Western : What Westerns Have You Seen? May/June/July/Aug/Sept Edition

Re: Young Billy Young (1969)

I have yet to see all of it, I caught the first half hour and got called away, it wasn't grabbing me though I have to say. I'll get around to it at some point as I have it recorded.


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Wanted: Dead or Alive "Crossroads"

Crossroads (1959)

This is a great episode. Josh tracks a wanted killer into some desert mountains and runs into a man who claims the killer could be his son and is willing to do whatever it takes to prevent Josh from capturing him. And talk about a great cast! In addition to Steve McQueen, you have western legends John McIntire and Clu Gulager in guest starring roles! I'm just amazed how they were able to pack a lot of story into just a 30 minute frame. Great Stuff!

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Re: Wanted: Dead or Alive "Crossroads"

I watched this series as a kid and even had the toy gun from the series. I have the whole series here somewhere. though I have yet to get to it.

Ride Clear of Diablo (1954)

Ride Clear of Diablo (1954)

Fairly standard western oater, probably more enjoyable to Audie Murphy and Dan Duryea fans.

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Re: Ride Clear of Diablo (1954)

Probably been 30 years since I saw this. On the rewatch list it goes.

Re: Ride Clear of Diablo (1954)

Crossroads (1959)

This is a great episode.

Agreed. One of the best WDOA episodes.

Re: Ride Clear of Diablo (1954)

Sturdy and pretty, well worth a watch.

Maybe you're getting soft, Whitey. Maybe you're turning into a human being.

Ride Clear of Diablo is directed by Jesse Hibbs and adapted to screenplay by George Zuckerman from a story by Ellis Marcus. It stars Audie Murphy, Dan Duryea, Susan Cabot, Abbe Lane and Russell Johnson. Irving Glassberg is the cinematographer with location filming in Technicolor at Lone Pine and Victorville in California. Plot sees Murphy as Clay O'Mara, a railroad surveyor forced to return to his home town after rustlers kill his father and brother. Getting the sheriff to make him a tin star wearing deputy, Murphy sets about finding out who was responsible for the murders. His first port of call is a meeting with notorious gunslinger Whitey Kincaid (Duryea)...

Lively and utterly enjoyable B Western in the cannon of Audie Murphy. Standard revenge formula of plotting is elevated to better heights by the central relationship between Murphy's honest do gooder and Duryea's rough and tumble bad dude. Director Hibbs smoothly directs and the story has one or two surprises to off set the expected lack of credibility in the story. Glassberg's photography is beautiful and there's good support to the leads from Jack Elam and Denver Pyle. The girls look sexy and are costumed in style, while the action sequences, notably a horse pursuit featuring a gorgeous white stallion, are good value for money. Everything, tho, is in Duryea's shadow, stealing the movie, Duryea is having a great time as the cackling villain forming an uneasy friendship with Murphy. It's this coupling, and the turn of events in the finale, that most will fondly remember the film for.

Real solid stuff. 6.5/10

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Western Tv: HAVE GUN - WILL TRAVEL "No Visitors" 1957


HAVE GUN - WILL TRAVEL "No Visitors" 1957

HAVE GUN – WILL TRAVEL was a Western series that ran on television between 1957 and 1963. The series was very popular and was always in the top ten of the television ratings. The series ran for a total of 225 episodes. Richard Boone headlines as "Paladin", a gun for hire, if the cause is right. Working out of San Francisco, Boone places ads in newspapers offering his services. $1,000 and he is your man. While handy with a gun or fists, he tries to settle the problem without violence. (Not very successfully as a general rule)

In this episode, the 12th the series, Boone comes across a lone wagon sitting in the middle of nowhere. He has a look and finds a woman and a baby. The woman, Ruth Storey, explains to Boone that she had been cut loose from a wagon train. The wagon master said that her sick child had typhoid and would infect the rest of the wagon train.

Boone rides into the nearest town to find a doctor. What he finds is the very man, Grant Withers, who had let Storey and her child to die. The man is a fire and brimstone sort who claims it was God's will. Boone asks about the doctor who turns out to be a woman. The doc, June Lockhart, rides out with Boone to administer to Storey and the baby. The townsfolk, led by Withers, tell Boone and Lockhart not to return.

After they reach the woman and child, Boone hooks up his horse to the wagon and starts back to town. Lockhart is not sure if the baby has typhoid but needs some of the medicine at her office. Withers and the mob appear with guns and threaten Boone and the doc. Boone ignores the rabble and pushes them aside.

The mob follows and burns the wagon up after the Boone and company have reached the office. Turns out the child did not have typhoid but a case of 3 day measles. We also learn that the real reason the woman and child had been cut loose, was Storey turning down Withers romantic advances.

Needless to say that Withers does not stop at burning the wagon. He comes to do the same to Lockhart's home and office. The old lead cure is applied to Withers in a most unhealthy dosage.

Re: Western Tv: HAVE GUN - WILL TRAVEL "No Visitors" 1957

Have Gun - Will Travel (1957) - No Visitors (1957)

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Western Tv: TALES OF WELLS FARGO "A Time to Kill" 1957


TALES OF WELLS FARGO "A Time to Kill" 1957

TALES OF WELLS FARGO was a western series than ran for a total of 200 episodes between 1957 and 1962. Dale Robertson plays the lead as Jim Hardee. Hardee is an agent for the stage and cargo hauling outfit. When something goes wrong he is the man they send to fix it.

This episode is the 5th of the series. A Wells Fargo stage has been robbed of a strongbox containing $10,000 is silver. A man who deposited an identical sum in a bank is the main suspect. The man however dies before he can be questioned. Several days later the dead man's sister, Rachel Ames and his young son, Brad Morrow find a Wells Fargo strongbox in the attic.

Miss Ames contacts Wells Fargo Investigator Dale Robertson about the box. Though she cannot explain where her brother got the cash, she is sure that the strongbox is a set up. Robertson agrees to look into the matter though he believes the dead man is the actual thief.

Robertson roots around the small town looking for any possible evidence to clear Ames' brother. He does not find any. The entire town is convinced the dead man did the deed. Robertson is about to end his search when he spots a man he is sure he knows from somewhere. The man, K.L. Smith turns out to be an ex Wells Fargo guard who had been cashiered for being a drunk. Smith seems to be a bit over friendly with local hotel owner Robert Rockwell.

Now Miss Ames discovers a set of papers among her dead brother's belongings. It is bill of sale for a part of a gold mine. The sale amount was exactly $10,000. She rushes to town to show said papers to Robertson. Robertson is out at the moment. Hotelier Rockwell offers to takes the papers and give them to Robertson when he returns to his room. Ames keeps said papers and asks Rockwell to send Robertson out her farm instead.

