The Two Mrs Carrolls

Every once in a while it’s good to indulge oneself in something which is not overly taxing, which is largely escapist and, in this guy’s opinion anyway, with enough entertaining features to diminish the concomitant flaws. In short, I’m talking about the type of movie to take one’s mind of “stuff” in general. And let’s be honest, current events are leaving all of us in need of a bit of distraction. With that in mind I turned to The Two Mrs Carrolls (1947) the other night. My impression is that this movie  doesn’t enjoy a great reputation but for one reason or another, which I’ll have a go at articulating later, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for it.

The relationship between art and commerce has always been an uneasy one and it feels somehow apt that Hollywood, home to many a tempestuous real-life marriage itself, should train a glass on this dichotomy. Maybe it’s down to a familiarity with the inherent duality within itself that has led the film industry to occasionally cast a dubious glance in the direction of artists in general. Geoffrey Carroll (Humphrey Bogart) is certainly a case in point; before the first scene has ended the audience is left in no doubt whatsoever that here is a man who is a clear stranger to emotional stability. He’s been romancing his latest muse Sally (Barbara Stanwyck) while, initially unbeknownst to her, trying to figure out a way to extricate himself from his marriage. In short order we learn that he achieves that by the simple expedient of popping a dose of poison into his unwanted spouse’s milk. This leaves him free to marry the conveniently wealthy Sally. You might imagine that a new life in idyllic surroundings for himself and his young daughter (Ann Carter) would have chased away the demons. However, it becomes clear that the creative juices are drying up again, and then an attractive socialite (Alexis Smith) arrives on the scene…

As I said at the top of this piece, I don’t believe The Two Mrs Carrolls is regarded all that well. In fairness, there are problematic areas, the script and direction allows the story to sag a little in the middle, and both tone and performances can be uneven. On the other hand, the film is, for me anyway, an enjoyable slice of domestic suspense/melodrama. What’s more, it has that attractive visual aspect that I’ve noticed before in the work of director  Peter Godfrey (who has a cameo role as a racetrack chiseler) – both Christmas in Connecticut and Cry Wolf have a visual aesthetic which really appeals to me – and this boosts the pictures stock considerably. Allied to this is that studio recreation/imagining of a kind of fairy tale England (and Scotland in the brief opening scene) which either works for you or doesn’t. Personally, I’m a big fan of the artistry that goes into conjuring up that kind of illusion.

A final reason for my own fondness for the movie, and one I will freely admit is wholly dependent on the individual, relates to the time it is first seen. While I can’t put my finger on the exact time, it would have been somewhere in the mid-1980s when I came across this picture on TV. I would have been in the process of broadening my experiences of cinema (something which I can happily say continues to this day) and was on the lookout for as many Bogart features as I could find. The point is I caught this one at a time when it just clicked for me, and that feeling has never really deserted me ever since.

The Two Mrs Carrolls appears in the middle of an especially strong run of post-war movies starring Bogart. Looked at in comparison to some very strong and memorable work for Hawks, Huston and Daves, it’s perhaps not surprising that the movie is seen less favorably. That said, the star’s performance is inconsistent; the romantic interludes are handled just fine, as are the handful of incidences of hard-boiled insolence, while the manifestations of instability are seriously overcooked. Stanwyck, who rarely gave a sub-par performance at any point in her career,  fares better overall and handles the melodrama with greater assurance.

Alexis Smith had already played opposite Bogart in Conflict and vamps attractively here, trading barbs effectively in a memorable introductory scene. I guess most movie fans will recall Ann Carter chiefly, and quite rightly too, for her excellent playing in the haunting and rather touching Val Lewton/Robert Wise picture The Curse of the Cat People. She’s very good again in The Two Mrs Carrolls and her calm composure offers a neat contrast to some of the adults around her. Irish actors Pat O’Moore and Anita Sharp-Bolster are solid (and amusing) in support, and of course few performers ever bumbled quite so endearingly as Nigel Bruce.

The Two Mrs Carrolls was given a DVD release in the US via the Warner Archive, and clones later appeared  on the European market. As far as I’m aware it’s not been given the Blu-ray treatment as  yet, and I’m not sure  it has a high enough profile to warrant that anyway. Generally, it looks fairly strong in standard definition and I’m pleased just to have it and be able to watch it. Objectively speaking, it’s not one of Bogart’s or Stanwyck’s best movies and I’m not about to sell it as such. It does have its positives though, as is true for almost anything with these stars. Frankly, it’s a welcome piece of cinematic fluff at any time, and especially so at the moment.

70 thoughts on “The Two Mrs Carrolls

  1. Great review Colin. Like you, caught this in the 1980s and was impressed by the Romantic look and mood established by Godfrey in this and his other moves of the period and it made an effect – as did the fine, dissonant score by Franz Waxman. Bogart is probably a bit miscast here I suspect, though clearly the desire was to stretch his image a bit. Must see it again. Cheers!

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  2. I really like the sound of those albums Sergio has drawn our attention to. Many thanks for that, Sergio!

    It’s a Warner Bros film from the 1940s, with an excellent music score and a generally entertaining vibe for me – in many ways that’s enough for me but I have to say this was a rare occasion indeed where I have to say Bogie overacted quite badly in places. Quite shocked me actually as I rarely find fault with his performances.

