Archive for the ‘Nick Adams’ Category


Over the years, a great many movies have suffered from how they’re seen on TV — incomplete, beat-up, pan-and-scan prints (sometimes not even in color as they once were). That mistreatment eventually impacts the film’s overall reputation, as TV became how entire generations experienced older movies. (Right now, I’m thinking of how awful the Regalscope pictures have looked since they left theaters. Thank goodness for DVD and Blu-ray.)

I think TV shows have suffered a similar fate over the years, with faded prints hacked to bits to make room for more commercials. The Rebel (1959-61), now that we have the new set from Timeless Media Group, illustrates my point.

13_1959 Rebel, The TV Series (Nick Adams)

The Rebel follows Johnny Yuma (Nick Adams), a restless young Confederate veteran after the Civil War. With nothing to return to (we learn in the first episode that his lawman father’s dead), he “wanders the West” for 76 episodes — getting pulled into various situations as he rides from town to town in search of peace.

0e9f250b7cbb6dac92241b95bebf97beNick Adams is very good as Yuma, bringing the right mix of intensity and sensitivity to the part. He’s believable as a young man who’d beat the crap out of a guy, then write about it in his journal. It could’ve come off terribly. Like so many of these 5os Western TV shows, the supporting cast each week is incredible. The first episode alone features Strother Martin, Dan Blocker and John Carradine. And over the run of the show, you’ll also find Claude Akins, Robert Blake, Elisha Cook, Jr., Royal Dano, John Dehner, Jack Elam, Virginia Gregg, L.Q. Jones, George Macready, Patricia Medina, Agnes Moorehead, Leonard Nimoy, Warren Oates, Paul Picerni, Tex Ritter, Soupy Sales, Bob Steele, Peggy Stewart, Robert Vaughn, Yvette Vickers and Marie Windsor. Adams’ wife Carole Nugent is terrific in an early episode. Johnny Cash is in one, too.

Producer Andrew J. Fenady (from a good interview here): “We would shoot one day on location. Vasquez Rocks, and a lot in Thousand Oaks. And the second day we would shoot on the lot — the (western) street at Paramount. The third day we would do the interiors, whether it was someone’s house, or a shack, or a hotel or a jail. A sheriff’s office. So that was really the formula: first day out, second day on the street, and the third day interiors.”


About half the episodes were directed by Irvin Kirshner. He does a good job, to be sure, but there’s nothing in this to indicate that this is the guy who’d eventually direct The Empire Strikes Back (1980), maybe the last truly epic film I can remember. The size of the screen was obviously not an issue for him. Bernard L. Kowalski, Bernard McEveety, Robbert Ellis Miller and Frank Baur handled the rest.

Some episodes were transferred from slightly worn 16mm prints with changeover cues punched in them here and there; others look like a million bucks. What’s important is that The Rebel, The Complete Series gives us all 76 episodes, complete. Johnny Cash’s vocals have been restored to the titles (the theme was replaced for syndication, which is how we’ve been seeing and hearing it for years). While the quality varies from episode to episode, and 16mm can be a little soft, to have them all looking this good is a revelation. There are plenty of extras, from interviews to stills to commercials — even the pilot for the proposed companion series The Yank. This is a good set, and a good show, ready to be rediscovered. Highly recommended.


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Timeless Media Group has announced The Rebel: The Complete Series for release this August. You get all 76 episodes and plenty of bonus stuff: interviews, stills, commercials and a featurette.

Nick Adams plays Johnny Yuma, a young Confederate veteran who “roamed through the west” following the Civil War. Each week, he encounters a new batch of characters, played by the typically wonderful character actors of the period, from John Carradine to Marie Windsor — and some folks we’d come to know later like Warren Oates and Strother Martin. Johnny Cash, who released a 45 of  the title tune, even turns up in one.


There’s been a lot of great TV Westerns making their way to DVD lately, and it’s good to see The Rebel joining that group. And while we’re on the subject of Nick Adams, Fury At Showdown (1957) — an excellent little Western with a terrific performance from Nick — is out on DVD. I can’t recommend it enough.

