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Archive for the ‘Ward Bond’ Category

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If I ever had the chance to organize a 50s Westerns retrospective (something I’d love to do), this is certainly one of the evenings I’d set up: Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious (1952) paired with Nick Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954). I can’t think of a better night at the movies.

It’s especially cool that Rancho Notorious is a 35mm print. If you make it out to The Castro Theatre in San Francisco on April 23, have a box of Raisinets for me.

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On Facebook, Cricket White Green recently posted some old photographs of films being shot at White’s Ranch in Moab, Utah. Here’s a few showing location work for John Ford’s wonderful Wagon Master (1950).

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That’s Hank Worden on the left.

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Left to right: Hank Worden, Charles Kemper and Ward Bond.1509048_10203213393519486_full

The crew and the wagon train. Looks like some reflectors on the right.

Thanks for letting me share these, Cricket!

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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.

3 Godfather DVD capture

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

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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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The third World 3-D Film Expo kicks off September 6, at the Egyptian Theatre, with a rare 3-D screening of Hondo (1954).  Above, that’s John Wayne on the ladder watching as a shot it being set up (that gigantic thing on the lift is the Warner Bros. All Media Camera).

Other 3-D Westerns being shown during the expo: Douglas Sirk’s Taza, Son Of Cochise and Budd Boetticher’s Wings Of The Hawk (both 1953). Julie Adams will be on hand for Wings Of The Hawk.

Who knows how many more 35mm 3-D presentations we can count on?

Hondo 3D expo cropped

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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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Only The Valiant OS

Gregory Peck was loaned out to Warner Bros. for Only The Valiant (1951), a picture produced by James Cagney’s brother William and directed by Gordon Douglas — and coming on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films in August.

The combination of Gordon Douglas and Ward Bond is hard to resist, but I’ve always had a hard time with this film — along with anything else the tragic Barbara Payton appeared in. To me, she personifies the dark side of Hollywood, and it’s hard to disconnect her sad story from the image on the screen.

The cast also includes Gig Young, Lon Chaney, Michael Ansara and John Doucette. It’s based on a book by Charles Marquis Warren. And though Gregory Peck never missed a chance to knock the film (granted, it’s a long way from 1950′s The Gunfighter), it’s a pretty solid early-50s cavalry picture.

The old release from Lions Gate had to be one of the worst-looking DVDs ever released — almost as bad as the various dollar-store copies of One-Eyed Jacks (1961) I’ve wasted my money on. I’m sure we can count on Olive Films to give us something worth looking at.

Thanks, Paula.

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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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John Ford didn’t have much interest in discussing his creative process. Anybody who’s read a book or two on him knows he downplayed his incredible artistry (and sentimentality) at every turn, preferring to fall back on his reputation (deserved) as a mean old man who happened to make great movies.

Ford’s greatest collaborator, John Wayne, worked very hard to look like he wasn’t working at all. The fact that so many today think of Wayne as more a personality than an actor shows how well he succeeded.

Ward Bond was a natural, plain and simple. Over 200 films and a TV series, Wagon Train, certainly benefited from his style (or lack of style).

942276_10152879710740495_1097840882_nThe politics of these three men were as varied as their approach to their craft, but they formed a fast friendship that lasted for decades — from Wayne and Bond playing football at USC in the late 20s to Bond’s death in 1960 and on to Ford’s passing in 1973. It’s a sort of father-sons relationship that just happens to include some of the finest films ever made.

If you’re a frequenter of this blog, you’ve probably got shelves loaded with books on Ford and Wayne. Some are indispensable, some are good, some aren’t so hot but maybe contain a still you can’t live without. I’d put Three Bad Men in the indispensable stack.

What Scott Allen Nollen does that sets Three Bad Men apart is use Bond’s biography (which has never been tackled before, to my knowledge) as the backbone on which the rest of the book hangs. Nollen covers the films they made together, along with the pictures that came between them. The book really benefits from this larger context, from the ups and downs of their individual careers (Wayne’s picture before The Searchers was The Conqueror; Bond went from My Darling Clementine straight to It’s A Wonderful Life) to the irony of Ford’s later years, when Wayne’s superstardom and Bond’s TV success made it harder for Pappy to line up his cast — when he could get a project off the ground.

ward-bond-jfAs with most books about these men, tales of drinking and mischief fly fast and furious, along with valuable insight into their working relationship. Nollen strikes an almost perfect balance between the meticulously researched and the engagingly told. I found this a fun, fast, enlightening read — up there with the Bogdanovich book. (Some sections have already seen a second pass.) My only complaint: I would’ve liked another 20-30 pages on They Were Expendable (1945). Inspired by this book, I’m planning a Ford/Wayne/Bond binge, beginning with the Blu-ray of The Sun Shines Bright (1953).

Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond by Scott Allen Nollen, foreword by Michael A Hoey

398 pages Published 2013 by McFarland & Company, Inc  – ISBN 978-0-7864-5854-7

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Eric Hilliard “Ricky” Nelson
(May 8, 1940 – December 31, 1985)

Ricky Nelson only made one Western, but what a Western he made — Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959). His birthday seems like a good excuse to post this rather odd behind-the-scenes photo from my favorite cowboy movie.

Incidentally, Ricky’s older brother Dave also made a great Western in ’59, Andre de Toth’s Day Of The Outlaw.

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