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Archive for the ‘Lippert/Regal’ Category

If you’ve spent much time on this blog, you’ve probably wondered “Why’s this guy so hung up on those Regalscope pictures?” Not so sure myself.

I recently wrote a short piece on them for The Old Corrall at classicflix.com. Click on Charles Bronson, from 1958’s Showdown At Boot Hill, to read it.

And let’s not forget Mark Thomas McGee’s Talk’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive: The Films Of Robert L. Lippert, an excellent book that covers the Regalscope films.

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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).

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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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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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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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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Ambush at CP still cropped

When the Charles Bronson Regalscope Western Showdown At Boot Hill (1958) showed up on Blu-ray, it seemed too good to be true. For decades, it’s been impossible to see these things in their proper black-and-white ‘Scope glory — unless you came across a 16mm print or a bootleg tape made from one. (An adapted ‘Scope print of Escape From Red Rock sits nearby.) Designed to show off their 2.35 format, the Regalscopes are absolutely unwatchable when they’re pan-and-scan.

Now we can thank Olive Films for Clint Eastwood in Ambush At Cimarron Pass (1958), set for a September 24 release. Clint has called it the worst Western ever made, though I certainly wouldn’t go that far. Scott Brady is the star, along with Margia Dean and Eastwood as a young hothead. All the Regalscope pictures are cheap — this one isn’t able to rise above its budget in the way Stagecoach To Fury (1956) and The Quiet Gun (1957) do. Of course, an early Eastwood role will be the appeal for most folks.

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Also on the way is The Americano (1955), with Glenn Ford, Frank Lovejoy, Cesar Romero and Ursula Thiess. This troubled production was begun by Budd Boetticher in Brazil and finished some time later by William Castle (seen below with executive producer Sam Wiesenthal and Ursula Thiess).

Also on the way is John Wayne, Marie Windsor and Oliver Hardy in Republic’s The Fighting Kentuckian (1949) and Joseph H. Lewis’ The Big Combo (1955, not a Western, but terrific).

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showdownatboothill scope title

John Knight just brought this to my attention. Olive Films has announced Showdown At Boot Hill (1958) for DVD and Blu-ray release in June. For me and many of you out there, a widescreen presentation of a Regalscope picture is a dream come true. To be able to enjoy every bargain-basement, black-and-white Scope detail in high-definition is icing on the cake.

70814_largeShowdown stars Charles Bronson, Robert Hutton, John Carradine, Carole Mathews and Argentina Brunetti. It’s a very early lead for Bronson — his TV show Man With A Camera would debut in late 1958. Director Gene Fowler Jr. worked as an editor for the bulk of his career, cutting everything from Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957) and Monte Walsh (1970) to Gilligan’s Island and The Waltons. The screenplay is by Louis Vittes, who also wrote I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958) and a number of episodes of Rawhide.

Olive Films also has the rights to Ambush At Cimarron Pass (1958), a Regalscope starring Scott Brady, Margia Dean and Clint Eastwood. Let’s hope it’s not far behind.

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I’m really happy to have been involved, even to a tiny extent, with the CD release of a couple of 50s Western scores — Paul Dunlap’s score for Hellgate (1952) and Bert Shefter’s music for The Tall Texan (1953) — from David Schecter’s label Monstrous Movie Music. Both are Lippert pictures, available on DVD from Kit Parker and VCI.

Over the course of his career, Paul Dunlap scored over a hundred films, mostly B movies of various sorts — from I was A Teenage Werewolf (1957) to Shock Corridor (1963). There were lots of Westerns: Jack Slade (1953), Stranger  On Horseback (1955), The Quiet Gun (1956) and Oregon Trail (1959), to name just a few. While Dunlap wasn’t a big fan of some of the films he worked on, his name’s on some films I love. Every seen Big House U.S.A. or Shack Out On 101 (both 1955)?

Hellgate is an excellent film, a low-budget reworking of John Ford’s Prisoner Of Shark Island (1936). Sterling Hayden, Ward Bond, Joan Leslie and James Arness are directed by Charles Marquis Warren. It’s obvious Dunlap liked this film, and he came through with a terrific score. The CD presents the music in sequence, cue by cue, from a set of original acetates (a few cues have been lost to time). Dunlap’s score for The Lost Continent, a 1951 sci-fi picture starring Cesar Romero, is also included.

1974_Cover__Main_Page_Bert Shefter was a Russian-born concert pianist and conductor. He scored his first film in 1950 and by the time he retired, had more than 60 movies and hundreds and hundreds of TV shows to his credit. His scores include Cattle Empire (1958), Return Of The Fly (1959) and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965). His work on It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) really knocked me out. Like Dunlap, Shefter never coasted, never give less than 100% — even if if the picture didn’t really deserve it.

The Tall Texan was directed by Elmo Williams, the Oscar-winning editor of High Noon, and shot by Joseph Biroc. A solid, low-budget 50s Western (it cost just $100,000), it stars Lloyd Bridges, Marie Windsor and Lee J. Cobb. Shefter gives themes to several of the main characters, including a menacing piece for the Indians, and makes good use of a couple popular tunes, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Blow The Man Down.”

I really like these films, and it’s easy to recommend these CDs. Monstrous Movie Music has assembled a nice package, with thorough notes and some fascinating archival material. David Schecter says that if these titles do well, there are other 50s Western scores he’d like to get around to. Let’s help make sure he can.

