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A lot of people like all that streaming TV stuff. And when I see how much of my home is dedicated to storing my, my wife’s and my daughter’s favorite movies and TV shows, I wish I did.

But I learned a lesson about streaming. Several years ago, Hellfire (1949) — one of my all-time favorite movies — was available for streaming on Netflix. It was not on DVD or Blu-Ray. Streaming was it. I live in a fairly rural area, and the internet service at the time wasn’t up to snuff, so we never got a Netflix account. A few months later, I heard Hellfire wasn’t up there anymore. I’ve since learned it’s back.

When I feel like watching a favorite movie, I want to watch it — and if it’s sitting on a shelf in my home, I can. I’m not at the mercy of Netflix deciding what they will or won’t offer from one month to the next.

Today, I saw a news story that the Peanuts holiday specials won’t be on broadcast TV this year, something many families make a point of getting together for. The article, in the Los Angeles Times, said “The Peanuts gang and their annual holiday specials have left broadcast television for their new home, Apple TV+…  rather than on ABC and other networks this year.”

As much as I hate it for other folks, Apple TV+ can do what they want, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest are waiting for my family on Blu-Ray. Another lesson learned about streaming vs. DVDs and Blu-Rays.

RIP, Rhonda Fleming.

Rhonda Fleming
(August 10, 1923 – October 14, 2020)

Rhonda Fleming, “The Queen Of Technicolor,” has passed away at 97. Here she is in Allan Dwan’s Tennessee’s Partner (1955).

Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Ben Johnson, Claude Jarman Jr. , Harry Carey Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carrol Naish, Victor McLaglen, Grant Withers, The Sons Of The Pioneers

Olive Films is adding Rio Grande (1950), the third of John Ford’s “Cavalry Trilogy,” to its Signature Edition series. (The first two were Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.) The release date is listed as November 17.

John Ford did Rio Grande for Republic to get the opportunity to do The Quiet Man (1952), but such dealmaking does not take away from this brilliant movie. The cinematography from Bert Glennon alone is worth the upgrade to Blu-Ray. Essential.

Remember the “WANTED! More Readers Like…” thing in Famous Monsters Of Filmland magazine? (I was too self-conscious to send in a photo, though nothing would’ve been cooler than appearing in FM.)

When Glenn Erickson shared this photo a while back, the FM feature was the first thing that came to mind. Glenn, of course, is the proprietor of Cinesavant.com, one of the go-to places for old movie nuts, and just an all-around nice guy.

So, we’ll let Glenn blaze a new trail here at 50 Westerns From The 50s — pony pictures. Send yours to fiftieswesterns@gmail.com and we’ll get ’em up here.

Critics’ Choice has really come on with a bang, announcing DVD sets movie nuts have been asking for. The Buck Jones Western Collection sounds terrific, gathering up nine of his Columbia pictures from 1930 to 1933, including one with John Wayne.

Men Without Law (1930)
Directed by Louis King
Starring Buck Jones, Carmelita Geraghty, Thomas Carrmin)

The Avenger (1931)
Directed by Roy William Neill
Starring Buck Jones, Dorothy Revier, Otto Hoffman

Branded (1931)
Directed by D. Ross Lederman
Starring Buck Jones, Ethel Kenyon, Wallace MacDonald.

The Deadline (1931)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Buck Jones, Loretta Sayers, Robert Ellis

The Range Feud (1931)
Directed by D. Ross Lederman
Starring Buck Jones, John Wayne, Susan Fleming

Forbidden Trail (1932)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Buck Jones, Barbara Weeks, George Cooper

The Thrill Hunter (1933)
Directed by George B. Seitz
Starring Buck Jones, Dorothy Revier, Arthur Rankin

The California Trail (1933)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Buck Jones, Helen Mack, Luis Albert

Unknown Valley (1933)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Starring Buck Jones, Cecilia Parker, Wade Boteler

With this set and the serials on Blu-Ray from VCI, this is a great time for Buck Jones fans. Recommended.

Thundering Caravans (1952).

Directed by Harry Keller
Produced by Rudy Ralston
Written by M. Coates Webster
Music by Stanley Wilson
Cinematography: John MacBurnie
Film Editor: Harold Minter

Cast: Allan “Rocky” Lane (Marshal Rocky Lane), Eddy Waller (Sheriff Nugget Clark), Mona Knox (Alice Scott), Roy Barcroft (Ed Brill), Isabel Randolph (Deborah Cranston), Richard Crane (Deputy Dan Reed), William Henry (Bert Cranston), Edward Clark (Printer Tom), Pierre Watkin (Head Marshal), Stanley Andrews (Henry Scott), Boyd ‘Red’ Morgan, Fred Aldrich, Art Dillard, Roy Engel, Marshall Reed, Tex Terry, Dale Van Sickel, Black Jack

__________

I’m embarrassed to admit that this is the first Allan “Rocky” Lane picture to be featured on this blog. I’ve got to get around to Monte Hale, too!

Thundering Caravans (1952) was one of Lane’s later pictures for Republic. His last, El Paso Stampede (1953), was released a little over a year later. Republic would be done with the series Western entirely after 1954’s Phantom Stallion with Rex Allen.

Allan Lane grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and dropped out of Notre Dame to give acting a go. He was spotted and signed by Fox, but moved over to Warner Bros. That didn’t work out so well, and Lane gave up the movies for a while. He was back in supporting parts at Fox in the mid-30s, and after a few thing like RKO’s The Law West Of Tombstone (1938), he made his way over to Republic.

After serials like King Of The Royal Mounted (1940) and The Tiger Woman (1944) with Linda Stirling, Lane was launched as a Republic cowboy star. Next, in 1946, he took over the Red Ryder role after Wild Bill Elliott left the series. When that ran its course, he was back to playing Allan “Rocky” Lane through 1953. From there, he did mostly TV guest roles until providing the voice of Mr. Ed (1961-1966). 

Thundering Caravans has Lane a marshal coming to the aid of the sheriff of Edgewater, who’s trying to get to the bottom of a series of robberies. Wagons of ore are disappearing, and the local newspaper is badmouthing the sheriff as election days comes near. 

Eddy Waller is a hoot as Nugget, the sheriff. Waller was a constant in these Lane pictures, but he wasn’t a sidekick in the regular sense. While he’s always named Nugget Clark, he’s a different character from film to film. In Thundering Caravans, he and Lane don’t know each other at all.

Roy Barcroft doesn’t have a lot of screen time as Ed Brill, an escaped convict, but he gets to be plenty despicable before he’s through. Barcroft was a given in Republic pictures at this time, since he had an exclusive 10-year contract with the studio. They put him in everything they could.

The girl this time around is Mona Knox, an actress and pinup girl who appeared in a handful of films and some TV in the 50s and 60s. She appeared in Flying Leathernecks (1951), The Las Vegas Story (1952) and a couple of Bowery Boys pictures. She doesn’t have a whole lot to do in Thundering Caravans.

Harry Keller was an editor turned director, and he did a number of these later Lane Westerns, including the last one, El Paso Stampede. (He did the Rex Allen’s last, too.) Keller made the move to TV, with some Universal-International Westerns here and there — Quantez (1957), Day Of The Badman (1958) and Seven Ways From Sundown (1960). As with a lot of editors who climb into the director’s chair, you can count on Keller’s pictures to be well-paced, with some solid actions scenes.

Solid action was the order of the day at Republic as their series Westerns wound down. They’re short (usually under an hour), with plenty of riding and shooting (some of it stock footage), and the casts and sets are kept to a minimum. Thundering Caravans looks like it was shot at Iverson Ranch — some rear-projection footage is definitely Iverson.

It’s a shame Republics like Thundering Caravans aren’t around on DVD or Blu-Ray. They’re a lot of fun. 

Some of us have been going back and forth about this for over a year. Well, now’s the time to make it official. Marie Windsor, my all-time favorite actress, gets a blogathon. It kicks off on her birthday, December 11. 

If you’re interested in playing along, email me at fiftieswesterns@gmail.com with the Marie Windsor movie you want to cover. I’ll be keeping a list to try to avoid too much duplication. More info will come as the event gets closer.

Directed by William Castle
Starring Lex Barker, Patricia Medina, Warren Stevens, Craig Stevens, John Dehner, Mel Welles

Around here, it’s a big deal when a William Castle or Sam Katzman picture turns up on Blu-Ray.

Duel On The Mississippi (1955) isn’t a Western, but it’s pretty close. It’s one of those Louisiana riverboat things, with plenty of ridin’ and shooting’, and river pirates instead of outlaws or Indians. Lex Barker’s fine, Patricia Medina is beautiful, and John Dehner’s always terrific.

Henry Freulich’s Technicolor cinematography’s gonna be stunning on Blu-Ray, I’m sure. It’s coming in December from Germany’s Explosive Media. Can’t wait. You may have it on DVD in the Mill Creek William Castle Western set.

Thanks to John Knight for the news.

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!”

RIP, Lori Nelson.

Lori Nelson
(August 15, 1933 – August 23, 2020)

Lori Nelson, has passed away at 87. She was born Dixie Kay Nelson. Her family moved to Hollywood when she was four. Soon after, she was crowned Little Miss America.

In 1950, Ms. Nelson signed a seven-year contract with Universal-International. Her first film was Bend Of The River, followed by Ma And Pa Kettle At The Fair and Francis Goes To West Point (all 1952). In 1953, U-I put her in Douglas Sirk’s All I Desire. She appeared in two Audie Murphy pictures, Tumbleweed (1953) and Destry (1954).

In 1955, she did Ma And Pa Kettle At Waikiki, Revenge of the Creature, Roger Corman’s Day The World Ended and I Died A Thousand Times, a remake of High Sierra (1941) — which has already been remake as Colorado Territory (1949). Underwater! was released in 1955, though it’d been shot some time earlier. She was loaned to Howard Hughes and RKO for that one. She’s also in Pardners (1956), one of the last Martin and Lewis pictures, Hot Rod Girl (1956) co-starring Chuck Connors and Howard W. Koch’s Untamed Youth (1957) with  Mamie Van Doren. What a great batch of 1950s cinema.