Westerns on Demand

This week in the New York Times, back to the brave new world of manufacturing-on-demand, where we discover that Sony is now making its well-engineered collection of “Columbia Screen Classics” available through Amazon, and the Warner Archive Collection comes through with two brilliant, non-traditional westerns: Blake Edwards’s post-revisionist, anti-Peckinpah “Wild Rovers” (1971) with William Holden and Ryan O’Neal, and Jacques Tourneur’s enchanting “Stars in My Crown” — a 1950 film of rare emotional delicacy and great political courage. Further ruminations here.

45 comments to Westerns on Demand

  • nicolas saada

    STARS IN MY CROWN rivals with the best of Ford with that additionnal mesmerizing “tourneur touch” that brings in the traditional imagery of “americana” a touch of uncanny and magic seldom seen in such films. It’s a particular favorite of mine; a film of sheer beauty at every level. And perhaps the best anti Klu Klux Klan film with Corman’s underrated Shatner vehicle and Heisler’s STORM WARNING.

  • Brad Stevens

    Does this version of WILD ROVERS end with the flashback showing William Holden riding a wild horse? I’ve seen several transfers of the longer version which are otherwise complete, but eliminate this climactic scene.

  • Barry Putterman

    Even though it didn’t come from Everett, I must admit that the still accompanying Dave’s article beautifully captured the moral ambiguity that Randolph Scott embodied. And, of course, any time the face and name of Charles Halton appears in The Times is cause for celebration. In a way, it is almost a shame that the Boetticher series have been so thoroughly discovered since it seems to have crowded out any consideration of films like THE NEVADAN (or even the De Toth and Lewis films). Oh well, Imdb tells us that he was using his middle and last names as an actor, and his first name was actually George. So if he hadn’t made that move, maybe there wouldn’t have been room enough to consider both George C. Scott and George R. Scott today.

    In any event, it is kind of an embarrassment of riches this week in that we have three worthy topics, none of which have been subject to much past discussion. So, what an embarrassment it would be if we didn’t discuss them.

  • Farley Granger has passed away, just a few weeks after Criterion’s lustrous edition of SENSO was issued.

  • “Does this version of WILD ROVERS end with the flashback showing William Holden riding a wild horse?” No.

  • Great news about Stars in My Crown! I agree that it is one of the most Fordian films not directed by John Ford, in the same wavelength as Young Mr. Lincoln and How Green Was My Valley.

    I’m looking forward to seeing The Nevadan. Budd Boetticher, André De Toth and Joseph H. Lewis made great Randolph Scott films, but recently I saw Hangman’s Knot with Donna Reed and Lee Marvin as co-stars, directed and written by Roy Huggins, his only credit as a theatrical film director before his successful tv career. It wasn’t bad either, so one starts to wonder about authorship. In a very real way Randolph Scott and Harry Joe Brown were authors, in a similar way as William S. Hart was?

    Farley Granger did great roles for Hitchcock, Ray, Visconti… but was his Harry Kendall Thaw in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing his last big role to remember?

  • david hare

    Ahh damn, Robert.

    I always loved Farley…

    Damn, damn..

  • Tourneur’s approach to composition in Stars in My Crown recalls that of Out of the Past. Many shots, both outdoors and inside, show the “corridor” approach of that earlier film. The opening shots of Stars in My Crown show the small town in ways that recall the small town opening of Out of the Past. Once again, Tourneur favors covered porches and walkways, through which he creates deep focus shots stressing perspective.

    An interior shot of a bar here recalls the lunch room sequence of Out of the Past. Tourneur shoots down two corridors in the bar: one between two lines of people down to the minister in the back of the bar; a second shot down the bar counter itself. This second shot also shows the “outdoor town seen through the large window” approach of the lunch room scenes in the earlier film.

    When Tourneur gets to the minister’s home, he creates a shot down the minister’s back porch. Once again, this is a straight on perspective shot under a covered portico. It also faces directly on a large window showing the outside world.

    There is a deep perspective shot showing the arrival of the minister down a long corridor-like road at Alan Hale’s farm.

    Another outdoor corridor shows Chloroform retreating down a gap between two buildings in the bullwhip sequence.

    In addition to their pictorial possibilities, the corridor approach is often very informative to the audience. It shows them a great deal of a scene, all in one well organized, easy to comprehend shot. We see everything from the foreground to the background, all nicely laid out and easy to understand. Often times, the corridor passes through many different layers of background. For example, Tourneur can create a corridor showing three rooms of a house. The first room will be in the foreground, then another room will be seen through open doors in the center of the shot; then distant doors in the background of the shot will show a third room. Not only is the shot visually complex and beautiful, but it shows us the entire floor plan of the set, in one easy to take in view.

  • Tony Williams

    OT. I know this is OT but in view of Monday’s NYT article about the Eastwood Hoover, I thought people might be interested in the 16 page memo. that the author has asked me to circulate.

    https://docs.google.com/a/siu.edu/viewer?a=v&pid=gmail&attid=0.0&thid=12f02f0d2ba4fbd5&mt=application/pdf&url=https://mail.google.com/a/siu.edu/?ui%3D2%26ik%3D5d8d335360%26view%3Datt%26th%3D12f02f0d2ba4fbd5%26attid%3D0.0%26disp%3Dattd%26zw&sig=AHIEtbQ1sZWOHM0omQygaFWv9R6fotBFUg

  • Thanks for the link to Larry Cohen’s J. Edgar Hoover memo, Tony. It looks like you need an SIU account to open it, though. I’ve made another link to it here. Well worth reading.

  • Cohen’s memo is very interesting indeed. This reminds me that when Oliver Stone’s NIXON was released they also published the annotated screenplay. The idea was that since his JFK movie was lambasted as being historically ridiculous they wanted to show the sources for how events are depicted. Hoover in that movie is absolutely depicted as a homosexual. I’m curious to pull that book out of storage and see if they in fact put in their sources for that.

  • Barry Putterman

    I well remember seeing Larry Cohen presenting THE PRIVATE FILES OF J. EDGAR HOOVER at the Museum of Modern Art at the time of its almost release. The films struck me as being one of his best, and the director was his always refreshing self during the q & a. However, I never got the impression that I was watching a documentary.

    I wasn’t aware that Clint Eastwood was making a film about Hoover. But given my past experience, I would expect that his approach to the subject will be much different than Cohen’s. Whether the results will measure up to Cohen’s quite literally remains to be seen.

    Still, sight unseen, I will support Cohen on one point; the casting. In the 70s, John Dillinger was Warren Oates and now he’s supposed to be Johnny Depp. In the 70s, J. Edgar Hoover was Broderick Crawford and now he’s supposed to be Leonardo Di Caprio. This, I would think, tells us more about the audience than the subject.

  • Barry – Or think about poor Howard Hughes – fallen from Robert Ryan and Jason Robards to Mr. Di Caprio…

  • Tony Williams

    Dave Kehr,

    Thank you very much. Larry asked me to circulate this on internet sources. Also, could you give me an email or contact address for Kent Jones? I want to send him a copy of my forthcoming GEORGE ROMERO – INTERVIEWS – since he was very great in facilitating the copyright issues I was dealing with.

    Again,

    Many Thanks.

  • jbryant

    Well, if you’re portraying Hughes over several decades, you’ve got to go with a youngish actor. I thought DiCaprio did a pretty great job. Depp might’ve been good, too.

    Barry, I think such casting tells us more about the studios than the audience. They’re not going to risk over $100 million on a Howard Hughes movie and then cast some promising unknown who happens to be a dead ringer or even a respected journeyman who has no b.o. clout.

  • Barry Putterman

    jbryant, that is indeed true. But the studios aren’t going to spend that kind of money (and why do they think that thay HAVE TO spend that kind of money?) because they don’t think that the audience will come to see anybody in the part who isn’t a Depp or a Di Caprio. Kind of a perfect circle.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    The star system has been around for about a century now, and has served the art of cinema reasonably well.

    I’m not the biggest DiCaprio fan around, although I think he was near perfect and a huge asset to two fine films – Titanic and Catch Me If You Can. But I don’t have any particular problem with him in The Aviator (my issues with that film having more to do with Scorsese.)

  • A George A. Romero Interview book, sounds titillating.

  • Robert Garrick

    Many years ago, Robin Wood said that “The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover” was the most intelligent film ever made about American politics. I don’t agree, but it’s certainly a worthy film, and it looks great on the big screen. (I saw it at the Kennedy Center’s late lamented AFI Theatre, itself a victim of American politics.)

  • So it’s official then! Stars In My Crown has arrived – again. I suppose I already told this, but I simply love this magical film, so a big thank you to Dave from a Finnish Tourneur fan for his appreciation of the film.

    Yes, it’s quite wonderful how Tourneur can mix together a family film, a film about childhood and racism and terror. It’s magnificent how the hoods of the Klan remind one of the monks’ hoods in The Leopard Man, how a warm family film can suddenly turn so fierce.

    It’s a rich film with some of the loveliest and most efficient camera movements in all Tourneur, touches that don’t flash themselves upon you, but which you have to come back to to unravel how it’s done, the beauty of it all. But the mystery remains, because the whole is always greater than the glorious details…

    I just watched Thorold Dickinson´s The Queen of Spades for the first time ever, and now I’m already looking forward to seeing a new dvd – what a long wait it has been! – of Stars… Springtime for film lovers!

  • Tourneur’s fondness for machinery shows up in the fan used by the wife, in Stars in My Crown. It is a unique figure of visual style, something that I’ve never seen in other films or real life. It reminds one a bit of the machinery in Sternberg’s films, whose rhythmic repetition makes both temporal patterns and visual compositions.

    The organ is also a Tourneur “large machine”. The film emphasizes its mechanical aspect, with shots showing people working the bellows.

    The town train is contrasted with a horse and buggy being driven through the streets. The train makes an arrival, a bit like the suddenly arriving busses in Cat People and the opening of Nightfall.

  • D. K. Holm

    Speaking of westerns, J. Hoberman’s new book has some interesting things to say about westerns from the early 1950s, and he builds a case around Fort Apache as a metaphor for America and foreign policy at the time, which he then expands to other films, especially war and sci-fi films.

    I’ve always wanted to see Cohen’s Hoover film, but it is one of his titles that has eluded me thus far.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Netflix and Fox have announced a streaming deal, highlighted in the press release by including Glee episodes and films that have gone past their premium cable deals (in other words, recent). The initial announcement I’ve seen makes no reference to vault films, but it is possible that some may be included, so this bears watching.

  • Alex

    Any fans out there — indeed any connoisseurs– of Maurice Tourneur? I’m a fan of the Tourneur “The Last of the Mohicans” (Then again, I’m a fan of the Seitz and the Beebe-Eason “The Last of the Mohicans,” though cold to Mann film).

    Any films of Maurice Tourneur other than “The Last of the Mohicans” (available on VHS) available at all –say “Carnival of Sinners”?

  • Barry Putterman

    Alex, I would imagine that there are quite a number of Maurice Tourneur fans out here despite the small proportion of his work which seems to be available for viewing. I believe that THE WISHING RING is out on DVD. I think that POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL is due for another TCM showing soon and I would expect that others of the Pickford titles could be had. I’m not sure about THE BLUE BIRD or ALIAS JIMMY VALENTINE’s availability, although they certainly exist. The same for some of the French titles like VOLPONE and JUSTIN DE MARSEILLE.

    In any event, ALL Maurice Tourneur titles are “must see.” The same as his son’s.

  • Randy Byers

    Maurice Tourneur’s THE BLUE BIRD and LORNA DOONE are available from Kino. VICTORY is available from Image in a double bill with Tod Browning’s THE WICKED DARLING. THE WISHING RING and the cut-down version of A GIRL’S FOLLY are available on a DVD called BEFORE HOLLYWOOD THERE WAS FORT LEE, N.J. Netflix offers a DVD of Tourneur’s TRILBY, but I’m not sure who produced it or what the quality is.

  • ALIAS JIMMY VALENTINE was long available on VHS from the Library of Congress. It is just superb. My favorite Maurice Tourneur.
    The short WAX FIGURES is on YouTube.
    I love THE WISHING RING and the cut-down version of A GIRL’S FOLLY. Wish the whole version were available.
    I’m not sold on TRILBY, but it is often interesting in visual style.
    There are articles on both Jacques and Maurice T. on my web site. Both are personal favorites!

  • Other streaming news.
    Netflix now has THE VIRGINIAN TV show available for streaming.
    They are organized by Seasons, then episodes.
    Samuel Fuller completists might like IT TOLLS FOR THEE (Season 1, episode 9).
    Ida Lupino’s only episode as director is the spoof DEADEYE DICK (Season 5, episode 9).

    Some good episodes from more obscure people:
    THE SMALL PARADE (Season 1, episode 21). An off-trail comedy-drama from Paul Nickell, house director of the STUDIO ONE live TV drama of the 1950′s.
    THE EVIL THAT MEN DO (Season 2, episode 5). Stuart Heisler directs a classic Hollywood Liberal drama. Much more cheerful than its misleading title.

    Two from William Witney:
    BIG IMAGE…LITLLE MAN (Season 3, episode 7).
    A MAN OF THE PEOPLE (Season 3, episode 14).

    There are a lot more good episodes, including several from prolific house director Don McDougall. But this can give everybody a taste.

  • Speaking of treasures on Netflix, I watched LEGEND OF THE LOST (Hathaway) yesterday, and it is a delight. And – rare for Netflix, it seems – it’s presented in widescreen.

  • The Sam Fuller episode is sort of a special case (he was given an unusual amount of latitude, and yet still recut in the end, if I remember correctly), but director auteurism is pointless with a show like THE VIRGINIAN. You have to look at the writers & producers (initially including Roy Huggins and Charles Marquis Warren, both worthwhile writer/directors of ’50s film & TV westerns) to start to pick out any kind of articulated point of view. Although THE VIRGINIAN was, I think, largely devoid of that, which may be its problem. You don’t see Huggins’s humor and his fondness for tricky plotting as you do in MAVERICK, or the grim realism of Warren’s years on GUNSMOKE or RAWHIDE.

    I would supplement Mike’s recommendations with “The Brazen Bell,” a first season episode written & produced by Roland Kibbee, with an excellent George C. Scott performance; and “Ride the Dark Trail” (the second season opener), an origin story for the Doug McClure character written by the pulp novelist E.M. Parsons, Jr. Also, each segment focused on one of the three or four main characters, in rotation, and any of the early episodes in which Lee J. Cobb is central is worth watching; they contain some of his richest post-HUAC work.

  • Alex

    Speaking of surprising viewing opportunites, Regal has picked up Ruiz’s MYSTERIES OF LISBON!

  • Brad Stevens

    “The Sam Fuller episode is sort of a special case (he was given an unusual amount of latitude, and yet still recut in the end, if I remember correctly)”

    Perhaps the recutting you have in mind took place when parts of this episode were incorporated into the feature film THE MEANEST MEN IN THE WEST, which intercuts Fuller’s segment of THE VIRGINIAN with another episode starring Charles Bronson, along with a great deal of newly shot material by an anonymous director (notably a lengthy prologue in which Michael Conrad appears). Only about 20 minutes of Fuller’s footage appears in this film.

  • People create images in Jacques Tourneur films:

    newsreel camera, diamond cutting plans: The Jonker Diamond,
    fogging photographic plates, motion picture photography: Romance of Radium,
    blueprints, photography, image projection: Nick Carter, Master Detective,
    draftsmen, woman artist: Cat People,
    gunsight: Days of Glory,
    artist and portrait: Experiment Perilous,
    photographer, movie projector: Easy Living,
    man “draws a picture” with whip on wall: Stars in My Crown,
    mute draws on ground: The Flame and the Arrow,
    tracing paper: Appointment in Honduras,
    shooting letter W on wall: Wichita,
    marking up a map, using hand-compass: Great Day in the Morning,
    artist’s desk: Nightfall,
    art drawn by hypnotized mental patient: Night of the Demon,
    Lieutenant draws map: Timbuktu,
    portrait painter, mapmakers: Northwest Passage: The Gunsmith
    *
    PS. I like THE BRAZEN BELL on THE VIRGINIAN, too. George C. Scott is good.

  • Brad: I wasn’t thinking of the movie version. Richard L. Bare claims in his autobiography that he extensively reshot all of the Warren-produced episodes (which would include Fuller’s) after Warren was fired and replaced by Roy Huggins. I haven’t investigated that further but it’s at least plausible, I would think. I can’t remember if Fuller mentioned any tinkering in his book.

  • Nice list, Mike! How true!

    There seems to be a lot of performance also in Tourneur films. The medicine man in Stars, the clown for children in Night and some theatre people in Flame – and of course the flamenco dancing in The Leopard Man…

  • Renoir’s DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, not yet released on DVD (in the US, anyway), on Netflix Instant.

  • Blake Lucas

    “I’m looking forward to seeing The Nevadan. Budd Boetticher, André De Toth and Joseph H. Lewis made great Randolph Scott films, but recently I saw Hangman’s Knot with Donna Reed and Lee Marvin as co-stars, directed and written by Roy Huggins, his only credit as a theatrical film director before his successful tv career. It wasn’t bad either, so one starts to wonder about authorship. In a very real way Randolph Scott and Harry Joe Brown were authors, in a similar way as William S. Hart was?”

    As a Randolph Scott completist, at least for his postwar Westerns, I wanted to comment on the above because I believe there is something in it. Although my answer to your question would be a carefully nuanced “no” that doesn’t negate some thoughtful consideration of the question. For one thing, like all good movie actors finding a successful niche, Scott plainly worked on his own persona–even if a director might contribute in a film or group of films and someone like Budd Boetticher might deepen it by leaps and bounds–and in this effort was nurtured by Brown and their partnership. Two, and I know I’ve commented on this before here, the Scott-Brown films, which more or less alternate with Scott’s Westerns for other studios (mostly Warner Bros.), are almost invariably a cut or two above those others. Almost all of the best ones are by their production company, THE NEVADAN, well-characterized by Dave K., being arguably the best to that point, and MAN IN THE SADDLE (de Toth), A LAWLESS STREET (J. H. Lewis), and, as you say, the superb HANGMAN’S KNOT (Huggins) being the three best before the Ranown cycle, in which Scott at last reaches sublimity and the apotheosis of his persona. It’s not that Scott and Brown had any less interest in the purely commercial considerations of the films they produced and which were meant to sustain Scott as a star in the same way. But they did seem to care more for a good story and have a more real understanding of what kind of picture would serve Scott well. The conspicuous exception to what I’m saying, which qualifies everything I’m saying, if of course SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (Batjac-Warner Bros.), but not really because it is also the initiating film and mother lode of the Ranown cycle that Scott and Brown then produced, and it was they who plainly recognized what was there, took up Budd Boetticher (as well as Burt Kennedy as principal writer on the films) who continually refined both Scott’s persona and the elements of the cycle and to the point that finally what is seen in the last two films RIDE LONESOME and COMANCHE STATION (the only two that actually have the word “Ranown” in the credits) was plainly deliberated with a consciousness that they were part of a cycle which was being brought to an end in the last one.

    There are mysterious and moving reasons why it worked out the way it did, but also some supportive historical facts with regard to Randolph Scott inside and outside Scott-Brown. Through these years, beginning in 1946 with ABILENE TOWN (Edwin L. Marin, not a Scott-Brown film), Scott would generally attach himself to a director for a group of films, which may be a few or a fair number. Initially, it was the workmanlike Marin (who did especially well with the film named) and then Ray Enright–they have their limitations but I’m come to appreciate that they could both do fairly well at times, then Douglas (but only two films), and then de Toth, who really seems not to have been inspired by Scott and the first of six films MAN IN THE SADDLE is arguably much the best, the Warners ones variable though RIDING SHOTGUN was pretty captivating, and one might wish Scott had worked more with Lewis than two films except for Boetticher coming along at this time. Of course, there are some other directors, but usually for one film without any relationship being forged. In any event, everything I’ve seen convinces that the Scott-Brown films will be the better ones, and the best of those by the best directors in a kind of rising arc. But I appreciate getting to the others, recently saw and enjoyed Marin’s COLT .45, and only have four more to go–all Marin.

    The juxtaposition of THE NEVADAN with Tourneur’s beautiful STARS IN MY CROWN in this thread works very well. Although they made fewer films together (three), Joel McCrea was as perfect an actor for Tourneur as Scott was for Boetticher, enough that one wishes they had done more together, though I don’t believe they were as made for a cycle as Boetticher and Scott and there is no sustaining production company. WICHITA is also available from Warner Archive, and although I always had a very positive impression of this movie, this was from seeing it more than a few times pan and scan (never again!)–when I finally saw the letterboxed version I appreciated it so much more, as master image composer Tourneur found a characteristic expansiveness and thoughtful detail in his images, even in simple town interiors, that transformed it into a film that felt so different and so much richer for me.

    In any event, though, McCrea had other fine to great directors through this whole postwar period too, so no regrets. I don’t want to go off on to too much of a tangent but overall, among leading actors, Scott and McCrea rule the “B” or Programmer Westerns of the period much as Wayne and Stewart, for me, rule the “As”–and though it must have seemed a humble specialty then, it sure doesn’t seem that way now, at least not to this viewer.

    That said, I haven’t mentioned RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY here, but do consider it a great Western and love that the two actors wound up in that film in the roles they play–one of the most moving of all cinematic swan songs.

  • Barry Putterman

    Blake, I’ve been hoping that we would hear from ou all week, these being westerns and all. Picking up from your comments, I think it possible that Marin and Enright were the sort of directors whom an actor looking for more control over the production might hook up with. Concurrent with the Scott westerns, Marin also did a number of independent UA films with George Raft. And Scott had worked with Enright on more than one occasion earlier in the decade. So had Pat O’Brien. And I remember an interview with O’Brien who, when asked to cite a director who was not particularly engaged with the work, mention Enright, whom he said employed a dialogue director who did most of the heavy lifting. It seems quite possible to me that Scott was using these films as stepping stones towards controlling the kinds of stories and characters he would work with later. No doubt he felt that the studio system would not take him where we wanted to go by itself.

    By contrast, McCrea felt well served by the studio system previous to the “independent star-producer” days. I remember an interview with him in which he said that De Mille (about whom more in the next few days) was always requesting McCrea for his films, but he (McCrea) always seemed to be in attached to directors who had requested him earlier; such as La Cava, Sturges, Wellman and Stevens. Finally, De Mille angrily confronted McCrea on the Paramount lot and demanded to know why he was always working with these other directors when De Mille’s movies made so much more money than theirs did. And McCrea told him that this argument meant nothing to him since he didn’t get any of the money that the films made and he got more enjoyment from working with the other directors.

    Of course, McCrea was the romantic lead that Scott never was up through World War II. The post war western demanded a more experienced and mature personality in the lead and both Scott and McCrea (and Wayne and Stewart and even Fred MacMurray) had both the physical and artistic abilities to develop what was needed.

  • Blake Lucas

    Interestingly, my favorite Enright starred not Scott but McCrea–SOUTH OF ST. LOUIS (1949), also with Alexis Smith, Dorothy Malone and Zachary Scott in a good ambivalent villain role–he had been friend and partner of McCrea and Douglas Kennedy so there is real drama in how it will play out in the end. I don’t know if its good staging, pacing, sense of character, and narrative momentum owe a lot to Enright but it’s always hard for me to count any director out. An important Enright for Scott-Brown was CORONER CREEK (1948) because it’s about Scott searching for the murderer of his wife–the film does just so much with this compelling concept and is hardly major, but perhaps Scott and Brown at least liked this idea in the script and looked for a better script with the idea and hoped for the kind of director who could animate it with true richness and resonance. And of course, later they finally got it, a key point on which I presume there is no need to elaborate.

    By the way, though I mark the beginning of Scott’s postwar maturity in 1946, it’s important historically that he and and Brown had already been associated. One of the finest movies Scott was in prewar was WESTERN UNION (1941, with Brown as, I believe, associate producer), directed (strongly) by Fritz Lang no less–it isn’t the persona Scott would work toward but a good/badman in the mold of Hart; even so, Scott is excellent in the role. And then Brown produced THE DESPERADOES (1943, Charles Vidor) for Columbia, which would wind up being the studio for the partners, so perhaps they started thinking about it then; Scott is just a basic good lawman and more of a foil for Glenn Ford, who here takes the outlaw on the road to redemption role and is more the center of the film. For me these films were only peripherally relevant to the question of what Brown and Scott ultimately contributed to their productions together.

    Yes, McCrea was a wonderful romantic lead–the other night I caught up with La Cava’s BED OF ROSES which I hadn’t seen before, an absolutely superb precode drama and McCrea is not meant to compete as a deeply drawn character with Constance Bennett or even her tart friend Pert Kelton but effortlessly holds his own in this insightfully observed movie that felt so true about women, sexual experience, and the kinds of relationships they weigh in their emotional lives. But I remember Scott as a romantic lead at times too, especially memorably with Harriet Hilliard in FOLLOW THE FLEET, where the attractive Scott inspires her to some memorable songs; even though the movie starred Astaire and Rogers, who are wonderful, second couple Scott and Hilliard helped make it a satisfying whole.

    Barry, I appreciated the thoughts you contributed after mine very much and you’re certainly right in your last paragraph. I appreciated that you mentioned MacMurray here, and it’s true of quite a few long time male leads we all could mention. When a one time pretty boy ingenue like Robert Taylor can become effectively rugged, you know you’re in a good phase for the genre.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Barry, It’s a good thing DeMille’s powers of persuasion worked for UNION PACIFIC – perhaps it took a western to convince McCrea. I don’t know what parts he turned down, but if they were in films like CLEOPATRA and SIGN OF THE CROSS it would seem like a big mistake.

    I agree with Blake about BED OF ROSES. I’d just like to add that it’s also a very funny film, with especially Pert Kelton delivering some lines that could match Mae West.

  • Dear Blake, thank you for your insights on Randolph Scott! And yes, Ride the High Country is a great western and also an affectionate update of the western star personae of Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea.

  • Barry Putterman

    Johan, McCrea was talking about the period from PRIMROSE PATH through THE GREAT MOMENT. So the De Mille films in question must have been NORTH WEST MOUNTED POLICE, REAP THE WILD WIND, and possibly DR. WASSELL. Ronnie Scheib always used to say that McCrea was the best male ingenue of the 1930s, a period which could be said to start with De Mille’s DYNAMITE.

    And by the way, my objection to Johnny Depp as Dillinger and Leonardo Di Caprio as J. Edgar Hoover has less to do with the fact that they are major stars than that no matter how old they grow, they still look like teenagers. Which is to say that if THE QUICK AND THE DEAD ever gets remade, I really can’t see Di Caprio taking over the Gene Hackman part.

  • Blake,
    Thank you for a very interesting look at the development of the Randolph Scott Western!

    WESTERN UNION (Lang), MAN IN THE SADDLE (de Toth), A LAWLESS STREET (Joseph H. Lewis) are all big favorites here.

  • Blake and Antti – you’ve probably seen Ride The High Country countless times in the theater – so am I correct in assuming, that the 2006 restoration dvd of the film wrongly shows “the couple” getting ready to sleep in their pyjamas in the barn in broad daylight, and their younger companion at the same time romancing the girl in the hay cart also without the cover of darkness…? Isn’t that supposed to be a night scene?

    (The same problem seems to mar also the Pat Garret & Billy The Kid restoration dvd of the same year.)