The Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, California, has been destroyed by the latest wildfire. One of the films shot there was the Roy Rogers picture Bells Of Coronado (1950). Directed by William Witney and shot in Trucolor, it’s terrific — and it’s the only Trucolor Rogers to get an official release on DVD.
Archive for the ‘William Witney’ Category
Posted in 1953, 1956, 1957, Alan Ladd, Allan Dwan, Anne Francis, Ben Johnson, Brian Donlevy, Charles Bronson, Charles Haas, Daniel B. Ullman, DVD reviews, releases, TV, etc., Edgar Buchanan, Edwin L. Marin, Forrest Tucker, George Stevens, Jim Davis, John Agar, Kino Lorber, Leo Gordon, Lesley Selander, Lewis D. Collins, Lippert/Regal, Lloyd Bridges, Mara Corday, Olive Films, Panamint, Paramount, Peggie Castle, Pre-1950, Randolph Scott, Republic Pictures, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Boone, RKO, Robert Mitchum, Rory Calhoun, Sam Fuller, Skip Homeier, Thomas Carr, Universal (-International), Warner Archive, William Claxton, William Elliott, William Witney on January 8, 2016 | 28 Comments »
First, thanks to everyone who sent in their picks — we had a larger turnout this year. Your responses were very thorough, and they made it clear to me what a good year this was for 50s Westerns on DVD and Blu-ray — you brought up tons of em. Here are the Top 10, ordered by the number of votes they received.
Abilene Town (1946, Blu-ray, Panamint Cinema)
This one topped the list in a big way. I was so stoked to see this fairly obscure Randolph Scott picture rescued from the PD purgatory where it’s been rotting for years — a lot of you seemed to feel the same. Mastered from 35mm fine-grain material, it’s stunning.
Shane (1953, Blu-ray, Eureka)
The Blu-ray release from Paramount made last year’s list, and this UK release was a strong contender this time around. Eureka gives us the opportunity to see what Paramount’s controversial 1.66 cropping looked like.
The Wild Bill Elliott Western Collection (1951-54, DVD set, Warner Archive)
I’m pretty biased when it comes to this one, and I was happy to learn that others were as pleased with it as I was. One of the greatest Western stars goes out on a high note, even if it is a low-budget one.
The Quiet Gun (1956, Blu-ray, Olive Films)
It’s hard to believe this was a 2015 release, since it was on Olive Films’ coming-soon list for such a long time. These Regalscope movies look great in their original aspect ratio, and for my money, this is the best of the bunch.
Woman They Almost Lynched (1953, Blu-ray, Olive Films)
It makes me feel good to see Allan Dwan get some attention, and stellar presentations of his work, like this one, should continue to fuel his (re-)discovery.
Man With The Gun (1955, Blu-ray, Kino Lorber)
A solid Robert Mitchum Western, with the added punch of a terrific 1.85 hi-def transfer. This is a lot better movie than you probably remember it being.
Run Of The Arrow (1957, DVD, Warner Archive)
This really knocked me out — I’d somehow missed out on what a great movie this is. It took me a while to get used to Rod Steiger and his affected accent, but this is prime Sam Fuller.
The Hired Gun (1957, DVD, Warner Archive)
Black and white CinemaScope is a big attraction for me, so I’d been waiting for this one for years. It was worth the wait.
Stranger At My Door (1954, Blu-ray, Olive Films)
A really cool little movie from Republic and William Witney. It was Witney’s favorite of his own pictures, and it’s pretty easy to see why he’d be partial to it. His work here is masterful.
Star In The Dust (1956, Blu-ray, Koch)
Koch out of Germany is treating us (or those of us with a Region B player) to some great Universal 50s Westerns on Blu-ray. This one was released in Universal’s 2.0 ratio of the period. Some found it a bit tight, but it’s a gorgeous presentation of a movie not enough people have seen.
Here’s wishing you all the merriest of Christmases.
If you’re not into football, or you want to get away from Uncle Bob and Aunt Edna’s constant bickering, I suggest Roy Rogers’ Trail Of Robin Hood (1950), a Christmas movie done up Republic style! It’s a tradition here at the 50s Westerns hacienda — and one of my all-time favorite films.
(November 5, 1911 – July 6, 1998)
Let’s remember one of my favorite humans on his 104th birthday. And I’d suggest you mark the occasion with something in Trucolor directed by William Witney. With that combination, unless it’s been cut to ribbons, you really can’t go wrong.
Posted in 1950, 1953, 1954, Andy Devine, Clayton Moore, Dale Robertson, John Doucette, John Ford, John Wayne, Lesley Selander, Marie Windsor, Republic Pictures, Robert Mitchum, Roy Barcroft, Skip Homeier, Vera Ralston, Ward Bond, Whit Bissell, William Elliott, William Witney on September 18, 2015 | Leave a Comment »
Welcome to The Republic Pictures Blogathon. Over the weekend, we’ll be celebrating the studio’s incredible talent roster, wonderful output and lasting legacy. This page will serve as its hub, and you’ll be able to reach all the posts here. Keep checking back.
One of my earliest movie memories, maybe the earliest, is of a 16mm print of John Ford’s Rio Grande (1950). So Republic has always been a huge part of my movie world.
It was formed by combining a number of the Poverty Row studios, and the goal of its head, Herbert J. Yates, was always commerce over art. So in a way, it’s surprising their films displayed the level of craftsmanship that they did. That craft may be what, in the end, sets them apart. After all, there were lots and lots of B Westerns and serials out there. But there’s a polish to a Republic picture — from the camerawork to the editing to those wonderful special effects to the performances to the stunts, that’s very special. It’s easy to see why their films are still so popular. If only they were readily available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Over the next few days, we have plenty to celebrate. The cowboy movies. The serials. The crime pictures. And on and on. Some great movie bloggers have saddled up or strapped on their rocket suit to be a part of this whole deal — and I really appreciate their efforts. This should be fun, folks!
