Sunday, April 25, 2010


Updated April 26th, 2010 - See America: The Story of Us, Tom Mix movie, TV listings

According to Arts and Events Supervisor Pat Downing, between 5,000 and 7,000 wanna-be cowpokes attended the 17th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival at Gene Autry's Melody Ranch on Saturday, and if you haven't gotten there yet, today, Sunday, is your last chance to walk the boards of those famed western streets until next year.

Back in 1994, shortly after the Northridge earthquake, the first event, then called the Santa Clarita Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, was held at the ranch, and it has been growing ever since. The focus is on western music and poetry, and the long, winding western street provides five separate stages, with continuous performances at all of them. In addition, there are all manner of artists and artisans selling their wares, and western tack, clothes and toys. There are numerous western authors signing their books as well, and a large food court – I can personally recommend the pulled pork sandwich, but it all looked good.

For me, the high point of the event is the opportunity to visit the Melody Ranch Museum, and stroll the western streets. Built as a working ranch in 1915, it soon became a movie ranch and eventually was bought by Monogram, and became the Monogram Ranch. It’s been the location for 750 ‘B’ and ‘A’ westerns, starring William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, Bob Steele, Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, Tex Ritter, Duncan Renaldo, Gilbert Roland, Johnny Mack Brown, Roy Rogers, Gary Cooper, William ‘Hoppy’ Boyd, and John Wayne among many others.

In 1952, Gene Autry, having left Republic to produce his own films for Columbia, bought the studio and christened it Melody Ranch. There he made his own movies, his various Flying A TV series, and rented it to other shows such as The Lone Ranger, Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke and Rin Tin Tin. After a fire destroyed much of the western street in 1962, Gene maintained the ranch mostly as a home for his horse, Champion. When Champion died in 1990, Gene sold Melody Ranch to the Veluzat brothers, who have beautifully restored it. Among the movies you’ve seen it used in recently are Wild Bill, The Last Man Standing, and the series Deadwood.

This is the last day -- don't waste it! For directions and other info, CLICK HERE. If you go, send us your comments!

Pics, top to bottom: Quebe Sisters Band, tired dance-hall girl, authors Miles Hood Swarthout and C. Courtney Joyner, Buffalo Soldiers, stage B, lariat spinner, the street, museum sign.


The first of six two-hour documentaries telling the history of the United States, will air tonight. The first chapter, entitled REBELS will cover from the early settlers to the start of the Revolutionary War. On Sunday, May 2nd, REVOLUTION and WESTWARD will air. I’ve not had a chance to see any of these – I never heard of them until Friday’s Variety review, and they hated them. I’ll give ‘em a chance myself. If you take a look, please post your comments on the blog!

UPDATE: Having seen the first half hour of AMERICA: THE STORY OF US, I think The Variety was harsh in their analysis. Granted, it’s not Ken Burns, and a lot of the celebrity cutaways seemed a bit arbitrary, but the showing and the telling of history is surprisingly effective –surprising because it may sound odd to juxtapose CGI with early American history, but a lot of it works. It’s being shown in two-hour weekly chunks for six weeks, and I’m certainly looking forward to next week’s entry. If I were to make one criticism thus far, it’s the advertising. Bank of America has underwritten the series, which is a fine thing for them to do, and I certainly understand them creating an ad campaign specifically to tie in with the series. However, the history-clips-and-interviews format of the ads is so close to that of the show itself that you can’t clearly tell where one ends and the other begins, and that’s unseemly.


According to writer Eric Eisenberg, composer Carter Burwell will be taking his cue for the film’s score from Protestant hymns. Burwell, who has worked frequently with the Coen Brothers since Blood Simple, was speaking at the Nashville Film Festival. It’s the story of a young girl, Mattie Ross, played by Hailee Steinfeld, searching for her father’s killer. And as Mattie is a girl “convinced of her own righteousness,” and possess “misplaced rectitude,” backing her with hymns would underscore that idea.


Here is the official blurb about a new documentary. "SWEETGRASS is an unsentimental elegy to the American West. The documentary follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana's breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. The astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times calls the film 'a really intimate, beautifully shot examination of the connection between man and beast,' while Ronnie Scheib of Variety considers it 'a one-of-a-kind once epic-scale and earthbound.'" Okay, none of those Brokeback Mountain (2005) cheap-shots -- I'm sure these poor shepherds have heard 'em all. Sweetgrass is playing at the Edina Cinema in Minneapolis. The trailer looks beautiful -- check it out HERE.


