Film Review – THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER (1965)

Sons of Katie Elder, The (1965; USA; Technicolor; 122m) ∗∗∗½  d. Henry Hathaway; w. William H. Wright, Allan Weiss, Harry Essex, Talbot Jennings; ph. Lucien Ballard; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Earl Holliman, Michael Anderson Jr., Martha Hyer, Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin, George Kennedy, James Gregory, Paul Fix, Jeremy Slate, John Litel, John Doucette, James Westerfield, Rhys Williams. Ranch owner Katie Elder’s four sons determine to avenge the murder of their father and the swindling of their mother. Enjoyable, if overlong, Western with Wayne in fine form supported by a strong cast including Martin, Holliman and Anderson Jr. as his brothers. Kennedy also good as a hired heavy. Rousing score by Bernstein. Filming was delayed after Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer. [U]

Film Review – RIO LOBO (1970)

Image result for rio lobo blu-rayRio Lobo (1970; USA; Technicolor; 114m) ∗∗∗½  d. Howard Hawks; w. Burton Wohl, Leigh Brackett; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: John Wayne, Jack Elam, Jennifer O’Neill, Jorge Rivero, Christopher Mitchum, Victor French, Mike Henry, David Huddleston, Bill Williams, Edward Faulkner. After the Civil War, Wayne searches for the traitor whose perfidy caused the defeat of his unit and the loss of a close friend. Hawks and Wayne team up for a final time in this entertaining, if derivative, Western. Wayne and Elam, as a trigger happy old rancher, stand out against a young and inexperienced cast. The finale replays that of RIO BRAVO (1959), which the team had previously riffed in EL DORADO (1966). Hawks’ final film. [PG]

Film Review – EL DORADO (1966)

Image result for el dorado blu-raYEl Dorado (1966; USA; Technicolor; 126m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Howard Hawks; w. Leigh Brackett; ph. Harold Rosson; m. Nelson Riddle.  Cast: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Paul Fix, Arthur Hunnicutt, R.G. Armstrong, Edward Asner, Christopher George, Jim Davis, Michele Carey, Marina Ghane, Robert Donner, John Gabriel, Johnny Crawford. Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water. Western re-teams Hawks and Wayne with the second half of the movie being a re-working of RIO BRAVO (1959). Many of the elements of that classic are repeated here and whilst it doesn’t quite reach the heights of its inspiration it is still fabulous entertainment. Mitchum is superb as drunken sheriff. Caan and Hunnicutt also shine as the young protegee and old Indian fighter. The poem recited by Mississippi is an actual poem called “El Dorado” by Edgar Allan Poe. Based on the novel “The Stars in Their Courses” by Harry Brown. [PG]

Film Review – CHISUM (1970)

Image result for chisum blu-rayChisum (1970; USA; Technicolor; 111m) ∗∗∗½  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Andrew J. Fenady; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dominic Frontiere.  Cast: John Wayne, Forrest Tucker, Christopher George, Ben Johnson, Glenn Corbett, Bruce Cabot, Andrew Prine, Patric Knowles, Richard Jaeckel, John Agar, Lynda Day George, Pamela McMyler, Lloyd Battista, Robert Donner, Geoffrey Deuel. Cattle baron John Chisum joins forces with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett to fight the Lincoln County land war. One of the best of Wayne’s latter-day Westerns may not be historically accurate, but makes for a rousing entertainment. McLaglen directs with style and a great sense of landscape. Johnson scores as Wayne’s mumbling sidekick. [PG]

Film Review – RIO BRAVO (1959)

