Monday, January 14, 2019
NEW SPAGHETTI WESTERN – ‘BOUNTY KILLER’ – PLUS ‘HOW TV WEST IS WRITTEN’, AUTRY EVENTS, DVD REVIEWS AND MORE!
THIS JUST IN! STARTING TUESDAY, JANUARY 15TH, THE AUTRY WILL EXTEND FREE ADMISSION TO LAUSD STUDENTS AND THEIR CHAPERONES DURING THE LAUSD TEACHERS’ STRIKE!
‘BOUNTY KILLER’ OPENS JAN. 25TH IN L.A.!
‘BOUNTY KILLER’, the new Spaghetti Western from Chip Baker Films, opens Friday, January 25th, at the Arena Cinelounge, 6464 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028. When a young woman, played by Naila Mansour, is abducted during her wedding, her father, Eurowestern stalwart Antonio Mayans (MORE DOLLARS FOR THE MACGREGORS, A TOWN CALLED HELL) hires bounty hunter Crispian Belfrage to rescue the woman, and kill the men. Also in the cast are Aaron Stielstra (THE SCARLET WORM, 6 BULLETS TO HELL) and Lenore Andriel (YELLOW ROCK). Directed by Chip Baker, written by Baker and Danny Garcia, Jose Villanueva and Nick Reynolds, many of the folks who made the fine 6 BULLETS TO HELL are also part of BOUNTY KILLER. Cinematographer of both films Olivier Merckx may be the first to use a drone in a Western, and did so to striking effect.
It’s filmed in classic sets and locations in Tabernas, Almeria, and Andalucia, Spain, much of it on the McBain Ranch from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. The film will be playing from Friday the 25 through Thursday the 31, and since the times vary from day to day, visit the Cinelounge website HERE for details.
‘HOW TV WEST IS WRITTEN’ AND MORE EVENTS AT THE AUTRY
TUESDAY JAN. 15 – A WORD ON WESTERNS SALUTES BURT LANCASTER
Detail from Thomas Hart Benton's 'The Kentuckian' poster
Tuesday, at 11 a.m., join Western authority Rob Word and his merry band at the Wells Fargo Theatre for another delightful ‘Word on Westerns’. The topic will be Burt Lancaster, whose Westerns include GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, VERA CRUZ, APACHE, and THE KENTUCKIAN. Word notes, “Lancaster cared greatly about quality and, when he directed and starred in THE KENTUCKIAN (1955), hired Bernard Herrmann for the music and Thomas Hart Benton to do the movie poster!” Among the guests joining Rob will be Burt’s stunt double from ULZANA’S RAID and POSSE, Billy Burton, and from Burt’s last Western, CATTLE ANNIE AND LITTLE BRITCHES, producer Rupert Hitzig and actors William Russ and Kenny Call. Did I mention this event is free with your Autry admission? Doors open at 10:30.
WEDNESDAY JAN. 16 – HOW THE WEST IS WRITTEN: INSIDE MODERN TV WESTERNS
A must-attend for any would-be Western screenwriters, Wednesday night at 7 p.m., writers and producers from the latest crop of TV Westerns share insight into the creation of their series, how they’re reimagining the genre, and why stories out of the American West continue to inspire. Panelists include LONGMIRE writer and exec producer Hunt Baldwin, THE SON writer and exec producer Kevin Murphy, and HELL ON WHEELS and BRISCO COUNTY, JR. writer and exec producer John Wirth. This one costs $20 for members & students, $25 for non-members, and reservations are advised.
SATURDAY JAN. 26 – SILENT TREATMENT – ‘CLASH OF THE WOLVES’
The Silent Treatment is the Autry’s new series of silent Westerns with live musical accompaniment. 1925’s CLASH OF THE WOLVES stars Rin-Tin-Tin, his sweetheart Nanette, 7TH HEAVEN star Charles Farrell, and original Keystone Kop Heinie Conklin, in a tale of Borax miners and claim-jumpers. Presented at 2 p.m. in 35mm, with piano by Cliff Retallick. It’s free with admission.
SUNDAY, JAN. 27TH -- THE MUSIC OF ENNIO MORRICONE!
Morricone conducting the Hateful 8 score recording --
and no, he won't be there.
At 1 p.m. – the 5 p.m. performance is sold out -- a concert of music from film scores by the maestro of the Spaghetti Western, performed by a special ensemble of world-class musicians and singers. It’s $10 for members, $20 for non-members, and you’d better make your reservations now.
