Sunday, February 13, 2011
‘THE HAMMER’ TO MEET ‘DJANGO’ OUT WEST!
(Updated Friday 2/18/2011 -- see 'Whiskey Flats Days', 'Roy and Trigger Ride At Midnight', 'Living History at Los Encinos,' 'Autry Open on Presidentts' Day')
Yesterday, Saturday February 12th, at the Hollywood Show in Burbank, I chatted with football-star turned action-movie star Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson. A lead in 1970s ‘blaxsploitation’ films who successfully transitioned to main-stream movies, I always think of him in films like Hell Up In Harlem and especially Black Cesar (both 1973), a real Warner Brothers-style gangster (not gangsta) homage. But he’s also had an extensive Western career – he first made a box-office splash as the title character in The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972) and The Soul of Nigger Charley (1973). His most often seen Western, Take a Hard Ride (1975) was shot on the Canary Islands, and costarred him with Lee Van Cleef, Jim Brown, Dana Andrews, Barry Sullivan, and Harry Carey Jr. He not only starred in but wrote his next two Westerns, Boss Nigger (1975) and Joshua (1976), and in Adios, Amigos (1976) he starred and wrote and directed. It’s been a long time away from this genre, but he’s coming back! “I’m getting ready to do another western,” he told me. “With Franco Nero. It’ll probably be shot in Morocco.” Franco Nero’s Euro-westerns, starting with 1966’s Django, are probably more popular in Europe than Leone’s Clint Eastwood Man With No Name Westerns. I’ll share details with you as I get them!
BOOK REVIEW: LOCATION FILMING IN LOS ANGELES
This new entry from Arcadia Publishing, by Karie Bible, Marc Wanamaker and Harry Medved, is a fascinating look at the city around us (us in L.A.), as it’s been revealed by the movie camera for over a century. We think of Hollywood – and by Hollywood I really mean the greater Los Angeles area – as the home of motion picture studios, but a tremendous amount of filmmaking went on not just on soundstages and fake streets, but on the real streets, in the deserts, and everywhere imaginable, and Location Filming in Los Angeles captures those images beautifully.
After all, L.A. didn’t become the film capital of the United States by accident. It was chosen because of its comfortable climate, and the fact that, within a very short drive, you could find any sort of terrain imaginable. One of my favorite pictures in the book, facing the title page, features a Paramount 1938 locations map of California, with all the possible locations its various regions can stand in for: Siberia, the French Alps, the coast of Spain, Holland, Sherwood Forest, South Africa…
The book is divided into chapters by region, which makes it practical to use as a tour book. You can find Downtown, Hollywood and West Hollywood, Malibu to Long Beach, the Westside and Culver City, etc. This is largely a photo-book, but each chapter begins with a page of text to put the area in context, and a great deal of information is packed in there. On the Culver City page you’ll learn that what is now Sony Studios, but which most of us will always think of as MGM, started in 1915 as Triangle Films, headquarters of Ince and Griffith and Sennett, then became Metro, then was bought by Sam Goldwyn, before Leo the Lion made his first appearance.
Of particular interest to Western fans will be the coverage of Bronson Canyon, the San Fernando Mission, Chatsworth, Porter Ranch and the famed Vasquez Rocks (check out the photos to the left). I learned a lot from this book, and know I’ll refer to it frequently. You can find it wherever they sell Arcadia books, or go to www.arcadiapublishing.com. The price is $21.99. And if you’d like to read my interview with Marc Wanamaker, CLICK HERE.
