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Archive for the ‘Paramount’ Category

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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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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In my mind, Labor Day belongs to Jerry Lewis. His annual Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) telethon saw to that.

So today seems like the perfect time to highlight Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in Pardners (1956), their next-to-last film together.

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Jerry Lewis (from his book Dean And Me: A Love Story): “The best thing about Pardners, for Dean, was — after having been in love with Westerns all his life — he was actually starring in one. If he had known then that in only four years he’d be making Rio Bravo with John Wayne, he would have been in heaven.”

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Lewis: “The best thing for me was learning, from a man named Arvo Ojala, to quick-draw and twirl a pistol…”

Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin

Lewis: “The hardest thing about the picture was the crushing irony of Dean and me singing the film’s title number, written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn:

You and me, we’ll always be pardners, 
You and me, we’ll always be friends…”

You can support the MDA and their Show Of Strength Telethon here.

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Picture 9

It’s been announced that the Shane (1953) Blu-ray will be 1.37 after all — not the reformatted, reconfigured, reconstituted, regurgitated version we were all scared of. Cue a huge collective sigh of relief.

ANOTHER UPDATE (4/25/13): George Stevens, Jr. talks about the whole 1.66/1.37 controversy — and why he won’t be at the TCM screening.

Thanks to Laura and Paula for the news.

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Shane Wide Screen ad

As you may know, George Stevens’ Shane (1953) became a victim of the wide screen war of the early 50s. It was shot in the standard academy ratio (1.37:1) but cropped to 1.66 in theaters. The ad above, for an engagement in Youngstown, Ohio, shows how it was promoted. It was the first film exhibited in 1.66 — on Panoramic Giant-Sized Screens, thanks to a decree from Paramount.

There’s been a lot of speculation about how, and when, this classic Western would turn up on Blu-ray. Well, it’s in the works — and George Stevens, Jr. is prepping it for a 1.66 Blu-ray release this year, its 60th anniversary. You can read all about it here, in a piece that quickly wears out its welcome. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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While Loyal Griggs’ Oscar-winning cinematography is stunning in 1.37, which is how he composed it — and how we see it on DVD today — I’m really curious about the widescreen version. While it isn’t what Stevens (seen above with Alan Ladd and Van Heflin) intended, that’s how audiences saw it back in ’53. Either way, I bet those incredible vistas will be stunning on Blu-ray (even if we’re missing a bit of that blue Montana sky).

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UPDATE (3/29/13): This morning I received an email from David Raynor, who’s come through with some terrific information for this blog, usually about aspect ratios and exhibition. As you’ll see, prints were full frame and theaters would’ve been able to run it as they saw fit.

Hi, Toby,
I ran Shane at the cinema where I was a projectionist over 50 years ago and still have a couple of 35mm clippings from the print that I ran that I have scanned with my film scanner and here send to you as jpeg images. As the film was in Technicolor, the colour hasn’t faded and, as you can see, the film had a variable density optical soundtrack. By the time that I ran it, my cinema had adopted the 1.66:1 aspect ratio for non anamorphic films and this was later upgraded to 1.85:1, while CinemaScope was 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The idea was to get the biggest image possible on both systems, so that there was only a few feet difference on the sides of the screen between a ‘Scope and non ‘Scope picture. Shane was run at 1.66:1 at the cinema where I worked and, to avoid the actors’ heads being cropped off in some scenes due to it being composed for and shot in 1.37:1, the image was kept racked down in the projector gate… although this, of course, meant that a considerable amount of image was cropped off at the bottom of the frame.
Best Wishes from
David
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Thanks so much, David. Yet again, I’m humbled by the knowledge and generosity of you folks out there. I also appreciate the extra treat of John Dierkes appearing in these frames!
UPDATE (4/9/13): Greenbriar Pictures Shows, a blog filled with much that is wonderful, weighs in on the Shane 1.66 issue with its usual authority and research.

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If you don’t have these, consider this essential. If you do, it’s a good way to free up some shelf space. Universal has packaged 10 previously-released Westerns — including a couple only available on DVD-R — in a snazzy package. You get:

When The Daltons Rode (1940) George Marshall directs. Randolph Scott leads an incredible cast — Kay Francis, Brian Donlevy, Broderick Crawford, Andy Devine, George Bancroft, Edgar Buchanan. I prefer Scott with more age on him, but this picture has do much action, you don’t have time to care.

Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940) A 67-minute Paramount Western — a sequel to their Texas Rangers (1936) — starring Ellen Drew, John Howard, Broderick Crawford and Anthony Quinn.

The Spoilers (1942) John Wayne and Randolph Scott in the same movie. (Yet some people still wonder if there’s a higher power.) Marlene Dietrich and Harry Carey are in it, too. The climactic saloon brawl is terrific.

The Virginian (1946) Joel McCrea is stunning Technicolor. Universal’s getting a lot of mileage out of this one — it’s also available on DVD-R from the Universal Vault Series and as part of the Joel McCrea Westerns Collection.

Albuquerque (1948) Ray Enright directs Randolph Scott again, this time in color and with Gabby Hayes, Scott Hayden  and Lon Chaney on hand.

Whispering Smith (1948) Any movie that has both William Demerest and Frank Faylen in its cast is worth seeking out.

Comanche Territory (1950) The great, and unsung, George Sherman directs Maureen O’Hara and Macdonald Carey.

Sierra (1950) Audie Murphy is joined by Wanda Hendryx, Burl Ives, Dean Jagger, Tony Curtis, Houseley Stevenson and James Arness. It was directed by Alfred E. Green, in Technicolor. Murphy and Hendryx were husband and wife at the time.

Kansas Raiders (1950) Audie Murphy again,backed by Brian Donlevy, Marguerite Chapman, Scott Brady, Tony Curtis and Richard Arlen. Ray Enright directed.

Tomahawk (1951) stars Van Helfin and Yvonne De Carlo and was directed by George Sherman. Also available as part of the Universal Vault Series, where this one film costs more than the set we’re looking at here. Do the math, order one today.

By the way, its release date is Tuesday, March 12. Thanks to Mike for the tip.

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wish-list

We did a 50s Westerns Want List a couple years ago and it was a blast — and a surprising number of our wishes have since come true! So it seems about time to do another one. Last time around, I polled a few people offline, but I’ve since learned that a lot of the fun comes from watching y’all feed off each other as you load up the comments box.

So send in your lists. I’ll compile and sort the responses — then see if I can get them to someone who can actually do something about it.

I’ll start. Reprisal! (1956) and The Hard Man (1957), both from George Sherman and starring Guy Madison, and Fred MacMurray and James Coburn in Face Of A Fugitive (1959) — all from Columbia. Then there’s a Blu-ray John Sturges/Kirk Douglas/VistaVision twin-bill of Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957) and Last Train From Gun Hill (1959). I could go on and on.

UPDATE: I’m compiling and sorting all your requests and will post them Christmas day.

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