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Archive for the ‘Fritz Lang’ Category

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Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring Robert Young, Randolph Scott, Dean Jagger, Virginia Gilmore, John Carradine, Chill Wills, Barton MacLane

Many of us agree that Randolph Scott became a better Western star after he got some years on him. Well, here’s one that messes with that idea a bit. In Western Union (1941), directed by Fritz Lang and based on Zane Grey’s novel, Scott’s an outlaw trying to go straight — and he’s terrific. (That’s Robert Young, Lang and Scott above. Love that photo!)

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We associate Lang with dark, creepy stuff, but he’s just as comfortable with Technicolor. The Blu-ray coming from Kino Lorber later this year should be a real looker. Can’t wait.

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If I ever had the chance to organize a 50s Westerns retrospective (something I’d love to do), this is certainly one of the evenings I’d set up: Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious (1952) paired with Nick Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954). I can’t think of a better night at the movies.

It’s especially cool that Rancho Notorious is a 35mm print. If you make it out to The Castro Theatre in San Francisco on April 23, have a box of Raisinets for me.

Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 10.48.37 PM

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Russell Johnson, who just everybody in America knows as The Professor from Gilligan’s Island, passed away today at 89.

He’s seen above (center) with Alex Nicol and Ronald Reagan in Law And Order (1953). He appeared in other 50s Westerns such as Rancho Notorious (1952, he runs the chuck-a-luck wheel), Seminole (1953) and Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954).

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David Arrate earns a Name That Stock Footage badge for uncovering one of the many cost-cutting measures to be found in Masterson Of Kansas (1954), the best of William Castle’s Westerns for Sam Katzman’s unit at Columbia. Thanks, David.

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Friedrich Christian Anton “Fritz” Lang
(December 5, 1890 – August 2, 1976)

Here’s Fritz Lang directing Robert Young and Randolph Scott in Western Union (1941). Couldn’t find a shot of him working on his wonderful, whacked-out 50s Western, Rancho Notorious (1952).

William Friedkin did a terrific documentary on Lang, basically just a filmed interview. I highly recommend tracking it down.

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New York’s Film Forum is serving up a real treat — a two-week helping of Fritz Lang’s Hollywood pictures.

I love Metropolis (which I once had the extreme pleasure of watching with Forrest Ackerman) and M and all that, but I actually prefer Lang’s American films. (Please don’t beat me up.)

To name a few, Ministry Of Fear (1944), The Big Heat (1953) and Human Desire (1954) are all terrific. And the very thought of seeing Man Hunt (1941), on film, actually projected on a screen gives me goosebumps.

But the one that raises my blood pressure is a rare chance to see his whacked-out Western Rancho Notorious (1952), starring Marlene Dietrich and Arthur Kennedy. It’s showing February 6th and 7th. This overlooked masterpiece may even out-weird the only thing I can think of to compare it to — Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954).

They’re also running a night (Feb. 2nd) of two more Lang Westerns, The Return Of Frank James (1940) and Western Union (1941).

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This beautiful, original costume sketch from Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious (1952) is currently on eBay. Sketched by Moss Mabry, it’s one of the gowns Marlene Dietrich wore in the picture — one of the weirdest, and maybe best, Westerns of the 50s.

The picture’s tagline seems like an appropriate title for this post. I’m trying really hard to remember all they taught me in Sunday school about temptation. And all I’ve read in the news about abusing your credit cards.

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