Archive for the ‘Ronald Reagan’ Category

Rhonda Fleming
(August 10, 1923 – October 14, 2020)

Rhonda Fleming, “The Queen Of Technicolor,” has passed away at 97. Here she is in Allan Dwan’s Tennessee’s Partner (1955).

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Directed by Nathan Juran
Starring Ronald Reagan, Dorothy Malone, Preston Foster, Alex Nicol, Ruth Hampton, Russell Johnson, Chubby Johnson, Dennis Weaver, Tom Steele

Just a reminder that Nathan Juran’s Law And Order (1953), a solid Western from Universal-International, is coming to Blu-Ray next month from Shout Factory. Can’t wait to see Clifford Stine’s gorgeous Technicolor photography in high definition.

Ronald Reagan’s a fed-up lawman who decides to hang up his guns. But you know how those things work out — soon he’s having to strap em back on to settle an old score. Reagan’s cool, Dorothy Malone is beautiful in three-strip Technicolor, and director Nathan Juran settles in for a good run of Westerns at U-I.

I don’t care what your politics are, this one comes highly recommended.

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Directed by Nathan Juran
Starring Ronald Reagan, Dorothy Malone, Preston Foster, Alex Nicol, Ruth Hampton, Russell Johnson, Chubby Johnson, Dennis Weaver, Tom Steele

It’s good to have another 50s Western making its way to Blu-Ray. It’s been a bit of a desert out there. Shout Factory has announced a July release for Nathan Juran’s Law And Order (1953), a solid Technicolor picture from Universal-International. The DVD is quite nice and I’m eager to see how much better Clifford Stine’s gorgeous cinematography comes off in high definition.

Ronald Reagan’s a fed-up lawman who decides to hang up his guns. But you know how those things work out — soon he’s having to strap em back on to settle an old score. Reagan’s cool, Dorothy Malone is beautiful in three-strip Technicolor, and director Nathan Juran settles in for a good run of Westerns at U-I.

I don’t care what your politics are, a Universal 50s Western is coming to Blu-Ray — and that always gets my vote. Recommended.

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Ronald Reagan
February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004

I’m ashamed to have missed Tim Holt’s birthday on the 5th. I’m not gonna screw up Ronald Reagan’s. He’d be 105 today.

Here he is in Law And Order (1953). I resisted the temptation to post yet another photo from Allan Dwan’s Tennessee’s Partner (1955), a picture I love.

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I really love Allan Dwan’s Tennessee’s Partner (1955).


I’ve always enjoyed Dennis’s blog dedicated to the Iverson Movie Ranch. It’s a frequent stop for me. Earlier this month, he posted some stuff on Tennessee’s Partner (1955) and its extensive use of the Iverson Ranch. Cinematographer John Alton did a masterful job on this one, and I doubt the ranch ever looked better than it did here.

If you’re new to this blog, be prepared to lose an hour or two or three.

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Russell Johnson, who just everybody in America knows as The Professor from Gilligan’s Island, passed away today at 89.

He’s seen above (center) with Alex Nicol and Ronald Reagan in Law And Order (1953). He appeared in other 50s Westerns such as Rancho Notorious (1952, he runs the chuck-a-luck wheel), Seminole (1953) and Ride Clear Of Diablo (1954).

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Allan Dwan sketch cropped

Director Allan Dwan’s career was as old as the Movies themselves, and many of the early technical developments were his doing. Going into the mid-50s, he was still making innovative, unique, personal films — usually for smaller studios that would leave him alone and let him do what he did best.

I went Wig City over Allan Dwan’s films of 50s, thanks to DVDs of his work from VCI, and that helped spawn this blog. So I was really stoked to hear about The Museum of Modern Art’s Dwan series — which will include several of those Westerns.

From the MoMA web site: The Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Dwan’s films in 1971, with Dwan in attendance, and while another exhibition was certainly due after 42 years, this series was prompted by the publication of Frederic Lombardi’s definitive study of Dwan’s work, Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the of the Hollywood Studios (McFarland, 2013).

If you can make it to any of these, by all means do so. The Westerns are:

June 14-15, 18
Frontier Marshal (1939)
With Randolph Scott, Nancy Kelly, Cesar Romero, John Carradine, Ward Bond.
This was once almost impossible to see (the bootleg tape I had of it was impossible to see). Another take on the O.K. Corral story. I prefer Randolph Scott with more age on him, but this is a really cool film.


June 24-25
Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)
With Audrey Totter, Joan Leslie, John Lund, Brian Donlevy, Ben Cooper.
Dwan made a string of films for Republic that are worth seeking out (Olive Films, you reading this?), with Sands Of Iwo Jima (1949) being the best known. Dwan approaches this as a spoof — evidently, he didn’t see any other way — and the results are terrific.

June 29-30
The Restless Breed (1957)
With Scott Brady, Anne Bancroft, Jim Davis, Scott Marlowe, Evelyn Rudie.
Dwan’s last Western. A revenge tale gets a light comic touch.

Picture 45

July 3,5
Tennessee’s Partner (1955)
With John Payne, Rhonda Fleming, Ronald Reagan, Coleen Gray.
John Alton’s Superscope cinematography almost steals the show, making the Iverson Ranch look like the most beautiful place on earth.

July 3, 6
Silver Lode (1954)
With John Payne, Dan Duryea, Lizabeth Scott, Harry Carey, Jr.
A key 5os Western, and the damnedest McCarthy comment you’ve ever seen. Again, Alton and his cameras roam the ranches of Hollywood to amazing results.

