Friday, August 07, 2020

Tonight’s Movie: False Colors (1943)

FALSE COLORS (1943) is a superior Hopalong Cassidy film  featuring a strong plot and gorgeous black and white photography in the Alabama Hills.

I’ve been watching some of the earliest Hoppy films in date order but was inspired to pull this later title out after reading a review by Dan Stumpf at Mystery File. Dan likened the FALSE COLORS plot to a film noir, which was apt; I agreed with most of his review, excepting his feeling that the film evinced “weariness,” and even he admitted that the tone worked for the film. I liked it a lot.

In FALSE COLORS Hoppy (William Boyd), California Carlson (Andy Clyde), Jimmy Rogers (Jimmy Rogers), and their new coworker Bud Lawton (Tom Seidel) have just wrapped up a cattle drive.  Bud gets word his father has died and he’ll be inheriting the family ranch, along with his sister Faith (Claudia Drake).

Bud has paperwork drawn up naming Hoppy, California, and Jimmy as partners in his share of the ranch and then is promptly gunned down by strangers.  Hoppy realizes there’s more going on than tragic bad luck and heads for Bud’s hometown, where he quickly discovers that a lookalike (also Seidel) is impersonating Bud.

The plan is for the false Bud to force his “sister” Faith to consent to selling the ranch.  Banker Foster (Douglas Dumbrille) will then take over the ranch and consequently also have water rights for the entire area, forcing the other local ranchers out of business.

It’s an interesting and fairly compelling story scripted by Bennett Cohen, briskly told in just 65 minutes.  Seidel is very good as Bud and his lookalike Kit, who starts out as Faith’s loving long-lost brother but who soon reveals an icy, controlling side.

As ever, Boyd is a reassuring presence as Hoppy, kindly encouraging the younger characters, joking with California, and steely-eyed and determined when dealing with the bad guys.

Dumbrille’s henchmen are played by three of the best, Glenn Strange, Pierce Lyden, and young “Bob” Mitchum, as he was billed.  Mitchum has a great saloon brawl with Hoppy; stuntmen were probably involved, but it’s very well shot and hard to tell which shots weren’t the principal actors.

1943 was Mitchum’s first year in the movies, but this was his 14th film! He was in a grand total of 20 movies that year, a busy working actor from the start.  As it happened, I watch the film on his August 6th birthday.

The movie’s strongest asset is the gorgeous black and white photography by Russell Harlan.  The cloud-filled skies over Lone Pine’s Alabama Hills look as great as any big budget “A” Western. The visuals are most impressive.

The film was well directed by George Archainbaud.

The Hopalong Cassidy films may be found various places including DVDs, streaming services, and the Encore Westerns Channel.


Blogger barrylane said...

As you know, I think this is a pretty good picture, as are all the Harry Sherman's, but where did you find it?

8:25 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I recorded it from Encore Westerns not long before our cable system dropped the channel! Enjoyed your comments over at Mystery File. :)

Best wishes,

8:45 PM  
Blogger mel said...

Right now you can watch it on YouTube, barrylane.

2:43 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Thank you for the tip on False Colors. I will try to run it today.

I've seen most of the Hoppys, and especially liked the early shows with Boyd supported by George Hayes and Jimmy Ellison. Ellison a special favorite as he was greatly disliked by Cecil B. DeMille, which is a fine endorsement. Andy Clyde and Russell Hayden also worked well, but my special interest is, or was, professional, detailed on Dan's Law of the Pampas review on Mysterfile of Sunday, March 18, 2018 int he comments section.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Barry, I found your comments about owning the rights to the last twelve Hopalong Cassidy movies for a few hours in 1970 very interesting.

1:02 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Re The Brave Fools. That project with Louis was to be part of a multi-picture project we had negotiated with CBS. Laura, I believe has some information relative to that. Something went wrong, and I won't go into that here, but we farmed out our commitments of a firm called Commonwealth United, the owner of many theatres, anxious at that time to control their own product.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Barry, thank you for the information, because this is very interesting behind the scenes backstory.

7:03 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Walter, I hoped you would have some interest in these things. I am as involved mentally and emotionally now, as I was then. Thank you for getting back to me.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I think I'll dig that out for tonight.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Catching up on more comments which came in during my recent travels!

Mel, thank you for sharing the YouTube info, and Barrylane and Walter, thanks much for sharing that interesting story on the Hopalong Cassidy rights, glad to have that posted here for new readers. I love Barrylane's business background, so many interesting experiences!

Caftan Woman, hope you enjoyed the movie!

Best wishes,

1:37 PM  

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