    This is a rotten time for all of us and I wish well to all your readers out there, Colin. The lovely weather today brought me out to make a start on getting our garden in shape. I’m also though taking the opportunity to view my way through my ‘to watch’ pile a bit faster than usual!

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    • As long as we, and those close to us, are well and have stuff to keep us occupied, then the rest will take care of itself by and by.

      I agree on the overacting, Jerry. Bogart was slicing the ham thick at times, especially the eye-rolling and so on whenever the character was losing his grip. I’d need to read up more on the production of the movie but I found myself wondering how seriously he taking the whole thing.

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  3. Nice to see those Charles Gerhardt albums warmly mentioned here. I have all 12 of those in the original vinyl (and the David Raksin one that the composer himself conducted that was also produced as part of this series), have always loved them and remain attached to them. Those composers all contributed so richly to classical cinema and so many of those scores have aged so well.

    Re “The Two Mrs. Carrolls”: Apart from that good Waxman score, I don’t remember it well enough now to say that Colin is being generous, even if probably I’d say he is. Of course, I understand fondness for movies can relate to memories of how and when we first saw them. We all could name a lot like that, including many that are great.

    But just would want to remind that even if he overacts here, Bogart could play a disturbed character. As the one of three prospectors who morally dissolves in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” that character was not very together, and if Bogart was over the top in the later reels it was kind of believable there.

    And on what I consider a higher level, there’s “In a Lonely Place.” To the great credit of that film, Bogart’s character does not turn out to be a murderer, but he does have a violent side and churns with difficult emotions, all with tragic effect in a moving love story with Gloria Grahame. In that case, with Nicholas Ray directing, Bogart portrayed that character with great nuance and to complex effect and, more than any of his iconic roles, I believe it is his best performance.

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    • That sounds like an impressive collection of scores you’ve amassed there.

      Blake, I unreservedly admit that I’m displaying generosity towards this film, and I’ve no wish to mislead any into thinking this is an overlooked gem. I like it, I think it’s fun and a pleasurable way to pass an hour and a half, but it most certainly has its faults. I try not to read up on movies I want to feature before putting down my own thoughts in order not to be influenced. However, since I put this up I have looked around a bit more and see quite a bit of negative reaction, which basically matches up with my hazy memories of how the film was received. Mind you, I see our mutual friend Laura had a similarly positive reaction (broadly speaking) to my own: https://laurasmiscmusings.blogspot.com/2011/04/tonights-movie-two-mrs-carrolls-1947.html

      Those two examples you offer – especially In a Lonely Place – of Bogart taking on less stable characters are a cut well above what he does here. It’s my awareness of how good an actor he was that has me wondering how seriously he approached his part in The Two Mrs Carrolls.

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  4. Colin
    Fine review as usual. I saw this once many years ago and have lost the plot in my memory. (back when I was tipping the bottle to much I presume) So on the list for a re-watch. With Bogart, Babs and the Peach Queen in it, it has to be worth a look see again. Thanks for the reminder on this.

    Gord

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    • Gord, it’s standard “woman in peril” shenanigans but the cast is attractive (even if they’re not necessarily at their best) and I do enjoy the style or look Godfrey brought to his movies. Bear in mind its limitations but do give it a try when you get the opportunity.

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  5. Off topic here. For those that might be interested.

    If you are looking for some decent looking UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL titles. Go to youtube and type in, East of Sumatra 1953. Then scroll down to Universal Video. There are a bunch of 50’s U-I titles including at least 3 Budd Boetticher titles. There is also a bunch of Tony Curtis, Jeff Chandler and Rock Hudson stuff like SON OF ALI BABA, FORBIDDEN, BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH, SEMINOLE,.CITY BENEATH THE SEA ,and EAST OF SUMATRA. The last two by Budd Boetticher. I just stumbled on the site while looking for something else. Hope it works for everyone. I watched CITY BENEATH THE SEA last night. The film stars Robert Ryan and A. Quinn. Hopefully it works for everyone.

    Gord

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    • Yes, good tip. That is a useful resource and contains some titles I’d not seen but want to. I think I might just spend a bit of time with a couple of those Boetticher movies tomorrow.

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  6. Colin
    Let me know what you think. I wish there were some of those hard to find film noir titles everyone is looking for. The site seems to be mostly aimed at adventure type fare. There are still a nice bunch there that I have never seen, so i’m not complaining. Tonight I believe i’ll take in SEMINOLE. It has to have been in the 1970’s the last time I saw that.
    Gord

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    • Just a quick follow-up, Gord. I’ve managed now to watch the two Boetticher movies. I thought City Beneath the Sea started off very light and breezy, quite comedic in fact, before developing into a more standard deep sea yarn and then reverting right at the end to the original tone.
      Of the two, and while I enjoyed them both, I reckon I liked East of Sumatra better. It’s hokey but the writing is more consistent and the cast has much more strength in depth. It’s quite shocking to think Suzan Ball would soon pass away tragically, and what a bright future she looked set to have.

      Incidentally, I also managed to catch up with Boy on a Dolphin the other day and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was interesting for me to note how much Athens has changed in the years since and, by contrast, how little the island of Hydra has changed, comparatively speaking.

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  7. Colin
    I agree wholeheartedly with your take on the two Boetticher titles. As a kid I loved these action-adventure type films set in far off locations. Susan Ball was a cutie who left us far to early. Last weekend I managed to work in the underwater yarn as well as THE WHIPHAND, BIG HOUSE USA and an interesting low budget item called STORM FEAR. It was a watchable low renter produced, directed and starring Cornel Wilde. It is a noir with Mrs. Wilde, Jean Wallace and Dan Duryea in the cast. DOY ON A DOLPHIN!!!! LOL!!! All I recall of that is Miss Loren!!!! What a stunner. Whenever I leave Calgary for a couple weeks i’d swear the place grows by 10 square miles. Nothing is the same as when I came here in 76.
    Gord

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    • Tonight I watched the nasty, violent film noir, TRY AND GET ME 1950 from director Cy Endfield. The film includes, Frank Lovejoy, Richard Carlson, Kathleen Ryan, Adele Jergens and a riveting performance by Lloyd Bridges. The film is also known as THE SOUND OF FURY. Third time I caught this superb film and it still delivers.

      Gord

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      • That ones on my “to be watched” list, but it will be a while before I get to it as things stand now. I have another Endfield to hand that I might view sooner.

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  8. Locked up here for the weekend so might as well pick out some films to watch. A BULLET FOR JOEY 1955 with G. Raft and E. G. Robinson, DARK CITY 1950 with Chuck Heston, UNION STATION 1950 William Holden and MY NAME IS NOBODY with H FONDA and T. Hill 1974 or DEADLINE USA 1952 with Bogart. I should be able to get to at least 2-3 of these in as well as a few of those U-I titles off that site I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread..

    Gord

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    • That’s an interesting selection. I wasn’t all that enamored of A Bullet for Joey last time I saw it, but I don’t actually recall a lot about it. Deadline USA has promise yet doesn’t quite fulfill it.
      I have a real soft spot for My Name is Nobody – it’s not entirely successful and gets too broad in places, but the third act is extraordinarily well done and has pathos in abundance.

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  9. Never seen A BULLET FOR JOEY or DEADLINE USA. The others I have seen at least once before with UNION STATION a decent Rudolph Mate direction job. MY NAME IS NOBODY I saw back in the 70’s at a drive in. Do not recall much of the story so it will be like a new film. Still have not decided on which of the U-I films to give a look see.

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    • The List of Adrian Messenger is among those titles, isn’t it? It’s extremely hokey but a lot of fun. Personally, I want to have a look at Scarlet Angel at some point.

      Regarding a Universal-International movie you mentioned here, and that others have spoken of in the past, I came across Johnny Stool Pigeon on the other site I told you about:
      https://ok.ru/video/2073990793891

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  10. Colin
    The List of Adrian Messenger is something I have seen several times over the years. As you say, not top end, but fun to watch. Scarlet Angel is one I have never seen, so now that I know where it is, I can get to it soon. Johnny Stool Pigeon is something I have a nice copy of. The whole cast is good with Tony Curtis standing out in a small thug role.

    Just finished Deadline USA and was rather surprised at how underwhelming it was. Starts out good and then drops the ball and never picks it up again. Union Station made up for that one. A nice kidnapping tale with a definite noir flair. R.Mate should have made more of this kind of stuff.

    I am really starting to miss the weekend card games here. Stay well everyone.

    Gord

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    • Just finished Deadline USA and was rather surprised at how underwhelming it was. Starts out good and then drops the ball and never picks it up again.

      I’ve found that this is the case with many of the films of Richard Brooks, although The Last Hunt is a notable exception.

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    • I’ve not seen that yet. I always thought June Allyson seemed like an odd co-star for Bogart.

      On Brooks, I think Blackboard Jungle is very good and I’m also fond of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, although I know others are lukewarm on it. I think Elmer Gantry is interesting but flawed, and The Professionals is a lot of fun, but ultimately slight.

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  11. Very much enjoying the Gordon Gates/Colin McGuigan Show!! Great fun but also useful and enlightening. The enforced lockdown is pretty horrible but at least one does not have to feel guilty for watching lots of films LOL.

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  12. Thanks Jerry
    I am looking out the window and watching it snow. They are calling for minus 16 C by Wed.
    Tonight i’m going to watch the relevant to current events, PANIC IN THE CITY 1950. Then i’ll take in the 1966 remake of BEAU GESTE form the UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONL site I mentioned earlier up the thread. This one has, Guy Stockwell ,Doug McClure and Telly Savalas in it. Am recording COMANCHE 1956 with Dana Andrews off cable right now. Wednesday they are showing RAILS INTO LARAMIE 1954 on the same cable channel. I’ve never seen this John Payne and Dan Duyea duster.

    Gord

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    • I hope you get a good version of Comanche as I’ve not seen especially strong copies so far, and it’s one of Sherman’s always interesting and thoughtful “pro-Indian” movies. Rails into Laramie is another good one and you’re in for a treat seeing those two for the first time.

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  13. The following contains major spoilers of the following films:
    MAN OF THE WEST,GUN FOR A COWARD and THESE THOUSAND HILLS

    Late joining in the fun here and a million miles away from Bogie,anyway here goes.

