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Ride Beyond Vengeance (1966)


pandorainmay
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If you're interested in seeing a "different" Chuck Connors, please read on...

I saw a movie called Ride Beyond Vengeance (1966) one night last week, (thank goodness for insomnia, eh?)

 

Directed by Bernard McEveety (a longtime Gunsmoke director), it stars Chuck Connors as a buffalo hunter who leaves his upper crust bride (Kathryn Hays, whose sweet beauty belies her character's rage) to earn his fortune before returning to her. On his way back to her a long time later, he is waylaid by a group who, thinking he is a thief, take his money, and, thinking themselves fine fellows for not hanging the man, proceed to brand and beat him. No, I'm not kidding, Chuck was "branded" at two different career points. Long story short, he awakens, realizes what has happened to him and returns to wreak his revenge on his enemies. Connors is appealing, horrifically violent, and bitterly sad, but gives a performance that most actors could only dream of having a crack at during an average career.

chuck.jpg

Chuck when his character returns from the dead to his hometown.

 

The rest of the cast is unbelievably good too: Gary Merrill plays his father, Joan Blondell is a local busybody commenting on everything, Paul Fix shows up without his teeth to do a great turn as a codger trying to nurse some pepper plants along in the unforgiving desert, and Michael Rennie pops up as a banker with eyes for Hays, (and a lot of secrets to hide). The top honors for the supporting cast, who, for once in their lives have truly meaty, flamboyant roles are Bill Bixby (who is unbelievably good in a scary way), Claude Akins as a sympathetic psycho who has an imaginary friend he talks to all day, and Frank Gorshin, who has a fantastic scene of exposition that might have been a career making cameo a few decades earlier.

chuck2.jpg

 

Now, a few caveats:

This movie is very violent. It's not the blood gushing kind of realistic violence, but it's almost nonstop and always so wild that you can't believe where the movie is going next. The budget was said to be under $400k and the shooting schedule was under a month. The sets are obviously something from a studio backlot, but the acting is so intensely vivid by everyone that it almost overrides the lack of production values. It has an interesting framing device for the story showing James "Dan-o" MacArthur in the present as a census taker visiting the town of Coldiron and interviewing barkeep Arthur O'Connell about the background of the town and its people.

 

Maybe not a great movie, perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, (I don't usually like any violence, but this film drew me in inexorably), but absolutely fascinating. It is on dvd and is on the Encore Western Channel this month. I hope that anyone who's seen this film will let me know their thoughts.

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I only saw a few minutes of this movie but it was enough for me to agree with Moira that this movie is something different, especially for Chuckie fans. I'm going to make a point of watching it in one of its upcoming showings on Encore.

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I agree with everything you said about this movie. It was released in 1966, according to the listing for the Western Channel, and I saw it when it was still new and again on tv many years later. Yeah it's a good one alright. It has a great fight scene with Claude Aikins in a bar. Up to that point in time, it was one of the best fight scenes I had seen in a movie. As I recall, Chuck Connors' character was certainly one to steer clear of.

We have a free weekend of STARZ this weekend. After reading your write-up, i think I'll record it on Sunday night. Thanks for bring it up.

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Thanks for the correction on the date of filming, Bob. I hope that you'll let us know your fresh impressions of the film after seeing it once more.

 

Miss G., I think that it's interesting how so many of us who were only dimly aware of *Chuck Connors* as an actor keep rediscovering him even now. I used to think of him as a big galoot from tv history thanks to *The Rifleman*. Now that I've had a chance to see how well acted most of those well crafted, minimalist episodes were from an adult viewpoint, I have renewed respect for the guy and the creative team behind the show, as, I think, many others have too. I'm particularly more appreciative of the spare style and complex themes tackled by noted noir & cheapo western director *Joseph H. Lewis* & the legendary Sam Peckinpah, (prior to his going to movies, where, imho, many of his later films veered far too much into self-indulgence).

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Hi Moira---thanks for the tip off on Joseph H. Lewis. I was wondering why his name seemed like I should know it from somewhere. I thought at the time that maybe I was mixing him up with "Joseph Q Lewis", that TV announcer in An Affair to Remember. :P

 

I am trying to see ALL of *Major Dundee* so I can familiarize myself with Peckinpah. So far, I have only seen The Getaway, Ride the High Country and his first movie, with Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith, The Deadly Companions. Have you seen that one? I also tried to watch Junior Bonner but I couldn't finish it. The performances were great but I thought it a boring story.

