Seeing as I’ve reviewed the majority of the movies which directly featured the character of Wyatt Earp, I thought I might as well have a look at Powder River (1953). Even though this film does not have any character by the name of Earp in it, that’s where the inspiration comes from. Stuart N Lake’s book Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal is probably the most influential source helping to shape the legend which grew up around the famous lawman. Powder River is yet another adaptation of that book, and Lake is credited on screen as the author. However, for whatever reason, none of the real names of characters are used – perhaps Fox just didn’t want another Earp movie at that particular time. Anyway, the film represents another retelling of the Earp/Holliday story though it puts a slightly different spin on the central relationship, one that I’m not sure is altogether successful.
In this version of the story the Earp character becomes the colorfully named Chino Bull (Rory Calhoun). Chino – I’m sorry, but I’m not going to write a piece continually referring to a man as Bull – is a former lawman who has grown weary of the violence that goes along with that profession and has decided to try his hand at prospecting. A quick visit to town to pick up supplies leads to two events that combine to alter Chino’s chosen path. Firstly, some unplanned heroics connected to a can of peaches and a gun-happy drunk see him offered the job of town marshal. While he’s initially uninterested in putting on a badge again, a return to camp and the discovery of the fact his partner has been murdered and robbed brings Chino back to town, and back to his old life. As the newly appointed marshal, one of his first official acts is to crack down on crooked gambling and rigged tables. This means the temporary imprisonment of Frenchie Dumont (Corinne Calvet), the proprietor of one of the town’s saloons and gambling houses. This in turn sees the introduction of the Doc Holliday figure, here renamed Mitch Hardin (Cameron Mitchell). Hardin has a fearsome reputation as a drinker and a gunman, and also happens to be Frenchie’s man. Although Chino and Hardin butt heads to begin with, the former’s cool self-assurance wins over the gunman. As such, the central relationship, based on mutual admiration and respect, is established in a fairly familiar way. Now most Earp/Holliday films have concentrated on the friendship of the two men and how it is tested and then cemented by the feud with the Clantons. Powder River diverges from that formula somewhat by bringing in an insipid romantic triangle, the rivalry and distrust of a professional gambler (John Dehner), and a damaging secret which Hardin is harboring. I’d say that the extent to which the film works for the viewer is heavily dependent on how far one is able to buy into these aspects.
Anyone familiar with the Earp/Holliday movies will immediately recognize the characters of Chino and Hardin are only the thinnest of disguises. In addition there are sequences that directly mirror some of those in Dwan’s Frontier Marshal and Ford’s My Darling Clementine. Director Louis King had a long career, but he was no match for either Dwan or Ford. Having said that, King’s work on Powder River is by no means poor – it simply lacks the flair that Dwan or, more especially Ford, were able to achieve. Much of the action is confined to the town and interiors, but there are occasional scenes shot on outdoor locations. These exteriors are generally attractive, and one in particular, an attempted hi-jacking of a ferry carrying a stagecoach, is very well shot. The movie is largely a character driven piece, but King handled the action quite effectively whenever it does come along.
I like Rory Calhoun in westerns, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, he just seemed comfortable in the genre and frontier parts were a good fit for him. I feel the right word to describe his performance in Powder River is confident. Calhoun spends much of the running time unarmed, his character’s preference, and is never less than convincing as a man with enough self-belief and force of personality to keep the peace without resort to weapons. On the other hand, Cameron Mitchell is rarely seen without his custom rig. Again, this is entirely appropriate for a character living mainly on his nerves, and who has built a reputation for himself as a killer of men. Mitchell was a good enough actor, and gave some fine performances over the years, however, he didn’t have a huge amount of charisma. The Doc Holliday figure is one of the most interesting and, from an actor’s point of view, one of the more rewarding roles offered up by westerns. Almost all the performers who have played this part at various times have created something memorable. Of all those I’ve seen, Mitchell’s take on the role was among the least satisfactory, for me anyway. I can’t say he did poorly; he certainly got across the self-loathing aspects of someone who has witnessed his life take a route he had never intended. To some extent, the problem stems from the character arc Hardin goes through, but that’s not it all either. Ultimately, Mitchell’s performance never quite measures up to the other screen depictions of Doc Holliday – it may be a little unfair to compare performances in this way, but it’s hard not to. John Dehner was a man who always brought a touch of class to his parts and his name among the credits is something that I look forward to. He has a medium size role in Powder River, and I think the film would have benefited had he been given a bit more to do. There are two female parts in this production, those of Corinne Calvet and Penny Edwards. Of the two, Calvet did by far the most interesting work, coming across as tough, sexy and sassy from her very first appearance. In contrast, Penny Edwards just feels very colorless, and her romantic involvement with Calhoun and Mitchell never catches fire or is the least bit convincing.
