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Archive for the ‘Columbia’ Category

Directed by Oliver Drake
Produced by Charles “Buddy” Rogers
Written by Oliver Drake & John Mantley
Director Of Photography: Clark Ramsey
Film Editor: Warren Adams
Music by Joe Sodja

Cast: Anthony Dexter (Billy The Kid), Sonny Tufts (Jack Slade), Marie Windsor (Tonya), Charles “Buddy” Rogers (Rev. Jericho Jones), Jean Parker (Sarah Jones), Robert Lowery (Col. Jefferson Morgan), Bob Steele (Ace Jardine), Bob Duncan (Pat Garrett)

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With Pat Garrett’s help, Billy The Kid (Anthony Dexter) fakes his own death so he can live out his life in peace. Traveling to the town of Four Corners, he plans to run his small ranch under an assumed name.

When a big rancher (Robert Lowery) brings in the gunman Jack Slade (Sonny Tufts) to help him take over Four Corners, The Kid stays out of it — even when he finds out they’ve been using his ranch as a hideout. The local preacher (Charles Rogers), who knows The Kid is The Kid, finally encourages him to strap on his guns again.

The Parson And The Outlaw (1957) is a fascinating, if ultimately not very good, Western. It brings together all sorts of things that make 50s Westerns so special to me.

The picture was produced by Charles “Buddy” Rogers, a silent actor (1927’s Wings) maybe best known for marrying Mary Pickford. At various times, Rogers also worked as a writer, gag man, director, bandleader and producer. After producing The Parson And The Outlaw, he did Hot Rod Gang and High School Hellcats (both 1958).

It was directed and co-written by Oliver Drake, who seemed to live a life almost completely saturated with making Westerns. Most of them are really cheap, some aren’t very good, but he made a lifelong career out of it. If nothing else, he co-wrote Riders Of The Whistling Skull (1937) and his story became Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957). His book Written, Produced & Directed: The Autobiography Of Oliver Drake needs to be reprinted somewhere, somehow.

Then there’s Marie Windsor, my favorite actress. Her fake accent is terrible, but it’s Marie Windsor — in Technicolor! Anthony Dexter is wretched, but you can always depend on Sonny Tufts and Bob Steele. 

The cabin set you see Miss Windsor in (above) looks tiny and like it cost 37 cents to construct. But there’s a sincerity to the whole thing that really helps put it over.

Director Of Photography Clark Ramsey shot pictures like I Killed Geronimo (1950), Superman And The Mole Men (1951), Gold Fever (1952) and Hidden Guns (1956). Ramsey was from Palo Pinto County in central Texas (the tiny town of Brad, with just a couple dozen people). My grandparents lived in nearby (and also quite tiny) Strawn.

In short, The Parson And The Outlaw (1957) is a cheap Western that means well, but doesn’t quite deliver — mainly because it’s so obviously cheap. But given the folks involved, it has plenty of curb appeal for fans of 50s (or earlier) Westerns. It’s a real shame it hasn’t made its way to DVD or Blu-Ray.

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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 Ray Nazarro
Starring George Montgomery, Audrey Long, Carl Benton Reid, Eugene Iglesias, Joe Sawyer, Douglas Kennedy, Hugh Sanders, George Chesebro, Robert J. Wilke

Critics’ Choice and Mill Creek have been quietly adding to their Critics’ Choice Collection, bringing out some cool double- and triple-featureson DVD. The George Montgomery Western Triple Feature set gives us Indian Uprising (1952), Battle At Rogue River (1954) and Masterson Of Kansas (1954). Those last two were also part of Mill Creek’s set The Fastest Guns Of The West: The William Castle Western Collection, which many of you probably already own.

While the repetition is unfortunate, it’s great to have Ray Navarro’s Indian Uprising available again. It’s a cavalry picture, shot at Corriganville, Bronson Canyon and the Iverson Ranch in Super Cinecolor by Ellis Carter. I kinda doubt these will ever make it to Blu-Ray, but the DVD transfers are top-knotch — and the price is nice, too.

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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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Joan Weldon
(August 5, 1930 – February 11, 2021)

Joan Weldon, a lovely actress who appeared in some terrific pictures in the 50s, has passed away at 90.

She appeared with Randolph Scott in two Westerns, The Stranger Wore A Gun (1953) and Riding Shotgun (1954), both directed by Andre de Toth, along with The Command (1954) with Guy Madison, Gunsight Ridge (1957) with Joel McCrea and Day Of The Badman (1958) with Fred MacMurray. But the big one, the one she’s known for, is Gordon Douglas’s great giant ant picture Them! (1954).

She was quote a singer and did a lot of musical theater, including appearing with Forrest Tucker in The Music Man.

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While I was off in the mountains over Thanksgiving, with no Internet, John, Graham and an assorted cast of characters kept the lights on with a steady stream of comments. Y’all are sure something for me to be thankful for!

Anyway, one of the new released that was name-dropped was The Randolph Scott Collection from Via Vision out of Australia. It’s a pretty eclectic set, leaning towards the Harry Joe Brown pictures.

The Texans (1938)
Directed by James P. Hogan
Starring Randolph Scott, Joan Bennett, Walter Brennan
A post Civil War picture from Paramount.

When The Daltons Rode (1940)
Directed by George Marshall
Starring Randolph Scott, Kay Francis, Brian Donlevy, Broderick Crawford, Andy Devine, George Bancroft, Edgar Buchanan
About 80 minutes of nonstop action as the Daltons blast their way from one robbery to the next, with Scott a lawyer friend who tries to help out.

Corvette K-225 (1943)
Directed by Richard Rosson
Starring Randolph Scott, James Brown, Ella Raines, Barry Fitzgerald, Robert Mitchum
Howard Hawks produced this World War II picture, with Scott going after the U-boat that sank his ship and machine-gunned his crew.

Gunfighters (1947)
Directed by George Waggner
Starring Randolph Scott, Barbara Britton, Bruce Cabot, Forrest Tucker
A cool Cinecolor picture produced by Harry Joe Brown.

Coroner Creek (1948)
Directed by Ray Enright
Starring Randolph Scott, Marguerite Chapman, George Macready, Edgar Buchanan, Wallace Ford , Forrest Tucker, Joe Sawyer
Ray Enright directs that spectacular cast in Cinecolor. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The Doolins Of Oklahoma (1949)
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Starring Randolph Scott, George Macready, Louise Allbritton, John Ireland , Charles Kemper, Noah Beery Jr.
This is just a terrific movie that gets everything right.

The Walking Hills (1949)
Directed by John Sturges
Starring Randolph Scott, Ella Raines, Edgar Buchanan, Arthur Kennedy, John Ireland, Josh White
A group of men head to together in search of a lost wagon train loaded down with gold. Sturges’ does a great job, and the Alabama Hills and Death Valley locations are put to good use.

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.

Most of these pictures can be found elsewhere — some even on Blu-Ray, so there’s likely some duplication with something you already have. But there’s plenty of good stuff to recommend it. Sure wish there was a Blu-Ray version available, too (especially of Doolins).

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Critics’ Choice has really come on with a bang, announcing DVD sets movie nuts have been asking for. The Buck Jones Western Collection sounds terrific, gathering up nine of his Columbia pictures from 1930 to 1933, including one with John Wayne.

Men Without Law (1930)
Directed by Louis King
Starring Buck Jones, Carmelita Geraghty, Thomas Carrmin)

The Avenger (1931)
Directed by Roy William Neill
Starring Buck Jones, Dorothy Revier, Otto Hoffman

Branded (1931)
Directed by D. Ross Lederman
Starring Buck Jones, Ethel Kenyon, Wallace MacDonald.

