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Archive for the ‘Beverly Garland’ Category

Lippert

A few weeks ago, I broke my glasses and began relying on an old (pre-trifocals) pair while I scrambled for an eye exam and new frames. Reading became very, very difficult. Not the best time to receive a book you’re really excited about. But that’s exactly when Mark Thomas McGee’s Talk’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive: The Films Of Robert L. Lippert, from BearManor Media, turned up in my mailbox.

Lippert Pictures (and related companies) cranked out cheap little Westerns like 1952’s Outlaw Women, along with gems such as Sam Fuller’s I Shot Jesse James (1949) and The Quiet Gun (1957). (They covered the other genres, too.) I’m a big fan of these films and was determined to make my way through the book with or without spectacles, holding it so close I risked paper cuts on my nose.

McGee set the book up very well. The first 80 pages or so read as a biography and history of Lippert and his career, from the theater business to film production. I had a working knowledge of the Lippert story going in, but was always coming upon something I didn’t know. There’s a filmography, arranged by company, that makes up the bulk of the book. And finally, there’s a listing of the Lippert theaters (the closest to me was in Chattanooga, TN).

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What’s not to like about a book like this? It’s packed with information on movies I grew up with, movies I love. Rocketship X-M (1950). The Steel Helmet (1951). Superman And The Mole Men (1951). Forty Guns (1957). Showdown At Boot Hill (1958). The Fly (1958). The Alligator People (1959). House Of The Damned (1963). They’re all in here, and you’ll come away with a better understanding of what went into getting them made. Where I think McGee really excelled was in making sure the book, as informative as it is, stayed as fun as the films it’s about. (The same goes for his previous books on Roger Corman and AIP.)

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If there’s a downside to this book, it’s that the filmography points out film after film that you’d love to track down and see. You’ll find a lot of them available from Kit Parker Films and VCI, and others scattered here and there. Some of the Fullers were even given the Criterion treatment. As for the rest, well, happy hunting.

It’s very easy to recommend Mark Thomas McGee’s Talk’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive: The Films Of Robert L. Lippert. Now that my new glasses are in, I’m reading it a second time.

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Directed by Edward Nassour and Ismael Rodríguez
Produced: Edward Nassour and William Nassour
Screenplay by Robert Hill and Jack DeWitt
From a story by H. O’Brien
Music by Raúl Lavista
Cinematography: Jorge Stahl
Special Effects: Louis DeWitt, Jack Rabin and Henry Sharp

CAST: Guy Madison (Jimmy Ryan), Patricia Medina (Sarita), Carlos Rivas (Felipe Sanchez), Eduardo Noriega (Enrique Rios).

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The Beast Of Hollow Mountain (1956) finds Guy Madison as an American rancher in Mexico, trying to figure out why cattle are going missing — and eventually coming face to face with a dinosaur. (It takes place at the turn of the century, the time and setting of 1969’s The Wild Bunch.)

As a kid, I’d seen stills from The Beast Of Hollow Mountain in various monster magazines and books and I was dying to see it. Cowboys, dinosaurs, CinemaScope — what’s not to like? I was an adult by the time it turned up on laserdisc. And of course, as so often happens with this kinda thing, I was disappointed.

But there’s a lot to recommend The Beast Of Hollow Mountain. It’s got cowboys and a dinosaur (just one). It was shot in Mexico. It was based on a story by the great Willis O’Brien, and he spent years trying to raise the money to do it himself, unsuccessfully. It’s got Patricia Medina from The Buckskin Lady (1957) in it. And once it finally gets to the dinosaur, it really delivers the goods — even if the special effects ain’t so special.

The Valley Of Gwangi(1969) is a better-mounted version of O’Brien’s story, with excellent stop motion stuff from Ray Harryhausen. However, it doesn’t offer as much cheesy fun. Beast Of Hollow Mountain comes from a real sweet spot in Guy Madison’s career. He’d just done The Command (1954) and 5 Against The House (1955), and he’d follow this oddball sci-fi Western with two of his finest films — Reprisal! (1956) and The Hard Man (1957), both directed by George Sherman for Columbia.

Shout Factory offers Beast as a Blu-ray/DVD twin pack, paired with The Neanderthal Man (1953). Both films look terrific, with Beast‘s early CinemaScope boasting just the right amount of grain and a light scratch or two for good measure. As a bonus, Beverly Garland’s in The Neanderthal Man. It makes me happy to see low-budget genre pictures treated with such care. Recommended.

