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Archive for the ‘Columbia’ Category

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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Directed by Fred F. Sears
Produced by Colbert Clark
Written by Howard J. Green
Director Of Photography: Fayte M. Browne
Film Editor: Paul Borofsky

Cast: Charles Starrett (Steve Martin/The Durango Kid), Smiley Burnette (Smiley), Jack Mahoney (Jack Mahoney), Clayton Moore (The Hawk), Eddie Parker (Skeeter), Jim Diehl (Al Travis), Lane Chandler (George), Syd Saylor (Yank-Em-Out Kennedy), John Cason (Duke), LeRoy Johnson (Smoky), Jack Carry (Pete), Sam Flint (Clark Mahoney)


Have been concentrating on the book, which has kept me kinda absent on here. My recent research has been on the unsung director Fred F. Sears.

Charles Starrett starred in The Durango Kid, in 1940. Columbia didn’t get around to The Return Of The Durango Kid till 1945. By the time the series was shut down in 1952, Columbia had cranked out 65 Durango Kid movies — at which point Starrett retired from movies.

One of the last of the series, The Hawk Of Wild River (1952) has a terrific cast, adding Jock Mahoney and Clayton Moore to the usual Durango roster. Of course, Mahoney had been part of the series for quite a while, doubling for Charles Starrett.

After being replaced by John Hart for the third season of The Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore went back to work as one of the best, and busiest, bad guys in Hollywood. First up was the Republic serial Radar Men From The Moon (1952). In The Hawk Of Wild River, he’s The Hawk, a half-breed bandit who’s as proficient with a bow and arrow as he is with a six-gun.

This time around, US Marshal Steve Martin (Charles Starrett) is sent to the town of Wild River to stop a run of stagecoach robberies by The Hawk and his gang. The Hawk has been killing off Wild River’s sheriffs as fast as they can pin a badge on ’em. When Steve hits town, the acting sheriff is Jack Mahoney (Jock Mahoney). The Durango Kid captures The Hawk and once he’s in jail, Martin gets himself arrested and thrown into The Hawk’s cell, never revealing that he’s a Federal man. They escape and Martin joins The Hawk’s gang — and with the help of his alter ego, The Durango Kid, eventually bring the outlaws to justice.

Along the way, Smiley Burnette is hypnotized and convinced he’s a “heap big” Indian chief. And as always happens with these things, he comes close to screwing up Martin’s plans.

Running just 53 minutes, The Hawk Of Wild River is a pretty typical Durango Kid movie, clearly aimed at kids. The usual things are in place: Smiley doing his silly stuff, Starrett donning his Durango outfit (and riding Raider) and lots of riding and fighting and shooting. Director Fred F. Sears keeps it moving at a quick pace, and director of photography Fayte Browne makes it all look like a million bucks. The Iverson Ranch is really used well in this one.

Fred F. Sears started out working as a character actor and dialogue director on the Durango Kid pictures and eventually climbed into the director’s chair. From there, he became a fixture in Sam Katzman’s unit at Columbia until he died in his office on the lot in 1957 (with eight films still awaiting release). It’s a real shame he never got a bigger budget or longer schedule.

Stuntman and actor Eddie Parker plays Skeeter. The next year, he’d play Mr. Hyde in Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1953) and the Mummy in Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955). The guy’s in about anything you can think of.

The Hawk Of Wild River is one of the 10 movies in Mill Creek’s budget-friendly two-disc setThe Durango Kid Collection. The transfer looks wonderful — with this one and the other nine films. It’s a nice little set, and it comes highly recommended. (Wish they’d get around to a volume two!)

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Here’s a lobby card from Republic’s Bells Of Capistrano (1942) to mark the Fourth Of July (1942).

Gene Autry entered the Air Force a few days after principal photography wrapped on this one. It was his last picture till he picked things up after the war with Sioux City Sue (1946). He only made five films for Republic before moving over to Columbia for the rest of his film career.

Here’s wishing you all a fun, safe Independence Day!

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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)


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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