One inexpensive way to find out: Mill Creek Entertainment’s release of “Heroes of the Old West.” Let’s run the numbers: For less than $10, you get almost 22 hours of material on four DVDs. That’s 10 feature films, 20 television shows and, hopefully, one happy camper.
With the exception of John Wayne in 1963’s “McLintock!,” the movies are hardly classics, mostly of the solid-B variety — in other words, nothing anyone but Grandpa Joe remembers. Wayne stars in all but three of them; other names include Errol Flynn and future POTUS Ronald Reagan. I recommend checking out — for weirdness, if nothing else — the not-even-an-hour “The Riders of the Whistling Skull,” starring “The Three Mesquiteers,” one of whom is Ray “Crash” Corrigan (better-known to “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fans as the star of the waterlogged “Undersea Kingdom” serial).
In the TV department, tune in to the lone episode of the Oklahoma Territory-set “Outlaws,” which features a sexy saloon singer, Ray Walston as a corrupt judge, future Disney stalwart Dean Jones, and ol’ Vic Morrow. You also get half a dozen of “Bonanza” and the first 13 of my childhood favorite, “The Lone Ranger.” If your child can’t answer the question, “Who was that masked man?,” now’s a prime opportunity to inform them, before the planned big-budget movie hits the screen.
Mill Creek’s prints aren’t pristine, but certainly watchable. Besides, on budget sets like this, Criterion-level quality is far from the point. —Rod Lott