What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… The Tall Men (1955)

Well, it’s February 1 again, so let’s celebrate Clark Gable’s birthday with another one of his movies, this time the 1955 Western The Tall Men, also starring Jane Russell and Robert Ryan.

Coming into the Montana territory, brothers Ben Allison (Clark Gable) and Clint Allison (Cameron Mitchell) decide to rob Nathan Stark (Robert Ryan) of his bankroll and kidnap him to keep him from turning them in. However, once they get to a cabin where they plan to let him go (without his money), he makes them a job offer, where they could help him get a herd of cattle from Texas up to the Montana territory. They accept, and on their way to get the cattle, they run into a group of settlers stuck in a winter storm. They leave after the storm, but, upon seeing signs of Sioux Indians nearby, Ben goes back to help the settlers while Clint goes on with Nathan. When Ben gets there, the only surviving settler is Nella Turner (Jane Russell), and he helps her get away. Another storm forces them to stop in a cabin, where sparks start to fly until Ben reveals his dream of owning a ranch in Prairie Dog Creek, which differs from Nella’s dreams of a better life. When a band of soldiers come, they make their way to San Antonio, where they plan to go their separate ways. Ben helps recruit men to go on the cattle drive, and Nella runs into Nathan Stark, who ends up convincing her to go along on the cattle drive. Along the way, they have to face a militant band of Jayhawkers at the Kansas border, along with Sioux Indians on the warpath.

The Tall Men was based on a 1954 novel by Clay Fisher. Director Raoul Walsh would make good use of location shooting in Sun Valley, Idaho and the Sierra de Organos and Los Organes Valley near Durango, Mexico due at least partly to how much things had changed in both Texas and Montana in the time since the events of the story took place.

Going into this movie, my biggest reason for wanting to see it was Clark Gable, and it was well worth it (and not just because of him)! Clark does indeed give a great performance as Ben Allison, a real tough guy who takes care of his family and friends as best he can (while still being careful when dealing with those he doesn’t trust). Jane Russell is fun here, bringing some of her sass, especially as she sings “Tall Men” throughout the journey (usually within earshot of Gable’s Ben, with the lyrics changing to reflect how she feels about him at the time). The scenery is just absolutely beautiful here, and is a lot of the fun! I do admit, I enjoyed watching the cattle drive a lot, too, especially when it came down to the fight between the cattle drovers and the Sioux Indians! But, as far as Clark Gable is concerned, I think Robert Ryan’s final lines (which were about Ben Allison) are just so fitting about Clark: “There goes the only man I ever respected. He’s what every boy thinks he’s going to be when he grows up and wishes he had been when he’s an old man.” Definitely a very fun Western, and one I would highly recommend!

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com. The new transfer for this Blu-ray is spectacular! The colors work very well, and the detail is definitely there, allowing us to see all the wonderful scenery from the location shooting! Easily the best way to see this movie! It is also available on DVD from 20th Century Fox (although presumably with an older transfer). The movie is two hours, two minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

It Happened One Night (1934) – Clark Gable

Underwater! (1955) – Jane Russell

The Sky’s The Limit (1943) – Robert Ryan – King Of Kings (1961)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Stagecoach (1966)

Happy New Year, everyone! And what better way to start the new year than with a long-delayed review of the 1966 western Stagecoach, starring Ann-Margret, Red Buttons, Mike Connors, Alex Cord, Bing Crosby, Bob Cummings, Van Heflin, Slim Pickens, Stefanie Powers and Keenan Wynn!

As the movie starts, we find Crazy Horse and the Sioux attacking the cavalry. Meanwhile, in a local town, there is a fight between two Army men over dance hall girl Dallas (Ann-Margret), with the two men killing each other, while the boozy Doc Boone (Bing Crosby) looks on. Dallas and Doc Boone are both thrown out of town by Army Captain Mallory, and decide to leave on the stagecoach. They are joined by an embezzling banker (Bob Cummings), a whiskey salesman (Red Buttons), the pregnant wife of Captain Mallory (Stefanie Powers) and a gambler (Mike Connors), with the marshal (Van Heflin) joining the regular stagecoach driver (Slim Pickens) to go to Cheyenne. Due to the Sioux war party, they are accompanied on the first part of the trip by a troop of cavalrymen. They run into escaped convict Ringo Kid (Alex Cord), who joins them on their trip, under the watchful eye of the marshal. Along the way, the group constantly argues on whether to keep going, as they continue to hear about Crazy Horse’s war party.

