Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rare Westerns on Netflix Instant Watch Capsule Reviews, vol.3

The Black Whip (1956)

Supposedly co-written by Sam Peckinpah (although he isn't credited on IMDB, and you wouldn’t know it just watching the movie anyway), this concerns a gang, including the titular whipper, who plan on kidnapping the governor. They are surprisingly aided by an apparent dance hall girl in disguise, who breaks one of them out of prison. The local "dance hall girls/maybe hookers" (including Angie Dickinson and Coleen Gray) are resultingly exiled from the town by the sheriff, only to be accosted by the gang, eventually leading to a big shoot out. Excellent widescreen framing subtly pits the women against each other.

Very good anamorphic 2.35:1 B&W transfer. Never released on home video. Director Charles Marquis Warren also directed Copper Sky (1957), also with Coleen Gray, which is available on Netflix instant, but is unfortunately panned and scanned from 2.35:1.

Coleen Gray also starred in several other rare westerns on Netflix instant:

The Vanquished (1953) - never released on home video
The Twinkle in God's Eye (1955) - only released on VHS, starring Mickey Rooney
The Wild Dakotas (1956) - never released on home video
Frontier Gambler (1956) - never released on home video

Cole Younger, Gunfighter (1958)

Frank Lovejoy, in his final film, plays Cole Younger. P&S from 2.35:1, never released on home video

Denver and the Rio Grande (1952)

Shady railroad workers (led by bearded slimebag Sterling Hayden) try to undermine legitimate workers in the race to build and own precious railway during the western expansion. Sterling is a lot of fun, and there are some snappy fist fights mixed with clunky dialogue. The film is mostly known for the head on collision between two real trains, a truly awesome stunt that seems a bit out of place (not to mention expensive) for a 50’s B-western, but hey. For Sterling Hayden completists or train crash fetishists.

Only released on VHS, the color transfer is very good, except for the scratches and speckles that permeate the print.

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