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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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This is my contribution to the Paramount Centennial Blogathon, hosted by The Hollywood Revue. Be sure to check other bloggers’ pieces celebrating Paramount’s 100 years of great movies.

One-Eyed Jacks (1961), directed by and starring Marlon Brando, is a film Paramount probably wished they’d never made. It cost more than three times its original budget, took six months to shoot and over a year to edit (Brando turned in a cut over four hours long), and was nowhere near the hit they were hoping for. It was even the subject of jokes — Jerry Lewis: “Spend your vacation at One-Eyed Jacks.” But over the years, its reputation has evolved from trainwreck to cult film to maybe even a classic.

It’s the subject of my book-in-progress A Million Feet Of Film: The Making Of One-Eyed Jacks. For this blogathon, I’m focusing on a single sequence — one that was ultimately left out of the film.

Some say One-Eyed Jacks is a film with too many climaxes. If so, one of those climaxes is certainly the sequence where Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) ties Rio (Marlon Brando) to a hitching post, horsewhips him, then smashes his gun hand with the butt of a shotgun. It’s a brutal scene, with Rio striking a Christ-like pose as the whole town watches his torture.

Brando and his partners in crime withdraw to a Chinese fishing village for him to heal up, rehab his gun hand and plot his revenge. During the wait, tensions mount between Rio and a couple members of his gang, Bob Amory (Ben Johnson) and Harvey Johnson (Sam Gillman). In the script and Brando’s rough cut, there were scenes with Brando and a waitress in the village (Lisa Lu).

Marlon Brando: “I was supposed to get drunk, come in out of the rain and rape a Chinese girl. You can’t fake drunkenness in a movie, so I figured the scene would work better if I really got drunk.”

The scene was scheduled for a Friday afternoon, so Brando would have the weekend to recuperate.

Brando: “I started drinking about 4:15 in the afternoon of the day I was going to shoot the scene, after telling the other actors what I wanted them to do.”

Makeup artist Phil Rhodes: “So Lisa Lu brought in the food as instructed, but by then Marlon was so drunk he couldn’t say his lines.”

Brando: “It has never taken much alcohol to put me over the edge, so in no time at all I was staggering around, grabbing hold of the girl…”

Alice Marchak, Brando’s personal assistant: “The shots they did film were unusable.”

It was decided to try again the next Friday.

Brando: “It still wasn’t right and I had to do it a number of afternoons to get it right.”

Alice Marchak: “Each night filming came to a halt because Marlon was falling-down drunk… Mostly, it was Marlon falling out of bed, staggering around thoroughly enjoying himself, having loads of fun along with members of the crew… What nobody knew was that most nights before I left the studio, Marlon was so sick I had to hold his head to keep him from drowning in the toilet as he knelt and hugged while he threw up into the toilet bowl.”

All those weeks, all that money, all those hangovers — and the scene was cut.

Producer Frank P. Rosenberg: “The only sequence that was dropped in its entirety was an ancillary and transient love story between Brando and a Chinese girl. Everything about this episode was admirable except that it brought the film to a standstill.”

SOURCES: The New York Times; Neon; Me And Marlon by Alice Marchak; Brando: The Biography by Peter Manso.

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Took a stroll through my image folder on Son Of Paleface (1952), and a gallery seemed like a good idea. Here’s an incredible signed still.

I’ve amassed so many images over the last few years, it seems like a real shame not to post them, especially the behind-the-scenes shots. Watch for more from other films.

Here, Cecil B. DeMille (waiting to shoot his cameo), Frank Tashlin and Bob Hope (obscured) look on as Jane Russell’s bubbles are strategically arranged.

Jane Russell: “I even took a bath in the same tub Paulette Goddard had once used.” The tub was a leftover from DeMille’s Unconquered (1947).

In a goofy promo shot, Jane and Bob help Roy feed Trigger.

Here’s makeup artist Charlie Gemora with doubles for Jane and Bob. Note Junior’s car in the background (complete with wagon wheels). Photo courtesy charliegemora.com.

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The onslaught on new releases continues, which is great news, with a batch of Paramount titles on the way from Olive Films — including a number of 50s Westerns (in addition to Nicholas Ray’s Run For Cover, which I covered in a previous post).

Silver City (1951): Byron Kaskin directs Edmond O’Brien, Yvonne De Carlo, Richard Arlen, Barry Fitzgerald, Gladys George and John Dierkes.

The Savage (1952): Directed by George Marshall. Charlton Heston stars. There was a bit of controversy over the title, with The Savage being switched out with Warbonnet (see below).

Denver And Rio Grande (1952): Byron Haskin and Edmond O’Brien again, this time with Sterling Hayden, Dean Jagger, J. Carrol Naish and Zasu Pitts in tow. Gorgeous Technicolor location work — and Hayden, as always, is cool.

Pony Express (1953): Charlton Heston is Buffalo Bill. Forrest Tucker is Wild Bill Hickock. Rhonda Fleming and Jan Sterling are in it. It’s written by Charles Marquis Warren . What more do I need to say?

The Hangman (1959): I’m dying to see this one again! Robert Taylor, Tina Louise, Fess Parker and Jack Lord make up a terrific cast. Directed by the great Michael Curtiz. Jack Lord was on a roll in this period — Man Of The West (1958), God’s Little Acre (1958) and Williamsburg: The Story Of A Patriot, the VistaVision short subject that has run continuously at the Colonial Williamsburg visitor center since 1957.

The Jayhawkers (1959): Jeff Chandler, Fess Parker and Henry Silva star in this picture, which holds up much better as a Western than as a history lesson about pre-Civil War Kansas. Henry Silva is in a lot of good 50s Westerns — The Tall T (1957), The Bravados (1958) and The Law And Jake Wade (1958), yet we don’t really associate him with the genre. It also features a terrific score by Jerome Moross.

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