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Archive for the ‘1952’ Category

Directed by Fred F. Sears
Produced by Colbert Clark
Written by Howard J. Green
Director Of Photography: Fayte M. Browne
Film Editor: Paul Borofsky

Cast: Charles Starrett (Steve Martin/The Durango Kid), Smiley Burnette (Smiley), Jack Mahoney (Jack Mahoney), Clayton Moore (The Hawk), Eddie Parker (Skeeter), Jim Diehl (Al Travis), Lane Chandler (George), Syd Saylor (Yank-Em-Out Kennedy), John Cason (Duke), LeRoy Johnson (Smoky), Jack Carry (Pete), Sam Flint (Clark Mahoney)


Have been concentrating on the book, which has kept me kinda absent on here. My recent research has been on the unsung director Fred F. Sears.

Charles Starrett starred in The Durango Kid, in 1940. Columbia didn’t get around to The Return Of The Durango Kid till 1945. By the time the series was shut down in 1952, Columbia had cranked out 65 Durango Kid movies — at which point Starrett retired from movies.

One of the last of the series, The Hawk Of Wild River (1952) has a terrific cast, adding Jock Mahoney and Clayton Moore to the usual Durango roster. Of course, Mahoney had been part of the series for quite a while, doubling for Charles Starrett.

After being replaced by John Hart for the third season of The Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore went back to work as one of the best, and busiest, bad guys in Hollywood. First up was the Republic serial Radar Men From The Moon (1952). In The Hawk Of Wild River, he’s The Hawk, a half-breed bandit who’s as proficient with a bow and arrow as he is with a six-gun.

This time around, US Marshal Steve Martin (Charles Starrett) is sent to the town of Wild River to stop a run of stagecoach robberies by The Hawk and his gang. The Hawk has been killing off Wild River’s sheriffs as fast as they can pin a badge on ’em. When Steve hits town, the acting sheriff is Jack Mahoney (Jock Mahoney). The Durango Kid captures The Hawk and once he’s in jail, Martin gets himself arrested and thrown into The Hawk’s cell, never revealing that he’s a Federal man. They escape and Martin joins The Hawk’s gang — and with the help of his alter ego, The Durango Kid, eventually bring the outlaws to justice.

Along the way, Smiley Burnette is hypnotized and convinced he’s a “heap big” Indian chief. And as always happens with these things, he comes close to screwing up Martin’s plans.

Running just 53 minutes, The Hawk Of Wild River is a pretty typical Durango Kid movie, clearly aimed at kids. The usual things are in place: Smiley doing his silly stuff, Starrett donning his Durango outfit (and riding Raider) and lots of riding and fighting and shooting. Director Fred F. Sears keeps it moving at a quick pace, and director of photography Fayte Browne makes it all look like a million bucks. The Iverson Ranch is really used well in this one.

Fred F. Sears started out working as a character actor and dialogue director on the Durango Kid pictures and eventually climbed into the director’s chair. From there, he became a fixture in Sam Katzman’s unit at Columbia until he died in his office on the lot in 1957 (with eight films still awaiting release). It’s a real shame he never got a bigger budget or longer schedule.

Stuntman and actor Eddie Parker plays Skeeter. The next year, he’d play Mr. Hyde in Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1953) and the Mummy in Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955). The guy’s in about anything you can think of.

The Hawk Of Wild River is one of the 10 movies in Mill Creek’s budget-friendly two-disc setThe Durango Kid Collection. The transfer looks wonderful — with this one and the other nine films. It’s a nice little set, and it comes highly recommended. (Wish they’d get around to a volume two!)

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Here’s the second episode of The Carbon Arc Podcast. This time, we focus on Frank Tashlin’s Son Of Paleface (1952).

Hope you enjoy it. And a big thanks to Bob Madison for playing along.

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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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Bob Furmanek of The 3-D Film Archive is working on their most ambitious and labor-intensive effort yet — teaming up with TCA Television Corp. and the Lou Costello Estate to restore and preserve The Abbott & Costello Show from its original 35mm camera negatives! This mammoth project is being propelled by a Kickstarter campaign, which is nearing its completion. Click the title card above to participate. Do it today!

