Utah Blaine

It has been some time since any guest posts have appeared on the site. Well, seeing as I find myself in need of a bit of a breather just now I’m pleased to have Gordon Gates step up to highlight a briskly entertaining 1950s western.

I thought it was time to offer you good folks a western with RTHC favorite Rory Calhoun, Utah Blaine (1957). This lower budget western film was produced by Sam Katzman’s Clover Productions and released through Columbia Pictures. The film stars Rory Calhoun as gunslinger Mike “Utah” Blaine. The supporting cast includes, Paul Langton, Max Baer, Ray Teal, George Keymas, Ken Christy and pretty as a picture, Susan Cummings.In this one, Calhoun gets himself mixed up with a range war between some long time ranchers, and a gang of vigilantes. The vigilantes, led by Ray Teal, want the big ranches broken up into smaller holdings. Teal has hired himself a slew of fast guns and various other assorted trash types to help him. He promises the men all ranches of their own.Calhoun just happens on a man, Ken Christy, who these said vigilantes have left hanging from a tree. Calhoun cuts the man down after the gang left. Christy is still alive and thankful for Calhoun saving his life. Once he finds out that Calhoun is a known fast gun, he offers to pay him for help. Christy also offers a nice slice of range and a 1,000 head of cattle. Calhoun has always wanted a place of his own and agrees.Calhoun is soon knee deep in fist fights, shoot-outs and horse chases, both as the pursuer. and the pursued’  Most of the local townsfolk are too afraid to stand up to Teal and his mob of hired guns. Calhoun does manage to get some help from a pal he knew from years before, Paul Langton. Langton is also handy in the big iron area with his six-gun, as well as a huge double-barreled shotgun he hauls around. Max Baer, a local, also joins in with Calhoun.
In the mix here is the gorgeous Susan Cummings. Miss Cummings is the owner of another of the bigger spreads around the area. She has just buried her father who was murdered by Teal and his bunch. She is soon helping Calhoun and company with food and a place to hide. Of course Miss Cummings and our man Calhoun take a shine to each other.For Calhoun, the fight becomes very personal when he finds that gunman, George Keymas, is among Teal’s men. It seems that Keymas had sold Calhoun out to the Mexican Federales, when the two had been on a job south of the border. Calhoun had spent a long stretch in a Mexican prison before finally escaping. He wants a spot of revenge.The local folks finally join up with Calhoun’s mob when Teal tries to murder another local ranch owner, Angela Stevens. They arm up and are waiting in ambush for Teal and his men when they hit town. It looks like a fairly liberal spraying of heavy metal is going to be needed to settle the issue for one side or the other. The viewer knows the boot hill express is going to be busy.
This is a nifty little low renter that zips along in a quick 75 minutes. B-expert, Fred F. Sears, handles the direction here. Sears cranked out about 50 films in his 1949 till 1958 Hollywood career. Sears’ films include, Earth vs the Flying SaucersRumble on the Docks, The 49th Man, Cell 2455 Death Row, and Chicago Syndicate. Sears also helmed Fury at Gunsight Pass which Colin reviewed here a month and a bit back. (Editor’s Note: the Sears title I looked at recently was actually Ambush at Tomahawk Gap)Another B-film veteran, Benjamin H. Kline handles the cinematography. Kline worked on several excellent low-rent film noir such as, Roses Are Red, The Invisible Wall, Jewels of Brandenburg, Treasure of Monte Cristo and Detour.The film is taken from the Louis L’Amour novel of the same name.
Gordon Gates

36 thoughts on “Utah Blaine

  1. Gord, nice going, but about Fred F. Sears directing Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers rather than World Without End. Edward Bernds made that one. Yes?

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  2. Nice job, Gordon. Like Margot, I just watched “Utah Blaine” on ok.ru. I agree that it’s a nice little Western with lively pacing by Fred F. Sears. Sears, like Alfred Hitchcock, was educated by the Jesuits (Boston College). I guess he put all that philosophy and theology to good use cranking out “B” movies! 😉

    Speaking of ok.ru, will the FBI or Interpol or some other arm of the law be knocking down my front door one of these days for feasting on all these movies I’d probably never otherwise watch?

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    • Ha, I’ve been wondering myself about the FBI or Interpol. They probably would want to know why I frequent a Russian website so often! It’s so odd that a Russian website has so many classic American movies.

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      • Margot & Gordon,

        Well, the great thing about ok.ru is that the movies are free. But that’s also what’s worrisome about it. If you watch many of these movies on other venues, you have to pay for them. I sometimes wonder if a violation of copyright laws might be involved here.

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  3. Frank, Margot

    I guess it will be the R.C.M.P. coming to grab me. LOL I was wondering myself why ok.ru. has such a large collection of U.S. films.

    Gord

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  4. Calhoun was always a favorite of mine as a kid. I knew that anything he made would be good. Yet he seems hardly to be known these days. And I bet his Westerns are still worth watching even now. I’m going to see I can get hold of a couple. There’s one I’ve been trying to find for years. It as a bar room scene where a gang chases him out of a saloon and he runs around and comes back in the front door – then picks up a pool ball off the pool table and nails a guy right in the back. Love that scene!. LoL!!!

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  5. Nice job here, Gord. Not wishing to repeat myself (though I probably do), I have praised “UTAH BLAINE” on RTHC in the past as one of Rory’s best, despite its low budget. Definitely a programmer but I have no problem with that.

    Off topic, or rather returning to a recent one, I have just seen the 1950 U.I. film “MYSTERY SUBMARINE”, courtesy of TCM UK, bless’em. Directed by Douglas Sirk though not as good perhaps as some of his later, better-known films and starring Macdonald Carey and the very beautiful Marta Toren. The film is nothing out of the ordinary really but I enjoyed it quite well and would say it is definitely worth catching if you get the chance.

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    • Jerry, thank you for getting back with us about MYSTERY SUBMARINE(1950). This is the type of movie that I tend to like. I’m a fan of the tall, dark sultry Swedish actress Marta Toren. She was good as a femme fatal in THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE TRAINS GO BY(1952). I think this is a movie well worth viewing. We lost a talented actress when she died so young.

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  6. Jerry

    I agree with you right down the line,with, MYSTERY SUBMARINE it is watchable,, but it does seem to be somewhat “off course”..

    Agree with you that UTAH BLAINE needs to be seen by more folks. A much better duster than expected, with Calhoun and cast delivering the goods.

    Gord,

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  7. Gordon, good write-up of UTAH BLAINE(filmed 1956, released 1957). Like several others who comment here, I really like Rory Calhoun and always have, If my memory serves me right, I think this may be one of the first of his movies that I can recall viewing along with RIDE OUT FOR REVENGE(1957). On Sunday afternoons WMCT Channel 5 Memphis, Tennessee would show a SUNDAY MATINEE movie. The movie followed an episode of STONEY BURKE(1962-63), which was a modern day Western airing in syndicated re-runs. The series stared Jack Lord, Warren Oates, and Bruce Dern. It was one of my favorites, as a youngster.

    Getting back on the UTAH BLAINE trail with Roy Calhoun, I first viewed the movie in 1964 on the SUNDAY MATINEE. I think it is a humdinger of a Western. It has plenty of action with a lynching, gunfights, fistfights, get on your horse chases, and two beautiful rancheresses in Susan Cummings and Angela Stevens. Sure, the story is somewhat predictable, but it is well done. The script by Robert E. Kent is a good adaption of Louis L’Amour’s 1954 novel. Talk about a good writing hand, Robert Kent knew his business. Another good hand for this type of movie is director Fred F. Sears who knew how to make an average programmer better. Also, I think editor(cutter) Charles Nelson should get recognition for this well paced edited programmer. Nelson was fresh from receiving and Academy Award for co-editing PICNIC(1955). What can you say about producer Sam Katzman. He knew how to give us entertaining movies from every genre and make a buck from doing it. These were professionals and it shows in a movie like UTAH BLAINE.

    After the 1960’s, UTAH BLAINE dropped off of the radar in whatever neck of the woods I happened to be living in, at the time. I didn’t catch the movie again until I viewed it on the ENCORE WESTERN CHANNEL in 2014. I highly recommend UTAH BLAINE.

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        • Utah Blaine now airs in UK on channel 81 Freeview frequently now, quality pretty good. the novel originally as written by Jim Mayo ( the pen name Louis Lamour was using then)

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      • Barry, I really liked it and it is a quality tv show. STONEY BURKE only lasted one season, but tv entertainment is a business and, as we know, that means ratings. 1962-63 Monday night belonged to the CBS Network with THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW(No. 7) and THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW(No. 6) opposite ABC Network’s STONEY BURKE. At mid season the NBC Network gave up on regular tv shows, in that time slot, and started airing THE NBC MONDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES. The first movie aired was THE ENEMY BELOW(1957) receiving its prime time network premiere. The movie stared Robert Mitchum and Curd Jergens.

        STONEY BURKE had 32 hour episodes and after cancelation was called by Washington Post’s tv critic Lawrence Laurent, “The most successful failure in tv history.” Of course this was before STAR TREK ‘s success in syndicated reruns.

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        • Walter, Stoney burke was well produced and written, but the casting was otherworldly. Jack Lord is a classic good guy, but Warren Oates as Ves Painter made it all work. As for the problems in programming at NBC, they were all a product of network taste and insight. The Enemy Below was directed by Dick Powell., in addition to Mitchum. Pretty hard to beat.

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          • Barry, or anyone else, do you remember viewing an unusual off-beat and unique Western Movie that Jack Lord stared in titled WALK LIKE A DRAGON(1960)? I first viewed this untypical Western on the NBC TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES in 1966. The movie co-stared Nobu McCarthy, James Shigeta, and Mel Torme.

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  8. I liked this film overall. It’s a low budget affair but in some respects that actually adds to the experience rather than detracts from it. There is a fair bit of day for night shooting, something which can be irritating or at least distracting on occasion but which Sears and Kline turn to their advantage in this movie. There are some moodily attractive images on show and I think it’s fair to say Sears handles the action sequences with some skill.

    Where I did find it weaker was in the casting. Calhoun is characteristically good and reassuringly comfortable in his role, and Ray Teal doesn’t disappoint as the villain, but of course he rarely did. However, the rest of the cast feel a bit lightweight to me.

    This is a pretty good Louis L’Amour adaptation, the second of three Rory Calhoun would star in. It’s not at the level of Four Guns to the Border but compares favorably with Apache Territory. On the subject of Louis L’Amour sourced movies, I find it frustrating that a decent version in the correct aspect ratio of The Tall Stranger has yet to surface.

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    • That’s interesting, Colin. I rather like “DEPORTED” for its unusual locations, Jeff Chandler and again the very beautiful Marta Toren.

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    • I thought Dean Stockwell did a fine job as the tormented Judd Stein (Nathan Leopold) in Richard Fleischer’s film of the Leopold-Loeb case, “Compulsion”. In fact, Stockwell shared the Best Actor award with Bradford Dillman and Orson Welles at Cannes in 1959 for his performance. A child actor, he had a prominent role in Jacques Tourneur’s wonderful “Stars in My Crown”. He would become famous to a later generation for his garish performance in “Blue Velvet”. I always wanted to see him in Jack Cardiff’s “Sons and Lovers” (1960) — I’d appreciate any feedback if anyone here has seen it.

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  9. Weekend films
    One that Frank mentioned a while to start with, THE DARK PAST 1948 with Lee J. Cobb and William Holden. Then I’ll follow that with the 1964 Japanese Samurai film, THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI. i like these eastern, westerns. Swords instead of guns. Here we have some outlaw swordsmen out to stop a local crooked judge.

    Gord

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