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451  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Blood on the Moon (1948) on: February 09, 2017, 09:42:28 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040175/reference

I can buy me that kind of friend for $75 a month and no questions asked.

Blood on the Moon is directed by Robert Wise and is adapted from a Luke Short story by Lillie Hayward and Harold Shumante. It stars Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan, Phyllis Thaxter, Frank Faylen, Tom Tully and Charles McGraw. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. Story has Mitchum as drifting cowboy Jim Garry, who after receiving a job offer in the mail from old acquaintance Tate Riling (Preston), finds himself pitched in the middle of a war between cattle ranchers and homesteaders.

Effective and tightly crafted Western that has garnered many favourable remarks, due in the main to its ability to veer away from formula suggested by the plot and the technical film noir touches brought about by the great Musuraca. With Mitchum turning in one of his great screen dominating performances, film is driven forward by the psychological aspects brought about by thematics such as duplicity, split loyalties and moral quandaries. Director Wise does a good job of pacing the film, keeping it on the slow burn whilst dialling into Jim Garry's mindset, and picture is further boosted by a great knuckle fight and a rip-roaring siege shoot out at the end. But it's the mood created by Musuraca and Wise that is the real winner. With the film set 90% at night or in darkened rooms, shadow play is high and an oppressive feel adds weight to the psychological clocks ticking away in the narrative. In support of Mitchum, Geddes does spunky cowgirl well, while the presence of Brennan, Faylen and the gravel voiced McGraw is keenly felt.

Good story, well acted and visually potent. 7/10
452  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955) on: February 09, 2017, 09:38:30 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047849/reference

Hateful subject given a master class telling.

Produced by Dore Schary out of MGM, Bad Day at Black Rock is directed by John Sturges and stars Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan, John Ericson, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin.It's adapted by Don McGuire and Millard Kaufman from the story Bad Day at Hondo by Howard Breslin. It's shot on location in CinemaScope and Eastman Color at Lone Pine, Death Valley & Alabama Hills in California, with William C. Mellor on photography and André Previn scoring the music.

A classy production that combines elements of Westerns and film noir, Bad Day at Black Rock deals with racism and all the hate and bully tactics that come with such a vile subject. It tells the story of a mysterious one armed stranger, John J. Macreedy (Tracy), who arrives at a tiny isolated town in a desert of the Southwest United States in search of a Japanese-American man. From the moment he arrives he is met with hostility and mistrust. Over the course of the day Macreedy picks apart the town to uncover the secret the townsfolk had hoped had gone away.

From the opening sequence of a bright red train rushing towards us, it's evident that we are in the modern day West. It's just after World War II and the horse trails of the old West are now frequented by jeeps and cars. Yet the hallmarks of the old West exists and thrives because of the inhabitants of Black Rock. An ignorant group of people consisting of bullies, drunks and the head in the sand softy type. Yet even tho the film is set mostly in the blazing sun, in a barren one horse Western town that time forgot, the film exudes a film noir sensibility. Dark secrets from the past weigh heavy on the shoulders of the towns big players: And Tracy's High Noon like situation is moodily paced by the wily Sturges. In fact that a film with so little "gun play" action can be so tense is no mean feat, with him yet again directing an ensemble cast to great effect.

Tracy is at his best when he is as he is here, playing subdued. Here he is a thinking man's protagonist, calm and reflective in the face of constant hostility. That he is facing an impressive line up of heavies really brings home just how thoughtful a performance Tracy gives in the piece. Robert Ryan does yet another fine turn as a complicated villain whose rage is bubbling away under the surface. While Borgnine and Marvin are memorably vile as his right hand thugs. Dean Jagger as the drunken cowardly sheriff manages to pang the heart and Walter Brennan is his usual solid impacting self. Anne Francis adds the glamour but really it's a nondescript role that the film could easily have survived without.