    Re-watched GUN FOR A COWARD an impressive Universal Programmer; it sort of lays between support picture fare and more big budget efforts. I prefer GUN FOR A COWARD to QUANTEZ much beloved by Colin and Toby, same writer I might add, R Wright Campbell who among other things coined the phrase La La Land. Fifties Westerns get their share of flak for their aging leads contrast with much younger female co stars/romantic interest. GUN FOR A COWARD does something to turn this around. Janice Rule is Fred MacMurray’s girl friend,who is attracted to Fred’s younger brother wimpy, mama’s boy Jeffrey Hunter. Jeff,however is oh,so, sensitive and he wins his lady at the end of the picture. The final scene has Fred riding out of town alone,leaving everything he has strived to build up, off into an uncertain future; I like that, it’s The Cowboy Way.

    In MAN OF THE WEST shady lady Julie London is attracted to Gary Cooper despite the 25 year age gap between the two. All well and good perhaps but Coop is never believable as having ridden with scum like Doc Tobin (Lee J Cobb). Coop’s screen persona is just too noble. We well believe that Eastwood’s Bill Munney killed women and children, just about anything that walked or crawled, in UNFORGIVEN. Poor Julie, not only gets raped by Tobin but also loses her man at the end of the picture – he’s off after all the carnage to his wife and kids. It’s certainly not the first Anthony Mann picture with final twists that we
    don’t seem coming. As an examination of the futility of violence, it’s more successful than most, especially with the innocent Mexican woman who gets caught in the crossfire, “I’m sorry” is all Cooper can offer to the distraught husband, in a scene as cold as it can get. You have to hand it to Mann in the way violence is examined in most of his Westerns. Peckinpah told Boetticher that the excessive violence in his pictures was to expose violence for what it really is, to which Budd replied “Bullshit.” Boetticher had no time at all for Peckinpah but lots of time for Scorsese and Leone, and I guess part of that is down to Marty and Sergio’s huge admiration for the director. Interestingly, Boetticher hugely admired GOODFELLAS but had little time for UNFORGIVEN.

    THESE THOUSAND HILLS has been discussed on these pages recently,and while I have considerable admiration for the film, the ending is all wrong. Lee Remick plays a prostitute who bankrolls Don Murray who goes on to make a considerable fortune. Remick ends up getting brutally beaten and worse still on a murder rap, while Murray goes off with simpering,far less interesting Patricia Owens. Basically, if there is any point to all of this I would rather Coop settled down with Julie London and Murray had ended up with Lee Remick. The ending of GUN FOR A COWARD bittersweet it may be, is just fine by me.

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  14. I’ve been enjoying the Colin & Gordon party and could not resist gatecrashing.
    I rather like it when a whole gamut of movies are discussed even if they have no connection to the thread in question. Of the many films mentioned A BULLET FOR JOEY is as flat as it’s possible for a movie to be,despite the leads.
    BIG HOUSE USA is a corker providing you are able to cope with the total cruel, mean spirited vibe of the whole thing. Like everyone else living in lock-down,no restaurants to go to and having knocked wine on the head since New Year’s Day I luckily find that I have a bit of cash to splash. I don’t know I I’ll get all of these but here are a few items that I’m adding to an ever growing shopping list:
    BLOOD ON THE MOON from Warner Archive is a cast iron cert. Not to sure about RACHAEL AND THE STRANGER,never seen it and don’t really fancy it for some reason. ACTION OF THE TIGER also from Warners was a childhood favorite,and as I recall far superior to THE ANGRY HILLS. The Warner Archive DVD of THE ANGRY HILLS has some topless nudity which was certainly axed from the version that I saw as a kid. ACTION OF THE TIGER has three people involved with DR NO namely Connery,Terence Young and the supremely sinister Anthony Dawson. ACTION OF THE TIGER I have not seen since I was 11, in a spiffing double bill with HOUSE OF NUMBERS a prison flick with Jack Palance. Other potential “must haves” are HANGMAN’S KNOT and APACHE DRUMS on Blu Ray from Sidonis. BULLET FOR A BADMAN on Blu from Explosive Media. The Mill Creek Noir double HOLLYWOOD STORY and NEW ORLEANS UNCENSORED neither of which I’ve never seen.
    The Noir triple set from Kino Lorber THE SLEEPING CITY,ABANDONED and THE LADY GAMBLES. I’ve never seen THE LADY GAMBLES and the other two are top flight Noirs as far as I’m concerned. Also eyeing the three titles from this new Australian label Imprint, WAR OF THE WORLDS (finally) SORRY,WRONG NUMBER and
    I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE the latter one of Paramount’s few excursions into drive in fare (The Blob,The Space Children, The Colossus Of New York) The pound is pretty strong at the moment against the Au $ lets see how it goes.
    Finally Kino have announced NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL one of those Universal CinemaScope pictures I thought got lost in that fire. I know the film is not top flight Cagney but CinemaScope,Technicolor, Tony Caruso, Royal Dano and Robert Wilke are very much plus factors. As I recall NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL was supported by NO NAME ON THE BULLET, a superb evening’s entertainment by anyone’s standards. NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL is making it’s Worldwide DVD/Blu Ray debut. Here’s hoping other “lost” Universal CinemaScope pictures will surface like DAY OF THE BADMAN, ISTANBUL and THE PURPLE MASK.
    Finally, recently got the Blu Ray of THE STALKING MOON a film that I have not seen since it’s original release. The Warner Archive transfer is very impressive and on first viewing I would say that the film is way up there with ULZANA’S RAID.
    Don’t know how we would cope with these grim days without our movies.

