Monday, August 15, 2011


“What we do now, Kemosabe?”
“We wait, Tonto.”

Johnny Depp has been on board as Tonto for over two years, and Armie Hammer, late of THE SOCIAL NETWORK, was recently trumpeted as the Masked Man, but now Disney has pulled the plug on the Jerry Bruckheimer LONE RANGER project to be directed by Gore Verbinski. Verbinski’s previous collaborations with Depp and Bruckheimer include the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films, Disney’s most profitable franchise. The actor and directed also worked together on this year’s hugely successful ($243 million) western cartoon, RANGO.

The problem is the budget. Disney wants to spend $200 million, and while the budget had been brought down from a reported high of $275 million to $232 million, Disney says that isn’t close enough. And Disney’s concern is understandable. Currently the western of the summer, COWBOYS & ALIENS, while in the number three box office spot this weekend, behind PLANET OF THE APES and THE SMURFS, has grossed $81,476,000 domestically, with a budget of $163 million. The westerns that have done well in recent years have kept the budgets comparatively small: 3:10 TO YUMA cost $55 million, and grossed $70 million. TRUE GRIT cost $38 million and grossed $251 million.

No doubt Bruckheimer, Verbinski et al will not give up without a fight. We’ll see where it leads.


In last week’s Round-up, Ty Hardin discussed his life, from his childhood, through his discovery by Paramount, his move to Warner Brothers, and his four years starring on BRONCO. (If you missed, go HERE)

Now we continue with the post-BRONCO years…

H: If you didn’t have any favorite BRONCO episodes, how about favorite movies of the period?

TY: I had a couple of pictures that I liked, PT 109, and I liked MERRIL’S MARAUDERS. I worked with Jeff Chandler. It was a good picture. It was authentic. We shot it over in Europe. We had a lot of good people in it. And we used all those tanks. We were shooting in Spain and we actually had the last Sherman Tanks in existence. And we tore up a couple of them.

H: While were doing BRONCO, you did THE CHAPMAN REPORT for George Cukor. Then after BRONCO you did P.T. 109, WALL OF NOISE, PALM SPRING WEEKEND, all in 1963. Then your next western was MAN OF THE CURSED VALLEY in 1964, which was shot in Spain.

TY: Well, what happened was Sergio Leone wanted me to do PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI (A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS). I could hardly understand the guy; he had hardly any English at all. And I was so busy working in Europe that I just said, “Sergio, I just don’t have time to do it.” You know, he flew me from Spain – I was working on BATTLE OF THE BULGE I think – over to Rome. We went to a theatre, sat down and watched a film that was in Japanese, with Italian subtitles, called SAMAURI. I remember a dog running down the street with a hand in his mouth: all the time I was sitting there, and that’s all that I remember. And he said, “Why don’t you do this film?” He really wanted me to do it. First of all he bypassed my agent, the top agent in Europe or anywhere, MCA. I told him, “Well, get in touch with me when you get a script.” I went back to Spain, back to work again on BATTLE OF THE BULGE. He kept persistently asking me, “When are you going to be free?” And I said, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you the names of some actors that are going to be out of work.” So I gave him Clint Walker, Clint Eastwood; three or four actors that I had known. And I was sitting on the Via Veneto, kind of a hangout for the actors in Madrid, and I run into Clint Eastwood. And he says to me, “You S.O.B.! I’m down here working with Sergio Leone, nobody here speaks English, and it’s a pile of crap!” I said, “Don’t worry about it.” “Don’t worry about it? I ain’t been paid!” He was one upset character for doing it. And I could understand, because when I saw the film that Sergio wanted me to do, I couldn’t see any way in the world that it would be a western. How he could get it together. But he did. That film was released in Spain. They pulled it out, did some more shots, some re-doing on it. They kicked it into Italy, and a few other places in Europe, and suddenly it took off: it was amazing. The rest is history. And that’s how Mr. Eastwood got his game together. Looking back I’d have done the same thing over again. Plus I was working on too good films over there, all-American films; I wasn’t doing any local films. Even though I did do some after that. A couple of them. Terrible.

H: Were they recording sound live?

TY: They usually dubbed later. Because he’d be talking in Italian, and I’m talking in English. When he’d stop talking, I’d say my line. Soon as I’d finish my line, he’d talk. They were pretty good productions as a whole. But the Eastwood film was a fluke – it’s amazing how that took off. And the credit goes to Eastwood – he gave it the balls that it needed, you know? It needed that kind of strength , because the story line was nothing. You don’t remember anything – there wasn’t any love or loss or anything like that in it. It was just another beat-up Western. But Clint made the thing, himself, with his looks – and the music was dynamite. Genius. You’ve got to appreciate that; there is talent in Europe.

H: When you were doing these films where they were not recording sound, would you record your own dialog later?

