Archive for the ‘20th Century-Fox’ Category

Walk Tall HS

Robert Lippert’s Associated Producers, Inc. (API) followed in the footsteps of his Regal Films, supplying 20th Century-Fox with cheap ‘Scope movies to fill out double bills. The difference is, the API movies were sometimes in color. These films have been almost impossible to see over the last few decades — and haven’t been seen in the proper aspect ratio since they left theaters.

Walk Tall (1960)
Produced and Directed by Maury Dexter
Director Of Photography: Floyd Crosby
Starring Willard Parker, Joyce Meadows, Kent Taylor, Russ Bender

In Walk Tall (1960), a murderous gang massacres a Shoshone village, and an Army captain is charged with rounding up the gang and calming the Shoshones.

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The Purple Hills (1961)
Directed by Maury Dexter
Director Of Photography: Floyd Crosby
Starring Gene Nelson, Joanna Barnes, Kent Taylor, Russ Bender

In The Purple Hills, two bounty hunters try to claim the same reward. The next thing you know, the dean man’s younger brothers and the Apaches are involved.

While these pictures won’t make you forget about The Searchers (1956), they’re fun and Floyd Crosby makes sure they look terrific. And it’s always a treat to discover a film that’s been largely unseen for a generation — which is exactly what we’ll be able to do thanks to Fox’s Cinema Archives collection. Both are on the way.


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Forty Guns drivein detail

Written, Produced, Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger, John Ericson, Gene Barry, Robert Dix, Hank Worden

We all want to do our part to boost international trade. And here’s an easy way to do it. Samuel Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957) will come riding onto Blu-ray in June, thanks to the folks at Eureka Entertainment in the UK.

I don’t know what you think of this crazy thing, but I love it. It’s a big sweeping epic on one hand and a glorified Regalscope picture on the other. It’s got everything we expect from a Sam Fuller movie. And it has one of the damnedest opening sequences I’ve ever seen. I’d love to see it on a big curved CinemaScope screen — which I’m sure some of you have experienced.

It’s a Blu-ray/DVD combo, part of their Masters Of Cinema series, with an audio interview with Fuller among its extras. But who needs extras when you get Joseph Biroc’s incredible black and white ‘Scope photography in high definition?


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This is producer Leonard Goldstein. At Universal-International he produced the Ma And Pa Kettle and Francis The Talking Mule films, along with Westerns like Cave Of Outlaws (1951) and The Duel At Silver Creek (1952).

716Y+BEcrUL._SL1000_Moving to 20th Century-Fox, he formed Panoramic Productions to produce non-anamorphic films in the midst of Fox’s CinemaScope push. The Gambler From Natchez (1954) was one of those. When that contract was up, Goldstein started a production company with his twin brother Robert, but passed away in July, 1954 at just 51. Robert soldiered on without his brother and went on to make a few excellent low-budget Westerns.

Have a copy of the Fox Cinema Archives DVD of The Gambler From Natchez to give away. So it seems like a good time to have a contest. Look at the two-part question below. Be the first to email the correct answer(s) to fiftieswesterns@gmail [dot] com, and the DVD’s yours. Good luck.

Of the Westerns Robert Goldstein produced, one starred Joel McCrea. What was the film and what color process was used for it?

UPDATE: Lee was the first to come through with the right answers — Stranger On Horseback (1955) and Ansco Color. (It was Leonard that produced Saddle Tramp in Technicolor.) Thanks to everyone who sent in a response.

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city of bad men TC

Directed by Harmon Jones
Produced by Leonard Goldstein
Written by George W. George and George F. Slavin
Director Of Photography: Charles G. Clarke, ASC
Musical Direction: Lionel Newman
Film Editor: George A. Gittens

CAST: Jeanne Crain (Linda Culligan), Dale Robertson (Brett Stanton), Richard Boone (Johnny Ringo), Lloyd Bridges (Gar Stanton), Carole Mathews (Cynthia Castle), Carl Betz (Phil Ryan), Whifield Connor (Jim London), Hugh Sanders (Bill Gifford), Rodolfo Acosta (Mendoza), Pascual Garcia Pena (Pig), Don Haggerty (Bob Thrailkill), Leo Gordon, John Doucette, Frank Ferguson, James Best.


