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46  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Twisted (2004) on: September 20, 2017, 05:45:42 AM

Twister? Alledgedly...

From the middle tier of what we know as being Neo-Noir, Twisted is a frustrating experience. Right off the bat the cast list boasts weighty worth, giving us the promise of a dramatic thriller, filmed on location in Frisco, with misty lenses, lamp lights, waterside moods etc, it's set up a treat. As is the premise...

Ashley Judd stars as a newly promoted hot-shot police detective, who in quality noir traditions has a whole heap of problems going on. Her family back story is shattering, she herself is heavily reliant on alcohol and she likes casual sex with strangers, strangers who start turning up dead, the kicker of which sees her basically investigating herself as a the prime suspect! Unfortunately with everything in place the pic never shifts out of first gear. The red herrings stack up, but nothing with any real conviction, and the whole premise starts to get monotonous, worse still the big reveal really isn't a surprise. There was a raft of these type of films in the 80s and 90s that were done much better, and on completion of viewing this effort one hankers for those pics - not to mention for the film noir of old!

Ashley Judd always frustrates, one can see a very good actress in her body of work, but she's more often than not starring in so so thrillers. It can possibly be argued that her co-star Andy Garcia is a great actor who hasn't reached the heights he should have, the days of The Untouchables and Godfather III seeming to be fleeting glimpses of talent. Here he gets a thankless role that's poorly written, while both Samuel L. Jackson and David Strathairn add nice touches but aren't asked to extend themselves. Directed by Phillip Kaufman who as with Rising Sun, here also looks out of his comfort zone with the genre. But the presence of Mulholland Dr. DOP Peter Deming is noticeable and one of the pics strengths. 5/10

Region 2 - DVD.
47  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981) on: September 19, 2017, 01:59:23 AM

Completist Curio.

Cattle Annie and Little Britches is directed by Lamont Johnson and Robert Ward co-adapts the screenplay with David Eyre from his own novel of the same name. It stars Burt Lancaster, Amanda Plummer, John Savage, Diane Lane, Rod Steiger, Scott Glenn and Buck Taylor. Music is by Sahn Berti and Tom Slocum and cinematography by Larry Pizer.

A strange Oater, one that's high on promise via its cast list and premise, but ultimately ends up unfulfilling. Story is based around how two teenage girls - fascinated by tales of outlaw's movements - hook up with the remnants of the Doolin-Dalton gang and inspire them to attempt former glories. Naturally it's all historically dubious and is bogged down by its derivative nature, while the quirky parodic blend of drama and cheery never sits comfortably, the later of which compounded by a string based score that would be more at home with Hanna-Barbera.

Mixed notices upon release are perfectly understandable given that Lancaster and Steiger offer fine presence to the play, and Plummer is electric on debut, but the chance for something more wistfully potent is sadly wasted. 5/10

Spanish DVD - Region 2.
48  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: The Return of Ringo aka Il ritorno di Ringo (1965) on: September 17, 2017, 03:04:11 AM
I fecking loved it  Smiley

Fearless Men!

Il ritorno di Ringo (The Return of Ringo) is directed by Duccio Tessari and Tessari co-writes the screenplay with Fernando Di Leo. It stars Giuliano Gemma, Fernando Sancho, Hally Hammond, Nieves Navarro, Antonio Casas, George Martin and Manuel Muniz. Music is by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Francisco Marin.

After fighting in the American Civil War, Ringo (Gemma) returns to his home town of Mimbres to pick up his life from pre the conflict. However, he finds the town is in the grip of Mexican bandits run by brothers Paco (Martin) and Esteban Fuentes (Sancho), their control over things extending to Ringo's wife, Helen (Hammond)...

No Entry For Dogs, Gringos And Beggars.

A sequel of sorts to A Pistol for Ringo (1965), with the same makers, cast, locations etc reconvening for a different story and scenarios, this ranks as one of the better follow up movies going. After a wonderfully sang title song opens up proceedings and we get introduced to Ringo (officially Montgomery Brown) via a bit of gun play and story setting, pic quickly identifies itself as a mournful revenge and rescue piece. We are deftly placed on the side of the protagonist, rooting for him to claim back his life and in the process rescuing his loved ones and vanquishing the whole town from racist bloody tyranny. It's a classic Western tale told with style at a suitably unhurried pace, the characters are formed because they get time to breathe, all relevant to the journey and the final destination that Tessari is taking us to.

