Film Review – MAN IN THE SADDLE (1951)

MAN IN THE SADDLE (USA, 1951) ***
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Columbia Pictures / Scott-Brown Productions; Release Date: 2 December 1951 (USA), 18 July 1952 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 April–15 May 1951; Running Time: 87m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (RCA Sound System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: André De Toth; Writer: Kenneth Gamet (based on the novel by Ernest Haycox); Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Associate Producer: Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Charles Lawton Jr.; Music Composer: George Duning; Film Editor: Charles Nelson; Art Director: George Brooks; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Sound: Frank Goodwin.
      Cast: Randolph Scott (Owen Merritt), Joan Leslie (Laurie Bidwell Isham), Ellen Drew (Nan Melotte), Alexander Knox (Will Isham), Richard Rober (Fay Dutcher), John Russell (Hugh Clagg), Alfonso Bedoya (Cultus Charley), Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams (Bourke Prine), Clem Bevans (Pay Lankershim), Cameron Mitchell (George Vird), Richard Crane (Juke Vird), Frank Sully (Lee Repp).
      Synopsis: An angry rancher resorts to violence when he learns that his wife has fallen in love with another man.
      Comment: Tough Western is well directed by De Toth, notably the energetic action sequences – both gunplay and fist fights. Scott plays a rancher at war with his neighbour Knox, who is marrying Scott’s former flame Leslie. Knox is out to expand his cattle empire and Scott stands in his way leading to tit for tat confrontation. Drew plays another rancher who has a soft spot for Scott. The screenplay lacks depth but De Toth makes the most of the scenario. The finale may feel a little too pat, but otherwise, this is a good first run for De Toth and Scott, who would go on to make five more Westerns together before Scott upped the quality levels even further with Budd Boetticher. This was also the first of the lucrative collaborations between star Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Song “Man in the Saddle,” m/l. Harold Lewis, Ralph Murphy (sung by Tennessee Ernie). Aka: THE OUTCAST.

Film Review – PALE RIDER (1985)

Image result for pale rider 1985PALE RIDER (USA, 1985) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 27 June 1985 (USA), 4 October 1985 (UK); Filming Dates: began 17 September 1984; Running Time: 115m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack; Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Barbara Guedel; Sound: C. Darin Knight; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Preacher), Michael Moriarty (Hull Barret), Carrie Snodgress (Sarah Wheeler), Chris Penn (Josh LaHood), Richard Dysart (Coy LaHood), Sydney Penny (Megan Wheeler), Richard Kiel (Club), Doug McGrath (Spider Conway), John Russell (Stockburn), Charles Hallahan (McGill), Marvin J. McIntyre (Jagou), Fran Ryan (Ma Blankenship), Richard Hamilton (Jed Blankenship), Graham Paul (Ev Gossage), Chuck Lafont (Eddie Conway), Jeffrey Weissman (Teddy Conway), Allen Keller (Tyson), Randy Oglesby (Elam), Herman Poppe (Ulrik Lindquist), Kathleen Wygle (Bess Gossage), Terrence Evans (Jake Henderson), Jim Hitson (Biggs), Loren Adkins (Bossy), Thomas H. Friedkin (Miner Tom), S.A. Griffin (Deputy Folke), Jack Radosta (Deputy Grissom), Robert Winley (Deputy Kobold), Billy Drago (Deputy Mather), Jeffrey Josephson (Deputy Sedge), John Dennis Johnston (Deputy Tucker), Michael Adams (Horseman), Clay M. Lilley (Horseman), Gene Hartline (Horseman), R.L. Tolbert (Horseman), Clifford Happy (Horseman), Ross Loney (Horseman), Larry Randles (Horseman), Mike H. McGaughy (Horseman), Jerry Gatlin (Horseman), Lloyd Nelson (Bank Teller), Jay K. Fishburn (Telegrapher), George Orrison (Stationmaster Whitey), Milton Murrill (Porter), Mike Munsey (Dentist / Barber), Keith Dillin (Blacksmith), Buddy Van Horn (Stage Driver), Fritz Manes (Stage Rider), Glenn Wright (Stage Rider).
      Synopsis: A mysterious preacher protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.
      Comment: Eastwood’s first Western since THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES nine years earlier is a thinly disguised reworking of the themes explored in SHANE (1953) and Eastwood’s earlier HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973). Eastwood deftly mixes the morality messaging of SHANE with the mysticism of HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER and the film’s lack of an original perspective makes it seem at times overly familiar. There is, however, much to enjoy here with Eastwood and an excellent cast making the most of the familiar situations. The star is in good form returning to his stranger persona as he helps a group of prospectors panning for gold against a mining company out for their land. The production is well-mounted in a beautiful setting in Idaho, which is sumptuously captured by cinematographer Surtees at the start of a snowy autumn.