Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2023) on… Santa Fe Trail (1940)

We’re back again for the month of March to look at the 1940 film Santa Fe Trail, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Rushin’ Ballet (1937)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 6 (1936-1938) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 10 minutes, 54 seconds)

When Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) and Porky (Eugene Lee) run afoul of bullies Butch (Tommy Bond) and Woim (Sidney Kibrick), they turn to Spanky (George McFarland) and Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) for help.  However, even those two aren’t enough against the bullies, so they take refuge in a dance studio (where a recital is currently going on).  This was yet another fun one, with much of the humor revolving around Spanky and Alfalfa trying to keep out of trouble with the bullies (Alfalfa in particular).  The whole “dance” with the two boys dressed up to look like girls is hilarious, especially when the bullies get in on the act.  I enjoyed this one, and would certainly gladly come back to it!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1854, and a bunch of young cadets at West Point Military Academy are getting ready to graduate. However, one of them, Carl Rader (Van Heflin), instigates a brawl with some of the others because he is distributing anti-slavery pamphlets from John Brown (Raymond Massey). As a result, he is dishonorably discharged. Meanwhile, two of his classmates, J. E. B. “Jeb” Stuart (Errol Flynn) and George Armstrong Custer (Ronald Reagan) graduate, and are assigned to Fort Leavenworth in the Kansas Territory. On the train ride there, Jeb and George are joined by Cyrus Holliday (Henry O’Neill), who is in charge of building the railroad through the territory, and his daughter Kit Carson (Olivia de Havilland). Along the way, the two soldiers see how John Brown is causing trouble in the territory, as one of his men attempted to smuggle some slaves to safety via the train, with violence resulting. Once in Kansas, the two soldiers are given a detail in which they are supposed to deliver a wagonload of Bibles. They run into John Brown and a bunch of his men (including Carl Rader), who take the crates of “Bibles” (which turn out to be crates of guns), although the soldiers are able to recover some of them and capture one of John Brown’s sons, Jason (Gene Reynolds). Jason has been mortally wounded, but, since he doesn’t really believe in his father’s cause (or rather, the violence behind it), he manages to reveal the location of his father’s hideout in Palmyra before he dies. Jeb rides into the town of Palmyra disguised, but some of John Brown’s men quickly figure it out and capture him. Before they are able to hang him, George rides in with the cavalry, chasing off John Brown and his men. They believe John Brown to no longer be a threat, and both Jeb and George are sent back to Washington D.C. At a party, Jeb proposes to Kit, but the party is quickly interrupted by Carl Rader, who has decided to turn on John Brown (since there is a reward for his capture and John Brown has refused to pay him what he had promised). So the troops are mustered and sent to the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Will they be able to stop John Brown’s plans for war, or will his crusade win out?

After the success of the Errol Flynn and Oliva de Havilland Western Dodge City (1939) (not to mention all the other films that the two stars had previously made as a team), Santa Fe Trail (1940) was put together to take advantage of their popularity. Various other stars were associated with the project at one time or another, with Wayne Morris at one point set to star as George Armstrong Custer. However, Ronald Reagan had scored in Knute Rockne, All-American (1940) and was hastily brought in to portray Custer. Raymond Massey was cast in the part of John Brown (a part he would later play again in the 1955 film Seven Angry Men). Some of the film was shot on location in places like the Lasky Movie Ranch (in western San Fernando Valley, California) and the Sierra Railroad (Tuolumne County, California). The film turned out to be a big hit, and one of the highest grossing films for that year.

I will readily admit that Santa Fe Trail was a new film for me, and I certainly enjoyed it. Errol Flynn was the biggest reason that I had wanted to see it, and he certainly makes the film work. While he spends most of the film in uniform, his brief moments in more traditional western garb still work well (and he seems much more at ease than he was in the previous year’s Dodge City). I would also say that future U.S. President Ronald Reagan performs admirably as Custer. Admittedly, it’s a rather thankless role, since he’s the third part of the film’s main love triangle, and the chemistry between Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland makes it obvious that his character doesn’t have a chance with her (except in his own mind). As a pair of cowboys who decide to join the army just to fight John Brown, Alan Hale and Guinn “Big Boy” Williams provide much of the comic relief throughout the film. I would say that the film is at its best during some of its big fight/chase scenes, like the chase when John Brown first gets his guns, the fight at Palmyra and the final battle at Harper’s Ferry. It’s not the most historically accurate film (with J.E.B. Stuart being the only person in the film that actually graduated from West Point in 1954, for example), and the film’s treatment of some of its subject matter with regards to slavery in the American South seems a little too much like its trying to sit on the fence (and certainly, the African-American characters lean way too hard into stereotypes). Still, it provided good entertainment through laughter and excitement, so I would certainly recommend giving it a chance (at least, if you can get past the issues I mentioned)!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Santa Fe Trail (1940)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, featuring a master from a 4K scan of the nitrate preservation elements. As usual for a Warner Archive release, this film looks fantastic, with all the details coming through clearly, and the image itself cleaned up of all dirt and debris. This is particularly impressive since the film fell into the public domain a long time ago, which has meant many, many releases of this film (many of them not good quality). As I said, this Warner Archive Blu-ray looks great, and is the best way to see this film!

Film Length: 1 hour, 50 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Sea Hawk (1940) – Errol Flynn – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Dodge City (1939) – Olivia de Havilland – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Van Heflin – Black Widow (1954)

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“Star Of The Month (March 2022)” Featuring Bing Crosby in… Rhythm On The Range (1936)

We’re back for our third Bing Crosby film as we celebrate him as the Star Of The Month! This time, it’s his 1936 film Rhythm On The Range, also starring Frances Farmer, Bob Burns and Martha Raye!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Loose Nut (1945)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 57 seconds)

Woody Woodpecker is out playing golf, but his ball goes into a wet patch of cement. He quickly gets into a fight with the city worker who was trying to smooth it out, and they keep fighting as the worker tries to get Woody to fix it. This one was quite entertaining, with Woody being pushed into helping out (until the city worker makes fun of him, and then it’s every man and bird for himself). I enjoyed the gags, which came fast and furious (and certainly kept me laughing). While the story itself might be getting old for Woody Woodpecker, this one was still entertaining enough that I look forward to coming back around to it again in the future!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Heiress Doris Halloway (Frances Farmer) is currently getting ready to get married to a man she doesn’t love. However, her visiting aunt, Penelope “Penny” Ryland (Lucile Gleason), advises her against the idea. Upon listening to her aunt’s speech at Madison Square Garden (where a rodeo is being held), Doris agrees with her, and makes plans to join her aunt on her return trip out west. Meanwhile, at the rodeo, two of Penny’s ranch hands, Jeff Larabee (Bing Crosby) and Buck Eaton (Bob Burns), attempt to win enough money to buy a bull that Jeff wants (and they win just enough). Jeff and the bull get in Penny’s boxcar, where Doris is hiding out. Penny and Buck are delayed, which causes them to miss the train. When Jeff finally discovers Doris, she pretends to be a cook named Lois. He’s more concerned with his bull (much to her annoyance) and tries to get her to leave when the train stops. She sticks it out with him, and gives Shorty (George E. Stone) (one of a group of three hoboes traveling on the train) a telegram to send to her father. Upon returning to the boxcar, she accidentally agitates the bull with her red scarf, and he chases her off the train. Jeff comes to save her from the bull, but the train pulls away in the process. Shorty’s two hobo buddies, Big Brain (Warren Hymer) and Wabash (James Burke) realize (from reading her telegram) that she is an heiress that had run away, and hightail it after her in the hopes of getting a reward. Jeff and Doris have a few adventures together as they continue to make their way towards Penny’s ranch (including briefly being locked up in a barn by the three hoboes before the bull helps them escape). Meanwhile, Penny gets Buck on a passenger train while opting to stay behind and help find the missing Doris. On the train ride, Buck keeps running into Emma Mazda (Martha Raye), and finds out (when the train reaches his destination) that Emma is also bound for Penny’s ranch, as she is going to see her brother who works there. Jeff, Doris, Buck and Emma all meet up at Jeff and Buck’s cabin, before they finish the trek to Penny’s ranch. With Doris falling hard for Jeff, will she be able to tell him the truth about herself (and if she does, will he stay with her or leave)?

Rhythm On The Range is one of those movies that I’ve seen many a time over the last nearly two decades (so you can tell that I like it). Bing Crosby has long been one of the reasons that I’ve enjoyed the film so much. “I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande),” one of the film’s biggest hit songs, has long been the most fun to see over and over again (and is more enjoyable considering the Sons Of The Pioneers appear during it, with Roy Rogers making an early appearance here). I would also say that I enjoy some of Bing’s solo songs, like “I Can’t Escape From You,” “Empty Saddles” and “Roundup Lullaby.” I’ll admit, as time has gone on, I can also in some respects see that he is also some of the movie’s problems as well. He does seem miscast here as a cowboy, and that seems to have been the general opinion, as, outside of a few cameo appearances, he didn’t really do any more Westerns, outside of his final theatrical film, Stagecoach (1966) (and even then, he wasn’t a cowboy). But that’s not enough to take away my enjoyment of his performance in this movie.

As for the rest of the cast, it’s a somewhat mixed bag. Bing’s leading lady, Frances Farmer, is the biggest strike against the film, as I find her performance as a whole very unbelievable, particularly where her line readings are concerned (but she’s not so terrible as to stop me from ever watching the movie again). VERY much in this film’s favor are Bob Burns as Buck Eaton and Martha Raye (who made her film debut here) as Emma Mazda. Their characters’ relationship provides much of the humor here, especially when the two are eating together in the train’s dining car (complete with jolts that add to the humor), and when they are explaining their relationship to Emma’s brother “Gopher” Mazda (as played by Charles Williams). Those two moments alone keep me laughing, and wanting to come back! As a whole, the movie feels like Paramount’s answer to the then-recent It Happened One Night (1934). Personally, I think that Rhythm pales in comparison to that or the similar also Western-ized version Can’t Help Singing (1944). Still, for me, it’s good comfort cinema that I like to come back to periodically, and therefore, I have no problems in recommending it!

This movie is available on DVD from Universal Studios, either individually, as part of a double-feature with Rhythm On The River (1940) or as part of the twenty-four film set Bing Crosby: The Silver Screen Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mississippi (1935)Bing CrosbyPennies From Heaven (1936)

Martha Raye – Waikiki Wedding (1937)

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Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2021): Rita Hayworth in… They Came To Cordura (1959)

It’s December 17, so that means that it’s time for one last round of “Film Legends Of Yesteryear” featuring Rita Hayworth for 2021! For this series’ last post of the year, we’re focusing on the 1959 film They Came To Cordura, also starring Gary Cooper, Van Heflin and Tab Hunter.

Note: After doing this series for two years (on films from 1939 in 2019 and films of actress Rita Hayworth for 2021), I have decided to change up how I do this series. Both years left me feeling like keeping up with this extra series was a little overwhelming (granted, this year, I’ve done a HUGE number of posts compared to previous years, which doesn’t help). So, starting in 2022, I will be doing it a little differently. Instead of a special focus, I will instead use this series in place of either my Sunday or Wednesday posts whenever I have a movie from 1939 or one featuring Rita Hayworth. I will also be adding a third subject, which will fit in with some of my planned Star/Genre Of The Month blogathons (and which was a plan I hinted at when I put together this series’ logo): screen teams. I can’t guarantee posts in this series every month, but I will try to fit them in when I have a film that fits.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Woody Woodpecker (1941)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 58 seconds)

The woodland animals think that Woody Woodpecker is crazy, and so he goes to see a psychiatrist. So far, I haven’t had much opportunity to see too many Woody Woodpecker cartoons, but I certainly enjoyed this one! It was Woody’s first solo outing (following his appearance in the 1940 Andy Panda cartoon Knock Knock), with him still being voiced by Mel Blanc (the second of three shorts that Blanc voiced the character for). The character’s design is far different than what it would later become (and what I currently identify with the character), but the fun and insanity is there (similar to some of the Looney Tunes types of cartoons). At least, I look forward to seeing more of the cartoons included in this set!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1916. Pancho Villa has been terrorizing places along the U.S.-Mexico border, so some U.S. troops under the command of Colonel Rogers (Robert Keith) have been sent to stop him and his men. The Colonel has assigned one of his officers, Major Thomas Thorn (Gary Cooper), to be a battlefield observer, and nominate men for the Congressional Medal Of Honor (an assignment intended to cover up an act of cowardice by the Major). The Colonel and his men catch up with some of Villa’s men (led by Arreaga, as played by Carlos Romero) at the hacienda Ojos Azules, which is owned by Adelaide Geary (Rita Hayworth). As the Colonel is facing forced retirement soon because of his age, he prepares to lead his men in an old-fashioned cavalry charge (with Major Thorn and his Medal Of Honor nominee Private Andrew Hetherington, as played by Michael Callan, watching on the sidelines). However, the Colonel prepares for it poorly, with the men riding into a trench and being picked off by Arreaga and his men. It is only due to the brave actions of four men that they pull off a victory (although Arreaga and some of his men escape). Afterwards, Major Thorn decides to nominate the four men for the Medal Of Honor, but refuses to do so for the Colonel (who was bucking for a promotion to general before he had to retire). Feeling stabbed in the back (since he had helped cover up the Major’s act of cowardice), the Colonel orders the Major to take the five Medal Of Honor nominees (and their new prisoner Adelaide, who was being accused of treason for harboring Arreaga and his men) to Cordura for the ceremony. However, the trip is not an easy one. Along the way, they struggle with limited provisions, come under attack from Arreaga’s men, lose their horses to Arreaga (which forces them to continue on foot), and then have to carry one of the men when he is stricken with typhoid. And that’s just the external trouble, as all of the nominees would rather not receive the medal (and resent Major Thorn’s leadership upon learning of his past cowardice). Can Major Thorn get them all to Cordura? Or, for that matter, will the men let the Major survive?

They Came To Cordura is based on the 1958 novel of the same name written by Glendon Swarthout (who wrote military citations during the second World War). The idea for the story came from the United States Cavalry’s last mounted charge (which happened under the leadership of General John J. Pershing against Pancho Villa’s forces). Making the movie itself didn’t exactly turn out to be a smooth process. They started doing some location filming near St. George, Utah, but a record cold-snap forced them to move to the Moapa Valley near Las Vegas (where they had to reshoot everything). Gary Cooper’s participation in the film was against the advice of his doctors, as he was quite ill at the time, yet he still soldiered on. Sadly, making this film was the start of health problems Dick York suffered for the rest of his life, as he injured his back (an injury that would later force him to leave classic sitcom Bewitched partway through its fifth season). And that’s not even including changes to the movie required by the studio (including their demand that SPOILER ALERT Gary Cooper’s character had to live, which differed from the original novel END SPOILER ALERT). The film did poorly in theatres, and director Robert Rossen bought back the film rights, with the intention of putting out his director’s cut of the film. However, after making The Hustler (1961) and Lillith (1964), he died before he had the chance to work on restoring it.

Like a number of the Rita Hayworth films from the set that I’ve been reviewing all year, this was my first time seeing this film. Frankly, I have a hard time not comparing it to similar episodes of various Western TV shows that I’ve seen over the years (the type where the show’s main hero has to transport a prisoner or lead a group across the desert, with the rest of the group turning against him to the point that he can’t fall asleep for fear of being killed). Compared to some of those TV shows, this movie does feel a bit too long and drawn out for the idea. But, it also has the opportunity to be much more adult (at least, within the confines of what was still enforceable for the Production Code at the time). And that’s where all the performances here shine, as we watch Gary Cooper’s Major deal with the fallout from his previous act of cowardice (and, in the process, manages to show courage as he has to face down his men all the while keeping them alive, even if they think that he is trying to kill them). Watching all the men slowly turn against him is rough, particularly at the end (already did a Spoiler Alert, so not going to do anything further). I will admit, it’s not the greatest Western (and particularly for those looking for action, you will get that in the opening minutes, and then not so much afterwards), but I did enjoy it enough that I would certainly recommend it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… They Came To Cordura (1959)

This movie is available on Blu-ray either as part of a double-feature with The Man From The Alamo (1953) or as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection (both releases are from Mill Creek Entertainment). Quite frankly, I think this is one of the weakest (if not THE weakest) transfers in the twelve-film set. The picture is full of a lot of dirt and debris throughout the movie, and the color seems off in a number of places. It’s not completely unwatchable, and does offer some decent detail. It’s just that it looks so much worse than those that it was packaged with (and I assume the transfer is the same for the double-feature). The set is probably not worth it for this movie alone except for big fans of the film or those who want at least a few others from the set as well.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection

The Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection, available on Blu-ray from Mill Creek, includes twelve films starring actress Rita Hayworth (The DVD equivalent features four more movies, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about). The Blu-ray set includes Music In My Heart (1940), You’ll Never Get Rich (1941), Tonight And Every Night (1945), Down To Earth (1947), The Lady From Shanghai (1948), The Loves Of Carmen (1948), Affair In Trinidad (1952), Salome (1953), Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), Fire Down Below (1957), Pal Joey (1957) and They Came To Cordura (1959). These twelve films are spread out over six discs. Three of them (You’ll Never Get Rich, Miss Sadie Thompson and Pal Joey) were all previously available individually from Twilight Time, and this release still uses those really great transfers (albeit with a lesser encoding due to several movies being put on each disc by Mill Creek). Two (The Lady From Shanghai and They Came To Cordura) were already available individually/as part of a double-feature from Mill Creek, and I assume use the same transfers. For the most part, the transfers in this set all look quite good. They could use a bit of clean-up to get rid of some of the dust and specks of dirt, but otherwise are okay. The only transfers that I think could use some serious restoration (and hold the set back from being much better) are Tonight And Every Night and They Came To Cordura. But, for the price, this set provides hours of entertainment, most of which looks really good, and I would certainly happily recommend it for many of these wonderful movies!

