DVD Reviews

Flaming Star Elvis: 75th Birthday Collection

sep10_elvisElvis Presley made a lot of movies in a relatively short time, and most of them were bad.

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Have Gun, Will Travel: Season 4, Volume 2

(CBS/Paramount, $39.98)

This three-disc package contains 19 black-and-white episodes and, like the earlier releases in this series, the collection is shy of costly extras—no commentaries or essays, nor cast or crew information.

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Dark Tower Series

Stephen King, America’s reigning Horror novelist, started his Dark Tower series in 1982 with The Gunslinger. The book features Roland Deschain, who, King admits, is inspired by Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name character from his Sergio Leone films.

A film trilogy and a TV series of this work is in the planning stages. Ron Howard, his partner Brian Grazer, Akiva Goldsman (Jonah Hex) and King will be producing. Howard will also be directing.

TCM Greatest Classic Film Collection: Westerns

(Warner Home Video; $27.98)  

This newest batch offers four solid post-1950s Westerns: two of Sam Peckinpah’s best pictures, Ride the High Country (1962) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), Chisum (1970), starring John Wayne, and an underrated Gregory Peck film, The Stalking Moon (1968).

The Peckinpah films need little introduction. While not everybody ranks Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid in the same class as 1969’s The Wild Bunch, many agree that Ride the High Country, which starred Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea, is as good or better than anything Peckinpah ever made. It consistently lands near the top of every greatest Westerns list.

The John Wayne film, which, like Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, is about the Lincoln County War, is late-era Duke. It’s loaded with Wayne/John Ford regulars, such as Ben Johnson, Hank Worden and Bruce Cabot. It’s also one of only a handful of Wayne pictures that isn’t part of any other collection.

The fourth movie in the bunch sits a little outside what is usually thought of as routine Westerns material. The Stalking Moon was directed by Robert Mulligan, who had directed Peck in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The script was written by Alvin Sargent, who started writing for TV in the mid-1950s. Most recently, Sargent has been at work on the forthcoming Spider-Man movie, his second contribution to the series.

What makes The Stalking Moon unique is that it’s structured as a Suspense picture, as much as a Western. In the film, Peck is a scout who has taken in tow a former Apache captive, played by Eva Marie Saint, and her young son, who it turns out is the son of an Apache chief. We are told that the Apache is determined to get his son back, and he is one of the deadliest warriors in his tribe. Peck is retiring to his modest ranch in New Mexico and reluctantly offers the woman a place to live if she’s willing to help with the work, but he’s not entirely clued in on the danger he’s put himself and his fellow ranch hand in. The movie makes good use of space and time, as it moves quietly toward a violent conclusion.

The Stalking Moon is not up there with other time-tense Westerns, such as 1952’s High Noon and 1957/2007’s 3:10 to Yuma, but it’s a movie that works well and doesn’t ever sell its characters short. It ­makes a nice addition to the collection.

6 Guns

(Asylum Home Entertainment; $24.95)

Two Westerns, both independents and both about bounty hunters, will be available on DVD within a couple of months of each other.

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True West Site Guide

Mission

True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!
 

Product of the Month

The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

"Your book is fascinating, coupling your powerful illustrations [and] tracking...from birth to Tombstone to the legend [Wyatt] had become;...even Wyatt would approve." --By Hugh O'Brian, of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

"Hands down the definitive books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday." --By Allen Barra, New York Newsday