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Slaughter Trail

An Exellent Ballad
This film is an exciting ballad. Yes, that's right: it is a story plot with the song-track of a ballad. Quite unusual, and having its faults, the defects of one of the unique -- but still interesting -- proprietory colour film processes which came to life briefly in that decade.

Besides the really super ballad-style, the direction of the plot-line and dialogue has a refreshing 'devil may care' attitude, quite contrary to the stultified over-worked techniques not uncommon with high budget studio Westerns.

This Western is one for the genre collector; its pleasing uniqueness makes it so.

Wild Heritage

As Far As It Went
This film benefited from the wonderful presence of Will Rogers, Jr and natural western beauty location; cinematography was competent; the character playing "Rusty" could have been Rogers' grandson & full of character. Yet, because of short runtime (78 minutes) there was little opportunity for the great American, Rogers, to develop his character -- the time was just sufficient to run through the plot: insufficient to its full potential. Some of the character choices were excellent, a few others medium. Another 45 minutes, or even 30, could have produced a superiour, rather than merely acceptable, Western; it was a disservice to Will Rogers, Jr and to us who could have had had the benefit of his genuine American wisdom & wit, of which there is pitiful little today. The fault must partly lie with Mr Rogers: his quietly powerful influence could have secured proper financing and meaningful scripting, instead of the superficiality of packing so much plot into so little time and expecting a leisurely development of frontier family life to boot; obviously there were too many people at the banquet and too little food. See it, though; but pack all you can into your experience quick!

Posse from Hell

Posse from Hollyfad
The producer spent enough money on this film for it to have been a real tribute to Murphy and some new talent that came along with him. In spite of liberal financing, the chemistry of the picture is as a gourmet meal spoiling & decomposing over some hot days of being left out on the table -- and yet not as if this film had gone stale from protracted timing or over-working. Simply put: the production money had been spent in the wrong places; although technically, there was no lacking of potential, and a number of scenes are actually very good -- only to be spoilt in brand "x" followups & careless errors. The screenwriting editors seem greatly to be blamed. The cinematography was "competent" TV-style dead-panning, with little imagination. It seemed to have been deliberately sabotaged by corny, even shoddy, lapses in set, dialogue, and cinematography -- all set to lavishly overdone Gershwin music. It is as if somebody tried to make an upside-down parody of 'Schindler's List' into a Western -- and succeeded in canning all of the "vitality" of the picture. This film is as if all of the life had been taken out of 'Hud' and lot's of action / colour had been forced-in instead. This film is a cinematographical nightmare that one has in the early morning hours before awaking, after eating too much of a rich dinner. Audie should have known better than to have made this film the way it was; he ought to have produced it himself and done it right. In sum, 'POSSE...' is one of the examples of fine Westerns ceasing to be made. At best, it paved the way for the "spaghetti" phenomena that ushered in the Clint Eastwood era...and the last death throws of the Westerns' golden age [...1927-1961...]. One can only ask, 'Why?'

The Trouble with Harry

Gold-prize Hitchcock
'The Trouble...' is a wonderful counter-type to 'Rope'. While the latter is a 'must' for any cinema-based Ethics class, depecting the sheer ugliness and perversity of murder, the former is a delightful reminder that everything is in the hands of God (Alfred was schooled by the Jesuits as a child) and that death is not as important as life. The film, beautifully shot in superb colour, on location in an isolated northern New England hamlet, is in perfect accord with the same impicit message: 'Thou shalt not kill!', but in an entirely different way. Edmund Gwynn and Elsa Lancaster were idyllic - listen carefully for "The Beaver's" brilliant incite into chronology, and the debuting Shirley MacLaine the only Shirley I'll ever love and remember. John Forsythe was the only actor for his role; in fact, the casting in the film is, in itself, an act of Hitchcockian genius. One enjoys this film every time it graces his experience.

Strangers on a Train

A Classic among H's Films
A Classic is one without which a repertoire of all-time great films would be incomplete. STRANGERS gets better with age: the more one sees it over the years, the more one appreciates it. It has an extremely special character: a melange of superb vignettes: incongruous yet in continuity. The acting is superb, the cinematography perfect, the 'type' unique in itself. Relax but watch intensely and concentrate on the stream of this Film; experience rather than "figure" it. And, of course, say a prayer before and after viewing it.

Patricia Hitchcock, as the senator's second daughter, does very nicely indeed!

The Outlaw

A Western for Westerns Lovers

Howard Hughes' THE OUTLAW was made in 1938 but released in 1941, distributed in 1943 (95 mins.), and re-released in 1947 (105 mins.), but today is available on DVD virtully intact entirety (123 mins., possibly including a ~2 mins. 'Buy War Bonds' trailer); the VHS run time may be identical[?].

There is no pornography or profanity in this movie; which is suitable for all ages, according to parental guidance.

This Classic film is superb: a 9-star Western. The character acting by Walter Huston, Thomas Mitchell, Jane Russell, and Jack Buetel may never have been equalled in any of their other endeavours, except perhaps Mr Huston (the 'Missionary's puritanical wife' being chillingly played by the indefatigable Beulah Bondi) in 1932's RAIN, with Joan Crawford in one of the best of debut[sic?] performances.

Mr Hughes made this unusually striking production as a passionate 'labour of love', for which it is not cliched either, to say that THE OUTLAW is a Western aficcionado's Western -- and controversally so. Introduced with a lavish publicity campaign, including "wild west" riders galloping through towns firing pistol blanks and "capturing" the Theatre on openings, tantalising pre-release trailers, and sexually emphasised posters of debuting Jane Russel. The film was opened to rave reviews, one of which, written on 13 February 1943, is to be found in BOX OFFICE MAGAZINE Online.

This film is best seen for the extremely complex interplay of characters, ambience, ambivalent inter-personal relationships, and facinatingly incongruous situational vignettes, a melange of which is knitted together into a most satisfingly comprehensive whole, the which seems to encompass a sort of 'deutero-chronology'.

The plot of this film cannot be told, for to do so for any part would be unacceptable to the masterpiece of the whole -- which, like a fine wine, is better understood and appreciated over time, in this case after several screenings. A genius made this picture and if there are cliches in this summary, they might well have been born from this film. The story involves the relationship among long-time friends Doc Holiday and Sheriff Pat Garrett, Billy, and Doc's lady, Rio; which compellingly developes with the lightheartedness of an hillside creek, the quietly deep flow of a mighty Mississippi River, and the sheer force of an intrepid Yukon!

This Film is an extremely and subtly complex product of the synergistic genius of all concerned, under the masterful nexus of one of the great men of our century -- the founder of the aerospace giant Hughs Aircraft Company, of California, built with dominating drive and intelligence -- whose own life may have been so absorbed into the 'life' of this picture, that perhaps he never came back to himself until his own Conclusion, as the billionaire recluse, passed away under strange circumstances in 1976, surrounded by his Mormon aides. Hughes' passion for film making led him to make six pictures, including HELL'S ANGELS (1930) and SCARFACE (1932); and culminating with THE OUTLAW in 1938, an excptionally pivotal year -- the final watershed of an era which saw the old West become civilised, but before it had been forgotten in real-life experience and its denizens all passed away. Respect for history makes this film a necessity for everyone concerned about the American 'wild west', of its heyday, 1865-1905, but continuing in degrees nearly to the break of WWII. The film is composed of a myriad of vignettes, each of which can stand on its own as self-complete: one of the reasons for the overall complexity, which is also the result of sheer cinematographical genius and geniuine 'charactor acting', the like of which is all too seldom seen today. This picture is a Classic, of far greater worth than is generally recognised.

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