Also, if you are interested in joining in on my first month-long “Screen Team Of The Month” blogathon for 2022 featuring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, please be sure to check out my Announcing the Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Blogathon post to sign up!

Film Length: 2 hours, 3 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Alias Jesse James (1959) – Gary Cooper

Pal Joey (1957) – Rita Hayworth

Black Widow (1954) – Van Heflin – Stagecoach (1966)

Pal Joey (1957)Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Alias Jesse James (1959)

I’ve covered two of comedian Bob Hope’s western comedies previously, and now I’m back for the third one, the 1959 film Alias Jesse James, which also stars Rhonda Fleming and Wendell Corey!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Bargain Day (1931)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 1 second)

Wheezer (Bobby Hutchins) and Stymie (Matthew Beard) take the other kids’ things, and try to sell them door-to-door. When they come to the home of a poor little rich girl (Shirley Jean Rickert), they come in and get into trouble. This was another fun one, particularly following Stymie around the house as he got into various mischief. I particularly got a good laugh out of the three kids doing their little “Watt Street” comedy bit (a strong reminder of “Who’s On First” and similar comedy routines). Again, this one was a lot of fun, and one I certainly would recommend for its charm and humor!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s the early 1880s. At the Plymouth Rock Insurance Company in New York City, Titus Queasly (Will Wright) is looking at how his insurance salemen are doing. When he sees that Milford Farnsworth (Bob Hope) hasn’t sold a good policy in quite some time, he decides to fire Milford. At a local bar, Milford tries to get his job back by selling a policy to the bartender when he is overheard by a stranger in town. That stranger likes what he hears, and decides to buy a $100,000 policy and pays it in full. Taking the policy back to his boss (after getting a doctor to sign off on the policy), Milford is welcomed back with open arms. That is, until Mr. Queasly gets a look at a newspaper, and sees that the infamous outlaw Jesse James (Wendell Corey) has been in the city. When he shows the picture to Milford, he realizes that the stranger he had sold the policy to was indeed the famous outlaw. Mr. Queasly orders him to take the train to Angel’s Rest, Missouri to either buy back the policy from Jesse or protect him at all costs. On the train ride there, Jesse James stops the train and robs everybody, including Milford. Once he gets to town (after the robbery), Milford has the telegraph operator send his boss a message to wire him more money to pay Jesse. He tries looking for Jesse in town, but Jesse’s men pick on him and chase him out of town on the train. When Jesse learns from the telegraph operator that Milford had sent for more money, Jesse goes after him on the train, and brings him back to the James ranch as a guest. That night at a party being held at the ranch, Milford formally meets and falls for saloon singer Cora Lee Collins (Rhonda Fleming), who is Jesse’s “girlfriend” (as in, she doesn’t like him, but he likes her and he always gets what he wants). Afterwards, Milford finds out that a gunslinger has come calling for Jesse, planning to shoot him in the morning in the town. To prevent that, Milford dresses himself in Jesse’s clothes and rides into town. When facing the gunslinger, Milford pretends to surrender, then lifts his hat to fire his two guns (which were wired together), wounding the gunslinger. Impressed, Cora Lee kisses him and asks him to leave town before he gets hurt, although he refuses, still believing he needs to protect Jesse. When Jesse comes riding in, he realizes that, if Milford is killed (while dressed like Jesse), then they can claim that Jesse James is dead, and he can collect the insurance money (that would go to his beneficiary, Cora Lee). With Jesse now planning to kill him, will Milford be able to survive? Or will he need the insurance that he’s been peddling?

With Bob Hope returning to spoof the Western genre again, following his earlier films The Paleface (1948) and Son Of Paleface (1952), it’s a natural that this one is a lot of fun, too! Personally, I feel that Alias Jesse James‘ tone is somewhere in between those two, as it does have some elements that are almost cartoonish in nature, while still not going full-fledged live-action-cartoon (like Son Of Paleface). Regardless of tone, it’s a film that promises a lot of hilarity, and keeps that promise! I know that I get a good kick out of watching Bob Hope’s Milford getting pushed by his horse into the gunfight with Snake Brice (played by Jack Lambert), and then winning by lifting his hat (which, as I said, had strings tied to the triggers of his gun, which wing the gunslinger enough to end the fight). Then, of course, when Wendell Corey’s Jesse James first tries to kill Milford after holding up the train, Milford later arrives at the ranch while riding a cow! Then, of course, there is the slow-motion fight when Jesse and his men are all under the influence of mushrooms! I could also mention the film’s finale (and I will, but I’ll do that to end this post under a spoiler alert). Plain and simple, this is a fun film! Sure, it’s not perfect. The film certainly treats the Native Americans better than the earlier two films (where they were essentially one-dimensional villains), although Milford referring to two Native Americans on the train as “foreigners” hasn’t aged the best (even if it was the character being angry at discovering that they were salesmen for another insurance company after he gave them his sales pitch). To a degree, there’s not a lot of character work here, as far as arcs are concerned. And, for better or worse, Bob Hope’s age was showing, particularly off-camera, as he passed out (when trying to film what I can only assume was the final chase sequence, which was done on a treadmill in front of a rear projection screen) and had to be taken to the emergency room. Still, for a film made when it seems like Bob Hope’s movie career was already going downhill, I feel like it’s his last really great comedy (with the rest after it ranging from decent to awful). I think it’s one that anybody can enjoy (and I certainly like watching it with some frequency!), so I have no problem whatsoever in recommending it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. This release seems to be using an older HD scan. It’s definitely got some good moments, where the detail looks quite good, as well as the color. That’s not completely true of the whole film, but most of those other issues are still relatively minor, and likely source-related. As good as this film is, I wish it could get a full restoration to improve the detail and color (but it’s owned by the current MGM, which would seem to mean that that is unlikely in the near future). So, for now, this is as good as it gets (and that’s good enough for me)!

