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Archive for the ‘Kino Lorber’ Category

Directed by William Wyler
Starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, Chuck Connors

The Big Country (1958) is coming to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber with a slew of extras — commentary, documentary, interviews, etc.

The cast is a great one. Burl Ives won an Oscar for his incredible, and incredibly mean, performance. But, to me, Chuck Connors steals the picture — he’s absolutely perfect in a complex, tragic role.

Franz F. Planer’s Technicolor and Technirama cinematography is beautiful, offering up stunning vistas that live up to the film’s title. The opening credits were created by Saul Bass, and the score by Jerome Moross is one of the best to ever grace a Western.

The old Blu-Ray was a huge improvement over the DVD, but it had some distortion problems. Let’s hope those are sorted out for this new one. And I hear the stereo tracks still haven’t turned up.

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With The Indian Fighter (1955) making its way to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber, this seemed like a good time to share some more of the photos my wife’s finding as she helps with the research for my commentary. (Photos don’t do too well in an audio commentary.) I’ve been really wallowing in this movie the last couple weeks.

Here, they’re shooting a scene with Hank Worden and Walter Matthau.

Elisha Cook rests between takes in Bend, Oregon, as Ira Eagleman (whose parents were working as extras) looks on. Cook, Worden, Matthau — what a cast!

A prop man fires flaming arrows at the fort.

Elsa Martinelli, an Italian fashion model, made her screen debut in The Indian Fighter. Douglas’ wife Anne saw her in Vogue and recommended her for the part.

Here, they’re shooting inside the stockade. I can’t find director Andre de Toth in this photo, but this seems to be a scene with Douglas and Walter Abel. The Indian Fighter was the first picture from Douglas’ Bryna Productions. It was also de Toth’s first time chance to work with CinemaScope. He does a couple of really cool 360-degree pans that really use the Scope frame (and show off the distortion in those early Scope lenses).

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I’ve been doing research on Andre de Toth’s The Indian Fighter (1955) for a commentary on Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray. (When it comes to research like this, my wife Jennifer does a lot of the heavy lifting.)

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The Indian Fighter was the first picture from Kirk Douglas’ Bryna Productions, and they built an elaborate 200-foot square fort for it. It looks terrific in those CinemaScope tracking shots.

The stockade belonged to the Bend, Oregon, Chamber Of Commerce (it was built by a local construction company), and they rented it out for various things, including Oregon Passage (1958), a Paul Landres picture I really like. A forest fire damaged the area around the fort, really hurting its usefulness as a movie location. It was burned in the early 60s and the area replanted. It’s a shame, since it’s really impressive, compared to other movie forts I’ve seen.

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The subject line pretty much says it all. Right now, Kino Lorber has a terrific sale on some of their Blu-Rays. From The Cariboo Trail (1950) to The Wonderful Country (1959), there are a few choice 50s Westerns in there — along with some really good non-Western stuff. Wait, there are movies that aren’t Westerns?

This is your chance to do your part in jump-starting the US economy.

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Directed by Frank Tashlin
Starring Bob Hope, Jane Russell, Roy Rogers

There’s been some debate out there as to whether this counts as a 50s Western, and some have said they don’t care for comedy Westerns in general. But for me, Son Of Paleface (1952) is one of my all-time favorite films.

This was once available on the old HD DVD discs. Remember those? Now it’s coming to Blu-Ray this Summer from Kino Lorber, along with The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) and a couple of the Hope-Crosby Road pictures, Road To Rio (1947) and Road To Bali (1952). It’s all good stuff.

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960

Back in 2014, gathering everybody’s favorite DVD and Blu-Ray picks for the year turned out to be a lot of fun. It’s since become an annual thing.

Thanks to everybody who sent in their picks for 2016. This was a great year for 50s Westerns on DVD and Blu-Ray (and 2017 is shaping up to be just as good, or maybe better). Here’s the Top 10, according to your votes.

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10. Desperado (1954, Warner Archive, DVD)
It was a tie between this Wayne Morris picture and his earlier Desert Pursuit (1952). They’re both solid, offbeat little Westerns — and it’s real treat to have them available in such stellar condition.

9. Yellow Sky (1948, Kino Lorber, Blu-Ray)
Thanks to William Wellman, we didn’t have to wait till the 50s for Hollywood to start making 50s Westerns. The town of Yellow Sky is populated by only an old prospector and his daughter — until some slimy outlaws come riding up.

8. Western Union (1941, Kino Lorber, Blu-Ray)
Randolph Scott in Fritz Lang’s second Technicolor movie. There’s so much cool stuff in this movie, and it looks wonderful.

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7. Black Horse Canyon (1954, Universal Vault, DVD)
For years, Joel McCrea’s Universal Westerns were missing on DVD. It’s great to have them so easy to track down. This is a good one.

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6. Comanche Station (1960, Explosive Media, Blu-Ray)
The last of the Scott-Boetticher Westerns turns out to be the first to make its way to Blu-Ray, and as I see it, the others can’t get here soon enough. This thing’s incredible.

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5. She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1948, Warner Archive, Blu-Ray)
John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1948, above) is one of the most beautiful color movies ever shot. The proof is pressed oh-so-magnificently into this Blu-Ray. It also features one of John Wayne’s finest performances.

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4. Roughshod (1949, Warner Archive, DVD)
This gets my vote as the best of the “noir Westerns.” I was real happy to see the response this picture got. It’s a shame it’s not better known.

3. Cariboo Trail (1950, Kino Lorber, DVD/Blu-Ray)
The transfer here is a minor miracle, demonstrating how good CineColor can look. They wisely didn’t go overboard with the cleanup, so it still retains its true film look. And, of course, this is a solid picture from Edwin Marin and Randolph Scott.

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2. Johnny Guitar (1954, Olive Films Signature Edition, DVD/Blu-Ray)
Olive’s new Signature edition is a marked improvement over their old release, which was terrific. The restored 1.66 framing makes a big difference, and the supplemental stuff is excellent.

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1. One-Eyed Jacks (1961, Criterion Collection, DVD/Blu-Ray)
Opinions of Marlon Brando’s Western are all over the place, so I was really surprised to see it land in the top spot. However, judging it simply in terms of its superb presentation, I don’t see how anything could beat it. It’s stunning, a big fat reward to all of us who’ve suffered through those awful tapes and discs over the years. I’m proud and honored to have been involved with Criterion’s work here. (Note: Having worked on the One-Eyed Jacks extras, I did not feel comfortable taking part in the vote this time around.)

In closing, the discs on this list highlight the impact the video presentation can have on our appreciation of these old movies. Many of these have been available, in some form, for years. One more thing: your reasons for not buying a Blu-Ray player are rapidly running out.

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Directed by William Witney
Starring Roy Rogers, Eselita Rodriguez, Penny Edwards, Gordon Jones, Will Wright

I have the extreme honor of preparing a commentary for Kino Lorber’s upcoming Sunset In The West (1950). The work copy they sent was so gorgeous, I had to share it (and they were kind enough to say OK).

They also say there’s a little work left to do on it. Judging from this, it’s gonna be quite a thing.

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