Archive for December, 2021

And while you’re at it, can you give me a ride to 1951?

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Merry Christmas!

Here’s John Wayne and John Ford with Santa. There’s probably some Christmas spirits around, too.

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fifty.

I usually dodge questions about the 50 Westerns to be covered in 50 Westerns From The 50s. The reason I’ve avoided the issue is that the list changes so often. Or it used to change often. Lately, it’s settled down quite a bit.

I’ve been really excited about some of the recent progress on the thing (and some recent back-and-forth on Dragoon Well Massacre), so I felt like sharing the list, with the disclaimer that it could still fluctuate some.

Wagon Master
The Gunfighter
Trail Of Robin Hood
Rocky Mountain

Man In The Saddle
Apache Drums
Saddle Legion
Westward The Women

Son Of Paleface
Bend Of The River
Rancho Notorious
The Duel At Silver Creek
Lawless Breed

Jack Slade
Last Of The Pony Riders
The Lone Hand

Masterson Of Kansas
Vera Cruz
Phantom Stallion
Johnny Guitar
Silver Lode

A Lawless Street
Stranger On Horseback

Seven Men From Now
Red Sundown
Stagecoach To Fury
A Day Of Fury
Fury At Gunsight Pass
The Fastest Gun Alive

Hell Canyon Outlaws
The True Story Of Jesse James
Fury At Showdown
Night Passage
Forty Guns

Dragoon Wells Massacre
The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold
Frontier Gun
Fort Dobbs
Gunman’s Walk
The Left-Handed Gun

Curse Of The Undead
Rio Bravo
Last Train From Gun Hill
Face Of A Fugitive
The Horse Soldiers

You might notice that things are skewed a bit toward smaller pictures — and that some “key” titles are missing, namely, High Noon, Shane and The Searchers. A few pre-1950 and post-’59 films will also be included (One-Eyed Jacks was gonna be one of those, but it ended up with its own book).

Hopefully, you’re as stoked about these films as I am. (Thanks to a few of you who’ve helped shape this list over the years.) Looking forward to hearing what you think — and to a winter spent wrapping this thing up.

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Nashville Scene used to boast a film writer named Jim Ridley. He’s about my age and he passed away a few years ago. Came across a compilation of his writing over the weekend called People Only Die Of Love In The Movies. In it, there’s his short piece on Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959).

You may know by now that Rio Bravo is my favorite Western. I’m not gonna say it’s the best necessarily, but if I was headed to the electric chair and I got to watch one Western before they threw the switch, that’d be the one I’d pick (and not because of its long-ish running time).

Anyway, Mr. Ridley nailed Rio Bravo. What makes it special. What it is about it that’s so different. After reading his piece, I thought I would’ve loved to have met him for coffee or lunch somewhere just to geek out on Rio Bravo. That woulda really been something.

Rio Bravo cast and crew

Here’s a couple gems from his review (from Nashville Scene, November 2, 2006):

“After the big-budget thud of Land Of The Pharaohs, Howard Hawks emerged from a three-year sabbatical, including a stay in Paris and a purposeful study of TV drama, to create his 1959 rifle opera: a laid-back yet hard-headed response to the sanctimonious High Noon — which pissed off the director because no lawman worth his badge would ask civilians to risk their hides doing his job. The result is an irresistible ode to loyalty, cool under fire and masculine honor — which in the Hawks universe extends even to Angie Dickinson’s stand-up saloon girl.”

“Perhaps the most purely enjoyable Western ever made, Rio Bravo only deepens with age and repeated viewing, right down to the genial juxtaposition of Martin’s slouch and Wayne’s saunter. It’s doubtful another American movie has ever taken so much interest in the way its characters walk — or understood why it matters.”

Mr. Ridley, I’m sure sorry we never got to talk Rio Bravo. Would’ve been a blast.

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Here’s another Critics’ Choice release, the appropriately-named Audie Murphy Western Double Feature. It gathers up a couple of mid-60s pictures Murphy did for Admiral Pictures, distributed by Columbia. Both were in Techniscope and Technicolor.

Arizona Raiders (1965)
Directed by William Witney
Starring Audie Murphy, Michael Dante, Ben Cooper, Buster Crabbe, Gloria Talbott

Shot at Old Tucson, this one has Murphy and William Witney keeping the 50s Western thing going as long as they can. It’s a remake of Texas Rangers (1951), and it’s always good to see these folks at work.

The Quick Gun (1964)
Directed by Sidney Salkow
Starring Audie Murphy, Merry Anders, James Best, Frank Ferguson, Ted De Corsia, Raymond Hatton

Sidney Salkow directed this one. Shot at Iverson, it’s got a great cast (I’d watch Frank Ferguson in anything).

Both of these were part of Columbia’s MOD program, and it’s great to see them paired up at a great price.

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Directed by Ray Nazarro
Starring George Montgomery, Audrey Long, Carl Benton Reid, Eugene Iglesias, Joe Sawyer, Douglas Kennedy, Hugh Sanders, George Chesebro, Robert J. Wilke

Critics’ Choice and Mill Creek have been quietly adding to their Critics’ Choice Collection, bringing out some cool double- and triple-featureson DVD. The George Montgomery Western Triple Feature set gives us Indian Uprising (1952), Battle At Rogue River (1954) and Masterson Of Kansas (1954). Those last two were also part of Mill Creek’s set The Fastest Guns Of The West: The William Castle Western Collection, which many of you probably already own.

While the repetition is unfortunate, it’s great to have Ray Navarro’s Indian Uprising available again. It’s a cavalry picture, shot at Corriganville, Bronson Canyon and the Iverson Ranch in Super Cinecolor by Ellis Carter. I kinda doubt these will ever make it to Blu-Ray, but the DVD transfers are top-knotch — and the price is nice, too.

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