Monday, February 08, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Domino Kid (1957)

Rory Calhoun stars as the DOMINO KID (1957) in a solid, entertaining Western.

Since the end of his service in the Civil War, Cort Garand (Calhoun), aka the Domino Kid, has been searching for the five men who murdered his father. He's found four of them, but he doesn't know the identity of the fifth.

Hoping to get a fresh lead on the fifth man, Cort returns to his hometown and his sweetheart Barbara (Kristine Miller), who's hoping that Cort is ready to put vengeance behind him and settle down.

Businessman Wade Harrington (Andrew Duggan), who wants both Cort's land and his girl, quickly becomes a thorn in Cort's side.

This is a pleasing Western produced by Calhoun and Victor Orsatti for Columbia Pictures; other Rorvic Productions were FLIGHT TO HONG KONG (1956), THE HIRED GUN (1957), APACHE TERRITORY (1958), and Calhoun's TV series THE TEXAN (1958-60).

Although DOMINO KID was filmed at Iverson Ranch and doesn't have the fine Lone Pine location work of THE HIRED GUN, DOMINO KID is still a nice-looking movie, particularly the long shots of Cort's ranch. The filmmakers also conjure up some solid atmosphere on a limited budget, with effective use of guitar music and a fiery Mexican dance by cantina owner Yvette Duguay.

Calhoun is always the perfect Western hero, handsome and determined, with an intimidating presence when riled. For a Western fan like myself it doesn't get much better than spending 74 minutes watching a Rory Calhoun Western.

I was inspired to pull this film out of my "watch" stack in honor of Calhoun's leading lady, Kristine Miller, whose death was recently announced. My tribute to Miller is here.

DOMINO KID has a fine cast including Eugene Iglesias as Cort's best friend, Robert Burton as the kindly sheriff, James Griffith as one of the murderers, and Thomas Browne Henry as the town doctor; Henry was only on screen for roughly the last 30 seconds of the movie! Familiar Western faces such as Peter Whitney, Frank Sully, Roy Barcroft, Fred Graham, and Denver Pyle are also in the cast.

The movie was directed by Ray Nazarro. The black and white cinematography was by Irving Lippman.


Blogger Maricatrin said...

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one, I like it a lot too! As you say, Calhoun is perfect for parts like this, and it was very well-done on the modest budget.

As a fan of James Griffith, and also an appreciator of veteran badman Roy Barcroft, it was fun to guess how the gang was structured. Griffith and Barcroft were easily the brains of the outfit (look how they each had their own place, while the other three were still just roving killers), "the fifth man" was your perennial gang psychopath, and the other two were the standard rank and file henchmen.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

Yes, I agree too! A very enjoyable lower-budgeted western that Calhoun was so well-suited to. I seem to remember when watching it that this was the outfit (white shirt under black leather vest, black hat and pants) that he wore throughout his RorVic TV series "THE TEXAN".
Incidentally, I really enjoyed Maricatrin's special mention of Roy Barcroft, a favourite of mine too. For years he was Republic's chief bad guy - often snarling, menacing, but also often humerous. The delicious irony is that he was known to be one of the nicest guys you could meet off-set.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Jerry! And you're right, it looks like the exact same outfit Calhoun wore in THE TEXAN.

Barcroft is one of those actors who doesn't look or sound naturally villainous, so he had to work harder at it than some others (he once said his villain role model was Harry Woods.) Another fun fact, which you probably already know: Fred Graham was Barcroft's regular stunt-double during his Republic days.

This part has to be one of Roy's last turns as a bad-guy. Love how he tried his old fake-friendly bit one last time, just prior to attempting to sneak shoot Rory.

James Griffith's jaded non-apology was perfectly suited to him as well; another highlight for me. He and Barcroft only had one scene apiece, but they were good ones.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

And you know about Harry Woods too, Marictrin! Boy, this is what makes this all so great - sharing deep film 'stuff' with others of like mind!

2:46 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I love that you both enjoyed this movie, and what a great conversation!

A few months ago I was marveling at how much Harry Woods looked like another Western character actor. I even sent my dad photos, because I'd been confusing the two. And now I can't think who the other actor was! LOL. Maybe one of you will know. It will come to me eventually...

James Griffith is so fabulous, he can turn up for just one scene, as he does here, and really make something of it. (Speaking of which I was kind of amused at Thomas Browne Henry showing up for about one's a paycheck I guess!) Liked your assessment of the gang "types," Maricatrin.

This was a good one I'm looking forward to seeing again. Meanwhile I've got more Rory Westerns in my stack!

I have THE TEXAN sitting here in my "watch soon" stack...oh for more hours in the day to explore all the interesting things out there!

Best wishes,

10:56 PM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

I wonder if you might be thinking of Grant Withers for the Harry Woods lookalike, Laura? Just a thought.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Jerry: yep, none of your casual film fans here! We're committed to the classics ;-)

Laura: perhaps Wheeler Oakman?

7:20 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Not Grant Withers or Wheeler Oakman...I'll think of it! LOL.

Couldn't agree more with Jerry -- so much fun comparing notes with other fans of like mind.


Bets wishes,

7:15 PM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

John Merton perhaps, father of Lane Bradford?? There is a similarity to Harry Woods and they were from the same era.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

When you find out, please let us know, otherwise we'll go crazy! (or, in my case, crazier;-)

7:21 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

While we're still in some deep westerns talk here, Laura, I have just seen that actress Virginia Herrick died on January 29 aged 99!! She seemed to appear in mostly Republic and Monogram westerns with folk like Whip Wilson and Johnny Mack, among others.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I feel like the name is on the tip of my will come to me! LOL.

Jerry, thank you so much for that information on Virginia Herrick. For those who are interested, here is her obituary at Boot Hill.

Best wishes,

9:13 PM  

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