Classic movie site with rare images, original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
Search Index Here

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Metro Stops The Presses

Copy (1929) Has Newshounds In Natural Habitat

Of days when news gatherers worked city rooms in shirtsleeve and had lunch out of pails, this was another of talkers to show the print game as hard-bitten and not for softies. It was known within a season of sound that reporters were a cynical lot that breathed black humor and round-clock lifestyle. In all of precode, I don't recall seeing one of them sleep. Copy is a two-reeler to encapsulate what was already a sub-genre, and what's the wonder, as transplanted news scribes were already taking charge of scenario departments all over lotus land. These imports to Hollywood brought urban awareness to make silent scribes look anemic. A famous wire sent by Herman Mankiewicz promised east coast peers of easy filmworld pickings and competition limited to "idiots," that summing up his and other newcomer's stance re colleagues at the studios. Copy reflects casual attitude toward matters most took serious, news staff waiting for a senator to "croak" so they can get his obit in the morning edition, etc. Lead scribbler (Roscoe Karns) is brought up short by family crisis, sentiment winning out in Hollywood, if not at press rooms in New York. Goose to Copy narrative turns on General Slocum-like sinking of a ferry boat filled with mothers and offspring. Is editor Karns' wife and child among them? He and Copy cast do about face on wisecracking when it looks that way, so maybe ink slingers are human after all. Copy is among Warner Archives' Classic Shorts From The Dream Factory --- Volume Two.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Clawing To Top Of A Fight Game

Champion (1949) Is Bare Knuckle Noir

N.Y. Open, and K. Douglas Attends
The muscular hit that clinched stardom for Kirk Douglas and spilled blood (and green) into the boxing genre. Champion took two million in domestic rentals and that meant payday for far less spent to make it. Douglas is his patented "heel," a persona he'd soften as mainstream stardom beckoned (KD and R. Widmark both saw images tenderized toward similar ends). Champion is a flashy showcase and mimics would work off the Kirk grimace over nights, and nightclubs, to come (do any still?). Gritty is the byword, as in boxcars, beatings, women wronged, and wronging. Late 40's cynicism can be fun in moderation. Watch too many, however, and there's threat you'll go around trusting nobody. How did they fake ring action? Punches here look like they really connect. Ruth Roman, formerly of serials, is a nice girl besullied. No wonder Warners called after this, though she'd light somewhat less fire for them. Kirk Douglas says he chose Champion over The Great Sinner for Metro, proud of a smart move he'd made, as who remembers The Great Sinner? Champion isn't recognized as noir, but there are crook gamblers and damp asphalt, so I'll call it that for ease of reference. Indifferent prints have long been bane of this title (some colorized); also a particularly bad DVD in longtime circulation, but now comes Olive with splendidly wrought Blu-Ray that puts color (as in nice-rendered B/W) back in Champion's cheeks.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Scott In Saddle For Warner Bros.

Tall Man Riding (1955) More Of A Successful Same

Randy Scott rides for revenge, and per Code cowboy custom, finds that a bad idea (revenge themes frowned upon, then and later). There are multiple leagues of villainy enabling plenty of last reel notching to Scott's gun, action for most of time profuse. Which gal will mount the Tall Man's saddle? One is married (Dorothy Malone), the other a soiled dove in league with heavies (Peggie Castle). Randy was capable at getting jobs done sans deep-delve performance, low-key policy that plays well to present-day. A whopper fist brawl mid-way through surely had drive-inners rushing out of concession booths to catch. I imagine a Tall Man Riding among three/four similars passing summer nights to capacity parking. Was this better way to consume comfort westerns than our DVD's? The Scotts were called "S--t kickers" by J.L. Warner ... well, at least he kept them going ... there's a seeming hundred like Tall Man Riding from WB. Reliable profit was reason for outpour, these being what remnant of regular moviegoers wanted to watch. Scott was in fact a surest thing on the lot (did he drive hard enough bargains at WB and alternate address Columbia? --- I assume so). Couldn't find any of his from Burbank that lost money (Tall Man's a tall gain --- $686K in profit). Retroplex plays RS lots in HD, as have channels of western reliance, Scott among most visible of old stars thanks to sureness of his backlog to please. TCM having converted of late to true High-Def will see Technicolor (or in this case, Warnercolor) shine brighter on their westerns.

