Wednesday, September 18, 2013

So when did I see The Man From Laramie

I see that The Man From Laramie is back on the TCM schedule, tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM. It's a movie that I've only mentioned a couple of times in passing, with one of the mentions having me saying that it's a movie that really deserves a full-length blog post.

So I went to the TCM schedule, where their links to movies generally have a more complete synopsis than anything you can find on IMDb, to read their synopsis in order to do this post. It was reading the synopsis that I realized that The Man From Laramie is one of those movies that I would group in with Brighton Rock: I've seen the movie before, since parts of the synopsis are very memorable. (To be honest, I knew I'd seen it before.) But reading on, it's also one of those 1950s Technicolor westerns that for me blend in with a whole bunch of others. What was that movie in which future game show host Bert Convy plays a half-Indian who gets bumped off? [heads over to IMDb to look it up] Ahh, that's Gunman's Walk. Didn't I just see a Budd Boetticher Technicolor western over the summer? I know it wasn't Seven Men From Now; looking up his filmography clearly jars my memory into seeing it was The Tall T that I watched -- and wasn't that just a day or two before the writer of the background story, Elmore Leonard, died?

In all fairness, part of the reason westerns tend to blend together for me is that the western has never been my favorite genre. I think it goes back to when I was a kid, and my movie projectionist uncle invited us over to watch Doris Day in a print of Calamity Jane that he had. I didn't particularly want to be their, and I don't think that Calamity Jane is really the sort of film that would appeal to the average young boy, either. It's put me right off westerns, musicals, and Doris Day. I've come around on some good westerns, but as you can see they still have a tendency to get lumped together.

Anyhow, the basic plot of The Man From Laramie involves James Stewart, playing a man from someplace up North who shows up in an isolated area of New Mexico following clues in the murder of his brother. Stewart walks right into a war between an elderly rancher (Donald Crisp), the rancher's biological son (Alex Nicol) and his surrogate son (Arthur Kennedy); further complicating things are Crisp's niece (Cathy O'Donnell) and a spinster rancher (Aline MacMahon) opposing Crisp. Oh, and somebody's running guns to the Apaches.

So when did I see The Man From Laramie last? The previous TCM airing was in July 2012, but looking through a search of old TCM schedules, I suppose there's something interesting to say about TCM programming. Or, more accurately, what they're able to license from various studios. I've got the TCM monthly schedules going back to July 2007, and a search shows that The Man From Laramie showed up on TCM a whopping six times in 2010, and only three times since. (That is, tomorrow's airing is the third time since the end of 2010.) I know that the general practice here in the US is to get the rights to a movie or block of TV shows for a set length of time, which is why it's so common to see stuff show up a bunch of times within a short period even on TCM. TCM, though, also licenses a lot of the stuff for a limited number of showings, which would explain the difference between The Man From Laramie showing up so much a few years back, and then suddenly almost disappearing.

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