BLACK HORSE CANYON sees our hero (Joel McCrea) caught up in the task of netting a wild black stallion. He has a novice along with him, as well as a beautiful woman (Mari Blanchard). They have a problem however, a nasty landowner set to net the prize before them. In CATTLEDRIVE a young upstart and son of railway magnet (Dean Stockwell) is stranded in the desert after playing some pranks aboard a train. Now he walks to the nearest station and finds instead a herded (Joel McCrea) in the wilds.
Small budget B Movies were popular in the 50s and the western was on top. Joel McCrea was well known as a hero of Hitchcock in his American films and Sturges superb Sullivans Travels. In real life he was an outdoorsman or rancher. In these films he plays to his own drum and does so with much joy. In BLACK HORSE CANYON he throws punches and fights animals. He does this with personality and a little charm. Rough and tough without being nasty and vicious. The other cast members play it as much for fun as for the thrill of the outdoors. Visually it has great scenes of the vast and warmth of the land. As a script it is a paint by numbers affair and does not wish to be anything else.
CATTLEDRIVE is a little more subdued and looks at the world as a learning place. Filled with spoiled kids and strong hearted men. McCrea again plays on his heartfelt type with a personality and charm. Less punch and fight more slap and grimace to the end. I like the pacing of it. It trickles along like a stream into a river. Visually it looks more classic in nature. It has nice tones and the flesh and light soft colour are beautiful. It is such a nice film in that way I cant be harsh on its weak story, dull premise or play for numbers production values. Though both films are weak scripted and flat feeling, they are very gentle content wise, they are rich in warmth and heart. I was raised on these cinematic spectacles. They are breeding grounds for convention and this is not wrong. It is a great place to fall in love with film. A Sunday afternoon is ideal for either of these films about men coming to terms with the wild and boys becoming men.
Simply Media can however go and bite it as they treat these DVDs as all other releases…no extras….