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Archive for the ‘Lesley Selander’ Category

Directed by Lesley Selander
Produced by Sherman Harris
Written by Robert Schaeffer and Eric Freiwald
Based on the Lone Ranger legend
Cinematography: Kenneth Peach
Film Editor: Robert S. Golden
Music by Les Baxter

CAST: Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger), Jay Silverheels (Tonto), Douglas Kennedy ​(​Ross Brady​)​, Charles Watts ​(​Sheriff Oscar​), ​Noreen Nash ​(​Mrs. Frances Henderson​), ​Ralph Moody ​(​Padre Esteban​), ​Lisa Montell ​(​Paviva​), ​John Miljan ​(​Chief Tomache​), ​Norman Fredric ​(​Dr. James Rolfe​), ​Maurice Jara ​(​Redbird​), ​Bill Henry ​(​Travers​), Lane Bradford ​(Henchman​)​

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I watched the Moore-Silverheels Lone Ranger features countless times as a kid (you could get complete Super 8mm prints of them) and always preferred the second one, The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold (1958). Seeing them again recently, and placing them within the context of the 50s Western as a whole, I still love them. And I’m still convinced the second one’s the best.

The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold would be the last time Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels played The Lone Ranger and Tonto. The TV series wrapped up in June of ’57, a year before this picture would open. Luckily, they were able to go out on a high note.

“Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas…”

It begins with a brief recap of The Lone Ranger origin, set to a cool song from Les Baxter (see the record above). This gives way to the prerequisite “William Tell Overture.” It’s a shame they didn’t head to the Iverson Ranch for a big-screen shot of Moore and Silver next to Lone Ranger Rock.

The plot’s a variation on a fairly common one — a group of Masked Raiders are searching for a series of medallions that reveal the location of a vast cave filled with Indian gold. The Lone Ranger and Tonto must prevent the Raiders from getting the last of the medallions and taking the treasure that belongs to the Indians.

Of course, one of the Raiders is Douglas Kennedy. It’s always a treat when he turns up in something. Ralph Moody is great as a padre. Noreen Nash is a woman in cahoots with the Raiders. Nash didn’t have a real stellar career, though she’s in an episode of The Lone Ranger, a Dragnet and the Tim Holt picture Road Agent (1952) — so who’s complaining? Lisa Montell ​plays ​Paviva​, a lovely Indian maiden. She’s a favorite of mine thanks to World Without End (1956). Then there’s a baby boy that seems to be played by a girl — given away by tiny little earrings.

Lesley Selander cranks up the action and violence a notch for The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold. As a kid, it drove me nuts that, on TV, Clayton Moore just shot the guns out of the bad guys’ hands. Here, he actually drills somebody. So does Tonto. There’s also a terrific fistfight towards the end.

Much of this was shot at Old Tucson, and it gives you a great view of the place. The climax has Moore, Silverheels, Kennedy and others sneaking around the small houses you’ve seen in all kinds of stuff. The beautiful San Xavier del Bac Mission is also featured. And while all the location work’s gorgeous and adds plenty of production value, the absence of the familiar Iverson rocks from the TV show is a bit jarring.

the_pittsburgh_press_tue__jun_17__1958_This picture was clearly meant for kids. But there’s something about The Lone Ranger and Tonto I find more appealing the older I get. Their friendship, their fairness and their ongoing fight for justice are things we all could use some extra exposure to. I love this movie.

The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold is pretty easy to find on DVD. The VCI release from years ago presents it in its original aspect ratio, though a non-anamorphic letterboxed version. It’s the best one around. I’d love to see both of these Moore-Silverheels features make their way to Blu-Ray.

Just realized, thanks to Bob Madison, that today is the anniversary of the first Lone Ranger radio broadcast (1933).

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Newark, Ohio, was the place to be on June 8, 1952.

By this time, Desert Passage (1952) — the last of the Tim Holt/Richard Martin RKO pictures, had been in release for about a week.

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Directed by Lesley Selander
Screenplay by Arthur E. Orloff
From a story by William Lively
Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca
Music by Paul Sawtell
Film Editor: Samuel E. Beetley

Cast: Tim Holt (Tim Holt), Richard Martin (Chito Rafferty), Linda Douglas (Peg Masters), Frank Wilcox (Regan), Robert Sherwood (Kenny Masters), John Pickard (Dawson), Kenneth MacDonald (Wheeler), Wendy Waldron (Maria), Patricia Wright (Saloon Girl), Tom London (Old Timer), John Merton (Dale)

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I’m way overdue for a Tim Holt Tuesday. Sorry, Mr. Holt.

By 1952, series Westerns were winding down, and Trail Guide (1952) would be one of the last of Tim Holt’s pictures for RKO. As the series began its ride into the sunset, the budgets got smaller — leaving Holt and Richard Martin, along with director Lesley Selander, to keep things going by simply being so damn good at what they do. And that’s what you have here, some real pros bringing effortless skill and charm to each and every one of the picture’s 60 minutes.