Now we find out that Rockwell and Smith are indeed the hold-up men. They have the coin hidden and are waiting for the heat to cool down. They had gotten a lucky break when suspicion had fallen on Ames' dead brother. The last thing they need now is for this bill of sale clearing the dead man to appear.

Rockwell sends Smith out to bump off Miss Ames and grab up the bill of sale for destruction. Smith is however interrupted by the timely arrival of Robertson. Iron is pulled and several ounces of lead exchanged. Robertson has the better aim and floors Smith. Before he dies, Smith confesses to the whole robbery as well as Rockwell's part in it. Rockwell is soon scooped up and handed up for a bit of jail.

This is a decent little half hour western that was directed by former big screen man, Jerry Hopper.

Re: Western Tv: TALES OF WELLS FARGO "A Time to Kill" 1957

Tales of Wells Fargo (1957) - A Time to Kill (1957)

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WAR PAINT 1952 Robert Stack, Charles McGraw, Peter Graves



This 1953 western was a Bel Air Production released through United Artists. The cast includes, Robert Stack, Keith Larsen, Charles McGraw, Robert Wilke, Douglas Kennedy, Joan Taylor, Peter Graves, Paul Richards and John Doucette.

A Lieutenant in the U.S. Calvary, Robert Stack, is assigned to deliver a peace treaty to a US government official. The official is then to forward the treaty to the chief of an Apache tribe. What Stack does not know is that the Government type and his escort are all dead. The Chief's son, Keith Larsen and daughter, Joan Taylor, have other ideas about the treaty. They have ambushed and killed the Government man and his escort. The pair really want war between the whites and the Apache.

Not finding the Government type at the trading post meeting place, Stack decides to deliver the treaty himself. And as it so happens, the Chief's son, Larsen, is there and offers to lead Stack and his small patrol to his father. The treaty is time sensitive and must be delivered within 9 days. Larsen tells Stack that it will take 6 days to reach the native village.

Being Death Valley, the Cavalry loads up with full canteens and some pack horses with several casks of extra water. Of course things start to go wrong the further they go into the desert. A rock fall smashes most of the water casks. An important load with their maps is lost over a cliff etc.

Stack suspects that the Indian, Larsen might be the guilty party, but he is always in sight when the "accidents" happen. Of course the viewer knows it is really Larsen's sister, Miss Taylor doing the deeds. She is trailing the patrol at a distance during the day and doing a bit of sabotage at night.

With their water nearly exhausted, Larsen offers to take then to a water hole, but it will delay the trip to the village by a day. The day is wasted because the water hole is dried up. That night all their horses take off and the group is now on foot. Stack is bound and determined to deliver the treaty. The men now stumble onto a small water hole. The hole however is full of bad water which one of the men drinks. The man, Paul Richards is soon dead.

One of troopers now goes of his rocker from lack of water and blows out his brains. Now Stack finds out that the Indian, Larsen has been leading them in a big circle. A sound beating from several of the troopers soon has Larsen coughing up what he has done. He wants a bloody conflict so all the tribes will join in driving the whites out. Another of the troopers now steps up and shoots Larsen dead before Stack can stop him.

Stack and his Sgt, Charles McGraw now decide to send one man ahead to deliver the documents. They give the man, Douglas Kennedy all the remaining water and will follow as best they can. Kennedy however is ambushed the next day by Larsen's sister, Taylor. There is brisk exchange of rounds with Kennedy going down for the count. Kennedy though manages to pink Taylor in the forehead knocking her out.

Needless to say Stack and the others find Taylor and the dead trooper. Stack quickly puts two and two together and puts Taylor under guard. The men however are all going a tad wacko from lack of water. Several of the men, Wilkie, Graves and Doucette are all for having their way with the woman.

Taylor tells Stack that she will take them to some nearby water. She leads them up the hills to an old mine and tells them there is a well inside. Most of the men rush inside for a look. What they find is not water, but piles of gold. The men of course are now overwhelmed with gold lust. They decide to kill Stack and Sgt McGraw, then "force" Taylor to really lead them to water. Then they will load up on gold and disappear.

Stack collects a round in the arm before he can talk sense into Graves and company. Miss Taylor now decides it would be in her best interest to really show the men the water spring. The men's thirst for water is slackened, but not their thirst for gold. Rifles and pistols are pulled and shots ring out. The only survivors are Stack, Miss Taylor and Peter Graves. It takes a full-fledged knockdown, drag out fistfight, followed by a battle with knives before Graves is finished off.

Miss Taylor has now decided to change teams and helps Stack deliver the treaty to her father.

This well-crafted B western was directed by veteran programmer man, Lesley Selander. Between 1936 and1968, Selander worked on 145 diff films and television series.

This Pathecoler film was shot on location in Death Valley and is well worth a watch imo.

Producers Howard W Koch and Aubrey Schenck would score with a whole series of well-made B western, war and noir films during the 1950's. These include BIGHOUSE USA, FORT YUMA, CANYON CROSSROADS, THREE BAD SISTERS, GHOST TOWN, CRIME AGAINST JOE, HOT CARS, TOMAHAWK TRAIL, WAR DRUMS and HELL BOUND.

Re: WAR PAINT 1952 Robert Stack, Charles McGraw, Peter Graves

War Paint (1953)

Awesome McGraw and Wilke and awesome location, looks a goodie. Gord

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Re: WAR PAINT 1952 Robert Stack, Charles McGraw, Peter Graves

Thanks for the recommendation, I was able to catch a good copy on Youtube.

The great thing about War Paint (1953) is that it's only a few notches below a classic John Ford Western. Instead of Wayne and Ward Bond you have Robert Stack and Peter Graves. The other great thing is that awesome supporting cast, Charles McGraw, Robert J. Wilkie and John Doucette. I really liked the saucy Joan Weldon as the Indian maiden, who is not as featured as much as I would like, but, by the way, has a sizable contribution in her resume to the Western genre that I'll be looking out for.

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Day of the Bad Man (1958)

Day of the Badman (1958)

I'm not a fan of Fred MacMurray, but this was as fine a horse opera as I've seen. MacMurray is a town judge who is forced to contend with a gang of outlaw family members attempting to free a family member from jail . Skip Homeier and Lee Van Cleef are members of that outlaw gang so you can pretty much guess the stripe of this unsavory group of men. Tight script with plenty of twists & turns to keep it interesting.

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Re: Day of the Bad Man (1958)

Great stuff, I am a MacMurray fan so this is of interest, weight in the support slots as well, with Edgar Buchanan probably adding grizzle and Marie Windsor the sizzle.