Spoiler Alert:

Well, now that we’re under the spoiler alert, we can talk about this film’s very memorable finale. The whole thing starts with the aforementioned chase sequence, with Milford (Bob Hope) and Cora Lee (Rhonda Fleming) riding through the countryside on a buckboard (well, she’s riding, as he is forced to run in the hole he created when he tried to jump on the buckboard from a roof). Once they get to town, Milford faces off against the James gang. Like in The Paleface, Hope’s character is a poor shot with a gun. However, he doesn’t know that, as he is being secretly helped in what I can only call “the Western crossover to end all Western crossovers!” On the TV side, we’ve got Roy Rogers (from The Roy Rogers Show, as well as Bob’s Son Of Paleface co-star), Hugh O’Brian (Wyatt Earp, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp), Ward Bond (Major Seth Adams, Wagon Train), James Arness (Sheriff Matt Dillon, Gunsmoke), Fess Parker (Davy Crockett, Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett), Gail Davis (Annie Oakley, Annie Oakley) and Jay Silverheels (Tonto, The Lone Ranger). We also get Western movie star Gary Cooper and the requisite “Bing Crosby cameo in a Bob Hope film” (because, as he says in the movie, “This fella needs all the help he can get.”) Granted, all of these appearances feel like the stars just filmed them whenever their schedule allowed, so nobody interacts with each other (or the film’s main characters). That, and a few of them do something that feels out of character (not only for their characters, but for anybody in a Western): they put their guns back in their holster even before the gunfight is finished! Still, this scene is a lot of fun, and the movie is worth seeing just for this sequence alone!

End Spoiler Alert

Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Bali (1952)Bob HopeThe Road To Hong Kong (1962)

The Killer Is Loose (1956) – Rhonda Fleming

The Killer Is Loose (1956) – Wendell Corey

Love In The Afternoon (1957) – Gary Cooper – They Came To Cordura (1959)

High Society (1957)Bing CrosbyHigh Time (1960)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Paleface (1948)

Today, we’ve got a Bob Hope double-feature! To be fair, they’re both kind of cheater reviews, with the other one being some updated comments on the new Blu-ray of The Cat And The Canary, and, while I’ve already done The Paleface (and its sequel) before, that also has a recent Blu-ray release! So, I feel it’s worth talking about the Bob Hope and Jane Russell comedy The Paleface again! Of course, we’ve got our theatrical short to get through first, and then it’s on to this fun film!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Rough Brunch (1971)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 18 seconds)

The ant gets help from a termite to avoid the aardvark. Another cartoon with the ant getting help from somebody else. While the termite himself may not be one of the best supporting characters from the series, he’s still enough fun to make it worthwhile. After all, the aardvark never seems to see the destruction coming, as he keeps walking in all the wrong places! Certainly amusing enough to revisit with some frequency!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Host): Well, I don’t see the Narrator, so I better get started telling the story. It was a dark and –

(Click) (The lights on the stage go out)

(Host): Hey, who turned out the lights? (Crash). And who left that chair there for me to crash into?

(Narrator): (From offstage) Never mind that. Get back to the story!

(Host): There he is. But, he’s right, let’s get back to it. It was a dark and stormy night –

(Sound of a thunderclap) (Rain starts falling down on the stage heavily)

(Host): Great. Rain, too?

(Narrator): Get on with it!!

(Host): Well, YOU’RE not the one getting soaked, so shush! Still, I should keep trying. It was a dark and stormy night when two masked men came up on the jail –

(The Narrator comes out in a hold-up mask and points his gun into the back of the Host)

(Host): What is this, a hold-up?

(Narrator): No, YOU’RE the one holding things up. In case you haven’t forgotten, we already covered most of this in the previous review, so I’ll speed you up. Calamity Jane (Jane Russell) is freed from jail. She is sent, by the governor, to find out who is sending guns to a renegade group of Native American Indians. To hide as part of a wagon train going west, she marries dentist “Painless” Peter Potter (Bob Hope).

(Host): Happier now?

(Narrator): Yes.

(Host): Then, can you take the gun out of my back?

(Narrator): I can, but where would the fun be in that? Now you stay put, while I continue telling the audience the story. (Turns away while still holding gun to Host) Jane finds some men bringing dynamite out with the wagon train. She overhears their suspicions that Painless might be the federal agent, and she feeds them enough details to “confirm” their speculations. Before long, Painless and Jane lose track of the wagons in front of them, and they (along with everybody that was behind them) get separated. They stay at a cabin overnight, but in the morning, they are attacked by a group of Native Americans. Painless, who was outside shaving at the time the attack began, crawled into a rain barrel outside (because the doors were locked before he could get in). Using a gun that Jane tossed him out a window, he tries to start shooting through a hole in the barrel. It appears that he manages to shoot down a number of attackers (but, in reality, it is Jane shooting with a rifle through the window, out of sight of everybody else).

