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BLACK AND WHITE SAGA
on September 10, 2009
Down through the years, the last 5 or so anyway, I have recorded several VHS tapes of this movie, cannot figure out 'why' no DVD has yet been issued. Same goes for another Clint Walker western FORT DOBBS (1958), almost makes you wonder what Warner Bros. have against ole Clint. Maybe walking off the set of Cheyenne fifty some years back still rankles Warner Bros. Gordon Douglas directed all three movies, FORT DOBBS, YELLOWSTONE KELLY (1959), and GOLD OF THE SEVEN SAINTS and as noted not one of these fine westerns has ever been released on DVD.
This movie comes from the 1957 western novel DESERT GUNS written by Steve Frazee, with the movie (1961) and book being fairly different. I think so much of the movie that I tracked down the book (which can be kinda hard to find) wishing to see how much variance there is between the two. Well for instance, Rainbolt is 26 years old in the book yet Shawn is in his 50s. Anyone seeing the movie will know right off that neither Clint nor Roger are portrayed like that. Also at book's ending Rainbolt rides off with a female. Just a couple of differences, there are several more. One other for instance: Roger Moore is tied with wet rawhide in the movie, but in the book it is Rainbolt completely wrapped in wet hide so all the victim can view is the sky.
Another aspect to this western film is the performance that rings down the years from veteran actor Chill Wills, his portrayal of Doctor Wilson Gates is one that will remain with most viewers. You really come to appreciate him as the film rolls on.
However, to me the movie is superior to the book. Probably because I saw it first and read the book later. Last words would be: watch the movie because it is an interesting story filled with adventure very well portrayed by Clint and Roger. The black and white photography (Joseph F. Biroc) adds a stark reality that color might not have captured as well. The location (Arches National Park, Utah) of the movie also adds to the panorama of the scenes and the story itself. I have several favorite western movies and this is one of them, if you watch the movie it may become one of yours as well.
Clint Walker-Jim Rainbolt
Roger Moore-Shawn Garrett
Leticia Roman-Tita, Gondora's 'ward'
Robert Middleton-Amos Gondora
Chill Wills-Doctor Wilson Gates