Leslie H. Martinson | Subjects
| Structure and Story Telling | Visual Style
Cheyenne: Quicksand | Fury at Rio Hondo
| The Long Winter
| The Iron Trail | The Broken Pledge
| The Conspirators
| The Gamble | Dead to Rights
| Road to Three Graves
Maverick: Ghost Rider | Stage West
| Relict of Fort Tejon | The Jeweled Gun
| Rage for Vengeance | Day of Reckoning
| The Burning Sky | Black Fire
| Triple Indemnity
Lawman: The Young Toughs | The Ring
| Shackled | The Promoter
| Owny O'Reilly, Esquire | The Catalog Woman
Features: Hot Rod Girl | PT 109
Classic Film and Television Home Page (with many articles on directors)
| Television Western Articles | Mathematics and Visual Style
Leslie H. Martinson
Leslie H. Martinson is an American film and primarily television director.
Leslie H. Martinson is one of the more effective story tellers of his television era,
turning out deft, fun tales that succeed as light entertainments.
Good characterization and concern for his characters' emotional lives helps.
The Rankings section forms a guide to his better titles.
Leslie H. Martinson: Subjects
- Deceptive identities (The Iron Trail, hero impersonates traitor: The Conspirators,
Princess poses as maid: Border Affair,
hero impersonates hired killer: Hired Gun,
hidden past of heroine: The Gamble,
lost heir: Dead to Rights,
hero mistaken for crook, bad guy pretends to be lawyer then rail investigator: Ghost Rider,
corpse: Stage West, posing as husband and wife: The Jeweled Gun, phony farmer's wife: Rage for Vengeance,
hero and Hans Conried: Black Fire,
con men: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres, con men: Gun-Shy, romance scheme: The Rivals,
hero masquerades as killed soldiers: The Ghost Soldiers,
Maverick impersonates Bognor, changing stories about identity: The Bundle from Britain,
forced new identity, outlaws as deputies: Hadley's Hunters,
wanted man has new identity: Wanted,
runaway girl takes new name: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
veiled mail order bride, Marshal goes undercover: The Catalog Woman,
detective undercover as gambler: The Bouncing Chip,
hero goes undercover in prison: Inside Man,
hero goes undercover as gambler: Last Exit,
mass impersonator: Swan Song for a Hero,
hero's secret identity, disguised Catwoman: Batman,
crooks impersonate good guys: Stolen Faces,
shape-shifting alien impersonates people: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
related (hero undercover as traitor: Test of Courage, UN Members and identity: Batman)
- Secret allies of criminals (The Iron Trail, traitor: Test of Courage, Betrayal)
- Group efforts (group under siege: Quicksand, passengers band together: The Iron Trail,
government counter-espionage scheme: The Conspirators, rebels: Border Affair,
townspeople band together: Day of Reckoning,
running Casino: The Gamble,
three wagon drivers: Road to Three Graves,
desert survival: The Belcastle Brand,
scheme to get money back: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres,
Ladies Aid Society, Sheriff: A Tale of Three Cities,
characters work together: The Oath,
saloon owners' fate is communal: The Promoter,
characters work against bad guy at end: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
characters set trap for killer: The Catalog Woman,
characters work together at finale to trap killer: Swan Song for a Hero,
public drag strip: Hot Rod Girl,
drilling for oil: Black Gold,
crew: PT 109,
good aliens: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Strong women (bride: Quicksand, heroine: Fury at Rio Hondo,
Susan the pioneer: The Long Winter,
passengers: The Iron Trail, heroine, Carlotta, rebel: Border Affair, casino owner and daughter: The Gamble,
Sheriff's daughter: Brannigan's Boots,
ranch owner, cafe worker: Dead to Rights, newspaper woman: Rage for Vengeance,
Marshal's wife makes plea against violence: Day of Reckoning,
suffragette: Black Fire,
relatives: Gun-Shy, town boss' daughter: The Saga of Waco Williams, rivals: Betrayal,
Ladies Aid Society: A Tale of Three Cities,
Mother: Triple Indemnity,
wife: The Ring,
Lily: Lily, villain's girlfriend: Shackled,
Lily as fire chief: Firehouse Lil,
Lily: The Promoter,
Lily: The Catalog Woman,
wife: Swan Song for a Hero)
- Women reporters (The Broken Pledge, newspaper owner: Rage for Vengeance, Gun-Shy,
series character of newspaperwoman: The Young Toughs, Catwoman as Russian reporter: Batman)
- Patricia Crowley as heroine of Maverick episodes (The Rivals, Betrayal, A Tale of Three Cities)
- Peggie Castle as saloon singer (Fury at Rio Hondo, Lily and other Lawman episodes)
- Arranged marriages (young man and cousin: Quicksand, mail order bride: The Iron Trail,
princess pledged to general: Border Affair, rich families want man and woman to court: The Rivals,
arranged marriages through magazine: The Catalog Woman)
related (marriage through letters: Road to Three Graves, hero becomes indentured servant: The Belcastle Brand)
- Nice but desperate women who hold-up hero (A Tale of Three Cities, Owny O'Reilly, Esquire)
- Lowbrow good guys who like to get into fights (frontiersman: The Conspirators, Shorty: Dead to Rights,
Alan Hale Jr: Road to Three Graves,
Waco Williams: The Saga of Waco Williams, grandfather: Bloodline)
- Very young males (Utah Kid, bridegroom: Quicksand, Bushrod (Tom Pittman): The Long Winter,
gang of youths: The Iron Trail, recruited kid (Gary Vinson): The Broken Pledge,
young rebel: Border Affair,
hero: Brannigan's Boots,
The Kid (Edd Byrnes): Ghost Rider, sons (Edd Byrnes, Peter Brown): Stage West,
hired gunfighter: Relict of Fort Tejon, newspaper boy: Rage for Vengeance,
handbill distributor: Day of Reckoning,
reporter, hotel messenger: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres, bellboy: The Rivals, son, deputy: Wanted,
Western gang like juvenile delinquents, young deputy good guy: The Young Toughs, Albert: The Ring,
deputy's youth emphasized: The Promoter, Owny: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
Kookie: The Bouncing Chip,
brother, other teenagers: Hot Rod Girl, sailors: PT 109, Robin: Batman,
teens in small town: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Dennis Hopper as disturbed young man (Quicksand, The Iron Trail, Billy the Kid: Brannigan's Boots)
other disturbed youths (Edd Byrnes as trigger-happy son: Stage West, Tom Gilson as juvenile gang leader: The Young Toughs,
grandson: Bloodline, poor Albert: The Ring, hot-rodders: Hot Rod Girl)
- Crooked, often lying authority figures (French officer in Mexico: Fury at Rio Hondo,
The Iron Trail, traitor: Test of Courage, general, officer: Border Affair,
town dictator: Road to Three Graves,
Mayor: Brannigan's Boots,
town's next mayor is crooked gambler: Relict of Fort Tejon,
candidate for Governor: Rage for Vengeance,
lying banker: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres, Sheriff runs saloon: Gun-Shy,
cattleman runs town, Sheriff: The Saga of Waco Williams, Hadley's Hunters,
man runs town: Triple Indemnity, Governor's word is no good: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire)
- Suave older men exposed as cowards (officer: The Iron Trail, syndicate man: The Gamble, Mayor: Brannigan's Boots)
related (trail boss has gunslinger kill for him: Day of Reckoning, syndicate man depends on hired gun: The Promoter)
- Menacing or intimidating lawyers (John Russell: Dead to Rights, Ghost Rider, The Jeweled Gun)
- Cocky, sexy bad guys (hot rodder Bronc: Hot Rod Girl,
rancher: Rage for Vengeance,
outlaw: The Oath,
disco dancer: Disco Devil)
- Parents of grown children in Maverick episodes (Stage West, Black Fire, The Belcastle Brand,
Gun-Shy, The Rivals, The Saga of Waco Williams, Betrayal, Triple Indemnity)
other shows (Mother mentioned but not seen: Quicksand, father and daughter at inn: Dead to Rights,
old relative of heirs: Black Fire, father, son, grandson: Bloodline, father and daughter: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire)
- Characters who stretch out of their limited backgrounds (sent-for-bride: Quicksand, sent-for-bride: The Iron Trail,
hero: The Conspirators, women, Cheyenne as manager: The Gamble, A Tale of Three Cities,
The Bundle from Britain,
Maverick and printer at end: Day of Reckoning,
Hans Conried does something noble: Black Fire,
Waco Williams: The Saga of Waco Williams, heroine: A Tale of Three Cities,
rich guy learns to help others: The Oath,
men try to learn peaceful ways: Bloodline,
girl runs away and becomes saloon singer: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
protagonist: Swan Song for a Hero,
hero: PT 109)
- Britishers out West (Quicksand, The Belcastle Brand, Scots father and daughter run cafe: Dead to Rights,
Scots restaurant owner: Stage West, blackmailer: The Jeweled Gun,
con man: Gun-Shy, The Bundle from Britain, suave villain: The Promoter)
British actors (John Alderson and others: Quicksand, Tom Conway: The Conspirators,
Sebastian Cabot: Border Affair, Roger Moore: The Rivals, Reginald Denny: Batman)
- Women who come out West (bride, British wife: Quicksand, bride: The Iron Trail,
princess bride comes to Mexico: Border Affair, daughter: The Gamble, widow: Stage West,
New Orleans widow goes to Montana: Rage for Vengeance,
British bar maid: The Bundle from Britain)
- Political backgrounds (French occupation of Mexico, Confederates in exile in Central America: Fury at Rio Hondo,
racism against Native Americans, assassination plot: The Iron Trail,
Native American conflicts before Little Bighorn: The Broken Pledge,
Southern sedition, Confederates in exile in Central America: The Conspirators,
French occupation of Mexico: Border Affair,
crooks try to take over saloon and town: The Gamble,
war orphans, dictatorships and Security: Road to Three Graves,
white people take gold on Sioux lands: Stage West,
