Three long overdue for DVD Westerns are together in one collection. Each of these movies are great individually, but together, makes this a must-have Western film. Here are the three films -
Rawhide - Rawhide deserves not only a DVD release, but recognition as one of the greatest Westerns ever. Taut, masterful direction by the great Henry Hathaway, and excellent perfomances by everyone makes this a must have film for anyone who loves the Western genre.
Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward are trapped at a stage way station by a gang of desperate criminals. Surprises and tragedy unfold as Power, Hayward, and Hayward's baby try to survive and outwit the criminals.
There are scenes in this film that are so tense that even today's hardened, jaded moviegoers will appreciate. This was not a film with larger than life heroes or cardboard cutout villains, but real people well portrayed with great lines from a magnificent script.
The Gunfighter - Gregory Peck, with his natural, spare acting style, and his folksy, plain demeanor, was a natural for Westerns, and his greatness in this genre was never more evident in this 1950 film, which was one of the earlier psychological Westerns.
Peck plays Jimmie Ringo, the most notorious gunfighter in the West, is running from the brothers of a man he killed. He shows up in a town where his ex-wife lives with their young son. Ringo holds up in the town saloon as a favor to the town marshal, who an old friend, while he waits for an opportunity to see his wife.
Meanwhile, the town is taken over with the nervous enthusiasm of people wanting to see a celebrity, a shootout, or a dead celebrity. At the same time, a young punk, would-be gunfighter has heard that Ringo is in town, and is itching to make his reputation off of killing Ringo.
Everyone delivers excellent performances, and the movie has a lot to say about voyeurism, celebrity, longing, and regret. This is a fantastic movie, and without question, one of the best Westerns ever made.
Garden of Evil - This great Western was never even released on VHS, much less video, which is a shame since it had great performance from two great Western actors, Gary Cooper and Richard Widmark. Cooper, Widmark, and two other soldiers of fortune, played by Cameron Mitchell and Victor Manuel Mendoza, arrive in Mexico having responded to an add to make lots of money. They are greeted by Susan Hayward, who takes them on a perilous journey to rescue her husband, who has been injured in a mining accident. If the journey and the rescue weren't hard enough, the location of the mine in in Indian territory. Soon, alliances are made, broken, and remade, and emotions, greed, and violence ensues.
This film may be regarded as the least of the three by some, but it has terrific acting by all, and is a wonderful showcase of Cooper beginning the twilight phase of his magnificent career, where he tended to play veteran loners who find that they still have lots to live for, and who usually finds love and renewed courage along the way.
All three films are excellent, and should have merited individual releases, making this release combining all three is even more special.