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Angel and the Badman

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Angel and the Badman [Blu-ray]

Tagline – He only lived for revenge … She only lived for his love!

Starring – John Wayne (Quirt Evans), Gail Russell (Penelope ‘Penny’ Worth), Harry Carey (Wistful McClintock), Bruce Cabot (Laredo Stevens), Irene Rich (Mrs. Worth).

Released – February, 1947

Directed By – James Edward Grant

Produced By – John Wayne Productions, Patnal Productions

Distributed By – Republic Pictures

Description – Gunman Quirt Evans is injured and on the run. Exhausted, Quirt collapses on farmland owned by Quaker Thomas Worth and his family.

The family take him in and begin to nurse Quirt back to health. Badly hurt, Quirt insists that the family take him to town to send an urgent telegram. Though not sure the trip is advisable, Thomas and his daughter Penelope load Quirt into their wagon and take him to the telegraph office where he wire’s a claim to the land recorder’s office and immediately passes out.

Back at the Worth farm, the doctor called to examine Quirt recognizes the outlaw and strongly warns the family as to who they are dealing with. The warning is ignored and the compassionate Quaker family continue to help with his recovery.

Quirt regains consciousness after a few days and is brought up-to-date by Penny. She also tells him that the Worth’s are a family of Quakers who believe in non-violence. What she doesn’t realize is that the man they have helped lives a life centered around violence.

The brief period of peace at the Worth Farm is about to be shattered. Penny’s brother Johnny hurriedly rides back to the farm with the news that two men named Hondo and Laredo are in town looking for Quirt. As Quirt prepares to leave, Penny, who has fallen for Quirt, offers to go with him.

Before this can be decided, there is the sound of approaching horses. Hondo and Laredo have come for the land deed. Thinking that Quirt, who is holding a gun on the pair, has the advantage the two men offer to buy the deed. Quirt wants $20,000. The men hand him $5,000 and dare him to come get the balance due when he has totally recovered. The men then leave.

Again preparing to leave, Penny begs Quirt to stay and, as he has also fallen for her, he agrees. A short time later the Worth Farm finds itself without water. Neighboring rancher Frederick Carson has dammed the stream where it runs through his property.

Quirt visits the Carson Ranch and his reputation as a gunman gets Carson to let the water pass to the Worth Farm. In return, Mrs. Worth treats Carson for a small medical problem and the two neighbor’s begin a new friendship. For Quirt, this experience has given him a new feeling of satisfaction, one attained without violence.

Marshall Wistful McClintock visits the Worth Farm to question Quirt about a stagecoach robbery. The Worth family backs Quirt up by telling Marshal McClintock that Quirt was with them at the time of the robbery.

Quirt Evans new-found feelings of peace will soon come to an end as his problems with Hondo and Laredo can only be settled one way. And Marshall McClintock is still not convinced that Quirt has changed, and warns Quirt that he is not the right kind of man for Penny and is bound to end up at the end of a rope. McClintock does promise Quirt that when that time comes, out of respect, he will use a new rope.

NOTABLE: Angel and the Badman was the first picture produced by John Wayne and a departure from the type of Western film usually associated with him.

John Wayne would later star in two films that took their names from characters in this film. Hondo and McClintock.


My Darling Clementine

Friday, February 10th, 2012

My Darling Clementine [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The Roaring West At Its Reckless Best!

Starring – Henry Fonda (Wyatt Earp), Linda Darnell (Chihuahua), Victor Mature (Dr. John ‘Doc’ Holliday), Cathy Downs (Clementine Carter), Walter Brennan (Old Man Clanton), Tim Holt (Virgil Earp), Ward Bond (Morgan Earp), John Ireland (Billy Clanton).

Released – December, 1946

Directed By – John Ford

Produced By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – The Earp brothers, Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, and James, are driving their cattle across Arizona to California where they hope to make a profitable sale. On the trail, and looking for some rest in the nearest town, they meet Old Man Clanton and his son Ike.

The Clanton’s tell them the closest town is Tombstone and they offer to by the cattle from the Earp’s. Wyatt turns them down feeling their offer is to low and later that night the three older Earp’s head for Tombstone leaving James to watch the herd.

The Earp brothers find Tombstone to be a lawless town and after an incident with the drunken Indian Charlie where Wyatt subdues the badman he is offered the job of town marshal. Wyatt declines the offer and he and his brothers return to their camp.

Upon their arrival, they find their cattle gone and younger brother James dead. Determined to avenge James’ death, Wyatt returns to town and accepts the marshal’s job.

In the town saloon, Wyatt encounters gambler Doc Holliday who refuses to check his gun according to the new law. Holliday tries to provoke a fight with Wyatt, but backs off when he finds himself also facing Morgan and Virgil and ends up buying them all a drink.

