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Western Movie Rambles


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Burt's body is impossibly perfect in jeans and a western shirt. Somehow I never noticed how broad his shoulders and slim his hips really are, I just thought it was those forties suits that accentuated it.

 

 

This movie had such a great cast... every time I turned around there was someone else I knew. Very enjoyable. I especially liked the way Burt spit out his words in the barn fight scene - "Go ahead and take your shot, you'll have to kill me, and then him, and then your brother...." Burt is so good at the fighting and action sequences, it's easy to miss how good he is at the acting part. :D

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MISS GODDESS writes:

 

"hey everyone, one of my favorite lesser westerns (not exactly a "b" western, but definitely not a biggie) is on TCM this coming Tuesday at 8 a.m. EST. Vengeance Valley stars Burt Lancaster and Robert Walker in a sort of western "Cain and Abel" tale. It's nothing specta- cular, but I've always liked it (I have the DVD) because I like burt when he's "low key" and I really like ann francis in this. lots of familiar if not well known western regulars pop up in the supporting cast. joann dru co-stars with her husband, john ireland.

 

walker's character is kind of like strangers on a train only a little less psychotic.

 

i hope everyone tunes in and enjoys it."

 

---

 

VENGEANCE IS SPOILED...AND SO IS THE VALLEY

 

BURT LANCASTER plays Owen Daybright, the Rugged brother and ROBERT WALKER plays Lee Strobie, the Weasly Wastrel brother in Richard Thorpe?s oater "VENGEANCE VALLEY.? Ultimately, this is a tale about what happens when you spare the rod and spoil the child.

 

The movie is narrated by the soft and gentle twang of Carleton Carpenter. I?m not sure why this device was used but it doesn?t hurt anything. He was such a gentle presence riding shotgun for the ruggedly handsome Owen (Lancaster). Owen?s stalwart, honest, quick to fight for the justice

of things. Yeah, you can tell he loves his brother?s wife. But you also know he won?t do anything about it.

 

I was disturbed to see Robert Walker in this. A western? WHAT?! He?s a dude. I see him in dou- ble breasted jackets and fedora, not on a horse wearing a ten-gallon hat. Private Hargrove in the West? Get outta here! That put me off my feed. In fact, I believed Carleton Carpenter way more and Carpenter?s usually yabba dabba yabba dabba goofy.

 

But I?ve been wrong before.

 

And am wrong this time. I found Walker good in the part of Lee Strobie, the rich young man who?s never taken responsibility for, or faced up to not one of many wrong things he has done. Walker is perfect for the sneakily snaky son; the quiet whispery timbre of his voice...the sidelong glances. Perfect. There?s one scene that encapsulates the marked difference between the two brothers. When Lee?s thrown from a bronc he was busting, he strikes the horse with a whip. Owen grabs the whip from him telling him that?s not the right way. Lee gets back on the horse and breaks him into an easy gait. See, he?s learned his lesson. But no, he smacks the horse with the back of his hand. That one gesture of his was so unfair and showed how weak of character he was. It didn?t sink into that thick skull how doing something the right way would give him a sense of accomplishment.

 

The owner and father figure of the ranch Arch Strobie (Ray Collins) has spared the rod. He's given his son everything, forgiven his debts and dalliances; has a real affection for his daughter-in-law and for his foster son Owen. (Ha! Check out the name: Daybright). Yes, you've seen this dynamic before: (see "Written on the Wind"). So here (in the West) again we have the single parent who loves the child he picked more than the child he made.

 

And what?s the beef? Lee has fathered a child with pretty (Ida Lupino protegee) SALLY FORREST as Lily. She was interesting because of her approach to being an unwed mother. There was no moralizing or shame attached to this. Pretty progressive thinking. It was refreshing to see and rather startling for 1951 and whatever nineteenth century year that portrayed.. Oh, one caveat. The doctor refused to deliver the baby.

 

The perfect storm of events comes when Lily?s ornery brothers get wind of their ?illegitimate? newest family member. Somebody?s got some 'splaining and marrying to do. Her brothers are ornerily played by Hugh O?Brian and John Ireland (?Red River? ?All the King?s Men?). Now what they?re trying to do is honorable ( finding the man responsible). It doesn?t seem to dawn on them that Sis is just plain fine the way tings are now. She?s prepared to raise her child as a single parent. The bro-thers? motive seems to have morphed into a vendetta against the priviledged brothers. Nice rough fight scene between Lancaster and Ireland in a shed. Even Carpenter gets to take a swing.

 

JAONNE DRU plays Walker?s character?s knowing wife Jen. She?s got the gravitas of a grown woman who knows what?s up; pretty independent too as is Lily who doesn't want her brothers around. No love lost there. Jen realizes she?s made a marital mistake marrying Lee... she is definitely open to the unspoken confessions of Owen...she plays mid-wife to poor Lily...and also locks her door against Lee?s conjugal advances. (ASIDE: I found Dru to be Tierney-esque in looks and bearing. I wonder why after "Red River" & "All The King's Men" she didn't have a bigger career).

 

So we've got all these forces about to converge in the metaphoric valley of vengeance. Straight-shooter Owen, sly Lee, my favorite bad guy Ted DeCorsia thrown into the mix (nice fight scene here too), two ornery scoundrels and a real woman waiting back at the ranch for the victor.

 

I learned a lot about ranching. I loved the Sheriff and the Cook. Understated, good horse sense. I liked how the Sheriff put those Baxson boys on the train; quiet confidence. If you know Westerns you'll know how it all plays out. But it was nice watching it unfold. Sadly...not an Anne Francis in sight. < Sigh! > :-(

 

But there was Burt in jeans...and shirtless. :x

 

Thanx for the suggestion, Miss G.

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Burt's body is impossibly perfect in jeans and a western shirt. Somehow I never noticed how broad his shoulders and slim his hips really are, I just thought it was those forties suits that accentuated it.

 

 

This movie had such a great cast... every time I turned around there was someone else I knew. Very enjoyable. I especially liked the way Burt spit out his words in the barn fight scene - "Go ahead and take your shot, you'll have to kill me, and then him, and then your brother...." Burt is so good at the fighting and action sequences, it's easy to miss how good he is at the acting part. :D

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I must've posted at the same time, Mava.

 

Your write-up is wonderful! I too was thinking, "Is that Carleton Carpenter????" but it actually worked for me, that goofy kid yabba dabba thing. And Robert Walker was so slimy, it bothered me every time he put his hands on Joanna Dru - I liked when she slapped him and told him he was a liar.... it would have been too much agony for the viewing audience had she believed him.

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*Owen?s stalwart, honest, quick to fight for the justice of things. Yeah, you can tell he loves his brother?s wife. But you also know he won?t do anything about it.*

 

That's a good summing up, that last sentence. Yes, he's good, maybe a little too good and most best expressed in his ardent devotion and undying gratitude to Arch. The sense of loyalty extends to his protection of Lee that results in this myopia that he and Arch both have towards Lee. And there might be a little naivete as well. Owen might have seen what was up after learning that the two menacing brothers were on the roundup and that Lee knew about that. He readily accepts Lee?s reversal on the Allard deal and believes the wholly improbable story that Lee will ride off and (as co-owner, no less) leave the ranch for Owen. He doesn?t suspect that there might be something dangerous in that ride to the telegraph station. I kept thinking he would wise up before they reached the boulder.

 

*I found Walker good in the part of Lee Strobie,*

 

So did I. He was especially good at the outset. He has that boyish almost callow mien that fits with the initial perception of Lee as being basically a good kid who needs a little bailing out once in a while. Walker makes the adjustments as Lee becomes more and more treacherous as the story progresses. Walker seems to have an easy versatility. Remember that charming young man in The Clock (and he actually played Johannes Brahms once) ;)

 

*Lee has fathered a child with pretty (Ida Lupino protegee) SALLY FORREST as Lily. She was interesting because of her approach to being an unwed mother. There was no moralizing or shame attached to this. Pretty progressive thinking. It was refreshing to see and rather startling for 1951 and whatever nineteenth century year that portrayed..*

 

Good point.

 

*Now what they?re trying to do is honorable ( finding the man responsible). It doesn?t seem to dawn on them that Sis is just plain fine the way tings are now. She?s prepared to raise her child as a single parent. The bro-thers? motive seems to have morphed into a vendetta against the priviledged brothers.*

 

Quite right, not an ounce of consideration for ?sis.? It seemed to me a family pride thing with them. Ireland?s character declares to sis that the family has known strife but the one thing they have is the ?blood tie.? Hence, they were being ?honorable? in that sense, perhaps. But with these types it might have generalized quickly into a hatred for its own sake for the other brothers.

 

*JAONNE DRU plays Walker?s character?s knowing wife Jen.. Jen realizes she?s made a marital mistake marrying Lee...*

 

I loved her in that dress :x

 

I was surprised right away that Jen and Lee were married. I had to rewind the DVR to make sure I had that right. Even before we know the true Lee, the two just didn?t seem right. Jen's "realization" may have come sooner than we think.