Montana statehood, cattlemen vs farmers, violent attacks on farmers: Rage for Vengeance,
cowboys on cattle drive run amuck in town: Day of Reckoning,
cattlemen vs farmers: Black Fire,
cattlemen vs homesteaders: The Saga of Waco Williams,
Confederate underground activities, Bleeding Kansas: Gun-Shy,
racial hatred and tensions between whites and Native Americans: Red Ransom,
would-be dictatorial control of town: The Promoter,
hot rod controversy and police: Hot Rod Girl,
early life of JFK, good relationships between white Americans and South Sea Islanders: PT 109,
United Nations, Cold War: Batman)
- National syndicates try to take over saloons (The Gamble, The Promoter)
- Animals and humans (mule Cheyenne shares winter with: The Long Winter,
dog trips hero in race: Brannigan's Boots,
camel: Relict of Fort Tejon, fly: The Jeweled Gun,
dog barks over corpse: Red Ransom,
kitten adopted: Lily,
dog jealous of horse: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
crab in bedroom: PT 109,
shark, porpoise: Batman,
shape-shifting alien impersonates animals: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Train rides (The Iron Trail, The Conspirators)
- Heavy snow storms (The Long Winter, opening: Test of Courage, Dead to Rights)
- Desert (Relict of Fort Tejon, The Belcastle Brand)
- Docks and ocean (Border Affair, PT 109, Batman)
- Big sums of money (Cheyenne's confiscated money: Fury at Rio Hondo,
loot: The Iron Trail, sack of gold: The Broken Pledge,
The Conspirators, buried stolen loot: Ghost Rider,
mine, money for map: Stage West, counterfeit money: Rage for Vengeance,
inheritance: Black Fire, swindled money: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres,
treasure: Gun-Shy, pay for Maverick, inheritance: The Rivals,
reward for bad guy: The Saga of Waco Williams,
Maverick's stolen money: Betrayal, A Tale of Three Cities,
stolen money from customers: Lily,
bank money attracts robbers: Firehouse Lil,
cash advertised by bridegrooms: The Catalog Woman,
casino swindled daily: The Bouncing Chip)
- Letters that trigger plots (betraying letter to miner: The Broken Pledge,
Cheyenne summoned by government: The Conspirators,
heroine summons Cheyenne: The Gamble,
letter to lawyer: Dead to Rights,
Sheriff's letter put on stage coach: Brannigan's Boots,
missing woman: Trail's End,
heroine's note summoning Maverick: Rage for Vengeance,
found letter about treasure: Gun-Shy,
letters to matrimony magazine: The Catalog Woman)
related (officer's record stolen by gang: The Iron Trail)
- Funeral aspects, often comic (coffin transported: The Iron Trail,
three graves: Road to Three Graves,
undertaker: Ghost Rider,
undertaker, coffin, grave: The Jeweled Gun, undertaker: Triple Indemnity)
- Comedy-suspense about defusing bombs (Batman, Disco Devil)
related (holding explosives using in drilling for oil: Black Gold)
- Jail (old man put in prison: Fury at Rio Hondo,
jailbreak: Test of Courage, The Conspirators, townspeople arrested by dictator: Border Affair,
witness: Dead to Rights, good guy in evil town's jail: Road to Three Graves,
jail seen in Sheriff's office but not used in plot: Brannigan's Boots,
hero in jail, breaks out: Ghost Rider, hero escapes from jail: Relict of Fort Tejon, Gun-Shy,
The Saga of Waco Williams, transformed: A Tale of Three Cities, ornate: Hadley's Hunters,
opening: The Oath, old man put in jail to calm down: Bloodline,
man put in jail for riding injury: The Ring, suspect in jail: Red Ransom,
prison wagon: Shackled, dog put in jail: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire)
- Eating and meals (eating as taunt to captive heroes: Quicksand,
hero and heroine's ways of getting dinners: Fury at Rio Hondo, The Long Winter, Border Affair,
stew: Brannigan's Boots, restaurant encounter, ranch dinner: Reluctant Hero,
food in stage stop: Stage West, meal during stage journey: Rage for Vengeance,
tense negotiation over breakfast: Day of Reckoning,
group dinners of heirs decimated by murder: Black Fire,
The Saga of Waco Williams, family dinner, food at dance: Betrayal,
Ladies club: A Tale of Three Cities, Hadley's Hunters, Triple Indemnity,
lunch room encounter: Wanted, breakfast with tension: Bloodline, The Young Toughs,
kid eats from bag of candy: The Ring, Shackled, in teen hangout: Hot Rod Girl,
ship's cook with limited repertoire: PT 109,
comedy about Cameron getting coffee: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Fights in dangerous environments (quicksand: Quicksand, hot ashes: The Bundle from Britain)
- Avalanche traps bad guy (The Iron Trail, Dead to Rights) related (avalanche threatens heroes: Road to Three Graves)
rock slides hide things (buried money: Ghost Rider, well: Relict of Fort Tejon, rocks put in mine shaft to hide body: The Jeweled Gun)
Leslie H. Martinson: Props
Props that can be carried by hand:
- Cheyenne episodes
(gun pounds Wanted poster, towel, saddle, canteens, bandage, ring, cards, food, knife, pole over quicksand: Quicksand,
deck of cards, wallet, money, letter of credit, knife as weapon, hat, knife and fork, lantern barrel of coal oil, handkerchief, bowl of water, medical tool, shawl, safe conduct: Fury at Rio Hondo,
bucket, flower, seeds, shirt, water dipper, liquor jug, whiskey bottle, bowl of stew, officer's gloves, clothes in store: The Long Winter,
knitting needle, knitting bag, match, ammunition boxes, drummer's case, pocket knife, barrel of powder, clipping,
luggage, sword, bottles, medals, watches, ring, money belt, fuse: The Iron Trail,
birthday presents, receipt book, discharge paper, blanket, jail keys, makings for tobacco, map, cards, knife: Test of Courage,
bow made by hero on horseback, drawings, letter, quit order, sack of gold: The Broken Pledge,
letter with orders, whip, shot glass, money, hat, note, release order: The Conspirators,
comb, bowls of food, gifts of earrings, scissors: Border Affair,
boots, feedbag, shopping packages, handkerchief, bottle, cigarette, pitchfork: Hired Gun,
coffee pot, cup, IOU, buggy whip, poker chip, pin, canteen, newspaper hiding face, contract, suitcase, riding crop, bottle, hammer: The Gamble,
Shorty's possessions, wallet, photo, ad, sniffed bullet, gun with brand, knitting, newspaper, watch, chair, saddlebags, coffee cups, coins: Dead to Rights,
paint brush, coffee cup, wheel and lever, soldier's possessions, match, wine glass, army document: Road to Three Graves)
- Sugarfoot episodes
(letters, election results, bottle of cherry, law books, plates, gun belts, Home Sweet Home sign, boots, horseshoe, photo, lasso, badge, pen, parasol: Brannigan's Boots,
law books, money, saddle bags, match, clothes, bolts of fabric, newspaper, silverware, deck of cards, watch, cleaning gun, drums of wire, coffee pot, eye glasses, cloth: Reluctant Hero,
lasso, saddle bags, law book, letter, photo, dice: Trail's End)
- Maverick episodes
(handkerchief, jacket, jail keys, shot glass, rope and lasso, shovel, small rocks at slide, box with loot: Ghost Rider,
coffee cup, cigar, towel over bar food, Maverick's clothes, cards, knife, torch, map, nugget, food, pencil and paper: Stage West,
cards, wads of bills, animal food, gun up sleeve, gun in hat, hotel clerk's pen, coffee tray, bucket in well, canteen: Relict of Fort Tejon,
jeweled gun, rifle with compartment in stock, jewels, thousand dollar bill, safety pin used for bill, tossed clothes, brandy glasses, cigar, duster: The Jeweled Gun,
match, note and pencil, tip, wrapped bottle as present, suitcase and key, money, deck of cards, newspapers, decanter, paper cuffs: Rage for Vengeance,
hat with poker chips, coffee pot, knife and fork, twirled shot glass, handbills, pencil used by printer, sack, Maverick's saddlebags, thrown bottle: Day of Reckoning,
cane, decanter and glass, paintbrush, palette, cards, hat, cribbage, book, wallet, apple, linen, photo, dropped tray: Black Fire,
tea set, knife: The Belcastle Brand,
whittling, Long's pencil and paper, secretary's notepad, banker's cigar box,
key ring, briefcase, wallet, money, farmer's saw, Toomey's pipe, stock certificates: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres,
pick and shovel, glasses, forks, encyclopedia, letter, coffee, shot glasses, guns, telegram: Gun-Shy,
match, cards, luggage, key, hotel register and pen, books, bellboy's tray and tip, message, decanter, makeup brush, watch, letters, flower box, gloves for duel, pistols: The Rivals,
pen, bankroll, coffee cup, keys to jail, bottles and coins, blotting object, cigars: The Saga of Waco Williams,
knife, money, pipe, coffee cups, cookie, punch, bag of candy, handkerchief, note, tray of food: Betrayal,
ring, wallet, handkerchief, newspaper, trays of food, bed parts, book (Lorna Doone), coffee pot: A Tale of Three Cities,
lance, bugle, canteen: The Ghost Soldiers,
monocle, cane used in fight, razor, jug, credentials, passport: The Bundle from Britain,
book and containers, notebook, keys, handkerchief, handcuffs, photo, egg and salt shaker, hats, strong box, dinner pail, billfold, barman's watch: Hadley's Hunters,
matches for cigar, towel, watches, stethoscope, insurance forms, letter, shot glasses, salt shaker. plates, napkin,
snake oil pitchman's cane and bottle, shoe for champagne, stakes for bet, newspaper, knife: Triple Indemnity)
- Lawman episodes
(wrench, wheel, lever, canteen, sticks for fire, keys: The Oath,
stick, wanted poster, jail keys: Wanted,
coffee pot, cups, pot holder, bucket, jail keys, shot glass, gun belt, marshal's hat: Bloodline,
thrown knife, money from dead man, spoon, coffee cup, coffee pot, water glass: The Young Toughs,
ring, stick for hoop, suitcase, coffee cup, kid's bag of peppermints, woman's package, comb, hand mirror, scissors, razor, bail money, box: The Ring,
drums, blanket, bracelets, business document, knife: Red Ransom,