COWBOYS AND INDIANS AND VIKINGS! – A DVD REVIEW
Wild East Productions presents Volume 60 of their Spaghetti Western Collection, a Giuliano Gemma double feature, DAYS OF VENGEANCE and ERIK THE VIKING. In VENGEANCE (1967), Gemma stars as man framed and imprisoned not for just any crime, but the murder of his own father! His old girlfriend, Nieves Navarro, is now with the lawman who set him up, and Gemma teams up with a traveling charlatan (Manuel Muniz as his comic character Pajarito) and his granddaughter (gorgeous Grabriella Giorgelli) to get justice, and uncover a startlingly baroque conspiracy. It’s elegantly made and highly enjoyable.
The second film, ERIK THE VIKING (1965) is goofy, exuberant fun. Gemma is Erik, nephew of Viking King Thorwald, and when the old man is on his deathbed, he says he wants his power to pass to his nephew, not his own son Erloff (Lucio De Santis). It’s a tough time for Vikings, who get no end of abuse from the more militarily organized Danes. Erik convinces several Vikings that they should find a new land far away from the Danes, and sails off in search of it. They arrive in – you guessed it – the New World, where they make friends with some Indians and enemies with others.
This action-packed daffy little history lesson is surprisingly entertaining, capturing the spirit of the Warner Brothers swashbucklers of the 1930s and ‘40s, and borrowing plot elements from them as well. Yes, there is a beautiful Indian princess (Elisa Montes), and evil plotters working for Erloff, including the indispensable muscleman Gordon Mitchell.
Among the special features is an excellent interview with actress Nieves Navarro conducted by Western screenwriter Danny Garcia (6 BULLETS TO HELL, THE BOUNTY KILLER). The double feature sells for $21.72, and can be purchased HERE.
A NEW SOURCE FOR TV WESTERNS – JEWISH LIFE TV!
Gail Davis and Jimmy Hawkins
Next time you’re spinning the dial – remember when TVs had dials? – looking for a Western, you might just find one in an unexpected location: JLTV, aka Jewish Life Television, has added oaters to the line-up! Episodes of BONANZA, ANNIE OAKLEY, and the 1954 Western anthology series STORIES OF THE CENTURY have joined THE JACK BENNY SHOW and YOU BET YOUR LIFE, with Groucho Marx, as reasons to watch. Lorne Green, Michael Landon, and BONANZA-creator David Dortort were all Jewish, so perhaps that’s the connection, but whatever the reason, thanks JLTV!
‘UNSPOOLED’ LOOKS AT ‘THE SEARCHERS’
Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson, the film critics who are re-examining all of the films on the AFI 100 Best Movies of All-Time list, with 100 individual podcasts, are up to #34, THE SEARCHERS. They are knowledgeable, but not big Western fans – it’s the first John Wayne Western Scheer has seen (!) – so their takes on it are by turns fascinating and infuriating. Well worth a listen. And I must give them credit on one point in particular: it NEVER occurred to me that John Wayne might be searching not for his brother’s daughter, but his own! THE SEARCHERS is #34. The episode about HIGH NOON, where I was guest, is #19. You can hear them all HERE.
I HAVE 5 ARTICLES IN THE FEBRUARY ‘TRUE WEST’!
It’s a personal record for one issue! If you’d like to read ‘em…
p.19 – ‘Cowboy Pens Best Rodeo Movie Ever Made’
p. 26 – ‘Remembering Jeb Rosebrook’
p. 52 – ‘Max Evans in Hollywood’
p. 54 – ‘Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ review
p. 55 – ‘Fire Engulfs Paramount Western Ranch’
ONE MORE THING…
Every spring there are two events in the Los Angeles area that movie nuts, western nuts, and especially western movie nuts dream about all year. One is the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, a great get-together of all things cowboyish, at the estate of the great movie cowboy William S. Hart. The other is the annual TCM Classic Film Festival, one of the great and rare chances to see classic movies, and especially westerns, the way they should be seen, on a big screen. Well, after years of having them one weekend after another, the Cowboy Festival has been moved up, so they will both be on the weekend of April 13 and 14. TCM is actually the 11th through the 14th, and before you say, “Then just go to TCM on Thursday and Friday,” it doesn’t work that way, since the movies you want to see are generally scattered through the four days. They’ve just started to announce films, and included are BUTCH CASSIDY, a new restoration of WINCHESTER ’73, and a Tom Mix double bill with live music, THE GREAT K & A TRAIN ROBBERY and OUTLAWS OF RED RIVER. Cowboy Festival hasn’t started announcing their events yet, but it should be noted that for the second year, the Cowboy Festival will be free, while TCM costs a fortune, and even individual movies are $20 a pop. I’ll keep you informed as I learn more!