This is a movie that I enjoyed very much. I saw it originally, for one reason, and one reason only: Bing Crosby. As a fan of his films, this was one that I wanted to see. For him alone, this movie is worth viewing, as he provides a lot of the humor, and does pretty well with the role (although it saddens me that this ended up being his last theatrical movie, as he pretty much made a complete switch to television after this, mainly doing his various TV specials).

I would say that my feelings towards the rest of the cast are mixed (although they do well enough to make the movie enjoyable). Bob Cummings does great as the thieving banker, who proves himself a jerk as he continues to insist on pushing forward in spite of the danger (even when the doctor says they shouldn’t move on after Mrs. Mallory gives birth). In spite of his brief appearance at the end, Keenan Wynn makes for a very despicable Luke Plummer, making it easy for the audience to cheer for the Ringo Kid. Mike Connors as the gambler and Stefanie Powers as Mrs. Mallory really don’t make much of an impact in their roles, but I feel they fare better than Alex Cord as the Ringo Kid. He does decently, BUT he is taking over the iconic role from John Wayne, who became a big star after appearing in the 1939 film, and Alex Cord just doesn’t compare to him.

What this movie does have in its favor is the improvements that came with time. This movie is in color, and widescreen, allowing us to see some wonderful scenery from the Colorado location shooting. This movie came out around the time that things were changing with the Production Code (whether you like that or not is up to you), so they were able to show a little more, as evidenced by attacks by Crazy Horse and the Sioux (although the blood more or less looks quite fake, which is fine by me). I have seen all three versions of Stagecoach, and this is the film I prefer. Is it perfect? No, but it is a fun ride just the same, and one I would recommend seeing.

Getting back to why this review has been long-delayed, I originally had planned to post it on March 3, 2019, after watching my copy of the out-of-print DVD from Twilight Time. However, before it could be published, Twilight Time announced an upgrade to Blu-ray and I pulled the review until I could see the new Blu-ray and see how it looked. I have seen it now, and I can say that it is a definite improvement over their earlier DVD release. The picture shines in high definition, allowing the beauty of the different locations to really shine. And of course, the color is great, too, showing off the different costumes for the main cast. An easily recommended way to see this movie! The movie is one hour, fifty-four minutes in length.

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Robin And The 7 Hoods (1964) – Bing Crosby

Black Widow (1954) – Van Heflin

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… High Time (1960)

And now it’s time for us to dig into the 1960 college movie High Time, starring Bing Crosby!

Bing plays Harvey Howard, a 51-year-old restaurant owner who has decided that it is high time somebody in his family (meaning himself in this instance) went to college, much to the protests of his two children.  He prefers not to be given any special treatment because of his age, but wants instead to enjoy college life as all the other, younger students do.  Along the way, he ends up falling for Professor Helene Gauthier, the French teacher.

This movie is, at times, more like a series of events. We are mainly seeing Bing’s Howard as he goes through his four years of college, with the story stopping here and there to focus on different things. Amongst other things, we see the freshman bonfire, where they are told they need to build a bonfire taller than previous freshman, and Howard has to climb up the unstable pile with one last chair to help make it taller. One particularly hilarious moment is in his sophomore year. As a candidate for a fraternity, Howard has a few things to do, like scrubbing floors, polishing shoes, etc., but most hilariously, he has to dress in drag to go to a southern costume ball, where he has to dance with the host, an elderly gentleman who is suffering from gout and sitting it out. I find it hilarious, especially after hearing how uncomfortable Bing was in doing the “Sisters” number with Danny Kaye in White Christmas, to see Bing completely dressed in drag (of course, Howard’s two children were BOTH invited to the party, and are completely discombobulated by seeing their father like that, as well)!

The movie was directed by legend Blake Edwards (best known for stuff like Operation Petticoat, some of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies, Victor/Victoria and others), and also includes a score by Henry Mancini (who worked with Blake Edwards on some of those movies as well). Not the greatest movie ever made by Blake Edwards, but it is one I do enjoy watching every now and then, even if it is a far cry from what college life might be like now (or might even have been like at the time it was made). So, if you do get a chance, I do suggest trying this one just for fun!

As to the availability for this movie, I’m not sure what to say.  The movie itself is owned by 20th Century Fox (or will be, until Disney buys them out).  They licensed the movie out to Twilight Time a few years ago for a limited run of 3000 copies on Blu-ray, which have since sold out, and as far as I can see, it was never available on DVD.  So, to see this one, your best bet is to wait and see whether Disney makes it available when they start their streaming service, catch it on TV, or find a friend that has the Blu-ray.  The movie is one hour, forty-three minutes in length.