Clocking in at just 81 minutes the film never outstays its welcome. It looks great on DVD, and for those interested in commentary tracks, this one comes with a very good one from Dana Polan. Anyone who has not seen this film should try and seek it out. It was considered controversial back on release but now can be viewed as a smart message movie about racial tolerance. Tight, taut and expertly directed and acted, Bad Day At Black Rock is an important film from the 50s that still rings bells even today. 8/10
453  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Black Spurs (1965) on: February 09, 2017, 09:34:38 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058976/reference

"Santee Turns Bounty Hunter"

Black Spurs is directed by R.G. Springsteen and written by Steve Fisher. It stars Rory Calhoun, Linda Darnell, Lon Chaney Junior, Terry Moore, Bruce Cabot, James Best, DeForest Kelly and Scott Brady. Music is by Jimmie Haskel and Technicolor/Techniscope photography is by Ralph Woolsey.

A brisk and ebullient Oater out of Paramount, Black Spurs finds Calhoun as Santee, a sharp shooting gunman turning to bounty hunting and then paid to corrupt the town of Lark. Lark has been pencilled in to receive the on coming railway, so wealthy town owner of nearby Kile, Gus Kile (Chaney), hires Santee to discredit Lark in order to have the railroad routed through Kile instead. Once in Lark, Santee finds lots of resistance, particularly from an ex-lover and her husband, the sheriff!

Plot holds few surprises as per outcome and characterisations, but the pic is no less entertaining for it. There are a number of live wire action sequences, with Santee often proving he is the number one gun in the West, and there's even some evil nastiness portrayed when things start to come to a head. The seedy saloon set up by Santee is awash with beautiful girls in beautiful costumes, and these girls drink beer out of pint pot tankards! The villains are a gruff, rough and tough bunch, and naturally there's a big good versus evil heart thundering away in the story.

Calhoun has swagger and dangerous sexuality in abundance and he's surrounded by a good cast of pros. Darnell and Chaney, however, were winding down their careers, and in truth there two characterisations could have been played by any studio actors of the time, but they don't disgrace themselves as Springsteen wisely keeps their screen time to a minimum. The Techniscope photography doesn't really add much as more could have been made of the exterior locations, while Haskel's score is a bit too jaunty for its own good.

It feels like a 50s Oater at times, which is no bad thing at all. Not prime Calhoun or a prime 60s Western, but much to enjoy here for the discerning Duster fan. 7/10
454  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Black Patch (1957) on: February 09, 2017, 09:31:28 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050196/reference

He lost his eye, his woman, but he will not lose his dignity!

Black Patch is directed by Allen H. Miner and written by Leo Gordon. It stars George Montgomery, Diane Brewster, Tom Pittman, Leo Gordon, Strother Martin and Sebastian Cabot

A veteran of the Civil War, Clay Morgan (Montgomery), minus an eye, decided not to return to his home town and started afresh in Santa Rita, New Mexico. Working as the town marshal, and keeping very good order, his equilibrium is upset when an old friend and his wife arrive in town. When news comes about a bank robbery in a nearby town, it signals the start of events that will see Clay forced into dark corners…

Sometimes a Western fan will stumble upon a movie and wonder why it isn't better known. Black Patch is one such Oater, which in the grand scheme of things is criminal. More so when you consider the cast list, the cinematographer and the musical scorer (it was Goldsmith's first movie score and his fans will spot the early strains of some future work).

Beautifully photographed through a black and white film noir filter, Black Patch is big on mood. Be it oppressive as Miner works wonders within the confines of the Monogram Ranch locale, or psychologically pungent as the principal players battle their hang-ups and heartaches, there is not a single frame in the picture that isn't laced with adult Western textures.

The characters are presented with emotional depth, not as some Western shoot-out roll call of cannon fodder. The romantic angle is nicely etched, never cloying the story but adding to the bubbling enigma of the human condition. Gordon writes himself a good part, but he isn't interested in writing a Yee-Haw Good Guys Vs Bad Guys genre piece, there's a lot of interesting characters here who are all damaged or hurting in one way or another.

Having Montgomery in the lead helps, he was always a real good brooder, and he does it with considerable pathos here, and with Colman (Walk a Crooked Mile) and Miner (The Ride Back) favouring film noir techniques, Monty is often framed in classic noirish style. Brewster (The Young Philladelphians) blends both sultry with sincere regret, Cabot (Terror in a Texas Town) has a good old time of it as the town weasel, while young Pittman (The Proud Rebel) gives his young character the requisite pangs of confusion as he tries to make sense of everything around him.

