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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.

Play Ball!

I’m digging out the John Ford Dodger cap photo. That means baseball’s here — and the Dodgers have their Dodger Stadium opener today.

Ford was sporting the cap in Monument Valley while shooting Peter Bogdanovich’s terrific documentary on him. It’s one of my all-time favorite images.

So glad we’re getting more games this season — and I’d love another World Series! Go Dodgers!

RIP, Gloria Henry.

Gloria Henry
(April 2, 1923 – April 3, 2021)

Gloria Henry, who most people will remember from TV as the mom of Dennis The Menace, has passed away at 98.

Us Western fans, we know her from Strawberry Roan (1948, above, with Jack Holt and Gene Autry), Lightning Guns (1950) with Charles Starrett and Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious (1952).

Critics’ Choice has a new William Elliott set out that looks pretty promising, with three pictures from 1941. These Columbia B’s, with Elliott teamed with the great Dub Taylor as Cannonball, are pretty terrific.

Across The Sierras (1941)
Directed by D. Ross Lederman
Starring Bill Elliott, Richard Fiske, Luana Walters, Dub Taylor

An ex-con is looking revenge on the two men who sent him to prison. One of them is Wild Bill Hickok (William Elliott). 

Hands Across The Rockies (1941)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Bill Elliott, Mary Daily, Dub Taylor

Wild Bill Hickock and Cannonball (Dub Taylor) are after the man who killed Cannonball’s father.

The Return Of Daniel Boone (1941)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Wild Bill Elliott, Betty Miles, Dub Taylor

A large-scale rancher is trying to scoop up all the little ranches in Pecos. His plans run into a snag, Daniel Boone’s grandson (Elliott).

Directed by John Sturges
Starring William Holden, Eleanor Parker, John Forsythe, William Demarest, William Campbell, Polly Bergen, Howard McNear, Glenn Strange

Warner Archive is working their Blu-Ray magic on John Sturges’ Escape From Fort Bravo (1953), a taut, suspenseful picture starring William Holden and Eleanor Parker.

Shot in Anscocolor, I’m looking forward to what WAC can do with it. Escape From Fort Bravo was originally shown in 1.66, just as the widescreen era was cranking up. But don’t let this make the movie sound like just a technical curio — it’s a damn good 50s Western. Highly recommended.

Happy Easter!

Of course, Easter’s about a whole lot more than colored eggs and chocolate bunnies and stuff. But this being 50 Westerns From The 50s, Easter’s about Gene Autry, too.

Gene sang “Peter Cottontail” in Hills Of Utah (1951), and the record has been re-issued about a million times over the years.

Here’s wishing you all a great and glorious Easter Sunday.

Listen Up, People!

Vincent’s Western Movies Podcast features John Knight, maybe the king of our commenters, taking on Alfred L. Werker.

Click on the image above and check it out.

Directed by John Sturges
Starring Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Carolyn Jones, Earl Holliman, Brian G. Hutton, Dabbs Greer

Here’s the one so many of us, mainly me, have been waiting for. Last Train From Gun Hill (1959) is coming to Blu-Ray from Paramount in June.

An excellent Western, with terrific VistaVision camerawork from Charles B. Lang Jr., this is one of the pictures that made me a 50s Westerns nut and set me on the path to this blog and the upcoming book. It remains one of my all-time favorite films.

If you’re a reader of this blog, this one’s essential.

Mill Creek has announced the six-disc, 12-movie Blu-Ray set The Randolph Scott Collection, which gives us a great batch of Scott’s Westerns for Columbia.

The Desperadoes (1943)
Directed by Charles Vidor
Starring Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor, Glenn Ford, Evelyn Keyes, Edgar Buchanan

Scott plays a sheriff after two separate bands of outlaws who rob the same bank at about the same time. Turns out the first robbery was an inside job.

The Nevadan (1950)
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Starring Randolph Scott, Dorothy Malone, Forrest Tucker, Frank Faylen and George Macready

Scott’s a Marshal who lets an outlaw (Forrest Tucker) escape so he can recover $250,000 in stolen gold.

Santa Fe (1951)
Directed by Irving Pichel
Starring Randolph Scott, Janis Carter

Scott’s trying to help build a railroad, with even his own brothers trying to stop him.

Man In The Saddle (1951
Directed by Andre de Toth
Starring Randolph Scott, Joan Leslie, Ellen Drew, Alexander Knox, Richard Rober, John Russell, Alfonso Bedoya, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Clem Bevans, Cameron Mitchell, Tennessee Ernie Ford

Scott’s a farmer who locks horns with Alexander Knox, who wants his land. The first, and maybe best, of the Scott pictures directed by Andre de Toth.

Hangman’s Knot (1952)
Directed by Roy Huggins
Starring Randolph Scott, Donna Reed, Claude Jarman, Jr., Frank Faylen, Richard Denning, Lee Marvin

Confederate soldiers, led by Scott, steal a shipment of Yankee gold and end up with a posse after ’em.

The Stranger Wore A Gun (1953)
Directed by Andre de Toth
Starring Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor, Joan Weldon, George Macready, Alfonso Bedoya, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine

This time, Scott’s a Confederate spy who’s in in a big robbery but has a change of heart. Originally in 3-D, widescreen (1.85) and stereophonic sound, it’ll be interesting to see what we get here. 

A Lawless Street (1955)
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
Starring Randolph Scott

Then we get four of the Budd Boetticher/Burt Kennedy Ranown cycle, some of the finest Westerns ever made. What’s missing from the unofficial series are Batjac’s Seven Men From Now (1956) and Warner’s Westbound (1959) which aren’t available on Blu-Ray.

The Tall T (1957)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, Maureen O’Sullivan, Arthur Hunnicutt, Skip Homeier, Henry Silva

Scott and Maureen O’Sullivan are held captive at a way station by a bunch of crooks. This is an incredible movie, based on a story by Elmore Leonard.

Decision At Sundown (1958)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, John Carroll, Karen Steele, Valerie French, Noah Beery Jr., John Archer, Ray Teal

Scott rides in Sundown to kill John Carroll., who had an affair with his wife.

Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, Craig Stevens, Barry Kelley, L.Q. Jones

Tom Buchanan (Scott) rides into the border town of Agry and is robbed and framed for murder. Naturally, Scott isn’t happy about this and does something about it. This was my entry point into the films of Randolph Scott, and it remains a favorite.

Ride Lonesome (1959)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, Pernell Roberts, Lee Van Cleef, James Coburn 

Ben Brigade (Scott) is a bounty hunter trying to take Billy John to Santa Cruz and turn him in. Standing in the way are Billy John’s brother and a group of Indians.

Comanche Station (1960)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, Claude Akins, Nancy Gates, Skip Homeier 

Scott rescues a women from the Comanches, not knowing her husband has a $5,000 reward for her return, dead or alive. Along come some dirtbags, lead by Claude Akins, who know about the five grand and want her for themselves. 

This set is essential. Some of these are available on Blu-Ray elsewhere, some are not. Order yours now.