John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Late this past July, independent movie company Arrow Academy re-issued the little-known classic Western flick Terror in a Texas Town on Blu-ray. While perhaps not the most well-known offering from the "Western World," it is in fact a movie that Western fans and cinephiles alike will appreciate. That statement applies regardless of audiences' familiarity with the movie. This is due in part to the movie's central story, which will be discussed shortly. The work of the movie's cast plays its own part in the movie's enjoyability and will be discussed later. The bonus material included in the movie's recent re-issue rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right to the re-issue's overall presentation. All things considered, they make Arrow Academy's re-issue of Terror in a Texas Town anything but a terror.
Arrow Academy's recent re-issue of United Artists' 1958 Western Terror in a Texas Town is a work that is anything but a terror. Yes, that awful pun was fully intended. That statement is supported in part through the movie's story. Written by Dalton Trumbo, the movie's story follows a relatively familiar plot yet does so with a few alterations to that all too familiar plot. Trumbo's story follows protagonist George Hansen (Sterling Hayden-The Godfather, Dr. Strangelove, The Asphalt Jungle) as he sets out to avenge his father's death. In the way of that vengeance is the standard evil businessman/landowner McNeill (Sebastian Cabot-The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, The Jungle Book, The Sword in the Stone) and his henchman, Johnny Crale (Nedrick Young-Inherit The Wind, The Defiant Ones, Jailhouse Rock). One of the most notable variations incorporated into this story is that Hansen comes in not as the incoming Sheriff who typically fights the bad guys, but a man from another land. This element is discussed more in-depth in the bonus material and will be touched on later. In other words, this story isn't the standard man in white versus the man in black story. It is just a man who wants justice and (not to give away too much here) gets it without going around the town shooting all the bad guys. That in itself is another variant that can't be ignored here. Along with those variants, audiences will also notice that the underlying romance subplot that is all too common in so many other is absent from this story, too. Its absence here makes the story all the more engaging for audiences, proving even more that a good story doesn't necessarily need all of the clichés of a genre to be enjoyable. The fact that Trumbo left so many Western clichés out of this story, opting instead for something more directed and focused also played positively into the movie's roughly 80-minute run time, ensuring even more audiences' maintained engagement. What's more, the lack of those clichés also is obviously what led to the movie's 80-minute run time. If all those unnecessary items had been added to the story, it likely would have been far longer in terms of its run time and even less well-known. Keeping all of this in mind, it becomes clear why the story at the center of Terror in a Texas Town is such an important part of the movie's whole. It also becomes clear why the story is so entertaining and engaging from start to finish. With this in mind, the movie's story is only one of its most important elements. The work of the movie's cast is just as important to discuss as its story.
The work of the cast in Terror in a Texas Town is so critical to the movie's overall presentation because the cast's work is just as simple as the story. This is not a bad thing, either. From Hayden's confidence as George Hansen to Cabot's diabolical McNeill and even to Young's work as Johnny Crale, and beyond, every cast member here does just enough to make their characters believable. Audiences will be especially moved by the subtlety in Young's portrayal of Crale as Crale clearly is struggling internally with who he is and was. The way that Young handle's Crale, there almost seems to be a hint that Crale doesn't like being a hired gun anymore and has second thoughts about what he is doing despite convincing himself in the end of his place. Even in the case of Cabot and Hayden, their performances are spot on. Cabot, even in his few on-screen appearances still manages to make audiences know McNeill is the evil businessman without going over the top. Hayden echoes hints of Gary Cooper (which is also discussed in the re-issue's bonus material) in his simplistic approach. Between all of this and the work of the rest of the movie's cast, so much can be such of the cast's work, all of it positive. Audiences will see that for themselves when they check out this movie for themselves. Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear why the work of this movie's cast is just as important to its presentation as the movie's story. It still is not the last of the movie's most important elements. The bonus material included in its recent re-issue rounds out its most important elements.
The bonus material featured in Arrow Academy's recent re-issue of Terror in a Texas Town includes an in-depth introduction to the movie and an analysis of its cinematography from author Peter Stanfield. Stanfield, known best for his book Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930s-The Lost Trail and Horse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy, explains what makes Terror in a Texas Town so many other Westerns and what also sets it apart from those flicks. Audiences learn through Stanfield's discussions that while Trumbo's story was, on its outermost level a Western, it was on a deeper level, an allegory about personal freedoms. This is key as he connects it to the impact of Joseph McCarthy's witch hunt on Trumbo, Hayden and even Young. This discussion alone adds so much more depth to the movie's overall presentation. Stanfield's discussion on Trumbo's balance of classic Western elements with his own writing style here adds yet more depth to the movie's presentation as does his discussion on director Joseph H. Lewis' stylistic approach to the movie behind the lens. This is a discussion that any film production student and lover will appreciate. When these and other discussions included in the re-issue's bonus material is considered in whole, they prove collectively to be just as critical to the movie's presentation as the movie's story and the work of its actors. Collectively, those bonus discussions, the movie's story and the cast's work show Terror in a Texas Town to be a work that Western fans and movie history buffs alike will appreciate. That is even despite the movie being one of the lesser-known entries in the "Western world." It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Arrow Academy is available online now at:
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Reminescent of the western style of classics, especially High Noon, and predating in many ways what would become the new language of the American B-movie, Terror in a Texas Town stars Hayden as a Swedish peace loving seaman who finds himself in Texas looking for revenge after he finds out his father was murdered. An admirable build up of tension leads to one of the most original final showdowns in the genre's history. Though people that have seen this film remember it fondly, Terror in a Texas Town still remains somewhat of a hidden gem.
