Showing posts from 2014

Decision at Sundown (1957)

Dir: Budd Boetticher - Cast: Randolph Scott, John Carroll, Karen Steele, Valerie French, Noah Beery Jr., Andrew Duggan, John Archer

Decision at Sundown is an atypical entry in the Ranown Cycle, the series of collaborations of the duo Boetticher-Scott. It’s a revenge movie, Scott looking for the murderer of his wife, but it does not concentrate on the journey, but on the destination. For three years Scott has been looking for Tate Kimbrough, the man he holds responsible for the suicide of his wife Mary, and now his friend Sam (Noah Beery Jr.) has located him in the town of Sundown. All cards seem on the table when Bart Allison rides into the town, but there’s a problem: it’s Kimbrough’s wedding day, and even a man as determined as Bart Allison, feels he’ll have to postpone the execution, at least until the wedding ceremony is over.

Allison’s announcement that Mrs. Kimbrough will be a widow by sundown causes a lot of discomfort among the townspeople; Kimbrough had virtually taken over …

A Time for Killing (1967)

Dir: Phil Karlson, Roger Corman - Cast: Inger Stevens, Glenn Ford, George Hamilton, Paul Petersen, Timothy Carey, Kenneth Tobey, Harry Dean Stanton, Harrison Ford

Made in 1967, this movie never had a fair chance; in Europe it was washed away by the flood of spaghetti westerns, at home it was dismissed by critics for both its shortcomings (which are obvious) and its brutalities. The project was started under a different title, A Long Ride Home (still used in some markets), and was to be directed by Roger Corman. Some sources mention that Corman was replaced before shooting started, others sustain that he left the production halfway through, after he had clashed with actor George Hamilton over the movie’s infamous rape scene (1). Colombia hired Phil Karlson, who had done the Matt Helm movie The Silencers for them, to finish the movie.

A Time for Killing is part of a series of westerns concentrating on the conflicts of Union troops and their Confederate prisoners in the final days of th…

The Last Wagon (1956)

Dir: Delmer Daves - Cast: Richard Widmark, Felicia Farr, Susan Kohner, Tommy Rettig, Stephanie Griffin, George Mathews, Carl Benton Reid, James Dury 

In the opening scene we watch Richard Widmark killing an opponent in cold blood; he first shoots the man off his horse, then finishes him off, mercilessly. In the next few minutes Widmark kills two others, again without mercy, before he’s finally overpowered by a fourth person, a man wearing a sheriff’s star. It’s quite a remarkable opening, deliberately creating doubts about who is good and who is bad. Things get even more complicated: the sheriff ties the captured Widmark to a tree and starts torturing him, both mentally and physically. When the people of a wagon train show up, the sheriff asks them if he and his prisoner may join them on their way to Tucson; the request is granted, but the sheriff’s cruel behavior soon causes feelings of distress among the people of the wagon train and a young boy and his big sister start sympathizing…

Pardners (1956)

Dir: Norman Taurog - Cast: Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Agnes Moorehead, Lori Nelson, Jackie Loughery, Lon Chaney, Lee van Cleef, Jeff Morrow

The penultimate movie of the legendary duo Martin and Lewis, consisting of the singer Dean Martin and the comedian Jerry Lewis. They appeared together on stage for the first time at the Atlantic City Club 500 on July 25, 1946, and would become, in the years to come, America’s most popular comedy duo thanks to a NBC radio series and numerous appearances in television shows and movies. Pardners was their only trip out West.

In the beginning of the film Martin and Lewis are seen as two aging cowboys. The ranch of Slim Mosely (Martin) and his partner Wade Kinsley (Lewis) is attacked by a gang of outlaws known as the Masked Raiders and both men are killed. Their two children, also called Slim & Wade, are raised separately in New York City. In 1910, 25 years after the events, Slim jr. has become a rodeo rider while the inept Wade jr. has become a sp…

Taxi Driver

I - A young man with a sleep disorder

Robert de Niro is a Vietnam veteran with a sleep disorder called Travis Bickle. After he has entered an office to apply for a job the following conversation ensues:

"Education?" "Some. Here and there."

"How's your driving record. Clean?" "It's clean, real clean. Like my conscience."
Travis Bickle's conscience is clean. The problem is that in his opinion Travis Bickle is virtually the only one in town with a clear conscience. Look at his description of nightlife:

"All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."
Today many people think Taxi Driver is one of the very best movies of the seventies - probably even the best - but when it was first released, it got mixed reviews. To some it was a masterpiece, others thought it was a cold-blooded, repuls…

The Last Sunset (1961)

In spite of story elements such as a cattle trek and a marshal on the trail of a wanted man, this is not an ordinary western, not by any stretch of the imagination. It's a low-key study of sexual obsessions, with Kirk Douglas as the good-for-nothing, but sympathetic philanderer returning to the woman he once deserted, but falling for her daughter, the spitting image of the girl he once loved.