More Randolph Scott at Greenbriar Archive: Ranown Westerns, Part One and Two, Captain Kidd, Buchanan Rides Alone, The Tall T, The Nevadan, Gung Ho!, Fort Worth, The Spoilers, The Walking Hills, and Coast Guard. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Postwar Independents Play It Safe With Westerns

Randolph Scott Rail-Splitting For Canadian Pacific (1949)

A real background novelty here was shooting in Canadian wilds, that seldom done by US filmmakers till independent Nat Holt sent cameras northward. Canada was allied with Euro nations for objecting to dollars flowing out (apx. twelve million a year to US distribs), and little or nothing coming in. Hollywood answered to effect that it was lack of adequate facilities and manpower that kept Great North location off limits (there were only three lots in the whole of Canada where films could be made), but did extend olive branch in terms of features, and especially shorts, extolling beauty of Canada outdoors, this enhancing tourism to the area. What US companies feared was Canada freezing funds after overseas example. Gestures toward greater cooperation were made during 1948-49, but came largely to naught, Canadian Pacific the highest profile pic shooting on Canada soil, with Eagle-Lion's Northwest Stampede a recent wrap by time Nat Holt arrived with star Randolph Scott to build their railroad. Holt had a deal with 20th to supply three so-called "B pix" the company would distribute, another to come via producer Edward Alperson. Fox was not in a habit of handling outside product, so this was out of ordinary policy for the major.

Canadian Pacific was Nat Holt's first indie venture after four years staff producing for RKO. He told Variety that financing came easy with the right story and star, in this case western stalwart Randolph Scott. The Canadian Pacific railroad got aboard with tech advise, period equipment, and all-ways extend of cooperation. There was indication that they kicked in some financing as well. All CP wanted in return was approve of the script. Producer Holt put together an attractive package for loaning banks to consider: a first railroad saga since the hit that was Union Pacific in 1939, Cinecolor on board to enhance visuals, and a 33-day schedule under direction of vet Edwin L. Marin, all of which got Canadian Pacific nearest to a sure profit thing. I think the action picture is the only answer for the small independent, said Holt to Variety, Gallopers have always been the backbone of the industry, and the public still wants them as much as ever. The (action) pictures are the easiest kind an independent can make. The producer who turns them out has a better chance of survival in this industry than he ever had.

Cinecolor had its biggest earnings year in 1947, according to an excellent article in the Film History journal by John Belton, though by 1949 release date of Canadian Pacific, the company's stock value was in freefall. The two-color process was, despite obvious limitation, helpful to a project shot almost wholly outdoors. Canadian Pacific did well in first-run, with domestic rentals of $1.7 million and foreign $489K, the best performer of three Nat Holt/Randolph Scott actioners distributed by 20th Fox (the other two were Fighting Man Of The Plains and The Cariboo Trail). The team worked to pull their westerns out of formula rut, and to large extent succeeded. Randolph Scott in particular did interesting things with his independent set-up and partnerships with capable vets like Holt and Harry Joe Brown. The star viewed movies as business pure and simple, but kept eye always on quality of output. Ownership of the TCF distributed negs reverted to Holt, and what's extant of Canadian Pacific does not do justice to locations and Cinecolor that decorated them. Still, it's a handsome Northeastern, scarcely a "B" whatever Fox's designation, and a show one could wish to see properly restored. TCM plays Canadian Pacific occasionally, a worthwhile look even if diminished print-wise.

Today and tomorrow's post are Greenbriar contribution to Toby Roan's Randolph Scott Blogathon at 50 Westerns From The 50's, that fine site that celebrates just what its title suggests. Go there for links to other writers participating in this Scott-worthy celebration (the Blogathon officially begins Friday, 1/22/15).

