. These are favorites of many of us that hang around this blog.

Of the eight Westerns he made between 1953 and 1959, four are available in the States on DVD, and you’ll find them at ClassicFlix.com.

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Directed by Lewis Collins
Produced by Vincent M. Fennelly
Written by Sid Theil
Photographed by Ernest Miller, ASC
Film Editor: Sam Fields, ACE
Music by Raoul Kraushaar

CAST: Wild Bill Elliott (Tack Hamlin), Mary Ellen Kay (Lucy Taylor), Robert Bray (Gene Smith), Stanford Jolley (Matt Taylor), Henry Rowland (Mayor Winch), Myron Healey (Brett), George Wallace (Brewer), Fuzzy Knight (Strummer), Zon Murray (Bill), Richard Avonde (Artie), Michael Colgan (Jamison), Denver Pyle (Sperry), Lee Roberts (Wilson), John James (Jed Hamlin).

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Things have gotten so bad that the citizens of Pinetop have formed a vigilante committee to maintain order, but the Brewer gang continues to operate. (And the vigilantes seem almost as bad as the outlaws.) Tack Hamlin (Wild Bill Elliott) comes to town and is soon recruited for sheriff, and he gets right to work, trying to stop both the bandits and the masked vigilantes. Turns out that Brett (Myron Healey), who owns the saloon, leads both the outlaws and the vigilantes, planting false evidence to avoid suspicion.

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As far as I can see, this town is full of bad shots and bluster.”
— Wild Bill Elliott

This is a good entry in the series of Westerns Elliott made for Monogram/Allied Artists near the end of his career. By this point, his “peaceable man” persona was well established, and he goes about his business with his typical cool determination. The sequence about halfway through the picture, as Elliott the newly-appointed sheriff cleans up the town, is terrific. Later, the vigilantes drag Elliott and Fuzzy Knight to the hanging tree, making for a very tense scene that illustrates just how tough the B Western became in its final years. What’s more, in the climax, one of the Brewer gang is shot in the face!

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Fuzzy Knight is great as Elliott’s old friend and deputy. They have a good chemistry together. Mary Ellen Kay does well with a pretty limited part, and makes quite an impression toward the end when she picks up a gun. The badguys, from Myron Healey to George Wallace to Denver Pyle, have locked horns with Elliott before. Same thing behind the camera, from the director (Lewis Collins) to the writer (Sid Theil) to the editor (Sam Fields) and on down the line. Of course, we all know the familiar Iverson and Corriganville locations.

Vigilante Terror is not available on DVD, though it’s one Warner Archive will probably get around to one of these days (that’s a hint, Matt). Watch for it.

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The sixth installment in Timeless Media’s Gene Autry series offers up four titles from Gene’s later years on the big screen.

The Strawberry Roan (1948)
Longer than usual and in Cinecolor, this is one of Autry’s best films. It plays a bit like Roy Rogers’ My Pal Trigger (1946), giving Champion a real chance to shine. Gloria Henry, Jack Holt and Pat Buttram co-star.

Rim Of The Canyon (1949)
Gene plays himself and his dad! Much of the film takes place in a ghost town and really pours on the atmospherics.

Barbed Wire (1952)
Gene and Pat Buttram find themselves caught between feuding ranchers and homesteaders.

Winning Of The West (1953)
One of Autry’s last co-stars Gail Davis and Smiley Burnette, as they battle crooks masquerading as Indians. (The photo up top is from this film.)

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