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Archive for the ‘Fred MacMurray’ Category

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Want to pass along the link to a piece on Fred MacMurray’s 50s Westerns. These are favorites of many of us that hang around this blog.

Of the eight Westerns he made between 1953 and 1959, four are available in the States on DVD, and you’ll find them at ClassicFlix.com.

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You’ve probably heard of getTV, the newest TV sub-channel from Sony Pictures Television. (It’s one of the digital broadcast channels we get here in Raleigh.) Tomorrow, March 1, they’re offering up the excellent Fred MacMurray Western Face Of A Fugitive (1959) at 7:00 and 10:40 PM. It gave James Coburn a really good early role. A great way to spend a Saturday night.

This is one I highly recommend, both to whoever out there has a chance to watch it — and to Columbia for a nice widescreen DVD 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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You’ve got till 4/6 at 11:59PM PST to head ‘em off at the pass. Mount up!

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Here’s Gloria Talbott, Fred MacMurray and the great John Dierkes in The Oregon Trail (1959), which after much speculation and lots of blog-commenting time, is finally available from the Fox Cinema Archives MOD program. As one of the CinemaScope films Lippert Pictures produced for 20th Century-Fox in the late 50s (The Fly was one, too), it’s something I’m looking forward to.

Though I’m thrilled about this release, which has been officially listed as widescreen, I have a gripe. If what you see at  left is indeed what the packaging looks like, I’m disappointed. A quick Google image search turns up better stuff than that — in color, too. Maybe they should reach out to the collector community — namely, us — for access to better material.

Thanks to John Knight for the tip.

On a completely unrelated note: my daughter and I watched a couple episodes of The Lone Ranger last night — one with James H. Griffith and the other with Hank Worden. What a treat.

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The Oregon Trail (1959), a color and CinemaScope picture made by Lippert/Regal for 20th Century Fox, was announced as part of the Fox Cinema Archives collection — with a release date of September 11 (this coming Tuesday). However, there was a bit of controversy with the first batch of FCA releases — mainly aspect ratio issues — and news has been a bit sketchy since. So who knows. Fred MacMurray’s late-50s Westerns have been a hot topic around here lately, so this would be a welcome addition.

Maury Dexter was part of the Lippert team cranking out Regalscope pictures for Fox. He mentioned The Oregon Trail in his memoirs, Highway To Hollywood, which are available here.

Maury Dexter: “We shot a film entitled The Oregon Trail starring Fred MacMurray and directed by Gene Fowler, Jr… Lou Vittes wrote the screenplay (with Fowler). Anyway, we had a last-minute script meeting on a Saturday afternoon, just prior to principal photography. The following Monday morning, several of the scenes that were altered or completely rewritten were scenes that had been scheduled to shoot on the first day. MacMurray was heavily involved with some of these scenes, so late Saturday, the mimeo company picked up the revised scenes and promised to have them printed by early Sunday morning. I was concerned about MacMurray getting late changes, so I instructed the mimeo company to hand deliver the new scenes to Fred’s home on Sunday morning. I personally called Fred and apologized for the late changes and told him that he would receive them on Sunday, in time to study them for the following day. He was very nice and said the following: ‘Don’t worry about it. For the amount of money you people are paying me… I’d ride a bicycle down Hollywood Boulevard in the nude!’ My kind of guy… nothing pretentious about him.”

If I find out anything further about the DVD release, or lack thereof, I’ll update this post accordingly. And if you come across anything, please let us know.

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Fred MacMurray
(August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991)

We’ve had a lot of birthdays lately, so I almost gave this one a miss. But Fred MacMurray’s Westerns are a big deal here at 50 Westerns From The 50s.

MacMurray had quite a career, going from big movie star to huge TV star — with some ranching and shrewd investing thrown in for good measure. You hear a lot about him being cheap, but the end justified the means — he died a very, very rich man.

In the late 50s, he hit a real sweet spot, appearing in a string of excellent medium-budget Westerns. Quantez (1957) and Face Of A Fugitive (1959, which had the working title Justice Ends With A Gun) are highlights, but the others are certainly worthwhile. I encourage you to sit down with a few of these things some weekend. A Good Day For A Hanging (1958) is pretty easy to find. Quantez and Gun For A Coward (1957) are available as part of the Universal Vault Series.

Wish I could toast him with his own MacMurray Ranch wine. Should’ve planned ahead. I’d like to “dedicate” this post to not just MacMurray, but to my wife Jennifer, who happened upon Face Of A Fugitive one afternoon and told me how good it was, and Blake Lucas, whose enthusiasm for Fred’s cowboy pictures convinced me to really study them as a whole.

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