Monday, May 16, 2011

Rare Westerns on Netflix Instant Watch Capsule Reviews, vol.2

Those Redheads From Seattle (1953)

Sort of The Harvey Girls on the cheap, this has Agnes Moorehead as the mother of four daughters who are forced to survive without a father figure amidst the Yukon gold rush. They sing and dance their troubles away, and the youngest girl is even an aspiring burlesque dancer (!), easily the most wholesome, cutie pie stripper in all of moviedom (I know, I know, burlesque dancers aren’t strippers…I apologize). The whole thing is pleasant and adorable, with some pretty decent songs and not much more.

A very good technicolor transfer that is a little limited by the fact that it was originally shot for 3D (!). Of course, this is the 2D version. Never released on home video. Check it out if you really liked The Harvey Girls, or enjoy technicolor fluff, or have a (big) thing for redheads, or you have a thing for ultra wholesome burlesque dancers. If you have a thing for all four, I recommend staying away, as viewing this film may cause your prostate/ovaries to implode from within.

Town Tamer (1965)

Dana Andrews plays a badass marshal out to simultaneously “tame a town” (drive out the hooligans) and get revenge on a gang leader who killed his wife. Only mayor Lon Chaney Jr. is on his side, as even the local judge seems to want to maintain this current level of lawlessness (more business for him I guess). Andrews, 56 or so at the time, is pretty laughable in the role (amusingly, his stunt double looks even older than the already too old Andrews), sort of making this the A View to a Kill of the “town tamer” genre. The caked on makeup certainly doesn’t help matters. Few male actors (if any) were caked in more makeup during color films of the era. Maybe these makeup departments were trying to cover up some skin disease. Look no further than Hot Rods to Hell, where Dana flirts with drag queen territory. Having said that, this is vaguely entertaining in it’s goofiness, as our geriatric hero is attacked by some bandit cronie every other scene, quickly dispatching of them. My favorite scene is when Andrews saunters into a hotel when he’s attacked by Deforest Kelley, nonchalantly beating the shit out of him before calmly requesting a room for the night.

Directed by Lesley Selander, and never released on home video. The transfer is unfortunately panned and scanned from 2.35:1. However, the seemingly artless compositions here don’t seem too destroyed, but admittedly, it’s tough to tell.

Arizona Bushwhackers (1968)

Howard Keel is a confederate who’s forced to join the union army, and then becomes sheriff of a lawless town, trying to uncover the person responsible for selling arms to the Apaches. Interminable geriatric foolishness from producer A.C. Lyles, responsible for a series of these “over the hill” westerns in the 60’s (including Town Tamer). There's at least a vaguely entertaining final shoot out with the Apaches, where a wave of rifle toting Indians are no match for a couple of geezers standing still in full view. Prolific western director Lesley Selander’s final film.

Previously released just on VHS, this is horribly panned and scanned from 2.35:1, complete with constant jerky scans that will give you a headache.

More rare “over the hill” westerns produced by A.C. Lyles for Paramount on Netflix instant watch:

Apache Uprising (1965, P&S from 2.35:1, previously released on VHS)
Fort Utah (1967, never released on home video, P&S from 2.35:1, also directed by Lesley Selander)
Stage to Thunder Rock (1964, never released on home video, P&S from 2.35:1)
Young Fury (1965, never released on home video, P&S from 2.35:1)
Black Spurs (1965, never released on home video, P&S from 2.35:1)
Waco (1966, never released on home video, P&S from 2.35:1)
Hostile Guns (1967, previously released on VHS, P&S from 2.35:1)
Buckskin (1968, previously released on VHS, 1.33:1 transfer looks very good and, at worst, may only be slightly cropped)

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