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Archive for the ‘Dorothy Malone’ Category

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The Sony Movie Channel’s Western Round-Up Marathon serves up a weekend full of excellent Westerns featuring folks like Audie Murphy (The Texican, 1966), Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster and James Garner. Of particular interest to fans of 50s Westerns is a Sunday morning devoted to Randolph Scott.

Sunday, January 26

10 AM The Nevadan (1950) Gordon Douglas directs Scott, Dorothy Malone, Forrest Tucker, Frank Faylen and George Macready. The Cinecolor looks OK, but it takes a lot more than an oddball color process to spoil Lone Pine.

11:30 AM The Tall T (1957) The second of the Scott-Boetticher-Kennedy Ranown Cycle (the first was 1956′s Seven Men From Now) is one of the best, maybe the best. Richard Boone is terrific and Skip Homeier gets his face blown off.

1 PM Comanche Station (1960) The last of the Ranowns, with Boetticher and Charles Lawton Jr. shooting Lone Pine in CinemaScope.  Claude Akins is the bad guy this time, and Skip Homeier’s back for good measure.

While we’re on the subject of Randolph Scott, Henry Cabot Beck brought a Budd Boetticher interview to my attention. Good stuff.

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Universal’s Vault Series is serving up a handful of 50s Westerns, basically taking the TCM Western Horizons set and selling them as single discs (available exclusively from Amazon).

Horizons West (1952) has Budd Boetticher directing Robert Ryan, Julie Adams and Rock Hudson in a Technicolor post-Civil War tale.

Saskatchewan (1954) puts Alan Ladd, Shelley Winters, J. Carrol Naish and Hugh O’Brian in the hands of the great Raoul Walsh.

Dawn At Socorro (1954) was directed by George Sherman, which is enough for me. Factor in Rory Calhoun, Piper Laurie, Mara Corday, Edgar Buchanan, Skip Homeier, James Millican and Lee Van Cleef, and you’ve really got something going.
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Pillars Of The Sky (1956) stars Jeff Chandler and Dorothy Malone. Support comes from Ward Bond, Olive Carey (both appeared in The Searchers the same year) and Lee Marvin. George Marshall directed in CinemaScope. I love this film.

Backlash (1956) comes from John Sturges and stars Richard Widmark, Donna Reed and William Campbell. Good stuff.

These will make a welcome addition to anybody’s collection, but what I want to know is: where are A Day Of Fury (1956) and Last Of The Fast Guns (1958)?

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Harry Keller directing Audie Murphy and Joan O’Brien in Six Black Horses (1962).

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Ray Enright and Dorothy Malone on the set of South Of St. Louis (1949).

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Jesse Hibbs directing Gia Scala (left) and Joanna Moore (right) in the Audie Murphy picture Ride A Crooked Trail (1958).

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91ip3etFhjL._AA1500_Shout Factory has done us all a huge favor, pulling four 50s Westerns from the MGM/UA/Fox libraries — featuring no less than George Montgomery, Rory Calhoun and the mighty Joel McCrea — and offering them at a great price. All four pictures boast nice, clean transfers. They’re all presented full-frame, though three (the post-1953 titles) played theaters cropped to widescreen. I played around with the zoom on my HDTV and was satisfied with the results.

As we all know, there are dozens and dozens of films like these, and the more the better. Let’s hope this is the first of many.

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Gun Belt (1953)
Directed by Ray Nazarro
CAST: George Montgomery, Tab Hunter, Helen Westcott, John Dehner, Jack Elam, James Millican, Willis Bouchey.

George Montgomery is Billy Ringo, a gunslinger who wants to settle down. We’ve all seen enough of these films to know how that usually works out.

Before the picture’s 77 Technicolor minutes are up, Johnny Ringo hands Ike Clanton over to Wyatt Earp! Director Ray Nazarro began his career as an assistant director in the Silents and ended it with these George Montgomery films, a few with Rory Calhoun and TV for Gene Autry’s Flying ‘A’ Productions.

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The Lone Gun (1954)
Directed by Ray Nazarro
CAST: George Montgomery, Dorothy Malone, Frank Faylen, Skip Homeier, Neville Brand, Robert J. Wilke.

Who cares what it’s about when you have Montgomery, Dorothy Malone, Skip Homeier and Frank Faylen, not to mention Ray Nazarro, on hand? For what it’s worth: George Montgomery goes after the Moran brothers — alone, thanks to the gutless townspeople.

Produced by the Color Corporation Of America, it was probably done in the SuperCineColor process. It looks good here, with the color surprisingly true. It was originally run 1.66.

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Gunsight Ridge (1957)
Directed by Francis D. Lyon
Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo
CAST: Joel McCrea, Mark Stevens, Joan Weldon, Slim Pickens.

I found this a good, tight little Western — better than its reputation. McCrea’s charm and strength, along with Ernest Laszlo’s beautiful black and white cinematography, make the most of an uneven script. Mark Stevens is a tortured, evil bandit pursued by McCrea, as a Wells Fargo agent, through and around Old Tucson.

Joan Weldon is wasted in a nothing part, but Carolyn Craig — who’s in a couple of my favorite films, Fury At Showdown (1957) and House On Haunted Hill (1959) — has a nice scene at the end of the picture. There are enough ideas here for half a dozen 50s Westerns — Stevens being a frustrated pianist is a good one — but they aren’t given the time and attention they need in this brisk 85 minutes. Those with a keen eye and a nice TV will see a jet trail and an autombile.

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Ride Out For Revenge (1957)
Directed by Bernard Girard
CAST: Rory Calhoun, Gloria Grahame, Lloyd Bridges, Vince Edwards.

In the mid-50s, a number of Westerns went beyond the sympathetic, or apologetic, approach to Native Americans of, say, Broken Arrow (1950) and tackled racism itself. John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), of course, is the best of these — though I urge you to seek out George Sherman’s Reprisal! (1956). Ride Out For Revenge is a solid B film, from Kirk Douglas’ Bryna Productions, that manages to make its point without sacrificing action. Probably the best film in the set, and I have to admit I knew almost nothing about it beyond the title and cast. A real find.

Beulah Archuletta, “Look” in The Searchers, can be seen in a couple shots. She’s also in Calhoun’s The Hired Gun, from the same year.

This blog was set up to champion films like these, and I urge you all to give Shout Factory a strong economic reason to release further volumes.

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Shout Factory! has announced a set of four middle-budget United Artists Westerns from the 50s — coming May 14 for around $10. They call it Movies 4 You: Western Classics.

The Lone Gun (1954) was directed by Ray Nazarro and stars George Montgomery, Dorothy Malone, Frank Faylen, Neville Brand, Skip Homeier and Robert J. Wilke. It’s in color.

Ride Out For Revenge (1957) stars Rory Calhoun, Gloria Grahame, Lloyd Bridges and Vince Edwards. It was directed by Bernard Gerard and shot by the great Floyd Crosby.

Gunsight Ridge (1957) stars Joel McCrea, Mark Stevens, Joan Weldon, Slim Pickens and L.Q. Jones. It was directed by Francis D. Lyon. (As ridiculous as some of these titles seem, there is a Gunsight, Texas. My great-great grandparents lived there at one point. Not sure if it has a ridge.)

Gun Belt (1953) puts George Montgomery, Tab Hunter, Helen Westcott, John Dehner and Jack Elam in the capable hands of Ray Nazarro. In Technicolor.

Haven’t seen any aspect ratio information on these yet.

Don’t know about y’all, but I’ll buy packages like this, at these prices, as long as they can scrape up 50s Westerns to put in ‘em.

A big thanks to Mr. Richard Vincent for the heads-up.

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Turner Classic Movies and Universal have come through with exactly the kind of set many of us have been waiting for. Western Horizons: Universal Westerns Of The 1950s brings together five excellent examples of why Universal was top gun in Hollywood in the 50s. The absolutely essential set, slated for release on February 18, 2013, will include:

Horizon’s West (1952) stars Robert Ryan and Rock Hudson as brothers on opposite sides of the law. Directed by Budd Boetticher, it costars Julie Adams.

Saskatchewan (1954) gives us Alan Ladd, Shelley Winters, J. Carrol Naish and Jay Silverheels in a Canadian mounties picture directed by Raoul Walsh.

Dawn At Socorro (1954) stars Rory Calhoun, Piper Laurie, Lee Van Cleef and Skip Homeier and was directed by George Sherman. (Love that Reynold Brown artwork, above.)

Backlash (1956) puts Richard Widmark, Donna Reed, William Campbell, and Edgar Buchanan in the capable hands of John Sturges.

Pillars Of The Sky (1956) from George Marshall is a CinemaScope cavalry picture with Jeff Chandler, Dorothy Malone, Ward Bond and Lee Marvin.

Universal made so many worthwhile cowboy movies in the 50s — and this is a good lineup. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.

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Quantez (1957) is an excellent Universal Western, one we’ve spent considerable time discussing on this blog. Came across this still and thought it was worth a quick post.

Here are Dorothy Malone and Fred MacMurray relaxing between takes. I assume this was on a Universal soundstage and not in the town built near Victorville. In the picture, the town of Quantez has only been abandoned a few days, so a real ghost town wouldn’t do. Heat during those exterior shoots hovered around 110 degrees, so I doubt there’d be a lot of singing going on there.

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Directed by Harry Keller
Produced by Gordon Kay
Screenplay by R. Wright Campbell
Story by Anne Edwards and R. Wright Campbell
Director of Photography: Carl E. Guthrie, ASC
Music: Herman Stein
Music Supervision by Joseph Gershenson
“The Lonely One” words and music by Frederick Herbert and Arnold Hughes
Film Editor: Fred MacDowell

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Whatever your misgivings (namely price) may be about the DVD-R programs in place at a number of studios, you have to admit they’ve put some pretty significant titles in the hands of the geeks who’ve been waiting for ‘em. I’m a card-carrying member of that group of geeks, and I’m stoked to have Quantez (1957) in my hot little hands. Judging by comments I’ve received, I’m not alone.