This is very much one for the psychological adult Western crowd, not one for those who prefer stunts and fights every ten minutes. It has a few faltering moments, such as a turn of events involving the Pittman and Brewster characters, but this particular black patch is actually gold for the like minded adult Western fan. 8/10
455  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Black Horse Canyon (1954) on: February 09, 2017, 09:29:31 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046785/reference

Outlaw the Wonder Horse!

Black Horse Canyon is directed by Jesse Hibbs and adapted to screenplay by Geoffrey Homes and David Lang from the novel The Wild Horse written by Les Savage Junior. It stars Joel McCrea, Mari Blanchard, Race Gentry and Murvyn Vye. Music is by Joseph Gershenson and cinematography by George Robinson.

Although the print of the film I saw was sadly old and scratchy, this is a lovely photographed Western out of Bloomquist Ranch, Douglas, Arizona. A place, it seems, that bizarrely wasn't used in any other Oaters. This along with the magnificent horse at the centre of the plot, makes this a comfortable recommendation for the B Western fan. Story is pretty mundane stuff, a group of people with different motives attempt to capture the wild black stallion for stud purposes. This ensures that we are exclusively out in the open landscapes and privy to much chasing, lassoing, bucking and snorting. There's a bubbling under the surface love triangle, which we know how it's going to end up, and a good fist-fight crowns the proceedings. Gentry and Blanchard are weak, while Vye's villain is barely realised, but McCrea turns in yet another solid and knowing performance. All the cast, you sense, understand that Outlaw the horse is the star of the show. And rightly so. 6.5/10
456  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Billy the Kid (1989) on: February 09, 2017, 09:27:28 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097450/reference

The Loving Huntsman - The Smiling Nemesis.

Billy the Kid is directed by William A. Graham and written by Gore Vidal. It stars Val Kilmer, Wilford Brimley, Julie Carmen, Duncan Regehr, Albert Salmi and Ned Vaughn. Music is by Laurence Rosenthal and cinematography by Denis Lewiston.

Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid is no under seen classic, yes in terms of historical content it has much going for it, with Val Kilmer's portrayal of the legendary outlaw adhering to what historical notices tell us he was really like. However, whilst Vidal and the makers deserved credit for keeping the film sombre in tone, with a refusal to pander to action embellishments, there's the cold facts that it's pretty dull in execution, cheap in production value and lacking in complex characterisation.

Narratively it's interesting if you are someone who hasn't seen other films involving Billy the Kid, but if you have then there's nothing new here to mark it down as essential stuff. In fact this production is sandwiched by both Young Guns movies in 88 and 90, which in spite of the mixed reaction both received, also cover the historical basis of Billy Bonney's exploits from the murder of John Tunstall to his demise at the hands of his one time best friend, Pat Garrett (Regehr).

Vidal's own teleplay The Death of Billy the Kid was made into The Left Handed Gun in 1958. Starring Paul Newman as Billy, Vidal was known to be annoyed at how his writing was transformed onto the screen for that production. Which explains why this 89 version was made with Vidal's smiling blessings. Good for him that he got satisfaction, even if The Left Handed Gun is a considerably better movie. The Newman movie is easy to recommend to Western fans, this one not so. Unless it's your first foray into Billy the Kid filmic portrayals or you be a devout Kilmer fan that is. 5/10
457  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Billy Two Hats (1974) on: February 09, 2017, 09:24:21 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069786/reference

The Outlaw and The Breed.

Billy Two Hats is directed by Ted Kotcheff and written by Alan Sharp. It stars Gregory Peck, Desi Arnaz Junior, Jack Warden, David Huddleston and Sian Barbara. Music is by John Scott and cinematography by Brian West.