On March 17, 1897, in Carson City, Nevada, Bob Fitzsimmons knocked out “Gentleman” Jim Corbett in 14 rounds to become the World Heavyweight Champion.


This historic boxing match is the basis of City Of Bad Men (1953), as bandits are drawn like flies to the event’s box office. Among those ambitious outlaws are Brett Stanton (Dale Robertson) and his outfit, which includes his brother Gar (Lloyd Bridges), along with the gangs of Johnny Ringo (Richard Boone) and Bob Thrailkill (Don Haggerty). Complicating matters is that Brett is no stranger to Carson City, and he has some unfinished business with Linda Culligan (Jeanne Crain). It’s not long before Brett is torn between Linda and the money.

The story goes that Dale Robertson stayed away from acting classes in the early days of his career, and there’s a naturalism to his work that serves his Westerns well. While he’s known for Tales Of Well Fargo on TV, his feature work like City Of Bad Men is worth seeking out. If the part calls for it, he can drop his easygoing charm with ease. The more of his films I see, the more I like him.

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Harmon Jones didn’t direct many features before heading to TV. His five Westerns — The Silver Whip (1953), City Of Bad Men, A Day Of Fury (1956), Canyon River (1956) and Bullwhip (1958) — are perfect examples of what a medium-budget studio Western could be. A Day Of Fury is a fantastic film, one of the best Westerns to come out of Universal in the 50s — and that’s saying something. If Jones had made more Westerns, I’m sure we’d be grouping him with directors like George Sherman, Gordon Douglas and Phil Karlson.

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City Of Bad Men was produced by Leonard Goldstein, who produced many, many films for Universal (including the Ma And Pa Kettle series) and 20th Century-Fox. He clearly understood the importance of a strong cast and filled this one with pros like Frank Ferguson, John Doucette and Don Haggerty. He also gave a stage actor named Leo Gordon his first film work.

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Leo Gordon: “They asked me could I ride a horse. ‘Yes. If I can’t ride it, I’ll carry it.’ So I came out to Hollywood. They put me on a horse, and I was on a horse for 35 years.”*

Much of the film was shot on the Fox lot, with the titles and opening scene making good use of Vasquez Rocks. This was a common location for Goldstein’s Westerns — his Cave Of Outlaws (1951) and Duel At Silver Creek (1952) also used them.

One of the utility stunt men on the film was Jack Young.

Jack Young: “I doubled Lloyd Bridges on that. I did the saddle fall when they shot him. I doubled Richard Boone for the fall into the boxing ring — and that hurt! It was a fake ring and they didn’t have any give in it. It was only about eight or nine feet, but it hurt! Knocked the coon-dog crap right outta me.”**

City Of Bad Men is yet another solid middle-budget 50s Western, with a good script, great cast and handsome production values. Director of Photography Charles G. Clarke, who spent the bulk of his career at 20th Century-Fox, makes sure everything look terrific.

All of this is nicely preserved and presented on the DVD-R from Fox Cinema Archives. There’s a blemish here and there, but the Technicolor is as eye-popping as you’d expect — and the audio is impressive. I preferred Jones and Robertson’s other films, The Silver Whip and A Day Of Fury, to this one, but have no qualms about recommending it highly.

* The Astounding B Monster by Marty Baumann; ** Interview with the author.

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Directed by Harmon Jones
Screen Play by Jesse L. Lasky, Jr.
From a novel by Jack Schaeffer
Director of Photography: Lloyd Ahern
Musical Director: Lionel Newman

CAST: Dale Robertson (Race Crim), Rory Calhoun (Tom Davisson), Robert Wagner (Jess Harker), Kathleen Crowley (Kathy Riley), James Millican (Luke Bowen), Lola Albright (Waco), J.M. Kerrigan (Riley), John Kellogg (Slater), Ian MacDonald (Hank), Burt Mustin (Uncle Ben), John Ducette, Chuck Connors.


