The low budget western was arguably as important a representative of the genre as it’s more illustrious and more expensive cousins. The sheer quantity of programmers and B movies means they deserve attention by anyone claiming an interest in the western. Given the prodigious output, it’s hardly surprising that the quality varied considerably; some managed to transcend the restraints of their budgets, others were just downright poor but most were average efforts, offering an entertaining way to pass the time despite the weaknesses inherent in their production. Apache Territory (1958) is an example of what I’m referring to: a combination of good and bad elements that add up to a moderately diverting hour and something.
As the title say the action takes place n Apache territory, where the hero, Logan Cates (Rory Calhoun), is passing through on his way to Yuma. By his own admission, Cates is one of life’s drifters, a guy with no particular purpose moving wherever the mood takes him. In this instance, it leads him towards trouble, someone else’s trouble to begin with but it’s soon to become his too. Seeing a group of riders about to be attacked by a band of Apache, he warns them and draws off the assault. It’s only a short-lived respite though as the sole survivor, along with a trickle of other refugees from the renegade raiding party gradually come together in search of safety. A disparate group, including an old flame of Cates’ (Barbara Bates) and her venal fiance (John Dehner), gather in an isolated desert oasis and prepare to wait out the siege. Water is plentiful, food is not, while mutual trust and goodwill are virtually non-existent. As the Apache press and probe, tempers fray and nerves jangle beneath the pitiless desert sun, and the numbers of the defenders are whittled down bit by bit.
Ray Nazarro is a name which probably isn’t all that familiar to many people. I’d say I’ve had a reasonable amount of exposure to movies of every size and shape in most genres and I’ll freely admit that I’ve only seen a handful of examples of Nazarro’s work. I have viewed Domino Kid and The Hired Gun also starring Rory Calhoun, Top Gun with Sterling Hayden, and a few episode of TV shows such as State Trooper and Mike Hammer, and that’s about it, although I do have a few more titles to hand but not yet watched. Now if anyone spends their career working in the B units, it’s only reasonable to expect them to have a thorough understanding of the concept of economy. Budget filmmaking of any kind is dependent on exploiting resources to the full and wasting as little time and money as possible. Apache Territory certainly has that sense of urgency and pace one typically sees in a B picture, the plot takes precedence over all and characterization not only takes a back seat but also never penetrates deeper than is absolutely essential. The positive side of this is that the story keeps moving along and there’s no shortage of incident.
On the other hand, there are some negatives to take into consideration too. The opening section makes use of locations in Red Rock Canyon but this aspect is short-lived and it’s not long before events move to a studio set, a backlot mock-up of the oasis. While this adds a layer of claustrophobia, giving it that sense of a frontier chamber piece, the contrast with genuine locations is both apparent and somewhat jarring. This is a purely budgetary matter and I don’t think the director can be criticized for any of that. Nor do I feel Nazarro can be faulted for some weaknesses in the script. The screenplay is an adaptation of Last Stand at Papago Wells by Louis L’Amour, a book I read some years ago and which I recall as being fairly faithfully reproduced here. The problems with the writing, for me anyway, relate to the tendency to rely on some unconvincing dialogue for exposition instead of showing things using cinematic language.
The film was a Rorvic production, meaning it was made via Rory Calhoun’s own company and offered him a strong, heroic role. Louis L’Amour stories generally involved central characters who were relatively uncomplicated, his strengths lying in his descriptions of action and landscape, his ability to communicate an authentic sense of time and place. Calhoun’s character in Apache Territory is pretty much one of those “what you see is what you get” types and he plays this undemanding part fine. The villains in such tales may not have much more depth or added dimensions but they tend to be entertaining. This film has two to enjoy – firstly, we get a snarling turn from Leo Gordon as a resentful and insubordinate cavalryman before he departs abruptly and violently, and then there’s the always welcome John Dehner. His assured work raised many a mediocre movie and he does well as the self-absorbed rival to Calhoun for the affections of Barbara Bates. Ms Bates was good enough as the refined woman who starts to see that she may have made a serious mistake and has the resolve and strength to try to reverse that before it’s too late. The only other female role went to Carolyn Craig, playing a timid massacre survivor who latches onto Tom Pittman’s California-bound orphan. As a sad little aside, Pittman, Craig and Bates all passed away under sudden and tragic circumstances.