Monday, January 19, 2015

Corporate Sharks Swim Offshore

The Power and The Prize (1956) Means Business

Another big loser ($838K) in losing year that was 1956, referred to since as annus horribilis by which television had penetrated whole of the country. The Power and The Prize had a negative cost of $1.4 million, a minimum you'd then-spend for presentable Metro product, but too much for this black-and-white Cinemascope drama with so little earning potential (only $575K in domestic rentals, $540K foreign). For latter market, MGM tread lightly, The Power and The Prize cautious not to give offense in Euro/UK depiction. Robert Taylor is the company man gone overseas to put over a refinery deal (in Africa, a spot regarded OK for a worldwide corporate community to graze on) with partnering Sir Cedric Hardwicke, a rock of rectitude to flatter Brit business dealings. Offshore grosses were protected further by letting Taylor love interest Elisabeth Mueller be impossibly noble as refugee from continental hardship, with wartime stopover in German concentration camps. What was done to her there is mentioned, but not stressed. Only one bad apple among offshore associates will be allowed (a lecherous VP). Otherwise, it's the Americans that are ugly (boardroom shark Burl Ives) or at the least misguided (Taylor, who'll be straightaway enlightened). The Power and The Prize is a real suck-up to integrity Euros have that we lack. So did facts at the time back this portrayal?

Taylor's a little old for what is essentially a Bill Holden part (in fact, Holden had more or less played it for Metro in 1954's Executive Suite). Bob closes the gap, however, with another of his customarily fine postwar performances. MGM valued this star, kept under pact after letting most names go. Even Gable had been scotched from contract pay as Taylor soldiered on, a succession of hits in Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe, Knights Of The Round Table, making him a better bargain than Hollywood's one-time King. We think of 50's Taylor mostly in breastplates, but it was noir and modern-set conscience stories where he'd thrive best, The Power and The Prize, Rogue Cop, Party Girl, numerous others backing placement of RT as seminal dark dweller. Taylor was another who'd underplay because he never considered himself much of an actor. That, of course, works now to benefit of all his output.

The Power and The Prize posits corporate life as all-consuming, but in the end productive and necessary. Burl Ives, otherwise a despot and spirit breaker, gives reasoned account of why America needs men like him to keep the country great. It's like listening again to Bogart's same message in Sabrina from 1954. Hollywood might point up excess in tycoons, but wouldn't condemn a system they represented. After all, that was a movie industry's system as well. A man must give heart and soul to the company, and should he marry, well, the wife must be vetted as well. That was lesson Clifton Webb taught in Woman's World (again 1954), and few outside presumed Pinkos would argue against it. Latter is among issues aired in The Power and The Prize, Taylor wanting to bring alien bride Mueller to our shore, but first having to clear her of suspected moral lapse, plus likely Communist sympathies. The Power and The Prize puts across fear everyone then felt over merest suggestion they might be disloyal, tycoon spouse Mary Astor saying at one point that suspicion alone, minus further evidence, could break anyone targeted. Had MGM topper Dore Schary forgot the Waldorf agreement he'd entered into? The Power and The Prize streams at Warner Instant in HD and is available from their Archive on DVD. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Another Godzilla Versus After King Kong

Monsters Meet For Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964)

I'd need Godzilla lessons from a Toho expert to properly manage these notes, but here's the little I know: AIP distributed Godzilla vs. The Thing in the US ... they didn't use Mothra's name for some reason (legal?), so Zilla's opponent was called "The Thing." We briefly wondered in 1964 if Howard Hawks' arctic monster had been thawed again for Round Two. Maybe a most brilliant aspect of G vs. T was posters by Reynold Brown, imagery of the Thing being "censored." Peek-a-boo art made it look like octopi sprung off It Came From Beneath The Sea, but word-of-mouth, and monster mags, weren't long in tipping us that this was indeed Mothra come to rescue Japan from further Godzilla drubbing. There's almost resignation when news reports announce G has risen again, for what was this, his fourth visit to Nippon shores? Question arose too as to how Mothra would combat, let alone overcome, Godzilla. Lethal wing-flaps and dragging the lizard by his tail were but distractions --- this was no even match like one engaged a previous year between King Kong and Godzilla.

