Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Saddle the Wind (1958)

Today we watched a "1958" double bill, following THE TUNNEL OF LOVE (1958) with SADDLE THE WIND (1958), an engrossing "psychological" Western written by Rod Serling. It was directed by Robert Parrish and an uncredited John Sturges, who specialized in action films such as ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO (1953) and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960). I'm curious to know how much of the film Sturges worked on, and why, but thus far my research hasn't turned up any more on that subject.

SADDLE THE WIND stars Robert Taylor as an ex-gunslinger who now makes an honest living as a rancher, mentored by an older, peace-loving rancher (Donald Crisp) who has served as something of a father figure to Taylor.

As the film begins, Taylor's unstable kid brother (John Cassavetes) brings home a pretty fiancee (Julie London), a saloon singer who thinks the kid brother might be her ticket to a better life. Unfortunately, the kid brother has an itchy trigger finger and exhibits increasingly erratic behavior; he soon is embroiled in gunfights and starting a range war, leading to an inevitable confrontation between the two brothers.

The film is a bit grim, but it is very well-crafted and has a satisfying conclusion. Much of the movie was filmed on location, and the spectacular Colorado mountain landscapes are a real plus. (The occasional insertion of obviously "processed" shots into the location scenes is noticeable, though not enough to detract from the film.) Robert Taylor tends to play the same sort of stoic character in many of his '50s films, but I find him appealing and to date have always enjoyed his films.

Among the supporting cast I particularly enjoyed Donald Crisp and Ray Teal, who plays Crisp's foreman. Also in the cast are Charles McGraw and Royal Dano.

Some good Disney trivia: Royal Dano was the voice of Abraham Lincoln Disneyland's Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln.

SADDLE THE WIND runs 84 minutes. The haunting title song, sung by Julie London, was written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, composers of hits such as "Mona Lisa," "Que Sera, Sera," and "Silver Bells." Elmer Bernstein composed the background music. The color CinemaScope photography was by George Folsey, who was also the cinematographer of GRAND CENTRAL MURDER (1942), reviewed here last week.

SADDLE THE WIND is not available on VHS or DVD. Vote here for it to be released on DVD. The scenery in this film would really be done justice by a widescreen DVD.

This movie can be seen as part of the film library on Turner Classic Movies.

Fall 2008 Update: SADDLE THE WIND is now available on DVD.

June 2020 Update: SADDLE THE WIND has been reissued on DVD-R by the Warner Archive.


Blogger Dana said...

Royal Dano was definitely MISCAST as the voice of Honest Abe Lincoln at the Disney attraction. Dano had the stentorian tones of an old-time radio announcer: "Annow, ladies and gentlemen, 1950 Rinso, ONE YEAR AHEAD OF TIME, proudly presents the Amos 'n Andy Show!" In actuality, Lincoln had a high, squeaky, hillbilly voice that was suited for a hick character on Green Acres or the Beverly Hillbillies. (Lincoln was certainly pre-media, in more ways than one.) Think Mr. Haney on Green Acres, and you have the REAL Lincoln. I've heard Disney has been toying with the idea of taking out the Lincoln attraction; not enough tourists seem to be interested these days. That's probably a result of our school systems, that don't teach civics and history and patriotism and all that Dead White Male stuff. It's akin to the situation at Knott's Berry Farm, where even on the busiest day the replica of Indepedence Hall is empty, except for a few lost souls looking for empty bathroom stalls. They'll be crumbling ruins some day, all of it, as the last European leaves California. We'll have George Lopez then as the voice of Viva Zapata, only at Disneyland!

1:26 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln hasn't been playing recently, due to the 50th Anniversary film with Steve Martin playing in the Opera House. While the Disneyland film has been playing, Mr. Lincoln went "on tour" to the Henry Ford museum...I believe Ford was an original sponsor when Mr. Lincoln debuted at the World's Fair, but I haven't looked that up to confirm it.

Mr. Lincoln is also alive and well in the Hall of Presidents in Orlando.

In 2005 we attended a wonderful Constitution Day ceremony at Independence was a very special event. School groups still visit on field trips. (I do agree with you, however, that there is not nearly enough civics and history in public school these days, which is one reason among many that I homeschool.)

Tell me, Bag of Bones, what do you like? What makes you happy? I think every time you've posted here it's been a complaint; it would be nice to know a more positive side of you and your interests.

