Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Around the Blogosphere This Week

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

...At 50 Westerns From the 50s Toby has the rundown on an eight-film set of Wild Bill Elliott Westerns coming in October from the Warner Archive.

...Will McKinley covers the 53rd New York Film Festival's classic film screenings at his blog Cinematically Insane. I'd love to see the restored DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939), which was a childhood favorite and I'm sure the first John Ford movie I ever saw.

...The plot of THEIR FINEST HOUR AND A HALF sounds interesting, depicting "the misadventures of a British movie crew trying to make a patriotic film to boost morale during the Blitz." The cast includes Diana Rigg's daughter, Rachael Stirling, and John Huston's grandson Jack.

...Here's Leonard Maltin's latest list of "New and Notable Film Books."

...WHY BE GOOD? (1928), starring Colleen Moore, aired last night on Turner Classic Movies. It was just reviewed by Angela at The Hollywood Revue, and I also enjoyed an essay by Marilyn Ferdinand for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival site. It's a fun movie!

...The Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel is reviving Tom Selleck's wonderful series of Jesse Stone mysteries, starting Tuesday, October 13th, with JESSE STONE: LOST IN PARADISE (2015). Links to my reviews of the first four films in the series may be found here.

...A new cookbook from America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country: COOK'S COUNTRY EATS LOCAL...and coming next February, COOK IT IN CAST IRON.

...Coming in October from Gallery Books: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MICKEY ROONEY by Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes.

...Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards have announced that they are retiring after hosting the 2016 Rose Parade for KTLA in Los Angeles. Eubanks began hosting the parade in 1979 and Edwards in 1982.

...I'm still catching up on sharing links from recent weeks when I was busy or traveling! Here are some delightful, colorful posts from The Blonde at the Film on Jane Powell in NANCY GOES TO RIO (1950) and Betty Grable in MOON OVER MIAMI (1941).

...And here's a link from early September, Raquel's review of David Wills' HOLLYWOOD IN KODACHROME at Out of the Past. I own the book, and it's amazing.

...Fox Cinema Archives is releasing a new slate of 13 titles on DVD. Nothing especially caught my eye this time around -- I already own CITY GIRL (1930) and SEAS BENEATH (1933) -- ClassicFlix has the list.

...Ralph the Corgi on Instagram is the cutest thing ever!

...With my growing interest in Japanese cinema, I was intrigued by Glenn Erickson's review of THE LITTLE HOUSE (2014), set around the WWII years.

...Attention Southern Californians: Interesting screenings coming up from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences include the restored HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943) on November 9th and REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1941) on December 10th. There is also a wonderful event, Hollywood Home Movies: Disneyland on October 24th, where Suzanne Lloyd will share her grandfather Harold's amazing 3D photos of the park. I saw them this summer at the D23 Expo. All screenings will be held at the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theater at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood.

...By mere chance I discovered that the Washington Post cited this blog and quoted my interview with Coleen Gray in her obituary last month. My thanks to Adam Bernstein of the Post.

Have a great week!

Archive Treasures: 50th Anniversary Celebration Opens Friday at UCLA

A fantastic new film series, Archive Treasures: 50th Anniversary Celebration, opens this Friday at UCLA.

The series will run from October 2nd through December 19, 2015.

The festival presents some of UCLA Archive's "most illustrious restorations performed by our world-famous film preservation staff over our long history."

A total of 31 varied films will be shown over the next few weeks. I expect to be there for THE RED SHOES (1948) this Friday and again on Saturday night for GILDA (1946) and THE BIGAMIST (1953).

Later in the month I hope to attend MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) on October 19th. While I just saw CLEMENTINE last April at the TCM Classic Film Festival, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON is one of my favorite movies, and I haven't seen it on a big screen since I was a young teen and attended a series of RKO films at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. October is going to be a busy month, including two film festivals and a theatrical production (THE LION KING), but I hope I can fit that in!

I'd also especially love to see FOLLOW THRU (1930) and BECKY SHARP (1935) on November 1st.

For further details on this series, please check out Kenneth Turan's column in the Los Angeles Times.

The complete schedule of titles, dates, and times may be found at the UCLA Film & Television Archive website.

Update: My review of THE RED SHOES may be found here. Unfortunately I have to skip the evening of GILDA and THE BIGAMIST due to illness, but I hope to be there again for the night of John Ford films! The version screened of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE will be the prerelease version.

Update: Here are reviews of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949).

Update: Here are reviews of FOLLOW THRU (1930) and BECKY SHARP (1935).

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Confession (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Kay Francis stars in CONFESSION (1937), a stylish, absorbing melodrama just released by the Warner Archive.

Francis doesn't appear until roughly 20 minutes into the film, and she enters with a splash, playing Vera, a dance hall performer who spots the sleazy Michael (Basil Rathbone) kissing a young girl (Jane Bryan) in a nightclub -- upon which Vera promptly plugs him with two bullets.

The whys and wherefores are all explained by Kay in flashback via an extended courtroom confession scene; watching her veer back and forth from glamorous, vivacious young dark-haired Kay Francis to the hollow-eyed, depressed blonde in the courtroom is quite something. Francis had star power, and she's fascinating in this.

Rathbone is so sleazy that I think the viewer feels like shooting him too! His seduction of the young girl, who is simultaneously frightened and intrigued, is extremely creepy; when he first kisses her, the shot from her perspective of an out-of-focus light fixture is perfect.

Ian Hunter plays Vera's husband, a soldier, but he has relatively little to do. The film has good performances by Donald Crisp as the judge and Robert Barrat as the prosecutor; both men are tough but ultimately compassionate. Dorothy Peterson gives a warm performance as the loving mother of the young girl in the nightclub.

The movie's most distinctive attribute is its strong visual style, including nightmarish angles, filmed in black and white by Sid Hickox. Some reviewers have commented that the film has a European look, and indeed, director Joe May was Austrian. He would go on to direct the entertaining but more pedestrian-looking SOCIETY SMUGGLERS (1939) and the creative JOHNNY DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1944).

Watching CONFESSION back to back with the Warner Bros. "B" Western THE CHEROKEE STRIP (1937) also provided a bit of insight into the studio system. Jane Bryan (seen at left) and Helen Valkis (who later acted under the name Joan Valerie) were the leading lady and main supporting actress of THE CHEROKEE STRIP, which was released in May of 1937; in CONFESSION, released in August 1937, they play an ingenue and a bit role. Bryan had one other film released between May and August, KID GALAHAD, and Valkis had three (two bits and a Western lead). Such was the working life of a young studio contract actress in training!

The DVD of this 87-minute film is a lovely print. The disc includes the trailer.

CONFESSION is an interesting film worth seeing, particularly for fans of Kay Francis.

Reviews of other recent Kay Francis releases from the Warner Archive: THE WHITE ANGEL (1936) and I FOUND STELLA PARISH (1935). Like CONFESSION, both these films costar Ian Hunter.

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.

Book Review: Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide (3rd Edition)

Leonard Maltin's movie guides have been an indispensable part of my library for decades now. I first started reading and using what I called his "rating book" when I was young, not long after he started writing them! As a teen I would actually sit and read his guides page by page, not simply looking up titles, and I'd make notes of films which sounded interesting. It was a special part of my education in classic movies.

In this age of the Internet and IMDb, I continue to refer to Maltin's guides multiple times a week; in fact, multiple times per day is probably more accurate!

I don't always agree with the ratings -- which over the years I've found particularly lacking when it comes to mid-range Westerns -- but it's interesting to check out another opinion, and the factual information is invaluable. In addition to the information on individual movies, I love things such as the Widescreen Glossary at the front of the book; whether you want to know the ratio of Naturama, Technirama, or Tohoscope, it's all right there on one handy page.

I have particularly appreciated Maltin's CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE, which focuses solely on films "From the Silent Era Through 1965," as the subtitle reads. I bought the 1st Edition a decade ago, followed by the 2nd Edition five years ago.

I just received the 3rd (and Final) Edition, which is officially titled TCM PRESENTS LEONARD MALTIN'S CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE.

This new edition includes reviews of over 300 additional films. According to Maltin's introduction, these include not only brand-new reviews, but reviews of older films which were cut out of his original guide in the past for space reasons.

Maltin announced at his site that he'll be on Turner Classic Movies Monday evening, September 28th, to showcase some of the titles just added to his book. They include Colleen Moore in WHY BE GOOD? (1928), one of the hits of this year's TCM Classic Film Festival.

Maltin mentions in the forward to the new book that in addition to new reviews, some older reviews and ratings have been revised; he cites as an example the MacDonald-Eddy film NAUGHTY MARIETTA (1935), which was upped from 2-1/2 stars to 3 in the new book. I immediately checked on WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954), but alas, it's still mired at 2 stars, which is a rating I'll never understand!

It would be fun for film fans such as myself if a complete list of the new and restored reviews could be published so we could check them out! When the 2nd Edition was released, I randomly checked 21 titles which had been shown on TCM but which weren't in the 1st Edition. At that time I found nine of the 21 titles had been added to the 2nd Edition.

This weekend I went back to the dozen titles from that list which weren't in the 2nd Edition and found that three more were included in the 3rd Edition: THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA, AND SO THEY WERE MARRIED, and TEAR GAS SQUAD. That makes a total of 12 out of the 21 titles on my list which have been added since the 1st Edition came out in 2005. Check out my 2010 review for the complete list of films I checked out.

The 2nd Edition contained a list at the front of the book of "25 Vintage Movies You Really Shouldn't Miss," including some lesser-known but truly wonderful films such as THE VANISHING VIRGINIAN (1942) and SO DEAR TO MY HEART (1948); Maltin introduced the latter to a very warm reception at the TCM Classic Film Festival last April.

This time around that list has been replaced by "Memorable Performances A to Z," an interesting roster which includes Errol Flynn in GENTLEMAN JIM (1942), Nina Foch in MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS (1945), and Rex Ingram in SAHARA (1943).

A closing note: When I met my husband and discovered he had his own Maltin book, which he has always jokingly referred to as "The Book of Leonard," that was one clue among many that he might be the right guy for me. Many thanks from both of us to Mr. Maltin for all his hard work providing these books over the years, which have been such an important part of our daily lives.

Sincere thanks to Penguin Random House and Turner Classic Movies for providing a review copy of this book.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tonight's Movie: The Cherokee Strip (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

THE CHEROKEE STRIP (1937) is a pleasant title in the 12-film Dick Foran Western Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

THE CHEROKEE STRIP, not to be confused with CHEROKEE STRIP (1940) starring Richard Dix, is set during the Oklahoma land rush. Foran plays Dick Hudson, a lawyer who sets up shop in a brand-new little town where bad guys (led by Ed Cobb) swindle some folks out of their land claims.

Dick has a sparring relationship with fiesty settler Janie Walton (Jane Bryan), but as her little brother (Tommy Bupp) perceptively tells Dick, Janie wouldn't be spending time with Dick if she didn't like him.

There's some singing, some romancing, and some action, with stock footage used for the land rush scenes. This 55-minute film won't win any awards, but it's the kind of undemanding entertainment I enjoy at the end of a busy day.

Dick's friend Tom is played by David Carlyle, who was later known as Robert Paige (CAN'T HELP SINGING). Tom's wife Ruth is played by Helen Valkis, later known as Joan Valerie. One of the things I enjoy about a "B" film like this is getting a look at young actors like Bryan and Paige early in their careers, not to mention seeing actors before they undergo name changes!

The cast also includes Frank Faylen, Tom Brower, Joseph Crehan, and Milton Kibbee. I wouldn't be surprised if Kibbee -- brother of the better-known Guy -- has been in all of the Foran Westerns I've seen to date. He was in nearly 400 films!

The movie was filmed by L.W. O'Connell and directed by Noel Smith.

Previous reviews in the Dick Foran Western Collection: MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE (1935), CALIFORNIA MAIL (1936), and LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937).

The Warner Archive DVD is a fine print, and the disc includes the trailer.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

Tonight's Movie: Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case (1943) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

DR. GILLESPIE'S CRIMINAL CASE (1942) is a middling entry in MGM's Dr. Gillespie series, available in a six-film set from the Warner Archive.

Donna Reed returns as Marsha Blackburn, the wealthy young lady she had played in CALLING DR. GILLESPIE (1942). When Marsha was last seen, her insane fiance Roy (Phil Brown) was headed for prison for murder.

This time around Roy is played by John Craven, and he's still nuts. Dr. Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore) checks in on him because Marsha's planning to marry an army sergeant (Michael Duane), and the good doctor wants to make sure Marsha's fully over her bad experience and that Roy won't cause any problems.

Van Johnson and Keye Luke, both introduced in DR. GILLESPIE'S NEW ASSISTANT (1942), are still competing for the official title as Dr. Gillespie's righthand man. (Why he doesn't just name them both his assistant is beyond me.) Both actors are engaging, whether Luke is lightheartedly exclaiming "I'm terrific!" or Johnson is stunned by his good fortune at being pursued by luscious Marilyn Maxwell.

Dr. Gillespie and Nurse Molly Byrd become involved in the case of a veteran (William Lundigan) who lost his legs at Pearl Harbor and refuses to answer his girlfriend's loving letters, and Dr. Gillespie and the interns also work to save the lives of four little girls, including cute Margaret O'Brien in an early role.

The cast makes it worthwhile but the story lines about Roy and the letters leave something to be desired. That said, I always enjoy spending time with this series.

Additional regular cast members who appear in this entry are Marie Blake, Nat Pendleton, Walter Kingsford, Nell Craig, and Barbara Bedford. Incidentally, Marilyn Maxwell would go on to appear in both Van Johnson's other films in the series.

Frances Rafferty has a nice, though brief, scene at a dance at the start of the movie. The cast also includes Henry Daniell, Herb Vigran, Grant Withers, Aileen Pringle, Irene Tedrow, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Milton Kibbee, and Roy Barcroft.

This 89-minute film was directed by Willis Goldbeck and filmed in black and white by Norbert Brodine.

The Warner Archive print is very nice, and the disc includes the trailer.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop. Please note that the initial sets of this series sold at the Warner Archive site are traditionally replicated (pressed) rather than burned on demand.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Wyoming Mail (1950)

WYOMING MAIL (1950) is a pretty good little Universal Western starring Stephen McNally and Alexis Smith. McNally and Smith are always welcome company in a Western, and this one is no exception.

McNally plays Steve Davis, who's working undercover for the U.S. government, trying to infiltrate and bring down a gang robbing brand-new mail trains. Congress is threatening to cut off funding for the trains if the rampant theft cannot be stopped.

Smith is Mary Williams, a glamorous saloon singer; she and Steve strike sparks every time their paths cross.

Mary thinks Steve's a bank robber on the lam, but she's so attracted to him she doesn't really seem to mind, other than worrying about his safety. Besides, she's not exactly angelic herself.

There's a too-long passage where Steve's undercover in a horrible prison run by Warden Haynes (Ed Begley Sr.), but otherwise this 87-minute film runs along at a pretty good clip, with a couple unexpected twists and turns. The movie's nothing spectacular, but Western fans will likely find it pleasant viewing, as I did.

Much of the film was shot on location in Technicolor by Russell Metty. The bad guys' hideout among the cliffs looks like it might have been filmed at Red Rock Canyon, seen most recently in DAKOTA INCIDENT (1956). The hideout, which must be accessed via a series of ladders, gives the film a distinctive look.

A commenter at IMDb mentions having been present when the company was filming in Sonora, California; I suspect that's where some of the train sequences were filmed.

The supporting cast includes Howard da Silva, Dan Riss, Roy Roberts, Armando Silvestre, James Arness, Richard Jaeckel, Whit Bissell, Frankie Darro (WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD), and a young Richard Egan, seen by me last weekend in POLLYANNA (1960).

WYOMING MAIL was directed by Reginald LeBorg.

WYOMING MAIL has been shown on TV in the past on the Encore Westerns Channel. It's not available on DVD or VHS in the U.S., but it's had a Region 2 DVD release.

At the time of this writing, the movie can be found on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Moonlight on the Prairie (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE (1935) is the earliest entry in the 12-film Dick Foran Western Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

This 1935 Western is definitely creakier than the pair of engaging films from this set which I've previously viewed, CALIFORNIA MAIL (1936) and LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937).

MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE is an old-fashioned melodrama, with the handsome cowboy saving the pretty young widow (Sheila Mannors, also known as Sheila Bromley) and her little boy (Dickie Jones) from men who want to steal her ranch. Good ol' Joe Sawyer and Robert Barrat head up the bad guys.

The other aspect which makes it verge onto the corny side is that frequently when there's a chase or a fistfight, the film speed is cranked up, which makes it look silly.

That said, this is a good-natured film which I enjoyed spending 63 minutes with despite these flaws. It's fast-paced entertainment with some nice moments scattered throughout. For instance, one of the fun aspects is that young Bill Elliott, billed as Gordon, shows up midway through as a good guy who helps Foran.

I especially loved that the movie was filmed up in the Sierras at June Lake by Fred Jackman Jr.; some of the scenes are just beautiful. When Foran sang the title song at the end with the lake sparkling in the background, I was a happy camper.

IMDb says the movie was also filmed in Lone Pine. While the Alabama Hills weren't in evidence, I suspect some of the ranch or medicine show scenes might have been filmed somewhere in the Lone Pine area such as Anchor Ranch.

The wind rustles in the trees pretty strongly during some of the location scenes; I always enjoy things like that in "B" Westerns, as it gives the viewer more of a sense of how it must have felt standing there in front of the camera 80 years ago!

Scroll down the page at Western Clippings for a behind-the-scenes shot of the lead actors and director taken on the location set.

MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE was directed by D. Ross Lederman.

Additional cast members include George E. Stone (later of the Boston Blackie series), Joe King, Milton Kibbee, and Raymond Brown. Keep your eyes open for Glenn Strange as a henchman and Joan Barclay as a saloon girl.

The print looked very nice, and the DVD includes the trailer. The dozen films in this Warner Archive set are spread across four discs; so far I've had three of the four discs in my player and all nine films had trailers.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

A Birthday Tribute to Walter Pidgeon

One of my favorite actors, Walter Pidgeon, was born on this date 118 years ago.

Pidgeon was born on September 23, 1897, in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.


Pidgeon is best remembered for his very effective pairings with Greer Garson; two of their films, MRS. MINIVER (1942) and MADAME CURIE (1943), led to his receiving Oscar nominations.


Stills from the memorable bomb shelter scene in MRS. MINIVER, directed by William Wyler:



And a still from his second Oscar-nominated role opposite Garson, in MADAME CURIE (1943), directed by Mervyn LeRoy:


Pidgeon possessed a fine singing voice, displayed in early films such as SWEET KITTY BELLAIRS (1930). His screen career stretched for over half a century and included films for Fritz Lang and John Ford, not to mention the sci-fi classic FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956).

Below are some photos from a few more of Pidgeon's many wonderful films.

MAN HUNT (1941), with Joan Bennett:


HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) with Maureen O'Hara:


COMMAND DECISION (1948) with Clark Gable:


FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956):


He was also the King in the fondly remembered TV version of CINDERELLA (1965) with Lesley Ann Warren, which reunited him with his WEEK-END AT THE WALDORF (1945) costar Ginger Rogers.


Off the screen Pidgeon's quiet personal life seems to have been in sync with his film persona. His first wife, Edna, died in childbirth in 1926; he named their daughter Edna after her mother. A few years later he remarried, a union which would last over half a century.

Walter Pidgeon died in 1984, just two days after his 87th birthday. He willed his body to UCLA Medical Center for research.

Walter Pidgeon films reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: BIG BROWN EYES (1936), MY DEAR MISS ALDRICH (1937), TOO HOT TO HANDLE (1938), MAN-PROOF (1938) (also here), SOCIETY LAWYER (1939), STRONGER THAN DESIRE (1939), NICK CARTER, MASTER DETECTIVE (1939), PHANTOM RAIDERS (1940), SKY MURDER (1940), IT'S A DATE (1940) (also here), FLIGHT COMMAND (1940), HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941), DESIGN FOR SCANDAL (1941), THE SECRET HEART (1946) (also here), IF WINTER COMES (1947), COMMAND DECISION (1948), JULIA MISBEHAVES (1948), THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952), THE SELLOUT (1952), SCANDAL AT SCOURIE (1953), MEN OF THE FIGHTING LADY (1954), EXECUTIVE SUITE (1954), HIT THE DECK (1955), VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1961), ADVISE AND CONSENT (1962), and SKYJACKED (1972).

Other notable Walter Pidgeon films not mentioned above: THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1938), THE SHOPWORN ANGEL (1938), THE HOUSE ACROSS THE BAY (1940), BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST (1941), MRS. PARKINGTON (1944), HOLIDAY IN MEXICO (1946), THAT FORSYTE WOMAN (1949), MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID (1952), THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS (1954), and FUNNY GIRL (1968).

2016 Update: Here are reviews of THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1938), WHITE CARGO (1942), CALLING BULLDOG DRUMMOND (1951), DEEP IN MY HEART (1954), and THE GLASS SLIPPER (1955).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Around the Blogosphere This Week

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

...My latest column for ClassicFlix is on underrated musicals available on DVD. Please check it out! The 10 titles include Deanna Durbin's CAN'T HELP SINGING (1944), seen in this photo.

...I've mentioned the Republic Pictures Blogathon a couple of times in recent days. Do be sure to click over to 50 Westerns From the 50s and read some really wonderful posts and discussions on a number of interesting films.

...Because of my prior commitment to the Republic Blogathon, along with plans to see a couple films in theaters last weekend, I didn't have time to also participate in the TCM Discoveries blogathon hosted by the Nitrate Diva. (That's also why this roundup is later than usual!) I'm still reading my way through a bunch of terrific posts on movies which bloggers saw for the very first time on TCM. What a wonderful idea for a blogathon!

...Alan K. Rode will be hosting the first Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction and Horror Festival this October 23-25th. It's sponsored by the Palm Springs Cultural Center. Titles include THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953), CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957), and more. Further details and links as they become available! (Update: Here is the ticket page, and here is the festival home page!)

...More good news from Alan, via Twitter: Both TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949) and WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950) are due out on Blu-ray in 2016! Hopefully they'll also have releases on DVD.

...Coming to Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection on December 8th: SPEEDY (1928) starring Harold Lloyd. It was previously released on DVD by New Line.

...Doris Day is quashing rumors that she plans to make a movie with Clint Eastwood.

...Here's a piece by Leonard Maltin, "35mm Isn't Dead Yet."

...My review copy of Maltin's third and final edition of his CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE has just arrived. More on it after I've had time to look it over and also do a little comparing to the previous edition.

...Out this month from the University Press of Mississippi: A REAL AMERICAN CHARACTER: THE LIFE OF WALTER BRENNAN. It was written by Carl Rollyson, author of the fine 2012 biography of Dana Andrews.

...Turner Classic Movies and Amazon have announced that TCM will be available for streaming via the Amazon Fire Stick. Will McKinley has full details at Cinematically Insane.

...Hallmark Channel has announced 17 new TV-movies for the Christmas season. The annual "Countdown to Christmas" begins this year on..Halloween?!

...This Movies Silently piece by Fritzi Kramer on Kino's release of THE EPIC OF EVEREST (1924) has me interested, as I've done a lot of reading on Everest. Speaking of which, my oldest daughter saw the new EVEREST (2015) in IMAX at the Chinese Theatre last weekend and recommended I go see it. The trailer is at IMDb. The movie has an official website.

...I'm two-thirds of the way into Season One of Marvel's AGENTS OF SHIELD and loving it, especially the episode I just saw, "Yes Men," which featured a tremendously fun visit from Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) of THOR (2011). I really appreciate the strong women's roles in the Marvel films and TV shows, starting, of course, with Hayley Atwell's AGENT CARTER. On AGENTS OF SHIELD Ming-Na Wen's amazingly physical, tough and calculating Agent Melinda May has to be one of the most remarkable female characters in television history, especially given that the actress is in her early 50s. "You took my plane. I want it back!"

...And by the way, AGENT CARTER was released on DVD and Blu-ray a few days ago, sold exclusively by Amazon.

...One more bit of Marvel news: The Netflix original series JESSICA JONES becomes available on November 20, 2015. A teaser trailer is here. Yes, I'm totally hooked on Marvel at this point!

...Attention Southern Californians: Coming to the Carpenter Center in Long Beach on Sunday afternoon, November 22nd: GENE KELLY: THE LEGACY hosted by his widow, Patricia Ward Kelly.