Interesting. Peck plays a grizzled Scottish outlaw and Arnaz Jr. the half-breed Indian of film's title. They rob banks and have a sort of father and son relationship as they try to escape from vengeful racist Sheriff Gifford (Warden). So in essence it's a buddy Western, albeit one that's a bit off-beat and has grand ideas to be a religio parable of sorts.

Unfortunately away from the unusual casting decisions which happen to entertain, it's immeasurably dull on narrative terms and blandly photographed (in Israel) into the bargain. It's not hard to see why it flopped upon release to theatres.

The sporadic action passages are adequately performed, and the intentional humour hits the required mark, but by the time the boorish inter-racial relationship comes to the fore, you may find it hard to stay awake. 5/10
458  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Big Jake (1971) on: February 09, 2017, 09:21:13 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066831/reference

You follow him and I'll hunt you down and kill yah.

Big Jake is directed by George Sherman and written by Harry and Rita Fink. It stars John Wayne, Richard Boone, Patrick Wayne, Christopher Mitchum and Maureen O'Hara. Elmer Berstein scores the music and William H. Clothier is the cinematographer. It's shot in Panavision and Technicolor with the principal location for the shoot being Durango in Mexico. Plot finds Duke Wayne as tough old rancher/gunfighter Jake McCandles, who is estranged from his family and spends his days roaming the west with his trusty dog. However, when the McCandles family ranch is raided by a gang of outlaws led by John Fain (Boone), and Jake's grandson Little Jake is kidnapped for ransom, Big Jake gets the call from his separated wife Martha (O'Hara) to go find the boy. Which he sets off to do, with two of his sons in tow.

There were many critics who felt John Wayne should have stopped making movies before the 1970's arrived. Which is a bit ignorant considering he would bow out with the heartfelt and poignant The Shootist in 1976. It's undeniable that of the ten 1970's film's he made before his death, half of them are disposable at best, Big Jake isn't one of them. Yes, the formula is hardly new, only here the blood quota is considerably higher than previous Duke Wayne outings, and yes, tonally the film is a bit too up and down for its own good. But it's a film that finds old hands Wayne and Boone turning in good shows and the action and thematic camaraderie on show more than compensates for the looming cloud of same old same old.

Of worth, too, is the time setting of the story, coming as it does towards the back end of the Old West, we get to see many examples of the Wild West being tamed. Be it the railroad, or motor driven vehicle's, our protagonist and antagonist are old school characters framed by a changing West. This is where it pays to have Wayne and Boone in the main roles, turning it in in an old school, knowing, style. The names Clothier and Bernstein are synonymous with the Western genre, and they don't disappoint here, both the photography and score treat the eyes and the ears. And although not in it for very long, O'Hara adds a touch of class in what was the last of the five times she appeared on film with her friend Duke Wayne. In amongst the violence there's also plenty of fun, some intended courtesy of banter between Duke and his estranged sons, some not intended; such as watching the dog out act the siblings of Duke and Robert Mitchum! But all told, if you don't expect The Searchers or Hondo et all, then this holds up as a good way to spend an afternoon. 7/10

Footnote: I wonder if John Carpenter watched and enjoyed this film so much he cribbed a reoccurring joke from it for Escape from New York? Big Jake keeps coming up against people who say that they thought he was dead, same thing happens to Snake Plissken in Carpenter's picture. A homage I'm sure.
459  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Best of the Badmen (1951) on: February 09, 2017, 09:18:46 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043335/reference

Quantrill Raiders Ride Again!

Best of the Badmen is directed by William D. Russell and written by John Twist and Robert Hardy Andrews. It stars Robert Ryan, Claire Trevor, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan, Bruce Cabot, John Archer and Jack Buetel. It's a Technicolor production with cinematography by Edward Cronjager and music by Paul Sawtell.

"This story tells a forgotten chapter in the violent history of the West. Months after the tragic war between The States had ended there was still no peace on the Western Frontier."

William Russell's Western is an energetic entry into the pantheon of Oaters, it's one that involves the often filmed topic of the Jayhawkers or Bushwhackers who roamed the West causing hurt and pain in the aftermath of the Civil War. Best of the Badmen ropes in the brothers James and Younger, a few other scalawag types (Curly Ringo/Doc Butcher) and gives them a leader in the tall form of Robert Ryan's Jeff Clanton. How and why Clanton, and ex Union Major, joined the Confederate guerrilla unit? Is a nifty bit of story telling that adds a vengeful bite to what otherwise could have been standard B Western formula.

