Monday, September 21, 2020

Photos From the Road: Highway 395 and Lone Pine

After spending a few days in Bridgeport in the Eastern High Sierras last month, it was time to head back down the 395.

We stopped at a scenic photo turnout to shoot a few pics of Mono Lake, which we had photographed from a closer vantage point as we headed north a few days previously.


As we drove through Independence I snapped the Winnedumah Hotel, which opened in 1927. It was built by Walter Dow, who had founded the Dow Hotel in Lone Pine a bit further south, opening it in 1923.


This photo of the Independence post office is a favorite. You have to love that vintage look and the patriotic paint colors!


Just before approaching Lone Pine is a marker for the burial site for 16 victims of the 1872 Owens Valley Earthquake. There was another big earthquake in Lone Pine this past June, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale. My husband felt it here in Orange County!


We broke up our drive spending a night at the Dow in Lone Pine. We wanted to have a little time there since this year's Lone Pine Film Festival will only be virtual.

This is Anchor Ranch, as seen approaching Lone Pine from the south end of town. Note the anchor hanging toward the right of the photo (click on this or any photo to enlarge it for a closer look). Many movies and TV series were filmed at Anchor Ranch, which once had an entire Western town set on the property.


Love this classic sign for Frosty Chalet, one of the places we always visit when we're in town. We've heard good things about Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine, but the timing hasn't worked out yet for us to try it out.


Some of the businesses in Lone Pine look like they're right out of picture postcards. Here is Lloyd's of Lone Pine, a clothing store which sadly closed last year after many years in business. The statue is in memory of the owner's childhood horse Frosty, who doubled famous horses in Hopalong Cassidy films and other Westerns filmed in Lone Pine.


And the town drug store with some classic signage:


And here's a vintage sign for the Trails Motel:


Coming soon, the final trip photo post, visiting movie locations in Lone Pine's Alabama Hills.

Previous photos from this road trip: Photos From the Road: Halfway House Cafe and Vasquez Rocks, Photos From the Road: Hot Creek Geological Site, Photos From the Road: Bridgeport, Part 1, Photos From the Road: Bridgeport, Part 2, and A Visit to Glen Haven Memorial Park.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Tonight's Movie: There's Always Tomorrow (1956) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Today I jumped forward two decades from Friday night's Barbara Stanwyck film, THE WOMAN IN RED (1935), and watched her in THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW (1956).

THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW is one of a pair of Stanwyck marital melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk which were just released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.  Also now available is ALL I DESIRE (1953), which will be reviewed here at a future date.

THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW reunited Stanwyck with Fred MacMurray, her costar in REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940), DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), and THE MOONLIGHTER (1953).  

It also reteamed MacMurray and Joan Bennett for the first time in nearly two decades; they costarred in 13 HOURS BY AIR (1936).

MacMurray plays Cliff Groves, a Southern California toy manufacturer who has been married for two decades to his first love, Marion (Bennett).  

Cliff and Marion have three children: Vinnie (William Reynolds), who has a serious girlfriend named Ann (Pat Crowley) who's around the house much of the time; teenager Ellen (Gigi Perreau); and young would-be ballerina Frankie (Judy Nugent).

One evening Cliff attempts to surprise Marion by taking her out for her birthday, but he forgets that Frankie has a dance recital that night.  Rather than joining his wife and daughter, Cliff stays home alone for the evening, and who should knock on the door but Norma (Stanwyck), a long-ago colleague who had moved to New York and is now in California on business for the first time in years. 

Cliff and Norma spend the evening together, then happen to meet up when they're each alone staying at a desert resort.  They enjoy some platonic time together, but when Vinnie happens to turn up at the resort with some friends, he sees his father with Norma and gets the wrong idea.

Vinnie continues to think something's afoot with Cliff and Norma even after Cliff comes home and tells Marion and the family all about the weekend and spending time with Norma, and he and Marion invite Norma to come to dinner to meet the family.

While Vinnie continues to stew, Cliff increasingly feels as though he's in a rut and rather taken for granted by his family, and Vinnie's rudeness when Norma comes to dinner doesn't help.  Cliff slowly begins to toy with the idea of a new life with Norma...who may reciprocate his feelings.

This was a very interesting film to watch and analyze, though I honestly didn't find most of the characters all that sympathetic.

