Good choice from Platinum
Luciano Mauro Decusati | porto alegre, RS Brazil | 02/18/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This review is for Platinum's Great American Western Vol. 22. It's meant to help other buyers since Platinum does not publish much information about these volumes.
The films in volume 22 are:
(All of the films have a good picture quality; The Buckskin Lady is kind of dark; Light of Western Stars clear, but with a few scratches; and the two Buster Crabbe flicks play OK too for unrestored movies, with no scratches or parts missing.)
1. The Buckskin Lady, 1957, 66 min., B&W, directed by Carl Hittleman, with Patricia Medina, Richard Denning, Henry Hull and Gerald Mohr.
"The hell-hot story of a hell-bent dancehall dame who climbed to the top bullet by bullet, man by man."
The above description was on the original theatrical poster. More often than not, those descriptions would give a completely false idea of the movie, and this was no exception.
The Buckskin Lady is a psychological western drama set in a small Nevada town. British-born Patricia Medina, the Buckskin Lady of the title plays a very different role than she does in her other films, such as the swashbuckling sagas with Louis Hayward, two of which, "Captain Pirate" and "Fortunes of Captain Blood", are available from Amazon.
Patricia Medina plays Angela, the daughter of a drunken doctor, who makes her living as a card dealer in the local saloon. She can't help feeling attracted to a lowdown gunslinger (Gerald Mohr), but when straightforward Dr. Bruce Merrit (Richard Denning) comes along, she decides to change and walk the straight and narrow, but Slinger will stop at nothing to keep his grip on her.
2. Light of Western Stars, 1940, 64 min, B&W, directed by Lesley Selander, with Victor Jory, Jo Ann Sanders, Russel Hayden, Morris Ankrum, Tom Tyler.
Based on a Zane Grey novel, Light of Western Stars, portrays the US-Mexican border of the turn of the century. An unsuspecting Eastern woman, Madeline Hammond (Jo Ann Sanders), purchases a ranch that is being used as the basis for a gun smuggling operation with the cooperation of the local sheriff. Gene Stewart (Victor Jory) is a boisterous cowhand who lives on both sides of the border and of the law. Although it was produced by the same people who produced Hopalong Cassidy's films, the plot doesn't help much and somehow the film does not add up. To begin with, it's hard to take Victor Jory as a hero (or anti-hero) after seeing him so many times playing heavies. Anyway, he's a daredevil who fears nothing in the beginning when he tangles with the corrupt sheriff and then suddenly we will find him in Mexico, drunk as a skunk, sharing a stall with a pig and a goat, and the story gives no reason for his sudden need of redemption in the hands of stalwart Madeline.
3. Billy the Kid: Frontier Outlaws, 1944, 58 min., directed by Sam Newfield, with Buster Crabbe and Al "Fuzzy" St John.
Billy Carson shoots a man, is found not guilty in one of the most hilarious court scenes ever filmed and then infiltrates a gang of criminals disguised as a Mexican.
4. Billy the Kid: The Kid Rides Again, 1943, 55 min., directed by Sam Newfield, with Buster Crabbe and Al "Fuzzy" St John.
Billy the Kid (Buster Crabbe) is about to be tried for a holdup he did not commit, but escapes to help settlers who are being swindled out of their land by a "respectable" citizen and finds the real culprit.
Buster Crabbe's formula westerns have all the ingredients (low budget, a horse with a name, a sidekick) of a typical B-Western. Produced by PRC, a Poverty Row outfit known for churning up a Western film in a week or less, they have, nonetheless, a few things that set these two westerns apart. One is the comedy and the witty dialogs. In one scene, the corrupt town boss says: "I'll stand for law and order till I'm black in the face". At that precise moment, Fuzzy Jones, who had stuck his finger in an ink pot, manages to release his finger splashing the ink all over the boss's face. Another differentiation is that Buster Crabbe was given a "license to kill" by the script writers. B-Westerns would usually end up in a chase and a fist fight with the heavy falling on his own knife, falling off a cliff, dying from a horse he had beaten, or something. But not with Buster Crabbe. He would fight a duel and shoot to kill.
Buster Crabbe did not regard himself an actor, but he had a pleasant personality and a vitality that made his films enjoyable, though. Al "Fuzzy" St John, his sidekick, provides the gags, and the movies offer a pleasant combination of comic relief, witty dialogs and good Western-style action.