Category Archives: Don Siegel

Blu-Ray News #149: Charley Varrick (1973).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Felicia Farr, Andy Robinson, Sheree North, Norman Fell, William Schallert, John Vernon, Bob Steele

I love the good old US of A, but there’s one thing where the rest of the world has us beat — outside the US, you can find a Blu-Ray of Don Siegel’s incredible Charley Varrick (1973). Still no hi-def release here, and our only DVD release was full-frame. No wonder the rest of the world hates us. I’ve proclaimed my undying love for this movie many times before, it’s one of my favorites, easy, from one of my favorite directors.

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So when I saw it pop up on blu-ray.com, I was overjoyed. This time, Indicator/Powerhouse Films in the UK have announced Charley Varrick on Blu-Ray coming in January with a slew of terrific-sounding extras. The Indicator/Powerhouse release is limited to 3,000 copies. Essentially, this thing is essentially essential.

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Filed under 1973, Andy Robinson, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Joe Don Baker, Universal (-International), Walter Matthau, William Schallert

Blu-Ray News #102: Edge Of Eternity (1959).

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Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Cornel Wilde, Victoria Shaw, Mickey Shaughnessy, Edgar Buchanan, Rian Garrick, Jack Elam

Don Siegel didn’t like CinemaScope. But the setting of Edge Of Eternity (1959), the Grand Canyon, screams for the wide screen. So here we get one of the great director’s few films in 2.35. (Flaming Star was also in ‘Scope; Dirty Harry and a few others were in Panavision.) His director of photography for this one was the great Burnett Guffey, who he’d worked with on Private Hell 36 (1954). Guffey’d go on to do the groundbreaking camerawork for Bonne And Clyde (1967).

Edge Of Eternity is a Siegel picture I’ve never seen, so I’m really stoked that Twilight Time is bringing it to Blu-Ray. Siegel certainly deserves the kind of treatment that comes from Twilight Time — they’ve already put together a great Flaming Star. Edge Of Eternity will be available in February.

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Filed under 1959, Columbia, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Twilight Time

The Allied Artists Blogathon: Cry Vengeance (1954) By Guest Blogger John Knight.

Cry Vengeance OSDirected by Mark Stevens
Written by Warren Douglas and George Bricker
Starring Mark Stevens, Martha Hyer, Skip Homeier, Joan Vohs, Douglas Kennedy, Don Haggerty, Cheryl Callaway, Warren Douglas, Mort Mills, John Doucette

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This is an entry in The Allied Artists Blogathon, a celebration of the studio’s rich and varied output.

The writer/producer team of Warren Douglas and Lindsley Parsons made some interesting Westerns and Noirs for Allied Artists in the Fifties. Their impressive roster includes Jack Slade (1953), Loophole (1954), Finger Man (1955), The Come On (1956) and Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957).

Douglas was a B Movie lead actor who became a screenwriter, later working on many classic TV Western series. Cry Vengeance is a follow up to the stark Jack Slade, which was a surprise hit for Allied Artists. This time, Jack Slade’s leading man, Mark Stevens, also directs.

s-l1600-2Stevens plays ex-cop Vic Barron, just released after three years in San Quentin, having been framed by the mob with a hoard of “dirty money.” Worse still, the car bomb intended for Stevens killed his wife and daughter — and left Stevens with half his face blown away.

Upon release, Stevens buys a gun and heads for Ketchikan, Alaska, where his intended quarry (Douglas Kennedy) now resides. Ex-mobster Kennedy is now a respected member of the small Alaskan community.

In an unexpected plot twist Stevens actually bonds with Kennedy’s young daughter (Cheryl Callaway). On their first encounter, the child asks, “Does your face hurt?” “Sometimes,” is Stevens’ terse reply. In a chilling scene Stevens gives the child a bullet — a present for her father. Stevens clearly intends to make Kennedy sweat before he moves in for the kill.

