I found a few minutes to do some aimless internet surfing today, and I came across these two videos featuring the great Maureen O'Hara and Stephanie Powers talking about the film McLintock! which they both starred in alongside John Wayne. I enjoyed them very much, and thought I would share them with you. If you haven't seen them before, you're in for a treat! Enjoy!
The following was written by Toby Roan of the "50 Westerns from the 50's" blog, and is reblogged here with Toby's kind permission (Thanks Toby!). If you get the chance, take a gander at Toby's blog by clicking the link above. I guarantee you're gonna love it!
Blu-ray Review: Hondo (1953)
May 22, 2012 by Toby at 50 Westerns from the 50’s
A Wayne-Fellows Production
Directed by John Farrow
Produced by Robert Fellows
Screenplay by James Edward Grant
Based on a story (“The Gift Of Cochise”) by Louis L’Amour
Photography: Robert Burks, ASC and Archie Stout, ASC
Editor: Ralph Dawson, ACE
Music: Emil Newman and Hugo Friedhofer
Technical Advisor: Major Philip Kieffer
CAST: John Wayne (Hondo Lane), Geraldine Page (Angie Lowe), Ward Bond (Buffalo Baker), Michael Pate (Vittorio), James Arness (Lennie), Rodolfo Acosta (Silva), Leo Gordon (Ed Lowe), Tom Irish (Lt. McKay), Lee Aaker (Johnny Lowe), Paul Fix (Major Sherry), Rayford Barnes.
Over the years, a number of things have kept Hondo from being recognized as the fine Western it is. First, there’s a tendency to discount all 50s 3-D films as slaves to a gimmick. Next, there’s the fact that it was released the same year as, and has a few similarities to, George Stevens’ Shane (1953) — which has taken its place as one of the genre’s giants. Then consider that Hondo sits among pictures like Rio Grande (1950), The Searchers (1956) and Rio Bravo (1959) in John Wayne’s filmography — it’s easy to be overlooked in a crowd like that. Then, and probably the toughest of these hurdles to overcome, is the decade or so the picture was virtually impossible to see.
Original novel by Louis L'Amour
This absence was brought about by Wayne’s estate and included all the films produced by Wayne-Fellows and Batjac. (When Robert Fellows was bought out, the company was renamed Batjac, after the shipping line in 1949’s Wake Of The Red Witch.) The Batjac pictures resurfaced on DVD in 2005, with a very nice edition of Hondo being one of the highpoints.
Hondo began as a Louis L’Amour story, “The Gift Of Cochise,” which James Edward Grant, Wayne’s scriptwriter of choice, adapted for Wayne-Fellows. (It appeared in the July 5, 1952 issue of Collier’s.) John Farrow was signed to direct, and Glenn Ford was offered the lead. Ford didn’t want to work with Farrow after his experience on a previous Wayne-Fellows picture, Plunder Of The Sun (1953). Unwilling to fire the director, Wayne took another look at the script and decided to do it himself.
Wayne is Hondo Lane, a Cavalry dispatch rider who turns up at the small ranch of Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page), located in the middle of Apache territory. He’s on foot, with his dog, having lost his horse fighting the Apaches. She says her husband is away and will be back shortly. Seeing through her lie — her husband doesn’t seem to be coming back — he urges her and her son (Lee Aaker) to seek safety from the Apaches. She’s never had trouble with the Apache chief Vittorio (Michael Pate) before, and decides to stay. From there things get a bit more complicated, as Wayne ends up killing Page’s ne’er-do-well husband (Leo Gordon) and being captured and tortured by Vittorio. There’s an exciting wrap-up as Wayne helps the Cavalry lead a number of settlers out of Apache territory.
Grant’s script expanded the L’Amour short story considerably, and L’Amour then novelized the screenplay. Published to tie in the film’s opening, it was a bestseller — and is still in print today.