Showing on here as just a backlot production, which is a shame if that's the case?

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Re: Day of the Bad Man (1958)

Showing on here as just a backlot production, which is a shame if that's the case?

Come to think of it, I don't recall any open plains scenes, but I thought the movie to be well produced.

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Re: What Westerns Have You Seen? May/June/July/Aug - 2016 Edition.

Here is what I've seen the last 3 days:

36. The Man from Tumbleweeds (1940, Joseph H. Lewis)
--- I'm not too familiar with "Wild" Bill Elliott yet, but his big breakthrough in the serial The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1938) was one of the most adventurous westerns of 1938. Mr "I'm a peaceable man" was a very archetypal cowboy. Fast on the trigger and no messing about.

The Colombia produced western The Man from Tumbleweeds (1940) was plenty fun. Brings little new to the game, but it's a action-packed shooter to entertain old school cowboy fans. I can see Elliott's appeal. Likable and unafraid, even if a little quirky as a leading man, gets the job done and is a welcome counter cowboy to the string of singing sissies that was riding the screen at the time.

37. Billy the Kid in Texas (1940, Peter Stewart)
--- Bob Steele as Billy the Kid! Don't be fooled. It's just a gimmick to sell this poverty row effort. Very little to do with the real Billy the Kid. It's really just random western scrip adjusted a little. Steele is alright. He's done a ton of these cheap westerns during his career, but the film, besides it's poor production values, is a forgettable affair unable to live up to the legend of Billy.

38. Billy the Kid's Gun Justice (1940, Peter Stewart)
--- Forget about Billy the Kid. Only feels like a distraction. Doesn't really matter either, for this is simply another poverty row western, very ordinary and very low budget. With that said, Billy the Kid's Gun Justice (1940) was at least decent considering it's limitations. The plot takes enough turns to keep the hour entertaining with the odd team of Bob Steele & Al St. John shaking down the bad guys. But that's no Billy the Kid, no matter how many times they say it.

39. Gaucho Serenade (1940, Frank McDonald)
--- A most pleasant Gene Autry style western. They are fooling about so much in their innocent ways that they almost forget that there's shenanigans going on. That's not unusual for Autry films. So much lighthearted singing, clowning and flirting, I guess that was the main formula with Autry and Smiley Burnette. Kinda stops it from being anything more then a variety show in disguise. Sure they catch up with the action the last few minutes, but the rest is pretty light giggles.

And finally time for my first big westerns of my May western challenge!

40. 'Northwest Passage' (Book I -- Rogers' Rangers) (1940, King Vidor, Jack Conway & W.S. Van Dyke)
--- "They were playing ball.... with their heads."

Spencer Tracy and his rangers on a grueling adventure trying to find the Northwest Passage (1940). A grand MGM production that in a way is low key at the same time. Shot mostly outside in Technicolor, the film feels like it's from a different era then it's really from. Got a couple of big scenes, like the river-chain and the massive massacre, but besides that it's mostly about human courage and sacrifice with a lot of focus on Tracy's leadership skills as Major Rogers. Robert Young does one of his more respectable performances, with Walter Brennan doing what he does best. Being a likable character on a otherwise depressing mission filled with starvation, death and mental breakdowns. A lot to appreciate about Northwest Passage (1940), except that they didn't discover the Northwest Passage. They were saving that for the sequel.... which was never made after the difficult task this movie was.

41. North West Mounted Police (1940, Cecil B. DeMille)
Beautiful colors! A much better visual composition then the similar color epic 'Northwest Passage' (Book I -- Rogers' Rangers) (1940) that came out the same year. However North West Mounted Police (1940) is one of super director Cecil B. DeMille's lesser known epics, for the simple reason that the story isn't as well composed as the production aspect. This won the Oscar for Best Film Editing, and I'm not going to argue about it's technical qualities. That part is beyond professional!

One would think a story about a lone Texas Ranger joining forces with the Canadian Mountie Police to hunt down the crooks trying to sell machine guns to the redskins would generate a lot of excitement. But it doesn't. They simply can't balance the drama and comic elements well enough with the sadly economical action sequences for us to care or know who to root for.

In my opinion, Gary Cooper does one of his worst roles since becoming a big star. Comes across way too much like a goof and Preston Foster, the second-fiddle male role, easily outshines him and saves the hero side for the film. Paulette Goddard has a few moments, but they don't seem to know what to do with the vixen to make good use of the character. And less said about George Bancroft's flat caricature of a bad guy the better.

Such a shame that so much didn't work for this film, because this was a beauty to look at and the premises was a good one. North West Mounted Police is far from a bad film. It had a good light vibe and Cecil B. DeMille shows he had a strong team behind the camera, but this time the script didn't get the same attention and the film suffers for it, and doesn't become the remembered epic it possibly deserved to be.

Re: What Westerns Have You Seen? May/June/July/Aug - 2016 Edition.

I like Wild Bill Elliot. Seen a few of his dusters, and 5 of his Detective Noir series that he filmed at the end of his career. Keep the reviews coming.

North Wests!

'Northwest Passage' (Book I -- Rogers' Rangers) (1940)

Rogers And His Jolly Green Rangers.

Northwest Passage is directed by King Vidor and adapted to screenplay by Laurence Stallings and Talbot Jennings from the Kenneth Roberts novel of the same name. It stars Spencer Tracy, Robert Young and Walter Brennan. Music is by Herbert Stothart and cinematography by William V. Skall and Sidney Wagner.

"This is a story of our early America….of the century of conflict with French and Indians….when necessity made simple men, unknown to history, into giants in daring and endurance. It begins in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1759…."

Hurrah! What with the film having a reputation as one of the greatest adventure films of all time, that opening salvo for Vidor's movie doubly whets the appetite.What follows is more a case of a visually great picture, dotted with action, that is more about actual heroes than heroic deeds. Certainly the first hour of the picture leans more towards the slow burn than anything raising the pulse. However, characters are well drawn by Vidor and his team, with quality performances to match from the leads, and when the action dose come, such as the excellent battle at the Abenaki village, they more than pay back the patience of the viewer. We need to be forgiving for the overtly racist fervour that permeates the plot, so instead just rejoice in men triumphing over many obstacles, both of the mind and the body. 7/10

North West Mounted Police (1940) I do have this recorded on one of my DVR Boxes so I will get to it. Bit of a scathing review there, hopefully I'll like it more than yourself.

Super contribution Holy, enjoyed the reads

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The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Marmite at Minnie's Haberdashery.

