Monday, September 15, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Fort Osage (1952) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Western fans will like FORT OSAGE (1952), an entertaining Rod Cameron Western available as part of the Monogram Cowboy Collection, Vol. 2, from the Warner Archive.

Last night I reviewed another Cameron film in the set, the entertaining WAGONS WEST (1952), and I thought this one was even better. Western specialist Lesley Selander directed FORT OSAGE with his typical vigor, making it an enjoyable 72 minutes.

Cameron plays wagonmaster Tom Clay, who arrives in Fort Osage with news that the Osage are on the warpath. He advises wagon train organizer Arthur Pickett (Morris Ankrum) against sending the wagon train on its way to California until the situation with the Osage tribe is resolved.

It turns out that Pickett's confederate George Keane (Douglas Kennedy) had encouraged Pickett not to give the tribe goods due to them as part of a treaty, and without Pickett's knowledge five Indian braves were murdered by Keane and his men.

Clay tries to untangle the problems of the tribe and the westward-bound settlers, and meanwhile he's also got his eye on pretty Ann Pickett (Jane Nigh).

Like WAGONS WEST, FORT OSAGE was written by Daniel Ullman and photographed by Harry Neumann in Cinecolor, but this Walter Mirisch production feels stronger overall, with a more coherent script which includes a sympathetic treatment of Indians. Director Selander also stages a strong fistfight between Cameron and a would-be assassin (Fred Graham).

The DVD looks absolutely terrific; it has the usual strong Cinecolor greens, browns, and oranges, but the print is more stable than some Cinecolor prints, and the film's look will really appeal to Cinecolor buffs such as myself. The colors do fade in and out a bit during a scene where Cameron goes to meet the Osage, but for the most part this is one of the best-looking Cinecolor prints I've ever seen. It was a real pleasure to watch it.

It's another plus that the movie's Southern California exteriors are free of annoyances such as rear projections and day for night shooting. This is a very nice-looking low-budget film.

The cast is filled with faces who feel like old friends. In addition to Cameron, Kennedy, Ankrum, and Nigh, the cast includes John Ridgely, always a favorite of mine, plus Myron Healey, Stan Jolley, Dorothy Adams, Lane Bradford, Barbara Woodell, and Iron Eyes Cody.

Pretty Anne Kimbell, who has a small role as Annie Winfield, was also in last night's film, WAGONS WEST (1952), as Noah Beery Jr.'s pregnant wife. Kimbell was busy on screen throughout the '50s; IMDb indicates she retired for life as the wife of a foreign service officer. She also worked at one time for the University of Southern California. Kimbell now writes spy thrillers; she has an Amazon page. She is also the President of the Board of Directors of the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts in Colorado. What a very interesting life!

The Rod Cameron Westerns in Vol. 2 of the Warner Archive's Monogram Cowboy Collection have made this set a winner for me thus far. Look for reviews of the set's Whip Wilson films here in the future, as well as additional reviews of Vol. 1 films starring Jimmy Wakely and Johnny Mack Brown.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Another winning Rod Cameron review, Laura!
Any western that has a cast list featuring Douglas Kennedy, Myron Healey, Lane Bradford, Morris Ankrum and I. Stanford Jolley is a winner with me. These guys really knew what they were doing.

I really look forward to your reviews of some Whip Wilson films, Laura. He's one of those that fans either really like (or not!!).

8:03 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Jerry! Isn't it a great cast? I love seeing each of their faces pop up. :)

I'm so curious about Wilson after reading comments from readers! A name who was completely unknown to me.

Best wishes,

8:39 AM  

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