From Friday, April 30th through Sunday, May 2nd, The Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo will present DICK TURPIN (1923), a silent starring Tom Mix (as Turpin) and Tony, his horse (as Black Bess). The cast also includes Kathleen Myers, the wonderful Alan Hale Sr., Bull Montana, Fred Kohler. And if you’re fast, you may be able to catch extras Gary Cooper, Buck Jones and Carole Lombard! Directed by J.G. Blystone and written by Charles Darnton, Charles Kenyon and Don W. Lee, the movie is, in truth, not a western, but an adventure story set in 18th century England. But c’mon, it’s still Tom Mix and Tony, and a live score on the Mighty Wurlitzer! Admission is $8, with Friday and Saturday night performances at 8:15 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30. The address is 140 Richmond Street, El Segundo, CA 90245. 310-322-2592.


It's a South Korean 'western' set in Manchuria in the 1930s, and the trailer looks great. CHECK OUT THE TRAILER HERE. On Friday April 30th it will be opening at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles and Kendall Square Cinema in Boston for a one-week run.


Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.


This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.

Note:AMC=American Movie Classics, EXT= Showtime Extreme, FMC=Fox Movie Channel, TCM=Turner Classic Movies. All times given are Pacific Standard Time.


Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.


Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run THE LONE RANGER at 1:30 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

Monday April 26th

FMC 3:00 a.m. VIVA CISCO KID - Caesar Romero dons the sombrero for this adventure, with Chris-Pin Martin as Pancho, and featuring lovely Jean Rogers, Stanley Fields and Minor Watson. Beautifully shot around Lone Pine, it's great fun, though as with all the Cisco Kid films, it has nearly nothing to do with the O. Henry character -- who was no hero at all. Screenplay by Samuel G. Engel. It's directed by Norman Foster, who excelled at fast fun, from MR. MOTO to the Disney ZORRO TV series. Once a matinee idol married to Claudette Colbert, he was beaten by a jealous rival, his looks damaged, and he turned to direction -- with great results.

FMC 4:30 a.m. CALL OF THE WILD (1935) Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Jack Oakie, Buck, D:William Wellman, W:Gene Fowler - from Jack London's novel. (Great stuff, and Gable at his best - no wonder Loretta got impregnated by him on the shoot!)

TCM 3:00 p.m. TENDER MERCIES (1983) Bruce Beresford directs Horton Foote's brilliant story and screenplay about an alcoholic country singer, played wonderfully by Robert Duvall, finding love and redemption in a small town. If this plot sounds suspiciously like this year's Oscar-winning CRAZY HEART, it's no coincidence. With Tess Harper, Ellen Barkin and Wilford Brimley.

Tuesday March 27th

TCM 8:45 p.m. THE LAST HUNT (1956) Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Lloyd Nolan and 3,000 angry buffalo! The very talented and tough Richard Brooks wrote and directed this story about frontiersmen clashing over a buffalo slaughter. From the novel by Milton Lott.

TCM 10:30 p.m. THE LAW AND JAKE WADE (1958) Evil Richard Widmark (is there any other kind?) forces his old reformed pal Robert Taylor to lead him hidden loot. With a great bunch of 1950s bad guys – Robert Middleton, Henry Silva and DeForest Kelley (yes, Trekies, he had a whole career before he was Bones McCoy). Directed by John Sturges from William Bowers’ screenplay, from Marvin Albert’s novel.

Wednesday April 28, 2010

TCM 5:15 a.m. SADDLE THE WIND (1958) Robert Taylor stars in this story of a rancher with a doubtful past who tries to stop his outlaw brother. With John Cassavetes, Julie London, directd by Robert Parrish. The story is by Thomas Thompson, who went on to write a ton of BONANZA episodes before becoming a best-selling writer, screenplay by the great Rod Serling.

TCM 8:30 a.m. CATTLE KING (1963) Another written by Thomas Thompson, with cattle-ranchers battling over a piece of prime grazing land. With Robert Taylor, Joan Caulfield and Robert Loggia. Directed by Tay Garnett.