 

*So we've got all these forces about to converge in the metaphoric valley of vengeance. Straight-shooter Owen, sly Lee, my favorite bad guy Ted DeCorsia thrown into the mix (nice fight scene here too), two ornery scoundrels and a real woman waiting back at the ranch for the victor.*

 

Great!

 

*Sadly...not an Anne Francis in sight. < Sigh! > :-(*

 

That's why I watched the film, to see Anne (sigh). But it's okay, I got to see Joanne instead :x

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I'm so glad you guys got to watch *Vengeance Valley*. I really like Burt in this,

because he's so low key. I'm not used to him that way and it's very attractive. It

makes his physical outburst, when it does come, more effective.

 

Did y'all notice Glenn Strange, the barkeep in Miss Kitty's Long Branch Saloon

in "Gunsmoke"?

 

As for Sally's brothers and their "family pride", it reminds me of when my mother

used to say "blood is thicker than water". I told her who wants water to be thick?

Shouldn't it run clear? Needless to say my mouth was sore after that. :D

 

Now I need to get to *The Bravados*...you just watched that recently didn't you Chris?

Anyone else have it to watch? I want to revisit it after all these years in view of Arkadin's

earlier commetns about its influence on Leone and the "spiritual" aspects of the story.

I just remember this western made a big impression on me in my early movie watching.

 

Edited by: MissGoddess on Nov 3, 2010 10:27 AM

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> {quote:title=movieman1957 wrote:}{quote}

> I did. I found the religious aspects much more in the front then "Hell's Hinges" (I almost forgot what movie we were debating that topic over.) At least when there is no religious figure involved. Lord, I hate getting old.

 

wow...MORE than in HH?

 

i will try to watch it sometime tomorrow.

 

interesting article at Greenbriar about the film emphasizing dirctor King's absolute

control of the film's message and its lukewarm box office:

 

http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html

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Not so much more but since there is no religious role for a person, like the man who was studying to be the priest in "HH", it seems pretty prominent than not having a religious role.

 

Thanks for the article. I usually read his blog but had not looked in the last week or so.

 

Edited by: movieman1957 on Nov 3, 2010 12:35 PM

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"Now I need to get to The Bravados...you just watched that recently didn't you Chris?

Anyone else have it to watch? I want to revisit it after all these years in view of Arkadin's earlier commetns about its influence on Leone and the "spiritual" aspects of the story.I just remember this western made a big impression on me in my early movie watching."

 

I saw "THE BRAVADOS" on Arkadin's suggestion and enjoyed it very much. Recorded it on VHS tape. Then I rewound the tape and went to watch it again. Of course, the tape broke inside the case and just kept spinning around and around and around.

 

Ooooh, I HATE VHS tapes now. But I enjoyed the film. Gregory Peck < ( :x ) >.

 

Miss G., I'm shocked. I thought you were a model child. :P

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> I saw "THE BRAVADOS" on Arkadin's suggestion and enjoyed it very much. Recorded it on VHS tape. Then I rewound the tape and went to watch it again. Of course, the tape broke inside the case and just kept spinning around and around and around.

>

 

Yay!! Now I really need to get busy and watch it.

 

> Ooooh, I HATE VHS tapes now. But I enjoyed the film. Gregory Peck < ( :x ) >.

>

 

oh that's terrible! well, if you do invest in a dvd recorder, I do NOT recommend

Philips.

 

> Miss G., I'm shocked. I thought you were a model child. :P

 

I still think I was! But my mother refuses to believe it. :D

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

> For those who have Netflix, I see that The Bravados is available on INSTANT PLAY.

 

Thank you, Lafitte! If my crappy DVD-R doesn't play (which is likely) it's good to know I have this option.

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> {quote:title=CineMaven wrote:}{quote}"Now I need to get to The Bravados...you just watched that recently didn't you Chris?

> Anyone else have it to watch? I want to revisit it after all these years in view of Arkadin's earlier commetns about its influence on Leone and the "spiritual" aspects of the story.I just remember this western made a big impression on me in my early movie watching."

>

> I saw "THE BRAVADOS" on Arkadin's suggestion and enjoyed it very much. Recorded it on VHS tape. Then I rewound the tape and went to watch it again. Of course, the tape broke inside the case and just kept spinning around and around and around.

>

> Ooooh, I HATE VHS tapes now. But I enjoyed the film. Gregory Peck < ( :x ) >.