painting, gambling wheel, money, bankroll, kitten, shot glass, bottle, knife: Lily,
shackles, key, saw, hammer, lantern, suitcase, bread, knife, document at end: Shackled,
cashbox, speech trumpets for drills, firemen's helmets, barber's razor, hand bell, knife, watches: Firehouse Lil,
villain's cane, wallet, shot-up wanted poster, silver dollar, saloon deed, thrown lantern: The Promoter,
comb, $50 bill, leash, newspaper, telegram: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
cash, champagne bottle, bouquets, just-married sign, rice, magazine, telegram, letters, pen, rose, hatpin, carpetbags, veil: The Catalog Woman)
- 77 Sunset Strip episodes
(chips, bottle, Kookie's sandwich, business cards, box, drinks, jack, baskets carried by chorus, lighter, knife and molding material, eyedropper: The Bouncing Chip,
handkerchiefs to wipe lipstick: The Parallel Caper)
- Bourbon Street Beat episodes
(wine carafe and glass, mugshot, photos, grocery bag, paper with cutlets, candy, magazine, dishcloth, suitcases, bowl of soup, glass that gets shot, hearing aid: Inside Man,
check, silversmith tools, cards and chips, Tom Collins, coffee pot and cups, money, wine carafe and glasses, knife, rock tossed in street, stick used as weapon, handkerchief, suitcase, swagger stick: Last Exit)
- Hawaiian Eye episodes
(sun glasses, swagger stick, gloves, drawing of raft, cameras, photos, twenty dollar bill, guns, purse, letter, drinks, bottle, taxi man's hat: Swan Song for a Hero)
- Wonder Woman episodes
(comb, food tray: Disco Devil,
pyramids, coffee cups, coffee pot, math notes, briefcase, recordings: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Feature films
(explosives: Black Gold,
coconut with message, knife, notices on board, bucket of oil thrown, sailor's bags, ammo: PT 109,
bomb, communicators, Joker's flowers, Batsprays, tea tray: Batman)
- Flags (truce flag: Quicksand,
white flag: The Iron Trail,
political flags carried by hand: The Conspirators,
flags in horse race: Brannigan's Boots,
white flag at end with prisoners: Ghost Rider,
truce flag: Stage West,
US flag lowered and raised: The Ghost Soldiers,
picture of US flag on Ray Danton's wall: Last Exit)
- Hero makes objects (flag: Quicksand, bow: The Broken Pledge)
- People painting or drawing, often unsympathetic characters (reporter sketches: The Broken Pledge,
dictator makes self-portrait: Road to Three Graves,
Maverick makes map off-camera: Stage West, printer: Day of Reckoning,
artist Hans Conried paints still life: Black Fire, hero whittling: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres,
photos taken by crooked sheriff's aides: Hadley's Hunters,
father and murder victim are silversmiths: Last Exit,
photos taken of protagonist: Swan Song for a Hero)
Leslie H. Martinson: Structure and Story Telling
- Burlesques and parodies
(hero sings, old show biz, deconstruction of Dixie: The Conspirators,
shy Sheriff, stage coach holdup: Brannigan's Boots,
heirs-at-mansion mysteries: Black Fire,
Gunsmoke TV show: Gun-Shy,
burlesque of Victorian melodrama: The Rivals,
cowardly Maverick vs traditional Western hero: The Saga of Waco Williams,
last stand at Cavalry fort: The Ghost Soldiers,
jail, 19th Century style reformation speech to Ladies Aid Society, Gunsmoke spoof marshal returns: A Tale of Three Cities,
sheriff cleans up town, cameos by Warners stars: Hadley's Hunters,
firemen vs robbers: Firehouse Lil,
dog put in jail: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
over-the-top sophisticate: Swan Song for a Hero,
- Influence of film Stagecoach (voting: The Iron Trail, stagecoach under siege: Stage West,
baby, dance hall woman, doctor needs redemption: The Oath)
- Influence of other films (Shanghai Express, Suddenly: The Iron Trail,
They Drive by Night: Hired Gun,
My Name Is Julia Ross: The Jeweled Gun,
Casablanca: Last Exit,
Rebel Without a Cause: Hot Rod Girl,
Saturday Night Fever: Disco Devil,
I Married a Monster from Outer Space: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Remakes (To Have and Have Not: Fury at Rio Hondo,
Springfield Rifle: Test of Courage,
The Boy from Oklahoma: Brannigan's Boots,
White Heat: Inside Man)
- Montage sequences (townspeople reading newspaper: Rage for Vengeance,
middle-aged townsmen look contemptuously at bounty hunter: Wanted)
- Narration, often complex (Mother's letter: Brannigan's Boots,
Maverick narrates: Ghost Rider,
Maverick narrates in silent desert scenes: Relict of Fort Tejon,
flashback, heroine's voice and newspaper editorials: Rage for Vengeance,
Brother Bart narrates, sometimes comically mystified by events: Black Fire,
hero breaks into Marshal's narration: Gun-Shy,
letters read, talking to camera at end: The Saga of Waco Williams,
flashback, scene rerun with different points of view: The Ghost Soldiers,
campy narrator: Batman,
heroine hears flashback dialogue as mental process: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
related (book dictated, read: Hadley's Hunters)
- Soliloquy (brief speech by sheriff: A Tale of Three Cities)
- Parallel stories (two mysteries: The Parallel Caper)
Romance and Melodrama:
- Murder mysteries (Dead to Rights,
Sheriff's murder: Brannigan's Boots,
who killed father: Reluctant Hero,
Ghost Rider, Black Fire,
The Ring, Red Ransom, killer bride: The Catalog Woman,
Last Exit, The Parallel Caper,
Swan Song for a Hero)
- Mystery, other (crooks and betrayal: The Iron Trail,
identity of traitor, code: Test of Courage,
opening killing: The Broken Pledge,
why masquerade as couple: The Jeweled Gun,
counterfeit casino chips: The Bouncing Chip)
- Mystery aspects (why is killer hired: Hired Gun,
truth about money, heroine: Rage for Vengeance, location of treasure, code in letter: Gun-Shy,
tracking down stolen money: Betrayal,
truth about Sheriff, deputies: Hadley's Hunters)
- Romantic dramas (Quicksand, Fury at Rio Hondo, The Long Winter,
Border Affair, adultery: Hired Gun, Road to Three Graves,
Maverick and heroine and her late husband: Stage West, Maverick and heroine: Rage for Vengeance,
The Rivals, The Saga of Waco Williams, Betrayal, comedy of first love: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
Lily gets tender with Marshal: The Catalog Woman,
heroine and suspect: Last Exit,
- Melodrama (concealing facts from daughter: The Gamble, spousal abuse: Relict of Fort Tejon)
- Family problems (apron strings: Quicksand, The Gamble, heirs and crusty ancestor: Black Fire,
father-son conflicts: The Rivals, The Saga of Waco Williams,
sons forced into macho violence: Bloodline,
girl runs away from strict father: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
hero and mother: Inside Man,
brothers: Hot Rod Girl)
Leslie H. Martinson: Visual Style
- Areas marked off by fences with gates (corral with prisoners: The Iron Trail,
cemetery with low picket fence: Ghost Rider,
newspaper office, front yard: Rage for Vengeance,
stock exchange with lobby behind swinging gate: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres)
- Staging through windows (fort windows: Quicksand, shot through laundry wagon: The Conspirators,
through bank window at end: Rage for Vengeance,
trough printing press: Day of Reckoning,
dress shop, Marshal's office: Gun-Shy, Maverick looking through ranch window: Betrayal,
Mavericks look through transom: The Bundle from Britain,
opaque look through lace curtains, heroes tap on bar window, through fence slats: Hadley's Hunters,
looking into hotel window, looking out from window down to street: Bloodline,
crowd in street seen through Marshal's window: Red Ransom,
street seen from Lily's office window: Lily,
villain seen through small prison wagon window: Shackled,
banker seen through window: Firehouse Lil,
street events seen from upper hotel window: The Promoter,
hostage looks through window to street: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
wedding procession, hotel watchers, hotel lobby, upstairs window: The Catalog Woman,
assassin seen through windows: Last Exit,
factory seen from office's glass windows: The Bouncing Chip)
related but not seen through (peep hole in shack door with rifle: The Long Winter)
- Off-screen voices (entrance of bad guy: The Iron Trail, people in stage coach hear robbers: Betrayal)
- Comic people who sit in front of buildings (Mousy and saloon: The Gamble,
Justice of the Peace: Brannigan's Boots,
men sitting in front of newspaper building (not comic): Rage for Vengeance,
Bret Maverick whittling: Shady Deal at Sunny Acres,
Waco outside casino: The Saga of Waco Williams,
Maverick waits for marshal, sheriff in front of office: A Tale of Three Cities,
Dan Sheridan sits in front of saloon: Lily,
waiting for stagecoach: Firehouse Lil)
related (Peter Brown stands outside stage depot: Stage West, snake oil pitchman stands in street: Triple Indemnity,
sailors sit in front of unrestored PT boat: PT 109)
- Processions (bad guys and prisoners enter depot yard: The Iron Trail,
Maverick brings in resurrected prisoners at end: Ghost Rider,
Maverick goes to confrontation, Maverick leads camel: Relict of Fort Tejon,
men follow Maverick to final showdown: Rage for Vengeance,
heirs leave after introduction: Black Fire,
Sheriff's entourage: Hadley's Hunters,
men carrying strongbox into bank, fire drills: Firehouse Lil,
hostage hero and heroine lead bad guy out of town: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
cops enter at end: The Bouncing Chip,
casino dealers enter manager's office: Last Exit)
- Deep focus (alley with characters in background: Hired Gun,
livery stable doors seen from building across street: The Promoter,
robbery, deputy runs on sidewalk, view across street to killer: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire)
Geometry and Visual Style:
- Mirror shots (discussion of false identity: The Gamble,
dictator makes painting of himself using mirror: Road to Three Graves,