TY: Oh yeah, that was in my contract. I didn’t want anyone else dubbing my voice. As far as dubbing it in Japanese and things, I didn’t have anything to do with that. But if they were going to sell in the international market, I wanted to be there to do it. You see, Americans coveted their own market, and it wasn’t easy for these films to get in. I knew they didn’t have a chance in the American market. I didn’t give a damn; I was just having a ball, running around the country and making forty or fifty thousands dollars I could just put in the bank, and it’s like having three hundred, three hundred fifty-thousand in the States.

H: So were you living in Europe at this point?

TY: Oh yuh, I was living mainly in Madrid. I like Madrid, and I had three bars on the coast of Spain – so I’d put in a big investment. I had one in Malaga, one in Touremolinos, and another one in between. So I ran my business down there at the same time. I had a pretty good life: I married Miss Universe!

H: How did you enjoy doing BATTLE OF THE BULGE?

TY: Any time American films came to Spain, any time ‘runaway’ films came, I was in it. And I enjoyed working with Robert Shaw. He was a good, solid actor, and BATTLE OF THE BULGE was a good show, a good picture.

H: You went to Argentina in 1966 to do SAVAGE PAMPAS with two of my favorite actors, Robert Taylor and Marc Lawrence. What was that like?

TY: (laughs) Don’t remember a lot about it, I really don’t. The problem in the industry is, you don’t need to be on the set until they need you. So I don’t know really what’s going on. I don’t think the film turned out really that good. But it was a very good experience for me. You work with these people, but you don’t get to know them. As soon as it’s ‘Cut!’ ‘Print!’, they’re off the set. And they don’t sit around and gab with pissant actors like me. (laughs)

H: Continuing with your globetrotting, you did DEATH ON THE RUN for Sergio Corbucci in Spain, then went to England for BERSERK. How’d you like Joan Crawford?

TY: She was a neat gal – a tough old broad and she’d been down the lane a couple of times. But this was her money, and she wanted it good. I think the problem was, there wasn’t that rapport between us that really makes it work. She was so busy working at being the director that I think her acting suffered from it. There wasn’t that sensitivity that her part (called for), for the problems that the circus was having – that’s just my personal opinion.

H: In 1967 you were in CUSTER OF THE WEST.

TY: Right, with Bob Shaw.

H: I was just watching that last night, and the logo is Cinerama. Was that shot in the Cinerama process, with the three cameras?

TY: Oh yuh. It was wonderful. We shot that in Spain. And all those Indians were Gypsies.

H: Really?

TY: (laughs) Yeah! We don’t have any Indians in Spain! They were all Gypsies, and they was fearless, man! They’d fall backwards off a horse, get run over and get right up! I was impressed, I really was. I couldn’t believe it, and they were so believable. Needless to say, I thought it was a pretty good film.

H: It’s a big movie. How long did it take to shoot?

TY: Took us about a month or so to shoot the thing.

H: Is that all?

TY: They’re pretty efficient. You don’t realize we’re getting seven or eight setups a day, and you have a second unit shooting your close-ups and everything. The industry has become very efficient to work with.

H: You had some excellent actors there, like Robert Shaw. What was he like?

TY: Robert’s a fun guy, I liked Robert. He was just a wonderful guy to work with .

H: How about Jeffrey Hunter, who played Benteen?

(Ty with Jeffrey Hunter in CUSTER OF THE WEST)

TY: Well Jeff and I got along real good. He’s more my type of man. Robert was just uptight all the time; he’s the same as he is in CUSTER. I was real fortunate to work with people like Lawrence Tierney. And Robert Ryan was wonderful, he really was. These are all committed actors. They’ve all been in the industry longer than I have. So I felt very humbled having them to work with.

H: Now Robert Siodmak, who directed, was born in Germany. He had a big career in the U.S., went back to Europe in the 1950s and was directing westerns in Germany before he did this one. What was he like?

TY: I felt he was a little loose. He’d sit there and…he could move the camera good, but I don’t think he knew how to deal with the people themselves. So he didn’t give you (direction). You like to get personal with your director, like to know that what you’re doing is what he’s looking for, and I didn’t get the feeling that he knew what he was doing. I don’t mean to be derogatory, but at the same time, it wasn’t like working with somebody that you had confidence in.

H: Well, what director did you work with that you had confidence in?

TY: Oh, there were a couple of directors that were really hot – they just did not like me at all, and they were my best directors; I worked with some really fine directors. You know, I’m intimidating in some respects, so a lot of lead actors did not want to work with me, so they minimized the work that I did with them. I didn’t realize that I intimidated a lot of people, not so much with my abilities, but that being an extraordinarily good-looking man, I would draw a lot of attention to myself. And I didn’t realize how involved the industry was with egomania. So some of the actors, like Robert Shaw, I had a hard time with him. Bobby was a good friend but, boy, he didn’t want to work with me. He made sure he got all his shots separate. And I didn’t realize this. I was so naïve about the industry, but when I look back I realize that there was a lot of that. And I wasn’t a part of it. I held my own, and did my own series. I did another series, RIPTIDE, right after that.