(Host): (Tries to tiptoe away while the Narrator is distracted. Steps on a floorboard that creaks very loudly, and then makes a mad dash offstage)

(Narrator): Hey, not so fast! (Takes aim at the host, and shoots. The bullet ricochets around the stage, and hits a snake that was slithering up behind the Narrator). What? (Looks back at the now dead snake). Wow! Guess my shooting lessons with Painless paid off! (Blows away smoke from gun and puts it in holster. The gun goes off). Hoh! (Starts hopping up and down on one leg and grabs the foot that was shot) “One, two, three, four, five, six seven. I split one of them in the middle!” (Quoting Red Skelton from the movie Lovely To Look At) Anyways, eleven Native Americans were killed in the attack.

(Host): (from offstage) Twelve!

(Narrator): Don’t start that. We’re not doing that one. Again, eleven were killed (although I’m not sure I counted that many shots/bodies in the actual film). Regardless, word about Painless’ heroics makes its way to the town of Buffalo Flats, to the ears of saloon owner (and leader of the renegade group in town) Toby Preston (Robert Watson). He makes plans to have his singer, Pepper (Iris Adrian) try to catch Painless’ attention, in the hope that her boyfriend, Joe (Jeff York), would kill him in a jealous rage. When they get into town, Jane splits up with Painless to go see her contact in town, blacksmith Hank Billings (Clem Bevans). However, in breaking up with Painless, she makes him an easy target for Pepper. When Joe catches them together, Painless challenges him to a gunfight at sundown.

(Host): (From offstage) The fool!

(Narrator): Indeed! When Jane hears about it, she decides to let him die, so that the renegades think the federal agent is dead (leaving her more freedom to sneak around). However, at the last moment, she reconsiders, and shoots Joe (but, of course, everybody still thinks that Painless did it). Jane has Hank try to locate where the dynamite is hidden, while she goes to reconcile with Painless. Later that night, while Painless is unconscious after another one of Jane’s knockout “kisses,” Hank stumbles into their room with an arrow in his back, and, with his dying breath lets her know the dynamite is in the undertaker’s establishment. After waking him back up, Jane sends Painless over to investigate (without fully telling him the reason), and he gets captured (along with Jane).

(Host): (From offstage on stage left) Off to the Indian camp! Yah! (A pair of horses come running from one side of the stage to the other, with the Host being dragged along on the ground by the reins)

(Narrator): (Shakes head) After watching this movie, you’d think he’d know better than that. Anyways, with both of them now captured, can they save the West? Or will there be a massacre?

(Host): (From offstage) Back to the stage! Yah! (Another horse comes riding from off stage right, with the Host holding the reins and riding a skateboard. The Host lets go of the reins and tries to slow down, but crashes into a brick wall, now flat as a pancake) Where did that wall come from?

(Narrator): (Pulls the Host pancake off the wall, sticks a hose into him and start pumping to return him to normal) I have no idea… (Walks offstage and throws a lever that lowers the brick wall back into the ground)

(Host): (Shakes it off) Ok, I’m all right. Now, let’s talk about this movie. Writer Frank Tashlin wanted to create a western parody that would send-up the Owen Wister novel The Virginian (as well as the 1929 movie), along with a lot of the other Western cliches of the time. Actress Jane Rusell was under contract to Howard Hughes, and Paramount had to negotiate with him to get her to do this movie. Making The Paleface would turn out to be one of the few experiences with moviemaking that she would look back on fondly. For Frank Tashlin, that wouldn’t quite be the case, as he disliked what director Norman McLeod did with the film (compared to what he wanted). But, this did help drive him to direct his own movies (including this film’s sequel Son Of Paleface). In the meantime, The Paleface was a big hit, becoming the highest grossing Western parody until Blazing Saddles, and, for the second time, Bob Hope sang an Oscar-winning song with “Buttons And Bows” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans (following his theme song “Thanks For the Memory” winning from 1938).

Well, there’s not a whole heck of a lot more I can say about this movie. When I previously reviewed this movie (and its sequel) nearly three years ago (over on my FB page where I started doing all this), I remarked on a lot of the memorable moments that keep me coming back to this film. And my feelings are still quite similar, as after nearly twenty years of watching this movie, I still enjoy Bob Hope’s antics, and bravado (and oversized ego), and what Jane Russell’s character has to put up with. This film may not be the most politically correct in terms of its treatment of the Native Americans, as their characters are very stereotypical and not that well-developed (but they seem to be a little more developed than in the sequel), but it’s still a movie I come back to every now and then for a few good laughs! So, I would definitely continue to recommend this film, and its sequel (of course, which one you go with may still depend upon your tastes and/or mood, due to the differences in comedy)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. Their transfer of this movie looks quite good. All the colors are more vivid than I’ve seen previously, and the detail is definitely improved! It’s not a full-fledged restoration, as there are some specks and dirt here and there, but it’s certainly the best this movie is likely to look any time soon!

(Gunshots offstage)

(Host): Now, if you’ll excuse me, to quote Bob Hope, “I’m going back east, where men may not be men, but they’re not corpses, either.” (Starts running offstage)

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Rio (1947)Bob Hope (original review of The Paleface) (here) – The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

Jane Russell (original review of The Paleface) (here) – Son Of Paleface (1952)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

“Star Of The Month (February 2021)” Featuring Clark Gable in… The King And Four Queens (1956)

As we continue on with our celebration of Clark Gable as our Star Of The Month, we’ve got his 1956 film The King And Four Queens, which also co-stars Eleanor Parker. But first, let’s get through our theatrical short before getting around to the main event!

