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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rocks In My Head

Western locations have suddenly become something I notice. Part of that comes of reading about places like Lone Pine and Corriganville on line and in pages of Western Clippings. There's a yearly festival at Lone Pine, that rock formation horn of plenty over which horse and rider by thousands chased and show-downed against majestic backgrounds. Fans go there because these are actual and largely unchanged sites still host to cowboy spirits who rode but will no more. John Wayne and Gene Autry may be gone, but Lone Pine is forever. They'll not be striking these sets. Trips to Lone Pine amount to pilgrimage for fans who've committed environs to memory. They'll tell you which boulder appeared in what Hoppy, identify a mountain far distant and spell out how many features that peak backgrounded. It matters for me now where screen cowboys rode just as it always did among seasoned watchers. Why did I take so long appreciating nature's role in making these shows great?

John Wayne Waits Out Crew Preparation for a Next Fort Apache Scene.

I've known some who trekked to Monument Valley. That's where John Ford practiced his art. Would seeing those towering edifices make The Searchers from then on a different experience? No doubt it would, and yet I've not gone, and probably never will (they say it's hot in deserts). Authentic western locations aren't generally visible from air-conditioned hotel balconies. Guess it needs a seasoned breed to venture there. Much as I'm curious about these places, it's enough to view them on screen from a recliner's distance, and yet I know I'm missing a lot by not toughing out a flight or long distance drive to give dimension to these places so immortalized on film. This I did not know about Fort Apache until I read Carlo Gaberscek and Kenny Steir's In Search Of Western Movie Sites column in the latest Western Clippings: It seems the fort itself was not built in Monument Valley, but was instead designed (by veteran James Basevi) from the ground up at nearer-by-Hollywood Corriganville, a ranch owned/operated by one-time screen cowboy Ray Corrigan, who made acreage available to film folk for outdoor lensing, then kept the built (and often lavish) sets for use by future renters. Turns out John Ford's company (with Merian C. Cooper) Argosy Pictures, spent a pile on Basevi's accurate-to-detail frontier fort and left a finished job from which Corrigan could profit for years to come. Think of it like someone building a carnival in your backyard, operating it for a week, then leaving the rides for which you'll charge from there on.

Lone Pine's festival has yielded printed annuals (two I've found on Amazon --- are there more?) with terrific articles about westerns shot there. Genre experts Richard Bann and Ed Hulse are among contributors. Ed's appreciation of lost-till-now Republic serial (and largely LP-shot) Daredevils Of The West inspired me to order the DVD from Serial Squadron. I'll not be writing about it here because he's covered the topic definitively, as has Bann on 1935's Westward Ho!, John Wayne's first for newly organized Republic Pictures, and happily streaming on Netflix, so I was able to read, then watch.



There's nothing of the Fort Apache set left. A guy on You Tube went there and photographed ground where it once stood, matching footage from the film with rocks still around to establish what stood where. There's a melancholy about these location crawls, though I'm glad fans are still willing to make them. Ray Corrigan himself is long departed (1976). I met him at the first western fair I ever attended and he seemed prosperous. Ray's interesting for fact he traded cowboy duds for a gorilla skin after B westerns went flat, hiring himself out as ape-menace to serial heroes and here-and-there Bowery Boys. RC even got round to donning monster attire as It!, yet another Terror From Beyond Space.
The Fort Apache set naturally got re-used for cavalry-based pics. I looked at a pair, Ambush and Escape from Fort Bravo, after umpteenth viewing of Fort Apache. It needs not repeating that cavalry westerns aren't created equal. There's ones John Ford directed ... and all the rest. My declaring that however, even if backed by ranks of the auteurist-establishment, doesn't make it right. I've a feeling lots would disagree and say Ford's patrols could have used tighter narrative and less meandering incident. Here's the difference I see between a Fort Apache and the Ambush/Fort Bravo parlay. The latter two are all about story ... conflict ...complications. On their own, both are fine, comfort westerns. Beside Fort Apache, however, they seem contrived and mechanical. But that's only by admittedly unfair comparison with John Ford at his best and backed by John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and sterling character support.
It's looseness and meandering I like best in Ford's cavalry. Once you're told Bravo and Ambush's story, the party's over. Fort Apache, longer than either but never seemingly so, ambles in no hurry to a blowout finish you'd think came from a movie more committed to action than this one that's so long withheld it. You know a western's great when you'd rather hear the players talk than watch them fight. Ford seemed to look for moments to distract us from Plot Point One's progression to Plot Point Two. He was ahead of most filmmakers for knowing story conventions were things better dismantled, so long as a basic premise was strong enough to withstand side-trips he'd take along the way.
Ambush and Escape From Fort Bravo reflect well rules others played by. What these two do best is take us far afield of studio ranches and too-familiar brush. Ambush was filmed around Gallup and Lupton, New Mexico. I wonder if kids ever played cowboy/Indians among those majestic rocks. MGM and director Sam Wood (his final outing) make most of outdoors and what crisp photography captures of it (Warner Archives' Ambush DVD is an exceptionally nice one). You could sell westerns in 1950 with the promise of fresh settings for action. Warners' Rocky Mountain did as much the same year, also on Gallup location.
Lowered expectations are best company to Ambush and Fort Bravo, especially if you're coming off Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, or Rio Grande. Robert Taylor is Ambush's hard-bitten scout, refereeing love triangles in addition to renegade Indians. There's less adherence to period authenticity here than Ford enforced. Metro glamour would not be forfeited amidst dust swirls, thus an Arlene Dahl-ed up to studio specification. Exhibitors would complain through much of the fifties about overabundance of Indians biting said dust in westerns. Not that social/liberal impulses were aroused ... it was endless repetition of a too familiar device getting ticket-sellers down.

