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Archive for the ‘Marie Windsor’ Category

Hellfire at BACOC Jan 20 flyer sized

This is something I’ve been wanting to put together for a very, very long time. Hellfire (1949) will run at Brooks Avenue Church Of Christ here in Raleigh, NC on January 20, 2015.

First, I shopped around for a 16mm print, but what I found was either black & white or the color’d turned pink. Then I figured I’d wait for a DVD or Blu-ray from Olive Films. No luck there, as it dropped off their release schedule. So I finally decided to go with the best-looking material I could find.

Elliott considered Hellfire his best film (he was one of the producers), and Marie Windsor always listed it as a personal favorite (along with The Narrow Margin and The Killing). Who am I to argue? It’s one of my favorite Westerns, a movie that gets better every time I see it.

Believe it or not, Republic sometimes paired Hellfire with Brimstone (1949), a Rod Cameron Western.

Thanks to Jim Briggs for designing the flyer.

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Hellfire TC

So far, the great cinematographer Jack A. Marta has hardly been mentioned here. I’m ashamed and with today’s Wild Bill Wednesday, I’m taking care of it. So many outstanding movies. What Price Glory (1926). The Night Riders (1939). Dark Command (1940). Flying Tigers (1942). Hellfire (1949). Trigger, Jr. (1950). Spoilers Of The Plains (1951). The Last Command (1955). The Bonnie Parker Story (1958). Cat Ballou (1965). Duel (1971).

On that last one, Steven Spielberg’s breakthrough TV movie Duel, Marta’s experience shooting outdoors in the desert helped get the thing completed on its 10-day schedule.

Steven Spielberg (from the excellent book Steven Spielberg And Duel: The Making Of A Film Career): “Jack was a sweetheart. He was just a kind, gentle soul who you know had never worked that fast in his entire career; none of us had, and yet there was nothing he didn’t do or couldn’t do, and he really enjoyed himself.”

No offense to Mr. Spielberg, but I have a feeling Duel‘s 10-day shoot, though exhausting, was probably nothing new for Marta, who’d done beautiful work on Republic’s tight schedules, in both black and white and Trucolor, and worked on plenty of television shows like Route 66 and Batman.

When Elliott co-produced Hellfire (below) for Republic release, a film he saw as a very special project (and considered his best film), Jack Marta was the director of photography. Was he randomly assigned the job by Republic, or did Elliott request him after working together on The Gallant Legion (1948) and the Trucolor The Last Bandit (1949)? (I’m getting pretty good at finding new ways to sneak Hellfire into this blog.)

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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).

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.)

copper sky

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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Bounty Hunter RS MW sized

Marie Windsor
(December 11, 1919 – December 10, 2000)

Let’s remember my favorite actress, Marie Windsor, on her birthday. She’s seen here in The Bounty Hunter (1954) with Randolph Scott and Howard Petrie. I fought the urge to highlight yet another still from Hellfire (1949).

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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.

Picture 87

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).

william-castle-sam-wiesenthal-ursula-thiess

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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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terreurlouestcopieDirected by Andre de Toth
Screen Play by Winston Miller
From a story by Winston Miller and Finlay McDermid
Director of Photography: Edwin DuPar, ASC
Music by David Buttolph
Film Editor: Clarence Kolster, ACE

CAST: Randolph Scott (Jim Kipp/James Collins), Dolores Dorn (Julie Spencer), Marie Windsor (Alice Williams), Howard Petrie (Sheriff Brand), Harry Antrim (Dr. R.L. Spencer), Robert Keys (George Williams), Ernest Borgnine (Bill Rachin), Dubb Taylor (Eli Danvers), Tyler MacDuff (Vance Edwards), Archie Twitchell (Harrison), Paul Picerni, Phil Chambers, Mary Lou Holloway.

____________________

Randolph Scott made six films with director Andre de Toth — two for Columbia, four for Warner Bros. The first two, Man In The Saddle (1951) and Carson City (1952) are quite good. But by the time they got to The Bounty Hunter (1954), their sixth collaboration, a noticeable fatigue was beginning to set in.

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It’s a shame because the story’s a good one (Winston Miller also wrote Ford’s My Darling Clementine), with Scott a notorious bounty hunter recruited by the Pinkerton Agency to find some murderous train robbers and recover their loot. Scott’s a cold, hard, driven man here — a prototype for his later work with Budd Boetticher. He rides into Twin Forks and starts nosing around, putting the entire town on edge — an idea we’d see again with Audie Murphy in No Name On The Bullet (1959). Red herrings come fast and furious, making it impossible to figure out who the bandits are, which builds tension as it heads toward a satisfying end.

De Toth’s action scenes in The Bounty Hunter are uninspired, surprising since action’s usually his strong suit.

De Toth: “I had the feeling that I was at a dead end. There was less and less left in me to give.”*

There’s less cutting, slower pacing, clumsy staging and a noticeable sloppiness to the action sequences. For instance, the 3-D effect when Randy shoots off the the sheriff’s hat (sending it sailing, lazily, toward the camera) is not only silly, but poorly done. It would never have made the cut in, say, Carson City.

De Toth was one of the best of the stereoscopic directors, if not the best — he also directed House Of Wax and Scott’s The Stranger Wore A Gun (both 1953). He was blind in one eye and therefore unable to see depth. Shot in the summer of 1953, The Bounty Hunter wasn’t released until September 1954. By then, the 3-D craze has peaked and was on its way out, so there were no 3-D engagements. Interestingly, the transfer I saw still contained 3-D’s necessary intermission card. Bounty Hunter intermission card

As usual, Scott is joined by an able cast. Dolores Dorn has a good part as the good girl, and Marie Windsor is typically wonderful as the bad one.

Marie Windsor: “Randolph Scott was such a gentleman, and as for Ernest Borgnine, I sure like that man—he’s a good actor, too!”**

Borgnine is one of the townspeople under suspicion by Scott (and us), along with Dub Taylor (listed as “Dubb” in the credits) and Howard Petrie. They’re every bit as good here as you’d expect.

pih13356

While it’s easy to find fault with The Bounty Hunter, it’s impossible for me to be completely objective about it. After all, it’s a 50s Western starring my favorite actor and actress: Randolph Scott and Marie Windsor. The Scott-Boetticher pictures (the Ranown Cycle) showed us just what a Randolph Scott movie could be, and films like The Bounty Hunter — solid, entertaining medium-budget Westerns — suffer by comparison today. There can only be one Seven Men From Now (1956). The intriguing story and Scott’s early attempt at an anti-hero make The Bounty Hunter maybe more interesting than good — but like any chance to spend 75 minutes or so in the company of Scott, Windsor or de Toth, well worth your time.

The Bounty Hunter is unavailable on DVD or Blu-ray in the States. It falls under the jurisdiction of Warner Archive. I contacted them about it through their Facebook page and was told it’s on hold, as they consider a 3-D Blu-ray release.

SOURCES: * De Toth On De Toth by Andre de Toth and Anthony Slide; ** an interview appearing on Western Clippings,

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