My attitude is doubtless influenced by being the parent of four (now adult) children, but the movie left me thinking that they made a melodrama out of a molehill.  We were apparently supposed to feel for MacMurray and his "plight" as an unappreciated spouse and father, but he lost me from the start when he didn't bother to plan his wife's birthday in advance.  The idea that he could parachute in and whisk her away for an evening when they have three children and a dance recital to contend with reflected a lack of maturity and consideration on his part.  

And why didn't he bother going to see his child's recital himself?  (Because then he wouldn't have been home alone when Stanwyck knocked on the door, that's why.)  Cliff was as responsible as anyone else in the family for any issues, including lack of communication and not enough parental discipline of his ill-mannered children.  He chose not to cultivate the parent-child relationships, leaving events like recitals to his wife to handle, which may have also had the effect of her being too wrapped up in the children while he wasn't invested enough.  To an extent they were living stereotypical '50s roles, but rather than thinking, "Oh, poor Cliff, he's got it bad with this family," I kept thinking "Oh, grow up already." 

It's interesting that the issue of maturity becomes a theme of the film.  Stanwyck's character seems to recognize this chink in Cliff's armor herself, unsure whether he's feeling love for her or attempting to recapture the freedom of youth.  The maturity theme is repeated with Vinnie and Ann; as Vinnie becomes angrier and angrier, Ann tells Vinnie he needs to grow up, and when he suddenly sees the light in the last five minutes of the movie -- at which point I wanted to yell at Ann to run for the hills -- she jokes he's wearing "long pants" at last.  Unfortunately I don't think someone with Vinnie's temperament is good long-term marriage material, but that's a problem for another (never made) movie.  (Incidentally, Pat Crowley turned 87 on September 17th.)

Some reviewers have dismissed Bennett's character as robotic, emotionally unreachable, or in some sort of near-catatonic state, but I saw her as a woman genuinely happy with her life...so content that she truly wasn't seeing red flags.  She was far too lenient with her children and needed to make more of an effort to connect with her husband, but these flaws made her real and human.  I particularly liked a scene where she recited her busy "to do" list for the following day, sighing at how much she had to accomplish, yet there was also a certain satisfaction as she contemplated all she'd be doing for her family. 

In fact, Marion has some of the most insightful dialogue in the film when she says she feels Norma is very lonely and then expresses pride in her home and family.  Although I think she should have been embarrassed by her children's poor "company manners," on the whole she was right.

Like Jimmy Stewart, MacMurray sometimes had dark undercurrents hiding beneath a pleasant exterior, and although I wasn't much in sympathy with him, it was still interesting to watch his character gradually become aware of his dissatisfaction, dreaming of a more exciting, freer life.  Although Norma clearly had feelings for Cliff, I really liked parts of her "Wake up and smell the coffee" speech near the end and wonder how much he took it to heart.  If he had left Marion and his family, he would have just acquired a whole new set of unhappy problems.

It would be nice to think that both Cliff and Marion ultimately invested more in their relationship and that when their children were out of the nest enjoyed quality time together, but I guess we'll always have to wonder about that...

THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW was filmed in widescreen black and white by Russell Metty.  There are some wonderful visuals including the use of shadows and shots through staircases.  There's also some marvelous '50s home design; I want the side by side double oven with the portholes!

The "Palm Valley Inn" was actually the Apple Valley Inn in Apple Valley, California.  It's a distinctive location which also made appearances in HIGHWAY DRAGNET (1954), starring Joan Bennett and Richard Conte, and FOXFIRE (1955) starring Jeff Chandler and Jane Russell.  Both HIGHWAY DRAGNET and FOXFIRE are also available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW runs 84 minutes.  It was written by Bernard C. Schoenfeld from a story by Ursula Parrott.  The supporting cast includes Jane Darwell and Helen Kleeb.

Extras include the trailer, half a dozen trailers for additional films available from Kino Lorber, and a commentary track by Samm Deighan.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The McGuerins From Brooklyn (1942) - A ClassicFlix DVD Review

THE MCGUERINS FROM BROOKLYN (1942) is the second of three films in The Complete Hal Roach Streamliners Collection, Volume 3: The Taxi Comedies.

It was preceded by BROOKLYN ORCHID (1942), reviewed here earlier this summer, and was followed by TAXI, MISTER (1943).

Tim McGuerin (William Bendix) and Eddie Corbett (Joe Sawyer) are working-class guys who have become financially successful due to ownership of a busy Brooklyn taxi company.

Tim is married to beautiful Sadie (Grace Bradley), a former stripper.  Eddie has a girlfriend, Marcia (Arline Judge), but is also attracted to the taxi company's beautiful secretary, Lucy (Marjorie Woodworth).

When Tim tries to help Eddie juggle the women in his life, Sadie incorrectly thinks her husband is having an affair with Lucy and tries to make him jealous with Samson (Max Baer), her fitness instructor.

Everyone ends up at a health spa, where things only get crazier...

I had a good time watching this one, and in fact I think it improved on the previous film.  It's by no means a classic comedy, but it does exactly what it sets out to do, provide some chuckles and a nice diversion in a short running time, in this case 45 minutes.

A couple of sequences are particularly funny; I enjoyed the check-in sequence at the resort, where a geyser of spring water shoots up in the lobby, and the "fight" sequence with Tim and Samson at the end is quite good, particularly giving Grace Bradley the chance to show her comedy skills.

Bradley's performance as Sadie has been the highlight of the two movies for me.  She's quite good sketching out her rags-to-riches character with limited screen time, and her reactions are delightful; I especially loved her screaming "Murder!" near the end of the movie.

Bradley had married William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd in 1937 and the "Taxi" films were her movie swansong.  After TAXI, MISTER she retired to support her husband in his long, busy career as Hoppy.

Woodworth is cute as Lucy.  Look for a very young Alan Hale Jr. in one of his earliest movie roles, working in the resort gym.  Also in the cast are Marion Martin, Rex Evans, J. Farrell MacDonald and Frank Faylen, 

THE MCGUERINS FROM BROOKLYN was directed by Kurt Neumann and filmed in black and white by Robert Pittack

The print and sound quality are very good.  The disc also includes five trailers for additional ClassicFlix releases.

I'll be reviewing the last movie in the set, TAXI, MISTER, at a future date, along with additional films from the first two Streamliners collections.

Thanks to ClassicFlix for providing a review copy of this DVD.

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the internet...

...Coming next June from the University Press of Kentucky: MEAN...MOODY...MAGNIFICENT! JANE RUSSELL AND THE MARKETING OF A HOLLYWOOD LEGEND by Christina Rice, author of ANN DVORAK: HOLLYWOOD'S FORGOTTEN REBEL.

...Disney's next Marvel movie, BLACK WIDOW (2020), will probably be pulled off its November 6th release date. A new tentative date has not yet been mentioned in the coverage I've read. Meanwhile the Pixar film SOUL (2020) may debut on Disney+ instead of in theaters.

...I'll be reviewing silent films from Kino Lorber's new Reginald Denny Collection here in the near future. In the meantime, here are reviews by Fritzi at Movies Silently and Emily at Emily's Classic Movies.

...Here's a great article on the recently restored theater at the Hollywood Legion Post 43. The last time I was there was for THE RIGHT STUFF (1983) in 35mm last November; I'd been looking forward to attending more movies there this year. Hopefully in 2021!

...At Hometowns to Hollywood, Annette Bochenek talks to Karie Bible about Karie's recently created Facebook interview series, Hollywood Kitchen. Karie's interviews have definitely made "lockdown life" a little more fun this year!

...Blu-rays coming from the Warner Archive in October include WATERLOO BRIDGE (1940), SERGEANT YORK (1941), THE OPPOSITE SEX (1956), and SUNRISE AT CAMPOBELLO (1960). I'll be reviewing a couple of those titles here in the coming weeks. As good as the Blu-rays are, I sure wish they'd also put out a few DVDs of relatively obscure movies as they did for years...I miss those! Happily, though, they have a great backlist of releases which are still available and which I write about regularly, such as my new review of Barbara Stanwyck in THE WOMAN IN RED (1935).

...I just came across a post by Rick at Classic Film & TV Cafe from earlier this summer where he chose his five favorite Greer Garson films. Take a look at the list and see if you agree with his picks!

...At Out of the Past Raquel has reviewed the new book WEST SIDE STORY: THE JETS, THE SHARKS, AND THE MAKING OF A CLASSIC, written by Richard Barrios for TCM and Running Press. (As a side note, it's hard for me to believe it's been a decade since I reviewed a different book on the same topic, written by Barry Monush.)

...Glenn Erickson has just reviewed the Lippert B (C? D?) films FINGERPRINTS DON'T LIE (1951) and I'LL GET YOU (1952). I reviewed FINGERPRINTS DON'T LIE last January; it had some bizarre aspects, like an organ score and a leap out of a high-rise building which clearly...was not a leap out of a high-rise building!

...Last month Erica wrote a review at her blog Poppity Talks Classic Film about a rare Esther Williams dramatic role in the film THE UNGUARDED MOMENT (1956).

...Here's Caftan Woman on a pair of Ray Milland films from 1944, MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944) and TILL WE MEET AGAIN (1944). I love MINISTRY OF FEAR but still need to watch TILL WE MEET AGAIN; I've had a copy on my shelf for far too long! (So many movies, so little time...!)

...Those of us who blog on Blogger are struggling with a new "upgrade" which is actually a huge step back in terms of ease of use...so please be patient if oddball things show up in posts. Just figuring out how to delete a photo in a post I was writing was a 10-minute problem yesterday, and that's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the issues. Terry has written up some of his problems with the new system at his blog A Shroud of Thoughts. Jeff of Jeff Arnold's West chimes in expressing what must be universal frustration with the new platform. Blogger really needs to make the previous "Legacy Blogger" an option.  (Update: Jeff took down the previous post expressing frustration and put up a new post, now linked above, that the changes have driven him to stop blogging.  I was terribly sorry to read that.)

...Speaking of Jeff Gordon's West, here's a new profile he wrote on director Gordon Douglas.

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please check out my September 12th roundup.

Have a great week!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The Woman in Red (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Barbara Stanwyck stars in the melodrama THE WOMAN IN RED (1935), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Stanwyck plays Shelby, an equestrienne working for a wealthy widow, Nicko (Genevieve Tobin).

Shelby falls for Johnny (Gene Raymond), who plays polo with Nicko's backing; it's implied Johnny and Nicko are also having an affair.  When Johnny proposes to Shelby, the calculating Nicko is infuriated.

Shelby and Johnny quickly marry and struggle to set up their own business renovating and running some stables.  The kind Eugene (John Eldredge), another member of Nicko's social set, loans Shelby some of the money needed to back the venture, but she doesn't tell Johnny where she got it.  Shelby and Eugene have a platonic friendship, but that doesn't stop Nicko from gossiping about them.

Later, while Johnny is away, Shelby tries to repay Eugene's help by joining him on his yacht to help him entertain an important business client.  When a woman falls overboard and accidentally drowns, Eugene somehow sneaks Shelby off the yacht so that her name won't be tarnished by the incident...but then Eugene is charged with murder.  Should Shelby risk her marriage by disclosing she was present and testifying at the inquest?

This is a short and sweet 68-minute soap opera of the two-and-a-half star variety: It's nothing special, but thanks to the good cast it's an entertaining hour-plus of time.  Is Barbara Stanwyck ever not worth watching?

I like Gene Raymond well enough in light romantic comedies and musicals like WALKING ON AIR (1936), LOVE ON A BET (1936), and CROSS-COUNTRY ROMANCE (1940), but I find him less satisfying in melodramas such as this film or THE HOUSE ON 56TH STREET (1933); there's just something about "serious Gene Raymond" which is too bland and doesn't go over as well as the more good-natured romantic comedy version.  

This film has a nice part for John Eldredge, who frankly is more appealing than Raymond, to the point I rather wished he and Stanwyck would go off into the sunset together.  Earlier this year, incidentally, I had the honor of visiting Eldredge's final resting place in Corona del Mar, California.

Tobin is always fun to watch, and she has a ball here as a very wicked woman.  The supporting cast also includes Philip Reed, Bill Elliott, Doris Lloyd, Nella Walker, Claude Gillingwater, Russell Hicks, Dorothy Tree, and Forrester Harvey.  George Chandler can be spotted as a photographer in the courtroom scenes.

THE WOMAN IN RED was directed by Robert Florey and filmed by Sol Polito.  The script by Mary McCall Jr. and Peter Milne was based on the novel NORTH SHORE by Wallace Irwin.

THE WOMAN IN RED was first available from the Warner Archive a decade ago.  The DVD is one of the rougher-looking Warner Archive prints I've viewed, with numerous scratches and spots at some points, but otherwise it's quite watchable, with no jumps or skips.  The soundtrack has a bit of static but again serves the purpose.  There are no extras on the disc.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Book Review: Hollywood Hates Hitler!