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
All Original Material Copyright January 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
HAPPY 2019! NEW SEASON OF ‘COWBOY WAY’, STEVE MCQUEEN’S ‘WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE’ AND ‘VIRGINIAN’ JOIN INSP, PLUS VIDEO & BOOK REVIEWS!
‘THE VIRGINIAN’ RETURNS TO INSP NEW YEAR’S DAY!
While throughout 2018, Western fans have enjoyed the rare opportunity to watch THE MEN FROM SHILOH, the scarcely-seen revamped final season on THE VIRGINIAN on INSP, the excellent news is that the original series returns today, January 1st, New Year’s Day, at noon EST and 3 p.m. PST, with an 9-hour marathon. It starts with the very first two episodes, THE EXECUTIONERS and THE WOMAN FROM WHITE WING. The marathon will continue with big-name star episodes, including THE GOLDEN DOOR with Robert Duvall; THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, with Robert Redford, THE INTRUDERS, with David Carradine; and THE MODOC KID, with Harrison Ford. Starting noon Wednesday EST, 3 p.m. PST, the series will continue in its original sequence with THROW A LONG ROPE, episode 3 of season one.
The story of THE VIRGINIAN goes back to Owen Wister’s tremendously successful 1902 novel of the same name, which helped make the cowboy into a folk-hero, and elevated the pulp genre to legitimate literature. Wister created in his title character the original ‘man with no name’, for he was only identified by where he came from. Beginning in 1962 and running for nine seasons and 249 episodes, the series revolved around the Shiloh Ranch, the Garth family, headed originally by Judge Garth (Lee J. Cobb), and James Drury as the Virginian. Also in the cast were Doug McClure, Clu Gulager, Roberta Shore, Randy Boone, and over the seasons, many others.
As INSP Senior V.P. Doug Butts pointed out in his announcement, “The series was groundbreaking because it was the only 90-minute Western on television. This allowed writers and actors to give viewers a well-developed story arc, which is why it continues to hold an audience today. Not surprising, THE VIRGINIAN is one of our highest rated programs. What a great way to kick off 2019!” Back in 2012 I attended The Virginian 50th Anniversary celebration at The Autry, and was able to interview several of the series’ stars for a multi-part article. Here are the links: PART ONE.
STEVE MCQUEEN’S ‘WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE’ JOINS INSP LINE-UP!
Michael Landon guests on 1st episode of Wanted:
Dead or Alive, with Thomas Carr directing
Along with the return of THE VIRGINIAN, the series that made Steve McQueen a star, WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, will begin airing with episode one on New Year’s Day at 7 a.m. EST, 10 a.m. PST. This excellent half-hour series began in 1958 and ran for three seasons and 94 episodes, featuring McQueen as thoughtful, decent bounty hunter Josh Randall, who toted a cut down Winchester model 1892 carbine, caught miscreants but, as often as not, gave the reward money to someone who needed it more than himself. The series was very popular, and when McQueen was cast in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, but the series’ producers wouldn’t let him out of his contract to do the movie, he staged a car wreck to shut the series down!
INSP WELCOMES SEASON FIVE OF ‘COWBOY WAY’ SUNDAY, JAN. 6TH
Bubba, Booger and Cody, and their wives and kids, are back for a 5th helping of the realities of cowboy life in THE COWBOY WAY. The reality series that breaks the rules by actually seeming real follows the three friends who are partnered in the Faith Cattle Company, showing the nature of their day-to-day work. When the series began, only one cowboy was married. Now all three are, and have kids besides. This season the trio, who have largely concentrated on raising cattle, will be more involved in the buying and selling of the critters, and will venture from their Alabama homes to Texas. Here’s a LINK to my True West article about the show, as well as my interviews with Bubba Thompson and Booger Brown from the Round-up.
AMC’S ‘THE SON’ RETURNS IN APRIL 2019!
The ten-episode second season is ‘in the can’! Returning to the series that examines a Texas cattle and oil baron in two distinct eras, 1849 and 1915, are series stars Pierce Brosnan and Jacob Lofland, who together play the older and younger Eli McCullough. Also returning are Zahn McClarnon, Henry Garrett, Sydney Lucas, Paola Núñez, David Wilson Barnes, Jess Weixler, and Elizabeth Frances. Joining the cast will be Jeremy Bobb from GODLESS, Duke Davis Roberts from JUSTIFIED, Glenn Stanton, and David Sullivan. If you’d like to read my True West article on THE SON, featuring interviews with author Philip Meyer, producers Henry Bronchtein and Kevin Murphy, and stars Jacob Lofland, Zahn McClarnon and Carlos Bardem, go HERE.
THE SOUTHERNER – a video review
In 1945, the brilliant writer and filmmaker Jean Renoir ventured into John Steinbeck territory with The Southerner, for which he would receive a Best Director Oscar nomination. Having already written and directed the classics Grand Illusion (1937), Le Bete Humaine (1938), and The Rules of The Game (1939) in his native France, in 1941 he fled for America following the Nazi invasion of his homeland – he would become a naturalized U.S. citizen – and directed a few films before hitting his stride with The Southerner. Adapted from the novel by George Sessions Perry, The Southerner is the Great Depression story of Sam and Nona Tucker, impoverished Texas cotton-pickers who are determined against tremendous odds to own their own farm and raise a family. It is at times a harsh and bleak tale, the characters’ lives filled with suffering and indignities, but it’s never hopeless.
Renoir assembled a remarkable cast, sometimes using actors in their most familiar personas, other times going radically against type and letting the players spread their wings to wonderful effect. For Sam Tucker, the all-American driven farmer that would normally have been a Gary Cooper or James Stewart or Joel McCrea – and McCrea and wife Frances Dee were briefly attached – he instead used the hissable cad from Mildred Pierce, Zachary Scott. For his hard-struggling, honorable wife he chose the trollop from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Betty Field. To play the albatross of a Granny, who self-centeredly rails about their lack of concern for her, Renoir cast Beulah Bondi, who’d played the perfect mom for Frank Capra in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and It’s A Wonderful Life. The usually lovable J. Carrol Naish played the most spiteful character in the story, a neighbor farmer with a little success who does everything he can to sabotage the Tuckers, willing even to let their ailing child go without milk. On the other hand his son, played by Norman Lloyd, the title character from Hitchcock’s Saboteur, is right in character, and Percy Kilbride is Pa Kettle, only in nicer clothes.
The film is not heavily plotted; this is not a traditional story so much as it is a chance to watch the trials and triumphs of its characters against the land, the weather, and sometimes other people. It also has two wonderful knock-down drag-out brawls, one light-hearted but fraught with danger, the other deadly. These are not the thrillingly choreographed Yakima Canutt-inspired displays we’ve come to love, but rather the kind of fights real angry non-athletes have, with everything they ca lay their hands on included.
Despite three Oscar nominations – Best Director, Best Sound Recording: Jack Whitney, Best Musical Score: Werner Janssen – this indie, originally released by United Artists, had become something of an orphan film, and difficult to see. Fortunately, Alpha Video has released the DVD for only $7.98. Order it HERE.
A NEW PLAY PUBLISHED BY MICHAEL B. DRUXMAN – BRODERICK CRAWFORD: A PLAY IN TWO ACTS
As far as The Round-up is concerned, Michael Druxman’s most important accomplishment is writing the screenplay for 1994’s CHEYENNE WARRIOR, one of the very best independent Westerns of the past quarter century. The publicist, journalist, screenwriter, director, and playwright has published a series of plays, frequently one-character plays, in his Hollywood Legends series, focusing on the lives of such stars as Al Joslon, Orson Welles, Carole Lombard, and Clara Bow. His most recent entry is about a hugely talented but decidedly less glamorous star, Broderick Crawford. This two act play features three characters: Brod, his mother Helen Broderick, and father Lester Crawford.
Brod’s parents were important vaudeville stars – they played the Palace in New York, the pinnacle of success. Lester had some success in Hollywood, and Helen had a major film career, an attractive comedienne who appeared in numerous chic RKO comedies and musicals, typically as Ginger Rogers’s friend or Edward Everett Horton’s romantic interest. The play’s thesis is that although their son had a great career – a Best Actor Oscar for ALL THE KING’S MEN, his tremendous success in BORN YESTERDAY, a long string of movies, and two successful TV series, HIGHWAY PATROL and THE INTERNS, it was never enough to satisfy his parents. Their disappointment and disapproval haunt him literally in the play – the two acts are set in dressing rooms in 1971 and 1977, long after both parents have died, but that doesn’t even slow down their bedeviling of their alcoholic son.
Along the way you’ll learn quite a bit about the actor’s slow and steady decline. Humorous but not exactly uplifting, it’s a tremendous role for an actor of the right age and size. You can buy it from Amazon, either as a paperback or download, and check out Druxman’s many other plays, HERE.
…AND ONE MORE THING…
As I begin my tenth year writing Henry’s Western Round-up, I am immensely grateful to all of my readers for their interest and encouragement. If anyone had told me a decade ago that what I had to say about Westerns would be read in over a hundred nations, with close to a million-and-a-half page-views, I would never have believed it. Nor would I have dreamt that I would be entering my fourth year as Western Film Editor for True West Magazine.
Because of the increased – and very welcome – steadily increasing work-load from True West, the past few years have seen a steady diminishing in the number of Round-up posts, from weekly to monthly to less than that. I’ve never been a big one for New Year’s resolutions, but it’s my intention to return to weekly postings, or at least every-other-week postings. They may be shorter than in the past, but I’ll do my best to keep my news service current. Best wishes to you all for a successful and fulfilling 2019!
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
All Original Material Copyright January 1st 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
BOBBY CRAWFORD REMEMBERS ‘LARAMIE’, KCET’S ‘TENDING NATURE’ – EXCLUSIVE PEEK, PLUS NEW iPHONE SPAGHETTI WESTERN ‘THE CONDEMNED’!
BOBBY CRAWFORD REMEMBERS ‘LARAMIE’
BY HENRY C. PARKE
LARAMIE's Bobby Crawford, Robert Fuller
and John Smith
When the Emmy nominations for 1959 were announced, the Crawford clan managed a trifecta that no other show-business family has ever matched – not the Barrymores, not the Hustons, not the Fondas -- even though none of the Crawfords won. Robert Crawford Sr. was nominated for Best Editing of a Film for Television for THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW, and lost to Silvio D'Alisera on PROJECT 20. Son Johnny Crawford’s work on THE RIFLEMAN saw him nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Continuing Character, in a Drama Series, which he lost to Dennis Weaver, playing Chester in GUNSMOKE.
But perhaps the most impressive nomination was for Johnny’s older brother, 14-year-old Robert Crawford Jr., whose appearance on PLAYHOUSE 90, in an episode called CHILD OF OUR TIME, would not only earn him a nomination for Best Single Performance by an Actor, but pit him against Fred Astaire, Paul Muni, Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, and Mickey Rooney. “I got to sit right in front of Fred Astaire during the show,” Bobby recalls, “And he tapped me on the shoulder and he says, ‘Oh, we're the same category, and that's ridiculous.’ And he won the award that night.” But remarkably, fourteen years later, Bobby would re-team with his show’s soon-to-be-legendary director, George Roy Hill, not as an actor, but as producer on a string of classic films including THE STING, THE GREAT WALDO PEPPER, SLAPSHOT, A LITTLE ROMANCE, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, and THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL.
In the heat of this past summer, I had the opportunity to chat with Bobby about his wide-ranging career, and his family, who already had a history in “the biz.” His mother, Betty Megerlin, was a stage actress with parents who were both vaudeville violinists. “On the other side of the family tree, my grandpa Bobby Crawford was a music publisher.” When he met his soon-to-be-bride, Thelma Briney, Bobby relates, “She was a piano player at a five and dime store. My grandpa later on was a music publisher with DeSylva, Brown and Henderson. And they created the song, I Found a Million Dollar Baby in a Five and Ten Cent Store.” Grandpa Bobby, who managed Al Jolson, built Crawford Music,
“Sold it to Warner Brothers in 1928. And then lost his fortune in the 1929 [Stock Market Crash].”
Jump ahead a generation, and it’s déjà vu: Robert Crawford (the soon-to-be-editor), is working as an extra at Universal Pictures when a fellow extra wants to introduce him to the girl he’s been courting.
“So, my dad walked into the room and my mom was playing the piano and he was smitten immediately by her.” It took some time, but he stole her away, and they were married in New York City by Norman Vincent Peale, the Minister famous for his bestseller, THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. Robert was working as a film librarian at Columbia Pictures when he was drafted into World War II. He joined the Marines, wanting to be a cameraman, but when they learned of his background, he was made a military film librarian at Quantico. “He never talked a lot about it, but he felt guilty about doing the librarian work because he would get all this footage in; the cameraman's shooting everything, and then oftentimes you'd see the camera images fall into the sand, as the man had been hit. He did that from ‘43 to ‘46 and I was born in Quantico.”
HENRY PARKE: When did you start acting?