(Photos, top to bottom: Fred Williamson; Boss Nigger poster; from Location Filming in Los Angeles, alobby card from Sagebrush Trail, featuring John Wayne at Bronson Cave (later TV's Batcave); Wild Bill Elliot in front of the San Fernando Mission in Frontiers of '49;filming Kind Vidor's Billy The Kid (1930) in Porter Ranch; the Garden of The Gods rock formation in Chatsworth's Iverson Movie Ranch, seen in many westerns, here doubles for China in Tell It To The Marines(1926);Ahmanson Ranch's Lasky Mesa seen in 1936's Charge Of The Light Brigade, starring Errol Flynn; how many times have you seen the Lone Ranger ride around the Vasquez Rocks? Here they play the Arabian desert in 1945's A Thousand And One Nights; from the High Noon auction, a Bohlin saddle; Matt Dillon's shirt; Tom Mix's director's chair; a North Plains beaded shirt; Olaf Weighorst water-color; Roy Rogers boots; Delaware Chief Great Bear; Navajos Chief Great War Chief)
HIGH NOON’S HIGH STAKES AUCTION
The event, taking place in Mesa, Arizona on January 29th and 30th, featured an amazing array of beautiful and historical American Indian clothing and art, saddles and other cowboy tack, western art, and silver-screen cowboy collectibles. There were 375 lots in all, and among them, a Clayton Moore/ Lone Ranger hat, mask and photos sold for $2,875; Gene Autry’s scarf, hat and boots brought $4,600; Rex Allen’s alligator boots went for $1,380; a Jim Arness/Matt Dillon shirt and Stetson brought $5,750; Tom Mix’s director’s chair cost $2,588; Robert Culp’s 1958 rodeo buckle went for $1,840; and Roy Rogers’ spurs, boot-tops and gauntlets sold for $20,700. There were also surprises among item that did not sell. A Lone Ranger gun-rig made by the great Edward H. Bohlin for Clayton Moore in 1982, was pulled. And the Rifleman Winchester, an 1892 44-40 carbine, did not reach its reserve price. This is a particularly interesting item, made for the 6th season of the series, when it was to grow to a full hour, in color. That season never happened, and so the Winchester, though made for the show, was never an on-screen item. For more information about the auction, and to find out about up-coming sales, visit the High Noon site HERE or at http://www.highnoon.com/index.htm
WHISKEY FLAT DAYS – FRIDAY 2/18 THROUGH SUNDAY 2/20
There’s a ton of events this weekend in Kernville, with music, food, shopping, frog jumping contests, melodramas, and what appeals to me the most, the Mountain Man and Cowboy encampment. Here’s how they describe it: LIFE IN THE OLD WEST! Save the leather on yer boots and catch the Western Express Railway Train in town and ride to the encampments. Watch hold-ups & gunfights, horse shoein’ and horse doctorin’, turn of the century saw mill demonstrations, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. There’s cowboy cookin’, a Whiskey Flats Saloon, an Old West Mercantile Shoppe, shot gun weddings, saddle makin’ & leather craft, and more! Story tellers, Dave Ryskamp, Dave “Horse” Robinson, & Nathan Eddy will tell stories about miners, cowboys and outlaws. Open til sundown. . For more info, call 760-376-2629, or visit kernvillechamber.org.
FEB. 19TH-20TH – CIVIL WAR WEEKEND AT CALICO GHOST TOWN
Events include Civil War reenactments, authentic encampments, drills, music, living history displays, period fashion shows, and a reading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. To learn more, call 800-86-CALICO (862-2542) or visit calicotown.com.
ROY AND TRIGGER RIDE AT MIDNIGHT!
This week’s Roy Rogers offering is Sons of the Pioneers, starring Roy, Dale, Gabby, Trigger and – you guessed it – the Sons of the Pioneers, i.e. Bob Nolan, Pat Brady, Hugh and Karl Farr, Tim Spencer and Lloyd Perryman. It’s directed by Joe Kane from a script by three great Republic wordsmiths, Mauri Grashin, Robert T. Shannon and M. Coates Webster. Incidentally, instead of running Saturday at noon eastern and 9:00 a.m. pacific, it’s isn’t running until midnight in the east and 9:00 p.m. in the west – pre-empted by a cattle auction. I sure hope this doesn’t become a habit!
LIVING HISTORY SUNDAY AT LOS ENCINOS PARK
To read my description of the events at Los Encinos on the third Sunday of every month, CLICK HERE.
AUTRY OPEN ON PRESIDENTS’ DAY!
Generally the Autry Museum is closed is closed on Mondays, but it’ll be open Monday, February 21st. And as they do on Saturdays and Sundays, there will be family events like gold panning, scavenger hunts and family tours. But I misinformed someone today – admission is not free on Presidents’ Day.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY IN SANTA MONICA
The Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue at 14th St., Santa Monica kicks off their Once Upon A Time salute to Sergio Leone with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, on Sunday, February 2oth, at 5:00 p.m., in 35 MM. I could tell you all about the film’s virtues, but instead, just CLICK HERE to see the trailer.
WESTERN EVENTS ON THE HORIZON
THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER
Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.
HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM
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.
WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM
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.
FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU
A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.
The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.
TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE
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.
NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?
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 DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 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.
Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow. Is there a Western with a Valentine theme? I can't think of one -- if you can, let me know. Until then, as both the Cisco Kid and Fred Williamson would say, Adios Amigos!
All Contents Copyright February 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved