Sunday, January 13, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Gold Fever (1952) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

GOLD FEVER (1952) is a low-budget Monogram Pictures Western available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

GOLD FEVER was co-written and produced by John Calvert, who stars as John Bonar. Bonar meets up with and befriends elderly Nugget Jack (Ralph Morgan), a prospector Bonar dubs "Old-Timer."

Bill Johnson (Gene Roth) wants Nugget Jack's mine and makes plenty of trouble. Rusty (Calvert's real-life wife, Ann Cornell) is often around to help Bonar and Nugget Jack with her pistol.

That's about all there is to this 63-minute movie, which is set at the edge of the Mojave Desert in Yermo, California. Curiously, the movie is set in post Gold Rush days but Yermo wasn't founded until 1902.

I love "B" movies, but this one really was...not good. That's despite the experienced direction of Leslie Goodwins, who'd been in the business since the '20s and would go on to direct many episodes of Warner Bros. TV Westerns, including several episodes of MAVERICK.

The acting was as creaky as any I've ever seen in a "B" Western, and that's saying something. Even Ralph Morgan, capping his long career with this film, seems off kilter in a hyper Gabby Hayes type "geezer" role.

Cornell added some spark to the production, but it wasn't always easy to stay focused on the plot despite its bare bones structure. The last quarter of the film is the best thanks to Cornell becoming an integral part of the plot at that juncture.

I wasn't familiar with Calvert before this film. He was a magician who also appeared in several films between 1943 and 1956, ranging from bit roles to playing the lead in two late '40s "Falcon" mysteries. He passed away in 2013, at the age of 102.

The movie was filmed by Glen Gano and Clark Ramsey.

The Warner Archive DVD looks terrific, and the excellent print, which also has a very good soundtrack, is frankly one of the few reasons to see this film. I absolutely love that Warner Archive rescues titles from obscurity and makes them available in outstanding prints, but I guess they can't all be winners!

There are no extras on the DVD.

For more on this film, check out Toby's review at 50 Westerns From the 50s.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, good review of a movie that you didn't really like. Warner Archive releases the Western GOLD FEVER, so why not release a good version of SUGARFOOT(1951) starring Western Movie favorite Randolph Scott. I saw SUGARFOOT several times as a youngster, during the 1960's and '70's, on THE EARLY MOVIE, which aired on CBS affiliate Channel 3 WREC-TV Memphis, Tennessee. I have a deep nostalgic tug at the mention of Randolph Scott in SUGARFOOT.

I know that you have reviewed SUGARFOOT in the past, thanks to Jerry Entract. I would hope that whoever decides what is released at Warner Archive would read this blog as well as Toby's Fifties Westerns site. RELEASE SUGARFOOT.

2:38 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Walter! Since the Warner Archive has released so many Randolph Scott films on DVD, including a complete set, I'm guessing there are some challenges regarding releasing SUGARFOOT -- either the quality of the materials or perhaps rights issues due to the unrelated TV Western called SUGARFOOT.

Hopefully their other Scott releases are popular and we will someday see SUGARFOOT!!

Best wishes,

10:54 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Laura, with regard to Sugarfoot, the rights issues would relate, in all probability to the original author, Clarence Buddington Kelland. I have read that novel, and it was not at all of interest. no fun. The Sugafoot television series was a spin off for the Will Rogers, Jr. picture, Boy From Oklahoma. I do not know where Clint Walker's Cheyenne series originated, but certainly not from the Dennis Morgan, Jane Waman, Raoul Walsh picture of the same title.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the info on the original SUGARFOOT novel, Barrylane! Interesting it wasn't very good.

I really enjoyed THE BOY FROM OKLAHOMA (1954) last summer (reviewed here). It's interesting that it inspired the SUGARFOOT TV series while the movie by the same name had nothing to do with it!

Best wishes,

12:57 PM  

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