Monday, September 10, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Thunder Mountain (1947)

Today's Netflix DVD was THUNDER MOUNTAIN, a 60-minute RKO Western starring Tim Holt.

It's 1890 in Arizona, and Marvin Hayden (Holt) returns from agricultural college to find the ranch he inherited up for sale for back taxes. He's also got to deal with a feud with the Jorth family (Martha Hyer, Steve Brodie, and Robert Clarke), who blame Marvin's late father for their own father's death.

The movie has a solid storyline, based on a Zane Grey novel, which packs a great deal of action and character development into a short time frame. The smooth direction was by Lew Landers.

Cinematographer Jack MacKenzie makes outstanding use of the film's Lone Pine locations, with some stunning shots of the Alabama Hills against cloud-filled skies.

Upon Holt's return from wartime service, where he was a decorated member of the Army Air Corps, he appeared in the John Ford classic MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946). With THUNDER MOUNTAIN he then resumed his career as the popular star of a long series of "B" Westerns. Incidentally, I loved his two-handed shooting in the final gunfight!

Lovely young Martha Hyer makes a spunky leading lady. There's an excellent supporting cast, including the lively Richard Martin, Holt's longtime costar, as his sidekick Chito Rafferty. Virginia Owen plays a goodhearted dance hall girl, and Jason Robards Sr. is an alcoholic lawyer who helps Marvin. Harry Harvey and Harry Woods are also in the cast.

This film is available on DVD from Lions Gate. The print from C&C Television Corp. is sharp and good-looking.

The movie has also been released on VHS.

This was my very first Tim Holt "B" Western, and I was quite impressed with the film's quality. I understand now why his movies are so highly regarded by Westerns fans, and I'm sure I'll be watching many more of his films in the future.


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