With these shows, what we see today comes from standard-definition transfers done back in the 80s, that have been “sharpened” and monkeyed with over the years for DVD release. (My old 16mm prints were better-looking!) For this new release, the 26 Season One episodes will be scanned from 35mm master elements in 4K — and each episode will be digitally cleaned, frame by frame.

Some episodes will have commentaries, including my own ramblings for episode 11, “The Western Story.” I’m honored.

These shows are terrific — it’s still considered one of the greatest TV shows ever, and I’m so stoked The 3-D Film Archive is giving them the four-star treatment they gave Africa Screams (1949). Can’t wait to see Stinky, Mike The Cop and Hillary Brooke in all their 4K glory. Essential.

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Charles “Chuck” Hicks
(December 26, 1927 – May 4, 2021)

Veteran stuntman and charactor actor Chuck Hicks has passed away at 93.

He was in the 50s Westerns Horizons West (1952) and River Of No Return (1954) and TV’s Cheyenne, but he did some pretty memorable, even iconic, stuff in the 60s and beyond. He was the robot boxer in the great 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone, “Steel” (above). He was Chief in Cool Hand Luke (1967) and The Brow in Dick Tracy (1990).

He worked with Clint Eastwood a number of times, running from Rawhide to Dirty Harry (1971) to Bronco Billy (1980).

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Lee Aker
(September 25, 1943 – April 1, 2021)

Lee Aker, who most will remember from the Rin Tin Tin TV show, has passed away at 77. He also appeared in Hondo (1953, above) with John Wayne, High Noon (1952), Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954) and Destry (1954).

Aker suffered a stroke and died April 1 near Mesa, Arizona. Sadly, his body was unclaimed.

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Gloria Henry
(April 2, 1923 – April 3, 2021)

Gloria Henry, who most people will remember from TV as the mom of Dennis The Menace, has passed away at 98.

Us Western fans, we know her from Strawberry Roan (1948, above, with Jack Holt and Gene Autry), Lightning Guns (1950) with Charles Starrett and Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious (1952).

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Meet Rosie!

Presley recently rescued a kitten from a shed in our neighbors’ back yard. She was very successful in finding it a home, ours, and we’ve named her Rosie — after Julie Adams in The Lawless Breed (1952). We considered names from Marie Windsor movies, too, but this one seemed perfect.

So far, the connection to The Lawless Breed has proved very appropriate.

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Quantez (1957)
Directed by Harry Keller
Starring Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Malone, James Barton, Sydney Chaplin, John Gavin, John Larch, Michael Ansara

Just finished recording a commentary for Harry Keller’s Quantez (1957), a film I appreciate more every time I see it. It feels awkward to plug these things when I work on ’em, but this one is something special. The movie is ripe for rediscovery — and I think it’s the best commentary I’ve done.

It’s also a picture with superb art direction and cinematography, so high-definition will be a big plus.

Horizons West (1952)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Robert Ryan, Julia Adams, Rock Hudson, John McIntire, Raymond Burr, James Arness, Dennis Weaver

Horizons West (1952) has the great cast of contract players — Adams, Hudson, McIntire, Dennis Weaver — and gorgeous Technicolor we expect from Universal International Westerns of the early 50s. It’s a post-Civi War story of Ryan’s ambitions getting the best of him. Budd Boetticher keeps it short on running time and long on action. 

The color will make this one really pop on Blu-Ray. I’ll be recording a commentary for it next week. Both pictures are expected in May from Kino Lorber. 

There haven’t been many 50s Westerns riding up on DVD or Blu-Ray lately. These will help make up for it.

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Happy New Year!

You’re looking at Roy Rogers with the saddle he (and Trigger) used in the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day, 1952. He was the Grand Marshal.

At this point, Roy had left Republic and features for TV, though Paramount’s Son Of Paleface would arrive later in ’52.

Here’s wishing everybody out there a great 2021. And as Roy used to say, “May the good Lord take a likin’ to ya!”

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