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Forrest Tucker 
(February 12, 1919 – October 25, 1986)

To commemorate his birthday, here’s a still of Forrest Tucker from the Regalscope picture The Quiet Gun (1956). One of the better Regals, and one of Tucker’s better parts of his many 50s Westerns, it’s shame it’s so hard to see. (I have a pan-and-scan copy that I can’t make myself watch.)

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Don’t know if you’ve been naughty or nice, but one thing is certain: you people sure know your cowboy movies. Going through your responses for this year’s Want List, I was reminded of several films I’d forgotten. Thanks to everyone who played along.

The titles have been grouped by studio, according to their original release — independent productions such as The Hired Gun (1957) are with their distributor (MGM in this case). I’ve indicated the widescreen films (off the top of my head, not researched — sorry, it was really late).

20th Century-Fox
Canadian Pacific (1949)
Caribou Trail (1950)
The Gambler From Natchez (1954)
Pony Soldier (1952)
Sierra Baron (1958, Scope)
The Silver Whip (1953)

Allied Artists/Monogram
Arrow In The Dust (1954)
At Gunpoint (1955, Scope)
Bitter Creek (1954)
Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957, Scope)
Fargo (1952)
Jack Slade (1953)
Kansas Territory (1952)
Oregon Passage (1957, Scope)
The Rawhide Trail (1958)
The Tall Stranger (1957, Scope)
Wild Stallion (1952)

American International
Gunslinger (1956)

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Columbia
Ambush At Tomahawk Gap (1953)
Cripple Creek (1952)
Domino Kid (1957)
The Doolins Of Oklahoma (1949)
Face Of A Fugitive (1959)
Fury At Gunsight Pass (1956)
The Gunfighters (1947)
Gunman’s Walk (1958, Scope)
The Hard Man (1958)
Jack McCall, Desperado (1953)
Jesse James Vs. The Daltons (1954)
The Pathfinder (1953)
Reprisal! (1956)
Stage To Tucson (1950)
The Texas Rangers (1951)
The Walking Hills (1949)

MGM
Heaven With A Gun (1969)
The Hired Gun (1957, Scope)

Paramount
The Eagle And The Hawk (1950)
Flaming Feather
(1952)
Red Mountain (1951)

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Regal (all RegalScope)
Ambush At Cimarron Pass (1958)
Apache Warrior (1957)
Badlands Of Montana (1957)
Copper Sky (1957)
Frontier Gun (1958)
The Quiet Gun (1956)
Ride A Violent Mile (1957)
Showdown At Boot Hill (1958)

Republic
Brimstone (1949)
California Passage (1950)
Dakota Incident (1956)
Hellfire (1949)
Last Stagecoach West (1957, Naturama)
A Man Alone (1955)
Man Or Gun (1958, Naturama)
Ride The Man Down (1953)
The Road To Denver (1955)
Rock Island Trail (1950)
The Savage Horde (1950)
The Showdown (1950)
Stranger At My Door (1956)
Timberjack (1955)
Trail Of Robin Hood (uncut, 1950)
Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)

RKO
The Big Sky (1952)
Blood On The Moon (1948)
Great Day In The Morning (1956, SuperScope)
The Lusty Men (1952)
Run Of The Arrow (1957)
Treasure Of Poncho Villa (1955, SuperScope)

United Artists
Abilene Town (1946)
Beast Of Hollow Mountain (1956, Scope)
Gun Belt (1953)
Ride Out For Revenge (1957)

Destry

Universal (-International)
Apache Drums (1951)
Black Horse Canyon (1954)
Bronco Buster (1952)
A Day Of Fury (1956)
Day Of The Bad Man (1958, Scope)
Destry (1954)
Four Guns To The Border (1954)
Incident At Phantom Hill (1966, Scope)
Last Of The Fast Guns (1958, Scope)
The Lone Hand (1953)
The Man From Bitter Ridge (1955)
Man Without A Star (1955)
Money, Women And Guns (1958, Scope)
Rails Into Laramie (1954)
Raw Edge (1956)
Saddle Tramp (1950)
The Saga Of Hemp Brown (1959, Scope)
Showdown At Abilene (1956)
Slim Carter (1957)
The Spoilers (1956)
Stagecoach To Dancer’s Rock (1962)
Star In The Dust (1956)
Walk The Proud Land (1956, Scope)
The Yellow Mountain (1954)

Warner Bros.
The Big Land (1957, Scope)
The Bounty Hunter (1954)
Charge At Feather River (1953)
Drum Beat (1954, Scope)
Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend (1958)
South Of St. Louis (1949)
Sugarfoot (1951)

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Here’s Gloria Talbott, Fred MacMurray and the great John Dierkes in The Oregon Trail (1959), which after much speculation and lots of blog-commenting time, is finally available from the Fox Cinema Archives MOD program. As one of the CinemaScope films Lippert Pictures produced for 20th Century-Fox in the late 50s (The Fly was one, too), it’s something I’m looking forward to.

Though I’m thrilled about this release, which has been officially listed as widescreen, I have a gripe. If what you see at  left is indeed what the packaging looks like, I’m disappointed. A quick Google image search turns up better stuff than that — in color, too. Maybe they should reach out to the collector community — namely, us — for access to better material.

Thanks to John Knight for the tip.

On a completely unrelated note: my daughter and I watched a couple episodes of The Lone Ranger last night — one with James H. Griffith and the other with Hank Worden. What a treat.

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