heroine speaks to Maverick: Rage for Vengeance,
street window reflection, mirror smashed in saloon, Maverick's hotel room: Day of Reckoning,
Maverick and Roger Moore bonding in mirror: The Rivals,
hero enters hotel room: The Saga of Waco Williams,
entrance of villains to Maverick's room: Triple Indemnity,
barber shaves himself in mirror: The Ring,
in Lily's office: Lily,
couple embracing: Shackled,
villain enters hero's hotel room: The Bouncing Chip,
hero and heroine at heroine's dressing table: Last Exit,
spectacular room of mirrors: Disco Devil)
- Geometric, rectilinear shots that show building facades frontally
(ruins with Cheyenne and flag: Quicksand, depot at start: The Iron Trail,
outside of Birdcage saloon while singing starts: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
shelter into which people flee in bomb episode: Disco Devil)
- Triangles (three dots on brooch serve as clue: Black Fire, tetrahedra: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Ovals (on stage curtains: The Conspirators,
arches in casino: Last Exit)
Costumes and Appearance:
- Long take camera movements (Quicksand,
hero and heroine descend stair into cantina: Fury at Rio Hondo,
several shots: The Iron Trail,
heirs introduced: Black Fire,
Maverick walks heroine home and kiss, Maverick's farewell with second kiss: Betrayal,
Marshal and deputy walk down street: The Oath,
through beds: The Young Toughs,
kid crosses street in opening shot, commenting on body, Marshal and landlady: The Ring,
Marshal confronts racists in saloon: Red Ransom,
three shots in saloon: Lily,
The Catalog Woman,
Owny in street at start, heroine then Marshal at hotel: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire,
vertical move up to hero then hero crosses casino to bar then further over to woman singer,
heroine walks across casino after song: Last Exit)
- Bursts of camera movement (hotel lobby: The Rivals,
characters move in street: Firehouse Lil,
action in saloon: The Promoter,
boss running to shot cop: Inside Man)
- Path / reverse path camera movement (entering and leaving saloon: A Tale of Three Cities,
up then down hotel stairs: The Promoter,
hero enters casino to bar, soon leaves bar to cross casino to staircase: Last Exit)
- Men grooming (Western hotel bath area, heroes shirtless for final fight: Quicksand,
Cheyenne washing shirtless: Fury at Rio Hondo,
shaving: The Long Winter,
Cheyenne preparing to wash shirt: The Conspirators,
Cheyenne bathing in pond: Border Affair,
Cheyenne washing and changing into suit: The Gamble,
Sugarfoot gets haircut, new clothes: Reluctant Hero,
Maverick has to strip for bad guys search: Stage West,
Maverick has shirt off to take care of wound: The Saga of Waco Williams,
haircut, manicure: Hadley's Hunters,
Maverick towels face: Triple Indemnity,
injured man in bed with bandages on chest: Bloodline,
shirtless cowboy: The Young Toughs,
barber shop: The Ring,
Peter Brown puts on tie, Ray Danton pulls up suspenders in morning: Lily,
getting brushed off and rose pinned on Marshal for wedding: The Catalog Woman,
hero in swimsuit at pool: The Bouncing Chip,
sailors shower from funny casks, Grant Williams gets dressed, shipwrecked sailors without shirts: PT 109,
disco king combs hair in front of mirror: Disco Devil,
crooks disguise themselves: Stolen Faces,
hero dons cowboy boots to impress female: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Shiny clothes (Dennis Hopper's leather vest: Brannigan's Boots,
black leather vest of leader: The Young Toughs,
hero's dressing gown: The Bouncing Chip,
black rubber wetsuits: Inside Man,
Bronc's black leather jacket: Hot Rod Girl,
leather flying coat from 1920's: Black Gold,
gold disco dancer's shirt: Disco Devil,
plastic jackets worn by students in school hallway: The Boy Who Knew Her Secret)
- Military men or veterans with beards (Major Early: The Long Winter,
President Grant: The Iron Trail, Major: Test of Courage,
Cabot: Border Affair, sailor: PT 109)
related (hero's beard from trail compared to Grant: Ghost Rider,
miner and depot runner have beards: Stage West)
- Masks or head coverings (flour sack used by robber: Betrayal,
veiled bride: The Catalog Woman,
scuba masks used by divers: Inside Man,
father's eyepatch: Last Exit,
disguises: Stolen Faces)
Here are ratings for various films directed by Leslie H. Martinson. Everything at least **1/2 is recommended.
- Quicksand **1/2
- Fury at Rio Hondo *
- The Long Winter **1/2
- The Iron Trail ***1/2
- Test of Courage **
- The Broken Pledge **1/2
- The Conspirators ***1/2
- Border Affair **1/2
- Hired Gun 1/2
- The Gamble ***
- Dead to Rights ***
- Road to Three Graves 1/2
- Brannigan's Boots **1/2
- Reluctant Hero **
- Trail's End
- Ghost Rider **1/2
- Stage West **
- Relict of Fort Tejon **
- The Jeweled Gun *1/2
- Rage for Vengeance **1/2
- Day of Reckoning **
- Black Fire ***
- The Belcastle Brand ***
- Shady Deal at Sunny Acres ***1/2
- Gun-Shy **1/2
- The Rivals ***
- The Saga of Waco Williams ***
- Betrayal **1/2
- A Tale of Three Cities **1/2
- The Ghost Soldiers **
- The Bundle from Britain *1/2
- Hadley's Hunters ***
- Triple Indemnity *
77 Sunset Strip:
- The Oath ***
- Wanted *1/2
- Bloodline **
- The Young Toughs *1/2
- The Ring **1/2
- Red Ransom **
- Lily *1/2
- Shackled **1/2
- Firehouse Lil **1/2
- The Promoter **1/2
- Owny O'Reilly, Esquire **1/2
- The Catalog Woman ***
Bourbon Street Beat:
- The Bouncing Chip **1/2
- The Parallel Caper
- Inside Man **1/2
- Last Exit **1/2
- Swan Song for a Hero **1/2
- Disco Devil ** (disco scenes ***)
- Stolen Faces **1/2
- The Boy Who Knew Her Secret: Part 1 **
- The Boy Who Knew Her Secret: Part 2 **1/2
- Hot Rod Girl **1/2
- Black Gold
- Batman **1/2
Quicksand (1956) is Leslie H. Martinson's first episode of Cheyenne, and nicely done.
In structure Quicksand resembles The Iron Trail to come:
Quicksand tries to eat its cake and have it too, in its treatment of Native Americans.
A band holds the group captive, under siege in Western ruins, in a time honored plot device.
But later, the Native Americans get to show their mettle, and the episode is clearly trying
not to stir up racial prejudice. The balancing act doesn't fully work, but overall it seems well meant.
Martinson soon will direct Cheyenne episodes that involve full scale advocacy of Native Americans,
including The Iron Trail and The Broken Pledge.
- Both star a disparate group of characters on a journey, by wagons in Quicksand,
by train in The Iron Trail.
- Both films feature many individual personal dramas
among the group's characters, in a manner recalling Grand Hotel.
- Both journeys start in a civilized Western town, then move off into the wilderness.
- Eventually, both groups leave their vehicles, stop journeying and wind up trapped by bad guys in a fixed locale.
- Both episodes have good villain performances from Dennis Hopper.
Leslie H. Martinson mainly uses two-shots during the final duel, showing both Cheyenne and his Native American opponent.
This depicts what they are undergoing as a shared experience, one that leads to bonding and mutual respect.
Cross-cutting would have suggested antagonism, instead.
The two-shots also underscore that the two men are equally brave. They are always in the exact sam situation,
something that viewers can see for themselves.
When Cheyenne at last climbs out of the pit, Martinson follows the climb with a complex camera movement.
It underscores both his struggle to ascend, and the great distance he has to move up.
Leslie H. Martinson films are full of hand-held objects. The white flag is both an object, and one of many flags in Martinson.
It is also an object we see the hero making, like the bow and arrow in The Broken Pledge.
Hand gestures are important in Martinson, even when the characters are not actually holding props.
Dennis Hopper's raising his hands to his head, after his hat is shot off, is vivid.
The ruins are one of the "rectilinear facades shot frontally" Martinson sometimes uses to make compositions.
Such frontal shooting occurs when the characters first enter the ruins, and later when Cheyenne leaves them with
the white flag.
Long Take Camera Movement
The young man's panicky bolt from the ruins is shot in one long take. It involves the camera moving (mainly panning)
from right to left, then to the right to show actions through the jagged doorway, then back to the left
when the characters are inside. The through-the-doorway staging of the events outside recall the window stagings elsewhere
A subsequent scene with the young man and his fiancee is also in one long take. The cameras moves in to a two-shot of them.
Cheyenne: Fury at Rio Hondo
Fury at Rio Hondo (1956) is a hopelessly stiff remake of
To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks, 1944).
This sort of thing tends to drive my fellow auteurists crazy, to judge by their
pans of the Psycho remake, and if Fury at Rio Hondo were better known, it could lead
to negative comparisons of Martinson and Hawks. Admittedly, this film is stiff and lifeless.
Still, one suspects that it is fairer to judge Leslie H. Martinson by his better works.
Fury at Rio Hondo preserves the worst idea of To Have and Have Not:
that it is acceptable for the hero threaten the evil soldier with torture.
This is really offensive in both works.
Fury at Rio Hondo adds a new bad idea: a sympathetic treatment of supporters of the
Southern Confederacy. It even ends with a cringe-inducing playing of Dixie.
Both of these subjects will recur, but with criticism and moral reversal in The Conspirators.
Fury at Rio Hondo views Confederate supporters who go into exile in Latin American with sympathy;
The Conspirators will suggest they are misguided and should come home.
And The Conspirators will include a hilarious deconstruction of Dixie.