Sterling Hayden is a tough Swede go goes out west to help father, only to find that's he's been killed by a land baron who wants the the local farmers' land. Joseph H. Lewis. brings his usual tough, no-nonsense style to the western that features a smart script by Dalton Trumbo, who at the time was not credited and sold the script through "front" Ben Perry. But to say the story of a Scandinavian whaler coming to his fathers farm to find it being terrorized by Sebastion Cabot as off-beat is a huge understatement. But it's really the off-beat nature and unusual aspects of the film that set it apart from the hundred of other westerns that told the same story. The film also has a pretty original showdown as well. A must see for fans of Sterling Hayden.
A small town in Texas is being terrorized by a greedy oil-man, Ed McNeil, who is attempting to force everyone off their land which happens to have tons of oil beneath it. One day a young Swedish man, George Hansen, shows up in town to find his father, but discovers he has been killed. Ted just left his life as a whaler to finally settle down and after learning about his father's death, he refuses to leave his land and will not rest until he finds out who is responsible for his father's death. This is just an insanely unique, beautifully shot and directed western that has so much to offer. The character of George Hansen is such a great protagonist. Being a Swedish immigrant, his English is very basic to the point that he comes off slow, while still being very intelligent. His character is driven and consumed that he doesn't back down, never fearing death, even though Ed McNeil's goons are plentiful. He isn't the only great character as Johnny Crale, Ed McNeil's right hand man, is also well developed, as our main villain, in terms of immediate danger. The actor who plays him (Nedrick Young) seemed to be channeling his inner Humphrey Bogart, as he's a cool, slick, scary individual. The film doesn't shy away from any taboo about immigrants treatment, instead it presents a much more realistic portrayal of how it probably was. Aesthetically the film has some great compositions showcasing some wild depth of frame and nice shadows. As far as the pacing goes, it flies by with lots of great tension throughout to really set-up the ending. In one word, BADASS.
the oddest western i've seen since 'johnny guitar' and once again sterling hayden is featured. his committed performance as a swedish whaler is what keeps this film together, in spite of his pretty laughable accent. and that final scene, well what can we say? it's the only old west showdown with a whaling harpoon. you'll just have to see it for yourself. the last film from the low budget director of 'gun crazy' and 'the big combo' is really fun
Formidable villain, amiable drunken prostitute, Forrest-Gump-like protagonist, and a harpoon in a western. All of these are good things. An enjoyably strange but stilted oater, rather well-shot.
Good original western revolving around a murder and the unstoppable
justice that follows in the shape of a determined Swedish immigrant. my
oh my there was some lousy acting to behold here, with the exception of
Hayden, Cabot and..... let's just call that last one "the bad
guy"(Bogart lookalike). I must say i find the whale spear vs. a
revolver kind of amusing, but actually quite plausible if you can
believe it. The story ain't much but it aims to please. It is always
satisfying to see the average Joe stand up against tyranny and evil
s.o.b's. So by all means watch it if you enjoy old school western's
that stand out a little from the rest.
One of the best Westerns I've seen...the music, the atmosphere...the characters, is Johnny Crale one of the BEST black-clad gunmen on film? I think so....'have you never seen Death walk around in the shape of a man?'
Sterling Hayden plays a Swedish farmer, and his accent is only one step up from the Swedish Chef. He still delivers a great performance, but the effect is like if Jimmy Stewart had done his Vertigo performance while wearing a clown nose. (If this movie hadn't been so low budget, they could've gotten Max Von Sydow and then they really would have had something.) Aside from that, everything else is great. Ned Young is great as the villain, a man whose time has passed. The dialog is great. Another great western for Joseph H. Lewis. (Everyone should also check out A Lawless Street.)
Oh my - I can't believe I watched the whole thing. Possibly the most bizarre western ever made. Written by Dalton Trumbo under a fictitious name, it appears that Sterling Hayden spent about 5 minutes practicing talking like a Swede before he was being filmed. Absolutely awful. Nothing like a harpooner in a Texas town - I am still waiting for the terror (but the laughter will surely get in the way). Some say it is a comment on McCarthyism. I think they should be checking their precious bodily fluids with Mr. Hayden.