Much arrow extraction in evidence throughout cavalry pics that flourished during the fifties.

Escape From Fort Bravo is a 1954 MGM release unfortunately shot with Anscocolor. The process represented an economy measure. Ansco never looked very good, and otherwise satisfactory films like this and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers suffered for its being utilized. As with Ambush, there was location work at Gallup and on this occasion, Death Valley. Corriganville's Fort Apache was used again, for a first time in wide screen, Escape From Fort Bravo being released in 1:66 ratio. Trouble once more was with Indians, mass-gathered to serve as action respite to love rivalry between William Holden and John Forsythe for Eleanor Parker. Here was where resourceful direction could take onus off commonplace dramatics, as new-to-A's John Sturges demonstrates with a whale of a third-act redskin siege favorably noticed at the time and doubtless responsible for his moving further up to Bad Day at Black Rock and eventual star-studded western Gunfight At The OK Corral.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Man In The Shadow Of Kane --- Part Two

RKO was cheerier as Citizen Kane proved a click in a test run at New York's 55th Street Playhouse, said Variety on Feb. 22, 1956. A first week at the 257-seat theatre grossed $7,650, a new high for the location. Also a first was the Hearst-owned Journal-American's willingness to reproduce ads for Kane, proof that all was finally forgiven. The film continued making trade headlines as CK bookings spread across the country. April saw a smash $6,700 opening week in Chicago, and there was an extended run in San Francisco. RKO withheld Kane from its TV-bound library as art-houses lined up to play what was shaping into the year's big revival. Los Angeles' El Rey Theatre settled into a May 25-June 19 stretch for total receipts of $11,600, encouraging oldie biz by any measure, and topping what King Kong did in its own LA summer '56 re-release.

Against this background, renewed press interest resulting from King Lear, and the TV appearances, Welles looked to be an improved bet for movies. Man In The Shadow producer Albert Zugsmith, by way of Frank Brady's Welles biography, recalled a phone call he received from a William Morris agent asking if OW might qualify for a not-yet cast role in Zugsmith's Autumn-shooting pic. Seems Welles was desperate for work to settle $60,000 owed the government. He'd play in "virtually any film" for the dough. As word got 'round of Orson's "heavy" part, trade wags sharpened quills. They must be breeding bigger and stronger hosses on the western trail these days, wrote Variety's "Retake" columnist George E. Phair, Orson Welles is going to gallop thataway as a cowboy in Pay The Devil. That title would eventually be changed, though teasing and frankly disrespectful attitudes toward Welles would not. Was an insider's press reveling now in OW's reduced circumstance?

Man In The Shadow began shooting on October 15, 1956. Welles' first call was for October 31 at 11:00 PM. According to director Jack Arnold, interviewed years later by Lawrence French, they filmed the ending first. This was a night exterior, and Welles right away took exception to Arnold's approach. Arnold being the party interviewed naturally recalled a brief test of directorial authority ending in his favor, Orson becoming compliant and cooperative from this first night on. The supporting star did make suggestions throughout filming, some of which Arnold said he implemented. What Welles lacked, according to his director, was "discipline."

