Friday, February 26, 2010
13-year-old Hailee Steinfeld will portray 14-year-old Mattie Ross in Paramount's True Grit, Joel and Ethan Coen's remake of the 1969 John Wayne starrer, from the Charles Portis novel. Hailee is a relative newcomer to the biz, her previous credits being a pair of short films, and an episode of Back To You(2007), where she played 'Little Girl.' She'll be following in the footsteps of Kim Darby, who played Mattie, the daughter driven to catch her father's killer, in the original. Rooster Cogburn, the role that won the Duke his Oscar, will be filled by current Oscar hopeful Jeff Bridges, with Matt Damon taking over for Glen Campbell as the Texas Ranger, and Josh Brolin as the killer. Brolin, one of the few young actors with cowboy creds, going back to playing young Bill Hickok in Young Riders (1989-92), and the Coens' No Country For Old Men, will be the hero and title character in Jonah Hex, due in theatres June 18th.
MONDAY NIGHT UPDATE -- FREE 'DJANGO' SCREENING, WITH DIRECTOR, AT THE CHINESE THEATRE!
This news flash comes courtesy of noted film historian Andy Erish. All this week, the Annual Italian Film Festival is taking place in Hollywood, at the famed Chinese Theatre complex. The showings are all free, but you should RSVP for the films you want to see, and get there early, as it's first come, first served seating. On Wednesday, March 3rd, at 11:00 a.m., they will be showing DJANGO RIDES AGAIN (1976), a.k.a. KEOMA, starring Franco Nero and Woody Strode, and honoring writer-director Enzo G. Castellari, who will attend. This film is generally aknowleged as the best of the countless official and unofficial DJANGO sequels. Castellari's many other directing credits include ANY GUN CAN PLAY (1967), I CAME, I SAW, I SHOT (1968), KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE (1968), and the soon-to-be-released CARIBBEAN BASTERDS. If you visit his IMDB page, and click on the link, you can watch his post-apocalytic WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND (1982) complete.
Incidentally, Hollywood is an insane place to visit this week because of the Oscars on Sunday, whic take place at the Kodak Theatre, one block away. Many roads are closed all week! If you can possibly take the subway in, and get off at Hollywood and Highland, you'll be right there. For more information, and to reserve tickets, click here.
TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE - ANOTHER ENZO G. CASTELLARI WESTERN
Also at the Chinese Theatre, on Saturday, March 6th, 2:45 p.m., you can see JONATHAN OF THE BEARS (1993), one of the newest of spaghetti westerns, starring Franco Nero, John Saxon and Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman. As with DJANGO RIDES AGAIN, the screening is free, the director will be present, but you need to RSVP to the link in the write-up above.
HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL -- On March 2nd, CBS Home Video will release Season Four, Volume I of the great western series, starring Richard Boone as the "...Knight without armour in a savage land." His first name may or may not have been 'Wire', but his last name was definitely Paladin. I hope to have more details next week.
SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
And if you attend, please (a)let us know how it was and (b) tell 'em you heard about it at Henry's Western Round-up!
AUTRY CENTER - MASTERS OF THE AMERICAN WEST - last day, Sunday, March 7. For more info, CLICK HERE. And don't forget, there are family activities every weekend at The Autry, including Gold Panning! CLICK HERE to find out more.
GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE - ROCHESTER, NEW YORK -- Friday Feb 26th- Saturday Feb 27th -- A TOWN CALLED PANIC. Okay, it's not a traditional western. In fact, it's animation, very limited animation stop-motion, but it does feature a cowboy, an Indian, and a horse, and except for some cursing in the subtitles, it's supposed to be great for kids! If you're on the east coast, and not snowed in, check it out, and report back! CLICK HERE for more info.
OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL - Friday March 6 - Sunday March 8, THE GREAT K&A TRAIN ROBBERY (1926 silent) starring TOM MIX, DOROTHY DWAN, TONY THE HORSE. How often do you get to see Tom Mix on the big screen, with an accompaniment on the Mighty Wurlitzer, no less?! If you've never attended a movie at the Music Hall, you're in for a treat. It's at 140 Richmond St., El Segundo, CA 90245. (310)322-2592 For more information, visit their website here.
WESTERN MOVIES ON TV
Note:AMC=American Movie Classics, EXT= Showtime Extreme, FMC=Fox Movie Channel, TCM=Turner Classic Movies. All times given are Pacific Standard Time.
Monday, March 1st
TCM 2:41 a.m. CALGARY STAMPEDE (1949) Eighteen minute short about the famous Canadian rodeo.
TCM 7:15 p.m. DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978) Terrence Malick wrote and directed this, odd turn-of-the-20th-century tale where lovers Richard Gere and Brooke Adams pretend to be siblings while working on a farm. A beautiful, haunting movie, with Oscar winning photography by Nestor Almendros, and nominated sound, costumes by Patricia Norris and magnificent score by Ennio Morricone. Also a wonderfully quirky deadpan performance by Linda Manz.
Tuesday March 2nd
TCM 1:30 a.m. LITTLE BIG MAN (1970) Arthur Penn directs from Calder Willingham's screenplay from Thomas Berger's novel about an incredibly old Dustin Hoffman recalling his upbringing by Indians and fighting alongside Custer. Yet another western where folks see AVATAR parallels. Also starring Faye Dunaway and Oscar-nominated Chief Dan George.
EXT 8:25 p.m. GANG OF ROSES (2003) Female rappers Lil' Kim, Macy Gray, Monica Calhoun, LisaRaye play gunslingers in a search for revemge and gold, not necessarily in that order. Written and directed by Jean-Claude LaMarre.
TCM 10:00 p.m. GIANT (1956) James Dean, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Wither star in Edna Ferber's story of a Texas ranching dynasty trying to survive changing times. George Stevens earned an Oscar for his direction of the Fred Guiol screenplay. The 'aging' of Taylor and Hudson is laughable. And just to prove the Academy is unsentimental, the great James Dean got his second posthumous Oscar nomination for this one, and lost both times.
Wednesday March 3rd
EXT 9:30 a.m. THE CLAIM (2000) Michael Winterbottom directs from Frank Cottrell Boyce's screenplay, based on Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, moved to the American west. Stars Peter Mullan, Wes Bentley, Nastassja Kinsky, Sarah Polley and Milla Jovovich.
TCM 1:30 a.m. CIMARRON (1960) Another Edna Ferber 'sweeping saga', about the settling of Oklahoma, has some good things in it, but could have been better. All of Anthony Mann's other westerns should be seen first. Script by Arnold Schuman, starring Glenn Ford, Maria Schell, Anne Baxter.
TCM 12:30 p.m. OKLAHOMA! (1955) Delightful Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, script by Hammerstein, directed by Fred "HIGH NOON" Zinnemann. Stars Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Rod Steiger and Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie, the "Girl Who Can't Say 'No.'"
TCM 9:15 p.m. HEAVEN'S GATE (1981) Michael "DEER HUNTER" Cimino wrote and directed this infamous box-office flop, and I'm dying to see it: lots of westerners have highly recommended this story of Wyoming's Johnson County War. Stars Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt. Get a comfortable chair -- it's 219 minutes.
Thursday March 4th
EXT 3:15 a.m. THE CLAIM (2000) Michael Winterbottom directs from Frank Cottrell Boyce's screenplay, based on Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, moved to the American west. Stars Peter Mullan, Wes Bentley, Nastassja Kinsky, Sarah Polley and Milla Jovovich.
FMC 5:00 a.m. DRUMS ALONG THE MOWHAWK (1939)
John Ford directed with gusto from the Lamar Trotti, Sonya Levian script, based on the Walter D. Edmonds novel. Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda star in one of the finest of 'eastern' westerns, a Revoltionary War story packed with Ford stock company greats like John Carradine, Arthur Shields and Ward Bond. In a more normal year, it might have been named Best Picture, but in 1939 it received only two Oscar nominations, for Edna Mae Oliver's comic turn as Best Supporting Actress, and for Ray Rennahan and Bert Glennon's glorious Technicolor photography -- and it won neither. Highly recommended.
FMC 11:00 a.m. THE TRUE STORY OF JESSE JAMES (1957) Nicholas Ray directed this remake of the 1939 classic, starring Robert Wagner as Jesse, Jeffrey Hunter as Frank, and Alan Hale Jr. as Cole Younger, with Hope Lange and Agnes Moorehead. Scripy by Walter Newman, adapted from Nunnally Johnson's original.
FMC 1:00 p.m. THE UNDEFEATED (1969) D:Andrew V. McLaglen, W:James Lee Barrett, from a story by Stanley Hough. At the close of the Civil War, Confederate officer Rock Hudson leads a group of southern loyalists to Mexico and Emperor Maximillian -- unless John Wayne can stop him. Rock Hudson later described the movies as "crap." Ironic, considering it's one of his more convincing performances. With Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr.
FMC 3:00 p.m. THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER (1982) An Australian 'western' based on a poem by A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson, scripted by Cul Cullen, directed by George Miller. Stars Jack Thompson, Tom Burlinson, Kirk Douglas, and the lovely gal from the under-appreciated series, PARADISE, Sigrid Thornton.
FMC 7:15 p.m. THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER - see above
Friday March 5th
TCM 4:30 a.m. ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE (1947) Studio pro Roy Rowland directs lovely Janet Leigh in the Lester Cole adaptation of a MacKinlay Kantor tale. She falls for a man who, according to her family, was on the wrong side of the Civil War. With Van Johnson and Thomas Mitchell.
AMC 1:00 p.m. - DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) Actor Kevin Costner's directorial debut won him an Oscar, and there were seven more: best picture; Dean Semler for cinematography; Neil Travis for editing; John Barry for his score; Michael Blake for his adapted screenplay; and Russell Williams III, Jeffrey Perkins, Bill W. Benton and Gregory H. Watkins for sound. Starring Costner as an army officer who befriends the Lakota Souix. With Mary McDonnel.
EXT 3:15 p.m. GANG OF ROSES (2003) Female rappers Lil' Kim, Macy Gray, Monica Calhoun, LisaRaye play gunslingers in a search for revemge and gold, not necessarily in that order. Written and directed by Jean-Claude LaMarre.