I've come back Paco Fuentes!

With Sancho and Martin delightfully vile as the villains, it falls to Gemma to turn in a good one as our hero, and so it is. Ringo is a great character as written, his world turned upside down, and he has been funeralized as well! Ringo gets beaten, stabbed and emotionally battered, but he fights with guts and cunning. He is really cool as well, during adversity he can climb a rope one handed, cock his rifle the same, he is even prone to free falling from rooftops to enact skillful kill shots. For sure this is a Spaghetti Western hero for the ages. The natural beauty in the tale is obviously in the form of Hammond (socko gorgeous) and Navarro (socko sexy), these both dovetail nicely with the more grungy aspects of story and character actions and moral standards. While the makers enjoy filling the play with colourful support characters, such as a camp florist, alcoholic sheriff and a fortune telling whore.

Tech credits are very high. Tessari has a superb eye for a telling eye catching scene or sequence, cue Ringo doing a slow walk down the street, his form transformed via a number of coloured glass windows, scenes such as the way Ringo and Helen's initial recognition is lighted for ultimate worth, Ringo rapid fire with bandaged arm as a rest, strategic motifs like a knife thrown in a heart drawn on a tree, and of course the justifiably famous scene of Ringo in a doorway with dust storm raging around him, a scene that's as chilling as it is thrilling. Stunt work is great as well, in a sub-genre of film known for its exaggerations, it's pleasing to see so many falls enacted with genuine believability, none more so than for the exhilarating last quarter of film. This last quarter brings our hero into his pomp, all while bodies and buildings are way laid by bullets (get that wicked Butterfly monikered artillery repeater!), an action prelude to the final outcome that we want, in fact demand!

Then finally there's Morricone, whose score is one of his non Leone best. It's a swirl of emotions, darting in and around the main character, occasionally rising to thunderclap status for key dramatic scenes, with a music box tie-in that's heart achingly effective. Morricone's work is the cherry on the cake, for this is a superb Spaghetti Western of blood, brains and balls, and worth seeking out by anyone interested in the better half of this mixed sub-genre of film. 8.5/10
49  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Red Sundown (1956) on: September 12, 2017, 12:34:53 PM

Fighting fire with fire - gunslinger with gunslinger.

Red Sundown is directed by Jack Arnold and written by Martin Berkeley. It stars Rory Calhoun, Martha Hyer, Dean Jagger, Robert Middleton, James Millican, Lita Baron and Grant Williams. Music is by Hans J. Salter and cinematography by William Snyder.

Gunslinger Alec Longmire (Calhoun) decides to honour a promise and change his ways. Arriving in Durango he quickly gets the opportunity to put his skills to good use when he becomes deputy to Sheriff Jade Murphy (Jagger), the latter of which is struggling to control the despotic behaviour of cattle baron Rufus Henshaw (Middleton).

A promise made. A new life…

From the higher end of 1950s Western programmers, Red Sundown couples the action and character staples with smart writing. From the off the pic signals its intentions by pushing some machismo front and centre, only to then add some sombre tones and rueful dialogue smarts. The whole story has something worthwhile to say, some keen observations. Not all gunslingers are the same, some enjoy the killing, some do it by necessity, but the message is clear, don't tar all with the same brush. Another thread deals with impressionable youngsters, where again some smart dialogue is afforded the principal player. There's a code issue that I hadn't heard of before as regards the weapon of choice in a stand-off, and there's some nasty bite that comes by way of how Henshaw treats his mistress, Maria (Baron).

If a man wants to get away from guns then he should get away from them.

As the shoot-outs and stand-offs come and go, as Martha Hyer arrives in a bullet brassiere, story settles into the common good versus bad theme, with a little romance on the side. It's despot and his hired thug, Chet Swann (Williams), against the honest sheriff and his reformed deputy. Arnold keeps things fizzing along nicely and he's well served by his lead cast members, with Calhoun, Middleton and Jagger particularly impressing. Hyer does well with what is a thankless female role, while Williams, who would become The Incredible Shrinking Man a year later, is only just on the right side of lunatic caricature.

