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A Million Feet Of Film: The Making Of One-Eyed Jacks is the story of Marlon Brando’s One-Eyed Jacks, his first, and only, time as director and a picture that may be better known for its troubled production than its merits as a film. 

More than three years from contracts to premiere. Six months of shooting. Almost 200 miles of negative exposed. A revolving door of personnel, including Rod Serling, Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick — all gone before the first frame was shot. A budget that ballooned from $1.8 million to $6 million. And the eventual takeover of the film by Paramount. Click the cover to order.

Directed by Budd Boeticher
Starring Van Heflin, Julia Adams, George Dolenz, Antonio Moreno, Noah Berry, Jr., Abbe Lane, Rodolfo Acosta, Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales, Lyle Talbot

Kino Lorber and the 3-D Film Archive are bringing Budd Boetticher’s Wings Of The Hawk (1953) to Blu-Ray with its 3-D and 1.85:1 framing intact. (It was the first film composed specifically for 1.85:1 exhibition.) A 2-D version is included.

It’s also a terrific picture, technology aside. Heflin’s great (or course), Julie Adams is beautiful (of course), and Boetticher, DP Clifford Stine and editor Russell Schoengarth deliver a solid, good-looking 50s Western with plenty of action. One complaint: why didn’t they put Nestor Paiva in there somewhere?

Also, the 3-D Woody Woodpecker “cartune” The Hypnotic Hick, made by U-I to play with Wings Of The Hawk, will be included (in 3-D).

Coming in 2020. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this one. Highly, highly recommended.

Happy Birthday, Roy Rogers.

Roy Rogers
November 5, 1911 –  July 6, 1998

Roy Rogers — the King Of The Cowboys, was born 108 years ago today.

So was the great Joel McCrea. Quite a day.

Thanks to Bob Madison for the reminder!

Montana Belle (1952).

Directed by Allan Dawn
Produced by Howard Welsch
Screen Play by Horace McCoy & Norman S. Hall
Story by M. Coates Webster & Howard Welsch
Director Of Photography: Jack Marta
Film Editor: Arthur Roberts
Special Effects: Howard & Theodore Lydecker
Music by Nathan Scott

Cast: Jane Russell (Belle Starr), George Brent (Tom Bradfield), Scott Brady (Bob Dalton), Forrest Tucker (Mac), Andy Devine (Pete Bivins), Jack Lambert (Ringo), John Litel (Matt Towner), Ray Teal (Emmett Dalton), Rory Mallinson (Grat Dalton), Mike Ragan (Ben Dalton), Roy Barcroft (Jim Clark), Glenn Strange, George Chesebro, Iron Eyes Cody

__________

That photo of Jane Russell’s gorgeous Mercedes prompted me to revisit Allan Dwan’s Montana Belle (1952), which I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while.

I really like Jane Russell. She made some really cool movies, including Son Of Paleface (1952), one of my all-time favorites. She didn’t take herself too seriously, didn’t take any crap from Howard Hughes (or anybody else, it seems) and wasn’t afraid to be who she was. Plus, she drove that car!

In late October and November, 1948 — the same year she appeared in The Paleface, Russell made Montana Belle. It was produced by Howard Welsch for his Fidelity Pictures. Welsch had an arrangement with Republic to use their facilities, standard crew (such as DP Jack Marta) and Trucolor. Allan Dwan, who was directed pictures for Republic at the time, signed on. Republic would handle distribution.

Detail from a Serbin Golfer ad, promoting Montana Belle as a Republic picture.

In April of ’49, Welsch sold the completed Montana Belle to RKO for $875,000 — he and Republic split about $225,000 in profits. Then, the picture fell victim to the typical RKO/Howard Hughes weirdness. It was released by RKO in November of 1952, a full four years after Dwan shot it.

The story has Belle Starr (Russell) involved with the Dalton gang, then forming her own outlaw band, and finally giving it all up for the love of a saloon owner (George Brent). Along the way, Jane impersonates a fella and dons a blonde wig to pass as a saloon singer and gambler.

Montana Belle is at its best when all the riding, robbing and shooting’s going on — well directed by Dwan and captured in Trucolor by Jack Marta (would love to see this get the restoration other Trucolor pictures have received lately).

Jane Russell isn’t as comfortable in front of the camera as she’d later become, with pictures like Macao and Son Of Paleface (both 1952), but she handles herself pretty well here. George Brent has an interesting part, or maybe he makes the part interesting. And the rest of the cast is made up of real veterans at this kind of stuff: Scott Brady, Forrest Tucker, Andy Devine, Jack Lambert, Ray Teal, Roy Barcroft and Iron Eyes Cody. Dwan and Brady would later do another overlooked little 50s Western, The Restless Breed (1957).

Montana Belle is available overseas in a PAL DVD that I’ll bet looks pretty crummy. Since it’s officially an RKO picture, it’s not part of the Republic stash over at Paramount. With Allan Dwan getting a much-deserved mini-reappraisal in recent years, it’d sure be great to see this one get a decent DVD, or better yet Blu-Ray, release. It’s no classic, but it’s easy to recommend it anyway.

Happy Halloween!

No matter who you’re going as, Hoppy or The Lone Ranger, hope you have a safe, fun, candy-filled Halloween.

This is a bit of a stretch for this blog, but I couldn’t NOT share this.

This 1969 Mercedes Benz 280SL, one of the prettiest cars I’ve ever seen, belonged to Jane Russell of Montana Belle and Son Of Paleface (both 1952).

Doing some research on Night Passage (1957), I came across an article from The LA Times, reporting that the ongoing editing of Men In War (1957) was forcing Anthony Mann to back out of Night Passage. It also pointed out that this would free up the director to do The Tin Star (1957) for Paramount.

There are lots of stories about why Anthony Mann left what would’ve been his sixth Jimmy Stewart Western. This was a new one for me.

A Decade Of 50s Westerns.

This month, 50 Westerns From The 50s hits its 10th anniversary.

A few numbers. This is post #1,334. There have been 2.5 million views. It’s followed by over 200 people. To all of you out there who’ve made that happen, a big fat thanks.

Now let’s mount up for another 10 years on the trail.