Drums Across the River


Revisiting Universal-International westerns is never a chore. While some are undoubtedly more challenging and engaging than others, there is a strong and distinctive visual aesthetic to them all. Add in the polish and pace of a well-oiled production system and there is usually much to savor. Drums Across the River (1954) was the last of three movies Audie Murphy made for director Nathan Juran and it is an enjoyable picture that blends a number of worthwhile themes into the action, although one could argue that there are too many of those themes for a sub-80 minute movie, too many to do full justice to at any rate.

Gary Brannon (Audie Murphy) and his father Sam (Walter Brennan) run a freight business in Colorado, one which is beginning to feel the pinch economically as the mines that had previously been the life blood of Crown City are yielding less and less. Desperate men naturally snatch at whatever straws of hope appear before them and in this case it is the neighboring land occupied by the Ute tribe, land which is known to be rich in gold reserves. This presents the main source of potential conflict in the movie and it is here that we dive into the action as Gary Brannon is about to defy his father and take part in an excursion onto Ute territory organized by Frank Walker (Lyle Bettger). Walker fully expects to encounter trouble, in fact he welcomes and pushes for it as his ultimate goal is to provoke a war with the Utes that will force the army to intervene and deliver the gold into his hands. Well, a skirmish does occur, despite the best efforts of Brannon Sr to broker peace, and the taking of captives by both sides means an exchange is going to have to take place.

It is at this point that another source of conflict arises, one that is crammed with potential. Sadly, this is only partially fulfilled though, as the fact that Gary’s mother was killed by a Ute warrior in the past comes to light. This explains his hatred for the Indians and introduces a needling note between father and son since the older man has come to terms with his loss and grown to respect the tribe and the Chief (Morris Ankrum) who atoned for the killing at great personal expense. The exchange, negotiated by Gary as his father is nursing a wound, sees him alter his perspective and thus the ethical and philosophical sea-change he experiences is effected a little too quickly and too soon. That is not to say it is unconvincing, merely that it robs the picture of the opportunity to delve deeper into a strong and involving theme. What follows is more standard albeit entertaining fare as the focus shifts to a more direct confrontation between Walker and Brannon Jr, where the former is increasingly determined to remove the stone in his shoe that the latter now represents. As such, we get kidnapping, blackmail and a frame-up all interspersed with copious action sequences as we wind our way towards a satisfying if not altogether unexpected conclusion.

Westerns that lean heavily on subterfuge as plot devices need the right people in the villainous roles. Under the circumstances, it is hard to think of anyone better suited to the part of arch puppeteer than the unctuous and Machiavellian Lyle Bettger. His shifty, slippery persona is ideal for the role of Walker and contrasts well with Murphy’s clear countenance and upright demeanor. Murphy himself is never overtaxed but does well, as one would expect, in the action scenes and brings that edgy intensity of his to some of the tougher moments. Walter Brennan is sympathetic as the older man who has made peace with himself and his environment. If anything, he is absent, or held captive by Bettger and his henchmen, for too long and his character’s measured wisdom and innate decency is therefore only sporadically highlighted. And speaking of characters who are not on screen as much as I would like, there is Hugh O’Brian’s sardonic and sadistic black-clad gunslinger. He brings a real sense of stylish menace to his scenes and it is a genuine pity he wasn’t given more to do. Jay Silverheels fares well as the Ute warrior who grows into responsible leadership and his stoic sense of right and justice contrasts markedly with the venality of the villains.

It has been suggested before that women in westerns do not always get as many opportunities to shine or make their mark. Now I’m not convinced that is really true, or least not true enough to be presented as a blanket statement. There are many examples of interesting and pivotal roles for women in the films of Ford, Hawks, Daves, Mann and Boetticher, and this is frequently true of second tier productions as well. Sadly though, this cannot be said for Drums Across the River, where neither Mara Corday as a saloon girl nor Lisa Gaye as the insipid and unnecessary love interest for Murphy are given any chance by the script.

Nathan Juran’s direction of the movie is fine in that he keeps it tight and it’s what I’d term a solid and professional piece of work. Still, it feels a little impersonal. He makes ample use of the studio backlot, which typically looked attractive in most of the movies where it was employed and this is certainly true of the sequence featuring the gallows in the rain, but does get to head out to Red Rock Canyon and San Bernardino for a bit of welcome location work too.

