Two films are playing on Turner Classic Movies on August 7. The first is Many Rivers To Cross at 6:00 p.m. est and the second is Valley of the Kings at 12:15 a.m. est. (Actually August 8) Both are closed captioned.
This wonderful rollicking comedy set in the early days of the republic, roughly sometime in the Federalist era had to take its inspiration from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers from the year before. In fact two of the brothers, Jeff Richards and Russ Tamblyn are featured in Many Rivers to Cross.
The surprise to me in this film is Robert Taylor. At the time he did this film Taylor had been doing dramatic parts for many years. He did some comedy roles in his early days at MGM, but they were the modern sophisticated sort of stuff.
Robert Taylor is Bushrod Gentry, a frontier trapper who’s a pretty fancy free and footloose sort of character very much like Adam Pontipee in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. But while it was Howard Keel who was looking for a wife in that film, here it’s the woman who does the chasing and it’s the woman who comes from a pretty frisky frontier family herself. Eleanor Parker is Federalist era Calamity Jane who takes a real shine to Taylor.
Of course she pursues Taylor through out the film, try as he may to get back to his trapping. Their last escape from some pursuing Shawnee Indians is an absolute comic riot.
Good as Taylor and Parker are, Many Rivers to Cross almost cries for a song or two other than the theme about the Berry Tree. In a musical I could have seen Howard Keel and Doris Day doing it easily.
In any event I’m sure that when Taylor and Parker settle down and commence to having children that they were the ancestors a hundred years later of that Pontipee clan in the Pacific Northwest. Review by bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York for the IMDb.
Some behind-the-scenes photos:
Valley of the Kings. Mark Brandon, the ruggedly handsome archaeologist played by Robert Taylor is thought to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones.
This is one of my favorite Robert Taylor pictures. Eleanor Parker and he had wonderful chemistry and both of them looked their best in this exotic action-adventure film. The following is my review for the IMDb.
This isn’t a serious or “meaningful” film. It is pure entertainment, beautifully photographed on location in Egypt. The stars, Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker, had great chemistry both off-screen and on. Taylor manages to be glamorous even when trapped in a sandstorm. The plot is relatively thin with Parker seeking to validate part of the Old Testament by finding the tomb of the Pharaoh who reigned in the time of the Biblical Joseph. She bats her eyelashes at Taylor who comes along happily. Then she introduces her husband, Carlos Thompson. There are horse and carriage chases, murders, the aforementioned sandstorm, a spectacular fight at Abu Simbel, a scorpion attack–all in ninety minutes. Given the slower pace of movies in the 1950s, there is also time for Taylor and Parker to discover each other more thoroughly (over some fermented goat). Egyptian belly dancer Samia Gamal shakes her stuff at the demure Parker. Highly enjoyable.
Some behind the scenes photos:
From left: Robert Taylor horsing around with a donkey; looking insecure on a camel.
From left: Robert Taylor with belly dancer; with Kurt Kazsnar and Carlos Thompson; at the sphinx.
From left: Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker at the Mena House Hotel; touring by carriage.
From left: Mr. Taylor and Ms. Parker in Egypt.
From left: Mr. Taylor and Ms. Parker, taking pictures; with director Robert Pirosh; saying hello to a camel.
Mr. Taylor injured his knee jumping off a camel and may have had difficulty lacing his boots. They both look happy about it.