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Written & Directed by Tom Gries
Starring Charlton Heston, Joan Hackett, Donald Pleasence, Lee Majors, Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens, William Schallert, Matt Clark, Luke Askew

This is going to make a lot of people happy — it’s a constant on many Western fans’ Blu-Ray Want List. Kino Lorber has announced an upcoming Blu-Ray release of Will Penny (1968), one of the finest post-50s Westerns of them all.

Writer-director Tom Gries based his screenplay on an episode of The Westerner, which he also wrote and directed. (Sam Peckinpah created the series.) Charlton Heston often said this was his best performance and named this his favorite of his own films. Lucien Ballard’s cinematography is incredible, and will be beautiful on Blu-Ray — and the entire cast is near perfect.

This is one even real cowboys have a hard time finding fault with. Highly, highly recommended.

Hoppy Thanksgiving!

Here’s Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) and Topper at the 1955 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Mighty Mouse is gaining on him.

Here’s hoping you’re all having a great one. And a big thanks to Bob Madison for the photo.

Breakfast With Monte Hale.

This ad for Quaker Puffed Rice ran in April of 1949, with Monte Hale’s Son Of God’s Country new in theaters. Click on it and it gets bigger.

Happy Halloween!

Love these old vintage Halloween photos of kids in their Western outfits. I’m guessing we’ve got some Lone Ranger-ness happening in this one. Subject, date and source unknown.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

It’s been a long, long time since we had a Wild Bill Wednesday. 

Thanks to the folks at VCI, we can add two more William Elliott pictures to our collections, from his time at Columbia.

In Early Arizona (1938)
Directed by Joseph Levering
Starring Bill Elliott, Dorothy Gulliver, Harry Woods, Franklyn Farnum, Jack Ingram, Charles King

Elliott is Whit Gordon, a gunslinger brought in to clean up Tombstone, which is being run by Bull and his gang.

The Law Comes To Texas (1939)
Directed by Joseph Levering
Starring Bill Elliott, Veda Ann Borg, Bud Osborne, Charles King

Elliott’s a lawyer who poses as a rustler to get to the bottom of a Texas town run by outlaws. Around the time Veda Ann Borg did this picture, she was in a car wreck that required surgery to reconstruct her face. Bud Osborne is a crooked judge. (Love the tagline in this title card for the Astor re-release!)

Charles King plays Kaintuck, Elliott’s sidekick, in both. These were some of the last pictures from director Joseph Levering, who got his start with silent dramas and spent the late 30s doing Westerns for Columbia.

Really looking forward to this one. 

Under Colorado Skies (1947).

Directed by R. G. Springsteen
Associate Producer: Melville Tucker
Screen Play by Louise Rousseau
Director Of Photography: Alfred S. Keller
Film Editor: Arthur Roberts
Musical Director: Mort Glickman

Cast: Monte Hale (Monte Hale), Adrian Booth (Julia Collins), Paul Hurst (Lucky John Hawkins), William Haade (Marlowe), John Alvin (Jeff Collins), LeRoy Mason (Faro), Tom London (Sheriff Blanchard), Steve Darrell (Clip), Gene Evans (Red), Ted Adams (Doc Thornhill), Steve Raines (Pony), Hank Patterson (Slim), Foy Willing & The Riders Of The Purple Sage


From 1944 to 1950, Monte Hale made 19 pictures for Republic. Under Colorado Skies is often held up as his best movie, with his next one, California Firebrand (1948), coming in second.

Here, Monte’s a medical student, working part-time as a bank teller and engaged to Adrian Booth. Booth’s brother is part of the notorious Marlowe gang, and when they rob the bank, Monte’s suspected of being in on it (he doesn’t have the heart to tell Booth her brother’s a crook.)

From there, things get complicated. Booth is shot in a stage holdup. Monte infiltrates the gang. And everyone cooks up an elaborate ruse to bring out the truth and clear Monte. There’s plenty of action along the way, as you’d expect from R. G. Springsteen. Monte and Foy Willing & The Riders Of The Purple Sage do a great version of Bob Wills’ “San Antonio Rose.” And there’s some Iverson location work — in Trucolor.

Hale might be better at action than acting, but he’s got a pleasant singing voice and is extremely likable. In everything from Republic serials to William Elliott and Monte Hale pictures to some The Three Stooges shorts to The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) with Boris Karloff, Adrian Booth (also known as Lorna Gray) is one of my favorites. She’s good here and she looks terrific in Trucolor. Hank Patterson, Hank Miller from Gunsmoke and Fred Ziffel on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, plays a grizzled old prospector. And Tom London has a good part as the sheriff.

Monte Hale came along as Republic’s B Westerns were rounding third and beginning to wind down, as television took its toll on movies like Under Colorado Skies. By 1954, Republic was finished with pictures like this. This one’s a prime example of the bigger budgets, longer running times (and color) and focus on action that made these later Bs such a treat (similar to the later Roy Rogers movies directed by William Witney).

It’s a shame these films are so hard to track down these days. (Paramount, please do something with these things!) They’re an absolute joy.

Where’s Monte Hale?

Robert’s Western World is a honky tonk on Nashville’s Lower Broadway. The building was once home of the Sho-Bud Steel Guitar Company, owned by steel guitar virtuosos Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons. Miss Jennifer and I were there the other night and came across this photo of Monte Hale.

It dawned on me that other than his cameo on Trail Of Robin Hood (1950), there hasn’t been much mention of Mr. Hale over this blog’s 13 long years. That’s an oversight I’ll take care of real soon. Unfortunately, Hale’s Republics, quite a few of ’em in Trucolor, are almost impossible to see nowadays, which is letting him fade out of Western movie history.

Monte’s one of the few Western stars I got to meet. He gave me a “Shoot low, they might be crawlin'” sticker (like that one above) that I sure wish I still had.

This month marks the 13th year of this blog. Wow.

That also means I’ve been working on the book that’s its namesake, 50 Westerns From The 50s, just as long. Along the way, there have been job changes, a move, several computer purchases and a steady coming and going of films on the list of “The Fifty.”

And while all that time is kinda embarrassing to admit to, I’m stoked to report that it’s getting pretty close and I have a publishing date in mind for it. Gonna try really hard to stick to it. As sure as the turning of the earth.

One of my earliest movie memories is of watching an 8mm print of Tom Mix in The Great K&A Train Robbery (1926). What a cool movie — and you certainly don’t get any cooler than Tom Mix. He was a real ranch hand, starred in well over a hundred films, got John Wayne his job in the props department at Fox, appeared in the circus and was made an honorary Texas Ranger. Quite a guy.

Scott McCrea, the pen name of a great friend of this blog, is writing a series of novels featuring Tom Mix. The first one, The Mountain Killer, is now available. I highly recommend it. Click on the cover (above) or order yours today!

RIP, Henry Silva.

Henry Silva
(September 23, 1926 – September 14, 2022)


The great character actor Henry Silva has passed away, a few days short of his 96th birthday.

From Westerns like The Tall T (1957, above) and The Bravados (1958) to gangster pictures like Johnny Cool (1964) to Rat Pack things like Oceans 11 (1960) to a slew of foreign action movies, it was always a good sign to see Silva’s name pop up in the credits. He rarely got a role that wasn’t a villain of some sort, but when he did, he was terrific.