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Cheyenne: Mountain Fortress (1955)
First Cheyenne episode is essentially a remake of Errol Flynn's 1950 "Rocky Mountain"...
...with a number of notable guest stars, including James Garner (just prior to his "Maverick" days). As with a number of later "Cheyenne" episodes, the characters and plot are not only taken from old western movies (normally with high production values providing plenty of good footage), the TV characters are dressed in similar clothing to their movie antecedents in order to make the vintage film believable to the TV audience. This episode lacks the pathos of the original film, which presented the characters in much less black and white shadows (there were no really bad guys in "Rocky Mountain," just doomed Confederate soldiers far from home attempting carry out a mission. In this episode, the bad guys have few redeeming qualities. The action is real enough and, while the acting is generally bogus, the story line is compelling enough to watch the whole thing through...
Cheyenne: Test of Courage (1957)
a remake of Gary Cooper's 1953 film, "Springfield Rifle"...
...even some of the characters' names ("McCool," the leader of the outlaw gang) are the same. And footage from the 1953 film is used quite liberally throughout the episode. Clint Walker and the other actors had to dress in similar-looking costumes to make the fillers plausible. The plot is simple: horses are being stolen from the army in a number of daring raids, and in turn are sold to the Indians under Crazy Horse (in the film, the bad guys were Southern sympathizers). Cheyenne (Walker) is assigned to work with Army intelligence to undercover the culprits. Lots of action, but not very original. Good performances from such veteran western stars as John Archer, George Neise, Mickey Simpson, and Robert Anderson
Spring Break (1988)
Little Known All-Male Film, but one of the hottest!!!!
I just happened on this film a few years ago, but I found it one of the most memorable all-male efforts I had ever seen. The plot is simple; a young guy home from his first semester at college and the voyage of sexual discovery which changes his life forever. First off, he meets up with two of his old high-school buddies and, after one thing leading to another, ends up in a really hot menage-a-trois, with our hero as the "Lucky Pierre" of the set. Next, some basketball with friends is aborted by a sudden rainstorm and ends up with him being picked up by an uncle (a dashing tall, dark hunk) and thoroughly ravaged by the older man. Then, a really hot four way with some old buddies and a reunion of sorts with his high school gym teacher. The camera work (sepia-toned in some places) is deliciously appropriate and nicely brings out the flesh tones, especially in the group sex scenes. I really enjoyed this film and would love to get a copy!!
The Great Missouri Raid (1951)
A lively little shoot-em-up with a great cast!
This is one of my all-time favorite westerns! I love MacDonald Carey Ellen Drew and Wendell Corey (even though he was a Republican!). Their characterizations of Jesse James, his wife Zee, and Frank James are absolutely first-rate. Gordon Douglas directed some great westerns (Fort Dobbs, The Big Land, Doolins of Oklahoma) and also some real turkeys (1966's Stagecoach should have been barred by statute from being made!). In The Great Missouri Raid, he did a fantastic job! Of course, the story as told here is not too accurate (the "great raid" is actually a railroad hold-up gone awry - an obvious reference to the real-live raid on Northfield, Minnesota), but is quite entertaining (why is it that westerns that adhere strictly to facts also end up so dad-blamed DULL?). Ward Bond is very good as Jesse's nemesis, Major Trowbridge (although his sudden exit near the end of the movie is a bit strange). But watch, too, for great supporting work from the other cast, especially James Griffith (as an undercover detective) and Edgar Buchanan (as Jesse stepfather). James Millican has an early role as a union sergeant who comes to an untimely demise. And don't forget Tom Tyler, a fixture in westerns large and small from the 1920s to the 50s.!
Domino Kid (1957)
Plenty of suspense in this post-Civil War western!
Veteran cowboy director Ray Nazarro came up with a winner with this fast-moving little oater. Just goes to show what a good script can do with a less than sterling budget. Rory Calhoun plays the title role, a war veteran returning west to avenge his murdered father (there were five of 'em, but who was the *fifth* man?). A series of successful shoot-outs bring Rory to the final showdown, not only with adversaries Andrew Duggan and Peter Witney, but with his own sense of justice and revenge. Helping him along are Kristine Miller and Robert Burton (who, like in just about every other minor western of the 1950's, plays the honest sheriff). A good performance by Eugene Inglesias as Domino's boyhood friend adds to the just-north-of-the-border ambiance of this comptetent film. An all-around enjoyable treat!
Dawn at Socorro (1954)
Doc Holliday-type character post OK Corral
*Dawn* is one of those 1950's westerns that were a variation on the Earp/Holliday story (e.g. *Warlock*). It works fairly well here. Grell Wade (Rory Calhoun) is a former Southern gentleman turned consumptive gunman and gambler who heads for the healthier climate of Colorado after standing with lawman brothers in their showdown against a family of cowboy outlaws. But of course in westerns no gunslinger is allowed to quit without at least one more fight, and that's the making of the story line here. Along the way, Wade meets his "fallen woman" with the heart of gold (Piper Laurie), a shady businessman and saloon owner (David Brian) and vengeful cowboys (Lee Van Cleef, Alex Nichol). Good supporting roles for Roy Roberts, Edgar Buchanan, James Millican, and others make this an entirely enjoyable little horse opera. A bit slow at times, but definitely a must-see for western fans and those who like their Rory Calhoun straight-up.
A Quirky Re-Telling of the Wyatt Earp/Doc Holiday Saga with the names changed
Edward Dmytryk's rare foray into the American West produced this epic re-telling of the OK Corral saga, though with the names and locales in new guise. Like other films of its genre (*The Big Country*, *3:10 to Yuma*, *Gunfight at OK Corral*), it combines hard-hitting action with 1950s psychology. Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn appear in the Earp/Holiday roles, hiring on as the pay-as-you-go lawmen of a non-descript mining and cattle town ("Warlock") that bears a striking resemblance to Tombstone, Arizona in more than its allegorical name. Richard Widmark plays a reluctant cowboy (reminescent of Billy Clanton) who sees the error of the cowboys' ways but remains loyal to them in an important sense. Ambiguities abound throughout the film, and the climactic shoot-out lacks the decisive denouement of the original 1881 battle, but all the familiar landmarks and characters are there, including an excellent portrayal by Dorothy Malone in the Kate Fisher-type role. And Henry Fonda plays a darker, more suggestive Wyatt Earp than he ever did in My Darling Clementine.