Film Review – CAHILL: UNITED STATES MARSHAL (1973)

Related imageCahill: United States Marshal (1973; USA; Technicolor; 103m) ***  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink; ph. Joseph F. Biroc; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Gary Grimes, George Kennedy, Neville Brand, Marie Windsor, Denver Pyle, Jackie Coogan, Harry Carey Jr., Pepper Martin, Paul Fix, Clay O’Brien, Morgan Paull, Royal Dano, Dan Vadis, Hank Worden. J.D. Cahill is the toughest U.S. Marshal they’ve got, just the sound of his name makes bad guys stop in their tracks, so when his two young boys want to get his attention, they decide to rob a bank. Late Wayne Western is middling story that has overly-preachy elements to it. Wayne is in good form though, despite his lack of screen time, delivering a typically tough performance. Kennedy is as reliable as ever as chief heavy and Bernstein’s score attempts to lift the tale out from its routine origins. Script, like BIG JAKE, is by DIRTY HARRY scribes the Finks but lacks dramatic punch. Based on a story by Barney Slater. [12]

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 UNDEFEATED (1969)

Image result for the undefeated 1969Undefeated, The (1969; USA; DeLuxe; 119m) ***  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. James Lee Barrett, Stanley Hough; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Hugo Montenegro.  Cast: John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Bruce Cabot, Ben Johnson, John Agar, Antonio Aguilar, Lee Meriwether, Roman Gabriel, Merlin Olsen, Harry Carey Jr., Royal Dano, Marian McCargo, Melissa Newman, Jan-Michael Vincent, Edward Faulkner, Paul Fix. After the Civil War, ex-Union and ex-Confederate Colonels are leading two disparate groups of people through strife-torn Mexico.  Boisterous Western, typical of its director and the late career of Wayne. Hudson is the surprise package, turning in a dignified performance as the proud defeated Confederate Colonel. Some memorable set-pieces atone for the routine nature of the story and a disappointing finale. Nice use of locations in Sierra de Órganos National Park in Mexico. Based on the novel by Lewis B. Patten. [PG]

Film Review – THE SEARCHERS (1956)

Image result for the searchers 1956Searchers, The (1956; USA; Technicolor; 119m) *****  d. John Ford; w. Frank S. Nugent; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Max Steiner.  Cast: John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Jeffrey Hunter, Ward Bond, Vera Miles, John Qualen, Harry Carey Jr., Patrick Wayne, Henry Brandon, Antonio Moreno, Lana Wood, Olive Carey, Hank Worden, Pippa Scott, Ken Curtis. As a Civil War veteran spends years searching for a young niece captured by Indians, his motivation becomes increasingly questionable. Wayne gives a career-best performance as embittered ex-soldier in this truly memorable Western that rightly belongs with the very best of the genre. Gorgeously photographed by Hoch with dramatic Steiner score. Wonderful support cast with Bond notable as Texas Ranger on trail of rampaging Commanches. Ford’s best work as director with bookend shots becoming part of movie legend.  Lana Wood played young Debbie Edwards and Natalie Wood, who was Lana’s older sister by eight years, played teenaged Debbie Edwards. Film debut of Pippa Scott. Based on the novel by Alan LeMay. [PG]

Film Review – ISLAND IN THE SKY (1953)

John Wayne, Wally Cassell, and Jimmy Lydon in Island in the Sky (1953)Island in the Sky (1953; USA; B&W; 109m) ****  d. William A. Wellman; w. Ernest K. Gann; ph. Archie Stout; m. Emil Newman.  Cast: John Wayne, Lloyd Nolan, Walter Abel, James Arness, Andy Devine, Harry Carey Jr., Regis Toomey, Darryl Hickman, Paul Fix, Bob Steele. A C-47 transport plane makes a forced landing in the frozen wastes of Labrador, and the plane’s pilot must keep his men alive in deadly conditions while waiting for rescue. Well-acted drama with Wayne at his best as the pilot taking responsibility for the welfare of his men. The unforgiving landscape is authentically captured by Wellman and his cinematographer Stout. Abel, Nolan, Devine and Arness lead the rescue search. Gann adapted his own novel based on a real-life event during WWII. Reworked as FATE IS THE HUNTER (1964). [U]

Film Review – RIO GRANDE (1950)

Rio Grande (1950; USA; B&W; 105m) ***½  d. John Ford; w. James Kevin McGuinness; ph. Bert Glennon; m. Victor Young.  Cast: John Wayne, Claude Jarman Jr., Ben Johnson, Maureen O’Hara, Harry Carey Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carrol Naish, Victor McLaglen, Grant Withers, Patrick Wayne, Steve Pendleton, Alberto Morin, Stan Jones. A Union officer is in charge of an outpost on the Rio Grande in which he is in charge of training of new recruits one of which is his son whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years. Third of the Wayne/Ford “Cavalry Trilogy” is probably the least, but still vastly entertaining. Story unfolds at a leisurely pace (including two or three musical interludes) with Wayne and O’Hara sparking a strong chemistry in their first of five outings together. McLaglen offers his familiar light relief as heavy-drinking sergeant. Extensive use of Mohave Valley locations. Based on a story by James Warner Bellah. Also available in a computer colourised version. [U]

Film Review – SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949)

Related imageShe Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949; USA; Technicolor; 103m) ****  d. John Ford; w. Frank S. Nugent, Laurence Stallings, James Warner Bellah; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Victor McLaglen, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Harry Carey Jr., Mildred Natwick, Paul Fix, George O’Brien, Arthur Shields, Michael Dugan, Noble Johnson, Fred Graham, Tom Tyler, Jack Pennick. A US Cavalry Captain, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperilled. Gloriously shot (Hoch’s colour photography rightly won an Oscar) second film in Ford’s celebrated Cavalry Trilogy is a thoroughly entertaining account of the last few days active service of respected Captain Wayne. The production values are high and great use is made of the Monument Valley location. Wayne is in top form in a role older than his years. Johnson also shines as unassuming sergeant, whilst McLaglen adds his usual high spirits to the proceedings. Followed by RIO GRANDE (1950). [PG]

Film Review – 3 GODFATHERS (1948)

Image result for 3 godfathers3 Godfathers (1948; USA; Technicolor; 106m) ****  d. John Ford; w. Laurence Stallings, Frank S. Nugent, Peter B. Kyne; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, Harry Carey Jr., Ward Bond, Mae Marsh, Jane Darwell, Ben Johnson, Mildred Natwick, Guy Kibbee, Dorothy Ford, Charles Halton, Hank Worden, Jack Pennick, Fred Libby, Michael Dugan. Three outlaws on the run discover a dying woman and her baby. They swear to bring the infant to safety across the desert. Superbly filmed story with obvious religious overtones, which only become heavy-handed in the story’s finale. Ford gets superb performances from his actors – notably as Wayne, Armendariz and Carey, Jr. are tracked across unforgiving terrain by Bond and his posse. Wonderful photography by Hoch. Ford had previously directed a silent film version of the same story, called MARKED MEN (1919) – no prints of this is known to be in existence. [PG]