RIP, Rex Reason.

02_1957 Badlands of Montana C

Rex Reason
(November 30, 1928 – November 19, 2015)

Rex Reason has passed away at 86. He’s best known for appearing in the great sci-fi picture This Island Earth (1955), but he’s in some solid 50s Westerns — Smoke Signal (1955), Raw Edge (1956) and Badlands Of Montana (1956, above) with Beverly Garland.

He left the movie business in the 60s and got into real estate.

Happy Thanksgiving.


To mark Thanksgiving this year, here’s the sleeve to Gene Autry’s 1950 holiday record (a 78), “Little Johnny Pilgrim,” backed by “Guffy The Goofy Gobbler,” a retread of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Gene Gail Cow Town

The photo’s Gene with Gail Davis in Cow Town (1950). Here’s wishing everyone a good, safe holiday filled with family, friends and plenty of goofy gobbler.

Robbers Roost poster sized

Directed by Sidney Salkow
Starring George Montgomery, Richard Boone, Sylvia Findley, Peter Graves, Warren Stevens, William Hopper, Leo Gordon

Let’s not forget Robbers Roost (1955), announced for Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. It has an official release date of December 1. It’s a solid George Montgomery picture, based on a novel by Zane Grey, with a terrific cast. The cinematography by Jack Draper looks great. Draper worked on a lot of Mexican films, or American films shot in Mexico, such as Budd Boetticher’s Bullfighter And The Lady (1951) and this one, which was filmed around Durango.

Happy Birthday, Roy Rogers.


Roy Rogers
(November 5, 1911 – July 6, 1998)

Let’s remember one of my favorite humans on his 104th birthday. And I’d suggest you mark the occasion with something in Trucolor directed by William Witney. With that combination, unless it’s been cut to ribbons, you really can’t go wrong.

Happy Birthday, Joel McCrea.


Joel Albert McCrea
(November 5, 1905 – October 20, 1990)

Here’s the great Joel McCrea in the excellent Fort Massacre (1958), which is on its way to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. Let’s remember him on what would’ve been his 110th birthday.

McCrea’s a real icon of the Cinema West, and his pictures from the 50s are well worth revisiting, especially with the new widescreen transfers we’re seeing today.

RR Ghost Mystery Rancho cover

Roy Rogers And The Ghost Of Mystery Rancho is a Whitman book from 1950 by Walker A. Tompkins. I read it as a kid — was anybody else reading these things in the 70s? — and loved it. Revisiting it more recently, it held up well.

It seemed like a good way to mark Halloween this year. Of course, you could always pull out John Wayne in Haunted Gold (1932), a picture I found impossibly cool as a kid. John Wayne and ghosts, could it get any better?

Whatever you decide to do tonight (there’s the new Blu-ray of Them!), have fun and be safe. And save the Raisinets for me!


Directed by Thomas Carr
Produced by Vincent M. Fennelly
Written by Dan Ullman
Director Of Photography: Ernest Miller

Cast: Wild Bill Elliott (Marshal Sam Nelson), Virginia Grey (Stella Walker), Henry Morgan (Alf Billings), John Doucette (Ernie Walker), Lane Bradford (William Norris), Stanford Jolley (Everett)

Forty Niners LC1

Released in May 1954, The Forty-Niners (1954) was William Elliott’s last Western. He’d finish out his career with a cool series of detective films (which many of us around here like a lot), but cowboy-wise, this was the end of the trail. It’s the last picture in the Warner Archive set The Wild Bill Elliott Western Collection.

Elliott is Marshall Sam Nelson, tracking down the murderers of a marshall in gold-crazy California. He strikes up an alliance with Alf Billings (Harry Morgan), a card sharp who may know the names of the killers. They wind up in Cold Water, where they run afoul of Sheriff Lane Bradford and saloon owner John Doucette. Nelson develops a bit of respect for Billings, who he suspects isn’t all bad. I’m oversimplifying things to avoid spoilers.

Dan Ullman’s script offers up twists and turns that we don’t see coming, even though we’ve seen a million of these things. It gives Henry Morgan a good part (he’d already appeared with Elliott in Republic’s The Showdown in 1950), which of course he’s excellent in. Morgan might have more screen time than Elliott does. Virginia Grey plays Morgan’s old flame who’s now married to Doucette. And to top it all off, Elliott narrates the picture Dragnet-style.

Forty Niners LC3

By the time The Forty-Niners began shooting at the Iverson Ranch and Corriganville, Monogram was called Allied Artists and the industry standard for projection was 1.85. So, thanks to the folks at Warner Archive, we’re treated to a widescreen William Elliott picture. The previous entry in the series, Bitter Creek (1954), was also 1.85 — it’s not included in this set. These films were done very cheaply, and no transfer can ever make up for that. But it was shot by a real pro, Ernest Miller, and the widescreen framing gives it a fresh look.

I can’t say enough about these films, or about how excited I am that they’ve made their way to DVD in such supreme condition. Highly recommended.


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