Apache Territory was a Columbia release and Sony have made it available on DVD in the US as part of their MOD program. It has also been released in Spain and Italy, and I have the Spanish edition myself. The disc presents the film in a solid enough 16:9 transfer that is quite satisfactory – Spanish subtitles are offered but are optional and can be disabled. Overall, the movie is what I’d describe as routine. Tales involving isolated groups besieged and threatened from without and within are usually good value and Apache Territory is a middling, low-budget example. The lack of money does affect how it’s executed but there’s some nice action and suspense to offset that.
69 thoughts on “Apache Territory”
I don’t know this one but I like the cast – John Dehner always good.
The film itself is nothing special, a perfectly fine little B feature but nothing that’s going to grab you. The cast – Dehner, Calhoun and Gordon in particular – certainly give it a lift.
Thanks for this one chum – I like Dehner for his understatement especially. One does wonder how obvious the use of studio sets would have been to contemporary audiences but equally it was such an established convention that I suspect that would play a part in the reception to it.
Yes, Dehner was great and I’m always happy when he turns up in anything on screen. I just saw him recently when he turned a Columbo episode I was rewatching, the Johnny Cash/Ida Lupino one – helluva cast in that one!
Regarding the use of sets in the movie, it’s usually something I don’t mind in the least. Actually, I often like the effect but somehow the marked contrast between studio and location work really jumps out at me in this one.
I agree, I prefer when it is one thing or another because to me it is always a jolt – I love Hitchcock but his use of process shots and model shots to avoid getting out of the studio is incredibly distracting to me. Don;t know a lot about Calhoun – best places to start?
You can’t go wrong with Way of a Gaucho, Dawn at Socorro or Red Sundown, the latter two I’ve featured in the past. I also watched and enjoyed Raw Edge the other day, although it’s more of a curiosity than anything.
On Hitchcock and the use of sets, it is an aspect of his work that distracts some more than others. It’s certainly noticeable but it’s one of those examples that doesn’t trouble me too much as it happens. Not sure why that is though.
Thanks for the good advice there. With Hitch, the models in the 30s are charming but the blue screen in FAMILY PLOT for instance I find really irksome.
Hmm, I haven’t seen that for some time, and it was never one of my favorites anyway.
I was thinking more of Torn Curtain, for example, or Marnie, where I like to think it fuels the sense of unreality or melodrama.
I agree, MARNIE is so determindedly artificial anyway that it doesn’t seem to matter and TORN CURTAIN ends up feeling like one of his 30s films as a result, but to me without the same charm despite good moments. Getting back to APACHE TERRITORY (ahem), I tend to find that with stories that tend to resolve themselves into a siege narrative (I’m thinking TALL T, 3.10 TO YUMA, HOMBRE, just to focus on Elmore Leonard examples, this can be wonderful if done right, but can also be easy to be disappointing, feeling like the equivalent of a TV ‘bottle show’ in which you only use standing sets because you have few resources, not because you really have a story that needs it.
I so agree, Sergio, about your point regarding ‘siege’ situations, if done well, as in the three films you mention. It is those like “APACHE TERRITORY” and “DAKOTA INCIDENT” that suffer because the action becomes so static in the siege situation (so it’s down to either the writing or the budget – or both!). Ironically, both those films start off really well.
APACHE DRUMS is a really successful example of this approach in my view …
Very good call there, Sergio. That film is a fine piece of work.
Jerry, as I said to Sergio, I look to the budget in this case more than anything else. I think I like Dakota Incident a little more than you do too.
Those Leonard stories are all quality pieces of writing of course. The L’Amour novel this is based on isn’t quite at that level but it’s a not a poor story either and there is enough going on to keep things interesting. Aside from the exposition through dialogue stuff, which I never like, the writing is fine and it’s really only the lack of money that draws attention to the limited setting.
Great piece,very fair and accurate.
Regarding Rory, Other titles worth seeking out are FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER, THE SILVER WHIP -also covered by RTHC – POWDER RIVER which as I recall I like a lot more than Colin. Two other very good Rory’s are on the “missing list” SAGA OF HEMP BROWN no longer seems to exist in CinemaScope, THE YELLOW TOMAHAWK is no longer available in color although I understand a master neg does exist.
Ray Nazarro – I like the pacing in most of Nazarro’s films and am very fond of THE DOMINO KID. I agree that the studio bound scenes in APACHE TERRITORY do compromise the film somewhat. CRIPPLE CREEK sees Nazarro working with a bigger budget than usual and is one of George Montgomery’s top Westerns.
SOUTHWEST PASSAGE (aka Camels West) sees Nazarro in his element an all outdoor affair crammed with rugged action. Film was made in 3D and is available as a very nice looking MGM MOD-well recommended!
