Rixflix A to Z: Angel and the Badman (1947)

Director/Writer: James Edward Grant // RKO; 1:40; b/w
Crew Notables: Archie Stout (cinematography), Yakima Canutt (2nd unit director), Richard Farnsworth (stunts), Ben Johnson (stunt double)
Cast Notables: John Wayne (Quirt Evans & producer), Gail Russell (Penelope Worth), Harey Carey (Territorial Marshall Wistful McClintock), Bruce Cabot, Irene Rich, Lee Dixon, Tom Powers, Paul Hurst, Olin Howland, John Halloran, Eddie Parker, Hank Worden, Paul Fix
Cinema 4 Rating: 6

Gail Russell was truly a beautiful woman, but consarn it! It's awful hard to tell sometimes when watching my DVD version of this film. Angel and the Badman, the first film that John Wayne produced on his own, fell into the public domain years ago, and as such, any fly-by-night outfit can throw it out on disc, and as is the case with p.d. films, little care is given to restoration or even in the actual transfer of the film onto disc. It could be that there is a decent version of the film out there in the video hinterlands, and hopefully, someone with that knowledge might yodel that info over to me. Just saying "it's available here on Amazon" is not enough; there are almost two dozen versions listed on there, and I don't feel like digging through hundreds of suspicious reviews to figure out which one to get.

The photo at right does not depict the edition that I own. In fact, that might be the decent copy I am looking for, but I am only using it for the image, and because it is the nicest looking cover. Herein lies the tale of my copy, the disclosure of which will explain numerous films in my library, actually...

About five years ago, I was perusing a copy of Total Movie, a short-lived and under-designed magazine that purported to be the source for any and all of your DVD news and reviews. It would come with a DVD in each issue (early on -- eventually, you had to get a subscription to receive the disc) that would contain short films, cartoons, movie and DVD trailers, and on the flip side, a feature-length film, sometimes public domain and sometimes an independent feature. The magazine also had an offer that caught my eye: purchasing the actually rather-cheap subscription rate would get you a bonus -- a box set with 50, I say, 50 feature films. The list of the films contained the usual suspects in the public domain lineup: Sherlock Holmes, Reefer Madness, Intolerance, etc., etc., and since I didn't have any of these movies on disc, I figured "Why not?" I would get a year's worth of an OK mag, free discs each month, and a huge boost in my DVD collection. Mostly, it seemed fun.

Well, it took four months for this set to arrive at my door. A couple of the films listed on the box aren't actually on the discs, but you get what you pay for. I didn't really pay anything for this set, so there's no loss, right? Well... there is picture loss, but again, these are much-traveled public domainers, so you can't ask for perfection. And so, I have this block of discs, and on there is Angel and the Badman. Watching the disc is a bit of a chore, because it is so washed out that often the faces, including Russell's, seem to be melting figures in the House of Wax. (Don't get me started on the sound, which equals the picture in negative quality).

It's a problem that one runs into a lot when you walk this path of DVD fandom: I have numerous collections of cheapjack public domain flicks -- I have previously mentioned the horror and science-fiction collections already -- and one pretty much has to accept whatever you get with the attitude that you have gotten a couple week's worth of entertainment for ten bucks, and condition be damned. Watch the movies, and get what you can out of them.

Out of Angel and the Badman, I got the impression that Gail Russell's face was melting. Not a pretty sight...


squeak said…
I wish...I mean I WISH I could do a new review everyday. But I am unable to watch movies like you are. Partly because of work, and partly because I am a slave to pro sports and David Letterman. Oh well, I post when I post.

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