Bonus here, though with much sadness, is Millican, who puts in a heart aching performance as a gunman whose time is ebbing away. Millican was dying of cancer at the time and wouldn't see the film released. Poignancy added to what is a film; that while it's far from flawless, earns the right to be better known. 7.5/10

UK Cable.
50  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: La resa dei conti aka The Big Gundown (1966) on: September 12, 2017, 12:26:25 PM
Adding >

If you don't kill me right now, it'll be the last mistake you make.

La resa dei conti (The Big Gundown) is directed by Sergio Sollima and written by Sollima and Sergio Donati. It stars Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, Walter Barnes and Gerard Herter. Music is by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Carlo Calini.

Superior Spaghetti Western with shades of Zapata for good measure, The Big Gundown finds Van Cleef as bounty hunter - cum - unofficial lawman Jonathan Corbett, whose reputation for bringing in the criminals, dead or alive, has caught the attention of business baron Brockston (Barnes). With an interest in getting into politics, Corbett is sold on Brockston's offer of political help if he will do a job for him. The job is to hunt down a Mexican rogue by the name of Cuchillo (Milian) who is alleged to have raped and murdered a 12 year old girl. Tracking Cuchillo across the land, the Mexican proves to be a slippery customer, and more importantly, Corbett begins to doubt the veracity of the charges against him.

Adios Amigo.

What do you need for a great Italo Western? A leading man with screen presence supreme? Check! Rogue antagonist able to overact opposite the leading man whilst still exuding charm personified? Check! Scorching vistas? Check! A musical score so in tune with the story it's a character all by itself? Check! And violence? Check! Sollima's movie has it all.

Much of the film is about the manhunt and how the two men involved develop a relationship. Cuchillo claims he's being set up and seems to have friends in every town featured in the play. Corbett is a dandy with a gun, but he's not perfect, he can be outsmarted and get caught cold. There's good thought gone into the screenplay in this respect, not putting the anti-hero up as an infallible superman.

Then there's the side-bar narrative strands that show Sollima's political bent, even though this is hardly a heavily politico piece. From class struggles and racism, to asides on the justice system and the fat cats who operate around the system, Sollima does enjoy dangling such carrots. With zippy set pieces fuelled by brooding machismo that is in turn enhanced by the top work from Carlini and Morricone (it's one of Moricone's best scores, real dynamite), this is grade "A" Spaghetti and well worth feasting on. 9/10
51  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: The Walking Hills (1949) on: September 10, 2017, 06:26:20 AM

Like shovelling sand into the wind.

The Walking Hills is directed by John Sturges and written by Alan LeMay. It stars Randolph Scott, Ella Raines, Arthur Kennedy, Edgar Buchanan, John Ireland, William Bishop, Josh White and Jerome Courtland. Music is by Arthur Morton and cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.

Upon hearing a chance statement about lost gold, a disparate group of people head out in search of it to the desert plains of The Walking Hills...

Whipping up a sandstorm.

A sort of contemporary Western film noir fusion, The Walking Hills is a darn fine drama that is acted accordingly. Though blessed with action, tension and passion, it's as a character study where the picture excels. True enough to say it's not overly complex stuff, the greed is bad motif a standard narrative strand, as is the tricky love triangle that resides within the sandy tale, but with the wily Sturges and the shrewd LeMay pulling the strings this plays out always as compelling. With the great Lawton Jr. adding his considerable skills as a photographer - ensuring the Alabama Hills and Death Valley locations are key characters themselves - the production shines.

Often mentioned in reference to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, it of course is not as good as that superb picture. That it earns its right to be considered a baby brother to it, though, is testament to its worth in itself. 7/10
52  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Ulzana's Raid (1972) on: September 10, 2017, 02:19:16 AM
Why should I think you made it up?