The Deadline (1931)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Buck Jones, Loretta Sayers, Robert Ellis

The Range Feud (1931)
Directed by D. Ross Lederman
Starring Buck Jones, John Wayne, Susan Fleming

Forbidden Trail (1932)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Buck Jones, Barbara Weeks, George Cooper

The Thrill Hunter (1933)
Directed by George B. Seitz
Starring Buck Jones, Dorothy Revier, Arthur Rankin

The California Trail (1933)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Buck Jones, Helen Mack, Luis Albert

Unknown Valley (1933)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Buck Jones, Cecilia Parker, Wade Boteler

With this set and the serials on Blu-Ray from VCI, this is a great time for Buck Jones fans. Recommended.

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Directed by William Castle
Starring Lex Barker, Patricia Medina, Warren Stevens, Craig Stevens, John Dehner, Mel Welles

Around here, it’s a big deal when a William Castle or Sam Katzman picture turns up on Blu-Ray.

Duel On The Mississippi (1955) isn’t a Western, but it’s pretty close. It’s one of those Louisiana riverboat things, with plenty of ridin’ and shooting’, and river pirates instead of outlaws or Indians. Lex Barker’s fine, Patricia Medina is beautiful, and John Dehner’s always terrific.

Henry Freulich’s Technicolor cinematography’s gonna be stunning on Blu-Ray, I’m sure. It’s coming in December from Germany’s Explosive Media. Can’t wait. You may have it on DVD in the Mill Creek William Castle Western set.

Thanks to John Knight for the news.

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Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Starring Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Jim Hutton, James Coburn, Michael Anderson Jr., Mario Adorf, Brock Peters, Senta Berger, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Slim Pickens, Dub Taylor, Michael Pate

Western fans and Peckinpah nuts have spent decades debating the merits of Major Dundee (1965). Nowadays, we also debate the merits of one DVD or Blu-Ray release of the picture over the other. It’s coming in a nice new set from Imprint out of Australia in October.

For me, the participation of Mr. Glenn Erickson puts an immediate Seal Of Approval on anything to do with Major Dundee. It’s his favorite movie, he’s certainly an authority on it (along with lots of other movies), and he’s a really nice guy. Nick Redman and Paul Seydor are also represented. 

Special Features and Technical Specs:
• Limited 2-Disc hard box edition with unique artwork on the first 1,500 copies
• Includes the 2005 4K extended cut scan and original theatrical cut
• NEW 2020 Audio Commentary by film historians Glenn Erickson and Alan Rode (Extended Cut)
Passion & The Poetry: The Dundee Odyssey – Mike Siegel ‘s 2019 feature length documentary on the making of Major Dundee with L.Q. Jones, James Coburn, Lupita Peckinpah, Chalo Gonzalez and more
Mike Siegel: About the Passion & Poetry Project – New English language version. Filmmaker Mike Siegel talks about his beginnings and his ongoing film historical project about Sam Peckinpah
Passion & Poetry: Peckinpah Anecdotes: Nine actors telling stories about working with Sam Peckinpah
• English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (new score by Christopher Caliendo) (Extended Cut)
• English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (original score by Daniele Amfitheatrof) (Extended Cut)
• English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (original score by Daniele Amfitheatrof) (Theatrical Cut)
• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle
• Isolated score by Christopher Caliendo in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo (Extended Cut)
• Isolated score by Daniele Amfitheatrof in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo (Theatrical Cut)
• Extended deleted scenes/outtakes with commentary by Glenn Erickson
• Original Trailers
• Trailer Artwork Outtakes
• Exhibitor Promo Reel Excerpt
• Vintage featurette: “Riding For A Fall” 

That’s a lot of stuff. I’m getting really excited about this one. Not sure what the Region info is on it.

UPDATE (8/4/2020): The word is, Imprint Blu-Rays are Region Free.

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I recently had the extreme pleasure of being a guest on Todd Liebenow’s terrific podcast Forgotten Filmcast. Our subject was William Castle’s Jesse James Vs. The Daltons (1954). It’s up now — just click the ad above. It’s a good way to spend an hour of your “stay at home” time.

It’s a picture I’ve written about before, and it’s available in Mill Creek’s terrific set The Fastest Guns Of The West: The William Castle Western Collection

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