Crawdaddy's "Random Thoughts" about Home Video, Film & TV

Bert Greene

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Yeah, I was a bit surprised by the old, weak print of "Sign of the Ram." Sony has been known for making such good progress in their transfers of their back catalog, and I would have thought "Ram" would have been given attention long ago, given its fairish profile (as Peters' comeback). It makes me fret a bit, as the old CBC studios (corned beef and cabbage, ya know) produced and houses a lot of things I'm so salivating to see in sharp transfers, like "Desert Vengeance" (1931), one of my favorite b-westerns, and "The Spider's Web" (1938), one of my favorite serials. Plus, all sorts of intriguing miscellanea that I've never encountered, from those "Musical Novelties" two-reelers from 1933-34 with Lois January or the young Betty Grable, to (ahem) immortal b-films like "Rookie Fireman" (1950) and "Revenue Agent" (1950). Add to this all those slapstick comedy duos of Collins and Kennedy, Schilling and Lane, Vernon and Quillan. Will I ever live long enough to see "State Trooper" (1933), starring Regis Toomey, escape from the Sony vaults? I might have made that bet 30 years ago. Not anymore. Certainly not if things like "Sign of the Ram" are still in need of attention.
 

Robert Crawford

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On the Criterion Channel, this afternoon's viewing was "Lust for Gold" (1949) starring Glenn Ford, Ida Lupino, William Prince, Gig Young, Edgar Buchanan, Will Geer and Paul Ford. Plus, some uncredited roles for Arthur Hunnicutt, Hayden Rorke, Jay Silverheels and Antonio Moreno. This is one of those Western Noirs that Criterion is showing this month and a movie I've seen several times with my first viewings when I was kid. It's basically about the "Lost Dutchman" gold mine in Arizona in which many men were killed over 90 year period. The movie flashes back a couple of times between 1949, when the gold mine was first discovered in the 1860's then rediscovered in 1880, and then back to 1949 again. We have Indian attacks. armed robbery, killings and double-crosses along with an unknown killer ambushing those that search for the missing gold mine in 1949. Some "noir" elements mixed in throughout the movie with two "noir" standouts Glenn Ford and Ida Lupino leading the cast. Ford trying to do a German accent is interesting to say the least.;)

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English Invader

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I was encouraged to hear about Peters' successful return to the screen and her chosen profession after her accident, but I should have stopped paying attention to her biography there.
Christopher Reeve adapted Rear Window so he could do it as a quadriplegic. I've seen the film and thought it was pretty good. It's one of those films that had a limited distribution to begin with and didn't do so great in the box office; you won't get a brand new BR release on Amazon or even a digital stream but you can pick up a used copy on DVD for a few quid.
 
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Robert Crawford

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I'll be checking out some of these western noirs this month on the Criterion Channel:

I have seen all 11 Western/Noir movies currently showing on the Criterion Channel in July. The ones in bold I've watched in the last year or so. The rest of the movies, I plan on watching again over the next three weeks or so.

Today, I watched "Rancho Notorious" (1952) starring Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy and Mel Ferrer. The Criterion Channel's presentation of this RKO Technicolor movie is pretty mediocre and needs some serious work if it's ever going to be released on Blu-ray. I'm sure what I watched today was derived from the same master used for the 2009 WA DVD that I have in my disc library. Anyhow, this is a good western directed by Fritz Lang as a cowboy hunts down the men that killed his fiance during a robbery. During his travels he becomes a friend to a known gunslinger and winds up on the ranch/hideout to a band of gunmen including the man that killed his beloved. The ranch/hideout is run by Dietrich, a former saloon singer/entertainer.

My second movie today was "Man With the Gun" (1955) starring Robert Mitchum, Jan Sterling and Henry Hull. The rest of the cast is impressive too along with an uncredited Angie Dickerson, who was appearing in one of her first movies. The storyline is about a town tamer/Mitchum that comes to a small town controlled by another "evil" land baron.:) His original intent was not to be hired to cleaned up that town, but to see his estranged wife played by Sterling. Eventually, he's hired by the town council to bring law and order to town as he battles the land baron and his gunmen. Plenty of gunplay in this rather unusual western. I watched my 2015 Kino Blu-ray again which has a good video presentation.

