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Archive for September, 2017

Directed by Lewis Collins
Written by Joseph Poland
Director Of Photography: Ernest Miller
Music by Raoul Kraushaar

Cast: Johnny Mack Brown (Himself), Lee Roberts (Sheriff Bob Conway), Phyllis Coates (Marian Gaylord), Hugh Prosser (George Millarde), Dennis Moore (Henry Lockwood), Marshall Reed (Macklin)

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The last of Johnny Mack Brown’s B Westerns for Monogram, Canyon Ambush (1952) is pretty much exactly what you’re picturing in your head — a pretty solid little picture shot at Iverson Ranch. In it, Brown’s a government agent who rides into Border City to help bring a masked rider to justice. There’s plenty of ridin’ and shootin’ all over the hallowed grounds of the Iverson Ranch, and Phyllis Coates is on hand to give the picture an extra boost — and plenty of curb appeal.

The screenplay’s by Joseph Poland, who wrote a ton of B Westerns (Autry, Wayne, Elliott) and serials (Dick Tracy Vs. Crime Inc.Batman And Robin and Atom Man Vs. Superman).

At the time Canyon Ambush was in production, Monogram was in the process of becoming Allied Artists. William Elliott stayed and made a few more pictures with the typical Monogram team (Lewis Collins, Thomas Carr, Ernest Miller, etc.); Johnny Mack Brown retired.

Canyon Ambush is available on DVD from Warner Archive’s Monogram Cowboy Collection Volume 5. The three-disc set also includes Brown and Raymond Hatton in The Texas Kid (1943), Partners Of The Trail (1944), Law Men(1944), Ghost Guns (1944), Gun Smoke (1945), Frontier Feud (1945), Border Bandits (1946) and Raiders Of The South (1947). Canyon Ambush looks terrific, stunning at times. The contrast levels are beautiful, giving us a chance to really take in the wonders of the Iverson Ranch. (One more thing: Johnny Mack Brown has a really cool hat in this one.)

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Directed by Andre de Toth
Starring Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor, Joan Weldon, George Macready, Alfonso Bedoya, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine

The Stranger Wore A Gun (1953), one of six Randolph Scott pictures directed by Andre de Toth, had all sorts of interesting technical things going for it — which makes the announcement that Explosive Media is bringing it to Blu-Ray in Germany something worth celebrating.

Stranger Wore A Gun 3D poster

The one-sheet for The Stranger Wore A Gun bragged about it all: 3-Dimensions, wide screen and stereophonic sound.

Andre de Toth was chosen to test-drive and fine tune a number of Hollywood’s technical developments of the 50s. For instance, the second of the De Toth Scotts, Carson City (1952), was the first Warnercolor filmHouse Of Wax (1953), the first major-studio 3-D movie, was filmed in the Natural Vision 3-D format and Warnercolor, with the added bonus of stereophonic sound.

The Stranger Wore A Gun was the first film composed and shot to be projected at 1.85. This aspect ratio is still the standard, in use in theaters and on video today. This framing in, for me, the key benefit of this upcoming Blu-Ray, along with the high definition, of course. It will not be offered in 3-D, and sadly, the three-track stereo elements were lost years ago.

This is not the best of the de Toth Scott movies, but it’s got Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Claire Trevor. And George Macready is totally despicable as the bad guy. Scott is so cool in the movies from this period, no matter how strong the movie around him is.

Not sure what Explosive’s region policy is. I’m sure hoping The Stranger Wore A Gun is something we can all enjoy. Can’t wait.

Thanks, John, for the tip.

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Harry Dean Stanton
(July 14, 1926 – September 15, 2017)

I’ve been dreading this day. The great character actor Harry Dean Stanton has passed away at 91.

He brought something to every movie he appeared in, and if you gave him enough screen time, he made the movie better. He’s second from the left in the photo above from Lesley Selander’s Tomahawk Trail (1957), one of his first films. He’s in so much good stuff: Pork Chop Hill (1959), Ride In The Whirlwind (1966), In The Heat Of The Night (1967), Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (1973), Dillinger (1973), The Missouri Breaks (1976), Alien (1979), Escape From New York (1981), Repo Man (1984, below), Paris, Texas (1984), The Straight Story (1999) and so many more. There’s plenty of great TV stuff, too.

MSDREMA EC002

Stanton could sing, play harmonica, play guitar, write and talk all night when Marlon Brando would call. He served in the Navy in World War II.

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