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This is a big one, folks. After making his B Western, The Forty-Niners (1954), for Allied Artists, William Elliott ended his Hollywood career with five tough little crime pictures for the same studio, released 1955-57. After playing Detective Lieutenant Andy Flynn of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in the first one, Dial Red “O” (1955), he became Andy Doyle in the other four.

The Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries from Warner Archive presents all five films in 16×9 widescreen. Most run about an hour — and have been on the Want Lists of “Wild Bill” Elliott fans for ages. They’ll be on the Warner Archive lineup on Tuesday.

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Dial Red “O” (1955) An unhinged vet triggers a citywide manhunt when his soon-to-be-ex-wife gets bumped off. With Paul Picerni and Sam Peckinpah (uncredited as a cook).

Sudden Danger (1955) Elliott investigates a suspicious suicide — and the prime suspect turns out to be a blind man. With Beverly Garland and Lyle Talbot.

Calling Homicide (1956) Elliott connects the dots between a cop-killing and a model’s murder.  With Don Haggerty (who’d appear in the rest of the series), Lyle Talbot and James Best.

Chain of Evidence (1957) A reform school grad is accused of murder. With Haggerty, Timothy Carey and Dabbs Greer.

Footsteps In The Night (1957) A high-stakes poker game ends in murder. Directed by Jean Yarbrough.

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Daniel B. and Elwood Ullman, who wrote several of Elliott’s Monogram Westerns, are on hand for these films, and they make the transition from the Old West to the City Of Angels with ease.

You might be interested in these as a curio more than anything else, but they’re cool little movies and Elliott is as terrific as ever. Highly recommended.

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50 Westerns From The 50s turned four years old on October 1. Digging around for something to post, this photo of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans seemed like the way to go. (That’s not me in the lower right.) This blog’s seen more than 700,000 hits over that four years, and I want to thank you all for each and every one of them.

On a only slightly related note, yesterday was Beverly Garland’s birthday — with Roy’s coming up in a few weeks.

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Roger Corman’s Gunslinger (1956), maybe my daughter’s favorite 50s Western (take that, Mystery Science Theater!), has been announced for DVD release from Timeless Media Group on October 15. The set, another Movies 4 You Western Film Collection — also offers Clint Walker and Barry Sullivan in Yuma (1971), Terence Hill in the spaghetti western Man Of The East (1971) and Pioneer Woman (1973). An odd grouping, maybe, but you can’t beat the $6.95 list price.

I’ve written about Gunslinger before, and I’m happy to know it’s going to be available Stateside. Beverly Garland is always terrific, and she’s so cool in this one. Not sure if it’ll be widescreen or not — the PAL version is, and it’s as nice-looking as this cheap little picture is probably capable of looking. And as ridiculous as it sounds, all of us in the Roan household would love to see it make its way to Blu-ray.

UPDATE 9/30/13: Timeless has served up the same widescreen transfer of Gunslinger as the UK release. It’s 1.85, which AIP called “Wide Vision”on the poster. The contrast levels fluctuate a bit, probably the result of the constant rain that plagued its six-day shooting schedule — this is a nice transfer of a cheap movie. Any issues come from Iverson Ranch in 1956, not from the film transfer suite.

As far the other titles, Man Of The East looks terrific — I love the look of those Techniscope spaghetti westerns. Yuma is soft.

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What a great poster, too! Reynold Brown, I think.

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My daughter caught Beverly Garland in Gunslinger (1956, above) yesterday (on broadcast TV!) and loved it. She thought Beverly was about the coolest thing ever — which, of course, she is. She also thought her horse was pretty.

Blake Lucas suggested Johnny Guitar (1954) as a followup, and I thought of Hellfire (1949, below).

By then, this was looking like something we could all have fun with. So, while I have the opportunity to turn my little girl into a (cap) pistol-packing 50s Western fan, let’s program a 12-year-old girl’s 50s Western Film Festival. Put your picks in a comment.

You know, maybe it’s time 50 Westerns From The 50s had a guest blogger.

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Sometimes the story of the making of a film can be better than the film itself. And sometimes the writer can’t really add much to the source material they’ve managed to dig up.

Roger Corman: “I did four Westerns, all distributed by AIP. Two of them were my ideas and two were AIP’s ideas — the titles alone will tell you which were which. The two that were my ideas were Five Guns West and Gunslinger (both 1956). The two that were AIP’s ideas were Apache Woman and The Oklahoma Woman (both 1955).”

Charles B Griffith: “Roger suggested a Western in which a sheriff dies trying to clean up a town and his widow carries out his work. That became Gunslinger, the first of many pictures I wrote for Roger.”