Click on the images below to be linked to the appropriate blog.
Angel And The Badman (1947) – The Round Place In The Middle
Ride The Man Down (1952) – 50 Westerns From The 50s
City That Never Sleeps (1953) – Speakeasy
Radar Men From The Moon (1952) – The Hannibal 8
The Fabulous Texan (1947) – Blake Lucas at 50 Westerns From The 50s
Hoodlum Empire (1952) – Jerry Entract at The Hannibal 8
Jubilee Trail (1954) – Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings
Rock Island Trail (1950) and California Passage (1950) – The Horn Section
The Outcast (1954) – Jerry Entract at 50 Westerns From The 50s
Blackmail (1947) – John Knight at The Hannibal 8
Angel And The Badman (1947) – Thoughts All Sorts
The Red Pony (1949) – Caftan Woman
Dakota Incident (1956) – Riding The High Country
Directed by William Witney
Screen Play by John K. Butler & Richard Wormster
Based upon an Esquire magazine story by Todhunter Ballard
Music: R. Dale Butts
Cast: John Derek (Jeff Cosgrave), Joan Evans (Judy Polsen), Jim Davis (Major Linton Cosgrave), Catherine McLeod (Alice Austin), Ben Cooper (The Kid), Slim Pickens (Boone Polsen), Bob Steele (Dude Rankin), Harry Carey, Jr. (Bert), Frank Ferguson (Chad Polsen), James Millican (Cal Prince)
Having been formed from a merger of several small film companies in 1935, Republic Pictures hit the ground running, immediately scoring huge success with their Gene Autry Western series. They followed this success with The Three Mesquiteers the next year and into the 40s with popular series heroes Don Barry, Wild Bill Elliott, Rocky Lane and, especially, Roy Rogers.
Right from the start, Republic was making a cross-section of film types even though their specialty was the Western. I often feel that Republic was at its very best with their B-Western series – their ‘comfort zone’, if you like. Some of their later, bigger-budgeted Westerns seem a little ’overblown’ by comparison with the smaller, tighter-budgeted action fests. Jubilee Trail comes to mind. This was certainly not always the case, however, and one film that I certainly feel has the spirit and the energy of their smaller fry is 1954’s The Outcast.
The fact that the film was directed by action-ace Wild Bill Witney would have had a lot to do with it certainly. The action is captured beautifully in Republic’s Trucolor hues by expert cinematographer Reggie Lanning. The screenplay was co-written by John K. Butler and Richard Wormser from an Esquire Magazine story by Todhunter Ballard. The story concerns the return to Colorado of Jet Cosgrave (John Derek) after years away with the strong intent of reclaiming his rightful heritage, the vast Circle C Ranch, from his uncle Major Cosgrave (Jim Davis) who had forged Jet’s father’s will to gain control.
Into this main thread we find the arrival of the Major’s new intended (played by Catherine McLeod) whose affections gradually turn away from the Major when she sees how vicious and crooked he really is, towards Jet. There is another woman on the scene though who has set her sights firmly on Jet! Essentially this is a ‘range war’ western (I like those) and whilst you can always say ‘this plot is familiar’ where westerns are concerned, it is really all about how that plot plays out and how well it is dealt with.
For me, this is a Western I am always happy to re-watch every few years as it just ‘ticks all the boxes’ for me. The storyline and the attendant action are not contrived but natural and the action which is plentiful is expertly-handled by Witney. The supporting cast reads like a “Who’s Who” of the western – Bob Steele, Harry Carey jr, James Millican, Ben Cooper, Frank Ferguson, Hank Worden… I am again struck by how good John Derek is in the leading role. He made a number of good Westerns for different studios and it struck me that he would have been a terrific Western lead for one studio, along the lines of Audie Murphy (and just as good). Good actor and he handles the gunplay and horseback stuff like a real seasoned westerner.
The Outcast is sadly one of those many fine Republic films that are not available on DVD in the US market. The only option is an Italian release that is on sale on Amazon UK for around $200! Thankfully, the BBC transmitted the movie some years ago in the UK and I recorded it. The print is fine and the Trucolor comes across OK. This is one of those films we need to see released by someone who cares.
If a solid, well-made western made by folks who knew how to do it is your thing then this one is worth seeking out (if you can).
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.
Posted in 1956, DVD reviews, releases, TV, etc., Forrest Tucker, Hank Worden, Lee Van Cleef, Lippert/Regal, Mara Corday, Olive Films, Republic Pictures, Skip Homeier, William Witney on January 15, 2015 | 13 Comments »
Directed by William Claxton
Starring Forrest Tucker, Mara Corday, Jim Davis, Kathleen Crowley, Lee Van Cleef, Hank Worden
They say good things come to those who wait. Well, The Quiet Gun (1956) is a very good movie — maybe the best of the Regalscope Westerns. And we’ve been (almost patiently) waiting quite some time since Olive Films hinted at its release. This is one many of us have been longing for in all its widescreen glory, and it’ll be a joy to toss the almost unwatchable pan-and-scan bootleg I’ve had for years. It’s coming on both DVD and Blu-ray March 31.
What’s more, Republic’s Stranger At My Door (1956) from William Witney is part of the same batch of releases. It’s an excellent picture starring Macdonald Carey, Patricia Medina and Skip Homeier.
Thanks to John and Laura for this wonderful news. I can’t wait.