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Archive for the ‘Randolph Scott’ Category

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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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George Randolph Scott
(January 23, 1898 – March 2, 1987)

The great Randolph Scott was born 119 years ago today. Here he is in Tall Man Riding (1955), which I realize I haven’t seen in a while. Another thing — why don’t I have this lobby card in my collection?

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Directed by Ray Enright
Starring Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith, S.Z. ‘Cuddles’ Sakall

Warner Archive is re-issuing some of the Errol Flynn Westerns that once made up a really terrific DVD set. Virginia City (1940), San Antonio (1945), Montana (1950) and Rocky Mountain (1950) will be available, singly, in January.

Montana co-stars Alexis Smith, was directed by Ray Enright and shot by Karl Freund — they’d recently completed the Joel McCrea picture South Of Saint Louis (1949).

Flynn, Smith and the great S.Z. ‘Cuddles’ Sakall had also appeared together in San Antonio (1945), which takes Flynn to The Alamo.

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Rocky Mountain (1950), Flynn’s last Western, gets my vote for his best cowboy picture. It’s really something else.

Virginia City (1940) has a stellar cast that includes Randolph Scott and Humphrey Bogart (as a Mexican bandit).

It’s good to know these are readily available again for folks who missed them the first time around. I’d love to see some of these crop up on Blu-Ray, too!

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50 Westerns From The 50s is going on a bit of a sabbatical. While we’re away, here’s the intermission card from a rare 3-D print of The Bounty Hunter (1954).

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The character Joel McCrea played in so many of his Westerns was a confident, moral man — absolutely true to his word (even when he was an outlaw). Many say that character is a perfect match for McCrea himself. Here in the States, with our contentious, divisive 2016 election coming to an end just a few days after McCrea’s birthday, there’s an irony there that’s hard to miss. There’s also a realization that we could sure use someone like McCrea today.

I could go on and on about Joel McCrea’s incredible career, working with some of Hollywood’s greatest directors on some of their finest films (many of which will be covered over the course of this blogathon), but there’s a quote from a 1978 interview that pretty much says it all —

“I liked doing comedies, but as I got older, I was better suited to do Westerns. Because I think it becomes unattractive for an older fellow trying to look young, falling in love with attractive girls in those kinds of situations… Anyway, I always felt so much more comfortable in the Western. The minute I got a horse and a hat and a pair of boots on, I felt easier. I didn’t feel like I was an actor anymore. I felt like I was the guy out there doing it.”

Below you’ll find links for a series of posts from a very fine roster of bloggers, writers, fans, etc. Keep checking back.

Day 3

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South Of St. Louis (1949)
50 Westerns Of The 50s

Day 2

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These Three (1936)
The Jade Sphinx

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The Outriders (1950)
50 Westerns From The 50s, by Blake Lucas

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Gunsight Ridge (1957)
Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings

Day 1

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Ride The High Country (1962, by Jerry Entract)
50 Westerns From The 50s

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The Virginian (1946)
Caftan Woman

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Wichita (1955)
The Round Place In The Middle

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Four Faces West (1948)
Speakeasy

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The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
The Hannibal 8 (by Jerry Entract)

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Stranger On Horseback (1955)
50 Westerns From The 50s by Allen Smithee

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Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Produced by Richard E. Lyons
Screenplay by N.B. Stone, Jr.
Cinematography: 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)

joel-mccrea-blogathon-badgeI am delighted to be able to take part in the Joel McCrea Blogathon and would like to thank our host, Toby, for making it possible.

Due to a combination of factors in my early childhood movie-watching, Joel McCrea was probably my earliest Western favorite (among the bigger fish, anyway), even before the Duke perhaps. Firstly, an early favorite showing on UK TV at the time was Four Faces West (19XX) which I loved straight off. Plus, one of the earlier films I was taken to see at the cinema was The Tall Stranger (19XX) possibly the first film I saw in that great big CinemaScope!

I’ve gone on record on this blog as stating that my all-time favorite movie is Ride The High Country (1962), a fact I was reminded of by my friend Blake Lucas, who suggested this should be my contribution. I’ll try to get across just why it is my favorite.

I’ll be brief on the story as probably everybody reading this already knows it well. The screenplay was written by N.B. Stone jr. though I believe it was extensively re-written by Peckinpah. Also, screenwriter Burt Kennedy had an involvement in that he brought the script to the attention of Randolph Scott.

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Two aging former lawmen, down on their luck, are given a routine job to collect gold from a remote mining community in the ‘high country’ and transport it back through difficult territory. Times in the West are a-changin’ and the two old guys see the opportunity in different ways. Steve Judd sees an opportunity for a final task that he can bring off with integrity and dignity. His old friend Gil Westrum is bitter and sees the gold as his payoff for a career that didn’t! This brings about a clash between the two until they have to face a bunch of low-lifes from the mines who want to kill them for the gold.

