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Archive for the ‘Republic Pictures’ Category

This ad for Quaker Puffed Rice ran in April of 1949, with Monte Hale’s Son Of God’s Country new in theaters. Click on it and it gets bigger.

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Directed by R. G. Springsteen
Associate Producer: Melville Tucker
Screen Play by Louise Rousseau
Director Of Photography: Alfred S. Keller
Film Editor: Arthur Roberts
Musical Director: Mort Glickman

Cast: Monte Hale (Monte Hale), Adrian Booth (Julia Collins), Paul Hurst (Lucky John Hawkins), William Haade (Marlowe), John Alvin (Jeff Collins), LeRoy Mason (Faro), Tom London (Sheriff Blanchard), Steve Darrell (Clip), Gene Evans (Red), Ted Adams (Doc Thornhill), Steve Raines (Pony), Hank Patterson (Slim), Foy Willing & The Riders Of The Purple Sage


From 1944 to 1950, Monte Hale made 19 pictures for Republic. Under Colorado Skies is often held up as his best movie, with his next one, California Firebrand (1948), coming in second.

Here, Monte’s a medical student, working part-time as a bank teller and engaged to Adrian Booth. Booth’s brother is part of the notorious Marlowe gang, and when they rob the bank, Monte’s suspected of being in on it (he doesn’t have the heart to tell Booth her brother’s a crook.)

From there, things get complicated. Booth is shot in a stage holdup. Monte infiltrates the gang. And everyone cooks up an elaborate ruse to bring out the truth and clear Monte. There’s plenty of action along the way, as you’d expect from R. G. Springsteen. Monte and Foy Willing & The Riders Of The Purple Sage do a great version of Bob Wills’ “San Antonio Rose.” And there’s some Iverson location work — in Trucolor.

Hale might be better at action than acting, but he’s got a pleasant singing voice and is extremely likable. In everything from Republic serials to William Elliott and Monte Hale pictures to some The Three Stooges shorts to The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) with Boris Karloff, Adrian Booth (also known as Lorna Gray) is one of my favorites. She’s good here and she looks terrific in Trucolor. Hank Patterson, Hank Miller from Gunsmoke and Fred Ziffel on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, plays a grizzled old prospector. And Tom London has a good part as the sheriff.

Monte Hale came along as Republic’s B Westerns were rounding third and beginning to wind down, as television took its toll on movies like Under Colorado Skies. By 1954, Republic was finished with pictures like this. This one’s a prime example of the bigger budgets, longer running times (and color) and focus on action that made these later Bs such a treat (similar to the later Roy Rogers movies directed by William Witney).

It’s a shame these films are so hard to track down these days. (Paramount, please do something with these things!) They’re an absolute joy.

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Robert’s Western World is a honky tonk on Nashville’s Lower Broadway. The building was once home of the Sho-Bud Steel Guitar Company, owned by steel guitar virtuosos Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons. Miss Jennifer and I were there the other night and came across this photo of Monte Hale.

It dawned on me that other than his cameo on Trail Of Robin Hood (1950), there hasn’t been much mention of Mr. Hale over this blog’s 13 long years. That’s an oversight I’ll take care of real soon. Unfortunately, Hale’s Republics, quite a few of ’em in Trucolor, are almost impossible to see nowadays, which is letting him fade out of Western movie history.

Monte’s one of the few Western stars I got to meet. He gave me a “Shoot low, they might be crawlin'” sticker (like that one above) that I sure wish I still had.

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Here’s a lobby card from Republic’s Bells Of Capistrano (1942) to mark the Fourth Of July (1942).

Gene Autry entered the Air Force a few days after principal photography wrapped on this one. It was his last picture till he picked things up after the war with Sioux City Sue (1946). He only made five films for Republic before moving over to Columbia for the rest of his film career.

Here’s wishing you all a fun, safe Independence Day!

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Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Robert Stack, Joy Page, Gilbert Roland, Virginia Grey, John Hubbard, Katy Jurado, Paul Fix

Indicator has announced a special edition of Budd Boetticher’s wonderful Bullfighter And The Lady (1951) for a July Region B release. You get both Boetticher’s complete 124-minute cut and the 87-minute version released by Republic. John Wayne produced the picture, which landed Boetticher (and Ray Navarro) an Oscar nomination for Best Original Story.

You also get a slew of extras:
• Audio commentary with Glenn Kenny & Farran Smith Nehme
My Kingdom For… (1985) Boetticher’s autobiographical documentary about bullfighting
• Interview with Mary Boetticher (2022)
An Evening With Budd Boetticher audio recording
• Limited edition booklet

The Olive Blu-Ray was nice, a bare-bones release of the extended cut. It certainly deserves this deluxe edition. It’s a great, great film. Highly, highly recommended.

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Directed by Paul Landres
Starring Dale Robertson, Brian Keith, Rosanna Rory, Dick Kallman, Don Megowan, Mike Lane, Buddy Baer

Mr. Banker, a DVD/Blu-Ray label out of Germany, has announced their upcoming release of Paul Landres’ excellent Hell Canyon Outlaws (1957).

