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

Re: "Copper Canyon" ( 1950 )

Yesterday, I saw "Copper Canyon" (1950).
Highly recommended....

Re: "Copper Canyon" ( 1950 )

Saw it many moons ago on VHS. Time for a re-watch.

Re: "Copper Canyon" ( 1950 )

Copper Canyon (1950)

Filmed at one of my fave locations, Vasquez Rocks.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: True Grit (A Further Adventure) (1978)

I think I can safely say that most of us around here dig Warren, so it's good that I can say for him alone it's worth a viewing, but I really couldn't recommend searching it out with any sort of urgency.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: True Grit (A Further Adventure) (1978)

Warren Oates is always worth a look.

Re: True Grit (A Further Adventure) (1978)

Warren Oates is always worth a look.

Or two!

The year before the TV remake of True Grit, he played the Bogart role in a TV pilot reboot of The African Queen, opposite Mariette Hartley (remember Ride the High Country?) I guess Warren was tired of films, and wanted that regular weekly TV paycheck.

Western Tv: WHISPERING SMITH "The Homeless Wind" 1961


WHISPERING SMITH "The Homeless Wind" 1961

WHISPERING SMITH was western star Audie Murphy's attempt at headlining a series. Murphy plays a member of the Denver Police Force in the late 1860's. The series follows Murphy and his partner, Guy Mitchell, as they chase various unsavoury types and bring them to justice. The series ran for 26 episodes between May and November 1961.

This episode is the 23rd of the production run.

This one starts with Audie Murphy tracking a man wanted for murder. The deal here is that Murphy has known the man, Jim Davis since Murphy was a child. Murphy's father and Davis had punched cattle together years before.

Murphy finally catches Davis just this side of the Mexican border. Davis tells Murphy he has no intention of being taken back to have his neck stretched. The conversation is cut short when a band of Mexican bandit types show. They take all the weapons and tie Murphy and Davis to a handy tree.

The leader of the bandits, Alex Montoya, intends to have a bit of fun with Murphy and Davis before killing them. Murphy manages to work his bonds free and jumps one of the guards. He cuts Davis free and the two men have a brisk exchange of lead with the surprised Montoya and crowd. After Montoya and several of his men bite the dust, the rest saddle up and skedaddle south of the border.

Needless to say Davis is reluctant to hand his pistols back to Murphy. The two men slap leather with Davis on the wrong end of the lead throwing.

An okay episode, but nothing I would watch a second time.

Re: Western Tv: WHISPERING SMITH "The Homeless Wind" 1961

Whispering Smith (1961) - The Homeless Wind (1961)


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Gun Glory (1957)

Gun Glory (1957)

God Moves In Mysterious Ways.

Gun Glory is directed by Roy Rowland and adapted to screenplay by William Ludwig from Philip Yordan's novel, Man of the West. It stars Stewart Granger, Rhonda Fleming, Chill Wills, James Gregory and Steve Rowland. Music is by Jeff Alexander - with the title song "The Ninety and the Nine" song by Burl Ives - and cinematography is by Harold J. Marzorati.

What we have here is a very familiar tale. Granger is gunslinger Tom Early, who returns to his home town after a number of years to find his wife has died and his son (Rowland) is unsurprisingly miffed at his father having abandoned them. The townsfolk, also, are not exactly enamoured to have him back either, but since they are in the grip of terror brought about by violent cattle baron Grimsell (Gregory), a chance for Early to make peace with all is in the offering.

Granger was winding down his contract with MGM and this could hardly be seen has a triumphant fanfare finale. Yet for committed Western film fans there's still plenty to enjoy. Handsome is a word that springs to mind, Granger and Fleming positively ooze sexual beauty, the Calif locations (Bronson Canyon - Whoosh!) are magnificently brought to life via CinemaScope (Metrocolor), while costuming and set designs are most appealing.

The script is weak, though, and familiarity of story demands that elsewhere the pic needs to cover the shortcomings. Action scenes are all too brief, but the stunt work on show is impressive and the construction of shoot-outs, and a rockslide sequence, certainly stirs the blood. Elsewhere, Jacques Aubuchon's lecherous windbag act gets tiresome pretty quickly, and the overt religion angles are heavy handed (even the musical score is full of biblical swirls) - the latter of which a shame because Chill Wills as The Preacher turns in the best perf in the pic.

Hardly a must see movie, then, but Oater fans, and fans of the stars, are not short changed (Gregory does good villainy as well). Even if ultimately it comes off as a "going through the motions" movie that's very pretty but of little substance. 6.5/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Gun Glory (1957)

Tick sent. Here is my take on the film

Contains Spoilers

GUN GLORY – 1957

This one trots out more than a few of the themes used in quite a few western films. The gunfighter wants to give up the life, the gunfighter returns to the family he left years before, the son who hates the man for leaving. Then there are the townsfolk who dislike having a gunfighter around and the woman who falls for the man. Then there is the villain type who forces the gunfighter to strap on the guns again.

Having said all that, this is a pretty fair western. Stewart Granger plays the gunfighter, Rhonda Fleming the woman, Steve Rowland the son and James Gregory is the villain. Granger arrives in a small town to rejoin his wife and son after being gone for 10 years. He rides out to their ranch but finds that his wife had died years before. The son, Steve Rowland is not at all happy with Granger's return. But he tries to get along with Granger because he knew that his mother loved Granger deeply.

Granger tells Rowland he just wants to settle down and help make the ranch a going concern. The two decide to make the best of the deal. They are soon joined by Rhonda Fleming who is hired to cook and keep house for the two.

Jacques Aubuchon, the town general store owner, is not happy about this as he had eyes for Miss Fleming. He of course goes on a campaign to have the townsfolk ask Granger to leave. The town preacher, Chill Wills, is of the live and let live bunch, and hopes Granger will blend into the community.

It does not take long and trouble comes a calling to the town. Big time cattle man, James Gregory, intends to run 20,000 cattle through the valley. And needless to say the new town is in the way. Granger happens to be in town picking up supplies and hears Gregory telling everyone to pack up and skedaddle. Granger steps up and suggests Gregory take his herd around the valley.

