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A trip to Raleigh’s flea market yesterday turned up a coupe of arcade cards I was really stoked to find. You see these things all the time, but it’s usually the same stars over and over again. This time, the selection was a little more varied.

First, a Yakima Canutt card from Exhibit. Dates from the 30s, I’d guess.

Canutt went from rodeo champion to cowboy star to the absolute master of movie stunts — going from doubling John Wayne in Stagecoach (1939) to doing second unit direction on my favorite movie, Where Eagles Dare (1969).

Next was a more common card, from the 40s, featuring Tim Holt. Of course, Holt’s Western series for RKO is hard to beat.

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Mill Creek’s new four-disc set, The Roy Rogers Happy Trails Collection, gathers up 20 Rogers pictures spanning his entire career, and presents most of them in the same unfortunate condition we’ve seen before. However, the set does have its advantages.

Here are the Rogers movies you get:
Young Bill Hickok (1940)
Sons Of The Pioneers
(1941)
Cowboy And The Senorita (1944)
Sunset In El Dorado
(1945)
Don’t Fence Me In (1945)
Man From Oklahoma
(1945)
Along the Navajo Trail
(1945)
Rainbow Over Texas
(1946)
Down Dakota Way
(1949)
The Golden Stallion
(1949)
Susanna Pass
(1949)
North Of The Great Divide
(1950)
Trigger, Jr
. (1950)
Trail Of Robin Hood (1950)
Bells Of Coronado
(1950)
Twilight In The Sierras
(1950)
Spoilers Of The Plains
(1951)
South Of Caliente
(1951)
In Old Amarillo
(1951)
Pals Of The Golden West
(1951)

Many of these are from the later period, when William Witney was packing these things with action — and shooting some in Trucolor. They also had longer running times, which is where we run into trouble. Trail Of Robin Hood (1950), for instance, runs 67 minutes. In this set, it runs just 63 minutes and that includes the Happy Trails Theatre introduction. So it’s fair to say that up to 10 minutes of the film is gone. This pattern continues throughout, with the damage depending on how long or short each movie was originally. Young Bill Hickok runs under an hour, so it might not have too much missing. Cowboy And The Senorita (1944), Roy and Dale’s first film together is the odd man out. It does not have an introduction, and it runs its full 77 minutes. Looks pretty good, too.

There are a few supplemental videos, some of them from the Roy Rogers Museum, which are nice to have — especially since the museum is no more, and it’s about as close to a tour as we’re gonna get anymore.

Some of these films are available elsewhere uncut. (Trigger, Jr. from Kino Lorber is incredible.) Wouldn’t it be great to have them complete with the introductions included as an extra, the way the Gene Autry pictures are done? I’m dying for a full-length Spoilers Of The Plains.

Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Starring Tom Keene (as Richard Powers), Judy Clark, Roy Barcroft, I. Standford Jolley, Lee Phelps, Tom Steele

Serial Squadron has announced that they’re preparing a DVD release of the 1950 Republic serial Desperadoes Of The West. Though Republic would keep making serials through 1955, this was the last straight Western — others would would feature a masked rider and lift heavily from the Zorro stuff. Desperadoes works in its stock footage pretty well, pulling more from Republic features and less from their serials.

Tom Keene, working here as Richard Powers, is almost always worth a look, but he seems a bit old for this kinda stuff (he was in his mid-50s). Keen’s career was beginning to wind down at this point. He’d work pretty steadily throughout the 50s in features and TV, with his last picture being Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959). Not a great swan song, especially after appearing in so much cool stuff over the years.

Republic’s serial budgets were extremely tight in the 50s — this one cost about $150,000. Each chapter’s short running time (chapters 2-12 run just 13 minutes) really keeps things moving, which is a big benefit if you watch them back to back. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this one and I’m looking forward to a chance to revisit it.

Thanks to Texican for the news.

My favorite of all the cars I’ve owned was my 1971 Volkswagen Type 3 Fastback. It was so much fun to drive, and Jennifer and I went on dates in it.

Seeing this picture today of John Wayne in a VW Squareback, the wagon version of the car I had, blew my away. Now, more than ever, I want another Type 3.

Get this, when I looked up VW/Porsche dealer Chick Iverson (of Newport Beach), I saw that he’s buried next to John Wayne. They were the best of friends.

Thanks to Jennifer for finding this.

Directed by Sidney Salkow
Starring Dale Robertson, Mary Murphy, J. Carrol Naish, John Litel, Iron Eyes Cody, John Hamilton, Douglas Kennedy

Shot in Mexico to save money, Sitting Bull (1954) was the first independent production shot in CinemaScope. As history, it’s hogwash, but as a cowboy movie, it’s pretty good — especially with that cast and with a sympathetic look at the Indians.

This picture seems to have falling into the public domain, which means we’ve been looking at terrible, pan-and-scan transfers for years. Spirit Media, from Germany, have announced a Blu-Ray release. Let’s hope it presents it the way it ought to be seen, with its CinemaScope intact and it’s Eastmancolor looking, well, as good as Eastmancolor can look. (Boy, it’s good to see somebody announcing a 50s Western on DVD or Blu-Ray.)

Thanks to John Knight for the news.

VCI Entertainment has announced the upcoming (May) Blu-Ray release of two terrific 15-chapter Buck Jones serials from Universal — The Red Rider (1934) and The Roaring West (1935).

The Red Rider was directed by the prolific Lew Landers. This was one of his first pictures. Buck’s co-stars in this one are Grant Withers and Marion Shilling. As you might expect, Monte Montague’s around, too.

The Roaring West is from director Ray Taylor, who did a number of serials, including The Green Hornet and Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe (both 1940). Early in his long, prolific career, he was an assistant director for John Ford.

Both are sourced from original 35mm fine grain material — and both will feature first-chapter commentaries from yours truly. And if all that’s not enough, they’re bringing out The Vanishing Shadow (1934), too. Boy, am I excited about these.

Wish We Were Here.

Came across a postcard of Republic Studios. Judging from the cars, I’d guess it’s from the 40s.

In case you’re curious, here’s what it says on the back:
Republic Studio, North Hollywood, Calif. Known as the friendly studio, Republic covers about 70 acres, has 18 sound stages and employs 3,000 people during the peak season.

A second one says the studio is “located in the San Fernando Valley where many of the popular Western Films are made.”