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Archive for the ‘Tim Holt’ Category
Posted in Andre de Toth, Audie Murphy, Budd Boetticher, Burt Kennedy, Charlton Heston, Delmer Daves, DVD reviews, releases, TV, etc., Fred MacMurray, Gary Cooper, George Montgomery, Glenn Ford, Jeff Chandler, Jeffrey Hunter, Joel McCrea, John Ireland, Johnny Mack Brown, Kirk Douglas, Lee Van Cleef, Lesley Selander, Randolph Scott, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Robert Taylor, Rory Calhoun, Tim Holt, William Castle, William Elliott on April 4, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Here’s a stack of photos of Tim Holt, courtesy of Shaeffer Holt, Tim’s grandson.
A Norman Rockwell illustration of Tim for The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).
This publicity photo with Richard “Chito” Martin is probably from The Stagecoach Kid (1949) — judging from the TSK in the lower right corner. The Stagecoach Kid was directed by Lew Landers, who only did a handful of these films among his hundreds of credits — the majority of the RKO Holts were directed by Lesley Selander.
(February 5, 1919 – February 15, 1973)
Happy birthday to one of my favorite cowboy stars, Tim Holt. He’s seen above in Trail Guide (1952), one of the last of his series of terrific Westerns for RKO. The bulk of these films have been released on DVD by Warner Archive. I can’t recommend these highly enough.
Thanks to John Knight for pointing this out.
February 5, 1919 – February 15, 1973
You know things have been busy and hectic when you forget the birthday of one of your favorite cowboys. In the case of Tim Holt, that’s exactly what I did.
Seems like a good time to sit down with one of his excellent RKOs.
Tim Holt’s back with a third volume of DVD-Rs from Warner Archive. This is cause for celebration.
As I’ve said many times (and I’m not finished), these Tim Holt RKO pictures are among the best series Westerns ever made. They’re tight, a bit more adult, and benefit from the presence of real craftsman like cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca.
This collection contains Storm Over Wyoming (1950), Rider From Tucson (1950), Border Treasure (1950), Rio Grande Patrol (1950), Law Of The Badlands (1951), Saddle Legion (1951), Gunplay, (1951) Hot Lead (1951) Road Agent (1952) and Target (1952).
At the end of 1949, the Motion Picture Herald announced the top stars for the year, as chosen by exhibitors. As you can tell from the headline, Bob Hope took the top slot away from Bing Crosby, with the help of The Paleface. Being that Bob never got the girls in their films together, this might’ve been a bit of a consolation.
There was a separate list for Western stars, with Roy Rogers being indeed the King Of The Cowboys. Looking at this list today, you can easily see the change in the Western genre that was about to take place. By the next summer, The Gunfighter and Winchester ’73 (both 1950) would show us what a 50s Western was — and by 1953, most of these cowboys were out of theaters for good.
1. Roy Rogers: Roy’s TV show would debut in 1951. His last feature would be Son Of Paleface in 1952.
2. Gene Autry: On television by 1950, he’d leave the big screen with Last Of The Pony Riders (1953).
3. Gabby Hayes: Cariboo Trail (1950) with Randolph Scott would be Gabby’s last picture. He’d have his own TV show the same year.
4. Tim Holt: His excellent series for RKO would wrap up in 1952. He wouldn’t make another Western.
5. William “Wild Bill” Elliott: His last Western came in 1954, with the last of his Monogram/Allied Artists pictures. His last feature was released in 1957.
6. Charles Starrett: Like Holt, Starrett would ride into the celluloid sunset in ’52 with the last of his Durango Kid pictures.
7. William Boyd: Hopalong Cassidy would make the switch to TV in 1952, and hang up his spurs in ’54.
8. Johnny Mack Brown: His last series Western came in 1953, but his career kept going into the 60s.
9. Smiley Burnette: He’d make Autry’s Last Of The Pony Riders his final film, but have a quite a career in television with Green Acres and Petticoat Junction. (By the way, he eventually had his named legally changed to Smiley.)
10. Andy Devine: Andy’s filmography was always a diverse one, and he rode out the death of the series Western with ease and continued in features (including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) and on TV.
* William Holden in The Wild Bunch (1969)
A couple more from Warner Archive have been announced. First, Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood in The Burning Hills (1956). Written by Irving Wallace from the Louis L’Amour novel. Directed by Stuart Heisler in CinemaScope and Warnercolor.
