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Archive for the ‘Budd Boetticher’ Category

Henry Silva
(September 23, 1926 – September 14, 2022)


The great character actor Henry Silva has passed away, a few days short of his 96th birthday.

From Westerns like The Tall T (1957, above) and The Bravados (1958) to gangster pictures like Johnny Cool (1964) to Rat Pack things like Oceans 11 (1960) to a slew of foreign action movies, it was always a good sign to see Silva’s name pop up in the credits. He rarely got a role that wasn’t a villain of some sort, but when he did, he was terrific.

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Directed by William Castle
Produced by Sam Katzman
Associate Producer: Herbert Leonard
Screen Play by Arthur Lewis & DeVallon Scott
Story by DeVallon Scott
Director Of Photography: Henry Freulich, ASC
Film Editor: Al Clark, ACE
Art Director: Paul Palmentola
Musical Director: Mischa Bakaleinikoff

Cast: John Hodiak (Cochise), Robert Stack (Major Tom Burke), Joy Page (Consuelo de Cordova), Rico Alaniz (Felipe), Fortunio Bonanova (Mexican Minister), Edward Colmans (Don Francisco de Cordova), Alex Montoya (Jose Garcia), Steven Ritch (Tukiwah), Carol Thurston (Terua), Rodd Redwing (Red Knife) Robert E. Griffin (Sam Maddock), Poppy del Vando (Señora de Cordova)


Been on a big Sam Katzman kick of late, to the point I feel like a one-man Sam Katzman Blogathon — there are a number of Katzman posts in the works (here and on The Hannibal 8). This time around, it’s Conquest Of Cochise (1953), one of William Castle’s first films for Katzman’s unit at Columbia.

Coming a few years after Jeff Chandler played Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950), this time the Apache chief is played by John Hodiak. In Tucson, after the Gadsden Purchase, ranchers are being raided by the Apache and Comanche. Major Tom Burke (Robert Stack) is sent to stop the violence and establish peace with Cochise. While he’s there, Burke takes a shine to Consuelo de Cordova (Joy Page).

Cochise also wants peace, but the Comanche do not, which leads to trouble — and more trouble. Eventually, Page is captured by the Apache and held hostage, with Stack working to free her as she and Kodiak fall in love.

It’s a short picture, running just 70 minutes, with more talk than action — and Castle’s direction seems uncharacteristically stiff. The picture’s greatest asset is certainly its cast. John Hodiak is quite good as Cochise, making the usual stilted Indian-speaking-white-man’s-tongue dialogue work. It’s his movie. Robert Stack is a stoic hero here, a bit like his Elliott Ness on The Untouchables. Joy Page is lovely. She and Robert Stack had been paired in Budd Boetticher’s Bullfighter And The Lady (1951). 

The cast and crew spent a lot of time at Vasquez Rocks, about an hour from the Columbia lot — where a fairly crude painting of those same rocks awaited on a soundstage (see the above still). They also shot some stuff at Corriganville. Director Of Photography Henry Freulich captures it all in gorgeous Technicolor. As cheap as these Katzman pictures were, I’m surprised he sprung for Technicolor. The stuff wasn’t cheap.

Katzman’s cost-cutting is painfully obvious, the history is questionable, the ending is too abrupt and Castle doesn’t seem to have found much inspiration in the script he was handed. But I love it anyway.

Conquest Of Cochise was part of Sony’s MOD program, and the transfer was near-perfect. Maybe Mill Creek or Critics Choice will get around to another set of Katzman-Castle Westerns. 

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L. Q. Jones (Justus Ellis McQueen, Jr.)
(August 19, 1927 – July 9, 2022)

The great Western character actor L.Q. Jones has passed away at 94.

His real name was Justus Ellis McQueen, Jr., but for the screen, he took his name from his first picture, Battle Cry (1955).

Jones worked with some of the greats of 50s Westerns: Randolph Scott (1958’s Buchanan Rides Alone, above), Joel McCrea and Audie Murphy. Sam Peckinpah made him a member of his stock company, casting Jones in five of his films. He stayed extremely busy on TV, often in Westerns, throughout the 60s and 70s. And he wrote, produced and directed the 1975 science fiction film A Boy And His Dog.

He was a great storyteller, as the many YouTube videos of him will prove.

L.Q. is T.C., the bad guy on the far right, in this promo still from Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969). He became close friends with Strother Martin (upper left). 

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Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Robert Stack, Joy Page, Gilbert Roland, Virginia Grey, John Hubbard, Katy Jurado, Paul Fix

Indicator has announced a special edition of Budd Boetticher’s wonderful Bullfighter And The Lady (1951) for a July Region B release. You get both Boetticher’s complete 124-minute cut and the 87-minute version released by Republic. John Wayne produced the picture, which landed Boetticher (and Ray Navarro) an Oscar nomination for Best Original Story.

You also get a slew of extras:
• Audio commentary with Glenn Kenny & Farran Smith Nehme
My Kingdom For… (1985) Boetticher’s autobiographical documentary about bullfighting
• Interview with Mary Boetticher (2022)
An Evening With Budd Boetticher audio recording
• Limited edition booklet

The Olive Blu-Ray was nice, a bare-bones release of the extended cut. It certainly deserves this deluxe edition. It’s a great, great film. Highly, highly recommended.

