Ride Clear of Diablo

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Revenge, or at least the quest for justice, is a theme frequently featured in westerns. Relentless duplicity, on the other hand, is more often to be found in crime movies. Ride Clear of Diablo (1953) is a pretty good example of a conventional western that blends both of the aforementioned elements into its brief running time. By using the revenge motif mainly as a device to drive the narrative, rather than indulging in any especially deep analysis, and thus keeping the focus firmly on the various double-crosses, the film manages to provide plenty of exciting, pacy entertainment.

Everything revolves around Clay O’Mara (Audie Murphy), a railroad surveyor based in Denver, who receives a wire informing him of the murder of his father and brother as a result of a raid on their ranch by rustlers. Returning home to bury his family, O’Mara is cautioned against seeking retribution by the local preacher (Denver Pyle), and reassures the man of the cloth by letting him know he’s interested in a meeting with the sheriff. What O’Mara doesn’t know, but we the viewers do from the opening moments, is that Sheriff Kenyon (Paul Birch) and the family lawyer, Tom Meredith (William Pullen), are the men responsible for the murder. Meredith is clearly the brains of the outfit, and he’s the one who advises Kenyon to accede to O’Mara’s wishes and swear him in as a deputy with a view to tracking down the killers. Meredith’s idea is to set O’Mara on a false trail and send him off in pursuit of a man who he figures will gun him down. To that end, Meredith and Kenyon tell him that notorious wanted outlaw Whitey Kincade (Dan Duryea) is one of the leading suspects. O’Mara sets off for the neighboring town of Diablo where Kincade is believed to be hiding out. This is just the first in a series of crosses and double-crosses fill the movie, and none of them seem to work out quite the way any of the conspirators hope. While slightly unnerved, O’Mara isn’t the kind of man to back down from a challenge, particularly not one in which he has as much personally invested as this. As it turns out, he’s no slouch with a gun either and, to the surprise and near mortification of Kenyon and Meredith, manages to outdraw Kincade and haul him back to town for trial. That O’Mara should pull off such a coup is bad enough as far as the villains are concerned, but what’s more troublesome is the fact Kincade has taken a shine to the gutsy deputy. Kincade has his own suspicions regarding the motives of these outwardly law-abiding citizens, but he’s no saint and also has a perverse sense of humor. Rather than put O’Mara on the right track straight away, Kincade toys with him and offers only oblique hints, preferring to sit back and watch pleasurably as Meredith and Kenyon fail time and again to ensnare O’Mara. However, such games can only be played out so far, and O’Mara must sooner or later come upon the truth, while Kincade must also make a decision as to where he really stands.

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Director Jesse Hibbs spent many years working in the second unit, and had a relatively short career in charge of feature films before moving into television. Ride Clear of Diablo was one of his earliest directorial efforts, and his first with Audie Murphy – both men would work together a number of times in the years to come. Stylistically, this movie is fairly unremarkable, although there are some extremely atmospheric scenes such as the opening in a near deserted saloon, where an alluring singer (Abbe Lane) ensures a couple of hapless cowboys remain distracted while her rustler friends slip away to round-up the herd. Even though some of the action was filmed on location around Lone Pine, Hibbs arguably does his best work during the interior scenes – which seems a little odd for a western director. The first appearance of Dan Duryea, after his character has been given a strong build-up, and Murphy’s subsequent face-off with him is also particularly well realized. Despite what the events that take place at the beginning may suggest, Ride Clear of Diablo lacks the kind of psychological complexity that is often found in revenge/quest westerns. Still, that shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of the movie as a whole; it never intends to go down that route, and achieves what it wants perfectly well without doing so.

I imagine synopsis I included makes it clear that Dan Duryea’s role as Whitey Kincade makes a significant contribution to the film. I’d go so far as to say that although Audie Murphy receives top billing and gets the lion’s share of the screen time, it’s as much Duryea’s picture as anyone’s. Duryea was one of the finest screen villains ever, even better when he was given the opportunity to play up the character’s ambiguity. With Whitey Kincade he was handed the chance to portray an extremely engaging anti-heroic figure. Duryea always had an enormous amount of charm and could never be characterized as unlikable. Ride Clear of Diablo highlights his playful menace, and he steals every scene he appears in. By the end of the movie your greatest regret is the fact he wasn’t allowed more time to cast his skewed, cynically amused glance over proceedings. In contrast, Murphy is far more stoic and traditionally heroic, and it creates a nice balance. However, even in a pretty straight and limited part such as this, Murphy brought some of that nervy unease, a kind of edgy watchfulness, that made him an interesting lead on so many occasions. Susan Cabot was cast as Murphy’s love interest and, to make matters more intriguing, the niece of the corrupt sheriff. She handled the conflicted aspects of her role well and her presence is both an attractive and important element in the story. Abbe Lane’s saloon girl is equally enjoyable, despite her part offering less depth and impact. The remainder of the supporting cast – Jack Elam, Paul Birch, Russell Johnson and William Pullen – constitute a fine bunch of out and out villains and fall guys.

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Ride Clear of Diablo is now available on DVD fairly widely. There have been various European options for some time and the movie was then released in the US, initially as part of a four movie set of Audie Murphy westerns and then later as an individual DVD-R. I have the German version that came out via Koch Media some years ago. The transfer on that disc is a little variable, but satisfactory overall. For the most part it’s sharp enough but there are instances where it briefly takes on a soft, dupey appearance. The technicolor is well reproduced and print damage, despite what looks like an obvious lack of restoration, is limited. The soundtrack offers a choice of the original English or a German dub – there are no subtitles at all. Extra features on the disc consist of the trailer and a gallery, along with liner notes in German. I consider the film to be a very entertaining outing for Audie Murphy and it ought to satisfy his fans. The icing on the cake though is the marvelous performance by Dan Duryea – anyone who has yet to discover the man could hardly ask for a better introduction, and those already familiar with him will have a ball renewing their acquaintance.

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52 thoughts on “Ride Clear of Diablo

    • I think it’s a great, unpretentious little western Michael. I won’t try to pretend it’s the best of Audie Murphy’s efforts but it’s highly entertaining and shows him off well. Duryea really makes it though.

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  1. This is a great little western. Like you, I was incredibly impressed by Duryea’s performance. I also love the song – “Wanted” – that Abbe Lane’s character sings to detain the men in the saloon at the beginning. It seems to typify the atmosphere of the 50s western. I don’t believe it’s available anywhere…but it should be.

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    • Hi Dafydd. I don’t think too many western fans would be disappointed by this one – it does exactly what it sets out to do, and never strikes a bum note.

      I really liked that opening with Abbe Lane vamping it up for all she was worth – a great little scene that’s both seductive and tense.

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    • It’s hard to argue with that Muriel – so I won’t bother. 🙂

      In all honesty, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a movie where Dan Duryea’s presence didn’t add to the quality. I love the guy.

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  2. This one sounds really entertaining and I really do like mystery westerns – and Dan Duryea was a superb actor though, like Arthur Kennedy, he often had the unfortunate effect of making me root for the villain (the opposite happens to me with Louis Hayward, even when he’s supposed to be the hero unfortunately) – nice to know it’s generally available, thanks mate.

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    • Sergio, I wouldn’t say this is exactly a mystery western even though Murphy’s character does have a mystery to get to the bottom of. As viewers, we know exactly who is responsible right from the beginning so I think it’s more correct to refer to this as a suspense western.

      Duryea was indeed often a very sympathetic villain, although this film uses that quality of his very well by casting him in the anti-heroic part.

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      • I was propbably being a bit too broad with my phraesology there! Certainly interesting that the decision was made to not make it a mystery as such – never sure if this is to increase suspense (because we know thinsg the hero doesn’t) or to pad out the story a bit by showing the villain’s machinations being planned (which always seems a bit redundant to me mostly as we are inly iterested in their effect on the hero unless it seeing this leads to some sort of cracks within the ranks of the baddies)

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        • That’s a fair point. In this case, I think the intent is to create suspense, and for the reasons you mention. The setbacks the villains face, and the increasing greed of one in particular, does lead to a kind of schism.

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            • Hibbs’ last feature was Ride a Crooked Trail in 1958 with Murphy, thereafter he worked exclusively on TV and racked up a highly impressive list of credits.

