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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Postwar Range Closing On Studio Westerns


The Outriders Fills Metro Quota For Outdoors 1950

Overstuffed recliner of a comfort western where Metro took epic bumps of their own Northwest Passage plus others and brought all to bear on Joel McCrea and Confederates as they flee a Union stockade toward big-scale confront with Quantrill renegades. Using history as backdrop made "A" oaters respectable, based-on-fact reassuring crowds that they weren't paying for another dumb shoot-'em-up, mentality that grafted psychology and social issues onto outdoor subjects like Pursued, Devil's Doorway, Broken Arrow, others that gave impression of heft beyond cowboy/injun stuff at Saturday gathers. The Outriders locationed at Kanab, Utah, fresh site at a time when westerns needed background to distinguish themselves. Problem facing 1950 markets was glut of boots-and-saddle: good ones had a tough time standing out. Metro swapped leads like chessmen to train's departure for location: first Van Heflin for The Outriders, then Van Johnson, before Joel McCrea caught outgoing Utah express. It was a plug-in-your-hero game that companies with contract talent played. The Outriders got notice for a whale of a river crossing staged under what looked to be trying real-life conditions (that a specific echo from Northwest Passage). Metro proved a same year with King Solomon's Mines (in Africa) that no firm was better at staging hazard on nature's stage. The Outriders played well but cost beyond what could be recovered, a negative at $1.6 million would not break even with $1.5 million in domestic rentals and $697K foreign. The loss was $453,000. 

9 Comments:

Blogger Donald Benson said...

Trying to rise above a casually dismissed genre isn't limited to westerns. Recall reading a thing where Ray Harryhausen guessed that "Jason and the Argonauts" suffered from association with the wave of low-rent "Hercules" imports.

4:08 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

This film does not "rise above a casually dismissed genre", this film is no more than a programmer but filmed with a good budget and in Technicolor. The cast is good but it is stuck with clich├ęs, even in their appearance, that does not help. This film appeared frequently in the Saturday movie marathons, where it was well suited, although I did remember watching it conscientiously years later as one of the final classic on the TNT Latin American channel when it was switching into the unwatchable lousy garbage that it is still today.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Like this movie, but I could also watch McCrea read the Wall Street Journal, and he'd be good in that as well.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Steven said...

In retrospect, I've found M-G-M running low on my list of favorite Movie Studios. Whenever an MGM a film went out on location, like "THE OUTRIDERS" "WILD NORTH", "MOGAMBO" etc. , and AWAY from "Louie's Lot", they always seemed to come back with some lensed treasures. I've always liked Clark Gable. I've a solid romance with the EARLIER MGM silent classics & later EPICS; namely BEN-HUR", BRANDO'S "MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY", "HOW THE WEST WAS WON", "KING OF KINGS", etc. The eternally gifted composers of the music scores behind those pictures will last in popularity just as long as the World will remember them; and just how long WILL they remain in the public's memory? What, without any play on cable-tv and the media in general just WHERE WILL the future folks view them? Now FILMSTRUCK is folding up! Like COLOR by DELUXE, I reckon the whole scene will FADE AWAY, as expected. Besides; Jack and Louie, Harry and Darryl and the other fellows have left the building, and it was long ago.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Until now I had not realized "Jason And The Argonauts" had not been as successful as Harryhausen wished. For what it is, it's superb. The problem is that it tells an extremely bowdlerized version of the story. Fine for children, maybe, but nothing about it goes beyond the expected. Read Robert Graves THE GREEK MYTHS for what it could have been. That would have been something that lifted it out of the low-rent HERCULES imports. Bernard Herrmann's score for that film is typically astonishing. I remember when I first saw JASON as a kid. I left feeling something was missing. Actually, a lot was.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Steven, we are lucky to have caught the movie going experience when it was at its best. People tend to believe the world we live in is the world that has always been. That's not true, of course. I once showed Buster Keaton i SEVEN CHANCES to 800 people who did not want to see it. I had put it on in front of a film they did want to see. The place was packed. The building actually shook from the sound of 800 people laughing themselves crazy. The stuffed shirts who program films regularly today lack the fire of the men and women who made the movies great. There is not an ounce of show business in their blood. They are not entertainers. They are educators, lecturers...the boring people.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

I grew up watching movies in the cinema. The generation following myself grew up watching movies on TV. For them seeing their work on television in their home marks success. "Wow! Mom and Dad can see my work on TV!" It's diminishing expectations.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Lionel Braithwaite said...

@Reg, as I've said before, people still go to the theater all of the time, as the grosses for some very popular recent films have shown. There are now just more options to see movies on (and movies have been shown on TV for years)-why are you objecting to them being shown on TV and its spinoffs [home video, cable, streaming, devices] now?

7:29 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Yes, Lionel, people still go to the movies. I never said they don't. What people do not do is go to the movies in the NUMBERS they once did.

I'm not objecting to anything. Home video, cable, streaming all those things are good. I use them.

People hear concerts on those same media. They line up in mobs and pay fortunes to scalpers to experience live performances in venues that seat thousands.

I'm used to people not listening (especially film people). However in the out of town theaters where I did my programs the way I learned to do them best the police often came out to tell the theater owners they should have asked for their help to deal with the crowds. I am perhaps the only person writing regularly on this site who has practical knowledge and understanding of showmanship.

In the days when second run movies cost $1 I did a program in a venue next to a dollar cinema. It was so cheap people got four movies for $1. I charged $10.00.

Seeing the line-up for my program people going to the dollar cinema became curious. "How much?" they asked. "10," I said. "How many movies do we get for $10?" they asked. I replied, "One." They said, "Must be a good movie." Then the line up for the dollar movie moved over to my line.

The movies killed themselves when they sold themselves as cheap entertainment.

6:28 AM  

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