Lewis R. Foster | Subjects | Visual Style | Rankings

Feature films: The Lucky Stiff

The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp: Wyatt Earp Becomes a Marshal

The Adventures of Jim Bowie: The Birth of the Blade

Classic Film and Television Home Page (with many articles on directors) | Television Western Articles

Lewis R. Foster

Lewis R. Foster is an American film and television director.

Lewis R. Foster: Subjects

Some common subjects in Lewis R. Foster's work: Technology:

Lewis R. Foster: Visual Style

Staging: Camera Movement: Appearance and Character:


Here are ratings for various films directed by Lewis R. Foster. Everything at least **1/2 is recommended.

Feature films:

The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp: The Adventures of Jim Bowie:

The Lucky Stiff

The Lucky Stiff (1949) is a mystery thriller. It is based on the 1945 novel of the same name by Craig Rice. Craig Rice is a writer who's been prestigious since the 1940's; she has a large entry in nearly every history of mystery fiction.

Brian Donlevy and Robert Armstrong seem older, more working class and tough as Craig Rice's famous series detectives, lawyer John J. Malone and policeman Daniel von Flanagan. This pair could easily have been cast with more glamorous figures. For example, one can imagine them played today by the slick leads of the White Collar TV series Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay.

The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp: Wyatt Earp Becomes a Marshal

Wyatt Earp Becomes a Marshal (1955) is the pilot episode of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. It is apparently the only episode of the series that Lewis R. Foster directed. Later episodes are often directed by Frank McDonald (around 142 episodes).


The characters in Wyatt Earp Becomes a Marshal are notable for their grungy, dressed-down look. When Wyatt Earp wanders into town, he is in ordinary clothes that make him look like a field hand. Only in later episodes, not directed by Foster, will he get his spectacular marshal's suit, becoming one of the more dressed-up Western heroes of the 1950's.

This pilot episode has costumes designed by Harold Johnson. The later episodes, including the ones where Wyatt Earp gets his dressy clothes, have costumes by Douglas Stevens. Stevens worked on the series for many years.

The other characters are dressed in even plainer working class clothes. They look tough. A few are good guys, but most are bad guys, mean, low brow and rotten to the core.

Star Hugh O'Brian might not need glamorous clothes. He strips off his shirt and washes on camera.


This run-down Western town has a post office, something one doesn't always see in old Westerns. Instead, the local general store often runs the postal service as a side business. We never see the inside of the post office, though. Still, Wyatt Earp Becomes a Marshal has a general respect for the US Government and its institutions.

By contrast, Wyatt has to fight a crooked judge who supports the bad guys.

A key scene shows Wyatt wearing his badge for the first time. He walks out into the street, after the bad guys terrorizing the town. He looks very impressive, and holds a terrific posture that suggests dynamism and determination. One dimension: being a Government official is good. And what the town needs.


The good characters, including Wyatt Earp and the townsman who supports him, are often photographed against circles and round objects: By contrast, the villains in the street are often photographed against a series of peaked roofs. These make jutting, sharp angles: no curves.

Wyatt Earp's badge is a geometric five-pointed star. It continues the linkage of Wyatt and geometry.

Camera Movement

Camera movement is often associated with the hero:

The Adventures of Jim Bowie: The Birth of the Blade

The Birth of the Blade (1956) is the pilot episode of the TV series The Adventures of Jim Bowie.

The Birth of the Blade seems modeled on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. Both:

A Scientific Western

Far and away the best part of The Birth of the Blade centers on Bowie's invention of a radically improved blade, the Bowie Knife. This is a full-fledged story of technological invention: Also technological: The new glasses the smith Mr. Black gets, that enables him to see again. These glasses are based on new, advanced lenses developed in Germany (then a high tech center).

There is a major subgenera in mystery fiction, called Scientific Detection, in which the detectives or crooks use high technology. The Birth of the Blade could be dubbed a Scientific Western. It centers around technology.


The Birth of the Blade suffers badly from racism. It cannot be recommended as a whole.