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Archive for the ‘Ben Johnson’ Category

Rio Bravo foreign poster sized

Rio Bravo (1959)
Directed by Howard Hawks
Starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond

My favorite Western, Rio Bravo (1959), has been missing from Blu-ray for some time now (I’d heard it had something to do with music or story rights). Was really happy to find out it was being reissued. However, I’d heard the old Blu-ray wasn’t anything to write home about, and there’s no news yet on if this new edition is remastered or not (I’m assuming not). A new 2K transfer was done not long ago, but there’s been no mention of it for the Blu-ray.

Regardless, Rio Bravo is a terrific movie and certainly worth adding to your high-definition shelf. When it arrives June 2, I’d love to toast my copy with a bit of Duke bourbon (haven’t located it in North Carolina yet).

Train Robbers JW AM BJ

The Train Robbers (1973)
Directed by Burt Kennedy
Starring John Wayne, Ann-Margret, Rod Taylor, Ben Johnson

Also coming to Blu-ray are a couple of later Wayne pictures. The Train Robbers (1973) is a lot of fun, Burt Kennedy at the top of his game. Wayne and Ben Johnson are terrific together, of course. As a kid, the train stuck in the sand, on the big Panavision screen, was a striking image that really stuck with me.

John Wayne In Cahill U.S. Marshal

Cahill: U.S. Marshal (1973)

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring John Wayne, George Kennedy, Neville Brand, Clay O’Brian, Marie Windsor, Harry Carey Jr., Paul Fix, Hank Worden

In some ways, Cahill: U.S. Marshal (1973) isn’t a very good movie. But as a John Wayne extended-family reunion, it can’t be beat (take a quick look at that cast). Wayne’s interplay with Neville Brand is worth the price of admission, and it’s always good to see Marie Windsor in anything.

These three titles are available separately (highly recommended, at a great price) from Warners, and as part of a John Wayne Westerns Collection set.

Thanks to Dick Vincent for the tip.

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A blogger friend of mine did a year-end wrap-up of his favorite DVD releases of the year. I think a lot of my friend, and imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I decided to steal his idea. Here’s my Top Five. Comment away!

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5. Ambush At Tomahawk Gap (1953, Columbia) The work of Fred F. Sears, a prolific director at Columbia, deserves a look, and this is a tough, tight little Western that nobody seems to remember. John Derek’s good and Ray Teal gets a sizable part.

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4. Randolph Scott Western Collection (Various, TCM/Sony) Four Columbia Scotts — Coroner Creek (1948), The Walking Hills (1949), The Doolins Of Oklahoma (1949) and 7th Cavalry (1956, above) — go a long way toward making all his 40s and 50s Westerns available on DVD.

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3. Movies 4 You Western Classics (Various, Shout Factory) Four medium-budget 50s Westerns — Gun Belt (1953), The Lone Gun (1954), Gunsight Ridge (1957) and Ride Out For Revenge (1957) — for an amazing price.  I’d love to have a hundred sets like this.

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2. Shane (1953, Paramount) There was so much controversy about the aspect ratio — the studio-imposed 1.66 vs. the original 1.33 George Stevens shot it in — that we all forgot to talk about what a lovely Blu-ray was ultimately released (in 1.33).

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1. Showdown At Boot Hill (1958, Olive Films) This is probably the worst movie on this list, but my favorite release. The very thought of a Regalscope Western presented widescreen and in high definition makes me very, very happy. Olive Films promises the best of the Regals, The Quiet Gun (1956), in 2014 — which you can expect to see on next year’s list.

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The folks at ClassicFlix let me write for them every once in a while. Here’s a piece on John Ford’s 3 Godfathers (1948), a pre-1950 Christmas Western that I love dearly, no matter how overly sentimental and sappy you might think it is.

3 Godfather DVD capture

It’s also one of the most beautiful color movies ever made. Easy.

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Paula Vitaris, who runs that great Ben Johnson site (and has been a huge help with my One-Eyed Jacks book), is having a good day. Wild Stallion (1952) is a picture she’s been asking Warner Archive about since the beginning. And they’ve announced it for May release.

I’ve never seen it, but anything with Ben Johnson, Edgar Buchanan, Martha Hyer and Hugh Beaumont in it — from Monogram in Cinecolor — is well worth tracking down. Can’t wait.

Thanks to John Knight for another tip.

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Heard last night that Dale Robertson has passed away. He had a very likable screen presence and by all accounts was a really nice man.

Despite making some excellent 50s Westerns, such as The Gambler From Natchez (1954) and A Day Of Fury (1956), it was on TV that he really made his mark — as Jim Hardie in Tales Of Wells Fargo. As a kid, he really impressed me in the TV movie Melvin Purvis G-Man (1974) — a role Ben Johnson played in John Milius’ Dillinger the year before.

The photo above is from The Silver Whip (1952). It is a crying shame that A Day Of Fury isn’t on DVD.

Thanks to Stephen Bowie for relaying the news.

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Harry Carey, Jr.
(May 16, 1921 – December 27, 2012)

My fingers don’t want to type this, as if that would make it not so. Harry Carey, Jr. has passed away at 91.

Above, he stands between Ben Johnson and Ward Bond in John Ford’s Wagon Master (1950). It’s one of the best Westerns of the 50s, and Carey’s easygoing performance is one of its considerable charms. So many pictures benefited from his presence: Red River (1948), Three Godfathers (1948), Rio Grande (1950), Silver Lode (1954) and The Searchers (1956), to name just a few.

He was the son of silent cowboy star Harry Carey and a member of John Ford’s stock company (his nickname was Dobe). His autobiography Company Of Heroes is one of the finest books on Western filmmaking you’ll ever read.

As far back as I can remember watching movies, I’ve been aware of Harry Carey, Jr. So forget about this stupid blog. Go watch Wagon Master.

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