Still I'm interested why 3 min, and where is the source for that? 3 min from the Lancaster cut, or 3 min not to be found in both versions? Maybe you got some wrong info then.
On the Wiki site one can read for example:

"There are two cuts of the film because Burt Lancaster helped to produce the movie. One version was edited under the supervision of Aldrich, the other by Lancaster. There are many subtle differences between the two although the overall running times are similar and most of the changes involve alterations of shots or lines of dialogue within scenes."

Which is simply not true.

That the Lancaster Cut contains about 8 min not to be found in the Aldrich cut is a fact. I still have that long version on VHS. And 4 scenes can be found somewhere in the www, probably on Youtube too.
And that Aldrich said that the US version is his version, which wasn't touched by anybody, is another fact. And therefore it must be called the DC. He said that, albeit slightly indirectly, in an interview from 1976. I can give you the complete quote, if you want.

But funnily, even in that 111 min version it would have been Aldrich's shortest film since The Last Sunset (1961). And his version is considerably shorter than anything he did since then, with most of his films running over 120 min.

It felt like you were doubting my veracity, well you are!

This from the 13th Virgin Film Guide (based on the definitive industry database), an excerpt from their review >

Regrettably, this challenging film was much abused by its studio, and SEVERAL different versions were circulated, including a European cut containing alternate takes and slightly altered scene construction (most notable in the film's opening section.

This is just a review that I have to hand, like I have said, I researched the topic because if I'm reviewing a film I admire I want to get as much info in as I can. I can assure you the three minutes is out there cuz I saw it, and I had it pinned to six versions (as opposed to several!).

I'll take on board your contribution to the UR archives regardless but I'm still not changing anything. What we do agree on is it's a great fecking film!
53  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Gunfighters (1947) on: September 10, 2017, 02:02:42 AM

Nothing left to do but try again.

Gunfighters (AKA: The Assassin) is directed by George Waggner and adapted to screenplay by Alan Le May from the novel "Twin Sombreros" written by Zane Grey. It stars Randolph Scott, Barbara Britton, Bruce Cabot, Dorothy Hart, Griff Barnett and Forest Tucker. Music is by Rudy Schrager and Gerard Carbonara and cinematography by Fred Jackman Jr.

A gunman who has laid down his guns finds that circumstances test him to the limit...

It's a familiar formula that any Western film fan can acknowledge as being over used, that's not to say that the right production isn't worth visiting as such, but expectation of something fresh can often lead to dissappointment.

Built on solid foundations due to scorching location photography and Randolph Scott prepping himself for greater things in the next decade (see also The Walking Hills 1949), it's a pleasurable piece. It also - via the narrative - isn't afraid to be bold as regards the ultimate decisions made by Scott's Brazos character, giving the pic a darker edge and being all the better for it. Elsewhere, the villains are standard stuff but entertaining regardless, the twin beauties of Britton and Hart have interesting parts to play, and the action scenes are well put together - with the pursuit sequences exciting. Filmed in Cinecolor, it's nice to report this is one of the better photographed Westerns in that format, which is just as well because the Sedona locations are to die for.

Not what you would term a keeper, but for Western fans of the era and Scott fans in general, it's worth its salt. 6.5/10

UK Cable.
54  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Ulzana's Raid (1972) on: September 06, 2017, 07:53:32 AM
Well, where do you have these 3 min information taken from? The difference between the long version and the German DVD is not 3 min, but about 8 min, and then logically between the long version and the Lancaster cut about 10 min.
And this 111 min version contains every known footage of Ulzana's Raid.

But I still don't know which are your sources for your claims.

The German DVD from Universal is the same version as the US DVD, which would have been the same version for the UK DVD, if this one hadn't been censored by these horsefall cuts. Well, individually censored versions are not really official versions. And any kind of home video or TV versions which were cut for individual reasons by distributors do also not really count.
This leaves us basically with the 3 different versions mentioned by me above. Well, 2 more than there should be.
And the Universal DVD is the uncut version of the film, as it represents the DC from Aldrich. According to Aldrich the US theatrical version represents his version, and nothing was cut from it or altered against his wishes. Only that Lancaster released another version in Europe. Which is then a second official version, but not a second DC. And therefore is the combined version also not a DC, but an unofficial long version.

I must have made it up then...

Dear me, do you think that is the case? Look, I'm not about to go trawling through archives like I did 9 years ago. I read it and used the information in my review, and the reviews stands - a review printed in a London paper that year and stands at 21/21 on IMDb and has been used on a number of sites elsewhere - not as a claim, but as stated. Believe it or not, I certainly wont be changing it or losing sleep over it.

 Roll Eyes
55  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Ulzana's Raid (1972) on: September 06, 2017, 01:55:44 AM
Explain this with the 6 cuts more precise. And these 3 min missing. Missing from what cut?

I know about 3 cuts:

1. The Aldrich cut, released in the USA, which must be called the DC, according to Aldrich.

2. The Lancaster cut, as released theatrically in Europe.

3. An unofficial blend of both versions which runs about 111 min. Compiled by a German TV station in 1986.

I said Home Entertainment mate. Since I wrote that (2008) there could well be more versions available. Some have various violence and animal sequences excised, others have them spliced or edited down. At the time of writing the review there was no definitive uncut version, and to my knowledge there isn't one now. The three minutes are made up of the various cuts made from different releases, there is no version without any cuts or thinned down scenes. I did extensive research back in 08 to find the best available home format release for my own collection, I plumped for the German DVD. A fully restored original cut of the film with everything untouched would be 3 minutes  longer.
56  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: A Pistol for Ringo on: September 03, 2017, 10:15:06 AM
Somebody has come for Christmas!

Una pistola per Ringo (A Pistol for Ringo) is directed and predominantly written by Duccio Tessari. It stars Giuliano Gemma, Fernando Sancho, Lorella De Luca, Nieves Navarro and Antonio Casas. Music is by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Francisco Marin.

When a gang of bandit bank robbers hole up at a rich family's hacienda - taking all who reside there as hostages - the authorities free the gunman known as "Angel Face" from prison to ingratiate himself into the bandit horde. His mission is to destroy from within and free the innocent...

Filmed in Technicolor/Techniscope out of the familiar Spaghetti Western stomping grounds of Almeria in Spain, A Pistol for Ringo is a very enjoyable piece of pasta. From the quirky sight that greets us at pic's beginning, where our anti-hero gunman with the baby face plays hopscotch with children - then quickly dispatching four enemies enemies in the blink of an eye - to the wholly satisfying finale, it's quirky yet dramatic entertainment.

Set at Xmas time, Duccio enjoys dallying with the season's motifs as part of the narrative, and even Morricone gets in on the act, imbuing his varied score with seasonal strains (the Silent Night section simply wonderful). Gemma is very likable in the lead role, helped enormously by a screenplay that introduces a character that uses cunning whiles that are as deadly as his pistol skills. He is also very athletic (no doubt boosted by the calcium from all the milk he drinks), which brings some energy to the narrative. What action there is is brisk and zippy, with heaps of horse and stuntman felling going on, and little stabs of humorous violence (the bell shot oh my) induce smiles. Add in a couple of verbally jousting babes (Luca and Navarro) and Sancho as a bulky and moody bastardo, and yer good to go for one of the better Spags of the time. 7/10
57  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Ulzana's Raid (1972) on: September 03, 2017, 10:12:20 AM
Superb picture from a superb director.

Maybe you don't want to think of the white man being savage like the Apache?

Apache renegade Ulzana goes on a murder raid, hot on his trail is a posse of cavalrymen. Led by the young and inexperienced Lt. Garnett DeBuin, the cavalrymen in order to survive and defeat Ulzana, must rely on the help of tough old scout McIntosh and his trusty Indian friend, Ke-Ni-Tay.

Directed masterfully by Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen & The Longest Yard), Ulzana's Raid is just shy of being an uncompromising masterpiece. There is no pandering to political correctness here, this is showing the bitter hostility of the Indian war, torture and murderous inclination is the order of the day. The allegories to Vietnam are hard to ignore as our band of men are struggling out in the wilderness against Ulzana's hostile raiders, the sprawling mountainous landscape another tool to the already handily equipped Apache.