Rory Calhoun hasn’t been all that well served on DVD, with the dearth of titles being especially noticeable in the US. Generally, he’s fared a bit better in Europe, and Powder River has been released on disc in Spain by Fox/Impulso. For the most part, the transfer is quite good. This is an extremely colorful movie and the Spanish release reproduces that aspect pretty well. It can appear a little dark at times, notably during interior scenes, and there is some mild flickering on occasion although none of that is particularly distracting. The disc allows the Spanish subtitles to be disabled via the setup menu, and extras are the usual gallery and a few cast and crew text pages. Powder River is a modest western, never straining to overreach itself and delivering reasonably satisfying entertainment. Personally, I’m always up for another version of the Earp/Holliday saga, and I do appreciate the fact that the filmmakers tried to bring something slightly different to the table with this movie. However, while the attempts to alter the dynamic of the relationship between the two leads is interesting, I don’t honestly think it works that well in practice. There are a handful of good performances and the film is worth checking out, but it never seriously challenges the better Earp movies.
51 thoughts on “Powder River”
I’ve never seen POWDER RIVER, but as usual your fine review makes me want to seek it out. I was pleased that you mentioned John Dehner .Like you I always enjoy his performances and wished he had bigger roles.
Thanks Vienna. John Dehner was an excellent support player and I’ve rarely, if ever, been disappointed by any work I’ve seen him do – a real professional.
It’s hard not to compare the movie to all the other Earp pictures out there, and I feel that doing so does make it seem weaker. Taken on its own terms, it’s perfectly enjoyable though and definitely worth a watch.
Always intriguing to read about films that take and oblique or parallel approach to characters and events that would have been familiar to most audiences at the time – certainly preferable to just bending events generally held to be true just because it is convenient. Another interesting film to catch up on – thanks Colin, really enjoyed learning about this one.
I agree, it’s not a bad idea to offer a different take on a story or set of events that are familiar to audiences. I quite enjoyed it on the whole, even if I may have given the impression it’s a touch flawed. It looks very good, and the performances are pleasing.
You chose a very colourful and attractive poster. An interesting review as always. I saw a VHS copy of this some time ago and found it to be an average 1950s western. I intend to watch it again soon.
Chris, I reckon it is indeed what we could call an average 50s western, and that’s not any criticism to be honest.
Glad you liked the poster. It’s another version of what is used on the DVD cover, and it appealed to me quite a lot.
Excellent review, love the photo’s you’ve used.
Thank you Vinnie. Powder River is a generally handsome looking film so I was kind of spoiled for choice when it came to choosing images to illustrate the post – it’s great that you liked my selections.
Great take on a fairly little-known Western Colin, although I think that I admire the film slightly
more than you do. Its fun if you know the two previous versions. Louis King was doing some
pretty good work around about this time I am also very fond of FRENCHIE and DANGEROUS MISSION. Its a shame that his last feature MASSACRE was so bad,but that film had tremendous
production problems and King had Bob Lippert on his case wanting the thing to be “churned out”
as quickly as possible. King was an old school pro and just did not work that way.
I have always wanted to see Louis Kings earlier film SAND purely because it stars three of my
personal favorites:Calhoun, Mark Stevens and Coleen Gray.
Could not agree more about Calhoun not too well represented on DVD, though I am looking
forward to seeing THE GUN HAWK in widescreen from Warner Archive.THE SAGA OF HEMP
BROWN is promised by Sidonis but keeps being delayed, possibly because of quality issues.
Hopefully FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER and RAW EDGE will surface, possibly in Europe.
Good to see Vienna and yourself mention John Dehner, he is an asset to any film.
Caught REVOLT AT FORT LARAMIE recently where he had a rare lead role. An interesting Western,similar in many ways to ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO but on a much lower budget
and a much faster moving film!
Back to Rory; some of the low budget, black and white Westerns that he made through his
own production imprint (Rorvic) are quiet interesting. UTAH BLAINE is pretty routine but has
its moments; THE DOMINO KID is much better,VERY “arty” direction from Ray Nazarro.
Like many people I am waiting for Warner Archive to release THE HIRED GUN (Nazarro again)
which was in striking black and white widescreen; strong supporting cast too!
Thanks John – loads of great info there as always.
I do quite like the movie even if I seem a little harsh on certain aspects. The thing is, I kind of feel like I ought to highlight those parts that didn’t work as well as I feel they could have, especially if it’s a movie, like this one, which people may be less familiar with.
On Louis King: I have a DVD of Frenchie, but haven’t watched it yet. I remember seeing Dangerous Mission on TV many years ago and being very taken by the great cast. At the time, I liked it a lot but haven’t had the opportunity to see it since.
Revolt at Fort Laramie sounds very interesting, especially since you draw parallels with Escape from Fort Bravo. I think one of the problems with Sturges’ film is the way it slightly loses its way around the middle after a great opening and then features a knockout climax. Tightening up that middle section would have helped it enormously.
Coincidentally, Rory Calhoun also played a Doc Holliday variant, in DAWN AT SOCORRO (1954, directed by George Sherman) and was perhaps one of his best roles. This is not based on the Stuart Lake material, but rather starts with the O.K. Corral (different name and different town and all the character names are different) then follows the Holliday character and others to another town–the Wyatt Earp character, played by James Millican is only in those opening reels, which give this excellent movie off to a great start, but the rest is good too–kind of a redemption for Holliday story. And it’s just released in U.S. as part of “Western Treasures” by Universal with some other very good Westerns, five films in all.
Cameron Mitchell did well in a lot of good movies–I never thought one way or another about his charisma since he’s convincing; they are mostly big supporting roles and many in Westerns, such first-rate movies as GARDEN OF EVIL (1954: Hathaway), THE TALL MEN (1955: Walsh) and much later, Monte Hellman’s beautiful RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND (1966), in which he was perhaps at his very best.
I don’t know Louis King too well, saw POWDER RIVER once on a not very good tape and thought the attempted hijacking of the ferry carrying the stagecoach was the standout scene, but I don’t have a strong opinion about the movie and would like to see it again.
Blake, you’re right about Dawn at Socorro – it is a Doc Holliday styled figure in that film. I’d dearly love to have that US release of the movie but I can’t justify the expense – I already have excellent copies of all the other titles. I’m hoping Dawn at Socorro gets released by some company in Europe.
I don’t have any issue with Cameron Mitchell in general; as I said, I think he did some fine work throughout his career. However, he was, as you point out, essentially a supporting actor, and I always think the role of Doc Holliday seems best served when it’s played by an established lead.
You can give some people that old time religion but what you can give me is any Rory Calhoun western…preferably a double-bill! :). “Powder River” is an enjoyable film and you’ve covered it well, and fairly ,here. It’s no classic, that’s for sure… and it does certainly suffer by comparison with other “clearly modelled on Earp/Holiday” movies. “Warlock” is the by far the best). I can watch Corinne Calvet in anything, although the performance that comes to mind whenever I hear her name is the one she would give in “The Far Country” a year or two later. Where she’s trying to raise enough money by gold-panning to send her father to Vienna (“to study stomachs”!!)
As for Cameron Mitchell, he gave good performances in many films, including the mentally-scarred sheriff in “Tension At Table Rock”..but he’ll always be Buck Cannon in “The High Chaparral” to me.
Dafydd, you’re probably right that the best of the Earp/Holliday inspired movies is indeed Dmytryk’s Warlock.
