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Archive for the ‘Columbia’ Category

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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I’ve been a guest on the The Forgotten Filmcast podcast a couple times in the past, and I’m delighted to be heading there again in a couple weeks.

Host Todd Liebenow and I will cover the William-Castle-directed, Sam-Katzman-produced bit of glorious 3D nonsense, Jesse James Vs. The Daltons (1953). I’m sure it’ll be fun to talk with Todd, and hopefully, it’ll be fun to listen to.

Will post the link when it’s complete.

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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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Came upon this the other day and thought it was worth sharing.

The Morningside Theatre in New York City has quite a lineup on Saturday, April 16, 1959. First, there was Tim Holt in The Monster That Challenged The World (1957), then Audie Murphy in Jack Arnold’s No Name On The Bullet (1959) and finally Running Target from 1956, starring Doris Dowling, Arthur Franz and Myron Healey. Tossed into the mix were a few cartoons and Marshall Reed in a chapter of the Columbia serial Riding With Buffalo Bill (1954), produced by Sam Katzman.

Of course, the stuff coming up after it — William Castle’s The Tingler (1959), The Warrior And The Slave Girl (1958) and Whip Wilson, Fuzzy Knight and Phyllis Coates in Monogram’s Canyon Riders (1951) — sounds pretty good, too.

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Directed by George Sherman
Starring Van Heflin, Joanne Woodward, Phil Carey, Raymond Burr, Allison Hayes, Myron Healey, Nancy Kulp, James H. Griffith

Van Heflin comes home from the Civil War an ordained minister. It doesn’t go over too well since he was known in his hometown as a real hell raiser. George Sherman directed, Burnett Guffey shot it in ‘Scope and Technicolor, and it’s got a great supporting cast: Phil Carey, Raymond Burr, Allison Hayes, Myron Healey, Nancy Kulp, James H. Griffith. But it’s known today for being Joanne Woodward’s first film. It goes without saying that Heflin is terrific.

Sony has announced its September Blu-Ray release.

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Directed by Ray Nazarro
Produced by Rory Calhoun & Victor M. Orsatti
Screenplay by Kenneth Gamet & Hal Biller
Cinematography: Irving Lippman
Film Editor: Gene Havlick

Cast: Rory Calhoun (Domino), Kristine Miller (Barbara Ellison), Andrew Duggan (Wade Harrington), Yvette Duguay (Rosita), Peter Whitney (Lafe), Eugene Iglesias (Juan Cortez), Robert Burton (Sheriff Travers), Roy Barcroft (Ed Sandlin), James H. Griffith (Beal), Denver Pyle (Bill Dragger). Thomas Browne Henry (Doctor)

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There’s something about this movie. It takes one of the most basic of Western plots — a young man seeks revenge after his father is killed and their ranch trashed by guerrilla raiders during the Civil War — and somehow makes you forget you’ve seen this kinda thing a thousand times. There’s a bit of a 7 Men From Now (1956) thing going, as Domino (Rory Calhoun) knows who four of the five killers are, takes care of them, and has to identify the fifth.

Maybe it’s the direction from Ray Nazarro at sets it apart. He did so many of these things, and he had a real knack for keeping em moving. There’s a snap to his movies that others’ pictures lacked. The script’s pretty good, especially at going Rory Calhoun cool things to say. Calhoun, who co-produced and worked on the story, leads a great cast. Kristine Miller is good as the woman Domino left behind when he went gunning for the guys who killed his father. She didn’t have a real long career, but she worked at Republic quite a bit, which is enough of a recommendation for me. Andrew Duggan is the local bigwig who wants to buy Calhoun’s ranch — and make off with his girl. He made some solid Westerns in the late 50s — his next was Decision At Sundown (1957).

Yvette Duguay and Eugene Iglesias are both likable (and Duguay’s very pretty) as a couple of Domino’s only loyal friends in town. Then you’ve got James H. Griffith, one of my favorites, and Denver Pyle as a couple of the men Domino tracks down and blows away. Peter Whitney is the elusive fifth man, who comes to town to put an end to Domino’s “vengeance trail.” You’ll remember him as Amos Agry in Buchanan Rides Alone (1958). And there’s Roy Barcroft and Thomas Browne Henry in a couple small parts (you hardly see Henry’s face in his approximately 15 seconds of screen time).

Cinematographer Irving Lippman gets high marks on this one. It’s a good-looking movie, with deep, moody shadows and some interesting shots throughout — nicely framed for 1.85, another way Domino Kid stays fresh. Lippman was a staff cinematographer at Columbia, shooting pictures like  Hellcats Of The Navy and 20 Million Miles To Earth (both 1957). He also has the distinction of having shot some of the later Three Stooges shorts, a few of their features and almost every episode of both the Jungle Jim and The Monkees TV shows. He started out as a still photographer for the studio.

Domino Kid is not available on DVD or Blu-Ray. The transfer that used to turn up on The Westerns Channel looked great. This is the kind of picture that would be terrific as part of a set similar to those wonderful film noir collections Kit Parker has been doing. It’s a near-textbook example of a medium-budgeted 50s Western. Highly recommended.

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Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring Rory Calhoun, Susan Cummings, Angela Stevens, Max Baer, Ray Teal

Sidonis out of France has announced the upcoming DVD (only) release of Utah Blaine (1957), a picture that brings together Rory Calhoun, producer Sam Katzman and director Fred F. Sears to bring a Louis L’Amour novel to the screen. By the way, Angela Stevens was in a number of Katzman pictures, including Creature With The Atom Brain and the Jungle Jim movie Devil Goddess (both 1955).

Calhoun made a number of pictures for Columbia, often having a hand in the production himself. This was his only time working with Jungle Sam’s unit — cats like Fred Sears and DP Benjamin Kline who take the finished picture far beyond what Katzman had in his budget. Of late, Sidonis has stayed clear of the forced (as in you can’t get rid of ’em) subtitles that plagued some of their earlier DVDs. This should be 1.85, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again. Coming in September.

UPDATE: Word is, the subtitles can be removed.

Thanks to John Knight for the reminder.

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Let’s mark Valentine’s Day this year with this ad from the Independent Film Journal from 1955. Ads for Ten Wanted Men (1955) drive me nuts — Scott’s head has clearly been pasted into another body.

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