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Archive for the ‘United Artists’ Category

Directed by Lesley Selander
Produced by Sherman Harris
Written by Robert Schaeffer and Eric Freiwald
Based on the Lone Ranger legend
Cinematography: Kenneth Peach
Film Editor: Robert S. Golden
Music by Les Baxter

CAST: Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger), Jay Silverheels (Tonto), Douglas Kennedy ​(​Ross Brady​)​, Charles Watts ​(​Sheriff Oscar​), ​Noreen Nash ​(​Mrs. Frances Henderson​), ​Ralph Moody ​(​Padre Esteban​), ​Lisa Montell ​(​Paviva​), ​John Miljan ​(​Chief Tomache​), ​Norman Fredric ​(​Dr. James Rolfe​), ​Maurice Jara ​(​Redbird​), ​Bill Henry ​(​Travers​), Lane Bradford ​(Henchman​)​

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I watched the Moore-Silverheels Lone Ranger features countless times as a kid (you could get complete Super 8mm prints of them) and always preferred the second one, The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold (1958). Seeing them again recently, and placing them within the context of the 50s Western as a whole, I still love them. And I’m still convinced the second one’s the best.

The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold would be the last time Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels played The Lone Ranger and Tonto. The TV series wrapped up in June of ’57, a year before this picture would open. Luckily, they were able to go out on a high note.

“Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas…”

It begins with a brief recap of The Lone Ranger origin, set to a cool song from Les Baxter (see the record above). This gives way to the prerequisite “William Tell Overture.” It’s a shame they didn’t head to the Iverson Ranch for a big-screen shot of Moore and Silver next to Lone Ranger Rock.

The plot’s a variation on a fairly common one — a group of Masked Raiders are searching for a series of medallions that reveal the location of a vast cave filled with Indian gold. The Lone Ranger and Tonto must prevent the Raiders from getting the last of the medallions and taking the treasure that belongs to the Indians.

Of course, one of the Raiders is Douglas Kennedy. It’s always a treat when he turns up in something. Ralph Moody is great as a padre. Noreen Nash is a woman in cahoots with the Raiders. Nash didn’t have a real stellar career, though she’s in an episode of The Lone Ranger, a Dragnet and the Tim Holt picture Road Agent (1952) — so who’s complaining? Lisa Montell ​plays ​Paviva​, a lovely Indian maiden. She’s a favorite of mine thanks to World Without End (1956). Then there’s a baby boy that seems to be played by a girl — given away by tiny little earrings.

Lesley Selander cranks up the action and violence a notch for The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold. As a kid, it drove me nuts that, on TV, Clayton Moore just shot the guns out of the bad guys’ hands. Here, he actually drills somebody. So does Tonto. There’s also a terrific fistfight towards the end.

Much of this was shot at Old Tucson, and it gives you a great view of the place. The climax has Moore, Silverheels, Kennedy and others sneaking around the small houses you’ve seen in all kinds of stuff. The beautiful San Xavier del Bac Mission is also featured. And while all the location work’s gorgeous and adds plenty of production value, the absence of the familiar Iverson rocks from the TV show is a bit jarring.

the_pittsburgh_press_tue__jun_17__1958_This picture was clearly meant for kids. But there’s something about The Lone Ranger and Tonto I find more appealing the older I get. Their friendship, their fairness and their ongoing fight for justice are things we all could use some extra exposure to. I love this movie.

The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold is pretty easy to find on DVD. The VCI release from years ago presents it in its original aspect ratio, though a non-anamorphic letterboxed version. It’s the best one around. I’d love to see both of these Moore-Silverheels features make their way to Blu-Ray.

Just realized, thanks to Bob Madison, that today is the anniversary of the first Lone Ranger radio broadcast (1933).

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This is the last shot in Bedazzled (1967), the very funny Peter Cook/Dudley Moore film. Presley and I watched it recently, and I noticed the theater marquee on the right. John Wayne’s The Alamo (1960) is playing.

I reached out to some of our UK division, and as you’d expect, John Knight came through: “The cinema in question was The London Pavilion. It mainly served as a West End showcase for United Artists releases. They showed lots of United Artists horror double bills like The Monster That Challenged The World and The Vampire (both 1957). My first solo visit to a West End cinema was to the London Pavilion to see Phantom Of The Opera with Captain Clegg (both 1962).”

After hearing from John, I can’t decide what I’m the most excited about — the thought of Wayne’s epic or The Monster That Challenged The World on the Pavilion’s huge screen.

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Directed by Sidney Salkow
Starring George Montgomery, Ann Robinson, Steve Brodie, Bobby Clark, Frank Ferguson, Denver Pyle, Don “Red” Barry, Roy Barcroft

Gun Duel In Durango (1957) is a solid little George Montgomery picture. It’s got a great cast and igoes down easy. Wish they’d 47,000 more movies just like it back in the late 50s.

It’s coming to Blu-Ray in Germany. Hope it’s Region Free — this is a good one.

