Gun Brothers (1956, directed by Sidney Salkow)


In this western, Buster Crabbe plays Chad Santee, a former Calvary officer who has traveled to Wyoming so he can visit his brother Jubal (Neville Brand) and see Jubal’s ranch.  Traveling by stagecoach, Chad meets and falls in love with a saloon singer named Rose Fargo (Ann Robinson).  When the stagecoach is held up by outlaws and one of them steals Rose’s broach, Chad decides to track the outlaws down.  What Chad doesn’t know is that Jubal is one of those outlaws.

Gun Brothers is an entertaining B-western.  There’s nothing surprising about the story but Buster Crabbe is a believable hero and Ann Robinson gets a chance to show off her saloon singing skills.  Neville Brand steals the film as Jubal.  Before going into acting, Brand was a highly decorated World War II combat officer and he brought his real-life toughness to every role that he played.  He could throw a punch and shoot a gun with an authority that few other actors could match.  Jubal, like Brand, has obviously seen and experienced things that his self-righteous brother will never be able to understand and, as a result, he’s not as tied down to the laws of society as everyone else.   Also turning in good performances are Michael Ansara as an outlaw and Lita Milan, as a Native American woman who is involved with the gang.

Not surprisingly, for a B-western, Gun Brothers is full of characters with names like Shawnee Jack, Yellowstone Kelly, Blackjack Silk, and Moose McClain.  It’s a simple movie but one that will be enjoyed by fans of old fashioned western action.

Jack McCall, Desperado (1953, directed by Sidney Saklow)


On August 2nd, 1876, the legendary western lawman “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota Territory.  His murderer, who shot Hickok in the back, was Jack McCall.  McCall was known for being a local drunk and it is believed he shot Hickok because he had lost money to him in a previous game.  After shooting Hickok, McCall attempted to flee but ended up falling off of his horse.  When McCall was put on trial for Hickock’s murder, he clamed that it was revenge for Hickok having murdered his brother in Kansas.  Since no one knew much about McCall’s past, he was acquitted.  (Modern historians believe that McCall grew up in Kentucky and never had a brother.)

Unfortunately, for McCall, it was later determined that the Deadwood courts didn’t have legal authority to try anyone and he was hauled into federal court.  After first claiming that he had been too drunk to remember why he shot Hickok, McCall then claimed that he was actually wasn’t Jack McCall at all and that the wrong man had been arrested.  The judge didn’t believe either one of McCall’s claims and Jack McCall was subsequently hanged on March 1st, 1877.  It’s believed that he was 24 years old.

The life and murder of Wild Bill Hickok has been the subject of many books and films, the majority of which have portrayed Hickok in a heroic light while Jack McCall has typically been portrayed as being a low-life coward.  Jack McCall, Desperado, however, takes the opposite approach.  In this film, George Montgomery plays McCall as being an upstanding hero while Douglas Kennedy portrays Hickok as being a cruel and sociopathic murderer.

Jack McCall, Desperado comes up with a backstory for McCall and Hickok, one that I don’t think has ever been suggested by any of the many books written about Hickok’s life and death.  The movie portrays McCall as being a Southerner who, during the Civil War, joined the Union Army.  Because of his Southern heritage, he is distrusted by most of the other men in his unit.  When a group of rebel spies trick McCall into revealing the location of the Union army’s headquarters, McCall is accused of treason and sentenced to death.  McCall manages to escape but, upon returning to his family’s plantation, he discovers that both his mother and his father have been killed by Hickok and Jack’s cousin, Bat (James Seay).  When McCall discovers that Wild Bill and Bat have headed up to the Deadwood, plotting to swindle the Native Americans out of a gold mine, and that they’re accompanied by a former Confederate who can clear Jack’s name, Jack purses them, intent on getting revenge for his family and justice for himself.

It’s a pretty standard western, one that is notable mostly for its portrayal of Wild Bill Hickok as being a bloodthirsty outlaw.  While Hickok may not have been the hero that he was often made out to be (and let’s not even talk about the reality of Wyatt Earp), he probably wasn’t the mustache-twirling villain that he’s portrayed to be here.  Still, Douglas Kennedy is an effectively dastardly villain and George Montgomery is an adequate hero.  Even if it’s in no way based on fact, the Civil War subplot, with Jack supporting the Union cause despite his Southern heritage, is occasionally interesting.  If you’re already a fan of B-westerns and not a stickler for historical accuracy, Jack McCall, Desperado is a decent enough way to pass the time.

Horror on the Lens: The Last Man on Earth (dir. by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow)


Hi there and Happy October 4th!  For today’s treat from the ranks of horror films that have fallen into the public domain, I present to you one of the most important films in horror history.  Though it wasn’t appreciated when it was first  released back in 1964, The Last Man On Earth was not only the 1st Italian horror film but George Romero has also acknowledged it as an influence on his own Night of the Living Dead.

