Western Film Noir Vol. 1

westernfilmnoirCharles Marquis Warren took his Westerns seriously—he created Rawhide and directed the first Gunsmoke. He cared about his Westerns, if Little Big Horn is any kind of yardstick. The picture tells the story of a cavalry patrol determined to get to Custer and warn him of the size and strength of his opposition. Problem is, Captain Donlin (Lloyd Bridges) is not fond of Lt. Haywood (John Ireland) because Haywood has been making nice with Donlin’s wife, Celie (the sorely underused Marie Windsor).

The other more immediate problem is a goodly number of warring Sioux and Cheyenne. It stands to reason this ragged bunch, including Hugh O’Brian, Jim Davis, King Donovan and Sheb Wooley (see p.20), can be expected to run into a few snags on their way to the Little Big Horn.

This is a small, tough, intelligent film, one that Western fans have been waiting for, and one of only a handful of outstanding B-budget films produced by Robert Lippert.

The second feature on the disc, Rimfire, stars James Millican as an undercover secret service op on the trail of some stolen gold and was directed by B. Reeves Eason. Problem is, the picture is dreadful—bad writing, terrible music cues, cheap—idiotic, in fact—plot twists. Having said that, the opening credits are cool, and the title of the movie, Rimfire, referring to a rimfire pistol, gets worked into the plot. Better still, veteran character actor Fuzzy Knight gets to do what he did best—his own musical number, a barrelhouse version of the classic Stack-o-Lee (or Stagger Lee). It doesn’t matter much that (Stagger) Lee Shelton didn’t shoot poor Willy Lyons until 1895, according to recent research, it’s just great to see Fuzzy working the tune with such enthusiasm. Also lurching about in the picture is Chris-Pin Martin, the Tucson native who played Gordito/Pancho opposite a variety of Cisco Kids, and Henry Hull, who could always be counted on to chew the scenery. The extras on the DVD are sparse, which befits the nature of the films, but there are nice trailers, bio info and stills. For 15 bucks, this is a good deal.

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