What lifts Ulzana's Raid high above many of its contemporaries is its on the money dialogue. A wonderfully complex script from Alan Sharp manages to make all the characters intriguing and deserving of further delving. The Apache are savage, and Aldrich doesn't flinch from showing this, but they are afforded respect, and crucially, understanding. Ulzana's Raid could quite easily have been a one sided blood letting exercise in Western folklore, but it isn't. The motives and attitudes of the white man party is there for all to scrutinise, with much attention to detail given as the many conversations bring rich and rewarding results to the discerning viewer. From the off it's evident that McIntosh & DeBuin have vastly different views of Ulzana's actions, but as the film moves forward; all manner of questions leap out, be it Christian values, racial hatred or merely imperialistic trust; all parties involved are hurtling towards the final reckoning.

Burt Lancaster is perfect as McIntosh, grizzled and carrying a frame made for such a rigorous terrain. Playing DeBuin is Bruce Davison, boyish charm fused expertly with unwanted bravado, while stealing the film is Jorge Luke as Ke-Ni-Tay. A performance of great depth that holds and binds the picture brilliantly. Sadly this film has been a victim of much interference over the years, (studio and Lancaster himself to blame), so much so there is thought to be about 6 cuts of the film out there in the home entertainment world. Thankfully we are now able to get a cut of the film that is almost complete, but still there remains to this day no definitive full cut of the film. German (the version I own) and Australian releases proclaim to have it uncut, but that's not accurate because there is still some three minutes missing from the very first cut of it: including a quite crucial sequence involving Sergeant and Trooper Miller. Still, it has to be said that even with 3 minutes chopped out of it, Ulzana's Raid is still a grim and brilliant piece of work. Showing the savagery from both sides of the fence, Aldrich and his team refuse to cop out and pander to formula. 9/10
58  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Red Hill (2010) on: August 28, 2017, 07:43:54 AM

The Panther of the Prairie.

Red Hill is written and directed by Patrick Hughes. It stars Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley, Tom E. Lewis and Claire van der Boom. Music is by Dmitri Golovko and cinematography by Tim Hudson.

Young city cop Shane Cooper (Kwanten) gets a transfer to Red Hill, a place he hopes is a quiet enough town for himself and his pregnant wife to successfully raise a family. But his arrival at work coincides with the escape from prison of aborigine Jimmy Conway (Lewis), who is heading into town with revenge firmly on his mind.

Jimmy Conway has escaped and he's bringing hell into town.

Utterly splendid Neo-Western out of Australia. For his feature film debut, Patrick Hughes has crafted a loving homage to the Western genre whilst also imbuing his film with its own suspenseful blood. Blending Ozploitaton thriller values with Western genre staples of the past, Red Hill unspools on narrative terms as a gritty and rugged revenge piece.

Red Hill the town is fronted by gruff sheriff Old Bill (Bisley), he leads a pack of scuzzy characters who consider it their town and god help anyone who stands in their way. Into this maelstrom comes fresh faced Shane Cooper (yes the name is Alan Ladd and High Noon purposely spliced together), a genuine and honest copper harnessing a tragedy as well as a moral code that's not for shaking.

After quickly finding out that Old Bill is lacking in human graces, Shane finds himself coming face to face with Conway, who is all the horsemen of the apocalypse rolled into one. Face badly scarred and adorned with weapons and duster, Conway seems to have supernatural resources to go with his expert tracking skills and knowledge of the surrounding outback terrain (so think High Plains Drifter & Chato's Land then).

How come, though, that as he callously goes about killing off members of the scuzzy crew, each time he meets up with Shane, who is in full tilt survival mode, Conway refuses to kill Shane? And just what is that symbolic Panther doing stalking the edges of the landscape? One and the same, perhaps? It will of course all be revealed, and in truth it's no great surprise, the beauty is in how Hughes has toyed with our perceptions about Conway, this in turn makes for a cracker-jack finale.

Performances are superbly in tune with the material, Cooper, Lewis and Bisley really manage to steer their respective characters away from being histrionic or cartoonish. Musically it features stabs of delightful grungy rock blending in with Golovko's mournfully ironic score. The widescreen photography is most interesting, in that there's often smart shifting between a washed out palette to emphasise the remoteness of the setting, to opened up capturing of the beautiful vistas (filmed on location in Omeo, Victoria). The Blu-ray is a must for anyone interested in the film.

