Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tonight's Movie: The Longhorn (1951) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

I'm taking time out from my ongoing coverage of the Lone Pine Film Festival to review another movie from the Warner Archive's eight-film Wild Bill Elliott Western Collection!

THE LONGHORN (1951) is a top-drawer Elliott "B" released by Monogram Pictures, and it's probably my favorite film in the set. It's fun to note that half a decade later, when Monogram Pictures had turned into Allied Artists, THE LONGHORN was loosely remade as CANYON RIVER (1956), one of my favorite George Montgomery Westerns.

Elliott plays Jim Kirk, a struggling Wyoming rancher who hatches a plan to buy Hereford cattle in Oregon and drive them back along the Oregon trail to cross-breed with his Texas Longhorns.

Jim's friend Andy (Myron Healey) is secretly resentful of Jim and plans to eventually kill Jim and help himself to the cattle.

Complications abound, including Jim and Andy both being attracted to spunky trail cook Gail (Phyllis Coates). Meanwhile, potential trail hands in Oregon think Jim is crazy, so he ends up hiring the only men who will take the job, a crew of ex-outlaws headed by Purdy (Lane Bradford).

There's lots of stock footage of cattle inserted -- including at least one shot filmed outside Lone Pine -- but the low budget doesn't get in the way of a good story, from a solid script by the reliable Daniel B. Ullman. In fact, it's kind of fun watching the economical way shots of the cowhands are intercut with the stock footage. It's much better done than, say, Dick Foran's PRAIRIE THUNDER (1937).

Incidentally, I suspect the taciturn Elliott was reluctant to kiss the heroine at this stage in his career, as his romantic clinches with Coates are broken up just in the nick of time, not once but twice! The personable Coates will be 90 come January. She appeared in numerous Westerns, including two other films in this Elliott set.

In addition to Healey and Bradford, the familiar Western character faces in the movie include I. Stanford Jolley and Marshall Reed.

THE LONGHORN was directed by Lewis D. Collins. It was filmed by Ernest Miller, with most of the movie shot outdoors at Iverson Ranch. The running time is 70 minutes.

Previous reviews of films from the Wild Bill Elliott Western Collection: WACO (1952), KANSAS TERRITORY (1952), THE MAVERICK (1952), REBEL CITY (1953), TOPEKA (1953), and THE FORTY-NINERS (1954). There's just one film left to review in this collection, VIGILANTE TERROR (1953). It's been most enjoyable spending time with Wild Bill thanks to this set.

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.


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