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WB plans June onslaught of Western titles on video

Riding high in the saddle on Oscar winner “Unforgiven” and the increasing momentum of the Western, Warner Home Video is planning to launch four Warner Westerns and five classic episodes of TV series “Maverick: The Collector’s Edition” in June.

“We thought it was a good time to release these vintage Westerns, given the excitement surrounding the nine nominations and four major Oscars for ‘Unforgiven,’ ” said a WHV spokesman.

Heaps of Hackman

First-time releases include “Zandy’s Bride” starring Oscar winner Gene Hackman as a Western settler and Liv Ullmann as his mail-order bride. Harry Dean Stanton, Susan Tyrrell and Sam Bottoms co-star.

“Man in the Wilderness” stars “Unforgiven’s” Richard Harris and “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” helmer John Huston.

“Sergeant Rutledge” is the tale of black cavalry officer (Woody Strode) on trial for rape and murder that also stars Jeffrey Hunter and was directed by John Ford.

“The Hanging Tree” stars Gary Cooper (as a frontier doctor), Karl Malden, George C. Scott (in his film debut) and Maria Schell as a blind girl under the care of Cooper’s character.

Also lassoed for a June launch are five new double-episode volumes of the Warner TV Western “Maverick,” including volume four, which features Clint Eastwood in “Duel at Sundown” and “The Saga of Waco Williams.”

Asked about the obvious timing of the announcement, a WHV spokesman pointed to the ratings success of the recent “Wild West” docu series in syndication and the upcoming release of Westerns like “Posse.”

“The continuing interest in Westerns generally also was a factor. The decision to expand our offerings of classic TV Westerns, for instance, was based on popular demand, as measured by the success of the first Warner TV Westerns released by WHV last summer.”

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