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Horse Soldiers still

Marion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison)
May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979

Be sure to remember John Wayne on his birthday. This is a still from The Horse Soldiers (1959).

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Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring Robert Young, Randolph Scott, Dean Jagger, Virginia Gilmore, John Carradine, Chill Wills, Barton MacLane

Many of us agree that Randolph Scott became a better Western star after he got some years on him. Well, here’s one that messes with that idea a bit. In Western Union (1941), directed by Fritz Lang and based on Zane Grey’s novel, Scott’s an outlaw trying to go straight — and he’s terrific. (That’s Robert Young, Lang and Scott above. Love that photo!)

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We associate Lang with dark, creepy stuff, but he’s just as comfortable with Technicolor. The Blu-ray coming from Kino Lorber later this year should be a real looker. Can’t wait.

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Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick, George O’Brien, Arthur Shields

A spiffed-up restoration of John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949) was unveiled at this year’s TCM Festival. I heard it was gorgeous.

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Warner Archive is bringing that same transfer to our Blu-ray players soon. It’ll be a real treat to see Winton C. Hoch’s Technicolor cinematography in high definition. Lest we forget what an incredible artist he was.

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Directed by Marlon Brando
Starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Pina Pellicer, Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens, Larry Duran, Sam Gilman, Timothy Carey, Ray Teal, Hank Worden

The Cannes Film Festival starts today. For me, the highlight is certainly the debut of the restoration of Marlon Brando’s One-Eyed Jacks (1961) — a movie I’ve been fascinated by since I watched it on the afternoon movie back in 1978. It’s also the subject of my first book, which I really wish was completed.

The great Charles Lang shot One-Eyed Jacks in VistaVision — it was supposedly the last film released in the process, so the new transfer should be incredible. Theatrical screenings and a Blu-ray release are in the works, they say.

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Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Written by Burt Kennedy
Starring James Arness, Emile Meyer, Robert J. Wilke, Harry Carey, Jr., Michael Ernest, Frank Fenton, Angie Dickinson, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez

John Wayne’s Batjac Productions made some terrific smaller films in the mid-50s. Gun The Man Down (1956) is one of them.

Burt Kennedy followed his script for Seven Men From Now (1956), the first of the Scott/Boetticher/Kennedy movies, with this solid revenge tale. James Arness, under contract to Batjac, got the lead. Andrew V. McLaglen directed — this was his first picture. Angie Dickinson was given an “introducing” credit, even though she’d appeared in a handful of things, including Tennessee’s Partner (1955). And William H. Clothier made it all look like a million bucks.

It’s coming to Blu-ray in July from Olive Films. Like anything written by Kennedy in the 50s, this is highly recommended.

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Since starting this blog and allowing myself to really wallow in 50s Westerns, it’s been interesting to note how many of the 50s Western “practitioners” made the move to television in the 50s and into the 60s. For them, it probably wasn’t a real decision — they simply went where the work was.

Daniel Boone (1964-70) is one of the programs that really benefited from the Western pedigree of its cast and crew. Boone was developed to leverage Fess Parker’s incredible popularity as Disney’s Davy Crockett. Fact is, the show was to be about Crockett, but Disney wouldn’t give up the rights.

Parker at Boone Forest

Shout Factory has released the show’s first season in a 6-disc Collector’s Edition — 29 episodes with bonus material. Making your way through the set, you’re immediately struck by the familiar names and faces. This first season, the only one not in color, supplements its regular cast — Parker, Patricia Blair, Albert Salmi, Ed Ames, etc. — with the likes of Claude Akins, Dan Duryea, James H. Griffith, Jay Silverheels, Robert J. Wilke, Michael Pate, John McIntire and Hank Worden. Directors include Joseph H. Lewis, George Sherman, Thomas Carr, Nathan Juran and George Marshall — who all some some outstanding 50s Westerns.  The first episode, “Ken-Tuck-E,” directed by Marshall, was written by Borden Chase and shot by Carl Guthrie. Quite an impressive bunch.

The set looks terrific, with print quality varying a bit from episode to episode — but solid overall. The extra stuff is well done. And as for the shows themselves, I’ve always felt this first season was stronger than what came later. But you know, Parker’s so likable, that hardly seems important. Recommended.

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Directed by Phil Karlson
Starring George Montgomery, Gale Storm, Jerome Courtland, Noah Beery, Jr., William Bishop, John Dehner, John Doucette, Jock O’Mahoney, George Chesebro

Raleigh’s Western Film Preservation Society has been at it since 1981, and their meeting this month features two of my favorites Western stars.

First up is Tim Holt in The Fargo Kid (1940). The second feature is Phil Karlson’s The Texas Rangers (1951), starring George Montgomery, Gale Storm and Noah Beery. It’s the 21st (that’s tomorrow, sorry for the short notice) at 6:45 at North Carolina State University’s McKimmon Center.

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