Quentin Tarantino writes and directs and it stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Lee, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Micahel Madsen, Demian Bichir and Bruce Dern. Music is scored by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Robert Richardson.

Wyoming, wintertime, and an assortment of suspect characters are holed up at Minnie's Haberdashery while a blizzard rages outside. Soon enough suspicions and ugly human traits come to the fore...

Tarrantino is on a Western/Southern/Oater/Civil War kick these days, here following on from Django Unchained, this is set just post the Civil War. Proudly homaging genres he loves, he throws all his trademarks at The Hateful Eight for glorious results - that is on proviso you happen to be a fan of his in the first place.

Picture is split into two halves. First half sets up the characters who come to be at Minnie's, the conversations are pungent with Tarrantino's caustic and comedic writing, the characterisations equally so, whilst we have been treated to some absolutely gorgeous Colorado vistas. There's a constant sense of mistrust in the air, while racism, misogyny and political fall outs pulse away in set up scenarios.

Then it's the second half, where after a wee bit of narration that had me thinking my Blu-ray player had somehow started playing The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, hell then comes to Minnie's! It quickly becomes evident we have been part of a Tarrantino parlour game, a game of Clue - cum - Ten Little Indians, only in a Wild West setting, and with blood, bones and bile in full effect.

The whole thing is wonderfully stylish in the way that Tarrantino is known for. The cartoonish horror mingles with more biting observations on humanity, the violence shocks to get a reaction from the viewer, for better or worse, and always there is humour, where Hateful Eight proves itself to be one damn funny film.

Morricone scores it as cartoon horror with Western strains, and it's magnificent, it sounds like the evil twin to his score for The Untouchables. The cast are super (though a couple of them are not given much to do), with Leigh standing out, and Messrs Jackson and Russell hold glorious excessive court. Costuming is most appealing, as is the set-design for Minnie's. And director QT? Well he does his thing, chapters and verse and playful filmic cunning. 9/10

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Re: The Hateful Eight (2015)

Have not seen this yet. An interesting review my good man! Tick will be applied once I find your write up among the 900 plus already up!
I really like Kurt Russell, but must admit that Sam Jackson's acting is wearing a bit thin for me. He always seems to be playing the same person to me.

Again, good job!

Valdez Is Coming (1971)

Valdez Is Coming (1971)

Despite the ending, I liked Valdez Is Coming a lot more than I thought I would. It is cheesy, but good cheesy, in a spaghetti western kind of way. Burt plays a hispanic lawman who confronts a tyrannical landowner. Even with the cheesy hispanic accent, Burt's performance was effective enough to enjoy the movie.

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Re: Valdez Is Coming (1971)

I pop this one in the player every couple of years. The bits with the Sharps rifle are top notch.

Re: Valdez Is Coming (1971)

It's a tricky one to recommend with confidence.

I would like to see Frank pay it.

Valdez is Coming is directed by Edward Sherin and adapted for the screen by Roland Kibbee and David Rayfiel from the novel of the same name written by Elmore Leonard. It stars Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark, Jon Cypher and Frank Silvera. Music is by Charles Gross and photography by Gábor Pogány. It's out of United Artists and shot in DeLuxe colour. Plot finds Lancaster as ageing town constable Bob Valdez, who after being forced into killing an innocent man, attempts to get compensation for the dead man's widow out of the townsfolk responsible for the events leading up to the shooting. This is met with a less than favourable response, particularly from crooked rancher Frank Tanner (Cypher), who although he is the most guilty party, takes umbrage to the suggestion and has Bob tied to a wooden cross and hounded out of town. But Bob will be back, he may be old and gentile in nature, but he's an experienced Indian fighter and a crack shot marksman. Watch out, Valdez is Coming.

Solid if a little too ponderous at times, Valdez is Coming is sort of like an amalgamation of an American Oater and a Spaghetti Western. Filmed in southern Spain, at locations where master Italian director Sergio Leone shot many of his European Westerns, the film is the silver screen directing debut of Edward Sherin, who made his name as a director in American theatre and television. Whilst the direction is competent and the acting from Lancaster adds a complexity to the story, the picture almost seems to be trying too hard to make Leonard's source material work. The bigotry of men card is played very early on and from then on in everything is just too predictable, in fact were it not for Lancaster's screen presence the piece would fall well under average. The Christ-come-avenging angel motif is subtlety played by Lancaster, but tension is in short supply and action sequences few and far between. Somewhere in the cramped mix is a good film, one with something to say, a film desperately trying to make a dramatic thrust courtesy of a decent man on a mission narrative. Sadly it doesn't all come together, but thanks to Lancaster and a neat ending, it's not one to dismiss completely. 6/10

Footnote: British cuts of the film offer a version missing some violent moments, suffice to say that if seeking the film out one should choose carefully.

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The Wild Westerners (1962)

The Wild Westerners (1962) is kind of a throwback to the B oaters of the 30's & 40's. It is not long on recognizable names but the plot is interesting enough to be watchable.

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Re: The Wild Westerners (1962)

Recorded it last week - I'll get back to you

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Re: The Wild Westerners (1962)

Gunpowder & Gold!

The Wild Westerners is directed by Oscar Rudolph and written by Gerald Drayson Adams. It stars James Philbrook, Nancy Kovack, Duane Eddy and Guy Mitchell. Music is by Ross DiMaggio and Eastman Color cinematography is by Gordon Avil.

It is what it is, a traditional Western made with a modest budget that tries to do the best it can. It's 1864 in the Montana Territory and some outlaw types are easily robbing gold shipments. How come it's so easy? This is something Marshal McDowell (Philbrook) and his trusty team must try to answer before it's too late - especially since the Marshal's newly "acquired" bride (Kovack) is becoming a key figure.

Oddly enough there is quite a bit going on here for a "C" grade production, though the core thematic drive involves outlaws who are made known to us from the off, rendering the shifty - cum - mysterious shenanigans around town as kind of redundant! There's also a thread that involves trying to keep the Cheyenne off of the war path, a burgeoning romance that has the most auspicious of beginnings, and some jealousies and macho posturings. The acting is a mixed bag of the average and the poor, the production value a blend of the nice (outdoor photography at Lone Pine) and the cheap (wonky and poorly designed sets), while there are no surprises in store off of the page. Yet there are far worse Westerns out there that had bigger budgets, it's brisk and has good action, a couple of good guy/bad guy characters to cheer and boo respectively, and Duane Eddy's title guitar music is quality.

