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Archive for the ‘Jack Arnold’ Category

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Martha Hyer
(August 10, 1924 – May 31, 2014)

Laura told me last night that Martha Hyer had passed away at 89.

Her list of credits reads like a checklist for my cinematic upbringing: a bunch of 50s Westerns (including a few Tim Holt pictures), an episode of The Lone Ranger, Abbott & Costello Go To Mars (1953), Bikini Beach (1964), even an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. She turned up a lot, which was fine by me. I always liked her.

In 1966, she married producer Hal Wallis, not long after appearing in his The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965), alongside John Wayne and Dean Martin. After his death in 1986, she moved to Santa Fe and lived there till her passing.

Click on the shampoo ad for an obituary. Note that the ad promotes one of her best 50s Westerns, Red Sundown (1956). It’s a favorite of mine — and of many of you out there.

 

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Brian over at Rupert Pupkin Speaks has been running an ongoing series of posts on underrated Westerns, getting lists from all sorts of folks. I was honored to be among those he asked to play along. Be sure to scroll around and see the other lists. Some great stuff. I was really glad to see Joe Dante suggest No Name On The Bullet (1959). He mentioned it in an interview years ago, and it helped start my drive to see as many of these things as I could.

Naturally, I stuck with the 50s and recommended films we’ve gone over here time and time again. Click on De Niro and off you go.

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Picture 22

According to the Sweetwater Reporter, this would’ve been a good weekend to be in Sweetwater, Texas. It was probably hot as blazes, but there were sure plenty of cool movies to see.

I know it’s not a Western, but Republic’s Hell’s Half Acre (1954) has to be seen to be believed. Olive Films has given you the chance — it’s out on DVD and Blu-ray.

My wife has been doing some research on my family’s history and came upon a great online Texas newspaper search tool. Obviously, I’m using it for a different purpose.

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Jack Arnold’s Red Sundown (1956), an excellent Universal Western starring Rory Calhoun, Martha Hyer and Dean Jagger, can be seen on Encore Westerns on October 28.

Check your listings, mark your calendar, set your DVR.

Thanks to Laura for the tip.

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The 3-D Film Archive has posted a terrific new article, “An In-Depth Look At Creature From The Black Lagoon.” This is a site that just keeps getting better and better — be sure to check out their history of the early-50s widescreen race.

Going beyond Creature, the article covers Universal’s contributions to 3-D technology and widescreen exhibition, which I found fascinating. I also didn’t realize that by the time of Creature‘s release, the 3-D fad was already dying out, and many of its bookings were flat. (It’s amazing they even bothered with 3-D for Revenge Of The Creature.)

They also review the new 3-D Blu-ray edition of Creature From The Black Lagoon, appearing in the eight-disc set Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection. I’ve heard many positive things about the film’s new transfer, but was alarmed to learn here of its re-convergence — director Jack Arnold’s unique, deeper effects set it apart from other 3-D pictures.

Since Julie Adams stars in Creature, I opted for a couple stills from one of her other Universal 3-D films, Wings Of The Hawk (1953). It co-stars Van Heflin and was directed by Budd Boetticher. Sadly, it’s very hard to see these days.

Speaking of Miss Adams, have you read her book?

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Jack Arnold didn’t make many Westerns, but when he did, the results were terrific (Red Sundown, No Name On The Bullet). The Man From Bitter Ridge (1955) was his first. It’s got one of those great mid-50s Universal-International casts: Lex Barker, Mara Corday, Stephen McNally, John Dehner, Ray Teal and Warren Stevens.

It’s coming to DVD from Koch in Germany — a company that thankfully avoids those forced English subtitles we’re always complaining about. Who knows when Universal will get around to releasing this in the States, making this well worth tracking down through whatever international source your prefer. Oh, and it’s “spectacular in Eastman Color.”

Also coming is Untamed Frontier (1952), a Hugo Fregonese picture starring Joseph Cotton. (Fregonese was married to Faith Domergue when he made this.)

Thanks to John Knight for the news.

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Red Sundown (1956) is a better-than-average Universal Western (of course, they’re all worth seeking out). Much of what sets this picture apart is the direction of Jack Arnold, a master of medium-budget, contract film-making. But it’s pretty inventive across the board, as this sequence (one of my favorites in all of 50s Westerns) makes clear.

Gunslingers Alec Longmire (Rory Calhoun) and Bud Purvis (James Millican) are on the run from a posse (led by Leo Gordon) after Alec shoots a ranch hand in self defense. They take refuge in a small cabin and are quickly surrounded. Buck tells Alec how he’d like to hang up his guns and settle down.

It’s not long before the shooting starts and Bud is gut shot. Then the ranch hands decide to burn the gunfighters out. Bud comes up with a plan to save Alec’s life.

Bud helps Alec bury himself in a shallow trench in the cabin’s dirt floor, using the stovepipe for air. Alec reluctantly agrees to the plan, and Bud makes him promise that if he survives, he’ll quit living by his guns.

With Alec concealed and the cabin an inferno, Bud runs outside and is gunned down. Once the fire dies down, the ranchers assume Alec has burned to death and ride away. Alex does indeed try to hang up his guns — but we all know how hard that is.

Briskly directed by Arnold, you never get a chance to think about how implausible it all is. A very memorable sequence — pulled directly from its source novel, Back Trail by Lewis B. Patten.

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