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Archive for the ‘1954’ Category

4 guns WC cropped

Directed by Richard Carlson
Starring Rory Calhoun, Colleen Miller, George Nader, Walter Brennan, Nina Foch, John McIntire

Four Guns To The Border (1954) is an excellent 50s Western from Universal International. It’s been a hard one to track down, but our friends at Explosive Media are taking care of that.It’s coming to Blu-Ray in December.

This picture gave actor Richard Carlson one of his few directing credits. He does a tremendous job. Wish he’d done more. Four Guns To The Border has a great cast, gorgeous color and will be terrific on Blu-Ray. Can’t wait!

Thanks to John Knight for the tip!

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It was an honor to be the guest on Robert’s podcast yesterday. He turned it around quick, and it’s ready now. Check it out.

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Will Freeman brought this to my attention.

Universal International used this really cool aerial gunfight shot from George Sherman’s Dawn At Socorro (1954) was used in a montage in Jack Arnold’s Red Sundown (1956).

Thanks, Will!

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Directed by Jesse Hibbs
Starring John Payne, Mari Blanchard, Dan Duryea, Joyce Mackenzie, Barton MacLane, James Griffith, Lee Van Cleef, Myron Healey

Universal’s German “branch” has announced an upcoming nine-movie Blu-Ray set featuring a good, but somewhat random, selection of Westerns — many available on Blu-Ray for the first time.

There are two Audie Murphy pictures, Jesse Hibbs’s Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954) and Gunpoint (1966).

Jesse Hibbs’s Rails Into Laramie (1954) is a cool, sadly under-seen 50s Western with a really terrific cast. It’s been on my Want List for quite some time. 

Also in the set are Jacques Tourneur’s Canyon Passage (1946), George Sherman’s Comanche Territory (1950), Douglas Sirk’s Taza, Son Of Cochise (1954), Smoke Signal (1955), Lonely Are The Brave (1962) and The Ride To Hangman’s Tree (1967).

While packages like this tend to lead to some duplication in your DVD/Blu-Ray collection, they offer up some really good stuff. Recommended.

Thanks to (birthday boy) John Knight for the tip!

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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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Directed by Robert Aldrich
Starring Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Denise Darcel, Sara Montiel, Cesar Romero, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jack Elam

Vera Cruz (1954) was put together by Burt Lancaster’s production company, Lancaster-Hecht. Burt was going to play the hero, Benjamin Trane, but it was decided to have Lancaster to play the bad guy — and a more traditional hero type play Trane. Cray Grant turned it down, and it was offered to Gary Cooper.

The picture’s a lot of fun with Cooper and Lancaster as a couple of shifty Americans down in Mexico who join forces to steal a stash of gold coins. With its macho one-upmanship, crosses and double-crosses, flawed characters — even the good guys are bad, Robert Aldrich’s Vera Cruz is one of the 50s Westerns that served as an obvious influence on the spaghetti westerns that would come in the early 60s.

Kino Lorber is working on a Blu-Ray release, which should do justice to the picture’s SuperScope 2:1 presentation (applied to the picture after the fact). Can’t wait to see it looking the way it should. Highly recommended.

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Burton Stephen “Burt” Lancaster
(November 2, 1913 – October 20, 1994)

This would’ve been the 107th birthday of one of my favorite movie stars, Mr. Burt Lancaster.

Here his is with Gary Cooper in Vera Cruz (1954), which his production company produced. It’s terrific, it was a huge hit and its ultimate influence on the spaghetti western can’t be overstated.

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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 Robert Aldrich
Starring Burt Lancaster, Jean Peters, John McIntire, Charles Buchinsky, John Dehner, Paul Guilfoyle, Ian MacDonald, Walter Sande, Morris Ankrum, Monte Blue

Kino Lorber has announced that a Blu-Ray of Robert Aldrich’s Apache (1954) will be available later this year.

It’s a solid little picture with a great cast. The downbeat ending was changed to something United Artists felt audiences would like. Apache was a big hit, so maybe UA was right. But Lancaster and Aldrich were not. The success of this one landed Aldrich the chance to director Lancaster and Gary Cooper in Vera Cruz (1954), a much bigger picture.

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