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Archive for the ‘RKO’ Category

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This blog tends to stay away from modern-day Westerns (well, they were modern in the 50s). But I’ll certainly make an exception with this one: Nicholas Ray’s The Lusty Men (1952). It’s been announced for release from The Warner Archive on September 16. (Blake, I’m sure you’ll be stoked about this one.)

Robert Mitchum often dismissed his work, but this was one he had nice things to say about. Ray gets a terrific performance out of him, and he does the same with Susan Hayward and Arthur Kennedy. They say shooting began while the script was still being worked on, and that many scenes were worked out on the set as a result. However it all came together, it’s one of Ray’s and Mitchum’s best films. And that’s saying a lot. Highly recommended.

This is one of the handful of films I’ve held onto my laserdisc of, and I guess it can be retired now. Thanks for the tip, Paula.

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Directed by Lesley Selander
Produced by Herman Schlom
Screen Play by Adele Buffington
Story by Carroll Young
Director Of Photography: J. Roy Hunt, ASC
Music by Paul Sawtell
Film Editor: Samuel E. Beetley, ACE

CAST: Tim Holt (Tim Holt), Richard Martin (Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamonte Rafferty), Gail Davis (Terry Muldoon), Hugh Beaumont (Brad Roberts), Mari Blanchard (Stella), George Nader (Paul Manning) Robert J. Wilke (Bellew), Cliff Clark (Terence Muldoon), Russell Hicks (Colonel Marvin), Robert Bray (Steve), Fred Graham (Joe).

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This time around, Tim Holt and Chito get involved with the transcontinental telegraph. Terry Muldoon (Gail Davis) and her father are running the wire westward, and its completion will close down a number of military outposts. This will destroy Paul Manning’s supply business, and keep him from paying off his loans to Bran Roberts (Hugh Beaumont). Roberts and his bunch (which naturally includes Robert J. Wilke) take matters into their own hands —a “Gang-Stooge Terror Plot,” according to the ads — and eventually run afoul of Tim and Chito.

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Overland Telegraph (1951) is one of my favorite Holt pictures. It’s a lot of fun to watch Hugh Beaumont as a bad guy. Mari Blanchard doesn’t have much to do but look pretty as Nader’s saloon-girl fiancé. But having Gail Davis on hand is a real asset, displaying a bit of the riding and shooting skills that would make her such a great Annie Oakley on TV. The Iverson Ranch is featured quite a bit, too.

b70-5266Gail Davis: “It was a good part for the girl, not just one of those smile into the sunset pictures. Tim was really cute, he had a friendly personality but was a bit of a kidder. So was Dick Martin, but both were very conscientious about their pictures.”*

Of course, director Lesley Selander and editor Samuel Beetley deserve a lot of the credit. They keep things moving at such a clip that the hour’s over before you know it. If you’ve ever seen a lousy B Western, you know that in the wrong hands, an hour can last forever. Selander is such a pro and has such a flair for these things that his films stand apart from the rest. He should’ve written a textbook on film pacing.

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Overland Telegraph is part of Warner Archive’s fourth volume of the Tim Holt Western Classics Collection. It has several of the earlier entries and the last few, providing a great overview of the series. B Westerns didn’t come any better than these. As with the previous sets, the transfers are exquisite — a real tribute to the care and craftsmanship that went into these films. Highly, highly recommended (as if you hadn’t figured that out already).

SOURCE: * Westerns Women by Boyd Magers and Michael G. Fitzgerald.

 

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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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I really love Allan Dwan’s Tennessee’s Partner (1955).

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I’ve always enjoyed Dennis’s blog dedicated to the Iverson Movie Ranch. It’s a frequent stop for me. Earlier this month, he posted some stuff on Tennessee’s Partner (1955) and its extensive use of the Iverson Ranch. Cinematographer John Alton did a masterful job on this one, and I doubt the ranch ever looked better than it did here.

If you’re new to this blog, be prepared to lose an hour or two or three.

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Tim Holt Movie Thrills Spread

This week’s Tim Holt Tuesday is brought to you by Paula over at The Ben Johnson Fan Page. It’s an article by Tim himself, or his ghost writer (Ghost Rider?), about his dad Jack, and you can download a PDF of it here.

A brief sample: “When I signed my contract with RKO Studios I asked just one favor: I asked them to give me the same dressing room my Dad had occupied there for so many years. They granted my request and it’s been a sort of permanent inspiration to me.”

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Directed by Lesley Selander
Produced by Herman Schlom
Written by Norman Houston
Director Of Photography: J. Roy Hunt, ASC
Music by Paul Sawtell
Film Editor: Robert Swink

CAST: Tim Holt (Kansas Jones), Richard Martin (Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamonte Rafferty), Jacqueline White (Priscilla “Dusty” Willis), Reed Hadley (Clint Burrows), Robert Barrat (Sheriff Cole), Robert Clarke (Harry Willis), Tom Tyler (The Ringo Kid), William Tannen (Trump Dixon).

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When unemployed cowhands Holt and Martin come to the aid of Dusty Willis (Jacqueline White) and her brother Harry (Robert Clarke), duking it out with saloon owner Clint Burrows, she gives them jobs on her ranch. Turns out Harry owes Burrows $3,000 in gambling debts, and Harry agrees to let Burrows’ men rustle some of his sister’s cattle to erase the debt. This kicks off a series of events that results in Holt being wanted for a murder he didn’t commit.

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220px-Lesley_SelanderRiders Of The Range was directed by Lesley Selander (right), who did about 20 of the Holts for RKO. Selander worked his way up through the Hollywood studio system, from assistant cameraman to assistant director (learning a great deal from William S. Van Dyke on the Buck Jones pictures) to director. He did excellent work on the Hopalong Cassidy series for Paramount, signed on at Republic for a time, and wound up at RKO for the Holts. Selander worked miracles on the Holt films, turning out superior Westerns on RKO’s tight budgets (that were still more than other B Westerns were working with), getting plenty of production values from the incredible Lone Pine locations. In fact, regardless of budget, his Westerns (such as 1948’s Panhandle or 1955’s Shotgun) are always a cut above.

To me, Lesley Selander’s titles are the best of the Tim Holt series. And Riders Of The Range is a good one, with his usual pacing and focus on almost constant action. There are a number of fistfights, a few gunfights and lots and lots of riding and shooting. Before you know it, the hour’s up and Tim and Chito are riding off. Jacqueline White has a nice part, too.

Adventures_of_Captain_Marvel_(1941_serial)_2Tom Tyler plays The Ringo Kid, an outlaw employed by Burrows for the arranged rustling. A champion weightlifter, Tyler started his movie career as a stuntman in Silent Westerns, progressing to serial roles like Captain Marvel and The Phantom in the early 40s. (The Phantom is an excellent serial.) His career stalled when he was stricken with scleroderma (originally diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis), which limited him to smaller and smaller supporting roles, often without credit. His friends came to the rescue. John Ford gave him work (They Were Expendable, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, What Price Glory), Gene Autry put him in a couple episodes of his TV show, and Lesley Selander cast him a few of the later Holts. As Tyler’s condition grew worse, and he could no longer work in movies, he moved in with his sister in Michigan. Tom Tyler passed away in 1954, almost penniless. (Before working together on these RKOs, Tim Holt and Tom Tyler both appeared in John Ford’s Stagecoach in 1939, with John Wayne as The Ringo Kid.)

Jacqueline White: “We shot the picture up at Jack Garner’s ranch, who rented out the place for lots of movies. Tim’s wife was with him and also along was his wife’s dog, a Doberman Pincher! Well, this dog hated Tim!… Richard Martin was a charming guy—real nice and tall! A good looking fellow.”*

Riders Of The Range is the last picture in the Tim Holt Western Classic Collection Vol. 2 from Warner Archive. Like all the films in the three volumes (released so far), it looks terrific. J. Roy Hunt’s camerawork is startling at times, and the DVD-R presents it flawlessly.

* Western Clippings interview

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Directed by George Archainbaud
Produced by Herman Schlom
Written by Norman Houston
Director Of Photography: J. Roy Hunt
Music by Paul Sawtell
Film Editor: Desmond Marquette

CAST: Tim Holt (Ross Taylor), Richard Martin (Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamonte Rafferty), Jane Nigh (Stella), John Doucette (Bat), House Peters, Jr. (Rod), Inez Cooper (Anita Castro), Julien Rivero (Philipe), Ken MacDonald (Sheriff Carrigan), Vince Barnett (Pokey), Robert Peyton (Del), David Leonard (Padre), Tom Monroe (Dimmick).

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Here at 50 Westerns From The 50s, Tuesday belongs to Tim Holt. 

When an earthquake hits Mexico, Senorita Anita Castro (Inez Cooper) organizes a relief effort in Arizona. Loading a mule train with donations of all sorts — including gold, silver and jewels — she heads toward the border. A gang of thieves, headed by John Doucette and House Peters, Jr. and assisted by Jean Nigh, get wind of Anita’s plan and plot to steal the treasure. Tim (called Ross Taylor this time) and Chito (Richard Martin) end up involved, of course — and lots of riding and shooting ensue.

Border Treasure (1950) is one of the later RKO Holts, and I’ve always considered it one of the stronger entries in the series. First, the bad guys are terrific — and Nigh has a good role as Stella, the saloon girl who falls in with John Doucette and House Peters, Jr. There’s a great, extended saloon fight between Holt and Doucette. And Richard Martin adds a nice touch as he shows compassion for Mexico and its people following the earthquake. (This one has Tim and Chito doing some real ranch work, mending fence, which I always find a cool addition. Come to think of it, Tim does the work — Chito conveniently disappears.)

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This time, George Archainbaud directs. He got his first director credit in 1917, and spent much of his career at RKO. His The Lost Squadron (1932) is excellent. Archainbaud got heavily into TV in the 50s, with much of his work coming from Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions. For a while, he was alternating between Gene’s TV show and later features (including 1953’s Last Of The Pony Riders, which turned out to be Gene’s Autry’s final film).

Director of Photography J. Roy Hunt spent a number of years at RKO, where he shot Val Lewton’s I Walked With A Zombie (1943),  The Devil Thumbs A Ride (1947) and Mighty Joe Young (1949) — in between many of these Holt films. Hunt retired not longer after the Holt series came to an end, never making the transition to television that kept so many of his contemporaries employed well into the 1960s.

These RKO Holts make great use of Lone Pine’s Alabama Hills, perhaps rivaled only by Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott’s Ranown Cycle. Some work for Border Treasure was also done at the area’s Anchor Ranch. The RKO Ranch in Encino and the beautiful San Fernando Mission of L.A.’s Mission Hills district are also featured. (Boy, I gotta get out to California — my Points Of Interest list is getting longer and longer.)

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Border Treasure is one of 10 Holt pictures in Warner Archive’s Tim Holt Classic Western Collection Volume 3 — and it’s a beautiful thing from logo to logo. The Lone Pine scenes are sharp and bright, with a real feeling of depth. I’d love to take a frame from one of the Lone Pine scenes and hang it on my wall (over the sofa would be nice) — and this transfer seems sharp enough to let me do it.

In the early days of this blog, the Holt RKOs were high on our want lists. To have them presented like this is more than I expected. To say I highly recommend this — the DVD-R set or the movie itself — would be ridiculously redundant at this point.

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