In fact, I can’t dispute any of your choices here. Corinne Calvet definitely made a strong impression in The Far Country – it’s the role I mostly identify her with. And the same could be said of Cameron Mitchell in The High Chaparral. I grew up watching reruns of the show on TV and I tend to automatically think of Mitchell as Buck Cannon.
for me, another interesting aspect of this film was the inclusion in the cast of now, almost forgotten french actress Corinne Calvet. She was originally encouraged to go to the USA by Hal B. Wallis and gained attention with her appearance in his production of “Rope of Sand” (1949) with Lancaster, Henreid, and Rains.
To my mind she was an attractive addition to any film and worked in a number of genres and with a number of noted actors including Cagney, Martin and Lewis, Ladd and Danny Kaye. Perhaps her best known/respected western, was “The Far Country” (1954) with James Stewart. Some years later, in 1965 she was reunited with Rory Calhoun in another western, “Apache Uprising”.
Rod, I haven’t seen Calvet in a lot of movies – she doesn’t seem to have made a huge number anyway – but she was quite a distinctive figure. Rope of Sand is a pretty good film, and Calvet does well among quite a starry cast.
I’ve never seen Apache Uprising, an A C Lyles picture. Over the years, I’ve seen a few Lyles productions and I’m a little ambivalent towards them. I admire the way they brought together casts of old western stars but the plots and lack of budget left a lot to be desired. There tends to be a tired atmosphere surrounding those movies. I’d still like to see Apache Uprising though.
You’ve alluded in the past to doing a post just on screen versions of the Wyatt Earp legend – that a possibility?
Well I have written individual pieces on a half dozen or so movies featuring Earp:
My Darling Clementine
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Hour of the Gun
although a kind of catch-all comparative piece might be interesting to try out at some point.
Excellent – hope you do manage to do a longer piece too. Does DODGE CITY count as an ersatx Earp film?
Yes, I think the general consensus is that Dodge City counts along with the likes of Warlock as Earp movies in all but name.
Firstly Colin;I totally agree regarding the mid-section of ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO
but overall its a pretty good film.
Regarding Louis King,I like a lot of what I have seen of his work,he seemed to like doing
films centered around horses like THUNDERHEAD:SON OF FLICKA,SMOKY,GREEN GRASS
OF WYOMING and SAND.I have not seen any of these films.Apart from the aforementioned SAND
the one I would really like to see is THE LION AND THE HORSE purely to see Steve Cochran
in a family type picture.
An earlier film of Kings PERSONS IN HIDING (1940) is a total knockout.
Its part of that odd sub-genre from the mid Thirties to the early Forties;the G-Men movies.
The genre included titles like G MEN,PAROLE FIXER,LET EM HAVE IT and SHOW THEM NO
MERCY! The censor seemed to let far more violence through in these films because they were
grim morality tales. SHOW THEM NO MERCY! has just been released as a Fox MOD and is
well worth tracking down,if like me you are a sucker for these type of movies.In any case its a
far tougher film than we are used to from George Marshall.
PERSONS IN HIDING pre-dates both GUN CRAZY and BONNIE AND CLYDE and both of these
later films borrow elements from Kings film.
PERSONS IN HIDING has a awesome performance from the very wonderful Patricia Morison;
its her picture all the way.Patricia plays one dangerous dame;at one point in the film she tries
to roast poor Lynne Overman alive!In spite of all this King makes sure the audience is sympathetic
to her character,this gal is tough to dislike in spite of all the mayhem she creates throughout
the film.Oddly enough unlike many other films in this genre the G-Men come across
as benign and humane.A complex witty and fast moving film and most worthy of “cult” status.
Was not Louis King the less well known brother of Henry?.
John, I like Escape from Fort Bravo a great deal, and all Sturges’ work to tell the truth. I think it could have been one of the greats if that middle section had been tightened up and not allowed to ramble quite so much.
And a bit of checking indicates you’re right that Louis King was indeed Henry King’s brother. I never made the connection until you mentioned it. Henry was a fine director, a highly versatile guy whose work I admire very much.
Now to go totally off topic Colin,I guess you know what I am like by now!
Another director whos career seemed to parallel Louis Kings was Harold Schuster.
Like King he made many B pictures throughout the Forties.Like King he seemed to have
a penchant for films about horses.Schusters films in this genre include WINGS OF THE MORNING
(the first film made in England in Technicolor) MY FRIEND FLICKA and THE COURAGE OF
He also worked for Disney.In the Fifties Schusters work became more harsh and mean-spirited
with a series of low budget thrillers and Westerns for Allied Artists. I am thinking about films
like JACK SLADE,FINGER MAN and PORTLAND EXPOSE all lean, tough but impressive
films.Sure wish more of these films would make it to DVD.
Regarding DVD releases a couple of films I have mentioned before are about to be released
on DVD. Llamentol in Spain are going to release Ken Hughes impressive THE LONG HAUL
(out in the US at a Sony MOD) arguably the best of the six films Victor Mature made in the
UK in the Fifties.Renown continue the good work with John Gillings TIGER BY THE TAIL
which is about as good as a British B movie gets;I personally would have to class this one as
a B+ or even an A- Renown deserve a lot of credit for unearthing these “lost treasures”
I am off now to Viennas Blog as she has just reviewed THE VANISHING AMERICAN,I see
Colin you have already got there ahead of me!
I think the only movie by Harold Schuster I’ve seen is Portland Exposé. I’ve heard good things about The Return of Jack Slade though, and I’m keen to see Dragoon Wells Massacre too.
On those other releases, I just got an email from Renown yesterday saying that Tiger by the Tail was coming, and I’m delighted to hear that The Long Haul is on the way from Llamentol after the comments you made about it before.
Excellent review of “Powder River”, I have seen it a few times over the years and always enjoyed it, Rory Calhoun always seemed to put a little extra in his Western portrayals which gave them that more authentic look – I would say he enjoyed these roles. As for Corinne Calvet I enjoyed her performance in John Ford’s “What Price Glory” were she more than held her own against Jimmy Cagney and Dan Dailey.
Thanks very much Bruce. Yes, Calhoun seemed to enjoy his western roles; I think it shows when an actor is into his work.
And I totally forgot that Calvet was in What Price Glory – thanks for reminding me.
In actual fact, Corinne Calvet did quite well for herself in the USA, with a career that extended from the late 1940’s to the late 1980’s in both film and TV, thanks, in part, to her own publicity, as well as her attractive looks and acting abilities.
Marriage to film and TV actor John Bromfield helped her career- they met when making “Rope of Sand”. Bromfield, who was eventually divorced from Corinne, appeared in Westerns such as “The Furies”; “The Cimarron Kid” ; “Quincannon, Frontier Scout”; “The Black Dakotas” etc. and in the TV Western series “Sheriff of Cochise” /”U.S. Marshall” from 1956 to 1960.
Another “French” actress who made an impression on the public around the same time was Denise Darcel. Her performance in Wellman’s 1951 success ” Westward, the Women”, with Robert Taylor, should have provided her with a brilliant career. Unfortunately this was not to be. Denise Darcel’s final appearance of any interest appears to have been in “Vera Cruz” (1954) with Cooper and Lancaster.
Yes, Calvet did a lot of work on TV, and for a long time too. Denise Darcel had two very good roles in Vera Cruz and Westward the Women – incidentally, Wellman also used her in Battleground – so one would have thought she could have had a more successful screen career.
Just to say I had a very good impression of DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE directed by Harold Schuster (probably best of movies I’ve seen by him though I have a memory of JACK SLADE as being pretty dark, as I guess John Knight has mentioned more than once). My only reservation about DRAGOON (though it’s not the film’s fault)–I watched this back when I was still willing to watch a ‘Scope movie scanned so now I don’t feel I can really assure it would hold up to that good impression, though guessing it will.
I wish Denise Darcel had done more–she’s wonderful in WESTWARD THE WOMEN, as are all the women in that wonderful ensemble. As for Corinne Calvet, I guess half a dozen people have mentioned THE FAR COUNTRY by now but I have to add that’s her defining movie for me and I’m not sure I don’t find her character as she plays it the most captivating of all Mann’s heroines in his 50s Westerns, and for me they are all good.
I really want to see Dragoon Wells Massacre now – even the title has something about it!
