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Archive for April, 2013

91ip3etFhjL._AA1500_Shout Factory has done us all a huge favor, pulling four 50s Westerns from the MGM/UA/Fox libraries — featuring no less than George Montgomery, Rory Calhoun and the mighty Joel McCrea — and offering them at a great price. All four pictures boast nice, clean transfers. They’re all presented full-frame, though three (the post-1953 titles) played theaters cropped to widescreen. I played around with the zoom on my HDTV and was satisfied with the results.

As we all know, there are dozens and dozens of films like these, and the more the better. Let’s hope this is the first of many.

Gun Belt still

Gun Belt (1953)
Directed by Ray Nazarro
CAST: George Montgomery, Tab Hunter, Helen Westcott, John Dehner, Jack Elam, James Millican, Willis Bouchey.

George Montgomery is Billy Ringo, a gunslinger who wants to settle down. We’ve all seen enough of these films to know how that usually works out.

Before the picture’s 77 Technicolor minutes are up, Johnny Ringo hands Ike Clanton over to Wyatt Earp! Director Ray Nazarro began his career as an assistant director in the Silents and ended it with these George Montgomery films, a few with Rory Calhoun and TV for Gene Autry’s Flying ‘A’ Productions.

thelonegun17

The Lone Gun (1954)
Directed by Ray Nazarro
CAST: George Montgomery, Dorothy Malone, Frank Faylen, Skip Homeier, Neville Brand, Robert J. Wilke.

Who cares what it’s about when you have Montgomery, Dorothy Malone, Skip Homeier and Frank Faylen, not to mention Ray Nazarro, on hand? For what it’s worth: George Montgomery goes after the Moran brothers — alone, thanks to the gutless townspeople.

Produced by the Color Corporation Of America, it was probably done in the SuperCineColor process. It looks good here, with the color surprisingly true. It was originally run 1.66.

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Gunsight Ridge (1957)
Directed by Francis D. Lyon
Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo
CAST: Joel McCrea, Mark Stevens, Joan Weldon, Slim Pickens.

I found this a good, tight little Western — better than its reputation. McCrea’s charm and strength, along with Ernest Laszlo’s beautiful black and white cinematography, make the most of an uneven script. Mark Stevens is a tortured, evil bandit pursued by McCrea, as a Wells Fargo agent, through and around Old Tucson.

Joan Weldon is wasted in a nothing part, but Carolyn Craig — who’s in a couple of my favorite films, Fury At Showdown (1957) and House On Haunted Hill (1959) — has a nice scene at the end of the picture. There are enough ideas here for half a dozen 50s Westerns — Stevens being a frustrated pianist is a good one — but they aren’t given the time and attention they need in this brisk 85 minutes. Those with a keen eye and a nice TV will see a jet trail and an autombile.

Ride Out For Revenge BTS

Ride Out For Revenge (1957)
Directed by Bernard Girard
CAST: Rory Calhoun, Gloria Grahame, Lloyd Bridges, Vince Edwards.

In the mid-50s, a number of Westerns went beyond the sympathetic, or apologetic, approach to Native Americans of, say, Broken Arrow (1950) and tackled racism itself. John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), of course, is the best of these — though I urge you to seek out George Sherman’s Reprisal! (1956). Ride Out For Revenge is a solid B film, from Kirk Douglas’ Bryna Productions, that manages to make its point without sacrificing action. Probably the best film in the set, and I have to admit I knew almost nothing about it beyond the title and cast. A real find.

Beulah Archuletta, “Look” in The Searchers, can be seen in a couple shots. She’s also in Calhoun’s The Hired Gun, from the same year.

This blog was set up to champion films like these, and I urge you all to give Shout Factory a strong economic reason to release further volumes.

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Sorry for the short notice, but the Newport Beach Film Festival is screening The Searchers (1956) tomorrow at noon at the Island Cinema. The event is sponsored by the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

Ethan Wayne and Glenn Frankel, author of The Searchers: The Making Of An American Legend, will appear before the film.

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Wild Stallion cropped

Paula Vitaris, who runs that great Ben Johnson site (and has been a huge help with my One-Eyed Jacks book), is having a good day. Wild Stallion (1952) is a picture she’s been asking Warner Archive about since the beginning. And they’ve announced it for May release.

I’ve never seen it, but anything with Ben Johnson, Edgar Buchanan, Martha Hyer and Hugh Beaumont in it — from Monogram in Cinecolor — is well worth tracking down. Can’t wait.

Thanks to John Knight for another tip.

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showdownatboothill scope title

John Knight just brought this to my attention. Olive Films has announced Showdown At Boot Hill (1958) for DVD and Blu-ray release in June. For me and many of you out there, a widescreen presentation of a Regalscope picture is a dream come true. To be able to enjoy every bargain-basement, black-and-white Scope detail in high-definition is icing on the cake.

70814_largeShowdown stars Charles Bronson, Robert Hutton, John Carradine, Carole Mathews and Argentina Brunetti. It’s a very early lead for Bronson — his TV show Man With A Camera would debut in late 1958. Director Gene Fowler Jr. worked as an editor for the bulk of his career, cutting everything from Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957) and Monte Walsh (1970) to Gilligan’s Island and The Waltons. The screenplay is by Louis Vittes, who also wrote I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958) and a number of episodes of Rawhide.

Olive Films also has the rights to Ambush At Cimarron Pass (1958), a Regalscope starring Scott Brady, Margia Dean and Clint Eastwood. Let’s hope it’s not far behind.

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Picture 9

It’s been announced that the Shane (1953) Blu-ray will be 1.37 after all — not the reformatted, reconfigured, reconstituted, regurgitated version we were all scared of. Cue a huge collective sigh of relief.

ANOTHER UPDATE (4/25/13): George Stevens, Jr. talks about the whole 1.66/1.37 controversy — and why he won’t be at the TCM screening.

Thanks to Laura and Paula for the news.

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jackbenny

Jack Benny is a real favorite around my house, so I don’t care of this post is a bit of a stretch, Western-wise.

Shout Factory has announced a three-disc set containing 18 Benny episodes — “unseen since their original broadcast — that have been lovingly restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Jack, Don, Mary, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and a constellation of guest stars are all here in this first-of-its-kind DVD collection.”

The guest stars include Gary Cooper and John Wayne, which gives me a real honest-to-goodness reason to put together a post on this.

Sorry for the drop-off in activity. Have one of those “family emergencies” we’re tending to.

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Moore Silver read script

Bob Madison (who moseys through this blog quite a bit) and I were emailing back and forth yesterday about Clayton Moore and The Lone Ranger. I remembered this page (inside back cover) from the 1956 Dell Giant comic The Lone Ranger Movie Story and thought it was worth sharing.

The article is called “Filming The Lone Ranger Movie.” Click and it gets large enough that even I can read it.

Filming LR movie cropped

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