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Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Yellow Stain For Leaving The Besieged Fort ...


Glenn Ford Is The Man From The Alamo (1953) for U-I

Glenn Ford is disgraced for 86'ing Alamo ground just before the siege, makes amend via rescue of a wagon train dogged by Victor Jory and renegade crew. Ford was a moodiest of leading men (onscreen and occasionally off), and a big name for Universal-International to grab for what would otherwise be a boilerplate western. Lure for him was loot that had enriched Jim Stewart, Alan Ladd, Ty Power, others, theirs a lush percentage of U-I net. Ford sat a horse with aplomb; that's really him in vigorous riding inserts comparable names might have shrunk from. Uni oft-auditioned fresh hires in the saddle, thus Dennis Weaver among Alamo defenders, Guy Williams a cavalry officer, etc. The company's westerns as a group are underrated, few exceptional or even cultish (save the Stewart/Manns), but all a safe bet for satisfaction and toasty comfort some of us get from outdoor work done pro-like.


Using the fort as backdrop meant instant recognition (and heavy Texas bookings), as everyone knew the Alamo legend. Said place and events were memorialized constant from flicker days plus teaching at schools (is it mentioned in current texts?). A really big Alamo saga had to wait until John Wayne's was ready ... 1960 and maybe too late. In a meantime, there'd been Republic and even Disney (via Davy Crockett) to tend memorials. Universal used the site for narrative liftoff, but once G. Ford departs it, we don't go back. Technicolor was by 1953 standard policy for oater subjects the company released, as showmen liked whatever set merchandise apart from TV, while drive-ins, breeding like rabbits, spoke loudest against black-and-white that was tough to project against a setting sun. The Man From The Alamo, along with others of U-I lineage, has been turning up on Retro Plex in spectacular HD, offering glimpse at last of visual treat these westerns supplied when new.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

Universal's 1950's Westerns were a TV staple back in the day. Growing up in the 60's, we saw 'em all the time in the 4:30 pm weekday slot, and MAN FROM THE ALAMO was a particular favorite. Seem to recall it popping up the very next afternoon after the station had just run the Joe E. Brown comedy SHUT MY BIG MOUTH... we kids giddy when Victor Jory slunk into view, again, as the bad guy!

9:08 AM  
Blogger Bill O said...

Note Chill Wills' prominent billing here, as he'd end up Oscar-nominated in Wayne's Alamo. Ran an Oscar campaign so egregious that Wayne publicly disownd it.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

During the 1950s, a rare week it was if my family didn't book a UI western in, at least, one of our drive-ins. They always pleased.

12:31 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Craig Reardon remembers "The Man From The Alamo" and reports on a local screening event:


Hi John,

I was pleased to attend a wonderful presentation made in the open air at a neighborhood park a year or two back, organized and put together with no little effort by Harry (brother of Michael, I presume!) Medved, who's a resident out here himself. He invited the wonderful Norman Lloyd, who's since turned 100 I believe. In-credible. Even more so if you were to have been there and listened to this intelligent, witty guy spiel out fascinating and privileged stories from the great day of moviemaking. The connection here was Lewis Milestone, one of the greats Lloyd hit it off with and assisted (after names like Welles, Hitchcock, and Chaplin!) Lloyd appeared as an actor in "A Walk in the Sun", which was shot out here in the Conejo (means 'Rabbit') Valley in the mid-'40s. Then, he worked as a producer (uncredited, I believe) on Milestone's second Steinbeck adaptation, "The Red Pony" (which like "Of Mice and Men" also has a great score by Aaron Copland.) However, though Lloyd's inclusion was the cherry on top, Medved also screened scenes from other films made 'out here', including..."The Man From the Alamo"! So, as you can see, I particularly enjoyed reading your post which went up today. Some of the views even confuse me, who have lived out in the same valley for the past 28 years. But others reveal features that are more than familiar, and haven't been totally obscured even these 62 years later by development. Bearing in mind that this was made and released the year I was born, it staggers me to witness what all HAS changed in this locality, with this movie as the evidence. It's certainly been 'settled' and developed right up to the skirts of all the multiple hills which interrupt and decorate Conejo Valley and give it a lot of its charm and interest. Fortunately even in an era of rampant backward-marching, the bastards haven't had enough TIME---yet---to totally destroy and uglify this valley as they did the San Fernando Valley, with a decades-longer head start. But, I wouldn't put it past them. I'd enjoy seeing this in HD!

8:24 PM  

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