Corman: “Gunslinger was made around February 1956, just as LATSE and the studios renegotiated a five-day work week instead of six. So I decided to squeeze in one last low-budget, six-day western before the new contract went into effect.”

Beverly: “There were no frills on Roger’s pictures; you put up with a lot, but you were young and you laughed and you certainly weren’t anywhere close to being a star. You just believed that that’s how people worked… You were out there moving furniture with the grips and everybody else… There were no stars, there were no egos; we all did our thing and worked hard at it, and we all loved it and that’s what made these pictures work!”

Corman: “My brother Gene and I co-financed this movie. We had a lot at stake and not much money. Of course, the movie was a disaster from the beginning… The shooting was dismal. Rain. Overcast skies. Wind. It was so dark outside there was almost no exposure on the camera. You couldn’t see the background scenery in any of the shots, either. Sometimes I’d have to shoot an entire sequence with actors huddled under the overhead tarp.”

Beverly Garland: “The first scene we shot of Gunslinger was an unforgettable one. It was a love scene where John Ireland and I were leaning on this tree. It was 6:30 in the morning, we were colder than good God’s head and our teeth were chattering. When it was time to say our lines we somehow had to manage to stop the chattering. And as we started to do our love scene, these huge red ants began crawling all over us — so not only was it freezing cold, but these ants were biting the hell out of us! You can actually see the ants on us when you watch the film!”

Corman: “It rained five days out of six and it was the only time I ever went over schedule — I took seven days… I stretched a tarp over a makeshift stand and shot the actors beneath it, with the rain in the background… Whenever the sun broke through, I stopped whatever I was shooting and raced to set up some long shots from my list of priority exterior shots. The rain forced me to shoot almost everything in close-ups or medium close-ups. We rewrote exterior scenes for the interiors of the ranch’s buildings.”

Allison Hayes broke her arm and had to leave the set.

Corman: “Her horse slipped in the mud and she fell off and broke her arm. While we waited for a car to get down through the mud and take her to a hospital, I shot a reel of close-ups of Allison looking left, looking right, and so on… I’d have to finish her scenes with a double and this was my only chance to get some close-ups of her. I’d figure out later how to cut them in.”

Beverly Garland: “I always wondered if Allison broke her arm just to get off the picture and out of the rain.”

Miss Garland didn’t come out of the picture unscathed.

Beverly Garland: “I was supposed to come running out of a saloon, get on a horse and ride out of town as fast as I could, I looked at this horse, and it was quite large! And I said to myself, the only thing I can do is make a flying leap and get on him and go. So I come out of the saloon, down the stairs and I leap — and over the horse I go! I went right over the side of the horse! Roger said, “Okay, let’s do it again.” Oh God, I thought! So I came running down the stairs again in those boots, and as I did my ankle just twisted underneath me and I sprained it badly — but I managed to get on the horse! When I went home that night I thought it would feel so good to put my ankle in a warm bath, so I did — and I left it there for about an hour. And the next day, my ankle was about twice its normal size! And I had to work! This was toward the end of the picture, so I couldn’t be replaced, and practically all the remaining scenes were fight scenes — you know, all the prostitutes, getting them out of town and such. Somebody had to drive me to work. When I got there, Roger looked at it and said, “Well, we have to start shooting.” Naturally, Roger! You could be dead and Roger would prop you up in a chair! So I said, “All right, what do we do? There’s no way I can walk.” I couldn’t even get my boot on! So Roger agreed then to call a doctor, and the doctor brought this giant novocaine needle. They shot the novocaine into the bone, which was the most painful thing… But then I felt marvelous! So they took the boot and split it in the back and taped it on my foot, and I worked all day. I did all the fight scenes, and I ran and jumped and did whatever — and I couldn’t walk for a week after that! I had screwed up my ankle so bad!”

Corman: “It was one of the worst experiences of my life.”

Beverly Garland: “Of all my films for Roger Corman, Gunslinger is my favorite. The picture was made under miserable conditions… there was rain, it was cold, and I injured my ankle. But I loved the part; I loved playing the sheriff and I loved working with John Ireland. Everybody tells me how much they love It Conquered The World or Not Of This Earth; they’re OK, but I like to get down and dirty. In Gunslinger, I had some good fights, I got to wear pants, I got to carry a gun — I got to be the sheriff!”

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SOURCES: How I Made A Hundred Movies in Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime by Roger Corman & Jim Jerome; The Films Of Roger Corman by Ed Naha; The World Of Roger Corman by J. Philip di Franco; Fast And Furious: The Story of AIP by Mark Thomas McGee; I Was A Monster Maker by Tom Weaver; Filmfax #46; and Scarlet Street #10

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