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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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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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Mill Creek has announced the six-disc, 12-movie Blu-Ray set The Randolph Scott Collection, which gives us a great batch of Scott’s Westerns for Columbia.

The Desperadoes (1943)
Directed by Charles Vidor
Starring Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor, Glenn Ford, Evelyn Keyes, Edgar Buchanan

Scott plays a sheriff after two separate bands of outlaws who rob the same bank at about the same time. Turns out the first robbery was an inside job.

The Nevadan (1950)
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Starring Randolph Scott, Dorothy Malone, Forrest Tucker, Frank Faylen and George Macready

Scott’s a Marshal who lets an outlaw (Forrest Tucker) escape so he can recover $250,000 in stolen gold.

Santa Fe (1951)
Directed by Irving Pichel
Starring Randolph Scott, Janis Carter

Scott’s trying to help build a railroad, with even his own brothers trying to stop him.

Man In The Saddle (1951
Directed by Andre de Toth
Starring Randolph Scott, Joan Leslie, Ellen Drew, Alexander Knox, Richard Rober, John Russell, Alfonso Bedoya, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Clem Bevans, Cameron Mitchell, Tennessee Ernie Ford

Scott’s a farmer who locks horns with Alexander Knox, who wants his land. The first, and maybe best, of the Scott pictures directed by Andre de Toth.

Hangman’s Knot (1952)
Directed by Roy Huggins
Starring Randolph Scott, Donna Reed, Claude Jarman, Jr., Frank Faylen, Richard Denning, Lee Marvin

Confederate soldiers, led by Scott, steal a shipment of Yankee gold and end up with a posse after ’em.

The Stranger Wore A Gun (1953)
Directed by Andre de Toth
Starring Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor, Joan Weldon, George Macready, Alfonso Bedoya, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine

This time, Scott’s a Confederate spy who’s in in a big robbery but has a change of heart. Originally in 3-D, widescreen (1.85) and stereophonic sound, it’ll be interesting to see what we get here. 

A Lawless Street (1955)
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
Starring Randolph Scott

Then we get four of the Budd Boetticher/Burt Kennedy Ranown cycle, some of the finest Westerns ever made. What’s missing from the unofficial series are Batjac’s Seven Men From Now (1956) and Warner’s Westbound (1959) which aren’t available on Blu-Ray.

The Tall T (1957)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, Maureen O’Sullivan, Arthur Hunnicutt, Skip Homeier, Henry Silva

Scott and Maureen O’Sullivan are held captive at a way station by a bunch of crooks. This is an incredible movie, based on a story by Elmore Leonard.

Decision At Sundown (1958)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, John Carroll, Karen Steele, Valerie French, Noah Beery Jr., John Archer, Ray Teal

Scott rides in Sundown to kill John Carroll., who had an affair with his wife.

Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, Craig Stevens, Barry Kelley, L.Q. Jones

Tom Buchanan (Scott) rides into the border town of Agry and is robbed and framed for murder. Naturally, Scott isn’t happy about this and does something about it. This was my entry point into the films of Randolph Scott, and it remains a favorite.

Ride Lonesome (1959)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, Pernell Roberts, Lee Van Cleef, James Coburn 

Ben Brigade (Scott) is a bounty hunter trying to take Billy John to Santa Cruz and turn him in. Standing in the way are Billy John’s brother and a group of Indians.

Comanche Station (1960)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Randolph Scott, Claude Akins, Nancy Gates, Skip Homeier 

Scott rescues a women from the Comanches, not knowing her husband has a $5,000 reward for her return, dead or alive. Along come some dirtbags, lead by Claude Akins, who know about the five grand and want her for themselves. 

This set is essential. Some of these are available on Blu-Ray elsewhere, some are not. Order yours now.

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Quantez (1957)
Directed by Harry Keller
Starring Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Malone, James Barton, Sydney Chaplin, John Gavin, John Larch, Michael Ansara

Just finished recording a commentary for Harry Keller’s Quantez (1957), a film I appreciate more every time I see it. It feels awkward to plug these things when I work on ’em, but this one is something special. The movie is ripe for rediscovery — and I think it’s the best commentary I’ve done.

It’s also a picture with superb art direction and cinematography, so high-definition will be a big plus.

Horizons West (1952)
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Robert Ryan, Julia Adams, Rock Hudson, John McIntire, Raymond Burr, James Arness, Dennis Weaver

Horizons West (1952) has the great cast of contract players — Adams, Hudson, McIntire, Dennis Weaver — and gorgeous Technicolor we expect from Universal International Westerns of the early 50s. It’s a post-Civi War story of Ryan’s ambitions getting the best of him. Budd Boetticher keeps it short on running time and long on action. 

The color will make this one really pop on Blu-Ray. I’ll be recording a commentary for it next week. Both pictures are expected in May from Kino Lorber. 

There haven’t been many 50s Westerns riding up on DVD or Blu-Ray lately. These will help make up for it.

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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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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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