The Silver Whip

As far as I’m concerned, one of the great pleasures of maintaining this site, maybe the greatest if I’m honest, derives from the feedback received. so many posts here have prompted discussion, debate, spitballing and recommendations. The latter has been invaluable to me by drawing my attention to movies of which I was either only vaguely aware or which were entirely new to me. There’s something quite invigorating about the realization that not only is one on a learning curve, but also that this curve continues to grow and expand as one moves along it. I guess all of that is just a long-winded way of saying there’s always new stuff to discover and appreciate. As a result of comments made here in the past I was particularly keen to see The Silver Whip (1953), and I’d like to offer a big thank you to John K for his help in making that possible.

What we have here is both a coming of age story and also a parable on the way mistakes and poor judgment can have both positive and negative influences on the lives of those concerned. The events in The Silver Whip are seen from the perspective of Jess Harker (Robert Wagner), a young man with ambition and dreams, for whom responsibility remains no more than an ill-defined word rattling round his consciousness. Harker’s opening narration makes it clear that his greatest desire is become a stagecoach driver, cracking the whip over a team of horses and pressing ever further at the boundaries of the frontier. However, it’s always been the case that one of the closest companions of youth is frustration, with impatience frequently tagging along in reserve, and it’s no different for Jess Harker. He’s stuck with a team of mules and a mail run that’s barely worth the name. What makes it worse is the fact he’s living in the shadow of men like Race Crim (Dale Robertson) and sheriff Tom Davisson (Rory Calhoun), guys who blazed trails back in the days when the law was simply something people talked about rather than lived by. Harker is restless, he’s got an itch that needs to be scratched, and he’s ready to pack up and move out. But, like most young men, he’s got a girl, Kathy Riley (Kathleen Crowley). This girl wants him badly, bad enough to go to Race Crim and beg him to do something to keep Jess in town. Race’s inherent decency leads him to use his influence to get Harker the job of driving the next stage, and it’s here that the mistakes start to be made. This run, along with passengers, will involve carrying a gold shipment, and gold has a habit of attracting the wrong kind of people. A hold-up is going to take place, people are going to die, and others are going to have to live with the consequences. Without going into further plot details, that’s what the movie is all about – the effect, on two men in particular, of a couple of poor decisions at vital moments.

The Silver Whip is adapted from First Blood by Jack Schaefer (which I haven’t read yet but I’ve just ordered a copy) and deals with the way those decisions lead one man towards the heart of darkness and another to enlightenment and maturity. In a sense it’s that eternal fork in the road, that choice of paths we’re all presented with, although perhaps not in such dramatic fashion, as we make our way through life. The hold-up pushes one man off course, or detours him at least, when he allows his base instincts to take control of him. Conversely, it signals an awakening in another, acting as a catalyst for his first steps towards manhood. And yet, while the routes chosen appear to diverge and head off in different directions, the final result is a convergence, an arrival at a common destination. Salvation and redemption are integral to the 50s western, they cannot be removed without taking away something of the soul of a film and the genre itself. The Silver Whip sets its characters on a journey away from their initial personae, testing them morally and spiritually, before drawing them back towards completion. Harmon Jones’ direction and composition alternately highlights the isolation of both Jess and Race, to draw attention to the uncertainty of the former and the cold determination of the latter. But there’s also the blending of both men into opposing camps too, where their individuality is at times absorbed into the groups they come to represent. And of course there’s the ultimate convergence right at the end, the meeting of mind and spirit which offers closure.

One of the first things you notice about The Silver Whip is the strength of the casting. A very young Robert Wagner was an excellent choice as the green and callow Jess Harper, and his gradual awareness of his place in the world and the results of his actions upon others is nicely realized. He acts as our point of reference, the one through whose eyes everything unfolds, and I think Wagner was fine at conveying the development of his character. Having said all that, Dale Robertson gets the plum role of Race Crim, and really runs with it. He moves seamlessly from an open and affable man to one totally consumed by a desire for revenge and weighed down by an enormous sense of guilt. Positioned between these two is Rory Calhoun as the sheriff whose duty puts him in conflict with his former friend. Calhoun’s role is essentially a supporting one but it’s no less important for being so. And also in support there’s another well-judged turn by James Millican, playing the stage boss whose tough edge hasn’t been quite worn away by his desk job. It’s sometimes thought that women get sidelined in westerns, but that’s rarely the case. While both Kathleen Crowley and Lola Albright have limited screen time, there can be no question about the significance of their respective parts. Crowley is marvelously tender in her understanding of Wagner’s foolishness and Albright impresses deeply in her three brief scenes. Her portrayal of the saloon girl, Waco, is pivotal in the transformation of Robertson – the scenes in the saloon and at the beginning of the stage trip establish his devotion to her, and then the aftermath of the hold-up is the moment when his destiny is mapped out.