One of Gregory's hands decides that a bit of gun play is needed. A big mistake as the man is dropped by Granger. Gregory and his bunch ride off. We all know this is going to get worse before it gets better. To cut to the quick, Gregory and his bunch bushwhack a group of men from the town, killing several, including the preacher, Wills.

Granger feels he must join in and save the town. He uses explosives to close the pass the cattle must use, then duels it out with Gregory and his number one gun, Arch Johnson. Johnson is dispatched with a tad more lead than is good for him.

Everyone is happy and Gregory flees off into the sunset.

Not the best western I've seen, but by no means, is it a waste of time. Veteran director, Roy Rowland shows his usual steady hand and keeps any of the clichés from overpowering the story. (Steve Rowland is the director's son) Some of Rowland's other films include, SCENE OF THE CRIME, THE OUTRIDERS, BUGLES IN THE AFTERNOON, WITNESS TO MURDER, ROGUE COP and MANY RIVERS TO CROSS.

All in all, a decent way to kill an afternoon in front of the television.

Re: Gun Glory (1957)


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

The Cariboo Trail (1950)

The Cariboo Trail (1950)

This is one of the early western from Randolph Scott. The print I saw was not good but in colour. The scenery is good (supposed to be Canada but it is not). Nothing new in it but it moved along at fair pace. The bad guys are not really 'bad' guys. I mean the bad guys are just annoying and so is the side kick (who is a rebel without a cause sort of speak). It all sort of feels like going through motions but watchable nonetheless.

I would give it 5/10. You are on your on with this one.

Re: The Cariboo Trail (1950)

Not one of Scott's best, but still watchable. We used to drive the real Cariboo Trail every summer in the 1960's. It was of course paved by that time. We were living up in the Yukon and would drive down to Vancouver every year to see the grand folks. The Cariboo area was beautiful cattle country.

Re: The Cariboo Trail (1950)

The Cariboo Trail (1950)

I thought I had seen it but not so. Doesn't seem a keeper!


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Western Tv: TALES OF WELLS FARGO "The Silver Bullets"1957


TALES OF WELLS FARGO "The Silver Bullets"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 14th of the series. Wells Fargo man, Hardee (Dale Robertson) is sent to find out about the murder of one of their station agents. The station is also short $15,000 from the safe. Robertson rides into town and gets himself hired at the town gambling hall. He tells no one that he is there looking for the station agent's killers.

He knows that their man, John Eldredge had been killed there after calling out the roulette spinner, Douglas Kennedy. He said that the wheel was crooked and it cost him his life. The key to the Wells Fargo safe had been on him. Needless to say that Kennedy and his boss, James Seay had helped them-selves to the cash.

Robertson is soon called on to toss out another man, Jim Hayward, who is on a nasty losing streak. Robertson talks the boss, Seay into letting the man win a few games. The punters will then bet more. Seay likes the idea and lets Hayward win back 500 bucks.

The next morning though, Hayward is found dead in the alley behind the gambling hall. Of course there is no sign of the 500 in cash. Seay and Kennedy of course top the list of suspects. Hayward's daughter, Pamela Duncan is soon in town looking for her father.

Robertson has a plan to get Seay and Kennedy to admit their guilt. He sends them a package with two silver bullets. Included with the bullets is a note saying they will die in 24 hours. Seay and Kennedy figure that the woman, Duncan is going to have the pair of them killed.

Robertson helps matters along by hinting to both Seay and Kennedy that it is the other one who sent the bullets. Soon both of the men are offering Robertson cash to help eliminate their partner. Guns are of course pulled and lead flies before the Wells Fargo cash is returned. A decent episode of what is a rather entertaining series.

Re: Western Tv: TALES OF WELLS FARGO "The Silver Bullets"1957

Tales of Wells Fargo (1957) - The Silver Bullets (1957)


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

THE HALLIDAY BRAND 1957 A real Barnburner of a Duster



This high-octane, emotion packed 1957 American western, stars, Joseph Cotten, Ward Bond, Betsy Blair, Bill Williams, Jay C. Flippen, Christopher Dark and the gorgeous Viveca Lindfors.

The film, which is told in a long flashback, revolves around the family of a powerful rancher played by Ward Bond. The man has carved out one of the biggest ranches in the area. He is also the local town's Sheriff. When Bond's daughter, Betsy Blair, takes up with a local half breed Bond breaks up the relationship.

The lad, Christopher Dark is then arrested on suspected murder and rustling charges. Bond's son, Cotten does not believe a word of it and accuses Bond of bigotry. Bond's other son Bill Williams, is the town deputy. He fails to protect Dark when a lynch mob comes for the lad, Dark. The mob strings up the boy.

Cotten rides to town to talk with Dark's father, Jay C. Flippen and sister, Viveca Lindfors. Flippen soon grabs up his rifle and goes looking for Bond. This does not end well for Flippen. The handy with a gun Bond plants Flippen with several well placed rounds.

Now there is a big falling out between Bond and son Cotten. Cotten starts a campaign of destruction against Bond and the other ranchers. He tells all that his father, Bond must end his reign as the only law around. Bond rustles up a posse and pursues his son into the brush country. Cotton however manages to stay one step ahead. Cotton and the pretty Lindfors also manage to work in a little tongue wrestling time into the chase.

Matters come to a head when Bond gets sick and is on his deathbed. Or so everyone thinks. It is a play by the old arse to lure his son back. How does it end? You need to watch it, but rest assured it will be worth your time.

This top flight potboiler was directed by the under-rated, Joseph H. Lewis. Lewis knocked out several excellent b film noir and westerns during his big screen years. These include, SO DARK THE NIGHT, MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS, GUN CRAZY and THE BIG COMBO. His westerns include A LAWLESS STREET, 7th CAVALRY and 60 or so episodes of series like, THE RIFLEMAN, THE BIG VALLEY, A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH and BONANZA.

