Monday, April 4, 2011


If you’re planning to be in Croatia later this month, you can take part in what sounds like a fascinating event called FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF WINNETOU! While many of us are fans of Spaghetti Westerns, a lot of folks don’t know that a series of German Westerns were such a success that they inspired the Italians to get into the sagebrush business.

At the turn of the 20th Century, novelist Karl May was a German combination of Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs. His stories about the American west, focusing on Winnetou the Apache Chief, and pioneers Old Shatterhand and Old Surehand, have never waned in their popularity in Europe, and are finally being translated into English. In the early 1960s, about a dozen films were made from them, starring Pierre Brice as Winnetou, opposite such American actors as Lex Barker, Stewart Granger (okay, English) and Rod Cameron, many of them directed by Robert Siodmak, a German-born director who’d had great success in America before returning to Germany. Many of them have been dubbed into English, and not long ago TCM showed several.

Just as the Italian filmmakers went to Spain to make their Westerns, the Germans went to Croatia, and from April 16th through the 24th, you can visit locations and sets, and be entertained and enlightened by cast and crew members! And it’s all for 559 euros! That’s about $795.00, which sounds damned good for eight days including accommodations and food. If you’d like to learn more about the package, go HERE.

If you’d like to learn more about the films of Karl May, there’s a wonderful website from Holland HERE.

To see a trailer for WINNETOU III (in German) CLICK HERE.

To see a terrific three-minute montage of scenes from the Winnetou films, CLICK HERE.

You’ll see a lot of others on Youtube if you want more. And you can buy DVDs on eBay, but be careful, because many are not available in English, and almost all of them are in PAL format.

(Photos top to bottom: two pictures from the 2010 Winnetou Celebration; poster and still from Winnetou movies; C. Courtney Joyner; James Russo and Christopher Backus in YELLOW ROCK; Andy Garcia in CRISTIANA; Morgan Woodward; Man and Chief, Pawnee; Many Horns, Blackfeet Sioux)


On March 27th, C. Courtney Joyner met with a bevy of experienced and wannabe writers at Out West, at 24262 Main Street in Newhall. With over two-dozen produced screenplays to his credit, Joyner is clearly a successful writer. And with his fine book of interviews, THE WESTERNERS (CLICK HERE to see our review), he certainly has demonstrated an admirable knowledge of the Western movie. But since he is on the eve of having his very first Western novel published, he might seem an odd choice to lecture on breaking into Western print. But in fact, he’s in a perfect position to advise the even newer newcomers in a publishing world that’s changing from day to day.

“The reason that Bobbi-Jean (owner of Out West) thought about my doing this is because I’m so new to it – I’ve kind of wormed my way in when a lot of (the publishing business) was collapsing and other (companies) were starting up -- that it seemed to go along with the idea of what we have to do to break in.” A dozen years ago, freshly divorced and living in North Carolina, Court had been reading popular series like THE BADGE and STAGECOACH WEST. “I wrote a novel, and tried to get it to Warner Books. I thought I’d score one of these gigs. Nothing could have been further from the truth – I couldn’t even get an editor to read anything. Because there was a company called The Book Factory that had authors under contract, who would then be given the assignments. (Those series) were strictly in-house. The listed authors were all pseudonyms for this stable of four or five guys who were writing all of the mass-market paperbacks.”

It was while he was interviewing Western filmmakers and actors, and getting those articles published, that he heard of The Western Writers of America. He immediately applied for membership, and was quickly turned down, due to lack of fiction-publishing experience. But as he gained greater success with his articles and interviews in various magazines, especially WILDEST WESTERNS, he was eventually allowed to join their non-fiction section. This led to attending conventions, and meeting other writers and editors face to face, and learning about the marketplace at a time when the world of mass-market paperbacks was starting to shrink.

To his amazement, he learned that the best opportunity for a new Western writer was to be found not in ‘The West’, but on the other side of the pond. “I discovered some writers who were busy working on Black Horse Westerns. The novels are short – about 50,000 words. These are published in England, distributed in English-speaking parts of Europe, primarily as library books. Black Horse publishes about fifty-five titles a year.”
When he went online to get the writer’s guidelines, he also learned about Blackhorse Express, the company’s plan to sell mass-market paperbacks in the U.S. (all of their British editions have been hardback).

Black Horse accepted one of Court’s short stories for an anthology, and his first novel, TRACKING THE DEVIL, will soon be published by Black Horse. This is truly a European operation. Editor Nik Morton, who recently moved to Solstice Publishing, is Scottish, and lives in Spain. Although there are other Americans involved, “Most of the other writers are in Ireland, there are a few who are French, one is Italian. They’re writing Westerns because that’s what they love.”

