42nd Street – ON BLU-RAY!
Meet a dewy-eyed ingenue, a gee-whiz tenor, stuck-up stars, hard-up producers, brassy blondes and “shady ladies from the ‘80s.” They’re all denizens of 42nd Street, belting out ageless Harry Warren/Al Dubin songs and tapping out Busby Berkeley’s sensational Depression-lifting production numbers. The put-on-a-show plot spins merrily, full of snappy banter and new faces Ruby Keeler (her movie debut), Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers. The showstopping numbers (“Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me” and the title tune) still dazzle. 42nd Street shows that good times never go out of style.
Santa Rita’s stoic lawman wears a patch over his war-wounded right eye – and that’s not all that’s covered up. A newly arrived stranger is an old pal-turned-robber whom the marshal must arrest. His friend’s wife is the lawman’s old flame – and the townsfolk are all too willing to believe the worst about the man sworn to protect them. Called “a Westerner to the core” by The New York Times, George Montgomery stars in this gripping mash-up of traditional oater and psychological character study. It delivers on both counts due to a solid supporting cast: Diane Brewster (conwoman Samantha Crawford on TV’s ”Maverick”), Leo Gordon (who also wrote the script), Sebastian Cabot, Strother Martin and Tom Pittman as a sensitive teen who becomes a hard-drinking gunslinger. Black Patch also launched another legendary career: Jerry Goldsmith’s first film score – in its variety and invention – foreshadows his nearly six-decade career as a master of movie music.
From Mexico via Hollywood comes a Technicolor® treat too full of stars, romance, song and dance to keep under your hat. Largely filmed on location, Sombrero offers three love stories, different in tone and set against the background of two feuding villages as well as bustling Mexico City. A sly Columbia cheese maker (Ricardo Montalban) strums guitars, croons love ballads and dons disguises to woo the daughter (Pier Angeli) of Milpa Verde’s mayor (Thomas Gomez). The seriously ill scion of a wealthy family (Vittorio Gassman), pledged to marry a grasping “proper” woman (Nina Foch), really loves the unjustly scandalized Maria of the River Road (Yvonne de Carlo). A handsome candy maker (film-debuting Rick Jason) catches the sweet tooth – and affections – of the gypsy sister (Cyd Charisse) of a famed matador (Jose Greco). Both Greco (fiery flamenco, of course) and Charisse (channeling her inner gypsy) go fantastically footloose in dynamic dance sequences.
“Laws are usually enforced with guns, which I’ve got.” Homesteader Corey Everett (Jeff Richards) is determined to keep his canyon-sheltered Arizona parcel – complete with its valuable well, the only source of water within 200 miles – in the face of ongoing attacks by a wealthy land baron’s mercenary gang bent on driving him out. That’s as long as he can convince the invaders he commands a small army, not merely the pioneer couple (Jarma Lewis and James Anderson) and their son (David Kasday) who unwittingly rode into the line of fire. Lean, mean and rife with equal measures of explosive gunplay and nerve-racking suspense, The Marauders also benefits from sun-baked, scenic location filming and the scene-stealing, rattlesnake-like villainy of Dan Duryea as a vain, glorious soldier wannabe and Keenan Wynn as his reluctant, one-armed second in command.
Son of Belle Starr
He’s got a lawless reputation, a coiled temper and a score to settle. Handsome 1950s Western stalwart Keith Larsen plays the smoldering title role – here simply called “The Kid” – in this fanciful yarn about a corrupt sheriff’s plan to ensnare The Kid by tempting him into a gold-hijacking scheme. However, The Kid enters into the plot wide-eyed, because he’s after the mastermind pulling the lawman’s strings, the one who framed him for another theft a year earlier. The Kid also captures the eye of a fine lady (Peggie Castle), whose allegiance he juggles with that of a sensuous senorita (Dona Drake). Biography it’s not (the lady outlaw’s real-life offspring also had a wild side, but the resemblance ends there), but Son of Belle Starr – from director Frank McDonald, helmer of many a Gene Autry and Roy Rogers vehicle and hundreds of classic TV episodes in a 30-year career – is solid-gold entertainment.
Arrow in the Dust
Sterling Hayden takes command of a wagon train – and the screen – for a rousing tale of frontier action and redemption. Army deserter Bart Laish (Hayden) is on the run and out for himself – until he figures his best escape is to hook up with a wagon train headed for Oregon. Fate gives him an opportunity: He assumes the identity of a dead friend, a major mortally wounded in a brutal Indian attack, and takes charge of the troopers escorting the besieged caravan. His leadership turns the tide – but as the convoy nears its final destination, Laish faces hard choices: Will he desert the wagon train and its secretly volatile cargo or face the challenge of a double-arrow shot into the dust? Coleen Gray, Tom Tully, Lee Van Cleef and beloved Western crooner Jimmy Wakely (warbling “The Weary Stranger”) are featured in this exciting adventure directed on rugged Simi Valley locations by veteran Lesley Selander.
The Hired Gun
Is fugitive Ellen Beldon (Anne Francis) really a murderer? Will professional gunman Gil McCord (Rory Calhoun) bring her back to Texas for the hangman’s justice? This lean, taut Western thriller gradually reveals the truth behind the crime in a brisk 64 minutes, packing twists and turns a plenty. Rising star Francis had already stood out marvelously against the treacherous Cinemascope landscapes of Bad Day at Black Rock and Forbidden Planet, and she’s a good match in these widescreen surroundings for costar/co-producer Calhoun, an old genre hand soon to embark on a two-season stint as TV’s “ The Texan.” Other future TV icons – Chuck Connors (“The Rifleman”) and Vince Edwards (“Ben Casey”) – play connivers out to stop McCord in his tracks – but neither are a match for The Hired Gun.
For his first above-the-title starring role after 11 years in supporting parts of all stripes, Anthony Quinn struck “Black Gold” with this low-budget-but-high-flying charmer based on the true story of a champion racehorse and its Native American owner. Charlie Eagle (Quinn) has a big heart and big dreams of seeing his throughbred mare Black Hope mothering a Kentucky Derby winner. After he and his faithful wife (Quinn’s then real-life spouse Katherine DeMille) adopt an orphan Chinese boy (Ducky Louie), their fortunes change when developers strike oil on their property, and they can afford to breed Black Hope. Tragedy strikes when Black Hope is crippled after giving birth – but her spirited colt Black Gold becomes the standard-bearer of the family’s hopes. A film of grace notes, simple emotions and climactic thrills directed by B-movie master Phil Karlson.
NOTE: These DVDs are Manufactured on Demand (MOD); to order, fans must visit The Warner Archive Collection, WB Shop.com, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.