The tiny twins who sing are back from Mothra --- did AIP consider a soundtrack album? Hearing their plaintive tune called up memories of seeing G Vs. T at the Liberty, and months later when we talked a neighbor into carrying us out to the Starlight Drive-In for another go. Was it really necessary to see this twice? Godzilla was a charmingly clumsy monster, tripping through power lines and over buildings. If Tokyo had but cleared a wider boulevard, he might have passed peacefully through, brisk urban walks invariably going bad for him. Godzilla also moved slowly, and that may explain his weight issues. I don't recall a film where he actually ate anything, my assumption being that trains off trestle buffet were quite indigestible. Interesting factoid per Variety's 5/12/65 survey of Japanese features for US distribution during 1964: Almost half of $1,124,000 earned by Nippon films in the US market came from ethnic houses on the coast and in Hawaii, with "most of remaining coin brought in ... by Godzilla vs. The Thing."  The latter did OK for AIP --- $534K in domestic rentals from 9932 bookings, but wait --- Universal's King Kong vs. Godzilla had crossed a million in 1963. Was KK a more meaningful selling point than a censored-out-of-ads "Thing"?

Monday, January 12, 2015

A 50's Courtroom Explosion!

Trial (1956) Combats Lynch Rule and Commie Mischief

It struck me about a third of the way into this that William Holden would have made a far better Trial lead than Glenn Ford. The two had been friends, began as two sides of a callow coin, then achieved popularity as spokesmen for outraged decency, the 50's a peak decade for both. Holden was world-wearier, cynicism having been instilled by work with Wilder, while Ford kept busy as men who'd be pushed but so far. What he missed was association with a great director who could define him for subsequent work with others (Fritz Lang came a closest, had they teamed on more as good as The Big Heat). Still, there'd be a string of hits through the decade, Blackboard Jungle a standout, and from that came momentum for more at MGM, hit after hit until Cimarron broke the string. Trial's Ford is a law professor who'll be let go for lack of courtroom experience, a policy that would pretty well clear the deck at most schools. He's given the summer to participate in a start-to-finish murder trial, a nutty premise as those are customarily way longer getting to real-life resolve.

Object of courtroom exercise is a Mexican teen charged with rape/strangle; his name being "Angel" with requisite baby face and sweet temper removes any/all doubt as to innocence, just like stacked deck that would be Twelve Angry Men a couple of years later. The premise was besides a familiar one thanks to The Lawless, which had kept houses empty for Paramount in 1950. We at least dispose of time-honored lynch mobbing in a first act, being pages ahead of Don Mankiewicz's script (based on his novel), and for that slow haul, it looks like Trial will be another of earnest pleas re justice/tolerance, but then off comes mask of lead attorney Arthur Kennedy at a rally he organizes to whip up minority support. They're all Communists! And Trial doesn't chicken out by having them misunderstood or witch-hunted. Here, then, is where the show cranks up, Ford trying to save his client from a conviction Kennedy orchestrates in order to raise cash for himself and the Party. And GF's love interest is a fellow traveler (Dorothy McGuire) fresh from Kennedy's bed, an idea I'll bet Ernest Lehman and Hitchcock borrowed to develop "Eve Kendall" for North By Northwest.

That rally is centerpiece and big wow of Trial, being (accurate?) depiction of crowds whipped up for causes near or far away, fiery speakers like Kennedy manipulating his mob and raking off thousands garnered from donations. You figure from watching that homefront Reds operated on large scale and could/did affect outcome of high profile cases. But then Trial, perhaps in interest of balancing scales (and to please MGM chief Dore Schary?), aims barb at offscreen demagoguery of HUAC-like investigators putting squeeze on Ford after he's spotted at the Red rally. Overall chips consequently fall in accord with whatever stance appeals to an individual viewer, Leo being the clever lion by giving no one the decision. A happy end is further dry clean, accuracy of courtroom procedure a most egregious crime on view. Trial is dated, sure, but reflective of concerns and attitude folks had then, and there is good performing amidst welcome support (John Hoyt, Elisha Cook, Katy Jurado, many more). Best of these is majestic Juano Hernandez as judge, or better put, ringmaster, of this circussy Trial. He should have got Oscar-nominated for work done here. Mark Robson directs --- we await proper appreciation of him (his great The Harder They Fall out a same year). Warner Archive has Trial on DVD.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The 1949 Maker Of Mankiewicz

Fox Has a Saucy Hit in A Letter To Three Wives (1949)

The critic and popular success that rocketed Joseph Mankiewicz to a summit among 20th Fox directors. Was Zanuck jealous? Memos suggest he was antsy with credit going all for Mank with less acknowledge of DFZ story and edit supervision, these a Zanuck stronghold no matter who directed (even John Ford no exception). Three Wives is three segments, reduced from four, which was wise, as the trio is enough. They get better with progress thru 103 minutes, as who cares so much how war bride Jeanne Crain of opener segment will cope with a mail order dress she'll wear to the Country Club dance? Mankiewicz gets in his dig at class stratas in a mid-size town, haves and have-nots maintaining friendships going back to childhood. The fuss is over an unseen character who's evidently run off with a husband, but which one? The guess game is well maintained, although the ending is ambiguous as to which has actually scooted (deliberately?, or did the audience outguess Mankiewicz?).

