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Archive for the ‘1953’ Category

Directed by George Stevens
Starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon deWilde, Jack Palance, Ben Johnson, Edgar Buchanan, Emile Meyer, Elisha Cook Jr., Douglas Spencer, John Dierkes, Ellen Corby

The Graham Cinema in Graham, NC, is running George Stevens’ Shane (1953) tonight through Thursday at 7PM.

Tuesday, November 17 thru Thursday, November 19 at 7:00 pm
Graham Cinema
119 N Main Street, Graham, NC 27253

It’s a great old theater, a real favorite of mine. Of course, Shane is terrific, too. And Loyal Griggs Oscar-winning cinematography really needs to be seen on the big screen.

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Lori Nelson
(August 15, 1933 – August 23, 2020)

Lori Nelson, has passed away at 87. She was born Dixie Kay Nelson. Her family moved to Hollywood when she was four. Soon after, she was crowned Little Miss America.

In 1950, Ms. Nelson signed a seven-year contract with Universal-International. Her first film was Bend Of The River, followed by Ma And Pa Kettle At The Fair and Francis Goes To West Point (all 1952). In 1953, U-I put her in Douglas Sirk’s All I Desire. She appeared in two Audie Murphy pictures, Tumbleweed (1953) and Destry (1954).

In 1955, she did Ma And Pa Kettle At Waikiki, Revenge of the Creature, Roger Corman’s Day The World Ended and I Died A Thousand Times, a remake of High Sierra (1941) — which has already been remake as Colorado Territory (1949). Underwater! was released in 1955, though it’d been shot some time earlier. She was loaned to Howard Hughes and RKO for that one. She’s also in Pardners (1956), one of the last Martin and Lewis pictures, Hot Rod Girl (1956) co-starring Chuck Connors and Howard W. Koch’s Untamed Youth (1957) with  Mamie Van Doren. What a great batch of 1950s cinema.

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Directed by Budd Boetticher
Produced by Aaron Rosenberg
Screenplay by Steve Fisher and D.D. Beauchamp
Story by Niven Busch and Oliver Crawford
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography: Russell Metty
Film Editor: Virgil W. Vogel

Cast: Glenn Ford (John Stroud), Julie Adams (Beth Anders), Chill Wills (John Gage), Hugh O’Brian (Lt. Lamar), Victor Jory (Jess Wade), Neville Brand (Dawes), John Day (Cavish), Myra Marsh (Ma Anders), Jeanne Cooper (Kate Lamar), Mark Cavell (Carlos), Edward Norris (Mapes), Guy Williams (Sergeant)

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It took Budd Boetticher a while to find his cinematic sweet spot with stuff like The Killer Is Loose and Seven Men From Now (both 1956). But he made some terrific pictures in the meantime. The Man From The Alamo (1953) is one of the best of those. It’s a short movie completely filled with action — from the attack on the Alamo to a number of fist fights to the climactic wagon train scenes. It’s all handled perfectly, and when you learn this was a shoot plagued by injuries, it’s easy to see why.

 

John Stroud (Glenn Ford) is the one man who left the Alamo after Travis drew his line with his sword, and he’s been labeled a coward. We know he’s not. Stroud sees the chance to help other families make their way to safety as a way to clear his name — and get his revenge on Wade (Victor Jory), the leader of a band of mercenaries who have hired on with Santa Anna.

We get an early version of the usual Boetticher hero — an outsider obsessed with a personal mission, a character Randolph Scott played to perfection in pictures like The Tall T (1957). Glenn Ford does a good job here as a man who’s lost everything, even his good name. Not many movies have us rooting for a character so clearly burned out and cynical. That’s where Ford really comes through, always showing enough of the decent family man to keep us from writing him off. It also keeps us from wondering why Julie Adams would be interested in him.

Victor Jory is Wade, the soldier for hire responsible for the death of Ford’s family. Jory is a great bad guy, and he’s at his absolute slimiest best here — though it’s hard to top him in South Of St. Louis (1949). He’s given some sweaty, sneering closeups that’ll make your skin crawl. 

Julie Adams is so beautiful in Russell Metty’s Technicolor — she was perfect for Universal International’s bright, colorful Westerns of the 50s. And she’s always able to pull something out of an underwritten part. Neville Brand is terrific, too. Chill Wills can be a bit grating, as usual.

Back to Russell Metty. He was a master, and his Technicolor work here is incredible. In a picture that takes place largely in rocks and sand, he manages to find enough of a color palette to create plenty of vibrant visuals.

