18 - 24 FEB 2023
It is the awards season again and the 2023 Bafta Film Awards, hosted by Richard E Grant, are on BBC 1 Sunday evening. Other than that, it is a quiet week; the four films I have chosen have a westerns connection, albeit a loose one.
HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962) Saturday 18 February 2.00-4.25pm BBC 2
Filmed in Cinerama, this is an epic that has it all: breathtaking vistas, excitement, a superb score and 13 A-list stars (plus a supporting cast that is almost as impressive). It couldn’t be made in the same way today, of course – ‘How the West was Lost’ wasn’t a prominent part of the story – but the spectacle hasn’t diminished one iota. I always feel a tinge of sadness as the film ends, but now that might be for the passing of the principle cast; only Carroll Baker is still with us. The Blu-ray, by the way, has a ‘curved letter box’ option that imitates how the Cinerama print would have looked. Alternatively, you could look out for the next showing at the Bradford widescreen festival!
CONVICT STAGE (1965) Saturday 18 February 7.30-9.00pm TP (Channel 82)
Well, not only have I not seen this western, I didn’t know what it was – the shame has been unbearable. Quickly, I reasoned that this would mean its entire budget wouldn’t have paid for one cast member of the above and a little research would appear to bear this out. The director is the prolific Lesley Selander – his entire output hardly ever exceeded a running time of 70 minutes – and the cast includes Donald ‘Red’ Barry, a popular B-western star in the 1940s.
THE MULE (2018) Sunday 19 February 10.00-11.50pm BBC2
Cowboy icon Clint Eastwood will be 93 in May, so it is likely that The Mule will be his last film of real note. Based on actual events, he directs and stars as an octogenarian who takes a driving job and – too late – realises he is carrying drugs.
THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973) Tuesday 21 February 11.35pm-1.45am TP (Channel 82)
Not quite my first X-rated film – it did the rounds with a support called Hammer – it was a brilliant introduction to films for grown-ups! Vincent Price made only three westerns (The Baron of Arizona, 1950, is the most interesting); here, though, he is in more familiar guise as Edward Lionheart, an actor who takes umbrage against his critics. It is a quite delicious offering and Diana Rigg leads a great supporting cast.
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By David Johnson
Chairman of Lyme Regis Film Society
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