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johnny-guitar-np-ad

I’m gonna make this quick because time’s running out. Olive Films’ Signature Edition of Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954) comes our tomorrow. Today, the pre-order price at Amazon is only $16.99 (the list price is $39.95).

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Get the new Blu-Ray of Johnny Guitar, or Frank’ll let you have it.

Watched it over the weekend, and I really urge you to get it (a real review will be coming soon). Don’t have a Blu-ray player? Well, now’s the time. This thing’s incredible. As much as I love this movie, seeing it in hi-def and its proper 1.66 framing, I love it even more. Essential.

outlaw-country-tc

Directed by Ray Taylor
Starring Lash La Rue, Fuzzy St. John, Dan White, House Peters, Jr., Nancy Saunders

This may be the first time Lash and Fuzzy have graced the “pages” of this blog. Folks have written in a few times asking when I’m going to get around to these guys, and I’m sorry for the oversight.

Outlaw Country (1949) is one of the later Lash pictures, and at 72 minutes, one of the longest. It features La Rue’s long-lost twin brother, the Frontier Phantom — who turns up again the last Lash/Fuzzy movie, The Frontier Phantom (1952). Made for Western Adventure Productions, these had even lower budgets than the previous PRC pictures.

Outlaw Country is paired with Law Of The Lash (1947, a PRC picture) in VCI’s Lash La Rue Double Feature. Both were directed by Ray Taylor, one of the most prolific directors of them all, with more than 150 films to his credit.

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The lineup for the 54th New York Film Festival — which runs from September 30 to Octoebr 16 — includes a terrific Henry Hathaway retrospective that doesn’t skimp on his Westerns.

Rawhide (1951)
Starring Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Hugh Marlowe, Dean Jagger, Edgar Buchanan, Jack Elam, George Tobias, James Millican

Garden Of Evil (1954)
Starring Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward, Richard Widmark, Hugh Marlowe, Cameron Mitchell

From Hell To Texas (1958)
Starring Don Murray, Diane Varsi, Chill Wills, R.G. Armstrong, Jay C. Flippen, Harry Carey, Jr.

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North To Alaska (1960)
Starring John Wayne. Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacks, Fabian, Capucine, Joe Sawyer, James H. Griffith

The Shepherd Of The Hills (1941), Kiss Of Death (1947) and Niagara (1953) are among the other Hathaway pictures being shown. Good stuff.

The restored One-Eyed Jacks (1961) is also part of the festival.

Hugh O’Brian, RIP.

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Hugh O’Brian
(April 19, 1925 – September 6, 2016)

I can always count on this blog to be a total joy to work on — except for when it comes to posts like this. Hugh O’Brian, who for so many will always be TV’s Wyatt Earp, has passed away at 91.

Before making his way into movies and TV, O’Brian — whose real name is Hugh Charles Krampe — dropped out of college to fight in World War II. At 17, he became the Marines’ youngest drill instructor.

O’Brian appeared in a number of Westerns before landing the Earp role, from The Return Of Jesse James (1950) to The Lawless Breed (1953) to The Brass Legend (1956). He’d go on to appear in The Shootist (1976).

He was tremendously dedicated to the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, a non-profit leadership development program for high school kids.

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Knights Of Range OS

Directed by Lesley Selander
Starring Russell Hayden, Victor Jory, Jean Parker

1940 is typically outside the rough confines of this blog (have you noticed how “squishy” the Fifties thing has become lately?), but being that it’s from one of our collective favorites, Lesley Selander, I figured it was worth pointing out.

VCI now offers a remastered copy of Knights Of The Range (1940), one of Paramount’s many Zane Grey adaptations. Judging from the sample on their website, it looks plenty good.

Dakota HS

Directed by Joseph Kane
Starring John Wayne, Vera Hruba Ralston, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond

Kino Lorber has gotten hold of some of the Republic titles under Paramount’s control. They’ve announced Dakota (1945), a solid Western from Joe Kane starring John Wayne, for release before the end of the year. This could be a terrific arrangement, folks!

Canyon Passage DJ

Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Produced by Walter Wanger
Screenplay by Ernest Pascal
Adapted from the Saturday Evening Post story by Ernest Haycox
Director Of Photography: Edward Cronjager
Film Editor: Milton Carruth

Cast: Dana Andrews (Logan Stuart), Brian Donlevy (George Camrose), Susan Hayward (Lucy Overmire), Patricia Roc (Caroline Marsh), Ward Bond (Honey Bragg), Hoagy Carmichael (Hi Linnet), Fay Holden (Mrs. Overmire), Stanley Ridges (Jonas Overmire), Lloyd Bridges (Johnny Steele), Andy Devine (Ben Dance), the Devine Kids, Frank Ferguson, Ray Teal

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There seems to be a general consensus around here that Canyon Passage (1946) is a damn good Western, typically fine work from Jacques Tourneur, and a picture that has been unjustly overlooked over the years. We also tend to agree that the DVD from Universal is a terrific example of how to present three-strip Technicolor on our hi-def TVs. So much so, that a few folks have commented that they couldn’t imagine how much difference a Blu-ray upgrade would make.

Well, the new Blu-ray from Panamint offers up a stunning example of just what Blu-ray can do — that beautiful transfer of Edward Cronjager’s Technicolor photography is, well, even more beautiful than it was before. Sharper, crisper, more detailed — and with a real sense of depth. After viewing this, the old DVD seems way too bright by comparison. The extras — from newsreel footage of the premiere to a series of radio shows to a nice booklet on the film — really make this a premium package.

Patricia Roc and Jacques Tourneur

Patricia Roc and Jacques Tourneur

Then there’s the movie itself. Director Jacques Tourneur’s first Western, and his first time working in Technicolor, Canyon Passage is a big, beautiful, complex tale of the Oregon territory in 1856. Dana Andrews runs a freight business and winds up in a love triangle with Susan Hayward and Brian Donlevy — while dealing with both Indians and a positively evil Ward Bond.

Canyon Passage Bond Andrews

Ward Bond and Dana Andrews duke it out

It’d be easy for Canyon Passage to get bogged down in melodrama, but Tourneur’s too smart for that. He treats us to incredible vistas of the Oregon locations (Crater Lake is one of them), gets top-notch performances from the entire cast and offers up a great fistfight between Andrews and Bond. Bond deserves special mention: he’s a real scumbag in this one, a sharp contrast to roles that came later like Wagon Master (1950) and The Searchers (1956).

Jacques Tourneur came to this film with some classic horror movies under his belt — Cat People (1942) and I Walked With A Zombie (1943), and he’d follow it with one of the finest noirs, Out Of The Past (1947). Tourneur’s body of work is certainly worth seeking out. Case in point: his other Westerns include Stars In My Crown (1950) and Wichita (1955).

It’s easy to recommend Canyon Passage — both the film and Panamint’s high-definition, Region B presentation of it. It takes a good thing and makes it better.