Blood on the Moon
Station West

I Shot Jesse James
The Walking Hills
Lust for Gold
Rancho Notorious

The Naked Spur
Man with the Gun
The Violent Men
Man of the West
Day of the Outlaw

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Hollywoodaholic

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Christopher Reeve adapted Rear Window so he could do it as a quadriplegic. I've seen the film and thought it was pretty good. It's one of those films that had a limited distribution to begin with and didn't do so great in the box office; you won't get a brand new BR release on Amazon or even a digital stream but you can pick up a used copy on DVD for a few quid.
Thanks for the recommendation, but as a Hitchcock connoisseur, I could never watch any attempt to remake that classic. And I just started rewatching his hour-long series on MeTV, but, if anyone else is watching, the picture quality is quite good, but the audio is marred by all ambient noises in the background (rustling, footsteps, doors, machines, etc.) almost overwhelming the dialogue. And this is true for all shows on that cable station. Perhaps a technical question for another thread.

Sidebar: One of my first stops upon moving to Hollywood was Hitchcock's memorial service at the Catholic church in Beverly Hills. Lew Wasserman (the most powerful man in Hollywood at the time) spoke, Janet Leigh spoke, Charleton Heston, etc. So my dream of working with the master somehow was never to be. But I did show up to pay reverent tribute... on a motorcycle no less.
 
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Robert Crawford

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On Tuesday, I spent the morning watching "The Violent Men" (1955) starring Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Dianne Foster, Brian Keith and Richard Jaeckel. The Criterion Channel's steam looks like it was sourced from the same master as the 2005 DVD. This is another Technicolor movie that needs some work if it's ever released on Blu-ray. Though, I always enjoyed watching this western, I always thought it should have been better than the finished product due to the acting talent in the cast and its director, Rudolph Maté. The movie has some really good action sequences, some juicy dialogue, but something is missing here because the movie should have been memorable instead of just another 1950's western. The two things I do find memorable about this movie are
Jaeckel and Stanwyck's death scenes.


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Ronald Epstein

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On Tuesday, I spent the morning watching "The Violent Men" (1955) starring Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Dianne Foster, Brian Keith and Richard Jaeckel. The Criterion Channel's steam looks like it was sourced from the same master as the 2005 DVD. This is another Technicolor movie that needs some work if it's ever released on Blu-ray. Though, I always enjoyed watching this western, I always thought it should have been better than the finished product due to the acting talent in the cast and its director, Rudolph Maté. The movie has some really good action sequences, some juicy dialogue, but something is missing here because the movie should have been memorable instead of just another 1950's western. The two things I do find memorable about this movie are
Jaeckel and Stanwyck's death scenes.


View attachment 75224

You want to talk about a stellar cast....this one has it.

I would have jumped on this and bought it digitally if you had rated it more favorably.
 

Robert Crawford

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Tuesday night viewing was "New Orleans Uncensored" (1955) starring Arthur Franz, Beverly Garland, Michael Ansara, Stacy Harris and Mike Mazurki on Blu-ray. Another film noir that was filmed documentary-style. The movie was filmed on location with some non-actors playing themselves in the cast about criminal activity on the docks of New Orleans. A former sailor finds himself knee-deep in dock corruption and murder. IMO, it's a mediocre "B" film noir as the hero was able to face the villain too conveniently for my taste. The Mill Creek Blu-ray's video presentation was just okay. This was a first time viewing for me, but I was interested in seeing Beverly Garland because we used to stay at her hotel out in Burbank during our HTF Meets. :)


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Cranston37

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Another film noir that was filmed documentary-style. The movie was filmed on location with some non-actors playing themselves
I've always had a love for the filmed on location, documentary like noirs. They're almost a sub-genre. Some favorites are Call Northside 777, Panic in the Streets, and House on 92nd Street. Maybe Boomerang too.
 
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Robert Crawford

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I watched only one movie on Wednesday which was "The Naked Spur" (1953) starring James Stewart, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker and Millard Mitchell. Again, the Criterion Channel's video presentation looks like it was derived from the same master used for the 2006 DVD. This Technicolor western deserves a Blu-ray release. If it was available, I would've purchase the HD digital of it, a long time ago from iTunes.:( Anyhow, I suspect this MGM movie "film elements" are in need of some work for a quality BD release. As for the movie itself, it's never been a favorite movie of mine for some reason. No doubt, it's a really good movie, but, it's a western I don't have a great affinity for like I do for other Stewart westerns such as "Winchester '73" or "Night Passage" to name a few. I'm not saying those two particular westerns are better than "The Naked Spur", but I just enjoy watching those two movies more than "The Naked Spur". Film appreciation is very subjective! Anyhow, this Anthony Mann directed western is about a man/Stewart tracking a killer/Ryan so he can collect the $5000 bounty reward so he can buy a ranch. He's journeyed from Abilene, Kansas to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado tracking this killer and comes across an old prospector/Mitchell and a disgraced former army officer/Meeker, who end up becoming his unwelcome partners in this endeavor. In the meantime, the killer has a young woman/Leigh with him that Stewart takes a liking to during their journey back to Kansas. A complicated storyline with Stewart losing his humanity for most of the movie while Ryan plays off the bounty partners against each other. Again, I consider this among the best westerns ever made, but it's not a favorite western of mine. To each his own!:)

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Below is my updated Criterion "Western/Noir" movie listing that is being shown in July. I only have two movies left to be viewed this month. I've seen all of these movies several times, but I'm trying to watch them all again over the course of one year.