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  15. John
    Gatecrashing is always a hoot on film talks! Love your lists of films including several I have never heard of, such as, NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL and ACTION OF THE TIGER. Always like to hear about stuff I can add to my own lists of wanted films. I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE is a great 50’s sci-fi low-renter. The title most likely drove away some viewers, but for those that gave it a look, what a little gem. A BULLET FOR JOEY I recorded a few weeks ago but still have not gotten to it. As for RACHAEL AND THE STRANGER. I saw it years ago and have never taken it in a second time, though I admit i’m not a fan of the leading lady.

    Talking of current events, went to my bank today and could not get in. One needs to make an appointment now. It is starting to get scary out there.

    Gord

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  16. Hi Gordon,
    Thanks for the feedback. A BULLET FOR JOEY is one of the very few Edward G Robinson pictures where he literally phones in his performance. I live in hope that his blistering Noir BLACK TUESDAY will get released someday. BLACK TUESDAY is one of several very good Noirs released by United Artists that have yet to see even a DVD debut, others include THE LONG WAIT and TIMETABLE. Kino Lorber seem to like tracking down these rarities so I live in hope.
    I want to see NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL as it’s one of the very few films Cagney made in CinemaScope and color. I do try to support labels that release rare,hard to find titles whenever possible,I gave up “trading” a long time ago and refuse to watch films online or indulge in streaming,partly because I’m a hardcore Luddite.
    Years back the only way you could watch much sought after films was through “trades” but Warner Archive and imprints like Kino Lorber have changed all of that. Whoever thought years back such generally unheralded films like THE SLEEPING CITY, ABANDONED, APACHE DRUMS and GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING would turn up on Blu Ray in gorgeous transfers. There are tons of films I would buy if finances allowed so I tend to be selective, furthermore unlike many fans I don’t have thousands of films in my collection,therefore I don’t own a movie that I have not viewed at least twice, what I’m saying is that I don’t have a “to be viewed stack”
    Watched THE STALKING MOON again last night a film of striking visual beauty and jaw dropping on Blu Ray. Certainly one of the best high def transfers of a vintage Western that I’ve ever seen-such a shame Robert Mulligan never made more Westerns. Along with THE GUNFIGHTER the film is top drawer Peck an actor perfect for Westerns who sadly made many that were beneath his most capable skills.

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    • John, I don’t mind watching online if there’s no other alternative available at present – the problem is a lot of those movies are in less than optimum condition. Of those you mention, I watched Time Table online the other day as i just got fed up waiting for it to turn up in decent condition as a hard copy. That was a cracking little heist yarn with great work done by everyone involved.
      I’ve been watching a bit more online than is usually the case actually – tomorrow should see me posting a piece on something else I viewed that way, so watch this space…

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  17. I will look forward to that.
    It’s interesting that Felicia Farr was a “bad girl” in her first two movies; a Femme Fatale in TIMETABLE and even worse an evil nurse in BIG HOUSE USA.
    I find the scene in BIG HOUSE USA where she is grilled by Reed Hadley a real uncomfortable watch.
    As mentioned before there are just so many minor/unheralded films turning up on Blu Ray these days I don’t feel the need to trade or watch online, plus now in the age of high definition I find ropey “unofficial” copies or indeed watching online hard to actually view- I guess we’ve all been spoilt to some degree.
    I would,however draw the line if DEATH OVER MY SHOULDER (1959) turned up on line, which it won’t. Even on line details about this film are scant hardly any press ads, and certainly no trailers. The production company Vicar only seem to have made one film and the distributor Orb Films seemed mainly to handle exploitation fare. DEATH OVER MY SHOULDER had three cast members who died young, including troubled leading man Keefe Brasselle as well as Bonar Colleano and Al Mulock who for a brief time became an iconic Spaghetti character actor. The circumstances after Mulock’s demise are bizarre, to say the least. DEATH OVER MY SHOULDER was directed by Arthur Crabtree, a director who had certainly seen better days. I’d love to see this film as it’s value as a curio is enormous and I should imagine it’s a totally “lost” movie.

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  18. It’s interesting, seeing John’s comments above, how we all view ‘collecting’ films differently. I also prefer ‘hard copy’ i.e DVDs to online or streaming. Must confess I sort of assumed John would have a large collection of discs but he says not. I do have a sizeable collection to call upon, I suppose, but make a point of not having too large a pile of unwatched films. This virus has speeded up the process so that my ‘to be watched’ pile is only around a dozen or so films.
    I have today received in the mail a DVD of “THESE THOUSAND HILLS”, sent for after recent discussions and hope to view it tomorrow, after which I will add some thoughts to those expressed so well in an earlier post.

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    • That’s great, Jerry. I’d be keen to see how you react to the movie too.

      “To be Watched” piles? I have a mountain, perhaps even the makings of a small range if I’m going to be honest. I’m almost afraid to talk about it… :/

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  19. John, Colin, Jerry
    Myself I have no problem with online viewing etc. When I started collecting about 30 years ago it was rare to find a pristine copy of anything. Over the years restored prints etc have helped with re-watches. I actually have not bought a new dvd in 2-3 years. I have boxes of titles to get through including thousands of tv shows from the late 40’s to the mid 60’s. A lot of these only exist now as kinescopes or something on vhs that someone taped. I bought a collection of old tv episodes from a fellow who worked at the first tv station in Texas. Whenever the station threw out old films or recordings he would keep them. Nobody really thought there would be people like us here that love the old films and tv.

    AS for my “must watch” pile, it is in the hundreds, plus what I record off cable. I will need to live another 50 years to get through it all. LOL Well, 40 years anyways.

    John, you mention Felicia Farr was a “bad girl” early in her career. A while back I watched a 1961 episode of Rod Taylor’s series, HONG KONG where Miss Farr was the guest star. A real nasty murdering femme fatale if ever there was one in this episode.

    Stay healthy everyone. Minus 17 C outside here at the moment. I’m really getting a tad too old for this nonsense!!!

    Gord

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  20. Colin

    You asked me earlier what the copy of “Comanche” I recorded off cable the other day looked like. Not that it will stop me from watching, but it looks like an old vhs that had been played more than was good for it, all faded and scratchy.

    Gord

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  21. Colin, Steve and Blake,
    “THESE THOUSAND HILLS” arrived safely yesterday and I sat down and wallowed in it this morning! I am just surprised now that the film didn’t register more positively with me when I saw it all those years ago – maybe I wasn’t fully concentrating, was tired or who knows what? Viewed again, I loved it. It follows the lines of the classic western that we love, the story and its treatment is very adult for its time and the cinematography by Charles G. Clarke of the fabulous locations is simply stunning. A very fine cast too.

    My DVD was put out by 101 Films, a UK outfit and the disc is Region B. The disc is double-sided, having the options of a ‘scope letter-box screen or a 4:3 full screen adaptation. I watched the former – I cannot fault it. It’s just a shame this is unavailable to U.S viewers unless they have multi-region players.

    Referring to Gord’s comments above re “COMANCHE”, my copy is also from 101 Films and looks great. The only down side is that they present it in letter-box format but in the centre of the screen. Not sure why but once you get used to that the film can be much enjoyed (George Sherman film, of course!).

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Jerry, Colin and Blake – so pleased your copy of Hills arrived, Jerry and that you enjoyed it so much. The only copies I’ve identified are too expensive for me but will keep checking to see if its price falls. I was thrilled recently to watch Four Faces West for the first time. What a very fine film: so much to admire and enjoy.

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        • Might be worth hunting around online to see if it’s been uploaded anywhere, if you’re in a hurry to see it – I have a hunch I’ve noticed it before but can’t be 100% sure.

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        • Steve, I remember first seeing “FOUR FACES WEST” on BBC TV on Boxing Day 1957 and loved the film from the off. I watched it again quite recently (for the umpteenth time!) and my opinion of the film is even higher today. A very fine and unusual western. No star could have done it better than Joel McCrea. So glad you loved it too,
          Actually the Beeb broadcast a number of good westerns in those years, particularly around Christmas time – I can remember Richard Dix in “THE KANSAN” and “AMERICAN EMPIRE” in particular (still think they’re good) but also another Pops Sherman production, “WOMAN OF THE TOWN” (1944) with the unusual casting of Albert Dekker as Bat Masterson and Claire Trevor as Dora Hand. That film seems to have disappeared from view sadly.

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          • I must comment on AMERICAN EMPIRE. Overall I thought it was a pretty good western. Why overall? Well, the first two reels was able to draw me in and maintain an interest. But, that third reel was an action packed whooper that literally explodes from the screen. Featuring the skills and stunts of horsemen to a magnitude rarely seen on film. The staging of that final battle was a sight to behold that has remained with me since the first time I saw this film some 60-years ago. A must see…..if only for that third reel just to say, ‘I saw it’.

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          • Regarding WOMAN OF THE TOWN…….well, it hasn’t totally disappeared. I did find it online at Google. However, the audio/video is about 2-minutes out of sync. So….if one can bare to sit through it, as I did, you can give it a go.

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            • Thanks, Scott. Maybe I’ll just leave my memories of the film where they lie!!LOL It was probably the least of the westerns made by Harry Sherman, most of which starred Richard Dix and were fine. I’m not even mentioning Sherman’s long-running and excellent Hopalong Cassidy series of course.
              Perhaps Sherman’s finest was “RAMROD”.

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              • Jerry……I couldn’t resist the temptation of watching Woman of the Town just to see how Bat Masterson’s saga was going to stack-up to Dix’s Earp that was released the previous year. Even though the story line seem to chronicle Masterson’s life in a very general way the screenplay was pretty much third rate. All in all, I’m glad I persisted through it as it filled a sort of missing link for me.
                As for Richard Dix……I’ve always like his style in the genre. Tombstone: The Town Too Tough to Die is my favorite Dix movie.
                As for Ramrod……many would agree with your assessment. But my preference is Four Faces West…….the lovely Frances Dee is the difference maker for me.