Among the few creative ideas that seem personal for Martinson:
The talented Peggie Castle plays the saloon singer heroine. This seems like a dress rehearsal
for Castle's later three season run as the saloon owner-singer on Lawman. Castle's debut episode on
Lawman, Lily, will also be directed by Martinson. Peggie Castle will be terrific on Lawman,
and she is already showing her good singing and forceful personality here in Fury at Rio Hondo.
Castle's pleasant performance goes a long way towards keeping Fury at Rio Hondo an interesting viewing experience.
- The story has been reset to the French occupation of Mexico, setting for his much better episode
- The scene on the wagon now has two hand-held objects: a lantern and barrel of oil,
hand-held objects being a Martinson tradition. The heroine puts the hat on a murdered man as he is being dragged away.
- Hand gestures are also important: the French soldier picks out people in the cantina by pointing at them,
his evil commander uses hand gestures during his interrogations of people.
Cheyenne: The Long Winter
The Long Winter (1956) is an unusual Western. It is episodic, and more a collection of
lyrical scenes than a melodrama.
Its best parts feature pioneer wife Susan (Fay Spain). She gives a vivd performance, and her character
is well conceived at the writing level. The continuing motif or subplot about her flowers is good.
Best of all: the scene where Cheyenne, eager to hear a human voice, asks her to say anything.
Her reply is unexpected and fascinating.
Quite a few Leslie H. Martinson Westerns stress male-female relationships and romance.
The young kid Bushrod (Tom Pittman) is also sympathetic. Such very young men also run through Martinson.
Tom Pittman often played tough young villains, as in Verboten! (Samuel Fuller, 1959).
Here he's in a completely different role, as a gentle young man trying to reach adulthood.
His curly hair is sticking out from under his cowboy hat, in an archetypal youthful look.
The Long Winter has marvelously old-looking buildings, that I don't recall from any other film.
They are large, wooden and weather beaten. They look like they are from a poverty stricken society, but
one that keeps trying to plunge on with commerce. Martinson photographs them very well, in the background.
Cheyenne: The Iron Trail
The Iron Trail (1957) is a dandy mystery-on-a-train episode. Its script is by Montgomery Pittman,
a top writer-director of television of the era.
I think that the mourner first seen pushing the coffin is played by Montgomery Pittman, the writer of the show.
This seems to be the character called "Monte".
There are mystery aspects of The Iron Trail that serves as a subplot. Martinson's mysteries tend to be
Dennis Hopper had already perfected his villain persona, by the time this film aired in 1957.
Hopper was only twenty. Hopper is brilliant, conveying both intelligence and a frightening social alienation.
Hopper's entrance is a brilliant moment. He is heard only as an off-screen voice. He is entering at a pivotal moment,
and affecting the plot and the fate of the characters.
Leslie H. Martinson repeatedly uses right-to-left camera movements, often pans, at the start, following his characters
at the train depot from the ticket window to benches to boarding the train itself.
The train depot opening is also the film's main chance to get some architecture into its compositions:
most of the rest of the story is away from such large buildings.
The scene by the stopped train includes a number of complex camera movements.
These tend to move both left-to-right and right-to-left, parallel to the train cars and tracks.
Sometimes, the camera follows Hopper. It also moves down the line of passengers in the last shot.
We don't see the inside of the building where the bad guy takes the hostages, until Cheyenne himself is summoned.
This builds up suspense, about what goes on at those terrible meetings. When Cheyenne and the bad guy do go inside,
their interior scene is shot in one long take. The camera eventually moves in, for a tight two shot of their upper bodies.
The next shot is one long take, with a left-to-right motion interrupted several times for long stationary pauses.
When the heroine returns to the corral, the scene with her, Cheyenne and railway detective Shev is also
staged in one nice long take.
The structure of The Iron Trail as a whole recalls
Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg, 1932).
Both films star a disparate group of passengers on a train, each with their own characterization.
In both, the train is stopped by a powerful gang of bad guys, who remove the passengers and rob them.
In both, the passengers are taken one by one for interrogation, to the office of the gang's leader.
The subplot about the Cavalry officer in The Iron Trail recalls the French Major in Shanghai Express.
This is combined with a political kidnapping plot, recalling the assassination film Suddenly (1954).
In both films, the intended victim is on a train. In both, the gang plotting the assassination or kidnapping
has a group of hostages, who despite their apparent powerlessness, are determined to stop the crime.
Suddenly was written by Richard Sale.
The voting scene was likely inspired by the classic voting scene in
Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939).
The aspects about gangsters holding people hostage might reflect Key Largo (John Huston, 1948).
A gambit about a "bad woman", the villain and a gun seems to derive from that film.
The group-trapped-out-West recalls Martinson's earlier Quicksand.
Dennis Hopper was in Quicksand too.
The Iron Trail has mystery puzzle elements, that reflect none of the above films,
all of which are largely mystery-free.
Cheyenne: The Broken Pledge
The best part of The Broken Pledge (1957) is the finale. This is a beautifully filmed
outdoor sequence. It shows Cheyenne making a bow and arrow, while riding on horseback.
This has a fascination, reflecting the once popular interest in woodland craft. It also shows
Leslie H. Martinson's interest in hand-held props.
The previous parts of the show suffer from sexism, in their treatment of a woman reporter.
She is an early feminist. These ideals are neither attacked nor endorsed.
But she turns out to be a rotten person.
The Broken Pledge is impressive in its look at white - Native American relations.
It is a very anti-racist work, and is part of the 1950's trend of "Indian Westerns" sympathetic to
Like several of Martinson's works, it is set against a concrete historical background,
here the events that led up to the Battle of Little Bighorn.
The Broken Pledge is full of commentary about the dangers of warmongering.
It examines the role of the press, and differing attitudes in the military.
Its look at the recruited kid (Gary Vinson) adds another dimension to Martinson's
continuing looks at very young males. And shows how young people are exploited by war.
Cheyenne: The Conspirators
The Conspirators (1957) is one of my favorite episodes. Cheyenne develops a whole new side to himself.
And in a Pirandellian way, so does actor Clint Walker.
The comic last scene suggests that the new side will remain in Cheyenne, perhaps hidden,
but present as a new possibility for him.
This show is best appreciated, perhaps, after one has seen several other episodes of
Cheyenne, and become familiar with the standard version of the hero's character.
Then one can be startled by the new developments in the hero.
I also like the way that the new identity evokes the hambone side of 19th Century theater.
Noteworthy too, is the suggestion that the song "Dixie" is deliberately exploitative and second rate,
an attempt to stir up sinister Old South emotions. Since this song has been treated with such reverence
in awful movie tributes to the Confederacy, such skepticism is welcome.
The pointing out of the bad grammar in the song is also funny.
Songs - and Composition
The song "The Deadwood Stage", with its refrain of "whip crack away!", is from the movie
Calamity Jane (1953). Martinson has Cheyenne on either side of a huge oval on the curtain behind him,
during earlier parts of the song. At the finale, Cheyenne is stationed right in front of the oval.
This maximizes the "geometric" quality of the image.
Near the end of the Stephen Foster song "Beautiful Dreamer" (1864), Cheyenne is close to the upper part of the oval,
so it frames him like an arch over his head. When he takes a bow after singing, we see him
surround by the oval, as he was when he first stepped out to sing.
A different framing using three-quarters of the oval pops up towards the end of
"Some Sunday Morning". This song is from the Western film San Antonio (1945).
Like Calamity Jane, this was a Warner Brothers film, and the studio likely had access to the rights,
for this Warner Brothers TV show. "Some Sunday Morning" appears again in the Dark Decision (1962)
episode of Cheyenne, (not directed by Martinson).
Cheyenne does not sing in that episode though, or in any other episode of Cheyenne, as far as I can tell.
The first exterior shot of Washington DC is from the film Springfield Rifle (1953).
Cheyenne: The Gamble
The Gamble (1958) is an interesting cross between the Western and the Woman's Film.
The hybrid approach is built right into the heroine's character, and the plot structure.
Half of the time the heroine is dealing with a melodrama about her grown daughter;
the other half time she is coping with bad guys threatening her saloon. Perhaps
significantly, she is highly competent at dealing with the bad guys, a role in which she can
pull no punches and be a strong, independent woman. But in the melodrama,
is trying to force himself into a traditional "woman's role", and she is limited and often helpless.
There is perhaps a feminist subtext. The contrast is built right into the dialogue.
The Gamble also benefits from other subplots, centered around Leslie H. Martinson themes:
All of these are well handled, making for a show with lots of pleasing plot.
Despite the melodrama and perhaps social commentary, The Gamble has a light-comedy touch.
- The hero Cheyenne has to "extend himself into a new role". This role is a more "sophisticated" persona,
and there are times when Cheyenne's vocal intonations and manner of speech subtly echo his performance
as a theatrical figure in The Conspirators, a major look at "extension" in Martinson.
- Cheyenne is part of a "group of good guys working together", here tackling the saloon's problems.
- The daughter is an "Eastern woman journeying out West".
Leslie H. Martinson's TV Westerns typically have a lot of hand-held props. The Gamble is
especially rich in them.
Cheyenne: Dead to Rights
Dead to Rights (1958) is a well-done mystery story, a genre that frequently appears in Leslie H. Martinson.
Melvin Levy's story is a model of construction, with information about the mystery constantly being fed to the viewer.
It is also full of mystery: not just who did the killing, but also such mysteries as
the fate of the missing heir, what Shorty knows, and what everyone is looking for in
Shorty's belongings. Such multiple mysteries gladden the hearts of detective story lovers.
Martinson's films are full of hand-held props. Appropriately for a mystery like Dead to Rights,
many of these hand-held objects are clues: the wallet, the ad, the letter, the photo,
Shorty's possessions in his handkerchief, the newspaper, the watch, the spent bullet that Cheyenne
and the Sheriff sniff.
Shorty is another of Martinson's contentious, fight-loving low lifes.
John Russell's intimidating lawyer is always well-dressed, in a series of expensive outfits.
This character recalls his film career, in which he often played "good looking leading man types in supporting roles".
It is quite different from his soon-to-follow TV series Lawman, in which he dressed down as a working class marshal,
and acted extremely tough.
The Scots father and daughter are more of Martinson's "Britishers out West".
Cheyenne: Road to Three Graves
Road to Three Graves (1960) was made much later than Leslie H. Martinson's other Cheyenne episodes, and seems poor.
It does recall Fury at Rio Hondo in that it concerns heroes driving wagons full of vital equipment
through hostile territory.
Road to Three Graves contains right wing material. One of the soldiers used to fight for the
Confederacy, and the military traditions of the Confederacy are lauded. Also, we are treated
to an allegory about a dictator-run town, whose inhabitants have given up their freedom in exchange
for the security provided by the dictator. The town is even named Security. One suspects that
one is seeing an illustration of the favorite right-wing thesis that a "welfare state" is
the ominous first step on the road to dictatorship.
Road to Three Graves also contains anti-war material, including a concern over all the orphans
wars create. So Road to Three Graves is not entirely dominated by right wing preaching.
The dictator painting his self-portrait at an easel, is an odd touch. It fits in with other "image makers"
Maverick: Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider (1957) combines two of Leslie H. Martinson's favorite subjects:
The good-looking but menacing "lawyer" visiting Maverick in jail, anticipates John Russell's imposing lawyer in
Dead to Rights.
- It is a complexly plotted mystery with a spooky atmosphere and plenty of developing events.
- It has a plethora of characters with deceptive or mistaken identities.
The lawyer is one of the characters with deceptive identities in Martinson.
Maverick's identity is also in doubt in this episode.
The Kid (Edd Byrnes) in the frame story, is one of the very young males who show up in Martinson.
The undertaker is part of the often comic funeral imagery in Martinson. He has a tongue-in-cheek aspect.
The graveyard is related to this subject too.
The comic procession at the end, when Maverick brings the crooks in, is one of the best processions in Martinson.
Maverick's white flag is part of Martinson's flag imagery.
Maverick: Stage West
Stage West (1957) is a suspense thriller, mainly set at a stage coach way station.
It is fairly routine. It suffers from too much emphasis on the show's distinctly
unpleasant villains, and also on a familiar premise and plot details.
The briefly seen passenger, who is a Scotsman who formerly ran a restaurant, in another of Leslie H. Martinson's
"Britishers out West". He anticipates the Scots father and daughter who run a Western cafe in
Dead to Rights.
Peter Brown stands outside the way station near the start, becoming another Martinson character standing or sitting
outside a building. Brown gets a vertical camera movement, from the station's sign above, down to him.
When the heroine walks over and gets on the stage at the end, the camera accompanies her.
It makes her more vivid and important.
The young psycho killer (Edd Byrnes) throws a knife at one of his victims. The juvenile-delinquents-out-West in
Martinson's later The Young Toughs will also throw a knife killing a victim. Knives were associated with
juvenile delinquents in the 1950's. The knife also forms another of Martinson's "hand held objects".
The gold nugget gets used to symbolize a number of things, in the show's second half.
Peter Brown is in an elaborate shirt. It relates to western styles.
But it is also shaped much like the "Perfecto" motorcycle jacket Marlon Brando wore in
The Wild One (1953). This glamorous look perhaps suggests the
"juvenile delinquent" aspect of Brown's character.
Maverick being forced to take off his clothes to be searched sounds fun, perhaps, but in practice
the scene is played for light laughs. Maverick has on one of the world's ugliest undershirts,
and the scene is not real revealing. It is quite different from all the good-natured grooming scenes
in Martinson, with their bare-chested heroes. Maverick's clothes are more of the "hand held objects".
Both a miner and the stage depot runner have elaborate beards, but they are not linked to any military traditions.
Maverick: Relict of Fort Tejon
Relict of Fort Tejon (1957) is mixture of comedy, about the camel of the title, and a more serious drama
about a crooked town boss. Large animals regularly show up in Leslie H. Martinson.
Martinson films often have romance subplots, and sometimes melodrama/women's film aspects.
Relict of Fort Tejon unexpectedly studies spousal abuse, with the villainous mayor-to-be mistreating
his fiancee. Relict of Fort Tejon does not give an explicit political dimension to such abuse,
but it does suggest some of the implications of how so-called "milder" abuse often leads to more extreme harm.
This gives the show a dimension consistent with later feminist concerns.
The hired gunfighter looks like another of Martinson's "young males". Actually, actor Tyler Mac Duff
was in his thirties, and simply looks younger.
Two scenes with the camel are processions. An early one shows Maverick leading the camel behind his horse.
The finale has Maverick leading the bad guy back to town, draped over the camel's saddle.
This is like the procession that ends Ghost Rider: Maverick publicly bringing the bad guy back into town,
captive to face justice.
Midway, Maverick leaves the hotel, to confront the villain in his saloon. A large procession of townspeople
fall in behind him. This recalls the large procession halfway through The Iron Trail,
when everyone enters the old depot yard. This procession is staged in one camera movement.
It ends with the appearance of gunfighter Drake.
There are two parallel scenes with "hidden small gun" gimmicks:
- One with the gun up the villains' sleeve,
- One with an alleged gun in Maverick's hat. Maverick, explicitly a poor draw, helps build
his anti-violence characterization with such an alternative to gun play.
Maverick: The Jeweled Gun
The Jeweled Gun (1957) is mystery, set out West.
The explanation of the mystery and motive for the strange happenings, recalls that in
My Name Is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis, 1945).
The surface stories are different: Julia Ross is forced into the new identity of the villain's wife,
whereas Maverick takes on the role of a woman's husband voluntarily, for the money she offers.
Julia knows she's in huge danger, whereas Maverick is mainly puzzled.
This gives the two films a different feel, as well as differing surface events.
But the bad guys' underlying schemes are identical in both films. And their motivation -
to cover up an accidental earlier killing, by restaging it with a new person impersonating
the old victim - is the same in both tales.
Maverick: Rage for Vengeance
Rage for Vengeance (1958) mixes mystery, romance and political drama.
The mystery is not a murder mystery. But the film explores a mysterious situation, gradually revealing the truth.
Why is the widow carrying a large sum of money? What are her plans?
The opening premise of Rage for Vengeance recalls the previous Martinson episode The Jeweled Gun,
in that both center on a strong-willed woman with mysterious goals hiring Maverick to accompany her on a journey.
The woman's reasons and plans turn out to be drastically different, however, and the films wind up differing
strongly in plot and tone.
The newsboy is one of Martinson's young men - although just about any filmmaker would make a character
hawking papers be a youth. Oddly, the many men in hotels the characters meet during the stage journey are all
conspicuously older men, including the messenger and bell boy. Such characters are sometimes young males in other
Maverick: Day of Reckoning
Day of Reckoning (1958) is a disturbing look, at a town taken over by a dictatorial trail boss and his men.
As the title suggests, the events in the town are apocalyptic. They involve the complete collapse of
the rule of law, and nearly the end of the town itself.
Day of Reckoning has elements that can be read as supporting either or both non-violence and violent war.
The film places great emphasis on both Maverick's philosophy of avoiding confrontation and trouble, and on genuinely serious negotiations.
This can be seen as supporting non-violence. But none of these work: which seems to support war as a good choice.
The war at the end is effective in solving problems. And it does look like a full-scale war, with
the townspeople as a whole against the 50 men of the trail boss. This seems pro-war. But Maverick immediately calls
it off as soon as the leaders are killed, once more emphasizing negotiation and non-violence. This last ploy works,
when all previous negotiations failed. As a whole, Day of Reckoning seems more pro-war than
in favor of non violence. It certainly doesn't show the disaster that can come from war, minimizing its costs -
it seems to harm the townspeople not a whit.
Day of Reckoning can be seen as a partly right-wing film, one that calls for violence and war against dictators.
It is less extremely right-wing than Leslie H. Martinson's Road to Three Graves, however.
Unlike Road to Three Graves, the dictatorial trail boss is not linked to left-wing ideas,
and there is no evidence that liberal or left-wing behavior helped create his dictatorial control.
Furthermore, the film goes out of its way to examine negotiation and compromise, although it usually fails.
Day of Reckoning can be read as repudiating Maverick's normal non-violent philosophy of staying out of trouble.
It can be seen as showing him "forced" into war. This is a very dubious lesson, one I don't agree with at all.
Day of Reckoning has a similar ambiguity about masculinity and violence.
The trail boss is constantly goaded into bad, violent behavior by his gunslinger's taunts about
what the trail boss' father would do. This suggests violent male ideals are a disaster, causing war.
But Maverick and the printer are also constantly told they need to be more violent, in the name of "being a man".
This suggests that masculinity demands standing up violently.
The twirled shot glass shows how nervous and fearful a man in the bar is, when the town is under siege.
Martinson also gets a dramatic gesture, when a farmer hurriedly lifts a sack into his wagon,
before fleeing town.
The handbills are at the center of the story. They show up in many different contexts.
There are several mirror shots:
- A reflection in the street from a window.
- The mirror in the saloon gets smashed by the bad guys. We see reflections in it as it is smashed, in two separate shots.
- A mirror in Maverick's hotel room is not emphasized, but we see some awkwardly framed reflections in it, in passing.
Martinson tracks down the bar, showing the disturbed townspeople.
In a later scene, he moves down the bar in the reverse direction.
There are many shots following characters walking through the town. These include Maverick, and later,
a forceful shot of the Marshal's wife hurrying in with her plea.
A shot near the end show the armed townspeople on a roof, then pans down the street, and continues
along men there.
Maverick: The Burning Sky
The Burning Sky (1958) is credited to director Gordon Douglas, not Leslie H. Martinson.
But its plot has much in common with such Martinson episodes of Cheyenne as
Quicksand (1956) and The Iron Trail (1957), so it is discussed here.
This might mean that The Burning Sky was influenced by Quicksand and The Iron Trail.
