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Archive for the ‘United Artists’ Category

Directed by Ray Nazarro
Starring Joanne Dru, Rod Cameron, John Ireland, John Dehner, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Morris Ankrum

The folks at The 3-D Film Archive have done it again! The missing reels have been tracked down (it Italy, of all places) and they’ll be bringing Ray Nazarro’s Southwest Passage (1954) to Blu-Ray in 3-D. It’s gonna be a while, so hang tight.

In the meantime, you can see it, flat and full-frame, on DVD from MGM’s old MOD program. It’s a cool movie. And you can get the scoop on its recovery from the Lost Archives” in this podcast.

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From the ClassicFlix newsletter: “We have several major projects underway, the largest at the moment is restoration of all 66 Hopalong Cassidy feature films… The first three films in the series are Hop-A-long CassidyThe Eagle’s Brood and Bar 20 Rides Again (all 1935).”

This is wonderful news. I can’t wait. More news to follow.

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Directed by Walter Hill
Starring David Carradine, Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine, James Keach, Stacy Keach, Dennis Quaid, Randy Quaid, Christopher Guest, Nicholas Guest, Pamela Reid, Harry Carey Jr., Fran Ryan

Imprint has announced Directed By Walter Hill, a Blu-Ray set of six films directed by Walter Hill: Hard Times (1975), The Driver (1978), The Long Riders (1980), Extreme Prejudice (1987), Johnny Handsome (1989) and Broken Trail (2006).

This is good news, first, because I absolutely love The Driver and The Long Riders—and because among the many extras to be including in this thing, I get to do a commentary for The Long Riders—one of the best of the many Jesse James movies. It’s almost certainly the most accurate.

The folks at Imprint do extraordinary work, always, and I’m overjoyed to be a tiny part of this one. Highly recommended.

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Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers, Althea Gibson, Judson Pratt, Ken Curtis, Willis Bouchey, Hank Worden, Denver Pyle, Strother Martin, Hoot Gibson

When John Ford’s The Horse Soldiers (1959) first arrived on Blu-Ray (in 2011, if memory serves), it was a huge improvement on the old DVD, and there’s plenty of reasons to believe Kino Lorber’s new 4K restoration will be another leap forward.

The Horse Soldiers is a better picture than it gets credit for being, and getting better and better looking on video is a great way to crank up interest in it — and hopefully a bit of a reappraisal.

After a stuntman was killed on location, Ford lost his enthusiasm for the film and pretty much checked out on its completion — but even watered-down Ford is better than just about anything else you’ll see.

William H. Clothier’s cinematography here is, as always, top-notch — and should be stunning in this new restoration. A commentary from Joseph McBride will be a nice addition. Coming in June. Highly, highly recommended.

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Directed by Gerd Oswald
Produced by John Beck
Executive Producer: Bob Goldstein
Screenplay by Jason James
From a novel (Showdown Creek) by Lucas Todd
Director Of Photography: Joseph LaShelle
Music by Harry Sukman

Cast: John Derek (Brock Mitchell), John Smith (Miley Sutton), Carolyn Craig (Ginny Clay), Nick Adams (Tracy Mitchell), Gage Clarke (Chad Deasy), Robert E. Griffin (Sheriff Clay), Malcolm Atterbury (Norris), Rusty Lane (Riley), Sydney Smith (Van Steeden), Frances Morris (Mrs. Williams), Tyler McDuff (Tom Williams), Robert Adler (Alabam), Norman Leavitt (Swamper), Ken Christy (Mr. Phelps), Tom McKee (Sheriff of Buckhorn), Kermit Maynard, Buddy Roosevelt

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Just for grins, I decided to post a portion of a chapter-in-progress from my book, 50 Westerns From The 50s.

Pretty much ignored when it came out, Fury At Showdown (1957) can be seen today as a solid 50s Western — and an absolute miracle of low-budget film-making. Director Gerd Oswald somehow pulled this picture off in a week!

After a year in jail for a shooting in self-defense, Brock Mitchell (John Derek) returns to the family ranch, now run by his younger brother Tracy (Nick Adams). Brock finds himself an outcast in his own hometown, and the target of a crooked lawyer (Gage Clarke), whose brother is the man he killed. To make matters worse, the lawyer brings a hired gun (John Smith) to town — and is about to foreclose on the brothers’ 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.”

Oswald certainly wasn’t the only director to make a movie with no time and no money. But with Fury At Showdown, he found a way to make these limitations work for the film, not against it. Many dialogue scenes play out in a single take, with the actors moving toward, and away from, the camera to create different “shots” within these long takes. It’s obvious these scenes were extensively rehearsed. Other scenes place actors in both the foreground and the background, as a way to combine bits of action into a single set-up. And the making-a-mob-out-of-12-people approach is carried throughout, giving the whole film a minimalist feel in keeping with its loner lead character.

Of course, you need a good script, capable actors and an ingenious cameraman to cut corners like that and end up with a decent movie. The screenplay is by Jason James, adapted from the 1955 novel Showdown Creek by Lucas Todd. Todd is a pen-name for Stanley Kauffmann, the noted film and theater critic for The New Republic and The New York Times.

There’s a solid performance from John Derek, a terrific one from Nick Adams, who underplays nicely, and appropriately hateful turns from John Smith and Gage Clarke. Carolyn Craig, as Derek’s old flame, and a stable of trusty character actors hold their own.

Director of photography Joseph LaShelle was known for his gritty realism, making him an ideal choice for noirs like Laura (1944, which landed him an Oscar), Hangover Square (1945) and Road House (1948). LaShelle also an ability to make a budget look bigger than it really is, which made him perfect for something like I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957). LaShelle and Oswald came to Fury At Showdown shortly after completing Crime Of Passion (1957), a mini-noir with Barbara Stanwyck and Sterling Hayden.

