Archive for the ‘Phil Karlson’ Category

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Sony Movie Channel is focusing on Westerns next month, with a terrific all-day marathon scheduled for Sunday, July 28 that should keep readers of this blog firmly planted on their sofas — or scrambling to make room on their DVRs.

The directors represented here — Boetticher, Sherman, Daves, Karlson, Castle, Witney — make up a virtual Who’s Who of 50s Westerns directors. The times listed are Eastern. Put the coffee on, it’s gonna be a long day!

4:40 AM Face Of A Fugitive (1959, above) One of those really cool, tough Westerns Fred MacMurray made in the late 50s. James Coburn has an early role, and Jerry Goldsmith contributed one of his first scores. It’s not out on DVD in the States, and the Spanish one doesn’t look so hot, so don’t miss it here.

6:05 AM Relentless (1948) George Sherman directs Robert Young, Marguerite Chapman, Willard Parker, Akim Tamiroff, Barton MacLane and Mike Mazurki. Shot around Tucson (and the Corrigan Ranch) in Technicolor. I may be in the minority, but I like Robert Young in Westerns.

7:40 AM A Lawless Street (1955) Joseph H. Lewis knocks another one out of the park, directing Randolph Scott and Angela Lansbury. This film doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

9:05 AM Decision At Sundown (1957) Part of Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott’s Ranown cycle, this one tends to divide fans. I think it’s terrific. It’s certainly more downbeat than the others (Burt Kennedy didn’t write it), with Scott’s character almost deranged vs. the usual obsessed.

10:25 AM The Pathfinder (1952) Sidney Salkow directs George Montgomery in a low-budget adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper, produced by Sam Katzman. Helena Carter and Jay Silverheels round out the cast.


11:45 AM Battle Of Rogue River (1954) William Castle directs George Montgomery (seen above with Martha Hyer) the same year they did Masterson Of Kansas. I’m a real sucker for Castle’s Westerns, so it’s hard to be objective here.

1:05 PM Gunman’s Walk (1958) Phil Karlson’s masterpiece? A great film, with a typically incredible performance from Van Heflin, that really needs to be rediscovered. Not available on DVD in the U.S. Don’t miss it.

2:45 PM They Came To Cordura (1959) Robert Rossen directs a terrific cast — Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin, Tab Hunter and Dick York. Set in 1916 Mexico, it has a look somewhat similar to The Wild Bunch (1969). Looks good in CinemaScope.


4:55 PM Jubal (1956, above) Delmer Daves puts Othello on horseback. Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Valerie French, Charles Bronson, Jack Elam, Felicia Farr, Harry Carey, Jr. and John Dierkes make up the great cast. Charles Lawton, Jr. shot it in Technicolor and CinemaScope.

6:40 PM Arizona Raiders (1965) Wiliam Witney directs Audie Murphy in a picture that plays like a cross between a 50s Western and a spaghetti one. Murphy got better as he went along, and his performance here is quite good.

8:20 PM 40 Guns To Apache Pass (1966) Witney and Murphy again. This time around, Murphy is after a missing shipment of guns.

If all that’s not enough, there’s the Back In The Saddle sweepstakes, a chance to win a three-day dude ranch getaway. Check SonyMovieChannel.com to find out more.

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Gunmans Walk square thing

There’s nothing like seeing a film, on film, with an audience. And here’s a screening I’d sure love to attend: Phil Karlson’s Gunman’s Walk (1958) at Chicago’s Portage Theater — in 35mm CinemaScope.

A terrific 50s Western that’s very hard to see, a personal favorite and maybe your only chance to see Bert Convy fall off a cliff, the Northwest Chicago Film Society is presenting it January 21 at 7:30PM.

Tab Hunter is terrific and Van Heflin is as incredible as ever. Make that more incredible. And make a point of seeing it if at all possible.

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George Montgomery
(August 29, 1916 – December 12, 2000)

I don’t think George Montgomery has gotten his due. He may not have made a true classic, and most of his Westerns were of the studio product variety, but he can be counted on for a good solid way to spend an hour and a half. And those modest films are looking better and better with each passing year.

A real renaissance man — actor, producer, director, painter, sculptor, craftsman, builder and on and on — Montgomery had a pretty fascinating life.

Montgomery (to the LA Times): “I was real lucky. You know, I was just a farm boy from Montana when I arrived there (Hollywood in 1937). Two days later, I was in a Garbo movie at MGM, getting $35 a day doing some stunt work.”

I’ve been screaming for a while now about the many merits of Masterson Of Kansas (1954). But Montgomery made plenty of good ones, from The Texas Rangers (1951) to the very interesting Black Patch (1957). (Warner Archive has helped us out with nice transfers of a few titles.) Like Rory Calhoun, Montgomery’s 50s Westerns deserve the attention given to those of, say, Audie Murphy or Joel McCrea.

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Almost all genre film fans know character actor Dick Miller. Here he is tending bar behind Richard Denning and Peggie Castle in Roger Corman’s The Oklahoma Woman (1956).

There’s a documentary on Miller in the works, one that I’m dying to see. You can help get it done through Kickstarter. And while you’re there, you can see Dick’s home movie footage from the set of A Time For Killing (1967), which Corman began directing, but was completed by Phil Karlson. Mugging for the 8mm camera are Glenn Ford, Inger Stevens, Harry Dean Stanton and Timothy Carey. Be sure to check it out.

UPDATE (August 21, 2012): Elijah did it. If any of you out there pledged to help make this happen, thanks. I’m dying to see it.

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Baltimore was a good place to be on February 23, 1957 — judging from this page out of The Baltimore Afro-American. Take a look at what was playing:

The Searchers (1956), which needs no explanation.

7th Cavalry (1957), a Columbia Randolph Scott picture directed by Joseph H. Lewis — followed by The Gamma People (1956).

The Brass Legend (1956) stars Hugh O’Brien, Nancy Gates and Raymond Burr. It was directed by Gerd Oswald.

Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker in Many Rivers To Cross (1955).

Drango (1957) with Jeff Chandler, paired with The Peacemaker (1956), an early feature credit for Ted Post.

Then there’s Stagecoach To Fury (1957), a Regalscope picture with Forrest Tucker and Mari Blanchard. Looks like a rare booking as the top of the bill.

And sprinkled around other theaters: Clark Gable in Raoul Walsh’s The King And Four Queens (1956); Flesh And The Spur (1957), an AIP Western with John Agar, Marla English and Touch Connors; Phil Karlson’s They Rode West (1954); even James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart in The Oklahoma Kid (1939).

Not sure where I would’ve had my mom drop me off.

UPDATE: Each of these theaters (The Roosevelt, The Met, The New Albert and The Regent) are gone.

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Tonight Turner Classic Movies is running Phil Karlson’s Gunman’s Walk (1958). A prime candidate for the most under-appreciated 50s Western of them all, it kicks off at 8PM (EST) as part of TCM’s birthday tribute to Tab Hunter.

Not available on DVD here in the States, you all really need to check this one out. You’ll thank me for it later.

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Laura (she of the Miscellaneous Musings) has reminded me that Phil Karlson’s 99 River Street (1953), starring John Payne and Peggie Castle, is now available through TCM’s on-demand program. Around here, if you can’t find a Western to watch, you start digging for an old crime picture, and this one’s as good as they get. Over the last couple years, Karlson has become one of my favorite directors — and I’ve developed a real appreciation of Payne (thanks largely to his work with Allan Dwan).

You can order 99 River Street here. While you’re there, scroll down and look into Big House USA (1955). It’s a tough, gritty B crime film, directed by Howard W. Koch, with a great cast: Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, William Talman, Lon Chaney (Jr.) and Charles Bronson. In its nasty 83 minutes, a kid is chucked off a cliff; a guy is trapped inside a giant boiler — and promptly steamed like a lobster tail; and Bronson has his face and fingertips seared off with a blowtorch to conceal his identity.

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I’ve been eagerly awaiting the word on this release — a French edition of Gunman’s Walk (1958) from Sidonis.

There was some worry about burned-in French subtitles (they’re removable) and whether or not it’d be anamorphic (it is). Colin from Riding The High Country pointed me toward the DVD Beaver review. Judging from their remarks and the screen grabs (that’s one above), this should be a must — that is, until Columbia comes through in the UK or US.

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Van Heflin

Today would be the 100th birthday of Van Heflin, one of the finest actors to ever be projected on a screen. Dying at 60, his life — and his list of credits — were far too short.

Of his Westerns, he’s known for Shane (1953) and 3:10 To Yuma (1957), both true landmarks in 50s Westerns. But his performance in the criminally obscure Gunman’s Walk (1958) is among his very best.

I’ve extolled the virtues of this Phil Karlson picture quite a bit since cranking up this blog, and it breaks my heart that it’s so hard to track down and watch. Maybe that Columbia DVD-R thing will fix this one day. “Dear Santa…”

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Recently posted on the Criterion Forum —

Netflix Instant seems to have added a slew of not-on-DVD Paramount and Republic titles during the last couple of weeks, presumably as a result of this part of the Epix deal, including: Leo McCarey’s My Son John (!); Bride of Vengeance, No Man of Her Own, Captain Carey USA, The Mating Season (all Mitchell Leisen; boy, does the Universal/Paramount purchase do violence to his filmography’s availability); The Sad Sack, Don’t Give Up the Ship, Visit to a Small Planet, It’s Only Money (all Jerry Lewis); Silver City, Denver and Rio Grande, and Warpath (all Byron Haskin); The Redhead and the Cowboy; Flame of the Islands; The Missing Lady, Behind the Mask, and Hell’s Island (all Phil Karlson); Magic Fire (Dieterle); Botany Bay (John Farrow); Jivaro; Alaska Seas; The Vanquished; and Sangaree.

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