Friday, April 06, 2007

A 100 Gun Salute to Joseph H. Lewis

Born 100 years ago today, Joseph H. Lewis -- the Republic Pictures editor who became the legendary director of film noir classics GUN CRAZY and THE BIG COMBO. His name is also revered by horror film cultists for his memorable 1940s B-pictures INVISIBLE GHOST with Bela Lugosi and THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET with Lionel Atwill. Lewis also directed the outstanding '50s Western TERROR IN A TEXAS TOWN, starring Sterling Hayden, which was likely responsible for involving him in the show in which I've been revelling lo these past many months: THE RIFLEMAN. Lewis directed an impressive 51 episodes of the series between 1958 and 1963, a third or so of its remarkably high quality run. Among his greatest contributions were a couple of its two-parters, the thrilling "The Wyoming Story" and "Waste." Lewis also directed other great Western series from GUNSMOKE to Chuck Connors' later series BRANDED. He died in 2000, after his career had been rediscovered and celebrated by film noir, Western, and indeed Western noir cultists -- especially for GUN CRAZY, the most fetishistic film ever made about firearms and by far the sexiest.

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