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A 20th Century Fox Retrospective Scrapbook: 1958


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1958 started plenty of storm clouds around Fox. Things weren't so rosy now.

Gina Lollobrigida was an opera diva in Beautiful but Dangerous....

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Lauren Bacall played a dying woman who adopted a child for husband Robert Stack in The Gift of Love.

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Sing Boy Sing was a youth-oriented musical

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Diamond Safari took crime to Africa

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it was wartime again in Count Five and Die.

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Ambush at Cimarron Pass was another western quickie.

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South Pacific was one of the biggest Box Office hits in 1958, if not the biggest, and remains extremely well-known to this day, thanks to it being based on a beloved stage show.

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Blood Arrow sent Fox back to the West.

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The Young Lions was a groundbreaking film as it was the first WWII film to portray a German soldier (of course a German soldier who was entirely disenchanted by Hitler) sympathetically..... which of course was very controversial. It was also much praised.

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The Long Hot Summer was pretty loose Faulkner, but it was still a fresh, authentic, deeply atmospheric and  enthralling film, propelled by a brilliant cast.

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The Air Force got its close-up in Thundering Jets.

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Charles Bronson toplined the Western Showdown at Boot Hill

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Gary Cooper had the lead in the story 10 North Frederick

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the Naked Earth was adventure in Africa.

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Space Master X-7 was a Sci-Fi Quickie

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While From Hell to Texas was a Western Showcase for some rising stars.

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Fraulein was a post-war melodrama

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The Bravados went to the west with Gregory Peck, Joan Collins, and Stephen Boyd

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Desert Hell was a smaller western with two familiar TV faces in the leads

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Wolf Dog was another B quickie

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And Brian Keith was back to the West in Sierra Baron

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Charles Bronson got involved in a Gang War

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RX Murder told of a bad doctor....

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A Certain Smile told of a teen getting involved with an older man.

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The Fiend Who Walked the West was a Western takeoff on Kiss of Death

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Flaming Frontier was another little western

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The Hunters put the two Roberts into battle.

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The Fly was an excellent Sci-Fi horror and a big surprise hit to boot. The remake came in 1986.

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Harry Black and the Tiger placed Stuart Granger in India.

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John Wayne headed to Japan for The Barbarian and the Geisha

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Villa was a south of the Border Action film, but the person playing Villa had rather low billing.

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The Roots of Heaven was one of the last big hurrahs for Errol Flynn who passed away the following year

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In Love and War was another war film that mixed battle and romance

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Marti Gras was a musical comedy for the youth set

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Back to the West for Frontier Gun

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then a switch: A heist comedy in A Nice Little Bank That Should Be Robbed

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Now military training was mixed with laughs in Rally Around the Flag Boys

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And Ingrid Bergman scored a personal triumph in the wonderful The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, which was the final film for Robert Donat.

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Fox's B films from this year are quite dreadful, except for SIERRA BARON which has decent cinematography and above average acting. It is more like a B+. As for the studio's "A" films...

Here's my top 10:

Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 1.18.21 PM.jpeg

1. THE INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS. I think Bergman's a little overwrought in some scenes, but she does give a genuinely sincere performance which this kind of story needs at its center. Robert Donat, in his last performance, does a wonderful job in a supporting role.

2. THE YOUNG LIONS. This one seems to get better with subsequent viewings. The cast is extraordinary. So is the script.

3. THE BRAVADOS. Another great Fox western from the 50s. I like how well Peck and Collins work together, and Boyd's good too. Henry King's direction is worth noting.

4. THE FLY. It's stylish and classic. The sequels and the 80s remake are all inferior to it.

5. THE LONG HOT SUMMER. The leads are perfect. The supporting cast is one of the hammiest I've ever seen. But it's fun, if you like campy nonsense dripping with cliches and southern stereotypes.

6. THE HUNTERS. I admire Dick Powell as a director. I think he elicits some decent performances from Mitchum and Wagner in this picture.

7. RALLY ROUND THE FLAG BOYS! At times it feels like a sitcom, but I do like how they poke fun at suburban communities and the military in one fell swoop. It's an engaging piece of fluff. Joan Collins is great in it.

8. THE GIFT OF LOVE. A remake of SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY. One of Lauren Bacall's better roles. I like the re-teaming of Bacall and Stack, who were last seen quite unhappily in Universal's WRITTEN ON THE WIND.

9. 10 NORTH FREDERICK. It should have been in Technicolor, but it's good. One of Gary Cooper's better late career films.

10. IN LOVE AND WAR. Not great but not bad. Mostly effective cast. The title would've worked better for a rom-com or sex farce involving two battling spouses.

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I've been aware of The Barbarian and the Geisha for many years but always avoided it, figuring it would have been spectacular miscasting of John Wayne in a role that wasn't at all in his wheelhouse. FXM has been showing it recently and when I was reminded that it was directed by John Huston I decided to finally give it a try. I now love this film. It's beautifully realized production-wise and seemingly pains were taken to be historically accurate. It turns out to be one of my favorite John Wayne performances and this posting reminds me that I'm ready to watch it again.

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1 hour ago, DougieB said:

I've been aware of The Barbarian and the Geisha for many years but always avoided it, figuring it would have been spectacular miscasting of John Wayne in a role that wasn't at all in his wheelhouse. FXM has been showing it recently and when I was reminded that it was directed by John Huston I decided to finally give it a try. I now love this film. It's beautifully realized production-wise and seemingly pains were taken to be historically accurate. It turns out to be one of my favorite John Wayne performances and this posting reminds me that I'm ready to watch it again.

Glad you enjoy it and that it works for you. I didn't care for it. I prefer Wayne in westerns or action films. In something like THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA, it's like they're trying to put him in a more prestigious drama and he seems out of place in it. I do agree that Huston's direction and the production values are top-notch (despite the fact that Houston tried to denounce his involvement with the film after it was re-edited by the studio before release).

I think I would have liked the film better if someone else was in the lead role, someone like Gregory Peck or Gary Cooper. 

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15 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Glad you enjoy it and that it works for you. I didn't care for it. I prefer Wayne in westerns or action films. In something like THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA, it's like they're trying to put him in a more prestigious drama and he seems out of place in it. I do agree that Huston's direction and the production values are top-notch (despite the fact that Houston tried to denounce his involvement with the film after it was re-edited by the studio before release).

I think I would have liked the film better if someone else was in the lead role, someone like Gregory Peck or Gary Cooper. 

I agree that other actors could have done well in this role and you mentioned two very good choices. I didn't realize that Huston had disputed the edit, but I still love the movie for its beautiful atmospherics and attention to detail. Even though Wayne is iconic for his more pumped-up action roles, I'm very impressed with his more character-driven roles, like The Quiet Man with Maureen O'Hara and Trouble Along the Way with Donna Reed.

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21 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Fox's B films from this year are quite dreadful, except for SIERRA BARON which has decent cinematography and above average acting. It is more like a B+. As for the studio's "A" films...

Here's my top 10:

Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 1.18.21 PM.jpeg

1. THE INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS. I think Bergman's a little overwrought in some scenes, but she does give a genuinely sincere performance which this kind of story needs at its center. Robert Donat, in his last performance, does a wonderful job in a supporting role.

2. THE YOUNG LIONS. This one seems to get better with subsequent viewings. The cast is extraordinary. So is the script.

3. THE BRAVADOS. Another great Fox western from the 50s. I like how well Peck and Collins work together, and Boyd's good too. Henry King's direction is worth noting.

4. THE FLY. It's stylish and classic. The sequels and the 80s remake are all inferior to it.

5. THE LONG HOT SUMMER. The leads are perfect. The supporting cast is one of the hammiest I've ever seen. But it's fun, if you like campy nonsense dripping with cliches and southern stereotypes.

6. THE HUNTERS. I admire Dick Powell as a director. I think he elicits some decent performances from Mitchum and Wagner in this picture.

7. RALLY ROUND THE FLAG BOYS! At times it feels like a sitcom, but I do like how they poke fun at suburban communities and the military in one fell swoop. It's an engaging piece of fluff. Joan Collins is great in it.

8. THE GIFT OF LOVE. A remake of SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY. One of Lauren Bacall's better roles. I like the re-teaming of Bacall and Stack, who were last seen quite unhappily in Universal's WRITTEN ON THE WIND.

9. 10 NORTH FREDERICK. It should have been in Technicolor, but it's good. One of Gary Cooper's better late career films.

10. IN LOVE AND WAR. Not great but not bad. Mostly effective cast. The title would've worked better for a rom-com or sex farce involving two battling spouses.

Ten North Frederick is being restored to Blu-ray from Twilight Time for a July release.  Biggest disappointment  was South Pacific.  It should have been as good as the original stage play, but for me, it fell flat.

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What I've seen of Fox '58, ranked by my rating:

8/10

  • The Young Lions

7/10

  • The Fly
  • From Hell to Texas

6/10

  • The Barbarian and the Geisha
  • The Bravados
  • The Fiend That Walked the West
  • The Hunters
  • The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
  • The Long, Hot Summer
  • Rally Round the Flag, Boys!
  • The Roots of Heaven
  • Showdown at Boot Hill
  • South Pacific
  • Ten North Frederick

5/10

  • Ambush at Cimarron Pass
  • Gang War
  • Space Master X-7
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