Reviews written by registered user
|9 reviews in total|
Disney Studios produced a plethora of memorable live-action movies in the 1950's. This one ranks near the top of the list, along with "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea". A very entertaining, and in many ways, a very accurate portrayal of the early days of our great nation. Walt died in 1966, well after the creation of "Disneyland" in Anaheim (his personal dream), but long before the entertainment empire we know today as https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/. I often wonder if Walt would appreciate what his legacy has become. I am thinking he would have much preferred to stick with Donald Duck and the historical perspectives portrayed in some of his later works.
Roland Reed was one of the most prolific TV producers of the 1950's, and "Waterfront" ranks near the top of his creative output. Preston Foster was tailor-made for the role of "Cap'n John Herrick". He looks and acts the part, perhaps more so than than any other leading man or character actor of the time might have done. The stories are well-written and easy to wrap your arms around. The music, composed and arranged by long-time Roland Reed associate Alexander Laszlo, stands on its own quite well (as does Laszlo's work on so many other Roland Reed productions), but in the case of the haunting and melodic "Waterfront" theme, stands out all the more.
This show has been a favorite of mine from the time it first aired in
the late fifties. As another reviewer astutely pointed out, TV westerns
of the day were rife with 'gimmick' weapons such as "The Rifleman"'s
"rifle", or maybe "Yancy Derringer's", umm, "Derringer". In "Wanted
Dead Or Alive", the gimmick weapon-du-jour was Josh Randall's sawed-off
Winchester. These "weapons" were never meant to portray reality (well,
"Yancy Derringer's" Derringer may be an exception). Rather, they were
meant to catch the attention of those rabid "baby boomer" kids whose
parents were fortunate enough to own a television. Realistic or not,
these weapons were "cool" to every "boomer" kid, and the networks were
keenly aware of that fact. As such, the networks may have felt
compelled to "out-weapon" one another from time to time. Few who were
born after, including most all of the reviewers here who have focused
on the technical inaccuracies, ambiguities, and anachronisms of Josh
Randall's weapon, have meaningful first-hand insight into what any of
this was about.
"MeTV" has been airing re-runs of "Wanted Dead Or Alive" for several months now. I watch it every day. To me, it has been like renewing the acquaintance of a long-lost friend. Steve McQueen's portrayal of the "benevolent bounty hunter" is so convincing, and the story lines so compelling, that you come away believing that bounty hunters were the ultimate "good guys". And as those of us "boomer kids" fondly remember, the "good guys" always won.
Steve McQueen's first big exposure in either film or television was, of course, "The Blob", the filming of which was completed long before WDOA went into production. According to IMDb, it was McQueen's performance in "The Blob" that caught the attention of Four-Star executive Dick Powell. This, in turn, resulted in McQueen's casting as Josh Randall. As I recall, it was some time after "Wanted Dead Or Alive" first aired on television that "The Blob" finally went into theatrical release. By that time, McQueen was already a "star" (at least to us "boomer" kids), and we went to the theater, not just to see "The Blob", but also to see "Josh Randall" as a "teenager". Talk about an anachronism!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The other reviews pretty much sum up this disaster of a Korean War epic. In spite of that, I found it entertaining enough to keep watching, if only for John Agar, who has what has to be one of the most interesting resumes in Hollywood, ranging from Grade "A" to Grade "Z", and everything in between. But there is one element that some may have missed. Take a close look at the faces of the "North Korean" fighter pilots who give chase to John Agar and his pals in their stolen F-86's -- I mean MIG 15's. They were lifted right out of the film "Rodan", the 1956 Japanese Sci-Fi epic, including the climactic scene where the two planes collide -- the "North Korean" pilot in that scene is actually the Japanese pilot who collided with Rodan. De-colorized to protect the innocent, of course. Wonder how Edward L. Cahn managed to pull that one off.