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating: 

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

High Society (1956) – Bing Crosby – The Road To Hong Kong (1962)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Black Widow (1954)

This time, we are here for the movie Black Widow. No, this movie has nothing to do with the Marvel character, and outside of a brief mention at the very beginning of the movie, it really has little to do with the spider itself. This is a 1954 film noir, starring Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney and George Raft.

Van Heflin plays Peter Denver, a theatrical producer and husband of actress Iris Denver (Gene Tierney). Iris has to go visit her sick mother, but she makes Peter go to the party hosted by her actress friend (and star of Peter’s show) Carlotta Marin (Ginger Rogers). At this party, he meets Nancy Ordway (Peggy Ann Garner), an aspiring writer. He takes her to dinner (he does tell his wife, before anybody asks), and he offers her the use of his apartment for her to write during the day, while he is away. When his wife returns, they find Nancy hanging in the apartment. At first, it is assumed to be suicide, but then the police discover she was murdered (and apparently pregnant, to boot). Peter becomes the prime suspect, so he goes on the run and tries to find out what really happened.

Now, this movie is one I first saw because of Ginger Rogers. From what I have read, her performance in this movie is apparently one that people either like or dislike. I myself fall into the former, as I feel that she makes the movie worth watching. Watching her berate others (including Bea Benaderet, whom I mainly know from her role as Kate Bradley on the sitcom Petticoat Junction, although she has certainly done other things, like voicing Betty Rubble on The Flintstones) is amusing, but she also makes herself a rather despicable person (and makes it easy to feel sorry for her meek husband, as played by Reginald Gardiner).

I like this movie. I admit, it’s not the best noir I’ve ever seen, but it works well enough for me. I know some might argue whether it is a noir, since it is in color and not a black and white movie, but I still think it fits the bill well enough. I like the characters well, especially Van Heflin’s Peter Denvers, who seems like a rare character in a noir, who actually tells his wife about Nancy when he takes her out to dinner, instead of Iris finding out the hard way, like what would likely be the normal case in these movies. As a whole, I enjoy this movie. As I said, it’s not the best noir I’ve ever seen, but it’s good enough for me, and one I would recommend to anybody interested.

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox, and is one hour, thirty-five minutes in length.

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating:

 https://www.amazon.com/Black-Widow-Nunnally-Johnson/dp/B074TSVN5D/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1547482363&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=thoughtsfr066-20&linkId=2fec03156362df5fe2ba2b4de7211fbf&language=en_US

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Perfect Strangers (1950) – Ginger Rogers

Van Heflin – Stagecoach (1966)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… My Sister Eileen (1955)

And here we are for another movie given a new disc release in 2018, the 1955 musical My Sister Eileen, starring Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon and Betty Garrett.

Betty Garrett is Ruth Sherwood, and Janet Leigh is her sister, Eileen. Both of them have come to New York City’s Greenwich Village. There, they find an apartment to stay at, while they try to find work. Eileen hopes to become an actress, but she finds that the producers find HER interesting and not her acting. She becomes close with the manager of a local soda fountain, Frank Lippencott (Bob Fosse), who falls for her, and tries to help her out. Meanwhile, Ruth, who wants to become a writer, tries to submit her work to publisher Bob Baker (Jack Lemmon). He thinks most of her stories are bad, except for one on her sister Eileen. When he says he would like to meet her, Ruth falls victim to her own feelings of inadequacy and tells him that SHE is Eileen.

Apparently, everything came from a series of autobiographical short stories written by Ruth McKenny that was turned into a play (and then made into a movie in 1942 starring Rosalind Russell). It was brought to Broadway again in the early 50s as a musical called Wonderful Town, which prompted Columbia Pictures to make another film version. They had the rights to the story from the previous movie, but the rights to the music from Wonderful Town were apparently too expensive, so a new score was commissioned from Jule Styne and Leo Robin.

I personally think this is a wonderful movie. I am coming off my second viewing of this movie in my lifetime (not sure how long it has been since my first viewing), but I enjoyed it a lot more the second time. I still can’t really say as I care for the music itself, but I do think that it helps tell the story, so that is in its favor. The main appeal of this movie is the dancing, since Bob Fosse was in charge of the choreography. The main routines that are the most fun are the challenge dance between Bob Fosse’s Frank Lippencott and Tommy Rall’s newspaperman Chick Clark, and the song “Give Me A Band And My Baby,” where Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh, Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall are all pretending to play various invisible musical instruments. Now, this movie does have its ridiculous moments (everything connected to the “Conga” moments near the end are just nuts), but I think it all adds up to being the charm of the movie, so I would recommend this movie to everybody just for some good, clean fun!

