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Play Ball!

Today, the LA Dodgers were to play their first home game of the 2020 season (against the Giants). Of course, it’s not happening.

Here’s a photo of John Ford sporting a Dodgers cap (in Monument Valley) to commemorate the occasion that should’ve been. Posting this picture, one of my favorites, has been a tradition here, and this year I’ll get to do it twice — when the season finally starts, if we get around to baseball at all. Go Dodgers!

Kino Lorber has announced their first volume of Western Classics for June — When The Daltons Rode (1940), The Virginian (1946) and Whispering Smith (1948).

When The Daltons Rode offers up about 30 minutes of constant riding, shooting and just general mayhem in its last reels, all courtesy of the great Yakima Canutt. Amazing stuff. Whispering Smith was tailor-made for Alan Ladd — his first Western and his first color film. The Virginian puts a couple of my favorites in the same movie — Joel McCrea and William Frawley.

Working on the commentary notes for When The Daltons Rode has been a lot of fun, especially watching all the stunts again and again.

I love the first volume of sets like this, since it comes with the promise of more!

Directed by Edward Dein
Starring Eric Fleming, Michael Pate, Kathleen Crowley, John Hoyt, Bruce Gordon, Edward Binns, Jimmy Murphy, Helen Kleeb, Jay Adler

If somebody’d told me way back when I started this blog that Curse Of The Undead (1959) would be coming to Blu-Ray, I would’ve told ’em they were nuts. But low and behold, Kino Lorber has announced it.

Curse Of The Undead is a real oddball in the 50s Westerns corral — a Western and vampire picture nailed together. It somehow stays fairly true to the conventions of both genres, and it’s a lot of fun.

Michael Pate is terrific, and Ellis W. Carter’s cinematography is perfectly suited to the material. He was a wise choice, since he’d done Universal sci-fi pictures like The Mole People (1956), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), The Deadly Mantis (1957) and The Land Unknown (1957, in CinemaScope) — along with 50s Westerns like The Texas Rangers (1951) and A Day Of Fury (1956).  It should look great in high definition.

Not sure when this is coming, but I’m really glad it is.

Oh, and Reynold Brown’s poster art is really cool.

Warner Archive has announced Blu-Ray releases for a couple of pictures we’ve all been pining for — Robert Wise’s Blood On The Moon and Norman Foster’s Rachel And The Stranger (both 1948).

From its cast (Robert Mitchum, Charles McGraw) to its brooding tone to its cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca, Blood On The Moon is one of the best examples of film noir creeping into the Western — and a big indicator of what the 1950s had in store for the genre. It’s terrific, and I can’t wait to see it in high definition.

Rachel And The Stranger is about as far from Blood On The Moon as you can get, a lighter, sweeter film with an unbeatable cast: Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum and William Holden. It was helped along at the box office by, of all things, Robert Mitchum’s marijuana arrest. Warner Archive is promising an uncut version — Howard Hughes cut over 10 minutes out of it — with Waldo Salt’s writing credit restored. This is a big, big deal.

Remember The Alamo!

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.

I’ve been a guest on the The Forgotten Filmcast podcast a couple times in the past, and I’m delighted to be heading there again in a couple weeks.

Host Todd Liebenow and I will cover the William-Castle-directed, Sam-Katzman-produced bit of glorious 3D nonsense, Jesse James Vs. The Daltons (1953). I’m sure it’ll be fun to talk with Todd, and hopefully, it’ll be fun to listen to.

Will post the link when it’s complete.

RIP, Ben Cooper.

Ben Cooper
(September 30, 1933 – February 24, 2020)

Got word this morning that Ben Cooper has passed away at 86.

He did a lot of pictures for Republic, from Woman They Almost Lynched (1953) to Johnny Guitar (1954, above, on the right) to A Strange Adventure (1956) — and he kept at it in movies and TV (mostly Westerns) into the 1990s.

VCI Entertainment has announced the upcoming Blu-Ray release of two terrific Buck Jones serials from Universal — Gordon Of Ghost City (1933) and The Phantom Rider (1936). Gordon was the first of six serials Buck Jones would do for Universal.

Both come from director Ray Taylor, who did a number of serials, including The Green Hornet and Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe (both 1940). Early in his long, prolific career, he was an assistant director for John Ford.

Both are sourced from original 35mm fine grain material — and both will feature liner notes from yours truly.

Directed by John Ford
Starring Harry Carey, Molly Malone, Duke R. Lee, Hoot Gibson

Kino Lorber has announced a Blu-Ray release of the recent 4K restoration of John Ford’s Straight Shooting (1917) starring Harry Carey. Carey plays Cheyenne Harry, caught up in a fight between farmers and ranchers.

I’m really anxious to see how this restoration looks. It’s certainly a cool movie.

 

Happy Birthday, James Griffith.

James H. Griffith
(February 13, 1916 – September 17, 1993)

Here’s to one of my favorite character actors on his birthday. James Griffith is seen here with George Montgomery in William Castle’s Masterson Of Kansas (1954). Griffith is Doc Holliday.

Griffith is in a ton of stuff, and he’s always terrific. One of my favorites of his many parts is his yellow witness in the Dragnet feature (1954).

Thanks for the reminder, Paula!