BOBBY CRAWFORD: [My parents] did some shows at the Pasadena Playhouse. He had a scooter and they'd go out to Pasadena from Hollywood, Mom riding on the back, and then have to change from her scooter clothes into the costume. I remember being a child and watching them in a small theater in Hollywood. My brother I think was four years old when he did Little Boy Lost in a stage show somewhere in Hollywood. And I did a few little things that I don't recall except I recall being Tiny Tim in some Christmas show. I was about eight years old. My folks never really belonged to a church, but Grandma sent us off to Sunday school; we went to the Christian Science Church on Olympic Boulevard, and our Sunday School teacher just happened to be one of the major agents for children in Hollywood. She took an interest in both John and I, and she started representing us and sending us out on commercials. John started getting MATINEE THEATRE [an hour-long daily live TV drama anthology], and small parts, and I'd get a commercial now and then. Johnny was the Anglo-looking blond kid and I was the Hispanic-looking Latino, and I did Indians and French and Spanish-looking roles as a child. I remember the Fritos commercial, being at the factory and eating them hot off the assembly line; it was really good.
HENRY PARKE: Did you take acting classes, or did your parents teach you?
BOBBY CRAWFORD: My mom was our coach. We’d go on interviews, and we'd sit out in the lobby and read through the lines. And the instruction I got from mom, then reinforced when I got my first big break, by the director George Roy Hill, is the most important thing about acting? Don't. Don't act. Just be real. I think that was my cue. Therefore, I figured I'd better not study acting, I'd better just do it. I remember years later reading the James Cagney autobiography. They asked him, what's your secret to acting? And he says, stand there and tell the truth. So, I think those are my two bits of instruction. And I was afraid to get into school plays or get into theater at UCLA, thinking whatever it was that I did -- and I didn't know what it was I did -- it seemed to be working, and I was afraid I'd get corrupted if I started to try to learn it.
HENRY PARKE: You appeared on a number of TV shows – DONNA REED, WYATT EARP, ZORRO.
BOBBY CRAWFORD: I did a couple of ZORROS. I remember, I loved being at the Disney Studios and I also loved being with Zorro, Guy Williams, a wonderful man and a beautiful man. And Mary Wickes played my aunt. And the sergeant on ZORRO, Henry Calvin. I didn't realize he was a great opera singer. A roly-poly fellow, and a wonderful man. Zorro saves me from the well, I guess, but I remember hugging the big burly Spanish soldier.
Bobby in Playhouse 90's
A Child of Our Time
HENRY PARKE: Before LARAMIE, you were nominated for an Emmy for A CHILD OF OUR TIME, where you play Tanguay, a boy who winds up in a Nazi Concentration Camp. How big an effect was your Emmy nomination on your career? Had you already been cast in LARAMIE?
BOBBY CRAWFORD: No, I got LARAMIE immediately after doing A CHILD OF OUR TIME, right about the time we were nominated. A Producer, Robert Pirosh, cast me, wanted me. He was the writer of the pilot, [and] strongly committed to the series, involved and in charge. I came out to do a reading with Bob Fuller, a screen test; we did the scene together. Slim [Sherman, the role John Smith would ultimately play], was the part that he had originally been cast for, and he went up to talk to a fellow I later worked with, Pat Kelly, and said, ‘It's wonderful, but the part's wrong. I should be Jess.’ And Pat Kelly said, ‘Oh yeah?’ He said, ‘Absolutely, I can't do it otherwise.’ John Smith was a very nice man and he said, ‘It's fine with me.’ Fuller said, ‘Let me test for it.’ And so we did the scene in which he was going to convince the powers that be that he should play Jess. And he convinced them that I should play Slim’s brother. Of course, me being the Latino, I’d had my head shaved. It's just, John Smith was blond, and I'm supposed to be his brother, and I looked a lot more like Bob Fuller. So they dyed my hair blond for the pilot. And it grew out in like four months. I went from being a short haired blond to brunette with long hair in the series. But anyway, it didn't really matter. They had their show and it went on the air along with RIVERBOAT which featured some unknown guys, one of them being Burt Reynolds. I just remember Eastwood starting RAWHIDE and Burt Reynolds on RIVERBOAT our same season, and I was astonished that our show was a hit. I just said, wow, I got a job, and I get to go to the studio every day. And then I was worried. I still wanted to get into UCLA at that time. I was just starting high school, and I’d just run into the first defeat of my career in school, geometry. But I remember getting a leg up because I had a private tutor on LARAMIE.
HENRY PARKE: What were Robert Fuller and John Smith like?