Be sure to look at the complete listing. I highly recommend Slightly Scarlet (1956), an incredible Technicolor, Superscope film noir shot by John Alton.

Thanks to Stephen Bowie.

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Rex and Roy

Rex Allen and Roy Rogers, somewhere on the Republic lot.

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Mara Corday studies the Raw Edge (1956) screenplay.

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Donna Reed and Richard Widmark at work on Backlash (1956). That’s John Sturges obscured in the ball cap.

douglas-hawks-big-sky SIZED

Howard Hawks shows Kirk Douglas how to do a fight scene for The Big Sky (1952).


Ronald Reagan and Barbara Stanwyck discuss the arms situation on the set of Cattle Queen Of Montana (1954).

Satchel Paige and Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country with Julie London

Satchel Paige and Robert Mitchum shoot the breeze between takes on The Wonderful Country (1959).

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Coming next week (December 4) is a book that could very well be a must for folks who mosey through this blog: John Wayne: The Legend And The Man. Put together by John Wayne Enterprises, this estate-authorized book features photos and personal memorabilia from every part of Wayne’s incredible life and career. It also includes an essay by Patricia Bosworth, a foreword by Martin Scorsese, remembrances by Maureen O’Hara and Ronald Reagan and an interview with Ron Howard.

Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. You can get order one here.

IMAGES: From John Wayne: The Legend And The Man by John Wayne Enterprises, published by powerHouse Books.

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If there’s any cinematographer whose work deserves the red carpet treatment on DVD, it’s John Alton.

Alton was a master.  He worked fast — coming to the set fully prepared and not using a lot of lights. And while “painting with light” was his thing, evidently diplomacy was not. He was fired a lot, until he finally got fed up with the whole business and vanished. Along the way, he went from pictures like An American In Paris (1951), his first color film — and the one that earned him an Oscar, to film noir with Anthony Mann (T-Men, Border Incident, etc.) to cowboy pictures at Republic (Wyoming).

In 1954, Alton found himself at RKO, working with director Allan Dwan on a series of medium-budget films produced by Benedict Bogeaus. These pictures gave Dwan a level of authority (or maybe he simply took charge of things) he hadn’t enjoyed since the silent days. However it came about, he really made the most of it.

Allan Dwan: “John Alton was a fine cameraman and we hit it off well. He was good for us because he’s wonderful with lights — very economical.”

From 1954 to 1956, Dwan and Alton made seven pictures together, all produced by Bogeaus for RKO.

Dwan: “Never over around $800-850,000. About three weeks shooting each — 15 days. That was the design. They were token pictures to keep the studio alive — Hughes wasn’t interested in a big splurge. And none of our pictures warranted a big budget — they all went out and got their money back plus a profit.”

The next to last of these “token pictures,” and the third Western of the bunch, was Tennessee’s Partner (1955) — in Superscope with prints by Technicolor. (Dwan would later list it as his favorite of the films he made for Bogeaus and RKO.)

John Payne is Tennessee, a gambler who’s set up shop in Rhonda Fleming’s saloon — the Marriage Market in Sandy Bar. Ronald Reagan is Cowpoke, who saves Tennessee’s life. Tennessee later proves that Cowpoke’s fiancé, Colleen Gray, is a gold-digger (named, appropriately, Goldie). Speaking of gold, there’s a subplot involving Grubstake McNiven (Chubby Johnson) striking it rich.

Dwan: “…this was a good, honest story, and I liked Bret Harte… I believe the original story was more tragic than ours, but it was very definitely more downbeat. And it was a short story, so we had to stretch it out some way or other.”

To stretch it, they seemed to have played up the humor and action. Dwan’s breezy direction and John Alton’s luscious cinematography make this a real piece of eye candy — aided by the art direction of Van Nest Polglase (Citizen Kane). The way the camera glides through Rhonda Fleming’s gambling hall is worth the price of admission. Then there’s its Technicolor tour of the Iverson Ranch in the last two reels. It’s a gorgeous, yet completely unpretentious, story of friendship and double-crosses.

Tennessee’s Partner has been available on DVD, in a nice full-frame transfer, from VCI for years. Superscope extracted a 2:1 anamorphic image from a full-frame negative — which is what the new edition, again from VCI, replicates. (The lack of a Superscope logo in the credits indicates that full-frame source material was used.) As far as color and sharpness go, this is comparable to their first release. But with the new attention to the framing, Alton’s camerawork is even more impressive. He’s quoted somewhere as saying “It’s not what you light — it’s what you don’t light.” And the 2:1 image, especially in the gambling scenes, really highlights the way he used darkness.

VCI gives us original trailers to Tennessee’s Partner and the other Dwan/Alton/Bogeaus titles they have available. Seen together, they really had me wanting to put together a marathon some weekend.

With a new edition of any film, in any format, there’s always the question of value. Is this worth reaching into my wallet for, again? In my case, certainly, as I’ve been dying to see how Tennessee’s Partner looked in Superscope. For those who own the full-frame version, it’s a matter of personal taste. For the rest, it’s a good picture — a significant 50s Western — and this is by far the best it’s ever been presented on video. Get it here.

[The Allan Dwan quotes come from Allan Dwan: The Last Pioneer by Peter Bogdanovich, one of my favorite film books.]

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