Archive for May, 2010

Tim Holt in person and The Lone Hand (1953), too. Hate I missed that one.

The Broadhurst Theater in High Point, North Carolina, some Tuesday back in 1953. Tim Holt’s days as a cowboy star are pretty much up by this time — his last Western, Desert Passage, came out the previous year.

Any more, a big event on a Tuesday night is the season finale of The Biggest Loser.

In case you’re wondering, the Broadhurst is no more.

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In another couple weeks, VCI’s Special Edition of Silver Lode (1954) will hit the streets (May 25th). Allan Dwan’s work certainly deserves to be better known — the guy directed around 400 films, and if you’re unfamiliar with his stuff, this is a good one to begin with.

Same goes for John Payne, whose 50s Westerns are typically excellent, many with a bit of a noir-ish quality. I’m dying to see Rebel In Town (1956).

Unfortunately, this is one of the only 50s Westerns on the DVD horizon these days.

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The last of the B-Western cowboys. That’s not much of a distinction. But for Wayne Morris, that’s pretty much his place in Hollywood history.

His Two Guns And A Badge (1954, Allied Artists) is often held up as the absolute last true B Western. Republic’s last series Western, Rex Allen in The Phantom Stallion, was released earlier that year.

But there was another cowboy star who may have hung up his guns a bit later — Johnny Carpenter. His super-cheap self-produced pictures — such as The Lawless Rider (1954, directed by Yakima Canutt) and I Killed Wild Bill Hickok (1956) — carried the torch a while longer. Read up on Johnny sometime. He’s got quite a story.

Oh, but back to Wayne Morris. He was one of the first to leave Hollywood to fight in World War II, eventually flying an F6F Hellcat off the USS Essex (below).

After the war, he never could regain his career’s momentum — and found himself in Poverty Row cowboy movies. After his B-Western days were over, Morris continued acting in character roles. He’s got a sizable part in Riding Shotgun (1954) with Randolph Scott. And he’s excellent in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory (1957). His wife, Olympic swimmer Patricia O’Rourke, was the sister of Republic star Peggy Stewart.

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It’s been brought to my attention that this was placed on the Warner Archive Twitter thing. Such a referral is quite flattering.

Not sure who’s responsible, but a tip of the hat to ya.

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Republic star Adele Mara — who the studio co-starred with Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Bill Elliott and John Wayne (Sands Of Iwo Jima, 1949) — has passed away at 87. You can read her obituary here. She was also in The Black Whip (1956), a Regalscope Western.

She was married to Roy Huggins, the prolific TV writer-producer. Huggins also wrote and directed the excellent Hangman’s Knot (1952).

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A quick one: had lunch with a fairly recent acquaintance today. Really nice fella.

Anyway, we were chatting about stuff and I mentioned that I was working on a book about Westerns of the 50s. He asked if I was familiar with a cowboy actor named Randolph Scott.

Turns out that when he was a little boy, growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the 60s, his grandfather took him along to the Mayfair Manor hotel to have lunch with an old friend.

Some guy named Randolph Scott.

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The great illustrator has passed away. More here.

His Tim Holt/Ghost Rider stuff knocks me out. His one-sheet for The Gauntlet (1978), too.

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If not for Marlon Brando’s excesses — months turning into years of production and a budget that doubled — One-Eyed Jacks (1961) would be a shoe-in for 50 Westerns From The 50s. I may be a bit in the minority on this one, but I think it’s a great, great picture.

It’s also an endless source of geeky Hollywood trivia:

The last film released in Vistavision.

The first, and only, time Brando climbed into the director’s chair.

Stanley Kubrick left the film (and quickly ended up on Spartacus).

Rod Serling and Sam Peckinpah (both uncredited) are among the writers.

Editing took over a year.

Brando’s original cut was something like five hours long.

Even by Timothy Carey standards, Timothy Carey is over the top.

All that time, all that work, all that money — and the finished film ended up falling into the public domain. Thanks to that, One-Eyed Jacks on DVD has become an odd form of legalized gambling. You find it for a couple bucks, you buy it, and with your fingers crosses, plug it into your player.

And more often than not, the house wins.

I recently picked it up from Echo Bridge (right), part of a four-movie, five-dollar set. It’s the best DVD of One-Eyed Jacks I’ve seen, which sure ain’t saying much. At least it’s letterboxed. It doesn’t come close to the old laserdisc (also letterboxed), which I’m glad I hung onto. Charles Lang’s Oscar-nominated Vistavision cinematography deserves so much better than these cheeseball DVDs.

If you come across this set (mine came from Target), you might as well pick it up. Kansas Pacific (1952) and The Outlaw (1946) look pretty good. Deadly Companions (1961) is pan and scan, however.

UPDATE: A bit of news here.

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You can’t go wrong with Phil Karlson. He’s a real favorite around here — from crime pictures like 5 Against The House (1955) to the terrific Western Gunman’s Walk (1958) to the first of the Matt Helms, The Silencers (1966).

They Rode West (1954), which Karlson did for Columbia,  is turning up on Turner Classics (TCM) on Thursday, May 13 at 9AM.

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I was admiring this German poster for Budd Boetticher’s Buchanan Rides Alone (1958), and I kept thinking there was something familiar about the art. But none of the movie’s other posters use anything like it — at least not that I’ve seen.

A few days later, I was reading up on John Sturges and came across this still from Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957).

Next came a newspaper ad from its original run here in the States.

Now I know why that Buchanan art was so familiar. The Gunfight art got rid of the covered wagon, so the German artist must’ve worked from the still.

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