Kirk Douglas is the man on the run, Rock Hudson the lawman in possession of a warrant to arrest him. Douglas has crossed the Mexican border and turned up at the ranch of a drunken cattleman John Beckenridge (Joseph Cotton) and his wife Belle (Dorothy Malone), who happens to be his old flame. Beckenridge offers Douglas a job as a trail boss for a drive back to where he came from, and surprisingly he accepts, probably because Belle and her blossoming daughter Missy will accompany the men. Hudson has followed Douglas into Mexico, but having no authority to arrest him on foreign soil, he joins …

The Naked Spur (1953)

Dir: Anthony Mann - Cast: James Stewart (Howard Kemp), Janet Leigh (Lina), Robert Ryan (Ben), Ralph Meeker (Anderson), Millard Mitchell (Tate)

The third western collaboration of the duo Mann-Stewart, usually called one of their best. It’s no doubt the most intense of the lot.

James Stewart is Howard Kemp, a frontiersman turned bounty hunter after he had lost his ranch in the Civil War; Kemp is after the outlaw Ben Vandergroat, who’s wanted for killing a Marshall. Vandergroat has fled into the mountains and Kemp is forced to accept the help of two men, who both hope to collect a part of the reward money: Jesse Tate, an old gold prospector who thinks Kemp is a sheriff, and Roy Anderson, a Union soldier who has been discharged from the army dishonerably. With the assistance of these two, Kemp finally captures Vandergroat and his companion, who turns out to be a young woman, Lina Patch (Janet Leigh), the daughter of Vandergroat’s former partner, who thinks her father’s friend is innocent…

Custer of the West (1967)

Robert Shaw (George Armstrong Custer), Mary Ure (Elizabeth Custer), Ty Hardin (Major Marcus Reno), Jeffrey Hunter (Captain Frederick Benteen), Lawrence Tierney (General Philip Sheridan), Kieron Moore (Chief Dull Knife), Robert Ryan (Sgt. Mulligan)

An overlong, episodic biopic of the controversial Civil War veteran and Indian fighter George Armstrong Custer. It was supposed to be directed by Akira Kurosawa, but he was replaced by Robert Siodmark. Custer had been portrayed as an idealist in Walsh’s They Died with their Boots on and would be portrayed as a vainglorious fool in Arthur Penn’s Little Big Man. Custer of the West tries to cover a middle ground, but is less successful in this aspect than the 1991 TV Miniseries Son of Morning Star.

The movie opens with a short montage depicting Custer’s Civil War exploits and follows his career until his famous Last Stand at the Little Big Horn, on June 26, 1976. After the war, Custer is offered a couple of easy jobs by his Civil War commander…

The Glory Guys (1965)

Dir: Arnold Laven - Cast: Tom Tryon, Harve Presnell, Senta Berger, Michael Anderson Jr., Slim Pickens, James Caan, Andrew Duggan -  Written by: Sam Peckinpah - Music: Riz Ortolani - Cinematography: James Wong Howe

A fictionalized western drama, based on Custer’s Last Stand, telling the story of an onerous officer who sends all of his men to death in a disastrous campaign against the Sioux. The script was written by no other than Sam Peckinpah and based on a novel by Hoffman Birney called The Dice of God. Peckinpah wrote the script between November 1956 and March 1957, at a salary of $500 a week (1) but it was only filmed a decade later, without any invlovement of Peckinpah.

With its colorful depiction of army life in an around an army outpost the film is often compared to John Ford’s Fort Apache, also inspired by Custer’s Last Stand. But instead of concentrating on the Custer-like commander, General McCabe, the story is told from the viewpoint of a collection of characters and the wom…

Rio Conchos (1964)

RIO CONCHOS (1965, Gordon Douglas)
Cast:‭ ‬Stuart Whitman,‭ ‬Richard Boone,‭ ‬Tony Franciosa, ‭ ‬Jim Brown,‭ ‬Wende Wagner,‭ ‬Warner Anderson,‭ ‬Rodolfo Acosta,‭ ‬Edmond O’Brien

Rio Conchos opens with a rather shocking scene of a white man shooting a couple of Indians from a distance in cold blood.‭ ‬What makes the scene even more uncomfortable,‭ ‬is the fact that the victims were burying one of their own.‭

The shooter is Jim Lassiter‭ (‬Richard Boone‭) ‬an ex-Confederate officer who has turned into an Apache killer after ‬the tribe has tortured his wife and children to death.‭ ‬He’s arrested by the U.S.‭ ‬Army because he’s in possession of a rifle that is part of a cache of U.S.‭ ‬Army rifles,‭ ‬stolen by a group of southern renegades,‭ ‬led by a man called Pardee.‭ ‬The renegades are now living south of the border and Pardee has planned to continue his war against the Union by arming the Apaches.‭ ‬Lassiter is offered a chance to regain his freedom if he’s willing to lead an illegal s…

The Tall T