Barbara Bates. APACHE TERRITORY was Barbara’s last film. It was an attempt by friend Calhoun to salvage her fading career. Barbara was as troubled as she was talented and her bio on imdb makes very sad reading.
John, I agree The Saga of Hemp Brown is very good but it slipped my mind. It’s a real shame a proper print of the film appear unavailable.
I didn’t know Southwest Passage was on the market – it’s a title I’ve been interested in so I’ll add it to the list of future purchases.
SOUTHWEST PASSAGE will not let you down. It has great photography (Sam Leavitt) and lovely Kanab Utah locations. It also has the great John Dehner cracking
a mean whip and generally up to no good.
That all sounds great, John.
I join John in thinking this is a fair and accurate review, Colin. I saw it a few years ago and recall thinking that the good cast overcame the poor production values. The contrast of the soundstage and the location filming was more noticeable than in some films and was a detraction, but I enjoyed the film regardless. That said, it’s weaker than Calhoun & Nazarro’s DOMINO KID and THE HIRED GUN (the latter of which has spectacular Lone Pine scenery — I took a tour of the film’s locations at the last LP Festival).
I second John’s recommendation of Rory Calhoun in FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER, and I know our friend Blake very strongly recommends it as well. DAWN AT SOCORRO is particularly outstanding. RED SUNDOWN is still on my “to watch” list but everyone I know who’s seen it has highly recommended it. I liked THE SILVER WHIP quite well but felt POWDER RIVER was kind of weak after a strong open. RAW EDGE is, as Colin says, a curiosity, but a fun watch.
Western fans may also want to catch the gritty SHOTGUN, which Calhoun wrote but doesn’t appear in — it stars the trio of Sterling Hayden, Zachary Scott, and Yvonne DeCarlo (Calhoun’s RAW EDGE costar who was a good friend — he gave her away at her wedding).
I think it’s touching Calhoun hired his I’D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN costar, Bates, who as John says had a troubled time of it.
Thanks, Laura. The Hired Gun is a solid effort all round and a very enjoyable movie. I still have to get round to Four Guns to the Border, which certainly comes highly recommended. I do have a copy – just need to actually watch it.
And, for the benefit of those who haven’t read it, here’s your own take on the movie from a few years ago.
Thanks for sharing the link, Colin, always appreciated!
Since you have FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER I look forward very much to your take on it.
You’re welcome, Laura, only fair given the number of links back here you’ve shared over the years. 🙂
My feelings about “APACHE TERRITORY” are very much in line with others expressed here. A great opening, filmed at Red Rock Canyon, the film then slows down somewhat thereafter. I am not a great fan of the “characters trapped in a studio set, emoting about their situation past and present”. A western should “move”!!! That said, and although one of the lesser Calhouns, his westerns are generally great favourites of mine, particularly “RED SUNDOWN”, “DAWN AT SOCORRO” & “FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER”. I also very much like the lower-budgeted “UTAH BLAINE” quite a lot.
Ray Nazarro was a Columbia Studios workhorse director, directing many films in the Durango Kid series before moving on to both TV and some mid-budget westerns, such as the enjoyable “PHANTOM STAGECOACH”.
Very nice and fair review, Colin, and a real pleasure to have you “back in the saddle” with all the interesting comments that follow from your readers.
Yes, Jerry, Utah Blaine is an enjoyable little picture, again adapted from a Louis L’Amour novel.
Never seen The Phantom Stagecoach but that’s a super title.
“THE PHANTOM STAGECOACH” is something of a ‘sleeper’, Colin. I wasn’t expecting much but was very pleasantly surprised. And William Bishop was very good as the hero this time out. I think you would like it.
Thanks for getting back on that, Jerry, I’ll keep an eye out for it.
Nice selection as usual featuring noteworthy actors like Dehner in a supporting role. Rory in a lead is always a worthwhile viewing venture. I have The MOD version released in North America on my shelf.
The story here is OK but yes, it’s all about the cast in this case. I suspect my own copy replicates the transfer from the US/Canada edition, a reasonably good presentation.
Decent enough Movie and like others of it’s kind takes it plot from the War Films “The Lost patrol” and”Sahara” (which was redone as “The Last of The Comanches” )
I just found that everybody looked to clean and neat to be trapped in the sweaty heat of Arizona.
It was on UK Television not long ago
Yeah, I found myself thinking of the similarity in terms of set up to those films you mention, Bruce. I suppose it just highlights the dramatic potential of such situations. It’s good to know these movies continue to get exposure on TV too.
More Barbara Bates….
Barbara’s career got a boost in the mid
Fifties when she was signed by Rank in the UK.
She appeared in two pretty good films HOUSE OF SECRETS
(aka Triple Deception) a nifty pre Bond Spy Thriller
helmed by the always reliable Guy Green.
She also made TOWN ON TRIAL (not Rank BTW) an
excellent and offbeat thriller with John Mills.
Bates is excellent in the film. I might add TOWN ON TRIAL
would make an excellent future RTHC post. It’s available as a
very nice looking Sony MOD-film was very adult themed for the era.
Barbara’s UK second wave of her career was off to a good start.
Then things went downhill-according to various reports she was either
“bounced” from or turned down two high profile Rank projects.
First these was ACROSS THE BRIDGE headlining Rod Steiger.
Secondly there was CAMPBELL’S KINGDOM a big budget
action picture starring Rank’s “golden boy” Dirk Bogarde.
By all accounts Barbara’s health/mental state was in a
very bad place at that time.
William Bishop another fine actor we lost far too early
(cancer) was a Ray Nazarro regular.
Columbia tried many times to elevate him to leading man
status but it never really happened.
Jerry noted THE PHANTOM STAGECOACH an OK low
budgeter. As these cut & paste things go the climax lifts a
ton of footage from the much higher budgeted and excellent
STAGE TO TUCSON.
On the Sony MOD these scenes look odd when blown up from
4×3 to 16×9….(1.85)
Much better is Nazarro’s THE WHITE SQUAW with Bishop a
most agreeable hero and David Brian chewing up the scenery
as never before. Typical of Nazarro when he has a mediocre
script (e.g THE BLACK DAKOTAS) he just keeps the pacing
so fast & furious we don’t hardly have time to think about it.
THE WHITE SQUAW and THE BLACK DAKOTAS are
well recommended and THE PHANTOM STAGECOACH
Jerry,if you watch THE WHITE SQUAW don’t you think
Bishop would have made a great B Series Western star
had he been in the business a decade or so earlier.
Bishop was well suited to Noir and is excellent in THE BOSS
and James Cagney’s SHORT CUT TO HELL.
The latter title is announced as a future Hollywood Scrapheap
release and is highly recommended.
In Bishop’s final film THE OREGON TRAIL Bishop looks
understandably in pretty bad shape.
Ah, I have a copy of Town on Trial kicking around someplace and need to watch it again , thanks for the reminder. House of Secrets has interested me for a while now, I agree that Guy Green made some fine films, and was announced for release in Italy a few years ago but nothing ever transpired.
As my wife and I named one of our dogs “Rory” that’s a good indication of how we’ve both always felt about that actor–for us, he’s iconic. There seems to be a lot of agreement here about his best movies, beginning with you, Colin, in first taking note of DAWN AT SOCORRO, RED SUNDOWN and WAY OF A GAUCHO. I completely agree about those as the most outstanding, along with FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER, which you haven’t seen yet and others have mentioned. I would choose FOUR GUNS as my personal favorite, even over Tourneur’s very beautiful WAY OF A GAUCHO; FOUR GUNS has been an unusually compelling movie to me since I first saw it at the age of 10 when it came out and I’ve written about this and mention it whenever I can. So, just want to say, Colin, don’t wait too long to see it! (and Laura, this will serve as a reminder to you about WAY OF A GAUCHO too).
I agree about APACHE TERRITORY. I’ve seen it once and would look at it again sometime–I remember when it started I thought it looked very promising with Calhoun riding along alone with that “just drifting” monologue. Then it fell into something that was pretty familiar, if very workable. I enjoyed it without finding it very inspired. And honestly, that is my usual reaction to Nazarro–unlike some other directors working on this level, he’s capable (as they usually are) but just doesn’t seem to bring anything very interesting of his own to mark it out as special. Rory Calhoun liked him, obviously, so they must have worked well together, but I haven’t found any of the movies I’ve seen by him, with Rory or anyone else, to be especially outstanding, just good Westerns of the kind that I will generally like.
But I just have to throw in my two cents on that “soundstage sets as exteriors” and other artificial things that one sees in movies. I don’t especially want to defend this in context of a modest movie like APACHE TERRITORY that doesn’t do a lot with what it has to work with but through this whole period in which Westerns were at their best, studio work and locations are found in so many movies and probably most Westerns (there are exceptions–and some of them are notable) including some of the best ones. Anyone who doubts this should think about it while watching THE SEARCHERS sometime–lots of Monument Valley but there are key moments made back in Hollywood, and not only for interiors but some beautiful soundstage exteriors (for example, the shot of Ethan and Martin in winter when Ethan gives his compelling “we’ll find her…it’s as sure as the turning of the earth”–a beautiful, expressive image). In this case, there were good reasons that we know about–Ford was working creatively on the the film at every stage, making script changes that made the movie as great as it is (the climactic Ethan/Debbie moment was retaken in Bronson Canyon because of this). Films are an “impression of reality” (in the words of French critic Jean-Pierre Coursodon) and that can be very strong even when studio artifice is leaned upon in the process–audiences used to regularly accept his and were comfortable with sound stages, process shots and matte shots, as much as locations and would suspend disbelief readily in the face of compelling filmmaking.
Personally, I find the “impression of reality” harder to get to now, with so much CGI–digital and computer generated effects are changing cinema profoundly. The human presence is now so readily manipulated, along with any settings, and I feel the unreality of the image in a way I never did before–it can seem, well, insubstantial is perhaps the right word. Well, that has nothing to do with 50s Westerns so won’t pursue this further but just want to say I have no problem with the way classical Westerns look or the way they were realized.
And that goes for Alfred Hitchcock movies–there was never a director so deliberative in everything he did and when people complain of falsity, they are simply not responding to something he consciously wanted to come over in just the way it does (and I am especially thinking of MARNIE here).
As always, thanks for the thoughtful comment, Blake.
You know, I had to think hard before I remarked on the use of studio sets in this movie and my dissatisfaction with them in this instance. I’, pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, maybe even in reply to yourself at some point, that I like well chosen and designed studio mock-ups, they have an artistry that is quite special and has now become essentially a lost art. The classic era is full of examples of fabulous sets, which create their own little world, and it’s typically a rather wonderful one. However, there are occasions when they don’t work that well for, I suppose, a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, I felt that was the case with this movie.
I guess soundstage ‘exterior’ sets were used as much as they were was because it could have been difficult or unpredictable (breeze etc) when a scene called for dramatic interplay between characters. It doesn’t bother me either particularly except when used to excess, as it seemed to be in ‘APACHE TERRITORY’.
Great detailed insight into the issue, as usual, Blake.
I imagine there’s a connection to the theatrical tradition as well, Jerry, the use of some from of set as a representation of another place goes back a long way. It’s been there long enough now to be able to be considered practically an integral part of drama, or at least the dramatic tradition.
For all its apologists, Marnie is seen as indifferent work on AH’s part with regards to irs process photography, nothing intentional, nor “dreamlike”. Rejected by Hedren, whom he now referred to as “The girl”, and who seemed to be absent from its publicity. Universal , knowing it had a loser, gave it the vulgar sale, emphasizing “SEX” in its trailer, where AH seems apologetic about uttering the word. After its failure, Universal took control of his affairs, both fantasies and business.
Well Marnie, and to an extent The Birds too, did signal a shift in Hitchcock’s fortunes. I can’t agree with the indifferent assessment of the movie though, Bill, as I’ve always had a great deal of fondness for it. I think your view of it is more widely shared; large numbers of people have problems with the film for various reasons, the technical aspects being only one of those. I see where that point of view is coming from and understand it, even if I don’t share it.
I disagree perhaps even more vociferously than Colin does and would never consider this great movie a “loser”–yes, that’s true in terms of its immediate fortunes, but who judges movies by that in the long run? And I don’t judge movies by personal relationships either (something we only know about indirectly anyway) especially as Tippi Hedren gives such a great performance under Hitchcock’s direction.
Full disclosure–for me only VERTIGO and THE BIRDS–the immediate predecessor of MARNIE and to which it is related–are greater AH movies than MARNIE. Moreover, I believe it is Hitchcock himself who identifies with the character of Marnie, more than with any other character in his work, and that gives it a whole other emotional level.
And Colin, I don’t think you are entirely right in what you say, as we are hardly alone in our positive view of it. In the fullness of time, its relationship is now much better than it was when first released (and it did have defenders even then). Personally, I always took it to heart.
The reason I am moved to comment is Bill’s last comment “After its failure, Universal took control of his affairs, both fantasies and business.”
I’m sure Bill is absolutely accurate about that, and it’s really a shame, for the great artist that AH was is so diminished, really almost gone, in the last four films that he did make, which all have some good touches (mostly marginal) but in which he never seems deeply engaged. Orginally, Hitchcock wanted to make MARY ROSE, a dream project from James M. Barrie and a third film with Hedren (and would have made a great trilogy if you read about the haunting film this could have been) and that would have been a great end to his career. Reading about this unmade film, and thinking of the two with Hedren that we do have, I feel we would perceive him differently now if he had made it–that he had really come into his full depth as an artist and that movie would have completed him in a way those sorry last four do not do.
So, yes, Universal took control. And it’s really reprehensible–because they made more money off Hitchcock than anyone and still are and yet would not let him make MARY ROSE after a successful career that had then spanned forty years.
Blake, I would like to think Marnie has accumulated a few more defenders or enthusiasts over the years, it’s kind of heartening to believe so. I guess I seem to have come across more negative reactions to it from a range of people and that’s colored my take on how it’s been received.
Very interesting comments from Bill and Blake re latter-day AH. Hitch is one of my most favourite film-makers of all time, with a fantastic body of work on the whole.
Among his last films I do feel he was able to make a more personal work in 1972 when he returned to London to make “FRENZY” with his first all-British cast since 1939. I remember seeing him being filmed at the time as he constructed certain key scenes and he seemed quite ‘fired up’. The film is not maybe for all tastes but I like it and it marks the final months of the historic Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market before the latter moved and Covent Garden was restored for tourism.
Mary Rose, a romantic fantasy for AH in more ways than one, would’ve been another nail in his commercial coffin. The character he most identified with was Scottie Ferguson – Vertigo is practically a training film on how to take an ordinary woman, transform her to a Goddess. It was his methodology towards Hedren, and earlier Vera Miles, the only other actress he had under personal contract. He was grooming her for Vertigo- speculation was she got pregnant to get out of it. Didn’t want to be meticulously torn and remade by Stewart on screen, and AH offscreen.
The regrettable unmade film would be Kaleidoscope, his homage to the French New Wave, with hand-held cameras, actual locations, and nudity (!)
Looked at now in critical and artistic terms as opposed to contemporary commercial ones, and as I alluded to in my reply to Jerry, the only failure from the latter pictures would be Topaz – from my own perspective. I’d defend Marnie as his last great picture and do acknowledge there is a visible decline thereafter, although flashes of the old brilliance still appear to varying extents.
Jerry, Frenzy is another Hitchcock title that tends to draw a bad press from some quarters, the greater explicitness seems to be part of the problem. I think it’s a solid enough piece of work though and represents something of a return to form after Topaz, my least favorite of his final works. That one was and is a major misfire for me; a rambling plot, less than interesting casting and a mere handful of set piece moments doesn’t add up to a memorable piece of filmmaking.
Yes, ‘TOPAZ’ did’t grab me at all, Colin, but I do quite like ‘FRENZY’ and I feel a good cast made all the difference. ‘FAMILY PLOT’ never gets mentioned, and with good reason, despite being an adaptation of a rather good novel by Victor Canning ( a writer I have enjoyed for decades). I suppose old age and fading strengths (plus a changing film world) take their toll in the end.
Yes, I could never work up a lot of enthusiasm for Family Plot, Jerry. It’s grown on me a little more over the years and has elements I enjoy a bit better now, though I still regard it as a minor AH film. Still, even minor Hitchcock remains worth a look from time to time.
I’m bemused how this thread has morphed into a Hitchcock discussion; still for once it’s not me causing the diversion. 🙂
Anyone who knows me knows that I am far more in my comfort zone discussing the likes of Lambert Hillyer, R.G.Springsteen or Paul Landres as opposed to Hitchcock, Ford and Hawks.
I tend to avoid discussing “The Masters” I don’t know what our friend Blake made of me stating that my favorite director is Don Siegel. I recently made this statement over at Toby’s and on Kristina’s excellent take on CHARLEY VARRICK. I don’t class myself as a cineaste or a disciple of the auteur theory.
Siegel makes the type of pictures that I love, sure there are mis-fires but the good far outweigh the not so good.
I don’t have Blakes taste, knowledge and could never write like him in a million years. Blake of course can write about both Hawks and Paul Landres, such is his knowledge about all aspects of film. Blake can also dwell on aspects of foreign classic/Art House cinema miles away from my comfort zone. However, I do know what I like and I love Don Siegel’s films. If anything I am pretty basic..a middle low-brow at best.
One thing Blake and I do share is that we are of the vintage (Jerry too BTW) to have seen the Fifties Hitchcock films in huge cinemas on massive screens decades before the age of the multiplex; Hitchcock films in the Fifties were “must see” event movies. The last Hitchcock film I saw in cinemas at the time of release was MARNIE. I saw it at the Odeon Hammersmith a 3,500 seater-single screen. The cinema was packed. I sadly have not seen any of Hitchcock’s films after MARNIE. Circa 1984 my girl-friend at the time noted that VERTIGO was booked for a week’s run at the Plaza cinema in London’s West End. By that time the film had a huge “cult reputation” Sadly the Plaza had by then turned into a five screen (I think) cinema and VERTIGO played on the smallest screen, little more than a preview screen. Seeing a film as monolithic as VERTIGO on such a tiny screen was not a good experience,compared to the massive
single screen cinemas of the Fifties.
I rarely,if ever watch movies from TV transmissions but I did, recently watch FRENZY which I had never seen. I was not impressed. The film lacked “star power” and should have starred Michael Caine and Oliver Reed, then possibly at the peak of their stardom, certainly in their prime. I thought the tedious running black comedy gag- Alec Macowen’s wife’s failed attempts at gourmet meals- heavy-handed and leaden. Jerry and I beg to differ on lots of stuff but I think we both agree FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT is our favorite Hitchcock.
Hitchcock is adored by most of his peers and many that followed but not by everybody. Andre De Toth stated that Hitchcock’s films “move like slugs” and Ken Russell called Hitchcock’s films “Naff”…..(pot/kettle) 🙂
Then there is “imitation” Hitchcock. I love Henry Hathaway’s TWENTY THREE PACES TO BAKER STREET a nod to The Master for sure and shot in CinemaScope, a medium Hitchcock avoided.(Hitch seemed to prefer the high definition VistaVision process.) I rather like William Castles PSYCHO rip-offs I recently enjoyed
HOMICIDAL! and would like to re-view STRAIGHT JACKET, THE NIGHT WALKER and I SAW WHAT YOU DID.Our friend Toby is a massive Castle fan so I’m in good company.
I loathe Brian De Palma’s junk like BODY DOUBLE, DRESSED TO KILL and BLOW OUT. OBSESSION is OK mainly because of Cliff Robertson. Some of my cineaste friends love De Palma and they are welcome to him.
John, I won’t say too much about Siegel just now as I think I may have something on one of his films coming up soonish. Let’s say I’m a fan of his work too, and leave it there for now.
Lots of interesting points in your comment but I’d like to pick up on one or two. I’ve been fortunate enough to see a number of Hitchcock movies theatrically now, some on better screens than other. I’ve seen maybe a dozen in outdoor cinemas in Athens over the years, there are always classics screened in the summer. The best venue is in Thiseio, next to Plaka at the foot of the Acropolis –
I remember To Catch a Thief looking especially good there.
As for those said to copy or imitate Hitchcock, I like all the ones you mention, and I’d call myself a fan of De Palma as well. Lots of people don’t like him, a bit of a Marmite figure in filmmaking, so you’re not alone in your opinion there.
Those outdoor screenings sound fantastic Colin!
Thanks for sharing that photo with us.
BTW regarding my comment regarding UK TV….
I don’t have TCM or Sky TV..just a 42″ high def TV
Unlike the 80’s UK TV just seems to show the same
films time and time again.
Also they are often censored beyond belief.
I recently watched the first five minutes of SAFARI (1956)
just to compare it it the Sony MOD.
In just the first five minuted two key scenes were cut.
So it is these days in PC obsessed UK.
I might add Film 4 noted that the film contains
“hunting scenes and Colonial Attitudes”
Just before anyone gets on my case I am
NOT pro hunting!
It’s the nicest cinema in the city in the summer months, lovely atmosphere.
I share your distaste for censoring/cutting movies for TV transmission, and especially for for those kinds of frankly foolish reasons. I do feel people are mature enough, or should be anyway, to realize that attitudes shift and change over time and that sweeping something under the carpet just because it doesn’t conform to current thinking isn’t the way forward.
By the time of last few films, Hitchcock, and Universal, were past the point of attracting higher priced star players. In the tradition of Grant and Stewart, AH ended it with Bruce Dern.
DePalma’s great fun. Going places AH wouldn’t dream of. Or maybe he did. But he never took the “New Master of Suspense” tag seriously.
The difference in casting does appear quite noticeable after Torn Curtain.
Yes, we do rather seem to have a million miles in this one post – from Rory to Hitch! Quite a hike!
Personally I am a big fan of both so I’m just enjoying the ride. Actually, John, I struggle to name just one favourite AH film; certainly though “FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT” is right up there with “NOTORIOUS”, “NORTH BY NORTHWEST”, “REAR WINDOW” and the list goes on. One of his early American films that I enjoy a lot is the rarely-mentioned “SABOTEUR”. Some great set pieces.
Jerry, I enjoy Saboteur too and always have done. It does have a number of memorable set pieces and scenes and is a good addition to his “innocent man on the run” series. I know a lot of people find Bob Cummings too lightweight but I find there’s a likeability about him that works well in the picture.
In his Truffaut interview, AH said Cummings had “a funny face”.
Yes, and Hitchcock obviously liked something he saw in it as he used him again in Dial M for Murder.
I find it fun that the actor who played the saboteur in “SABOTEUR” in 1942, Norman Lloyd, went on to be a producer on AH’s TV shows for years and is still alive and working. He will turn 102 in November!
Indeed, he’s one of the grand old men of Hollywood and it’s wonderful to know he’s still active. As an actor with Hitchcock he also appeared in a small but memorable role in Spellbound.
I find the discussions on AH engrossing. Have been an ardent follower of his flims, but after Topaz lost interest thereon. Best regards
Yeah, I love the way these chats can spin off in all sorts of directions – great fun.
For me, Torn Curtain was the last Hitchcock movie I genuinely enjoyed. Frenzy did represent a kind of a return to his old form but something was lost by that stage and it’s not got the same feeling about it.
Bob Cummings surprisingly interpreted his part in The Carpetbaggers very effectively. Regards.
That’s one I still have to catch up with, Chris. I liked Cummings in what are probably seen as atypical roles for him in the oneiric The Chase and Mann’s The Black Book. He was fine too in Douglas Sirk’s gaslight noir Sleep, My Love and in the Mardi Gras section of Julien Duvivier’s uneven Flesh and Fantasy.
One of his films that I’d like to see, perhaps because it seems so elusive, is The Accused.
I’ll be honest and say that I’m not a big Rory Calhoun fan; it was John Dehner that drew me to this one. I thought it was a fantastically good time! I think that I may be a tad less discriminating when it comes to western films, hahaha. This type of comic-book western really floats my boat, and at times they remind me of filmed radio shows, which, to me, is a good thing.
Good to hear you enjoyed it, and there is plenty to have a good time with even if there are some weaknesses too. And yes, it has that pulpy feel, partly as a result of the budget constraints and partly too (I think) due to Louis L’Amour’s original story. This is not a bad thing of course.
I’m really going to have to put a bit of effort into appreciating Rory Calhoun. Joel McCrea was once a least-fave, but now he’s way up there…maybe I could get to like Calhoun in the same way.
On a mild tangent, when I was in North Dakota (I’m now back in Washington state), I was frequently in Jamestown, which is Louis L’Amour’s hometown. Lots of landmarks there; they make a big deal out of him, and rightly so. 🙂
I like Calhoun a lot but we all have different tastes in movies and personnel so even if he’s not someone you come around to, I wouldn’t sweat it. Of course, it could be down to the material you’ve seen him in – if so, there are plenty of good recommendations in this thread alone to steer you in the right direction.
As you know, Clayton, I’m a fan of all kinds of pulp writing and I like L’Amour’s variety a great deal. His westerns are a very accessible, and well-written, way to get into the genre for readers who have avoided it for one reason or another. And it’s worth remembering he wasn’t only a western writer. Sure the lion’s share of his published work is set on the frontier, and fair bit adapted for the big and small screen too, but he wrote some pretty good adventure yarns as well, especially short stories.
Yep, he could really put a serious pen to paper! I have his adventure and detective stories, and they hang with some of the best in their perspective genres. I’m always impressed, especially by his detective work, and I always want more.
As far as Calhoun goes, westerns are the one thing that I tend to fin the flaw in myself if I don’t “get” a particular style of major actor; I think I’ll come around to him in the same way that I came around to Spaghetti westerns…which I used to despise. Considering the faux-western junk getting released these days (DJANGO UNCHAINED, BONE TOMAHAWK & THE HATEFUL EIGHT make me want to claw my eyes out), a greater appreciation of the existing canon seems like a worthy effort.
Oh, tell me about it! I’m the kind of guy who likes to support the western genre as much as possible and made a point of seeing as many releases in the cinema as possible. Now that can be difficult as it does involve sifting through a fair bit of dross, but films like the ones you mentioned – I’ve seen 2 out of those 3 – have brought me to the point where my patience is about exhausted. There are still plenty of discoveries to be made among the output of earlier decades, or rewatches of of others, to keep me going.
Pingback: Indian Uprising | Riding the High Country