Tim and Chito lead a wagon train to Silver Springs (thanks to stock footage from Wagonmaster), a town where ranchers detest homesteaders. Tim encounters brother-and-sister ranchers (Linda Douglas and Robert Sherwood) and a crooked saloon owner (Frank Wilcox) as he tries to help the settlers stake their claims.

There’s a great fistfight, plenty of riding and the usual back-and-forth with Tim and Chito. It looks like they stayed closer to LA, probably for budget reasons, so we don’t have those stunning Lone Pine vistas. But DP Nicholas Musuraca makes the most of any location. His work is stunning in some of these things. When God’s your set decorator, budget doesn’t matter.

Linda Douglas consults the script.

Linda Douglas had a very short film career. She’d later marry Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers. (There’s a great documentary on him, 1998’s The Life And Times Of Hank Greenberg. Look for it.) She’s fine here, and very pretty.

Frank Wilcox makes a great bad guy. (Why are saloon owners always crooks?) It was funny to have Wilcox talking about the oil found on the range, when a decade later, he’d play Mr. Brewster, the oil company executive who makes Jed Clampett a millionaire on The Beverly Hillbillies. Lighting isn’t around this time. Tom London is funny as an old codger with a supposedly trained dog.

It’s a shame that the series Western left us as things were getting so good — look at these Holts, the Monogram Wild Bill Elliott pictures or the Witney-directed Roy Rogers movies. Luckily, they made a lot of ’em, and they’re turning up on DVD and sometimes Blu-Ray looking terrific. Trail Guide can be found on Tim Holt Western Classics Collection, Volume 4 from Warner Archive. While there’s a fleck of dust or damaged frame here and there, it’s served up well. The four volumes leave a few pictures orphaned, probably due to problems with the available material. Hopefully they’ll turn up someday, and a fifth set will wrap ’em up. These sets are essential.

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Directed by Budd Boetticher
Written by Burt Kennedy
Starring Randolph Scott, Gail Russell, Lee Marvin, Walter Reed, John Larch

Here in Raleigh, NC, we have something called The Western Film Preservation Society. They get together once a month for a couple of Western films and a chapter of a serial. Tomorrow (Thursday), it’s Budd Boetticher’s Seven Men From Now (1956). I don’t need to tell you what a cool thing that is.

Thursday, May 17, 6:45 PM
The McKimmon Center, NCSU Campus

The second feature is Phantom Of The Plains (1945) Starring Bill Elliott, Bobby Blake, Alice Fleming and Ian Keith. It was directed by the great Lesley Selander.

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Harry Dean Stanton
(July 14, 1926 – September 15, 2017)

I’ve been dreading this day. The great character actor Harry Dean Stanton has passed away at 91.

He brought something to every movie he appeared in, and if you gave him enough screen time, he made the movie better. He’s second from the left in the photo above from Lesley Selander’s Tomahawk Trail (1957), one of his first films. He’s in so much good stuff: Pork Chop Hill (1959), Ride In The Whirlwind (1966), In The Heat Of The Night (1967), Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (1973), Dillinger (1973), The Missouri Breaks (1976), Alien (1979), Escape From New York (1981), Repo Man (1984, below), Paris, Texas (1984), The Straight Story (1999) and so many more. There’s plenty of great TV stuff, too.

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Stanton could sing, play harmonica, play guitar, write and talk all night when Marlon Brando would call. He served in the Navy in World War II.

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Warner Archive has a couple early 50s pictures on the way, both of them worth your time and hard-earned dough. Look at the casts on these things!

The Lion And The Horse (1952)
Directed by Louis King
Starrting Steve Cochran, Wildfire, Ray Teal, Bob Steele, Harry Antrim, George O’Hanlon

The Lion And The Horse was an early exercise in Warnercolor, but don’t hold that against it. I’ve never seen this one, but with Ray Teal and Bob Steele that far up on the cast list, I’m dying to. Steve Cochran played a bad guy more often that not, and this gives him a chance to be likable. Shot in Utah’s Mount Zion National Park, the animals had trouble with the high altitudes and were placed in an oxygen tent from time to time. Director Louis King’s previous picture was Frenchie (1950) with Joel McCrea, and he’d follow it with Powder River (1953).

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Cow Country (1953)
Directed by Lesley Selander
Starring Edmond O’Brien, Helen Wescott, Bob Lowery, Barton MacLane, Peggie Castle, James Millican, Robert Wilke, Raymond Hatton, Tom Tyler, Jack Ingram

Cow Country plays like a series Western on a larger scale — and that’s a good thing. Of course, what would you expect from Lesley Selander? James Millican has a great part here, and Robert Wilke is badder than usual. And Peggie Castle alone is worth the price of admission. Recommended.

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Warner Archive has kicked of their Christmas In July Sale — which lets you get four titles for just $44 with free shipping. This is a great, great thing — and it includes Blu-Rays!

Lesley Selander’s Short Grass (1950) with Rod Cameron and Johnny Mack Brown is one to consider. Click the banner to start shopping.

 

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