Dialogue was this writer/director's gift. Audiences after the war liked his trenchant wit and recognition of what made real folks tick. Mank mounts the soapbox in the guise of Kirk Douglas' (underpaid, natch) schoolteacher and uses him to voice disgust with easy targets like radio, cultural malaise, modern fail to appreciate great music, etc. Would that serious lectures along such lines were as much fun. The players generally keep pace, Crain a little out of her depth beside old pros among the six, of which Linda Darnell emerges most triumphant. Any consensus would say she's the most compelling of the Three Wives. Pity that age would push her out of Fox within a few years of a marvelous act given here. Darnell was so effective with Paul Douglas as to inspire further teaming, in Everybody Does It, a good comedy, and The Guy Who Came Back. They were an earthy couple who knew ropes and spoke plain to each other and us. A Letter To Three Wives wraps on a high note thanks to them. Available from Fox on Blu-Ray.

Monday, January 05, 2015

WB Unlocks Sensation-Filled Best Seller!

Hotel (1967) Mirrors a Vanished Studio Era

Hotel is a lament for old-style hospitality gone the way of corporate takeover, a grand institution brought to knees by progress none but profiteers want. This then, intended or not, was a Hollywood story, Warners itself about to become (in 1969) "A Kinney Company," their logo redone in ugly homage to new bosses. How faceless was Kinney? Enough so to know them, if at all, for parking lots, wood flooring, and quiet ownership of National Periodicals (DC comics). Kinney to show biz was canker upon day when picture companies became raw meat for congloms smelling blood that was annual loss, trouble known across Hollywood board. Maybe that's how Warners came to Hotel with more conviction than customary for in-house product where break-even point was generally a TV sale. Were the title-referenced "St. Gregory" Burbank rather than New Orleans located, this might be story of a proud studio rather than hotel being imperiled, with the WB shield peeled off its signature water tower for a wistful finish.

Hotel was "Grand" in relic sense of multi-characters stood against a going-were-days main lobby set that cost Warners $325K and took up 22,000 square feet of stage space. Extravagance was something with which movies could still impress some people that didn't know real score. The cast was second-drawer starry, an ensemble, and no one dominant: Rod Taylor, Karl Malden, Richard Conte, feature-billed Merle Oberon said to wear $500K's worth of personal jewelry, including "a brooch that once belonged to Marie Antoinette." She'd years later confess to resentment over her part being whittled so as to feature more of import ingenue Catherine Spaak. Hotel was story-told to fragment left of grown-up patronage whose kids lined up instead for Bonnie and Clyde, also from Warners and better indicator of how tastes would hereafter run. Source novel was by Arthur Hailey, writing they could really have used back when movies were movies, his the fuse that later lit Airport, that other glorious last stand for establishment H'wood.

Hotel was stop for old-timers and old souls. Aforementioned Merle Oberon is among tenants, and Melvyn Douglas is upstairs owner. Rod Taylor seems a throwback to lead men the industry had diminishing use for. We could ask why he didn't become a bigger star, even as Hotel answers. Taylor is authoritative, ruggedly male, even jaunty at times (his lobby footwork almost a dance), but Hotel was dawn upon day for the Dustin Hoffmans, or merciful heavens, a Michael J. Pollard, who'd actually get leads in wake of Bonnie and Clyde. Were these the personalities the late 60's deserved? By then, men's men seemed destined for TV, or inactivity. In fact, Taylor would head largely for the tube, as would also promising Brian Keith, another I equate with Taylor in terms of stardom misplaced. You know the St. Gregory has been around years for elevator sound Warners had used since arrival of talkies --- next to their ringing phone, it's a most recognizable of aural effects in Hotel.

Kevin McCarthy checks in as shark pursuing takeover. He'd later check-in locally (1989), doing his Harry Truman show at our Community College. I drove him to and from the airport in Greensboro. He talked of Hotel and other things. Most memorable incident, said KMc, was Merle Oberon inviting the cast south-of-border for recreation at her luxurious digs. Kevin and colleagues swam with Oberon, in her late 50's at the time, him enthusing twenty plus years later that she "had the body of a teenage girl." Proof then, that actors could be impressed by one another in the right circumstance. Hotel had a World Press Premiere in Miami Beach with stars, comped rooms, go-go dancers, the works. It would play limping downtown palaces like the Chicago Theatre, as in ad at top, even as such barns came down sick from urban blight in mid-to-late 60's. The North-South Carolina ABC theatre circuit used Hotel for a project picture after Airport struck big in 1970, touting Arthur Hailey as author of both. Television got Hotel in 1973 (NBC runs). There's a CD soundtrack of the excellent Johnny Keating score (jazzy), and Warner Archive has a DVD. Hotel has also played Warner Instant in HD, and we might expect TCM to run it thus in wake of the network going to true High-Def as opposed to mere upscale from standard-def.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Another Guinness Bundle From Britain

The Man In The White Suit (1951) Raises Art House Roofs

One of the Ealing comedies that made Alec Guinness an art house idol during the 50's. Eggheads and coffee-sippers that frequented sure-seaters fell for Guinness same as mainstreamers went gaga over postwar newcomers like Martin and Lewis, his laff-getting set on understated as opposed to manic Dean/Jerry. Those who'd scoff at Hollywood formulae could point to Ealing as refresher from what ailed us, their output flattering to ones tired of humor hammered home. The White Suit in question is invention of lab drudge Alec, who reckons not with wreckage to Brit economy that will result if word gets out of his indestructible outfit (it won't stain or tear). The concept is strict sci-fi, but you wonder if such a thing could be developed. Representing high finance and would-be suppression of the idea is Ernest Thesiger, a surprise and most welcome. Michael Gough is also along to excite interest of horror fans. A student of then-British politics might find plenty to conjure with here, the satire a lot more pointed then than it would seem now. The Man In The White Suit plays more clever than funny, no doubt the object considering elevated patronage Ealing looked to reach (at least in the US). It was released by Universal-International in April, 1952 and earned $426K in domestic rentals, a notch below six month's earlier The Lavender Hill Mob, both these numbers stellar considering how tough a sell Brit pix normally were in the Colonies.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Warner Western Out Of Lower Drawer

Raton Pass (1951) Done While Cooper-Flynn Busy Elsewhere

Modest Warner western that fed off carrion from Dallas. Nice enough sets should be reused where you virtually remake a yarn, but so soon? Ranch takeover as theme was a WB concern in 1951 --- were the Bros. sensing outside encroachment on their Burbank domain? (if so, they were right, and what it was, among other things, was television) They were losing their theatres thanks to gov't mandated consent decrees, and were forced by '51 to cheapen product so that a Raton Pass resembled more a typical "B" from wartime's long-gone boom. Westerns were still a surest thing across industry board, ones with Gary Cooper or Randolph Scott a best of any bet, but so long as a Dennis Morgan or even Gordon MacRae could sit a horse, they'd too earn contract pay in chaps from time to necessary time. For Morgan it was needed transition. He'd been in reasonably popular musicals, but not lately, and his comedy-song series with Jack Carson had played out. Westerns would have to be  his salvation or finish.

Everyone at WB was eventually tested in the saddle, especially leading ladies. The shop was not unlike Republic in that sense, actresses dreading the day when they'd be tabbed as cowboy consort, worst of it the knowing that no career advance could come of work in the sort of westerns done by Warner. Maybe that was to keep them from going too proud. Patricia Neal had been tabbed a "New Garbo" at contract's beginning, but would ride into Warner sunset with Raton Pass. It would be her last under contract with them. Those still-warm Dallas sets included a hacienda courtyard and nice interior, plus, of course, western town with saloon fronts and sheriff's office. Monogram would have flipped for background like this. Westerns at WB were formula purely meant to be so, with no ambition beyond. Think of outstanding ones from the 50's past a trio with John Wayne (Hondo, The Searchers, Rio Bravo) --- are there others? What Raton Pass didn't retain from Dallas was Technicolor. Negative cost was $768K to $1.3 million for Dallas, with resultant rentals (worldwide) at $1.3 million for the former, $4.4 million for the latter. That's the difference Cooper and color made.

