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Archive for the ‘Gregory Peck’ Category

jerome-moross-the-big-country-united-artists

Today would be composer Jerome Moross’ 100th birthday. 50s Western fans know him for his terrific score for The Big Country (1958), William Wyler’s epic Western starring Gregory Peck. It’s easily one of the best to be found in any Western — and it’s got some stiff competition.

Moross’ daughter (who has been a huge help with my research) has organized a number of showcases for her dad’s work. You can follow the festivities at moross.com.

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Only The Valiant OS

Gregory Peck was loaned out to Warner Bros. for Only The Valiant (1951), a picture produced by James Cagney’s brother William and directed by Gordon Douglas — and coming on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films in August.

The combination of Gordon Douglas and Ward Bond is hard to resist, but I’ve always had a hard time with this film — along with anything else the tragic Barbara Payton appeared in. To me, she personifies the dark side of Hollywood, and it’s hard to disconnect her sad story from the image on the screen.

The cast also includes Gig Young, Lon Chaney, Michael Ansara and John Doucette. It’s based on a book by Charles Marquis Warren. And though Gregory Peck never missed a chance to knock the film (granted, it’s a long way from 1950’s The Gunfighter), it’s a pretty solid early-50s cavalry picture.

The old release from Lions Gate had to be one of the worst-looking DVDs ever released — almost as bad as the various dollar-store copies of One-Eyed Jacks (1961) I’ve wasted my money on. I’m sure we can count on Olive Films to give us something worth looking at.

Thanks, Paula.

Only The Valiant still 1

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fof-indietheater-filmmarqueee

Picture 6Hop over to the Home Theater Forum for a chance to vote for what classic titles you’d like to see Fox release on Blu-ray.

Arranged by decade — the Thirties through the Sixties — you’ve got some good stuff to choose from. 50s Westerns are represented by Broken Lance (1954), The Tall Men (1955), The True Story Of Jesse James (1956) and The Bravados (1958). I’m sorry to say they’re all getting smoked by The Desk Set (1957). So get out and vote — you can vote in every decade every day — let’s give The Bravados a fighting chance.

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Happy Easter.

Even if Gene Autry did sing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” in Hills Of Utah (1951), there’s not a lot of Easter to be found in 50s Westerns.

But with The Bravados (1958) coming up this week (Gregory Peck’s birthday was the 5th), I was reminded of the church scene towards the end. That’ll have to do. What a movie!

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Happy birthday to Mr. Gregory Peck (1916 – 2003).

Here he is in The Gunfighter (1950) — one of the finest Westerns ever made and a picture that helped set the tone for the many great Westerns that would follow throughout the decade.

That steak sure looks good, even if it’s only half the size of those tossed around in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

I was about to let this escape me. Luckily, it was brought to my attention.

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“Brownsville Girl” (Bob Dylan, Sam Shepard)
from the Bob Dylan LP Knocked Out Loaded (1986)

Well, there was this movie I seen one time
About a man riding ’cross the desert and it starred Gregory Peck
He was shot down by a hungry kid trying to make a name for himself
The townspeople wanted to crush that kid down and string him up by the neck

Well, the marshal, now he beat that kid to a bloody pulp
As the dying gunfighter lay in the sun and gasped for his last breath
“Turn him loose, let him go, let him say he outdrew me fair and square
I want him to feel what it’s like to every moment face his death”

Well, I keep seeing this stuff and it just comes a-rolling in
And you know it blows right through me like a ball and chain
You know I can’t believe we’ve lived so long and are still so far apart
The memory of you keeps callin’ after me like a rollin’ train

I can still see the day that you came to me on the painted desert
In your busted down Ford and your platform heels
I could never figure out why you chose that particular place to meet
Ah, but you were right. It was perfect as I got in behind the wheel

Well, we drove that car all night into San Anton’
And we slept near the Alamo, your skin was so tender and soft
Way down in Mexico you went out to find a doctor and you never came back
I would have gone on after you but I didn’t feel like letting my head get blown off

Well, we’re drivin’ this car and the sun is comin’ up over the Rockies
Now I know she ain’t you but she’s here and she’s got that dark rhythm in her soul
But I’m too over the edge and I ain’t in the mood anymore to remember the times
when I was your only man
And she don’t want to remind me. She knows this car would go out of control

Brownsville girl with your Brownsville curls
Teeth like pearls shining like the moon above
Brownsville girl, show me all around the world
Brownsville girl, you’re my honey love

Well, we crossed the panhandle and then we headed towards Amarillo
We pulled up where Henry Porter used to live. He owned a wreckin’ lot outside of town about a mile
Ruby was in the backyard hanging clothes, she had her red hair tied back. She saw us come rolling up in a trail of dust
She said, “Henry ain’t here but you can come on in, he’ll be back in a little while”

