Sunday, July 10, 2011


In case you haven’t heard, the Civil War is currently raging once more, this time in Louisiana, where the much-beloved novel ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, is being brought to the screen.

The Round-up is fortunate to have had war-correspondent Michael F. Blake reporting from the front. A well-known historian, biographer and writer on the western film, Mr. Blake was working in his capacity as a make-up artist when he filed his dispatch from the Battle of Gettysburg, portions of which follow:

“The film was okay. I was on second unit, so it was basically Rebs fighting Yanks, some explosions. According to the book and script, the Rebs are vampires, and by the time of Gettysburg the Union Army figures out to fire silver minie-balls. I guess they will do a lot of CGI when the Rebs get hit and dissolve or what have you.

“I had a great time as the re-enactors were an interesting lot and talked a lot about Civil War history. It was great to watch them march to the set, flags billowing in the wind, and hearing the drum & fife carry them along the road. I let my imagination take over and honestly felt I was back in 1862 or 1863.

“I did see pictures of Greg Cannom's makeup for Lincoln and it looks like the genuine article! You'd swear it was the man himself back to life.”

Written for both the page and celluloid by Seth Grahame-Smith, whose previous PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES was a New York Times best-seller, this tale of one of the less-remembered chapters (the vampire part, I mean) of the War Between the States is being produced by Tim Burton and directed Timur Bekmambetov, for a budget reported to be in the $70 million range. The major effects make-up is by the brilliant three-time Oscar winner (for DRACULA [1982], MRS. DOUBTFIRE [1993] and BENJAMIN BUTTON [2008]) Greg Cannom. It stars Benjamin Walker as Honest Abe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln, John Rothman as Jefferson Davis, and Alan Tudyk as Stephen Douglas. I suspect it will be a tonic for those who felt there wasn’t sufficient action in the recent THE CONSPIRATOR.

But here’s what troubles me: I can certainly understand how muskets loaded with silver minie-balls could wreak havoc against an army of werewolves, but wouldn’t it have to be bullet-size wooden stakes against an army of vampires? I fear this movie may not be entirely historically accurate.


Coming under the heading of shameless self-promotion, the newest TCM FANATIC segment started running last week. Done to go along with their July Salute to The Singing Cowboy, it’s about Westerns, and it features yours truly, Henry Parke, amongst other western-movie crazies. It’s five minutes long, and runs between movies when you least expect it! Let me know if you catch it!


You’ve probably read here or elsewhere that the 22ND ANNUAL BRIAN LEBEL’S OLD WEST AUCTION, held in Denver on June 25th, sold the only authenticated photograph of Billy the Kid for a staggering $2,300,000. This is the photo which gave rise to the myth that the Kid was a southpaw since, being a tintype, the image is reversed, so his pistol appears to be on his left hip. But there were many other items of interest that fell under the auctioneer’s gavel.

Some were related to the Lincoln County Wars, and the Regulators. A receipt signed by Susan McSween, widow of A.A. McSween, employer of Billy, sold for $575. A letter written by Pat Garrett, the lawman who killed the Kid, says in part, “Dear Wife, Going to Santa Fe for the Governor’s inauguration. Send me my dress suit and my Prince Albert coat.” It fetched $1610.

A Colt model 1878 pistol that belonged to Walter Putney, a member of the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang, a.k.a. The Wild Bunch, sold for $8050.

A Portland Police Chief badge presented to Leo ‘Pancho’ Carrillo sold for $8,625. A Yakima Cannutt hat from John Wayne’s BATJAC productions, roped $17,250!

Many items were related to Buffalo Bill and his Wild West. A scrapbook belonging to one of his performers, Jordan Cottle, sold for $20,700. His Colt Double Action sold for $26,450. Photographs, prints, even punch-cards bearing Cody’s image were sold. There was also a note in Cody’s hand describing his killing of Yellowhand after the Battle of Little Big Horn, dated June 15th, 1907: “Dear Sir, Yellowhand a Cheyenne Chief was killed July 17th, 1876. And by my self in the battle of War bonnet creek troops 5th U.S. Cavalry commanded by General Wesley Merritt. Yellow Hand at the time of his death was carrying no saddle bag this known to be a fact as I was there. W.F. Cody” Cody famously scalped Yellowhand and waved the trophy above his head, calling to the troopers, “The first scalp for Custer!” The letter sold for $12,650. (I wish we had the letter he was responding to. I know in my heart it was the Cody equivalent of the Star Trek nerds who torture people with their inanely specific questions at Q & A’s: “Mr. Cody, my research suggests that Yellowhand was carrying a saddle bag in his left had at the time you were scalping him.”)

My favorite item of the sale related to a more private part of Cody’s life: his aborted divorce proceedings, which included allegations of attempted murder (which you can read about HERE). Press and Media person for Lebel’s, Melissa McCracken told me, “My second favorite moment of the night (Billy being the first obviously) was during the sale of the divorce papers. When the bidding stalled at $5,000, the ringman exclaimed, ‘They’re the cheapest divorce papers you’ll ever get!’” They sold for $6,325. You can learn more HERE.


In L.A., the best entertainment deal of the summer has long been the film series at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This year it’s SUMMER OF SILENTS, featuring nine silent features that have won the Photoplay Magazine Medal of Honor, an award that predates the Oscars.