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        • Steve (and Jerry) –

          Where were you looking for These Thousand Hills (Region 1)? The original DVD that I have (put out by Fox) appears to be still available on Amazon at a very easy price.

          (copied link so hope this works)

          https://www.amazon.com/These-Thousand-Hills-Don-Murray/dp/B000EHSVWI

          Re the copy Jerry watched, which sounds just fine (for the side of it he watched at least), I never understand double sided discs where one of them is an aspect ratio that is obviously wrong. Cinemascope movies should not be seen flat/full frame–they are destroyed by that in every way, meaning not only visually for composition but in mood, ambiance, any reflective quality in how the narrative is presented (this film is a conspicuously good example of that).

          Of course someone like Jerry will always know which version to watch, but not everyone does, I fear, so I just never understand why full frame versions come out when the correct anamorphic one is available. Fox is especially guilty of putting out full frame of ‘Scope in many cases even though they were the pioneers of CinemaScope back in the fifties! Guess I’m grateful that they did put out this nice version of THESE THOUSAND HILLS but they have some other movies I wish I could see again and I won’t watch them flat anymore.

          Want to compose a further response to Jerry a little later so look for that.

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          • I’ll look forward to your further reply, Blake. I had a look at the link you kindly provided for Steve and it has the exact same cover as the 101 Films Region B version I bought. Probably the same transfer, in which case it is just excellent.
            I bought mine via Amazon UK of course as it costs an arm and a leg to send for items at Amazon.com to the UK these days. I hope Steve finds a copy that suits; I don’t think he will be disappointed.

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    • That’s very gratifying, Jerry.

      I know I’ve also had experiences where a film does not impress me as much as it might for some reason and then I get back to it later and it’s much more than I had thought. I’m sure we all have.

      So just to say, it feels very good to be the one to get you back to this and I’m not surprised that you would respond to it too. And may I add, hope you know I will also see a movie I don’t know if you give it a push. An instance where this happened was “The Outcast” (1954). I’d always felt I wanted to see it but was finally motivated to get that Italian DVD after you wrote about it and was very impressed when I did finally see it and glad that I have it in my collection.

      The things you say about “These Thousand Hills” are exactly right, and I wouldn’t even add anything right now except to comment on John Knight’s earlier post. I was tempted to respond to that then but I’m glad I didn’t, as I’m happier to do it in the context of your own remarks about it.

      So, John K., hope you are here to read this.

      Your complaints about both “Man of the West” and “These Thousand Hills” don’t seem to be an argument over their artistic merits. It seems to come down mostly to the stories not working out in the way you want them. I’m wondering if you think this is really fair. Isn’t the most important thing that those narratives develop in a believable way? I’ll point out first as regards a possible pairing of Link Jones/Gary Cooper and Billie/Julie London that his character is happily married when he comes into the film–so this is never in the cards. Even though she might in some way evoke his wife–even with a less wholesome past–their relationship means something else. In the case of Lat/Don Murray and Callie/Lee Remick, his turn to Joyce/Patricia Owens is very well-motivated in terms of the puritanism that animates him from his back story, and affects also his relationship with his friend Tom/Stuart Whitman. I do agree with you that Callie is the more appealing of these two women–and in truth I adore Lee Remick–and I’m sure we are supposed to feel this is his loss, but it doesn’t make Joyce a one-dimensional character and Lat’s return to her at the end is a mature and insightful scene about both of them. What happens for him–he is the hero of the film, however flawed–is more important than any of the action, as there is a note of redemption, at least to the extent that he has greater self-understanding and wants to be a better person.

      So both endings are believable, logical, and dramatically well-motivated and that’s what they owe us, not making you feel good about what happens. And remember, these folks aren’t real, John. They are filmic creations, and if something bad happens to any of them, it’s just for our deeper understanding of the kind that art can bring.

      Much as you are put off by the various abuses to Callie and Billie, you dislike “Posse from Hell” (1961, Herbert Coleman–still my favorite Audie Murphy Western in the 60s, even among other excellent ones) because the bad guys have taken Zohra Lambert’s character hostage and plainly gang raped her. But as disturbing as that is, again, she’s a character, and this enables her secondary narrative to run a parallel course to Murphy’s initially bitter hero. At the end, the two have emerged into the potential of a richer future–poetically, the movie ends with them in a graveyard, and with the sense they will go on to become a couple.

      I like “Gun for a Coward” too (not as much as “Quantez” though–and I think you’ll remember my own strong positive view of that film) and also am happy with that melancholy ending, and I like R. Wright Campbell’s writing, which seems to have a style of its own in the dialogue, as Burt Kennedy did, though can’t say Campbell came up to the same level of Kennedy.

      But “Man of the West” and “These Thousand Hills” are magisterial works to me, both among the dozen or so best Westerns of the those peak years of say 1956-1959, and that’s among so many outstanding works. I say that from many viewings.

      Your most reasonable argument against “Man of the West” it seems to me is Gary Cooper’s age. Realistically, it should be a younger man, at least not older than John Dehner (14 years younger) given the relationship of these two cousins that goes back to their youth (Lee J. Cobb’s age is not an issue, as he’s heavily made up and passes effectively as the patriarch, even if you feel he overacts, but in the case of this movie anyway, I don’t). But I tend to suspend disbelief pretty easily about things like this if it’s the right actor for the role and I find Cooper very moving in the role, as I do with John Wayne and James Stewart in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”–people complain all the time about their ages in that, but there isn’t anyone else I would want in those roles or respond to so deeply as I do to them. Otherwise, I can’t accept what you say about Cooper’s “nobility”–that seems hijacked in from his established persona, but he was an actor and glad to look for a complex character. Doc Frail in “The Hanging Tree” also has a dark, checkered past, and you seem just fine with him after all. The moral challenge of “Man of the West” is that Link as he is now is a moral adult, very far from the Tobins, but his sense that he has left this past behind is a delusion–he can only do that by “going back” to that and again becoming violent enough to destroy them all, so that it is really over. We are rightly confronted with what to think of this and I believe that’s a measure of the greatness of the film.

      I guess I could go into this a lot more but don’t want to start writing a long essay about it right now. In any event, Colin writes all the time here about the theme of redemption–and related theme of renewal–in Westerns. One reason I enjoy what he writes about these films is that he will accept a story and characters if they are believable and tends to embrace them if the characters are complex and flawed and moving through a story arc that treats those things.

      I respond to these things too. I love Westerns partly because amidst all the wonderful physical beauty, the action and conflict and romance, there are hard truths waiting there that are not pretentiously treated but are treated with a wonderful grace, and the resolutions, even if they might be a sad in a way, are also most often tonic. They go to the deeper spiritual nature of things and of life. And right now, in the world, that’s good for us to reflect upon, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

        • Colin, any comment I make is always at least partly addressed to you, and especially, as I indicated, because of what I see as recurring themes in this blog that are part of what distinguishes it.

          So, thanks.

          ***
          one additional comment as to my affection for Lee Remick and her character of Callie in “These Thousand Hills.”

          Knowing my response to her, and to a great extent feeling the same way, my wife suggested that we name our present dog (who will be our last one) “Callie” and so that is her name. Callie.

          Liked by 1 person

  22. Couldn’t seem to get those right where I wanted them even though I hit “Reply” beneath the relevant posts but I think Colin said it happens that way some time.

    So just wanted to also reply to something earlier from John Knight. In L.A. at least, “Never Steal Anything Small” did come out on a U-I double bill as the main feature with “No Name on the Bullet” as the co-feature. By that point, I was always making a point to go these U-I double bills and generally enjoyed them both (it would usually be two different genres, as in this case). But I have to say that in this case “No Name on the Bullet” (very much the unheralded second feature in advertising and the way this was programmed) completely eclipsed “Never Steal Anything Small”–a wonderful, provocative Western, brilliantly directed by Jack Arnold and with Audie Murphy superb in his unusual role, “No Name on the Bullet” still holds up.

    That Cagney musical, though kind of unusual, never really catches fire and I remember it as dull and found it so again years later (though admittedly, this was of a flat TV version, something I wouldn’t watch now–and would see it again in ‘Scope). I believe this movie had a problematic production history and was initially much longer–something like two hours–then finally cut and released in 1959, long after its producer Aaron Rosenberg had left the studio. If it hadn’t been for this film, his last U-I credit would have been “Night Passage” in summer of 1957, and that was far more comfortably in line with his outstanding tenure there.

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  23. That final paragraph of yours there, Blake, expresses perfectly how the western genre affects me personally. Thanks for those words.
    Thanks also for your gracious response to my thoughts having seen “THESE THOUSAND HILLS”. I was struck by how three-dimensional the lead characters were presented. Lat said right from the start how ambitious he was and, certainly he upset his best friend (Tom) on the way up because Tom didn’t really share his drive. I didn’t feel he used Callie and he always credited her with lending him cash to get started. She was a very appealing character as played by the lovely Lee Remick but I really appreciated the fact that Joyce was also a good person and that the screenplay didn’t fall back on cliche (the good poor girl, the bad rich girl). These were believable people. Lat found his redemption but he never lost his decency as the story unravelled.

    I am very fond of “MAN OF THE WEST” too, Blake. Certainly not always a comfortable watch but a western classic, I feel. Yes, Lee J. Cobb’s performance here was certainly ‘fruity’ and I find it interesting to compare it with his underplaying (beautifully) in his role as Judge Henry Garth in “THE VIRGINIAN” TV series.

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  24. Hello again Colin, Blake and Jerry – am mightily enjoying the exchanges between you all. Your recollection was correct, Colin: I have been able to find a fair quality version of “Hills” online. Hoping I can settle into watching it over the next couple of days. Blake – like Jerry, I can access DVDs from Amazon US only by going through their Australian arm and prices are often inflated well above the US price.

    Jerry, I wish there was a channel here that regularly showed a morning Western: that would be a boon for we lovers of the genre. One more thing about “Four Faces”: where movie soundtracks are concerned, I fall into the less is more camp, but the score for Four Faces, busy and insistent as it is, worked beautifully for me.

    Best wishes to all in these hard times.

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