Archive for the ‘Joe Kane’ Category

Joe Kane.


John Knight mentioned the great Republic director Joe Kane in a comment this morning, and this photo came to mind. Here, Joe’s visiting Roy Rogers on the set of his TV show.

From the mid-30s till the studio’s demise, Kane was a house director at Republic Pictures. He made a slew of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers movies, and produced and directed Republic’s larger-scale films such as Jubilee Trail (1954) and The Maverick Queen (1956). Sadly, his later films are almost impossible to see today, especially if you’re a stickler for things like 1.85 or Naturama.

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last bandit coming

This is a bit of a cheat. Came across this while researching something else and had to use it.

A post on The Last Bandit (1949) IS in the works, however.

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wildbillelliot15-20 sized

Tim Holt Tuesdays have been a lot of fun, and people seem to like ’em, so I’m adding Wild Bill Wednesdays to the week. Like the Holt day, it’s a not-quite-weekly way to call attention to William “Wild Bill” Elliott, a cowboy star who doesn’t get his due. (I realize I’m preaching to the choir here.) His later Westerns, the ones that followed the Red Ryder series, are particularly strong, and they’re what I’ll focus on (approximately 1946-54). Elliott’s career was a long one. He was a working character actor for years (often uncredited) before becoming a top-billed cowboy star, so I’ll be dealing with a tiny sliver of his filmography.

Of course, like most Republic pictures, Elliott’s are absent on DVD or Blu-ray. (Dear Olive Films: if you only knew how badly I want a Blu-ray of Hellfire.) The old VHS copies are decent-looking if you want to search ’em out, and some of them turn up on The Westerns Channel or Netflix from time to time. (1954’s Bitter Creek is scheduled for TCM in June.)

But if you look beyond the Republics, the outlook’s brighter. Warner Archive’s given us a couple of the Monogram/Allied Artists Westerns (Fargo and The Homesteaders), and VCI put out the first of that series, The Longhorn (1951). Then there’s that cool detective series.

We’ll have a real post on Elliott next Wednesday.


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Rod Cameron
(December 7, 1910 – December 21, 1983)

Rod Cameron never made a Western that could truly be called a classic. But he made some really solid ones, such as Ride The Man Down (1952) — a Republic picture costarring Brian Donlevy, Ella Raines, Forrest Tucker, Barbara Britton, Chill Wills, J. Carrol Naish, Jim Davis and Paul Fix. It was directed, with the usual breakneck pace, by Joe Kane. Good stuff.

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I haven’t seen the first three Blu-rays of John Wayne’s Three Mesquiteers films from Olive Films. But I’ve heard very good things.

Three more early Wayne Republics are on the way, with one being The New Frontier (1939), directed by George Sherman. They list it under its TV title, Frontier Horizons. This is probably because they’re also bringing out the other John Wayne Republic called The New Frontier (1935)! The 1939 film co-stars Jennifer Jones.

The third title in this batch is King Of The Pecos (1936), directed by Joe Kane. Republic put this one out on DVD several years ago. Confused yet?

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The Maverick Queen (1956) paired Barbara Stanwyck and Barry Sullivan (a year before Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns). For Republic, this was a pretty lavish picture — color, widescreen and location work in Silverton, Colorado.

From the New York Times review on June 4, 1956:”The Maverick Queen introduces Republic’s wide screen process, called Naturama. Republic reportedly spent two years developing this anamorphic system. (Its projection aspect ratio of 2.35 to 1 is somewhat narrower than that of CinemaScope). Thus equipped, the film has plenty of room to show, in color, the wide open spaces of Colorado, where it was made. But The Maverick Queen shows also that Republic, too, has recognized the growth of the screen—sideways. For the film is an old horse opera in still another technological dress.”

It’s ironic, and a bit sad, that since its original release, Naturama’s maiden voyage has been seen only via terrible pan and scan transfers.

Director Joe Kane: “The studio was scraping the bottom of the barrel to get a big moneymaker and they finally let me have color and Naturama and Barbara Stanwyck… It was a real pleasure to work with a grand trouper like Missy. She’d do anything, and you had to darn-near hogtie her to keep her from breaking her neck on a dangerous stunt.” (From Close Up: The Contract Director, Scarecrow Press, 1976)

There are similar stories of Miss Stanwyck being repeatedly drug by her horse for Forty Guns‘ sandstorm sequence.

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Plunderers Of Painted Flats was released in January 1959 (the poster calls it “a Republic presentation”). It starred Corinne Calvet, John Carroll, Skip Homeier and Joe Besser — and was in black and white ‘Scope (Naturama). Its director, Albert C. Gannaway, did a short series of these threadbare widescreen Westerns for Republic. At least one of them, Man Or Gun (1958), is pretty good.

That July, Republic was no more. There was no way the Western could be the same after that.

Director Joe Kane, from Kings Of The Bs: “Yates had trouble with the Actors Guild. He refused to pay residuals for pictures that were going on television. So they shut him down. The Actors Guild just closed the place and put him out of business… I went over to television. There was nothing else I could do. Republic was completely out of business. There was nothing left of it.”

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