Blu News – 2 for July

It’s just come to my attention that July will see the release of a couple of new western titles on Blu-ray in Germany. Koch Media will be putting out Cattle Drive (1951) with Joel McCrea along with  Audie Murphy’s Showdown (1963). I don’t have any more details at present but I think this should be welcome news for western fans, particularly since I believe Showdown hasn’t previously been available anywhere in any format.

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31 thoughts on “Blu News – 2 for July

  1. ‘Showdown’ is part of a 7-DVD set, Audie Murphy: Man of the West, available through Amazon for $45. The label says ViaVision and I believe it’s an Australian import. The transfers are of variable quality, but ‘Showdown’ looks fine and it’s an excellent film. But they ought to have kept the original title, ‘Iron Collar.’

    • Ah, thank you. I wasn’t aware it had made an appearance anywhere before now. It’s a fairly elusive title, one I’ve not seen myself, and it’s always great to see Murphy’s westerns getting the Hi-Def treatment.

  2. Hi Colin, I’ve had a copy of Showdown for quite a while. I got mine I believe from eBay from a guy from Australia selling a lot of Audie’s movies. Didn’t realize til later might be questionable source but he does still sell so not sure if bootlegged or not. It’s an ok movie, not Audie’s best but still good.Some good fight scenes.

    • Hi, Ruxy. I can’t comment on the source of the Australian copies of Showdown as I wasn’t even aware of such a thing before today. It may well be licensed from the studio and perfectly legitimate.

  3. Apart from the aforementioned Aussie release-up till now SHOWDOWN is the only Audie Murphy Universal Western thus far unreleased on disc. SHOWDOWN is also the only Murphy Universal Western filmed in black & white. I feel the B & W decision was a budget concern as Audie’s star had faded considerably by then. Having said that SHOWDOWN is one of the best of Audie’s later films and far better than Springsteen’s BULLET FOR A BADMAN – recently covered here at RTHC.
    According to imdb the budget was $500,000 though I should imagine the film cost far less than that to make. The Lone Pine scenery should look very appealing in high def.
    If one takes the time to trawl through Springsteen’s work there is the occasional gem-he made several very interesting Republic A Westerns. HELLFIRE a William Elliott picture is a personal fave of our mate Toby. Springsteen also made a couple of interesting Republic A’s starring the popular (at the time) crooner/bandleader Vaughn Monroe. I avoided these when they were going around the fleapits in the early Sixties because I assumed (wrongly) that they were singing cowboy nonsense. Not only Monroe’s involvement,but the titles also put me off. THE TOUGHEST MAN IN ARIZONA is very good and SINGING GUNS even better. Monroe make an agreeable Western anti hero and even warbles a few tunes which do not detract from the plot. There is also the odd subversive moment especially in SINGING GUNS where Ella Raines playfully burns Vaughn with her cigarette. All in all, both are pretty strong adult Westerns. There is a rumor,and it’s only a rumor,over at Toby’s that one of the Monroe’s might be released by Kino Lorber. Don’t know what,if any, following Monroe has these days. Kino did inform me on their Facebook page that they have three more Republic Westerns in the works including another Roy Rogers.
    According to blu-raydisc.de SHOWDOWN will be 4×3 which is what it is listed as on IMDb – I would have thought 1.85 would be more accurate but I for one will be thrilled to have it in high-def whatever the ratio. In the UK the film played as the second feature to THE LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER.

    • On the aspect ratio, 4:3 wouldn’t make sense for a theatrical feature of that vintage. More details will emerge in time yet I’d be very surprised if Koch released a film in high definition but in the wrong ratio.
      Those Monroe films you refer to, John, are completely new to me so it’s good to hear some feedback on them.
      And that double bill sounds great, The List of Adrian Messenger is a fabulously entertaining bit of fluff.

      • Colin-It’s early days yet but Koch can only release from elements that Universal have supplied. If a 1.85 master does exist then I’m sure Koch will release it. There are several 1.85 films that only appear as 4×3,not only from Koch but Universal themselves and other imprints. I don’t mind watching 1.85 films as 4×3’s especially bearing in mind many cinemas at the time showed them in that ratio anyway. Basically,what I’m saying is that I’m happy to have this the rarest of Murphy’s Westerns in sparkling high definition whatever the ratio. The “off air” 4×3 versions of this film that I have seen look good. The problem is when 2.35 films are released as 4×3-that is not acceptable these days. Perhaps Universal’s failure to source a 1.85 master is what has held this film back from release-when all is said and done you need this release Colin-I am sure it’s right up your street. Hopefully the unreleased McCrea Universal Western SADDLE TRAMP will follow-it’s certainly the best of Joel’s six films that he made for Universal in the Fifties.

        Whoops-I almost forgot…Jerry to answer your comment from a previous thread CLOUDBURST was released as a MGM MOD several years back. The print has a considerable amount of neg damage. As it’s around £15.00 on Amazon I would say it’s not really worth it. I would only recommend if you can find it
        somewhere really cheap. I would say the film is impressive enough to warrant a decent restoration.

        • I’ll buy it whatever the ratio but I think I’m right that Hi-Def releases are almost never too far off when it comes to AR. Sure there have been lots of films released in compromised ratios but usually on DVD only. However, time will tell – early unconfirmed specs often get corrected later.

  4. Any Randolph Scott,Joel McCrea or Audie Murphy release on Blu Ray is an event for me. It’s great that Koch continue to release these lesser known Universal Programmer Westerns. The USA DVD release was beautiful so the Blu Ray should really be something. CATTLE DRIVE is a pleasant easy going little film with a role that fits McCrea perfectly. As always with Universal at that time; production values are high.These films normally were budgeted at around $750,000 so were hardly B Movies-in fact in the UK it played as the main feature. I hope over time Koch give us Kurt Neumann’s other excellent Universal Western THE KID FROM TEXAS in high definition. I also love Koch’s “Digibook” packaging on their Universal Western releases.
    Colin-this info is not even up on Koch’s website yet-don’t know where you heard the good news-but thanks for breaking into your “Britfest” to announce this.

    • I picked up the news from another forum which I visit, posted by a source who has proven reliable in the past.
      I agree that Cattle Drive is a lovely little film, typical McCrea yet not at all the kind of movie I would have predicted turning up on Blu-ray, not that I’m complaining of course!

  5. Yep! the Germans sure l9ove their Westerns- especially Joel McCrea and Audie Murphy. Germany has two of the best labels for great Western releases Koch and Explosive media.

    Off topic but I note Arrow are going to release Mario Bava’s ERIK THE CONQUEROR on Blu Ray- from a new 2K scan. The film has one of my favorites Cameron Mitchell. I don’t know if this would class as “Peplum” but there are hardly any of these Sixties “epics” on disc-I saw stacks of them at the time. These Italian spectacles were good fun until they started making Westerns. I hope Arrow will consider others especially Bava’s HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD.with Reg Park (Arnies mentor) and Christopher Lee.

    Speaking of historical “epics” Warners have a box office disaster with KING ARTHUR this $175 million flick opened with a feeble $14 million far below expectations which were pretty low anyway. Even I could have told Warners this would flop-I don’t give a **** about the dreadful Guy Ritchie but I hope this does not stop Warners releasing wonderful high def versions of films like BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK and RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY that we had recently. Do wish Warners would stop throwing good money after bad-I thought they would have learned their lesson after Ritchie’s MAN FROM UNCLE disaster.

  6. Great news that both of these are coming out on BD. I got perilously close to ordering Simply Media’s U.K. DVD release of CATTLE DRIVE just the other day. Fortunately, I didn’t! I’ve been a big fan of SHOWDOWN for many years. It’s shown, very occasionally, on British TV and so I have a couple of off-air recordings. There’s one peculiar thing about it. Kathleen Crowley’s performance is very strange. She’s a dependable and competent enough actress in most of the things I’ve seen her (not to mention being very beautiful) but, here, she seems to be completely off-balance. It doesn’t harm the film but, every time I see it, I always wonder about it. Sadly, I’ve just checked her name on IMDb and I see that she died just a few short weeks ago.

    • That’s right, Dafydd, Ms Crowley passed quite recently, I became aware of that just after I watched her in Target Earth as it happens. I’m quite looking forward to seeing this movie now.

  7. Just for a bit of fun I thought that I would note what film CATTLE DRIVE appeared with in 1951-the double bill was as follows, in the UK I might add.

