Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘1950’ Category

The Strand in Hartford, Connecticut, May 1950.

Read Full Post »

THIS IS AN UPDATE OF A POST FROM JULY OF 2012. It continues to be a really popular post, and it seemed due for a refresh. This will be further updated as time goes on.

Henry Cabot Beck of True West Magazine and I were emailing back and forth about the color Roy Rogers pictures (Trucolor, to be precise), how wonderful they are, and how terribly they’re represented on DVD. It’s a matter that has been beaten to death on a number of newsgroups, which shows just how important this really is. With these pictures in mind, a hastily-constructed post seemed in order.

The official releases worth your time and money are (where appropriate, clicking on the art will take you to a seller):

DVD

Bells Of Coronado (1950) is the only Roy Rogers picture Lions Gate got around to putting out on DVD during their handling of the Republic Pictures catalog. Unfortunately, Olive Films’ time with the Republic titles didn’t result in a single Rogers disc.

Bells Of Coronado is a good one, with Dale Evans, Trigger, Grant Withers and Pat Brady adding their usual support. William Witney lends his masterful direction, the songs are great and the Trucolor looks good. I think this is out of print, but it’s still listed here.

VCI’s Roy Rogers Western Double Feature Volume 1 presents Under California Stars (1948) and The Bells of San Angelo (1947) — both uncut and both looking just fine. California features Jane Frazee and Andy Devine, while San Angelo has Dale Evans, Andy Devine and Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers. Witney directed both. It’s also a deal, available through their website for just four bucks! Trailers are even included. So mosey on over and pick one up.

 

Springtime In The Sierras (1947) came out from Film Chest (in 2016) and The Film Detective, transferred from a complete 16mm print. It might be a bit soft, but it’s a good one and it’s complete.

 

 

 

 

 

BLU-RAY

Kino Lorber took over from Olive Films and released some nice stuff, including a couple of color Rogers films, from restored materials. They’re available on both Blu-Ray and DVD, and both feature commentaries from some Bozo named Toby Roan. They’re absolutely beautiful.

Sunset In The West (1950) looks incredible. It’s got Penny Edwards instead of Dale Evans, and there’s terrific  support from Gordon Jones, Will Wright and Paul E. Burns. The climax, with Trigger chasing down a locomotive, has some really amazing stuntwork.

Trigger Jr. (1950) has Dale Evans, Pat Brady, Gordon Jones, Grant Withers and Foy Willing And The Riders Of The Purple Sage. It really focuses on Trigger, so there’s a lot of great horse stuff in it.

I wish this was a lot longer post, with the rest of the color Rogers pictures listed. But at this time, Paramount owns the rights and no one has licensed anything. Maybe someday.

Till then, “may the good Lord take a liking to you.”

 

Read Full Post »

Directed by Lesley Selander
Produced by Jack Jungmeyer
Screenplay by Maurice Geraghty
Story by Frank Gruber
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography: Jack Greenhalgh
Film Editor: Francis D. Lyon

Cast: George Montgomery (Tom Horn / Steve Garrett), Rod Cameron (Harve Logan / Kid Curry), Marie Windsor (Dakota Lil), John Emery (Vincent), Wallace Ford (Carter), Jack Lambert (Dummy), Larry Johns (Sheriff), Marion Martin (Blonde Singer), James Flavin (Secret Service Chief), Walter Sande (Butch Cassidy)

This is an entry in The Marie Windsor Blogathon, a celebration of the actress’s life and work. It comes from guest blogger Boyd Cathey.

Marie Windsor always evokes wonderful memories for me, and on this day, December 11, 2020, which would have been her 101st birthday, I think back to the films with her that left an imprint on me, and that since my childhood I’ve managed to see and in many cases finally acquire.

When I was young boy my dad and I would go from time to time to a movie house in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, usually on a Saturday, to see a Western double feature. Our favorite was Randolph Scott. My dad’s family is from Charlotte, and my grandparents were acquaintances with Randy Scott’s family, also in Charlotte, so we had a connection. One of the first films I recall featuring Marie Windsor was The Bounty Hunter (1954). I think it was a re-release at one of the lesser, second-run theaters that used to exist in the city, as the original release was in 1954, and I was too young to go to movies back then. I remember her role as the wife of a notorious bandit—she wasn’t the main star, but she seemed to give an extra spark to this Scott Western, which like most of his Warner oaters seemed less polished than the Columbia products.

Anyway, I was taken by her. Okay, I was maybe only about 10, but I was captivated—she was beautiful and perky, and along with Sophia Loren, she became my idolized female star. In the late 1950s until her retirement in 1991, she also frequently acted in television. She made appearances in Maverick, Rawhide, Perry Mason, even Murder, She Wrote with Angela Lansbury, one of the best American crime mystery series. And Windsor was always beautiful and captivating, she never seemed to age.

A few years later—probably the early 1960s or so—a local television station broadcast Dakota Lil (1950), one of those films that stations would broadcast usually late at night. I begged my parents to let me stay up—it was a school night, and my normal bedtime was 10 p.m. Somehow they agreed, maybe because dad wanted to see it also. Anyway, we both viewed it, and immediately Dakota Lil became a favorite.

