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Archive for the ‘Ernest Borgnine’ Category

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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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Here’s The Longboards, a Surf band from Bilbao, Spain, doing a beautiful cover of Peggy Lee and Victor Young’s theme from Johnny Guitar (1954). The Norwegian band The Spotnicks released a great version of this back in 1962.

And since we’re on the subject of Johnny Guitar, here’s an interview with Ernest Borgnine where he brings it 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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Cowboys And Indians magazine has an interview with the late, great Ernest Borgnine in its October issue. Here’s a short piece on Gary Cooper and Vera Cruz (1954).

Ernest Borgnine: “When I got into this business, I’d have to say Gary Cooper was a huge role model. What a gentleman. I remember we were in a car together on the Vera Cruz movie set down in Mexico. I was going to get in the front with the driver to give him his privacy, but he said, ‘No, no, come back here with me.’ So we’re sitting there talking and he says to me, ‘Y’know, I sure wish I could act like you.’ Can you believe that? I said to him, ‘You’re Gary Cooper. You’ve got two Oscars in your house and you wish you could act like me?’ He said, ‘Aw, I just got them for saying ‘yup.’’ What a sweetheart of a man and an incredible talent he was. As unassuming as anything, but I learned a ton just by watching him… Just being honest, y’know? Being natural. Listening — I mean really listening — and responding in kind instead of just reciting lines and forgetting that you’re portraying an actual person. It sounds basic, and maybe it is, but it’s deceivingly hard and I think a lot of actors never really get it.”

You can read the whole thing here.

Image (L-R): Gary Cooper, Jack Elam, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Burt Lancaster in Robert Aldrich’s Vera Cruz (1954).

 

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The Egyptian and Aero Theatres have organized Ernie: A Tribute To The Great Ernest Borgnine — August 16-19 — and the first night features The Badlanders (1958) and Johnny Guitar (1954).

The lineup is really strong — it includes The Wild Bunch (1969) and Emperor Of The North Pole (1973) — but it would take many, many night to really cover this man’s incredible body of work.

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Ernest Borgnine’s passing brought to mind The Last Command (1955) — Republic’s version of the Alamo story, made after John Wayne left the studio. (Yates strung Wayne along for a while, then turned the project down as too expensive. Once his contract expired, Wayne never worked for Republic again — and made his own The Alamo in 1960.)

Above, Sterling Hayden and Borgnine on the set.

Ernest Borgnine (from his book Ernie): “Sterling Hayden was a great Jim Bowie… I died with a bayonet stuck in me, in a pool of my own blood. It was a pretty dramatic death — but they cut it out because the picture was too long.”

Next, a model of the mission set.

Cast and crew working on that set.

Richard Carlson outside the mission in costume (as Col. Travis) and sunglasses.

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