The sharp look of the film is supplied by 7 time Oscar nominated and 2 time winning cinematographer, Ray Rennahan. His film work includes, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, DUEL IN THE SUN, 7th CAVALRY, A LAWLESS STREET, WHISPERING SMITH, (the film) STREETS OF LAREDO and THE PALEFACE.

Re: THE HALLIDAY BRAND 1957 A real Barnburner of a Duster

The Halliday Brand (1957)

Strong cast and high octane! Result!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

'You never know when a girl might need a bullet."

Winchester '73 (1950)

Ah, Jim Stewart. The shy, soft-spoken regular fella whose long, lean frame and much-parodied stuttering drawl made him a fixture in Hollywood movies in the late 30s and 40s. Light comedies, heartwarming dramas, Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building & Loan. Even played a sheriff, once - a pacifist sheriff, to be sure. But, a cowboy? A dusty, itinerant, gun-toting tough? Jim Stewart? Nope.

That is, until 1950, when he signed on to do Winchester '73, and tabbed Anthony Mann to be his director. In hindsight, it seems natural, but at the time, it was a bit of a departure for Stewart, who was trying to re-define himself for a postwar audience. The Mann films, along with his work with Alfred Hitchcock, elevated Stewart to new heights and kept him relevant through the 50s and in to the 60s, broadening his range and appeal, but retaining the essential Stewart charm - he was just such a doggone likable feller.

The first collaboration between James Stewart and Anthony Mann is a sharply filmed and well-scripted tale of revenge that ambles through a variety of familiar western tropes - there is a Cavalry vs. Indian fight, a saloon girl with a heart of gold, a wisecracking sidekick, a blazing gun battle, and a couple of Very Bad Men. Mann balances the elements very well, and the narrative never feels tired or cliched.

The story is quite good, and, interestingly, goes out of its way to make the rifle a character in the film; while it can feel episodic and even a little contrived, the story and dialogue are both exemplary. The feeling of post war disillusion is strong (at one point, Stewart's sidekick drawls, "Being right ain't gonna do us any good") but it never overwhelms the film or undermines the narrative.

The movie is full of small pleasures - Jay C. Flippen as a grizzled sergeant, John McIntire as an unsavory merchant, early-career cameos from Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis, and especially Dan Duryea as the sociopathic gunhand, Waco Johnny Dean. Duryea, the Cornell-educated former ad executive, had a mild, smiling persona but a taunting, insinuating delivery that was like fingernails-on-a-blackboard, and I don't think he's ever been better.

Stewart agreed to a smaller salary and a share of the profits, an innovative deal that became Hollywood standard. Onscreen, Winchester '73 helped re-define James Stewart as a more mature, disillusioned and even bitter character, while, offscreen, stars began looking for a piece of the action.

The final shootout, while tense and well filmed, has always seemed anticlimactic to me; there is too much distance between the combatants. These guys have a feud that ought to be settled up close and personal. Will Geer is a complete misfire as Wyatt Earp, and the story does tend to drift a little. But, minor gripes aside, Winchester '73 is a taut, engaging film and a classic western, one of the best of the 50s. It should appeal to any fans of the genre, and is worth repeated viewings. I'm going to give it a 9/10.

Re: 'You never know when a girl might need a bullet."

It is on my top 10 western list. Love this movie. Nice review by the way.

Re: 'You never know when a girl might need a bullet."

My favorite Mann Western, my favorite Stewart Western, and one of my 2-3 favorite 50s Westerns. I never get tired of this one.

Winchester '73

A super thoughtful review Really like the text on Stewart.

Me >

Some things a man has to do, so he does em.

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a story of the Winchester Rifle Model 1873 "The Gun That Won The West" To cowman, outlaw, peace officer or soldier, the Winchester 73 was a treasured possession. An Indian would sell his soul to own one...

Winchester 73 is the first collaboration between director Anthony Mann and actor James Stewart, a duo that would go on to create a run of superior Westerns that added a new, psychological depth to the genre. The story sees Stewart as Lin McAdam pursuing the man who killed his father. Riding into Dodge City with his trusty friend, Johnny Williams {Millard Mitchell}, Lin runs into Dutch Henry Brown {Stephen McNally}, the man he wants. But with Wyatt Earp {Will Geer} having taken all the guns from those entering the town, both men are unable to have the shoot-out that they are ready for. The men instead square up in a competition to win a Winchester 73 rifle, a competition that Lin eventually wins. But before he can leave town with the magnificent prize, Dutch ambushes him, steals the rifle and skips town fast. As Lin sets off in hate filled pursuit of both man and rifle, the rifle will changed hands a number of times, with each time adding another dimension as the day of reckoning for all approaches.

Very much a benchmark for what became known as the so-called "psychological Western", Winchester 73 is basically a story of a decent man driven to borderline insanity by an event in his past. Tho shot in black and white {the only one of the duos Westerns that was} the landscapes are still breathtaking feasts for the eyes. The tone is set with the opening scene as Lin and Johnny on horseback, and in silhouette, amble over a hillside as they make their way to Dodge City. It's just the starting point that would see Mann use his vistas as a way of running concurrent with his characters emotional states.

Stewart gives one of his finest and most intense performances as McAdam, proving once and for all that he was one of Americas finest and most versatile actors. The support cast isn't too bad either. Shelley Winters is excellent as the sole female in amongst the machismo, while Mitchell, McNally, Geer and the always great Dan Duryea add further class to proceedings. There's even bit parts for Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson in here, tho the latter playing an Indian brave is a stretch too far.

Originally the film was a project for Fritz Lang, who even had the script ready to run. But Lang walked away from it, something that proved to be a blessing for Western fans. For as great as a director that Lang was, with Mann directing {and with a new script from Borden Chase & Robert Richards in hands} it set the wheels in motion to alter the course of the genre. Not only with the further efforts that Mann & Stewart produced, but also in who they influenced. The likes of Budd Boetticher, Nicholas Ray and Sam Fuller were all taking notes, and gleefully for the Western purists, they followed suit and carried the psychological torch still further.

A big hit at the box office back on release, Winchester 73 is a magnificent film that still packs a punch in the modern age. 9.5/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Western Tv: "A Spray of Bullets" 1955 Dick Powell


FOUR STAR PLAYHOUSE "A Spray of Bullets" 1955

Dick Powell headlines this episode of the top flight anthology series, FOUR STAR PLAYHOUSE. This series ran for 130 episodes between 1952 and 1956. Each week, one of either, Dick Powell, Charles Boyer, David Niven or Ida Lupino would be the lead in the episode. This one is episode is the 5th episode of season 4.

In this episode, a western, Dick Powell rides into a small town and ties up his horse. A local, Raymond Hatton, recognizes him as a fast with the gun Lawman. Hatton figures there is going to be trouble in town, as just a few hours earlier Robert J. Wilke had ridden into town. Wilke is also a fast gun, but he is anything but a law abiding type.

The town Sheriff, Art Space is soon a calling. It turns out that Sheriff Space and Powell are friends. They had worked together years before. Powell and Space's daughter, Jean Howell had been an item for a while. Powell tells Space that he is no longer a Lawman. He is just in town on a personal matter. He did not even know that Space and Howell where in town. He also adds that he wants nothing to do with gunman Wilke.

We now find out that Powell is in town to see an eye doctor. His sight is going and everything over 20 yards away is a blur. This is why he quit being a lawman. Now Powell and Wilke bump into each other. Wilke asks Powell to have a drink with him. Powell says maybe later. Wilke wonders why the man is in town.

Local, Raymond Hatton, tells Wilke that he saw Powell pay a visit to the eye doctor. This of course gets Wilke to thinking. While Wilke is pondering this bit of info, Powell is paying his former girl, Howell a visit. He tells the pretty Howell that he is there to get a set of glasses. He wants nothing to do with gun play anymore. He is willing to settle down.

Needless to say this plan goes south in a hurry. Gunman Wilke decides to call Powell out for a draw down. He figures that killing Powell will help his reputation has a top drawer gun hand. Wilke intends to keep a fair distance between himself and Powell. Guns are pulled and Powell, the quicker of the two, fans his gun and sprays lead towards the blur. The smoke clears and Wilke is face down in the dust, gun beside him. It looks like Powell lucked out. He walks off arm and arm with Howell.

There are shades of Liberty Valance here as the viewer finds out that maybe someone else had fired the killing shot.

This is a top notch episode all around. The always villainous Robert Wilke, as usual, is in great form as the gunman. Long-time actor Raymond Hatton started out in 1912, and was on screen till 1967 with over 500 film and television credits to his name.

Re: Western Tv: "A Spray of Bullets" 1955 Dick Powell

Four Star Playhouse (1952) - A Spray of Bullets (1955)

The always villainous Robert Wilke, as usual, is in great form

How often have we said that over the years

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Western Tv: TALES OF WELLS FARGO "Belle Starr" 1957


TALES OF WELLS FARGO "Belle Starr" 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 15th of the series. Wells Fargo man, Hardee (Dale Robertson) is on a train that is held up by female outlaw, Belle Starr (Jeanne Cooper) and her gang. The gang got the drop on him preventing any action to stop the robbery. The gang help themselves to the Wells Fargo cash-box as well as the passenger's wallets and watches.

Robertson checks around and finds out where Cooper is hiding out. He intends to retrieve the cash and arrest Cooper and her gang. Robertson has a plan. He knows that Cooper loves fast horses. He shows up with a speedster of a horse and challenges the woman to a race.

Cooper of course agrees to the contest. Robertson wins the race, but Cooper is shall we say, a poor loser. She takes Robertson's horse and runs him off on foot. Robertson however tracks Cooper and ambushes her, getting his horse back as well as Cooper. He intends to take her to the nearest Federal Marshall to be charged.

Needless to say there are several complications along the way to the jail. Cooper never stops trying to escape which slows the trip down. This allows her gang, Ed Hashum and George Keymas to catch up. There is an exchange of lead with the villains of course on the losing end. Robertson takes in Starr and she ends up with an 18 month vacation on the State's dime.

This is a neat little episode that was directed by one of the better television helmsmen, Earl Bellamy. The story was by the equally talented Frank Gruber. Gruber cranked out the story or screenplays for film and television between 1939 and 1968. He worked in several different genres and was equally adept with all. These include, NORTHERN PURSUIT, THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS, JOHNNY ANGEL, DRESSED TO KILL, FIGHTING MAN OF THE PLAINS, CARIBOO TRAIL, WARPATH, PONY EXPRESS and SILVER CITY.

There is plenty of nice outdoor location shooting in this episode. It was filmed at Columbia State Historic Park. PALE RIDER is just one of the many films made in the area.

Re: Western Tv: TALES OF WELLS FARGO "Belle Starr" 1957

Tales of Wells Fargo (1957) - Belle Star (1957)

Excellent location!

As always Sir Gordon,

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

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

Tomahawk (1951) I was fortunate to come across this new Van Heflin cavalry vs Indians western. Unfortunately, this movie based on actual historical events, does not hit any lofty notes. Van seems to be going through the motions and the story lacks any dramatic bite. While I was a bit disappointed I can't say the movie was terrible as much as it was uninteresting. 5/10


Tomahawk (1951)

What a shame you didn't get more from it. I think it has much to recommend to Oater fans.

Jim Bridger-The Sioux call him Tomahawk.

Battle of Powder River (AKA: Tomahawk) is directed by George Sherman and adapted for the screen by Sylvia Richards & Maurice Geraghty from a story by Daniel Jarrett. It stars Van Heflin, Yvonne de Carlo, Alex Nicol, Preston Foster, Jack Oakie, Tom Tully, John War Eagle and Susan Cabot. It's a Technicolor production filmed on location in the Black Hills of Dakota, with music by Hans J. Salter and photography by Charles P. Boyle.

"This is the Laramie Conference. A powder keg that may explode at any moment. It would take little to light the fuse. There are important and powerful men here. On one side the leaders of the Sioux nation-on the other representatives of the United States. But on this day it will take a great man to see both sides-Jim Bridger: pioneer, trapper and scout, is such a man."

Coming a year after Delmer Daves' excellent and similarly themed Broken Arrow, Battle of Powder River appears to have been lost in the mix of Westerns sympathetic to the Indians. Much like Broken Arrow, and for that matter Devil's Doorway (1950) as well, this is propelled by a magnetic and strong central lead performance. Van Heflin as Jim Bridger gives the film a believability factor, important for a film that's based around historical events in Montana Territory 1876/7. Thankfully the film built around Heflin isn't too bad either. The plot essentially involves Bridger, a man who married a Cheyenne woman, caught in the middle of an impending war between the Indians and the American military. The army are ordered to build a road and fort on land previously ceded to the Sioux by a previous treaty. This they want to do because of gold having been discovered in the Dakota's. Bridger sets about trying to keep peace but is undermined by personal conflicts and violent bigots like Lieut. Rob Dancy (and effective rascal turn by Alex Nicol).

Naturally for a film of this type, budget, era and running time, it's not an actual history lesson, so folk should not expect as such. But the makers are thoughtful as regards the events of the time and neatly tell their story via the fluctuating perspectives of the characters standing either side of the brewing conflict. It's also nicely shot by Sherman (The Battle at Apache Pass/Comanche) and Boyle (Horizon's West/Gunsmoke), the location work integral to the plot so as to understand what these people were ultimately fighting for. While Salter scores it in standard Cavalry Vs Indians style. The minor problems come with de Carlo's character and the shortness of the action. The former, admittedly lovely in Technicolor, serves only as romantic surplus who does a real dumb thing, and the latter is annoying since Sherman was more than capable of crafting exciting action (for example see the finale of The Battle at Apache Pass). Here the final battle of the title is swift and basically a compilation of charge and be felled sequences, while a buffalo scene is all too brief and only hints at what excitement could have been garnered from that passage of play. Annoyances for sure, but not enough to drag the piece down to B movie fodder territory.

Although it's trumped by two, thematically similar and better movies the previous year, the story, Heflin and the scenery make this a must see for the Western fan. 7.5/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Tomahawk (1951)

Thanks my good fellow! I need to see this one again. Saw it moons ago on a crappy vhs. Needless to say a tick has been wired! Thanks again for the reminder here.

The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)

The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)

Cat Prancing.

Richard C. Sarafian directs and Eleanor Perry adapts the screenplay from Marilyn Durham's novel. It stars Burt Reynolds, Sarah Miles, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, George Hamilton, Bo Hopkins, Robert Donner and Jay Silverheels. Music is by John Williams and cinematography (Panavision/Metrocolor) by Harry Stradling JR.

Train robbing outlaw starts to fall for a woman who inadvertently becomes a kidnapee.

The rumours and gossip behind the making of the film are far more interesting than the film itself. Miles was married to Robert Bolt (they would be married twice), and it is believed that Bolt had to do uncredited work on the script to make it better! This as Miles and Reynolds were having some fun after hours, while Miles' manager (David Whiting) died under suspicious circumstances during the production.

The production is, on a technical level, superb, the locations are outstandingly realised by Stradling's photography, while Williams shows his multi stranded genius by providing a number of different musical compositions throughout the pic. Sadly the film drags and come the midway point it just becomes dull.

It starts off promisingly, with a daring train robbery introducing us to a band of outlaws, led by Reynolds of course, who are interesting enough to keep us, well, interested. Yet this proves to be a false dawn as what looked like being a potent manhunt of the gang, with revenge flavoured seasoning and sexual tensions, quickly turns into a wet romance stretched out to nearly two hours run time. As Miles and Reynolds take center stage for the second half of film, you realise that Cobb and Warden have been criminally underused. Lead performances are OK, it's just that the narrative is uninteresting and poorly directed - though a pat on the back is warranted for the respectful writing of the American Indians.

It looks and musically sounds great, but really it's hard to recommend with confidence. 5/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)

I saw this one at the cinema back in the day. Not a keeper in my books. Then again I must admit that I am not a Burt fan at all. LOL I did like Miss Miles dropping her duds! Tick will be sent.

Re: The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)

Hee. Yeah you just knew that at some point we were going to see flesh in this one. Well you know I'm a Burt fan, but I can't recommend this one at all. I had to watch Deliverance afterwards to remind myself why I'm a fan.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)

Excellent review; I agree on all counts. Warden is quite good, and Cobb is always great, but some of the story elements are misfires and the time spent on Burt and Miss Miles feels excessively excessive. I fault the director, a TV-level talent who didn't seem to have a coherent vision for the project. There are parts of the production that are outstanding, and at times it feels so promising, like it's on the verge of breaking out, but when it's all said and done, too much is said and not enough done.

Western Tv: THE OUTCASTS "Pilot" 1968


THE OUTCASTS "Pilot" 1968

THE OUTCASTS was a western series that ran for 26 episodes during 1968 and 1969. The series is set in 1870 in Texas and stars, Don Murray and Otis Young. Murray is a former Confederate Officer who now lives by his gun. Otis Young, a former slave and Union soldier is employed as a bounty hunter.

In this episode, the two men are forced by circumstances to work together to collar a man wanted on a bounty warrant. The man they seek, Warren Finnerty, is part of a wagon train. The trick here is that the wagon train is being run by the US Army. They are taking silver to the US mint in Washington.

Murray and Young are soon mixed up in an attempted hi-jacking of the silver by the Lt in charge of the wagon train. The man, Burr DeBenning is tired of army life and wants to move to Europe. The ill thought out plan comes unglued as Murray and Young stick their noses in.

Not what I would call a great episode, but, it does move along well enough. Otis Young is best known for his turn in the 1973 film, THE LAST DETAIL. Helping fill out the episode is scene stealer, Slim Pickens. Pickens plays a Sgt with the Army wagon train.

The look of the episode is quite sharp with one time Oscar nominated Harold Stine, handling the cinematography. The rousing theme is from Hugo Montenegro.

Re: Western Tv: THE OUTCASTS "Pilot" 1968

The Outcasts (1968) - Pilot (1968)


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Western Tv: "The Doctors of Pawnee Kill" 1957 Lee Marvin


GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER "The Doctors of Pawnee Kill" 1957

This is an episode of the long running (1953-1962) anthology series, GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER. There were 300 plus episodes made. This one is episode 19 from season 5.

This episode, a western, takes place in the frontier town of, Pawnee Kill. Two brothers, Lee Marvin and Kevin McCarthy are the town's Sheriff and Doctor. Marvin is the no nonsense, quick with the gun type. McCarthy thinks that Marvin is just a bit too much of a shoot first, talk later type.

Marvin's wife, Jean Howell is in bed ready any hour to have the couple's first child. While McCarthy is checking on Howell, shots are heard from down the street. Howell of course is worried for her husband. McCarthy grabs his bag and heads to see what happened.

He finds Marvin and his Deputy, William Challee, standing over the body of a local thug. The dead man is in the employ of a local land baron, Ted de Corsia. McCarthy looks the man over and declares him ready for Boot Hill. He has words with his brother over the shooting. Could Marvin not have just arrested the man? Marvin just looks at his brother and shakes his head.

The dead man's brother, gunman, Claude Akins, soon rides into town. He also works for de Corcia. Marvin knows that this is going to end up with further bloodshed. Akins joins de Corcia in the town saloon for a few shots before he heads off to go after Marvin.

McCarthy takes it upon himself to try and stop the fight. He joins de Corcia and Akins for a drink in the saloon. He tells the two men they can talk out their problems with no need for any blood-letting. De Corcia and Akins agree to a meeting. McCarthy heads to Marvin to explain the agreement.

Of course we all know that de Corcia and Akins have no intention of holding up their end. De Corcia has another of his men, Christian Pasques, hide in an alley. His job is to back shoot Marvin when he comes. McCarthy, watching out of a window, realizes that he has set his brother up to be killed. McCarthy grabs up a Winchester and steps out into the street. He pots Pasques with a single shot while Marvin outdraws Akins and his boss, de Corcia.

The Doc and the Sheriff then attend to Miss Howell for the delivery of a new bouncing baby.

This one is an excellent western with top work from both sides of the camera. Marvin does a nice turn as a Lawman in a change of pace bit for him. Both Akins and de Corcia have the villain thing down pat.

Former big screen man, Don Weis, moves things along at a brisk pace. One time Oscar nominated, John L Russell sits in the cinematography chair. He was nominated for his work on Hitchcock's, PSYCHO. Here Russell uses plenty of low angle shots and gives the episode an almost film noir look.

The screenplay was cranked out by N.B. Stone, who wrote two of my favourite big screen dusters, RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY and MAN WITH THE GUN. The story was by veteran writer, Thomas Thompson whose best known work is probably 1958's SADDLE THE WIND.

Re: Western Tv: "The Doctors of Pawnee Kill" 1957 Lee Marvin

The Doctors of Pawnee Kill (1957)


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Fury at Showdown (1957)

Fury at Showdown (1957)

This fun western had a decent cast of actors who did yeomans work in turning this standard B western into a drama strong story.

Stars John Derek as a man recently released from jail who is looking to pick up the pieces with his kid brother Nick Adams. At the same time he's being dogged by the brother of a man he killed and a hired gunman played by Laramie's John Smith. Pretty good western, turned out a lot better than I expected. 7/10


Re: Fury at Showdown (1957)

Thanks. On the list it goes.

Re: Fury at Showdown (1957)

It's a good one, also features one of the better fist fights I've seen in a western.

A real knockdown beater almost on Shane level.


Re: Fury at Showdown (1957)

Yep, new one to me as well. Thanks Scout, always like to see the little seen Oaters get some publicity.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

"All I want is to be a cowboy and to wear my own pants!"

Destry Rides Again

It's a comedy! It's a musical! It's ... a western? Well, yeah. Basically. Destry Rides Again is a clever and entertaining film from Hollywood's Golden Year of 1939, with a fine script, some classic scenes, and rather unusual casting. A good-time saloon girl is involved in some shady dealings, but a tall, square-shouldered, slow-talking deputy ambles into her life, and threatens to change her mind about a few things.

If the role of the deputy sounds tailor-made for Gary Cooper, that's because it was tailor-made for Gary Cooper. But, Coop wanted too much money, so the part went to the less demanding James Stewart, in his first Western. Now, I like Jim Stewart; heck, I love Jim Stewart. He has a great screen presence, a likable personality, and the long, lean build we look for in our Western heroes. But when he talks, he sounds like he's from Pennsylvania, not Arizona, and he just doesn't quite have the Western street cred to back up his confidence. I like Stewart in the role, but I can't shake the feeling that Coop would have been better.

Marlene Dietrich, on the other hand, is all but flawless as the Dance Hall siren. Her musical numbers are impressive, her shady character and playful personality shine, and her early antagonism towards Stewart is astonishing to behold. Arguably, the movie's most iconic scene is her catfight with Una Merkel, which Hollywood legend tells us was improvised by the two actresses and made to look real because it was real. They agreed to one rule - no closed-fist punches - but other than that, they were really going at each other. Miss Dietrich even makes her gradual softening towards Stewart seem plausible. More plausible than the nickname "Frenchy," that's for sure. (I guess calling her "Germy" would have been less prosaic.) Marlene Dietrich, who had been labelled box-office poison in 1938, had no interest in making a Western until German novelist Erich Maria Remarque convinced her it would make her more American, and thus help distance her from the unpleasantness underway in Europe.

