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Archive for the ‘William Witney’ Category

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Came across something I wanna share. During World War II, some directors were standing around at Republic, talking. The only one of them of draft age was William Witney (above) — who eventually joined the Marines and served in their combat photography unit.

During this conversation, George Sherman said, “Anyone who quits Republic and joins the Army is a coward.”

If Sherman’s quip isn’t terrific enough, the very idea of these guys standing around jawbonin’ really knocks me out. I shook Mr. Witney’s hand at a Western film festival many years ago, and was too young, stupid and intimidated to really say anything. What a missed opportunity that was. Of course, he was as nice as he could be.

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Directed by William Witney
Starring Roy Rogers, Eselita Rodriguez, Penny Edwards, Gordon Jones, Will Wright

I have the extreme honor of preparing a commentary for Kino Lorber’s upcoming Sunset In The West (1950). The work copy they sent was so gorgeous, I had to share it (and they were kind enough to say OK).

They also say there’s a little work left to do on it. Judging from this, it’s gonna be quite a thing.

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Roy Rogers
November 5, 1911 –  July 6, 1998

The Joel McCrea Blogathon is gonna make Roy Rogers’ birthday, November 5, kinda crowded. Roy deserves his own time in the spotlight, so I’m going to bring him up in a couple days early.

There’s something about Roy Rogers that just makes me feel good. As I see it, the cinema hasn’t come up with anything to top the entertainment that can be derived from those later Roy pictures directed by William Witney. That’s as good as it gets.

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sunset-in-the-west-hsDirected by William Witney
Starring Roy Rogers, Estelita Rodriguez, Penny Edwards, Gordon Jones, Will Wright, Foy Willing And The Riders Of The Purple Sage

One of the hottest topics on this blog has always been the availability, or absence, of the Roy Rogers Trucolor films of late 40s and early 50s. The arrival of one of these pictures in color and uncut is always worth celebrating — and we get this next one, Sunset In The West (1950), on DVD and Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber.

More info as it comes in — and a huge thanks to Bob Furmanek for the tip! And if they want a commentary, I’d love to do it.

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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.

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Abile Town signed still

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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