Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rare Westerns on Netflix Instant Watch Capsule Reviews, vol.7

Black Bart (1948)

If you thought the cinematic story of Lola Montes began with Max Ophuls 1955 film, you’d be wrong. Here, Lola (a tasty Yvonne DeCarlo, of all people, not even bothering to change her accent) crosses paths with Dan Duryea in California during a tour of America. Dan happens to moonlight as a smooth, mask wearing bandit that robs stagecoaches, and the possibility that he is indeed the bandit entices Lola, and so begins their relationship, despite the pawing hands of any and all men in her vicinity.

Some nice flirty moments between Dan and Yvonne, but this is altogether a bore, and even the Lola Montes dance numbers disappoint (although Yvonne looks splendid in the various costumes). It is, however, interesting as a cross reference to Ophuls masterpiece. Dan even tells her at one point “I think you’re the loneliest woman I’ve even seen in my life”, which would make a great tag line for the 1955 version.

Excellent color transfer, never released on home video.

Oklahoma Badlands (1948)

Rocky Lane goes undercover to try to catch the two scumbags (one of which is named “sharky”) who killed both his best friend and his best friend’s father. About as generic as is humanly possible, and even the one scene that might’ve generated some excitement (the final stagecoach battle) is marred by shoddy rear projection. Oh well.

Allan Lane made numerous B-Westerns as the Rocky Lane character, and a bunch of them are on Netflix instant:

Carson City Raiders (1948)
The Denver Kid (1948)
Marshal of Amarillo (1948)
Sundown in Santa Fe (1948)
Renegades of Sonora (1948)
Bandit King of Texas (1949)
Powder River Rustlers (1949)
The Wyoming Bandit (1949)
Sheriff of Wichita (1949)
Navajo Trail Raiders (1949)
Death Valley Gunfighter (1949)
Salt Lake Raiders (1950)
Rustlers on Horseback (1950)
Code of the Silver Sage (1950)
Gunmen of Abilene (1950)
Frisco Tornado (1950)
Covered Wagon Raid (1950)
Night Riders of Montana (1950)
Fort Dodge Stampede (1951)
Desperadoes’ Outpost (1952)
Black Hills Ambush (1952)
Leadville Gunslinger (1952)
Thundering Caravans (1952)
El Paso Stampede (1953)

Journey to Shiloh (1968)

So, a western about the battle of Shiloh, with the following cast: James Caan, Michael Sarrazin, Don Stroud, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Harrison Ford? Boy, that sounds sweet. Unfortunately, the Netflix instant transfer is panned and scanned from 2.35:1, making it unwatchable. Henceforth, I did not watch it. Sometimes you can get away with a cheap late 50’s western that is panned and scanned, as they might’ve not known what to really do with the extra space, but that definitely doesn’t apply here. It’s also never been released on VHS or DVD. Oh well…maybe TCM will show it one day minus the chopjob.

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