John Smith and Bobby
BOBBY CRAWFORD: They were jolly. They were in their prime. They were just thrilled to be starring in the series. They were congenial and having fun on the set, which is the only time I got to be with them for the most part. We had some publicity stunt things that we did, I did a double- date with Bob Fuller once. At 14 or 15 years old I got myself a moped, and I would tool around, in the Hollywood Hills, before I could have a driver's license. And there is a shot of Bob Fuller on my moped. Other than that we had very little social contact off the set. But it was like going to Disneyland each a day of work when you walked into the set. The guys were all about the business of shooting the scene and the story and getting onto the next one. There isn't a whole lot of time between takes and so would have our chairs. I remember that first Christmas in the show, Bob Fuller bought us all nice leather director's chairs, with our names engraved on them.
John Smith was the most beautiful man I had ever seen in my life. I don't know what kind of curse that was on him, but he just wasn't real to see in life. He was decent, charming man, but it was so hard to get over -- it was like he was back-lit all the time. He just glowed in the dark, in the sunlight. You couldn't be help but be struck by it. He's not real, he's so good looking. And Fuller was good-looking, but rugged; it wasn't quite the same impact.
Robert Fuller and Bobby
Bob Fuller had a forearm as big as my thigh. And my ambition as a kid in that series was to get a forearm as big as Bob Fuller's. So I would do my push-ups and pull-ups and my fencing. But I never learned how to build my body so I'd get a forearm like Bob Fuller. Bob was a great charismatic fellow. He was a quick draw. What I was learning on LARAMIE was my lines, and how to be a quick draw. I got the steel holster that helped make you a quick draw. But I could never quite out-draw Bob. I came close, but I didn't get the cigar.
HENRY PARKE: How about Hoagy Carmichael?
Smith, Fuller, Hoagy Carmichael and Bobby
BOBBY CRAWFORD: I adored Hoagy Carmichael. I'm ashamed to say I didn't get to know Hoagy other than in passing. We have a couple of episodes where he's showing me the piano, and he's singing a cute song. Now in my later years, I find myself driving down the road singing Stardust in the morning. And I'm thinking, if only I'd known about that when he was playing at the piano.
HENRY PARKE: Did you have any favorite guest stars?
Ernest Borgnine plays a former soldier accused
of cowardice in this episode
BOBBY CRAWFORD: It was just terrific fun to work with Ernie Borgnine. I remember being under the table with him. I knew he was an Academy Award winner, and doing TV was still a second gig for a movie actor. He was always playing these mean tough guys, but in person, he was just the most easygoing, charming guy who just loved being there on the set, as I did. And on the first episode, Dan Duryea, playing the bad guy. He had this wonderful demeanor about him. I just remember him being scary. A scary man. He was good casting, a dangerous fellow. I loved all the actors that I got to be around. Every one of them was a character, but it was true of all the grips, electricians, the prop men; everybody who would be on a Hollywood set is a pro, especially if you got lucky enough to get into the major leagues, and I was in the majors then. Those guys are having fun. They're so confident about what they do that they can just have fun doing it. There's the pressure of getting it done, but they're very confident they're going to get it done well. You’re imbued with confidence when you're on a set like that. Everything works, and nobody gets hurt. You only appreciate as an adult, that movie-making is all about moving. You are moving arcs and lights, and in those days the equipment was big, heavy. And it's horses and wagons and, and I only appreciated later how physical making a good movie can be, and making a Western in particular. And also how absolutely prone to accidents things can be, and that's why you want guys who don't have accidents.
Dan Duryea is the villain in
HENRY PARKE: On LARAMIE you had two of my absolute favorite action directors, Leslie Selander and Joe Kane. Do you have any memories of working with them?
BOBBY CRAWFORD: I remember Leslie Selander, because I loved his name. I remember the directors telling me what to do. I don't remember them vividly; in fact the only director I remember vividly was Lee Sholem, who was a director on CHEYENNE. Who was called “Roll 'em Sholem.” Which was because -- look, there's an airplane! Roll 'em! He was a forceful character. And you didn't want to do two takes with Roll 'em Sholem. You wanted to do one take. I remember the cameramen and I remember faces, but I think I was kind of intimidated and shy on the set; I didn't develop relationships with the crew. I was always feeling a bit like I was the kid on the show, not necessarily the pro on the show. I don't know. Somehow, my brother John would get around to every member of the set, [even]the background extras. He knew everybody on the set, and I knew everybody to say hi, but I didn't develop relationships. I think I just sort of passed through my experience as a kid on LARAMIE, enjoying the moments and remembering some of them, but mostly just saying this too will pass.
HENRY PARKE: You did a few guest shots on THE RIFLEMAN. How did you like working with your kid brother?
BOBBY CRAWFORD: I did, and the problem was it was just a couple of days work. We got to get on horses, we'd be here and we'd be there. We had to go to school for three hours and then we’d get to be on the set a bit. We got to wrestle in one of them; we got a lot of practice at that.
