This is topic Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) in forum 8mm Print Reviews at 8mm Forum.

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Posted by Steve Klare (Member # 12) on December 09, 2010, 08:08 PM:

”Why you no tell me Niles making prints?! We go town now: STOP THEM!”

Cattle Queen of Montana (1954, Niles Films, 5x400, Sound, Color (-oh what Color!))

There are folks out there that will sincerely tell you that there have never, ever been feature films sold on Super-8. Most of ‘em have never seen a reel bigger than 400 Feet and in many cases not even one sound film.

I know this because I used to be one of them!

Back in 2000 when I returned to 8mm after a decade away, I learned a lot. They’d invented this whole Internet…Thing in the meantime and it was possible to learn a huge amount about many obscure topics and muckle onto obsolete hardware as easy as buying groceries. This is ideal country for a fan of 8mm film to live in!

So I bought some films and cameras, found out about the British 8mm scene and bought a sound projector, and bought a ton more films!

I also learned that not only did feature films exist there were hundreds of them.

-I wanted one! (-or maybe several.)

One day Cattle Queen of Montana was on E-bay un-bid and roughly the price of a VHS. It was a “Why not?” moment. It showed up a few days later and all of a sudden I needed a second sound projector.

-and that’s the story of my first Super-8 feature!

The story is your Classic Saturday Afternoon Matinee kind of Western. There are Good Guys and Bad Guys and by and large it’s pretty obvious who they are from the start (unlike real life…). Ronald Reagan is there as a good guy masquerading as a bad guy, but they don’t keep us in suspense too long about him. The Major Good Guy is a Gal in this one. Barbara Stanwyck plays a cowpoke fresh up from Texas whose cattle git’ rustled and her Pa’ gits’ shot by the Bad Guys right in the middle of the first reel, and then they jump their claim to boot!

No movie is a Western without “Injuns”, and this one is no exception to the rule. There are Good Injuns and Bad ‘Uns. The Good ‘Uns help the Heroine out after the Bad ‘Uns steal all her cows. Whenever the Bad ‘Uns appear on screen there is that classic Movie Injun Trombone Riff, and the Bad ‘Uns speak Movie Injun “English”. (“Me go when Sun stands high. Savvy?”).

There are Big Skies and Hosses and Fellers in big hats a-walkin’ with their knees bowed out and six guns draggin’ their pants down on one side! (-Whole Lotta Shewtin’ too!)

If this is a formula film, they used the whole Chemistry Set! (-everything but a showdown, a saloon fight and a kindly Madam named “Miss Sally”!)

In the end, the difference between Right and Wrong here is marksmanship. Fact of the matter is that the Heroine, her Presidential Friend and the Good Injun prevail not because they are good and the bad guys are evil, but simply because in the last reel they either shoot, tomahawk or put an arrow in every last bad guy.

Barbara Stanwyck gets her land and cattle back. Ronald Reagan gets Barbara Stanwyck. The Good Injun becomes Chief!

Niles' print of this is one of those we all have that’s not good enough to show to a crowd, and not bad enough to use for tying up newspapers on recycling day either. It kind of hangs midway in between. The sound is OK, kind of muddy here and there. The image runs from sharp to softish.

The Color…oh the Color! The outdoor scenes tend to be a little bleached out looking, and here and there the color turns shades that they would have spent hours watching in the late ‘60s. When I first got the film I thought it was just another faded print. However, If you look at certain scenes like evening ones the color is fine. Also during daylight scenes where there is a fade to or from black there are brief milliseconds where the color is great before the fade ends and we are back to bleached-out. So while I guess there must be some fading, I suspect this was never a great print. Given what they cost new, somebody must have been pretty torqued-off about it!

Somebody that understands commercial print production better than me can explain this better, but it’s as if to get the evening scenes to be anything but black they had to “overexpose” the day scenes slightly.

It’s a shame: this is a Technicolor movie and with the great scenery it must be quite an eyeful as it was meant to be seen. It’s still very watchable, but you just know it should have been better.

So this is one of those second-string prints you watch by yourself or among the enlightened ones. It’s still entertaining, but not a good example of what Super-8 can do, especially in front of an audience containing skeptics!

