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Archive for the ‘DVD reviews, releases, TV, etc.’ Category

Directed by Mark Robson
Producer: Richard H. Berger
Screenplay by Hugo Butler and Geoffrey Homes
Cinematography: Joseph F. Biroc
Music: Roy Webb
Film Editor: Marston Fay

Cast: Robert Sterling (Clay Phillips), Gloria Grahame (Mary Wells), Claude Jarman Jr.(Steve Phillips), John Ireland (Lednov), Jeff Donnell (Elaine Wyatt), Myrna Dell (Helen Carter), Martha Hyer (Marcia), George Cooper (Jim Clayton), Jeff Corey (Jed Graham), Sara Haden (Ma Wyatt), James Bell (Pa ‘Ed’ Wyatt), Shawn McGlory (Fowler), Robert B. Williams (McCall), Steve Savage (Peters), Edward Cassidy (Sheriff Gardner)

__________

There’s a movie memory that’s been bugging me since I was a kid. It’s a Western, and John Ireland’s the bad guy — a really bad guy. I remembered a few things about Ireland and the film, but never enough to be able to nail it down. Well, it turns out it was Roughshod (1949), a picture I thought I’d never seen.

You hear a lot about the noir influence in Westerns — Blood On The Moon and Pursued are good examples. I’d put Roughshod near the top of the list for successfully meshing the noir style within the Western.

Robert Sterling is Clay Phillips, who’s driving a herd of horses over the Sonora Pass with his kid brother Steve (Claude Jarman Jr.). They happen upon a broken-down buggy and four saloon girls who were headed to Sonora; Clay must be the luckiest cowpoke in history, because the women he’s stumbled upon are Gloria Grahame, Martha Hyer, Myrna Dell and  Jeff Donnell. They’ve been run out of Aspen by a group of concerned citizens.

A panel from the Roughshod adaptation in Prize Comics Western.

Steve Phillips (Claude Jarman Jr.): “Were you driving?”
Mary Wells (Gloria Grahame): “I was at first. Then I was hanging on.”

Trouble is, there are three escaped convicts on the loose, and the ringleader is the truly evil Lednov (John Ireland) — who Clay helped send to prison. Lednov would love to bump into Clay out on the trail. The scene that introduces these very bad dudes is the memory I’ve had bouncing around in my head for decades. And revisiting it thanks to the DVD-R from Warner Archive, it’s easy to see why the picture made such an impression on me. This is a dark, tense, terrific movie (and I don’t want to give too much of it away).

I know very little about Robert Sterling, and he’s fine here. But Gloria Grahame and John Ireland are outstanding. Grahame was great in plenty of things, but she really cooks in this one. The romance that happens along the trail could have been hokey, but she makes it work. It’s a good part, and she really nails it.

It would’ve been easy for someone to take the Lednov part way too far (he’s as nasty as nasty gets in a 50s Western), and screwing up the entire movie in the process. John Larch comes close to doing that in another favorite of mine, Quantez (1957). Ireland is so perfect here. Claude Jarman Jr. is good, too. He always was. Mark Robson gets superb performances from his entire cast — everybody brought their A game to this one.

Warner Archive has Roughshod looking good. It’s not a full restoration or anything, but it’s nice and sharp and pretty clean — with the picture’s many dark scenes dialed in just right. This might be some of DP Joseph Biroc’s best work. The sound’s nice and crisp.

In 50s Westerns, there are so many movies you could say are “ripe for rediscovery.” The fact that Roughshod sits on that list is a real shame. Highly, highly recommended.

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wagon_tracks_1919_-_ad_1

Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring William S. Hart, Jane Novak, Robert McKim

Olive Films has announced the January release of the 1919 William S. Hart picture Wagon Tracks. Mastered from an original 35mm nitrate print preserved by the Library of Congress, it should be quite a thing.

wagontracks_390

I grew up watching 8mm Blackhawk prints of Hart’s movies, and I love them all. Can’t wait to see this one again.

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johnny-guitar-np-ad

I’m gonna make this quick because time’s running out. Olive Films’ Signature Edition of Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954) comes our tomorrow. Today, the pre-order price at Amazon is only $16.99 (the list price is $39.95).

Picture 2

Get the new Blu-Ray of Johnny Guitar, or Frank’ll let you have it.

Watched it over the weekend, and I really urge you to get it (a real review will be coming soon). Don’t have a Blu-ray player? Well, now’s the time. This thing’s incredible. As much as I love this movie, seeing it in hi-def and its proper 1.66 framing, I love it even more. Essential.

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outlaw-country-tc

Directed by Ray Taylor
Starring Lash La Rue, Fuzzy St. John, Dan White, House Peters, Jr., Nancy Saunders

This may be the first time Lash and Fuzzy have graced the “pages” of this blog. Folks have written in a few times asking when I’m going to get around to these guys, and I’m sorry for the oversight.

Outlaw Country (1949) is one of the later Lash pictures, and at 72 minutes, one of the longest. It features La Rue’s long-lost twin brother, the Frontier Phantom — who turns up again the last Lash/Fuzzy movie, The Frontier Phantom (1952). Made for Western Adventure Productions, these had even lower budgets than the previous PRC pictures.

Outlaw Country is paired with Law Of The Lash (1947, a PRC picture) in VCI’s Lash La Rue Double Feature. Both were directed by Ray Taylor, one of the most prolific directors of them all, with more than 150 films to his credit.

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Knights Of Range OS

Directed by Lesley Selander
Starring Russell Hayden, Victor Jory, Jean Parker

1940 is typically outside the rough confines of this blog (have you noticed how “squishy” the Fifties thing has become lately?), but being that it’s from one of our collective favorites, Lesley Selander, I figured it was worth pointing out.

VCI now offers a remastered copy of Knights Of The Range (1940), one of Paramount’s many Zane Grey adaptations. Judging from the sample on their website, it looks plenty good.

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Dakota HS

Directed by Joseph Kane
Starring John Wayne, Vera Hruba Ralston, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond

Kino Lorber has gotten hold of some of the Republic titles under Paramount’s control. They’ve announced Dakota (1945), a solid Western from Joe Kane starring John Wayne, for release before the end of the year. This could be a terrific arrangement, folks!

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Code Of The Saddle TC

Warner Archive is about to offer up their ninth volume of their Monogram Cowboy Collection. This one’s all Johnny Mack Brown, nine pictures on three discs.

The Gentleman From Texas (1946)
Trailing Danger (1947)
Flashing Guns (1947)
Land Of The Lawless (1947)
Code Of The Saddle (1947)
Law Comes To Gunsight (1947)
The Fighting Ranger (1948)
Frontier Agent (1948)
The Sheriff Of Medicine Bow (1948)

All feature Raymond Hatton and were directed by Lambert Hillyer, except for Code Of The Saddle coming from Thomas Carr.

JMB and RH

The release date is September 13.

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