John Wayne: 10 Movie Western (2 Discs) (R) (Pop Flix Western) product details page

John Wayne: 10 Movie Western (2 Discs) (R) (Pop Flix Western)

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The highlight of this excellent low-budget western filmed at Newhall, California, is a rather spectacular fight scene involving no less than 40 riders, quite an undertaking for low-budget producer (and former stunt-man) Paul Malvern. Yakima Canutt, who also plays John Wayne's Indian sidekick, performs an equally amazing leap into the lagoon at Newhall and doubles Wayne in a great fight with fellow-stunt-man Ed Parker. Much have been written in recent years about The Star Packer's horror elements -- too much, some would say -- but they are not exactly frightening. Not even to leading Verna Hillie who, when confronted with a hideously grimacing Artie Ortego outside her bedroom window, merely fires off a few shots, one of which humorously hits a fleeing henchman in his nether regions. There is also a secret passageway, a hollow tree stump (appearing out of nowhere, incidentally) from inside of which Billy Franey shoots and kills newly elected Sheriff Tom Lingham, and a mystery villain whose identity is not too difficult to spot for anyone who has seen Wayne's previous Randy Rides Alone (1934). In the end, it is not the rather hoary mystery elements but the amazing stunts that make this little western truly stand out. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

Film editor Carl Pierson fills in for Robert North Bradbury as director on this little Monogram oater, but everything else remain pretty much the same, including the supporting cast. After all, how many different ways can one film John Wayne (or his stunt double Yakima Canutt) ride hell bent for leather? Yet Paradise Canyon does stand out from Wayne's other early Westerns in that Robert Emmett Tansey's screenplay tends to stress comedy over action. Highlights include medicine showmen Perry Murdock and Gordon Clifford crooning "When We Were Young and Foolish" and the unforgettable "Snap Those Old Suspenders" as a gathering of townsmen hold their noses, and that ever-popular cinematic huckster Earl Hodgins shamelessly hawking "Dr. Carter's Famous Indian Remedy." Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

As he often managed to do, director/screenwriter Robert North Bradbury opens Blue Steel in a highly suspenseful manner, this time by having John Wayne holed up in a secluded hotel whose proprietor is expecting trouble. Assorted interesting guests arrive, including a couple of timid honeymooners, and there are mysterious bumps in the night. But Bradbury once again fails to follow through and the remainder of Blue Steel is the usual lackadaisical Grade-Z Western enlivened somewhat by a couple of good stunts from Yakima Canutt. Bradbury was full of good intentions, not to mention a noteworthy idea or two (his flash-pan method of getting a character from one place to another is always enjoyable), but lacked the economy and general wherewithal to make his Westerns much more than routine budget-fillers. But the Big Pine locations are picturesque. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

Winds of the Wasteland is a vast step up from John Wayne's earlier "Lone Star" Westerns in both production values and execution, and though former actor Mack V. Wright may not have been the most visionary of directors, the climactic stagecoach race, as staged by stunt expert Yakima Canutt, remains an exciting harbinger of what Republic Pictures would accomplish in the very near future. John Wayne himself is still a bit wet behind the ears, acting wise, but the supporting cast is uniformly good and the Sacramento Valley locations refreshingly different from the well-traveled Lone Pine vistas. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

John Wayne spends most of The Man from Utah with an embarrassed grin on his face as if Lindsley Parsons' simplistic dialogue was simply too much to handle, so what the heck In contrast, George "Gabby" Hayes, still billed plain George Hayes, is visibly and audibly coming into his own, complete with ruffled appearance and such future trademark sayings as "tarnation" and "young whippersnapper." Only the standard complaint about those "durn persnickety females" is still missing. As he had in several of his early Westerns, John Wayne "performs" a little ditty, his singing voice, according to some sources, provided by future 20th Century-Fox B-Western crooner Smith Ballew. The jury, however, is still out on that. As a Western melodrama, The Man from Utah isn't much but it remains amusing to watch both Wayne and Hayes in their embryonic stages. And the Kernville River locations are picturesque as always. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

Earl Dwire essayed many a nasty Boss Villain in his long B-Western career, but this time he is even more vile. With an ill-fitting wig and an even worse Mexican accent, Dwire positively leers at the sight of Sheila Terry and right in front of the girl's grandfather to boot. The latter is played by that ornery old polecat George Hayes, years before he added "Gabby" to his moniker, and he easily steals every scene he is in. Yakima Canutt, meanwhile, performs several daring stunts, some while wearing a wig to look like Terry, and a very young John Wayne hems and haws as only he could. Neither the best nor the worst of the Monogram Lone Star Westerns, The Lawless Frontier is interesting mainly as an example of Wayne in his embryonic years. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide