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Archive for the ‘John Ireland’ Category

Lippert

A few weeks ago, I broke my glasses and began relying on an old (pre-trifocals) pair while I scrambled for an eye exam and new frames. Reading became very, very difficult. Not the best time to receive a book you’re really excited about. But that’s exactly when Mark Thomas McGee’s Talk’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive: The Films Of Robert L. Lippert, from BearManor Media, turned up in my mailbox.

Lippert Pictures (and related companies) cranked out cheap little Westerns like 1952′s Outlaw Women, along with gems such as Sam Fuller’s I Shot Jesse James (1949) and The Quiet Gun (1957). (They covered the other genres, too.) I’m a big fan of these films and was determined to make my way through the book with or without spectacles, holding it so close I risked paper cuts on my nose.

McGee set the book up very well. The first 80 pages or so read as a biography and history of Lippert and his career, from the theater business to film production. I had a working knowledge of the Lippert story going in, but was always coming upon something I didn’t know. There’s a filmography, arranged by company, that makes up the bulk of the book. And finally, there’s a listing of the Lippert theaters (the closest to me was in Chattanooga, TN).

red desert HS

What’s not to like about a book like this? It’s packed with information on movies I grew up with, movies I love. Rocketship X-M (1950). The Steel Helmet (1951). Superman And The Mole Men (1951). Forty Guns (1957). Showdown At Boot Hill (1958). The Fly (1958). The Alligator People (1959). House Of The Damned (1963). They’re all in here, and you’ll come away with a better understanding of what went into getting them made. Where I think McGee really excelled was in making sure the book, as informative as it is, stayed as fun as the films it’s about. (The same goes for his previous books on Roger Corman and AIP.)

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If there’s a downside to this book, it’s that the filmography points out film after film that you’d love to track down and see. You’ll find a lot of them available from Kit Parker Films and VCI, and others scattered here and there. Some of the Fullers were even given the Criterion treatment. As for the rest, well, happy hunting.

It’s very easy to recommend Mark Thomas McGee’s Talk’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive: The Films Of Robert L. Lippert. Now that my new glasses are in, I’m reading it a second time.

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OK at AFI

Today (Monday), Tuesday and Thursday, the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD will run a 35mm print of John Sturges’ Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957). It’s part of a Burt Lancaster series that’s been going on since February.

Of course, the new Blu-ray of Gunfight is wonderful, but the chance to see it on film is something not to be missed.

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Gunfight at the OK Corral RLC

VistaVision is a wonderful thing on Blu-ray, and here’s one I’ve been waiting for — Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957).

It’s coming from Warners and Paramount on March 11, 2014. Also on the way are a couple John Wayne – Howard Hawks pictures, Hatari! (1962) and El Dorado (1967).

Thanks for the tip, Paula.

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Roger Corman’s Gunslinger (1956), maybe my daughter’s favorite 50s Western (take that, Mystery Science Theater!), has been announced for DVD release from Timeless Media Group on October 15. The set, another Movies 4 You Western Film Collection — also offers Clint Walker and Barry Sullivan in Yuma (1971), Terence Hill in the spaghetti western Man Of The East (1971) and Pioneer Woman (1973). An odd grouping, maybe, but you can’t beat the $6.95 list price.

I’ve written about Gunslinger before, and I’m happy to know it’s going to be available Stateside. Beverly Garland is always terrific, and she’s so cool in this one. Not sure if it’ll be widescreen or not — the PAL version is, and it’s as nice-looking as this cheap little picture is probably capable of looking. And as ridiculous as it sounds, all of us in the Roan household would love to see it make its way to Blu-ray.

UPDATE 9/30/13: Timeless has served up the same widescreen transfer of Gunslinger as the UK release. It’s 1.85, which AIP called “Wide Vision”on the poster. The contrast levels fluctuate a bit, probably the result of the constant rain that plagued its six-day shooting schedule — this is a nice transfer of a cheap movie. Any issues come from Iverson Ranch in 1956, not from the film transfer suite.

As far the other titles, Man Of The East looks terrific — I love the look of those Techniscope spaghetti westerns. Yuma is soft.

Gunslinger HS sized

What a great poster, too! Reynold Brown, I think.

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Depending on your outlook, this latest set from Sony and Turner Classics might be seen as a prayer answered. The Randolph Scott Westerns Collection gathers up four really good ones for a September release:

Coroner Creek (1948) This tough Cinecolor picture from Ray Enright, based on a Luke Short novel, is one of Scott’s best pre-Boetticher Westerns. His character here is practically a prototype for the burned-out, obsessed guy we know from the Ranowns.

The Walking Hills (1949) is John Sturges’ first Western. Scott is joined by Ella Raines, Edgar Buchanan, Arthur Kennedy and folk singer Josh White. The crisp black and white location work in Death Valley is really something to see.

The Doolins Of Oklahoma (1949, above) comes from Gordon Douglas. George Macready, Louise Allbritton, John Ireland and Noah Beery Jr. are on hand. Douglas has Yakima Canutt on his second unit, and as you’d expect, the action scenes are excellent.

7th Cavalry (1956) comes up on this blog quite often, as we’ve warned each other about some lousy DVDs. It’s a Joseph H. Lewis cavalry picture in Technicolor and widescreen (1.85), with Barbara Hale, Jay C. Flippen, Frank Faylen, Leo Gordon, Denver Pyle, Harry Carey Jr. and Michael Pate. It’s not as strong as A Lawless Street (1955), Scott and Lewis’ previous collaboration, but the cast and director alone make it worthwhile. Cross your fingers that it’s presented 16×9.

