Time Well Spent: THREE HOURS TO KILL (Columbia 1954)


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I don’t think you’ll find THREE HOURS TO KILL among anyone’s Top Ten Films list, or Top Ten Westerns, or even Top Ten Dana Andrews Movies. What you will find, if you give this movie a chance, is a solid, adult themed Technicolor Western with just a hint of film noir, made by Hollywood pros in front and behind the cameras. And you can’t ask for much more than that.

Jim Guthrie returns after a three year absence to the town that once tried to hang him. Jim relates the tale via flashback to old friend and current sheriff Ben East: a big night in town had everybody drinking and partying it up. Sexy hotel owner Chris Palmer comes on to Jim, but he only has eyes for pretty Laurie Mastin, bringing out the jealous side of banker Niles Hendricks. Laurie’s brother Carter disapproves of Jim, and a fight…

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No Surprises Here: GUN FURY (Columbia 1953)


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I watched GUN FURY expecting a surprise. What I got instead was a routine Western, not bad for its type, bolstered by a better-than-average cast, solid direction from veteran Raoul Walsh , and some lavish Technicolor location footage from Sedona, AZ. But I kept waiting and waiting for that “surprise” that never came. What am I talking about? Read on and find out, buckeroos!

Ben Warren, a peaceful Civil War vet, meets his intended bride Jennifer Ballard at the stagecoach station. The two lovebirds intend to travel to the next stop and get hitched. Also onboard the stage is mean desperado Frank Slayton, an “unreconstructed Southerner” feared across the territory, and his partner-in-crime Jess Burgess. Frank’s gang, disguised as Cavalry soldiers, lie in wait and rob the stage of it’s shipment of gold, stealing the loot killing everyone except Jennifer, who Frank has designs on and kidnaps.

But wait! Ben’s…

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Dear Old Alma Mater: John Wayne in TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY (Warner Brothers 1953)


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Tomorrow’s the big night, as my New England Patriots go up against the tough defense of the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. Tom Brady and company will be going for Ring #6, and everyone here in Southern New England is super excited, looking forward to another victory celebration! I’ll be attending a huge party with plenty of food, big screen TV’s, raffles, squares, and like-minded fans, but before the festivities begin, let’s take a look at TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY, a football-themed film starring none other than Big John Wayne !

St. Anthony’s College is a struggling Catholic university run by sweet old Father Burke, who’s getting to be as decrepit as the school itself. The powers-that-be want to close his beloved St. Anthony’s, seeing how the school’s $170,000 in debt, but old Father Burke comes up with an idea. Citing Deuteronomy 32:15 (“The beloved grew fat and kicked”)…

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A Movie A Day #128: Ransom! (1956, directed by Alex Segal)


What would you do if your child was kidnapped?

That’s the question asked in this unjustly obscure film from 1956.  Dave Stannard (Glenn Ford) is a wealthy businessman, with a beautiful wife (Donna Reed), a big suburban home, and a butler named Chapman (the great Puerto Rican actor Juano Hernandez).  One day, his son Andy (Bobby Clark) does not come home from school.  The school says that a nurse showed up to pick Andy up for a doctor’s appointment but neither Dave nor his wife know about any appointment and their family doctor says that he would never send a nurse to pick up a patient.

Andy has been kidnapped.  When the kidnappers call, they tell Dave that they want half a million dollars in ransom.  Dave gets the money together but is then told, by reporter Charlie Telfer (Leslie Nielsen), that, once the kidnappers have the money, they will have no incentive to return Andy.  Since Andy is the only person who could identity them to the police, they may very well kill Andy after getting the money.  By paying the ransom, Dave will also be encouraging other kidnappers.

The next morning, Dave goes on television and announces that he will not be paying the ransom.  Instead, he announces that if the kidnappers do not immediately return his son, the money will be given as a reward to anyone who helps to track them down.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Ransom! was later remade by Ron Howard, with Mel Gibson as the father and Gary Sinise as the kidnapper.  (Ransom! itself was a remake of a live television drama that aired in 1954.)  As opposed to the Howard film, the original Ransom! is a low-key character piece, one that takes place almost entirely in the Stannard home and in which the kidnappers remain largely unseen.  Almost the entire movie focuses on Dave, his decision, and his struggle to come to terms with that decision.  Was Dave right or was he wrong?  Ransom! is stagey but thought-provoking with excellent performances from the entire cast.  Even Leslie Nielsen, making his film debut, does well in the type of dramatic role that defined his career until he reinvented himself as a masterful comedic actor.

They don’t make them like this anyone and that is too bad.

 

Scenes I Love: George Meets Mary Again in It’s A Wonderful Life


It may seem strange, on Valentine’s Day, to share a scene that I love from a Christmas movie.  Well, we’re all about being strange here at the Shattered Lens!

Add to that, George and Mary share one of the greatest romances ever put on the big screen.  It may be a Christmas movie but it’s also a love story.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s how it all started…

Did you miss It’s A Wonderful Life? Don’t worry, we got you covered!


Last night, NBC broadcast the classic 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life and…

What?

You missed it?

Well, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered!

Presented for your listening enjoyment, here is the 1947 radio version of It’s A Wonderful Life!  This was an episode of the Lux Radio Theater and it featured Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed recreating their film roles!

Holiday Scenes That I Love: The Ending of It’s A Wonderful Life


At this very moment, NBC is broadcasting the classic 1946 film, It’s A Wonderful Life!  They show it every Christmas Eve and every year, I watch.

Why?

Because I love this movie so much that I could watch it a million times and then a million times more!  There is no movie that makes me happier than It’s A Wonderful Life.  There is no movie that brings tears to my mismatched eyes as quickly as It’s A Wonderful Life.  I love this film so much that I even watch it outside of December.  If I’m depressed, this is the movie that I’m going to watch.

And who can blame me?  The scene below is one that I love but, to be honest, there’s not a single scene in It’s A Wonderful Life that I don’t love.  I even love those scenes with old Sam Wainwright going, “Hee haw!”  Sam may have been a jackass but he was a good guy underneath it all.

(Plus, he made a fortune in plastics!  Money can excuse all sorts of obnoxious behavior!)

As for the scene below, it’s the final ten minutes of It’s A Wonderful Life.  To me, nothing exemplifies the joy of the holidays better than Jimmy Stewart running down the snow-filled streets of Bedford Falls and shouting “Merry Christmas” to everyone, even mean old Mr. Potter.  (“And a happy new year to you — IN JAIL!”)  This is a great scene and wonderfully acted by James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Ward Bond, and everyone else in the film!

And here it is!

(For an alternative take on whether or not Bedford Falls would have been better off if George Bailey had never been born, check out this interview with Mr. Potter himself!)