HENRY PARKE: Early in season two of LARAMIE, you and Hoagy Carmichael disappeared.
BOBBY CRAWFORD: Bob Pirosh left, and then John Champion came along. [Note: Writer and producer John Champion had made several successful Westerns for Allied Artists, and would produce LARAMIE and write 36 episodes.] I didn't know who John Champion was, and I didn't make it a point of trying to stay in the show, or even think that I wouldn't, until the next season began and they said well, they've written you out. And I said, okay, I'll do something else. Whether Hoagy wanted to leave or not, I don't know. And I never talked to anybody about it.
With LARAMIE, my experience with the cowboys and the horses, what was probably 20 weeks of working and being part of it, was sensational. It made me feel like a real Hollywood cowboy, and I could go to Griffith Park, where I had a horse for about three years, that I would groom and take care of, and be the king of corral 17, and go on parades and riding. I felt comfortable around horses and always have felt at home in a stable around the big animals. That I thought was my gift from LARAMIE.
HENRY PARKE: A couple of seasons later they brought in a new kid, Dennis Holmes and Spring Byington essentially playing a female version of Hoagy Carmichael. Did you feel vindicated?
BOBBY CRAWFORD: Well, I'm ashamed to say I haven't watched it, but I don't think I was watching it when I was making it, either. I didn't want to be inhibited. I do have the DVD set of the first season, and I have watched some episodes. If I'm going to a signing show, I'll run an episode or two, but I'm ashamed to say I haven't done that with THE RIFLEMAN episodes either. So I am an uninformed participant. And before I go to Kanab, I think I'm going to run some RIFLEMANS and some more LARAMIES, LARAMIES I haven't been in. I owe Dennis Holmes a look.
In the next Round-up, the second and final part of my interview, Bobby Crawford discusses his work on BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, and twenty years as Producer to iconic movie Director George Roy Hill.
SHOUT FACTORY has put LARAMIE out on DVD, although season one is out of print. The entire series is available on STARZ.
KCET PRESENTS ‘TENDING NATURE’ PREMIERING NOVEMBER 7TH!
Following up on the fascinating Emmy-winning documentary TENDING THE WILD, produced in partnership with KCET and THE AUTRY MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN WEST, the partners have made a 3-year commitment to continue with the series TENDING NATURE, which premieres Wednesday, November 7th. Just as TENDING THE WILD examined land management techniques used for centuries by American Indians, TENDING NATURE will explore California’s Native stories, traveling across the state to visit and hear from several Indian communities striving to revive their cultures and inform western sciences. This season, the Tolowa Dee-Ni’, Ohlone, Pit River tribes, and the multi-tribal Potawot Health Village, will welcome the series and share their knowledge on topics including ocean toxicity, decolonizing cuisine, tribal hunting, food deserts, and traditional sweats. Henry’s Western Round-up is honored to share the exclusive following first look.
HERE’S ‘THE CONDEMNED’, A NEW TEN-MINUTE SPAGHETTI WESTERN SHOT ON AN iPHONE!
Director Edwards on location
Filmmaker Jay Wade Edwards set out to make an American film, pretending to be an Italian film, which is itself pretending to be an American film: an Italian-language Spaghetti Western shot in, well, the West! Not just any west, but around one of the most photographed of western locales, Pioneertown! And he shot it, spectacularly, on an iPhone! I’ll have more details coming soon to the Round-up, but for now, here is the wonderfully daft movie itself. Enjoy!
UNSPOOLED ‘HIGH NOON’ PODCAST POSTED!
UNSPOOLED’s Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson are re-examining all of the films on the AFI 100 Best Movies of All-Time list, with 100 individual podcasts. They're very knowledgeable about film, but are not Western nerds, which makes their discussion of HIGH NOON, and its placement on the list all the more insightful and entertaining. They’re also funny as Hell. I had a great time as their guest on this segment, and think you’ll enjoy it – especially since, whether you’re a HIGH NOON or RIO BRAVO loyalist, you’ll find plenty to be offended by! Here’s the link to the series. HIGH NOON is #19, and APOCALYPSE NOW, #20, begins with listener comments about HIGH NOON. Enjoy them all!
ONE MORE THING…
If you’re looking for a spooky Western to watch on Hallowe’en (and who isn’t?) Here’s a link to my True West article on the best and worst of the ‘Weird Westerns.’
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
Happy Trails, and Happy Hallowe'en!
All Original Content Copyright October 2018 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved