TV Review – GUNSMOKE: QUAKER GIRL (1966)

Quaker Girl (1966)GUNSMOKE: QUAKER GIRL (1966, USA) ***
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Bernard L. Kowalski; w. Preston Wood; exec pr. Philip Leacock; pr. John Mantley; ph. Harry Stradling Jr. (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Leigh Harline; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Otto Meyer; ad. John B. Goodman; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Pat Whiffing; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 10 December 1966; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Roger Ewing (Thad), William Shatner (Fred Bateman), William Bryant (Kester), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Joseph Breen (George), Anna Karen (1st Woman), Nancy Marshall (2nd Woman), Patricia Quinn (Cora Ellis (as Ariane Quinn)), Liam Sullivan (Benjamin Ellis), Warren Vanders (John Thenly), Ben Johnson (Vern Morland), Timothy Carey (Charles ‘Buster’ Rilla), Tom Reese (Dave Westerfeldt), Danny Borzage (Quaker (uncredited)), Pete Kellett (Quaker (uncredited)), Fred McDougall (Quaker (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Barfly (uncredited)), Rudy Sooter (Musician (uncredited)), Wally West (Quaker (uncredited)).

(s. 12 ep. 12) When a dying deputy swears in Thad to capture killer Fred Bateman (Shatner), Thad (Ewing) ends up in a Quaker town, in which the people cannot tell which one is the wanted man. Ewings gets his chance to hold the centre stage with Shatner in this story of culture clashes. The script does not make the most of the situation, but Shatner’s charisma and possibly Ewing’s best performance of the series carry it through. Watch out for Johnson as lead heavy of a gang on Shatner’s tail.

Film Review – SHANE (1953)

Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Brandon De Wilde, Van Heflin, and Jack Palance in Shane (1953)SHANE (USA, 1953) *****
      Distributor: Paramount Pictures (USA), Paramount British Pictures (UK); Production Company: Paramount Pictures Corporation; Release Date: 23 April 1953 (USA), 4 September 1953 (UK); Filming Dates: July 1951 – 16 October 1951; Running Time: 118m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording) | 3 Channel Stereo (Western Electric Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1/1.66:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: George Stevens; Writer: A.B. Guthrie Jr., Jack Sher (based on the novel by Jack Schaefer); Producer: George Stevens; Associate Producer: Ivan Moffat; Director of Photography: Loyal Griggs; Music Composer: Victor Young; Film Editor: William Hornbeck, Tom McAdoo; Art Director: Hal Pereira, Walter H. Tyler; Set Decorator: Emile Kuri; Costumes: Edith Head; Make-up: Wally Westmore; Sound: Gene Garvin, Harry Lindgren.
      Cast: Alan Ladd (Shane), Jean Arthur (Marian Starrett), Van Heflin (Joe Starrett), Brandon De Wilde (Joey Starrett), Jack Palance (Jack Wilson), Ben Johnson (Chris Calloway), Edgar Buchanan (Fred Lewis), Emile Meyer (Rufus Ryker), Elisha Cook Jr. (Stonewall Torrey), Douglas Spencer (Axel ‘Swede’ Shipstead), John Dierkes (Morgan Ryker), Ellen Corby (Mrs. Liz Torrey), Paul McVey (Sam Grafton), John Miller (Will Atkey – Bartender), Edith Evanson (Mrs. Shipstead), Leonard Strong (Ernie Wright), Ray Spiker (Axel Johnson – Homesteader), Janice Carroll (Susan Lewis), Martin Mason (Ed Howells), Helen Brown (Martha Lewis), Nancy Kulp (Mrs. Howells).
      Synopsis: A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smouldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act.
      Comment: All-time classic Western is also one of the best films ever made. Stevens fashions a visual treat utilising the skills of cinematographer Griggs capturing the splendour of the Wyoming landscapes of vast flat valleys and steep mountains. Stevens uses the changing weather to add tone and mood to support each scene and set-piece. He also gets wonderful performances from the cast. Ladd as the mysterious Shane, who is idolised by a remarkable De Wilde, Heflin and Arthur as the farmers Ladd helps against rancher Meyer who is trying to run the farmers off his range. Palance is the embodiment of villainous cool as the hired gunfighter with a reputation. The story builds in tension towards the inevitable showdown climax. But it’s the sub-texts beneath the standard plot that make this stand out as a true classic – from DeWilde’s hero-worship idealism of Ladd’s flawed character to the unspoken conflict of feelings Arthur has between Ladd and her husband Heflin. It’s all delivered with fine nuance and sincere conviction and embellished by an evocative score from Young.
      Notes: Won an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Final film of Jean Arthur. Followed by a TV series (1966) with David Carradine in the title role.

Film Review – HANG ‘EM HIGH (1968)

Image result for hang em high 1968Hang ‘Em High (1968; USA; DeLuxe; 114m) ***  d. Ted Post; w. Leonard Freeman, Mel Goldberg; ph. Richard H. Kline, Leonard J. South; m. Dominic Frontiere.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Ed Begley, Pat Hingle, James MacArthur, Arlene Golonka, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper, Ruth White, Ben Johnson, Charles McGraw, Alan Hale Jr., James Westerfield, L.Q. Jones, Joseph Sirola. When an innocent man barely survives a lynching, he returns as a lawman determined to bring the vigilantes to justice. Well-meaning morality tale doesn’t always hit the right notes after an engrossing opening. The tale meanders to a conclusion that isn’t. Issues are left unresolved, which may have been the intended message but leaves the viewer feeling unfulfilled. Eastwood looks comfortable in the lead and Hingle adequately conveys the pressures of the hanging judge. Stevens completes a trio of characters scarred either mentally or physically. Frontiere’s overly melodramatic score is often at odds with the complexity of the material. A flawed but worthy effort. The first film produced by Eastwood’s Malpaso Company. [18]

Film Review – THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971)

Image result for the last picture show 1971Last Picture Show, The (1971; USA; B&W; 118m) ****½  d. Peter Bogdanovich; w. Peter Bogdanovich, Larry McMurtry; ph. Robert Surtees; m. Phil Harris, Johnny Standley, Hank Thompson.  Cast: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sam Bottoms, Randy Quaid, Joe Heathcock, Bill Thurman, Jessie Lee Fulton, John Hillerman, Noble Willingham, Grover Lewis, Kimberly Hyde, Gary Brockette, Sharon Taggart. In 1951, a group of high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both culturally and economically. Superbly acted drama populated by imperfect characters trying to make a sense of their lives in a dying Texas town. Bogdanovich gives the characters room to breathe and adds a directorial flourish to create an overarching sense of sadness. The 1950s setting is realistically realised through Polly Platt’s production design and Surtees’ black-and-white cinematography. Won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Johnson) and Supporting Actress (Leachman) as well as receiving six other nominations. Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry. Director’s cut runs 126m. Followed by TEXASVILLE (1990). [15]

Film Review – THE TRAIN ROBBERS (1973)

Image result for the train robbers 1973Train Robbers, The (1973; USA; Technicolor; 92m) **½  d. Burt Kennedy; w. Burt Kennedy; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dominic Frontiere.  Cast: John Wayne, Ann-Margret, Rod Taylor, Ben Johnson, Christopher George, Bobby Vinton, Jerry Gatlin, Ricardo Montalban. A gunhand is hired by a widow to find gold stolen by her husband so that she may return it and start fresh. Late Wayne Western has a slight story that is stretched out over its running time. Disappointment from writer-director Kennedy has endless shots of the cast riding across the desert and through rivers punctuated by occasional action. Luckily, we have Wayne on board with a solid veteran cast, even if the cast is given little to work with. Beautifully photographed on location in Durango, Mexico. [U]

Film Review – CHISUM (1970)

Image result for chisum 1970Chisum (1970; USA; Technicolor; 111m) ***½  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Andrew J. Fenady; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dominic Frontiere.  Cast: John Wayne, Forrest Tucker, Christopher George, Ben Johnson, Glenn Corbett, Bruce Cabot, Andrew Prine, Patric Knowles, Richard Jaeckel, John Agar, Lynda Day George, Pamela McMyler, Lloyd Battista, Robert Donner, Geoffrey Deuel. Cattle baron John Chisum joins forces with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett to fight the Lincoln County land war. One of the best of Wayne’s latter-day Westerns. It may not be historically accurate, but it makes for a rousing entertainment with a sharp script. McLaglen directs with style and a great sense of landscape. Johnson scores as Wayne’s mumbling sidekick. Wonderful score by Frontiere. Durango, Mexico. Fenady adapted his short story “Chisum and the Lincoln County Cattle War”. [PG]

Film Review – THE UNDEFEATED (1969)

Image result for the undefeated 1969Undefeated, The (1969; USA; DeLuxe; 119m) ***  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. James Lee Barrett, Stanley Hough; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Hugo Montenegro.  Cast: John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Bruce Cabot, Ben Johnson, John Agar, Antonio Aguilar, Lee Meriwether, Roman Gabriel, Merlin Olsen, Harry Carey Jr., Royal Dano, Marian McCargo, Melissa Newman, Jan-Michael Vincent, Edward Faulkner, Paul Fix. After the Civil War, ex-Union and ex-Confederate Colonels are leading two disparate groups of people through strife-torn Mexico.  Boisterous Western, typical of its director and the late career of Wayne. Hudson is the surprise package, turning in a dignified performance as the proud defeated Confederate Colonel. Some memorable set-pieces atone for the routine nature of the story and a disappointing finale. Nice use of locations in Sierra de Órganos National Park in Mexico. Based on the novel by Lewis B. Patten. [PG]

Film Review – RIO GRANDE (1950)

Rio Grande (1950; USA; B&W; 105m) ***½  d. John Ford; w. James Kevin McGuinness; ph. Bert Glennon; m. Victor Young.  Cast: John Wayne, Claude Jarman Jr., Ben Johnson, Maureen O’Hara, Harry Carey Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carrol Naish, Victor McLaglen, Grant Withers, Patrick Wayne, Steve Pendleton, Alberto Morin, Stan Jones. A Union officer is in charge of an outpost on the Rio Grande in which he is in charge of training of new recruits one of which is his son whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years. Third of the Wayne/Ford “Cavalry Trilogy” is probably the least, but still vastly entertaining. Story unfolds at a leisurely pace (including two or three musical interludes) with Wayne and O’Hara sparking a strong chemistry in their first of five outings together. McLaglen offers his familiar light relief as heavy-drinking sergeant. Extensive use of Mohave Valley locations. Based on a story by James Warner Bellah. Also available in a computer colourised version. [U]

Film Review – SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949)

Related imageShe Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949; USA; Technicolor; 103m) ****  d. John Ford; w. Frank S. Nugent, Laurence Stallings, James Warner Bellah; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Victor McLaglen, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Harry Carey Jr., Mildred Natwick, Paul Fix, George O’Brien, Arthur Shields, Michael Dugan, Noble Johnson, Fred Graham, Tom Tyler, Jack Pennick. A US Cavalry Captain, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperilled. Gloriously shot (Hoch’s colour photography rightly won an Oscar) second film in Ford’s celebrated Cavalry Trilogy is a thoroughly entertaining account of the last few days active service of respected Captain Wayne. The production values are high and great use is made of the Monument Valley location. Wayne is in top form in a role older than his years. Johnson also shines as unassuming sergeant, whilst McLaglen adds his usual high spirits to the proceedings. Followed by RIO GRANDE (1950). [PG]

Film Review – THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974)

Image result for the sugarland express posterSugarland Express, The (1974; USA; Technicolor; 110m) ****  d. Steven Spielberg; w. Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, Steven Spielberg; ph. Vilmos Zsigmond; m. John Williams.  Cast: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, William Atherton, Gregory Walcott, Steve Kanaly, Louise Latham, Harrison Zanuck, A. L. Camp, Jessie Lee Fulton, Dean Smith, Ted Grossman. A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don’t go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road. Spielberg’s first theatrical feature is a winning combination of drama and humour. Balancing the tone is the director’s biggest challenge as he takes on this adaptation of real life events. Hawn and Atherton score strongly as the misguided couple, whilst Johnson gives a quietly effective performance as a sympathetic lawman. The tone shifts sharply in its final act, but this remains an engaging tale. [PG]