Drums Across the River has had multiple releases on DVD over the years so it ought to be easy enough to track down a copy. I watched the UK release by Simply Media, which has the film looking handsome and colorful in its correct widescreen ratio. Overall, this is a good Audie Murphy western that offers food for thought on Indian-settler relations and presents the Ute as more than just convenient bogeymen. I guess my only complaint would be the fact that the script moves so fast and tries to pack in so much that some the more interesting and worthwhile themes do not have much chance to breathe. Nevertheless, this is a movie that works hard to please and hits the target most of the time.

115 thoughts on “Drums Across the River

  1. Always mighty fine to see Nathan Juran on the RTHC roster.
    Best known for several good Westerns and several Sci Fi
    Fantasy films.
    I watched his sole entry into Gothic Horror (well sort of..)
    THE BLACK CASTLE Juran’s first assignment as director and
    very good it was too,I thought.
    Juran’s LAW & ORDER is also very good ‘though not
    recommended to Ronald Reagan’s non fans.
    THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS was so low budget Juran
    decided to use his real surname for this outing; Hertz as he also
    did with cult classic ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN.
    If nothing else these two prove Juran was a master of making
    something out of nothing.
    Tom Weaver thought he was on a hiding to nothing to get Robert
    Fuller talk about “Arous” as the actor no longer gives interviews,
    however to Weaver’s delight Fuller was more than happy to deliver
    the goods on this one,as I guess the picture gave Fuller his first real
    break.
    Nice to know Mr Fuller and leading lady Joyce Meadows are still
    with us.
    No Colin-it’s pretty rare to find a substantial lead role for women in
    programmer Westerns although there are films like ROSE OF CIMARRON,
    GUNSLINGER and TWO GUN LADY in which the males are secondary.
    The TV versions of ROSE OF CIMARRON are pretty washed out and
    lousy but I saw a recent documentary on Cinecolor which had a clip
    of ROSE OF CIMARRON looking as it really should.
    I’d love to see a restored version of this film as I love Mala Powers
    tight lipped performance as a woman of few words who lets her pistols
    do the talking.

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    • John K, always good to hear from you. I enjoy reading good things about director Nathan Juran(Naftuli Hertz). Juran directed some really good science fiction and fantasy movies in the 1950’s and 1960’s. THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD(filmed 1957-58, released 1958) and THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON(filmed 1963-64, released 1964), just to name two.

      Here is an interview with Nathan Juran for the Directors Guild of America.

      https://www.dga.org/Craft/VisualHistory/Interviews/Nathan-Juran.aspx?Filter=Full%20Interview

      Robert Fuller has given several interviews since his retirement from acting in 2004 and has attended several film festivals, where he continues to be a favorite. He lives happily on his horse ranch near Gainesville, Texas where he and wife actress Jennifer Savidge have lived since 2004. Here is a good interview he did with Cheryl Rogers Barnett in 2018. In the interview he gives Actor Richard Boone high marks for being an acting teacher.

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  2. Thanks for this Colin, just what I needed. I was listening go a podcast in which the great Joe Dante was talking about Westerns and singled out the Universal giggles from the 195os in particular. Made me scurry back to some of your earlier reviews. As a result, am just about go sit down and watch NO NAME ON THE BULLET but will look for the Juran title. Ch

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  3. Colin, good write-up of DRUMS ACROSS THE RIVER(filmed 1953, released 1954). These Universal-International Pictures with Audie Murphy are right up my lane and always have been. I first saw this move on the Memphis WHBQ Channel 13 DIALING FOR DOLLARS MOVIE in 1971. It was right after Audie Murphy had died in an airplane crash. The local tv stations in my neck of the woods aired a lot of Audie Murphy movies in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

    I have DRUMS ACROSS THE RIVER on dvd as part of the UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT: AUDIE MURPHY WESTERNS COLLECTION(2012). I pulled this movie out and viewed it again 4 months ago. Yes, it packs a lot in 78 minutes and I think it works rather well. I liked your description of Audie Murphy as in bringing an edgy intensity to his roles tougher moments. Yes, I think that fits Audie to a T. That is what makes watching Audie interesting, because we know his background and he was the real deal.

    What a wonderful cast this movie has, which is a trademark of the post World War II Western movies. You can’t have better villains than Lyle Bettger and James Anderson. Walter Brennan is really good and his scenes with Audie are really good. Also, I enjoyed the scenes with Mara Corday(still with us at 92 years young) and Lyle Bettger together.