 

It will be reshowing on FMC:

 

11/18

12/8

12/29

 

Glad you enjoyed this one. It's definitely an under the radar western.

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MissG, a model child? As what? A zombie-child with a blood-splattered masonry trowel?!!

 

Well, that's the rumor at least. And MissG, if it's not true, well, then I should probably stop spreading it.

 

I suppose.

 

Eventually.

 

(I AM smilin' when I type this, partner. wink wink, nudge nudge)

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Arkadin, thank you for giving me those dates.

 

By the by...it was Miss Goddess who wrote this:

 

"...Anyone else have it to watch? I want to revisit it after all these years in view of Arkadin's earlier commetns about its influence on Leone and the 'spiritual' aspects of the story. I just remember this western made a big impression on me in my early movie watching."

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Thanks. I'm out of the loop right now, so I sometimes miss who said what, but I'm all for giving credit where credit is due. BTW MissG, I recorded *Vengeance Valley*, but have not had time to watch yet. What I saw of the opening after finalizing the disc looks quite promising.

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*Spoilers for The Bravados*

 

After an intriguingly auspicious beginning the long posse sequence in quest of the bad guys made it look more and more like a run-of-the-mill, ho-hum revenge story, one among many. But before it was over it had turned into something else. A story with some good turns and a twisty ending.

 

Van Cleeve was so convincing begging for his life that I believed him. Little did I know that I had stumbled upon something. The other outlaw who had a chance to speak for himself was convincing as well. But I must have dismissed it because I was genuinely surprised at the end. Some of the elements of the story really stick. When I think of this movie later on I will recall not only the major error that is made but by also the stunning misjudgment of neighbor Butler. And the cabin scene with the girl is much more disturbing that I may have wanted in a movie like this. Very gritty, and made more so by Josefa?s change of tune when she enters the cabin, ?kill them, kill them,? she howls after seeing what we, the audience, were now shown. A reminder that seemingly justifiable hatred is not so easily quashed, even among those who preach otherwise. Even the revelation early on that Mr Sims was not what he seemed stirred me a bit, a nice little shot in the arm for the story.

 

The four outlaws look like a selection from the Outlaw Hall of Fame, so familiar they seem. And they were all excellent.

 

Revenge and its pitfalls, the joy of family, the necessity for religion.

 

The religious aspect was pretty strong but not overdone. I don?t see Douglas riding off in the sunset living happily ever after. I think Jim Douglas will grapple with this for a long time?with the help of God, of course. I am not at all religious so it seems awkward to write that but I think this is what the movie wants to tell us.

 

There are some unrealistic aspects to the story but they don?t bother me that much. Gregory Peck is outstanding, perfection even. The locations and photography are an added bonus?and how about that church! Quite an edifice for a small town and what a choir. God is alive and well in Los Arribas.

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Spoiling for Bravados

 

> Van Cleeve was so convincing begging for his life that I believed him. Little did I know that I had stumbled upon something. The other outlaw who had a chance to speak for himself was convincing as well. But I must have dismissed it because I was genuinely surprised at the end.

 

it was good; i remember this scene was the first inkling i got that Jim was on the wrong trail. or rather, i figured that the womanizer guy (I forget the actor's name) was the main culprit.

 

 

> Some of the elements of the story really stick. When I think of this movie later on I will recall not only the major error that is made but by also the stunning misjudgment of neighbor Butler. And the cabin scene with the girl is much more disturbing that I may have wanted in a movie like this.

 

it was horrid. i just watched a "Gunsmoke" episode on Encore today that brought up the same

feelings of revulsion that Josepha felt.

 

> Very gritty, and made more so by Josefas change of tune when she enters the cabin, kill them, kill them, she howls after seeing what we, the audience, were now shown. A reminder that seemingly justifiable hatred is not so easily quashed, even among those who preach otherwise.

 

this i tihnk is the film's main strength. it brought out the vengeance that can lie within any of us.

 

> Even the revelation early on that Mr Sims was not what he seemed stirred me a bit, a nice little shot in the arm for the story.

>

 

i'd completely forgotten about him. and i did not remember that jim had a posse with him until the border, nor did i remember how the town celebrated him as a hero. "the need arose, and the man appeared."

 

 

 

> The four outlaws look like a selection from the Outlaw Hall of Fame, so familiar they seem. And they were all excellent.

>

 

oh i thought the same thing, too. Lee Van Cleef and Harry Silva...who turned out to be not so bad.