Several have written that Welles "totally rewrote" his Man In The Shadow dialogue. Authorized biographer Barbara Leaming says OW made a grand and glorious entrance to the set and announced to cast and crew, You'll be interested to see the changes for today. According to Leaming, Welles' revisions were adjudged an improvement and handed out to co-players to learn over a next several hours as shooting was delayed. Producing Albert Zugsmith wrote an appreciation of Welles for Danny Peary's outstanding collection of star profiles, Close-Ups, published in 1978. Zugsmith said OW began proposing changes immediately upon Man In The Shadow's start, to make-up and wardrobe in addition to the script, improving and deepening his role as well as those of the other actors, according to AZ.

So how much of Man In The Shadow is Welles' creation? Certain of his dialogue is a tip-off ... he calls one henchman an "infernal idiot," a rebuke I'd like to think was Orson-penned. But wait ... what of lead lady Colleen Miller (above), a then-UI ingénue playing the Welles character's daughter? She spoke to Western Clippings' Mike Fitzgerald about Man In The Shadow and remembered the script as so bad, so mangled. As to a Wellsian contribution, Orson said he could fix the script, but there was no time, and he didn't care. Mostly, said Miller, she and OW played gin rummy together on the set.

Jack Arnold was efficient, finishing Man In The Shadow in twenty-one days, five under schedule, according to Army Archerd's column. Why then, did Universal delay release for over a year? By the time Man In The Shadow was ready to go, so was Welles' follow-up with Zugsmith, Touch Of Evil, which, oddly, had also started off as Pay The Devil. Universal got audience surveys on source novel Badge Of Evil, but women thought it sounded like a western, so Touch Of Evil was settled on (would there ever be a Pay The Devil from Universal?). Similarities between TOE and Man In The Shadow were apparent from a color section U-I ran in December 1957 trades. You'd think from Orson's sinister background art that these were a same movie. Would OW be stuck from here playing bad guys? Touch Of Evil's April 1958 dates tumbling over previous December-opened Man In The Shadow made it seem so.

Both pictures filled modest dates, generally no more than two weeks, in key cities. They'd almost always play with a co-feature, usually of action or western persuasion. Still, Touch Of Evil and Man In The Shadow led marquees. I found neither at the bottom of bills. Universal was by spring of 1958 looking to move beyond in-house product done on reduced budget. Said Variety: It's expected that U will drop program-type pictures and open the lot to independents who will produce films on a partnership basis with Universal financing. That would mean fewer features annually, at least for a next several seasons.

Albert Zugsmith was moving to MGM. His first project announced for there was Hot Wind In Acapulco, which as of September 1957, seemed set for Orson Welles to direct. Did OW's post-production quarrel over Touch Of Evil queer this third round with Zugsmith? TOE had meanwhile been taken over by Universal editors, and scenes were added. Charlton Heston returned to the lot in November 1957, six months after Touch Of Evil was thought completed, for further shooting, this within days of his finishing The Big Country, and just ahead of starting on The Buccaneer at Paramount. For Heston, it was a matter of protecting investment ... his Touch Of Evil deal called for profit participation.

Orson Welles did attend a Brussels Film Festival showing of Touch Of Evil in June, 1958. Some critics at least embraced his effort ... TOE was among Top Ten grossing US features playing on Paris screens that month. Names in Fest attendance were prominent, if not numerous. William Holden and Sophia Loren appeared on behalf of The Key, John Mills and Lilli Palmer showed up for respective Brit and Euro pics they toplined. Observers called Touch Of Evil "somewhat confusing" and noted poor acoustics at its showing. Competing entrants The Key, The Proud Rebel, and Raintree Country got better crowd reaction. The festival's theatre seated 2,000, but was generally less than half-full, partly because there were two admission fees, one for the event itself, and another for individual films, hardly conducive towards generating excitement, said Variety.

