Film Review – TEN WANTED MEN (1955)

Image result for ten wanted men 1955TEN WANTED MEN (USA, 1955) **½
     Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation / Ranown Pictures Corp.; Release Date: 1 February 1955; Filming Dates: 17 April 1954 – 7 May 1954; Running Time: 80m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: U.
     Director: H. Bruce Humberstone; Writer: Kenneth Gamet (based on a story by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr.); Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Associate Producer: Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Wilfred M. Cline; Music Composer: Paul Sawtell; Film Editor: Gene Havlick; Art Director: Edward L. Ilou; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Sound: John P. Livadary, Jack A. Goodrich.
     Cast: Randolph Scott (John Stewart), Jocelyn Brando (Corinne Michaels), Richard Boone (Wick Campbell), Alfonso Bedoya (Hermando), Donna Martell (Maria Segura), Skip Homeier (Howie Stewart), Clem Bevans (Tod Grinnel), Leo Gordon (Frank Scavo), Minor Watson (Jason Carr), Lester Matthews (Adam Stewart), Tom Powers (Henry Green), Dennis Weaver (Sheriff Clyde Gibbons), Lee Van Cleef (Al Drucker), Kathleen Crowley (Marva Gibbons (uncredited)), Louis Jean Heydt (Tom Baines (uncredited)), Edna Holland (Ann (uncredited)), Francis McDonald (Deputy Warner (uncredited)), Boyd ‘Red’ Morgan (Red Dawes (uncredited)), Denver Pyle (Dave Weed (uncredited)).
     Synopsis: When his ward seeks protection with a rival cattleman an embittered, jealous rancher hires ten outlaws to help him seize power in the territory.
     Comment: This routine B-Western is one of the lesser examples of Scott and Brown’s productions through the 1950s. The story is a familiar tale of a range war between Scott and Boone following Boone’s ward resisting his advances and running to Scott’s nephew, Homeier. Shot on location at Old Tucson the film suffers from weak direction by Humberstone and some hammy performances – notably Homeier. Scott looks too classy for the material, but gamely makes the most of a by-the-numbers script whilst Boone, early in his career, is still finding his range. Some of the doubling stunt work is obvious and there are technical continuity errors that hint at the rushed nature of the production. Despite its faults, this is still a reasonably diverting entertainment.

Film Review – RIDE LONESOME (1959)

Image result for ride lonesome 1959RIDE LONESOME (USA, 1959) ****
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation / Ranown Pictures Corp.; Release Date: 15 February 1959; Filming Dates: began 14 August 1958 – 28 August 1958; Running Time: 73m; Colour: Eastmancolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: U.
      Director: Budd Boetticher; Writer: Burt Kennedy; Executive Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Producer: Budd Boetticher, Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Charles Lawton Jr.; Music Composer: Heinz Roemheld; Film Editor: Jerome Thoms; Art Director: Robert Peterson; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Costumes: Ed Ware; Make-up: Al Greenway, Dave Grayson, Maybelle Carey; Sound: Harry D. Mills.
       Cast: Randolph Scott (Ben Brigade), Karen Steele (Mrs. Carrie Lane), Pernell Roberts (Sam Boone), James Best (Billy John), Lee Van Cleef (Frank), James Coburn (Whit), Bennie E. Dobbins (Outlaw), Roy Jenson (Outlaw), Dyke Johnson (Charlie), Boyd ‘Red’ Morgan (Outlaw), Boyd Stockman (Indian Chief).
       Synopsis: A wanted murderer, Billy John, is captured by Ben Brigade, a bounty hunter, who intends to take him to Santa Cruz to be hanged.
       Comment: Many regard this as the best of the Scott/Boetticher Westerns and it is certainly a strong vehicle. Kennedy’s lean script presents another battle of wills with Scott playing the silent bounty hunter with an ulterior motive around his prisoner, Best. Great support from Roberts, Best, Coburn (on debut) and Steele as a party thrown together and having to fend off attacks from Indians and Best’s outlaw brother (Van Cleef). The character layers are again what makes this story stand out from the crowded 1950s arena for the Western. Scott is at his stoic best toward the end of his career.

Film Review – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966)

Image result for the good the bad and the uglyGood, the Bad and the Ugly, The (1966; Italy/Spain/West Germany; Technicolor; 161m) *****  d. Sergio Leone; w. Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone; ph. Tonino Delli Colli; m. Ennio Morricone.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffre, Chelo Alonso, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Rada Rassimov, Enzo Petito, Claudio Scarchilli, John Bartha, Livio Lorenzon, Antonio Casale, Sandro Scarchilli. A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery. The third film in Sergio Leone’s “Dollar” trilogy is a masterpiece of filmmaking. Its simple plot of three gunmen on the trail of gold during the American Civil War has so much more depth. Yes, one can say it stretches its running time, but there is always something that keeps the viewer involved. Comments on the futility of war are set to some truly stunning images and against a score, by Ennio Morricone, that set a new level for the medium. Eastwood, Van Cleef and especially Wallach are memorable as the three protagonists, but it’s the small moments in this truly epic Western that set it apart. The full Italian version runs about 175m. Original title: IL BUONO, IL BRUTTO, IL CATTIVO. [18]

Film Review – FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965)

Image result for for a few dollars more 1965For a Few Dollars More (1965; Italy/Spain/West Germany; Technicolor; 132m) **** d. Sergio Leone; w. Sergio Leone, Fulvio Morsella, Luciano Vincenzoni; ph. Massimo Dallamano; m. Ennio Morricone.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonte, Joseph Egger, Benito Stefanelli, Mara Krup, Klaus Kinski, Mario Brega, Aldo Sambrell, Luigi Pistilli, Panos Papadopulos, Roberto Camardiel, Luis Rodriguez, Tomas Blanco, Lorenzo Robledo. Two bounty hunters with completely different intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw. Follow-up to FISTFUL OF DOLLARS is more expansive and adds a subtle layer of black humour. Eastwood and Van Cleef make for a formidable pairing and their verbal jousting is enjoyable. Memorable scenes include Van Cleef’s humiliation of Kinski and the protracted shootout finale. Morricone contributes another top-class score. Not released in the U.S. until 1967. Followed by THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966). [15]

Film Review – ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)

Related imageEscape from New York (1981; UK/USA; Metrocolor; 99m) ***½  d. John Carpenter; w. John Carpenter, Nick Castle; ph. Dean Cundey, George D. Dodge; m. John Carpenter, Alan Howarth.  Cast: Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Harry Dean Stanton, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, Frank Doubleday, John Stobel, Bob Minor, John Diehl, George “Buck” Flower. In 1997, when the US President crashes into Manhattan, now a giant max. security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in for a rescue. Cult classic may have dated, notably in the visual effects, but still has much to enjoy. Russell deftly essays Clint Eastwood in his portrayal of Snake Plissken. Good support cast of oddball characters and some nice tongue-in-cheek touches from director/co-writer Carpenter. Grimy and decadent representation of Manhattan as a prison city is well realised. Followed by ESCAPE FROM L.A. (1996). [15]