Sunday, March 07, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Wings of the Hawk (1953) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

WINGS OF THE HAWK (1953), a Universal Pictures adventure film long unavailable for home viewing, has now been released on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber.

Even better news: The Blu-ray edition contains both the 2-D and 3-D versions of the film, along with some nice extras. The 3-D version was newly restored by the 3-D Film Archive.

Van Heflin, who also appeared in Universal's TOMAHAWK (1951), stars as "Irish" Gallagher, a mine owner in 1911 Mexico. 

Greedy Col. Paco Ruiz (George Dolenz, father of future Monkee Mickey Dolenz) takes possession of the mine.  Gallagher attempts to find off Ruiz and his soldiers, to no avail, and ultimately must make a run for it.

It's out of the frying pan and into the fire as Gallagher ends up in the midst of insurrectionists battling Ruiz and his men, unexpectedly led by the beautiful Raquel (Julie Adams).  Gallagher saves Raquel's life by digging a bullet out of her shoulder and earns the trust of the revolutionaries.

Gallagher and Raquel have a common adversary, as Col. Ruiz is responsible for killing Raquel's parents -- a situation complicated by the fact that Raquel's sister Elena (Abbe Lane, CHICAGO SYNDICATE) is in love with him.

A series of skirmishes and captures between the military and guerrillas take place, leading to an explosive showdown at the mine.

WINGS OF THE HAWK is a modestly entertaining film; it has appealing lead actors but their characters are underwritten, and the story is fairly bland.  Fans of Universal Westerns and the lead actors will find it worth a look, though it's not as interesting as the typical Western from that studio.

The unusual premise, with Adams' character leading men into battle, adds a little something different, but as much as I adore Julie Adams, it's a bit hard to believe her in this role, and her portrayal of what one might expect to be a fiery character is...quiet.  To an extent this might read as confidence or bravery, but in the end the character is simply too pallid.

Heflin may not have conventional matinee idol looks, but it's near impossible for him to be boring on screen, which helps, though it would have been nice to know more about his character.  He only has so much to work with from the script, written by James E. Moser from a story by Gerald Drayson Adams.

Lane adds interest with a flashier, more animated character, but her screen time is fairly limited.

WINGS OF THE HAWK was directed by Budd Boetticher and filmed by Clifford Stine.  This 81-minute film was shot in low-budget Simi Valley locations including Corriganville.

The supporting cast includes Rodolfo Acosta, Antonio Moreno, Noah Beery Jr., and Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez.

I reviewed the 2-D Blu-ray version, which is grainier and less impressive than the typical Kino Lorber Blu-ray, but I suspect this might be as good as the print gets. I look forward to viewing the 3-D print at some point in the future, which comes from a new 2K master.

The disc features two commentary tracks, a full-length commentary by the always excellent Jeremy Arnold, and a 20-minute track by 3-D expert Mike Ballew.  Arnold knew the director, and although the movie was only so-so, I'm sure I'll be learning some interesting information when I listen to it later in the week.

The disc also contains the trailer and both 3-D and 2-D versions of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon HYPNOTIC HICK (1953).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger john k said...

I agree totally with your fine review but the excellent commentary and the Woody cartoon make it a worthwhile purchase. It's odd that this is among Budd's favorites of his Universal pictures I thought HORIZONS WEST (due soon from Kino) was far superior,and there again I'm non too fond of these "Mexican Revolution" type of Westerns which as far as i'm concerned belong in a genre all of their own. I hope other 50's 3D films get remastered in 2D and 3D versions especially CHARGE AT FEATHER RIVER,SOUTHWEST PASSAGE,DEVIL'S CANYON and the non Western DANGEROUIS MISSION.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, I enjoyed your review of WINGS OF THE HAWK(1953). If my memory serves me right, I first saw it on the Memphis, Tennessee WHBQ Channel 13 DIALING FOR DOLLARS MOVIE in the early 1970's. I like the movie probably more than you and John K. I'm a long time fan of Julie Adams, who during the 1950's did a lot of Westerns. Too me she was the Queen of the West at Universal-International. She loved doing Westerns and she was a real good rider. In interviews she said that she loved portraying the Mexican soldadera Raquel Noriega, " I loved the character, and I had a great outfit to wear, the clothes were great, and I got to go out with a wrangler. At Universal they had wranglers to help people out. And I rode Pie, the horse that James Stewart always rode; I got a great horse to ride. I learned to do running dismounts and all sorts of things on the horse. So I had a great time."

Stay safe and healthy.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

Like Walter, I liked it a lot too. Julie Adams has slowly but surely become one of my favorite Hollywood actresses by far. Unfortunately very underrated today.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

John, Walter, and Margot, thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts on WINGS OF THE HAWK.

John, I'm definitely looking forward to the commentary in the near future. Jeremy Arnold always does a great job -- lots of research and mixes it in with discussing themes, while avoiding just telling you what you're seeing on screen. I would sure love to see some of the titles you mention on Blu-ray, especially DANGEROUS MISSION.

Walter, I love that you saw this film on Dialing for Dollars. Like you I have vivid memories of seeing certain memories on TV in childhood -- I can still recall which movies played on which stations (MGM on Ch. 11, Goldwyn on Ch. 5, etc.). Great quotes from Julie!

Margot, Julie was not only a great actress but a wonderful lady. I was so fortunate to be on the same stage as her when I was a teen and watch her work up close at every performance. It was a joy to reconnect with her at some events in the years before she passed on -- I sat at a table with her and Marsha Hunt at Coleen Gray's memorial service reception, which as you can imagine was almost an out-of-body experience for me LOLLLL.

Best wishes,

10:19 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

Lucky you! Great memories.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I really was fortunate!!

Best wishes,

7:58 PM  

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