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 – THE TALL T (1957)

Image result for the tall t 1957THE TALL T (USA, 1957) ****
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Producers-Actors Corporation / Scott-Brown Productions; Release Date: 1 April 1957 (USA), June 1957 (UK); Filming Dates: 20 July–8 August 1956; Running Time: 78m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Budd Boetticher; Writer: Burt Kennedy (based on the story “The Captive” by Elmore Leonard); Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Associate Producer: Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Charles Lawton Jr.; Music Composer: Heinz Roemheld; Film Editor: Al Clark; Casting Director: Art Director: George Brooks; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle.
      Cast: Randolph Scott (Pat Brennan), Richard Boone (Frank Usher), Maureen O’Sullivan (Doretta Mims), Arthur Hunnicutt (Ed Rintoon), Skip Homeier (Billy Jack), Henry Silva (Chink), John Hubbard (Willard Mims), Robert Burton (Tenvoorde), Robert Anderson (Jace), Dick Johnstone (Townsman), Ann Kunde (Townswoman), Christopher Olsen (Jeff), Fred Sherman (Hank Parker).
      Synopsis: Having lost his horse in a bet, Pat Brennan hitches a ride with a stagecoach carrying newlyweds, Willard and Doretta Mims. At the next station the coach and its passengers fall into the hands of a trio of outlaws headed by a man named Usher.
      Comment: A strong Western typical of the output from Scott and director Boetticher. The humour of the story’s first act gives way to psychological drama once Scott and O’Sullivan are taken hostage by Boone, Silva and Homeier. What sets this tale apart from many other Westerns with similar themes is the complexity of the chief villain, Boone and the empathy he builds with Scott despite the prisoner/captor relationship. This creates an additional edge to the drama and the inevitable showdown finale. Tightly scripted by Kennedy from a story by Elmore Leonard (the first adaptation of his work) and set in a sparse rocky landscape, this is one the strongest entries in Scott’s filmography.

Film Review – THE SHOOTIST (1976)

Image result for the shootist 1976Shootist, The (1976; USA; Technicolor; 100m) ****½  d. Don Siegel; w. Miles Hood Swarthout, Scott Hale; ph. Bruce Surtees; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart, Ron Howard, Richard Boone, Hugh O’Brian, Harry Morgan, John Carradine, Scatman Crothers, Bill McKinney, Rick Lenz, Sheree North, Gregg Palmer, Alfred Dennis, Dick Winslow. A dying gunfighter spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity. Wayne’s last film is a poignant and fitting tribute to his screen persona and one of his very best. Siegel directs with sensitivity and draws an astonishing final performance from his star. Wayne is supported by a superbly talented cast of veterans including Bacall and Stewart. Echoes of SHANE can be seen in Howard’s hero-worshipping youth. The 1901 setting, with its early automobiles, telephones and electricity, acts as a metaphor for the passing of an era where the west was ruled by the gun and Wayne’s gunfighter character is now an anachronism. Based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout. [PG]

Film Review – BIG JAKE (1971)

Image result for big jake 1971Big Jake (1971; USA; Technicolor; 110m) ***  d. George Sherman; w. Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Richard Boone, Patrick Wayne, Christopher Mitchum, Bruce Cabot, Bobby Vinton, Glenn Corbett, John Doucette, Maureen O’Hara, Jim Davis, John Agar, Harry Carey Jr. In 1909, when John Fain’s gang kidnaps Jacob McCandles’ grandson and holds him for ransom, Big Jake sets out to rescue the boy. Latter-day Western has heightened violence, being based on a script by DIRTY HARRY screenplay writers the Finks, that sometimes jars with often lighter tone. Interesting twist in setting this tale in the early 1900s creates neat counter-balance of the old West and the new West. Wayne representing the old west is in good form with a support cast of familiar faces including Boone as chief villain. O’Hara is under-utilised however. Director Sherman’s final film. [15]

Film Review – THE ALAMO (1960)

Image result for THE ALAMO 1960Alamo, The (1960; USA; Technicolor; 193m) ****  d. John Wayne; w. James Edward Grant; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Richard Boone, Frankie Avalon, Patrick Wayne, Linda Cristal, Joan O’Brien, Chill Wills, Joseph Calleia, Ken Curtis, Carlos Arruza, Jester Hairston, Veda Ann Borg, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Cliff Lyons. In 1836, as General Santa Anna and the Mexican army sweep across Texas, Colonel William Travis is tasked with defending a small mission on the Mexicans’ route at all costs. Grand spectacle, notably the closing final battle scenes, are the main draw for this exercise in logistics. Wayne handles the whole thing with considerable aplomb. Whilst the inevitability of the story’s conclusion has been laid down by history, there is a sense of admiration for the spirit of the volunteers that only occasionally veers into the overly-patriotic and preachy. Wayne, Widmark and Harvey all bring star quality to the proceedings. Great score by Tiomkin. Wayne assumed huge personal debt to get film finished after United Artists refused funding once budget was exceeded. Oscar winner for Best Sound. Original video release cut to 161m. Remade in 2004. [PG]