Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Fort Dobbs, 1958

Having eluded a posse, a wanted man rescues a woman and her young son from a Comanche attack. He then escorts them to the presumed safety of a U.S. Cavalry fort. Trouble develops along the way when the woman comes to believe that her rescuer was responsible for the recent death of her husband.

That late '50s period was that great time for westerns - not only on tv, but at the movies: 1956 - THE SEARCHERS; 1957 - 3.10 TO YUMAGUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRALNIGHT PASSAGE; 1958 - MAN OF THE WESTTHE BIG COUNTRYCOWBOYTHE LAW AND JAKE WADE; 1959 - RIO BRAVOTHE HANGING TREEWARLOCKTHESE THOUSAND HILLS; 1960 - THE UNFORGIVENNORTH TO ALASKA, 1961 - Brando's ONE EYED JACKS; 1962 - HOW THE WEST WAS WON, etc. after of course those great early '50s westerns like HIGH NOONSHANEJOHNNY GUITAR (the first movie I saw, aged 8 - as per other reports here), DRUMBEATWHITE FEATHER etc, and of course Ford with Wayne, James Stewart with Anthony Mann, Randolph Scott and Budd Boetticher - see Western label for more on these. Now lets mix in Clint, who while no Wayne or Cooper has an agreeable Western presence, like Randolph Scott, or Dale Robertson or Guy Madison, and whose films while programmers are not without interest:

Sterling Hayden as JOHNNY GUITAR has a line: "Sometimes all a man wants is a smoke and a cup of coffee" - well, sometimes all I want for a snowy afternoon indoors is an unpretentious western ... 

FORT DOBBS, 1958 – A pleasing, tense if minor western from that great era for oaters. I remember this as a kid - we didn't get to see cowboy stars like Clint or Dale Roberston in their tv shows (no tv in Ireland then!) so caught their movies. Directed by the ever reliable Gordon Douglas (studio hack supreme) it casts man of few words Clint Walker as Gar, a wanted man on the run who stops to assist lone Virginia Mayo and cute kid Richard Eyer, as the Commanches attack their homestead. She thinks he killed her husband so tensions mount as they cross Indian territory – then Brian Keith and his guns turn up! The surprise here is that this is in black and white, when even routine westerns were in colour, but the monochrome is surprisingly effective. Walker soon removes his shirt to display that impressive physique, 

Eyer is as good as he was in FRIENDLY PERSUASION, but Mayo impresses the most – shorn of her usual glamour she delivers a compelling portrayal, particularly when she wakes and realises she is naked under her blanket and her wet clothes are drying (there's more than a few nods to RIVER OF NO RETURN here). The Indians of course are just faceless savages … its nicely worked out, there is no overt romance as such between the leads but a nice slow burn as she has to trust him, its one western that delivers. I liked it almost as much as SEVEN MEN FROM NOW! Clint went on to other oaters like YELLOWSTONE KELLY in '59 and the ridiculously enjoyable GOLD OF THE SEVEN SAINTS in 1961 (if only for Roger Moore's godawful Oirish accent) and NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY, as well as co-starring with the likes of Rock and Doris (SEND ME NO FLOWERS) and Sinatra, and is still here in his late-80s. Then it was time for that other Clint to step to the fore, with all those spaghetti westerns ...

1 comment:

  1. I will trust your judgement on this and give FORT DOBBS a look at some point soon.