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Archive for the ‘Delmer Daves’ Category

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Elmore Leonard
October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013

One of the best authors I’ve ever read passed away this morning — Elmore Leonard. He’s known for his crime novels today, but in the early days of his career, he was a prolific Western writer.  The Tall T and 3:10 To Yuma (both 1957) were adapted from his work. There are lots more.

And I have a real soft spot for Mr. Majestyk (1974), the ultimate Charles Bronson movie, based on his novel.

Here’s a cool article on Leonard and his writing methods.

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Sony Movie Channel is focusing on Westerns next month, with a terrific all-day marathon scheduled for Sunday, July 28 that should keep readers of this blog firmly planted on their sofas — or scrambling to make room on their DVRs.

The directors represented here — Boetticher, Sherman, Daves, Karlson, Castle, Witney — make up a virtual Who’s Who of 50s Westerns directors. The times listed are Eastern. Put the coffee on, it’s gonna be a long day!

4:40 AM Face Of A Fugitive (1959, above) One of those really cool, tough Westerns Fred MacMurray made in the late 50s. James Coburn has an early role, and Jerry Goldsmith contributed one of his first scores. It’s not out on DVD in the States, and the Spanish one doesn’t look so hot, so don’t miss it here.

6:05 AM Relentless (1948) George Sherman directs Robert Young, Marguerite Chapman, Willard Parker, Akim Tamiroff, Barton MacLane and Mike Mazurki. Shot around Tucson (and the Corrigan Ranch) in Technicolor. I may be in the minority, but I like Robert Young in Westerns.

7:40 AM A Lawless Street (1955) Joseph H. Lewis knocks another one out of the park, directing Randolph Scott and Angela Lansbury. This film doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

9:05 AM Decision At Sundown (1957) Part of Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott’s Ranown cycle, this one tends to divide fans. I think it’s terrific. It’s certainly more downbeat than the others (Burt Kennedy didn’t write it), with Scott’s character almost deranged vs. the usual obsessed.

10:25 AM The Pathfinder (1952) Sidney Salkow directs George Montgomery in a low-budget adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper, produced by Sam Katzman. Helena Carter and Jay Silverheels round out the cast.

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11:45 AM Battle Of Rogue River (1954) William Castle directs George Montgomery (seen above with Martha Hyer) the same year they did Masterson Of Kansas. I’m a real sucker for Castle’s Westerns, so it’s hard to be objective here.

1:05 PM Gunman’s Walk (1958) Phil Karlson’s masterpiece? A great film, with a typically incredible performance from Van Heflin, that really needs to be rediscovered. Not available on DVD in the U.S. Don’t miss it.

2:45 PM They Came To Cordura (1959) Robert Rossen directs a terrific cast — Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin, Tab Hunter and Dick York. Set in 1916 Mexico, it has a look somewhat similar to The Wild Bunch (1969). Looks good in CinemaScope.

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4:55 PM Jubal (1956, above) Delmer Daves puts Othello on horseback. Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Valerie French, Charles Bronson, Jack Elam, Felicia Farr, Harry Carey, Jr. and John Dierkes make up the great cast. Charles Lawton, Jr. shot it in Technicolor and CinemaScope.

6:40 PM Arizona Raiders (1965) Wiliam Witney directs Audie Murphy in a picture that plays like a cross between a 50s Western and a spaghetti one. Murphy got better as he went along, and his performance here is quite good.

8:20 PM 40 Guns To Apache Pass (1966) Witney and Murphy again. This time around, Murphy is after a missing shipment of guns.

If all that’s not enough, there’s the Back In The Saddle sweepstakes, a chance to win a three-day dude ranch getaway. Check SonyMovieChannel.com to find out more.

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I get to publicize a lot of great screenings on this blog, and I’m happy to be able to actually attend one for once.

This Friday at the Carolina Theater in Durham, NC, they’ll run Delmer Daves’ 3:10 To Yuma (1957). It stars Glenn Ford, Van Heflin and Felicia Farr. It’s based on a story by Elmore Leonard. And it’s surely one of the best Westerns of the 50s. (Clint Eastwood’s 1973 High Plains Drifter screens at 7; Yuma follows it.)

Jim Carl at the Carolina does a great job of throwing great old movies on the big screen — on film if possible. This is a bit of an experiment with a Western. Let’s hope there’s a big turnout. If anyone’s planning on attending, let me know — and let’s say hello.

 

 

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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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hJr3WR0Delmer 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.

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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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Blake Lucas pointed this out, and it’s certainly worth highlighting here — 3:10 To Yuma (1957) has been added to the National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress.

It’s the seventh 50s Western to make the Registry, the others being High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), The Naked Spur (1953), Johnny Guitar (1954), The Searchers (1956) and The Tall T (1957). While you can maybe argue the titles (I would’ve gone with Winchester ’73), you certainly can’t complain about the directors they’ve chosen to honor.

So when’s Rio Bravo (1959) gonna get in there?

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The Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC will run Delmer Daves’ 3:10 To Yuma (1957) on June 7, 2013. Is seven months enough advance notice?

If you’re the type that passes through this blog, I don’t have to tell you this is one of the crown jewels of 50s Westerns. Glenn Ford and Van Heflin were never better — and you’ll never look at Ford quite the same way again.

Also running that night is Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter (1973), a film that seems to be getting a bit of a reappraisal of late. It deserves it. Though I’ve seen both of these films many, many times, this will be my first time in a theater. What a treat.