  • Blood on the Moon
  • Station West
  • I Shot Jesse James
  • The Walking Hills
  • Lust for Gold
  • Rancho Notorious
  • The Naked Spur
  • Man with the Gun
  • The Violent Men
  • Man of the West
  • Day of the Outlaw
 

Walter Kittel

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Yeah, I've been waiting for a nice Blu-Ray of The Naked Spur for a long time. Some of the exterior shots would really look nice in HD. I haven't watched the DVD in a long time, but it is one of my favorite Stewart Westerns along with Winchester '73.

- Walter.
 

Robert Crawford

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My lone viewing today was "Storm Center" (1956) because of Jose's post. :thumbsup: Like Jose, this is my first viewing of this movie in its OAR. I watched it a long time ago in 1.33 ratio. It's a solid movie, though, a little too melodramatic for my taste, but, the overall message is dead on. Some people have called this a film noir. I don't think so, though, it has some noir elements and its cinematographer was known for his film noirs, Burnett Guffey. Hell, Guffey was well known for being a top notch cinematographer no matter the genre in his long distinguished career. As always, Bette Davis was great in this movie as a principled librarian in a small town that is turned on by the local politicians and the community with falsehoods because she refused to censor a book from her public library. Cast includes Brian Keith, Kim Hunter, Paul Kelly and Joe Mantell. Also, in the cast is Mr. Wilson/Joseph Kearns.:D Anybody get my joke? Anyhow, I'm getting my monies worth from the Criterion Channel this month.

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Robert Crawford

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I'd recently watched "Bodyguard" (1948) about two months ago so I probably won't watch it again except for Eddie's comments. After this weekend, we only have two more "Noir Alley" movies before they take August off for TCM's yearly "Summer Under the Stars". Luckily, they finish up July with two really good if not great movies.

Updated TCM's Noir Alley 2020 schedule:

03-07-20: Ride the Pink Horse (1947)
03-14-20: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)
03-21-20: Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
03-28-20: Crime Wave (1954)
04-04-20: Address Unknown (1944)
04-11-20: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)
04-25-20: Wicked Woman (1954)
05-02-20: Fallen Angel (1945)
05-09-20: Mildred Pierce (1945)
05-16-20: The Crimson Kimono (1959)
05-23-20: Cornered (1945)
05-30-20: A Kiss Before Dying (1956)
06-06-20: The Underworld Story (1950)
06-13-20: Murder by Contract (1958)
06-20-20: Underworld U.S.A. (1961)
06-27-20: The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
07-04-20: The Sign of the Ram (1948)

07-11-20: Bodyguard (1948)
07-18-20: Three Strangers (1946)
07-25-20: The Breaking Point (1950)
 

bujaki

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View attachment 75337

I'd recently watched "Bodyguard" (1948) about two months ago so I probably won't watch it again except for Eddie's comments. After this weekend, we only have two more "Noir Alley" movies before they take August off for TCM's yearly "Summer Under the Stars". Luckily, they finish up July with two really good if not great movies.

Updated TCM's Noir Alley 2020 schedule:

03-07-20: Ride the Pink Horse (1947)
03-14-20: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)
03-21-20: Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
03-28-20: Crime Wave (1954)
04-04-20: Address Unknown (1944)
04-11-20: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)
04-25-20: Wicked Woman (1954)
05-02-20: Fallen Angel (1945)
05-09-20: Mildred Pierce (1945)
05-16-20: The Crimson Kimono (1959)
05-23-20: Cornered (1945)
05-30-20: A Kiss Before Dying (1956)
06-06-20: The Underworld Story (1950)
06-13-20: Murder by Contract (1958)
06-20-20: Underworld U.S.A. (1961)
06-27-20: The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
07-04-20: The Sign of the Ram (1948)

07-11-20: Bodyguard (1948)
07-18-20: Three Strangers (1946)
07-25-20: The Breaking Point (1950)
The Breaking Point is just really good, not great? I beg to disagree. It is one of Curtiz's and Garfield's best films. And my great compatriot Juano Hernandez shines. And the final shot is one of the most poignant and revealing of the state of race relations in the United States ever depicted in film.
Hey, it even got the Criterion treatment!;)
 
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