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Stevens plays his part with unblinking intensity and gets great performances from his cast. Standouts are Skip Homeier as a sadistic hit man and Joan Vohs as his abused, alcoholic girlfriend. There’s a great scene where an already-sozzled Vohs enters a bar and asks for a tumbler full of whiskey.

imageLovers of the work of Don Siegel will find much to enjoy in this film. The way it’s shot and cut, the feel for the location and sense of community — these are constant reminders of elements in Siegel’s later work. The scene where Homeier casually skims a stone across a lake after dispatching one of his victims is a pure “Siegel” moment. I’m not saying anyone influenced anyone — these are merely observations or miscellaneous musings (thanks, Laura :)), if you will. Homeier’s Roxey seems to prefigure the bad guys in later Siegel films who are by turns florid, psychotic or misogynistic — or in the case of Homeier and Joe Don Baker in Charley Varrick (1973), all three!

It’s great fun to compare Homeier’s performance to those in Siegel’s wonderful version of The Killers (1964), in which Siegel artfully contrasts Lee Marvin’s hardboiled stoicism with Clu Gulager’s fidgety scene-stealing antics.

This abrasive revenge thriller is available on DVD or Blu Ray from Olive Films.

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Filed under 1954, Don Siegel, Olive Films

Screening: Don Siegel Triple Feature At The Mahoning Drive-In.

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Boy, what a great night this will be for those fortunate enough to be there. A tribute to director Don Siegel, at a drive-in, featuring three of his finest films: Coogan’s Bluff (1967), Charley Varrick (1973) and The Killers (1964).

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Don Siegel Triple Feature
Friday, July 17, beginning at dusk
General Admission: $10.00
Children’s Admission: $7.00

Coogan's Bluff LC1

The Mahoning Drive-In Theater
635 Seneca Road, just of Rte. 443
Lehighton, PA 18235

One of my favorite filmmakers. Three of his best pictures. All in 35mm on “the largest CinemaScope screen in Pennsylvania.” Sounds like heaven.

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Filed under 1964, 1968, 1973, Andy Robinson, Angie Dickinson, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Lalo Schifrin, Lee Marvin, Screenings, Walter Matthau

Blu-ray News #32: Escape From Alcatraz (1979).

Escape From Alcatraz LC

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, 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), Dirty Harry (1971), Charley Varrick (1973) and so many others.

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Well researched and actually shot at Alcatraz (which had to be partially restored prior to filming), it’s coming to Blu-ray from Paramount in October. (I’ve been wanting to watch this one again, but I’ll wait for the Blu-ray.) Highly, highly recommended.

Speaking of Siegel, Criterion has brought their 1946/1964 The Killers double feature to Blu-ray. Siegel made the 1964 version — starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Ronald Reagan, John Cassavettes and Clu Galager — as a TV movie, but Universal sent it to theaters instead. (Robert Siodmak directed the 1946 one, starring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.) Very good stuff.

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Filed under 1979, Angie Dickinson, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lee Marvin

Making Coogan’s Bluff (1968), Or Clint Eastwood Goes To Film School.

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Clint Eastwood has always been very good about giving credit to Don Siegel for mentoring him. Coogan’s Bluff (1968) was their first film together. They made four more: Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970), The Beguiled (1971), Dirty Harry (1971) and Escape From Alcatraz (1979).

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Obviously, Eastwood got some hands-on training along the way. Here he’s operating the camera during the fight in the pool hall.

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That’s Don Stroud on the right. As always, he’s the bad guy.

Coogan Eastwood Stroud bikes

It all ends with a great motorcycle chase, with Eastwood riding a Triumph Bonneville.

Coogan Surtees Stroud

Getting an insert shot over Stroud’s shoulder.

I have a real soft spot for Coogan’s Bluff. There’s something about Siegel’s films from the 60s and into the 70s that I love.

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Filed under 1968, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Making Movies

Blu-Ray News #16: Charley Varrick (1973).

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Charley Varrick (1973) is one of the best crime films ever made. It’s one of the best films of the 70s, period. And Don Siegel is one of the best directors to ever crawl behind a camera.

With all that said, the fact that the Koch folks in Germany have announced a March 2015 Blu-ray release for it is some of the best news I’ve heard in quite some time.

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Filed under 1973, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Walter Matthau