 

> Revenge and its pitfalls, the joy of family, the necessity for religion.

>

> The religious aspect was pretty strong but not overdone. I dont see Douglas riding off in the sunset living happily ever after. I think Jim Douglas will grapple with this for a long timewith the help of God, of course. I am not at all religious so it seems awkward to write that but I think this is what the movie wants to tell us.

>

> There are some unrealistic aspects to the story but they dont bother me that much. Gregory Peck is outstanding, perfection even. The locations and photography are an added bonusand how about that church! Quite an edifice for a small town and what a choir. God is alive and well in Los Arribas.

 

well said. i agree that Jim has a burden to bear on his conscience for a long time. i had even forgotten about butler...the butler did it.

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One thing that did strike me was the religious aspect of the film especially early on. A town ready to have its first hanging is all about going to church the night before. I assume it is a Saturday but my Catholic knowledge is marginal. Is it regular attendance or related to the hanging coming.

 

From Josefa's imploring Douglass to speak to "another lady" to help him. The guard asking to get off early to go to church and then offering a prayer for the gang. Well meaning but very naive. The most striking part for me as the church service and the choir dominating the sound/music part of this scene while the gang breaks out of jail and kills the guard. In a kind of odd way it reminded me of the scene in "The Godfather" when the baby is being christened while Pacino's men are wiping out his enemies.

 

Peck comes back to his faith only when he finds out his mistake. The guilt is overwhelming. I find the town's reaction to him odd as they don't care that he made this mistake (not that they didn't have it coming because they did) they seem happy he relieved them of their burden of disposing these men. From their perspective there is nothing to forgive. He must come to terms with his justice being wrong and forgiving himself.

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SPOILED BRAVADO

 

PECK: "You're wasting a lot of good lumber. A tree'd have done just as well."

 

SHERIFF: "They were sentenced to be hanged, not lynched."

 

When a man in a grey flannel suit meets you on the beach at say...twelve o'clock high, you might be spellbound by the sight of him. I don't think you want to risk a duel in the sun with him when he is on a Roman holiday of revenge. Take the omen. Just turn around, you can pirouette or arabesque...pack up your guns of Navarone because only the valiant..actually no one is safe from this beloved infidel. Not even a mockingbird.

 

I enjoyed this film, and loved seeing Gregory Peck mean and single-minded. How does he do it? I believe him when he is Atticus and I believed him here as Jim Douglas. I loved his resolve:

 

"I'm going to find them if it's the last thing I do."

 

And this is basically a death sentence for these four bandits. That doubt is hinted at and then later confirmed was surprising...and even when he had a shred of doubt, he kept going. I don't know if he could have functioned in his life if he hadn't had someone pay for the rape & murder of his wife. You know a movie is twisty topsy turvy if you start feeling sorry for Lee Van Cleef. Albert Salmi... ha! hang him high. There's nothing you can ever do with Albert Salmi in the movies. I did like the shot of Peck on his horse riding him down and lassoing him by the ankles.

 

I enjoyed Joan Collins in this. She's not all glammed up and over-acting. And her character realizes that that might have been her fate had she married Peck.

 

Stephen Boyd...geez, what can you do with Messala. He was unremorseful. Yes, he may not have done this brutal thing to Peck's wife, but you know he's probably done it before. What was chilling to me was after shooting down the hostage's horse, he tells the girl he won't make her walk...she can come right up here and sit next to him on his horse. Truly, that made me go "Oh no. Ewww."

 

GIRL: "Please let me go. My father will give you anything."

BOYD: "I've already got all he can give me."

 

When the girl tries to escape and gets dragged back inside the cabin, we didn't have to go inside and see the details. I knew it was horrific for that poor girl. And Joan Collins running back out confirmed it.

 

It was tricky with the wonderful Henry DaSilva. Yes, he has a wife and child too and he's holding a gun on Peck to protect his family.

 

It was not them.

 

I loved watching Peck wrap his mind around that information. But...but...and coming to terms with what he did. He clasped his hands in prayer, head bowed, right there and then.

 

Does it matter if you make someone pay for something they didn't do...when you know they did other things equally as egregious? Should he lose sleep for killing men who were about to hang in the morning anyway? It's up to each of us to decide. If you follow the letter of the law you may get one answer and if you follow the spirit of the law...of justice, you may come up with another answer. Yes Jim Douglas will have to live with what he did to men who were innocent of the crime he thought they committed. But wasn't justice served?

 

How ironic that the townspeople raised him on their shoulders, while he carries the burden of guilt on his.

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