 

I want to watch *The Wild Bunch* eventually, but I've always been put off by the violence.

 

I've seen a couple of his "Gunsmoke" episodes, too, and they were excellent.

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MissG,

 

For a completely different take on Peckinpah, away from the violence, you must see *The Ballad of Cable Hogue* probably the sweetest film ole Sam ever made.

 

Yeah, I know what you're thinking, sweet? Sam??

 

But it really is. It stars Jason Robards, David Warner, Stella Stevens and the Peckinpah stock company.

 

It is a really wonderful film.

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Lynn named what may be one of the best of the gentler Peckinpah's films, Miss G. If you watch it, have patience with the slightly off kilter storytelling and you might find *Jason Robards* performance sneaking up on you. I have seen the films that you named and love Ride the High Country. Another good side of Peckinpah's storytelling talent came out in the western series called The Westerner with Brian Keith that used to run on the Encore Western Channel, (I'm not sure if it's around on video though perhaps you might find a dvd-r version).

 

If you have a chance sometime, (perhaps if you visit the branch of The Museum of Television & Broadcasting in the NYC area) you might want to see Noon Wine (1966), a teleplay adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's story written & directed by *Peckinpah*. It starred *Robards, Olivia de Havilland* & *Theodore Bikel*. I guess it's no longer around on video, but one of my high school teachers ran it for us as a film. Don't know where good ol' Sister Sarto ever found a copy since this was in the stone age, before even vcrs were available!

 

By cracky, my next post, as you might guess, will tell what it was like to gather round the campfire and listen to that ol' Shaman Sam P. telling tales while mastodons and sabre tooth tigers prowled just beyond the glow of the fire and his words. ;)

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Another good side of Peckinpah's storytelling talent came out in the western series called The Westerner with Brian Keith that used to run on the Encore Western Channel

 

I was thinking of that series while reading the Charlton Heston threads lately. Tom Gries adapted his teleplay for the "Line Camp" episode into Will Penny.

 

MissGoddess, Robert Q. Lewis is the game-show host and panelist (and hotel clerk in Ride Beyond Vengeance). Here he is on The Name's the Same:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDt4ItbuGTg

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> {quote:title=lzcutter wrote:}{quote}

> MissG,

>

> For a completely different take on Peckinpah, away from the violence, you must see *The Ballad of Cable Hogue* probably the sweetest film ole Sam ever made.

>

> Yeah, I know what you're thinking, sweet? Sam??

>

> But it really is. It stars Jason Robards, David Warner, Stella Stevens and the Peckinpah stock company.

>

> It is a really wonderful film.

 

That title sounds so familiar! I will look for it, thank you Lynn! I like Stella Stevens.

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Hi Moira,

 

I have wanted to see the TV show, The Westerner, ever since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. You know my fondness for Mr Keith and I think he's a natural for the western genre. Noon Wine also sounds intriguing---especially if it has Miss Olivia in it! Wow, that's impressive.

 

I certainly look forward to scooting up to the fire and reading your next posting! :D

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That was so cute!! Thank you, Dan, for posting that link to "The Name's the Same". Yes! That's him alright! And you say he has a part in Ride Beyond Vengeance? How funny! He has such a "made-for-television" sort of personality.

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I remember seeing him in the movie and that he was last-billed (IMDb confirms my memory on the latter point).

 

Lewis and panelist John Newland have died, but I believe the other three panelists in that 1954 clip--Arnold Stang, Bess Myerson, and Joan Alexander--are still with us.

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Robert Q. Lewis doesn't wear his glasses in *Ride Beyond Vengeance* (no black bakelite hornrims in the 19th century, I guess!). He does a good job as a weaselly hotel clerk with as greedy a nature as others who populate this burg.

 

*Arnold Stang* is not only alive, but kickin' last I knew. He pops up in small spots on TCM occasionally with comments on his experiences working with the greats (such as *Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy*, etc.). Here is *a funny appreciation* of the Stangster. I love the man's NY twang. Wish that he could be a guest programmer here at TCM & I wish I had the album below. Hmmm, this is a bit of digression, isn't it? * lol *

stang.jpg

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"Bob. I hope that you'll let us know your fresh impressions of the film after seeing it once more."

 

Aw Moira, I'm sorry. I got into a baseball game Sunday night and I forgot about the movie. I set my timer for a later showing at 3:30AM and all I got was sound with no picture. The free weekend of STARZ channels ended at 3:30AM I guess.

 

bOb.

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