The sparse location is matched by sparse dialogue, there is no need for extraneous conversations or pointless filler, Hughes knows what he is doing. It's made with love and respect to one of the finest of film genres, and hooray to that! 8/10

Region B Blu-ray.
59  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Rawhide (1951) on: August 28, 2017, 07:38:08 AM

Desperate Siege.

Rawhide is directed by Henry Hathaway and written by Dudley Nichols. It stars Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Hugh Marlowe, Jack Elam, George Tobias, Dean Jagger and Edgar Buchanan. Music is by Sol Kaplan and Lionel Newman and cinematography by Milton Krasner.

A stagecoach station employee and a stranded woman traveller and her baby niece find themselves held hostage by four escaped convicts intending to rob the next day's gold shipment.

A Western remake of 1935 crime film Show Them No Mercy, Rawhide is the embodiment of a solid Western production. Beautifully photographed in black and white by Krasner, smoothly performed by a strong cast of actors and seamlessly directed by the astute Hathaway, it builds the hostage plot slowly, tightening the screws of character development a bit at a time, and it unfolds in a blaze of glory come film's end.

Characterisations are always interesting, if a bit conventional to anyone who has watched a lot of Oaters. Power is of course our hero in waiting and Hayward is spunky and feisty, I wonder if they will get together romantically? The four convicts are your typical scuzzy types, with Marlowe dominating the screen as the intelligent leader saddled with cohorts he really doesn't care for, while Elam is wonderfully vile as a lecherous loose cannon.

The thematics of greed, sexual hostility and jeopardy for Hayward and child keep the pot boiling nicely, so suspense is a constant, and some thought has gone into the writing as regards the convict group dynamic. Sadly Kaplan's musical score is quite often cheese laden, even ridiculously jolly and not at one with the noirish thriller conventions of the story. But regardless of irritating musical interludes, this is a very good Oater and comfortably recommended to Western fans who want more than your standard shoot em' up B pictures. 7.5/10
60  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Canyon Pass (1951) on: August 28, 2017, 07:34:39 AM

Thou shall not pass this pass!

Raton Pass is directed by Edwin L. Marin and written by Thomas W. Blackburn and James R. Webb. It stars Dennis Morgan, Patricia Neal, Steve Cochran, Scott Forbes and Dorothy Hart. Music is by Max Steiner and cinematography by Wilfred M. Cline.

Two families feuding over land either side of Raton Pass, New Mexico. Into their lives comes a beautiful seductress with manipulation and land dominance on her agenda...

Well well, what a treat. Something of a rare, little known or seen Oater, Raton Pass (AKA: Canyon Pass) really takes you by surprise. From the off we can see and hear this is a very nice production, with the twin greats of Steiner and Cline working their magic. Steiner's title music is Latino flavoured and then he introduces deft character motifs for the protagonists, while Cline's crisp black and white photography holds the eyes considerably.

For thirty minutes the picture simmers away like a standard "B" Western threatening to dull the senses with formulaic tedium, this is another reason why Steiner and Cline should be lauded as their work keeps you interested. But then the film completely turns, you notice that Cline's photography has suddenly shifted into film noir territory, and Neal has skillfully shifted from being the new loving wife on the block, to a complete femme fatale bitch! The plot dynamics now have a real edge, and as the smouldering Neal works her feminine whiles, this part of New Mexico territory boils away furiously until it inevitably explodes and spells doom and disappointment for some...

There's some crappy back projection work that undermines the quality elsewhere and the odd character is stereotypical of some Westerns of the period, but this has much to recommend. Marin (Johnny Angel/Nocturne/Colt.45/Sugarfoot) is fluid in his direction, while Neal and noir icon Cochran hold the screen as Max and Wilfred do their stuff. Currently licensed to TCM UK and available in HD format, I would urge any noir and Western fan in the UK to take the chance to see this rare picture the next time it shows. It doesn't deserve to stay rare. 7.5/10

UK Cable.
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