The book HOLLYWOOD HATES HITLER! JEW-BAITING, ANTI-NAZISM, AND THE SENATE INVESTIGATION INTO WARMONGERING IN MOTION PICTURES has just been published by the University Press of Mississippi.

It was written by Chris Yogerst, an online friend of several years who is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He previously authored FROM THE HEADLINES TO HOLLYWOOD: THE BIRTH AND BOOM OF WARNER BROS., which I reviewed in 2017.

In this new book Chris covers an interesting niche in history, the battle between the Hollywood studios and Congress over Hollywood's proper "role" leading up to World War II.

Many movie moguls were immigrants from Europe who as the '30s unfolded became acutely conscious of Hitler's threat, both to the world in general and to Jews specifically. The studios began releasing films such as CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY (1939), THE MORTAL STORM (1940), and THE MAN I MARRIED (1940), to name just a few, in order to alert the public to the looming danger.

Isolationist senators considered these films "warmongering," and in September 1941 a Senate subcommittee began an investigation on Hollywood war propaganda.

The book relies extensively on primary source documents, including Congressional records, to detail a time in history which was pushed out of the public consciousness when debate on propaganda and entering the war was "overtaken by events" beginning on December 7, 1941.

The author does an excellent job setting the context regarding politics and 1930s Hollywood, including efforts by the Germans to establish pro-Nazi groups in California; the citizens who infiltrated and spied on these groups might have been worthy of a movie themselves!

The hearings are covered in a "you are there" manner in great detail. I imagine the extensive plunge into Congressional records and testimony might be dry reading for some, but as someone who's been interested in Hollywood and World War II since my teenage years -- I wrote a school report on the topic when I was 14! -- I was very interested, especially as I previously knew next to nothing about the hearings. I had a vague knowledge from references in other books that there was conflict between Hollywood and politicians prior to the war, but this was my first "deep dive" into the topic.

My one criticism of the book is that I would have liked detailed critical assessments of the films at issue and their specific content in some sort of organized way, in part because I respect Chris and would have enjoyed reading his insights on the movies, and also as I think it would have added some additional depth and color to the topic at hand. However, I suspect because the material was already so dense, detailed discussion of the films might have been too unwieldy to include.

Instead mentions of the movies are woven into the greater narrative about Hollywood versus the Senate; sometimes brief information on a film is provided, including contemporary critical reaction or box office performance, while other titles are mentioned in passing. Perhaps this topic instead calls for a second volume! (I can hope...) I mention my thoughts here in part so that future readers will know what to expect in terms of what is and isn't covered.

HOLLYWOOD HATES HITLER! is an important record documenting a previously undercovered yet important moment in both Hollywood and World War II history. As modern media's influence in politics continues to be a critical issue, the book also has significant resonance for today's reader.

I reviewed a softcover advance reading copy which was just over 200 pages long and was not yet indexed. The book contains a limited number of black and white photographs of varied quality printed directly on the pages.

Thanks to Chris Yogerst and the University Press of Mississippi for providing a review copy of this book.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Photos From the Road: Bridgeport, Part 2

Here's the second part of my photos from last month's visit to Bridgeport in California's Eastern High Sierras.

Part 1, including locations seen in the films OUT OF THE PAST (1947) and NIGHTFALL (1957), may be found here. More movie location information may be found below!

The beautiful meadows between Bridgeport and the camping areas a few miles outside town:


Robinson Creek, next to the spot where we have camped many times over the years. The water was getting low in August.


We spent a beautiful afternoon at Lower Twin Lake, which feeds Robinson Creek:


This year we returned to the spot on Upper Twin Lake where director Jacques Tourneur filmed both OUT OF THE PAST and NIGHTFALL. The slanted tree marks Aldo Ray and Frank Albertson's camping spot in NIGHTFALL, where a horrible crime is committed. I first shared photos of this location in 2014; it's virtually unchanged over the decades, with the big tree bending in the same way as it does in NIGHTFALL. Robert Mitchum and Virginia Huston went fishing here in OUT OF THE PAST slightly to the right of the area seen in this photo.


When Robert Mitchum flew to Bridgeport to work on OUT OF THE PAST, his career -- and his life -- could have ended when his plane crash-landed here at Bryant Field, the small airport just outside of town. The brakes failed and two of the plane's four occupants were knocked unconscious, but Mitchum was unhurt.