Once motives and character traits are established, film goes about its business with guts and determination. A fight, a pursuit or a sneaky act is never far from the plot, there's even a romantic thread that's not over stretched, allowing the splendidly attired Miss Trevor as the estranged Lilly Fowler to light up the screen. The narrative has some smarts about it, Clanton and his gang are out to ruin "The Fowler Agency" (an obvious nod to the Pinkerton Agency) which is run by dastardly Matthew Fowler (Preston), but although Clanton wants revenge on Fowler, he's still a good guy at heart and will not let his gang become murderous terrorists. Honour among thieves? Yes indeed, but of course it's not going to be all plain sailing when the group is full of such strong personalities.

Although clearly not an "A" list Western, the cast assembled is approaching "A" list quality. Ryan (The Naked Spur/The Day of the Outlaw/The Wild Bunch) in the genre speaks for itself, but he's also surrounding by an assortment of fine Western and film noir character actors. Preston (This Gun for Hire/Blood on the Moon), Trevor (Key Largo/Man Without a Star) and Brennan (Red River/My Darling Clementine), all deliver the expected committed performance. One of the film's weaknesses is under using some of the secondary performers, especially Lawrence Tierney (Dillinger/Born to Kill), who as Jesse James only gets a couple of lines! However, Bruce Cabot (King Kong/Fury) and John Archer (White Heat) do get to earn their pay. Rounding out the noticeable bad guys are Robert Wilke (High Noon/Night Passage), Jack Buetel (The Outlaw), Tom Tyler (Blood on the Moon) and John Cliff (River of No Return).

There's some distracting back screen work within the piece, and Cronjager's photography never gets a chance to shine, the latter not helped by a standard print of the film that needs a good scrub up. But the cast, story, action and execution of said story, definitely make this a better than average Western. 7/10
460  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Bend of the River (1952) on: February 09, 2017, 09:16:16 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044413/reference

Biscuits, apples and the troubled past.

The second of five genre defining Westerns that director Anthony Mann made with James Stewart, Bend Of The River is the first one to be made in color. The slick screenplay is written by Borden Chase from William Gulick's novel "Bend Of The Snake," with support for Stewart coming from Arthur Kennedy, Julie Adams, Rock Hudson & Jay C. Flippen.

Stewart plays guide Glyn McLyntock who in 1847 is leading a wagon- train of homesteaders from troubled Missouri to the Oregon Territory. What the group are hoping for is a new start, a paradise, with McLyntock himself hoping for a new identity to escape his own troubled past. But after rescuing Emerson Cole (Kennedy) from a lynching, it's an act that has far reaching consequences for McLyntock and the trail once they get to Portland.

In typical Anthony Mann style, McLyntock is a man tested to the maximum as he seeks to throw off his shackles and find a new redemption within a peaceful community. Cloaked in what would be become Mann's trademark stunning vistas (cinematography courtesy of Irving Glassberg), Bend Of The River is often thought of as the lighter tale from the Stewart/Mann partnership; most likely because it has more action and no little amount of comedy in there. But although it's a simple story in essence, it is given a hard boiled and psychological edge by the makers. An edge that asks searching questions of its "hero" in waiting. Can "McLyntock" indeed escape his past? And as a "hero" is it OK to use violence when he is wronged? Potent stuff that is acted with tremendous gravitas by Stewart.

Very recommended picture, but in truth all five of them are really. 7/10
461  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Badman's Territory (1946) on: February 09, 2017, 09:10:15 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038321/reference

You can't clean up Quinto with printers ink!

Badman's Territory is directed by Tim Whelan and written by Jack Natteford and Luci Ward. It stars Randolph Scott, George Hayes, Ann Richards, Ray Collins, James Warren, Morgan Conway, Virginia Sale and John Halloran. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Robert de Grasse.