On Monday, July 11th James Cruze’s 1923 epic of the Oregon Trail, THE COVERED WAGON, starring J. Warren Kerrigan, Lois Wilson and Alan Hale, will screen in 35mm, and tickets are still available for $5 a piece. Live musical accompaniment will be by Bill Ryan and the Cactus County Cowboys. Also screened will be the few reels that survive from ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1924). It’s directed by Phil Rosen, who started as a cameraman for Edison in 1912, and is best known for his Charlie Chan movies. The screenplay is by Oscar-winner (for THE BIG HOUSE and THE CHAMP) Frances Marion. An actress who was a child when she appeared in the film will be present to discuss it!

To buy tickets, go to HERE or visit the box office 9 to 5 on weekdays at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.


On Wednesday, July 13th at 7:30 p.m., it’s his Aussie western, THE SUNDOWNERS (1960), directed by Fred Zinneman. On Sunday, July 17th at 7:00 p.m. it’s TRACK OF THE CAT (1954) written by A.I. Bezzerides and directed by William Wellman. To learn more, go HERE.


Continuing with their Salute to Singing Cowboys, TCM will be running five movies starting at 5:00 Pacific time. SONG OF THE GRINGO (1935) and at 6:15 P.m., THE OLD CHISOLM TRAIL (1942) both star Tex Ritter. At 7:30 p.m. COWBOY CANTEEN (1944), a War-Effort western musical features Tex Ritter and Jimmy Wakely. At 8:45 p.m., OKLAHOMA BLUES (1948) and at 9:45 p.m., BRAND OF FEAR (1949) both topline Jimmy Wakely.


This is a fun event held several times a year, where movie and TV fans can shake hands with stars and buy their autographs. It’s also a big market for movie collectibles – posters, stills, video – you name it! But be warned – in ain’t cheap. It’s $20 admission -- $35 for both days. The stars charge $20 and up for an autograph, whether they provide the picture or you do, so know that if you go in and get a picture signed, you’re already in for $40 minimum. Of particular interest to Western fans, two of the stars of THE WILD BUNCH, Ernest Borgnine and Bo Hopkins, are scheduled to attend. So is former teen idol Leif Garrett, who co-starred in a pair of shot-in-Israel Westerns with Lee Van Cleef in 1977. It’s at the Burbank Airport Marriott, 2500 North Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505, Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..


As you may know, Saturday, May 23rd, is the 7th annual National Day of the Cowboy. But while we call it national, getting it recognized has been an arduous state by state, volunteer by volunteer, campaign. Word has just come from Bethany Braley, Executive Director of the organization, that Senator Jean Fuller introduced the National Day of the Cowboy resolution in the California Senate. It passed on July 1, officially encouraging Californians to celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy. This is the first time the California Senate has heard and voted on the NDOC resolution! To date in 2011, we have official resolutions from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia and now California. To learn more, visit the official website HERE.


It’s great news that for the second year, the Autry will be taking part in the celebration – last year was an absolute blast! This year’s festivities will feature a ton of activities for kids and families, leather-craft and blacksmithing, square-dancing, lasso demonstrations, gunslinging by the lightnin’ quick JOEY DILLON, and a musical performance by the delightful and downright legendary RIDERS IN THE SKY!

But wait, there’s more! In the Wells Fargo Theatre, Gene Autry’s delightfully whacky serial, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE will screen. And coinciding with the Day of the Cowboy, the Autry will the grand reopening of THE GREG MARTIN COLT GALLERY, featuring a phenomenal new presentation of the history of the Colt Firearms Company.


On Saturday, July 23rd, from 11 ‘til 3 at the Redlands Barnes & Noble, 27460 Lugonia Ave. Western writer J. R. Sanders says, “Come celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy, and support Western literature, at Read 'em Cowboy! A portion of sales from the event will go directly to the Western Writers of America's Homestead Foundation, which promotes the literary preservation of Western culture, history and traditions.

“Western authors will sign books and give talks, children's authors will do readings and other activities with kids, and there'll be a cowboy/cowgirl costume contest for the youngsters. Along with the authors, there'll be live cowboy music by the Coyote Creek Ramblers, historical displays, roping demonstration, raffles, cowboy vittles in the B&N cafe, and more.” But, you say you don’t live near Redlands! How can you take part? Make a purchase at any B&N from 7/23-28. Just print a copy of the voucher found HERE. (The link takes you to a Facebook page, from which you can print the flyer with the voucher attached.) Show it at checkout. Or, order online at, and enter the Bookfair ID# (10510444) at checkout. Either way, a portion of your sale goes to the Homestead Foundation.!/photo.php?fbid=203670429680595&set=o.221304581236513&type=1&theater


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.


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.


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.


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 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.

RFD-TV has begun airing THE ROY ROGERS SHOW on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., with repeats the following Thursday and Saturday.

Also, AMC has started showing two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN on Saturday mornings.


This week we featured a link to get into the Autry Day of the Cowboy Celebration for free; COWBOYS & ALIENS director Jon Favreau’s video interview of his producers Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg and Brian Grazer; Saturday’s Autry screening of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, featuring Paramount’s 35mm archive print. It’s updated almost every day, so check it out!

NEXT WEEK I’ll be sharing an exclusive preview of some of the fascinating items from the upcoming Autry Colt Gallery opening, I’m scheduled to visit the set of a new Western series pilot, and I’ve got some interesting casting news, once I’m given permission to share it! And starting now, you can follow us on Twitter (if that’s your idea of a good time). Have a great week!



All contents copyright July 2011 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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