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Directed by John Wayne
Starring John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Frankie Avalon, Patrick Wayne, Linda Cristal, Joan O’Brien, Hank Worden, John Dierkes, Denver Pyle, Olive Carey, Chill Wills, Joseph Calleia, Ken Curtis, Richard Boone

We may never get to see John Wayne’s The Alamo (1960) restored the way we want it to be — the way it deserves to be. But there’s something out there — a Blu-Ray/DVD set from Germany — that’s a little closer to the ideal.

Koch has a three-disc set with the shorter cut on Blu-ray and the 202-minute roadshow version on DVD. (Sadly, the only known print of the longer cut has deteriorated to the point that nothing can be done with it.) There are a handful of extras, some in German, some in English. Amazon.de had a version with different cover art — that one is already sold out. 

Since this might be as good as we’ll ever get, this is highly recommended. If you have any details about this — like is the roadshow version anamorphic, is the intermission included and what sort of region lock might be on it — please let us know.

Thanks to Graham for bringing this up.

Directed by Jesse Hibbs
Starring John Payne, Mari Blanchard, Dan Duryea, Joyce Mackenzie, Barton MacLane, James Griffith, Lee Van Cleef, Myron Healey

Universal’s German “branch” has announced an upcoming nine-movie Blu-Ray set featuring a good, but somewhat random, selection of Westerns — many available on Blu-Ray for the first time.

There are two Audie Murphy pictures, Jesse Hibbs’s Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954) and Gunpoint (1966).

Jesse Hibbs’s Rails Into Laramie (1954) is a cool, sadly under-seen 50s Western with a really terrific cast. It’s been on my Want List for quite some time. 

Also in the set are Jacques Tourneur’s Canyon Passage (1946), George Sherman’s Comanche Territory (1950), Douglas Sirk’s Taza, Son Of Cochise (1954), Smoke Signal (1955), Lonely Are The Brave (1962) and The Ride To Hangman’s Tree (1967).

While packages like this tend to lead to some duplication in your DVD/Blu-Ray collection, they offer up some really good stuff. Recommended.

Thanks to (birthday boy) John Knight for the tip!

Memorial Day.

Few movies cover the honor and traditions of our military as well as John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949). So it makes a fitting image for Memorial Day.

“Lest we forget.”

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates, Burgess Meredith, John Randolph, Lee Grant, Arthur O’Connell, Barbara Rhoades, Alan Hale, Jr., Gene Evans

After their screenplay for Bonnie And Clyde (1967), David Newman and Robert Benton cooked up this comic, oddball Western, There Was A Crooked Man… (1970). Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz was more at home with heavy dramas, but he gives this one his all.

It’s getting a welcome Blu-Ray release from Warner Archive in June.

Kirk Douglas is his usual swaggering self, and Henry Fonda is the new warden at an Arizona prison, hoping to reform Douglas and the other assorted crooks. This came at a time when Fonda was playing around with is Western persona, appearing in pictures like Burt Kennedy’s Welcome To Hard Times (1967), Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), Firecreek (1968) and The Cheyenne Social Club (1970). So while this one might not be a total success, it’s certainly interesting — and that cast is terrific, a great gathering of 50s and 60s character actors. Recommended.

RIP, Chuck Hicks.

Charles “Chuck” Hicks
(December 26, 1927 – May 4, 2021)

Veteran stuntman and charactor actor Chuck Hicks has passed away at 93.

He was in the 50s Westerns Horizons West (1952) and River Of No Return (1954) and TV’s Cheyenne, but he did some pretty memorable, even iconic, stuff in the 60s and beyond. He was the robot boxer in the great 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone, “Steel” (above). He was Chief in Cool Hand Luke (1967) and The Brow in Dick Tracy (1990).

He worked with Clint Eastwood a number of times, running from Rawhide to Dirty Harry (1971) to Bronco Billy (1980).

“Two Ounces Of Tin, a 1962 episode of The Rifleman was on today. It’s The one where Sammy Davis, Jr. is the gunslinger who’d been in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He’s in another one, too.

This gives Davis a chance to show off his gun-handling skills, which are really something to see. It also lets him show off his acting chops, and they’re something else, too. It’s one of my all-time favorite episodes of Western TV. Good stuff.

On a real Rifleman kick these days.

RIP, Johnny Crawford.

John Ernest Crawford
(March 26, 1946 – April 29, 2021)

Johnny Crawford, the child actor who was absolutely wonderful as Mark McCain (son of Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain) in The Rifleman, has passed away at 75.

Crawford not only co-starred in one of the best Western series ever, he recorded a single or two with the great Bobby Fuller, one of my all-time favorites, and appeared in Howard Hawks’ El Dorado (1967). And there were tons of TV appearances over the years, including being an original Mouseketeer.

In the 90s, he assembled a big band, the Johnny Crawford Orchestra. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago. Ask anyone who ever met him, and he was a super-nice guy.

A episode of The Rifleman is airing on MeTV as I type this.

Here’s the beautiful box art for Aurora’s model of The Lone Ranger. The actual model really resembles Clayton Moore.

It was issued in 1967. It was re-released with Gil Kane comic art on the box in 1974. Did you build one of these?

RIP, Lee Aker.

Lee Aker
(September 25, 1943 – April 1, 2021)

Lee Aker, who most will remember from the Rin Tin Tin TV show, has passed away at 77. He also appeared in Hondo (1953, above) with John Wayne, High Noon (1952), Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954) and Destry (1954).

Aker suffered a stroke and died April 1 near Mesa, Arizona. Sadly, his body was unclaimed.

Casey Jones On GetTV.

I had to pleasure of speaking with Will McKinley about the TV show Casey Jones, which is running on GetTV these days.

Click on the coloring book to read all about it.