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Archive for the ‘Hank Worden’ Category

On Facebook, Cricket White Green recently posted some old photographs of films being shot at White’s Ranch in Moab, Utah. Here’s a few showing location work for John Ford’s wonderful Wagon Master (1950).

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That’s Hank Worden on the left.

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Left to right: Hank Worden, Charles Kemper and Ward Bond.1509048_10203213393519486_full

The crew and the wagon train. Looks like some reflectors on the right.

Thanks for letting me share these, Cricket!

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Olive Films have announced a few titles they’ll have to us in 2014. There are three 50s Westerns in there, and they’re good ones.

Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)
Directed by Allan Dwan
Cast: John Lund, Brian Donlevy, Joan Leslie
Dwan directs a sort-of spoof for Repubic. Good stuff.

Stranger At My Door (1956)
Directed by William Witney
Cast: Macdonald Carey, Patricia Medina, Skip Homeier, Slim Pickins
This film should be much better known than it is. The scene with the horse (if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean) is Witney at his best.

The Quiet Gun (1957)
Directed by William F. Claxton
Cast: Forrest Tucker, Lee Van Cleef, Mara Corday, Jim Davis, Hank Worden
Maybe the best Regalscope Western. I’m dying for this one!

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This video from FilmmakerIQ.com may not teach you anything you don’t already know, but it sure is arranged and presented well.

Up top is Hank Worden and Barry Sullivan in Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957) in CinemaScope.

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Directed by Louis King
Produced by André Hakim
Screenplay by Geoffrey Homes, from a story by Sam Hellman
Based on a book by Stuart Lake (Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal)
Director of Photography: Edward Cronjager
Film Editor: William B. Murphy
Musical director: Lionel Newman

CAST: Rory Calhoun (Chino Bull), Corinne Calvet (Frenchie Dumont), Cameron Mitchell (Mitch Hardin), Penny Edwards (Debbie Allen), Carl Betz (Loney Hogan), John Dehner (Harvey Logan), Raymond Greenleaf (Prudy), Victor Sutherland (Alcalde Lowery), Ethan Laidlaw, Robert J. Wilke, Harry Carter, Frank Ferguson, Harry Hines, Hank Worden, Paul E. Burns.

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If you were to measure the quality of a film by the character actors that turn up in it, Powder River (1953) would rank with the finest movies ever made. John Dehner, Frank Ferguson, James H. Griffith, Robert J. Wilke, Paul E. Burns, Ethan Laidlaw — the list goes on. (I’ve heard Hank Worden’s in it, but I didn’t see him.)

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It’s another variation on the Earp-Holliday story, with no mention of the O.K. Corral. Rory Calhoun is Chino Bull, an Earp-ish lawman who gives up his guns and badge to try a little prospecting — but is forced to put them back on when his partner (Frank Ferguson) is killed. Cameron Mitchell is Mitch Hardin, a take on Doc Holliday (a doctor with a brain tumor this time). Corrine Calvet runs the local saloon and Peggy Edwards (who stepped in at Republic when Dale Evans was on maternity leave, appearing in Trail Of Robin Hood and others) is the woman who comes from the East in search of Mitch. John Dehner is a gambler and Robert J. Wilke is, of course, a bad guy.

While we’ve seen all this play out in other films, some of them better (and featuring some of the same cast), there’s a freshness and watchability to Powder River that delays us from making the inevitable comparisons until long after its 77 minutes are up. (Face it, to compare this film to My Darling Clementine is both unfair and ridiculous.)

Rory Calhoun has a confidence and  easygoing manner that makes him an ideal 50s Western lead, and Powder River fits him like a glove. Cameron Mitchell is a seriously underrated actor, and his take on Holliday is intense, but avoiding the histrionics of other actors. They have a few good scenes together — I especially liked them talking shop in the saloon as Mitchell showed off his flashy gun belt. Good actors, solid script.

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The rest of the cast goes about its business, doing the things that kept them so busy working in so many of these films — and making each one better in the process.