Sorry for the belated comment, Colin – been busy with the baby boy over here, but wanted to chime in on your ace review of another cool sounding western. Seeing Rory Calhoun and Cameron Mitchell’s names on the cast list (along with John Dehner) is all I need to know. I think maybe you’re being just a wee bit harsh on Mitchell; though of course I can’t judge on this particular performance of his, I think he did a lot of fine work over the years and while I agree he’s usually does best as a secondary lead, fared pretty well when given the main parts in some solid Euro films, such as MINNESOTA CLAY and KNIVES OF THE AVENGER. Couldn’t agree with you more re: Calhoun and Dehner, though. Great read as always, mate!
Thanks very much Jeff, and I hope the little fella is doing well.
I know what you mean about Mitchell, and I acknowledge that I may have sounded overcritical. Ultimately, I found myself measuring him against all the other screen Doc Hollidays, even though that’s not so fair, and I found this to be one of the film’s weaknesses. Generally, I liked Mitchell a lot as an actor.
Thanks for the well wishes re: Kenji, Colin – much appreciated, and he’s doing well.
Your take on Mitchell perhaps lacking as a screen Doc Holliday surrogate is very reasonable. It is, as you say, a part that has often brought out the best in those who’ve played it. For example, I think TOMBSTONE features Val Kilmer’s best-ever work, easily. Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas both were very good in their respective Doc films, and I’ve always thought Mature did fine work in MY DARLING CLEMENTINE even if he seems overly robust for a consumptive. Curious as to which Holliday performances you’d rate the highest…
Good to hear about Kenji.
The best Holliday? I have a lot of time for both Douglas and Kilmer in the role – I agree it’s easily the best thing the latter has ever done.
I’ve come to see that Mature did bring an interesting quality to his take on the role, despite initial reservations, and a lot of people rate Dennis Quaid’s performance.
I agree there have been a lot of good Doc Hollidays–it’s always a good role and actors tend to make the most of it. Personally, though, I can’t see that anyone comes close to Victor Mature, so great under Ford’s direction and the only Holliday who truly seemed to have the soul of a poet.
I’ve come to appreciate Mature’s version of Doc Holliday more over time. While I still think he looks far too healthy and robust for the role of a dying man, I have to admit he brings a very soulful touch to the part.
That soulful element is lacking in most of the other representations, mainly replaced by flamboyance and bravado, which I think works well enough. Mitchell seemed to be trying to inject some of that “soul” into his portrayal of Hardin, but doesn’t quite get there.
BTW, I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award, Colin. No pressure to respond or take part, but wanted to let you know that I enjoy your writing.
Thank you Michael. Really good of you to nominate me.
Its nice that we (?) sort of branched off into a Harold Schuster theme,its just that he
is a director that I would like to see more films by.I was very impressed by his low budget
Allied Artists thrillers PORT OF HELL and FINGER MAN and would really like to see
LOOPHOLE which is somewhat highly regarded and stars Barry Sullivan,Dorothy Malone
and Charles McGraw;great Noir creds or what?
I am always going on about JACK SLADE because I feel its such a great Western,it would
make a great double bill with Eastwoods UNFORGIVEN.Mark Stevens Slade is probably
what Eastwoods Bill Munney was like in his younger days.
THE RETURN OF JACK SLADE,also directed by Schuster is just a quickie attempt to
cash in of the success of the original,and nowhere near as good.I have however only seen
it as a pan & scan and would love to see it in scope.Even as a P & S its a nice looking film.
Laura on her blog gives a nice mention to RTHC (3 mentions) and also provides a great link
to a Mark Stevens biog.just about the best I have ever read.And theres me thinking I was
the only Mark Stevens fan left these days!I feel the forthcoming Olive Films release of his
blistering Noir CRY VENGEANCE will raise his profile somewhat.
Sadly I believe JACK SLADE plus the other Schuster films I have mentioned are no longer
owned by the Warner Archive,I believe they are tied up with the Republic library so hopefully
Olive Films may consider some of these titles in the future. One things for sure,they sure love
their Noir and JACK SLADE is far more a Noir than a Western!
Louis King again is someone I would like to see more films by;someone (thanks again Nick!)
is going to send me Kings UNDERCOVER DOCTOR. This is again one of four G Men type
films Paramount made in the early Forties based on J Edgar Hoovers book.UNDERCOVER
DOCTOR features Lloyd Nolan and Broderick Crawford,really looking forward to that one!
Cheers John. I saw Laura’s multiple links to this place and posted a word of thanks (or three) on her site.
And you’re not alone in your admiration for Mark Stevens – I like him a lot too and I’m also looking forward to Cry Vengeance.
One of the fascinating things about Wyatt Earp films and TV shows is how the same actors keep showing up in different rolls. Cameron Mitchell actually played “Wyatt Earp” in a 1972 episode of “Alias Smith and Jones”. In that episode, Bill Fletcher portrayed “Doc Holliday”. Fletcher had earlier played the crooked Sheriff, “Jimmy Bryan”, in “Hour of the Gun”. Actor Mickey Simpson,played one the the Clanton-McLaury group in both “My Darling Clementine” and “Gunfight at the OK Corral”. So, he was “killed”, at the O.K. Corral, in each of those films.
Hi there Jeff. It’s been a very long time since I saw Alias Smith and Jones, so I was unaware that Cameron Mitchell had played Wyatt Earp in one of the episodes.
Earp movies and TV shows are like some strange hall of mirrors. For instance, Deforest Kelly plays “Morgan Earp” in “Gunfight at the OK Corral”, then he plays the “Curly Bill” character in “Warlock”. Before he did either of those films, he had played “Ike Clanton” on an episode of TV’s “You Are There”. On that same episode of “You Are There”, from 1955, John Alderson played “Virgil Earp”. Eleven years later Alderson shows up on “Doctor Who” portraying “Wyatt Earp”. It is all very strange. Hugh O’Brian actually filmed scenes for “Tombstone”, but they were cut. And, Kevin Jarre’s first choice to play “Marshal White” was Burt Lancaster.
Some great trivia there Jeff. I guess the fact that the characters have appeared so often in the cinema and on TV means that such crossovers are increasingly likely.
The number of films could be at the heart of it. Though, I don’t think Billy-the-Kid movies have the same “crossover” tendency.
I must say, this site is fabulous! Your reviews are very well thought out and a real pleasure to read. I definitely will recommend this site to my friends. My compliments!
I’ve certainly noticed some crossover in the Billy the Kid movies, maybe not as much but it does exist to an extent too. Just off the top of my head, Richard Jaeckel appeared in Chisum and then later in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. And of course James Coburn had the lead in Peckinpah’s movie and then appeared years later in Young Guns II.
And thanks very much for the compliments and kind words Jeff. I’m pleased you enjoyed visiting the site, and I hope you’ll become a regular.
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I’m coming months late to this conversation, Colin, but just reread your review tonight after writing my own take on the film. I’m a big Cameron Mitchell fan thanks to THE HIGH CHAPARRAL but tend to agree with you more than I disagree here. As I wrote in my own post (which will be up Wednesday evening), his character starts strong but when the fire goes out and he becomes rather self-pitying he’s not nearly so interesting. He has charisma in spades in THC but not here.
Perhaps it’s the effect of just having seen Gale Storm as the gun-toting, take-no-prisoners gal in STAMPEDE, standing up to towering Rod Cameron, but Penny Edwards was on the bland side and there wasn’t much to her relationship with Calhoun, other than a graveside discussion. That said, it’s kind of a bland role in all of the Fox versions of the story.
On the plus side the movie had some very creative action scenes which mixed humor and gunplay; I think the movie actually would have finished stronger if it had continued in that vein as a more original story, rather than turning into a spin on the Earp-Holliday tale.
Cheers Laura. I’m interested to hear your overall view of the movie but it seems you noticed some of the, let’s say, weaknesses I picked up on too.
While as you say, not a great duster, I did find it an effective timewaster that moves along well for its 78 minute runtime. I like the look of the film and have always been a fan of the cinematographer, Edward Cronjager. His work on DESERT FURY and RELENTLESS was particularly good. Anyone nominated for 7 Oscars knows how to lense a film. Nice write-up as usual.
Yes, all told, it’s not a bad effort. And Cronjager does make it look good – as you note, anyone with his abilities and experience is going to make a significant contribution.