The plot is fairly simple, although the development is more complicated. George Montgomery, Secret Service undercover agent Tom Horn (as Steve Garrett), is charged with breaking a major counterfeit outfit, the “Hole-in-the-Wall” gang in Wyoming. To do this he travels to Matamoros, Mexico, to enlist the aid of Windsor—Dakota Lil—noted for her ability to perfect an exact replication of official signatures. They both head to Wyoming, but she initially begins working with the chief culprit and the particularly nasty Rod Cameron (Harve Logan/Kid Curry)

The first thing you notice is the film score: it’s by the award-winning composer Dmitri Tiomkin, and it is gorgeous and memorable. In fact, its themes remained in my mind long after I first watched the DVD. Certainly, Fox by charging Tiomkin with the music of Dakota Lil intended it to be more than just another “super-B” Western.  Additionally, John Emery, who plays the role of Vincent, a former concert pianist and hanger-on to Windsor, offers up several short pieces by Frederic Chopin! Marie—Dakota Lil—sings various songs, with the singing voice of Anita Ellis. She executes excellent lip-syncing.

Although Dakota Lil showcases a youngish George Montgomery, Windsor steals the show and adds essential sparkle to the film. She invests the generally unremarkable dialogue with some real panache, indeed with just a face gesture or an inflection in her voice she can steal a scene. When she shows up at the Wind River, Wyoming, saloon (owned by Cameron) and comes upon the current diva, that chanteuse asks her: “What are you staring at?,” Windsor responds dryly: “A no talent performance.” Likewise, her dialogue with Cameron on how they plan to split the proceeds of the counterfeit government bonds shows comparable spunk and her mastery of crisp exchange, even humor. One can see how Marie Windsor fit so well into film noir, indeed, Dakota Lil shares certain characteristics of that genre. Consider, for example, Cameron’s preferred method of killing his enemies—by brutal strangling, almost matter-of-fact in its cruelty.

It was only in 2015 that I discovered that a DVD existed, in fact, two DVD releases. And I snatched up a copy as soon as I could. Both are in the PAL European video format, which means they will not play in American NTSC DVD players; but All Region DVD players are easily available and can be had inexpensively via Amazon.com and elsewhere. One copy was issued in Spain, which I have not seen. My copy is issued by Simply Media, a British company, which licensed their copy from Renown Films.

Although Dakota Lil was originally released by 20th Century-Fox in Cinecolor (February 1950), to my knowledge no color issue has emerged since its original release. Neither of the available DVDs is in color. Since Cinecolor was a less stable and reliable color process than Technicolor, one wonders if such a copy still exists somewhere in the Fox archives. Kino Lorber has done some wonderful restoration work with Scott’s The Cariboo Trail and Canadian Pacific, both Fox releases, so maybe we are allowed to hope?

Both the Simply Media copy and the Spanish release are available reasonably from the American firm, DaaVeeDee.com and also from Amazon.com. My copy is a good B & W issue, with a sharp picture and no sign of deterioration.

Directed by warhorse director Lesley Selander, Dakota Lil is surely one of his finer efforts. It deserves to be much better known. No, it’s not perhaps as good a vehicle for Windsor as, say, Hellfire (1949, with Wild Bill Elliott), but it merits attention…and perhaps a full digital restoration?

In any event, it should be seen for Marie Windsor’s fine performance which raises this film above the dozens similar to it released in 1950. Happy Birthday, Marie, and may your legacy on film continue to be enjoyed and appreciated!

Read Full Post »

Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Ben Johnson, Claude Jarman Jr. , Harry Carey Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carrol Naish, Victor McLaglen, Grant Withers, The Sons Of The Pioneers

Olive Films is adding Rio Grande (1950), the third of John Ford’s “Cavalry Trilogy,” to its Signature Edition series. (The first two were Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.) The release date is listed as November 17.

John Ford did Rio Grande for Republic to get the opportunity to do The Quiet Man (1952), but such dealmaking does not take away from this brilliant movie. The cinematography from Bert Glennon alone is worth the upgrade to Blu-Ray. Essential.

Read Full Post »

Directed by Henry King
Starring Gregory Peck, Helen Wescott, Millard Mitchell, Jean Parker, Karl Malden, Skip Homeier, Anthony Ross

Criterion has announced the October release of one of the absolute key Westerns of the 50s, Henry King’s The Gunfighter (1950). 

This is one of those movies that introduced a theme that’s been ripped off so often, we have a hard time understanding how fresh and innovative the film really was. In the case of The Gunfighter, it’s so good, we can always appreciate it for that. That theme, of course, is the gunman who wants to hang up his guns and live a normal life — here, he has a wife and son to reconnect with. There have been dozens of variations on that idea since, but this is where it came from.

You can always expect a sterling transfer from Criterion, along with a healthy stack of supplemental stuff. They do a terrific job on whatever they take on. The Gunfighter is essential (it gets a chapter in my 50s Westerns book, by the way), and I’d consider the Criterion disc just as essential.

Thanks to everybody who sent in the news!