John Wayne in 3-D
Wayne-Fellows was in a distribution deal with Warner Bros., who’d seen runaway success with House Of Wax (1953) in 3-D, so it soon came to pass that Hondo was to be shot in 3-D. It would be the first time Warner Bros. would use its new All-Media camera rig — and the first of Wayne-Fellow’s productions in color (WarnerColor).
All the Batjac pictures benefited from Duke’s working relationships with some of the best actors and technical people around. Behind the camera were cameraman Archie Stout and John Ford, who visited the location and ended up shooting a bit of second unit stuff. The cast included third-billed Ward Bond, Paul Fix in a character part, and James Arness — under contract to Wayne’s company and still a few years from being recommending by Duke for Gunsmoke.
One clear break from what, and who, we expect from a John Wayne Movie turned out to be his leading lady — Geraldine Page.
Paul Fix: “Duke’s agent, Charles Feldman, also represented Geraldine Page who was a successful actress on the New York stage. Robert Fellows offered her the part without testing her… Duke was dismayed when he first saw her. She had bad teeth, so the first thing Fellows did was send her to a dentist who worked on her for three days.”
Cast and crew arrived in Camargo, Mexico, with shooting to start June 11, 1953. Thanks to the technical difficulties of shooting 3-D on location, things got off to a rather slow start. Setups were few and far between.
Leo Gordon: “They had that great big camera that was the size of a small truck.”
Geraldine Page: “It was a very temperamental machine. So we had lots of time to sit under the broiling Mexican summer sun.”
Wayne and mogul Jack Warner had been communicating via telegram from the beginning, often with Wayne complaining about the delays and expense of working in 3-D. Jack Warner saw some dailies and wired on June 18 about more close-ups: “Director is not moving you and Geraldine close enough to camera. Everything seems to be too far away.”
Wayne replied two days later: “Farrow has done everything but play music to get camera in for close shots… cameraman is over cautious for fear front office will scream eyestrain. Will show cameraman your wire.”
The “cameraman” Wayne refers to is Archie Stout, a Batjac veteran who shared duties on Hondo with Robert Burks, who’d worked on House Of Wax and would go on to shoot some of Hitchcock’s finest films. But the 3-D cameras and frustrated DPs weren’t the only things troubling Wayne. He was in the middle of a divorce from his wife Chata. Their relationship was volatile, to say the least. Then there were his scenes with Page.
James Arness: “Acting with Geraldine Page was difficult for Duke, since their styles were completely different. Here was dynamic Wayne, who wanted to move things right along regardless of meaningless details, and a very intense costar who wanted to know the meaning of every scene she was in… as they got used to each other, things worked out fine.”
What’s more, the Mexican temperatures sometimes topped 120 degrees.
James Arness: “It was mid-summer, and blazing hot down there. We worked 14 hours a day in the sun… After each day’s shooting, we’d all race back to our run-down Mexican motel and hit the bar to quench our thirst. We ordered anything, just so the glass was full of ice. After a few day’s, everyone came down with Montezuma’s revenge… The problem was solved when we realized the water for the ice in our drinks was coming from a polluted river near the hotel.”
Lee Aaker: “We were in Mexico for three months doing it… most of all, I remember John Wayne as being very nice to me.”
After wrapping in early August, the picture was quickly edited and scored for a Thanksgiving premiere in Houston. Its wide release in January of 1954 was very successful. There’s been a lot of debate over the years about the picture’s 3-D engagements. Some claim it played mostly flat, but that’s not the case. Almost all of its first run was in 3-D.
Whether flat or in 3-D, Hondo is an excellent film — not a great one. Its smaller size turns out to be a large part of its appeal, and it seems to hint at the look and tone of The Searchers (1956).
Wayne’s performance is excellent. Despite his trouble working with Geraldine Page, their scenes together are very good, some of his best work. It’s easy to wish Wayne had called up Maureen O’Hara for Mrs. Lowe, but Page brings lot to the film. She was perfectly cast, and received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Ward Bond is terrific, making a big impression with relatively little screen time as Buffalo Baker, a grizzled old friend of Hondo’s. Leo Gordon is perfectly slimy as Ed Lowe — boy, am I glad when he gets shot. But acting honors have to go to Michael Pate as the Apache chief. He somehow manages to make Vittorio scary and sympathetic at the same time. Hondo is held up as an early example of Hollywood treating Native Americans and their culture with respect. It does it without preaching or sacrificing the action audiences came for. This is a cowboy movie that doesn’t need 3-D glasses to give you plenty of depth.
Paramount’s Blu-ray of Hondo is, in some ways, simply a high-definition version of their 2-D DVD from 2005. Both contain the same bonus material — an excellent collection of commentaries, documentaries, trailers, photos and more. (A couple of the documentaries didn’t make it over from DVD.) But the Blu-ray’s 1.75 ratio makes all the difference. This is clearly how this film was meant to be seen. It’s one of the nicest WarnerColor transfers I’ve seen, with its harsher contrast helping you feel the heat Wayne and company suffered through. Of course, there’s the typical jump in sharpness and detail that comes with Blu-ray.
Audio is clean with a nice range, and I much preferred the original mono to the 5.1 mix. (I have to say it’s been the audio, as much the video, that has really impressed me with the shift to Blu-ray.)
Hondo is an essential 50s Western, if for no reason other than Wayne made so few cowboy pictures during the decade. And for those wondering if Hondo’s worth the upgrade to Blu-ray, put on your old DVD. Look at all the dead space at the top and bottom. Yep, it’s worth it.
SOURCES: James Arness: An Autobiography; Duke, We’re Glad We Knew You; Duke: The Life And Image Of John Wayne; this fabulous article by Bob Furmanek and Jack Theakston; and more.
© 2009 – 2012 Toby Roan, Used by Permission
Blu-Ray.com is reporting that Olive Films will be releasing five more John Wayne films on Blu-Ray this March. The films are McLintock!, A Man Betrayed, Wyoming Outlaw, The Lawless Nineties, and Westward Ho. Although they will be a welcome addition to any John Wayne fans blu-ray library, I do wonder about two of these titles.
As with most of the Olive Films John Wayne releases, the titles are in the public domain, which leads to a concern over their release of McLintock. As many us remember, this film lapsed into the public domain several years ago, and as a result Goodtimes video quickly jumped on the opportunity to release a substandard version of the film. They unfortunately tried to make their release look as if it were a letterbox version - which it was not, and the result was a loss of picture that made the film all but unwatchable.
Fortunately, Michael Wayne completed restoration of McLintock! and released an authorized version that was far superior. I am sure you can see where I am going with this. Will the Olive Films release be a blu-ray version of the Goodtimes video or the Batjac video?
The second concern I have is the Olive Films release of A Man Betrayed. The film was re-released by Republic as Wheel of Fortune, and the only video releases I have ever been able to find are the re-released Wheel of Fortune, not the original A Man Betrayed. So again, the question comes up, will the Olive Films releases be the original, the re-released version, or a re-released version with a new title card bearing the original title?
As there is no information on the Olive Films website as yet concerning these blu-ray releases, I cannot answer these questions. I have a request for more information in to Olive as we speak, and will update as soon as possible.
- - UPDATE - -
I received an email from Andrew Sobol of Olive Films, and in answer to the two concerns I mentioned above regarding A Man Betrayed and McLintock!, Andrew writes:
A Man Betrayed is the re-release with the original title. Wheel of Fortune was the third release of the film and the title used for the VHS release and when it played on TV in the 80s.
McLintock! Is a new HD restoration done in Germany. This is an Olive and Ignite Films release – Original 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
So it looks as if A Man Betrayed will be a welcome addition, although nothing special, but the Olive Films release of McLintock! will definitely be something worth adding to any John Wayne video collection!
The following review of Rio Bravo was written by Colin over at the "Riding The High Country - Reviews and Ramblings" blog, back on March 24, 2008. I have to tell y'all, if you get the chance (no pun intended!), take some time and check out Colin's blog (just click on the above link). Not only is he a first rate writer and reviewer, but his blog is Top Notch! Thanks Colin for allowing me to re-blog this!
“A game-legged old man and a drunk. Is that all you got?”
“That’s what I’ve got.”
When Sheriff John T Chance (John Wayne) hands that laconic reply to the question from his friend Pat Wheeler (Ward Bond), it more or less sums up what the whole film is trying to say. Anybody who has ever seen a few Howard Hawks movies will know just how much store he set by the idea of professionalism. The small group of self-contained professionals is a recurrent theme in his work, and Rio Bravo may be the best example of this.
I won’t go into the plot in great detail here since it is, frankly, a little thin for a film with a running time creeping up towards two and a half hours. Chance arrests Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) for murder and must hold him in the town jail until the Marshal arrives. All the time, the town is under a virtual state of siege from the hired gunmen of Joe’s brother, Nathan (John Russell). Throw in a typically Hawksian romance between Chance and a poker playing drifter called Feathers (Angie Dickinson), and that’s it. However, this is really a character driven movie, and the plot functions mainly to provide the necessary circumstances to allow the characters to interact. It is this interaction that elevates Rio Bravo to the status of one of the great westerns. I’d challenge anyone to sit through this and not feel for these people by the end; more than that, you actually get the sense of coming to know them. Think about Chance’s coolly competent lawman who’s reduced almost to an awkward schoolboy when confronted with a sassy, attractive woman; Dude’s (Dean Martin) drunken deputy who must face down his personal demons if he’s ever to retrieve his self-respect from the whiskey bottle where he left it; and let’s not forget Stumpy (Walter Brennan), the trigger-happy cripple whose cackling and complaining adds so much warmth and humour to it all.
John Wayne gives one of his most relaxed performances in this film and while this has been criticised by some, I think it fits the pace of the piece. The acting is understated and just plain likable from a man whose talents many are quick to criticise and slow to acknowledge. It’s hard to imagine any other actor playing this part with the natural confidence displayed by Wayne. Dean Martin’s Dude remains convincing as the character gradually transforms himself from a pitiful rummy fishing for drink money in spittoons into a man proud enough to enter by the front door once again. When the doubts and temptations assail him and threaten to haul him back into oblivion, you can’t help rooting for him. The great Walter Brennan has a high time with his role as Stumpy and manages to steal nearly every scene he appears in. The only weak performances come from Angie Dickinson and Ricky Nelson. But if you remember that Dickinson was meant to provide eye candy, Nelson was there to draw in contemporary youth, and that the real focus was on Chance, Dude and Stumpy then it doesn’t seem so important.
While most western directors liked to get out into the wide open spaces, Hawks opted to shoot the entire film within the confines of the town. This has the effect of creating both a claustrophobic tension and a comfortable coziness. In keeping with the theme of professional lawmen, the film itself exudes a slick professional feel. The maturity of Hawks direction can be seen in the first five minutes of the movie, when the status of the main characters and the basis of the plot are presented clearly and explicitly without one word of dialogue being spoken. The script by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett may develop at a leisurely pace, but it’s always logical and it’s packed full of memorable lines. Mention should also be made of the score by Dimitri Tiomkin; it complements the action perfectly and the use of the Deguello is yet another of the joys the film has to offer.
I can’t finish this piece without referring to the fact that Rio Bravo was Howard Hawks’ riposte to High Noon. Hawks took exception to the idea of a lawman running around town desperately seeking help from a scared and apathetic citizenry. This was anathema to a man who worshipped at the altar of the professional ethic. To Hawks, a man ought to play the cards dealt to him regardless of the odds stacked against him. Now I have no interest in discussing the politics, either implicit or explicit, of these two films but I do find myself drawn more often to Rio Bravo. While I like and admire High Noon, it concentrates on the selfish fears of men where Rio Bravo celebrates the camaraderie and warmth of humanity – I know which I find more appealing.