The End

Posted by James N. Savage 3 (Member # 83) on December 10, 2010, 05:25 AM:
Great review Steve!

There are certainly a few films in my collection like that- I mainly keep for private viewings. I can comfortably watch a film with fading, as long as the picture is sharp, and good sound.

I've only had to throw away two or three prints that were just red. Those were all Universal 8 prints.

Is that first picture a screen shot? If so, its a good, sharp picture, even though not much color. As you said, still great for a Saturday matinee.

Posted by Steve Klare (Member # 12) on December 10, 2010, 08:43 AM:
Thanks James!

It really is a screen shot, but it's not of my print. I found a picture on the 'net and beat it half to death in photo editing software to make it look more like my print. It just seemed odd to put a stunning color picture up in this particular review.

The two Hombres are the Major Bad Guys in the Movie: McCord the greedy Cattle Baron and his Pal Natchakoa, the grammatically challenged Bad Injun. Natchakoa and his Braves attacked the ranchers newly arrived from Texas in the beginning of the movie. He kept the cattle and McCord jumped their claim.

Trivia: In "Back to the Future" when they are back in the 1950s this is said to be the movie shown on the theater marquee. (Heard this, haven't been able to verify it yet...)
Posted by Tony Stucchio (Member # 519) on December 10, 2010, 06:58 PM:
Yes, that was on the marquee in BTTF.
Posted by Douglas Meltzer (Member # 28) on December 11, 2010, 08:50 AM:

Thanks for the terrific review. This is from the winter 1979 Niles catalog:



Posted by Panayotis A. Carayannis (Member # 1220) on December 11, 2010, 04:05 PM:
I am amazed at such a fade. If there were any excellent Niles prints,those Benedict Bogeaus films were,(at least ,originally). After all those years of p.d. films and dupes, Niles did manage to strike a contract with Bogeaus or whomever owned his films, and release fine copies from the original negatives.From what I own and/or have seen,they are turning reddish, more or less, but fading almost completely ?????
Posted by Brad Kimball (Member # 5) on December 11, 2010, 11:47 PM:
O'h it happens. I have a 3 Stooges cartoon from RED FOX FILMS called "Souperman" and it is completely sepia-reddish. No blues, greens, yellows or even decent whites left in the darned thing. A complete waste of time and money. I use it strictly as a "test" print after I've cleaned the projector or encounter a symptom of something I can't easily define. That is, if I have a glitch while running one title, I'll throw "Souperman" on to test if it's a solitary problem with a print or if it's the unit itself. The sound is really crisp, however. Such a shame. It's sad to see your precious treasures go sour like that. I have a production featurette for the 1970 version of "Scrooge" containing interviews with Albert Finney in costume on the set and it shows the cast and crew filming the "Thank You Very Much" sequence. The entire one-reeler is the same as "Souperman" with some little color left in it from time-to-time that is actually pretty decent, but since the movie is a big favorite of mine I keep it and watch it at Xmas time by myself. My family walked out on it during the first 3 minutes when I first showed it for the first time. The inferior color quality was too much for them to endure. My wife and eldest daughter walked out of the room laughing at me for even buying it wondering how in the world I could even sit through it. They returned to their seats when I put on something they thought was decent. It's things like this that make my wife wonder why I don't just sell the lot and stick with DVD. It's an endless debate that makes for good conversation when in the car together.
Posted by Steve Klare (Member # 12) on December 14, 2010, 09:31 AM:

Please bear in mind that the picture isn't a true screen shot but one doctored up by some wiseguy (me...) with a PC and photo editing software. Step One was "sepia".

The color within the print is not consistent (not even within reels or adjacent scenes), so that picture isn't representative of the whole film. Some is slightly worse, some is much better.

Imagine if it all looked like this!:

Posted by Kurt Gardner (Member # 440) on December 22, 2010, 07:23 PM:
The only color feature I ever bought from Niles was "The African Queen," but I don't think they struck it, just distributed it. It's kind of brown now but still watchable.

In the last few years I picked up some Niles 400 footers from eBay and the color is not too bad, even if the editing is iffy. "Rebel Rousers" is particularly amusing, a proto-biker flick with Jack Nicholson in extremely unflattering striped pants. I'll have to post a review of it.

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