Read Full Post »

There’s a lot going on these days, which is probably a huge understatement. At the same time, within the confines of each of our homes, there’s not much going on at all. I hope everyone is safe, healthy and watching a lot of movies. Thought I’d bring up a few things.

Apache Drums (1951) is coming to Blu-Ray from Sidonis out of France. This is very good news. It’s a terrific picture.

RIP, James Drury.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asked for quite a few movie recommendations, and it’s been a blast to suggest Westerns and crime/noir movies to my homebound friends. It makes me feel good to know that yet another person has come to appreciate Man In The Saddle (1951) or Armored Car Robbery (1950).

Saw Day Of Triumph (1954), a low-budget, heartfelt, but talky story of Christ. It had a great cast — Lee J. Cobb, James H. Griffith (as Judas!), Joanne Dru (as a lovely Mary Magdalene), Burt Mustin, Robert Cornthwaite, Barbara Billingsley, Mike “Touch” Connors and Ralph Moody. The minimal sets are pretty effective, but Burbank is a long way from the Holy Land, in about every possible way.

Completed the commentary for Kino Lorber’s When The Daltons Rode (1940) last week. Due to coronavirus closings and stuff, we recorded it at the engineer’s home. We had to take a break when a train came through town — the tracks run behind his house. Ironically, it was the train robbery sequence.

Hang in there, folks!

Read Full Post »

TORH HS? cropped

One of my favorite things about Christmas is Trail Of Robin Hood (1950), one of the Trucolor Roy Rogers pictures directed by William Witney. It’s a wonderful thing. It features the song “Ev’ry Day Is Christmas In The West,” which seems worth sharing tonight.

“Ev’ry Day Is Christmas In The West”
Written by Jack Elliott
Performed by Roy Rogers and The Riders of the Purple Sage

They say that Christmas comes but once a year
But don’t you believe it’s so.
That’s only a story you may hear
From those who just don’t know that…
Ev’ry day is Christmas in the West!
Ev’ry day is Christmas in the West!

There’s always an evergreen tree nearby
And always stars like ornaments in the sky.
Nature makes a present of each day.
Skylarks softly carol on their way.
There you’ll find the true kind of love
The Lord above expressed
For ev’ry day is Christmas in the West!

A big thanks to Bob Madison.

Read Full Post »

Directed by John Ford
Starring Ben Johnson, Joanne Dru, Harry Carey, Jr., Ward Bond, Charles Kemper, Russell Simpson, Hank Worden, James Arness, Francis Ford

John Ford’s Wagon Master (1950) is not just one of my favorite movies, but I consider it one of the best Westerns ever made. There’s a gentleness and an authenticity to it that no other Western can match. It’s easy to see why Ford named it his personal favorite of his own films. For me, putting this thing on is like inviting some old friends to stop by for a spell.

The performances are perfect, from Ben Johnson and Harry Carey, Jr. as the young cowboys who hire on to lead the Mormon wagon train west to Ward Bond as an elder in the group of settlers to Joanne Dru as part of a medicine show that tags along. And Russell Simpson as, what else, a grumpy old man.

Then there are the Cleggs. It seems odd to say a gentle movie has some of the vilest bad guys you’ll ever see, but it does. If you know the movie, you know what I mean. And if you haven’t seen it, well, I feel truly sorry for you.

I could go on and on. But I’ll leave it at this: Wagon Master is coming to Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. If you haven’t made the leap to high-definition yet, this should be all the reason you need. Essential.

Thanks for the tip, Paula.

Read Full Post »

Working on the commentary for Kino Lorber’s upcoming The Spoilers (1942) Blu-Ray, I was reminded of just how great Russell Simpson is. He’s a hoot in that one. Simpson’s seen above, second from left, in The Gal Who Took The West (1949) starring Yvonne De Carlo.

Russell Simpson was born in San Francisco in June of 1880. He prospected for gold in Alaska at just 18. He eventually decided to become an actor, was in a number of touring companies, played on Broadway and eventually made his film debut in the 1914 version of The Virginian.

Second from left again, as a stern Mormon in Wagon Master (1950).

In the late 30s, Simpson became part of John Ford’s stock company — appearing in Drums Along The Mohawk (1939), The Grapes Of Wrath (1940, as Pa Joad), Tobacco Road (1941), They Were Expendable (1945), My Darling Clementine (1946), Wagon Master (1950) and The Sun Shines Bright (1953). His last picture was Ford’s The Horse Soldiers in 1959.

He’s one of those actors that makes everything he’s in at least a little bit better — even a John Hart episode of The Lone Ranger.

Read Full Post »

Directed by Henry King
Starring Gregory Peck, Helen Wescott, Millard Mitchell, Jean Parker, Skip Homeier, Karl Malden

One of the key 50s Westerns, Henry King’s The Gunfighter (1950, is making its way to Blu-Ray from Germany’s Explosive Media. Pictures like this, Winchester ’73 and Devil’s Doorway (all 1950) were a pretty good indicator that something was happening to the Hollywood Western.

This one is absolutely essential. Can’t wait to see Arthur C. Miller’s B&W cinematography in high definition.

Thanks to John Knight for the news.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »