Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rare Westerns on Netflix Instant Watch Capsule Reviews, vol.16

Dakota Incident (1956)

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Another “stagecoach ambushed by Indians” tale that begins with our hero being doublecrossed by his two partners and seeking revenge. When the movie finally gets around to the evil Indian plot, our hero is joined by Linda Darnell and others, including great character actor Ward Bond in a thankless role as a pious liberal senator who repeatedly sermonizes that Indians are human beings and that violence doesn’t solve anything. Of course, he is scoffed at at every turn and is proved a fool in the end, as the movie does indeed make every Indian out to be a total scumbag. If you can get over this character and the portrayal of native Americans, this is a decent B stagecoach ambush flick, with a surprising (for 1956) scene where a victim is found in a pool of his own blood.

Very good color transfer, and previously available on VHS.

Taggart (1964)

Tom Young’s parents are ruthlessly murdered by a rancher and his son, and Tom kills the son in a duel. The father, wounded and on his death bed, hires Dan Duryea (doing his smiling slimebag act very well) and his two compadres to take out Tom. Dan’s cohorts are quickly killed by Tom, and he chases Tom to a mission in Apache country. While there, Tom Young (his usual wooden self) tries to help out a prospector with a gold claim, who has to deal with Apaches trying to steal the gold. He also has a hot redhead daughter, which certainly helps. Oh yeah, the prospector is married to a double-crossing Mexican named Consuela, who hits on both Dan and Tom at different points. The results are an interesting back and forth between all of these characters and their various motivations, instead of the obvious revenge path the movie could have taken. Very nicely photographed, with stylish splashes of color and an interesting script. A very nice surprise. David Carradine’s first role.

Never released on home video in the U.S., although it was released on DVD in France. However, the transfer suffers from bad interlacing, probably due to a terrible frame rate conversion from a PAL master (maybe the same master used for the French DVD). Basically, everything looks jagged and weird during movement. Other than that, the transfer is excellent and colorful. All together, it’s certainly watchable. Young and Duryea also starred in He Rides Tall (1964), another rare western also on instant watch.

Gun Street (1961)

A bank robber and killer escapes six years after the sheriff tried to see to it that he was hung. The killer terrorizes the town (including his ex-wife) while the sheriff tries to find him and finally bring him to justice. Sort of an anti-High Noon, in the sense that it takes a vaguely similar setup, but completely lacks suspense (and interest) despite a surefire premise to do so. Resultingly, the movie feels like a guy waiting around for someone to show up, and feels endless as a result, despite running a shade over an hour.

Great black and white transfer, and never released on home video.

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