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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Let’s mark Valentine’s Day this year with this ad from the Independent Film Journal from 1955. Ads for Ten Wanted Men (1955) drive me nuts — Scott’s head has clearly been pasted into another body.

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Directed by Anthony Mann
Starring James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy, Julie Adams, Rock Hudson, Lori Nelson, Jay C. Flippen, Harry Morgan, Royal Dano, Stepin Fetchit, Chubby Johnson

Kino Lorber has given a solid release date for their Blu-Ray of Bend Of The River (1952) — April 16, 2019.

This is the second of the Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart Westerns, and a very gorgeous thing in Technicolor. Which of the Mann-Stewart Westerns is best is a matter of personal taste, and probably a good way to get an argument going among fans of this stuff. But it’s easy to say that they’re all among the finest Westerns ever made — and absolutely essential.

Providing a commentary for this release was indeed an honor, though in retrospect, wish I’d spent more time on Julie Adams. And while I have the chance, I want to thank Glenn Erickson of cinesavant.com for his help on this one. We got a back-and-forth email thing going about Bend Of The River that really helped me pull stuff together. Thanks, Glenn.

RIP, Julie Adams.

Julie Adams (Betty May Adams)
October 17, 1926 – February 3, 2019

Just heard the sad news that Julie Adams has passed away at 92. One of my favorites actresses, she made some great Westerns for Universal-International in the 50s — and she was always so beautiful in Technicolor.

She was born Betty May Adams in 1926 in Waterloo, Iowa. In 1946, at 19, she was crowned “Miss Little Rock.” From there, it was off to Hollywood. Betty May worked as a secretary and appeared in a few B Westerns. She used her real name until 1949, when she signed with Universal-International. She then became “Julia” — and eventually “Julie”.

Universal kept her plenty busy. She appeared opposite James Stewart in Anthony Mann’s Bend Of The River (1952), Van Heflin in Budd Boetticher’s Wings Of The Hawk (1953, up top) Tyrone Power in The Mississippi Gambler (1953), Rock Hudson in Raoul Walsh’s The Lawless Breed (1953, above), Glenn Ford in The Man from the Alamo (1953) and Rory Calhoun in The Looters (1955), to name just a few. Away from Universal, she was in The Gunfight At Dodge City (1959) with Joe McCrea and Tickle Me (1965) with Elvis Presley.

She had a leading man of a different sort when she starred in 1954’s Creature From The Black Lagoon. The Creature would become the last of Universal’s roster of movie monsters, a real icon. Julie in her custom-built one-piece bathing suit became pretty iconic as well.

Julie did lots of TV, too. She was a county nurse on The Andy Griffith Show. She was on Perry Mason four times, including the only episode where Mason lost a case. You’ll also find her on The Rifleman, 77 Sunset Strip, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Maverick, McMillan & Wife, Police Woman, The Streets Of San Francisco and more.

Westerns are often criticized for not having strong roles for women. Julie Adams was so good, that never seemed like a problem for her. She always impressed.

Directed by Lesley Selander
Produced by Sherman Harris
Written by Robert Schaeffer and Eric Freiwald
Based on the Lone Ranger legend
Cinematography: Kenneth Peach
Film Editor: Robert S. Golden
Music by Les Baxter

CAST: Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger), Jay Silverheels (Tonto), Douglas Kennedy ​(​Ross Brady​)​, Charles Watts ​(​Sheriff Oscar​), ​Noreen Nash ​(​Mrs. Frances Henderson​), ​Ralph Moody ​(​Padre Esteban​), ​Lisa Montell ​(​Paviva​), ​John Miljan ​(​Chief Tomache​), ​Norman Fredric ​(​Dr. James Rolfe​), ​Maurice Jara ​(​Redbird​), ​Bill Henry ​(​Travers​), Lane Bradford ​(Henchman​)​

__________

I watched the Moore-Silverheels Lone Ranger features countless times as a kid (you could get complete Super 8mm prints of them) and always preferred the second one, The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold (1958). Seeing them again recently, and placing them within the context of the 50s Western as a whole, I still love them. And I’m still convinced the second one’s the best.

The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold would be the last time Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels played The Lone Ranger and Tonto. The TV series wrapped up in June of ’57, a year before this picture would open. Luckily, they were able to go out on a high note.

“Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas…”

It begins with a brief recap of The Lone Ranger origin, set to a cool song from Les Baxter (see the record above). This gives way to the prerequisite “William Tell Overture.” It’s a shame they didn’t head to the Iverson Ranch for a big-screen shot of Moore and Silver next to Lone Ranger Rock.

The plot’s a variation on a fairly common one — a group of Masked Raiders are searching for a series of medallions that reveal the location of a vast cave filled with Indian gold. The Lone Ranger and Tonto must prevent the Raiders from getting the last of the medallions and taking the treasure that belongs to the Indians.