Next is the second volume in the Tim Holt Western Classics Collection. Covering the years 1943 – 1950, it includes Guns Of Hate (1948) and nine others. Lots of great action from Lesley Selander and gorgeous Lone Pine location work. These RKO Holts are as good as the B Western ever got.
I’ve been seeing stuff about a Blu-ray edition of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) arriving in September. That’s good news and all, but I just noticed something that’s not getting near the attention it deserves — at the same time, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) is also hitting the streets as a regular DVD.
Even though what we see today was edited to almost incoherence by RKO — Welles later said the first hour was left pretty much as he intended, The Magnificent Ambersons is a masterpiece. And it’s got Tim Holt in it. What more do you need?
You can find out more about the picture at ambersons.com. That’s where the behind the scenes shot of Welles and Holt came from.
I’m practically giddy as I type this. Just saw what’s coming from Warner Archives on Tuesday. (I don’t do the Twitter thing, and I haven’t received my usual email update, so thanks to Laura for passing this along.) On the way are:
Stars In My Crown (1950) — Not really a Western, but who cares when it’s as wonderful as it is? Joel McCrea said this was his personal favorite of his films, and when you’ve appeared in films by Alfred Hitchcock, Preston Sturges, Frank Capra, Sam Peckinpah and others, that’s really saying something. I can’t recommend this picture highly enough. If I won the lottery, I’d buy you all a copy.
The Outriders (1950) — McCrea again, backed by an incredible cast (Barry Sullivan, Arlene Dahl and James Whitmore), gorgeous Technicolor and the kind of gloss MGM gave its Westerns.
Ambush (1950) — Robert Taylor didn’t make many Westerns, but when he did saddle up, the results were always worth checking out. If you haven’t, you really need to see Devil’s Doorway (1950) and Westward The Women (1951).
Ride, Vaquero! (1953) — Taylor again, along with Anthony Quinn, Ava Gardner and Howard Keel.
Wild Rovers (1971) — This falls outside the confines of this blog (and my book), but it’s a terrific film. Blake Edwards was sickened by the studio’s treatment of this film, and Warner Archive is righting that wrong by treating us to the full-length version, complete with its overture and exit music. It stars William Holden and Ryan O’Neal, and provides the underrated Joe Don Baker with one of his best roles. I hope Blake Edwards knew this was in the works when he passed away.
Tim Holt Western Classics, Volume 1 — This is promised to be the first of a few collections that will eventually put all 40-plus films on our shelves. Though the post-war films are the better ones, I hope they’re organizing them in chronological order — which will make volumes 3 and 4 outstanding. I posted on Holt in Trail Guide (1952) earlier this week.
Back in December, I posted a “wish list” compiled from the wants of a number of this blog’s frequenters. Stars In My Crown and Ambush made the list — along with a collection of the Tim Holt RKOs.
What’s a blog dedicated to 50s Westerns doing taking part in the For The Love Of Film (Noir) Blogathon? The money raised will help the Film Noir Foundation and Paramount Pictures fund UCLA’s restoration of the 1950 film noir The Sound Of Fury (also known as Try And Get Me), which means one more film that won’t be lost forever. Regardless of genre, that’s reason enough.
Thinking about the connection between 50s Westerns and film noir, I saw a few ways to approach it: Noir-ish Westerns, remakes and the co-mingling of personnel.
From the fatalistic tone to the flawed heroes to the cranked-up violence to the brooding cinematography, almost every 50s Western shows some film noir influence. In pictures like Winchester ’73 (Anthony Mann was one of noir’s finest directors) and The Gunfighter, the influence is quite obvious. But even a Roy Rogers picture like Spoilers Of The Plains (1951) seems a little darker than the ones that came before it.
It’s a shift that makes sense. Audiences had been through World War II — they knew what death looked like. They’d seen the product of the darkness people carry around inside. And they’d learned that the good-guy/bad-guy thing doesn’t correspond with the color of your Stetson. These postmodern cowboys spend as much time battling their own demons as battling the bad guys. Not only does this align them with the whole noir thing, but at the time it let them offer up something TV didn’t have.
Maybe it’s a simple matter of semantics. Is the Psychological Western just film noir on horseback?
A few examples:
• The Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart pictures — Winchester ’73 (1950), The Naked Spur (1952) and The Man From Laramie (1955) are standouts.
• Henry King’s The Gunfighter (1950) and its distant relative The Bravados (1958), both starring Gregory Peck.
• Most of the cheap Westerns Lippert Pictures released in the 50s, with Little Big Horn (1951) being a good one to seek out.
Someone could write a book on the Noir Westerns. And should. If nothing else, it makes a great game for film fans, arguing about which Westerns are the most noir-ish.
High Sierra (1941) is a great film, with a terrific performance from Humphrey Bogart, but its Western remake Colorado Territory (1949) is even better — and certainly one of the darkest cowboy pictures ever. Raoul Walsh (who also directed High Sierra) works hard to develop characters we care about, getting incredible performances out of Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo, only to (spoiler) gun them down like dogs.
The Badlanders (1958) is a Western take on a film noir you might’ve heard of — The Asphalt Jungle (1950). It stars Alan Ladd and Ernest Borgnine, along with Anthony Caruso — who was also in Jungle.
Trail Guide (1952) is one of the last of the RKO Tim Holt pictures. And while the RKO Holts rank among the best series Westerns ever made (I’d say they are the best), Trail Guide isn’t one of the better ones. RKO was tightening the budgets, and the films suffered for it. The chemistry between Tim Holt and Richard Martin and the direction of Lesley Selander go a long way, however, and even the weakest entry is the series is worthwhile.
I happened to be researching the Holt pictures when the Blogathon was first announced, and I became intrigued by the ties between Trail Guide (picked more or less at random from the post-war Holts) and some of the best film noirs. Here’s some of what I came across.
The cast: Any fan will tell you that character actors are usually one of the best things about any film noir or 50s Western, and Trail Guide has a supporting cast with plenty of noir credentials. Frank Wilcox’s incredible list of credits includes Out Of The Past (1947), Bunco Squad (1950) and Naked Alibi (1954). Robert Sherwood appeared in Two Dollar Bettor (1951). John Pickard’s in White Heat (1949), The Sniper (1952) and Crime Wave (1954). John Merton turns up in Parole, Inc. (1948) and The Big Heat (1953). And in 1947 alone, Kenneth MacDonald could be seen in Johnny O’Clock, Brute Force and Crossfire.
These guys appeared in hundreds of films, so this crossover isn’t unexpected. As we move behind the camera, however, things get more significant.
Screenplay: Writer Arthur E. Orloff provided the story for the interesting (and hard to find) narcotics caper picture Hell Bound (1957, which had the great working title Dope Ship).
Cinematography: This is where the picture’s noir connection really gets interesting. Trail Guide benefits from being shot by the great Nicholas Musuraco, whose noir credits include Stranger On The Third Floor (1940), Out Of The Past, The Woman On Pier 13 (1949), Born To Be Bad (1950) and The Hitch-Hiker (1953). That’s a film noir pedigree that’d be hard to beat, and it helps explain why the RKO Holts are often praised for their gorgeous location photography.
Editing: By the time he threaded Trail Guide into the Moviola, Samuel E. Beetley had cut Out Of The Past, The Big Steal (1949) and The Threat (1949). All three of these, like the RKO Holt Westerns, are marked by expert pacing.
Along with revealing a surface relationship between the two genres, this exercise provides some insight into how the studio system worked. You went to work, you worked on the picture you were assigned, and when it was done, you started another one. It might be a future classic with a name cast, or maybe you’d find yourself in Lone Pine with Tim Holt. By working more or less nonstop, actors, writers, technicians and others were able to really hone their craft. And along the way, with such talent involved, the divide between A and B pictures became somewhat blurred.
This Studio Era edition of Six Degrees Of Separation (actually, just one degree) applies to other genres, too. Try it sometime. You can read about most of the noirs I name-dropped by trolling the other blogathon posts. I kinda doubt any of them will bring up Trail Guide.
Trail Guide isn’t a lost film. It turns up on Turner Classics every so often, looking great. But sadly, none of the post-war Tim Holt Westerns are available on DVD. They’ve been prized by 16mm collectors for years, especially non-C&C TV prints, and they deserve the re-evaluation a DVD release would bring about.
Many films aren’t as lucky, however, which is where the blogathon comes in. To find out more, head to the Self-Styled Siren and Ferdy on Films. Here are links to posts by the other blog participants, headed by the one and only Leonard Maltin.
Most importantly, here’s where you can contribute.
By the way, last year, I wrote about Joel McCrea and the almost-lost Stranger On Horseback (1955).