Thursday, September 04, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Wild Horse Mesa (1947)

WILD HORSE MESA (1947) is a lesser Tim Holt Western, with gorgeous Lone Pine locations offsetting a humdrum storyline.

The story is based on a Zane Grey book which had previously been filmed twice, first with Tim's own father, Jack Holt (1925), and later with Randolph Scott (1932). It's rather special that Tim remade his father's film a couple decades later.

This time around Dave (Holt) and Chito (Richard Martin) are working for Pop Melhern (Jason Robards Sr.) rounding up wild horses. Pop's daughter Sue, who casts admiring eyes Dave's way, is played by Holt's frequent leading lady Nan Leslie.

Perennial "B" movie villain Harry Woods plays one of the bad guys trying to do Pop out of his horses and his money. Former Western star Tom Keene also stars, billed here as Richard Powers.

I didn't care much for the story in this one; stories about rounding up wild horses aren't really my thing, and the plot takes some sad, overly predictable turns. The film has some fun moments, including Chito's opening song, but this one's in the lower tier of Holt films for me.

Complaints aside, the extensive Lone Pine filming is spectacular, and I especially enjoyed that aspect due to our visit to the "Movie Road" area last summer. I'll be seeing some "Tim and Chito" locations at next month's Lone Pine Film Festival; perhaps I'll also see the ranch standing in for the Melherns' place!

This 60-minute film was directed by Wallace Grissell and filmed by Frank Redman.

The very first Tim Holt "B" Western I watched, THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), was also based on a Zane Grey story. The Holt Westerns based on the Grey books have fallen into the public domain; like THUNDER MOUNTAIN, WILD HORSE MESA is out on DVD from Lions Gate. The print from C&C Television Corp. is a little rough around the edges but the majority of it looks good.

Hopefully the Warner Archive will include the Zane Grey Holts in a future set so we can enjoy prints which look even better!

WILD HORSE MESA also had a release on VHS.

Please also visit my tributes to Tim Holt and Richard Martin.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Hi Laura
I have the LionsGate DVD of this film and it is a very nice print, I thought. Shows the fabulous Lone Pine locations off beautifully!

For me, this is one of Holt's best but then I guess I quite like herds of wild horses etc which you don't so much. Have you ever seen Joel McCrea's super Universal western "BLACK HORSE CANYON" which follows similar themes perhaps? The capturing of wild stallions in that film are very well done and are central to the plot. So maybe that one would not appeal? (Still has McCrea in it though!!)

8:09 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jerry!

I thought the opening of the film, especially, looked rougher than what I'm used to seeing from the Warner Archive, but I agree most of it is a nice print. :) The locations made the movie for me!

I've come to realize I'm just not much of a "wild horse" person when it comes to my beloved Westerns, LOL. The whole rounding them up and taming them theme just doesn't interest me that much. (George Montgomery's KING OF THE WILD STALLIONS was another.) I do have a VHS recording of BLACK HORSE CANYON from Encore Westerns, and I will definitely watch anything with Joel McCrea! I also borrowed my Dad's Archive DVD of WILD STALLION with Ben Johnson and Martha Hyer, and I have a few others with similar storylines -- so maybe I'll find one I like better...

Very much appreciate the McCrea recommendation!

Best wishes,

8:26 AM  

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