Archive for the ‘George Montgomery’ Category

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Some good stuff out there on the web today. Sadly, none of it is on here.

The First Year Of Widescreen Production
An impeccably researched article/page at 3D Film Archive. Clears up a lot of stuff we’ve all being wondering and arguing about for years.

George Montgomery: Actor, Artist, Renaissance Man 
Laura’s profile over at ClassicFlix not only clues you in on what an all-around creative guy he was, but lists his Westerns that are available on DVD. 

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A blogger friend of mine did a year-end wrap-up of his favorite DVD releases of the year. I think a lot of my friend, and imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I decided to steal his idea. Here’s my Top Five. Comment away!


5. Ambush At Tomahawk Gap (1953, Columbia) The work of Fred F. Sears, a prolific director at Columbia, deserves a look, and this is a tough, tight little Western that nobody seems to remember. John Derek’s good and Ray Teal gets a sizable part.


4. Randolph Scott Western Collection (Various, TCM/Sony) Four Columbia Scotts — Coroner Creek (1948), The Walking Hills (1949), The Doolins Of Oklahoma (1949) and 7th Cavalry (1956, above) — go a long way toward making all his 40s and 50s Westerns available on DVD.


3. Movies 4 You Western Classics (Various, Shout Factory) Four medium-budget 50s Westerns — Gun Belt (1953), The Lone Gun (1954), Gunsight Ridge (1957) and Ride Out For Revenge (1957) — for an amazing price.  I’d love to have a hundred sets like this.


2. Shane (1953, Paramount) There was so much controversy about the aspect ratio — the studio-imposed 1.66 vs. the original 1.33 George Stevens shot it in — that we all forgot to talk about what a lovely Blu-ray was ultimately released (in 1.33).


1. Showdown At Boot Hill (1958, Olive Films) This is probably the worst movie on this list, but my favorite release. The very thought of a Regalscope Western presented widescreen and in high definition makes me very, very happy. Olive Films promises the best of the Regals, The Quiet Gun (1956), in 2014 — which you can expect to see on next year’s list.

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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.


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.


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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To mark the occasion, here’s George Montgomery and son at Melody Ranch while shooting Black Patch (1957).

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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.

Gun Belt still

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.


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.


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.

Ride Out For Revenge BTS

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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You’ve got till 4/6 at 11:59PM PST to head ‘em off at the pass. Mount up!

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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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We did a 50s Westerns Want List a couple years ago and it was a blast — and a surprising number of our wishes have since come true! So it seems about time to do another one. Last time around, I polled a few people offline, but I’ve since learned that a lot of the fun comes from watching y’all feed off each other as you load up the comments box.

So send in your lists. I’ll compile and sort the responses — then see if I can get them to someone who can actually do something about it.

I’ll start. Reprisal! (1956) and The Hard Man (1957), both from George Sherman and starring Guy Madison, and Fred MacMurray and James Coburn in Face Of A Fugitive (1959) — all from Columbia. Then there’s a Blu-ray John Sturges/Kirk Douglas/VistaVision twin-bill of Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957) and Last Train From Gun Hill (1959). I could go on and on.

UPDATE: I’m compiling and sorting all your requests and will post them Christmas day.


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Directed by William Castle
Produced by Sam Katzman
Story and Screen Play by Douglas Heyes
Director of Photography: Henry Freulich, ASC
Music Conducted by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Film Editor: Henry Batista, ACE

CAST: George Montgomery (Bat Masterson), Nancy Gates (Amy Merrick), James Griffith (Doc Holliday), Jean Willes (Dallas Corey), William A. Henry (Charlie Fry), Bruce Cowling (Wyatt Earp), Donald Murphy (Virgil Earp), Sandy Sanders (Joe Tyler), Benny Rubin (coroner), David Bruce (Clay Bennett), Gregg Barton (Sutton), Greg Martell (Mitch Connors), Jay Silverheels (Yellow Hawk), John Maxwell (Amos Merrick), Frank Wilcox (prosecutor, uncredited).


If heaven works the way I hope it does, as soon as I say hello to my mom and grandparents, I’m gonna ask for an introduction to William Castle. (Knowing my mom, she will have already set something up.) From there, I’ll spend large chunks of Eternity asking about stuff like how the kids with slingshots took out the Emergo skeletons.

You see, I love William Castle. Even though I’m a full generation too young to have seen his movies in all their hyped-up, gimmack-y, first-run, theatrical glory, they’re some of my all-time favorite films and real mile markers across my youth. My best friend James and I read about them endlessly in Famous Monsters, caught them on TV and eventually saw a passel of them at New York’s Film Forum. Taking my daughter to see a revival showing of 13 Ghosts (1960) was a father-daughter evening I’ll always remember.

Like a lot of people, both film fans and filmmakers, my love of the movies can be traced back to William Castle. He was a brilliant showman — and when he was focused on making a film, a good director. His Whistler films, for instance, show us just what he was capable of. They’re terrific.

Castle spent much of his career at Columbia. In the early Fifties, he directed a handful of films for Sam Katzman’s unit at the studio.

William Castle, Sam Katzman and serial director Spencer Gordon Bennett.

Castle: “Sam Katzman was a smallish man with a round cherubic face and twinkling eyes. Few people in the motion-picture industry took him seriously as a producer of quality films, but to me, Sam was a great showman.”

Cinematographer Richard Kline: “Sam had his own unit at Columbia Sunset on Lyman Place. It had been the Tiffany-Stahl studio. Columbia bought that place and made it Sam’s unit… It was a very small studio, it was not luxury. For instance, there was no commissary, and I don’t think they even had a hot dog stand! So you’d have to go off the lot and eat somewhere in the area.”

In Katzman, Castle had evidently found his mentor, and he soon realized there’s a lot more to the movie business than just making movies. Jungle Sam’s influence can be found all over Castle’s horror films of the late Fifties and early Sixties — or at least all over the way they were hyped and sold.

One of Castle’s pictures for Katzman (in my opinion, the best), Masterson Of Kansas (1954) is fast and tough. Its tight schedule and lean budget don’t hold it back. George Montgomery is Bat Masterson, sheriff of Dodge City. James Griffith is the notorious gambler and gunfighter Doc Holliday, in an excellent performance. They join forces with Wyatt Earp (Bruce Cowling) to save an innocent man from the gallows and keep the Indians off the warpath. (The real Masterson served as a deputy under Earp for a spell, and Earp and Holliday took on the Clantons at the O.K. Corral, so this gun-toting dream team isn’t as farfetched as it sounds.)

Nancy Gates as the daughter of the framed man and Jean Willes as a saloon girl do well with the underwritten parts they’re given. Jay Silverheels is his usual dignified self as Chief Yellow Hawk. George Montgomery never became the big cowboy star he should’ve been, leaving a solid list of very good, and very overlooked, medium-budgeted Westerns. He’s quite good here, and Columbia’s costume people gave him a beautiful hat.

But the film belongs to character actor James Griffith. Doc Holliday is a flashy part in any Western, and everyone from Victor Mature to Kirk Douglas to Val Kilmer has put their own spin on the character. Griffith’s approach is my favorite. He’s a doctor (he was really a dentist), he’s dying, he has nothing to lose, and Griffith makes sure you believe it. At times, you can see the death wish in his face. In some scenes, the compassion of a physician and chivalry of a gentleman return. And he wrestles with killing Masterson versus helping him out. Somehow, Griffith makes all the character’s contradictions come together, and even make sense. And remember, he does all this over the course of just 73 minutes.

Nancy Gates in IB Technicolor.

Masterson Of Kansas has been brought to Columbia’s MOD program in a transfer than does everyone proud. Henry Freulich’s camerawork is splendid, with compositions that really take advantage of the then-new 1.85 aspect ratio. The Technicolor adds plenty of production value, and it’s rare to see the Iverson Ranch or Corriganville look this good. And the sound makes sure we take note of Mischa Bakaleinikoff’s score, along with the ching-ching-ching of Montgomery’s spurs. Columbia’s A-level treatment of their B Movies is certainly appreciated (even if it can be argued that some of the films don’t deserve it). There are no features on this disc, not even a menu. You put it in, it starts. I like that.

This is a film, and now a DVD, I highly recommend — something special seems to have been going on here. I hope this one inspires you to seek out more Castle and Montgomery films. You won’t be disappointed.

SOURCES: A Sci-fi Swarm And Horror Horde: Interviews With 62 Filmmakers by Tom Weaver; Step Right Up! by William Castle.

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Yesterday, I complained about the DVD packaging for The Oregon Trail (1959). So today, it’s nice to feature something a little more pleasing to the eye, the upcoming and highly recommended Masterson Of Kansas (1954) from the (renamed?) Choice Collection. This new template has been put to use for all their Western releases for October 2, such as Buchanan Rides Alone (1958).

Speaking of Buchanan, Laura recently wrote on the film, and found it the weakest of the Scott/Boetticher pictures. While I agree to a point — it’s certainly not as strong as, say, The Tall T (1957), seeing it as a kid might have been the beginning of my 50s Westerns obsession.

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