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Archive for the ‘Universal (-International)’ Category

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Four Guns To The Border (1954) is an excellent 50s Western from Universal-International. It’s a hard one to track down, unfortunately.

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The picture gave actor Richard Carlson one of his few directing credits. He does a tremendous job; wish he’d done more. Here, he’s working with Rory Calhoun and Colleen Miller.

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Here’s Colleen Miller on a Western street. Iverson, maybe?

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Rory Calhoun takes a phone and cigarette break.

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Here’s Miller again, this time with George Nader. The terrific cast includes John McIntire, Walter Brennan, Nina Foch, Jay Silverheels and Nestor Paiva.

Will get around to a real post on it soon. Why isn’t this thing on DVD?

 

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Directed by Harmon Jones
Produced by Robert Arthur
Screenplay by James Edmiston and Oscar Brodney
Story by James Edmiston
Director Of Photography: Ellis W. Carter, ASC
Film Editor: Sherman Todd, ACE
Music Supervision by Joseph Gershenson

CAST: Dale Robertson (Jagade), Mara Corday (Sharman Fulton), Jock Mahoney (Marshal Allan Burnett), Carl Benton Reid (Judge John J. McLean), Jan Merlin (Billy Brand), John Dehner (Preacher Jason), Dee Carroll (Miss Timmons), Sheila Bromley (Marie), James Bell (Doc Logan). Dani Crayne (Claire), Howard Wendell (Vanryzin), Charles Cane (Duggen), Phil Chambers (Burson), Sydney Mason (Beemans), Helen Kleeb (Mrs. McLean).

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Not too long ago, I wrote about Harmon Jones’ The Silver Whip (1954), a film I found better than its reputation, and with much more going for it than just its pairing of Dale Robertson and Rory Calhoun. That lit a fire under me to track down a copy of A Day Of Fury (1956), which brought Jones and Robertson together again — this time at Universal-International. It’d been years since I’d seen Fury, and I was really knocked for a loop by how good it is.

There’s been speculation that A Day Of Fury was an influence on Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter (1973), an honor that actually goes to the spaghetti western Django The Bastard (1969, which is available from VCI as The Stranger’s Gundown). That said, Eastwood’s picture certainly has a few things in common with A Day Of Fury. In both, a mysterious stranger comes to town, and his very presence turns that town inside out. (No Name On The Bullet works somewhat the same way.) This time, the gunfighter is Jagade (Dale Robertson). The town marshall (Jock Mahoney) owes Jagade his life, which complicates matters quite a bit. What’s more, Jagade and the marshall’s fiancé (Mara Corday) were once an item. But there’s so much more to it than that.

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Dale Robertson: “It was an interesting story. After I finished it, I read it again. I figured this guy (Jagade) was the Devil. He, himself, never did anything wrong. He merely set things up to show the weakness of other people. (Producer) Bob Arthur rewrote the story… and he took away a lot of the little subtle things that were so wonderful in the original script.”#

Watching the picture with Robertson’s Devil idea in mind is very interesting, and I’d love to see that original screenplay. Robertson seems to be enjoying himself in a part that lets him stretch out a bit, while Jock Mahoney is stuck in a goodguy role that is maybe a little too good.

Dale Robertson: “They were trying to push Jock Mahoney… He was the most agile, one of the most fluid actors in the whole business. He was really wonderful, he was athletic, had great moves.”#

Mahoney proves Robertson’s point in the first scene in the movie, when he does a horse fall. It’s not often that you see one of the leads do such a stunt on his own.

Mara Corday: “The director, Harmon Jones, was a nice man, had been an editor. He told you line readings — in other words, how to say the lines. He’d put emphasis on certain words that I wouldn’t have. It made everyone stilted.”*

Jan Merlin committed the age-old actor’s trick of saying he could ride a horse when called about the part, then getting to the set and proving he could not. This was his first Western. “Harmon was marvelous… He was kind to me. Anybody else would have lost their temper after all I’d done.”#

A Day Of Fury is unavailable on DVD in the States, though it’s received a Blu-ray release in Europe. It’s an excellent film, well outside the normal Universal Western. Highly recommended.

Day Of Fury newspaper ad

SOURCES: * Westerns Women by Boyd Magers; # Universal-International Westerns, 1947-1963 by Gene Blottner (McFarland);

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Universal’s Vault Series is serving up a handful of 50s Westerns, basically taking the TCM Western Horizons set and selling them as single discs (available exclusively from Amazon).

Horizons West (1952) has Budd Boetticher directing Robert Ryan, Julie Adams and Rock Hudson in a Technicolor post-Civil War tale.

Saskatchewan (1954) puts Alan Ladd, Shelley Winters, J. Carrol Naish and Hugh O’Brian in the hands of the great Raoul Walsh.

Dawn At Socorro (1954) was directed by George Sherman, which is enough for me. Factor in Rory Calhoun, Piper Laurie, Mara Corday, Edgar Buchanan, Skip Homeier, James Millican and Lee Van Cleef, and you’ve really got something going.
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Pillars Of The Sky (1956) stars Jeff Chandler and Dorothy Malone. Support comes from Ward Bond, Olive Carey (both appeared in The Searchers the same year) and Lee Marvin. George Marshall directed in CinemaScope. I love this film.

Backlash (1956) comes from John Sturges and stars Richard Widmark, Donna Reed and William Campbell. Good stuff.

These will make a welcome addition to anybody’s collection, but what I want to know is: where are A Day Of Fury (1956) and Last Of The Fast Guns (1958)?

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According to the Sweetwater Reporter, this would’ve been a good weekend to be in Sweetwater, Texas. It was probably hot as blazes, but there were sure plenty of cool movies to see.

I know it’s not a Western, but Republic’s Hell’s Half Acre (1954) has to be seen to be believed. Olive Films has given you the chance — it’s out on DVD and Blu-ray.

My wife has been doing some research on my family’s history and came upon a great online Texas newspaper search tool. Obviously, I’m using it for a different purpose.

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Rails Into Laramie TC

Thanks to everyone who entered the 50s Western Matte Painting Contest. Unfortunately, there was no winner.

The image (seen below) was from Rails Into Laramie (1954), a good Universal-International Western directed by Jesse Hibbs. As is typical of films from this period, there is no credit of any kind for the matte work.

If you get a chance to see Rails Into Laramie, I recommend it. James H. Griffith, one of my favorite character actors, has a good-sized part — and John Payne was on a real roll in the mid-50s.

Of all the entries I received, John Knight came closest. He was pretty sure it was a Universal-International picture.

Matte Painting

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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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To mark the anniversary of the siege of the Alamo, The Egyptian is running Budd Boetticher’s The Man From The Alamo (1953), starring Glenn Ford and Julie Adams.

It’s good. It’s in 35mm. And Miss Adams will be in attendance.

Saturday, February 23, 7:30PM
The Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard 
Hollywood, CA 90028

 

 

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