Archive for December, 2014


The charge was this: send in your list of favorite 50s Westerns DVD releases for 2014, along with a few 50s Westerns that you discovered this year.

For today, here are your (and my) 10 favorite DVDs or Blu-rays released during the 2014 calendar year.

10. Panhandle (1948) This terrific Rod Cameron picture, directed by Lesley Selander, was released a few years ago as part of VCI’s Darn Good Western Volume 1. This year, it showed up on its on.

9. City Of Bad Men (1953) Dale Robertson leads a great cast: Jeanne Crain, Richard Boone, Lloyd Bridges, Hugh Sanders, Rodolfo Acosta, Don Haggerty, Leo Gordon, John Doucette, Frank Ferguson, James Best. Harmon Jones directs.

8. Fort Massacre (1958) Joel McCrea plays way against type. Forrest Tucker, Susan Cabot, John Russell and Denver Pyle co-star. You can get a nice regular DVD here in the States — and a stunning Blu-ray in Germany.


7. Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957) The guys who developed VistaVision look down from heaven, see this Blu-ray playing in our living rooms, and are very happy indeed.

6. The Lusty Men (1952) There was a time when Nicholas Ray was a machine that cranked out Great Movies. This study of modern-day rodeo cowboys — starring Robert Mitchum, Susan Haywood and Arthur Kennedy — comes from the heart of that period.

5. Drum Beat (1954) Alan Ladd shows us he’s got more than Shane up his sleeve, and Delmer Daves delivers yet another solid Western. This is a lot better movie than you’ve heard (or remember).


4. Gunsmoke In Tucson (1958) When an Allied Artists Western starring Mark Stevens makes a Top Ten list, I know I’m in the right place.

3. Tim Holt Western Classics Collection Volume 4 As good as the series Western ever got. For me, this fourth volume is the best — which makes it plenty great indeed.

2. Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend (1957) It’s not a stupendous Randolph Scott movie, but it’s a Randolph Scott movie — and Warner Archive has it shining like a black and white, 1.85 diamond.

1. South Of St. Louis (1949) This terrific Joel McCrea picture, with its Technicolor appropriately saturated, is stunning on Blu-ray from Olive Films. Alexis Smith and Dorothy Malone should’ve paid cinematographer Karl Freund for making them look so beautiful.

Along with all these favorites, there was a common complaint: that Olive Films’ promised The Quiet Gun (1956) didn’t make it in 2014.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their lists.

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Marvin Donovans Reef

“And from the East came three wise men, three kings bearing gifts, to gaze upon the child and to kneel before him in adoration… the king of Polynesia… the emperor of China… the king of, the king of the Unites States Of America.”

That’s Lee Marvin as “Boats” Gilhooley in John Ford’s Donovan’s Reef (1963). John Wayne’s the guy watching over his shoulder. It’s a picture that if people’d quit complaining about how it’s not The Grapes Of Wrath (1940) or The Searchers (1956), they’d realize just how wonderful it is.

Here’s wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.

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Directed by David Butler
Written by James O’Hanlan
Director Of Photography: Wilfrid M. Cline

Starring Doris Day, Howard Keel, Allyn McLerie, Philip Carey, Chubby Johnson

Some might wonder why I’d bother with a post on Calamity Jane (1953) coming to Blu-ray in March. It’s not a Western in the usual sense. But it’s a wonderful movie, one of my favorite musicals, and it should make for a knockout Blu-ray. Plus, it’s got Chubby Johnson in it.


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Rio Bravo cast and crew

Who would’ve thought? The government actually got something right. Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959) has been selected for preservation in the Library Of Congress. That means their board has deemed it “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

We coulda told them that years ago.

Thanks for the news, Blake.

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film storage

For 2013, I put together a list of my Top Five 50s Westerns DVD and Blu-ray releases for the year. It was fun, and I think we should do it again as a group. So, between now and Sunday, December 28, send me your favorite releases for 2014. They have to have been released in the calendar year and they have to have some relation to 50s Westerns.