Not one to rush out to see, but some charm and minor qualities stop it from being in stinker hell. 5/10

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The Spikes Gang (1974)

The Spikes Gang (1974)

Three teen-aged farm boys run away from home and join forces with a notorious bank robber (Lee Marvin). The movie starts off like a fun coming-of-age tale but ends on grim and tragic circumstances.

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Re: The Spikes Gang (1974)

One of my favorite Marvin films.

Re: The Spikes Gang (1974)

I'm a big fan, think it's very under valued on Marvin's CV.

The name's Spikes, Harry Spikes. I'm a bank robber boys.

The Spikes Gang is directed by Richard Fleischer and adapted to screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. from the novel The Bank Robber written by Giles Tippette. It stars Lee Marvin, Gary Grimes, Ron Howard and Charles Martin Smith. Music is by Fred Karlin and cinematography by Brian West.

Happening upon an injured man, three boys nurse him back to health and learn that he is bank robber Harry Spikes (Marvin). Enchanted by his tales and way of life, the boys decide to form their own gang and eventually linking up with Spikes who then teaches them the tricks of his trade. However, the outlaw life is not as romantic as the boys first envisaged...

It's filmed in DeLuxe Color and the location photography is out of Tabernas, Almería, Andalucía in Spain. Yet the colours and landscape contours are not vivid, they are deliberately pared back so as to not give the impression this is a vibrant yeehaw tale of young spunkers on the lam. The Spikes Gang is ripe with a foreboding atmosphere about the innocence of youth corrupted by stretching too far for romanticism. The boys home life out there on the frontier is painted as sad, even grim, with bad or absent parents featuring strongly, it's not hard to buy into the fact these impressionable young men in waiting yearn for adventure.

Once out there striding for fortune and notorious glory, the lads find the harsh realities of outlaw life. No money means no food, and to rob people you have to be prepared to use violence, and to then take the consequences of those actions, be it emotionally or by having a price then put on your own young heads. Hooking up with Spikes seems the cool thing to do, he becomes a surrogate father and he at least gives them skills to survive a basic outlaw way of life. There's hope dangled, even much humour inserted into the narrative, but there's always an air of disillusionment lurking around the corner as this character study unscrews the myths of the West.

Which leads to what? A moral lesson? Perhaps? Well what we do know is that it builds gently, with Fleischer adroitly forming his characters and garnering superb performances from his cast (one of Marvin's best turns actually) in the process. Once the finale plays its hand, it's of such sadness to leave an indelible impression that anyone of sound heart will find hard to shake from the memory bank. Western legends Arthur Hunnicutt and Noah Beery pop in to the picture to add some weight, the former quite excellent with a pitiful characterisation that really kick- starts the emotional wattage, while the contributions of Karlin and West are faultless in terms of screenplay alliance.

Judged harshly by the jaded critics of the time and mostly ignored at the box office, The Spikes Gang may just be one of the most under valued Westerns of the 70s. Whether it was bad timing due to the direction the Western genre was taking at the time of release I'm not sure, but this is an elegiac treat waiting to be rediscovered by the Western lover. 8/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Western Tv "The Englishman" 1957


HAVE GUN - WILL TRAVEL "The Englishman" 1957

HAVE GUN – WILL TRAVEL was a Western series that ran on television between 1957 and 1963. The series was very popular and was always in the top ten of the television ratings. The series ran for a total of 225 episodes. Richard Boone headlines as "Paladin", a gun for hire, if the cause is right. Working out of San Francisco, Boone places ads in newspapers offering his services. $1,000 and he is your man. While handy with a gun or fists, he tries to settle the problem without violence. (Not very successfully as a general rule)

In this episode, the 13th the series, Boone meets Englishman, Tom Hellmore in San Francisco. Helmore is on his way to see the Montana ranch he inherited. Helmore has no idea of the vast distance it is to Montana. He seems to think it is just a brisk morning's ride away. Boone sets the man straight and is hired to escort Helmore to the ranch. Running the ranch at the moment is an American cousin, the drop dead gorgeous, Alix Talton.

Several weeks later Boone and Helmore arrive at the town where the ranch is. The local shopkeeper, Murvyn Vye decides to have a joke at the new "dude" in town. He hires the chief of the local tame Indians, Ted de Corsia to take some of his men and fake an Indian attack on the ranch.

Needless to say Helmore grabs a handy rifle and fires before Boone can stop him. Chief de Corsia collects a round in his shoulder. The Indians are not happy about this as they had been told it was all a joke. The braves haul their chief back to camp for some repair work.

It dawns on Helmore that perhaps he is not cut out for life in the wild-west. He wants Boone to take him back to San Francisco. Back in town there is trouble a brewing though. The Indians have been given a keg of whiskey by idiot shopkeeper, Vye.

The next day, Boone, Helmore and his cousin, Talton hit the small burg. To say the natives are restless would be an understatement. They want blood, Helmore's blood to be exact. Helmore walks up to the bandaged de Corcia and tells him he is sorry. The chief has several of his braves ride up on Helmore and knock him to the ground. Helmore gets up each time and stands his ground.

Boone now steps up and tells de Corcia that Helmore has shown how brave he is. He then arranges a trade between the two men. Helmore gets some plain western clothes and de Corsia gets Helmore fancy dude outfit. Everyone is happy and problem solved. Helmore's cousin Talton now talks the man into staying and helping on the ranch.

This one is played for laughs for the most part and is entertaining enough.

Miss Talton was a former Miss Atlanta. She had a decent Hollywood career playing eye candy in various films and television series.

Re: Western Tv "The Englishman" 1957

Have Gun - Will Travel (1957) - The Englishman (1957)

Liked that


The English Dude

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Western Tv "The Englishman" 1957

Thought you would get a charge out of this one. LOL

Western TV: YANCY DERRINGER "A Bullet for Bridget" 1958


YANCY DERRINGER "A Bullet for Bridget" 1958

This 1958-59 series is about a card sharp, who returns home to New Orleans three years after the end of the Civil War. The man, Jock Mahoney, finds the city full of Northern carpet bagging types. He is secretly put to work as an undercover man by the city commissioner, Kevin Hagen. Mahoney is to keep Hagen advised on the various low-life types running wild in the city. He does this with the help of his Pawnee bodyguard, X. Brands. The series ran for a total of 34 episodes.

In this episode, the fifth of the series, we have Yancy Derringer, (Jock Mahoney) being asked to check out the New Orleans' waterfront by City commissioner, Kevin Hagen. Hagen thinks there is some sort of monkey business going on there.

Mahoney and his sidekick, X. Brands head out at night to have a look see. They come up on a young woman, Margret Fields fleeing the docks with a burly sailor type in pursuit. The ever so gallant Mahoney step in and rescues the woman. The woman thanks him and goes off into the night. Mahoney likewise heads off and does not see Fields get grabbed by the sailor and returned to the ship moored nearby.