And yes -- I actually saw it "live" on TV. Sponsored by Ralston. I vividly remember Commander Corey and Cadet Happy happily plugging "Wheat Chex", "Rice Chex", and "Instant Ralston" when they weren't pursuing or being pursued by the bad guys. How many of us remember the name of the man who heralded "Travel into the future with BUZZ CORY, Commander-in-Chief of the SPAAAAACE PATROL!"? That was Jack Narz, who later went on to fame as the host of the scandal-ridden game show "Dotto"!! The live sets, the music, and the miniatures (quite imaginative for the time) were all done with such care. I would like to thank the other contributors to this thread who remember and love this show as much as I do, especially "IsleManage" (such an interesting story about your father (mother too) -- thanks for sharing), "mmore98" who gave us insight to the conception of the series, and the unfortunate demise of "Tonga" -- my first recollection of, shall we say, a "hottie". How sad. But most of all, I would like to thank the late Ed Kemmer and the late Lyn Osborn for providing me with role models worthy of remembering and looking up to. I love you and I miss you both!!
Having just read all the previous comments on this show, there is not a whole lot I can add, except to say that I remember vividly the day that WPIX TV in New York (Channel 11) debuted this show, complete with a contest (hosted by "Officer Joe Bolton" -- I never quite got how a police officer figure into the equation, but then, I was just a kid) where the winner would receive a remote-controlled model helicopter. During the commercial breaks, "Officer Joe" would conduct demonstrations of the prize. Some kid would come on stage and operate a tethered remote control helicopter, and you would hear the sound of the real Bell helicopter in the background. I remember thinking how cool that was, and I remember my mom telling me how fake the sound was. Fifties TV at its very best (smile).
I saw this film when it was in theatrical release in a theater at, of all places, the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey (just down the road from Paterson where much of the film was shot). Willowbrook Mall was, and is, one of the largest shopping malls in the New York metropolitan area. But this was the early seventies. Not only did Willowbrook have a theater that showed hardcore porn, there was a store called "Smugglers Attic" which was, for all intents and purposes, a head shop. Sort of gives you an idea of how "heady" the times were back then (not to mention how much times have changed since). The movie? Oh yeah it was great!! Would love to see it again!!
As a ten-year-old TV junkie during television's golden age, this show was one of my favorites. It was fun to try and solve the puzzles before either my parents or the contestants could. Sometimes, I actually succeeded. I can even remember the theme music (played by and organist on the daytime version, and a full orchestra on the night-time version). Genial host Jack Narz was a true professional -- a pleasant alternative to the boorish Jack Barry of "Twenty-One" and "Tic-Tac-Dough". But my favorite memory of the night-time version was when they rolled out that big '58 Lincoln convertible on stage for the weekly drawing of postcards sent in by home viewers. "Send in a postcard and you could win it". I sent in five every week, keeping my fingers crossed that one week, I might be the lucky winner. Of course, I never was. Then came that fateful evening when, expecting to see "Dotto", an announcer proclaims "Dotto, usually seen at this time, will never be seen again. In its place will be 'The Colgate Theater'". The show had been hastily pulled and replaced by a temporary series of failed pilots. I was crushed. My hopes of winning that big Lincoln were gone forever.
And all that I can remember about it is that it starred Craig Hill (Kenneth Tobey's sidekick in "Whirlybirds") and I believe some of it took place in pre-Castro Cuba (although I could be wrong about that). Great memory, huh? I could swear it was more like 1959 instead of 1962, but in retrospect, what's a coupla years? (lol). I remember Craig Hill as a very attractive leading man-type who got zippo publicity in this country, but just scanning over his IMDb resume he has appeared in an incredible amount of films and TV work. How could someone who was so much in children's' eyes in the 1950's (i.e. Whirlybirds) manage to remain so anonymous, yet appear in so many different projects? Maybe I should write to the guy on Turner Classic Movies (hey, he was just talking about Kenneth Tobey tonight) and ask him.