Coming Up Shorts! with… An Ounce Of Pink (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)

The Pink Panther runs across a coin-operated talking weight and fortune-telling machine, and he buys it to keep with him. Numerous fun gags here, with the main recurring gag being the machine stopping in the midst of a sentence that requires the Panther to put another coin in (even after he buys it). I will admit the gags themselves are mostly predictable (pun intended), as the machine gives vague predictions that sound good, only to turn out bad for the Panther (with one that *could* have gone well had the Panther not felt distrust over the previous situations). Still, it does provide a few laughs, and I certainly enjoy listening to Larry Storch as the voice of the machine!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Conman Dan Kehoe (Clark Gable) is on the run from a group on horseback, but he successfully evades them. In the first town he comes to, he learns about the nearby town of Wagon Mound, which is currently occupied by a hostile Ma McDade (Jo Van Fleet) and her four daughters-in-law. Apparently, her four sons had stolen over one hundred thousand dollars worth of gold, and had taken it to Wagon Mound, chased by a posse. While there, three of the four boys were blown up, and the fourth escaped (but which one, nobody knew). The gold was left there in Wagon Mound, and the McDade ladies were all there protecting it against outsiders. Dan decides to look into it himself. He fakes being pursued, and rides into the town, only to be shot in the arm by Ma. He is then brought in and bandaged up. The young (potential) widows, Sabina (Eleanor Parker), Ruby (Jean Willes), Birdie (Barbara Nichols) and Oralie (Sara Shane), are all thrilled at the sight of him, much to Ma’s dismay. When Dan wakes up, he pretends to have been sent there by another man, thinking he would be safe there. Ma’s not sure what to make of him, but she lets him stay the night. As he flirts with the receptive widows, Ma pushes him to leave. However, before he can, Sheriff Tom Larrabee (Roy Roberts) arrives with a posse, thinking him to be the missing McDade boy. However, Dan makes a deal with the sheriff to stay and be a lookout, should the missing McDade arrive. After the sheriff leaves, Dan tells Ma about his deal, in an attempt to stay longer (so that the sheriff wouldn’t be suspicious). While there, he continues to work his charms on the young widows in an attempt to find out if any of them know the location of the gold, but none of them know (but they certainly want to team up with him to find it and get out of there). It seems that if anybody knows where the gold is, it’s Ma, but will she give up that information to a man that she doesn’t seem to trust?

The King And Four Queens was produced by Clark Gable’s production company (GABCO) in partnership with Jane Russell (whom he had co-starred with the previous year in The Tall Men) and her husband Robert Waterfield. The movie was filmed on location in St. George, Utah, with some of the interiors filmed back in Hollywood. It’s been said that there were three endings shot for the movie, with the plan being for the preview audiences to choose which one they liked best. This ended up being the first, last and only movie that Clark Gable produced, as much as the stress affected his health.

I personally had a lot of fun watching this movie. It was my first time seeing it, but Clark Gable carried the movie quite well! His charm is on full display, as he convincingly flirts with all four of the widows (to varying effect). I enjoyed watching the movie for him alone! And the rest of the cast worked well for me, too, with Jo Van Fleet as Ma doing pretty well (seriously, I wouldn’t want to go up against her, as tough as she seems to be in this film)! I will grant you that, if you’re looking for a western to have big gunfights, this one will be a disappointment. But, I didn’t need one, as I enjoyed watching the story from start to finish. So, I would definitely give my recommendation for this movie!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Film Length: 1 hour, 24 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Tall Men (1955)Clark GableRun Silent, Run Deep (1958)

Eleanor Parker – Home From The Hill (1960)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Great Day In The Morning (1956)

Our next movie would be the 1956 American Civil War drama/Western/noir Great Day In The Morning starring Virginia Mayo, Robert Stack and Ruth Roman!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Ship That Died (1938)

(available as an extra on the Great Day In The Morning Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 8 seconds)

In this short from a series on historical mysteries, the disappearance of all the people onboard the ship “Mary Celeste” back in 1872 is shown. Narrated by John Nesbitt, it’s an interesting short. So far, the first time that I have even heard of the “Mary Celeste” mystery, and it seems interesting. Even after all this time, it is still unknown what happened, and one does wonder! A few of the theories are shown, but, obviously, who knows what the truth may be? Certainly an interesting and thought-provoking short.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Strange Glory (1938)

(available as an extra on the Great Day In The Morning Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 38 seconds)

Another historical mystery, this time on Anna Ella Carroll and whether she was the author of the Tennessee Plan that turned the tide of the American Civil War. This one is narrated by Carey Wilson. Certainly an interesting mystery (and one that still seems too relevant in some respects). Obviously, with all the participating parties long since gone, who knows whether this one will ever be cleared up.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Face Behind The Mask (1938)

(available as an extra on the Great Day In The Morning Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 46 seconds)

Another historical mystery, this time focusing on the man imprisoned by the French king Louis XIV, wearing an iron mask. Another interesting story, this time narrated by John Nesbitt. Obviously, like many, I have heard of the Alexandre Dumas tale (and seen a few versions of it), but watching this short was probably the first time I had heard that this had actually happened! Obviously, it still remains a mystery as who was imprisoned, and while this short had three theories, there are obviously any number of others to go around as well.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Magic Alphabet (1942)

(available as an extra on the Great Day In The Morning Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 54 seconds)

An entry in the “Passing Parade” series of shorts, this one is on Dr. Christiaan Eijkman, who sought a cure for beri-beri back in the 1890s. Also the later discovery, as a result, of vitamins. The short also shows its wartime creation, urging housewives to learn about vitamins to hep keep their families strong enough that victory in war could be achieved. Certainly an interesting short historically, even if it is a somewhat formulaic story of man trying to find a cure for a disease through trouble and then randomly hitting on something that makes it work (admittedly quite relevant today)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

While being shot at by a group of Native Americans, Owen Pentecost (Robert Stack) is saved by Ann Merry Alaine (Virginia Mayo) and her two guides, Stephen Kirby (Alex Nicol) and Zeff Masterson (Leo Gordon). Owen accompanies them to Denver, Colorado, where he soon finds himself gambling at the Circus Tent bar, owned by Jumbo Means (Raymond Burr). However, Owen has a lucky streak going, and with the aid of saloon girl Boston Grant (Ruth Roman), Owen ends up winning the bar. Amidst the growing tensions between North and South preceding the upcoming Civil War, Owen finds himself being aligned (whether he likes it or not) with the small group of Southerners in town. Since he inherited a bunch of mining claims when he took over the Circus Tent, Owen tries to offer the people in town a chance to mine some gold, as long as he gets his share. One man tries to hide his gold from him, but a shootout occurs, with Owen the only one still standing. Ann sees it happen, and although she is disappointed, she lies about the killing when the Northerners start threatening to hang Owen. Soon, the dead man’s son, Gary Lawford (Donald MacDonald), arrives in town, and Owen takes him in, even helping teach him how to shoot, much to Ann’s dismay. After the news of the surrender of Fort Sumter gets to town, the North/South tensions in town bust wide open, with the Northerners going after the Southerners. Owen finds himself trying to figure out what to do, whether he should help the other Southerners get their gold out, or try to save his own hide.

