Category Archives: Don Siegel

Blu-Ray News #405: Hell Is For Heroes (1962).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Steve McQueen, Bobby Darin, Fess Parker, Harry Guardino, Bob Newhart, James Coburn, Nick Adams, LQ Jones

Steve McQueen and Don Siegel. How could Hell Is For Heroes (1962) not be great? 

Making the movie was hell, judging from stories you hear about the production.  Writer Robert Pirosh was to direct, but left after trying to deal with McQueen. Paramount cut the budget. McQueen threw his weight around, demanded rewrites and fought with Don Siegel. It was so hot in California in the summer of 1961, many scenes were shot at night to make things more comfortable. The prop machine guns didn’t like with the blank cartridges being used. And on and on.

But it’s a great film. The B&W cinematography of Harold Lipstein is remarkable. Siegel’s direction is as taught as always. And the performances are top-notch across the board.

And it’s finally making its way to Blu-Ray, thanks to the folks at Kino Lorber. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1962, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Coburn, Kino Lorber, L.Q. Jones, Nick Adams, Paramount, Steve McQueen

4K News #396: Escape From Alcatraz (1979).

Escape From Alcatraz LC

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau, Fred Ward

Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood’s final collaboration, Escape From Alcatraz (1979), is tight, tough, cool and exciting — just what you’d expect from the guy who directed Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954), Baby Face Nelson (1957), Dirty Harry (1971), Charley Varrick (1973) and so many others.

Well researched and actually shot at Alcatraz (which had to be partially restored prior to filming), it’s coming to 4K from Kino Lorber later this year. I love seeing Siegel’s work get this kind of treatment. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1979, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Paramount, Patrick McGoohan

Making Movies: Don Siegel At Work.

Don Siegel’s films are scattered throughout my list of all-time favorites — if I was to ever sit down and make such a list. Here are some photos I’ve come across while researching him for various things (some of these images have appeared on this blog before, but are worth repeating).

Up top, there’s Siegel directing Clint Eastwood in Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970). The original screenplay was by Budd Boetticher, who was supposed to direct (he ended up with only a story credit). Budd not happy with the finished film, which co-starred Shirley MacLaine. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner called the picture “a solidly entertaining film that provides Clint Eastwood with his best, most substantial role to date; in it he is far better than he has ever been. In director Don Siegel, Eastwood has found what John Wayne found in John Ford and what Gary Cooper found in Frank Capra.” They’d make five movies together.

Here he is with Ronald Reagan and Vinveca Lindfors (Mrs. Siegel at the time) shooting Night Unto Night (1949).

Neville Brand and Dabbs Greer (?) get direction from Siegel on Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954).

Nick Adams and Siegel go over the script for Hell Is For Heroes (1962).

Siegel, Angie Dickinson, Claude Akins and John Cassavettes (back of his head) on the set of The Killers (1964).

With Eastwood on the set of Coogan’s Bluff (1968), their first picture together.

Andy Robinson goes over the script with Siegel on Dirty Harry (1971).

Siegel and Walter Matthau having a laugh on Charley Varrick (1973). I think Don’s wearing the same hat he has on in the photo from The Killers.

Eastwood and Siegel on location for Escape From Alcatraz (1979).

I was trying to find a picture of Siegel working on Baby Face Nelson (1957), one of his best, but had no luck. It’s highly underrated, probably because it’s almost impossible to see.

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Filed under 1954, 1957, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1979, Angie Dickinson, Budd Boetticher, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Nick Adams, Steve McQueen, Universal (-International), Walter Matthau

Blu-Ray News #388: Rough Cut (1980).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Burt Reynolds, Lesley-Anne Down, David Niven, Timothy West, Joss Ackland, Patrick Magee

Burt Reynolds news, two days in a row!

Don Siegel’s Rough Cut (1980) is a picture I’ve been wanting to revisit for quite some time. And this summer, Paramount is bringing it to Blu-Ray — good news for Siegel nuts like me.

It was a very troubled production — Siegel was fired, replaced, then rehired, and it’s a shame Burt Reynolds and Siegel never got a chance to work together again. Together, they could’ve made a really cool, tough movie. I have a feeling time has been kind to Rough Cut, and I’m looking forward to a high-definition chance to find out.

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Filed under 1980, Burt Reynolds, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Paramount

Blu-Ray Review: Monster From Green Hell (1957).

Directed by Kenneth G. Crane
Produced by Al Zimbalist
Written by Endre Bohem & Louis Vittes
Director Of Photography: Ray Flin
Music by Albert Glasser

Cast: Jim Davis (Dr. Quent Brady), Robert Griffin (Dan Morgan), Joel Fluellen (Arobi), Barbara Turner (Lorna Lorentz), Eduardo Ciannelli (Mahri), Vladimir Sokoloff (Dr. Lorentz)


A wasp hitches a ride into space on an experimental rocket, grows to mammoth size upon returning to earth and starts chomping on natives near the rocket’s African crash site. A team of scientists lead by Jim Davis heads to the Green Hell region to investigate — and finds a giant queen wasp and her colony.

Monster From Green Hell (1957) is a typical blend of stock footage (from 1939’s Stanley And Livingstone), pseudo-science dialogue, location work at Bronson Caves and decent special effects to create a fun entry in the 50s Big Bug sub-genre. It’s wonderful. (Why do I love movies like this so much?)

Producer Al Zimbalist had already done Cat-Women Of The Moon (1953), Robot Monster (1953) and King Dinosaur (1955). He would later give us Don Siegel’s Baby Face Nelson (1957) and Young Dillinger (1964). My kinda guy.

The giant wasps were built by the great Paul Blaisdell, without credit (or payment, according to Blaisdell). The stop-motion work by Gene Warren is quite good. The miniatures and full-size effects cut together pretty well.

Jim Davis narrates, smokes a lot of cigarettes and figures out how to kill off the great big wasps (while wearing an odd safari outfit to match Spencer Tracy in the Stanley And Livingstone footage), but the picture’s acting honors probably go to Joel Fluellen. Director Kenneth Crane was an editor making a career move here. DP Ray Flin shot hundreds of TV shows — this is one of his few features. And the score by Albert Glasser is up to his usual standards.

Distributed by DCA, Monster From Green Hell played theaters and drive-ins paired with Half-Human (1955), a Toho picture directed by Ishirō Honda. DCA’s American version added footage with John Carradine and Morris Ankrum — would you expect anything else?

The Film Detective folks have done their usual fine work on this one. It looks great, offered up in both the 1.85 and 1.33 aspect ratios. While it would’ve played theaters at 1.85, the 1.33 version gives us a little better peek at the monsters. I really liked seeing a line or two from the original print. They’re never distracting, and they’re gone in a few seconds, but to me that’s part of what film look like.

Monster From Green Hell played in its original run with a tinted climax — about two minutes. Since I’d only seen it on TV and VHS tape, with the ending in B&W, it was great to see the sequence restored here. What was shocking is that while the dying wasp shots are tinted red, the scenes with the actors are in full color! [Glenn Erickson, Robert Furmanek and Jack Theakston get to the bottom of this tinted vs. color business here.]

Of course, The Film Detective never holds back on the extras, and here we get a nice featurette on Jim Davis from C. Courtney Joyner, a commentary by Stephen Bissette and a nice booklet with an essay by Don Stradley.

It’s an excellent package all-around. For fans of this kind of thing, it comes highly, highly recommended.


One last thing: They say the wonderful Horrible Hamilton toy from 1964, which gave youngsters giant toy bugs and army men to feed to them, was based on the wasps in Monster From Green Hell. I always wanted one.

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Filed under 1957, Big Bug Movies, DCA, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, John Carradine, Morris Ankrum, Paul Blaisdell, The Film Detective

50 Years Ago.

Don Siegel’s Dirty Harry opened in LA on this day in 1971. Not exactly a Christmas movie, is it?

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Filed under 1971, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Warner Bros.

RIP, Reni Santoni.

Reni Santoni
(April 21, 1939 – August 1, 2020)

Reni Santoni was a good actor, and it was always a pleasure to bump into him in some picture or TV show. He’s terrific in one of my favorite movies, Don Siegel’s Dirty Harry (1971), and he’s the only good thing about Cobra (1986). He has passed away at 81.

Mr. Santoni did a blue million TV shows, including a later episode of The Rockford Files, which I’ll probably dig out tonight.

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Filed under 1971, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel

Blu-Ray News #302: Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Clint Eastwood, Shirley MacLaine

Kino Lorber has announced an October Blu-Ray release of Don Siegel’s Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970), his second picture with Clint Eastwood (from a story by Budd Boetticher).

Kino Lorber has promised 4K restorations of both the US cut and the longer international version, along with a host of extras.

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Filed under 1970, Budd Boetticher, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #217 UPDATE: Madigan (1968).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens, Harry Guardino, James Whitmore, Susan Clark, Don Stroud

Madigan (1968) is yet another terrific picture from Don Siegel, from that late 60s – early 70s period when he was knocking out great movies one right after another. It came between his The Killers (1964) and Coogan’s Bluff (1968), and it’s one of the best cop movies of the 60s.

Kino Lorber has had this on their “coming soon” roster for a while, and they’ve given it an official release date — November 12, the same day as their new Blu-Ray of Siegel’s Charley Varrick (1973).

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Filed under 1968, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Whitmore, Kino Lorber, Richard Widmark, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #233: Noir Archive Volume 3: 1956-1960.

I’ve been making my way through the first glorious volume of this terrific series from Kit Parker and Mill Creek Entertainment, and now they’ve announced the third. There’s another great lineup on the way (no pun intended).

The Shadow On The Window (1956)
Directed by William Asher
Starring Phil Carey, Betty Garrett, John Barrymore, Jr., Jerry Mathers

Jerry Mathers goes into shock after seeing his mom hassled by a group of thugs, then helps his dad (Phil Carey) and the cops rescue her. The Beaver is really good in this.

The Long Haul (1957)
Directed by Ken Hughes
Starring Victor Mature, Diana Dors

A British noir picture with Mature all tangled up in the shifty trucking industry — and a hood’s girlfriend.

Pickup Alley 6S

Pickup Alley (1957, UK Title: Interpol)
Directed by John Gilling
Starring Victor Mature, Anita Ekberg, Trevor Howard

Victor Mature and Anita Ekberg in a B&W Scope picture about dope smugglers — directed by the guy who did The Plague Of The Zombies (1966)! Where’s this movie been all my life?

The Tijuana Story (1957)
Directed by Leslie Kardos
Starring Rodolfo Acosta, James Darren, Jean Willes

Another lurid geography lesson from the great Sam Katzman. I love Rodolfo Acosta — his tiny part in One-Eyed Jacks includes one of the coolest single shots in all of Cinema, if you ask me (which you didn’t). Here, he’s got the lead!

She Played With Fire (1957, UK Title: Fortune Is A Woman)
Directed by Sidney Gilliat
Starring Jack Hawkins, ArleneDahl, DennisPrice, ChristopherLee
More UK noir, this one about a painting and insurance fraud.

The Lineup (1958)
Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Eli Wallach, Robert Keith, Warner Anderson, Richard Jaeckel

The TV series is turned into a typically tough and tight Don Siegel film. Siegel’s San Francisco movies (this and Dirty Harry) really get in the way of the city’s whole peace and love/hippie vibe. This time, it’s a town crawling with dope, crooks and killers. This set’s worth it for this one alone!

The Case Against Brooklyn (1958)
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Starring Darren McGavin, Maggie Hayes, Warren Stevens, Nestor Paiva, Brian G. Hutton

A documentary-style, true-story crooked cop picture starring Darren McGaven. Paul Wendkos also did The Legend Of Lizzie Borden (1975). Produced by Charles H. Schneer in-between Harryhausen movies. Oh, and Nestor Paiva’s in it.

The Crimson Kimono (1959)
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring James Shigeta, Glenn Corbett, Victoria Shaw

On the surface, it’s a detective story, but that’s never how a Fuller movie works, is it? Fuller understood that the best way to tackle an issue/message in a picture was to wrap it up in something else like a cop story or a Western. He also knew that if you stuck to B movies, the suits didn’t pay much attention and left you alone to do what you wanted. This one’s terrific.

Man On A String (1960)
Directed by Andre De Toth
Starring Ernest Borgnine, Kerwin Mathews, Alexander Scourby, Colleen Dewhurst, Glenn Corbett, Ted Knight, Seymour Cassel

Ernest Borgnine stars in this 1960 spy picture based on the life (and autobiography, Ten Years A Counterspy) of Boris Morros, a Russian-born musical director in Hollywood (John Ford’s Stagecoach, 1939) who was first a Russian spy, then a counterspy for the FBI. Andre de Toth focuses on the double-crosses that stack up like cordwood.

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Filed under 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, Andre de Toth, Christopher Lee, Columbia, Darren McGavin, Diana Dors, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ernest Borgnine, John Gilling, Kit Parker, Mill Creek, Nestor Paiva, Sam Fuller, Sam Katzman, William Asher