Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on June 9th, 2013
Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on December 11th, 2012
I’ll say this about a program that has remained consistent in quality for twenty seasons…it makes for challenging reviews. Talking about each season of Gunsmoke is difficult in that you either write briefly to try to avoid redundancies, but might seem too hasty, or you have to labour over each episode, in which case, you’re only going to have hardcore fans paying attention. Since this website has touched on previous seasons: ( http://upcomingdiscs.com/?s=gunsmoke ) I shall opt for the former option, and hope y’all out there catch that I’m not being hasty…but respect a show that warrants no fresh complaints after 7 years a-runnin’ thus far.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 18th, 2012
The changes in the 6th season of The Virginian were not intentional, to be sure. They were the direct result of a real-life tragic event. Actor Charles Bickford who was playing John Granger became ill. He was temporarily replaced by John McIntire, who joined the cast as his brother Clay. Clay and his wife Holly, played by McIntire’s real-life wife Jeanette Nolan, were looking after the ranch while John was out of town. Bickford continued in the credits, but was not fated to return. His illness lead to his death, and the characters of Clay and Holly remained
Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on August 2nd, 2012
I’ll say this about a program that has remained consistant in quality for twenty seasons…it makes for challenging reviews. Talking about each season of Gunsmoke is difficult in that you either write briefly to try to avoid redundancies, but might seem too hasty, or you have to labour over each episode, in which case, you’re only going to have hardcore fans paying attention.
Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on June 18th, 2012
There are countless John Wayne Westerns in existence, but a hearty handful stand out above the rest. Hondo is a part of said handful. The story is a somewhat familiar one; that of a lone gunman seeking redemption by helping out a young woman fight off Indians…it just howls “John Wayne Western.” That being said, there are some standout performances and the portrayal of Native Americans is tad more progressive than what was within Westerns of the previous decade.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 6th, 2012
“Make no mistake. Blood will be spilled. Lives will be lost. Fortunes will be made. Men will be ruined. There will be betrayal and scandal and perfidy of epic proportions.”
With a statement like that, how can you not want to check out AMC’s newest drama series Hell On Wheels? I’ve been told the title sounds like it’s about motorcycle gangs, and I couldn’t agree more. The term refers to the mobile tent city that housed the workers on the Union Pacific Railroad and the support entourage the camp attracted. It was a virtual tent city that had all of the essentials: a church, bar, and whorehouse.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 22nd, 2012
There were a ton of changes in the 5th season. There would be a rather large cast shake-up. Lee Cobb and Roberta Shore were now completely gone. It was only a matter of time for Cobb, who was never really happy doing the show but never let it get in the way of his performance or attitude toward the rest of the cast and crew. Enter Charles Bickford in his only season as the Granger family head, John. He brings his grandchildren Elizabeth, played by Sara Lane, and Stacy, played by Don Quine.
Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on November 9th, 2011
The Cartwright boys continue to do right on the Ponderosa Ranch in the state of Nevada. Having lasted 14 seasons, the series was relatively young in Season 2 but had already established Ben Cartwright and his three boys (from three different mothers) as household names on American television.
Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on October 5th, 2011
Previously on this site I had reviewed Season 4 of this legendary program (http://upcomingdiscs.com/2010/10/15/gunsmoke-season-4-volume-1/) and Season 5 still predates the major changes that occurred over this show’s 20 year run, primarily consisting of supporting cast changes so that review can just about double as fair coverage of this season as well; which I hope conveys a testament to this show’s consistency of quality and not to my personal laziness as a writer. Indeed, this season continues to provide entertaining evidence as to why this show lasted so long and remains beloved to this day.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 7th, 2011
“Where life had no value, death sometimes had its price. That is why the bounty killers appeared.”
If you had asked Clint Eastwood about the chances of Fistful Of Dollars being at all successful, he admits he hadn’t given it much of a chance. The film took a lot of chances with what was already a tired genre. Add to that the fact that it was a low-budget European effort and there really was no chance that the movie would be remembered a year later. But the film did pretty good money and made a ton of international noise. The men involved ended up with more than a fistful of dollars in their banking accounts.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 2nd, 2011
“Everybody here has become very rich, or else they are dead.”
In 1964 things were very different from the way they are now. The Hollywood western movie was winding down. The genre had pretty much played itself out and was struggling to maintain even on television. Few people knew who Clint Eastwood was. He had a pretty sweet gig on the television series Rawhide but wasn’t anywhere near a household name. Sergio Leone was a name almost no one had heard of. And there was no such thing as a Spaghetti Western.
Posted in Disc Reviews by M. W. Phillips on September 2nd, 2011
“How would you like to use that gun belt for something more than just holding up your pants?”
Although the title of the blu-ray is Return of the Magnificent Seven, the original film’s title sequence just calls it Return of the Seven, and for good reason. There is nothing vaguely magnificent in this movie. This is the type of sequel that gives sequels a bad name.
Posted in Disc Reviews by M. W. Phillips on August 30th, 2011
“We deal in lead, friend.”
In the fall of 1956, Anthony Quinn watched a special screening of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai and had an epiphany; this Japanese masterpiece, inspired by the great American westerns of John Ford, would, itself, make a great American western. Quinn acquired the rights and contacted his then close friend Yul Brynner and pitched the idea of him playing the bad guy and Brynner the good guy.
Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 25th, 2011
Rango (Johnny Depp) is a chameleon with an enormous imagination. In his terrarium, he has developed a social network with inanimate objects that would be the envy of Castaway’s Tom Hanks. He essentially lives inside his head, but then reality (perhaps – the film maintains a certain ambiguity here) suddenly intervenes and he finds himself cast from his safe, hermetic world. Marooned in the desert, he arrives in the town of Dirt, where his inclination for the dramatic has him claiming to be a sharp-shooting, quick-drawing hero.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on July 23rd, 2011
When it comes to westerns, I certainly have a love hate relationship. For most westerns, especially anything with Clint Eastwood or spaghetti in the description, I have an extreme loathing and it is honestly hard for me to sit through. But then there is Tombstone which I think is one of the best movies of all time. This summer, I am even excited to go see Cowboys & Aliens. Maybe I just need a western that is out of the ordinary. However, I received Posse to review and by the looks of the cover, this might be a very conventional western or perhaps not.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 21st, 2011
The fourth season of The Virginian was a milestone year for the groundbreaking western. Four of the show’s regular characters would be appearing in their final episodes. Lee J. Cobb was never completely happy doing the show, and while he always acted professionally, his castmates all knew he wanted to leave. Cobb finally left halfway through this season even though he would remain on the opening credits for the entire year. This would also be the first and last year for Diane Roter as Jennifer Sommers, the Judge’s niece.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 14th, 2011
The story of Jesse James has been told many times over the years. There isn’t a medium in the world that hasn’t seen its share of tales concerning the infamous outlaw. You could find radio dramas, plays, television shows, films and even songs that recount his exploits. Some of these have been honest and brutal depictions of a lawless man and his gang of thugs who terrorized the West by robbing trains and banks, leaving corpses in their wake. Then there’s the romantic telling that picks up on the folk heroes that Jesse and his boys have become over the years.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 8th, 2011
“As the American Civil War ended, another war was just beginning. The Mexican people were struggling to rid themselves of their foreign emperor – Maximilian. Into this fight rode a handful of Americans, ex-soldiers, adventurers, criminals, all bent on gain. They drifted south in small groups. And some came alone.”
Ben Trane (Cooper) was one of those who came alone. He was a southern officer fresh from the defeat of the Confederacy. He’s come to Mexico to hire out for the Emperor in fighting the rebellion. Along the way he meets Joe Erin (Lancaster)
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 8th, 2011
“People scare better when they’re dyin'”
Mention the name Sergio Leone and you immediately think of Clint Eastwood and their Man With No Name trilogy. The truth is that Leone was the master of the spaghetti western and largely responsible for making Clint what he is today. When the Italian director decided to try his hand at Hollywood, he was welcomed with open arms, except they weren’t interested in anything but an American copy of a spaghetti western.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 2nd, 2011
“People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood. But it did happen.”
Just like the book that both this and the 1969 John Wayne film were taken from, the film opens with the sad story of a young girl who has come to Fort Smith to see that justice is done for her father. The words were written by Charlie Portis, a journalist who went on to write a truly great American novel: True Grit.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 23rd, 2011
The Virginian set itself apart from the others in two ways. The first was found in the source material. The series was based on a 1902 novel by Owen Winsler, a man who actually lived in the Wyoming badlands during the time the series was set. The source material helps to add a sense of authenticity that might well have been a slight step ahead of the rest. It wasn’t as violent as the others, again reflecting a more realistic sense of direction.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 9th, 2011
“This is Fairfax County in the state of Virginia. I was born here. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and a long long way from Wyoming; beautiful, too, in its special way. Vast, proud and lonely; it’s my country now, Wyoming. But not exactly a peaceful one.”
Of course, if it were all that peaceful it wouldn’t have made for very compelling television. But The Virginian did make for compelling western drama in a television landscape that was as populated as prairies in those plains with western dramas.
Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on February 25th, 2011
A Wild West overlord is plotting to shrink the world’s population. This evil plot is running along smoothly until a shrunken Texas ranger escapes in a whiskey bottle and finds himself saved by a plucky sibling duo named Luke and Lucy, along with their gaggle of wacky friends. The group become honourary rangers and set out to battle evil.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on January 29th, 2011
Westerns are fun movies to typically review because they usually don’t deviate much from a basic formula. There is usually a criminal and there is usually a good guy out there to shoot that varmint. Technically, that is all there is to it. Furthermore, the budget (unless big stars are involved) is small, making for some creative storytelling. Today, we get to review an Australian western: Red Hill. Let’s see if it differs from the typical American one.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on January 19th, 2011
“’Have gun, will travel’ reads the card of a man. A knight without armor in a savage land…”
Those words ended every episode of Have Gun Will Travel, sung by Johnny Western in a time that such words could be sung without irony. Outside of Richard Boone’s black-clad, craggy Rhett Butler gone-to-seed gunfighter, that song was all I could really recall about this venerable Western from television’s golden age.