The Silver Whip is a 20th Century Fox production and is now available as a MOD DVD via that studio. The transfer to disc looks like an off-the-shelf one where the elements were in reasonable shape but haven’t undergone any restoration. The image is acceptably sharp and detailed throughout but there is the odd scratch and mark visible. I also think the contrast is set a little high as whites can look a bit blown at some points. Overall though, the movie looks fine and is certainly quite watchable. I have to say I got a lot of enjoyment out of my first viewing of this film and I can easily see myself returning to it. There are strong performances from all the cast and Jones’ direction is both pacy and thoughtful. A very pleasant surprise for me, and a film I recommend seeing.

Advertisements

71 thoughts on “The Silver Whip

  1. An unfamiliar western, to me and it’s got Rory Calhoun as the sheriff?! Got to watch this one and soon! I appreciate your review of the 1950 Westerns, as they are some of my favorite films. I appreciate the pov, of the good guy having to deal with the baddies, with conflicted issues sometimes, and of course those rugged settings.

    Like

  2. Thanks for your review. I have not seen this one before but am keen to get it in view of its strong cast. I am particularly fond of Robertson and Calhoun in westerns. Best regards.

    Like

    • The cast is very attractive, Chris, and is what drew me to the movie to begin with, and there’s a such a good plot to back them up, to allow offer them something to work with.

      Like

  3. Oh, nice choice to review, Colin! I had lived with a nice still from this film in Speed’s Western Film Annual since 1954 but had never seen it until this past decade. With not one but two of my favourite actors in westerns (no prizes for guessing who!), when the chance arose I grabbed at it. And, like you, I found it a very worthwhile discovery. This is the kind of western that really does it for me, with its themes of salvation and redemption, its stars and its fine action content.

    Because it has been about 10 years since last I dipped in, your fine review is whetting my appetite for a re-view, and soon, and partly also to decide whether my copy is good enough or whether I need to order this newer release.

    Like you, Colin, and I guess like many other readers here, the interaction and discussion in your site and one or two others has taught me so much and served to sharpen my understanding of so much about these wonderful movies.

    Like

    • Jerry, it’s really only in recent years that I’ve started to dig deeper into the work of these second tier stars like Robertson and Calhoun, and I’ve been enjoying it immensely.

      Like

      • Yeah, I’m glad you are enjoying these lesser (in budget but not necessarily in quality) westerns, Colin. I recently really enjoyed Calhoun in both “UTAH BLAINE” and the new Warner Archive release of “THE HIRED GUN”, whose widescreen print showing Lone Pine locations is stunning!

        Like

        • Having a great time with them, Jerry, and I quite agree that the lesser label really only applies to the budget.
          Thanks for the feedback on those Calhoun titles – I’m a fan of Louis L’Amour’s writing so I’m quite keen to see Utah Blaine and I’ll definitely be picking up a copy of The Hired Gun somewhere down the line.

          Like

  4. Don’t know this one but would like to see it.
    Like your comments about the community of fans. I have ordered three films recently which I read reviews of by other bloggers. And they are generally always films I had never heard of !
    It’s great that after decades of film viewing, there are still so many films out there I haven’t seen.

    Like

    • I can remember thinking, many years ago now, that I must surely be running out of undiscovered films to view, but the conversations I’ve had here and elsewhere showed me how far off the mark I was in that assessment. It’s marvelous to think there are still so many rich seams to mine.

      Like

  5. Hey Colin, (or Livius – it’s kinda odd calling you Colin!)

    Lovely review, beautifully laid out. I will surely order a copy of this.
    I had no idea you were running a blog with carefully thought out reviews! So over the coming weeks I will peruse this place while carrying my morning coffee with me.