Welles let off steam in what was called a remarkably frank letter to The New Statesman and Nation, a British literary and political weekly. This was published in early June 1958, just ahead of his Brussels appearance and in the wake of TOE's alternatively fair, soft, and/or tepid reception at US boxoffices. Touch Of Evil was top-of-the-bill, sure, but how much help were co-features like The Female Animal or Day Of The Badmen, both out of bottom drawers at Universal and the very sort of output they were looking to phase out? The New Statesman and Nation had given Touch Of Evil what trades called a critical review, one that writer-to-the-editor Welles wouldn't take lying down. As author-director, I was not consulted on the matter of release of my film without a trade showing, he claimed. One can only assume that the distributor was so terrified of what the critics would write about it that a rash attempt was made to evade them altogether ...

Welles' broadside then went further behind-scenes, this more a no-no in 1958 when company/artist conflicts were better played out behind studio walls. OW referred to the wholesale re-editing (of Touch Of Evil) by the executive producer, a process of re-hashing in which I was forbidden to participate. Confusion was further confounded by several added scenes which I did not write and was not invited to direct. Welles concluded by expressing resignation with a Hollywood system he couldn't change: I have to take what comes along or accept the alternative, which is not working at all. The latter, at least insofar as further employment at Universal or with Zugsmith, might have been achieved in part for Variety picking up on Welles' letter and publishing same to industry leadership, not a good thing for future OW prospects in H'wood. I can't help wondering if Orson maybe wished he could have un-rung that bell.

Lots more Orson-antics and Touch Of Evil Parts One and Two at Greenbriar Archives.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Man In The Shadow of Kane --- Part One

Here's news you might not know, which I stumbled across by near accident. Man In The Shadow is available on DVD from Universal's Vault Series, and for Orson Welles completists, it's a long-awaited prologue to much better known Touch Of Evil. To see these in tandem is to better know Welles' circumstances circa 1956-58, when Hollywood again opened doors (and checkbooks) to an exile returned home to try again. And here's a bonus ... Man In The Shadow entertains but well, especially scope-rendered and given fair chance to dispel non-entity placement among OW ventures during a hurly-burly 50's. It was his first stood before Hollywood cameras since seeming forever, acting yes, and not as director, but evidence is there, anecdotal and via Orson-voiced dialogue, of his behind-scenes influence.

Given Heston-strength, Shadows star Jeff Chandler might have insisted Welles direct as well, but this was Jeff's exit bow for Universal, so whatever his estimation of Orson, why rock boats? People figure Man In The Shadow for junk because it top-lines Chandler, others affixed a "western" label like uninspired ones Jeff had earlier done. To verify these as bum raps is now simple as watching the DVD. First, Man In The Shadow has a modern-West backdrop, trucks and station wagons in lieu of horseflesh. Cultists might forget Welles and focus on directing Jack Arnold, whose best non-sci-fi this might be. The desert and parched town setting hosts events that might occur in immediate wake of the same director's Tarantula disposal, so similar are backlot streets and arid location. I watched Man In The Shadow/Tarantula one after t'other and could swear these were crises visited on a same town, John Agar and Jeff Chandler as tag-team solid citizens ridding their burg of giant spider/ Orson Welles threat.

So where did Welles stand as of 1956? January that year found him doing King Lear at New York's City Centre with a fractured left ankle, fast followed by a sprained right ankle. Variety called this a jinxed climax to a show weighed down in costs and delay. A Friday the 13th "performance," which it surely was with Welles in a wheelchair imploring a paid audience not to demand refunds (many did), came down to the star chucking Lear to play raconteur and engage Q/A with ones who'd stayed. Yes, he gave them twenty or so minutes of Shakespeare speeching, but informal back-and-forth was what made this evening memorable. Camera bugs got busy till Orson requested they desist ... Just that little click is enough extra strain on my nerves to be unbearable, he said in Kong-like reaction to flash-bulbs popping --- his hobbled King Lear being panned by NY critics left Welles in high dudgeon.

The Q-and-A session at times had a very intimate confessional quality, observed Variety. OW discussed with his audience the pain of bad reviews. A front-rower asked how he could go on after reading critic slams (and ones for Lear were doozies). Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again, he song-quoted. At age 40, Welles was hardly the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci, despite his seeming determination to "do everything," this being high-style back in the radio environment of the 1930's which specialized in boy geniuses, said a disrespecting trade. One "embarrassing" question put to Orson, noted Variety, concerned Citizen Kane, over which he declined ... to be drawn into a discussion. After all, hadn't his debut feature been deep-sixed since controversial release in 1941? As of fifteen years later, there was no unearthing this skeleton, as organizers at the Ottawa Film Society had discovered when they attempted to book Kane in November 1955. It is somewhat difficult to obtain, said the group's bulletin to disappointed membership.