This nasty, terrific little Western, originally distributed by Republic, has been way too hard to find over the years (though you could get a decent copy from Sinister Cinema). I swore I’d release it on Blu-Ray myself if I ever won the lottery. Now, maybe that’s not necessary.

I don’t buy a lot of import DVDs and Blu-Rays, and I’ve never heard of Mr. Banker, but this is one worth taking a chance on. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Mr. John Knight for the news.

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It was an honor to be the guest on Robert’s podcast yesterday. He turned it around quick, and it’s ready now. Check it out.

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THIS IS AN UPDATE OF A POST FROM JULY OF 2012. It continues to be a really popular post, and it seemed due for a refresh. This will be further updated as time goes on.

Henry Cabot Beck of True West Magazine and I were emailing back and forth about the color Roy Rogers pictures (Trucolor, to be precise), how wonderful they are, and how terribly they’re represented on DVD. It’s a matter that has been beaten to death on a number of newsgroups, which shows just how important this really is. With these pictures in mind, a hastily-constructed post seemed in order.

The official releases worth your time and money are (where appropriate, clicking on the art will take you to a seller):

DVD

Bells Of Coronado (1950) is the only Roy Rogers picture Lions Gate got around to putting out on DVD during their handling of the Republic Pictures catalog. Unfortunately, Olive Films’ time with the Republic titles didn’t result in a single Rogers disc.

Bells Of Coronado is a good one, with Dale Evans, Trigger, Grant Withers and Pat Brady adding their usual support. William Witney lends his masterful direction, the songs are great and the Trucolor looks good. I think this is out of print, but it’s still listed here.

VCI’s Roy Rogers Western Double Feature Volume 1 presents Under California Stars (1948) and The Bells of San Angelo (1947) — both uncut and both looking just fine. California features Jane Frazee and Andy Devine, while San Angelo has Dale Evans, Andy Devine and Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers. Witney directed both. It’s also a deal, available through their website for just four bucks! Trailers are even included. So mosey on over and pick one up.

 

Springtime In The Sierras (1947) came out from Film Chest (in 2016) and The Film Detective, transferred from a complete 16mm print. It might be a bit soft, but it’s a good one and it’s complete.

 

 

 

 

 

BLU-RAY

Kino Lorber took over from Olive Films and released some nice stuff, including a couple of color Rogers films, from restored materials. They’re available on both Blu-Ray and DVD, and both feature commentaries from some Bozo named Toby Roan. They’re absolutely beautiful.

Sunset In The West (1950) looks incredible. It’s got Penny Edwards instead of Dale Evans, and there’s terrific  support from Gordon Jones, Will Wright and Paul E. Burns. The climax, with Trigger chasing down a locomotive, has some really amazing stuntwork.

Trigger Jr. (1950) has Dale Evans, Pat Brady, Gordon Jones, Grant Withers and Foy Willing And The Riders Of The Purple Sage. It really focuses on Trigger, so there’s a lot of great horse stuff in it.

I wish this was a lot longer post, with the rest of the color Rogers pictures listed. But at this time, Paramount owns the rights and no one has licensed anything. Maybe someday.

Till then, “may the good Lord take a liking to you.”

 

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Marie Harmon
October 21, 1923 – January 25, 2021

Marie Harmon, who was under contract at Republic in the late 40s, has passed away at 97.

She was in pictures like Night Time In Nevada (1948) with Roy Rogers and The El Paso Kid (1946) with Sunset Carson.

Her daughter Cherie Currie was a member of the band The Runaways.

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Directed by R. G. Springsteen
Written by Executive Producers Dorrell and Stuart McGowan
Director Of Photography: Jack Marta
Art Director: James Sullivan
Music by Dale Butts
Film Editor: Tony Martinelli
2nd Unit Director: Yakima Canutt
Special Effects: Howard and Theodore Lydecker

Cast: William Elliott (Zeb Smith), Marie Windsor (Doll Brown/Mary Carson), Forrest Tucker (Marshal Bucky McLean), Jim Davis (Gyp Stoner), H. B. Warner (Brother Joseph), Paul Fix (Dusty Stoner), Grant Withers (Sheriff Martin), Emory Parnell (Sheriff Duffy), Esther Howard (Birdie), Jody Gilbert (Full Moon), Louis Faust (Red Stoner), Harry Woods (Lew Stoner), Denver Pyle (Rex), Trevor Bardette (Wilson), Dewey Robinson (Bartender), Hank Worden

This is an entry in The Marie Windsor Blogathon, a celebration of the actress’s life and work.

I love  Hellfire (1949). I’ve seen it countless times, and it’s the main reason Marie Windsor is, and always has been, my favorite actress. Thought I should get all that out of the way before my extreme bias starts to show.

