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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Is There No End To Katzman Cheapies?


Battle Of Rogue River (1954) An Oft-Told Tale

Sam Katzman produced, Bill Castle directs ... which means not a dime will be spent unnecessarily. Whenever there is mass formation of Indians, you can bet it's borrowed footage, "Battles" otherwise small-scale. Personality was needed to prop up tired 50's cowpoking, but major stars could do but a fraction of outdoor action a hungry market needed, thus second stringer George Montgomery and like others busy throughout a decade in shows that couldn't help turning profit. Katzman had a profit share with Columbia and office space on the lot, being  independent after a fashion, even though most financing came by way of the Cohns, who had prior approval on whatever projects Sam initiated. By the 50's, he was picking titles out of exploitation's hat, none less than sure things for theatres and mostly drive-ins voracious to fill short dates. Battle Of Rogue River is numbingly commonplace, but if caught HD, and in 1.85 as released, can amuse as was case sixty years ago. Definitely another where presentation is the tipping point.

2 Comments:

Blogger CanadianKen said...

"Battle of Rogue River" 's long been a favorite of mine. No, it's not "Shane". But tight editing, lean storytelling with plenty of sharp dialogue and attractive outdoor settings all work to make the most of its 71 minute running time. The cast is also solid, with Richard Denning highly effective in an intriguing secondary role. And Michael Granger's Indian chief projects genuine stature and complexity. I've always been impressed by what William Castle's managed to achieve during this period. Beyond "Rogue River", during '53 and '54 alone, he directed four of my favorite Saturday matinee adventures from the era - "Serpent of the Nile"(Rhonda Fleming-William Lundigan), "Slaves of Babylon"(Richard Conte-Linda Christian), "Charge of the Lancers"(Jean-Pierre Aumont-Paulette Goddard) and "The Saracen Blade"(Ricardo Montalban-Betta St. John). Not to mention seven others. And all done in color on cut-to-the-bone budgets. Quite an accomplishment.
Interesting sidenote: Notice the poster touts the presence of "all six winners of the National Indian beauty contest". The six finalists were actually brought to Hollywood and got to pose fetchingly among the teepees in a couple of scenes. Two of them were even given lines. As it turns out, one of these ladies went on to a very distinguished career - well beyond beauty contests and B movies. She's Ada Deer, member of the Menominee tribe from Wisconsin - and one of the great Native American advocates and activists. She was the first member of her tribe to graduate from Wisconsin-Madison University, the first to earn a master's degree and eventually the first Native American woman to head the National Bureau of Indian Affairs. Also a distinguished educator and mentor - with a lifetime of service and accomplishment to her credit. "Battle of Rogue River" was only a tiny blip on her personal journey - but an intriguing one nonetheless.

3:56 AM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

Wow, what an informative post, CK. Thanks for giving this picture its due.
The Wolf, man.

2:06 PM  

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