Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rare Westerns on Netflix Instant Watch Capsule Reviews, vol.12

Badman’s Country (1958)

Pat Garrett teams up with Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp (Buster Crabbe), and Bat Masterson (Gregory Walcott, who starred in Plan 9 From Outer Space a year later) to prevent Butch, Sundance, and the wild bunch from stealing a half million dollars from a train arriving in Abilene. Essentially a variation on Badman’s Territory (1946, with Randolph Scott), where western heroes are thrown together in the same town to duke it out, like a B-movie greatest hits package. Historically absurd, to say the least, but solid and well photographed considering the material. Curiously, Garrett repeatedly tries to inspire the town to defend itself from the destructive evils of Butch Cassidy and company (including the prospect of them destroying the town’s economy by robbing the train), but they just become more cowardly as the movie progresses.

Very good B & W transfer, and never released on home video.

Badman's Territory, not Badman's Country, but it's the same idea.

The Raiders (1963)

Brian Keith (who’s very good) wants to help rebuild Texas, which is ravaged and desperate after the Civil War, so he seeks to persuade the Army to approve the building of train tracks down through Texas to help the economy, and also combats carpetbaggers out for a quick buck. He’s sort of a cross between a typical western hero and a devoted politician, a man who loves his state and wants to do the right thing and improve it. For some reason, Wild Bill (Robert Culp), Calamity Jane, and Buffalo Bill show up, and you’d think they would prove vital to the story, maybe teaming up with Keith, but Wild Bill just gives advice, and the other two seem to be comic relief. However, the movie ends up focusing attention on the three and away from Keith, and the movie becomes mostly pointless and boring at that point. The many close-ups and the score give it a made-for-TV feel (apparently it started as a TV pilot but ended up as a theatrical feature, and it feels like it), although there is some nice camera movement that set it apart.

Very good color transfer, never released on home video.

The Last Hard Men (1976)

Here’s one that looks interesting and stars Charlton Heston, James Coburn, and Barbara Hershey (and Michael Parks has a supporting role), and it’s directed by Andrew V. McLaglen. It was also adapted from a novel by Brian Garfield, author of Death Wish and the exhaustive western book Western Films. Unfortunately, the transfer is a blurry pan and scan joke, hacked from 2.35:1, so I couldn’t really watch it.

Previously released on VHS.

Here are other rare westerns on Netflix instant that are panned and scanned from 2.35:1 to 1.33:1:

Zandy’s Bride (1974, released on VHS)
Showdown (1973, released on VHS)
The Night of the Grizzly (1966, released on VHS)
Plunderers of Painted Flats (1959, no home video release)
Man or Gun (1958,
no home video release)
Hell’s Crossroads (1957,
no home video release)
The Storm Rider (1957,
no home video release)
Gunfire at Indian Gap (1957,
no home video release)
Duel at Apache Wells (1957,
no home video release)
Stagecoach to Fury (1956,
no home video release)
Thunder Over Arizona (1956,
no home video release)
Texas Lady (1955, crappy transfer that suffers from ghosting and is technically cut down from 2:1, released on VHS)

No comments:

Post a Comment