Sunday, August 8, 2010


(Updated Tuesday 8/10/2010 -- see Screenings)

COWBOYS AND ALIENS co-screenwriter Robert Orci, speaking at the San Diego Comic Con, says the producer insisted he, co-writer Alex Kurtzman, and director Jon Favreau study the Western movie form before diving into it. “He literally showed us a brand new print of THE SEARCHERS, and he commented throughout the whole thing. We had…Steven Speilberg...take us to Western school. That was the first one we saw. And then he…gave us a list, and we saw a couple of movies after that every weekend. And we just saw SHANE, THE PROFESSIONALS, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, HIGH NOON… but THE SEARCHERS was the first one, and that’s the one that really stuck in our minds. It’s a dark film, but very emotional. That moment when John Wayne picks up that girl (Natalie Wood), you know…it gets you.” To see more of the interview, courtesy of io9, CLICK HERE.

Among those who showed up unannounced at a panel discussing the film was Harrison Ford – in handcuffs! The word at Comic-Con about COWBOYS AND ALIENS is very positive. The clips that were shown were said to look great. The film, starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and Sam Rockwell is set to open on July 29th, 2011. To see a nearly 8 minute clip of the panel discussion at Comic Con, CLICK HERE. (warning, just as a clip from the film is being introduced, the footage ends.)

(Photos - Daniel Craig in COWBOYS AND ALIENS, Jack Mather, Radio's CISCO KID)


The Autry National Center of the American West announced this week that they have purchased a building in Burbank, which they will be calling the Autry Research Center. The 100,000 square foot building on Victory Boulevard will, “…provide the space and state-of-the-art museum-quality conditions to properly care for our collections and libraries, paving the way for us to modernize and increase our galleries within the existing walls of the building in Griffith Park.”

Many of the collections currently housed but not displayed at the Autry, and many collections now stored at the Southwest Museum, will be relocated to the Autry Research Center, which will make it possible to expand the Griffith Park Museum’s displays without expanding the building. For several years, the Autry has been stymied in their plans to expand the museum by people who object to their taking over more park land. Similarly, their work at the Southwest Museum has been made difficult by local ‘activists’ in that area.


Like most Californians (and most city-dwellers, for that matter) I spend an inordinate amount of time behind the wheel, but going nowhere. One of the truly enjoyable activities one can safely indulge in at such a time is listening to ‘OTR,’ or old time radio. One of the very enjoyable Western programs is The Cisco Kid, and Radio Archives is currently offering a set of twenty half-hour shows on ten CDs.

“O. Henry’s Robin Hood of the old west,” who we know and love, has very little resemblance to the character described in O. Henry’s original story, THE CABALLERO’S WAY. Originally he was an American outlaw who blithely killed Mexicans, and was a clever but thoroughly bad guy. He became a lovable Mexican bandito when portrayed by Warner Baxter in IN OLD CALIFORNIA (1928), for which he won an Oscar. (Actor, later turned director, Raoul Walsh was originally cast in the part, but was replaced when he lost an eye in a car accident.) Baxter played the role twice more, then Cesar Romero took over for six films, the last in 1941. In 1946 the character moved from 20th Century Fox to Monogram, and Duncan Renaldo played him three times, with a mustache, then Gilbert Roland played him six times. Then in 1948 the character moved again, this time to United Artists, where Duncan Renaldo played him for five more outings, without a mustache, but with Leo Carrillo as Pancho. They would co-star in 156 TV episodes as well, shows which were of much greater long-term value than most contemporary shows, because they were produced in color. It’s said that Renaldo sometimes got impatient with Carrillo’s scene stealing, but he also admired that Carrillo was still riding and fighting and shooting at the age of 75!

Starting in 1947 and continuing for nearly a decade, The Cisco Kid radio shows were recorded at New York’s WOR Studios, starring Jack Mather as Cisco, and Harry Lang as Pancho. A mix of action, adventure and humor, the half-hour shows are very much like the TV episodes in tone and style. But the opening narrations give a little historical perspective, and the action can be a little darker than the TV version: Cisco and Pancho still shoot to disarm, but the bad guys can and do kill people.

About 600 radio episodes were produced over the years. The remarkable thing about this collection of shows is the stunning quality of the sound. Most OTR shows were aired live, and not professionally recorded – the majority of existing radio-show recordings come from amateur collectors. As a result, many shows don’t exist in any form, and many that do are in terrible shape, and painful to listen to. The Ciscos sound incredibly crisp and clear – and for good reason: according to Radio Archives, a veritable treasure-trove of 16” vinyl transcription disks – many never played, were discovered in Des Moines, Iowa. The more OTR you’ve heard, the more you’ll appreciate the outstanding audio quality of these shows. And if OTR is new to you, it’s a great introduction.

As an added temptation, when Harry Lang became ill, that great Loony Tunes voice Mel Blanc took over as Pancho’s cousin Profiro, who is, incredibly, not as bright as Pancho. The collection, which sells for $29.98, is available at their website, HERE. Incidentally, next week I’ll tell you a little more about the Cisco Kid movie saga, and hope someone out there can solve a Duncan Renaldo mystery!



