Just remembered that Antenna TV is running Three Stooges shorts all day today. Woulda been a good day to call in sick!
Archive for the ‘Columbia’ Category
Delmer Daves’ great 3:10 To Yuma (1957) arrives on Blu-ray from Criterion on May 14. A key 50s Western, one of Glenn Ford’s greatest performances (though some don’t like him being a bad guy), yet another masterful turn from Van Heflin, one of the best-looking black and white movies ever (thanks to Charles Lawton Jr.) and just an all-around swell thing.
Ford and Daves had already worked together on Jubal in 1956, which added Technicolor, CinemaScope and Ernest Borgnine to the mix. Criterion’s serving that one up, too.
Thanks to Mr. Richard Vincent for making my day with this news.
There’s nothing like seeing a film, on film, with an audience. And here’s a screening I’d sure love to attend: Phil Karlson’s Gunman’s Walk (1958) at Chicago’s Portage Theater — in 35mm CinemaScope.
A terrific 50s Western that’s very hard to see, a personal favorite and maybe your only chance to see Bert Convy fall off a cliff, the Northwest Chicago Film Society is presenting it January 21 at 7:30PM.
Tab Hunter is terrific and Van Heflin is as incredible as ever. Make that more incredible. And make a point of seeing it if at all possible.
I’ve always felt that Fred F. Sears’ work was sadly overlooked. So what do I do when Apache Ambush (1955) is announced for DVD release? I overlooked it.
Coming out the same day (February 5) as Sears’ Ambush At Tomahawk Gap (1952), which is very good, Apache Ambush stars Bill Williams, along with Richard Jaeckel, Ray Teal, Ray “Crash” Corrigan and Tex Ritter. Its big appeal for me is James Griffith as Abe Lincoln. Can’t wait.
February 5th will see the release of Columbia’s Ambush At Tomahawk Gap (1953), an excellent little Western from Fred F. Sears.
I put together a post on this film a few months ago, ending it with: “Ambush At Tomahawk Gap is a picture that’s easily overlooked — just one of many Columbia Westerns from the 1950s — but offers so much for those willing to track it down. Hopefully, a DVD release of some sort will make that easier.”
Thanks to Columbia, it’s now very easy indeed. This is another one I highly recommend (and that appeared on the Wish List we all put together last month). So, while I’m looking this gift horse in the mouth, how’s about Fury At Gunsight Pass (1956)?
Posted in 20th Century-Fox, Columbia, DVD reviews, releases, TV, etc., Lippert/Regal, MGM, Monogram/Allied Artists, Olive Films, Republic, RKO, United Artists, Universal (-International), Warner Bros. on December 25, 2012 | 22 Comments »
Don’t know if you’ve been naughty or nice, but one thing is certain: you people sure know your cowboy movies. Going through your responses for this year’s Want List, I was reminded of several films I’d forgotten. Thanks to everyone who played along.
The titles have been grouped by studio, according to their original release — independent productions such as The Hired Gun (1957) are with their distributor (MGM in this case). I’ve indicated the widescreen films (off the top of my head, not researched — sorry, it was really late).
Canadian Pacific (1949)
Caribou Trail (1950)
The Gambler From Natchez (1954)
Pony Soldier (1952)
Sierra Baron (1958, Scope)
The Silver Whip (1953)
Arrow In The Dust (1954)
At Gunpoint (1955, Scope)
Bitter Creek (1954)
Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957, Scope)
Jack Slade (1953)
Kansas Territory (1952)
Oregon Passage (1957, Scope)
The Rawhide Trail (1958)
The Tall Stranger (1957, Scope)
Wild Stallion (1952)
Ambush At Tomahawk Gap (1953)
Cripple Creek (1952)
Domino Kid (1957)
The Doolins Of Oklahoma (1949)
Face Of A Fugitive (1959)
Fury At Gunsight Pass (1956)
The Gunfighters (1947)
Gunman’s Walk (1958, Scope)
The Hard Man (1958)
Jack McCall, Desperado (1953)
Jesse James Vs. The Daltons (1954)
The Pathfinder (1953)
Stage To Tucson (1950)
The Texas Rangers (1951)
The Walking Hills (1949)
Heaven With A Gun (1969)
The Hired Gun (1957, Scope)
The Eagle And The Hawk (1950)
Flaming Feather (1952)
Red Mountain (1951)
Regal (all RegalScope)
Ambush At Cimarron Pass (1958)
Apache Warrior (1957)
Badlands Of Montana (1957)
Copper Sky (1957)
Frontier Gun (1958)
The Quiet Gun (1956)
Ride A Violent Mile (1957)