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I’m really intrigued by the new book by Nick Adams and his daughter, Allyson — The Rebel And The King. Turns out Nick Adams had written a manuscript about his time hanging out with Elvis around the time of Love Me Tender (1956).

Allyson discovered it among her dad’s belongings over 40 years later. You can read more about the book’s background here.

Here’s a brief excerpt, concerning Nick, Elvis, Natalie Wood and Delmer Daves’ The Last Wagon (1956) —

“While in Hollywood, Nat, Elvis and I went to see a private showing of my biggest part to date, The Last Wagon, at the Academy Theatre on Melrose Avenue. When my name came on the screen in large letters I started to cry because to me it was something I had worked eight hard years to achieve. For a second, my mind flashed back to all the hard times my family had. I have wanted many things in my life. Probably the main reason is because I have always been a peasant. Perhaps my opinion of my ability is overrated, but I think I can go places with a little push. If I don’t succeed I’ll probably end up behind the eight ball and possibly a bum. Maybe I won’t ever have money, but I don’t know, if I succeed I’ll be on top of the world. And now seeing my name on the screen meant that maybe someday I would be able to give my parents all the things they never had, just the way Elvis helped his parents.

Natalie leaned over and kissed me on the cheek because she knew I felt. Then I felt someone touch me on the shoulder and when I looked over and saw Elvis, he said, ‘I know how you feel, Nick.’ That was one of the greatest nights of my life, to know that I had two such wonderful friends who really understood me.”

Elvis Presley, Natalie Wood and Nick Adams.

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I dread going to Walmart like some people dread going to the dentist. Wound up in one last night — and walked out with a copy of Fury At Showdown (1957).

It’s one of those twin-bill $5 DVDs from TGG Direct, paired with Gary Cooper in Along Came Jones (1945), and dumped in those big bins full of DVDs. TGG has been licensing stuff from Fox/MGM, some of which I’ve mentioned before.

Fury At Showdown is a real gem, one of those neglected little masterpieces that are so fun to discover. It’s got solid performances from John Derek and Nick Adams — and superb direction from Gerd Oswald. And it was shot in a week.

It’s a sharp full-frame transfer, with rich blacks and just enough dirt and dust to remind you you’re watching a movie. Widescreen would’ve been terrific, but to see this thing finally available — and for just $5 — who’s complaining? I’ve recommended this picture many times, and I’ve been researching it for the book and blog recently (with a big thanks to Thomas Chadwick), so you haven’t heard the last of it.

Fury At Showdown will make a nice addition to your Labor Day weekend. It’s even worth a trip to Walmart.

UPDATE (9/6/12): This DVD is now available from Amazon at a higher price.

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Gerd Oswald’s excellent Fury At Showdown (1957), a little masterpiece waiting to be discovered by a larger audience, is scheduled to appear on Encore Westerns on Tuesday, June 19, at 9AM (Eastern/Pacific). Don’t miss it.

It stars John Derek, Nick Adams, Carolyn Craig and John Smith. A key 50s Western and a miracle of low-budget film-making — Oswald somehow pulled this picture off in a week (some of it at Iverson Ranch)!

Gerd Oswald (from a terrific Filmfax interview): “That was one of my six or seven day epics… The line producer, John Brett, said, ‘You are only allowed so much money for this picture and tomorrow we’ve got a big lynch scene. We’re supposed to have 50 extras, and I can only give you 12. That’s all — we just don’t have any more money.’ So by necessity I was forced to do certain set-ups that I normally wouldn’t have done. I filled half the screen with the profile of one man, then filled the background. I created a mob scene with just 12 people. The film got tremendous reviews in New York; they praised the inventiveness of the shots — truth was I was forced into it.”

Why hasn’t MGM made this part of their MOD effort (widescreen, please)? In the meantime, if someone out there captures this on DVD-R, please let me know!

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