Picture 38

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Picture 2

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

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Sometimes the story of the making of a film can be better than the film itself. And sometimes the writer can’t really add much to the source material they’ve managed to dig up.

Roger Corman: “I did four Westerns, all distributed by AIP. Two of them were my ideas and two were AIP’s ideas — the titles alone will tell you which were which. The two that were my ideas were Five Guns West and Gunslinger (both 1956). The two that were AIP’s ideas were Apache Woman and The Oklahoma Woman (both 1955).”

Charles B Griffith: “Roger suggested a Western in which a sheriff dies trying to clean up a town and his widow carries out his work. That became Gunslinger, the first of many pictures I wrote for Roger.”

Corman: “Gunslinger was made around February 1956, just as LATSE and the studios renegotiated a five-day work week instead of six. So I decided to squeeze in one last low-budget, six-day western before the new contract went into effect.”

Beverly: “There were no frills on Roger’s pictures; you put up with a lot, but you were young and you laughed and you certainly weren’t anywhere close to being a star. You just believed that that’s how people worked… You were out there moving furniture with the grips and everybody else… There were no stars, there were no egos; we all did our thing and worked hard at it, and we all loved it and that’s what made these pictures work!”

Corman: “My brother Gene and I co-financed this movie. We had a lot at stake and not much money. Of course, the movie was a disaster from the beginning… The shooting was dismal. Rain. Overcast skies. Wind. It was so dark outside there was almost no exposure on the camera. You couldn’t see the background scenery in any of the shots, either. Sometimes I’d have to shoot an entire sequence with actors huddled under the overhead tarp.”

Beverly Garland: “The first scene we shot of Gunslinger was an unforgettable one. It was a love scene where John Ireland and I were leaning on this tree. It was 6:30 in the morning, we were colder than good God’s head and our teeth were chattering. When it was time to say our lines we somehow had to manage to stop the chattering. And as we started to do our love scene, these huge red ants began crawling all over us — so not only was it freezing cold, but these ants were biting the hell out of us! You can actually see the ants on us when you watch the film!”

Corman: “It rained five days out of six and it was the only time I ever went over schedule — I took seven days… I stretched a tarp over a makeshift stand and shot the actors beneath it, with the rain in the background… Whenever the sun broke through, I stopped whatever I was shooting and raced to set up some long shots from my list of priority exterior shots. The rain forced me to shoot almost everything in close-ups or medium close-ups. We rewrote exterior scenes for the interiors of the ranch’s buildings.”

Allison Hayes broke her arm and had to leave the set.

Corman: “Her horse slipped in the mud and she fell off and broke her arm. While we waited for a car to get down through the mud and take her to a hospital, I shot a reel of close-ups of Allison looking left, looking right, and so on… I’d have to finish her scenes with a double and this was my only chance to get some close-ups of her. I’d figure out later how to cut them in.”

Beverly Garland: “I always wondered if Allison broke her arm just to get off the picture and out of the rain.”

Miss Garland didn’t come out of the picture unscathed.

Beverly Garland: “I was supposed to come running out of a saloon, get on a horse and ride out of town as fast as I could, I looked at this horse, and it was quite large! And I said to myself, the only thing I can do is make a flying leap and get on him and go. So I come out of the saloon, down the stairs and I leap — and over the horse I go! I went right over the side of the horse! Roger said, “Okay, let’s do it again.” Oh God, I thought! So I came running down the stairs again in those boots, and as I did my ankle just twisted underneath me and I sprained it badly — but I managed to get on the horse! When I went home that night I thought it would feel so good to put my ankle in a warm bath, so I did — and I left it there for about an hour. And the next day, my ankle was about twice its normal size! And I had to work! This was toward the end of the picture, so I couldn’t be replaced, and practically all the remaining scenes were fight scenes — you know, all the prostitutes, getting them out of town and such. Somebody had to drive me to work. When I got there, Roger looked at it and said, “Well, we have to start shooting.” Naturally, Roger! You could be dead and Roger would prop you up in a chair! So I said, “All right, what do we do? There’s no way I can walk.” I couldn’t even get my boot on! So Roger agreed then to call a doctor, and the doctor brought this giant novocaine needle. They shot the novocaine into the bone, which was the most painful thing… But then I felt marvelous! So they took the boot and split it in the back and taped it on my foot, and I worked all day. I did all the fight scenes, and I ran and jumped and did whatever — and I couldn’t walk for a week after that! I had screwed up my ankle so bad!”

Corman: “It was one of the worst experiences of my life.”

Beverly Garland: “Of all my films for Roger Corman, Gunslinger is my favorite. The picture was made under miserable conditions… there was rain, it was cold, and I injured my ankle. But I loved the part; I loved playing the sheriff and I loved working with John Ireland. Everybody tells me how much they love It Conquered The World or Not Of This Earth; they’re OK, but I like to get down and dirty. In Gunslinger, I had some good fights, I got to wear pants, I got to carry a gun — I got to be the sheriff!”

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SOURCES: How I Made A Hundred Movies in Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime by Roger Corman & Jim Jerome; The Films Of Roger Corman by Ed Naha; The World Of Roger Corman by J. Philip di Franco; Fast And Furious: The Story of AIP by Mark Thomas McGee; I Was A Monster Maker by Tom Weaver; Filmfax #46; and Scarlet Street #10

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