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com and DVD from Sony, and is one hour, forty-seven minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #5 on Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

And here’s the Amazon link for the DVD:

https://www.amazon.com/My-Sister-Eileen-Betty-Garrett/dp/B00070HK38/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1547004930&sr=1-3&keywords=my+sister+eileen+1955+dvd&linkCode=ll1&tag=thoughtsfr066-20&linkId=d80319a8c49d1e244f9a1cc47d8fc9c8&language=en_US

Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

(Updated 8/23/2019 from “Top 5 Disc Releases of 2018” to “Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018”)

Here’s the list you have been waiting for, on what I think are some of the best releases for 2018, giving new life to old classics and forgotten gems!  Again, my thoughts are coming ONLY from what I have been able to see myself.  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!

  1. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic musical about a family of seven brothers who fall in love with girls from town, this movie has been given a new lease on life.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of Warner Archive, this movie, which has been in bad shape for years, has a new restoration from newly rediscovered film elements that makes it look closer to how it was originally supposed to look than it has in a long time!  Do NOT miss this one if you can help it!  Full review here.
  2. The Sea Hawk (1940) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic seafaring adventure starring Errol Flynn as an English captain helping Queen Elizabeth to stop King Phillip II of Spain from trying to take over the world. While parts of the movie were cut a long time ago for a theatrical double-feature, they were restored to the movie in the 80s, and the new Blu-ray restoration shows off the best that could be done for this wonderful movie! Full review here.
  3. Merrily We Live (1938) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • A long-forgotten gem, this screwball comedy centers on a family whose matriarch (Billie Burke) is prone to hiring any tramp who comes to the door.  When Wade Rawlins (Brian Aherne) is hired, almost all the female members of the household fall in love with him.  With a new restoration from the capable hands of Classicflix, this one is surely worth a try!  Full review here.
  4. My Man Godfrey (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • One of the best-known screwball comedies, this movie starring William Powell and Carole Lombard features a “forgotten man” hired to be the butler for a very eccentric family.  Having been in the public domain for a number of years (which usually means poor transfers for the movies), this movie has been restored by Universal, and now looks fantastic!  Full review here.
  5. My Sister Eileen (1955) (Twilight Time, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10
    • The classic film musical starring Janet Leigh and Betty Garrett as a pair of sisters coming to New York to make their dreams come true. With a new high definition transfer, the movie looks even better, and shows off the scenery (not to mention the dancing as well)! Full review here.
  6. The Awful Truth (1937) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this classic screwball comedy that introduced us to the fully-formed Cary Grant persona, we have Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a couple who try to undergo divorce, only to find they can’t stand the thought of the other being with somebody else!  Recently restored from the best available elements for this release.  Full review here.
  7. Gun Crazy (1950) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this film noir that predates the classic Bonnie And Clyde, we follow Peggy Cummins and John Dall, who star as a couple obsessed with guns who go on an increasingly violent crime spree. Released by Warner Archive Collection, their usual fantastic work is evident in the transfer, which brings this classic black-and-white film to life! Full review here.
  8. Designing Woman (1957) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this comedy starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall, we follow a couple who just met and got married in a hurry, only to find out when they return home just how different their lifestyles are. As usual, Warner Archive has given us a great release on Blu-ray that looks fantastic, and is certainly the way to see the movie! Full review here.
  9. Home From The Hill (1960) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • Robert Mitchum stars as Wade Hunnicutt, a big game hunter, whose son, played by George Hamilton, wants to live up to his father’s reputation, even though his mother firmly disagrees, due to the long-simmering feelings of hatred for her husband. The scenery and townsfolk are easily brought to life with the recent Blu-ray release, which is definitely the best way to see the movie! Full review here.
  10. King of Jazz (1930) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 8/10)
    • A plotless musical revue, built around the orchestra and music of Paul Whiteman, recently restored to as close to its original length as possible.  Features the Radio City Rockettes (under a different name), along with other vaudevillian singers and dancers.  Also the film-debut of Bing Crosby.  Full review here.

Honorable mentions: Les Girls (1957) (Blu-ray, Warner Archive Collection), Casanova Brown (1944) (Blu-ray and DVD, Classicflix), Running Wild (1927) (Blu-ray and DVD, Kino Lorber)