There’s been a real dearth of video releases to report lately. Some of you have written in to lament the fact that you actually had a surplus in your Westerns DVD budget. Well, the folks at Warner Archive are helping take care of that with a couple Westerns on their slate for release today.
First is Anthony Mann’s Devil’s Doorway (1950, MGM) starring Robert Taylor as a Indian who fought in the Civil War, and who returns home to fight the injustices committed against his people.
This was Mann’s first Western, and he displays a real command of the genre. (The Furies would be released the same year.) It was also Mann’s last film with ace cinematographer John Alton. Alton brings along his bag of film noir lighting tricks, making for an incredible-looking film. Taylor is excellent, as always, and Louis Calhern is wonderful as a gambler.
This is a must, folks.
MGM held the release of Devil’s Doorway back to wait and see how another “Indian Western,” Delmer Daves’ Broken Arrow (1950), performed at the box office. (Looking at this insert card, you’ll note that MGM didn’t indicate in any way that Taylor plays an Native American.)
Warner Archives’ other Western release, also available today, is RKO’s The Half-Breed (1952) starring Robert Young, Janis Carter and Jack Buetel.
Buetel is the guy Howard Hughes signed to play Billy The Kid in The Outlaw (1943/1946), then wouldn’t put him in another picture for years and years — around eight, to be exact. Buetel finally followed The Outlaw with The Best Of The Badmen (1951), before playing the title role in The Half-Breed.