One of the real joys of this blog, as I see it, is the sharing and recommending that goes on among us all. So while we’re at it, let me know what were your favorite discoveries of 2014. Doesn’t matter if it’s been on DVD for years, you saw it on GetTV or bummed a bootleg from a friend — what 50s Westerns did you get acquainted with this year? This was Jerry’s idea, and I think it’s a great one.

For both lists, drop your picks in the comments to this post (by the 28th), and I’ll put together the results.

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Two Gene Autry pictures, Sunset In Wyoming (1941) and The Cowboy And The Indians (1949), will be screened at The Autry in Griffith Park on December 27 at noon. What makes this a big deal is that The Cowboy And The Indians features Gene singing his song “Here Comes Santa Claus.” It’s a real solid Autry movie all around.

I’m working on an article on the film for ClassicFlix.com, and have really enjoyed digging into in the last week or so.

Now if someone would run Trail Of Robin Hood (1950)!

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Sam and Bob PGBK

This book falls outside the usual scope of this blog, but I’m sure many of us will be interested in it. I know I am! Paul Seydor’s The Authentic Death and Contentious Afterlife Of Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid: The Untold Story of Peckinpah’s Last Western Film will be available in February. I’m not sure I can wait that long.

the-authentic-death-and-contentious-afterlife-of-pat-garrett-and-billy-the-kidPat Garrett And Billy The Kid (1973) could be Sam Peckinpah’s most mangled masterpiece — as you know, he had a lot of them. Slim Pickens’ final scene, featuring Katy Jurado and set to Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” gets my vote as the saddest, most moving scene in cinema history. (Quick, Toby, think of something else!)

From Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid‘s troubled shooting — plagued with everything from schedule-busting camera malfunctions to liver-wrecking substance abuse — to its mutilation by MGM and eventual restoration and reappraisal, Seydor’s got a helluva story to tell. As an editor, his insight into the film’s cutting and re-cutting should be worth the cover price alone. His previous book, Peckinpah: The Western Films—A Reconsideration, and documentary, The Wild Bunch: An Album In Montage (1996), show that he knows his way around this subject. Man, I can’t wait!


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Here’s wishing a happy 98th to Mr. Kirk Douglas. And while we’re wishing, I’d sure love to see his terrific Last Train From Gun Hill (1959), one of my favorite 50s Westerns, make its way to Blu-ray.

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In a way, I hate to put this up here. Because it shows how remote our chances are of seeing a proper release of Sugarfoot (1951) when watching it on YouTube is something actually desirable.

But, folks, that’s where we are on this one. It’s a title Warner Archive would bring us, if it wasn’t tangled up in some “underlying rights” stuff.

So with the Randy blogathon on the horizon, here’s one of his hardest-to-see 50s Westerns — in a completely watchable 360p. Click the title card, and you’re there. And do it soon, as these things don’t always last.

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A Blogathon For Randolph Scott
January 23 – 25, 2015

Randolph Scott is my favorite actor. Period. And this blogathon has been a goal of mine since I first figured out what a blogathon was.

To me, Scott’s the poster child for the 50s Western. His finest work during the decade ranks among the genre’s best — in spite of, or maybe even because of, tighter budgets and schedules than the films of stars like, say, John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart. And his lesser ones, they’re still worthwhile — even if only for his presence.

Randolph Scott was born on January 23, and that’s when we’ll saddle up.

Here’s how it works:
• Pick a Randolph Scott film or related topic. (It does not have to be a Western or from the 50s.)
• Write me at fiftieswesterns@gmail.com to let me know you want to ride along, what you want to write about, and when you plan to post it.
• Post your piece on your scheduled day, using the official Randolph Scott Blogathon badge (below) and link to the hub.
• Send me the link to your post so I can add it to the master list.

R Scott blogathon badge

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