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                  • It’s maybe worth noting that Jesse Hibbs directed a lot of GUNSMOKE episodes (as I recall and am not looking this up right now). Also, hope you don’t mind a small correction: He wasn’t a second unit director before moving up, but an assistant director, which is not the same though they are both important jobs (as an assistant Hibbs might well have done some second unit directing but never saw him credited for it). He worked as assistant on a lot of good films for top directors, for example, he was assistant director to Anthony Mann on WINCHESTER ’73. I’ve never quite made up my mind how good his eleven theatrical films (all Universal-International) are overall, though I’d say pretty good and more than that in the case of WALK THE PROUD LAND (1956), very fine Indian Western with Audie Murphy playing real life historical figure John Clum, though I imagine the history is at least a little romanticized. After their first picture RIDE CLEAR OF DIABLO, Hibbs and Murphy likely really connected because of their next movie TO HELL AND BACK, Audie’s autobiography, which was a big success, so Hibbs directed Murphy four more times after that. He’s a likeable director, comfortable with Westerns, and I’ve always enjoyed RIDE CLEAR OF DIABLO, though we must all admit how much it’s lifted by Dan Duryea in one of his best roles and most enjoyable performances ever.

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                    • Blake, you’re quite right to correct me on Hibbs’ credits. I really should have drawn the distinction and pointed out that he worked as an assistant director.

                      I quite like Ride a Crooked Trail but I think you’re on the money when you say Walk the Proud Land is one of Hibbs and Murphy’s best.

                      As for Duryea, I think everyone’s in agreement here on how good he was in Ride Clear of Diablo.

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  3. Your choice of reviewing Ride Clear Of Diablo does not come as a surprise. It is an entertaining movie and am fully agreed that Dan Duryea played a very significant role here. I look forward to your review of other interesting Audie Murphy ‘s westerns in future. Best regards.

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  4. Audie Murphy westerns are generally always good, solid, unpretentious value for money. Nice write up on this one, Colin! As you know, I can’t quite agree with Muriel on the presence of Dan Duryea making ANY film he appeared in better…I think his weird performance in NIGHT PASSAGE is more of a detriment to that film. Generally speaking, though, I do take her point overall – Duryea’s indeed pretty great, and his part in this film sounds tailor-made to his strengths. I like how you mention Audie Murphy’s edgy quality; I agree, and think it’s just that edginess and grit behind the seemingly bland, amiable surface that makes him such a surprisingly engaging screen presence. I’ll add this one to the Amazon wishlist.

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    • Thanks Jeff. You’re quite right that Duryea needed to rein it in a little in Night Passage – I don’t think he was bad in that movie so much as he just ramped it up a bit too much.

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  5. The screenplay for this and also for “Dawn at Socorro” was written by George Zuckerman, both owed their origins to selected portions of the Earp/Tombstone saga as depicted in the book “Helldorado” by Billy Breakenridge (Tombstone’s deputy sheriff in 1881-82).
    In “Ride clear of Diablo” Paul Birch and William Pullen are an amalgam of Johnny Behan , Russell Johnson as Jed Ringer is Johnny Ringo, the Lowery’s are the McLowries and Dan Duryea’s Whitey” is Curly Bill, the incidents in the Film with the stolen horse and the relationship Murphy has with Dan are exactly as portrayed by Breakenridge in his book like the relationship he had with Curly Bill.
    Of course the links in “Dawn At Socorro” with the Earp/Tombstone saga are pretty self evident and the fact that Zuckerman wrote both screenplays shows he must have read the book!

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    • That’s great Bruce, really fascinating. I did know of the link between Dawn at Socorro and the Earp story, but I was totally unaware of the connection to this movie.

      I love it when guys like yourself come and toss in little nuggets of information like that to help expand my knowledge. Thanks for that.

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  6. Hi Colin,

    One of the many reasons I enjoy reading your intelligent reviews is the fact that it often encourages me to investigate various interesting aspects of these films. On this occasion it led me down two paths – firstly, Abbe Lanes’ flim career, and then, to follow details of that talented actor often described as ” The man you love to hate” – Dan Duryea.

    Of particular interest to me, was Abbe Lane’s late inclusion in the cast of the William Castle directed, 1955 Glen Ford film, “The Americano” – a western set in Brazil. The troubles encounted by the production company were not limited to finance but the fact that this flawed film was ever completed, were extraordinary, and perhaps worthy of inclusion in Sergio’s, “Tuesday Forgotten Film” series.

    For the sake of being brief, I will limit my remarks regarding the talent of Dan Duryea, to a comment made by film critic, David Thomson when reviewing the Fritz Lang Film Noir Classic, “Scarlett Street”. The excerpt reads, “……the Duryea of “Scarlett Street” is a delicious villian. A sly man, he creeps up on malice as if it were a cat to catch”. While we probably all agree, critics are an acquired taste, I feel that, on this occasion, Thomson has succinctly captured Duryea’s performance in this film, as well as many others in which he appeared.