Mahoney stops for a spot of gambling at the club of friend, Frances Bergen. During a high stakes poker game, one of the losers, Charles Maxwell, accuses our man Mahoney of cheating. He goes for a pocket gun but finds himself arse first on the floor for his troubles.

Miss Bergen now asks Mahoney for some help. It seems that Bergen is concerned about a cousin from the old country, Ireland. The woman's ship had arrived several days earlier but no cousin. From the description, Mahoney realizes that the woman is the same one he helped that night. He will look into the matter.

The whole thing turns out to be over the just docked ship and its cargo. The cargo is a valuable load of silk that the owner, the same Maxwell that had been gambling with Mahoney, wants to sell. The problem here is that the cargo is infested with plague. Miss Fields is a witness they were keeping locked up on board. Field though is a slippery lass and escapes. Needless to say, guns are produced and Maxwell and his lot are soon suffering from a tad to many bullet holes. The cargo is burned to stop any possible plague from spreading.

This is an entertaining episode that was directed by William F. Claxton. Claxton was best known for his work on the western series, BONANZA and THE HIGH CHAPARRAL.

Margret Fields was the wife of Jock Mahoney at the time and guest starred on several of his films and series. She was also the mother of Oscar winning actress, Sally Fields.

Re: Western TV: YANCY DERRINGER "A Bullet for Bridget" 1958

Yancy Derringer (1958) - A Bullet for Bridget (1958)

Silk plague and Sally's mum!


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Western Tv: CUSTER "Sabers at Dawn" 1967


CUSTER "Sabers at Dawn" 1967

CUSTER was a western series that ran for 17 episodes during the fall of 1967. The series is a highly fictional take George Armstrong Custer's various battles with the Plains Indians. Custer is played by Wayne Maunder with support from Slim Pickens, Peter Palmer, Robert F Simon, Grant Woods and Michael Dante.

This episode is the first of the series. Custer has been assigned to command the 7th Cavalry at a fort in Kansas. He finds the unit to be a poorly disciplined bunch with poor morale. Area commander, Robert Simon, uses the men of the 7th for the digging of latrines and the like.

Maunder soon has the men training at combat roles during any free time. The training soon pays off when Custer and his men are called upon to rescue Simon and his troops from a large party of Kiowa. Simon and his men had been ambushed in a canyon by the heavily armed warriors.

Of course there is the dastardly gun runner type, William Mims, who has supplied the Kiowa with the latest in firearms. Helping out the Kiowa for some reason, is the Lakota leader, Crazy Horse, played by Michael Dante.

The episode was directed by actor, Sam Wannamaker. While there is plenty of action and the like, any suspense is lost because we all know what would become of Custer.

Slim Pickens is quite good as the Army Scout and Dante makes for a most striking warrior.

Re: Western Tv: CUSTER "Sabers at Dawn" 1967

Custer (1967) - Sabers in the Sun (1967)

Blimey, another one you have found in the basement!

Check your title buddy

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Western Tv: CUSTER "Sabers at Dawn" 1967

Thanks spike. LOL I must have been sleepy.

Airizona Bushwackers (1953)

Arizona Bushwhackers (1968) is a low grade western but unless your determined to watch the entire Yvonne DeCarlo catalogue you might pass up this oater.

"Anybody who doesn't wanna hang, step out and get shot!"

Re: Airizona Bushwackers (1953)

LOL. I think I will take your word for it on this one. Thanks

Re: Airizona Bushwackers (1953)

Yep, it's pretty bad!

You better put that blindfold back on.

Actually, wearing a blindfold during a sitting for this movie seems like a pretty good idea given how lifeless it is. When you see it's produced by A.C. Lyles then realistic expectations are needed, his low budget Westerns grabbed the aged coat tails of a genre that had moved onto a different plain than the one Lyles now traversed. Lyles was astute enough to fill out these Oaters with names familiar to genre fans, regardless of the advent of time or box office appeal, so some interest in the said picture was there from the off.

Some of these Westerns rose above their budget limitations to be better than average, the likes of Johnny Reno, Waco and Stage to Thunder Rock, while not essential Western viewings, are good time wasters for the undemanding fan. The trouble with Arizona Bushwhackers is that it promises so much more than it can ever deliver. Proudly it tells us that it's in Technicolor and Techniscope, and it stars Howard Keel, Yvonne De Carlo, John Ireland, Marilyn Maxwell, Scott Brady, Brian Donlevy, Barton MacLane and James Craig. Hell! The opening narration is even by one James Cagney. And with a plot involving spies and gun runners in the town of Colton, where Union and Confederate operatives dwell, it's all in place for some solid "B" entertainment. Unfortunately it's a lame duck once Caggers has finished his narration.

Story limps on as the various citizens of Colton potter around wondering about who is trustworthy? Who will get caught out? Who will survive? And isn't it about time the Indians showed up? The actors, bless em', give it a good go, shuffling about in some sort of one-take wonderland, while director Lesley Selander tries hard to beef up the plot with the odd action scene; including a fight between two one armed men that I'm pretty sure isn't meant to be funny. It all builds to a hopelessly weak finale where the Indians do indeed turn up and they file in for cannon fodder duties. The colour photography is washed out, the scenic locations barely realised, and the musical score is 101 rank and file. Lifeless all told and only fans of the fading stars should seek this out so as to tick off of their completist lists. 3/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Wallace Beery's 20 Mule Team & Wyoming + a couple of other…

42. Secret Valley (1937, Howard Bretherton)
--- More a Reno divorce drama then a western, but they have Virginia Grey hide out on Richard Arlen's ranch to hide from her gangster husband. Pretty routine B-movie which on a good note gives Willie Fung plenty of time to have fun! Other then that a poor production with little going for it.

43. Triple Justice (1940, David Howard)
--- George O'Brien does things in his own pace. Always with a charming smile, especially when there are ladies around. Doesn't matter if he's wanted for murder or bank robbery.... he's always a little too relaxed for any danger to sink in. The confrontation scenes in Triple Justice (1940) are good though! O'Brien can throw a punch and there is even a well composed desert chase. So a good B-western'er from RKO, and the last O'Brien would do in a while because of rejoining the Navy for World War II.

44. 20 Mule Team (1940, Richard Thorpe)
--- Wallace Beery spent 1940 doing western programmers for MGM with 20 Mule Team (1940) probable being the best of the bunch. Since these westerns where made at MGM, these films were more character based then the run of the mill formula the other studios did their cowboy'ing. More an adventure feel with colorful personalities, but with the 'bang bang' and galloping needed for some thrilling action. With Beery and his loud mouth, there was little doubt who was running the place. Thankfully he was on form and made 20 Mule Team blast!