Saturday March 6th
AMC 1:00 a.m. BROKEN LANCE (1954) D:Edward Dymtryk, W:Richard Murphy, from a story by Philip Yordan. You'd think this one couldn't miss, but it does. Richard Widmark, Hugh O'Brien, Earl Holliman and Robert Wagner are Spencer Tracy's sons, but only Wagner is current wife Katy Jurado's as well. There are two nice set pieces, but no other action, and the characters are so unlikeable that it's hard to care what happens to any of them. Hugh O'Brien is wasted -- he's in many scenes, but has two or three lines. Although the color is great and the image sharp, it's still a lousy pan-and-scan of a Cinemascope original, so you only see about a third of the picture. Katy Jurado will say a line off-camera, and it's the first time you know she's in the scene.
EXT 4:30 p.m. SHADOWHEART (2009) A bounty hunter is out revenge in 1865 New Mexico. Directed by Dean Alioto from his and Peter Vanderwall's script. Starring Justin Ament, Angus Macfayden, Daniel Baldwin, William Sadler, and two great pros, Rance Howard and Charles Napier.
TCM 9:00 a.m. HELLER IN PINK TIGHTS (1960) It was HELLER WITH A GUN when Louis L'Amour wrote the book -- director George Cukor put on the pink tights. It's the story of a theatrical troupe in the Wild West, starring Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn, scripted by Walter Bernstein.
AMC 9:00 a.m. DANCES WITH WOLVES(1990) Actor Kevin Costner's directorial debut won him an Oscar, and there were seven more: best picture; Dean Semler for cinematography; Neil Travis for editing; John Barry for his score; Michael Blake for his adapted screenplay; and Russell Williams III, Jeffrey Perkins, Bill W. Benton and Gregory H. Watkins for sound. Starring Costner as an army officer who befriends the Lakota Souix. With Mary McDonnel.
You may want to check the blog again later this weekend -- I'll have an interview with spaghetti western star Robert Woods either this weekend, or in next week's entry!
Friday, February 19, 2010
JONAH HEX SET FOR JUNE 18, 2010 RELEASE
Nobody's seen a frame of film, but the action figures were already a hit at the Comic-Con. And speaking of action figures, Megan Fox, as Leila (seen below in what is being euphamistically called her saloon-girl outfit), is currently billed above Josh Brolin, who plays the title character, a face-scarred bounty hunter on the trail of a voodoo-er planning to liberate the South with an army of the undead. Based on the long-running comic book, the film also stars John Malkovich, Will Arnet, and Aidan Quinn as President McKinley.
The director is Jimmy Hayward, the writers are Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
TRUE GRIT - CAMERAS ROLL ON MARCH 8
No coincidence that it's the day after the Academy Awards. The Coen brothers are hopeful that Jeff Bridges will win an Oscar for Crazy Heart, which would put him in a good mood for playing Rooster Cogburn.
BIG VALLEY - SUSAN SARANDON IN TALKS
The Oscar-winning actress is interested in following in the boot-steps of Barbara Stanwyck, who played Victoria Barkley in series which ran on ABC from 1965 - 1969. The feature will be produced by Katy Edelman Johnson, whose father, Louis F. Edelman, co-created the series with A.I. Bezzerides. Daniel Adams, who penned the screenplay, and is Johnson's producing partner, will direct.
THE LONE RANGER - STILL JUST TONTO, BUT WITH NEW SCRIBE
The Jerry Bruckheimer project, with Johnny Depp on board as Tonto, still lacks a masked man, but it's got a new writer. Justin Haythe, who wrote The Clearing and Revolutionary Road, takes over the reins from Pirates of the Caribbean scripters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot.
GUNSMOKE RE-LOAD IN THE WORKS
CBS Films, reportedly pleased with Gregory Poirer's draft of a Gunsmoke feature (he previously wrote National Treasure: Book of Secrets) is looking at Brad Pitt as a possible Marshall Matt Dillon, and Ryan Reynolds is also in the running. Pitt may have the edge, having starred in a western, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
PARAMOUNT SNAPS UP DOC HOLLIDAY SPEC
According to Variety, Chad St. John's script, The Further Adventures of Doc Holliday,will be produced by Transformers/G.I. Joe vet Lorenzo di Bonaventura. The aim is to make a history-based western tentpole.
TARANTINO WANTS TO MAKE A SOUTHERN WESTERN
It's well-known that the Inglourious Basterds director has been toying with doing a western for some time, but he recently got specific in a chat with the New York Daily News. "I'd like to do a western. But rather than set it in Texas, have it in slavery times. With that subject that everybody is afraid to deal with. Let's shine that light on ourselves. You could do a ponderous history lesson of slaves escaping on the Underground Railway. Or you could make a movie that would be exciting. Do it as an adventure. A spaghetti western that takes place at that time. And I would call it 'A Southern.'"
THE VIRGINIAN REUNION IN TENNESSEE
Saturday Feb. 27th -- The 10th Annual Saddle Up festival in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee will feature a reunion of stars from the NBC series which ran from 1962 to 1970. James Drury, Gary Clarke, Roberta Shore and Randy Boone will meet up for a three hour event that will include clip screening, Q&As and autographs. Not coincidentally, the event coincides with the release of the first season of The Virginian on DVD, which will be available for sale at the event, but otherwise not until late May. At a time when most series were thirty or sixty minutes, The Virginian was unusual: it's 90 minute time slot gave a chance for greater depth of plot, making each episode a small movie. For further information, click here.
