Republic Rediscovered

Republic Pictures

You may recognize the logo: But what about the films?

Through the efforts of Martin Scorsese and Paramount Pictures, current owner of the former “B” studio’s library, 24 mostly obscure Republic titles were restored and first presented last year at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Now, they’re available to stream via iTunes or the Apple TV app ($3.99 rental).

“There are so many titles that have been overlooked or forgotten, waiting for decades to be seen again,” said Scorsese. “I can promise you that you have some discoveries in store.”

Being a MOMA member myself, I can recommend the two obscurities that I saw on the big screen at the museum: a steamy 1953 adventure called Laughing Anne and a 1954 film noir, Hell’s Half Acre.

Based on a Joseph Conrad short story, Margaret Lockwood (The Lady Vanishes) stars in Laughing Anne as a French singer involved with two sailors in the South Seas. Filmed on location in Honolulu, Hell’s Half Acre stars Wendell Corey as a reformed racketeer who can’t escape his past.

Three of the “Republic Rediscovered” titles star John Wayne. In chronological order, they are:

Three Faces West (1940), with Wayne helping refugees from Hitler (including his love interest) escape again, this time from America’s Dust Bowl;

Wake of the Red Witch (1948), with Wayne as a ship captain experiencing rough weather, sunken treasure and a giant octopus in the South Pacific seas; and the hardly obscure …;

The Quiet Man (1952). This comedy-romance, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, won an Oscar for director John Ford and was named one of the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest love stories in 2002.

Another more well-known film in the collection is Johnny Guitar (1954), a western starring Joan Crawford and directed by Nicholas Ray, that’s included in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. (This film, perhaps in its unrestored state, is also available to Amazon Prime, Hulu and Epix subscribers.)

But back to the obscurities. Here are a few more worth noting:

Driftwood (1947), with a very young Natalie Wood as an orphan helping a doctor fight an epidemic in a small western town;

Flame of the Islands (1956), a film noir featuring a pre-Munsters Yvonne De Carlo interpreting “Bahama Mama” and other Nelson Riddle-arranged hits;

The Red Pony (1949), featuring a script adapted from his own novel by John Steinbeck, a musical score by Aaron Copland, and starring Robert Mitchum as a ranch hand who helps his employer’s son cope with the death of a pony he raised;

Trigger, Jr. (1950), a musical western starring Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Triggers Jr. and Sr. (The latter two are horses, for the uninitiated.)

Five of the films star Vera Ralston, who got plum role after plum role at Republic thanks to her relationship and eventual marriage to the studio chief, Herbert Yates. They are Accused of Murder (1956), Angel on the Amazon (1948), The Flame (1947), I, Jane Doe (1948) and Storm Over Lisbon (1944).

Rounding out the 24 “Republic Rediscovered” titles are City That Never Sleeps (1953), Come Next Spring (1956), Hellfire (1949), The Inside Story (1948), I’ve Always Loved You (1946), Moonrise (1948), The Outcast (1954), Stranger at My Door (1956) and That Brennan Girl (1946).

You can find all the films on iTunes or the Apple TV app, which comes on all iOS devices.

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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