Events of February 1956 would change all this. Is The Heat Off "Citizen Kane"?, asked Variety's front page on the 15th of that month. RKO was testing water with engagements at Boston's Brattle Theatre and the 55th Street Playhouse in New York. Both were owned and operated by Bryant Haliday and Cyrus Harvey, Jr., whose idea this was. The duo figured publicity off King Lear might stir interest, along with Welles' ubiquity of late on TV. The Hearst mess and attendant blocked exhib-ing of Kane was mentioned, as was confidence that WR's death safely took Welles and his movie off griddles. Anyway, it was worth gambling expense of a new safety print (a first for Kane?) to find out.

To paraphrase the pic, Orson at least was news even if Citizen Kane was not. At the Hollywood Athletic Club, a rotund Orson Welles told us he doesn't want to act anymore, reported Army Archerd in his Variety column. OW was on a coffee and cottage cheese diet in prep for a televised go at the Barrymore part in 20th Century (with Betty Grable succeeding Carole Lombard). "The awesome Orson" had a novel on track and films he'd direct waiting in Europe, or so he said. Meantime, say biographers, there was an IRS claim that wouldn't wait. To news that his 1941 millstone was back in circulation, Welles remarked, Just when I'm getting back on good terms with the Hearst press ... Citizen Kane gets reissued!

See Part Two HERE.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Life Begins For Greenbriar Picture Shows

After struggling five years with a too-often recalcitrant Blogger system, it looks as though happy days are here to (hopefully) stay, thanks to a brand new blog editing feature my online host has introduced. This is so much easier to use than a predecessor that more than once took hours to upload, and even then looked unlike what I'd hoped for. Now it's possible to caption photos, properly space paragraphs, and feature ads/stills without seeing the whole structure collapse once up and published. Best of all, I can post LARGE images where needed, so there's more visual variety on the page. No longer is posting a dreaded chore to follow enjoyment of writing and selection of pics. By way of testing the new format, I submit most recently watched Spider Woman ...

In case you're fence-bound over lately released Blu-Rays of the fourteen Rathbone/Holmes mysteries, take a tip here and grab the set, which is in all ways an improvement on standard DVD's previously available from the same distributor. These transfers represent a best this series can look, which is to say, while not perfect, is miles beyond frayed prints of yesteryear and certainly past Public Domain wrecks visited upon 8 and 16mm collectors back when Niles and Thunderbird Films peddled same on narrower gauge. I for one like Holmes better than horror shows from Universal during  that same 40's period. They work as mysteries, chillers, and showcase for what this company delivered best on limited budget. Were theirs borrowed sets from "A" pics done previous? --- for none look cheap, ever

Among favorite aspects of the Holmes series is Universal's penchant for moody cast gatherings come still/promotion time. Always there were shadows for a backdrop, low lighting, intense expressions. I wonder how much kidding went on among Rathbone, Bruce, Dennis Hoey, and Gale Sondergaard when posing for these. The posters remain highly collectible, one-sheets routinely selling for thousands. I'd call Spider Woman a favorite Holmes, save for fact they're all wonderful and as easily viewed a twentieth time as a first. This was always a roughest-looking entry in televised days ... even "original" prints looked like dupes, but on Blu-Ray ... Spider Woman's a pip.

Yet another Holmesian disguise that should be readily transparent, but never is, except to criminal masterminds only momentarily fooled by unmistakable Rathbone profile and diction.

Among benefits of Universal's series was pitting Holmes against worthy opponents, thesping counterparts equal or nearly so to task of holding own with Rathbone. Repeat runs are easy on eyes, but mostly ears, for verbal jousting among players not too seriously engaged by proceedings at hand. I hear Holmes filming was jocular much of the time, and don't wonder at that.

Holmes has just stabbed a crawling spider in a darkened room with deadly accuracy and only a flashlight to guide his master-stroke. One of myriad delights in the 63 minute Spider Woman.