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I’m really intrigued by the new book by Nick Adams and his daughter, Allyson — The Rebel And The King. Turns out Nick Adams had written a manuscript about his time hanging out with Elvis around the time of Love Me Tender (1956).

Allyson discovered it among her dad’s belongings over 40 years later. You can read more about the book’s background here.

Here’s a brief excerpt, concerning Nick, Elvis, Natalie Wood and Delmer Daves’ The Last Wagon (1956) —

“While in Hollywood, Nat, Elvis and I went to see a private showing of my biggest part to date, The Last Wagon, at the Academy Theatre on Melrose Avenue. When my name came on the screen in large letters I started to cry because to me it was something I had worked eight hard years to achieve. For a second, my mind flashed back to all the hard times my family had. I have wanted many things in my life. Probably the main reason is because I have always been a peasant. Perhaps my opinion of my ability is overrated, but I think I can go places with a little push. If I don’t succeed I’ll probably end up behind the eight ball and possibly a bum. Maybe I won’t ever have money, but I don’t know, if I succeed I’ll be on top of the world. And now seeing my name on the screen meant that maybe someday I would be able to give my parents all the things they never had, just the way Elvis helped his parents.

Natalie leaned over and kissed me on the cheek because she knew I felt. Then I felt someone touch me on the shoulder and when I looked over and saw Elvis, he said, ‘I know how you feel, Nick.’ That was one of the greatest nights of my life, to know that I had two such wonderful friends who really understood me.”

Elvis Presley, Natalie Wood and Nick Adams.

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Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd
Screenplay by Wendell Mayes and Halsted Welles
From the novel by Dorothy M. Johnson
Director of photography: Ted McCord, ASC
Music by Max Steiner
Song: “The Hanging Tree” — Lyrics by Mack David, Music by Jerry Livingston,
Vocal by Marty Robbins
Film Editor: Owen Marks

CAST: Gary Cooper (Dr. Joseph Frail), Maria Schell (Elizabeth Mahler), Karl Malden (Frenchy), Ben Piazza (Rune), George C. Scott (Grubb), Karl Swenson (Mr. Flaunce), Virginia Gregg (Mrs. Flaunce), John Dierkes (Society Red).

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All through college (1982-87), I worked in video stores. One of the films we were constantly asked for was The Hanging Tree (1959). When it finally showed up on VHS, everyone agreed that it was ratty-looking — but we were so excited to see it we didn’t care. As time went on and VHS passed the torch to DVD, The Hanging Tree started showing up on Want Lists all over again. You’d hear there were rights problems, and the material was in bad shape — along with the promise that sorting it out was a priority.

It took a while, but Warner Archive has come through with a nice-looking widescreen transfer that does justice to this worthy film (even if it’s more a sprucing-up than a true restoration). The Technicolor camerawork is well represented in both the interior and exterior scenes, with occasional variances in contrast the only complaint. Grain and a blemish here and there are welcome reminders that this is a film.

From its setting in the Montana gold camp of Skull Creek to its troubled, injured or downright degenerate cast of characters, there’s no other Western like The Hanging Tree. And that makes it a real treat waiting to be discovered or revisited.

By the late 50s, Gary Cooper had matured, much like Randolph Scott, to become the perfect Western lead. His Doc Frail is one of his most complex roles, a physician as handy with a pistol as he is with a scalpel who rides into Skull Creek hoping to escape a troubled past.

Maria Cooper, Gary’s daughter (in a New York Post interview): “He was very interested in this particular character because he was able to portray many facets. He was horrible, controlling and brutish yet he had this tremendously kind, mothering sense of caring for people. It’s not your simple black-and-white hero and it’s not your typical Western.”

Frail becomes involved with a young sluice-robber Rune (Ben Piazza) and an injured immigrant Elizabeth (Maria Schell), and rumors start to spread around the camp about his dark past and relationships with his houseguests. Frail’s secret, a “glory hole” gold strike and mob hysteria all come together for a fiery, violent climax.

Delmer Daves made some outstanding Westerns in the Fifties, with 3:10 To Yuma (1957) and The Hanging Tree maybe the best (bet that’s gonna launch a thread). Both use terrific performances from their leads to create a real sense of unease. In Yuma, we’re somehow charmed by Glenn Ford’s slimy villain, while here we don’t know what to make of Cooper’s compassion for his patients and his conflicting violent side.

Karl Malden as the dirtbag prospector Frenchy and Ben Piazza as Rune are excellent. (Incidentally, Malden directed some scenes when Daves became ill.) George C. Scott makes his debut as Grubb, a drunken fire-and-brimestone preacher. Maria Schell is wonderful and completely believable as the beautiful, hard-working Elizabeth. Though this is Cooper’s film from its fade-in to fade-out, Schell deserves credit for much of its success — and it’s no wonder this is a Western women seem to really respond to. (Those video store requests I mentioned often came from women.)

Daves and Cooper on location.

Ted McCord was a master at outdoor cinematography (The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre), and he works wonders with the Washington locations (doubling as Montana). Daves is often criticized for his fondness for crane shots, but they work well here — sometimes going from sweeping mountains vistas to tighter shots of the scruffy tent city without a cut. The early scenes, with Cooper looking down on the makeshift town, are really effective. Max Steiner provides a score that complements the more melodramatic scenes without pushing them over the top. And Marty Robbins’ title song provides the perfect punctuation in the final scene (the song has been added to the CD of his classic album Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs).

The Hanging Tree is a key Western of the 50s, one that’s been out of circulation far too long. This DVD, which adds a trailer as a bonus feature, is further proof of the real value of the Warner Archive (and similar programs) to collectors like us.

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