It goes like this. Zeb Smith, a card sharp (William Elliott), is caught cheating. He’s saved by Brother Joseph, a circuit preacher (H. B. Warner), who ends up catching a bullet for his good deed. Elliott tends to the dying old man, and learns that Joseph’s only regret is that he didn’t get the chance to build a church. Elliott promises to square things by building that church — even though he has to do it according to the Bible, not by simply racking up a wad of cash in a poker game.

Enter Doll Brown (Marie Windsor), a young woman with a price on her head for gunning down the abusive Lew Stoner (Harry Woods). Elliott figures her reward will cover Brother Joseph’s church, but when he finds her, things get complicated. You see, the rest of the Stoner boys want to give Doll a taste of frontier justice for gunning down their brother. Marshal Bucky McLean (Forrest Tucker), a friend of Zeb’s, is also on Doll’s trail. And Doll is really Mary Carson, and she’s looking for her long-lost sister Jane. Add to all that the fact that the recently, and reluctantly, converted Zeb has to do things according to the “rule book.”

“According to the rule book, I’m supposed to be
a peaceable man. Sometimes I kinda forget.”
— Zeb Smith (William Elliott)

While Hellfire looks like a typical minor-A Republic Western, with the distinctly weird Trucolor palette, and plays like most of Elliott’s “good badman” pictures, there are a number of things that set it apart.

First and foremost, there’s the spiritual angle, which takes the redemption theme found in so many Westerns to a new, more literal level. Hellfire goes far beyond the religious allegory we find in other Westerns. While Hellfire‘s theology sometimes seems at odds with the picture’s gunplay and violence, it’s heartfelt, it gives Elliott and Windsor nice character arcs to work with, and it’s quite moving toward the end (that’s Psalm 23, by the way). The pastel hues of Trucolor give the film a fable-like quality that perfectly complements the religious themes.

There’s a heavy dose of symbolism here, too. Fire is a common thread, from the titles to Elliott’s getaway after the card game (setting a stack of six-guns ablaze) to Elliott himself being burned along the way (one torture scene is hard to watch) to the name of the movie itself. Fire turns up in the Bible a lot, too, of course — both literally and conceptually. 

Another key differentiator is Marie Windsor. She’s perfect here, as Doll Brown, who’s riding the West looking for her sister. We easily believe she’d be capable of gunning a man down. Her softer side, Mary Carson, works, too. Windsor pulls it off beautifully, a part that could’ve been laughable in less capable hands.

William Elliott greets Marie Windsor on the first day of shooting.

The screenplay came from brothers Dorrell and Stuart McGowan. They’d written a handful of pictures for Republic — from Mountain Rhythm (1943) to Valley Of The Zombies (1946) to Don’t Fence Me In (1946). This time, they were listed as executive producers. Elliott was a producer as well; the film is credited as “An Elliott-McGowan Production.” One  of Republic’s ace house directors, R.G. Springsteen, was given the assignment.

Republic got a lot of press back in 1949 out of William Elliott’s attempts to get the name of his movie past the Johnson Office. “Hell” had not been in a movie title in 15 years.

Elliott also insisted on Marie Windsor. The studio wanted Adrian Booth, who they had under contract. Elliott had seen Windsor in a test and the recent Outpost In Morocco. When he heard she could ride, that sealed the deal. He worked with her on gun-twirling, and she did a lot of her own stunts.

Marie Windsor: “Republic was a cozier and smaller studio… I love Hellfire. I was so thrilled to get that well-written part of a female bandit, Doll Brown.” 

Republic sent a second unit to Sedona to shoot some riding scenes. The rest of it was shot at the Iverson Rancho and the Republic lot. The cast is made up of the usual Republic roster: Forrest Tucker, Jim Davis, Paul Fix, Grant Withers and Denver Pyle.

Marie Windsor: “Hellfire should have been a Western that would have changed my whole career. Studio owner Herbert Yates promised to spend a lot of money to sell the film. Mr. Yates suddenly got involved in trying to get the communists out of the industry. He made a film called The Red Menace (1949), which he spent a great deal of money to sell and did nothing for Hellfire.”

Yates’ lack of promotion for Hellfire prompted Elliott-McGowan Productions to sue the studio for not holding up its end of the bargain — and for not letting the producers look at the books.

Marie Windsor: “At his own expense, Bill set up an opening publicity tour in Salt Lake City for Hellfire.”

William Elliott made only one more film at Republic, again with the McGowans, Showdown (1950). Its religion them is subtler, and Trucolor is missing, but Marie Windsor is back. It’s certainly worth tracking down.

Believe it or not, Republic sometimes paired Hellfire with Brimstone, a Rod Cameron Western from the same year. One theater near Cincinnati got creative and had the Devil himself taking tickets. 

Elliott considered Hellfire his best film, and Marie Windsor always listed it as a personal favorite (along with The Narrow Margin and The Killing). 

Paramount currently owns the Republic Pictures library. They restored hundreds of these films, Hellfire included. And though the restoration played at the Museum Of Modern Art as part of a Republic retrospective, it hasn’t made its way to DVD or Blu-Ray. 

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