A one-week picture tends to have a rushed, ragged feel. Think of something from Monogram, like a Bowery Boys movie or one of Bela Lugosi’s Monogram Nine. The haphazard, one-take-and-move-on tone of those pictures is replaced by a feeling of tight control in Fury At Showdown. Obviously, planning and rehearsal made all the difference. It was shot on the RKO Western street (later Desilu) and at the Iverson Ranch in mid-July 1956.

Upon its release, A.H. Weiler of The New York Times called Fury At Showdown “a surprisingly decent little Western” and said “this unpretentious, low-budget entry is leanly written, tersely acted and, above all, straightforward… Under Gerd Oswald’s sure direction, this tightly authentic atmosphere, the good, blunt dialogue and some discreetly inserted music do much to project the urgency of Mr. Derek’s plight—that of a young man at his life’s crossroads.” It’s rare for the Times to see the merits of a little picture like this.

Years later, in his massive book The Western, Phil Hardy wrote: “A stylistic tour de force and undoubtedly Oswald’s best film, Fury At Showdown has a formal excellence that belies its five-day shooting schedule and shames many a bigger budgeted movie… Rarely has economy been put to such a positive use.” Amen to that.

Fury At Showdown (1957) is a real gem, one of those neglected little masterpieces that are so fun to discover. Highly, highly recommended.

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Kino Lorber’s bringing a couple of underrated Anthony Quinn Westerns to Blu-Ray in early 2021 — Man From Del Rio (1956) and The Ride Back (1957). These two pictures illustrate all the riches that were turning up in theaters during the 50s. Major stars like Anthony Quinn were doing medium-budget Westerns like this, along with the stuff guys like George Montgomery and Guy Madison were doing.

Man From Del Rio (1956)
Directed by Harry Horner
Starring Anthony Quinn, Katy Jurado, Peter Whitney, Douglas Fowley, John Larch, Douglas Spencer, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams

Man From Del Rio has a great cast and has overlooked far too long. Hopefully, a nice widescreen HD transfer of Stanley Cortez’s cinematography will give it a bit of a reappraisal. Cortez, of course, shot a few films you might’ve heard of — The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Night Of The Hunter (1955) and The Naked Kiss (1964).

Wish Harry Horner had directed more. This and Beware, My Lovely (1952) show he really had the chops. His production design work is incredible. He did pictures like The Wonderful Country (1959), The Hustler (1961) and The Driver (1978).

The Ride Back (1957)
Directed by Allen H. Miner
Starring Anthony Quinn, William Conrad, Lita Milan

William Conrad produced and co-stars in this one. He’s a lawman who heads to Mexico to bring back outlaw Quinn. Director Allen H. Miner did the George Montgomery picture Black Patch the same year. Black Patch went a bit too far with the stylistics, but that’s not a problem here. Joseph Biroc shot The Ride Back, by the way. He’d just shot Attack (1956) for Robert Aldrich, who was a producer on The Ride Back. Biroc’s B&W cinematography is always a plus, and it’ll be stunning on Blu-Ray.

I love the tagline “It rides a trail no Western ever rode before!”

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Directed by Robert Aldrich
Starring Burt Lancaster, Jean Peters, John McIntire, Charles Buchinsky, John Dehner, Paul Guilfoyle, Ian MacDonald, Walter Sande, Morris Ankrum, Monte Blue

Kino Lorber has announced that a Blu-Ray of Robert Aldrich’s Apache (1954) will be available later this year.

It’s a solid little picture with a great cast. The downbeat ending was changed to something United Artists felt audiences would like. Apache was a big hit, so maybe UA was right. But Lancaster and Aldrich were not. The success of this one landed Aldrich the chance to director Lancaster and Gary Cooper in Vera Cruz (1954), a much bigger picture.

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On this day in 1836, The Alamo fell as Mexican forces led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna stormed the fortress after a 13-day siege. All of the Texan defenders (almost 200 of them), including William Travis, James Bowie and Davy Crockett, were killed in battle.

The image is the 24-sheet poster (or billboard) for John Wayne’s epic tribute to those who served at The Alamo. Today’d be a good day to watch it.

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Came upon this the other day and thought it was worth sharing.

The Morningside Theatre in New York City has quite a lineup on Saturday, April 16, 1959. First, there was Tim Holt in The Monster That Challenged The World (1957), then Audie Murphy in Jack Arnold’s No Name On The Bullet (1959) and finally Running Target from 1956, starring Doris Dowling, Arthur Franz and Myron Healey. Tossed into the mix were a few cartoons and Marshall Reed in a chapter of the Columbia serial Riding With Buffalo Bill (1954), produced by Sam Katzman.

Of course, the stuff coming up after it — William Castle’s The Tingler (1959), The Warrior And The Slave Girl (1958) and Whip Wilson, Fuzzy Knight and Phyllis Coates in Monogram’s Canyon Riders (1951) — sounds pretty good, too.

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Day of the Outlaw 3S

Directed by Andre de Toth
Screenplay by Philip Yordan
Director Of Photography: Russell Harlan
Starring Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, Tina Louise, Alan Marshal, Nehemiah Persoff, David Nelson

1959 was a great year for 50s Westerns, taking the decade out on a really high note. And, for me, one of the cream of the year’s crop would have to be Andre de Toth’s Day Of The Outlaw. Kino Lorber has just announced a Blu-Ray release for August. Russell Harlan’s B&W cinematography should make this a must-have Blu-ray.

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