Somehow over the years we had never been to the Travertine Hot Springs right outside of town, so we enjoyed exploring that area on this year's trip.


Hot -- or sometimes boiling -- water bubbles up in various spots all over the hot springs area.


Some of the pools were either murky, as seen here, or had water which was too hot to touch, but there were also a few pools which seemed to have fresher and more temperate water.


Since the nicest pools were filled with bathers we didn't photograph those; one was located just to the right of the dog in this photo.


There's a beautiful view of the town of Bridgeport from the springs...


...and here's a view with a closer lens. You can make out the courthouse! Click on any photograph to enlarge it for a closer look.


There are interesting geologic formations throughout the area.


A lot of natural beauty here!


Still to come: Photos from Highway 395, Lone Pine, and the Alabama Hills.

Previous photos from this road trip: Photos From the Road: Halfway House Cafe and Vasquez Rocks, Photos From the Road: Hot Creek Geological Site, Photos From the Road: Bridgeport, Part 1, and A Visit to Glen Haven Memorial Park.

Past photo posts on Bridgeport and local movie locations: Out of the Past (1947) in Bridgeport, California (2010); Independence Day in Bridgeport, California (2010); Back From the Sierras! (2012); Bridgeport, California Movie Locations (2014).

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Tonight’s Movie: In Old California (1942)

I've now caught up with IN OLD CALIFORNIA (1942), a John Wayne film for Republic Pictures, as part of my quest to see all of Wayne's films of the '40s.

Last month I saw another of Wayne's '40s Republic films, DAKOTA (1945). DAKOTA was much the better film of the two, although IN OLD CALIFORNIA had some enjoyable moments scattered throughout.

The somewhat unusual plot finds Wayne playing Tom Craig, a pharmacist from Boston who arrives to set up business in booming Gold Rush era California. Craig is a mild-mannered, good-natured gentleman who orders milk at a bar and refuses to become outraged when he's ill treated, even when tossed off a boat in the middle of a river! He just shrugs and carries on, always looking at the bright side.

It should be clear that Craig is no wimp, possessing both moral and physical strength; the latter is hinted at when he fascinates onlookers by periodically bending coins with his fingers. He's simply judicious when it comes to picking his battles.

In Sacramento Craig gets to know two very different ladies: Lacey (Binnie Barnes), a saloon gal who's an item with a local crook, Britt Dawson (Albert Dekker), and Ellen (Helen Parrish, THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP), a proper young lady visiting from San Francisco. Craig goes into business with Lacey when she becomes a partner in his pharmacy, and he proposes marriage to Ellen.

As time goes on Lacey loses interest in Dawson and falls hard for her business partner, while Ellen gradually reveals a calculating shrew underneath her sweet-tempered exterior.

Meanwhile, there are problems as Dawson tries to drive Craig out of business...and there's an epidemic brewing at a mining camp outside of town...

Wayne is appealing as the pharmacist, and one of the more interesting aspects of the movie is seeing someone with that degree essentially acting as a doctor at times, dispensing medicine from his shop as needed, while also providing aid to a medical doctor.

I really enjoy Parrish, but her role as Craig's fiancee is underdeveloped; I don't know whether that's the fault of the script by Gertrude Purcell and Frances Hyland or if scenes were left on the cutting-room floor. Barnes fares better in a larger part, but on the whole the movie could have used less "comic relief" (from Patsy Kelly and Edgar Kennedy) and reduced the extensive "riding around shooting" action scenes in the last third of the movie in favor of more plot.

My favorite thing about this movie is a related anecdote by Barnes. In a 1985 interview she was asked who was the best actor she'd ever worked with: Laurence Olivier? Ralph Richardson? Her reply was "John Wayne."

IN OLD CALIFORNIA runs 88 minutes. It was directed by William C. McGann. The black and white cinematography was by Jack Marta. Location filming took place in Kernville, along with Big Tujunga Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains, but the movie also relies heavily on back projections and soundstage "exteriors."

The supporting cast includes Dick Purcell, Charles Halton, Harry Shannon, Milton Kibbee, Anne O'Neal, Esther Estrella, and Emily LaRue.

IN OLD CALIFORNIA is available on DVD in multiple editions. I found my copy, labeled Republic Pictures, in a used DVD store earlier this year, not long before everything shut down. It's also been released by Olive Films which can typically be counted on to do a nice job.

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