Film Review – BEND OF THE RIVER (1952)

James Stewart and Julie Adams in Bend of the River (1952)BEND OF THE RIVER (USA, 1952) ****
      Distributor: Universal Pictures; Production Company: Universal International Pictures (UI); Release Date: 23 January 1952 (USA), 13 March 1952 (UK); Filming Dates: 26 July–13 September 1951; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Anthony Mann; Writer: Borden Chase (based on the novel “Bend of the Snake” by William Gulick); Producer: Aaron Rosenberg; Associate Producer: Frank Cleaver; Director of Photography: Irving Glassberg; Music Composer: Hans J. Salter; Film Editor: Russell F. Schoengarth; Casting Director: Phil Benjamin (uncredited); Art Director: Bernard Herzbrun, Nathan Juran; Set Decorator: Oliver Emert, Russell A. Gausman; Costumes: Rosemary Odell; Make-up: Bud Westmore; Sound: Leslie I. Carey, Joe Lapis.
      Cast: James Stewart (Glyn McLyntock), Arthur Kennedy (Emerson Cole), Julie Adams (Laura Baile), Rock Hudson (Trey Wilson), Jay C. Flippen (Jeremy Baile), Lori Nelson (Marjie Baile), Chubby Johnson (Cap’n Mello), Stepin Fetchit (Adam), Harry Morgan (Shorty), Howard Petrie (Tom Hendricks), Frances Bavier (Mrs. Prentiss), Jack Lambert (Red), Royal Dano (Long Tom), Frank Chase (Wasco), Cliff Lyons (Willie), Frank Ferguson (Tom Grundy).
      Synopsis: When a town boss confiscates homesteader’s supplies after gold is discovered nearby, a tough cowboy risks his life to try and get it to them.
      Comment: James Stewart and director Anthony Mann team up for the second of five westerns they made together. The relatively simple tale is built around the complex characters of two former gunfighters (Stewart and Kennedy) attempting to distance themselves from their past as they fall in with a group of settlers led by Flippen. Adams plays Flippen’s daughter who is initially attracted to the more volatile Kennedy. Mann directs with a strong feel for the material and the characters and gets the best from his actors. The unforgiving landscapes and the glorious scenery are well captured by Glassberg’s cinematography. The story has a strong conclusion as Stewart and Kennedy go up against each other, demonstrating the different paths they have chosen. An early role for Hudson as a charming gambler.
      Notes: Original UK title: WHERE THE RIVER BENDS.

Film Review – CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)

Image result for creature from the black lagoonCREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (USA, 1954) ***½
     Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), General Film Distributors (GFD) (UK); Production Company: Universal International Pictures (UI); Release Date: 12 February 1954 (USA), 9 December 1954 (UK); Filming Dates: 13 October 1953 – 15 November 1953; Running Time: 79m; Colour: B&W; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Universal 3-D (dual-strip 3-D); Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
     Director: Jack Arnold; Writer: Harry Essex, Arthur A. Ross (based on a story by Maurice Zimm); Producer: William Alland; Director of Photography: William E. Snyder; Music Composer: Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein (all uncredited); Music Supervisor: Joseph Gershenson; Film Editor: Ted J. Kent; Art Director: Hilyard M. Brown, Bernard Herzbrun; Set Decorator: Russell A. Gausman, Ray Jeffers; Costumes: Rosemary Odell (wardrobe for Miss Adams); Make-up: Bud Westmore; Sound: Leslie I. Carey, Joe Lapis.
     Cast: Richard Carlson (David Reed), Julie Adams (Kay Lawrence), Richard Denning (Mark Williams), Antonio Moreno (Carl Maia), Nestor Paiva (Lucas), Whit Bissell (Dr. Thompson), Bernie Gozier (Zee), Henry A. Escalante (Chico). Uncredited: Ricou Browning (The Gill Man (in water)), Ben Chapman (The Gill Man (on land)), Art Gilmore (Narrator (voice)), Perry Lopez (Tomas), Sydney Mason (Dr. Matos), Rodd Redwing (Louis – Expedition Foreman).
     Synopsis: A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study.
     Comment: Late contender in the classic Universal monster series has a basic plot and variable performances from its cast. These deficiencies are countered by the excellent creature design and some effective and tense underwater footage. Adams also makes for a strong heroine, with whom the creature has become fixated (echoes of “Beauty and the Beast”). The music score was compiled from work by three different uncredited composers as well as stock material, but the memorable (if oversued) creature theme was written by Stein.
     Notes: Underwater sequences were directed by James Curtis Havens and the creature was designed by Milicent Patrick. Originally produced in 3-D. Followed by REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955) and THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956).

Film Review – McQ (1974)

Related imageMcQ (1974; USA; Technicolor; 111m) ***  d. John Sturges; w. Lawrence Roman; ph. Harry Stradling Jr.; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Eddie Albert, Diana Muldaur, Colleen Dewhurst, Julie Adams, Clu Gulager, David Huddleston, Al Lettieri, Jim Watkins, Roger E. Mosley. A Police Lieutenant investigates the killing of his best friend and uncovers corrupt elements. Wayne tries his hand at the urban crime thriller genre in this DIRTY HARRY surrogate. Sturges’ direction is lacking in flair and a feel for the genre whilst the script is a little flabby. The result is a routine plot enlivened by a neat finale and Wayne’s presence. Jazzy Bernstein score is also a plus. Good use of Seattle locations. [15]