As they share the drink, Wyatt learns a few things about Doc. First, he is very dangerous, second, he is a well-educated man, and lastly, that he is very sick. This evening is the beginning of a strong friendship between the two men.

One early morning a stagecoach arrives carrying an attractive and well-dressed passenger named Clementine Carter who has traveled from Boston. She is Doc’s former fiancee and pleads for him to return with her to Boston. He refuses and tells her to return home or he will leave town without her.

Upset over her arrival, Doc gets drunk and spoils for a fight. This forces Wyatt to knock him out and take him to his room before anything drastic happens. The following day, Doc’s current girlfriend, Chihuahua, tells Clementine about her relationship with Doc.

Clementine now plans to leave Tombstone and she and Wyatt meet as she is set to pay her hotel bill and return to Boston. He convinces her to stay awhile and invites her to a church fund-raising dance. After the dance the two have dinner and are seen by Doc who is furious that Clementine is still in town and he takes the next stage to Tucson.

This angers Chihuahua who had hoped Doc would go to Mexico with her and they would be married. She bursts into Clementine’s room to help her pack in order to get her out of town as fast as possible. Wyatt is also there and he spots a necklace on Chihuahua that his brother James was bringing to his girlfriend. She tells Wyatt that Doc gave her the necklace.

Wyatt immediately sets off to find Doc who claims to know nothing of the necklace. When they return to Tombstone and question Chihuahua she finally admits that she received the necklace from Billy Clanton.

Billy, who was waiting, and now hiding outside Chihuahua’s room hears her tell Wyatt and Doc about his gift. When they leave he shoots Chihuahua and runs. While Virgil sets out after Billy, Doc reluctantly agrees to operate on Chihuahua with the help of Clementine.

Virgil chases Billy all the way to the Clanton ranch where a fight ensues. Billy dies of his wounds and the Clanton’s kill Virgil.

The Clanton’s ride into Tombstone and drop the body of Virgil at Wyatt’s feet and declare that they will await the Earp’s at the O. K. Corral. Meanwhile, Chihuahua dies despite Doc’s efforts and he tells Wyatt that he will join them in the fight at the corral against the Clanton’s.

The stage is now set for one of the old west’s most famous gunfights.

NOTABLE: In 1991, My Darling Clementine was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Famed director Sam Peckinpah considered My Darling Clementine to be his favorite western.

This was actor Henry Fonda’s first film after returning from active duty in the U. S. Navy during World War II.

Both James Stewart and Vincent Price were considered for the role of Dr. John ‘Doc’ Holliday.

Personal Note: My Darling Clementine is one of a few Hollywood productions using the infamous gunfight at the O, K. Corral as its inspiration.

While there are many factual inaccuracies portrayed in this film, such as the fact that the real fight did not even take place in the corral, this is a well-acted, exciting, and very enjoyable western.

One of director Ford’s best and beautifully photographed by Joseph P. MacDonald. Henry Fonda provides a believable portrayal of Wyatt Earp and Walter Brennan fiendishly evil as Old Man Clanton (who, in reality, died two months before the gunfight). As for Doc Holliday, he was a dentist and not a surgeon as portrayed in this film.



Duel in the Sun

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Duel in the Sun

Tagline – Emotions… As Violent As The Wind-Swept Prairie!

Starring – Jennifer Jones (Pearl Chavez), Joseph Cotton (Jesse McCanles), Gregory Peck (Lewton ‘Lewt’ McCanles), Lionel Barrymore (Sen. Jackson McCanles), Herbert Marshall (Scott Chavez), Lillian Gish (Laura Belle McCanles).

Released – December, 1946

Directed By – King Vidor

Produced By – The Selznick Studio, Vanguard Films

Distributed By – Selznick Releasing Corporation

Description – Pearl Chavez is a half-white, half-Native American woman whose father Scott has just killed her mother and her lover. Scott Chavez is sentenced to hang, and just before his execution he arranges for Pearl to live with Texas family member Laura Belle McCanles.

When Pearl arrives by stagecoach she is met by gentlemanly Jesse McCanles, one of Laura’s two grown sons. Jesse takes Pearl to Spanish Bit, the family cattle ranch, where she is warmly greeted by Laura.

However, she is not welcome by Laura’s wheelchair bound husband Senator Jackson McCanles who hated Pearl’s father and considers her no more than a “half-breed.” Second son Lewt , a womanizer with an nasty personality, sees Pearl as no more that a beautiful woman with whom he would like to bed. He makes his feelings known and immediately is disliked by Pearl.

With Pearl’s best interests in mind, Laura invites gun-toting preacher Jubal Crabbe, known as the “Sinkiller” to teach Pearl how to avoid the evils of temptation.

One evening, Lewt forces himself on Pearl in her bedroom. While she is both angry and ashamed, she is also flattered by Lewt’s lust and attention.