In the meantime, another of Court’s short stories, TWO-BIT KILL, is in a stateside anthology, LAW OF THE GUN, published by Pinnacle, and he has a contract with them for a western novel for next year. That short story, incidentally, has just been nominated for a Peacemaker Award as Best Short Story of the Year by The Western Fictioneers. “It was all because of this networking, and this getting over the initial wall – I was stunned that it was so hard to get over.”

And the changes in the publishing world don’t stop. Court explained that they key players in Western publishing are Berkeley, Kensington-Pinnacle, and Leisure. “Leisure decided they could no longer sustain mass-market paperbacks – no more series Westerns, and they decided to go entirely e-book and trade paperback.” And the trade paperbacks have, in fact disappeared. What will be the next step in the changing Western publishing world? Court will be speaking on the subject again at the end of the month, at the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, which will take place at Melody Ranch from April 27th through May 1st. The Festival is a must-see event under any circumstance, but especially if you’re planning to crack the Western writing market, you need to be there to hear Court.


YELLOW ROCK now has an on-line presence HERE. The soon-to-be-seen Western stars Michael Biehn, James Russo and co-writer Lenore Andriel. To read my two-part article on the production, CLICK HERE (part 1) and HERE (part 2). The score by Randy Miller is a knock-out!


The little-known story of the Cristeros War (1926-1929), when the Mexican government’s attempts to secularize the country touched of a rebellion, is the subject of this film from special-effects-whiz turned-first-time director Dean Wright. Written by Michael Love, the picture stars Oscar Isaac, Peter O’Toole, Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria and Ruben Blades. It was shot in Durango, Mexico, reportedly under extremely tight security, since the area has been a flashpoint of violence during the ongoing Mexican drug wars. To see the trailer, CLICK HERE.


Turner Classics will screen 34 movies on Mondays and Wednesdays during April to mark the Anniversary of the War Between The States. Starting on Monday, April 4th with GONE WITH THE WIND and RAINTREE COUNTY, they will follow on Wednesday the 6th with four films about life on the home front, FRIENDLY PERSUASION, BAND OF ANGELS, OF HUMAN HEARTS and LITTLE WOMEN. April 11th will showcase five Civil War silents, the 13th will feature comedies and musicals, and the 18th and 20th will both feature westerns. On the 25th there will be battlefield stories, and on the 27th the topic will be Reconstruction.


Aside from Eastwood, John Sturges is probably the last great American Western director to emerge, and one of his finest works, THE MAGNIFICENT 7 (1960) will grace the big screen at the Wells Fargo Theatre at 1:30 p.m. A re-make of Kurosawa’s 7 SAMURAI, it’s the story of some kind-hearted gunmen who agree to defend a poor Mexican town being ravaged by banditos led by the wonderfully despicable Eli Wallach. The seven are Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn, Horst Buchholtz and in the leads, Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. Yul and Steve, both extremely competitive actors, hated each other, and it’s a joy to watch them try to steal scenes from each other.


On Thursday April 7th at 2:30p.m. Western time, it’s ALONG THE NAVAJO TRAIL (1945) starring Roy, Dale, Gabby, sassy spitfire Estelita Rodriguez and ace villain Roy Barcroft. This one concerns Gypsies, ‘worthless’ land, and the people who keep killing each other to own it. On Saturday at 9:00 a.m. it’s BELLS OF CORONADO (1950), written by Sloan Nibley, directed by William Whitney, and starring Roy, Dale, Pat Brady, and the Riders of The Purple Sage. Keep your eyes peeled for Rex Lease, once a Western leading man who plays the shipping-company foreman.


I had planned to have my article on the Los Angeles Spaghetti Western Festival in this week’s Round-up, but I was still editing it when I had to rush off to see Robert Redford’s THE CONSPIRATOR, about the trial of accused Lincoln assassination conspirator Mary Surratt. I’ll have my review, as well as the Spaghetti Western piece, in next week’s Round-up, but for now I’ll just say that it’s well-worth seeing, and beautifully shot.

Also soon I’ll have part two of my coverage of the shooting of THE FIRST RIDE OF WYATT EARP, and my interviews with Earl Holliman and Ty Hardin. I was at the Hollywood Show this Saturday, where folks with more patience than I waited for three hours to get Martin Landau to sign something. Ran into the great screen villain Morgan Woodward (see the picture), who sent greetings to his fans. If you’d like to read my interview with Morgan, CLICK HERE.

Adios, amigos!


All Contents Copyright April 2011 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Henry- Good coverage of Courtney Joyners talk.
    It was great. Thanks for the updates!
    Talk soon.