TCM 10:15 a.m. HONDO AND THE APACHES (1967) Following up the John Wayne movie HONDO, this one is cut together from two episodes of the TV series, with Ralph Taeger in the Duke's role, Kathie Brown and Michael Rennie. Directed by Lee H. Katzin, it's scripted by Andrew J. Fenady, based on the Louis L'Amour story THE GIFT OF COCHISE.

Saturday May 1st

FMC 9:00 a.m. HOMBRE (1967) Elmore Leonard's taught novel about an Apache-raised white man protecting stagecoach passengers gives Paul Newman his best western role (yes, I know BUTCH CASSIDY is good, too), with a fine screenplay by husband-and-wife Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr., and crisp direction by Martin Ritt. Co-stars Frederic March and Richard Boone.

AMC 9:00 a.m. THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS (1941) Harold Bell Wright's novel - the first to sell a million copies - is te story of Ozark moonshiner John Wayne, who is haunted by his past, with Betty Field as the love interest, and Harry Carey as a mysterious stranger. Directed by Henry Hathaway, acripted by Stuart Anthony and Grover Jones.

TCM 9:00 a.m. SERGEANTS 3 (1962) A western remake of GUNGA DIN, based on Kipling's poem, scripted by W.R. Burnett, directed by John Sturges. One of the Rat-Pack movies with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Peter Lawford as cavalry officers, Sammy Davis Jr. in the Sam Jaffe role as the regimental beastie, and Indians on the warpath standing in for the Thugs. It was an okay idea, and has its moments, but even with talents like Burnett and Stuges, it pales badly next to the George Stevens film, and some of the soundstage work that's supposed to be outdoors is embarassingly fake.

11:00 a.m. THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER (1965) Henry Hathaway directs the story of brothers -- John Wayne, Dean Martin, Earl Holleman and Michael Anderson Jr. -- determined to find their father's killer. Written by William Wright and Allan Weiss. One of the great ones from the 1960s.

FMC 11:00 a.m. BANDOLERO! (1968)Great fun with Stewart and Martin as feuding brother outlaws. Featuring Raquel Welch, Harry Carey Jr., Jock Mahoney, Don 'Red' Barry, Roy Barcroft, D:Andrew McLaglen, W:James Lee Barrett (If you want to see an incredible list on stuntmen, check out the listing on IMDB)

AMC 11:15 a.m. THE WILD AND THE INNOCENT (1959) Country folks Audie Murphie and Sandra Dee get in trouble inthe big, bad city. Directed by Jack Sher, written by Sy Gomberg and Sher. With Gilbert Roland and Strother Martin.

AMC 1:15 p.m. THE GUNFIGHTER (1950) Classic story of Gregory Peck as Johnny Ringo, whose reputation for a fast draw puts a permanent target on his back. Directed with icy restraint by Henry King, story by William Bowers and director Andre De Toth, screenplay by Bowers and William Sellers. Featuring Jean Parker in her comeback role, and Karl Malden.

TCM 1:15 p.m. MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) John Ford's wonderful telling of the Tombstone legend, with Henry Fonda, Ward Bond and Tim Holt as the Earps, Walter Brennan and John Ireland as the Clantons, and Victor Mature in one of his best performances, as Doc Holliday. Screenplay by Samuel G. Engal and Winston Miller, from Stuart Lake's novel and Sam Hellman's story. A must-see!

AMC 3:15 p.m. THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY (1959) Gunman Robert Mitchum woos Major Gary Merrill's wife, Julie London, during a border fight. I haven't seen it, but I bet poor Merrill doesn't stand a chance. Directed by Robert Parrish, written by Robert Andrey from Tom Lea's novel.

AMC 5:30 p.m. JEREMIAH JOHNSON (1972) Sydney Pollack directs Robert Redford in the story of a real mountain man, culled from several different writers: Vardis Fisher, Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker. The screenplay is by John Milius and Edward Anholt, and is co-stars Will Geer. Probably Redford's best western role (yes, I know SUNDANCE KID is good, too), and it was a wise move to eliminate his character's nickname: Liver-Eating Johnson.

There's plenty of other stuff coming up on TV -- I wanted to make sure I got CISCO up before you missed it - but I'll get the other stuff up later!

Adios amigos!


All contents copyright April 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- all rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment