TV Review – GUNSMOKE: THE JAILER (1966)

Amanda Blake was scared to work with Bette Davis on GunsmokeGUNSMOKE: THE JAILER (1966, USA) ****
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Vincent McEveety; w. Hal Sitowitz; exec pr. Philip Leacock; pr. John Mantley; ph. Harry Stradling Jr. (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Morton Stevens; ed. Albrecht Joseph; ad. John B. Goodman; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Pat Whiffing; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 1 October 1966; r/t. 51m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Bette Davis (Etta Stone), Bruce Dern (Lou Stone), Robert Sorrells (Mike Stone), Zalman King (Jack Stone), Tom Skerritt (Ben Stone), Julie Sommars (Sara Stone), Roger Ewing (Thad), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Stephen Burnette (Townsman (uncredited)), Fred McDougall (Prison Wagon Driver (uncredited)), Anthony Redondo (Guard (uncredited)).

(s. 12 ep. 3) Etta Stone (Davis) is a very bitter, older, woman who has Kitty and Matt captured and thrown into a homemade jail, and now she plans on hanging Matt for the execution of her husband 6 years before. This is an exceptional episode of the long-running TV series with a top-notch cast and excellent direction from McEveety. Davis is all brooding, dominant matriarch and vengeful psychotic as she seeks revenge on Matt (Arness) for the hanging sentence handed to her husband through her kidnapping of Kitty (Blake). She uses her sons – including Dern and Skerritt – as her instruments of retribution, as well as Dern’s wife Sommars, who unbeknownst to Dern has picked up with Skerritt whilst Dern had been serving time in prison. Arness and Blake begin to play on the sibling tension leading to the final confrontation. It is undoubtedly Blake’s best performance in the series (she acknowledges the episode as a personal favourite) and her scenes with Davis are electric. It is a great example of how superb acting and strong direction can lift a story.

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 WAR WAGON (1967)

Image result for the war wagon 1967War Wagon, The (1967; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***  d. Burt Kennedy; w. Clair Huffaker; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr., Keenan Wynn, Bruce Dern, Gene Evans, Bruce Cabot, Joanna Barnes, Sheb Wooley. A rancher returns from prison having survived being shot, to the ranch and gold that a businessman stole from him. He makes a deal with the man who shot him 5 years ago to join forces and steal a large gold shipment. Wayne and Douglas make a good team in this Western heist movie that promises more than it delivers. Keel also scores as a renegade Indian. Well shot action sequences and some witty dialogue help to mask some of the more fanciable elements of the script. Memorable Tiomkin score. Based on Huffaker’s novel “Badman”. [U]