It might even mean that The Burning Sky was prepared or planned by Martinson, although
I have no factual or historical information whatsoever to indicate this.
SPOILERS. Both The Burning Sky and Quicksand center on a group of travelers, besieged by
enemies at remote, isolated Western ruins. All three of The Burning Sky, Quicksand
and The Iron Trail feature a disparate group of travelers, with a Grand Hotel style mix
of subplots about their personal lives and backgrounds. Both The Burning Sky and The Iron Trail
have a traveler with a large container secretly full of money; both have a woman whose secret past is exposed
by a cad of a fellow traveler.
Maverick: Black Fire
Black Fire (1958) is a murder mystery. It is both an example and a spoof of the "heirs gathered
in a mansion" mystery, that dates back at least to John Willard's play
The Cat and the Canary (1922). This mystery-lover thoroughly enjoyed it. Most people will relish its
great last line.
Black Fire has a sound detective plot. Maverick does a good job reconstructing how a murder was done -
and deducing from that who did it.
The only exteriors in the film occur at the beginning and end, as Maverick rides into the Black Fire ranch,
then rides out at the end. The lack of exteriors is a good stylistic choice. If characters are stuck in a murderous mansion,
the film should express that confinement in terms of its settings.
Hans Conried is really good, as the painter. He is one of several image makers that run through Martinson.
He is also a Leslie H. Martinson character who stretches beyond his ordinary limits.
History - and Woman's Suffrage
Black Fire has little to do with the Western as a genre. The story could easily take place in modern times.
The discussion about "cattlemen vs farmers" was perhaps added to give the film
a little Western subject matter. It hardly plays any real role in the plot.
One of the women is a suffragette: a campaigner to give women the right to vote. This is only the subject
of a single discussion. Other TV Westerns of the era had more extensive looks: see
The Woman (Arnold Laven, 1959) on The Rifleman, and the Bat Masterson
episode The Inner Circle (Walter Doniger, 1959).
This discussion in Black Fire is flip and comic; these later Western shows are more respectful.
The heirs are introduced in a long take camera movement, that shows each one in turn, pausing for brief bits of dialogue.
This is a nice stylistic touch.
Later in the same scene, the heirs all leave in a group, forming one of Martinson's processions.
Maverick: Triple Indemnity
Triple Indemnity (1961) is the last and possibly poorest of Leslie H. Martinson's Maverick episodes.
It has one clever idea, the life insurance gimmick, which it tries to stretch out into a whole show.
The insurance gimmick is very dark, on the verge of black comedy, and the show is not relaxing to watch.
Perhaps as compensation, individual scenes are loaded with hand-held props, to jazz up the action.
The snake oil pitchman, seen in the background as an addition to the setting without a role in the plot,
is both an intriguing idea, and a sign that people are trying to add color to this material.
He stands out in the street, and is perhaps related to the comic characters in other Martinson,
who sit in front of buildings. He eventually loses his voice, like the heroes of Hadley's Hunters.
Lawman: The Young Toughs
The Young Toughs (1959) crosses the Western with the 1950's juvenile delinquency melodrama.
The three young hoods in The Young Toughs look and act a bit more like 1950's juvenile delinquents.
Their leader is even in a fancy black desperado's outfit,
whose black leather vest evokes a bit the leather jackets of 1950's street toughs.
Links to The Iron Trail
Dennis Hopper leads a whole gang of youths in Leslie H. Martinson's Cheyenne episode The Iron Trail (1957).
Martinson will look at another all-youth Western gang in the Lawman episode The Young Toughs.
Its leader will also be emotionally disturbed, although far less brainy than Hopper.
Both young men want to become famous Western outlaws, seen in both shows as a very dubious dream.
Unfortunately, as story-telling The Young Toughs is drastically simpler than The Iron Trail,
lacking the clever plotting of that show.
The opening contains an elaborate camera movement, which moves around so action can be framed
by various bunk beds.
Lawman: The Ring
The Ring (1959) is another of Leslie H. Martinson's murder mysteries. It creates a "tough" atmosphere,
like a 1950's paperback crime novel.
Albert, a very poor, socially ill-adjusted young man, is an interesting character.
He combines pathos and strangeness, with his off-trail attitudes. This is another vivid role for
character actor Rex Holman. Albert is another of Martinson's very young males / troubled youths.
The Ring is notable for some fairly long take camera movements:
- The discovery of the body, which follows a child rolling a hoop down streets. This mainly seems like a pan.
- The townspeople crowd around to look at the body. This moves gently from left to right and back again,
to take in two men standing on either side of the Marshal, who comment on the crime.
- A long take discussion between the Marshal and the victim's landlady.
Introducing Lily Merrill
Lily (1959) introduces the continuing character of Lily Merrill in the series Lawman.
She is the glamorous, tough owner of the Birdcage Saloon, and the love interest for series star
Marshal Dan Troop (John Russell). The episode was the premiere of the second season of Lawman:
new seasons being a frequent time to introduce new characters. Actress Peggy Castle had previously
played a somewhat similar role as a saloon singer in Leslie H. Martinson's Cheyenne episode
Fury at Rio Hondo (1956).
Lily establishes the character's glamour, toughness and experience. But it otherwise is not
a really good introduction of the character. Lily makes poor decisions about the saloon in this episode;
in the rest of the series she is highly competent, intelligent, and a font of good suggestions
to the Marshal about his work. Lily and the Marshal are mainly antagonistic to each other in Lily;
only in the last minutes does the "mature romance" bloom between Lily and Dan that is such a good feature of
the Lawman series as a whole.
Lily also suffers from an uninteresting crime story plot, and a wooden performance as the villain
by handsome Ray Danton. It benefits by a genial turn by Dan Sheridan as a naive customer:
A year later, Sheridan would be hired in a different role, as the continuing character of the bartender Jake
in Lily's saloon.
When Dan Sheridan's character is drunk, he is made to sit down outside the saloon.
Comic characters who sit in front of buildings are a Martinson image.
A drunken cavalry man also has a funny bit as Lily ejects him from the saloon.
We see Peter Brown putting on a tie, to dress up for an evening out.
And Ray Danton is seen in the morning, pulling on his suspenders.
Men grooming are a Martinson tradition.
An adopted kitten serves as both one of Martin's animals, and as a hand-held object.
The painting is also a hand-held object, but an unusually large one, needing more than
one person to carry it.
Long Take Camera Movement
There are at least three long-take camera movements, all staged in the main room of the
Two briefer camera movements occur in Lily's office; both involve the mirror on Lily's wall.
The second of these shots makes a more elaborate use of the mirror, with Lily glancing at herself
- The first actions of Lily,
- The Marshal enters the story, and moves around, winding up at the door of Lily's office,
- Much later, Ray Danton moves around, while we hear the song Golden Slippers played.
The opening scene is played in the streets "outdoors", against what seems to be a painted backdrop
of street scenery. I don't remember any such backdrops in any other episodes of Lawman.
It seems inferior to the series' standard approach of shooting on their town set. One wonders if
the studio was experiencing temporary trouble with the set, and was forced to this expedient.
A window in Lily's office allows us to see the street outside.
Some long shots show much of the saloon interior. We often see card dealer Ray Danton,
as one character among many others, in these group shots. He is not the main focus of the story in these shots -
but he is present anyway. The effect recalls a bit Jacques Tati.
Shackled (1959) opens with a prisoner being put into a prison wagon,
recalling the abduction of a villain by government agents into a laundry truck in The Conspirators.
Lawman: The Promoter
Links to The Gamble
The Promoter (1961) reworks one of the subplots of the Cheyenne episode The Gamble (1958), into its main,
and only story. It develops the "national syndicate tries to take over a saloon" plot into
more detail about the scheme and syndicate. It also adds multiple saloons and threatened saloon owners,
moving a bit towards that Martinson theme, the "group effort". However, this group shows less solidarity
than some other threatened Martinson groups.
The Promoter also adds a political dimension: the heroine suspects that the syndicate
doesn't just want saloons, but also dictatorial control of the town. The name of the syndicate gunman
is a hilarious clue to this (not spoiled here).
The villain in The Gamble was a suave, All-American-acting businessman, a smooth representative of
the upper middle classes. He recalls the mobsters-masquerading-as-businessmen in several contemporary
gangster films, such as The Racket (John Cromwell, 1951).
The Promoter raises the ante, by making him one of Leslie H. Martinson's
"Englishmen out West". This character's line of ultra-smooth patter is richly developed.
While the story's themes are taken seriously, much of the dialogue and events have comic aspects.
Towards the end of the show, the Marshal and deputy burst into the hotel and run upstairs. In a later shot,
they run downstairs. The camera moves with them in simple but effective panning shots.
The second shot follows the "reverse path" of the first shot's path.
Some action scenes in the Birdcage saloon, have brief but rapid camera movements across the saloon,
When the Marshal and deputy wait to capture the bad guy in the livery stable,
we see the stable in the background, from a framework across the street.
The shots of the Marshal and deputy towards the end have them patrolling the dark sidewalks,
hunting for the villain. These are often shots deep down the covered sidewalks.
We see deep down the sidewalks - but little use of depth is made actually to stage action.
These shots include some effective use of the pillared region to the left of the Birdcage.
This is one of the more complex regions in the whole Laramie set.
It also shows up in some Cheyenne episodes that use the same city set.
There are shots from the villain's upper story hotel room, showing events down in the street below.
Lawman: Owny O'Reilly, Esquire
Owny O'Reilly, Esquire (1961) is the third of a series of Lawman comedies about
an awkward, but sincere, decent and talented youth, who gets into complicated situations.
All three were written by Ric Hardman, but this is the only one directed by Leslie H. Martinson.
Owny is the quintessential Awkward Young Male, a good-hearted young man trying to grow up,
but who doesn't quite have everything worked out yet. Owny lacks money or social position, and is definitely on his own.
Owny is played by Joel Grey.
While Martinson did not create the likable Owny,
Owny fits in with all the other "very young man" characters in Martinson.
The comedy in the episode also reflects Martinson's light-comedy touch.
The good characters face the villain as a group. Shared group challenges
are a Martinson tradition.
The Governor is quick to give his word to the bad guy - then wants to take it back.
The hero protests: to him your word is your word, even to a bad guy.
This is a comic version of the "lying authority figure" often found in Martinson.
This is one of several Martinson films, in which the "objects" include a newspaper someone is reading.
Other objects keep returning in new ways: the comb, the $50 bill. This return is comic.
Owny O'Reilly, Esquire has some mild, non-extreme examples of depth staging:
- Just before the robbery, we see Owny down a sidewalk, with the heroine in the foreground.
- Deputy Johnny is seen running down one of Laramie's covered sidewalks.
- Later, during the crisis with the bad guy, we see people on one side of the street,
looking across to another group on the other side of the street.
Owny is seen early on, scooting rapidly down the streets of Laramie. The camera accompanies him.
An elaborate long take has the heroine on the stairs of the hotel, followed eventually
by the Marshal entering the hotel.
Towards the end, the villain and the hero and heroine he is holding hostage, form one of Martinson's
processions. They are accompanied by slow camera movements. These moving shots focus
on different members of the procession.
As the heroine starts singing her song, we see the outside of the saloon.
This street view is parallel to the front of the saloon. It perhaps relates to
direct, parallel view of architecture in other Martinson films.
Lawman: The Catalog Woman
The Catalog Woman (1961) is a suspense drama, with a good deal of comedy and romance mixed in.
Lily's romantic feelings for the Marshal are nicely worked in.
The letter dictation scene is especially good. It contains an unusual close-up
of the Marshal's ear, taken from behind his head. This is emotionally effective.
Staging Through Windows
The Catalog Woman has numerous scenes staged through windows. Leslie H. Martinson likes such stagings,
and The Catalog Woman is one of his films that are richest in them:
- The wedding procession in the street is seen by watchers through a window.
- Lily and Johnny are briefly seen from the street, looking through a window in the Cheyenne hotel.
We only see see a little of the hotel lobby background behind the pair.
This is embedded in a back-and-forth camera movement on the street.
- The hotel lobby in Cheyenne has an open doorway, through which a set of the street is seen.
One can also see the street through a window to the right of the door,
although this is less emphasized than shooting through the door.
- The final suspense sequence has Lily yelling down from an upstairs hotel window,
through which we can see Johnny in the street below.
Long Take Camera Movement
The Catalog Woman has a fair number of camera movements, often cycling around the characters:
Camera movements follow the characters up the hotel stairs, twice. These shots benefit from
the visual richness of the hotel lobby.
- There is an interesting long take, in the scene where the three leads and the banker are trying to decide
who goes undercover as a mail-order groom. Martinson's camera moves in to two-shots, and out to group-shots,
also following the Marshal as he walks around Lily and Johnny. (These walk-arounds recall a bit
the moving camera shots in Joseph H. Lewis where the characters walk around furniture.)
- The next scene between the Marshal and Johnny is in one take, but with less movement.
- The letter writing scene starts out with a long take camera movement, this time centering
on Lily's movements as she walks around.
- After the close-ups, the letter writing scene ends with another long take, following
both Lily and then Johnny.
During its fourth season, episodes of Lawman directed by Richard C. Sarafian
often featured elaborate camera movements, and sometime depth staging. One wonders if
the complex long take camera movements in The Catalog Woman reflect this trend.
The hand-held objects in The Catalog Woman tend to fall into two groups:
- objects involved in wedding preparations,
- the magazine and letters related to it.
Hot Rod Girl
Hot Rod Girl (1956) is a low-budget film about teenage hot rodders.
Hot Rod Girl seems visibly influenced by the car scenes in
Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955).
As in Rebel Without a Cause, we have bad kids taunting good kids into fights,
dangerous races and other bad behavior, that the good kids would not otherwise do.
Hot Rod Girl exemplifies Martin's long-standing interest in very young men.
Many of the characters are either teenagers or men in their twenties, people who are trying to grow up,
not altogether successfully.
Villain Bronc is an example of the emotionally disturbed young villains
that run through Leslie H. Martinson's films. The same year, Dennis Hopper makes the first of his three
appearances as such a villain in Quicksand.
Hot Rod Girl has an appealing cast. It is full of charming people who would later be better known:
Chuck Connors, John Smith, who both would go on to star in Western TV series.
And Frank Gorshin, who does his Cagney impression and other comedy relief.
Hot Rod Girl is best in its more lighthearted scenes,
which give a chance for these people to show some personality and sparkle.
Dabbs Greer would regularly play decayed drunks in Joseph H. Lewis
episodes of The Rifleman, illustrating the horrors of alcoholism.
It was startling to see him play a good guy who was sober and responsible in Hot Rod Girl.
The Bad Boy
Bronc (Mark Andrews) plays the film's swaggering Bad Boy hot rodder.
He shows up as if by magic, immediately after the Good Guy young hero (John Smith)
shuts down emotionally and stops romancing the frustrated heroine.
It is hard not to see the two men as contrasting Doubles, maybe symbolic alternatives to each other.
Or perhaps as dual aspects of one personality. Bronc gets to express all the swagger and sexuality
that is repressed in the hero.
Many Martinson films feature characters who "stretch out of their limited personalities".
They take on new roles, and move onto new experiences and approaches. Martinson films
also often have characters literally in new identities or undercover roles.
However, in Hot Rod Girl, the two personality types of Good Guy and Bad Guy
are kept strictly separate, in two different characters. This is different from, for example,
The Conspirators, in which Good Guy hero Cheyenne gets to take on an undercover role,
and explore a new personality.
Bronc is an early character in film to talk in "hip" lingo.
Costumes: Black Leather Jacket
Bronc's black leather jacket is one of the spiffiest in any 1950's film.
It is really shiny, and makes him look like a million dollars.
I kept hoping he'd reform and become a hero, but it doesn't happen.
Costume designer Tommy Thompson mainly worked in television.
He did Bat Masterson, with its fancy Western outfits.
Tommy Thompson also did the young hoodlum in
Step Child (Budd Boetticher, 1954), an episode of Public Defender.
This hoodlum's leather jacket is also unusually shiny, like Bronc's in Hot Rod Girl.
PT 109 (1963) is a war movie, detailing the young John F. Kennedy's service
in World War II.
Martinson Subjects: The Opening
The 40-minute opening of the long film, shows Kennedy's arrival in the South Pacific,
and the attempts of Kennedy and his crew to restore the nearly derelict PT boat of the title.
This section contains one of the group efforts that run through Leslie H. Martinson.
This sequence is quite charming.
The sequence recalls a bit Firehouse Lil. In Firehouse Lil, we see rival
firefighter teams maintaining their fire engines and drilling to prepare for a fire.
In PT 109, the heroes are one of several teams that prepare and drill with PT boats.
The hero, a rich Bostonian who had written a book, is in a drastically different role
as a new Naval Lieutenant. He is one of the Martinson characters who
stretch out of their limited backgrounds.
The hero is very mild-mannered. He is also quietly, politely determined.
This recalls the characterization of the heroes of some of the Western series Martinson
directed, such as Cheyenne and Maverick.
Martinson Subjects: The Finale
The final long sequence in the film, showing the attempts of the shipwrecked men
to survive and escape, recalls Quicksand a bit, it its look at a trapped group.
The "lost in the jungle and trying to survive" plot also recalls the "lost in the desert"
Western The Belcastle Brand.
There is perhaps a Civil Rights message in the sections showing the American sailors being aided
by black South Sea Islanders. There are pro-Civil Rights themes in a number of Martinson TV Westerns.
Cliff Robertson was personally chosen by President Kennedy, to play his younger self in PT 109.
Cliff Robertson appeared in other war movies, before and after this one. He starred in
The Naked and the Dead (Raoul Walsh, 1958),
also set in the South Pacific in World War II. So this casting was not a drastic stretch.
Cliff Robertson often seemed to play men who were good with machinery.
Often at a supervisory or white collar level.
He was good with the grain elevator owned by his wealthy family in Picnic (1955).
He starred in a science fiction TV series Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers (1953-1954).
He was an air pilot in the comedy Sunday in New York.
His skill with restoring the technological PT boat in PT 109 is
thus part of his screen mystique. There is something distinctly modern
about Robertson, even when he appears in World War II dramas.
He seems like a man who is good at the demands of modern society,
even the technological ones.
Robertson rarely played in Westerns, unlike many other leading men of his generation.
Grooming: The Opening
Leslie H. Martinson films are full of men grooming. In PT 109, there is an early look at
an improvised shower, with water coming out of barrels labelled with kinds of booze.
It's elaborate and funny. It reminds one a bit of the Western hotel's large scale bathing facilities
Also like Quicksand: during the air raid, the men duck into a mud puddle,
and wind up with their clothes filthy. In imagery, it is a bit like the way the two men
get submerged in quicksand in Quicksand, although the plot context is completely different.
Grant Williams' handsome Lieutenant has a full scale sequence getting dressed.
All of these grooming sequences are during the opening. They are part of the
comedy and festive atmosphere of the long opening section.
Batman (1966) is a feature spin-off from the television series.
Batman's big date is perhaps a take-off on the romantic interlude in
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Vincente Minnelli, 1962).
Both films have the couple going to numerous restaurants and night clubs, highly decorated venues;
both have the couple in a romantic carriage drive at night. This is my favorite sequence in the film.
Although it is a burlesque of tragic romance, Bruce Wayne's feelings seem real.
Wayne comes across as the most interesting character in the film - more so than
his alter ego Batman.
The film's funniest sequence is when Batman has trouble getting rid of the bomb. This echoes Leslie H. Martinson's
interest in props carried by hand: Batman holds the bomb in his hand, and can't figure out a good place to let go.
The finale, with identities scrambled among the UN members, also perhaps reflects a bit a Martinson tradition:
deceptive identities. Batman and Catwoman have "deceptive identities" in a pure, traditional way.
What happens at the UN is perhaps a variation on this theme.