...Notable Passing: May Boss, a stuntwoman on FORT DOBBS (1958), MARY POPPINS (1964), and many more films, has passed away at the age of 90.

...TCM will be honoring the late Dickie Moore with a nine-film tribute on Thursday, September 24th.

...If you missed last week's classic film news roundup, it's right here!

Have a great week!

Tonight's Movie: Dakota Incident (1956)

The excellent posts in last weekend's Republic Pictures Blogathon sparked my interest in seeing several of the movies written about.

Colin's post on Republic's DAKOTA INCIDENT (1956) at Riding the High Country particularly caught my attention, given that there are a number of actors I especially enjoy in the cast, namely Linda Darnell, John Lund, Regis Toomey, and Ward Bond.

DAKOTA INCIDENT is what I think of as a "middle of the road" Western. Nothing really special, but a good cast and various character interactions here and there kept me interested. I ended up agreeing with Colin's take: "I wouldn’t say it’s an overlooked classic or anything of that kind, but there’s a good deal to take from it if you appreciate 50s westerns. In fact, I think that’s a comment which could be applied to a lot of Republic’s output – films which are imperfect in many ways yet different enough, with their own look and sensibility, to deserve a little more attention."

Dale Robertson has the lead role as John Banner, a bank robber whose partners (John Doucette and Skip Homeier) shoot him, wanting to increase each of their takes. However, Banner was just playing possum, and he eventually staggers into the dying Western town where the other men are holed up.

After confronting his former confederates, Banner ends up on a stage trip to Laramie with five other people: Amy (Darnell), a dance hall performer, and her loyal accompanist, known only as Minstrel (Toomey); a talkative senator (Bond) who believes peace with the Indians is possible; a prospector (Whit Bissell) lugging a bag of samples; and a man (John Lund) who carefully watches every move Banner makes.

Disaster strikes and after their stagecoach is wrecked, the passengers end up barricaded in a dry wash in the middle of the desert, without horses or water, trying to hold off warring Indians.

Travelers banding together against a common enemy is a traditional Western theme; showing how people under great pressure interact and make decisions is always an interesting story device, as true character is revealed. STAGECOACH (1939), of course, is one of the earlier and best-known examples of this type of Western film.

While watching DAKOTA INCIDENT I also thought of a similar Rory Calhoun Western, APACHE TERRITORY (1958), which came out a couple years later. Both DAKOTA INCIDENT and APACHE TERRITORY feature trapped groups of people, filmed in California's Red Rock Canyon.

Dale Robertson's Banner is less admirable than Calhoun's character in the later movie; there's no ambiguity to the fact that he's an outlaw. His toughness, however, makes him a natural leader when he and his fellow passengers find themselves fighting for survival, and in a way his conduct during the title "incident" allows him to help make up for his past.

John Lund's Hamilton reveals himself as someone who has good reason to hate Banner, who has inadvertently caused Hamilton to have to fight for his life on multiple fronts. If it weren't for Banner, he never would have been stuck in the middle of the desert! And that's just one problem Banner has brought into his life. Even so, the two men find themselves forming an unexpected partnership as the strongest and smartest of the group, and they treat one another with respect.

The showy Amy also proves to be made of tough stuff, wielding a gun alongside the men.

Even the blowhard senator, who is initially ridiculed for not having a realistic perspective on Indian relations, proves to be a man of courage, and in the final scenes, his hope for a better future is vindicated.

The ending is compelling, as it seems there's no way out for the survivors; suddenly an act of God, followed by Banner discovering he simply can't kill one more man, leads to an unexpected resolution. There's also some interesting ambiguity, as Banner has decided he must continue on a path toward redemption, and exactly what that will mean for his future, or Amy's, is unclear.

DAKOTA INCIDENT was directed by Lewis R. Foster. I've seen a handful of Foster's films; I thought THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE (1953) was pretty bad and EL PASO (1949) was on the dull side, but I enjoyed the low-budget TOP OF THE WORLD (1955).

DAKOTA INCIDENT was filmed by Ernest Haller. It runs 88 minutes.

Thanks to my friend Carrie for providing this movie and to Colin for encouraging me to finally bump it to the top of my "to be watched" stack! So many movies to see, so little time...

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