For me, this turned out to be an interesting movie. I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard of it before, and was only slightly familiar with actress Virginia Mayo (mainly from the Bob Hope comedy The Princess And The Pirate, but since Great Day In The Morning was announced and released on Blu-ray, I’ve also seen her in Out Of The Blue as well). Still, her presence was enough for me to give this a try. And boy, did I enjoy the movie! The Civil War aspects of this made it an interesting movie, especially since, in some ways, neither side was exactly portrayed as being flawless. Obviously, the flaws of most of the Southerners and their way of life are well known and come into play here (with the obvious exception of Owen Pentecost, who is disliked by both sides for his mercenary ways). But we also see the biases of the Northerners too, with the likes of Leo Gordon’s Zeff Masterson openly hating anybody from the South without even considering the possibility that they may not share the alliances of beliefs of other Southerners. Then there’s Raymond Burr’s Jumbo Means, who wants as much to profit from the coming war and take down the local Southerners (especially Owen Pentecost after he takes both Jumbo’s bar and gains the affections of Ruth Roman’s Boston, even though she openly admitted she doesn’t care for Jumbo’s advances). The only male Northerner we feel much sympathy for is Alex Nicol’s Stephen Kirby, who is a captain working in the secret service to keep the Southern miners from getting their gold back to the Confederacy, but he’s the only Northerner not working from hatred or mercenary means. And of course, Owen Pentecost as the film’s antihero takes some time for the audience to come around to rooting for him (even if things don’t go his way, both in this movie and historically, considering the outcome of the American Civil War). As I said, very much a blind buy, but one I will readily admit I liked and recommend giving a chance!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Great Day In The Morning (1956)

The movie was released originally by RKO Studios near the end of that studio’s life. As a result, the movie never received its due. For home video in particular, it barely got released on VHS and never on DVD. And on TV, its had its problems with a poor transfer and incorrect aspect ratios (at least, that’s what I’ve heard). However, the Warner Archive Collection has rectified that problem by doing a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and restoring it for their recent Blu-ray release. Honestly, the film looks fantastic, with the transfer showing off the scenery from the location shooting in Silverton, Colorado! You couldn’t even begin to convince me to try watching the older transfers from what I’ve heard, so this recent restoration for Blu-ray is certainly the best way I know of to see it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

White Heat (1949) – Virginia Mayo

To Be Or Not To Be (1942) – Robert Stack

Down Three Dark Streets (1954) – Ruth Roman – Five Steps To Danger (1957)

Raw Deal (1948) – Raymond Burr – Crime Of Passion (1957)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

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 or 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).

Film Length: 2 hours, 2 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mogambo (1953)Clark GableThe King And Four Queens (1956)

Underwater! (1955) – Jane Russell

On Dangerous Ground (1951) – 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 available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either or

Film Length: 1 hour, 54 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Robin And The 7 Hoods (1964)Bing Crosby

They Came To Cordura (1959) – Van Heflin

The Bride Wore Boots (1946) – Robert Cummings

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 on… Dodge City (1939)

Next up from 1939, we have Errol Flynn’s first Western, Dodge City, also starring Olivia de Havilland.

Errol Flynn stars as Wade Hatton, a cattle driver bringing his herd and a wagon train to Dodge City.  They find the town is a lawless place, mostly run by a crooked cattle baron/ saloon owner Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot).  Wade’s defiance of Jeff causes some of the townspeople to ask him to be the sheriff.   At first, he declines, but changes his mind after seeing a kid killed in a gunfight that erupted on the street.  As sheriff, he begins to clean up the town, and, with the help of newspaperman Joe Clemens (Frank McHugh) and Abbie Irving (Olivia de Havilland), he works on building a case against Jeff Surrett and his men!

The lawless town run by the town’s toughest guy and his henchmen.  The crusading newspaperman who keeps printing stories about the villain, even when he’s threatened.  The new sheriff who manages to clean up the town.  A big bar brawl.  Yes, this movie makes use of many Western cliches.  But at that time, the Western was becoming popular, and the studios were trying to use some of their A-list stars.  However, Errol Flynn hadn’t done any Westerns up to this point and worried how well audiences would accept him in the genre, particularly with his Australian accent.  Apparently, audiences DID  accept him as a Western star, as he made seven more after this.

My own opinion is that this is a fun movie.  I have, up to this point, seen three of the Westerns that were released in 1939 (this one, the previously reviewed Jesse James and Stagecoach). Of those three, this is the one I enjoy the most.  Sure, I do think Errol Flynn could have been better, as I think he was a little too stiff for me in the scene where he was trying to rescue one of his men from being lynched, but otherwise, he worked quite well for me!  This might not be his best movie, but I enjoyed it well enough that I would recommend it highly!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD individually or (Blu-ray only) as part of the five film Golden Year collection (which is what I would recommend) from Warner Home Video.

Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) – Errol Flynn – The Sea Hawk (1940)

The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) – Olivia de Havilland – Santa Fe Trail (1940)

Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) – Ann Sheridan – The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

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