The script is quite wonderful, full of clever lines and Destry's homespun homilies ("I had a friend once ... ") and the songs are sprightly and entertaining. There is also a particularly colorful supporting cast - the peerless Brian Donlevy in one of his patented too-slick-for-words roles, Charles Winninger as a drunk turned sheriff, Jack Carson as a he-man cattle owner, Irene Hervey as his she-girl sister, and especially Mischa Auer, who is priceless as Boris, the pantsless Russian.

The ending is a little chaotic, as the good guys face off against the bad guys, and the female guys intervene; did I mention it was a comedy? None if it will surprise you, and it does wrap things up nicely, but it is somewhat uninspired. The story overall is quite simple, which allows for some fun set pieces and gives the cast a chance to shine. Overall, I'm going to go 8.5/10 - as a comedy, it's a gem, as a film, it's a classic, but as a Western, it's good enough. As long as you remember it's a comedy, I expect most fans will be entertained.

Destry Rides Again, of course, was one of Mel Brooks' touchstones for Blazing Saddles - familiar bits include the unwanted lawman trying to prove himself, and the window in the sheriff's office - but the key connection was Madeline Kahn's inspired send up of Marlene Dietrich. Miss Kahn is a riot in her own right, but in the context of Dietrich's performance, it's dazzling, not to mention spot-on. It's worth seeing Destry to fully get the joke in Blazing Saddles.

Re: "All I want is to be a cowboy and to wear my own pants!"

I agree, a enjoyable western romp that is still entertaining today. Thanks for the review. Now I need to go find my copy for a re-watch.

Destry Rides Again

Destry Rides Again (1939)

What a triffick read! Really enjoyed reading that. Why are you not submitting to IMDb review page?

I haven't seen it since 2008 >

Welcome to Bottleneck.

Deputy Tom Destry Jr. (James Stewart) rides in to Bottleneck and sets about ridding the town of its riff-raff elements, without guns!

Based on the novel by Max Brand, Destry Rides Again simultaneously spoofed the western genre whilst reinvigorating Marlene Dietrich's flagging career. At first glance it seemed an odd casting choice to choose Dietrich as the bawdy saloon chanteuse, Frenchy, especially since Paulette Goddard was originally cast for the role. But it really comes off, where Dietrich's loud and brusque portrayal perfectly plays off of Jimmy Stewart's laid back and gentle mannered Destry performance.

The role of Destry is tailor made for Stewart, his everyman charm sits perfect for a character who is at first painted as a wimp, he drinks milk, he carries no guns, but who better than Stewart to fully realise a character that uses brains over brawn to great effect? A film of this type, though, is only as good as its villain, and thankfully Brian Donlevy steps up to the plate with a suitable grumpy sneer, it's a fine performance from a very undervalued performer.

Directed by the highly experienced George Marshall, Destry Rides Again is chock full of the elements that make a good family film even better than it should be, jokes a plenty, goodies and baddies, songs, and quality slices of drama, all combine here to make this a very entertaining and rewarding picture indeed. While those into girl power really need to check out the ending of this picture for sure.

Little Joe, Little Joe... 8/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Western Tv JOHNNY RINGO "Posse" 1959


JOHNNY RINGO "Posse" 1959

JOHNNY RINGO was a western series that ran for 38 episodes during 1959-60. The series starred Don Durant as the title character with Karen Sharpe, Mark Goddard and Terence De Marney as series regulars. The series follows Durant, (Ringo) a former gunfighter who decides to go straight. He becomes the Sheriff in the small town of Velardi in the Arizona Territory. The series was one of several (Rifleman, Wanted Dead or Alive, Shotgun Slade) with a "gimmick gun". Durant carries a special LeMat revolver equipped with a shotgun barrel under the six gun barrel. This episode is the 6th episode of the series.

Sheriff Don Durant and his Deputy, Mark Goddard, are standing outside the Sheriff's office talking. A man, Richard Devon, comes riding hard and stops at the office. Devon knows Durant from years before when they rode together. Devon tells Durant that he wants to be arrested. Durant figures it is all a joke, that is, till Devon grabs up a rock and throws it through the window of the shop next door.

After locking Devon up, Durant asks what the hell is going on. Durant says there are some men after him that want to kill him. Now, three men, led by Walter Sande hit town. They are looking for Devon. They say that they are part of a posse looking for Devon on a charge of murder. Durant tells the men they will need to wait till the Federal Marshall shows before they can take him.

Sande and company hit the saloon and start buying drinks for the locals. They soon have the local yokels bombed and calling for a lynching. Rope is soon produced and 30 or so men head for the jailhouse. The men are soon pounding on the jailhouse door with a pole as a battering ram. Durant decides that he will need to sneak Devon out the back and stash him elsewhere.

While all this is going on, Sande and his men are using the cover of the racket raised by lynch mob, to rob the local bank. They are interrupted by the elderly guard, Carter DeHaven. A pistol butt to the head of DeHaven ends this distraction.

Durant by this time figures it is time to bolt with Devon, and heads out the back to the horses. Sande and company are there waiting. Now we find out that Devon is a member of the bank robbery gang. His job was to decoy the townsfolk. Iron of course is pulled with Durant surprising Sande and his cohorts with his special pistol. Devon survives and hotfoots it, but not for far. The elderly guard, DeHaven, has regained his senses and clobbers Devon as he runs by.

With Devon back in jail, Durant chews out the town people for being talked into a lynching mood. The people rather sheepishly wander off to their homes.

A nicely done episode with more than a few twists and turns. B-film man, John English handles the direction making it all look easy.

Re: Western Tv JOHNNY RINGO "Posse" 1959

Johnny Ringo (1959) - The Posse (1959)

A twister and turner! G

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

The Wreck of the Bad Man Fitzgerald

The Revenant (2015)

Did you ever have one of those days where it seems as if the whole world is out to get you? Hugh Glass certainly has. He's just a poor, honest mountain man, trying to earn a living by hunting and trapping in the wilderness, but adversity seems to find him. The Arikawa Indians, rival French trappers, a Grizzly Bear, Mother Nature, and one of his own men all seem intent on harshing his buzz. Such is life in the wilderness in 1823.

Based (rather loosely) on a true story, The Revenant is a tense, grim, and often lovely odyssey across 1823 South Dakota as Glass, who was attacked by Indians, mauled by a bear, partially treated, dragged along on a travois, and ultimately abandoned, makes his way back to what passes for civilization. As if self-preservation isn't enough incentive, Glass wants revenge on the compatriot who played him dirty, stole his rifle, and left him, injured, helpless and alone, smack dab in the middle of a very snowy nowhere.

The movie's deserved success is built on three main ingredients - the committed performance by Leonardo Di Caprio, the careful direction of Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and the lovingly filmed landscape by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Di Caprio is both powerful and understated as Hugh Glass, and the movie's sparse dialogue forces him to rely on other qualities, including his expressive eyes and a series of oddly emotive grunts. It is a fine performance by any standard, perhaps more so given the conditions. Iñárritu's direction is likewise inspired, and his patient and artistic eye finds visual poetry everywhere, relying on the stunning camera work of Lubezki to show the wilderness to maximum advantage. Lubezki's work is consistently breathtaking, and the movie is extraordinarily attractive to look at.

The supporting cast is fine. Tom Hardy, as Glass's nemesis John Fitzgerald, affects a harsh whisper and a distant look in his eye as the rogue frontiersman looking out for Number One. He's a rotten apple, and an ornery cuss, but a wily and resourceful adversary. Domhnall Gleeson, last seen as Bill Weasley in the 27 Harry Potter movies (I know, there where only 8, but it felt like more) is solid as the ill-fated expedition's trustworthy captain. The rest of the cast include a number of unfamiliar faces, who do well under Iñárritu's direction.

The narrative, on the other hand, is mildly off kilter. We are told that only Glass can lead the the survivors of an Indian attack back to the fort, yet, after a few scenes in snow and a few casual edits, there they are, safe and sound and relatively unchallenged. The number of pursuing Arikawa seems nebulous, and their abilities seem omnipotent. Yet, when aiming at Glass, their marksmanship becomes highly suspect. At one point, after chasing him off of a cliff, they fail to follow him down to make sure, this time, he really is dead. After trailing him for 100 miles or so, you'd think that they might want some closure, and maybe a scalp.

These minor issues aside, the main problem with the movie is that there is just too darned much of it; scenes go on too long, and the middle third, centered on Glass's tribulations, seems no less an ordeal to the audience. There is a feeling of self-indulgence, of extravagance, of superfluity, as Di Caprio crawls, limps, stumbles, rolls, and floats along with the current of an icy river. Okay, we get the point, already. At some point enough becomes too much.

The violent nature of the frontier is shown with startling ferocity, and the battles are as carefully filmed as the scenery. This is neither a flaw nor exactly an asset, but, from a technical standpoint, it is remarkable. The bear attack, in particular, is tensely and frighteningly plausible. This is not a movie for the overly empathetic or weak of stomach.

In my viewing, the movie's flaws make it more of a quality curiosity than a modern classic. The Revenant deserves a place on the frontier survival shelf along with Jeremiah Johnson, A Man Called Horse, and Man in the Wilderness (based on the same story.) There are some truly remarkable moments, and the imagery is gorgeous; Di Caprio gives an unflinching performance, and deserved his accolades. I'm going to overlook some of the film's less successful qualities and give it an 8.5/10. It's generally intense and compelling, but in the end it just wears you down. If ever there were a case where less would have been more, this may be it.

Note: There was a Hugh Glass; he was savaged by a bear, and abandoned by compatriots Jim Bridger and John Fitzgerald. His journey back to civilization is the stuff of legend. But he there is no record of a wife and son, and, after his ordeal, he forgave Bridger and simply retrieved his gun from Fitzgerald. Hollywood has long added elements to "true" stories, but seldom have those movies tried as hard as The Revenant to seem authentic, and the fabrications, which form the bulk of the narrative, feel somewhat excessive in hindsight.

Re: The Wreck of the Bad Man Fitzgerald

Re-watching the Blu-ray tonight. I'll be back

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Western Tv: TALES OF WELLS FARGO "Two Cartridges" 1957


TALES OF WELLS FARGO "Two Cartridges" 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 16th of the series. Wells Fargo man, Hardee (Dale Robertson) is in Deadwood on business. The local Wells Fargo stage is held up and 10 grand in greenbacks is lifted. The bandit, Jim Davis, had shot and wounded the shotgun rider during the robbery. Robertson saddles up and heads off to hunt Davis down.

The local Wells Fargo manager, Harry Harvey, tells Robertson he will round up a posse and follow the next day. Robertson rides hard and picks up bandit's trail. He surprises Davis as he is bedding down for the night. He disarms the man and recovers the cash. He intends to take Davis back to Deadwood the next morning.

This idea goes south rather quickly as a group of Sioux warriors put in an appearance. They are less than amused with Mister Davis. It seems the man had stolen several of the Sioux horses the day before. They are looking to give the thief, "the big haircut".

The Indians come hard and heavy forcing Robertson to give back Davis his pistol. The more firepower, the better their chances of survival are. The two men set up behind a couple of handy boulders and let fly at the Sioux. The Sioux quickly retreat after 4 or 5 of their number go down. Now it is a game of cat and mouse as they snipe at each other.

Robertson and Davis are quickly running out of cartridges as the Sioux work their way closer. Just as the two men run out of ammo, the posse shows and runs off the Sioux. Davis makes to take off with the cash assuming that Robertson is out of ammo. Robertson blows off the hat of Davis. He then tells him that he had kept two cartridges just in case. Davis knows he is beat.

This is a quick moving episode with plenty of action. The episode was helmed by James Neilson, who had just finished filming the James Stewart and Audie Murphy western, NIGHT PASSAGE.

Re: Western Tv: TALES OF WELLS FARGO "Two Cartridges" 1957

Tales of Wells Fargo (1957) - Two Cartridges (1957)

Good pub on James Neilson my good man

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217