Best wishes,

2:51 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Just a gadfly . . . I don't believe in amusing myself to death. Look at your site, filled with movies, amusement parks, NASCAR, every kind of false diversion, with some sanitized politics. It's all a narcotic. It's passive. For one thing, I don't like fill life with artificial ways to crush unrelenting boredom and emptiness. Drive down Sunset Boulevard--look at the mansions. The pushers are getting rich, but at your expense and not mine... You're probably a wonderful person, intelligent. I enjoy browsing your site on the way to other things. But are you really living life? Are you in the moment? Are you doing? I'm not so sure. I live in O.C. and see the space cadets all around me. What makes you happy?

8:36 PM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

There are so many things to say to this...
I want to throw my two cents in Bag of Bones. And forgive me Laura, if I speak out of turn. I don't presume to speak for you.
The things that you find on Laura's sight are the things that interest her, and are the little things she finds joy in. Undoubtedly she finds her biggest joys in her family and in the things and values she holds dear.
It is the big things and the little things that add to our lives.

For example, movies, like literature, can speak to the very big things that reach out to us; love, hope, enduring tragedy, facing everyday evil or extraordinary evil. They are stories and they are characters. Sure there are trite and terrible films, just like there are trite examples in all of the arts. But these are the things that teach us, remind us, and touch us and help us understand who we are. For that, for the nostalgia of childhood, or the longing for a childhood lost- all things speak to us.

In many ways, I believe life is about finding happiness and giving happiness in a world that has it on short order. Just because the room is dark, doesn't mean we can't strive to bring in the light. We live life everyday. Some days we find happiness, others are filled with sadness and pain. What truly matters is how we deal with it.

And those "artificial things" that you speak of can sometimes offer a bit of joy and happiness. It's human nature. As long as they don't take the place of the bigger picture, it's wrong to dismiss them or disregard them. I personally spend most of my day working with people in very dire situations, and some evenings educating people just starting adulthood. The rest of the time I spend with family and enjoy some pleasant things in life: old friends, old movies, old books, and new hopes and dreams.

You'll probably find fault with all that I've written, Bag of Bones. And that's OK. Part of being who you are is being comfortable in your own skin and knowing who you are. Say what you will- but while you may frown on Laura and others and the lives they lead, ask yourself this: who have you helped today? Who have you brought joy to today?

Have you stirred yourself long enough out of your moribund narcissism and lofty plane to figure out why you seem to be the only one around?
Forgive me for the long post Laura, and my presumptuous words. You keep on, keepin' on!

9:25 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I find it rather unusual you enjoy time spent visiting this site, Bag of Bones, given that my interests clearly aren't yours. Isn't it kind of an empty thing to stop by only to leave complaints? Just my take.

As for living a full life, well, I don't really feel the need to defend my private life to a stranger, but in one sentence, I think anyone who's a busy wife and mom of several children, homeschooling, running a self-employed business, active with her kids in various community and church activities...yep, I'm doing. (Too much, sometimes! LOL.) But this blog is not the vehicle to share a great deal about my family life (in part to protect the privacy of the rest of my family), to talk about my business, etc.

This blog is instead the vehicle to share "musings" on my many miscellaneous interests :). I would *hope* that it is clear from my blog what at least a few of the things are which make me happy. :) I feel blessed to be able to enjoy so many different things while we're here on earth. I enjoy learning more about my interests, and it makes me happy being able to share thoughts on them with those who might be interested as well.

The "connections" made online through common interests are a blessing as well. I have met many wonderful people online, not only through this blog but through other Internet experiences dating back for 15 years now.

I think that while we might find some common ground somewhere you and I simply view and approach the world differently.

You're welcome to keep dropping in here, but I do hope you'll respect that this particular blog is not the place for flame wars, insults, and the like. Life's too short, and you can easily find that atmosphere elsewhere.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, and good luck to you.

Best wishes,

9:35 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

J.C., I saw your post when mine just posted, and I am truly humbled and appreciative of what you took the time to write.

You expressed my thoughts on those "artificial things" better than I ever could have. Including exactly how I feel about the things in which I take joy (and I do take joy!) and their relative place in my life. Thank you so very much.

To add one further thought: I watched a documentary on THE SEARCHERS today, and was struck anew by how BIG that movie is, the depths of emotion, all the things that movie's art. Art inspires and fills something in the soul. As you say, not all movies are on that level, but I find in most films *something* to learn, to enjoy, to take away, just as I do with books, great music, and more.

I wrote in my post above that one of the things I value is the connections and the wonderful people met online through common interests. J.C. taking the time out of his day to post such kind thoughts is a prime example of that very thing.

Best wishes,

9:43 PM  

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