    While I believe that “Ride Clear of Diablo” was not a major film in Audie Murphy’s career it delivers what it promises – good entertainment.

    Certainly his film “Walk The Proud Land” attracted a lot of favourable comment when originally released and is included in my collection,

    Thanks Colin for yet another interesting review.

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    • Thanks a lot Rod.

      Like a lot of movies, The Americano is an imperfect production. Nevertheless, I like it quite a lot, not least for its unusual setting. Unfortunately, there aren’t any especially good copies available right now – but I believe Olive have it earmarked for a future release.

      On Dan Duryea, “he creeps up on malice as if it were a cat to catch” is a wonderful bit of phrasing that I agree is a near perfect distillation of his screen persona. Thanks for digging that out and sharing it.

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    • How you doing Chad. Yeah, I try to choose a poster (when possible) that draws me in some way. I guess I do hit on a lot of Euro posters maybe, as you say, for the different mood they suggest. Generally, I feel that classic era European poster art had a very striking quality that’s certainly attractive to me.

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      • I love the European posters, too. Very much agree with Chad about this. Thanks for so often showing us a poster for these movies different than what we’ve seen.

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        • I’m glad to hear you guys approve of these. It’s interesting to see the way different countries marketed the movies. Italian posters had a tendency to be wonderfully dramatic and lurid – sometimes a lot more than the films they were advertising – and I’d like to feature more of them. Sadly, it’s not always possible to find good quality images to use.

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  7. Good choice for a Murphy film Colin,as its not as well known as some of his other films.
    Excellent and very fair review,I thought.
    Jesse Hibbs is one of those directors who is generally overlooked,rather like Joseph Pevney
    and Lewis R Foster who like Hibbs ended up in television despite them all having directed
    lots of Fifties A pictures between them.
    Foster and Pevney are probably more highly regarded (by a minority) because they both
    made several Noirs;especially with Noir being so hip at the moment.
    In any event Murphy obviously liked working with Hibbs as besides Westerns they also
    made the service comedy JOE BUTTERFLY and boxing drama WORLD IN MY CORNER
    together.
    Hibbs never gained the cult status of fellow Universal contract director Jack Arnold,in fact
    its a shame Universal never threw a couple of Noirs Hibbs way,that might have enhanced
    his reputation.His work in the early days of the smash hit TV sereies PERRY MASON
    proved he had a flair for Noir and apart from the credits mentioned before,he also directed
    quiet a few RAWHIDE episodes.I note that he directed the episode INCIDENT OF THE
    DRUID CURSE one of the darkest episodes of that series.
    The sheer good natured/humored feel of most of his Universal work probably work against
    his being taken more notice of.
    I should also mention another prolific Fifties director,now totally forgotten,is Jerry Hopper
    if anyone does have anything nice to say about him or Hibbs or Pevney and Foster the term
    used is usually “workmanlike”

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    • John, I think a lot of these guys you’ve mentioned get less attention since they spent such a significant part of their directing careers working in TV.
      I’m a little undecided about Hopper. I liked Smoke Signal but felt a little underwhelmed by Pony Express. Mind you, it’s been a while since I last saw the latter so I might have to revise my opinion of it. It’s now out on DVD so I may pick it up at some point and give it another go. Of course, Hopper also directed a number of episodes of The Fugitive – a significant feather in anyone’s cap in my opinion.

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      • Some of Hopper’s episodes of THE FUGITIVE are among the very best ones. He’s a director I like a lot, kind of on the warm-hearted side as demonstrated by his most popular movie, the comedy THE PRIVATE WAR OF MAJOR BENSON (1955). I revisited SMOKE SIGNAL recently thanks to Colin’s review–fine Western in every way and kind of unusual with that rafting down the Colorado River. The four directors John Knight mentioned above are all ones I personally like in varying degrees and “workmanlike” doesn’t really say enough for any of them, especially in their best work. For example, Joseph Pevney–has anyone here ever seen THE MIDNIGHT STORY (1957) with Tony Curtis, Marisa Pavan, and Gilbert Roland?– a noirish mystery with a genuine touch of tragedy that is at least close to a masterpiece, and it definitely didn’t just direct itself.

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        • Although I haven’t actually watched The Midnight Story, I do have a copy of the film sitting on my shelves. With a recommendation like that I’m going to have to bump it up to the top of the “must watch soon” list.

