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Archive for the ‘Ernest Borgnine’ Category

Badlanders TC
Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by Aaron Rosenberg
Screenplay by Richard Collins
From a novel by W.R. Burnett
Director Of Photography: John Seitz, ASC
Film Editors: William H. Webb and James Baiotto

CAST: Alan Ladd (Peter Van Hoek), Ernest Borgnine (John McBain), Katy Jurado (Anita), Claire Kelly (Ada Winton), Kent Smith (Cyril Lounsbery), Nehemiah Perdoff (Vincente), Robert Emhardt (Sample), Anthony Caruso (Comanche)

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Today’s post marks the 101st birthday of Alan Ladd (September 3, 1913 – January 29, 1964).

Warner Archive’s recent Alan Ladd releases got me on a bit of a Ladd kick, so I was eager to see The Badlanders (1958). A Western remake of The Asphalt Jungle (1950), directed by Delmer Daves, it pairs Ladd with Ernest Borgnine.

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The Dutchman (Ladd) and McBain (Borgnine) leave Yuma to settle a couple scores in Prescott: the Dutchman was framed for a gold robbery and McBain was cheated out of his gold-rich land. The Dutchman has a plan to retrieve a tremendous amount of gold ore from an abandoned mine, and he recruits McBain for the heist. The catch is, the marshall’s warned Ladd that he’d better be on the next stage outta town, which leaves the following evening. Things are further complicated by a crooked deputy, some really crooked businessmen and Katy Jurado and Claire Kelly. But, of course, as with The Asphalt Jungle, the heist itself is the centerpiece of the picture.

Delmer Daves made some of the finest Westerns of the 50s: Broken Arrow (1950), 3:10 To Yuma (1957) and The Hanging Tree (1959). The Badlanders doesn’t reach that level, but it’s a solid film that easily translates the heist picture to the Old West. Ladd and Borgnine are very good. Ladd’s cool as a cucumber throughout. Borgnine’s transformation from bitter inmate to loyal friend is played very well. Its failure could’ve sunk the film. Katy Jurado is beautiful—she and Borgnine became an item and were married a couple years later. (Borgnine spent some time watching her work on One-Eyed Jacks.) Oh, and Ladd and Borgnine remained friends till Ladd’s death.

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Daves always makes great use of his locations, and The Badlanders is no exception. The Yuma Territorial Prison plays itself. Various mines around Kingman, Arizona, were supposedly used. And Old Tucson has never looked better. I always get a kick out of seeing that bridge (from Buchanan Rides Alone, Rio Bravo and many more). The previous Daves/Ladd film, 1954’s Drum Beat, made great use of the Sedona area.

There is no composer credit for The Badlanders. It’s scored entirely with stock music. I don’t know of another film of this stature (Daves, Ladd, MGM) that uses recycled music. I’d love to hear the story behind that decision. Sometimes it works fine, sometimes it seems to have been chosen at random.

A fairly early effort from Warner Archive, The Badlanders looks great. Nice and sharp, and the color is strong. A full-frame trailer is included. Recommended.

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OK, folks, let’s see if we can sort this one out. John has written in trying to pin down a certain Western. Here’s what he wrote:

“I saw a western in the fifties as a kid that had a scene in which one of the secondary characters gets killed with a rake. You don’t see the killing, just the aftermath of a bloody rake leaning against a wall and blood on the wall. That image has stayed with me lo these many years but I cannot remember the title.”

Firecreek (1969) came to mind, but that’s the Sixties and a pitchfork. Then there’s Violent Saturday (1955). Again, a pitchfork and not a Western.

Anybody got any ideas?

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If I ever had the chance to organize a 50s Westerns retrospective (something I’d love to do), this is certainly one of the evenings I’d set up: Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious (1952) paired with Nick Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954). I can’t think of a better night at the movies.

It’s especially cool that Rancho Notorious is a 35mm print. If you make it out to The Castro Theatre in San Francisco on April 23, have a box of Raisinets for me.

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Today was my mom’s birthday. She was a Texan, and The Last Command (1955) is a film she loved. Here are a few still from it.

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Of course, it’s Republic’s take on the story of the Alamo, directed by Frank Lloyd — made after John Wayne left the studio.

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Sterling Hayden is Jim Bowie, Richard Carlson is William Travis, Arthur Hunnicutt is Davy Crockett and J. Carroll Naish is Santa Ana. Ernest Borgnine, Jim Davis, John Russell and Slim Pickens are also in it.

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It doesn’t have the spectacle of Wayne’s The Alamo (1960), but I recommend it highly. So does my mom. Olive Films needs to give it a DVD and Blu-ray release.

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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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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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With Burt Lancaster’s 100th birthday on the horizon, UCLA has put together a terrific program to celebrate one of the greatest stars of them all. Running through June, it offers up a great sampling of Lancaster’s career.

For me, and readers of this blog, the best night of the bunch might be this Friday, with a 35mm screening of both Vera Cruz (1954) and The Professionals (1966). Both are terrific, with Vera Cruz being a highlight of the 50s Western. Like Shane (1953), it’s one of the films that fell victim to the widening of theater screens in the wake of CinemaScope. This time around, Robert Aldrich’s picture was cropped/blown up to SuperScope’s 2:1 ratio (it was probably shot for 1.85).

Another great evening will be the June 7 screening of Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957), a film I find flawed but wonderful. Its VistaVision should be a gorgeous thing on the big screen.

Vera Cruz (1954) and The Professionals (1966)
April 12, 2013 – 7:30 pm

Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957) and I Walk Alone (1948)
June 7, 2013 – 7:30 pm

The Billy Wilder Theater
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 206-8013

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UPDATE: Burt and Coop’s costar in Vera Cruz, Spanish actress Sara Montiel, passed away today at 85. She was once married to Anthony Mann.

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