For a long time Rio Bravo was only available on DVD on a bare-bones edition. Last year saw the release of a 2-disc SE with a commentary and lots of special features. Initial reports were that the transfer was significantly darker than the old version and I was wary of the upgrade. However, I eventually decided to take a chance and was pleasantly surprised. The new transfer is darker but then the old one was too washed out and faded anyway. It’s not perfect but I do feel it’s an improvement on the original and I have no regrets whatsoever about purchasing it. Maybe Rio Bravo isn’t the best western ever made but, if not, it’s only a few paces behind. Over the years, I’ve probably viewed this film more than any other and I continue to enjoy it – that’s as good a recommendation as I can offer.
Posted by Colin on March 24, 2008
If you’re a fan of John Wayne films, then there is a very good chance that you know just who Hal Needham is – the veteran stunt man, actor, and author has worked on and appeared in 11 of John Wayne’s movies. He was the man who not only planned and worked out the details of that amazing car crash in McQ, but he drove the car a well! Mr. Needham is going to honored today (Saturday, December 1, 2012) with an honorary Academy Award at the 4th annual Governor’s Awards at the private ceremony at the Hollywood Highland Center.
From the Washington Times: “HAL NEEDHAM was behind the wheel of a car flying 30 feet in the air when he realized he’d put too much gunpowder in the cannon he’d used to make the vehicle flip in the 1974 John Wayne film, “McQ.” Needham broke his back and punctured a lung when he landed, but still felt his Cannon Turnover invention was a success.
“I just backed the powder way down and it became a real slick way of turning a car over,” the 81-year-old said in a recent interview.
The veteran stuntman and inventor, who went on to write and direct action classics including “Smokey and the Bandit,” won the academy’s Scientific and Engineering Award in 1986 for another of his creations: The Shotmaker Elite, a camera car and crane equipped with its own generator.
“That just goes to show you that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the world to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” he said.
He quit performing stunts when he made “Smokey” in 1977. He regards the film among his proudest achievements. His last film credit was in 1999 for the TV movie “Hard Time: Hostage Hotel.”
For the past year, Needham has been traveling the country promoting his memoir, “Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Death-Defying Hollywood Life.”
He said he was “in a little shock” when he learned he’d be receiving an honorary Oscar for his entertainment contributions: “I never figured someone like me, with my background and everything, I didn’t figure it would get to this point, but I’m happy it did.”
Still, he says stuntmen don’t need annual recognition from the Academy Awards, as some have suggested.
“Stuntmen bring a lot to the film industry, especially in action films, but if you start trying to give an Oscar for a stuntman, say he doubled a star, I think that takes away from the star’s value,” Needham said.”
You can read more about the other honorees and the ceremony by clicking here.
(Mr. Needham worked on and appeared in McQ, Rio Lobo, Chisum, The Undefeated, The Hellfighters, In Harm’s Way, The War Wagon, McLintock!, Donovan’s Reef, How The West Was Won, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.)
Photo Blog for the week of November 25, 2012.
This weeks photo blog is The Bog Trail. First, though, an apology. I missed last weeks photo blog and I do apologize for that. Things happen and I really have no excuse, so...
This week, however, I did remember and here we go, The Big Trail - Enjoy! (Remember, you can click on any image to enlarge it)
Photo blog for the week of November 12, 2012. This week the topic is the John Wayne version of the Lincoln County War - - - CHISUM! (1970). The film stars John Wayne as cattle baron John Simpson Chisum, and features a young Geoffrey Deuel as Billy the Kid. Although the film is clearly not "historically accurate" there are some parts of the film that are very close to what really happened. I do enjoy this film very much, and I hope you all do as well. Unfortunately, there has never been a soundtrack recording made of the score. Hopefully someone will get around to doing that one of these days soon. At any rate, I hope you enjoy the Chisum photos from my collection, just click on any image to enlarge it, and have fun!
Some "Behind-the-Scenes" Pics...
And a Few Movie Posters...
Free John Wayne Movies Online 24/7!