    Looking forward to joining in.
    Many thanks for this,
    Chris (AKA: ‘Q’)

    Like

    • Thanks very much and welcome aboard, Chris, it’s always great to have someone stumble onto the site, and even better if they’ve enjoyed their visit. I do hope you’ll be back from time to time as I’m always interested in any comments you feel like sharing.

      Like

  6. This one has been on my ‘Rory Calhoun westerns I haven’t seen’ list for many years and your review has made me more anxious to see it than ever. I had no idea that Jack Shaefer’s “First Blood” had been adapted although a copy is sitting on my bookshelf right now! Until I get my hands on the film, I’ll re-read it. (Incidentally, the other story in the same book is the short-story “Jacob”….one of Schaefer’s best.) It’s a pity that the movie is only available as an MOD DVD, but I take the view these days that if I want to see some of these films at all, perhaps swallowing my pride and ordering them is the only way to go. I’m not getting any younger after all! Great review as always Colin.

    Like

    • Thanks, Dafydd. I’ve come round to that way of thinking as regards MOD material myself, albeit with some reluctance.
      I’m quite looking forward to getting my hands on the Schaefer book now and seeing how it compares to the film adaptation.

      Like

  7. Thanks Colin,
    I certainly will be.
    I noticed the default avatar next to my name; so I am just testing what happens if I log in via my Google account – it should show a portrait of yours truly… here goes.

    Like

  8. Thanks for the credit Colin,I must admit I thought with the size of your “to be viewed”
    heap of DVD’s and Blu Rays you might not get around to viewing this one until 2026! 🙂
    A very nice thoughtful review I might add.
    Furthermore being as this is a MOD only release (a RTHC first?) I did not know if you would
    ever considering reviewing it.
    I have more or less accepted that the only way we are going to see some of these minor
    obscure but nonetheless interesting films is as MOD releases.
    I do not think that worthwhile films like SHORT GRASS,THE LAST POSSE,LOOPHOLE,
    THE HUNTED,STARS IN MY CROWN and many others would have ever seen a DVD release
    were it not for the MOD imprints,especially Warner Archive.
    Warners,of course,lead the pack,the Sony MOD series surfaces now and again and the same
    goes for the Fox MOD imprint.
    The Universal Vault series seem to like putting out lots of titles in batches with huge gaps
    between releases.
    Apart from Warners and Universal the other major studios seem to like to issue their
    back catalog through the boutique labels like Twilight Time and Criterion.
    The deal Universal have with Germany’s Koch Media is sensational with obscure titles like
    BRONCO BUSTER,THE YELLOW MOUNTAIN and THE MAN FROM BITTER RIDGE betting a DVD release and cult classics like TARANTULA! and THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN getting
    superb Blu-Ray editions.
    Of course you never know what is around the corner,Panamint a UK imprint are bringing out
    a totally obscure (except for the likes of dear Mr Entract 🙂 ) PRC Eddie Dean B Western
    on Blu-Ray no less! THE HAWK OF POWDER RIVER is arguably the only non John Wayne
    B series Western to ever debut on Blu Ray. We certainly don’t expect P.D.Hell titles to surface
    on Blu-Ray.
    Spain is now the bootleg center of the Universe with most of their DVD’s and Blu-Rays being
    clones of product issued by Koch,Twilight Time,Kino Lorber and Criterion. We have been down
    this trail before,how much longer they will be able to get away with it,who knows.
    Off topic slightly but I e-mailed Carlotta in France to see if their forthcoming Blu Ray’s of
    3:10 TO YUMA and COWBOY will have “forced” French subtitles on the English language version.
    they have assured me they won’t
    I find it amazing that Sony cannot see fit to issue those two fine films themselves but thank
    goodness for the boutique labels I say.
    BTW Colin,I am aware 3:10 TO YUMA is already out on an expensive boutique imprint
    (Criterion ?) but I am glad that I waited for the Carlotta edition which promises to be somewhat special.

    Like

    • John, I couldn’t very well leave out a reference to you now, could I?
      This isn’t my first MOD review, although it may well be the first Fox one – I know I wrote about both The Tall Target and The Hanging Tree, which I viewed via MOD discs.
      The “to be watched” pile remains mighty and daunting, but this moved to the head of the queue.

      Like

  9. Watched this one this AM, and yeah, it’s very much an above-average Western.
    #### Spoilers ########
    I liked how the film sets up the young man (Wagner) between two father figures: Race, whom he worships, and Tom, who is more the quiet authority figure who has unseen depths of strength. I have liked Rory Calhoun in everything I’ve ever seen him in, and I like what he does with this role, which is not as fun and sexy as Robertsons. He is essentially playing the Henry Fonda/Gary Cooper strong silent type, and he is really an anchor to the film, even though that’s not evident right away.
    I thought a bit of Ox-Bow Incident while watching this. As an indictment of vigilante justice, it is not outlandish to compare this film to that. I loved Wagner in the scene where the mob is trying to break into the jail. he does a good job of conveying the conflict the character is experiencing right them.
    Did you notice the scene where the bad guy tries to get away by jumping off the rocks into the water? I wonder if George Roy Hill borrowed that for Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid?
    Anyways, good commentary, and thanks for steering me to a terrific Western.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m delighted to hear you saw and enjoyed the movie, Jeff, as I always hope my recommendations work for others.
      Calhoun does have a kind of anchor role and plays it well, it’s not showy but quiet and commanding, and of the type the film needs to keep it all grounded amid all the swirling passions.

      Like

  10. Colin,Just an add-on to the above I did not mean to state that EVERY DVD/Blu Ray that
    surfaces in Spain is a bootleg,its just most vintage titles on labels like Llamentol seem to
    be in the BD/R format. Of course this is a good reason for boutique labels to provide lots
    of attractive “extras” because Lammentol and their like cannot supply Spanish dubs for these.
    All this of course leaves the likes of Olive Films very exposed in this respect with the complete
    lack of extras on their product,not even a trailer.
    Actually looking on Amazon USA I see that Criterion’s 3:10 TO YUMA is not as expensive as
    I thought,I guess these things reduce in price over time. Having said that I much prefer the
    artwork on the Carlotta edition,so I’m glad that I waited. I’m really excited about COWBOY
    such a beautiful looking film,the Carlotta edition should look sensational.
    I do hope that it is not too long before Daves’ handsome THE LAST WAGON surfaces on Blu Ray.
    These Panamint people seem interesting with their diversion into feature films,Westerns in
    particular. I don’t know how many takers they are going to get for the Eddie Dean film but the
    attraction of seeing a PRC quickie on Blu Ray for me is rather appealing
    Its also odd that they are releasing Tourneur’s wonderful CANYON PASSAGE on Blu Ray
    more or less the same time as the Koch release. I might add that the Koch release is simply
    jaw-dropping. I do hope that DVD Beaver does a comparison of the two versions.

    I have spoke quiet a bit about Harmon Jones both here and elsewhere.
    I will not expand too much on what I said before except to mention GORILLA AT LARGE
    is his best known film. and no doubt the on-going 3D Blu-Ray craze will feature that film in
    that format at some point.
    Colin has already given Jones’ fine A DAY OF FURY a great write up and I also rather like the
    other film in Jones’ Dale Robertson Western trilogy CITY OF BAD MEN.
    PRINCESS OF THE NILE is campy nonsense but hard to resist and much admired by Laura
    who gave it a great review.
    The film is just about the best looking Fox MOD that I have ever seen…gorgeous!
    Fans of Debra Paget just have to buy this one!
    I am also fond of Harmon Jones Korean War film TARGET ZERO which is as much about
    relationships as conflict,and I also like his version of The Sea Wolf WOLF LARSEN with
    Barry Sullivan and Peter Graves.
    Jones had lots of TV credits and did many fine RAWHIDE episodes. I recently watched an
    episode of BRONCO directed by Jones starring Robert Vaughn which was excellent,almost a
    re-working of A DAY OF FURY.
    As far as TV series go I only “dabble” in the medium but Colin.I feel that THE DAKOTAS is
    right up your street.Dark complex and ironic,furthermore my copy, at least, from Warner Archive
    was on “pressed” discs as opposed to MOD’s

    Like

    • Thanks for the feedback on The Dakotas, John. It’s a series i know nothing of but your description sounds most tempting.

      On Robertson and Jones, I’ll admit I wasn’t that impressed with City of Bad Men last time I saw it but maybe I ought to give it another go to see if I feel differently about it now.

      Like

  11. Colin, I especially loved your first paragraph — you state so well the pleasure of sharing a love of classic films with such a friendly and knowledgeable online community, and I thought this thought was great: “the realization that not only is one on a learning curve, but also that this curve continues to grow and expand as one moves along it.” Yes! Instead of the number of films “out there” to see diminishing, somehow the list keeps growing and growing, with more interesting new things seemingly around every corner.

    I thought this was one of Millican’s particularly noteworthy supporting roles — again, a great description by you, playing someone whose “tough edge hasn’t been quite worn away by his desk job.” He adds to much to Westerns like this, DAWN AT SOCORRO, and more. Just a couple years or so ago I didn’t know his name, now I’m always so happy to see his name in opening credits — a great illustration of the discoveries which are out there to be made even after decades of movie viewing.

    Best wishes,
    Laura

    Like

    • Thank you very much, Laura, and you’ve certainly done your bit in bringing a number of films to my attention over the years.
      There’s a real buzz to be had from sharing finds with others and having them do the same in return. And I wholeheartedly agree that the more one learns, the greater is the appreciation felt for the work of the often unsung supporting players such as Millican.

      Like

  12. Just watched The Silver Whip and enjoyed it, as expected. Agreed with Jerry, Utah Blaine and The Hired Gun starring Calhoun just as entertaining and exciting. Considering most of these are outdoor westerns, would prefer them better if in color. Best regards.

    Like

    • Nice to hear you enjoyed the film, Chris. I can’t say the lack of color bothered me to be honest, though outdoor location work does often benefit from color shooting. Black and White can produce some lovely imagery of course, and there are some examples of terrific looking skies in this one.

      Like

  13. One thing I really like about the sort of films that are appearing on MOD discs is that we are
    finally able to get to see more and more films featuring the “second string” Western stars.
    Since the MOD thing started about six or so years back more and more films have surfaced
    starring the likes of Rory Calhoun,Dale Robertson,Rod Cameron,Guy Madison,George
    Montgomery and Sterling Hayden. Back in the pre Blu Ray,pre MOD era you could more or less
    count on seeing DVD releases by the Westerns A List actors like Wayne,Cooper,Stewart and
    Fonda. There were also plenty of releases by A list actors not known as Western stars generally
    but who made lots of them nonetheless. I am thinking about people like Robert Taylor,
    Kirk Douglas,Gregory Peck,Richard Widmark and Robert Mitchum.
    Very few,if any Westerns by the second string stars made it to DVD. The MOD thing has
    changed all that,and for me at least it’s very welcome.
    Further to all that the many European releases have made more of these lesser known films
    available. Joch Mahoney has been totally ignored by Universal in America but all of his very
    fine Fifties Universal Westerns are more or less available in Europe.
    Audie Murphy too has seen a whole slew of his films released in Europe,in fact there is only one
    of his films yet to be released on DVD. SHOWDOWN Murphy’s only Universal Western made in
    black & white is the only one of his Westerns not yet available on DVD.
    It’s also very encouraging to see fairly obscure Fifties Westerns like STAR IN THE DUST get
    the Blu-Ray treatment from Germany’s Koch Media.
    I have gone into great detail on STAR IN THE DUST over at Toby’s,so I will not repeat myself
    except to say that the Blu-Ray edition is a very considerable upgrade from the DVD.

    I thought that I would mention THE DAKOTAS as often these TV shows with high reputations
    often fail to live up to the hype.
    I remember how Audie Murphy’s WHISPERING SMITH,thought for many years to be a
    “lost classic” turned out to be a huge let-down when it finally surfaced.
    I recently caught up with (off air) copies of Peckinpah’s THE WESTERNER and found it to
    be not worthy of its reputation.
    THE DAKOTAS on the other hand actually exceeded my expectations.
    BTW the BRONCO episode I mentioned earlier directed by Harmon Jones featuring Robert
    Vaughn was called “Borrowed Glory” and for me its one of the very best episodes in the
    entire series.

    Finally Laura, I can highly recommend Harmon Jones’ TARGET ZERO as I know that you
    really admire Richard Conte and Peggie Castle. I know you are going to love this film,
    as both stars give wonderful performances in the film. The Warner Archive edition is a very
    nice remastered widescreen version I might add.
    Just enjoyed reading your take on THE MAURADERS and totally agree with your review;
    this one hardly lights up the Western sky!

    Like

    • I hope to get round to The Marauders myself, although I emphasize hope.

      While I can’t say I’m a fan of MOD programs in general, I do agree that it has made a lot of stuff available which would probably have languished in the vaults otherwise.

      Like

    • John, that’s a great point about the MOD releases making available films with the second-string Western stars we love.

      I have to say that even while THE MARAUDERS had a lot of issues, I kind of marveled that I could watch it at all; it’s highly unlikely a movie starring Jeff Richards and Jarma Lewis would ever have had a regular retail DVD release, even with Dan Duryea in the cast! Likewise SON OF BELLE STARR, which I liked better; how amazing I could watch a movie — in a good-looking print — with lesser-knowns like Keith Larsen, Dona Drake, and Peggie Castle as the stars!

      So while I fondly remember the days of retail DVD releases with pressed discs and lots of extras, I am also excited about MODs, particularly when they are Warner Archive or Universal Vault quality; Sony usually does a good job too. (Needless to say, the Fox program is all over the map in terms of quality and they’ve not been very responsible as far as putting out some very poor releases, alongside some great-looking prints.)

      Colin, I’d be most interested to read your perspective on the above-mentioned films.

      John, many thanks for the recommend on TARGET ZERO, what great leads! I need to get the Archive edition of that, just made a note!

      Best wishes,
      Laura

      Like

      • Actually, I quite agree that MOD programs are ideal for the kind of titles mentioned, those where the commercial viability of a standard pressed run would be questionable. Where I’ve tended to raise an eyebrow in the past is decision to use such programs to release movies with genuine A list contributors: Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn etc.

        While we’re talking MOD discs, can anyone comment on The Moonlighter (1953), with Barbara Stanwyck & Fred MacMurray? The leads, the Niven Busch script, and Roy Rowland’s direction attract me but what I’ve read online suggests it’s not a great movie. Just thought I’d ask as I trust the opinions of the regulars here more. 🙂

        Like

        • Interesting question, Colin, about “THE MOONLIGHTER” and I can’t really answer well – yet! I have a copy and have been intending to re-watch it for some time. With Stanwyck & MacMurray plus Ward Bond, it should be great. My memory of it is rather muted, suggesting it didn’t make as big an impression as expected. I will dig it out and report back, if that is any help.

          Like

            • Colin,
              As discussed – I have now re-watched “THE MOONLIGHTER” for you – this was obviously a huge hardship for me!
              Whilst I don’t feel it comes up to “FACE OF A FUGITIVE”, for example, personally I found much to enjoy nonetheless. It is quite tough, brutal even, at times. There is some nice crisp B&W photography from Bert Glennon and some interesting location shooting towards the end.
              With Stanwyck, MacMurray and Bond starring it has a racing start for me. In the cast also are Jack Elam, Morris Ankrum and Myron Healey.
              I don’t think you would be too disappointed.

              Like

              • Thanks, Jerry. That all sounds very promising – tough and brutal are OK in my book – and the location work you mention in the latter stages has me interested.

                Like

  14. Lest I forget, I would also recommend The Saga Of Hemp Brown to fans of Rory Calhoun. This is also another worth viewing western . Best regards.

    Like

  15. Odd ‘n ends…..

    Chris name-dropped THE SAGA OF HEMP BROWN and that’s one that I would love to have
    in widescreen.
    Its one of several Universal CinemaScope pictures on the missing list that include
    DAY OF THE BADMAN, and WILD AND THE INNOCENT
    Other non-Western Universal CinemaScope pictures that have so far not surfaced are
    NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL (Cagney) and ISTANBUL (Flynn)
    Universal are on a mega-roll at the moment they have stacks of dosh in the kitty!
    Their low budget “sleeper” PITCH PERFECT 2 has already grossed $230 Million Worldwide,
    all this added to FIFTY SHADES half billion and FURIOUS 7’s staggering 1.5 Billion!
    It’s all relative and hopefully they will search their vaults to search for these !lost” widescreen
    masters.
    At the very least I expect them to release a whole raft of MOD Vault releases.
    At any rate Universal have already started to splash the cash and have announced that they
    are going to restore a whole bunch of silent classics.
    Laura,
    I am enjoying your reviews on the recent spate of Warner Archive Westerns and like you
    I really enjoyed SON OF BELLE STARR. I more or less agree with you regarding SEVEN
    ANGRY MEN though I think I might have enjoyed the film a tad more than you.
    I am glad to have finally seen the film and like yourself was not expecting too much from it
    in the first place. I always wish Charles Marquis Warren would “lighten up” a bit on most of
    his pictures he certainly liked doing grim and downbeat.
    I did like the weaponry and clothing in Warren’s film far more authentic than most Fifties
    Westerns.
    At any rate Quentin Tarantino must like him;in his forthcoming Western THE HATEFUL EIGHT
    Samuel L Jackson’s character is called Major Marquis Warren.
    I am glad,that like me you are on a Cinecolor kick at the moment.
    Cinecolor as you know is problematic for vintage film releases and I thought SON OF BELLE
    STARR looked less impressivde than on other archive releases.
    FORT VENGEANCE (also with Keith Larsen) is a lovely Cinecolor transfer and HIAWATHA
    (also with Mr Larsen,and again playing a baddie) simply beautiful.
    I remember reading somewhere someone recommending WILD STALLION and I certainly
    endorse that one too. Another lovely Archive restoration of a vintage Allied Artists Cinecolor
    film is BLACK GOLD with Anthony Quinn.
    I hope you get to see TARGET ZERO I would be very interested to hear your take on this film.
    Some of the earlier Korean War films like FLIGHT NURSE and SABRE JET were top heavy
    with anti Communist propaganda which for me gets in the way of the narrative.
    By the time TARGET ZERO was made the propaganda element was avoided in place of a
    more introspective approach. The same thing applies to Allan Dwan’s HOLD BACK THE NIGHT
    which although lower budget was,for me, more interesting than his earlier FLIGHT NURSE.
    I enjoyed all of the Korean War films that I have mentioned but prefer them without the
    propaganda which had much to do with the time/climate in which they were made.

    Like

  16. I haven’t seen this one yet, Colin, but your excellent review has really sold me on it…not to mention that great cast! Man, Wagner looks impossibly young in the above still. He might not be the most expressive of actors, but he was always convincing as spiky young hotheads early in his career (such as in THE MOUNTAIN, BENEATH THE 12-MILE REEF, BROKEN LANCE, etc.) Of course, guys like Rory Calhoun, Dale Robertson and James Millican, Lola Albright and the like are the real draw. Sorry to hear the MOD transfer is only so-so. Wish the other studios would treat their MOD product to the same quality control standards of the Warner Archive.

    Like

    • Wagner’s not bad. I don’ think he’s a “great” actor but he’s usually quite acceptable given the right kind of role.
      The film transfer is middling, no disaster by any means but it could look better too.

      Like

  17. Colin, I am a “Rookie” here but NOT a rookie on Westerns. I grew up on Saturday Matinees with “Wild Bill” Elliott, Tex Ritter, Johnny Mack Brown, et al. Just now discovered your Blog and I am in “hog heaven” to be sure. Have been reading your posts for a few months ovet Toby’s on 50’s Westerns. Didn’t know you had your own place or blog. I love it. Will be a daily reader. I watched The Silver Whip yesterday and as I am on a pretty tight fixed income budget I’ll tell you how I saw and enjoyed the movie. From my iPad You Tube with WiFi connected to my Samsung Smart TV with built-in WiFi . The connection was successful and the best part? It was “clear as a bell” and beautiful. I celebrated with a Root Beer Float. Keep the recommendations coming.

    Like

    • Welcome aboard, Gene. I’m always happy to hear from another western fan and I’m pleased you enjoyed your visit.
      Also good to hear you saw the movie on YT and that the quality was up there.

      Like

  18. Pingback: Dakota Incident | Riding the High Country

  19. Pingback: City of Bad Men | Riding the High Country

  20. I ran across this one on You-tube last spring and decided to give it a go. Was I happy I did. This one hits all the marks on story, look, action and violence. Dale Robertson and Wagner are first rate in this film that I must admit, I had never heard of before stumbling upon it. I give this one a rousing endorsement. I have a write-up on IMDB.

    Like

  21. Another Robertson film I enjoyed was a low-budget affair called, HELL CANYON OUTLAWS from 1957. It has Brian Keith as the villain of the piece. I ran across it last year on You-Tube and was pleasantly surprised. An entertaining low renter that overcomes its budget. Review up at the usual spot.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s