Thursday, January 27, 2011

Springfield Rifle(1952)

Springfield Rifle(1952). Directed by Andre de Toth. The film is set during the American Civil War. Cast: Gary Cooper, Phyllis Thaxter and Lon Chaney Jr..

The Union army needs horses and a small group of men from Fort Hedley try and bring in herds, led by Lt. Col. Hudson, but.. raiders sympathetic to the Confederacy manage to steal them right out from under the nose. Col. Sharpe suspects a southern spy is tipping them. Later, another band of Union soldiers led by Major Kearney, along with a herd of horses try and cross a mountain pass once again, only to be headed off by the raiders. Rather than risk the lives of his men, Kearney lets the raiders have the horses and heads back to the fort. Kearney reports to Hudson, they are interrupted by Capt. Tennick, who demands that Kearney be court-marshaled for being a coward. Kearney, even with the support of his men, is found guilty and is dishonorably discharged from the army, has actually volunteered to go undercover to try to prevent raids against shipments of horses to continue. Falling in with the raiders and Confederate soldiers, he gradually gains their trust and soon discovers who has been giving them secret information.

I really enjoyed this movie full of twist and turns and for those of us who like their westerns action filled this film is for you..

Phyllis Thaxter, November 20, 1921, Portland, Maine), was the daughter of Maine Supreme Court Justice Sidney Thaxter, and his wife, a former actress. Her movie debut was opposite Van Johnson in the war-time film, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.

At MGM, she usually played the wife to a number of leading men. She played a cattle owner's daughter alongside Barbara Bel Geddes in, Blood on the Moon (1948).

In(1952)Thaxter performed mostly in character parts in television: Wagon Train(1959) and the The Twilight Zone episode 'Young Man's Fancy'(1962). Thaxter was cast along with Glenn Ford as Ma and Pa Kent in the film, Superman(1978).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Lion and the Horse(1952).

The Lion and the Horse(1952). Cast: Steve Cochran, Ray Teal, Bob Steele, Harry Antrim, George O'Hanlon and Sherry Jackson.

While working with a group of wild horse hunters, Ben Kirby comes across a beautiful, black stallion. Wanting the horse for himself, Ben captures it, but before he can raise the money, Matt sells the stallion to a rodeo showman. Ben searches for the horse by working the rodeo circuit, he eventually finds the owner, Dave Tracy and the horse. Tracy refuses to sell Ben the horse, as he is making a good living at rodeos and fairs. Believing that the rough treatment will soon destroy the stallion, Ben leaves Tracy $600, the amount Tracy paid for the stallion and sets the horse free. With Ben following close behind. The stallion heads for the back country, where Ben then recaptures him. Looking for a place to stay he comes across the ranch of Cas Bagley, Ben soon is working as a ranch hand in exchange for board and a place to train his stallion.

Overtime, Ben tames and trains Wildfire and the horse later safes his life when he pulls Ben out of quicksand. When a circus lion escapes from a traveling show, he stalks Jenny and causes a stampede of wild horses, but Ben, saves Jenny in time. Later that same day, Tracy has been searching for Wildfire shows up at the ranch threatening to have Ben arrested for horse theft. Tracy tries to steal the horse during the night, Wildfire fights back and kills him. Bagley warns Ben that the law requires the destruction of any animal causing a man's death and gives him a head start to the state line before calling the sheriff. Ben and Wildfire travel to Wyoming through back country. While Ben is asleep, the lion attacks Wildfire, but after a very tense struggle, (you can see that sometimes the lion is not real, but.. still very well done)Wildfire stomps the lion to death. The next morning, the sheriff, with Bagley and Jenny, catch up with them, Ben sets Wildfire free and is ready to put up fight rather than see his horse destroyed. Will the sheriff see their side of the story? Filmed on location in Wyoming, a good film for adults and children. What caught my interest in this film was the title.

Steve Cochran (May 25, 1917 - June 15, 1965). From 1949 to 1952, he worked for Warner Brothers (mostly supporting roles, often playing boxers and gangsters). He performed in films: The Chase (1946), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Copacabana (1947), A Song Is Born (1948), Highway 301 (1950), The Damned Don't Cry! (1950), and Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951), which inspired Johnny Cash to write his song "Folsom Prison Blues".

One of his most memorable roles was as, Big Ed Somers, in the film, White Heat (1949). In 1953, Cochran formed his own production company, Robert Alexander Productions a couple of his movies were: Come Next Spring (1956), and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Il Grido (1957).

Cochran starred in a string of B-movies including, Carnival Story (1954). He also frequently appeared in episodes of the most popular television series of the era, including guest spots on Bonanza, The Untouchables, Route 66, Bus Stop, and The Twilight Zone.

Cochran was the grandfather of film and television producer Alex Johns, who co-executive produced more than seventy episodes of the animated television series, Futurama.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943).

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943). Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Cast: Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Akim Tamiroff and Katina Paxinou. This was Ingrid Bergman's first technicolor film. Hemingway handpicked Cooper and Bergman for their roles. The film was adapted for the screen by Dudley Nichols and was directed by Sam Wood. It was also nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning one.

During the Spanish Civil War, Republican soldier Robert Jordan keeps his promise to kill his compatriot Kashkin if he is ever wounded, so that Kashkin will not be captured. Soon after, Robert travels to Madrid, to report to Republican General Golz, who assigns Robert, to blow up a strategic bridge, just before the Republicans surprise air attack. Golz sends Robert, to hide in the mountains with a Spanish guide by the name Anselmo, who leads Robert to a mountain cave, which is a hideout for a small group of guerrilla soldiers and Gypsy refugees. Robert hides the dynamite in the cave and meets his new compatriots, Pablo, Pilar, Rafael, Primitivo, Andres, Fernando and Maria, a young Spanish refugee. Robert needs the gypsies' help to carry out his orders, but, worried about his friends safety Pablo refuses. Late that night, Maria warns Robert to be wary of Pablo, who now is angry because Pilar has taken control of the group. The next morning, Fernando reveals that he had sneaked away from camp and overheard Nationalists discussing rumors of a Republican attack at the bridge. Pilar, can see into the future and talks Maria, into joining Robert for a night under the stars. Excellent performances by Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman in this action packed adventure, love story that you will not soon forget. A Beautiful movie with a good atmospheric score. Cooper is not only handsome, but gives a wonderful performance. It is a "must see" for Cooper and Bergman fans.

Fun Fact:
When Ernest Hemingway told Ingrid Bergman she would have to cut off her hair for the role of Maria, she shot back, "To get that part, I'd cut my head off!" She would rehearse tirelessly until all hours of the night, begging to repeat a scene long after the director was satisfied.

Katina Paxinou (December 17, 1900 – February 22, 1973) was a Greek film and theatre actress.She trained as an opera singer, but changed career and joined the Greek Royal Theater in 1929. When World War II broke out, she was performing in London. Unable to return to Greece, she emigrated to the United States.

She is best known for her performaces in: For Whom the Bell Tolls(1943), winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture. Prince of Foxes (1949) and the religious epic, The Miracle(1959).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Along Came Jones (1945).

Along Came Jones(1945). Gary Copper, Lorettea Young, William Demarest and Dan Duryea. The movie was adapted by Nunnally Johnson, from the novel Useless Cowboy, by Alan Le May. Directed by Stuart Heisler.

When wounded during a stage robbery, masked bandit Monte Jarrad, drops a rifle engraved with his name. Having only the robber's name the sheriff of Payneville offers a $1,000 reward for his arrest.

When Melody Jones rides into town with the initials "MJ" carved into his saddle, the townsfolk of Payneville believe him to be Monte. Mild-mannered Melody enjoys the attention and begins to swagger like a gunslinger until Cherry De Longpre, warns Melody to ride out of town.

Melody takes her advice and after he leaves, she visits the barn where she is hiding out the wounded Monte. Melody, soon realizes that she has set him up as a decoy and returns to the ranch to confront her. That night, Cherry is shocked to find Melody in her bed and tells him that she wants to help Monte, her childhood friend.

Cherry comes up with a plan.. to send Melody to lure the posse away from the ranch while Monte heads South. But the Melody is in love with Cherry and decides to return to the ranch with plans of his own.

I thought this was a very entertaining western with a wonderful combination of suspense, action, romance and comedy. It also features an interesting cast, Loretta Young gives a wonderful performance as a woman torn between the bandit and the cowboy. Cooper gives one of his funniest performance.

Dan Duryea (January 23, 1907), was an actor of film, stage and television. He made his name on Broadway in the play, Dead End, followed by The Little Foxes. He moved to Hollywood in 1940 toperform in the film version in the same role.

He performed in similar roles as a weak characters in movies such as, The Pride of the Yankees. As his career progressed throughout the 1940s he started to perform as a bad guy in a number of film noirs: Scarlet Street, The Woman in the Window, Criss Cross, Black Angel and Too Late for Tears.

From the 1950s, Duryea was more often seen in Westerns, Winchester '73 (1950), Thunder Bay (1953), The Burglar (1957), The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), and the primetime soap opera Peyton Place. He also appeared in one of the first Twilight Zone episodes in 1959 as a drunken former gunfighter in "Mr. Denton on Doomsday," written by Rod Serling. He also guest starred on, The Barbara Stanwyck Show. In 1963, Duryea appeared as Dr. Ben Lorrigan in the episode, "Why Am I Grown So Cold , on the show,The Eleventh Hour.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Video: Gary Cooper.

The video below features movie clips of the best cowboy of Hollywood! Gary Cooper.

Plainsman, 1936
Westerner, 1940
North West Mounted Police, 1940
For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1943
Along Came Jones, 1945
Saratoga Trunk , 1945
Dallas, 1950
Distant Drums, 1951

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The new True Grit does the original John Wayne version proud

The updated western True Grit is the best film of 2010 as it does the original John Wayne version proud.

Fans of the original story remember that the young Mattie Ross (in this one played by newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) seeks vengeance on Tom Chaney (played by Josh Brolin), the man who murdered her father. Since the law doesn't seem to be in a hurry finding Chaney, she hires one-eyed and drunk U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (played by Jeff Bridges) to do the job. A Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) is also looking for Chaney for a different crime and joins the duo.

The Coen Brothers direct this film and tone down their usual shtick and makes an effective modern western. There is lots of humor and several exciting action sequences. The three leads are wonderful. Steinfeld is easily the best performer in the cast as she holds her own with veterans Bridges and Damon. Her Mattie Ross pretty much is the main character unlike the first film version which focused more on Cogburn. Speaking of Cogburn, Bridges is very good as the stubborn marshal and has several emotional scenes with Steinfeld. But he also gets tough when he needs to be when dealing with the Ned Peppers Gang, who have Chaney as part of their group. Damon actually provides a good deal of the laughs as he is in constant conflict with Cogburn. The cinematography and music score are also top notch. I enjoyed True Grit immensely and think it's even better than the original, save for the awkward ending. So I will honestly say that True Grit was my favorite film of 2010 and I can't wait to see it again.