          I haven’t seen a lot of Pevney’s work but I was definitely favorably impressed by both Meet Danny Wilson and Flesh and Fury. I also quite enjoyed the fairly ripe but fun The Strange Door.

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  8. Glad,at least,that Blake has some admiration for these four directors.
    As far as I am concerned they all have films that are very high on my wants lists.
    Regarding Mr Hibbs,I have been able to track down decent “off air” copies of most of his
    Westerns that have not so far,been released on DVD.
    The one I am missing and really want to see is THE YELLOW MOUNTAIN,which I am very
    surprised that Koch in Germany have not released as Lex Barker is very popular over there.
    Anyone who has followed my ramblings on the Fifties Westerns website will know that I am a
    huge fan of Mala Powers;I really want this film as it is one of her few Western roles.
    Blake,of course knew this Lady herself;a fact that I find most impressive.
    Regarding Jerry Hopper,I really like PONY EXPRESS,which I feel is one of his best films.
    At any rate Colin,the Olive Films release is a magnificent transfer,far superior to the version
    that appears on UK TV.
    The Hopper film that I most want to see released is the Noir NAKED ALIBI.
    The Westerns of Lewis R Foster I find rather slack,though THE EAGLE AND THE HAWK
    is of interest for the set-pieces alone.Having James Wong Howe as the DOP does not hurt
    either. EL PASO has quiet a bit going for it but the vigilante violence really grates with Gabby
    Hayes comic antics.
    On my Foster wants lists are the Noir MANHANDLED,which I have never seen,but wow,what
    a cast.Olive Films are said to be releasing CRASHOUT which I have never seen but it does have
    a good reputation.I am in dire need of an upgrade of CAPTAIN CHINA which I feel is the best
    of several films Foster made with John Payne;a very Noirish sea saga with a knockout and
    extended very brutal fight between Payne and Lon Chaney.
    Fosters offbeat war film THE BOLD AND THE BRAVE is a much requested film on the Warner
    Archive Facebook page,but sadly this is an RKO film that they do not hold the rights too.
    A DVD release looks highly unlikely.
    I share Blakes admiration for THE MIDNIGHT STORY,well worth moving up the pile Colin.
    Another Pevney/Tony Curtis film worth checking out is SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS,I remember
    really liking it,but it was many years ago.
    The Pevney that I want the most is FOXFIRE,just for the cast alone!
    As a matter of interest the Universal Vault MOD series has just released Pevneys BACK
    TO GODS COUNTRY,making its Worldwide DVD debut,I do believe.All I remember about that
    film is a tremendous fight between Rock Hudson and Steve Cochran.
    All in all I feel there are enough great credits pertaining to these four directors to allow them
    a better word to describe their output than “workmanlike”

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    • That’s a pretty comprehensive list John, with a few movies I wouldn’t mind seeing myself. I’d love to see a release of Naked Alibi – it’s not a perfect movie by any means but I like it, and it’s got Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden. Actually, it’s pretty easy to see as it always seems to pop up on YouTube.

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  9. Colin,I have been thinking quiet a bit about your comments regarding Hibbs,Hopper,Foster
    and Pevney (sounds like a Law firm?) and their lack of recognition,relating to their TV work.
    Thought I would take thiks a step further,and relate various “cult” directors and their TV
    credits. Douglas Sirk as far as I know never worked in TV.Sam Fuller,Budd Boetticher,
    Don Siegel and Phil Karlson had sparodic TV credits.On the other hand Jack Arnold,
    John Brahm and Gerd Oswald had extensive TV credits.
    This of course proves nothing,its just the point I was trying to make regarding Hibbs & co is
    that they worked on lots of A pictures in the Fifties and are now generally unheralded.
    If there has been stuff written about them (and I am sure there has) it has escaped my
    radar.Speaking of John Brahm I would really like to see BENGAZI (1955).
    Its not supposed to be very good;but as it was made in Color and Superscope and stars
    Richard Conte,Mala Powers,Richard Carlson and Victor McLaglen,as well as shot by the great
    Joseph Biroc;well this makes it a must see for me!

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    • Just to return to something you mentioned earlier yourself. Of the four directors in question here, wouldn’t it be fair to say that Pevney probably is the one with the highest reputation? And if that is indeed the case, is that possibly down to his having directed a couple of film noirs, not to mention the Star Trek connection? My point being that both of these tend to attract cult interest.

