Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rare Westerns on Netflix Instant Watch Capsule Reviews, vol.5

The Americano (1955)

Glenn Ford is a rancher that goes to Brazil to sell some bulls, but gets caught up with jungle hazards, bandits, and a local murder. Unique in that it’s a fish-out-of-water western set in Brazil. Directed by William Castle, and supposedly co-directed by Budd Boetticher, this is a very interesting character portrait marred by pretty bad blocking/staging/editing/cinematography/acting, and not to mention some locations that look like they were shot in a public park somewhere in the everglades. It’s a testament to Glenn Ford’s central performance that he manages to rise above it all and make it work somehow. If you’re a Glenn Ford fan, check it out.

This was only ever released on VHS, and the Netflix transfer looks like it’s from a rough analog master, fuzzy with static-y audio.

Cave of Outlaws (1951)

A gang of bandits are on the run and stash some gold in a cave. Only one survives and, after spending time in prison, he heads back to the cave and surrounding town trying to grab the gold amidst several competing entrepreneurs out to locate the stash. The rad looking cave scenes are filmed in the real Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico (I’ve been there, as I am a man of the world), and the movie has some unique, pseudo-gothic atmosphere for a Western. Another Western directed by William Castle, this isn’t amazing or anything, but it’s a good looking, cool little B-Western.

Never released on home video. The color transfer is excellent.

Arizona Whirlwind (1944)

A trio of U.S. marshals (“The Trailblazers”) stop of group of outlaws who dress up as Indians and try to rob a stagecoach, and spend the rest of the film trying to hunt them down. A typical hour long cheapie B-western from Monogram Pictures, this nevertheless is bookended by two pretty sweet action scenes (the aforementioned stagecoach robbery and an ending shoot out between the blazers and the outlaws). However, a 10 year-old brat and wanna be cowboy tags along with the marshals, just so he can be captured and later rescued, proving once again that cowboy kids are completely worthless.

Transfer is a bit rough and blown out (maybe analog sourced), but is certainly watchable. The film has never been released on home video.

Here are some other rare movies on instant watch starring “The Trailblazers”: Blazing Guns, Death Valley Rangers, and Wild Horse Stampede, all from 1943, and all never released on home video.

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