Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Several westerns that I recall from my childhood and junior-high days have stayed with me. A couple I've seen recently on the Westerns Encore Channel and TCM, but most are only memories in my mind’s eye. The following list is ten westerns that aren’t available on DVD and I wish they were. I know I’d probably be disappointed in at least a couple but I’d probably end up buying them anyway.

In chronological order:

Robert Taylor (Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe) guides a wagon train of mail-order brides to California. A rare western where the female characters aren’t schoolmarms or saloon girls (as they used to say in the Hayes Code era). Plus Taylor’s sidekick buddy is Japanese. This film seems ripe for a remake. Calling Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott.

Sterling Hayden (The Asphalt Jungle, The Godfather) plays Jim Bowie during his final days before and up to the Alamo. Ernest Borgnine (The Wild Bunch, Marty) plays Bowie’s adversary then buddy in one of the actor’s early roles. A lean, tight climax with the fall of the Alamo.

THE TALL T (1957)
The second film, in a loose series, starring Randolph Scott (Ride the High Country) and directed by Budd Boetticher. Scott and a wealthy woman are held for ransom by a trio of bad guys led by the always-terrific Richard Boone (TV’s Have Gun, Will Travel). A very lean, no frills movie.

The first movie starring TV’s Clint Walker (Cheyenne). An old-school Indians-on-the-warpath storyline. A very cool supporting role by Brian Keith (The Parent Trap, TV’s Family Affair).

Another in the series by Scott and Boetticher. This one has Pernell Roberts (TV’s Bonanza) and Lee Van Cleef (The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly) in it. And the first role for an actor named James Coburn (The Magnificent Seven, Affliction).

Clint Walker again. Here he plays a mountain man who becomes involved in another Indians-on-the-warpath storyline. Walker is surrounded by every contract player at Warner Brothers in the late 1950’s. As a kid, I remember really liking this movie. One of the small parts is played by the great character actor Warren Oates (The Wild Bunch, Stripes).

Glenn Ford (3:10 to Yuma, Superman) plays a gunfighter turned preacher in a lawless town. David Carradine (Kill Bill, TV’s Kung Fu) is one of the bad guys and Barbara Hershey (Hoosiers, Beaches) has one of her first roles. This one I’m afraid is probably a stinker.

This movie shouldn’t be on any list. One look at the picture at the top of the blog should explain why. Raquel Welch (The Three Musketeers, Legally Blonde) becomes a gunfighter to track down the three brothers who murdered her husband and raped her. She spends the first half of the film wearing only a poncho and the second half wearing skin-tight leather pants and the beloved poncho. The brothers are played in a demented Three Stooges style by Ernest Borgnine and two great character actors Strother Martin (Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and Jack Elam (Support Your Local Sheriff, Once Upon a Time in the West). Robert Culp (TV’s I Spy) and Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) are also in the cast but you’d swear they were in a different (and better) movie. Whoa, I remember more about this one than I thought.

This is a 21 hour mini-series for television. It spanned 200 years around a town in Colorado. It starred just about every dramatic TV actor of the day. Robert Conrad (The Wild Wild West), Richard Chamberlain (who did about a 100 TV mini-series), David Janssen (The Fugitive), Dennis Weaver (Gunsmoke, McCloud), Robert Vaughn (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and dozens more. But this series, based on the James Michener novel, was very well done. Solid entertainment.

Maybe Centennial makes up for Hannie Caulder. Nope, pilgrim, it don't.

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