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Directed by Ray Nazarro
Screen Play by Don Martin and Richard Schayer
Story by L.L. Foreman
Director Of Photography: Lester White
Film Editor: Buddy Small

Cast: George Montgomery (Cruze), Dorothy Malone (Charlotte Downing), Frank Faylen (Fairweather), Neville Brand (Tray Moran), Skip Homeier (Cass Downing), Douglas Kennedy (Gad Moran), Fay Roope (Mayor Booth), Douglas Fowley (Bartender), Robert J. Wilke (Hort Moran)

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I covered Lone Gun (1954) shortly after it appeared on Shout Factory’s four-movies-on-one-DVD package, Movies 4 You Western Classics. A solid George Montgomery picture, it’s worth a second look.

It’s easy to dismiss a movie like The Lone Gun as just a programmer. From its original reviews to DVD reviews, that’s the way a lot of folks have seen it. The plot’s nothing new. They were obviously working on a tight budget and short schedule. They ride past the same Iverson rocks you’ve seen in dozens of pictures like this.

But in some ways, these things that seem like liabilities are some of the key strengths of The Lone Gun. Because, interestingly, they let us see what a huge difference good writing, direction and acting can make to something familiar.

Mayor Booth (Fay Roope): “Robert Booth’s the name. I own the Malpine Hotel.”
Cruze (George Montgomery): “Mine’s Cruze. I own this shirt and those two horses out there.”

The story’s so simple. Montgomery ends up the marshal of Malpine, and he’s soon on the trail of the Moran brothers (Neville Brand, Douglas Kennedy and Robert J. Wilke), brothers/rustlers/killers/trash who are hiding their rustled cattle among the small herd of Charlotte and Cass Downing (Dorothy Malone, Skip Homeier), siblings trying to keep their small ranch afloat. Also on hand is Fairweather (Frank Faylen), a gambler who’s cleaned out the pockets of just about everybody in town — and one of Cruze’s only friends.

Glance back at that previous paragraph (above the Moran brothers), and consider those names. That’s one helluva cast, and it’s a joy to spend 74 minutes with them. Ray Nazarro is an old hand at stuff like this, and his direction is as brisk and efficient as you’d expect. Everyone else involved, from editor Buddy Small to director of photography Lester White, is up to the same high standard.

The Lone Gun is in color “by the Color Corporation Of America.” That translates to SuperCinecolor. It was shot to be projected at 1.66. The Shout Factory DVD offers pretty decent color — remember, this is SuperCineColor. It’s full frame, with plenty of that annoying dead space at the top and bottom. My TV lets me zoom it a bit to approximate the original 1.66, which looks a whole lot better.

The reason folks dismiss movies like this is often because there are so many of them. Which for those of us who can’t get enough of these things, is good news indeed. The Lone Gun, thanks largely to its cast, is one I like a lot.

Oh, and another thing. It’s original title was Adios, My Texas. If you ask me, they were wise to change it.

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Directed by William Wyler
Starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, Chuck Connors

The Big Country (1958) is coming to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber with a slew of extras — commentary, documentary, interviews, etc.

The cast is a great one. Burl Ives won an Oscar for his incredible, and incredibly mean, performance. But, to me, Chuck Connors steals the picture — he’s absolutely perfect in a complex, tragic role.

Franz F. Planer’s Technicolor and Technirama cinematography is beautiful, offering up stunning vistas that live up to the film’s title. The opening credits were created by Saul Bass, and the score by Jerome Moross is one of the best to ever grace a Western.

The old Blu-Ray was a huge improvement over the DVD, but it had some distortion problems. Let’s hope those are sorted out for this new one. And I hear the stereo tracks still haven’t turned up.

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With The Indian Fighter (1955) making its way to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber, this seemed like a good time to share some more of the photos my wife’s finding as she helps with the research for my commentary. (Photos don’t do too well in an audio commentary.) I’ve been really wallowing in this movie the last couple weeks.

Here, they’re shooting a scene with Hank Worden and Walter Matthau.

Elisha Cook rests between takes in Bend, Oregon, as Ira Eagleman (whose parents were working as extras) looks on. Cook, Worden, Matthau — what a cast!

A prop man fires flaming arrows at the fort.

Elsa Martinelli, an Italian fashion model, made her screen debut in The Indian Fighter. Douglas’ wife Anne saw her in Vogue and recommended her for the part.

Here, they’re shooting inside the stockade. I can’t find director Andre de Toth in this photo, but this seems to be a scene with Douglas and Walter Abel. The Indian Fighter was the first picture from Douglas’ Bryna Productions. It was also de Toth’s first time chance to work with CinemaScope. He does a couple of really cool 360-degree pans that really use the Scope frame (and show off the distortion in those early Scope lenses).

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Directed by Mark Stevens
Screenplay by Stanley H. Silverman and Mark Stevens
Starring Mark Stevens, John Lupton, Larry Storch, Maureen Hingert (Jana Davi), Aaron Saxon, Jered Barclay, Dean Fredericks

Almost didn’t post this one since, to me, Sidonis’ forced subtitles are a deal-breaker. But the movie itself — Mark Stevens in a 1958 revenge Western that ran into trouble with the PCA, sounds so cool I just had to throw it out there.

Mark Stevens co-wrote and directed Gun Fever (1958), so we can count on it being a tough little picture. (The crime picture Cry Vengeance, which he directed in 1954, is really cool.) The director of photography was Charles Van Enger, who shot Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), one of my all-time favorites.

Gun Fever should be B&W 1.85. Sidonis out of France have it listed as a May DVD release. I’ve never seen this one, and I’m dying to.

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