Alison Kirbe of London, receives a telegram from Texas, that she has inherited a livestock ranch. It is plastered throughout the London newspapers that Alison has become a rich heiress, and... See full summary »
During WWII, adults are either off fighting or busy in the factories, so juvenile delinquency becomes a major problem back home. Danny Hauser, a wounded soldier, finds this out as he ... See full summary »
Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »
In occupied France during the Franco-Prussian War, a young French laundress shares a coach ride with several of her condescending social superiors. But when a Prussian officer holds the ... See full summary »
Tom Merriam signs on the ship Altair as third officer under Captain Stone. At first things look good, Stone sees Merriam as a younger version of himself and Merriam sees Stone as the first ... See full summary »
On a Greek island during the 1912 war, several people are trapped by quarantine for the plague. If that isn't enough worry, one of the people, a superstitious old peasant woman, suspects ... See full summary »
The "Apache" Indians are actually lifeguards from the beach at Santa Monica, California, painted with full body paint and made up to look like Apaches. Director Hugo Fregonese and producer Val Lewton wanted the Apaches to do a lot of leaping from high windows, off of roofs, etc., and the film's budget precluded hiring stuntmen to play the Apaches. They decided to hire the lifeguards because of their athleticism and, more importantly, the fact that they didn't have to get stuntmen's pay. See more »
The Apache are shown beating the drums with their hands, whereas they and all Native Americans used sticks or drum beaters. See more »
I got a knack at healing. I know something about it.
Look, you're a great horse doctor, Joe, and...
There isn't much difference between a horse and a human. At least I know how to get started. You wouldn't even know that.
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Lewton's Western..... and one in the eye for Zulu....
During Stanley Baker's elaborate tissue of distortions and downright untruths the defenders at Rorke's Drift break into Men of Harlech as a riposte to their war-chanting opponents despite the fact that they were still an English regiment at the time and the concert never took place anyway. And they sing the song in English, not for the Zulus' benefit presumably but as maybe a concession to the film's American backers. The director Cy Endfield had been an old Hollywood hand until he was blacklisted and it's tempting to wonder if he lifted the idea from an identical scene in what proved to be Val Lewton's final production before an untimely death. I've no idea how true to history is the siege of Spanish Boot by the Mescalero Apaches but the presence of Welsh silver-miners among the population - and they were active in New Mexico and elsewhere - no doubt reflected Lewton's interest in ethnic cultures and traditions. And when the time comes they let rip with Harlech in Welsh which, for a Hollywood movie of its day, is doubly pleasing.
Yet another regime-change at RKO had left Lewton out on a limb after his initial run of success and he drifted unhappily between uncongenial assignments at Paramount and MGM before fetching up at little Universal whose budget-restrictions and thematic preferences he found more accommodating. And for the first time he could use Technicolor though the film commences on a dark interior before a door opens onto the outside world (maybe John Ford had been watching it too). Lewton and director Fregonese craft a sturdy morality-tale about an anti-hero who makes good in face of various forms of prejudice. Gambler Sam Leeds (Stephen McNally) kills a man in self-defence but is sent packing as an 'undesirable' along with the local "dance-hall hostesses" whom he later finds massacred after an Indian attack. A notable Lewton touch involves their dying piano-player (Clarence Muse), his scalping concealed under his derby-hat. (Lewton made a point of using black players in impressive cameos e.g. the vivacious Theresa Harris in I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE and the little page-boy in BEDLAM.) Sam returns to warn the town but is disbelieved until the stagecoach comes back bristling with arrows. A young townsman rides for help but is found mutilated down a well, polluting the water-supply. Sam leads an expedition for replenishments and the hellfire preacher (Arthur Shields) who had spoken against him comes to his aid when the party is attacked. (Shields virtually reprises his role from HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, the Welsh and the Irish usually interchangeable in matters of casting.) The chief Victorio is wounded and the Apaches withdraw for the time being. Back in Spanish Boot Sam is arrested for having given a beer to Pedro-Peter,the cavalry-scout(Armando Silvestre) during the waterless interim and is handcuffed to the bar-rail in the saloon. The town's mayor Joe Madden(Willard Parker) who's also the blacksmith and horse-doctor has an ulterior motive. Both men are rivals for Sally (Coleen Gray) the boarding-house keeper who's torn between love and security. But when the town is finally attacked in force she helps Sam get free and everyone takes refuge inside the church. The Apaches call for aid for their dying chief and Joe elects to go out to them but when Victorio dies they kill him. When night falls the "ghost dancers" - young painted braves deliberately sacrificing themselves for immortality - launch an assault on the defenders through the high windows in a wonderfully-lit and eerie sequence, the miners do their battle-song (one of them is actor and singer Sheb Wooley, later to add to Gary Cooper's woes in HIGH NOON) and the bigoted Reverend finds accord with Pedro-Peter as they pray together to their Great Spirit. As both sides fight fire with fire in the blazing finale the Cavalry arrive in a briskly minimalist wrap-up, Sam and Sally lead the congregation into safety and a pet donkey's newborn foal runs to its mother for milk. Solid and atmospheric with fine leads and an intriguing blend of the familiar and the unusual it rightly pleased Universal who wanted to keep Lewton on board but he decided to accept an offer to join Stanley Kramer. Sadly fate intervened and he never saw the release of his swansong.
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