45. Wyoming (1940, Richard Thorpe)
--- Wyoming (1940) might not be as fulfilling as 20 Mule Team (1940), but Wallace Beery proves again to be a valuable asset. I wish there was more flirting between Beery and Marjorie Main. Now that was a "lovely" screen couple! Okay, not so lovely, but they were two of a kind!

Re: Wallace Beery's 20 Mule Team & Wyoming + a couple of other…

I love these quick little reviews you are doing here. Keep them coming.

The Light Of Western Stars (1940) to Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)

Much appreciated.... here are some more:

46. The Light Of Western Stars (1940, Lesley Selander)
--- Victor Jory goes cowboy hero! Not sure that's the best part for him. He's so much more believable as a slimy creep. Not that he can't sling a gun and save a lady's honor. He's not the main issue with this Paramount B-western anyway and does made a decent effort coming across as a likable guy. He gets a lot of help from Noah Beery Jr. as a Mexican who is totally gay for him. The main thing sticking out was that rough bar fight Jory had with Tom Tyler! That was a raw mess I appreciated!

47. King of the Lumberjacks (1940, William Clemens)
--- Familiar plot at the Warner Bros lot. One that the likes of Edward G. Robinson, Pat O'Brien and Henry Fonda had done before. This time it gives gruff voiced Stanley Fields a rare big part, landing a girl out of his league. Gloria Dickson, a decent actress that died young, here giving a very Gladys George vibe. Main attraction might be a young John Payne as the man in the middle. King of the Lumberjacks (1940) makes for a okay Warner programmer, but both Tiger Shark (1932) and Slim (1937) are better. While Fields is a likable character actor, we get a little too much of him here and the film is rushed preventing anything to set root.

48. Queen of the Yukon (1940, Phil Rosen)
--- Veteran actors Charles Bickford & Irene Rich are good. Queen of the Yukon (1940) is based on Jack London's writings, that's all good too. But this is a Monogram picture, so the rest isn't. Rough uninspired production as always from the little company.

49. Marked Men (1940, Sam Newfield)
--- While Marked Men (1940) is a poverty row effort that could have been good with it's crooks on the run and noir like plot, it was directed by Sam Newfield... and that's enough to ruin it.

50. Trail of the Vigilantes (1940, Allan Dwan)
--- Since by 1940 everyone in Hollywood are doing westerns, it's time for Franchot Tone to be sent west. A move so wrong this could not be anything but a parody western! Director Allan Dwan made sure of that. The studio wasn't too happy about him changing what was supposed to be a thrilling western into a farce. As a result this has become one of the most forgotten bigger budget westerns of 1940. Doesn't deserve to be, for this was heaps of fun! And it wasn't like Dwan dropped the thrills in between the laughs. He kept in the amazing stunts. And even made the stunts part of the attraction making laughs out of them as well!

Tone is teamed with a odd trio of Andy Devine, Mischa Auer & Broderick Crawford in his quest to find out about some cattle rustling.... something which becomes obvious Warren William is behind. So lots of famous faces in what's a bizarre alternative to the wild west! If you like cowboy adventures with a heavy comic touch, Trail of the Vigilantes (1940) will be a very pleasant pick.

Re: The Light Of Western Stars (1940) to Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)

Again, many thanks for these write-ups. Damn near all are going on my list.

Re: The Light Of Western Stars (1940) to Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)

The Light of Western Stars (1940)
King of the Lumberjacks (1940)
Queen of the Yukon (1940)
Marked Men (1940)
Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)

I'm a Dwan fan so I'm not surprised he managed to make Trail of the Vigilantes work.


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Wallace Beery's 20 Mule Team & Wyoming + a couple of other…

Secret Valley (1937)
Triple Justice (1940)
20 Mule Team (1940)
Wyoming (1940)

A 6 and a 5 out of 10!

We are getting somewhere resembling positive


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Wallace Beery's 20 Mule Team & Wyoming + a couple of other…

Haha, yeah and more here as I've been working myself through the bigger westerns of 1940 these past couple of days, and will continue that the next day or two.

51. Arizona (1940, Wesley Ruggles)
--- A fine big western, but the romantic chemistry between Jean Arthur and William Holden wasn't all there. Worst of all, squeaky voiced Arthur was simply too cute to be a pioneer woman! But don't let that ruin the experience for 'ya. This is a well crafted film of Arizona's infancy and how a strong-minded woman refused to give up during hard times. Warren William turns up as the poisonous snake out to exploit the poor folks and does what's probable one of his coldest roles. That in itself is good enough reason to catch Arizona (1940).

52. Brigham Young (1940, Henry Hathaway)
--- Weird seeing such a pro-Mormon film because Mormons had been the ultimate bad guys through-out the movie industry infancy with some of the first major "blockbusters" being anti-Mormon films, something which continued a long string of such films through the silent era. Brigham Young (1940) seems to try to mend that, giving it the star treatment and epic glow, with production values most films would be envious of. Apparently it was a major success too. But for all it's stunning imagery and human qualities, Brigham Young (1940) is such preaching religious propaganda that it's utterly cringe-worthy. And with all it's Mormon tributes, all that popped up in my mind was South Park's tribute to the Mormons. "Dum(b) dum(b) dum(b) dum(b)....."

53. The Mark of Zorro (1940, Rouben Mamoulian)
--- Tyrone Power totally kills it as Zorro!!! He definitely kills Basil Rathbone in an absolutely mesmerizing swordfight! This role was made for him. He even outshined the original Zorro, Douglas Fairbanks, exactly 20 years after the original The Mark of Zorro (1940) was made. While the film is economic on action, Tyrone's personality is so vibrant that ones doesn't even notice it! And because of that this becomes a classic Zorro!

54. Kit Carson (1940, George B. Seitz)
--- Kit Carson (1940) is an alright frontier western, except I couldn't digest Jon Hall in the title role. It was like watching a hippie surfer trying to be a kill hungry man of the wilderness. Totally superficial performance so soft it felt like Kit Carson was engaging in a pillow fight. The real MVP for me was Ward Bond. He was the he-man Hall never became. But besides Hall's weak performance, the film was filled with action and adventure of the easy entertaining kind, making up for a lot that didn't work. Never going down as one of the great westerns, it's one a western fan can go for when running out of big ones to watch.

