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Archive for the ‘Pre-1950’ Category

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This is a big, big deal. Warner Archive has come through with the fourth volume in their Tim Holt series, giving us the beginning, and end, of Holt’s time at RKO. It’s a three-disc, nine-movie set that includes Wagon Train (1940, which got the series off to a terrific start), The Fargo Kid (1940), Cyclone On Horseback (1941), Riding The Wind (1942), Land Of The Open Range (1942), Thundering Hoofs (1942), Overland Telegraph (1951) and Trail Guide (1952). 

Overland Telegraph (seen in the Mexican lobby card above) is a particularly good one, giving Holt and Richard Martin a top director, Lesley Selander, and really good cast to work with: Gail Davis, Hugh Beaumont (as the bad guy!), Mari Blanchard, George Nader and Robert J. Wilke.

The set is available now. Thanks to everyone at Warner Archive for their dedication to getting these wonderful little films out there.

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The folks at ClassicFlix let me write for them every once in a while. Here’s a piece on John Ford’s 3 Godfathers (1948), a pre-1950 Christmas Western that I love dearly, no matter how overly sentimental and sappy you might think it is.

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It’s also one of the most beautiful color movies ever made. Easy.

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It’s been mentioned on this blog a number of times that Olive Films have removed some key Republic titles from their list of future releases — The Last Command (1955, note the retitled card above) being one of them. Among the reasons for ditching these titles is that the Trucolor materials can be difficult, and costly, to prepare for release.

However, when Trucolor Republics like Hellfire (1949), The Outcast (1954) or A Man Alone (1955) show up on TV, they look fine. Not spiffy enough for Blu-ray, for sure, but good enough for a DVD release I’d be happy to have in my collection.

Richard W. commented the other day that we should reach out to a Mr. Lime on the Home Theater Forum about these titles, pointing out that we’d be standing at the ready, cash in hand, for these films.

At a time when so many of us are writing to our politicians about healthcare, national parks and pay for the military, why not squeeze in a quick note to the HTF about Hellfire?

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David Arrate earns a Name That Stock Footage badge for uncovering one of the many cost-cutting measures to be found in Masterson Of Kansas (1954), the best of William Castle’s Westerns for Sam Katzman’s unit at Columbia. Thanks, David.

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Harry Keller directing Audie Murphy and Joan O’Brien in Six Black Horses (1962).

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Ray Enright and Dorothy Malone on the set of South Of St. Louis (1949).

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Jesse Hibbs directing Gia Scala (left) and Joanna Moore (right) in the Audie Murphy picture Ride A Crooked Trail (1958).

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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.

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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.

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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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Director Allan Dwan’s career was as old as the Movies themselves, and many of the early technical developments were his doing. Going into the mid-50s, he was still making innovative, unique, personal films — usually for smaller studios that would leave him alone and let him do what he did best.

I went Wig City over Allan Dwan’s films of 50s, thanks to DVDs of his work from VCI, and that helped spawn this blog. So I was really stoked to hear about The Museum of Modern Art’s Dwan series — which will include several of those Westerns.

From the MoMA web site: The Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Dwan’s films in 1971, with Dwan in attendance, and while another exhibition was certainly due after 42 years, this series was prompted by the publication of Frederic Lombardi’s definitive study of Dwan’s work, Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the of the Hollywood Studios (McFarland, 2013).

If you can make it to any of these, by all means do so. The Westerns are:

June 14-15, 18
Frontier Marshal (1939)
With Randolph Scott, Nancy Kelly, Cesar Romero, John Carradine, Ward Bond.
This was once almost impossible to see (the bootleg tape I had of it was impossible to see). Another take on the O.K. Corral story. I prefer Randolph Scott with more age on him, but this is a really cool film.

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June 24-25
Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)
With Audrey Totter, Joan Leslie, John Lund, Brian Donlevy, Ben Cooper.
Dwan made a string of films for Republic that are worth seeking out (Olive Films, you reading this?), with Sands Of Iwo Jima (1949) being the best known. Dwan approaches this as a spoof — evidently, he didn’t see any other way — and the results are terrific.

June 29-30
The Restless Breed (1957)
With Scott Brady, Anne Bancroft, Jim Davis, Scott Marlowe, Evelyn Rudie.
Dwan’s last Western. A revenge tale gets a light comic touch.

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July 3,5
Tennessee’s Partner (1955)
With John Payne, Rhonda Fleming, Ronald Reagan, Coleen Gray.
John Alton’s Superscope cinematography almost steals the show, making the Iverson Ranch look like the most beautiful place on earth.

July 3, 6
Silver Lode (1954)
With John Payne, Dan Duryea, Lizabeth Scott, Harry Carey, Jr.
A key 5os Western, and the damnedest McCarthy comment you’ve ever seen. Again, Alton and his cameras roam the ranches of Hollywood to amazing results.

Be sure to look at the complete listing. I highly recommend Slightly Scarlet (1956), an incredible Technicolor, Superscope film noir shot by John Alton.

Thanks to Stephen Bowie.

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Depending on your outlook, this latest set from Sony and Turner Classics might be seen as a prayer answered. The Randolph Scott Westerns Collection gathers up four really good ones for a September release:

Coroner Creek (1948) This tough Cinecolor picture from Ray Enright, based on a Luke Short novel, is one of Scott’s best pre-Boetticher Westerns. His character here is practically a prototype for the burned-out, obsessed guy we know from the Ranowns.

The Walking Hills (1949) is John Sturges’ first Western. Scott is joined by Ella Raines, Edgar Buchanan, Arthur Kennedy and folk singer Josh White. The crisp black and white location work in Death Valley is really something to see.

The Doolins Of Oklahoma (1949, above) comes from Gordon Douglas. George Macready, Louise Allbritton, John Ireland and Noah Beery Jr. are on hand. Douglas has Yakima Canutt on his second unit, and as you’d expect, the action scenes are excellent.

7th Cavalry (1956) comes up on this blog quite often, as we’ve warned each other about some lousy DVDs. It’s a Joseph H. Lewis cavalry picture in Technicolor and widescreen (1.85), with Barbara Hale, Jay C. Flippen, Frank Faylen, Leo Gordon, Denver Pyle, Harry Carey Jr. and Michael Pate. It’s not as strong as A Lawless Street (1955), Scott and Lewis’ previous collaboration, but the cast and director alone make it worthwhile. Cross your fingers that it’s presented 16×9.

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April Fools Day.

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Just remembered that Antenna TV is running Three Stooges shorts all day today. Woulda been a good day to call in sick!

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One of my favorite things about this blog is how everyone looks out for each other. Many of the screenings, DVDs, books, etc. that are mentioned here come to my attention from one of y’all out there in Blogsylvania.

Tom Settles came through yesterday with this one. On Saturday, May 4, at noon EST, TCM will air the rare Randolph Scott picture Fighting Man Of The Plains (1949). It’s one of his better pre-Boetticher Westerns, I’d say, and almost impossible to see it with its Cinecolor intact. According to TCM’s schedule, they’ll be running it in color. Dale Robertson has a good early role here.

It’s at times like these I wish I still had that DVD recorder.

Thanks, Tom.

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