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Interesting western, mostly for its historical value.
To appreciate this film you must go back to the past, when there was no TV and you would go to an enormous movie theater. To see a routine western would be fun but this one has something more. First the horse Dynamite which is tamed by the cowboy Jack Tarrant (Jack Hoxie), which buys it from his boss. Through the edition of the film they make Dynamite perform quite a number of funny tricks, the best one when he throws what looks like a Ford Model T down a slope. Then there is the character of Jeff Sellers (Lafe McKee). At the beginning one assumes that he is the typical Gabby Hayes old nice guy, but he shows himself quite mean and treacherous, even though he is the father of Marion, the leading lady (Alice Day). Probably to keep costs down, many important scenes take place during the night and you can barely see what is going on. Interesting western, mostly for its historical value.
Cattle Empire (1958)
The town hated him, but needed him...
Few guys can be considered as bad as McCrea at the beginning of this film. He blinded one man, made another lose his arm and was a disgrace to the town. Will he turn out to be good at the end? Talented writers like Daniel B. Ullman and Endre Bohem and a great actor like Joel McCrea., can makes us believe in whatever choice they make. McCrea was quite unsympathetic in Fort Massacre (1958), a western made in the same year. This film could go the same way, and part of the fun of seeing it is wandering how it will come out. In the fifties westerns were trying desperately to bring different stories due to the competition from TV. And when you saw a standard good guy like McCrea being so bad in the trailer, you would go running to the movie theater! Cattle Empire is directed by Charles Marquis Warren who has to his credit "Hellgate", "Seven Angry Men", "Tension at Table Rock", "Arrowhead" and "Little Big Horn", all remarkable westerns.
unusual and entertaining Roger Corman western
This is the type of western I would give everything to see when I was a kid, but would not be allowed (it would be restricted for minors) because of scenes with violence and sex. And considering the prudishness and the clichés of the good guy vs bad guy westerns of the fifties, Roger Corman knew how to make it different , even though he had a small budget (the film was shot in less than a week) and borrowed from some other films (Duel in the Sun in the final shoot out and Destry Rides Again with the women fighting in the saloon). Rose, the Marshal (Beverly Garland) kills people like she is killing flies, and Cane Miro (John Ireland) the main male character is very far from what you what call a good guy. Add to that a really mean woman, Erica (Allison Hayes) and you can be sure you will never get bored. The sexy scenes consist only of kissing, but they are sexier than the more explicit ones that you see in most movies today.
Not a remake but same characters as Destry Rides Again
Frenchie is not a remake of "Destry Rides Again" One could think of it as a sequel since when it starts the town of Bottleneck is already cleaned up (Destry did it, remember?) But it would not make sense since Shelley Winters is Frenchy, the role that was played by Marlene Dietrich and the Dietrich Frenchy died in the first film. So the conclusion is that the filmmakers used the same characters, with a different story. Joel McCrea as Sheriff Tom Banning uses the same metaphors as James Stewart in the earlier film as he says he once had a friend that
The script is witty and well built, the Technicolor is pleasing ,it is a shame there are no musical numbers like in "Destry Rides Again" and "Destry" (with Audie Murphy). I saw this film when I was 8 years old with my father and did not like it because I thought there were few action scenes. When I saw it again recently, I greatly enjoyed it.
The Sheepman (1958)
No Destry Rides Again but still worth seeing
The title of this film is misleading, a sheepman makes you think of a shepherd and a light comedy, and even though it is partly a comedy, it has its share of violence and drama. George Marshall was an expert at this combination of styles he directed "Destry Rides Again" (1939), "Texas" (1941), "Destry" (1954). What "The Sheepman" does not lack is great actors: Glenn Ford, Shirley MacLaine, Edgar Buchanan, Mickey Shaughnessy and Leslie Nilsen. Nilsen plays a charismatic "bad man", he seems so nice and friendly, and all of a sudden turns into a rattlesnake. Edgar Buchanan is Milt Masters, a likable guy with no morals and that has no qualms about it. Mickey Shaughnessy is Jumbo, supposed to be the toughest guy in town. There is a good chemistry between MacLaine and Glenn Ford, she falls for him gradually, which woman could resist such a perfect hero? Even though it has the same style it does not come close to "Destry Rides Again", but it is still an enjoyable western.
The Comancheros (1961)
Wayne-Whitman, Wayne-Marvin, best part of the film...
You can describe this film through its relationships.The relationship between John Wayne (Big Jake) and Stuart Whitman (Paul Regret) is the best and most important part, Whitman the prisoner who is not really guilty and Wayne the tough Texas Ranger that will stick to his principles no matter what. Whitman is a high class dandy and Wayne the opposite. Whitman keeps calling Wayne "my friend", which irritates him and he makes a point of answering that eventually he will understand that he is not his friend. The relationship between Wayne and Lee Marvin is the second best and unfortunately it is soon over, but not after providing us with some great moments on the screen. What does not work is the relationship between Whitman and Ina Balin (Pilar Graile) and also between Ina Balin and her father Nehemiah Persoff (Graile). Somehow the script does not work, not Ina's fault. The film seems excellent, up to the moment when they meet the Comancheros, and then it is a letdown. But there are so many good moments which makes it worth seeing. It is also the last film of the great director Michael Curtiz,
Rebel in Town (1956)
meaningful western where a woman counts the most...
This film show us a war that is supposedly over but some non conformed rebels are still using their uniforms and becoming bandits to survive. When a misunderstanding happens and a boy is killed there seems to be no way out for them. The importance of a woman, Nora (Ruth Roman), who even though her son is dead, makes all efforts for a peaceful solution, is the remarkable aspect of this western. What looks like a plain B movie at the beginning gradually becomes more meaningful, directed by Alfred Werker (Three Hours to Kill, The Last Posse). John Payne (Willoughby) and John Carrol Naish (Mason) are the heads of family and Ben Cooper (Gray Mason) is excellent as the son with good feelings. The tragedy of the film is caused by a boy using toy guns. In the fifties toy guns used to be popular, probably even more in the years before. Good thing you do not see them anymore.
Stand Up and Fight (1939)
sometimes aged, sometimes interesting and a great Beery!
When you see a film made in 1939 like this one you can be sure, with few exceptions that some of it will age and look ridiculous, some of it will age but will be interesting because of a certain historical value, and some of it will not age at all. What did not age in this film is the charismatic performance of Wallace Beery, playing a kind of likable bad guy, rough and unscrupulous . What aged? The fistfights of Beery and Robert Taylor that look like the film was sped up. Also the good guy Taylor showing his kindness by selling his slaves only as a family when he goes broke. The real kindness would be to let them go free. Interesting are the scenes that show the race between the train and a stagecoach, reminding us of "Dodge City", released in the same year and also the train being pushed on a hill by the passengers, because the engine is underpowered.
The Return of Jack Slade (1955)
good western, from those who made "Jack Slade".
Considering the time this western was released, it is more audacious than the average. At the beginning we are in doubt if Jack Slade (John Ericson) is a good or bad guy. He gets revolted at the teacher who speaks badly about his father, the notorious Jack Slade and threatens him with his gun. But after that he meets a Pinkerton agent who sets him on the good way. John Ericson is an ideal western hero, that can be confirmed in the excellent scene where he tries out a new gun. He is buying the gun because it was taken away by a sexy woman, Texas Rose (Mari Blanchard), on a train robbery, as she is part of "The Wild Bunch". He goes out after the bunch, and pretends to join them. What is great about this bunch are the women, which are more inspired on a Jane Russel of "The Outlaw" than on a Calamity Jane. There is a nice small part for Angie Dickinson as one of the women. The director, cinematographer, writer and producers are the same who have made "Jack Slade", which, like this is an above average western.
Seven Angry Men (1955)
worth seeing for what it tells and for what it does not tell.
John Brown's story is certainly an interesting one and worth telling. Nobody can go against his main idea which was to free the slaves. The problem, as shown by this film was how his violence and fanaticism went against him. A lawyer at the end mentions that insanity runs in the family, but Brown makes a point of saying he is sane.The film explains his violence by showing it as a retaliation from the attack on Lawrence, Kansas. But you can say the conscience of the film is expressed by the character played by Debra Paget, who tries to hold her feelings in relation to Brown's son (Jeffrey Hunter) on account of Brown's violence. Was his desperate act at Harper's Ferry a catalyst for the civil war? The film shows it as an immediate failure, and leaves the question of its effect on the future on the air. For the story it tells this film is worth seeing, also for the story it does not tell.