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Archive for the ‘Andre de Toth’ Category

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Randolph Scott
(January 23, 1898 – March 2, 1987)

Happy birthday to my favorite cowboy star, Randolph Scott. He’s seen above in Man In The Saddle (1951), hanging out with Tennessee Ernie Ford. This is an excellent Scott picture, which you can read all about in a recent post over at Riding The High Country. Or you can stick close to home with A Lawless Street (1955) here.

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Marie Windsor
(December 11, 1919 – December 10, 2000)

Let’s remember my favorite actress, Marie Windsor, on her birthday. She’s seen here in The Bounty Hunter (1954) with Randolph Scott and Howard Petrie. I fought the urge to highlight yet another still from Hellfire (1949).

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Here’s wishing a happy 97th to Mr. Kirk Douglas. Here he is with Lon Chaney, Jr. on the set of The Indian Fighter (1955).

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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.

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Eric Hilliard “Ricky” Nelson
(May 8, 1940 – December 31, 1985)

Ricky Nelson only made one Western, but what a Western he made — Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959). His birthday seems like a good excuse to post this rather odd behind-the-scenes photo from my favorite cowboy movie.

Incidentally, Ricky’s older brother Dave also made a great Western in ’59, Andre de Toth’s Day Of The Outlaw.

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terreurlouestcopieDirected by Andre de Toth
Screen Play by Winston Miller
From a story by Winston Miller and Finlay McDermid
Director of Photography: Edwin DuPar, ASC
Music by David Buttolph
Film Editor: Clarence Kolster, ACE

CAST: Randolph Scott (Jim Kipp/James Collins), Dolores Dorn (Julie Spencer), Marie Windsor (Alice Williams), Howard Petrie (Sheriff Brand), Harry Antrim (Dr. R.L. Spencer), Robert Keys (George Williams), Ernest Borgnine (Bill Rachin), Dubb Taylor (Eli Danvers), Tyler MacDuff (Vance Edwards), Archie Twitchell (Harrison), Paul Picerni, Phil Chambers, Mary Lou Holloway.

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Randolph Scott made six films with director Andre de Toth — two for Columbia, four for Warner Bros. The first two, Man In The Saddle (1951) and Carson City (1952) are quite good. But by the time they got to The Bounty Hunter (1954), their sixth collaboration, a noticeable fatigue was beginning to set in.

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It’s a shame because the story’s a good one (Winston Miller also wrote Ford’s My Darling Clementine), with Scott a notorious bounty hunter recruited by the Pinkerton Agency to find some murderous train robbers and recover their loot. Scott’s a cold, hard, driven man here — a prototype for his later work with Budd Boetticher. He rides into Twin Forks and starts nosing around, putting the entire town on edge — an idea we’d see again with Audie Murphy in No Name On The Bullet (1959). Red herrings come fast and furious, making it impossible to figure out who the bandits are, which builds tension as it heads toward a satisfying end.

De Toth’s action scenes in The Bounty Hunter are uninspired, surprising since action’s usually his strong suit.

De Toth: “I had the feeling that I was at a dead end. There was less and less left in me to give.”*

There’s less cutting, slower pacing, clumsy staging and a noticeable sloppiness to the action sequences. For instance, the 3-D effect when Randy shoots off the the sheriff’s hat (sending it sailing, lazily, toward the camera) is not only silly, but poorly done. It would never have made the cut in, say, Carson City.

De Toth was one of the best of the stereoscopic directors, if not the best — he also directed House Of Wax and Scott’s The Stranger Wore A Gun (both 1953). He was blind in one eye and therefore unable to see depth. Shot in the summer of 1953, The Bounty Hunter wasn’t released until September 1954. By then, the 3-D craze has peaked and was on its way out, so there were no 3-D engagements. Interestingly, the transfer I saw still contained 3-D’s necessary intermission card. Bounty Hunter intermission card

As usual, Scott is joined by an able cast. Dolores Dorn has a good part as the good girl, and Marie Windsor is typically wonderful as the bad one.

Marie Windsor: “Randolph Scott was such a gentleman, and as for Ernest Borgnine, I sure like that man—he’s a good actor, too!”**

Borgnine is one of the townspeople under suspicion by Scott (and us), along with Dub Taylor (listed as “Dubb” in the credits) and Howard Petrie. They’re every bit as good here as you’d expect.

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While it’s easy to find fault with The Bounty Hunter, it’s impossible for me to be completely objective about it. After all, it’s a 50s Western starring my favorite actor and actress: Randolph Scott and Marie Windsor. The Scott-Boetticher pictures (the Ranown Cycle) showed us just what a Randolph Scott movie could be, and films like The Bounty Hunter — solid, entertaining medium-budget Westerns — suffer by comparison today. There can only be one Seven Men From Now (1956). The intriguing story and Scott’s early attempt at an anti-hero make The Bounty Hunter maybe more interesting than good — but like any chance to spend 75 minutes or so in the company of Scott, Windsor or de Toth, well worth your time.

The Bounty Hunter is unavailable on DVD or Blu-ray in the States. It falls under the jurisdiction of Warner Archive. I contacted them about it through their Facebook page and was told it’s on hold, as they consider a 3-D Blu-ray release.

SOURCES: * De Toth On De Toth by Andre de Toth and Anthony Slide; ** an interview appearing on Western Clippings,

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You’ve got till 4/6 at 11:59PM PST to head ‘em off at the pass. Mount up!

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Here in Raleigh, it’s looking like Day Of The Outlaw (1959). No movie that I know conveys cold as well as that one.

 

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iipsrvDid your aunt Suzy put a twenty in your Christmas card? Well, here’s a good place to use it.

Warner Archive is having a Thank You sale through the 14th, with more than 1,000 titles at five DVD-Rs for just $45. And free shipping. The link is here.

There are some really fine films in the Warner Archive Collection, including some terrific 50s Westerns like Westward The Women (1951), Carson City (1952), The Command (1954), Wichita (1955), The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) and The Hanging Tree (1959). Columbia’s Choice Collection and sets like the Tim Holt RKOs are not part of this promotion.

So have at it. And remember, it’s only good through the 14th!

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Olive Films is continuing its string of Westerns on DVD and Blu-ray with Andre de Toth’s Ramrod (1947), which will arrive on November 20.

Based on a Luke Short story, Ramrod is an early example of the kind of psychological Western the 50s would be full of, taking a strange approach to the usual cattle ranchers vs. sheepherders story. Veronica Lake inherits her fiance’s ranch (when he’s run out of town), and hires Joel McCrea to help her run it and deal with pressure from the cattle ranchers. Before long, things get rough.

Veronica Lake was married to Andre de Toth at the time, a union that sounds rather hellish. Of course, she and McCrea had already appeared together in Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels (1941). Not long after Ramrod, her career would go into decline.

The press release from Olive Films says a 35mm fine grain was used for the transfer. It’ll be nice to see this film looking like it should.

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