And that’s what makes this new Blu-Ray from Mill Creek such a treat. It’s a gorgeous transfer of the original material, and the movie really benefits from the boost in definition, a solid improvement on the old DVD (which was nice to begin with). The color is really terrific. Mill Creek has paired it with Robert Rossen’s They Came To Cordura (1959), which also looks splendid. A pair of movies like this, looking this good, at such a great price — you can’t get too many of em. Highly recommended.

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I’ve been a guest on the The Forgotten Filmcast podcast a couple times in the past, and I’m delighted to be heading there again in a couple weeks.

Host Todd Liebenow and I will cover the William-Castle-directed, Sam-Katzman-produced bit of glorious 3D nonsense, Jesse James Vs. The Daltons (1953). I’m sure it’ll be fun to talk with Todd, and hopefully, it’ll be fun to listen to.

Will post the link when it’s complete.

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Mill Creek has announced a twin-bill Blu-Ray of The Man From The Alamo (1953) and They Came To Cordura (1959).

The Man From The Alamo (1953)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Glenn Ford, Julie Adams, Chill Wills, Victor Jory, Hugh O’Brien, Neville Brand

Glenn Ford leaves The Alamo before the siege to notify families of what’s to come, and he’s branded a coward for it.This is a beautiful Technicolor Universal-International Western. Ford’s good, Julie Adams is gorgeous and Victor Jory is despicable. Just what you want in a 50s Western.

They Came To Cordura (1959)
Directed by Robert Rossen
Starring Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin, Tab Hunter, Dick York

This one’s in Eastmancolor and CinemaScope, with Gary Cooper and his men after Pancho Villa. Dick York was injured making this, and it plagued him for years. It’s why he had to leave the role of Darrin Stephens on Bewitched.

Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend with Mill Creek. Their two-fer Blu-Rays of Hammer and William Castle horror films are terrific.

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Here’s Julie Adams ringing in 1954. Well, if it was good enough then, it’s good enough 66 years later. This would’ve been around the time she’d done Wings Of The Hawk (1953) and Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954).

Hope you’re having a great time ushering in a new decade.

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Directed by Budd Boeticher
Starring Van Heflin, Julia Adams, George Dolenz, Antonio Moreno, Noah Berry, Jr., Abbe Lane, Rodolfo Acosta, Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales, Lyle Talbot

Kino Lorber and the 3-D Film Archive are bringing Budd Boetticher’s Wings Of The Hawk (1953) to Blu-Ray with its 3-D and 1.85:1 framing intact. (It was the first film composed specifically for 1.85:1 exhibition.) A 2-D version is included.

It’s also a terrific picture, technology aside. Heflin’s great (or course), Julie Adams is beautiful (of course), and Boetticher, DP Clifford Stine and editor Russell Schoengarth deliver a solid, good-looking 50s Western with plenty of action. One complaint: why didn’t they put Nestor Paiva in there somewhere?

Also, the 3-D Woody Woodpecker “cartune” The Hypnotic Hick, made by U-I to play with Wings Of The Hawk, will be included (in 3-D).

Coming in 2020. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this one. Highly, highly recommended.

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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.

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Directed by Nathan Juran
Starring Ronald Reagan, Dorothy Malone, Preston Foster, Alex Nicol, Ruth Hampton, Russell Johnson, Chubby Johnson, Dennis Weaver, Tom Steele

Just a reminder that Nathan Juran’s Law And Order (1953), a solid Western from Universal-International, is coming to Blu-Ray next month from Shout Factory. Can’t wait to see Clifford Stine’s gorgeous Technicolor photography in high definition.

Ronald Reagan’s a fed-up lawman who decides to hang up his guns. But you know how those things work out — soon he’s having to strap em back on to settle an old score. Reagan’s cool, Dorothy Malone is beautiful in three-strip Technicolor, and director Nathan Juran settles in for a good run of Westerns at U-I.

I don’t care what your politics are, this one comes highly recommended.

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Directed by​ ​Edward Dein ​& ​Carlos Véjar Hijo
Starring Cesar Romero, Katy Jurado

Okay, so it’s not a Western. But Sword Of Granada (1953), also known as El Corazón Y La Espada and The Heart And The Sword, has plenty to recommend it. First, there’s the cast — Cesar Romero and Katy Jurado. Then there’s the fact that is was co-directed by Ed Dein, who also did Shack Out On 101 (1955) and Curse Of The Undead (1959). Dein wrote it with his wife Mildred. Then there’s the fact that it was the first Mexican film in 3D.

The folks at The 3D Archive have a Kickstarter campaign going to restore this thing in 3D — and include it in the second volume of their 3D Rarities series. Part of the plan is to track down the English tracks, too. All in all, a very cool endeavor.

If you’d like to be part of it, click on the half-sheet above.

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