On Wednesday night, August 11th, at 7:30 p.m., The Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, will show a double bill of Anne Jeffrey movies, and she will be discussing the films between the screenings.

First up is TRAIL STREET (1947) co-starring Randolph Scott as Bat Masterson, trying to clean up Liberal, Kansas (after which it became Conservative, Kansas). Also featured are Robert Ryan and Gabby Hayes, directed by Ray Enright, script by Norman Houston and Gene Lewis.

Next up, RIFFRAFF (1947), isn’t a western, but it’s a delightful, fast-paced caper about attempts to take over a Panama oil field, and stars Anne Jeffreys with Pat O’Brien.


Friday, August 13th, at 7:30 p.m. Sam wrote, directed and produced this thrilling western, which stars Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger, John Ericson and Gene Barry. Can Sullivan, the Marshall, tame Stanwyck the Land Baroness? Let him try!


On Saturday, August 14th, from 1:30 to 3:30, The Autry will present the movie that made Leonard Slye (Roy Rogers) a star: UNDER WESTERN STARS (1938). Just think -- if Republic hadn't been having disputes with Gene Autry -- whom this picture was originally written for -- we might never have had The King Of The Cowboys! Jeffrey Richardson, Associate Curator of Film and Popular Culture, will discuss the film's production and the museum's recent acquisition of key artifacts relating to Roy Rogers. A variety of Rogers's artifacts, including his one-of-a-kind plastic Rose Parade saddle, will be on display throughout the museum. The 35mm print is from the UCLA Archive, and admission cost of $9 includes admission to the museum.


On Saturday, August 14th, Eric Spudic’s Movie Empire will be hosting a free western triple bill! At 6:30 p.m., they’ll begin with FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE (1975), directed by Lucio Fulci from a Bret Harte story, and starring Fabio Testi, Michael J. Pollard, Tomas Milian and Lynne Frederick. At 8:00 p.m. it’s VALDEZ IS COMING (1971) Edwin Sherin directing from the Elmore Leonard story, and starring Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark, Jon Cypher and Richard Jordan. THE THIRD MOVIE WILL BE SELECTED FROM SEVERAL OPTIONS BY YOU, THE ATTENDEES! Spudic’s Movie Empire is located at 5910 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA 91401. They sell all DVDs for $5 and all VHS tapes for $2, and are open from noon to 8 p.m., seven days a week.


On Saturday, August 14th, Friends of Hart Park will present HELL'S HINGES and THE TAKING OF LUKE MCVANE, at Wm. S. Hart Park - Hart Hall, at 24151 Newhall Avenue, in the city of Newhall. Additionally, there will be a WESTERN SILENT AUCTION, at 6 p.m. EVENING TOURS and patio seating, 7 p.m. BBQ DINNER FROM RATTLER'S. Tickets are $50 a piece, with reserved tables of ten for $500. You can find out more, and order tickets by calling 661-254-4584, or clicking HERE. They say this event sells out, so if you want to go, reserve now!


On Sunday, August 15th, BEGGARS OF LIFE (1928) Directed by William Wellman, starring Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen, will be screened at the historic Paramount Ranch. It's not a Western -- it's the story of a girl who runs away from her abusive father to ride the rails as a hobo, passing as a man. And it's a rare chance to visit a historic Western location. In fact, there's a historic tour at 5:45pm, followed by the movie at 7:30. Tickets are $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for members of Hollywood Heritage. Children under twelve are $3.00, under three free.

Picnicing is encouraged -- there are clean restrooms and free parking, but it gets dark, so bring a flashlight!


The Paramount Ranch
Take the Ventura Freeway (101 north) to KANAN ROAD offramp. At light make a left turn onto Kanan Road going south. Cross the freeway to Agoura Road. Cross Agoura Road and shortly make a left turn onto CORNELL ROAD. (watch carefully, it is a small sign and small road) Follow Cornell Road about a couple of miles to the PARAMOUNT RANCH driveway, marked with large signs. Make a right turn into the driveway and down into the ranch. Look for signs as to where to park. The signs will say "Silents Under the Stars- Parking."
Official Website



On Thursday, August 12th, at 7 p.m., Hollywood historians par excellence, co-authors Marc Wanamaker and E. J. Stephens, will be signing their latest book, EARLY WARNER BROTHERS HISTORY. The great movie bookstore is located at 6644 Hollywood Boulevard, L.A., CA 90028. (323) 463-3273. And you can visit to learn more.

I'll be back in a couple of hours with that Cisco Kid radio-show review. And I've been fortunate enough to meet and interview some very interesting people. In the coming weeks I'll be running interviews with Earl Holliman and Morgan Woodward, and several more western favorites!

Hasta manana,


All contents Copyright August 8th, 2010, by Henry C. Parke. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Good news about the Autry. Looking forward to your comments on the Cisco Kid radio show. I grew up on that. Bad timing for the Hart screenings. Would like to see them. Glad to know the COWBOYS AND ALIENS team are actually studying westerns.