I was so taken with this film on first view in 1962 that I went to see it again three days later. I was only 14 but found the film and the two central performances utterly moving. We all know, of course, that originally McCrea was offered the part of Westrum but felt it wrong for his personal image. And so… a brilliant switch was made. Scott was more than happy to play the more shaded personality for once. The result was perfection. Both men had pretty well already retired by 1962 and this was the final film for Scott and, effectively, for McCrea also. What a film with which to go out on!!

There are many wonderful subtle moments throughout the film. Right near the start we see Steve Judd going to sign up for the job – he is embarrassed by his frayed shirt cuffs and by his need for eye-glasses. A proud man then and like Westrum men past their best and out of their time.

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Many will no doubt disagree with me, but for me this was Sam Peckinpah’s true masterpiece. I was never so happy with his subsequent movies.

In 1962, Joel McCrea was a bigger favorite of mine than Randolph Scott, but time and many subsequent viewings of both their films put them almost side-by-side for me today, but with Scott ahead and at the very top because of his large and fairly consistent body of work in the Western genre.

Beautifully shot by the great Lucien Ballard in some terrific California Sierras locations – Mammoth Lakes, Inyo National Forest and that familiar landmark to all Western fans, Bronson Canyon.

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Ride The High Country was a watershed Western – in style it was of the newer, coming Western but its heart , accentuated by the pairing of McCrea and Scott, was traditional.

I believe it would have been a fine Western with other stars taking the two leads. With McCrea and Scott, it was simply splendid!

No trouble of course getting this one on DVD. My own copy was put out by Warner Video in 2006, the year I picked it up on a trip to New York. It is still awaiting a Blu-Ray release.

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Jerry Entract does not run his own blog or have any involvement in the film industry but is an English lifelong movie fan and amateur student of classic cinema (American and British). Main passions are the Western and detective/mystery/film noir. Enjoys seeking out lesser-known (even downright obscure) old movies.

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Hell Canyon Outlaws HS

Directed by Paul Landres
Produced by Jerald Zukor
Written by Allan Kaufman and Max Glandbard
Director Of Photography: Floyd Crosby, ASC
Film Editor: Elmo Williams, ACE
Music Composed and Conducted by Irving Gertz

Cast: Dale Robertson (Sheriff Caleb Wells), Brian Keith (Happy Waters), Rosanna Rory (Maria), Dick Kallman (Smiley Andrews), Don Megowan (Walt), Mike Lane (Nels), Buddy Baer (Stan), Charles Fredericks (Deputy Bear), Alexander Lockwood (Bert, the new sheriff)

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Paul Landres was one of those journeyman directors who could take practically nothing — an OK script, less than a week and a paltry budget — and put together a solid little movie. He worked mainly in TV, with a feature from time to time. Inspired by the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of The Return Of Dracula (1958) from Olive Films, I’ve been revisiting some of Landres’ features from the late 1950s.

Hell Canyon Outlaws (1957), known in the UK as The Tall Trouble, was an independent picture from Jerold Zukor Productions, filmed at the Corriganville Ranch. Republic released it. I think it’s one of Landres’ best.

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Four outlaws head to a small town of Goldridge to raise hell and eventually rob the bank. They take over the saloon and hotel, steal a horse, size up the bank and rough up the guy at the livery stable — just for starters. If all this isn’t bad enough, the town council has just fired the sheriff, Caleb Wells (Dale Robertson), and his deputy, Bear (Charles Fredericks). The new sheriff, well, he’s outta town. Goldridge is in a tight spot.

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Dale Robertson is terrific in this. You just know he’s going to be pushed to his breaking point, it’s just a matter of when. That tension, as the town is trashed and Robertson does the slow burn, is what drives Hell Canyon Outlaws. Landres builds the suspense perfectly — with the help of Elmo Williams, who edited High Noon (1952) — to a very satisfying last reel. This and Fred F. Sears’ Fury At Gunsight Pass (1956) would make a great double bill.

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Brian Keith is great in one of those somewhat-likable dirtbag roles he excelled at (remember Fort Dobbs?). Keith would’ve made an ideal foil to Randolph Scott in one of the Boetticher pictures.

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Rossana Rory doesn’t have much to do but look pretty as Robertson’s girlfriend, but she’s fine. The rest of the cast — especially the rest of Keith’s gang: Don Megowan, Mike Lane and Buddy Baer — are effective. Dick Kallman is suitably obnoxious as the punk kid with a gun (I really wanted to see him gunned down).

The great Floyd Crosby, another High Noon veteran, gives the picture the feel of something a lot bigger than it is — a trick he’d perform often for Roger Corman in the early 60s.

Hell Canyon Outlaws isn’t available on DVD or Blu-ray anywhere. Given the top-notch cast and crew working at the top of their game, this would be a great one to see in a nice anamorphic transfer (it was shot for 1.85). It’s currently available from Sinister Cinema, but I haven’t seen what it looks like. If I had my own video company, this is one I’d try to track down in a hurry.

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