John Wayne in 3-D

Out of distribution for years, Hondo (1953), one of the key Westerns starring “The Duke,” was finally restored by the John Wayne Society in 1995 and made available for viewings again. It was said to be Wayne’s personal favorite of all of his Westerns and the storyline has a classic simplicity which captures the true spirit of the frontier: a cavalry scout (Wayne) comes to the aid of a homesteader (Geraldine Page) and her son (Lee Aaker) when the Apaches go on a rampage. Based on a novel by Louis L’Amour, Hondo was also surprisingly liberal in its attitude toward Native-Americans for its time and subtly addressed racial issues through the romance between the half-breed scout and the white heroine.

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Francis Ford Coppola’s 1966 Valentine to New York City

A scene from You're a Big Boy Now (1966), filmed on location in New York City

A scene from You’re a Big Boy Now (1966), filmed on location in New York City

Before he broke through as one of the most dynamic and successful directors of his generation in 1972 with The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola had been working his way up from the lower rungs of the film industry since the early sixties in various capacities for producer/director Roger Corman (dialogue director on Tower of London [1962], second unit director on Premature Burial [1962] and others). Although his first full-fledged directorial effort was the sexploitation comedy Tonight for Sure (1962), which was barely distributed even on the grindhouse circuit, Dementia 13 [1963], was really the first indication that Coppola had promise as a filmmaker. Made on a miniscule budget, this gothic murder mystery shot on location in Ireland was a surprisingly stylish and atmospheric genre film that was released on a double feature with Corman’s The Terror [1963]. Yet, it was Coppola’s next feature, You’re a Big Boy Now (1966), that proved to the movie industry and film critics alike that this twenty-seven year old director was already a prodigious talent.     Continue reading