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Hi, VV---welcome to the boards. :)

 

I thought I had seen this movie before, but in fact it's one I've missed and I'm SO

glad for once I had the sense to start recording it. What a cast!! Every scene

shows me another familiar face...

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It has been years since I sat through *Union Pacific* and once again it reminded me that Joel McCrea was a terrific actor. Barbara Stanwyck's wayward Irish accent bothered me to no end and her character turn towards protecting Dick (Robert Preston) was problematic for me. But that was nothing compared to how badly directed this film was. *By DeMIlle.* The script had historical references to Dodge, Ames, Caseman and I never look to DeMille films for historical accuracy but this film is too long by at least twenty minutes. Anthony Quinn gets killed way too soon. The supporting cast, especially Lynne Overman and Akim Tamiroff steal the picture. I felt really bad for Robert Preston having to appear in two films in the same year with Brian Donlevy in light of the experience with Donlevy on the upcoming *Beau Geste*. Hopefully this one was filmed first.

 

*Stagecoach* only served to remind me that John Ford really was a truly talented director especially compared to DeMille. You want to see a better film on the building of the transcontinental railroad, watch Ford's *The Iron Horse* which is actually more epic and bit more historically accurate.

 

DeMille may have been the go-to guy for "epic" film making but Ford ran rings around him when it came to making films.

 

I hope DeMille winced at the DGA meeting when Ford said, "I'm John Ford, I make westerns." because if he didn't, he should have.

 

As for *Stagecoach*, no matter how many times I watch it, it never grows old. Yeah, I know. It's a disaster film but it's the granddaddy of them all. The characters are all well drawn (and Ford will use Andy Devine in much the same way some twenty years later in Liberty Valance.) and the action is jam-packed but not at the expense of the characters. Ford also doesn't draw out the drama the way DeMille did in the last half of *Union Pacific*.

 

But Joel McCrea in those knee high leather boots. YOWZA!!!

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Brian Donlevy plays the heavy, Sgt. Markoff, in *Beau Geste* and refused to break character even off-camera. Stories from the set say he was a real SOB to work with and be around because of that.

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Sgt. Markoff is pretty mean. That, I can PROMISE YOU! UNION PACIFIC is not as good as some of DeMille?s other westerns, particularly, THE PLAINSMAN and NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE. Where those films delight in a light tone and fast pace, this one can?t seem to get up enough steam to make it over the hill. It?s not a bad movie. It?s just not good enough.

I don?t see STAGECOACH as disaster film so much as ensemble piece. One critic called it ?GRAND HOTEL on wheels.? That describes it well. The concept of a group of disparate characters thrown together in a challenging, if not perilous situation is a fascinating one. It serves a number of genres, including the disaster film, well. The format works beautifully in DINNER AT EIGHT, THE DIRTY DOZEN and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. But Ford?s masterpiece succeeds beyond all others.

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*I don?t see STAGECOACH as disaster film so much as ensemble piece. One critic called it ?GRAND HOTEL on wheels.? That describes it well. The concept of a group of disparate characters thrown together in a challenging, if not perilous situation is a fascinating one.*

 

Redriver,

 

I do agree with you. But as genres are updated for new generations so was this one. I think you can draw a line from *Stagecoach* to the disaster films of the 1970s such as *The Poseidon Adventure* and the *Towering Inferno*.

 

Slightly different circumstances but the same premise.

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*Although the disaster movies of the 70s definitely seemed to rely primarily on the special effects*

 

But at the heart of them is a group of disparate people thrown together in a challenging situation.

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

> *Although the disaster movies of the 70s definitely seemed to rely primarily on the special effects*

>

> But at the heart of them is a group of disparate people thrown together in a challenging situation.

 

Lynn,

You're quoting me out of context!! :P

 

Seriously, the part of my post you quoted was followed by "(at least to hook audiences)" because, while I totally agree with you about the part of a group of disparate people thrown together in a challenging situation, I also feel that the 70s films were being marketed very differently, or at least that is how I remember them.

 

Maybe a small distinction, since I basically agree with you on the main point. But I think it's very telling that Hollywood felt that having a group of talented actors and some challenging situation wasn't enough to attract enough moviegoers, that they really needed some fancy special effects.

 

But, like I said, I basically agree with you on the main premise of what you said.

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I directed an interview in the early 70's with William Wellman. he talked about "Beau Geste" and how everyone disliked Donlevy especially Ray Milland. Donlevy kept riding Milland through the film. Milland found out about Donlevy's aversion to blood. The scene where Milland is holding the bayonet while standing over Cooper's body and stabs Donlevy.Wellman said Donlevy was wearing a protective vest for the stabbing, but there was a patch of skin around the armpit that was not protected. Milland was an excellent fencer and when he thrust Donlevy in rehearsal he went for the armpit and gave Donlevy a small stab bur it started to bleed and Donlevy fainted. He never ragged on Milland again..

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As I remember, Wellman concluded that at some point Donlevy, in the presence

of all his colleagues on Beau Geste, admitted to and apologized for his behavior and

everything was fine after that.

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fred,

You're so lucky to have interviewed William Wellman! That anecdote really makes me imagine how intense the shooting of Beau Geste must have been. Was that one filmed on location or were the desert scenes done in California? I don't remember. But it must have been kind of a pain to go out to that kind of location, even if it wasn't overseas.

 

I'm glad to hear Ray Milland was able to deal with the situation. He always struck me as a dapper kind of guy, ready for anything.

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Holly, "Geste" was shot in Yuma, Ariz. and at Paramount Ranch, Agoura,Ca and Buttercup Dunes in the Imperial Valley, Ca. It borders the Ariz. and Mexican borders. This location seems to have been a favorite of directors.Among some of the films shot there were both "Geste" films in 26 and 39. John Ford's "Lost Patrol", "Stargate", "Son of the Sheik" and "The Big Trail' in 1930. Wellman was great to talk to, but he was very bitter about his final film "Lafayette Escadrille" in 1958.Because the film was so personal to him, he served in the Escadrille in WW1 and it was part biographical and he said Jack Warner and the studio took control and turned it into something other then he wanted and made it an average war movie with a happy ending. That was why he walked away and never did another film. The interview was in 1973 and he died 2 years later....

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Holly, "Geste" was shot in Yuma, Ariz. and at Paramount Ranch, Agoura,Ca and Buttercup Dunes in the Imperial Valley, Ca. It borders the Ariz. and Mexican borders. This location seems to have been a favorite of directors.Among some of the films shot there were both "Geste" films in 26 and 39. John Ford's "Lost Patrol", "Stargate", "Son of the Sheik" and "The Big Trail' in 1930. Wellman was great to talk to, but he was very bitter about his final film "Lafayette Escadrille" in 1958.Because the film was so personal to him, he served in the Escadrille in WW1 and it was part biographical and he said Jack Warner and the studio took control and turned it into something other then he wanted and made it an average war movie with a happy ending. That was why he walked away and never did another film. The interview was in 1973 and he died 2 years later....

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That's one of the things that made California great in the eyes of many filmmakers and studio moguls - so many convenient locations relatively nearby. I'm glad to learn these spots were the place where so many classic movies were shot.

 

And sorry to hear about Wellman's experience with Lafayette Escadrille - I've been wanting to watch that one for a while now, but haven't had time.

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