Also I read that Nigel Bruce was annoyed when Rathbone turned down Universal's offer to go another season with Holmes. The actor didn't want to be forever associated with the role. As things turned out, that boat had sailed. Kids to henceforth request an autograph from "Mr. Holmes" were peremptorily turned down by a Rathbone sick to death of this character he'd never rid himself of. Sherlock and horror films BR was occasionally obliged to do (for the $) would follow him like grim death right to the end.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Violent Saturday's on DVD

Recent DVD Violent Saturday comes courtesy a label formerly associated with soundtracks. Screen Archives has produced any number of outstanding CD's. Their initial DVD offering was The Kremlin Letter of earlier this year. A deal with Fox enabled that, Violent Saturday, and promised for later The Egyptian. Mixed emotion greets Violent Saturday due to its being released non-anamorphic widescreen, a format long gone to good riddance by collectors. We could wish for its delay till Fox generated a proper master, surely in the offing as their library makes way to streaming and On-Demand. Amazon already has HD Pay-Per-View on many early Cinemascope titles. Violent Saturday is too good a show to let languish in obsolete format. You can stream it today from Amazon at $4 per 24-hour access, but their version is unforgivably full-frame and wretched looking, so for the present at least, we're obliged to take Violent Saturday, imperfect as it is, from what Fox leased to Screen Archives. Question though ... how much more would it have cost to go ahead and do the upgrade? Would a niche following for Violent Saturday have justified such additional expense?

Violent Saturday is one you could easily show guests, being short-length (90 minutes) and reasonably quick-tempo'ed to a blistering pay-off that I'd bet still gives customer satisfaction (and has in 35mm revival runs, I understand). Director Richard Fleischer said in his memoirs that it was Fox's first Cinemascope pic to come in for under a million (negative cost: $958K). Fleischer had made a reputation with outstanding thrillers done cheap, including Trapped, Armored Car Robbery, and wide-hailed sleeper The Narrow Margin. Most recently he'd finished 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea for Disney, as high a profile release as 1954 yielded. MGM's Dore Schary offered Fleischer Bad Day At Black Rock for an encore, but Walt wouldn't let him off 20,000 finishing touches on Leagues. Part of this director's value to Violent Saturday was Fox's confidence he could deliver their show at economy rate and maintain quality as was case at RKO. Variety observed results and put Violent Saturday in potential sleeper class, but critical/customer breakout wouldn't come this time as it had for Fleischer on The Narrow Margin.

Part of dilution was contrived subplots that a trade said got in ways of an otherwise straightforward crime meller after fashion of not-long-before hit The Asphalt Jungle. Personal stories linking up and building to a bank holdup were maybe less welcome novelty in 1955 than to modern watchers always game for depictions of 50's family and community life in disarray. Violent Saturday presents an across-boards frustrated middle-class hip-deep in hypocrisies peculiar, we think, to atomic age dwellers. Had Nicholas Ray or Samuel Fuller directed, VS would be all over college syllabi and repeat pressed on Criterion disc. There's cultist catnip yet of Big Heat-ish Lee Marvin grinding a kid's hand beneath his shoe and stops-out violence when Ernie Borginine wields the business end of a pitchfork at the mayhem finish.

Interest was stoked for April 1955 release by tandem publishing of source novel by William L. Heath (his first) and its appearance in February's Cosmopolitan, said to be inhaled by fifteen million back when waiting rooms and barber shops doubled for libraries. Fox's strategy was to get the story quickest off pages and into theatres while still fresh in reader memories. That worked to tune of $1.3 million in domestic rentals and $1.5 foreign. Profit was $320,000, so it was good Violent Saturday cost no more than it did. Bloom was coming off the rose for Cinemascope by mid-1955. Grosses dropped as novelty wore off. The process was no longer a crutch for weak content. Untamed, The View From Pompey's Head, and The Virgin Queen each lost money, as did the season's lead "clinker," Prince Of Players, with its loss of $1.5 million. Foreign receipts often exceeded dollars taken by US theatres, even though, according to Variety, there were only 14,000 offshore venues equipped for C'scope as of autumn '55. The Violent Saturday novel was reprinted to joy of 1985 hard-boilers, and those who've read it call Fox's movie unworthy, so maybe it's as well I've not perused Heath's original. Screen Archives' DVD can be ordered from their website. Quality is OK for the compromised format it represents, while hope remains for a better (and anamorphic) release to come.
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