Then she told us how times were tough and about how she was thinkin’ of
bummin’ a ride back to from where she started
But ya know, she changed the subject every time money came up
She said, “Welcome to the land of the living dead”
You could tell she was so broken hearted
She said, “Even the swap meets around here are getting pretty corrupt”

“How far are y’all going?” Ruby asked us with a sigh
“We’re going all the way ’til the wheels fall off and burn
’Til the sun peels the paint and the seat covers fade and the water moccasin dies”
Ruby just smiled and said, “Ah, you know some babies never learn”

Something about that movie though, well I just can’t get it out of my head
But I can’t remember why I was in it or what part I was supposed to play
All I remember about it was Gregory Peck and the way people moved
And a lot of them seemed to be lookin’ my way

Brownsville girl with your Brownsville curls,
Teeth like pearls shining like the moon above
Brownsville girl, show me all around the world
Brownsville girl, you’re my honey love

Well, they were looking for somebody with a pompadour
I was crossin’ the street when shots rang out
I didn’t know whether to duck or to run, so I ran
“We got him cornered in the churchyard,” I heard somebody shout

Well, you saw my picture in the Corpus Christi Tribune. Underneath it,
it said, “A man with no alibi”
You went out on a limb to testify for me, you said I was with you
Then when I saw you break down in front of the judge and cry real tears
It was the best acting I saw anybody do

Now I’ve always been the kind of person that doesn’t like to trespass
but sometimes you just find yourself over the line
Oh if there’s an original thought out there, I could use it right now
You know, I feel pretty good, but that ain’t sayin’ much. I could feel a whole lot better
If you were just here by my side to show me how

Well, I’m standin’ in line in the rain to see a movie starring Gregory Peck
Yeah, but you know it’s not the one that I had in mind
He’s got a new one out now, I don’t even know what it’s about
But I’ll see him in anything so I’ll stand in line

Brownsville girl with your Brownsville curls
Teeth like pearls shining like the moon above
Brownsville girl, show me all around the world
Brownsville girl, you’re my honey love

You know, it’s funny how things never turn out the way you had ’em planned
The only thing we knew for sure about Henry Porter is that his name wasn’t Henry Porter
And you know there was somethin’ about you baby that I liked that was always too good for this world
Just like you always said there was somethin’ about me you liked
that I left behind in the French Quarter

Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content
I don’t have any regrets, they can talk about me plenty when I’m gone
You always said people don’t do what they believe in, they just do what’s most convenient, then they repent
And I always said, “Hang on to me, baby, and let’s hope that the roof stays on”

There was a movie I seen one time, I think I sat through it twice
I don’t remember who I was or where I was bound
All I remember about it was it starred Gregory Peck, he wore a gun
and he was shot in the back
Seems like a long time ago, long before the stars were torn down

Brownsville girl with your Brownsville curls
Teeth like pearls shining like the moon above
Brownsville girl, show me all around the world
Brownsville girl, you’re my honey love

Copyright © 1986 by Special Rider Music

Been meaning to post this for a while.

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This is Big News, folks. The Big Country (1958) has been listed as an upcoming (as in May 24th) Blu-ray release — exclusively at Walmart. Walmart’s really stingy with the details and there’s no artwork to be found (someone placed a nice suggestion, above, on a forum).

If ever a picture cried out for the high-definition treatment, it’s this one. William Wyler made maximum use of the Technirama process, with stunning vistas that live up to the film’s title. The scenery is as much a character as the cast, which is a good one, by the way: Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons, Chuck Connors and Burl Ives (who won an Oscar for his incredible, and incredibly mean, performance). The opening credits were created by Saul Bass and the score by Jerome Moross is one of the best to ever grace a Western.

For years, The Big Country did nothing for me — it was a disaster in Sunday-afternoon TV showings. Many of you out there in Blogsylvania talked this one up, and I gave it a second chance. I was wrong, y’all were right. This is a great film — one of the few instances where “epic” isn’t a four-letter word. Quite an accomplishment.

The standard DVD is only OK. The picture’s undergone a restoration in recent years (on film, no less), and there are rumors of the stereo tracks being located. The old laserdisc featured a lot of extras — interviews, commentary, isolated score and more. Let’s hope those new elements and old supplements make up The Big Country we’ll be treated to — a Big Improvement rather than a Big Gyp.

Moral of the story: It’s getting harder and harder to put off buying a Blu-ray machine.

Update (6/1/2011): The Blu-ray of The Big Country, seen at left, turns out to be mono. The stereo tracks still haven’t turned up, but the non-compressed mono has plenty of punch to it. The score sounds like a million bucks.

Video-wise, this is a huge improvement over the old standard DVD, and from what I’ve heard, it’s the same gorgeous transfer that’s been turning up on TCM of late. It’s sharp as a tack.

The Big Country on Blu-ray is exclusive to Walmart. Which means there’s probably a copy within five minutes of your home. My copy was a birthday gift from my wife and daughter.

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