SPAGHETTI WESTERNS FREE ON-LINE
The next time you're working hard at the lap-top, and get a sudden urge to see some Italian cowboy action, click here, and you'll be brought to the AMC B-Movie Classics site, where, with a simple click of the mouse, you can see Dynamite Joe (1968) or The Ruthless Four (1968). I haven't seen either movie yet myself, but Ruthless Four, which claims to be "In The Tradition of Treasure of the Sierra Madre," stars Van Heflin, Gilbert Roland and German western star Klaus Kinski, so it's certainly worth a peek. Incidentally, there are a number of other movies in various genres at the site.
ON THE TUBE
WESTERN MOVIES ON TV
Note:AMC=American Movie Classics, EXT= Showtime Extreme, FMC=Fox Movie Channel, TCM=Turner Classic Movies. All times given are Pacific Standard Time.
Monday Feb. 22nd
AMC 2:00 a.m. Dances with Wolves (1990) Actor Kevin Costner's directorial debut won him an Oscar, and there were seven more: best picture; Dean Semler for cinematography; Neil Travis for editing; John Barry for his score; Michael Blake for his adapted screenplay; and Russell Williams III, Jeffrey Perkins, Bill W. Benton and Gregory H. Watkins for sound. Starring Costner as an army officer who befriends the Lakota Souix. With Mary McDonnel.
AMC 1:00 p.m. Dances With Wolves (1990) See above.
TCM 5:00 p.m. Ruggles Of Red Gap (1935) Comedy pro Leo McCarey directed this 3rd version of Harry Leon Wilson's novel, with a script by Walter DeLeon and Harlan Thompson. Charles Laughton, in a delightful comic turn lays the gentleman's gentleman imported from England to give a western family some class. With Charley Ruggles, Mary Boland and Zasu Pitts.
Wednesday Feb. 24th
TCM 11:00 a.m. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) John Huston directed from his own screenplay, based on novel by the elusive B. Traven. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston (Academy Award perfoemance) and Tim Holt go gold prospecting in the Mexican Sierras. For my money, one of the best movies of any genre ever made. With Bruce Bennett, and with Barton MacLane in one of the most realistic bar-brawls ever filmed. Look for John Huston himself as the frequent victim of a panhandler, and little Robert Blake as the kid with the lottery tickets. "Badges?! I don't got to cho you no badges! We don't need no stinkin' badges!"
TCM 1:15 p.m. Duel In The Sun (1946) Directed by King Vidor, producer David O. Selznick wrote his own screenplay from the Niven Bush novel about a half-breed Jennifer Jones who comes between two brothers. With Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotten.
FMC 8:00 a.m. Drums Along The Mowhawk (1939) John Ford directed with gusto from the Lamar Trotti, Sonya Levian script, based on the Walter D. Edmonds novel. Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda star in one of the finest of 'eastern' westerns, a Revoltionary War story packed with Ford stock company greats like John Carradine, Arthur Shields and Ward Bond. In a more normal year, it might have been named Best Picture, but in 1939 it received only two Oscar nominations, for Edna Mae Oliver's comic turn as Best Supporting Actress, and for Ray Rennahan and Bert Glennon's glorious Technicolor photography -- and it won neither. Highly recommended.
TCM 9:45 a.m. General Spanky (1936) Though not the best of Our Gang's work, it ceratinly is a novelty, and the only Our Gang feature (I don't count the two from the 1940s, with replacement kids). Gordon Douglas and Fred C. Newmeyer direct from a script by Richard Flournoy, John Guedel, Carl Harbaugh and Hal Yates. Spanky MacFarland, along with Buckwheat Thomas and Alfalfa Switzer, fight the Civil War.
FMC 10:00 a.m. Flaming Star (1960) An early film from the soon-to-be-great Don Siegal, working from Nunnally Johnson's script of a Clair Huffaker novel. Elvis Presley, playing a role planned for Marlon Brando, is the half-breed son of white John McIntire and Kiowa Dolores Del Rio, forced to take sides in a local war between white and Indian. Surprisingly good, you realize how good an actor Elvis could have been if Col. Parker hadn't steered him into mostly inane crap. With Steve Forrest and Barbara Eden.
TCM 7:00 p.m. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) The finest of John Ford's later films, and his last great film with John Wayne. James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck adapted Dorothy M. Johnson's story, told in flasback, about a Senator (James Stewart) whose career turns on the fact that he shot outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).
Friday Feb. 26
EXT 2:30 a.m. Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) Directed by Takashi Miike, co-written with Masa Nakamura, the filmmakers try to transplant every spaghetti western cliche' into one pseudo Samurai epic. Strikingly shot and edited, but after an hour of identifying the homages, I did a lot of fast-forwarding. Starring Hideaki Ito and Masanobu Ando, with Quentin Tarantino popping up at the start and finish to tell you the story.
Saturday Feb. 27
TCM 2:00 a.m. The Reivers (1969) Charming, easy-going turn-of-the-century tale of Steve McQueen, Rupert Cross, and Mitch Vogel's adventures in a stolen car. Sharon Farrell is at her most radiant, and B-western fans will appreciate the cameo by Roy Barcroft as the judge. Written by the Oscar-winning wife and husband team of Harriet Frank Jr, and Irving Ravetch, from William Faulkner's novel. Directed by Mark Rydell.
