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The word on the street is that Powerhouse/Indicator out of the UK is prepping some of the Budd Boetticher – Randolph Scott pictures, the five  Columbia ones, for Blu-Ray. Of course, those were put out by Sony in a terrific set several years ago, with plenty of extra stuff — but we’ve all been pining for all of these to make their way to Blu-Ray.

Michael Dante, Randolph Scott and Budd Boetticher on the Westbound set.

Powerhouse/Indicator will do a tremendous job with these. This would leave Seven Men From Now (1956) and Westbound (1959) orphaned in high-definition. Seven Men is handled by Paramount these days, and Westbound is in the care of the Warner Archive. More news as it turns up.

Thanks to John Knight for the tip.

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RIP, John Gavin.

John Gavin
(April 8, 1931 – February 9, 2018)

John Gavin, who played Jack Loomis in Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Julius Caesar in Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960) has passed away at 86. He also appeared in the sublimely wonderful Quantez (1957, above),  a sadly under-appreciated 50s Western from Universal-International, starring Fred McMurray and Dorothy Malone (who just passed away herself) and directed by Harry Keller.

Gavin was almost cast as James Bond for Diamonds Are Forever (1971). He served as ambassador to Mexico during the Reagan administration. He was married to Constance Towers.

Directed by Frank Lloyd
​S​tarring Sterling Hayden, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Richard Carlson, Arthur Hunnicutt, Ernest Borgnine, J. Carrol Naish

Kino Lorber has announced the upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray release of The Last Command (1955), Republic’s Trucolor tribute to the brave men who fought at the Alamo. Made after John Wayne took his Alamo movie and left the studio to produce his movie on his own.

My mom was from Texas, and The Last Command never failed to tear her up. It doesn’t have the spectacle of Wayne’s The Alamo (1960), but it’s got plenty going for it, and I’m looking forward to doing a commentary for this one.

George Randolph Scott 
(January 23, 1898 – March 2, 1987)

Let’s mark the birthday of my all-time favorite movie star, Randolph Scott — one of the key players in 50s Westerns. The still above is from The Bounty Hunter (1954), the last of six Westerns Scott made with director Andre de Toth.

The picture also stars my favorite actress, Marie Windsor — and that pairing makes this seem like a better movie that it really is. Despite its faults, I like it a little more every time I see it.

It’s a huge shame The Bounty Hunter is still missing on DVD and Blu-Ray, though there’s an OK-looking DVD out in Spain. Wish Warner Archive would move it to the top of their to-do list. Since it was shot in 3-D, but never released that way, it made sense a few years ago to consider a 3-D Blu-Ray. But it doesn’t seem like the world’s all that in love with 3-D television, and I wish they’d scrap those plans if they’re what’s holding it up.

RIP, Dorothy Malone.

Between takes on Quantez (1957).

Dorothy Malone (Dorothy Eloise Maloney)
January 30, 1924 – January 19, 2018

One of my favorites actresses (especially in Westerns), the great Dorothy Malone, has passed away.

I first remember seeing her in The Big Sleep (1946), as the sexy girl in the Acme bookstore. And she made a huge impression on me in Harry Keller’s Quantez (1957), a sadly under-appreciated Fred MacMurray Western from Universal. She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Douglas Sirk’s Written On The Wind (1956). But for me, it’s Quantez.

Her other Westerns include South Of St. Louis (1949), The Nevadan (1950), Saddle Legion (1951), Tall Man Riding (1955), Pillars Of The Sky (1956) and Warlock (1959). Oh, and The Last Voyage (1960) is terrific.

Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd
Screenplay by Wendell Mayes and Halsted Welles
From the novel by Dorothy M. Johnson
Director of photography: Ted McCord, ASC
Music by Max Steiner
Song: “The Hanging Tree” — Lyrics by Mack David, Music by Jerry Livingston,
Vocal by Marty Robbins
Film Editor: Owen Marks

CAST: Gary Cooper (Dr. Joseph Frail), Maria Schell (Elizabeth Mahler), Karl Malden (Frenchy), Ben Piazza (Rune), George C. Scott (Grubb), Karl Swenson (Mr. Flaunce), Virginia Gregg (Mrs. Flaunce), John Dierkes (Society Red)

__________

It was a big deal back in 2012 when Warner Archive brought Delmer Daves’ The Hanging Tree (1959) to DVD. (Hard to believe it’s been that long.) Their new Blu-Ray ought to be just as big an event, since hi-def can really add to your appreciation of the film.

Not a frame from the Blu-Ray, just a sample long shot from the film.

Cooper’s character, Doc Frail, lives in a cabin on a ridge about the mining town of Skull Creek. Throughout the picture, we’re look down on the village from Frail’s perspective. These deep-focus shots now have an almost stunning amount of detail, giving you an opportunity to really study what Daves had his cast of extras doing in the recesses of those long shots.

Gary Cooper and Maria Schell in a goofy publicity shot.

Another benefit of the new Blu-Ray is the color. Ted McCord shot The Hanging Tree in Technicolor, and Warner Archive has it looking like a million bucks. It has a slight brownish tone to it that suits all the wood we see throughout — from the trees to the makeshift buildings of Skull Creek. You also get a real feel of lamplight in the interiors, while most Technicolor films from the period seem extremely bright. The low lighting is necessary here, as Maria Schell is kept in darkness as she regains her sight.

Warner Archive frames the picture at 1.78:1, a slight variation on its theatrical 1.85. That’s becoming a bit of a norm with a lot of hi-def transfers, and it doesn’t bother me. The grain here is near perfect — it’s there, as it should be, but it’s never distracting.

The Hanging Tree is a great movie. And this is the way to see it. Highly, highly recommended.

Republic Trucolor logo

Martin Scorsese has curated a retrospective of Republic movies, for February and August at the Museum Of Modern Art, from the restored material at Paramount.

There’s some great stuff in February’s lineup, including Trigger, Jr. (1950), Stranger At My Door (1956) and one of my all-time favorite films, Hellfire (1949). Three of my favorite directors are represented: William Witney, George Sherman and Allan Dwan.

Working with the fine folks at Kino Lorber on commentaries for some of their Republic releases, the quality of the material coming out of Paramount is incredible. (I’m in the middle of Singing Guns right now.) So glad to see these films are being treated with the respect they deserve.

Thanks to Laura for the news!