    CATTLE DRIVE/UP FRONT

    Here is a taster of other Westerns from circa ’51/52 and what they appeared with in the UK

    THE DARK MAN/KANSAS RAIDERS
    APACHE DRUMS/THERE IS ANOTHER SUN (aka Wall Of Death.)
    CAVE OF OUTLAWS/OLIVER TWIST (re-issue)
    HIGH TREASON/THE SHOWDOWN (arguably the best of Bill Elliott’s 10 Republic A Westerns.)
    DETECTIVE STORY/FLAMING FEATHER
    UNTAMED FRONTIER/OLD MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE
    DUEL AT SILVER CREEK/THE BRAVE DON’T CRY
    HINDLE WAKES/THE RAIDERS (Les Selander’s only 50’s Universal Western
    BECAUSE OF YOU/HORIZONS WEST
    ANGEL FACE/MONTANA BELLE
    FOLLY TO BE WISE/THE OUTLAW & THE LADY (aka Waco)
    MURDER INC./CAVALRY SCOUT
    FORT DEFIANCE/EMERGENCY CALL

    An example from June ’52-one week UK Western fans had the choice of the following all playing at three different circuits:
    BATTLE AT APACHE PASS
    DENVER & THE RIO GRANDE
    BUGLES IN THE AFTERNOON.

    Also while researching this I also came across a clipping from Peter Noble’s showbiz column from May 1951 that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were due to start filming (in July) on a Republic Western filmed in Callendar, Scotland-the plot concerned around sheep rustling! The above appeared in the May 4 edition of What’s On In London.

    The above bears out info contained on the superb commentary by our pal Toby on the Kino Lorber release of SUNSET IN THE WEST. Toby informs us that Republic had planned two Republic Trucolor Westerns filmed in the UK and headlining Roy Rogers.

    • That’s a neat bit of research there, John, so thanks very much for sharing it. Some of those double bills are very attractive but I’m not so sure about the Mother Riley movie – that’s one I could happily live without! 🙂

  8. A couple of Blu Ray’s announced from Germany’s
    Spirit Media both available elsewhere.
    THE LAST SUNSET was released some time ago by Koch
    but I’ve never seen a review regarding quality
    with screengrabs.
    This Aldrich film does divide opinion-but as the Spirit
    release is pretty cheap it might be worth a look.
    Also from Spirit THE LAST HARD MEN given a
    “stand alone” release at last.
    I believe it was available on a 4 film set on Timeless
    (Region A)
    I do remember the film as being OK not great-with an
    interesting turn by Michael Parks who passed away recently.
    THE LAST HARD MEN is not out until August and again
    Spirit’s prices don’t break the bank.
    I will report more on picture quality here later when I’ve
    seen the Blu Ray.
    As far as I know THE LAST SUNSET is on Spirit’s
    Black Hill imprint and everything I’ve had so far on that
    label has been fine quality wise.

    • Blake always has good things to say about The Last Sunset and based on that alone I keep meaning to return to it and see if I like it any better.

  9. THE LAST HARD MEN, i caught on the massive drive-in screen as part of the triple western feature they used to run on Fridays here in the 70’s. THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING and a euro western I have forgotten the name of were the features. THE LAST HARD MEN should have been better considering the cast involved. THE LAST SUNSET I watched about 6 months ago on one of the cable channels I was getting then. While not my favorite Aldrich film, it does get the job done and how can you go wrong with Jack Elam in a bit, and of course, Carol Lynley, whom i had an huge crush on as a teen.

  10. Hey-Gordon I was wondering where you were!

    Yep! I totally agree THE LAST HARD MEN should have been
    better,especially considering the two leads.
    Coburn could,and should have been one of the all time
    great Western stars but later career choices put paid to that.
    So sad that Boetticher’s A HORSE FOR MR BARNUM never
    got off the ground-with Mitchum and Coburn-what a picture
    that could have been.
    As for THE LAST SUNSET it has some good points,aside from all
    the purple prose and it’s total mis-use of Neville Brand and Elam-
    they are hardly in the film.
    It reminds me of THE JUBILEE TRAIL a Republic big budget (for them)
    rambling Western with a great cast but it goes on and on.
    Suddenly the dream team bad guy twosome Jack Elam and James
    Millican turn up-mean as snakes- only to be gunned down as soon as
    they enter the thing….what a waste.
    Yes Goirdon,ALL males of a certain vintage had a crush on Carol Lynley.

  11. John
    You mention James Millican and Jack Elam together. Guess what, t6here is a watchable decent western episode of SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE from 1954 called NIGHT RIDE TO BUTTE with the two men. Review at the usual spot.
    Gord

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