The area known as Badman's Territory is a sort of no mans land not yet governed by statehood. No law resides there, the citizens themselves run the area, so as it stands it has become a safe haven for the outlaws and ragamuffins of the West. Into the Badman's Territorial town of Quinto comes lawman Mark Rowley (Scott), who after trailing his injured deputy brother into the area, finds a town bursting at the seams with political intrigue.

A lively Oater out of RKO, Badman's Territory is only really guilty of cramming too much onto its plate of beans. The town of Quinto is home to some of the Wild West's most notable criminals, such as The James and Dalton Gangs et al, it's also home to many shifty politician types, Indians (as it's their land), business men, a leading lady of the press (Richards) and of course Randolph Scott and his bro played by James Warren.

The writers take these character threads and try and weave them all together into a cohesive whole, thus we get an outlaw backdrop that never really materialises, a power of the press motif that apparently needed a romantic angle to push it along, and the looming annexation of the area into the Union provides the heartbeat of the story but comes off as a complex narrative piece since so much is going on. While director Whelan is required to insert a horse race, a square dance and the obligatory shoot-out to ensure nobody is bogged down by the ever present politico chatter.

Scott is as always splendid in this environment, a natural, while Richards does fine work with a pleasingly strong female lead role. "Gabby" Hayes provides the lively comic relief and Conway is suitably oily as crooked lawman William Hampton. However, again because there is so much going on, supporting actors like Lawrence Tierney and Steve Brodie (Jessie James and Bob Dalton respectively) barely get time to impact on proceedings. Which since this is called Badman's Territory is a bit of a bum steer. But in spite of the too many cooks spoiling the broth theme at work, it's watchable stuff and definitely one for Randolph Scott fans to seek out. 6/10
462  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Badman's Country (1958) on: February 09, 2017, 09:07:15 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051394/reference

Abilene Agony.

It's a veritable feast of Wild West heroes and villains, a fanciful tale where the likes of Pat Garrett, Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill Cody convene in a sprouting Abilene to do battle with the scuzzy likes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The locals are restless, though, because the presence of the tough lawmen makes them uneasy, they fear that town will soon be over run with blood…

Directed by Fred F. Sears and starring George Montgomery, Neville Brand, Buster Crabbe and Karin Booth, it's a compact Oater that spends a good portion of the film introducing the key players, which inevitably sets up the finale. Which thankfully is well worth the wait as it features a mother of a shoot-out, splendidly played out amongst burning barricades and bullets galore. A black and white production that clocks in at a brisk running time of an hour and ten minutes, it is a pic that never has chance to outstay its welcome, whilst being in the company of Brand and Montgomery is enjoyable for the duration. Not essential viewing for Western buffs, but a fun time assured regardless. 6.5/10
463  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Bad Men of Tombstone (1949) on: February 09, 2017, 09:05:08 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041147/reference

The Last of the Bad Men.

Bad Men of Tombstone is directed by Kurt Neumann and adapted to screenplay by Philip Yordan and Arthur Strawn from the novel The Last of the Bad Men written by Jay Monaghan. It stars Barry Sullivan, Broderick Crawford, Marjorie Reynolds, Fortunio Bonanova and Guinn Williams. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Russell Harlan.

Mightily as solid as it is macho, Bad Men of Tombstone is worthy of viewing investment by those with a bent for noirish Westerns. Story is standard fare, where a group of desperadoes live the criminal life but start to squabble and bicker as personalities clash and mistrust pulses away. There is a dearth of good people here, pretty much everyone is bad, tainted by bitterness or out for revenge. A romantic interest is inevitably perched on the plotting, and gunfights, brooding and a bleak finale are on the way. Script is a good one, allowing the characters room to breathe, Neumann keeps things brisk and Harlan's moody black and white photography is classy. 7/10
464  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Bad Girls (1994) on: February 09, 2017, 09:02:46 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109198/reference  Angry

Gunslingerettes line up for the atrocity exhibition.