    I think DRUMS ACROSS THE RIVER is well worth viewing. Also, 4 months ago from this same AUDIE MURPHY WESTERNS COLLECTION, I viewed RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL(filmed 1957, released), which I think is another good one.

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  4. Walter, I’m on the lookout for Audie Murphy westerns to watch. There are a couple of cheap DVDs of RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL (including a TCM one) but I fear they’re probably pan-and-scanned. I guess I should think about grabbing that Audie Murphy Blu-Ray set.

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    • Dee, the cheap dvd’s that you are talking about are probably not of the proper filmed ratio. There is one on Amazon.com of RIDE THE CROOKED TRAIL, but it isn’t listed as the proper ratio and it is the TCM release, if the Amazon lister typed it in right, you never know.

      The Blu-ray set you mentioned, is it the Kino Lorber set of DUEL AND SILVER CREEK, NO NAME ON THE BULLET, and RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL? It sells for $28.64 on eBay. What would it cost to ship Down Under?

      On another note, have you viewed THE TALL T with Randolph Scott and Richard Boone? It is a favorite of mine.

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      • Yes, the Kino Lorber set. $56 with shipping. I already have NO NAME ON THE BULLET so $56 for two movies is a bit pricey but not too outrageous.

        I watched THE TALL T just recently. I’ll be posting my review soon. I liked it a lot.

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        • Dee, dadblame that is pricey for two movies. I don’t know about Down Under, but inflation here in the USA is taking a bite out of me and many, many others. Also, there are those unexpected expenses that pop up.

          I enjoyed reading your previous write-ups on Randolph Scott movies and look forward to your take on the excellent THE TALL T(filmed 1956, released 1957).

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          • Walter, DVD/Blu-Ray prices have gone through the roof in Australia. Partly it’s inflation, partly it’s deliberate government policy to drive the Australian dollar down and partly it’s nasty government policies penalising people who buy online.

            $56 for a three-movie set is, by Australian standards, quite cheap. Around $80 is more usual.

            You learn not to buy on impulse. The prices fluctuate wildly so you have to be prepared to be patient. When you see the disc you want at a reasonable price you grab it straight away. Fortunately DVDs and books are my only vice so I can indulge that vice a little.

            But yeah, inflation is really starting to hit hard.

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              • Thanks, Colin, for taking me to Dee’s site. I’ve read and really enjoyed your piece, Dee, about what just might be in my list of 10 favourite westerns. As you so rightly say “A great western”.

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                • Thanks. If I had to make a list of my favourite westerns I’d be tempted to include all the Boetticher-Scott films! Then I’d throw in No Name on the Bullet and Rio Bravo and Winchester ’73.

                  Which probably means I need to watch more westerns. Which, thanks to the influence of Colin and others here, is what I intend to do. I can feel myself gradually becoming a full-blown western fan.

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                  • That’s great, Dee! I’ve loved westerns all my life and would therefore actually find it almost impossible to list my Top Ten. There would probably end up at 50 in my Top Ten lol! But “THE TALL T” would be high up the list for certain, with “RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY” (1962) near the very top. Scott and McCrea together? Western magic!

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                  • That’s a strong and solid selection you have included. The good thing about classic westerns is the sheer number of worthwhile titles out here. When you feel like exploring more, take a look at the best of Robert Taylor and Robert Mitchum.

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                  • Dee, like Jerry I’ve been a Western Movie fan all my life and I couldn’t make out a top ten list, because I’d leave out too many good ones. Although, for me, I’ll always place THE SEARCHERS(filmed 1955, released 1956) at the top of my personal favorites. RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY(filmed 1961, released 1962) would be a close 2nd. If you like, there are the director/actor match-up’s of Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott, Anthony Mann/James Stewart, Delmer Daves/Glenn Ford, Howard Hawks/John Wayne, John Ford/John Wayne, and there are so many others.

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            • Dee, I read your good write-up on THE TALL T. I also think it is a great Western. It has been a favorite of mine for 51 years. All you had to do to see the change in the tone of this movie was to look at Randolph Scott’s face when Henry Silva told what he had done. Henry Silva is still with us and he’ll be 94 years young on September 15. I’ve always liked him in movies and he is good in RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL.

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              • The dilemma I face now is do I buy the 101 Films DVD of Ride A Crooked Trail for $20, or go nuts and saddle up and buy the Audie Murphy Blu-Ray set for $56 and get that movie and The Duel at Silver Creek as well? Is The Duel at Silver Creek good enough to justify the purchase?

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                  • Thanks for the link to your review. I bought the Blu-Ray set. Because sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

                    And you’ve turned me into a western addict. Now I’m tossing up between two Boetticher-Scott westerns, Decision at Sundown and Buchanan Rides Alone. Both are Indicator Blu-Rays supposedly loaded with extras and both reasonably priced.

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                • My own comment would be yes, Dee, but taste is very individual of course. If any help, Ebay UK currently offers the 101 Films release of “RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL” for £2.50 (not many left apparently) and “DUEL AT SILVER CREEK” for £3.50 (a used copy but in perfect nick). Obviously I don’t know about whether they mail to Australia.

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            • Good review, Dee. Unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to leave a comment on your blog. I’m sure it’s my computer.

              If I had to choose (which I hate), I’d probably put Ride Lonesome as my favorite Ranown. But why choose?

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              • You know, you’re right. There is no reason to try to choose between these films, they form a extraordinarily solid body of work and can all be enjoyed and appreciated en masse or individually as the mood takes us.

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  5. An Audie Murphy U.I. western is always a welcome read at this site, Colin, and I agree with your recommendation of “HELL BENT FOR LEATHER” (we know John K does too).
    Hugh O’Brian made a terrific bad guy in a number of westerns in the early to mid ’50s, another great example being “THE CIMARRON KID”, before landing his star-making role on TV as Wyatt Earp. These U.I. westerns mostly tend to have deep casts for us fanatics to revel in!

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      • The studio system was modeled after repertory theatre. Both worked well, but here in Canada, we have several fine repertory companies, The Shaw Festival in Niagara On The Lake, and The Stratford Theatre int he town of the same name.

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        • The studio system was a very very good thing on the whole. One of the many strengths of the system is that it allowed the studios to make such fine B-movies – modestly budgeted movies that were still very professionally made and polished and with production values that were higher than the budgets would have led you to expect. That just would not have been possible without the studio system.

          Hollywood began its slow decline when the studio system started to crumble. The lack of a studio system is one of the reasons Hollywood now focuses almost entirely on tedious blockbusters.

          The crumbling of the studio system also made Hollywood more vulnerable to the challenge of television.

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          • I agree 110% there. The tremendous range and variety the studios, large or small, used to produce is sadly lost today.

            I for one hope Colin puts his thought for a fun post about favourite westerns into fruition. Some brain-wracking will be required!

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  6. Murphy actually turned out to be a decent Actor – though that’s not why he initially got the work – and didn’t usually get the opportunity to show it. Most of his early work was pretty formula. I finally noticed this when he had a support role in the Western Classic “Unforgiven” – Direct by John Huston with a stunning cast of Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn and others including Lilian Gish!
    Murphy hated the Hollywood thing and was finally glad to get out he said. But he did do some decent work.

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  7. It took a few days, but I finally found my copy of DRUMS ACROSS THE RIVER. I shall pop the thing in the dvd player tonight or tomorrow. It is one that I still have not seen.

    Gordon

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  8. The tremendous range and variety the studios, large or small, used to produce is sadly lost today.

    Without significant numbers of lower and medium budget movies you just don’t get interesting, slightly offbeat, slightly quirky movies any more. Even apart from summer blockbusters every movie has to be a big expensive production so it’s no longer possible to take risks. Every movie has to be a box office hit so every movie has to be more or less the same.

    And without the studio system there’s no longer a training ground for directors and crews. Film schools are no substitute for cutting your teeth on low and medium budget movies. Directors no longer learn discipline. Most modern directors would simply be incapable of making a movie on a tight budget and a tight shooing schedule. And most modern writers and directors are now incapable of telling a story in less than two-and-a-half hours.

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    • I tend to find these days that a new film that appeals to me is most often a British film, recent enjoyable examples being “DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA” and the true WW2 story of “OPERATION MINCEMEAT”. Cinema for grown-ups.

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        • Yes, “THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS” also recounted the story yet the two films differ significantly enough in both treatment and style to leave us with two very enjoyable films. One doesn’t cancel out the other at all, I found.

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          • Hi, Jerry – I recently watched both MINCEMEAT and THE MAN WHI NEVER WAS and agree with you that they are both very enjoyable. The makers of both realised that just sticking to the facts didn’t quite get there, so they both added story lines for which there is no factual basis: in the older film, the agent travelling to London to check things out and, in the recent film, the love story. I hesitate to disagree with Margot, but for me the love story was a wonderful part of MINCEMEAT. The scene where the Colin Firth character speaks of his feelings for the Kelly McDonald character, is a masterpiece of direction, scripting and acting.

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            • Thanks for coming back on this, Steve. I’m glad you liked both films too and felt, as I do, that the films told the same story yet differed significantly and enjoyably. I agree that the love story in ‘Mincemeat’, though added, was beautifully played. Both Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen are fine actors and their shared scenes were also highly enjoyable.

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  9. Hi Walter,
    Wonderful to see you so prominent on this thread and thanks for
    those great links which I will delve into later this week when time
    permits-right now a plate of Tagliatelle Carbonara has my name on it
    especially as I’ve had no breakfast this morning.,
    I always enjoy “trading licks” with you either here or over at Toby’s
    blogs. I enjoyed very much our discussion recently over at Toby’s
    Hannibal 8 regarding THE 4D MAN and our mutual admiration for
    Robert Lansing and the equally wonderful Lee Meriwether-I’m a huge
    Time Tunnel fan….didn’t Juran direct a few episodes of that show
    if not he certainly worked on several other “cult” Irwin Allen
    shows.
    In THE 4D MAN i liked the love triangle between Lansing,Meriwether
    and James Congdon I found that more appealing than the Sci Fi stuff
    which was pretty good anyway.
    THE 4D MAN was more adult slanted than Irving Yeaworth’s other
    Sci Fi flicks THE BLOB and DINOSAURAS!
    A very nice transfer of THE 4D MAN turned up on Talking Pictures
    TV recently and regarding UK TV the Freeview channel London
    Live has announced a forthcoming season of (often rare) Brit Flicks.
    The London Live transfers are often very good.
    Coming back to Universal Westerns Germany’s Explosive Media is
    now the sole source for 50’s programmer Westerns.
    This month they have Raoul Walsh’s splendid THE LAWLESS BREED
    along with the non Western CONGO CROSSING a film many of us
    are after.
    In November Explosive will release on Blu Ray Hugo Fregonese’s
    striking APACHE DRUMS and they have just announced for December
    Richard Carlson’s excellent FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER making
    it’s Worldwide debut on Blu Ray.
    FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER has a much discussed sensual scene
    (for a 50’s Western) with Coleen Miller and there is a very similar
    scene involving equally lovely Betta St John in Edgar Ulmer’s
    underrated THE NAKED DAWN.
    I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who has seen both
    films as to who comes out on top in the Coleen/Betta stakes,
    as far as I’m concerned it’s too close to call.

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  10. Hi, Colin – after reading your review, I was able to watch DRUMS ACFOSS THE RIVER online. I found it very entertaining. Your review is comprehensive in identifying the movie’s strengths and weaknesses, so I have little I can add. I liked the fast pace of the plot, complicated though it was, all the outdoors action and the generally decent performances by the cast. A classic it is not but an enjoyment it definitely is, so thank you for pointing me towards it.

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  11. Jerry mentioned OPERATION MINCEMEAT but I’ll stick
    with THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS-for me a group of
    “English Luvvies” cannot compete with the likes of
    Clifton Webb,Gloria Grahame and Stephen Boyd,
    but then that’s just we.
    As for DOWNTON ABBEY I avoid English costume drama
    like the plague both on small and large screen….each to his own.
    By the way Jerry Talking Pictures TV have announce a screening of
    THE SILENT ENEMY a mostly fictional account of the wartime exploits
    of Lionel “Buster” Crabb.
    It’s a good war film and Laurence Harvey is excellent as always.
    There is some truth among the “Faction” especially when Crabb
    insists a couple of Italian commandos, killed by Crabb’s men
    are given a full military funeral,buried at sea draped in the Italian
    flag complete with a Priest to administer the last rites;this actually
    happened.
    The James Bondish last quarter of the film the undercover operation
    and entering the belly of the beast,as it were, is fiction and certainly
    influenced THUNDERBALL.
    Whatever became of Crabb remains a mystery was he a double agent and
    then there is that newsreel footage of Crabb in the mid 50’s glimpsed
    aboard a Russian dredger.
    Could a washed up torso actually have been Crabb.
    We will have to wait until 2047 when classified documents will finally
    be released.
    THE SILENT ENEMY is a good British War Film about a fascinating character.
    I hope Talking Pictures TV will be showing the recently restored version.

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    • I avoid English costume drama like the plague both on small and large screen

      It’s something the British used to do well, but not any more. I loathe modern British television and movies.

      and Laurence Harvey is excellent as always.

      A lot of people don’t seem to like him but I’ve always been a Laurence Harvey fan. My favourite Laurence Harvey movie is A Dandy in Aspic but he’s also very good in the criminally underrated Butterfield 8.

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      • I must revisit Butterfield 8 some time soon, the film Elizabeth Taylor famously hated despite the fact it earned her an Oscar. I’m a bit of a sucker for John O’Hara adaptations.
        I cannot get along with A Dandy in Aspic at all though. I reckon Laurence Harvey was well cast in The Manchurian Candidate, the role just seemed to fit him like a glove. I liked his stiff and dyspeptic turn as Travis in The Alamo too.

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        • I must revisit Butterfield 8 some time soon, the film Elizabeth Taylor famously hated despite the fact it earned her an Oscar. I’m a bit of a sucker for John O’Hara adaptations.

          It has its problems, due to the Production Code. But it’s interesting as an example of Hollywood trying to grapple with what today would be called adult themes. One of several fascinating Hollywood movies made at around that time that tried to deal with issues like prostitution. The World of Suzie Wong is a more successful attempt (and is in my view a great movie). Breakfast at Tiffany’s was even more stymied by the Production Code, trying to let us know that Holly is a call girl without actually telling us.

          Butterfield 8 like Breakfast at Tiffany’s pulls its punches too much. But I thought Taylor’s performance was terrific.

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          • I like The World of Suzie Wong.
            Breakfast at Tiffany’s works fine as a movie for me and I always found it affecting. I know many people say the changes made from the book lessen its appeal but, for this viewer at least, the movie has to be able to stand and be appraised on its own terms. As such, I feel the central on screen theme is dealt with satisfactorily.

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            • Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s numerous times and I always enjoy it. The central theme of the book had to be dropped because otherwise it would have been unfilmable in 1961. So the central theme of the movie becomes the fact that Paul and Holly are both social outlaws (they’re both prostitutes) but because they’re both social outlaws they have a chance of finding happiness together. They accept each other in a way that others would never accept them.

              I kind of like the way Hollywood at the time would make movies to be viewed in two different ways. More innocent viewers (like my mother) could enjoy Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a love story and have absolutely no idea what Holly actually did for a living. To more sophisticated viewers her profession was perfectly obvious so they could enjoy the movie in a different way.

              It’s actually refreshing to see a movie like this that doesn’t bludgeon the audience with a message. I shudder to think what a remake would be like.

              I’m glad you like The World of Suzie Wong. It’s a movie that doesn’t get much attention these days.

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      • I always like Laurence Harvey in anything
        although several of his co stars were none
        too fond of him. Harvey is at his best in THE GOOD DIE YOUNG a sensational Brit Noir. As far as Brit TV goes I enjoyed PEAKY BLINDERS the cast drew me in, Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and the late great Helen McCrory. The series dipped a bit at the midway point but really went out with a bang! There are several loose ends which I guess will be resolved in the movie which I understand is in the works.
        Other than that anything with David Hare’s name on it is a must for me-COLLATERAL with Carey Mulligan a very good cop drama and Hare being Hare plenty of “political” subtext. Also ROADKILL a political drama with Hugh Laurie and Helen McCrory also very good-Hare always leaves you wanting more. Hare’s essay on COMMANCHE STATION is also worth checking out-for me the best of the Ranowns-the series certainly went out on a high note.

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        • On Harvey and co-stars, I seem to remember reading or hearing that John Wayne got on fine with him when they were making The Alamo, when one might have imagined their characters and approaches would have been very different.

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  12. Drums Across the River is a good Murphy Western, though not my favorite one. As you say, Bettger and O’Brian bring a lot to the table but I agree with you that Lisa Gaye’s character is insipid. I’m always glad to see Mara Corday (another actress who should have had a bigger career), but unfortunately her role was too small.

    Audie Murphy usually had good chemistry with his leading ladies, but it’s sadly lacking with Gaye. I don’t know if it’s her or the script, but considering the pairing of Murphy with either Susan Cabot, Gia Scala or Felicia Farr, this one falls flat.

    “It has been suggested before that women in westerns do not always get as many opportunities to shine or make their mark. Now I’m not convinced that is really true, or least not true enough to be presented as a blanket statement…”
    I couldn’t agree more. There were a lot of good roles in many Westerns for women, considering that in reality the Old West was a man’s world, and I don’t particularly mind if it’s portrayed that way.

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    • If the Old West has its myths, then the western film as it was embellishing those managed to acquire a few of its own myths, usually involving the supposedly blanket portrayal and treatment of Native people and women. I try to engage in a bit of myth-busting in this regard when and where I can. I think it’s both worthwhile and sometimes fun to set the record straight on these types of misconceptions that have sprung up, usually on account of careless or lazy critical writing.

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  13. Colin

    My pair from the weekend. First up, I watched DRUMS ACROSS THE RIVER
    Not much more I could add or change from your review. Too bad the women had such small parts. Could always do with a bit more of Miss Mara. You nailed it again.

    Next I took in a Danish made western from 2014 called THE SALVATION. Yes, a Danish made duster filmed in South Africa. Now do not let this throw you off. This is a well done revenge western with a cast of Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Mickael Persbrandt, Eva Green and Jonathan Pryce. Mikkelsen and Persbrandt are Danish brothers who move to America to start a new life. 7 years later Mads has his wife and son join him in the States. This turns into a less than happy event as outlaws kill his wife and son. Now starts a back and forth round of violence and murders. Worth a look in my opinion.

    Gord

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  14. Colin, based on your review I watched Edgar G. Ulmer’s Ruthless yesterday. Good movie! And yeah, Zachary Scott’s performance is impressive.

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  15. Films so far this weekend.
    1-The Boetticher/Scott effort, BUCAHAN RIDES ALONE 1958 Turns out this was a Randy film I had never seen before. An excellent duster all the way down the line. Check out Colin’s write-up which is spot on.

    2- KINGS OF THE SUN 1963 An action adventure film from director J. Lee Thompson. First time I caught this since the mid-60s. Set during the Mayan Empire days in Mexico. The cast includes Yul Brynner, George Chakiris, Richard Basehart, and Leo Gordon. Could have been better.

    3- RIDERS OF JUSTICE 2020 My second Danish film with Mads Mikkelsen in the last two weeks, the other being, THE SALVATION.. This one is also a revenge film. Mads is a Danish soldier out to get payback on a biker gang he believes killed his wife. Nasty film with a dark comic edge. I liked it.
    Gordon

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    • I really want to see Kings of the Sun especially since we were talking about J. Lee Thompson here recently. If I can find it on DVD I’ll grab it (I’m not buying any more Blu-Rays at the moment because the format is just too problematic if you’re outside the US).

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      • When you say problematic, do you mean the region coding?
        Personally, I only buy discs that are coded region B or region free as I cannot play region A (US) discs. DVD region coding was easy to work around, but it’s much more difficult and expensive for Blu-ray.

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        • Yes, I am faced with exactly the same issue, Colin and Dee. I do buy an occasional BluRay but mostly stick with DVD.

          Gord, I’ve not seen “KINGS OF THE SUN” (not sure if it’s really my ‘thing’) but “BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE” is an excellent western that is a shade different from the others in the Ranown cycle.

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          • Same here Jerry. If it’s a movie I desperately want to see and it’s only available on Blu-Ray and if it’s released by a company whose discs haven’t been problematical in the past I’ll risk it but if I can get the movie on DVD in the correct aspect ratio I’ll buy the DVD.

            Streaming isn’t an option. In Australia the range of movies that are accessible is extremely poor. Blu-Ray and streaming have made things almost impossible for classic movie fans outside the US.

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        • Yep. I have a multi-region Blu-Ray player but there’s never any guarantee that a disc will play. You have to be choosy which companies to buy from. Kino Lorber discs are usually no problem. Discs from some companies are simply impossible. And when you’re buying from overseas you can’t always be certain if the discs are region-coded or not. It’s just not worth the hassle any more.

          And when I’ve bought combo packs (with the movie on both Blu-Ray and DVD) the transfers usually look identical. Blu-Ray is an unnecessary format. Early DVDs were often terrible but recent DVDs are usually just as good as Blu-Ray. There’s a lot of snobbishness these days about Blu-Ray.

          Liked by 1 person

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