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Archive for the ‘Lucien Ballard’ Category

Written & Directed by Tom Gries
Starring Charlton Heston, Joan Hackett, Donald Pleasence, Lee Majors, Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens, William Schallert, Matt Clark, Luke Askew

This is going to make a lot of people happy — it’s a constant on many Western fans’ Blu-Ray Want List. Kino Lorber has announced an upcoming Blu-Ray release of Will Penny (1968), one of the finest post-50s Westerns of them all.

Writer-director Tom Gries based his screenplay on an episode of The Westerner, which he also wrote and directed. (Sam Peckinpah created the series.) Charlton Heston often said this was his best performance and named this his favorite of his own films. Lucien Ballard’s cinematography is incredible, and will be beautiful on Blu-Ray — and the entire cast is near perfect.

This is one even real cowboys have a hard time finding fault with. Highly, highly recommended.

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Directed by Henry Hathaway
Starring Steve McQueen, Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Arthur Kennedy, Suzanne Pleshette, Martin Landau, Pat Hingle, Paul Fix, Gene Evans, John Doucette, Lyle Bettger, Ted de Corsia

It’s about time on this one! Kino Lorber is bringing Henry Hathaway’s Nevada Smith (1966) to Blu-Ray from the camera negative.

It’s a prequel to The Carpetbaggers (1964) with Steve McQueen playing a younger version of Alan Ladd’s character. It was beautifully shot by Lucien Ballard in a number of incredible locations. For 50s Western fans, its biggest appeal might be its supporting cast of great Western character actors. Highly recommended.

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Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Richard Lapp, Anne Randall, Robert Random, Beatrice Kay, Victor Jory, Audie Murphy

Both Audie Murphy and Budd Boetticher’s last film, A Time For Dying (1969) had a hard time — the sets were destroyed twice, and it never really got any distribution in the United States.

Murphy is Jesse James. Victor Jory is Judge Roy Bean. Boetticher wrote and directed. And Lucien Ballard shot it. Aren’t you glad our friends at Indicator/Powerhouse are bringing it to Blu-Ray?

This one’s a must, folks.

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Directed by Henry Hathaway
Starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Martha Hyer, Michael Anderson Jr., Earl Holliman, George Kennedy, Paul Fix, James Gregory, Dennis Hopper, John Doucette, Strother Martin, Percy Helton

Paramount has announced a September Blu-Ray release of The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965). It’s a terrific movie, with an incredible cast and gorgeous cinematography from the great Lucien Ballard. Paramount’s Blu-Rays of pictures like this can be stunning, if they’re not overly processed like El Dorado (1966) was. Still, it comes highly recommended. 

With this announcement this week, and last week’s news of The Gunfighter (1950) from Criterion, things are looking pretty good.

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Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Starring Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner, Strother Martin, Slim Pickens, L. Q. Jones, R. G. Armstrong

Another great Sam Peckinpah movie about the dying West, and another must-have Blu-Ray from Warner Archive.

The Ballad Of Cable Hogue (1970) gives Peckinpah another group of outsiders to study — and another outstanding cast to play them. As good as everyone is in this, it’s Stella Stevens that really knocks me out. (She was really good in The Silencers, too.)

This, The Wild Bunch (1969) and Ride The High Country (1962) all cover the same basic theme — the Old West giving way to civilization, with some people not able, or willing, to adapt. But Sam comes at it from a different angle each time, always striking gold. I’m in absolute awe of Peckinpah when it comes to these movies.

Lucien Ballard shot this one, which is reason enough to spring for the Blu-Ray. It will be out in June, with a number of great supplements that appeared on the DVD release. Highly highly recommended.

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Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Produced by Richard E. Lyons
Screenplay by N.B. Stone, Jr.
Director Of Photography: Lucien Ballard
Film Editor: Frank Santillo
Music by George Bassman

Cast: Joel McCrea (Steve Judd), Randolph Scott (Gil Westrum), Mariette Hartley (Elsa Knudsen), Ron Starr (Heck Longtree), James Drury (Billy Hammond), Edgar Buchanan (Judge Tolliver), R.G. Armstrong (Joshua Knudsen), Jenie Jackson (Kate), John Anderson (Elder Hammond), L.Q. Jones (Sylvus Hammond), Warren Oates (Henry Hammond)

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Around this blog, it’s pretty much a given that Ride The High Country (1962) is one of the finest Westerns ever made. There are regulars here who say this is their all-time favorite movie — and it’s easy to see why.

There are so many reasons why this thing’s essential. First and foremost, it’s Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea on their way out and Sam Peckinpah on his way in — and all of them turning in some of their best work. Like John Wayne’s The Shootist (1976), this is a perfect Last Movie for Scott and McCrea (and for Scott it was indeed Last). With Peckinpah, one of the things that make his work so endlessly fascinating is that his major themes and stylistic stuff are evident from Day One. Watching that new set of his The Westerner TV series really drove that home.

High Country and The Wild Bunch go so well together, coming at the same themes (outliving your time, sticking to a personal code, etc.) from different angles, but with the same love of the outmoded and the outsider. If you don’t get a little choked up at the end of Ride The High Country, there must be something wrong with you. This one gets me every time.

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I’m not here to convince you this is a great movie. You probably figured that out a long time ago — without any help from me. But I do think you need the Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. From every wrinkle in our heroes’ faces to Ron Starr’s red shirt to the gorgeous locations (Horseshoe Lake, etc.), high-definition does Lucien Ballard’s CinemaScope photography proud. It looks like film, which is exactly what it should look like. The increased clarity gives the whole thing a real sense of depth — which has become something I look for in HD transfers these days.

Lucky for us all, the extras from the old DVD release have been retained. They’re terrific and well worth your time. And this disc is well worth your investment (or re-investment, in many of our cases). As I said earlier, this one’s essential.

Always wanted to watch this and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) together. It’d be fun to contrast Ford and Peckinpah’s takes on the end of the West.

The images up top are the cover and spread from a handbill or something from Spain. Pretty cool, huh?

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Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Starring Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Mariette Hartley, Ron Starr, James Drury, Edgar Buchanan, R.G. Armstrong

Here’s one so many of us have been waiting for. Warner Archive has announced an upcoming Blu-Ray release for Sam Peckinpah’s Ride The High Country (1962).

Surely one of the finest Westerns ever made. Absolutely essential.

Thanks to Dick Vincent for the great news.

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The Westerner — the short-lived 1960 Western series created by Sam Peckinpah and starring Brian Keith — is a really amazing thing. First, it’s just a good show, period. Next, for a Peckinpah fan, it’s a chance to see the whole Peckinpah Thing take shape before our eyes. From the dialogue that rings so true to his unique blend of the hard-ass and the sentimental to particular scenes or dialogue that’d crop up in his later work, The Westerner feels like a prototype for Sam’s career (or at least the early part of it). His visual style still had a way to go.

independent_press_telegram_sun__sep_25__1960_I’ve been dragging around bootleg copies of The Westerner for years. I’d never seen the pilot from Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre — but Shout Factory has taken care of that with their marvelous new two-DVD set. You get the 13 regular episodes and the pilot (featuring Neville Brand at his despicable best), along with commentaries from Peckinpah scholars like Paul Seydor, who’s written some excellent books on Sam and his work. His The Authentic Death And Contentious Afterlife Of Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid: The Untold Story Of Peckinpah’s Last Western Film has become one of my favorite movie books.

Haven’t made it through both discs yet, but all the shows I’ve seen look great. This is one a lot of folks have been waiting for, and this is certainly worth the wait. Right now, it’s a Walmart exclusive — at just $14.96 — and I encourage you to put aside whatever hangups you might have about the megastore and go get one of these. It’s a must.

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Fans have been hollering for this one for quite a while. Right now, it’s a Walmart exclusive: The Westerner, the 1960 series created by Sam Peckinpah and starring Brian Keith, is out on DVD from Shout Factory. Only 13 episodes were produced (it was up against The Flintstones) — they’re all terrific, and they’re all here. Also included is the Zane Grey Theatre episode that served as the show’s pilot.

Episodes were directed by the likes of Peckinpah, Andre de Toth and Ted Post. Appearing in those 13 episodes were folks like Warren Oates, Katy Jurado, John Dehner, Slim Pickens, Robert Culp, Frank Ferguson, Virginia Gregg, R.G. Armstrong and Dub Taylor — many of them people Peckinpah would turn to time and time again. Lucien Ballard shot three of them. And Brian Keith’s dog, Brown, is played by Spike, who was also Old Yeller. Highly, highly recommended.

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Directed by Raoul Walsh
Starring Clark Gable, Eleanor Parker, Jean Willes, Barbara Nichols, Sara Shane, Roy Roberts, Arthur Shields, Jay C. Flippen, Jo Van Fleet

The King And Four Queens (1956) is a movie I want to like more than I do. But when you’ve got Raoul Walsh directing Clark Gable (above) — and Lucien Ballard capturing it all in CinemaScope, there are plenty of reasons to watch. And plenty of reasons to snatch it up on DVD or Blu-ray when Olive Films puts it out in May.

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