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  10. I saw BENGAZI when it came out. It was in black and white. Want to see it again too. When I knew Mala Powers I tried to hunt up all I could she was in and though I found a number of Westerns was very frustrated not to be able to see THE YELLOW MOUNTAIN (I did see it in 1954 but not since then) so I share your desire this will come along sometime, John. I’ve seen all of Hibbs’ other theatricals more recently. Lots of good films of these four directors, including some that you have mentioned (THE BOLD AND THE BRAVE is excellent Foster and FOXFIRE is one of the best Pevneys), and your point about them is good because from my experience of them and of many other unheralded directors, there is enough individuality to be found that they could be discussed in terms of a coherent body of work as well as talent.

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    • To follow up on your last point Blake. The majority of directors who have achieved critical acclaim seem to owe a lot of their fame to the fact that they have or had vocal academic champions. The unheralded guys, on the other hand, don’t appear to have that backing. Again, I can’t help but wonder how much of that is down to a tendency among academics to discount television work, or at least regard it as the poor relation. John mentioned some directors who did TV work but returned to cinema. The ones we’ve recently been discussing had relatively short cinema careers before specializing exclusively in television.

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  11. Firstly Colin, I agree that Pevney is the director with the highest reputation out of the four
    that we are discussing.Secondly,Blake thank you for pointing out that BENGAZI was,in fact
    in black & white.
    I saw THE YELLOW MOUNTAIN in the mid Sixties and really enjoyed it at the time;all I can
    recall is some stunning shots of wagons charging across the salt flats.
    I do hope this film appears on DVD sooner rather than later.
    I should have mentioned a couple of other cult directors who did some TV work namely
    Jacques Tourneur and Joseph H Lewis.
    I do not know why some directors gain cult status and others do not,in any case a lot of this
    stuff written by “academics” was in fact written many years,sometimes decades ago.
    Later A-list directors like Robert Wise,Edward Dmytryk,Richard Fleischer and Mark Robson
    are generally more revered for their early work in B movies/Noir.
    That is not to say that a lot of their later work was not as good,because each made some outstanding films during the Fifties.
    Of the four,Wise seemed to know when to call it a day,he always had a great track record.
    It was sad to see the other three once great directors turn out such stinkers as SHALAKO,
    AVALANCHE EXPRESS and AMITYVILLE 3D.Fleishers decline was sad,to say the least
    but I have no doubt he was well paid for his efforts……RED SONJA anyone?
    Still their later word cannot detract from the great films they made in the Fifties.
    Blake,I did not know that THE BOLD AND THE BRAVE had a DVD release in the UK a few
    years ago,but it would appear to be a 4 x 3 version of a Superscope release,so I will not
    be buying that.I totally agree that its top-drawer Foster and I hope that the Olive Films
    release of CRASHOUT appears soon,I have never seen that one.
    A lot of the writing that elevated certain directors to “cultdom” goes back to the Fifties and
    Sixties especially from France.Since then other directors are what I would call on the
    borderline of cult status.Andre De Toth (who I REALLY like) was pretty much ignored back
    in the Sixties.Films And Filming a magazine written by academics,by the way had little time
    for him.one reviewer called him the “dullest of directors”
    Now all that has changed,he even has the likes of Oliver Stone fighting his corner.
    Another director I would place on this borderline is Joseph M Newman who again I really
    admire.Blake,did you catch the recent Warner Archive release of Newmans DEATH IN SMALL
    DOSES (remastered in widescreen)
    This is a model B picture and even has Mala Powers in a “bad girl” role for a change.
    Finally I am really looking forward getting CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS from Olive Films next
    week,Mala Powers has the female lead in that one.
    Its directed by John H Auer a director with some most interesting credits,most of which I have
    never seen.Yet another talent that would seem to be worthy of some sort of re-appraisal.

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  12. Its funny Colin,I always check out DVD Beaver,and was there only yesterday.
    They really like their Noir and are a great source for the latest films in that genre
    to make it to DVD.
    Thanks for the tip Colin,I am off there now!

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  13. I’ve been a bit out of the loop of late, and missed most of the action on this post — so there’s not a lot I can add that hasn’t been covered. Another fine post. When are you gonna slip up and post a lousy one?

    What I’ve always found interesting about Jesse Hibbs is that he played football at USC alongside John Wayne and Ward Bond. Hibbs also played for the Chicago Bears. Wonder how this impacted his directing style?

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    • I didn’t know HIbbs was a football player with those guys. I’ve always been fascinated by the various links and connections between movie people so that’s a great piece of trivia to learn.

      And thanks for the compliments too Toby.

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  14. Reblogged this on SERENDIPITY and commented:
    A fine review of a movie and genre that is rarely given its due. I hope this will also serve as an introduction to a website that presents exceptionally high quality reviews. Superb work!

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  15. Lots of keen insight from others here. I used to see the UI (Universal-International) 50’s films first run at a neighborhood theatre in Jamaica, Queens, New York. They usually were the second feature on the bill that included an “A” movie, coming attractions, cartoons, a serial (on Saturdays) and other goodies. I enjoyed the lean, fast pace no-nonsense style of the Audie Murphy Westerns. He usually had colorful co-stars who actually were scene stealers. Dan Duyrea, Stephen McNally, Charles Drake and John McIntire were some of the memorable and very likeable villains. The supporting cast usually featured contract character actors like Jack Elam, Jack Lambert, Red Morgan, Henry “Harry” Morgan, Robert J. Wilke, Don Haggerty and Lee Van Cleef who always gave the somber Audie a hard time. Dan Duryea was probably my favorite villain. “Six Black Horses” was my favorite Murphy- Duryea western. But Duryea’s best western villain was probably his “Waco Johnny Dean” in the classic 1950 Jimmy Stewart western, “Winchester 73”. Years later in a remake of “Winchester” co-starring Tom Tryon and John Saxon in the Stewart-Stephen McNally roles, Duryea was cast as their Father. Others have cited Dan Duryea’s versatility in many non westerns spanning the 40-60’s. One of my favorite Duryea non-westerns is the 50’s comedy, “Kathy-O”. Duryea stars in a Robert Young-Father Knows Best type role and struggles with the raising of a precocious little girl. Waco Johnny Dean finally met his match!!

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    • Garry, there’s a small group of quite vociferous fans of Universal 50s westerns – I’m one of them – and there’s rarely a bad word to be said about them. If you’re interested, I recommend checking out this site where Universal movies are frequently discussed.

      I agree that Six Black Horses is a superior little movie; it’s just a pity that it’s hard to find a good copy of it. As far as Duryea’s non-western roles are concerned, I really like Black Angel which you may or may not be familiar with. It was a rare opportunity for Duryea to take the lead, and he was excellent as always. I wrote a piece on it some time back here.

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  16. Colin, I’m familiar with “Black Angel” and most of Dan Duryea’s other work. More importantly, My “second looks” at these posts are becoming more and more entertaining. I marvel at the knowledge of the other “mavens” who I’m beginning to recognize as regulars. For years, I’ve talked about movies, actors, writers and directors who most regard as obscure or simply don’t know. It’s a pleasure to read the comments of people who not only love movies but are well versed in the work of film artists who have gone ignored or unappreciated for too many years. If there’s a common thread among the conversations I was fortunate to have with movie legends, character actors and directors over the years, it’s that people are usually only familiar with a small portion of their entire body of work.

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    • Garry, I’ve said this to others before, but I think it’s worth repeating. The most enjoyable aspect of running this site is the opportunity to have chats with other film fans. I think I’m very fortunate to have some great regulars and occasional visitors who clearly love the movies and sharing their thoughts and info with others. There have been some extremely informative and stimulating discussions, and I treasure every one of them.

      I’d like to think that, in our own small way, we’re all doing our bit to ensure that the work of so many artists of the past gets a little more exposure.

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  17. Excellent mid budget duster that is well worth a look. Duryea never fails to make an impression whether he is a hero or a cad. I must also admit a real fondness for Susan Cabot who is always watchable if you ask me.

    There is a top flight bit of western television with Duryea from 1966 called, “A Little Stroll to the End of the Street”. He is a gunman dying of cancer out for a spot of killing. (The big C would kill Duryea just two years later) It is an episode of the western series, THE LONER that was headlined by Lloyd Bridges. The series was created by the legendary, Rod Serling who also wrote the episode. Norm Foster directs. Worth looking up. I have it on disc but I know there are episodes up on You-tube somewhere. .

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    • I’ll look that episode up, the series was on my radar anyway.
      You know, I really liked Susan Cabot too and am happy to see her name pop up in the credits anywhere. It’s desperately sad and tragic how how her life ended.

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