Of course, one of the Raiders is Douglas Kennedy. It’s always a treat when he turns up in something. Ralph Moody is great as a padre. Noreen Nash is a woman in cahoots with the Raiders. Nash didn’t have a real stellar career, though she’s in an episode of The Lone Ranger, a Dragnet and the Tim Holt picture Road Agent (1952) — so who’s complaining? Lisa Montell ​plays ​Paviva​, a lovely Indian maiden. She’s a favorite of mine thanks to World Without End (1956). Then there’s a baby boy that seems to be played by a girl — given away by tiny little earrings.

Lesley Selander cranks up the action and violence a notch for The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold. As a kid, it drove me nuts that, on TV, Clayton Moore just shot the guns out of the bad guys’ hands. Here, he actually drills somebody. So does Tonto. There’s also a terrific fistfight towards the end.

Much of this was shot at Old Tucson, and it gives you a great view of the place. The climax has Moore, Silverheels, Kennedy and others sneaking around the small houses you’ve seen in all kinds of stuff. The beautiful San Xavier del Bac Mission is also featured. And while all the location work’s gorgeous and adds plenty of production value, the absence of the familiar Iverson rocks from the TV show is a bit jarring.

the_pittsburgh_press_tue__jun_17__1958_This picture was clearly meant for kids. But there’s something about The Lone Ranger and Tonto I find more appealing the older I get. Their friendship, their fairness and their ongoing fight for justice are things we all could use some extra exposure to. I love this movie.

The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold is pretty easy to find on DVD. The VCI release from years ago presents it in its original aspect ratio, though a non-anamorphic letterboxed version. It’s the best one around. I’d love to see both of these Moore-Silverheels features make their way to Blu-Ray.

Just realized, thanks to Bob Madison, that today is the anniversary of the first Lone Ranger radio broadcast (1933).

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

Let’s mark Randolph Scott’s birthday with the original poster art for The Stranger Wore A Gun (1953). It’s by the painter and illustrator Gustav Rehberger. (Click on the image so you can see it larger. It’s really incredible. Columbia didn’t use it very well when it came to the actual posters.)

Of course, Randolph Scott rides tall around here. His run of Westerns in the 50s is maybe the strongest of the decade, from the six he did with Andre de Toth (which includes The Stranger Wore A Gun) to those written by Burt Kennedy and directed by Budd Boetticher. This would be a good night to watch one.

UPDATE: I’ve been in contact with Rehberger’s widow, Pamela Demme, over the course of all the research for my One-Eyed Jacks book. She commented to this post —

“Rehberger was a big Western fan.  When he arrived in this country at age 13, his cousin took him to see his first movie. It was a Western with a big fight scene. He said he was never the same after it. His most favorite movie was Shane. He saw it dozens of times.  We would run to see every Clint Eastwood movie.

His first full day in Chicago was the Fourth of July. Between seeing his first Western and the fireworks, the farm boy was in paradise!  He loved Westerns for another big reason…lots of horses. Which he loved from the age of three when he was given a rocking horse.  Every Fourth of July, he’d say this is the anniversary of my first day in America. ‘Coming to America was the best thing that could happen to me.’”

RIP, Nick Redman.

Nick Redman
(1955 – 2019)

I didn’t know Nick Redman, but I sure knew his work. We all do. He made two excellent documentaries that Western fans (should) hold near and dear: The Wild Bunch: An Album In Montage (1996) and A Turning Of The Earth: John Ford, John Wayne And The Searchers (1998). He passed away last week.

He was also one of the founders of Twilight Time, a company that’s released some terrific 50s Westerns on Blu-Ray — Gun Fury (1953, in 3-D) and The True Story Of Jesse James (1957). I’m always grateful to anyone who presents these old movies the way they ought to be seen.

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I first became aware of Mr. Redman from the series of Lalo Schifrin soundtrack CDs he produced. The CDs of the Dirty Harry (1971) and Magnum Force (1973) scores have been in almost constant rotation in my office since the day they came out. He did a terrific job putting those together, and I was always hoping he’d get around to Schifrin’s music for Don Siegel’s Charley Varrick (1974). He also did a series of excellent Jerry Fielding CDs, including the complete score to The Wild Bunch (1969).

Western and action movie fans like us certainly owe a debt to Mr. Redman.

Written and directed by Blake Edwards
Starring William Holden, Ryan O’Neal, Karl Malden, Lynn Carlin, Tom Skerritt, Joe Don Baker, James Olson, Leora Dana, Moses Gunn, Victor French, Rachel Roberts, Sam Gilman

Warner Archive is bringing Blake Edwards’ wonderful The Wild Rovers (1971) to Blu-Ray. Philip Lathrop’s photography deserves nothing less.

This is another one of those movies mangled by its studio — MGM cut about half an hour out of it without Edwards’ knowledge. This Blu-Ray (like the previous DVD) will be Edwards’ longer cut, which rights MGM’s wrongs.

William Holden is so good in this. And it makes an interesting companion piece to his work in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) — these are two of the best films ever done about the changing West.