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Archive for the ‘Audie Murphy’ Category

Directed by George Sherman
Starring Audie Murphy, Felicia Farr, Stephen McNally, Robert Middleton, Jan Merlin

Explosive Media out of Germany has announced another Audie Murphy picture coming to DVD and Blu-Ray in June — George Sherman’s Hell Bent For Leather (1960).

The first of the Audie Murphy pictures produced by Gordon Kay for Universal International, Hell Bent For Leather was directed by George Sherman in CinemaScope and Eastman Color. This one has a good part for Felicia Farr, one of my favorite actresses from 50s Westerns (The Last Wagon, Reprisal!, 3:10 To Yuma), and really incredible Lone Pine location work from Clifford Stine. This is a good one!

I’m so stoked that someone has gotten around to these Gordon Kay Murphy films on Blu-Ray, so a big thanks to the folks at Explosive Media. Highly recommended.

Thanks again to John Knight for the news.

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Directed by Harry Keller
Starring Audie Murphy, Barry Sullivan, Venetia Stevenson, John McIntire, Kenneth Tobey

One of the last run of pictures Audie Murphy did for Universal International, produced by Gordon Kay and directed by Harry Keller (with a day or two by an uncredited George Sherman), Seven Ways From Sundown (1960) is a good one. Murphy’s as cool as ever, and there’s a great part for Barry Sullivan. Plus, John McIntire and Kenneth Tobey are along for the ride.

Explosive Media has announced a May 22 release for the picture on DVD and Blu-ray. It’ll be in its original 1.85 and region free.

It’s a solid picture (and it gets a chapter in my book). Highly, highly recommended.

Thanks to John Knight for the news.

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Here’s another Critics’ Choice release, the appropriately-named Audie Murphy Western Double Feature. It gathers up a couple of mid-60s pictures Murphy did for Admiral Pictures, distributed by Columbia. Both were in Techniscope and Technicolor.

Arizona Raiders (1965)
Directed by William Witney
Starring Audie Murphy, Michael Dante, Ben Cooper, Buster Crabbe, Gloria Talbott

Shot at Old Tucson, this one has Murphy and William Witney keeping the 50s Western thing going as long as they can. It’s a remake of Texas Rangers (1951), and it’s always good to see these folks at work.

The Quick Gun (1964)
Directed by Sidney Salkow
Starring Audie Murphy, Merry Anders, James Best, Frank Ferguson, Ted De Corsia, Raymond Hatton

Sidney Salkow directed this one. Shot at Iverson, it’s got a great cast (I’d watch Frank Ferguson in anything).

Both of these were part of Columbia’s MOD program, and it’s great to see them paired up at a great price.

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Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Richard Lapp, Anne Randall, Robert Random, Beatrice Kay, Victor Jory, Audie Murphy

Both Audie Murphy and Budd Boetticher’s last film, A Time For Dying (1969) had a hard time — the sets were destroyed twice, and it never really got any distribution in the United States.

Murphy is Jesse James. Victor Jory is Judge Roy Bean. Boetticher wrote and directed. And Lucien Ballard shot it. Aren’t you glad our friends at Indicator/Powerhouse are bringing it to Blu-Ray?

This one’s a must, folks.

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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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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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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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John Saxon
(August 5, 1936 – July 25, 2020)

John Saxon has passed away at 83. He was a very good actor who never got the recognition he was due. He’s terrific in The Appaloosa (1966), where he easily outdid Marlon Brando. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for that one.

He also did the Westerns The Unforgiven (1960), Death Of A Gunfighter (1969) and Joe Kidd (1972), Mario Bava’s The Evil Eye (1963) and the Bruce Lee picture Enter The Dragon (1973). He stayed busy on TV, too.

Posse From Hell (1960) was one of the U-I Audie Murphy pictures produced by Gordon Kay. It’s worth a second look. Saxon’s really good in it.

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Kino Lorber’s three-Blu-Ray Audie Murphy Collection is gonna be a good one. I’m not sure what I’m more excited about, that I get to do commentaries for two of ’em, or that these films are coming out, period.

Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray of Night Passage (1957) is one of the best-looking Blu-Rays of a 50s Western I’ve seen, and these should look terrific, too. Universal International’s Westerns from this period were beautifully shot — and they’ve taken pretty good care of them.

The Duel At Silver Creek (1952)
Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Audie Murphy, Faith Domergue, Stephen McNally

Don Siegel’s first Western, and first film in color, is a fun, fast-paced little picture with gorgeous camerawork from Irving Glassberg. It’s also got a terrific supporting cast — Hal Mohr, Walter Sande, Frank Wilcox, Harry Harvey, Lee Marvin (his first Western), etc. It has fun with the conventions it tosses into the mix.

The story goes that Siegel’s cut of the picture was barely an hour long. The prologue tacked onto the picture to pad out its running time works perfectly. Siegel and Murphy would work again on The Gun Runners (1958).

Ride A Crooked Trail (1958)
Directed by Jesse Hibbs
Starring Audie Murphy, Gia Scala, Walter Matthau, Henry Silva, Joanna Moore

Audie’s an outlaw reformed more or less by circumstance. Walter Matthau is a lot of fun as a judge Murphy gets mixed up with. Gia Scala and Joanna Moore look terrific.

Jesse Hibbs was a good director for Murphy; they’d already had great success with To Hell And Back (1955). This was Hibbs’ last feature before embarking on a busy run (about a decade) as a TV director. Harold Lipstein shot it in CinemaScope and Eastmancolor.

No Name On The Bullet (1959)
Directed by Jack Arnold
Starring Audie Murphy, Charles Drake, Joan Evans, Warren Stevens, R.G. Armstrong, Whit Bissell

Over the years, U-I got pretty smart with their Audie Murphy movies. They learned to give him a strong supporting cast, and they built movies around his strengths as an actor. (I don’t think he was anywhere near as limited as some say he was.) No Name On The Bullet (1959) might be the best example fo the latter approach. It’s well-written by Gene L. Coon, later of Star Trek fame, and he gave Murphy some terrific lines. Jack Arnold’s no-frills style is a perfect match for the material.

There’s nothing better than a little low-budget movie where everything clicks to create something much bigger than it should’ve been. This is one of those movies. (On a personal note, this is one of the pictures that launched my obsession with 50s Westerns.)

The set gives you the three movies on separate discs, contained in a slipcover. Trailers and commentaries are included (I’m doing the first two.) Highly recommended. Now, when will someone get around to Tumbleweed (1953) and Seven Ways From Sundown (1960)?

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No specifics yet, but Kino Lorber is preparing quite a few Universal Westerns for DVD and/or Blu-Ray.

They come from the 1940s through the 70s, and they feature folks like Audie Murphy, Jeff Chandler, Rock Hudson, Randolph Scott, Fred MacMurray, Alan Ladd and Clint Eastwood. More news as it turns up.

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