Showdown At Boot Hill (1958)
California Passage (1950)
Dakota Incident (1956)
Last Stagecoach West (1957, Naturama)
A Man Alone (1955)
Man Or Gun (1958, Naturama)
Ride The Man Down (1953)
The Road To Denver (1955)
Rock Island Trail (1950)
The Savage Horde (1950)
The Showdown (1950)
Stranger At My Door (1956)
Trail Of Robin Hood (uncut, 1950)
Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)
The Big Sky (1952)
Blood On The Moon (1948)
Great Day In The Morning (1956, SuperScope)
The Lusty Men (1952)
Run Of The Arrow (1957)
Treasure Of Poncho Villa (1955, SuperScope)
Abilene Town (1946)
Beast Of Hollow Mountain (1956, Scope)
Gun Belt (1953)
Ride Out For Revenge (1957)
Apache Drums (1951)
Black Horse Canyon (1954)
Bronco Buster (1952)
A Day Of Fury (1956)
Day Of The Bad Man (1958, Scope)
Four Guns To The Border (1954)
Incident At Phantom Hill (1966, Scope)
Last Of The Fast Guns (1958, Scope)
The Lone Hand (1953)
The Man From Bitter Ridge (1955)
Man Without A Star (1955)
Money, Women And Guns (1958, Scope)
Rails Into Laramie (1954)
Raw Edge (1956)
Saddle Tramp (1950)
The Saga Of Hemp Brown (1959, Scope)
Showdown At Abilene (1956)
Slim Carter (1957)
The Spoilers (1956)
Stagecoach To Dancer’s Rock (1962)
Star In The Dust (1956)
Walk The Proud Land (1956, Scope)
The Yellow Mountain (1954)
The Big Land (1957, Scope)
The Bounty Hunter (1954)
Charge At Feather River (1953)
Drum Beat (1954, Scope)
Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend (1958)
South Of St. Louis (1949)
We did a 50s Westerns Want List a couple years ago and it was a blast — and a surprising number of our wishes have since come true! So it seems about time to do another one. Last time around, I polled a few people offline, but I’ve since learned that a lot of the fun comes from watching y’all feed off each other as you load up the comments box.
So send in your lists. I’ll compile and sort the responses — then see if I can get them to someone who can actually do something about it.
I’ll start. Reprisal! (1956) and The Hard Man (1957), both from George Sherman and starring Guy Madison, and Fred MacMurray and James Coburn in Face Of A Fugitive (1959) — all from Columbia. Then there’s a Blu-ray John Sturges/Kirk Douglas/VistaVision twin-bill of Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957) and Last Train From Gun Hill (1959). I could go on and on.
UPDATE: I’m compiling and sorting all your requests and will post them Christmas day.
Directed by William Castle
Produced by Sam Katzman
Story and Screen Play by Douglas Heyes
Director of Photography: Henry Freulich, ASC
Music Conducted by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Film Editor: Henry Batista, ACE
CAST: George Montgomery (Bat Masterson), Nancy Gates (Amy Merrick), James Griffith (Doc Holliday), Jean Willes (Dallas Corey), William A. Henry (Charlie Fry), Bruce Cowling (Wyatt Earp), Donald Murphy (Virgil Earp), Sandy Sanders (Joe Tyler), Benny Rubin (coroner), David Bruce (Clay Bennett), Gregg Barton (Sutton), Greg Martell (Mitch Connors), Jay Silverheels (Yellow Hawk), John Maxwell (Amos Merrick), Frank Wilcox (prosecutor, uncredited).
If heaven works the way I hope it does, as soon as I say hello to my mom and grandparents, I’m gonna ask for an introduction to William Castle. (Knowing my mom, she will have already set something up.) From there, I’ll spend large chunks of Eternity asking about stuff like how the kids with slingshots took out the Emergo skeletons.
You see, I love William Castle. Even though I’m a full generation too young to have seen his movies in all their hyped-up, gimmack-y, first-run, theatrical glory, they’re some of my all-time favorite films and real mile markers across my youth. My best friend James and I read about them endlessly in Famous Monsters, caught them on TV and eventually saw a passel of them at New York’s Film Forum. Taking my daughter to see a revival showing of 13 Ghosts (1960) was a father-daughter evening I’ll always remember.
Like a lot of people, both film fans and filmmakers, my love of the movies can be traced back to William Castle. He was a brilliant showman — and when he was focused on making a film, a good director. His Whistler films, for instance, show us just what he was capable of. They’re terrific.
