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1930s most under-rated westerns

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Richard--W
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1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby Richard--W » October 31st, 2013, 1:04 am

What are the most over-looked, under-rated, neglected westerns of the 1930s?
That's the decade running from 1931 to 1940.
The decade is generally thought to have produced hundreds of mediocre, hour-long programmers -- which it did -- but personally, I think many fine and important westerns were attempted between The Big Trail (1930) and Stagecoach (1939). The problem is most people who love westerns haven't seen them. The films have vanished from collective memory. People who love westerns need to get back in touch with the 1930s, especially during the transition from silent to sound when so many remarkable, new things were being tried for the first time.

Anyhow, here is my preliminary list of forgotten, neglected, over-looked and under-rated westerns of the 1930s. I may come back and refine this list later. These are all excellent films. I should have included another of the Hopalong Cassidy westerns from 1937-8, but I could not make up my mind which.

1939 Frontier Marshal (Fox) directed by Alan Dwan.
1936 Vámonos con Pancho Villa / Let's Go With Pancho Villa (Mexico) directed by Fernando de Fuentes.
1936 Trail Dust (Hopalong Cassidy #8) (Paramount) directed by Nate Watt.
1936 Three Godfathers (MGM) directed by Richard Boleslawski.
1936 The Robin Hood of El Dorado (MGM) directed by William A. Wellman.
1936 Ramona (Fox) directed by Henry King, in Technicolor.
1936 The Phantom of Santa Fe (independent shot in 1931), directed by Jacques Jaccard, in Cinecolor.
1936 The Gay Desperado (United Artists) directed by Rouben Mamoulian, in Technicolor.
1936 The Bold Caballero (Republic) directed by Wells Root, in Magnacolor.
1935 The Arizonian (RKO) directed by Charles Vidor.
1934 El Compadre Mendoza (Mexico) directed by Juan Bustillo Oro and Fernando de Fuentes.
1933 Strawberry Roan (Universal) directed by Alan James.
1933 El prisionero 13 / Prisoner 13 (Mexico) directed by Fernando de Fuentes.
1932 Robbers' Roost (Fox) directed by Louis King.
1932 The Rider of Death Valley (Universal) directed by Albert S. Rogell.
1932 The Rainbow Trail (Fox) directed by David Howard.
1932 Law and Order (Universal) directed by Edward L. Cahn.
1931 Riders of the Purple Sage (Fox) directed by Hamilton MacFadden.
1931 The Cisco Kid (Fox) directed by Irving Cummings.
1931 Battling With Buffalo Bill (Universal serial) directed by Ray Taylor.

REVISION:
Perhaps I should provide some perspective by listing what are generally regarded as the best westerns of the decade. The most under-rated, neglected and over-looked westerns of the decade belong in this list as well:

1940 The Westerner (Goldwyn / United Artists) directed by William Wyler.
1940 The Return of Frank James (Fox) directed by Fritz Lang, in Technicolor.
1940 Northwest Passage (MGM) directed by King Vidor, in Technicolor.
1940 Northwest Mounted Police (Paramount) directed by Cecil B. DeMille, in Technicolor.
1940 The Mark of Zorro (Fox) directed by Rouben Mamoulian.
1940 Arizona (Columbia) directed by Wesley Ruggles.
1939 Union Pacific (Paramount) directed by Cecil B. deMille.
1939 Stagecoach (United Artists) directed by John Ford.
1939 Jesse James (Fox) directed by Henry King, in Technicolor.
1939 Dodge City (Warner Brothers) directed by Michael Curtiz.
1937 The Plainsman (Paramount) directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
1935 Call of the Wild (Fox) directed by William A. Wellman
1935 Annie Oakley (RKO) directed by George Stevens.
1934 Viva Villa! (MGM) directed by Jack Conway, Howard Hawks, William Wellman.
1931 Cimarron (RKO) directed by Wesley Ruggles.
Last edited by Richard--W on December 2nd, 2013, 10:40 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby moira finnie » October 31st, 2013, 8:46 am

Good list, Richard. I am particularly interested in the Mexican films you mentioned, never having seen El Compadre Mendoza or Vámonos con Pancho Villa. I might add one more American western, however:

Image
Three Godfathers (1936) directed by Richard Boleslawski and starring Chester Morris, Walter Brennan and Lewis Stone. Each of the actors is outstanding and give more nuanced performances than usual. The better known beautifully shot Ford film of the next decade has many excellent moments, though I believe is marred by sentimentality near the end. The '36 version evokes considerable emotion as well as conveying a welcome grittiness to the redemption story.
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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby movieman1957 » October 31st, 2013, 9:38 am

Outside of the regulars I don't come across many 30's westerns but you can be sure I'll use the list.
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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby JackFavell » October 31st, 2013, 11:44 am

What a great list, Richard!

Robin Hood of El Dorado is a favorite, as is The Gay Desperado. I have yet to see Frontier Marshal, it's been mighty hard to come by. I look forward to running down the rest on your list.

One of my favorite westerns is Wagon Train, from 1940, starring Tim Holt. I didn't see a under-rated westerns of the 1940's thread, so I'll sneak it in here.

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Richard--W
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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby Richard--W » October 31st, 2013, 12:23 pm

I think I have WAGON TRAIN (1940) with Tim Holt. I'll give it another look. Since 1940 is the endcap of the 1930s decade it belongs here rather than in the 1940s list, which is forthcoming.

FRONTIER MARSHAL has been released on DVD-R by Fox:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0089B ... e=&seller=

and as a bonus disc on MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) which it inspired:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000WM ... e=&seller=

Although not as eloquent and as brilliant as John Ford's film, FRONTIER MARSHAL has considerable chops.

How could I forget to include THE THREE GODFATHERS (1936). I agree it is exceptional.

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Initial post updated. Thanks for your suggestions.
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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby RedRiver » October 31st, 2013, 12:34 pm

Michael Curtiz' rousing SANTA FE TRAIL is a good one. As an Errol Flynn vehicle, it probably wasn't underrated. Sorry if I'm misdirecting your idea, Richard! THE PLAINSMAN is an old favorite. Again, not what you had in mind. I'll stop doing this. I just have trouble remembering the sleepers. I imagine a lot of people do!

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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby JackFavell » October 31st, 2013, 1:38 pm

Wagon Train starts out as a total B western, with laughs and jokes and goofy characters, but the last section is rather brutal. Well acted, very good. It surprised me.

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Richard--W
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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby Richard--W » October 31st, 2013, 2:49 pm

Thought I had WAGON TRAIN, but I don't. Damn. Now you've got me wanting to see it. Will go looking for it.

Have the poster, though:

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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby JackFavell » October 31st, 2013, 4:12 pm

I don't have a copy Richard, but it used to be on youtube. Not anymore, as I just found out, but it is at the Internet Archive here (ignore the misspelling of Tim Holt's name):

https://archive.org/details/WagonTrain1940-TomHolt

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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby charlestranberg » November 2nd, 2013, 8:44 am

Among the 1930's I think these are some underrated westerns:

Annie Oakley (1935) Director: George Stevens with Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster & Melvyn Douglas
The Texas Rangers (1936) Director: King Vidor with Fred MacMurray, Jack Oakie & Lloyd Nolan
Wells Fargo (1937) Director: Frank Lloyd with Joel McCrea & Frances Dee
Stand Up and Fight (1939) Director: W.S. Van Dyke with Robert Taylor & Wallace Beery
Frontier Marshal (1939) Director: Allan Dwan with Randolph Scott, Nancy Kelly & John Carradine

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JackFavell
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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby JackFavell » November 2nd, 2013, 3:00 pm

I LOVE Annie Oakley. I guess I don't think of it as a western, more of an epic or something. It's really quite good, and I think the scenes with the wild west show have never been matched. It's endlessly fascinating to me.

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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby RedRiver » November 2nd, 2013, 4:05 pm

ANNIE OAKLEY is interesting. I have enjoyed THE TEXAS RANGERS for years. I like Fred M. as a hero. WELLS FARGO is good too! I watched "Annie" in the late 1980's. On free TV! That feels like a generation ago. The days of good movies being shown on TV were just about over, even then.

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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby JackFavell » November 2nd, 2013, 7:53 pm

I really do miss turning the channel and coming across dialing for dollars movies or the noontime movie or whatever. Kids don't know what they've missed nowadays with all the junk that's on now. The only time you could see the Grinch was the week before Christmas! Now it's on every day for months, or you can pop in the dvd. Or they remake it with live actors to make a buck. Nothing is special anymore because you never have to wait for it.

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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby movieman1957 » November 2nd, 2013, 8:36 pm

JackFavell wrote: Nothing is special anymore because you never have to wait for it.


Except Christmas itself.

I got out of a class early in high school once because I told the teacher there was a Jimmy Stewart movie on. (I was senior and got out at noon. I missed 20 minutes of class.)
Chris

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Re: 1930s most under-rated westerns

Postby JackFavell » November 2nd, 2013, 9:27 pm

Oh my gosh! That's GREAT! What a great teacher! Wish I'd had him/her.

What movie?


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