Bad Girls is directed by Jonathan Kaplan from a screenplay by Ken Friedman and Yolande Turner. It stars Madeleine Stowe, Mary Stuart Masterson, Andie MacDowell and Drew Barrymore. The plot sees the four girl actors playing prostitutes on the run following a justifiable homicide and a hanging escape. Suffice to say that they get into scrapes & double crosses whilst being pursued by the Pinkerton's.

Being asked to suspend disbelief is one thing, being force fed drivel masquerading as pro-feminism is entirely another. Bad Girls is a mess of a movie, an insult to the Western genre, the fans of the lady actors, to the lady actors themselves; who simply deserve much much better and arguably worst of all; to women in general. The script is laughable, serving only as an excuse for the gals to sling those guns and hips when possible, and be abused and saved by "men", while the plotting is by the numbers as everything falls into place readily. There's even slow-mo shots where they serve no purpose of enhancement. Throw into the mix that three of ladies look
nothing like on the run outlaws, all shine and span and make up with nice hair (Masterson the exception as she has a modicum of believability about her), well it's rather a depressing experience all told. Sure, as a red blooded guy I'm not going to be turned off by Barrymore's shapely thighs adorned in white stockings, or Stowe's truly gorgeous face, but when the highlights of a "girl" Western is something that's only aesthetically sexy for men, then they clearly have got it wrong.

So what's the justification for it being so bad? Well the back story offers up the answer. Film was meant to be directed by a woman, Tamra Davis (erm-Billy Madison & Crossroads), but she was jettisoned a couple of weeks into production. The plan with Davis at the helm was for it to be a Western told from a female point of view. However, Kaplan (The Accused/Unlawful Entry) was brought in quickly and the screenplay rewritten in a hurry. And boy does it show. Technically it's a duffer too, Jerry Goldsmith's score is cheap in texture and Jane Kurson's editing is choppy to say the least. There's no eye catching cinematography (Ralf D. Bode), while the acting away from the script hindered girls (ie: the men), is either a waste of time them being in it (Nick Chinlund) or badly directed (James Russo). While Dermot Mulroney seems only to exist as being a link to Young Guns; the "boy" version that this is clearly trying to ride the coat tails in on. If you want a good Western about the girls fighting the good fight then seek out George Marshall's 1957 film The Guns Of Fort Petticoat. It's a fun movie that at least has believable women fighting back under duress. Bad Girls, tho, is just bad in every department. 2/10
465  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Backlash (1956) on: February 09, 2017, 08:40:51 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048976/reference

There's things a man has to know and has to do, and it's best that he does them alone.


Backlash (1956) is directed by John Sturges and adapted by Borden Chase from the novel written by Frank Gruber. It stars Richard Widmark, Donna Reed, John McIntire & William Campbell. It's shot in Technicolor by Irving Glassberg on location in Tuscon, Arizona.

1870 Arizona, and Jim Slater (Widmark) is searching for the truth about what happened to his father during the Apache ambush at Gila Valley. This brings him into contact with strong willed Karyl Orton (Reed), who courtesy of her missing husband also has an interest in the events of that raid. Missing family members and missing gold, the can is now open and worms are pouring out every where.

It's about the writing and the characters here. From the off it should be known that this is no high octane actioner. We are dealing in a mystery, with what amounts to a detective story played out in a Western theme. It's a touch unusual but never less than interesting as Chases' unconventional script gives birth to a myriad of characters, some complex, others just stock genre story fleshers. There's some clichés spliced within the piece, but they are off set by some nice twists in the story. And while this is no Anthony Mann/Borden Chase psychologically tinted production, it doesn't cop out with its big decisions. Glassberg's cinematography is first class, really vibrant and bursting out from the screen as they nicely film it on location of where the story is set. The cast is real strong. Widmark is excellent as the tough as nails hero and Reed looks stunning whilst neatly essaying a prickly femme fatale type. McIntire gives another classy supporting turn and Campbell is enjoyably OTT as hothead gunslinger Johnny Cool.

The principals have all done far better work in the genre, but this is a nice change of pace for all of them. It's unlikely to raise the pulses of the action seeking fan, but for those of a more literary persuasion this should hit the spot. 7/10
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