Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Saddle Legion (1951)

It seemed fitting to watch a movie this weekend in honor of Dorothy Malone, who passed away yesterday.

Thanks to my friend Jerry for reminding me that Dorothy was in a Tim Holt Western I hadn't seen yet, SADDLE LEGION (1951), which is available from the Warner Archive in the Tim Holt Western Classics Collection Vol. 3.

SADDLE LEGION is a typically good-looking Holt Western, largely filmed at the Jack Garner Ranch in Southern California's San Jacinto Mountains. The Holt films regularly filmed there, as well as much further north in Lone Pine.

Dave (Holt) and Chito (Richard Martin) sign on as cowhands with Fred Warren (Cliff Clark). They uncover a plot by several crooks to fool Warren into thinking his cattle have a deadly disease, after which the bad guys plan to make off with the herd.

The villains include perennial Western baddie Robert J. Wilke; seeing his familiar face always makes me smile. Wilke appeared in a number of Holt's Westerns.

Dorothy Malone plays a frontier doctor who comes to share Dave and Chito's suspicions about the herd's "disease" and helps to unravel the mystery. Malone makes the most of her scenes in this short film, which runs only an hour long. It's nice to see her confidently playing a character who was groundbreaking for the era, decades before Jane Seymour's DR. QUINN made it to TV.

Also in the cast is Movita as a saloon dancer who flirts with Chito. Movita had played Tehani in MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935). She also appeared in the Holt Western THE MYSTERIOUS DESPERADO (1949).

The cast also includes Robert Livingston, Mauritz Hugo, James Bush, Stanley Andrews, Dick Foote, and Monte Montegue.

SADDLE LEGION was briskly filmed by Lesley Selander, with attractive black and white filming by J. Roy Hunt. The Warner Archive print is really beautiful.

Incidentally, I have no idea why the movie was named SADDLE LEGION. Sometimes it seems like the studio was desperate to come up with Western titles and used anything!

I have several more Dorothy Malone films in my "to watch" stack and hope to review another of her films soon.


Blogger John G. said...

Weirdly enough, the day before Dorothy Malone's death, I was looking at the cast list for this collection of Tim Holt westerns and was pleasantly surprised to see Dorothy's name in one of the films. I was already leaning toward buying the set because Joan Dixon, my latest obscure actress discovery, appears in three of the movies, but Dorothy sealed the deal.

Laura, I searched for your review of TOO MUCH, TOO SOON, where Dorothy portrays Diana Barrymore, but I guess that one must be in the stack of her movies you still need to watch. It's a Warner Archive.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

You were welcome, Laura! You and I don't require much prompting to watch a Tim Holt western, do we? And with lovely Dorothy Malone along for the ride, why not??!!

'B' western titles rarely had any relevance to the plot but they sounded fun anyway.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

John, this might be my favorite of the Holt sets, I've seen 2/3 of it so far. I recommend it!

Thanks also for the recommendation of TOO MUCH, TOO SOON. I have that in my library but have not yet ever seen it.

Jerry, I was glad you mentioned it as it had been way too long since my last Holt Western. It was an easy call to put that in the player!

In fact I was further inspired to gather up a number of "B" Westerns with favorite actors and put them all in a "watch soon" stack. :)

So many movies, so little time...!

Best wishes,

12:33 PM  

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