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A morning in the Western world

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mrsl
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A morning in the Western world

Postby mrsl » June 28th, 2009, 1:56 am

Before going to watch Hitchcock for most of the day, earlier today I watched a couple of westerns on the western channel. Again I watched Trooper Hook which for some strange reason grabs me every time its on. Maybe its the combo of Stanwyck and McCrea, with two actors of their calibre, how can you go wrong? But then, Earl Holiman is so darn cute in this one. He's like a lovable little puppy that trails behind you all day. Also Susan Kohner is lovely as the senorita. The story of Joel protecting ex-capturee Barbara and her son from the boys evil and savage father is rarely slow, and I just enjoy watching it over and over.

The Plainsman and the Lady, starring Bill Elliott and Vera Ralston is basically another version of how the Pony Express was started. I thought this was a John Wayne movie and I was into the story before I realized JW was not going to appear.

The other day I watched The Halliday Brand. This was a goody but only Ward Bond stood out for me as the racist father. It was done in B&W, but nevertheless, if more well known stars were in it, and a more seasoned director, it could have been another great one. It was directed by some guy named Lewis, and other stars were Joseph Cotton, Viveca Lindfors, and Betsy Blair. I noticed something about Cotton - - he doesn't know what to do with his hands while he's wearing a six gun. He kind of flairs his hands out over his hips like a ballerina does when she's wearing a short tu-tu.

Anne
Anne


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jdb1

Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby jdb1 » June 28th, 2009, 6:35 pm

Anne, I saw Trooper Hook for the first time this weekend on Western, and I really liked it. It's sort of The Searchers in reverse in many ways -- Stanwyck becomes the chief's woman because she has no choice - she wants survive, and she's unrepentant about having the chief's child, too. Chief Natches' pursuit of his wife was a believable one: he wanted his son back. He knew, as he told McCrae, that his son would have an easier time among his Native American family than with his Caucasian one. On the whole, the issues dealt with were more than enough to qualify this as an "adult" western. The scenes with Stanwyck reunited with her husband (John Dehner), and his inability to accept her and her son, were dealt with quite well. The resolution of the situation, on the other hand, was a bit too pat. (Don't want to spoil it)

I thought the movie was not quite as strong as it could have been -- it would have been really good with a better director. However, what makes it special are the performances, all of which are excellent. Both Stanwyck and McCrae were wonderful, and I thought Earl Holliman, playing the typical cowboy ingenue of his early films, was especially good. Even Susan Kohner, whose High School Drama Club type acting I don't generally care for, was very nice here. Her brief courting scene with Holliman was very sweet. How about Royal Dano, as the stagecoach driver? Dagnabbit, he was one ornery cuss. The child who played Stanwyck's little son was also good -- the child is supposed to be a boy of few words. I did wonder, though whether that was a boy or a girl. I didn't catch the actor's full name, but the first name was the ambiguous "Terry."

The only thing I did not like much was the intrusive singing exposition (was that Tex Ritter?). The explanations in song to carry the plot forward sounded kind of dumb, and the whole thing was very intrusive to my ear. I missed the very beginning of Trooper Hook, and I'll be interested to see it again in its entirety.

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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby movieman1957 » June 28th, 2009, 8:35 pm

I have enjoyed "Trooper Hook" as well. It is nice to see a more mature Stanwyck and McCrea. "The Halliday Brand" was one I caught a month or so ago and was happy to have a new one to watch. The only other person of any note was Betsy Blair ("Marty") as Bond's daughter. Some good moments but not great which may be reason enough that I had not heard of it before I saw it. Bond is always good to watch.
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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby MissGoddess » June 29th, 2009, 9:59 am

Susan Kohner's "HIgh School Drama Club" acting

Hahahahahahahahahahaaaa!!! Oh, that gave me a great laugh to start the day, Judith! Spot on!

I watched Trooper Hook when it came on, too, which is about my third viewing. I think you all
said it---the performances really make it stand out. I love how tightly controlled McRea is here.
He still sounds like our friendly, laconic and genial Joel but there is a taciturnity that is more
Cooper-esque. I would like to have seen him play it even more darkly and harder, but then I guess
that wasn't Joel's style.

Agreed about the hokey song---not exactly the same effect as in High Noon, if that's what
they were going for, lol.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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klondike

Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby klondike » June 29th, 2009, 11:35 am

MissGoddess wrote:
He still sounds like our friendly, laconic and genial Joel but there is a taciturnity that is more
Cooper-esque. I would like to have seen him play it even more darkly and harder, but then I guess that wasn't Joel's style.



April, have you ever caught Joel's performance opposite Randolph Scott in Peckinpah's Ride the High Country (1962)?
Besides being a plain gorgeous movie to just look at, with a tart & testy script, it was Randy's denoument (and one of Joel's last handful of films), and really gave JM an usual amount of room to craft his role as an aging hired gun facing his autumn years, and an end to his practical worth.

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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby MissGoddess » June 29th, 2009, 2:00 pm

Howdy, Klon---yes, I have seen Ride and just love how Randy and Joel act in that one---the young performers
annoy me a little---I would rather just Sam focused on the two of them but that's my quibble. It's a wonderful
"swan song" for both (I don't know that Joel did anything after that really is comparable).

Grand seeing them together.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby MissGoddess » June 29th, 2009, 2:01 pm

Listen to me dropping "Sam", "Randy" and "Joel" like I know these people!
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

klondike

Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby klondike » June 29th, 2009, 3:00 pm

MissGoddess wrote:Listen to me dropping "Sam", "Randy" and "Joel" like I know these people!


I like to imagine that if they were lounging on your back porch this afternoon (aww, let's include Coop, make it a trio), they'd opine as how nobody better deserved to chat 'em up in a personal manner as do the folks what love movies the best.
And that's us, right? :wink:

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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby mrsl » June 29th, 2009, 4:46 pm

Miss Goddess:

Isn't it funny? I do that all the time with Randy, Coop, Cary, etc. Same goes for Bette, Betty (Bacall), Ann (Sheridan), etc. I feel like I met those people some time in my life, and kept running into them over the years, so the memory of them hardly ever faded.

As for Joel, he made Ride the High Country in 1962 when he was only 57, but 14 years later at 71, he made Mustang Country. If you can find that one, you should like it. It's kind of a coming of age movie for a little (9-10 year old). half-breed boy, who travels with Joel to find a special wild mustang. The funny thing is, at 71, he looks very much like he did in makeup at 57. Randy, on the other hand was 64 during the filming of . . . High Country.

Anne
Anne


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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby moira finnie » July 1st, 2009, 8:54 am

Image
I really enjoyed Trooper Hook, even though it seemed to be made on a budget of $108.56. I hope that Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck, Earl Holliman and Royal Dano were well paid, because that passel of sometimes overlooked actors really brought this movie to life.

I thought that this was one of Joel McCrea's most effectively muted performances with his posture, small, expressive smiles, and sense of justice making up enormously for the sometimes threadbare character as written in the script. I liked the spin that he gave his best lines of dialogue, which, apart from his cryptic, controlled, yet emotionally charged exchanges with Stanwyck's character, were found in his discussion of Andersonville and his life as a dog, (you have to see the movie to understand this and I don't want to spoil the scene for anyone). I wondered if that speech alone might have made McCrea interested in the movie at a time when he was winding down his career?

Barbara Stanwyck, who is normally out of place for me in Westerns, did a fine job of portraying a woman coming back to life after shutting down. Her tentative fingering of the white woman's clothes that she had been given to wear, her reaction to her small, fierce son's admonition, and her opening up to McCrea were beautifully crafted moments. My favorite parts of her performance were the gentle, startled little wave she returned to the man waving so long at the fort and her one word reply to Stanley Adams, playing Heathcliff, the garrulous windmill salesman, when he asked her why her hair was so unfashionably short. Nothing like spitting out the truth, eh?

I agree about the intrusiveness of the Tex Ritter song narration of the action--so lame!! Yet, I like Ritter's singing normally, (when it doesn't get too twangy). I suspect that it grated on me because the entire Gerald Fried score irked me so with its repeated dramatic chords every blessed time the director focused on the feet of Rodolfo Acosta as Nanchez. What was it about his feet that was supposed to be so ominous? We got it, Mr. Fried and Mr. director, Charles Marquis Warren! This dignified guy, (and terrific character actor with enormous presence), is a great, desperate Apache warrior with a brutal streak of enormous savagery. At least Acosta was able to convey the pull that his son's cries had on his stoic character with just a flicker of pain on his face without the interference of a couple of ham-fists.
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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby klondike » July 1st, 2009, 12:17 pm

I think it would be very interesting to consider a point-by-point comparison between Trooper Hook, & '69's The Stalking Moon, with Gregory Peck & Eva Marie Saint.
Though it would be simple to list the several dozen technical differences between the two scripts, one can't deny that the main thrust of the plot is strikingly similar.

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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby MissGoddess » July 1st, 2009, 12:24 pm

klondike wrote:I think it would be very interesting to consider a point-by-point comparison between Trooper Hook, & '69's The Stalking Moon, with Gregory Peck & Eva Marie Saint.
Though it would be simple to list the several dozen technical differences between the two scripts, one can't deny that the main thrust of the plot is strikingly similar.


I thought TSM was even a direct remake?? They certainly are alike, regardless. I do like both movies. TSM may
be better with the action sequences and is blessedly free of the constant musical interludes, ha! I think Stanwyck
and McRea work really nicely together, though. They seem to have better chemistry than Peck and Eva.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

klondike

Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby klondike » July 1st, 2009, 12:40 pm

I would tend to agree, April; Stalking Moon has arguably a better thought-out & executed story arc, and finer production values, but the better depth of the cast of Trooper Hook still edges it over the finish-line first.
Not to sound cold or unkind, but it took a really powerful calibre of screenplay for Greg Peck to shine at his strongest (Mockingbird, Moby Dick, Spellbound, etc.), and as for the ever-so-polite-&-cautious Eva, I've just always felt she never again quite equalled the esprit of her trainride with CG in North By Northwest.

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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby knitwit45 » July 1st, 2009, 1:55 pm

Ah, but in all fairness, she was always supposed to be the calm, COOL, collected blonde

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Re: A morning in the Western world

Postby knitwit45 » September 19th, 2010, 3:53 pm

I just watched Trooper Hook again, and I have a question. The movie seemed like it was made for tv and commercials. The fade outs and resumes were choppy at times, and I'm wondering if it has been edited for screening on The Western Encore channel? Has anyone recently seen it? Was it just poor editing to begin with, or did some ya-hoo decide to 'tweak' it?

McCrea and Stanwyck were a handsome couple. Of course Joel McCrea could make a fence post look good :oops: :oops:


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