It’s easy to be a little bit dismissive of The Last Man On Earth.  After all, the low-budget is obvious in every scene, the dubbing is off even by the standards of Italian horror, and just the name “Vincent Price” in the credits leads one to suspect that this will be another campy, B-movie.  Perhaps that’s why I’m always surprised to rediscover that, taking all things into consideration, this is actually a pretty effective film.  Price does have a few over-the-top moments but, for the most part, he gives one of his better performances here and the black-and-white images have an isolated, desolate starkness to them that go a long way towards making this film’s apocalypse a convincing one.  The mass cremation scene always leaves me feeling rather uneasy.

The film is based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and no, it’s nowhere as good as the book.  However, it’s a lot better than the Will Smith version.

If you have 87 minutes to kill, please enjoy The Last Man On The Earth.

4 Shots From 4 Vincent Price Films: The Masque of the Red Death, The Last Man on Earth, The Witchfinder General, The Abominable Dr. Phibes


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we pay tribute to a true icon of horror with….

4 Shots From 4 Vincent Price Films

The Masque of the Red Death (1964. dir by Roger Corman)

The Last Man on Earth (1964, dir by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow)

The Witchfinder General (1968, dir by Michael Reeves)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971, dir by Robert Fuest)

B-Girls and B-Movies: CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL (United Artists 1957)


cracked rear viewer

CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL is just a routine ‘B’ crime drama, one of many churned out in the 50’s. Yet the performances of stars Brian Keith Beverly Garland , and an above-average supporting cast helped elevate the by-the-numbers material into something watchable. It’s those Familiar Faces we all know and love from countless movies that made CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL work for me.

The story revolves around racketeers muscling in on the Worker’s National Union so they can bring their “numbers rackets and ‘B’ girls” to the city. Politically ambitious State’s Attorney Jim Fremont is dead set on busting them up, and when the union’s treasurer is murdered, the finger of suspicion is pointed at honest Union President Artie Blane. Blane’s been framed by his rival, VP Ken Harrison, who takes his orders from “disbarred attorney” Alan Dixon, “one of the masterminds of the old Capone gang”. Blane is brought to trial and, thanks to some chicanery by an “old derelict” with the…

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Horror on the Lens: The Last Man on Earth (dir. by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow)


Hi there and Happy October 25th!  For today’s treat from the ranks of horror films that have fallen into the public domain, I present to you one of the most important films in horror history.  Though it wasn’t appreciated when it was first  released back in 1964, The Last Man On Earth was not only the 1st Italian horror film but George Romero has also acknowledged it as an influence on his own Night of the Living Dead.

It’s easy to be a little bit dismissive of The Last Man On Earth.  After all, the low-budget is obvious in every scene, the dubbing is off even by the standards of Italian horror, and just the name “Vincent Price” in the credits leads one to suspect that this will be another campy, B-movie.  Perhaps that’s why I’m always surprised to rediscover that, taking all things into consideration, this is actually a pretty effective film.  Price does have a few over-the-top moments but, for the most part, he gives one of his better performances here and the black-and-white images have an isolated, desolate starkness to them that go a long way towards making this film’s apocalypse a convincing one.  The mass cremation scene always leaves me feeling rather uneasy.

The film is based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and no, it’s nowhere as good as the book.  However, it’s a lot better than the Will Smith version.

If you have 87 minutes to kill, please enjoy The Last Man On The Earth.

Horror Film Review: The Last Man On Earth (dir. by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow)


Hi there and Happy October 25th!  For today’s treat from the ranks of horror films that have fallen into the public domain, I present to you one of the most important films in horror history.  Though it wasn’t appreciated when it was first  released back in 1964, The Last Man On Earth was not only the 1st Italian horror film but George Romero has also acknowledged it as an influence on his own Night of the Living Dead.

It’s easy to be a little bit dismissive of The Last Man On Earth.  After all, the low-budget is obvious in every scene, the dubbing is off even by the standards of Italian horror, and just the name “Vincent Price” in the credits leads one to suspect that this will be another campy, B-movie.  Perhaps that’s why I’m always surprised to rediscover that, taking all things into consideration, this is actually a pretty effective film.  Price does have a few over-the-top moments but, for the most part, he gives one of his better performances here and the black-and-white images have an isolated, desolate starkness to them that go a long way towards making this film’s apocalypse a convincing one.  The mass cremation scene always leaves me feeling rather uneasy.

The film is based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and no, it’s nowhere as good as the book.  However, it’s a lot better than the Will Smith version.

If you have 87 minutes to kill, please enjoy The Last Man On The Earth.