It had been ages since I’d seen The Silver Whip (1953), and I remembered very little about it. Revisiting it thanks to the Fox Cinema Archives DVD-R, I didn’t expect much more than an interesting pairing of Dale Robertson and Rory Calhoun.

Turns out, I really underestimated this film. There’s a lot more going on here than just pairing a couple cowboy stars. It’s a strong story built around a few key action scenes, given plenty of punch by editor-turned-director Harmon Jones.

Race Crim (Robertson) is a stagecoach guard who recommends young driver Jess Harker (Robert Wagner) for his first major run. It goes horribly wrong when Slater (John Kellogg) and his gang shoot up the stage. Sheriff Tom Davisson (Calhoun) and Harker go after the gang, trying to get to them before Race, who’s out for revenge, does. This creates an interesting three-way conflict with both justice (Calhoun and Wagner) and vengeance (Robertson) going after Slater. I won’t go any further than that — this is a cool movie and I don’t want to spoil it.

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Of course, Robertson and Calhoun are terrific. A lot of us have been enjoying Calhoun pictures lately, and this has become one of my favorites. But the film belongs to Dale Robertson, whose change from Calhoun’s best friend and Wagner’s mentor to a bitter, obsessed rival gives The Silver Whip a lot of its strength in the last few reels. Robert Wagner (seen in a color still below) seems so young — he was still three years away from The True Story Of Jesse James (1956).

Harmon Jones never seemed to make much of an impression as a director, or at least nothing to match his clout as an editor (Yellow Sky, Panic In The Streets), and he spent the bulk of his career directing TV (Rawhide, Perry Mason). But the final chase here, expertly staged along a tall ridge, shows he had the chops. (I’m fond of his 1956 Universal Western, A Day Of Fury, again starring Dale Robertson.)

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We’ve all been hard on the 20th Century-Fox Cinema Archives DVD-R program for problems with aspect ratio, etc. I’m happy to report that this one looks great. It’s 1.37, as it should be, with a black and white transfer that shows off Lloyd Ahern’s crisp cinematography. Unlike some of you, perhaps, I like a little dirt and dust in these things. Growing up watching 16mm prints of films like this, a speck here and there is part of the experience.

It’s so easy to recommend The Silver Whip, along with its appearance on DVD (available from major online retailers).

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Fiend who walked the west TC

I’ve fallen a bit behind on the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray releases, so here’s a post to get things caught up.

The Fiend Who Walked The West (1958) is a black and white CinemaScope remake of Kiss Of Death (1947), remounted as a Western, with Robert Evans overacting his way through the Richard Widmark part. Hugh O’Brien stars. You never come across anything positive about this film, though I found it a lot better than its reputation. Directed by Gordon Douglas and shot by Joe MacDonald in B&W ‘Scope — it deserves another chance.

Silver Whip adThe Silver Whip (1953) stars Dale Robertson, Rory Calhoun, Robert Wagner, Kathleen Crowley and James Millican. Many of us have been on a Calhoun kick of late, and I’m really looking forward to this one. Directed by Harmon Jones, who also directed the excellent A Day Of Fury (1956), starring Robertson, Jock Mahoney and Mara Corday.

Siege At Red River (1954) was an independent picture from Panaramic Productions, a company hoping to take advantage the widescreen craze (1.85 in this case). Directed by Rudolph Mate, it’s got a good cast: Van Johnson, Joanne Dru, Richard Boone, Milburn Stone and Jeff Morrow. At various times, Dale Robertson (who starred in Gambler From Natchez for Panaramic) and Tyrone Power were listed in the trades as having the lead.

All three 20th Century-Fox Cinema Archives titles are available from major online retailers.

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Twilight Time, a series of limited-edition DVDs and Blu-rays of Fox titles (usually just 3,000 copies), has finally gotten around to a 50s Western, Pony Soldier (1952). It has a proposed release date of February 12.

It’s kind of a quasi-Western, with Tyrone Power as a Canadian Mountie trying to get a band of Indians back on the reservation. Directed by Joseph M. Newman (Fort Massacre), the Blu-ray will feature Alex North’s terrific score on an isolated track.

Thanks to a couple of readers for the tip.

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