Film Review – MAN IN THE SADDLE (1951)

      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Columbia Pictures / Scott-Brown Productions; Release Date: 2 December 1951 (USA), 18 July 1952 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 April–15 May 1951; Running Time: 87m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (RCA Sound System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: André De Toth; Writer: Kenneth Gamet (based on the novel by Ernest Haycox); Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Associate Producer: Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Charles Lawton Jr.; Music Composer: George Duning; Film Editor: Charles Nelson; Art Director: George Brooks; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Sound: Frank Goodwin.
      Cast: Randolph Scott (Owen Merritt), Joan Leslie (Laurie Bidwell Isham), Ellen Drew (Nan Melotte), Alexander Knox (Will Isham), Richard Rober (Fay Dutcher), John Russell (Hugh Clagg), Alfonso Bedoya (Cultus Charley), Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams (Bourke Prine), Clem Bevans (Pay Lankershim), Cameron Mitchell (George Vird), Richard Crane (Juke Vird), Frank Sully (Lee Repp).
      Synopsis: An angry rancher resorts to violence when he learns that his wife has fallen in love with another man.
      Comment: Tough Western is well directed by De Toth, notably the energetic action sequences – both gunplay and fist fights. Scott plays a rancher at war with his neighbour Knox, who is marrying Scott’s former flame Leslie. Knox is out to expand his cattle empire and Scott stands in his way leading to tit for tat confrontation. Drew plays another rancher who has a soft spot for Scott. The screenplay lacks depth but De Toth makes the most of the scenario. The finale may feel a little too pat, but otherwise, this is a good first run for De Toth and Scott, who would go on to make five more Westerns together before Scott upped the quality levels even further with Budd Boetticher. This was also the first of the lucrative collaborations between star Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Song “Man in the Saddle,” m/l. Harold Lewis, Ralph Murphy (sung by Tennessee Ernie). Aka: THE OUTCAST.

Film Review – THE BOUNTY HUNTER (1954)

     Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Transcona Enterprises; Release Date: 25 September 1954; Filming Dates: 14 July–early Aug 1953; Running Time: 79m; Colour: WarnerColor; Sound Mix: Mono (RCA Sound System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: WarnerVision (dual-strip 3-D); Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
     Director: André De Toth; Writer: Winston Miller (based on a story by Winston Miller and Finlay McDermid); Producer: Samuel Bischoff; Director of Photography: Edwin B. DuPar; Music Composer: David Buttolph; Film Editor: Clarence Kolster; Art Director: Stanley Fleischer; Set Decorator: William Wallace; Costumes: Moss Mabry; Make-up: Gordon Bau; Sound: Francis J. Scheid.
     Cast: Randolph Scott (Jim Kipp), Dolores Dorn (Julie Spencer), Marie Windsor (Alice Williams), Howard Petrie (Sheriff Brand), Harry Antrim (Dr. R.L. Spencer), Robert Keys (George Williams), Ernest Borgnine (Bill Rachin), Dub Taylor (Eli Danvers (as Dubb Taylor)), Tyler MacDuff (Vance Edwards), Archie Twitchell (Harrison), Paul Picerni (Jud), Phil Chambers (Ed), Mary Lou Holloway (Mrs. Harrison).
     Synopsis: A year after a violent train robbery the Pinkerton detective agency hires a bounty hunter to find the three remaining killers.
     Comment: Scott is in great form as a single-minded bounty hunter hired by Pinkerton’s to track down three fugitives. This takes him to a respectable town where the fugitives have blended in with the decent townsfolk. Scott takes time to romance Dorn (making her big-screen debut) whilst he slowly coaxes out his prey. This is an above-average Western, initially shot in 3-D but never released in that format. Some shots betray the process origins, but the action scenes are well-handled, the plot bubbles along nicely and De Toth gets the best out of a decent cast. A rousing score from Buttolph helps heighten the drama.