I’m not at all familiar with Woody Strode’s film career. I believe that most people aren’t either. And that is an excellent reason to check out Turner Classic Movies’ Woody Strode Day this Thursday, August 5, as part of TCM’s “Summer Under the Stars” series.
I’ve seen only two of TCM’s twelve movies featuring Strode: John Ford’s swan song, the much-panned 7 Women (1966), and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
The widely revered Once Upon a Time in the West has never been one of my favorite Westerns, but it does have my all-time favorite movie theme music, courtesy of the masterful Ennio Morricone.
And I must shamefacedly admit that I can’t remember Woody Strode in either film. In fact, I can only remember Strode in two movies I’ve seen: as a big, beefy gladiator in Spartacus and as a big, beefy adventurer in The Professionals.
But my lack of knowledge regarding Woody Strode does not prevent me from suggesting the following titles:
- The Congo-set The Sins of Rachel Cade, which has a good cast (Angie Dickinson, Peter Finch, Roger Moore) and a good director (Gordon Douglas), even if some have called it a poor man’s The Nun’s Story;
- John Ford’s Sergeant Rutledge (1960), in which handsome 19th-century lawyer Jeffrey Hunter defends a black man (Strode) of rape and murder charges, and which features the always welcome veteran Billie Burke;
- Edward Dmytryk’s Western Shalako (1968), chiefly because of its unusual cast (for a Western): Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd.
Note: The “Ann Todd” found in Bomba the Jungle Boy’s The Lion Hunters is Ann E. Todd, not the 1940s British star and David Lean’s former wife Ann Todd.
Woody Strode image via Movie Morlocks.
Schedule and synopses from the TCM website:
3:00 AM The Lion Hunters (1951)
Bomba the Jungle Boy defends his animal friends from a team of unscrupulous hunters. Cast: Johnny Sheffield, Morris Ankrum, Ann E. Todd. Director: Ford Beebe. Black and white. 80 min.
4:30 AM African Treasure (1952)
Bomba the Jungle Boy takes on diamond smugglers. Cast: Johnny Sheffield, Laurette Luez, Lyle Talbot. Director: Ford Beebe. Color. 70 min.
6:00 AM Tarzan’s Fight For Life (1958)
The jungle king tries to help a doctor establish a mission. Cast: Gordon Scott, Eve Brent, Rickie Sorensen. Director: H. Bruce Humberstone. Color. 86 min.
7:30 AM Tarzan’s Three Challenges (1963)
The jungle king travels to India to protect a child monarch from his enemies. Cast: Jock Mahoney, Woody Strode, Tsu Kobyashi. Director: Robert Day. Color. 100 min.
9:15 AM Shalako (1968)
A seasoned tracker rides to the rescue when a European hunting party blunders into Indian territory. Cast: Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot, Stephen Boyd. Director: Edward Dmytryk. Color. 113 min.
11:15 AM Seven Women (1966)
The women staffing an isolated Chinese mission fight to survive a bandit attack. Cast: Anne Bancroft, Flora Robson, Margaret Leighton. Director: John Ford. Color. 87 min.
1:00 PM The Last Rebel (1971)
A pair of confederate soldiers rescue a black man from a lynching. Cast: Joe Namath, Jack Elam, Woody Strode. Director: Denys McCoy. Black and white. 90 min.
3:00 PM Two Rode Together (1961)
Two tough westerners bring home a group of settlers who have spent years as Comanche hostages. Cast: James Stewart, Richard Widmark, Shirley Jones. Director: John Ford. Color. 109 min.
5:00 PM Sergeant Rutledge (1960)
A 19th-century lawyer tries to clear a black man of rape and murder charges. Cast: Woody Strode, Jeffrey Hunter, Constance Towers. Director: John Ford. Color. 112 min.
7:00 PM Once Upon a Time in the West (1969)
A mail-order bride enlists an outlaw and a mystery man to help protect her land from a ruthless cattleman. Cast: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale. Director: Sergio Leone. Color. 165 min.
10:00 PM The Sins of Rachel Cade (1960)
A female doctor in the Congo is torn between two loves. Cast: Angie Dickinson, Peter Finch, Roger Moore. Director: Gordon Douglas. Color. 123 min.