55. Virginia City (1940, Michael Curtiz)
--- Espionage in Virginia City (1940). A triangle of trouble between the Yankees (Errol Flynn), the Confederates (Randolph Scott) and bandits (Humphrey Bogart).... oh, and a dame (Miriam Hopkins). That gives the thrills and dimension to make this another successful Errol Flynn adventure!

Must say Bogart was pretty much wasted as a simple bandit. Definitely not one of his essential roles. Better was Scott as the main rival and the way this out-west was laid-out, inserting some much appreciated suspense with the typical Flynn extravaganza. Also got to mention that heavies Alan Hale & Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams was used exceptionally well as comic relief to lighten the mood when needed.

Virginia City might lack the ultimate killer sequences to put it among Flynn's absolute best, but it's still a strong team effort with Michael Curtiz in control behind the camera.

56. Santa Fe Trail (1940, Michael Curtiz)
--- Along with Virginia City (1940), Michael Curtiz also directed Errol Flynn's other west inspired adventure of 1940, Santa Fe Trail (1940). Not as well put together, but he's re-teamed him with his usual screen lover Olivia de Havilland. She was radiant per usual, but Flynn wasn't as vibrant this time around. Ronald Reagan almost stole his thunder on the good side....!

Well, whichever side he was on, for what made Santa Fe Trail both difficult and intriguing was that sides was a bit blurred. Perhaps not by the way they were portrayed, but who was really right. The main villain was abolitionist John Brown. The slave liberating rebel, while Flynn came from a slave owning family. Not sure who thought that was a good idea for their screen hero.

John Brown was portrayed by Raymond Massey. And a amazing performance it was!!! Kind of fitting too, as Massey made a career out of his version of Abe Lincoln, and Brown, or how he did Brown here, was like a fanatic Lincoln! Almost possessed and how Lincoln would be in a alternative reality. With those maniac eyes, he really sent chills down my spine!

57. Go West (1940, Edward Buzzell)
--- The West gets it's "Wild" nickname for the time Marx Brothers made a visit! Gags are great, but terrible editing ruin a lot of the big sequences. On a positive you can really sense that Buster Keaton had a lot to do with Go West (1940) with a climax heavily influenced by The General (1926). Also loved Harpo's harp sequence. A beautiful break from the insanity....

58. When the Daltons Rode (1940, George Marshall)
--- When the Daltons Rode (1940) could have done a better job of building up the frustration and the danger surrounding the gang, but it's a entertaining western programmer from Universal Pictures with many familiar faces. So while it doesn't do justice to the legacy of the Daltons, it's good for a few laughs and plenty of bullets.

59. The Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940, James Hogan)
--- Being a Paramount Pictures film, the production values of The Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940) are decent, but the plot and how it rides forward is below even a poverty row effort. John Howard, who made the Bulldog Drummond films into bland experiences, does the same here. A weak leading man. Some of the supporting cast help give it some life, but this is a poor sequel to the very enjoyable The Texas Rangers (1936).

Re: Wallace Beery's 20 Mule Team & Wyoming + a couple of other…

And even more as I had a bad back which got me plenty of TV time today. Hope it continues!

60. The Return of Frank James (1940, Fritz Lang)
--- Fritz Lang's first American western is a sequel to Henry King's Jesse James (1939). A fine easy going revenge story in beautiful Technicolor. Still Lang's worst since the very early 1920s. That's more a credit to his exceptional filmography then a knock at The Return of Frank James (1940). But it's probable a little too laidback in that relaxed Henry Fonda manner and unfortunately his farce of a trial was so hammy hammed up it beat it's purpose. But I'm not going to say The Return of Frank James wasn't a enjoyable piece of bastard history. It just could have been better.

61. Boom Town (1940, Jack Conway)
--- Not much of the west here except the oily west. MGM uses their biggest stars to strike it rich in black gold, then stinking poor again.... and repeat for 2 hours. All for the sake of a woman. Hard to dislike a film with a trio of Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy & Claudette Colbert getting help from Frank Morgan, Hedy Lamarr, Lionel Atwill and a ton more underneath. The story is a bit fluffy for a rugged man's game, but great performances and MGM production values make sure Boom Town (1940) is a joy to watch.

62. The Westerner (1940, William Wyler)
--- There's simply never been a more likable badguy then Walter Brennan in The Westerner (1940)!

63. Buck Benny Rides Again (1940, Mark Sandrich)
--- Jack Benny and his celebrity pals goes out roughing it out west.... sort of. At the Dude Ranch Luxury Spa or whatever that place was. Dude ranch or not, Jack "Buck" Benny was a total dud as a cowboy. And that was naturally the main running joke. A pretty good comedy, though very much rooted in the urban style rather then the western sense of humour. But that's Jack Benny for 'ya. And you simply got to love Rochester!

64. Dark Command (1940, Raoul Walsh)
--- John Wayne is finally turning into the John Wayne with all know in Dark Command (1940). From being just a lanky young cowboy in *beep* poverty row westerns, he's now developed a personality, though still a little rough around the edges. At least he shows he's got a sense of humour about it, being incredibly charming in his awkwardness. Here as a uneducated sheriff with a strong righteous heart. His brainy sidekick is George 'Gabby' Hayes, which is so wrong, but wonderful to see them team again, this time in a big Republic Pictures production!

He's also reteamed with his love interest from his breakthrough film Stagecoach (1939), Claire Trevor. But perhaps the most interesting casting is a rare big feature appearance by none other then Roy Rogers! He had his own series of B-westerns, but rarely stepped out of that comfort zone. He's kind of a tweener as a young guy kid making misjudgements, but with deep down he has a good heart and he did pretty good working next to Wayne.

I'm not really sure what was lacking for Dark Command to become really thrilling, for there were many scenes and scenarios which was pretty damn good! Might be that Republic lacked the experience in making big movies to get to the core of the emotions, but they had very capable veteran director Raoul Walsh to handle the business of making this!

65. Wagon Train (1940, Edward Killy)
--- One of Tim Holt's B-westerns over at RKO. Not a bad production, but they struggled greatly to make the Wagon Train (1940) plot come to life. Too much in fact for this to become a memorable Holt output.

66. The Fargo Kid (1940, Edward Killy)
--- Babyfaced Tim Holt gets mistaken for a hired assassin and gets tangled in trouble from all areas. Light-hearted western with decent comic support and a mildly entertaining plot, though hardly the most action-packed westerner made. But coming out of RKO it's at least professionally packaged.

67. My Little Chickadee (1940, Edward F. Cline)
--- The plot in My Little Chickadee (1940) is simple. Send W.C. Fields & Mae West out west and give them as much screen time as possible to do what they do best. And that works for me! One liners deluxe!