If you are of a certain age like me you can't see too many Westerns.
And Warner Home Video has decided to accommodate us by releasing 10 on DVD for the first time, including two that have never been on home video in any format.
"Errol Flynn: The Warner Bros. Western Collection" (Warner, 1940-50, b/w and color, four discs, $49.92). Flynn despite being born in Australia and raised in England made a fine Western hero, and the eight open-range epics he starred in proved to be box-office gold. His best is undisputedly "Dodge City," but these four are also pretty good.
• "Virginia City" (1940, b/w). Flynn's second Western reteams him with "Dodge City" director Michael Curtiz for a large-scale look at Civil War rivals attempting to get gold out of the title town. Not quite up there with their first film together, but it holds interest and boasts a first-rate supporting cast led by Randolph Scott, Miriam Hopkins and Humphrey Bogart.
• "San Antonio" (1945, color) has Flynn battling rustlers in a by-the-numbers script, but there's plenty of action and romance, as bad girl Alexis Smith changes her ways to rope him in.
• "Montana" (1949, color) is another rather predictable oater, but Flynn is fine, again romancing Alexis Smith until she discovers he's an Australian sheep rancher looking for a stake. We all know how cattlemen feel about sheepmen. Colorful fun.
• "Rocky Mountain" (1950, b/w) is another Civil War epic, this time with Flynn heading West and battling Indians. Look for Slim Pickens in his first picture. (Filmed entirely in Gallup, N.M.; home-video debut)
Extras: full frame, audio commentaries (on "Rocky Mountain" and "Virginia City"), featurette ("Virginia City"), short films, cartoons, trailers (these four titles are available only in this box set)
"Western Classics Collection" (Warner, 1953-69, six discs, $59.92). When Westerns were in vogue, it wasn't unusual to see big stars riding the range. This set features William Holden, Richard Widmark, Robert Taylor and John Cassevetes, among others.
And among these colorful films are two titles that have long been requested, "Cimarron," starring Glenn Ford, and "The Stalking Moon," with Gregory Peck.
• "Escape From Fort Bravo" (1953) was filmed in Death Valley, and the unforgiving desert plays a significant role in this tale of the Civil War being disrupted by Indian raids. William Holden dominates as a tough captain at a Union prison, with Eleanor Parker, John Forsythe, William Demarest and Polly Bergen.
• "Many Rivers to Cross" (1955) is a romantic comedy on the frontier as Eleanor Parker sets her sites on rough-hewn trapper Robert Taylor. Great supporting cast includes Victor McLaglen, Russ Tamblyn and James Arness, (Home-video debut)
• "The Law and Jake Wade" (1958) Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark shine in this macho standoff as former partners in crime. Taylor now wears a badge, but Widmark is sure he's hidden away some of their loot and he aims to find it. Excellent performances and nice use of outdoor locations give this one a real boost.
• "Saddle the Wind" (1958) has Taylor playing a former gunslinger who has retired to ranching, but trouble is stirred up by his hotheaded younger brother (John Cassavetes, doing a cowboy "Rebel Without a Cause"). Familiar but very well-played, with Julie London as an observer and Donald Crisp as the voice of wisdom. Written by Rod Serling! (Home-video debut)
• "Cimarron" (1960) is the second movie of Edna Ferber's tale (first filmed in 1931) and it features a stunning land-rush sequence. From there it's a familiar soap opera about the building of the West but the cast is good and the film offers some eye-popping spectacle. Glenn Ford, Maria Schell, Anne Baxter, Arthur O'Connell, Russ Tamblyn, Mercedes McCambridge.
• "The Stalking Moon" (1969, G). Believe it or not, this plays like an antecedent of "Halloween," with Gregory Peck reluctantly taking into his care a woman (Eva Marie Saint) and her young Indian son. She has spent 10 years as an Indian captive, and the boy's father is a ruthless killer who leaves a trail of bodies as he tracks them down. Low-key with sparse dialogue but it builds to a highly suspenseful crescendo.Extras: widescreen, trailers (each title also available separately, $12.98)
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