TCM 4:00 a.m. Tom Sawyer (1973) Disney tunesmiths Robert and Richard Sherman wrote the screenplay as well as the songs for this musical adaptation of Mark Twain's novel. With Johnny Whitaker as Tom and Jodie Foster as Becky Thatcher. Directed by Don Taylor.
AMC 6:30 a.m. Stagecoach (1966) No, not that one, it's the pointless remake. Gordon Douglas directs with flair as always, and Joseph Landon's adaptation of Dudley Nichols 1939 screenplay, from the Ernest Haycox story is fine. But even with good actors like Alex Cord, Ann-Margaret, Bing Crosby and Red Buttons, could they possibly think they were improving on the John Ford version? Yes, because this one would be in color, and in tghe 1960s, that meant everything.
AMC 9:00 a.m. The War Wagon (1967) You've got John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and an armored coach packed and gold and protected by a Gatling gun. What more do you need to know? Great fun, directed by Burt Kennedy, written by Clair Huffaker, featuring Bruce Dern and Bruce Cabot.
AMC 11:30 a.m. Silverado (1985) Larry Kasdan directs from a script he wrote with his brother Mark. Lots of good stuff in it, but at 133 minutes, it's at least a half hour too long. Starring Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner.
AMC 11:00 p.m. Silverado (1985) See above.
AMC 2:00 a.m. Backlash (1956) Director John Sturges is at the top of his powers in this western mystery scripted by Borden Chase from the Frank Gruber novel, starring Richard Widmark and Donna Reed.
AMC 4:00 a.m. The War Wagon (1967) You've got John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and an armored coach packed and gold and protected by a Gatling gun. What more do you need to know? Great fun, directed by Burt Kennedy, written by Clair Huffaker, featuring Bruce Dern and Bruce Cabot.
AMC 6:30 a.m. Silverado (1985) Larry Kasdan directs from a script he wrote with his brother Mark. Lots of good stuff in it, but at 133 minutes, it's at least a half hour too long. Starring Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner.
EXT. 9:45 a.m. Barbarosa (1982) Fred Schepisi directs from western specialist William D. Wittliff's script, about a young man falling into company with an outlaw. Stars Willie Nelson, Gary Busey, Isela Vega and the great Gilbert Roland.
FMC 11:15 a.m. Rio Conchos (1964) D: Gordon Douglas, W:Joseph Landon and Clair Huffaker. Stars Richard Boone, Stuary Whitman, Anthony Franciosa.
FMC 3:30 p.m. - The Undefeated (1969) D:Andrew V. McLaglen, W:James Lee Barrett, from a story by Stanley Hough. At the close of the Civil War, Confederate officer Rock Hudson leads a group of southern loyalists to Mexico and Emperor Maximillian -- unless John Wayne can stop him. Rock Hudson later described the movies as "crap." Ironic, considering it's one of his more convincing performances. With Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr.
That's it for this week! Again, if you attend any events we discuss here, let's have some feedback -- click on the 'comments' thing below. Or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I need your suggestions -- there's got to be a lot of western happenings around the globe that we don't know about, so fill us in. Next week we'll feature an interview with spaghetti western star Robert Woods!
Sunday, February 14, 2010
A few years ago, while working as a substitute teacher, I was having lunch in the teachers' lounge when another sub noticed I was reading a Luke Short novel, and we started talking about westerns. His name was Paul Harper. He was a big man, older, and he told me that he had acted in several westerns, and played Ross, one of the scurvy bounty hunters in Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch(1969). That's Paul with Ernest Borgnine in the picture below. Interestingly, this man who played very scary men on the screen, in real life specialized in the side of teaching that requires the greatest patience and kindness: teaching special ed kids. I never ran in to him again.
On Thursday, November 12th, 2009, I was one of the many in the sell-out crowd who packed the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles for the 40th Anniversary showing of The Wild Bunch. It was done as a fund-raiser for a French/American charity outfit called Jules Verne Adventures, and in the advance publicity I'd learned that cast members Ernest Borgnine, Bo Hopkins and L.Q. Jones would be there, as well as members of Sam Peckinpah's and composer Jerry Fielding's family. As the big night approached, I suddenly remembered meeting Paul Harper, and wondered if he knew about the event. But I couldn't find the card he'd given me, and none of the other subs I knew were acquainted with him. So I was delighted to be in the audience, and hear him introduced to warm applause, and see him walking down the aisle in costume, grinning broadly. I tried to catch up with him later, but didn't manage to. Paul Harper died the next day, having had a wonderful time reminiscing with fans and friends and co-workers about a film that was one of the high-points of his life. Among his other westerns, all from 1972, are The Culpepper Cattle Company, Bounty Man, J.W. Coop, and finally Bloody Trail, in which he had the lead role.
THE HOLLYWOOD SHOW
Speaking of Ernest Borgnine, I don't know how many saw the Friday night update of this blog about the Hollywood Show this weekend, featuring stars like Borgnine, but Mike Stern did, and he saved five bucks by following the link I provided. He reports that the show was as expensive as I had warned it would be. Once you'd paid your $20 to get in, actors like Mitch Vogel, last of the Bonanza regulars, were charging $25 for a signed picture. Richard Chamberlain wanted $50 for his paperback autobiography, to which I say: Dr. Kildare, Heal Thyself! (Okay, Chamberlain isn't exactly known for westerns, but Dr. Kildare was created by Max Brand.)
RED RYDER REDUX
This past Tuesday was the 108th birthday of Red Ryder comic-strip creator Fred Harmon Sr. Those who have watched Christmas Story and, wondered who was this puveyor of BB guns that so obsessed Ralphie, can learn plenty by clicking here. If you go to the bottom of the page and click the link 'Bronc Peeler The Lone Cowboy complete text', you'll be able to read a Big Little Book about one of Harmon's earlier characters, page by page. Republic Pictures made a hugely successful series of Red Ryder films during the 1940s, starring either Wild Bill Elliot or Alan Rocky Lane as Ryder, and all with Bobby Blake (later Robert Blake -- yes, that one)as Little Beaver. Almost all of them, and the earlier serial that gave Don 'Red' Barry his nickname, can be found at my primary source for western movies, and every other kind of movies for that matter, Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee. You may have seen a featurette about Eddie's on TCM recently. The store is at 5006 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91601. (818)506-4242. Tuesday through Friday they're open from 1 to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For their website, click here.
AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER
Monday 2/15 - Normally closed on Monday, the Autry will be opened on Presidents' Day, and free for kids under 9.
Saturday 2/20 and Sunday 2/21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., kids can learn about the Gold Rush, and pan for gold. On Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., you can see Edge of America, directed by Chris Eyre, part of the Native American Women In Film Series. For more about the Autry, click here.
LOS ENCINOS STATE HISTORIC PARK
Sunday 2/21 Living History. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. you can step back in time! The living history program features a working blacksmith shop, 19th Century children's games, traditional music, tours of the historic structures, and strolling folks in period costume -- great fun for kids and adults, and you can feed the ducks! They do this program on the third Sunday of every month. Los Encinos is located at 16756 Moorpark St., Encino, CA 91436-1068. (818)784-4849.
COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART - THE ESSENTIAL CLINT EASTWOOD
Friday 2/19 7:30 p.m. BRONCO BILLY (1980) D:Clint Eastwood, W:Dennis Hackin, starring Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis and Scatman Crothers.
9:40 p.m. - HONKYTONK MAN (1982) D:Clint Eastwood, W:Clancy Carlile, from his novel, starring Eastwood, Kyle Eastwood and Verna Bloom.
Saturday 2/20 7:00 p.m. UNFORGIVEN (1992) D:Clint Eastwood, W:David Webb Peoples, starring Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris. An astonishingly good, heartfelt, dark western - a must see. I can't begin to count he number of times I've quoted (hopefully correctly), "Hellevah thing, killing a man. Take away everything he's got, everything he's ever gonna have."
SPUDIC'S MOVIE EMPIRE - PERSONAL APPEARANCE BY SPAGHETTI WESTERN STAR ROBERT WOODS
Sunday 2/21 - 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Though not so well known in the U.S., Colorado-born Woods was a major leading man of European western in the 1960s and 1970s, starring in CHALLENGE OF MCKENNA (see poster above), 4 DOLLARS FOR VENGEANCE, 7 PISTOLS FOR MACGREGOR and a fistful of others. He'll be signing autographs, and there will be a screening of the newly remastered GATLING GUN.
Incidentally, Spudic's is a great movie resource. Actor-writer Eric Spudic buys out video stores to stock his own, doesn't rent, but sells all DVDs for $6, all VHSs for $3 -- and if it's a VHS without a box it's a buck fifty! Lately I've picked up a lot of movies I'd missed -- HANNIE CAULDER, CULPEPPER CATTLE COMPANY and Kris Kristofferson in THE TRACKER to name just a few. Spudic's is located at 5910 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA 91401, and the store is open 7 days a week from noon to 8 p.m.
ON THE TUBE
WESTERN MOVIES ON TV
Note:AMC=American Movie Classics, FMC=Fox Movie Channel, TCM=Turner Classic Movies. All times given are Pacific Standard Time.
FMC 3:00 p.m. - SHERIFF OF FRACTURED JAW (1959) Comedy western, D:Raoul Walsh, W:Howard Dimsdale, starring Jayne Mansfield, Kenneth More, Henry Hull, Bruce Cabot.
AMC 3:00 p.m. - BLAZING SADDLES (1974) Mel Brooks directed and co-wrote this delightfully coarse western comedy about a town that gets a black sheriff (Cleavon Little). With Gene Wilder.
FMC 11:30 a.m. - BANDOLERO! (1968) D:Andrew V. McLaglen, W:James Lee Barrett, starring James Stewart, Dean Martin and Raquel Welch. Grreat fun with Stewart and Martin as feuding brother outlaws.
FMC 1:30 p.m. - BROKEN ARROW (1950) James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, D:Delmer Daves, W:Albert Maltz(another writer's name may be one the credits -- Maltz was blacklisted and had someone 'front' for him)
TCM 9:00 p.m. - SHANE (1953) - Director George Stevens' masterpiece, from the Jack Schaeffer novel, screenplay by A.B. Guthrie Jr. Although all the leads -- Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin and Brandon de Wilde -- are excellent, to me it's the performances by Jack Palance and Elisha Cook Jr. that are unforgettable.