Raton's story was well worked out, maybe more so than Dallas, which has good scenes, but otherwise wanders. Morgan unwisely marries Pat Neal, who has the more-or-less Stanwyck part in which she'll come to same sticky end. Aspects of Neal persona typed her quickly for ruthless parts, the expression or voice perhaps, but she'd be poison to men-folk both here and in Bright Leaf, where revenge motivates her to bring down Gary Cooper's tobacco empire. She'd memoir-recall turning down another western before final force to do Raton Pass, which couldn't been much more promising than the one she nixed. Liveliest wire among cast was Steve Cochran in free- killing, land grabber mode. He'd devote most of Warner effort to sidekick heavies; an assist, then traitor, to principal villainy. Edwin L. Marin directed Raton Pass, plus several westerns for Warners with R. Scott, then died within weeks of Raton Pass release. Could be a best thing about Raton is Max Steiner's score, another where "Call Maxie" was means of lending sonic grandeur to hollow horse hooves. Raton Pass is available on DVD from Warner Archive.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Korea Confusion --- Which Hodiak Was Which?

Mission Over Korea (1953) Another Low-Budget Tour Of Duty

Did I dream I'd already seen this, or was it another John Hodiak in Korea pic? Turns out indeed it was, one called Battle Zone that figured into a previous post (plus there's Dragonfly Squadron, with Hodiak holding the Korean line in 3-D). Budget combat, like westerns, tend to blur. Sometimes you're twenty minutes in before realization of having watched before, as in only months before. Do I need to be paying closer attention to these things? This time there is Hodiak as steadying influence for maverick flyer John Derek, who wants to square account with all of North Korea (China too) for his brother's death. Their mission is to photograph war zones, but Derek won't resist gunplay from air advantage. Producer Robert Cohn actually spent four weeks with directing Fred Sears in Korea to get first-hand battle stuff for Mission (85,000 feet brought back), this used to flavor what they'd later shoot with principals in H'wood. Story and situations amount to pulp, but Korea was a hotbed, and customers were interested in anything set there. Variety found Mission to be "episodic ... inconclusive," not an outright pan as maybe the show deserved, but trades were lenient toward support features, these the lifeblood of exhibition what with always crying need for product.
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016
  • January 2017
  • February 2017
  • March 2017
  • April 2017
  • May 2017
  • June 2017
  • July 2017
  • August 2017
  • September 2017
  • October 2017
  • November 2017
  • December 2017
  • January 2018
  • February 2018
  • March 2018
  • April 2018
  • May 2018
  • June 2018
  • July 2018
  • August 2018
  • September 2018
  • October 2018
  • November 2018
  • December 2018
  • January 2019
  • February 2019
  • March 2019
  • April 2019
  • May 2019
  • June 2019
  • July 2019
  • August 2019
  • September 2019
  • October 2019
  • November 2019
  • December 2019
  • January 2020
  • February 2020
  • March 2020
  • April 2020
  • May 2020
  • June 2020
  • July 2020
  • August 2020
  • September 2020
  • October 2020
  • November 2020
  • December 2020
  • January 2021
  • February 2021
  • March 2021
  • April 2021
  • May 2021
  • June 2021
  • July 2021
  • August 2021
  • September 2021
  • October 2021
  • November 2021
  • December 2021
  • January 2022
  • February 2022
  • March 2022
  • April 2022
  • May 2022
  • June 2022
  • July 2022
  • August 2022
  • September 2022
  • October 2022
  • November 2022
  • December 2022
  • January 2023
  • February 2023
  • March 2023
  • April 2023
  • May 2023
  • June 2023
  • July 2023
  • August 2023
  • September 2023
  • October 2023
  • November 2023
  • December 2023
  • January 2024
  • February 2024
  • March 2024
  • April 2024
  • May 2024
  • June 2024
  • July 2024