Louis King, the brother of director Henry King (The Gunfighter), began his career as an actor in the Silents, and made the shift to directing long before sound came in. He was a busy contract director throughout the 30s and 40s — Charlie Chan, Bulldog Drummond, etc., and ended his career on TV (Adventures Of Wild Bill Hickock, The Deputy). Powder River was one of his last features, and his assured, unpretentious direction is a large part of its success. Is this a great film? Of course not. Would I watch a thousand just like it? Absolutely.

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The DVD-R from Fox Cinema Archives seems to have been transfered from a Technicolor print, and at certain points, it’s absolutely beautiful. But if you’ve seen a number of dye-transfer prints, you know they can be inconsistent, with registration, contrast and color varying quite a bit. That’s the case here, and while it doesn’t make for the kind of spotless, flawless experience we’re coming to expect — it’s what these films have looked like for decades. It’s sharp and clear and the audio is clean — and I like seeing those reel changeover cues make their appearance.

This is a minor Western that I certainly recommend — and a great introduction to the work of Rory Calhoun.

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Sorry for the short notice, but the Newport Beach Film Festival is screening The Searchers (1956) tomorrow at noon at the Island Cinema. The event is sponsored by the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

Ethan Wayne and Glenn Frankel, author of The Searchers: The Making Of An American Legend, will appear before the film.

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Jeffrey Hunter, Hank Worden and John Wayne commemorate Hit Number 500,000 on this blog with a little tequila. Thanks to all the fingers responsible for those clicks. I appreciate each and every one.

Of course, that image is from John Ford’s The Searchers (1956).

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Here’s a stack of production photos from John Ford’s The Horse Soldiers (1959). In them, you’ll see Ford, John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers and Willis Bouchey hard at work.

This last one isn’t a production shot, but it’s too beautiful to pass up.

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Hank Worden (born Norton Earl Worden)
July 23, 1901 – December 6, 1992

Back in the early days of this blog, as I was trying to figure out what this thing would and would not cover, I decided to put a real limit on birthdays, which felt a bit like filler. Along the way, I’ve decided not to commemorate the births of some of the genre’s real heavyweights.

Then there’s Hank Worden. There’s no way I could let this one go by. So many films were enriched by his presence, even if his part’s not much more than a cameo. And on the list of people who I’d like to have met, he’d be in the Top 10.

I probably don’t need to point out that the image above is from John Ford’s The Searchers (1956). So, to put a little Hank in your day, which of his many roles is your favorite?

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Hank Worden.

If you’re a 50s Westerns fan, a soft spot for Hank Worden is pretty much a given. Came across this photo today of Hank with David Lynch on the set of Twin Peaks.

Worden’s goofy manner seemed like a perfect match for Lynch’s skewed vision of just about everything. Shame he wasn’t around to appear in Lynch’s The Straight Story (1999). That would’ve been perfect.

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Kirk Douglas has a new book on the way from Open Road Media — I Am Spartacus: Making A Film, Breaking The Blacklist. I’m really looking forward to this one.

Here’s a brief sample I came across on making The Indian Fighter (1955) —

“The first Bryna production was a Western called Indian Fighter. I would star in it, along with a new film actor named Walter Matthau. Matthau was a trained stage actor, very successful on Broadway. We got on well. Like me, Walter was the son of Russian immigrants. There we were, two Jewish cowboys from New York riding horses together on a wilderness trail in Oregon. This is how good an actor Walter was. His first two pictures were Westerns and he hated horses. He was afraid of them. Every time Walter got up on a horse, he’d start cursing… in Yiddish: ‘G******, mamzer! You worthless piece of drek, you should be in a glue factory.’ But on film, he was as convincing as Tom Mix. Brilliant actor, funny guy.”

If you haven’t seen The Indian Fighter, you should. Any picture with Douglas, Matthau, Lon Chaney and Hank Worden is worth checking out. It’s also interesting to see how Andre de Toth used CinemaScope.

Mr. Douglas, I yanked out all your paragraph breaks. Sorry.

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