Castle spent much of his career at Columbia. In the early Fifties, he directed a handful of films for Sam Katzman’s unit at the studio.
Castle: “Sam Katzman was a smallish man with a round cherubic face and twinkling eyes. Few people in the motion-picture industry took him seriously as a producer of quality films, but to me, Sam was a great showman.”
Cinematographer Richard Kline: “Sam had his own unit at Columbia Sunset on Lyman Place. It had been the Tiffany-Stahl studio. Columbia bought that place and made it Sam’s unit… It was a very small studio, it was not luxury. For instance, there was no commissary, and I don’t think they even had a hot dog stand! So you’d have to go off the lot and eat somewhere in the area.”
In Katzman, Castle had evidently found his mentor, and he soon realized there’s a lot more to the movie business than just making movies. Jungle Sam’s influence can be found all over Castle’s horror films of the late Fifties and early Sixties — or at least all over the way they were hyped and sold.
One of Castle’s pictures for Katzman (in my opinion, the best), Masterson Of Kansas (1954) is fast and tough. Its tight schedule and lean budget don’t hold it back. George Montgomery is Bat Masterson, sheriff of Dodge City. James Griffith is the notorious gambler and gunfighter Doc Holliday, in an excellent performance. They join forces with Wyatt Earp (Bruce Cowling) to save an innocent man from the gallows and keep the Indians off the warpath. (The real Masterson served as a deputy under Earp for a spell, and Earp and Holliday took on the Clantons at the O.K. Corral, so this gun-toting dream team isn’t as farfetched as it sounds.)
Nancy Gates as the daughter of the framed man and Jean Willes as a saloon girl do well with the underwritten parts they’re given. Jay Silverheels is his usual dignified self as Chief Yellow Hawk. George Montgomery never became the big cowboy star he should’ve been, leaving a solid list of very good, and very overlooked, medium-budgeted Westerns. He’s quite good here, and Columbia’s costume people gave him a beautiful hat.
But the film belongs to character actor James Griffith. Doc Holliday is a flashy part in any Western, and everyone from Victor Mature to Kirk Douglas to Val Kilmer has put their own spin on the character. Griffith’s approach is my favorite. He’s a doctor (he was really a dentist), he’s dying, he has nothing to lose, and Griffith makes sure you believe it. At times, you can see the death wish in his face. In some scenes, the compassion of a physician and chivalry of a gentleman return. And he wrestles with killing Masterson versus helping him out. Somehow, Griffith makes all the character’s contradictions come together, and even make sense. And remember, he does all this over the course of just 73 minutes.
Masterson Of Kansas has been brought to Columbia’s MOD program in a transfer than does everyone proud. Henry Freulich’s camerawork is splendid, with compositions that really take advantage of the then-new 1.85 aspect ratio. The Technicolor adds plenty of production value, and it’s rare to see the Iverson Ranch or Corriganville look this good. And the sound makes sure we take note of Mischa Bakaleinikoff’s score, along with the ching-ching-ching of Montgomery’s spurs. Columbia’s A-level treatment of their B Movies is certainly appreciated (even if it can be argued that some of the films don’t deserve it). There are no features on this disc, not even a menu. You put it in, it starts. I like that.
This is a film, and now a DVD, I highly recommend — something special seems to have been going on here. I hope this one inspires you to seek out more Castle and Montgomery films. You won’t be disappointed.
SOURCES: A Sci-fi Swarm And Horror Horde: Interviews With 62 Filmmakers by Tom Weaver; Step Right Up! by William Castle.
On this day in 1892, the notorious Dalton gang took its last ride, with an unsuccessful attempt to rob two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas.
You can read about it here, courtesy of True West Magazine. Of course, Sam Katzman and William Castle’s Jesse James Vs. The Daltons (1954) has nothing to do with history, but this lobby card lets me feature James H. Griffith again (to the right of the wanted poster).
Yesterday, I complained about the DVD packaging for The Oregon Trail (1959). So today, it’s nice to feature something a little more pleasing to the eye, the upcoming and highly recommended Masterson Of Kansas (1954) from the (renamed?) Choice Collection. This new template has been put to use for all their Western releases for October 2, such as Buchanan Rides Alone (1958).
Speaking of Buchanan, Laura recently wrote on the film, and found it the weakest of the Scott/Boetticher pictures. While I agree to a point — it’s certainly not as strong as, say, The Tall T (1957), seeing it as a kid might have been the beginning of my 50s Westerns obsession.