Thursday, January 12, 2012

HELL ON WHEELS is a great new Western series

The new western series, Hell on Wheels, which premiered on AMC back in November of last year is winding down for the season with one more new episode left for this Sunday night. Set in the 1860's it centers on former confederate soldier Cullen Bohannan, whose quest for vengeance has led him to the Union Pacific Railroad's westward construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad. Newcomer Anson Mount is great as Cullen. And he is supported by a great cast. Including Colm Meaney as railroad baron Durant. Common as Elam, Cullen's right hand man. Tom Noonan as the local reverend. Dominique McElligott as the headstrong Lily Bell, a woman whose husband worked for Durant and was killed by Indians. And Christopher Heyerdahl as The Swede, who runs the railroad camp with a strong hand.

Anson Mount as Cullen

Colm Meaney as Durant

Common as Elam
Dominique McElligott as Lily

Cullen is looking for the men who killed his wife and as he finds them, he kills them one by one. Along the way he works as the boss of the railroad and makes friend with Elam. Which riles the other men since Elam is a Negro and is seen as nothing but a slave. And he buts head with The Swede on a daily basis. And plus there is conflict with the local Indians as the railroad is forging ahead through the land where they live.

All in all, there is so much going on here, that it is a joy to watch each and every week. If you love westerns, then this is a very entertaining series. It is quite graphic and the language is raw but not as strong as Deadwood was. Catch this great series, now airing on AMC. Oh and if you're wondering, Hell on Wheels is the name of the town where it is set. And it has this awesome theme music that grabs you right away.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Montana Belle (1952).

Montana Belle (1952). Western directed by Allan Dwan. Cast: Jane Russell. The story is a fictionalised biography of Montana outlaw Belle Starr.

Russell plays notorious outlaw sharp shooter Belle Starr, who after being saved by the Dalton Gang from the hangman's noose, falls in love with Bob Dalton. This doesn't stop Belle and Dalton from trying to stab one another in the back. Things take a turn for the better,(for a short time) after Belle Starr meets gambler Tom Bradfield who finally offers Belle a new start in life.

Supporting players George Brent and Forrest Tucker, who take turns getting out of Jane's way. Russell, makes a perfect Belle, you will enjoy seeing her in the saloon singing, "The Gilded Lily".

Jane Russell (June 21, 1921 – February 28, 2011). Was one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s.

Russell moved from the Midwest to California, where she had her first film role in 1943 with The Outlaw. She starred in over 20 films throughout her career.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Western Woman.

There are many wonderful stories of courageous women who helped to settle the West, told through dramas, musicals and comedy. Here is a list of some of the better known.. Western Woman Classic films:

Belle Starr (1941). Director: Irving Cummings. Based on the life of outlaw Belle Starr. Cast: Gene Tierney, Randolph Scott and Dana Andrews.

After her family's mansion is burned down by Yankee soldiers for hiding Captain Sam Starr, Belle Shirley promises to take revenge. Breaking Starr out of prison, she joins his group who make plans to attack banks and railroads and enemy troops. Belle and Sam are married and trouble begins when Sam lets a couple of ruthless rebels into the gang.

I remember seeing this film many years ago and fell in love with it. I have always liked civil war films. Gene Tierney is beautiful as always, but..did not care much for her southern accent throughout the film. Randolph Scott is wonderful as captain Sam Starr. I do not want to give the ending away.. Good performances at end.

FUN FACT: Originally, Alice Faye was to play the title role.

Annie Oakley (1935). D: George Stevens. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster, Melvyn Douglas, Pert Kelton, Andy Clyde. Biography of female sharpshooter Stanwyck and her on-again off-again romance with fellow performer Foster. Moroni Olsen, plays Buffalo Bill. I have not seen this one yet.

Annie Get Your Gun (1950). Musical biography of sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Cast: Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Edward Arnold. Dir: George Sidney. Fun Facts: Judy Garland and Frank Morgan, who appeared together in The Wizard of Oz (1939), were scheduled to reappear together in this film. Garland was fired because of health problems, and Frank Morgan died shortly after filming began. As a result of this, Betty Hutton took over Judy Garland's role as Annie Oakley, and Louis Calhern succeeded Frank Morgan as Buffalo Bill. Howard Keel broke his leg during filming when a horse fell on it. I thought Betty Hutton was wonderful in this film. She may not have been the singer that Garland was, but she did a excellent job with her performance, as Annie with her amazing personality and humor.

Show Boat(1951). A beautiful musical of riverboat lives and loves. Cast: Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner and Howard Keel.

Westward the Women (1951) Director: William A. Wellman. Cast: Robert Taylor, Denise Darcel and John McIntire.

In 1851, Roy Whitman decides to take a group of women west to join his lonely men, hoping they will put down roots and settle down in his California valley.

Roy has the women pick their prospective husbands from pictures he has posted to a board. Two saloon girls, Fifi Danon and Laurie Smith, change their clothes when others like them are rejected. Roy is not fooled, but believes they are sincere in trying to change their ways and decides to let them join the other ladies. Roy hires a hardened trail boss, Buck Wyatt, to lead the wagon train.

On the trail, Buck shoots one of his men for raping Laurie. All but two of the trail hands leave in the middle of the night, taking eight of the women with them. This leaves only the Japanese cook, and Jim Stacey, who has fallen in love with an already-pregnant Rose Meyers to lead the train. Buck, decides the group must turn back. The women refuse to accept his decision. Roy believes that the women can learn to do "a man's job". The women go through one hardship after another. Will Fifi's bravery and determination change Buck's opinion of women?

This movie is very entertaining! It's funny, It's touching, It's violent. It's everything you'd expect from a film called Westward the Woman.

Mail Order Bride (1964). An aging cowhand tries to help a young rancher settle down by buying him a wife. Cast: Buddy Ebsen, Keir Dullea, Lois Nettleton. I have not seen this one yet.

Montana Belle (1952). The Daltons force Belle Starr to help them on a dangerous raid. Cast: Jane Russell,
George Brent and Scott Brady. I do not remember if I have seen this one or not.