It’d been years since I’d seen it on TV, and I remembered it as a good Universal-International 50s Western, which is plenty good indeed. (That’s about like saying a “good Hammer horror film.”) Seeing it again, in a top-notch widescreen transfer, it’s a much better picture than I remember — and, to me, one of the better Universal Westerns of the 50s.

Fred MacMurray is Gentry, a tired gunman in a gang of bank robbers with a posse in hot pursuit. Riding into the desert, they take refuge in Quantez, a small town they find deserted. Their horses tired and near death, they’re forced to stay the night — with the plan to cross the border into Mexico the next day. The picture is the story of that night.

I won’t spoil things by giving you much more than that. Just know there’s the usual tension and violence that erupt when you place a group of desperate men in such close quarters. And since there’s a bundle of money, a band of Indians and a woman with a past (Dorothy Malone) on hand, things don’t take long to heat up.

MacMurray is excellent. John Larch comes close to being a bit over the top as Heller, the leader of the gang — but he always pulls back just in time. He’s a very bad man. Dorothy Malone is terrific as Chaney, a used-up saloon girl who feels she’s lost her chance to have a decent life. Westerns have never been known for their women’s roles, but this is a really good one, and she makes the most of it. John Gavin, as the kid of the gang (every gang has one), and James Barton as a minstrel who passes through the ghost town in the middle of the night, provide strong support. This is a well-acted film.

Well written, too. The plot isn’t much more than formula (not a criticism), but R. Wright Campbell’s dialogue is crisp and he avoids the expected often enough to keep things fresh. You never think of this as one of those pictures where the small cast is bottled in someplace more for reasons of budget than plot. The story just works. Campbell later wrote plenty of pictures for AIP, including the marvelous The Masque Of The Red Death (1964). He also did Gun For A Coward (1957), another good MacMurray Universal Western (available as part of the Vault Series).

Thanks to Universal’s careful transfer, one of the real stars of the picture is Carl E. Guthrie, whose CinemaScope camerawork does the film a tremendous favor. (Go look at Guthrie’s list of credits sometime. Wow!) Given the mood and the many nights scenes, you might think this’d play better in black and white. But some ingenious lighting — rich blues at night and reds as the sun comes up — gives the picture a very effective look. This is one of the richest-looking Eastman Color films I can remember.

Of course, we have to give director Harry Keller plenty of credit. Starting out as an editor at Republic, by the time he reached Quantez, he certainly knew his way around a cowboy picture. There’s lots of dialogue here, but Keller keeps things moving at a brisk pace. A year later, he’d be one of the contract directors U-I would draft to “fix” Orson Welles’ Touch Of Evil (1958).

Universal should be commended for giving Quantez such a beautiful transfer. And while in a perfect world, this would’ve hit video on Blu-ray, the DVD-R (the Universal Vault Series is an Amazon exclusive) looked terrific and played fine. There are no extras, not even a trailer. But who’s to complain when it looks like this?

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Universal has a few 50s Westerns in their upcoming releases. These are good ones, folks — and they’re available now.

Gun For A Coward (1956) stars Fred MacMurray, Jeffrey Hunter and Chill Wills. It was directed by Abner Biberman in CinemaScope and Eastman Color. (Above is MacMurray and Wills chatting with Rock Hudson on the set.)

Quantez (1957) is MacMurray again, this time with Dorothy Malone (seen on the set, above), John Gavin and John Larch. Directed by Harry Keller, in CinemaScope and Eastman Color, this is one I’ve really been waiting for.

Van Heflin is one of my favorite actors, and in Tomahawk (1951), he’s paired with Yvonne De Carlo. They’re joined by Alex Nicol, Preston Foster, Jack Oakie, Susan Cabot and Rock Hudson. Directed by George Sherman in Technicolor. Tomahawk was shot in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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Came across a few Fred MacMurray Westerns on YouTube. I’m not a big fan of watching movies on the computer, since it’s a pretty lousy approximation of the theaterical experience. But these pictures are hard to see otherwise. Many of them were in CinemaScope and are presented pan-and-scan here, so beware.

Face Of A Fugitive (1959) features an early role for James Coburn. A Columbia picure, it was 1.85 — so it looks OK on YouTube. Pretty good picture, too. Link here.

Day Of The Badman (1958) from Universal-International gives MacMurray a fabulous cast to work with: Joan Weldon, Skip Homeier, Marie Windsor, Lee Van Cleef, Edgar Buchanan and more. It was in Eastman Color and CinemaScope. Watch it, or about half its width, here.

At Gunpoint (1955) from Allied Artists boasts another great cast: MacMurray, Walter Brennan, Dorothy Malone and Skip Homeier. Another one that screams for a widescreen transfer. It’s showtime!

While he had his own ranch (now a vineyard), it’s said that MacMurray didn’t like all the riding these pictures required. But he did quite a few of them in the late 50s and plays quite well in a Western. A Good Day For A Hanging (1958), which is available on DVD, is well worth seeking out.

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