The McCanles family is in a dispute with the railroad and when Jesse sides with the railroad men against his father’s personal wishes, he is no longer welcome at the family ranch. Jesse realizes that he has fallen in love with Pearl, but leaves for Austin to pursue a political career. While there he becomes engaged to Helen Langford the daughter of the railroad head.

Lewt, who has been giving Pearl false promises of marriage in order to keep her attention for himself, finally reneges on his marriage promise for the last time. Furious, Pearl soon takes up with neighboring rancher Sam Pierce. Although she does not love him, Pearl accepts his proposal of marriage.

Before their marriage can take place, Lewt intentionally picks a fight with Pierce and guns him down. His insistence that Pearl can only belong to him has now made him a wanted man. On the run and hiding, Lewt sneaks back to the ranch to continue his relationship with Pearl who cannot resist her desire for him.

When Laura becomes deathly ill, Jesse returns to the ranch only to arrive too late, as Laura has died. His father and Lewt still want nothing to do with him and Pearl’s happiness to see him will now pit brother against brother.

NOTABLE: Duel In the Sun received Oscar nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jennifer Jones), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lilian Gish).

The Hays Code insisted that the film be severely edited as the original cut was considered to have too much sexual content. The strain of the films controversy contributed to the marriage breakup of Producer David O. Selznick and actress Jennifer Jones.

Director Martin Scorsese has said that Duel In the Sun was the first motion picture he ever saw and holds the film in high regard.

Popular actress Teresa Wright was originally to play the role of Pearl, in direct contrast to her girl-next-door image. However, her pregnancy forced her to drop out of consideration.



The Ox-Bow Incident

Friday, June 18th, 2010

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Lynch law rules the mob!

Starring – Henry Fonda (Gil Carter), Dana Andrews (Donald Martin), Mary Beth Hughes (Rose Mapen/Rose Swanson), Anthony Quinn (Juan Martinez), Harry Morgan (Art Croft).

Released – May, 1943

Directed By – William A. Wellman

Produced By –  Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – Two drifters, Gil Carter and Art Croft, ride into the town of Bridger’s Wells, Nevada and head for Darby’s Saloon. The mood inside is unusually quiet due to a rash of cattle rustling. The towns residents are obsessed with catching the thieves and cast a suspicious eye on the two strangers.

Shortly after their arrival, a man rides excitedly into town to announce that a local rancher has been murdered. A posse is immediately formed to find the murderer’s who the town assume to also be the cattle rustlers. Gil and Art join in with the posse.

Later that evening, in the Ox-Bow Canyon, the posse finds three men sleeping and in possession of what they believe to be stolen cattle. With the addition of little more than circumstantial evidence the posse soon becomes a lynch mob.

Mob rule has now taken over.

NOTABLE: The Ox-Bow Incident received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

In 1998, The Ox-Bow Incident was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Star Henry Fonda, while under contract to 20th Century Fox, was generally unhappy with the roles he was given. There were two exceptions, this role in The Ox-Bow Incident and his role in The Grapes of Wrath.

The Hays Office was initially reluctant in giving their approval of the films script. They did not like the idea that it appeared the sheriff condoned the idea of a lynching.

Personal Note: A terrific western with a disturbingly vivid portrayal of the terror of mob rule. Thought-provoking, well acted, and a fine script make this a movie that can be enjoyed by everyone and not just fans of the Western genre.

They Died With Their Boots On

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

They Died With Their Boots On

Tagline – Scene After Scene Of The Most Exciting Adventure Every Screened!

Starring – Errol Flynn (George Armstrong Custer), Olivia de Havilland (Elizabeth Bacon), Arthur Kennedy (Ned Sharp), Charley Grapewin (California Joe), Anthony Quinn (Crazy Horse).

Released – January, 1942

Directed By – Raoul Walsh

Produced By – Warner Brothers

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – The life of George Armstrong Custer is told from his early days at West Point, his experiences in the Civil War, and his ultimate fate at Little Big Horn.

Flynn portrays Custer as a dashing, fun-loving figure who prefers honor and glory over money. Corrupt politicians have brought about an Indian war in order to gain their land. With the lives of all white settlers in the area at risk, General Custer and his men make their valiant last stand in order to prevent the slaughter.

NOTABLE: They Died With Their Boots On was the last of eight films pairing Errol Flynn with Olivia de Havilland and proved to be one of the highest grossing films of the year.

Usually portrayed as the last to die at Little Big Horn, Custer may have actually been one of the first killed.

During the battle of the Little Big Horn only 16 of the extras were actually Native Americans; the rest were Filipino’s.

Personal Comment: Despite historical inaccuracies, this is a very enjoyable film due to the huge appeal of Errol Flynn in just about any kind of action adventure lead role. One fact that was accurate was Custer’s sympathy for Native Americans and his dislike of President Grant’s Indian policy