AMC 6:30 a.m. - BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) Directed by George Roy Hill from William Goldman's original screenplay. This film and WILD BUNCH, about the same people, came out the same year. Very different treatment, and both excellent - this one won four Oscars. Starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katherine Ross.
AMC 9:00 a.m. - DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) D:Kevin Costner, W:Michael Blake. Starring Kevin Costner and Mary McDonnel, the picture won seven Oscars.
AMC 1:00 p.m. - BROKEN TRAIL (2006) D:Walter Hill, W:Alan Geoffrion. The best western miniseries since LONESOME DOVE stars Robert Duvall, Thomas Haden Church and Greta Scacchi attempting to rescue Chinese women from prostitution. With James Russo.
AMC 10:00 p.m. - BROKEN LANCE (1954) D:Edward Dymtryk, W:Richard Murphy, from a story by Philip Yordan. Pity Spencer Tracy, with the four sons he must contend with: Richard Widmark, Hugh O'Brien, Earl Holliman, and just-out-of-jail Robert Wagner. With Katy Jurado.
TCM 11:45 p.m. - COMES A HORSEMAN (1978) - D:Alan J. Pakula, W:Dennis Lynton Clark, stars Jane Fonda, James Caan, Jason Robards Jr.
AMC 11:00 p.m. - DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) - Please see write-up above.
That's about it for this week -- bulletins as the need arises. If you want to check out any of Robert Woods' movies before the signing at Spudic's, they've got at least a half dozen in VHS for rent at Eddie Brandt's. If you attend any of the events we feature, please let us know what you thought of them. And please tell 'em you heard about it here. And please send me ideas on anything that oughta be included. Happy Trails!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
UPDATE FOR VALENTINE'S DAY WEEKEND!!!
MEET ERNEST BORGNINE!
The Oscar-winning best actor for Marty, best-loved by many of us for The Wild Bunch, will be autographing pictures at the Hollywood Show, Saturday Feb. 13th and Sunday Feb. 14th at the Marriott Hotel in Burbank. The address is 2500 Hollywood Way, Burbank 91505. Also attending will be Bronco star Ty Hardin; TV's Wyatt Earp, Hugh O'Brien; The Outlaw star Jane Russell; Chisum and Bandolero star Andrew Prine; last of the Bonanza regulars (in later seasons) Mitch Vogel; dancer and 7 Brides for 7 Brothers star Russ Tamblyn; and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, who's starred in several spaghetti westerns. There also tons of non-western actors who will attend. If you've never attended an autograph show, they can be a lot of fun, but be warned, they are not cheap. Admission is $20 a day or $35 for both days, and actors will usually charge from $20-$30 for the pictures they provide and sign. They'll also sign pictures, posters or books that you bring, but they'll charge for that as well. There are also a dozen or more memorabilia dealers selling their wares at the show. The show is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. If you want a complete guest line-up, click here. If you go to that link, purchase your ticket on-line, and use the Coupon code: VALENTINE, you should get $5 off.
Also, don't forget there's a free screening at the Autry Saturday night -- check out their website for details. And on Monday, Presidents Day, admission to the Autry is free for children!
Let me get my apology in first before any more people correct me: John Wayne won his Oscar for True Grit (1969), not The Shootist (1976).
If the Donner Party episode of American Experience is still making the PBS rounds, it's worth seeing, though often hard to take. Here's something I learned from it: Louis Keysberg was the only survivor who talked openly about being a cannibal. In 1851 he moved to Sacramento and opened a successful restaurant (insert your own tasteless joke here).
COWBOYS & ALIENS
Based on a popular graphic novel (also known as a comic-book to the less insecure) by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg,the one-line pitch for the DreamWorks production is: "In Silver City, Arizona, Apache Indians and Western settlers must lay their differences aside when an alien space ship crash lands in their city." The 'mysterious gun-slinger' will be played by 007 star Daniel Craig, after Robert Downey Jr. ankled, due to schedule conflicts. The lovely Olivia Wilde, of House and Alpha Dog(2006) fame, will co-star. Jon Favreau, who wrote Swingers (1996) and directed Iron Man I & II (2008 and not yet), will direct from a script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who wrote the two Transformers movies (2007, 2009) and Star Trek (2009), and Damon Lindelof of TV's Lost. The picture already 'boasts' ten - count 'em - ten producers, including Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Steven Speilberg and is set for a July 29, 2011 release.
As I detailed in last week's blog, this first western from The Asylum is set for a March 30, 2010 direct-to-video release. If you'd like to see a trailer for the movie, as well as some stills, click here.
No word yet on whether Paramount and the Coen brothers have selected a girl to play the role of Mattie Ross, for the film which is going to camera in the spring. They took the unusual step of holding an open call, asking for girls to send in home videos. The notice says, in part, "Fourteen year old Mattie is a simple, tough as nails, young woman in post-Civil War Arkansas. Her steely nerves and straightforward manner are often surprising to those she meets. She possessed plenty of true grit and determination. Enough so that she insists on going with 2 marshals to hunt down the killer of her father. We are looking for a girl who's tough, strong and tells it like it is." Applicants that they like will hear from the studio by February 15th. If you'd like to check out the reactions of a writer who has read the shooting script, click here.
AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER
Saturday, Feb. 13, 2:00-3:00 p.m., for you lovers of western fine art, in the Wells Fargo Theater, John Geraghty, Special Advisor and originator of the Autry's Masters of the American West Exhibition and Sale, will speak in detail about several paintings featured in this year's exhibition, including works by Howard Terpning, Mian Situ and Morgan Weistling. Doors open at 1:30. Admission is free with your paid admission to the Autry, which is an absolute must-see itself. For more info, click here. AUTRY UPDATE ON 2/9/2010 -- I just received word of a free movie screening on Saturday night, free admission for kids on President's Day, and other stuff that might be of interest. Click here for details.
COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART - MOVIE SCREENINGS
THE ESSENTIAL CLINT EASTWOOD
LACMA is presenting a retrospective of Eastwood movies, many directed by, and all starring the man with no name. Lots of good stuff, but I can't imagine how they could have omitted his first as a director, Play Misty For Me (1971) Here are the westerns they're showing this week.
Saturday, Feb. 13, 7:00 p.m., The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) D:Clint Eastwood, W:Philip Kaufman and Sonia Chernus, starring Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, John Vernon, and Clint's old co-star from Rawhide, Sheb Wooley.
Saturday, Feb. 13, 9:25 p.m., Pale Rider (1985) D:Clint Eastwood, W:Michael Butler and Dennis Shryack, starring Eastwood, Michael Moriarty and Carrie Snodgress.
ON THE TUBE
WESTERN MOVIE ON TV
Note: AMC=American Movie Classics, FMC=Fox Movie Channel, TCM=Turner Classic Movies. All times given are Pacific Standard Time.
8:30 a.m. - The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) Bernard Herrman's score won the Oscar, and Walter Huston as 'Mr. Scratch' was nominated, in the Stephen Vincent Benet story of a farmer who sells his soul for a good harvest. With Edward Arnold, James Craig, and the lovely Simone Simon. D:William Dieterle.
11:00 a.m. - The Proud Ones (1956) D:Robert D. Webb, W:Edmund H. North, Joseph Petracca, starring Robert Ryan, Virginia Mayo, Jeffrey Hunter.
6:00 a.m. - The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) One of the best of the dark ones, directed by William Wellman from Larmar Trotti's adaptation of Walter Van Tilburg Clark's novel. When we see so many bloated movies, it's amazing what pros can do with 75 taut minutes. Stars Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Anthony Quinn, and a ton of familiar faces, most of whom you'll want to smash with a rock before it's over.
11:30 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. With Tess Harper, Ellen Barkin and Wilford Brimley.
8:15 a.m. - The Mark Of Zorro (1940) A delight! Rouben Mamoulian directs John Taintor Foote's adaptation of the Johnston McCulley story. Ty Power, Basil Rathbone, Linda Darnell et al have great fun, and the audience has even more.
6:15 a.m. Juarez (1939) D:William Dieterle, W:John Huston, Aeneas MacKenzie, Wolfgang Reinhardt, from a book and a play. Paul Muni plays Juarez, with Bette Davis, Brian Aherne, and Claude Rains as Napoleon III!
8:00 a.m. - The Big Trail (1930) Raoul Walsh directed John Wayne in his first lead in this epic from Hal G. Evarts' story, and good as it was, it was a box-office disappointment, sending the Duke to do leads in Bs until Stagecoach (1939). Beautiful telling of the story of a wagon train, with Marguerite Churchill, El Brendel, Ty Power Sr., with uncredited early roles by Ward Bond and Iron Eyes Cody. Shot in 35 MM by Lucien Andriot, and 70MM by Arthur Edeson -- I don't know which version they show.
8:00 a.m. - O. Henry's Full House (1952) A collection of five O. Henry short stories directed by five directors: Henry Hathaway, Henry King, Henry Koster, Jean Negulesco, and doing the western segment, The Ransom of Red Chief, Howard Hawks. Writing this one segement, uncredited, were Ben Hecht, Nunnally Johnson and Charles Lederer! Starring Fed Allen and Oscar Levant as the kidnappers, and Rin Tin Tin star Lee Aaker as the 'victim', narrated by John Steinbeck!
6:30 a.m. - The Culpepper Cattle Company (1972) Directed by Dick Richards from his own story, scripted by Gregory Prentiss and Eric Bercovici. Young Gary Grimes talks a trail boss, Billy Green Bush, into taking him on a cattle drive. With Luke Askew, Bo Hopkins, Charles Martin Smith and Matt Clark -- how many westerns is Matt Clark in, anyway? As many as Gabby Hayes?
8:45 a.m. - The Last Wagon (1956) Directed by the great historical filmmaker Delmer Daves, which he co-scripted with James Edward Grant. The wagin-train survivors of an Apache attack must turn to 'Commanche Todd' Richard Widmark for help. With Tommy 'Lassie' Rettig and Nick Adams.
That's all for now! If you'd like to take a look at my website, and see what sort of things I write, please click here. I'd appreciate any commets you have about this blog, and suggestions about what should be included. You can e-mail at email@example.com, or leave comments in the box below. IF THERE ISN'T A BOX BELOW, THEN CLICK ON THE WORD 'COMMENTS' UNDER THE LINE, AND A BOX SHOULD APPEAR. In future postings I'll have information about TV series that are currently running, plus radio shows and podcasts! Happy trails!