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Archive for the ‘Pre-1950’ Category

Kino Lorber has announced their first volume of Western Classics for June — When The Daltons Rode (1940), The Virginian (1946) and Whispering Smith (1948).

When The Daltons Rode offers up about 30 minutes of constant riding, shooting and just general mayhem in its last reels, all courtesy of the great Yakima Canutt. Amazing stuff. Whispering Smith was tailor-made for Alan Ladd — his first Western and his first color film. The Virginian puts a couple of my favorites in the same movie — Joel McCrea and William Frawley.

Working on the commentary notes for When The Daltons Rode has been a lot of fun, especially watching all the stunts again and again.

I love the first volume of sets like this, since it comes with the promise of more!

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Directed by George Marshall
Starring Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart, Brian Donlevy, Una Merkel

Criterion has announced they they’re bringing George Marshall’s Destry Rides Again (1939) to DVD and Blu-Ray in April. (We’ve sure seen a lot of James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich making its way to Blu-Ray lately.)

It comes with a slew of terrific extras, of course, but the draw for me is a new 4K restoration done with the Film Foundation. Can’t wait to see how this thing will shine! Absolutely essential.

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Kino Lorber is serving up four terrific Universal Westerns in March, an announcement that gets. 2020 off to a great start.

Canyon Passage (1946)
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Starring Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward, Patricia Roc, Ward Bond, Hoagy Carmichael, Andy Devine, Lloyd Bridges

Canyon Passage was Jacques Tourneur’s first Western and first film in color. It’s got a great cast (Ward Bond is terrific — and very scary) and incredible Technicolor photography from Edward Cronjager, who also shot Lang’s Western Union (1941). This is a very overlooked, underrated film.

Night Passage (1957)
Directed by James Neilson
Starring James Stewart, Audie Murphy, Dan Duryea, Dianne Foster, Elaine Stewart, Brandon de Wilde, Jay C. Flippen, Robert J. Wilke, Hugh Beaumont

Shot in Technirama, a high-fidelity combination of VistaVision and anamorphic widescreen, Night Passage is as sharp as movies could get in the late 50s. And with loads of incredible location work in Durango, Colorado, it’s stunning — and a perfect candidate for Blu-Ray. The movie itself, while it’s no masterpiece, has been unjustly maligned. You’ll find the story behind all that in an old post.

Man In The Shadow (1957)
Directed by Jack Arnold
Starring Jeff Chandler, Orson Welles, Colleen Miller, Barbara Lawrence, John Larch, Royal Dano, James Gleason

There are a thousand reasons to be excited about this modern-day (well, 1957) Western — Jeff Chandler, Orson Welles, B&W CinemaScope and Jack Arnold, for starters. Welles and producer Albert Zugsmith got to talking here, which led to Touch Of Evil (1958).

The Rare Breed (1966)
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring James Stewart, Maureen O’Hara, Brian Keith, Juliet Mills, Ben Johnson, Jack Elam, Harry Carey, Jr.

The best thing The Rare Breed has going for it is its incredible cast — how could it go wrong? Not to mention the Technicolor/Panavision cinematography of William H. Clothier.

All four films will feature a commentary (I’m doing both Passage films) and an original trailer. It’s no easy to recommend these things!

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Pairing John Wayne and Randolph Scott in the same movie, well, that’s about as good as it gets. Add Marlene Dietrich in there, too, and you can’t miss. It worked well enough with The Spoilers that they did it again less than a year later with Pittsburgh (both 1942). They’re both making their way to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber. Both are highly recommended.

The Spoilers
Directed by Ray Enright
Starring Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott, John Wayne, Margaret Lindsay, Harry Carey

Rex Beach’s story of the Alaska Gold Rush had been filmed a number of times already when it was turned into a vehicle for Marlene Dietrich, who was a big deal thanks to Destry Rides Again (1939). This version not only has the Dietrich/Scott/Wayne star power going for it, but it boasts one of the greatest saloon brawls in Hollywood history. The story goes that some of Wayne and Scott’s punches are real.

The cinematography by Milton Krasner has always knocked me out on this one, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in high definition. I’m doing a commentary for it, which’ll give me a chance to ramble on about my hero, Randolph Scott.

Pittsburgh
Directed by Lewis Seiler
Starring Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott, John Wayne, Shemp Howard, Paul Fix, Nestor Paiva

This time, Wayne’s a coal miner who wants to make something or himself, no matter who he has to use and toss aside along the way. The cast in this one’s a real winner, with a few of my favorite character actors — Shemp, Paul Fix and Nestor Paiva!

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Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Starring Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward, Patricia Roc, Ward Bond, Hoagy Carmichael, Andy Devine, Lloyd Bridges

Canyon Passage (1946) is a large-scale tale of the Oregon Territory. Jacques Tourneur’s first Western and first color film, it was a big hit back in 1946. It’s got a great cast (Ward Bond is terrific — and very scary) and incredible Technicolor photography from Edward Cronjager, who also shot Lang’s Western Union (1941).

It’s coming to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber later this year. You can bet it’ll look great.

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VCI Entertainment has announced the upcoming (May) Blu-Ray release of two terrific 15-chapter Buck Jones serials from Universal — The Red Rider (1934) and The Roaring West (1935).

The Red Rider was directed by the prolific Lew Landers. This was one of his first pictures. Buck’s co-stars in this one are Grant Withers and Marion Shilling. As you might expect, Monte Montague’s around, too.

The Roaring West is from director Ray Taylor, who did a number of serials, including The Green Hornet and Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe (both 1940). Early in his long, prolific career, he was an assistant director for John Ford.

Both are sourced from original 35mm fine grain material — and both will feature first-chapter commentaries from yours truly. And if all that’s not enough, they’re bringing out The Vanishing Shadow (1934), too. Boy, am I excited about these.

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Republic Trucolor logo

Martin Scorsese has curated a retrospective of Republic movies, for February and August at the Museum Of Modern Art, from the restored material at Paramount.

There’s some great stuff in February’s lineup, including Trigger, Jr. (1950), Stranger At My Door (1956) and one of my all-time favorite films, Hellfire (1949). Three of my favorite directors are represented: William Witney, George Sherman and Allan Dwan.

Working with the fine folks at Kino Lorber on commentaries for some of their Republic releases, the quality of the material coming out of Paramount is incredible. (I’m in the middle of Singing Guns right now.) So glad to see these films are being treated with the respect they deserve.

Thanks to Laura for the news!

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