Image result for rio bravo blu-rayRio Bravo (1959; USA; Technicolor; 141m) ∗∗∗∗∗  d. Howard Hawks; w. Jules Furthman, Leigh Brackett; ph. Russell Harlan; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, John Russell, Ricky Nelson, Claude Akins, Bob Steele, Myron Healey, Estelita Rodriguez, Malcolm Atterbury, Yakima Canutt, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, Bing Russell. A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy. Superb entertainment with characters you can route for and a near perfect cast. The interplay and contrast between the characters is what makes this so enjoyable. Wayne is at his stoic best as the sheriff; Martin delivers his finest performance as the recovering drunk; Brennan cackles and grumbles his way through his most memorable role as Stumpy and Dickinson oozes appeal as the girl with a past who falls for Wayne. Even Nelson gets through a slightly stiff portrayal fo a young gunslinger and has time to share a tune with Martin. Escapist cinema at its best. Based on a short story by B.H. McCampbell. More or less remade as EL DORADO (1966) and elements were also adopted in RIO LOBO (1970). Inspiration for John Carpenter’s ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976). [PG]

Film Review – TRUE GRIT (1969)

True Grit (1969; USA; Technicolor; 128m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Henry Hathaway; w. Marguerite Roberts; ph. Lucien Ballard; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, Glen Campbell, Strother Martin, Jeremy Slate, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Corey, Donald Woods, Alfred Ryder, Ron Soble, John Fiedler, James Westerfield, John Doucette, Edith Atwater. A drunken, hard-nosed U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger help a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer in Indian territory. Scenic western with Wayne enjoying himself immensely and Darby also excellent. Superbly photographed and nicely paced, with Duvall impressing as Wayne’s outlaw nemesis. The only film for which Wayne ever won an Oscar. Based on the novel by Charles Portis. Followed by ROOSTER COGBURN (1975) and a TV pilot in 1978. Remade in 2010. [PG]

Film Review Round-up – THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS (1941); MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (2011) and SHANE (1953)

Shepherd of the Hills, The (1941; USA; Technicolor; 98m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Henry Hathaway; w. Stuart Anthony, Grover Jones; ph. W. Howard Greene, Charles Lang; m. Gerard Carbonara.  Cast: John Wayne, Betty Field, Harry Carey, Beulah Bondi, James Barton, Samuel S. Hinds, Marjorie Main, Ward Bond, Marc Lawrence, John Qualen, Fuzzy Knight, Tom Fadden. A mysterious stranger arrives in the Missouri hills and befriends a young backwoods girl. Much to the dislike of her moonshiner fiancé who has vowed to find and kill his own father. Excellent adaptation with superb production values and strong performances from the cast and superb direction from Hathaway. Gorgeous cinematography beautifully captures the San Bernardino National Forest in California. Based on the novel by Harold Bell Wright. Previously filmed in 1919 and 1928 and remade again in 1964. [PG]

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011; USA/United Arab Emirates/Czech Republic; DeLuxe; 133m) ∗∗½  d. Brad Bird; w. Christopher McQuarrie, Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec; ph. Robert Elswit; m. Michael Giacchino.  Cast: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Michael Nyqvist, Anil Kapoor, Léa Seydoux, Josh Holloway, Vladimir Mashkov, Tom Wilkinson, Samuli Edelmann, Ivan Shvedoff, Miraj Grbic, Ving Rhames. Fourth instalment in the action-adventure franchise follows Ethan Hunt as he works to defuse a potentially-cataclysmic conflict between the United States and Russia. Implausible action thriller propelled by admittedly impressive action sequences, but lacking intelligent plotting and any respect for its audience. Followed by MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION (2015) [12]

Shane (1953; USA; Technicolor; 118m) ∗∗∗∗∗  d. George Stevens; w. A.B. Guthrie Jr., Jack Sher; ph. Loyal Griggs; m. Victor Young.  Cast: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance, Van Heflin, Brandon DeWilde, Ben Johnson, Edgar Buchanan, Elisha Cook Jr., Ellen Corby, Emile Meyer, Douglas Spencer, John Dierkes, Paul McVey, Edith Evanson. A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smouldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act. Classic Western memorable for many aspects, not least the beautiful scenery, photography and authentic production design. Ladd, Heflin and Palance all deliver career best performances and De Wilde is superb as the hero-worshipping young boy. Won an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Final film of Jean Arthur. Based on the novel by Jack Schaefer. Followed by a TV series (1966) with David Carradine in the title role. [PG]