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Hal linden movie difficult to find

February 26, 2012

Q: In the ’80s there was a movie called “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?” It starred Marjoe Gortner, Hal Linden, Candy Clark and others. I can’t find it, or even a mention of it, listed with the many stars who were in it. Could someone have bought the rights to it and is that why it can’t be listed anywhere?

A: The 1979 film is listed in several references I consulted and on Linden’s website, among other places, (Turner Classic Movies’ website sums it up in this unappealing way: “Marjoe Gortner plays a drug dealer whose car breaks down in a small U.S. town. In turn, the town’s people become victim to his unique brand of physical and mental torture.”) It also appears that it was released on VHS, although copies can be hard to find, and there are various online sellers offering unauthorized DVDs of it. So it has not been erased from public memory. It may simply be that ownership issues, or a lack of interest, has kept it from current release.

Q: There are two movies I have been looking for. One is “Savage Innocents” with Anthony Quinn as an Eskimo. The other is a movie with Burl Ives as a Cajun hunting for feathers of a certain bird. My husband doesn’t know the name of it. I sure hope you can help me out.

A: Both of those films were directed by Nicholas Ray, famous for “Rebel Without a Cause,” “In a Lonely Place” and other films. The Burl Ives movie is called “Wind Across the Everglades,” from 1958. Current Oscar nominee Christopher Plummer plays a game warden at odds with a band of bird hunters led by Ives’s character, who is named Cottonmouth. It was not a happy experience for Ray, who clashed with writer Budd Schulberg (“On the Waterfront”). In their book “Live Fast, Die Young,” film historians Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel add that “bad weather and Ray’s drinking and ill health doomed the film.” Unfortunately, I do not know of an authorized, non-imported release.

“The Savage Innocents,” a 1960 film, is also said to have inspired Bob Dylan’s song “Quinn the Eskimo” (“The Mighty Quinn”). It was also Peter Falk’s first movie. The international co-production was not a success, although Frascella and Weisel note that Ray later rebounded with “King of Kings” before his career went into its final decline. He died in 1979. “Savage Innocents” was apparently released on DVD by Paramount at one point, and I saw a copy for sale on Amazon.com. But it is more commonly available on imports that may not work in the United States. DVD players and that may be of poor quality.

Q: I am wondering what happened to my new favorite sitcom, “Man Up,” which aired on ABC on Tuesday nights. I thought it was excellent, but it suddenly disappeared.

A: An insufficient number of viewers agreed with you about three guys trying to figure out what being a real man means. The network dropped it after eight episodes and has posted the five remaining installments on ABC.com.

Q: Do you have any information about a Canadian TV show that aired in 2008-09 called “The Guard”? In particular, when or if it will ever be out on DVD? I caught a couple of episodes when the WB or another small network ran them on Saturday nights a year or so ago.

A: “The Guard” aired for 22 episodes and dramatized life in the Canadian Coast Guard. The Ion network carried it briefly in 2010 but dropped it, reportedly because it did not have a big enough audience. I do not know of an authorized DVD release.