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Archive for the ‘William Elliott’ Category
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William “Wild Bill” Elliott is one of my favorite cowboy starts — Hellfire (1949) alone would see to that. The 11 Westerns he made for Monogram (later Allied Artists) in the early 50s have been on our collective Want List for some time. They’re smart, tough, adult takes on your typical B Western. The Longhorn (1951) is currently available from VCI. The just-released Warner Archive double feature, which I hope is the first of a series, includes Fargo (1952) and The Homesteaders (1953). Both were directed by Lewis D. Collins. And both come highly, highly recommended.
More 50s Westerns on today’s Warner Archive roster: a Wayne Morris double bill — The Marksman (1953) and The Fighting Lawman (1953). Also good stuff.
Sorry for a rather slapdash post — had to work this in around meetings (actually, put it together while in one). Thanks to John Knight for the tip.
One of my favorite Westerns can be seen on that Netflix streaming thing — Hellfire (1949) starring Bill Elliott, Marie Windsor, Forrest Tucker and Jim Davis. It’s a real gem from Republic and director R. G. Springsteen. And it’s in Trucolor.
But don’t just take it from me. Of all the wonderful films Marie Windsor made, she always listed this, The Narrow Margin (1952) and The Killing (1956) as her favorites.
Republic’s Hellfire (1949) — starring Willilan Elliott, Marie Windsor and Forrest Tucker — is one of my favorite Westerns.
The cowboy firing his guns at the camera in the “Man with his misdeeds…” opening montage is stuntman Fred Carson.
So now you know.
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)
Yesterday was William Elliott’s birthday, so it seems about time to finish up a piece I started a while back on The Longhorn (1951), the first of six films “Wild Bill” made for Monogram Pictures (later known as Allied Artists). It’s available on DVD from VCI, packaged with Charles Starrett’s first Western, Stampede (1936), as Cowboy Heroes Volume 1.
Elliott’s a cattle rancher planning to cross-breed his Longhorn cattle with Herefords. Before its 70 minutes are up, The Longhorn treats us to a cattle drive, a double cross, rustlers and Phyllis Coates. Not to mention plenty of gunplay. The plot has a few twists, so I’m keeping this spoiler-free.
For a cheap cowboy picture aimed at the Saturday matinee crowd, The Longhorn has plenty going for it. For starters, it boasts a tight, surprisingly adult script by Dan Ullman. Ullman wrote a slew of 50s Westerns, from programmers like Kansas Pacific (1953) with Sterling Hayden to the excellent Face Of A Fugitive (1959), a favorite of many who frequent this blog. The Longhorn was directed by Lewis D. Collins, who started with silent shorts and passed away a few years after this one. (By the way, Monogram paired Ullman and Collins on the cool Hot Rod in 1950.) Then there’s the cinematography by Ernest Miller, another veteran of the silents, who shot hundreds of B pictures and TV shows before his death in 1957. One of his standout credits is Sam Fuller’s The Steel Helmet (1951).
With so much talent on either side of the camera, how could The Longhorn miss? These six Monogram/Allied Artists pictures were Elliott’s last Westerns, and he went out on a high note — even if it’s a low-budget one.
This series was released in sepia tone, which gave the pictures an extra bit of class. William Elliott always supplied quite a bit of class, too. The VCI DVD of The Longhorn, unfortunately, isn’t presented that way, opting for standard black and white. Can’t say I blame them — sepia tends to monkey with the contrast, but it’d be nice to see how these films looked in theaters. The transfer here is fine, probably from 16mm — clean and complete, if a bit soft. My only real complaint is that VCI didn’t follow this up with the other five Monogram Elliotts. (Are these things PD?) Bitter Creek (1954), which co-stars Beverly Garland, has been on my want list for ages.
In summary, The Longhorn is a good example from the last days of the series Western, showing real toughness and maturity. VCI has given us a nice DVD. And most important, you can never go wrong with Bill Elliott. Recommended.
Wild Bill Elliott
October 16, 1904 – November 26, 1965
Lesley Selander: “Bill Elliott was a real gentleman. He was always on time, knew his lines, and in every sense of the word was a professional. He learned to ride damned well, considering that when I first saw him at MGM in the early 30s, he didn’t know one end of the horse from another.”
Photo: Hellfire (1949), one of my favorite Westerns.
This is not a new release, just one I didn’t know about — so it might as well be a new release. Last week, I wrote about the terrific B Westerns Wild Bill Elliott made for Monogram and Allied Artists in the early 50s.
Well, I just found out that one of them, The Longhorn (1952), is available from VCI Entertainment. It’s paired with Stampede (1936), Charles Starrett’s first Western — in a set called Cowboy Heroes Volume 1.
Not sure if it’s presented in sepia tone or not, but after I get a copy, I’ll let you know.
After a string of excellent little pictures for Republic like personal favorites Hellfire (1949) and The Showdown (1950), William Elliott signed a six-picture deal with Monogram (later to become Allied Artists). These six films, which included Kansas Territory (1953), while certainly cheap, are surprisingly adult — and boast some real talent on both sides of the camera. Directors like Lewis Collins and Thomas Carr. Casts that include Peggy Stewart, Fuzzy Knight, Denver Pyle, Robert J. Wilke, George Wallace and Phyllis Coates. Scripts often by Dan Ullman. And top-notch cinematography by Ernest Miller — “filmed in glorious sepia tone.”
When you come across these things, which is seldom these days, they’re inevitably presented black and white. Which is a real shame, since the novelty of sepia tone makes these intriguing films even more, well, intriguing — and gives them a distinguished look. (My less-than-glorious attempt at approximating the sepia look can be seen in the still above.) What a great multi-disc DVD set these would make.
I love that film — one of my favorite Westerns — and this still is too cool to keep to myself.