H: In Australia. How was that?

TY: It was fun. The sad part was that they couldn’t get a sale in the States. And that’s what they needed to continue on, because the budgets were pretty heavy, and we had to mail in a couple of actors from the American sector. It should have gone about four years. Because it was outdoors, it was fun, and with good writing it could have gone into other areas – drug-running and so forth.

H: Before we leave CUSTER, I read somewhere at Akira Kurasawa was supposed to direct that.

TY: That’s correct. He fouled out the first day. Something went wrong between him and…no one ever found out just what went wrong.

H: But he was actually there the first day?

TY: He was certainly hanging around. I wasn’t there, but that’s what I heard, so I’m not sure exactly what happened.

H: In 1968 you starred in KING OF AFRICA, which has been described as a South African western.

TY: That’s about right.

H: Your female lead was Pier Angeli.

TY: She was a doll. And KING was a good picture. You know what happened was, it didn’t get support. You need to have people get behind it and put money in it to make it happen. It’s not all about just shooting, it’s about what you put behind (a film) to get it exposed properly. It was quite an interesting concept, you know, and we actually shot it down among the Zulus. You should have seen those bastards pokin’ me with their swords! Those guys are tough, and they get carried away – I was scared shitless! But it was good and authentic, and the problem with a lot of that foreign stuff, again, was Americans wouldn’t let it in to the American market. Our pictures were made in Europe with European people, and the whole purpose of me being in it was the hope that we’d open the market for them. And it happened in a very special occasions, like P.T. 109, and there was a lot of American money in that too. But a lot of those films we’re talking about, there was no American money in it, and consequently there was no American distribution tied into it. So they had to go on their merits, and it wasn’t that the film wasn’t good; it was that the market wasn’t available. So needless to say, a lot of people have never seen three or four or five of my movies.

H: What about THE LAST REBEL, starring Joe Namath? That was also shot in Spain, and for a change you were playing a bad guy, a crooked sheriff.

TY: Oh, I enjoyed that; if I had my druthers I’d be doing bad guys all the time, but you can’t get away with it too often.

H: You’re just too likable.

TY: That’s it!

H: In that one you had a couple of great pros, Jack Elam and Woody Strode.

TY: Woody Strode, what a neat actor he is. He was just a good, genuine all-around man, just standing tall. I liked Woody; he was just a likable person, very perceptive, and a very good actor.

H: Joe Namath is such a likable guy, but not a great actor.

TY: Well, you said that, I didn’t. The thing is, you’ve got to have compassion. Joe’s working for himself, he visualized himself where nobody else does, so you play to that fantasy, you kind of support it, so you can embellish it a little. Joe doesn’t know he’s a bad actor, and I’m not going to tell him. So what you do, when you realize, and the director does, is you cut away as much as you can when he’s saying his lines, but you give him the reactions. So they’re able to protect him in some degree. We’ve got to protect his money. He had a big investment; otherwise you wouldn’t see Joe Namath in it.

H: After that you did a couple of spaghetti westerns I haven’t been able to find. ACQUASANTA JOE and YOU’RE JINXED, FRIEND. YOU’VE MET SACRAMENTO.

TY: I couldn’t tell you anything about them, because I was the only one talkin’ English.

H: Then in the late 1970s you were back in Hollywood doing an episode of THE QUEST, which was a western series a lot like THE SEARCHERS, with Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson. After being in Europe so long, how did it feel being back doing American TV?

TY: Well, things had changed a lot. My agent, William Morris, wanted me to do another series, but I didn’t want to. I got disenchanted with the film industry as a whole. And I just kind of walked away from it soon afterwards.

H: In 1977 you did a picture called FIRE! for an old pal of mine, Earl Bellamy. You had a great cast in that: Ernest Borgnine, Patty Duke, Vera Miles, Lloyd Nolan, Neville Brand, Gene Evans.

TY: Some real icons in the business. I’ve always enjoyed working with people of that caliber. They’re very interesting people; they’ve had a wonderful life. But they’re surprisingly introverted, you know? You have to kind of flavor up to them to get them to talk. It was almost like do your lines and walk off the set. It never got as personal as I kind of like the film industry to be. That’s one of the disenchanting things about the film industry, why I kind of walked away, said this is no fun anymore. It’s too serious. It’s all about money. Nobody’s interested in having a good time: it really did get boring.

H: You did TV episodes in the 1980s, FLYING HIGH, DAVID CASSIDY – MAN UNDERCOVER, THE LOVE BOAT. In 1988 you were back in the saddle in a remake of RED RIVER, with a lot of good people: Jim Arness, Bruce Boxleitner, Gregory Harrison. Then great pros like Guy Madison, Robert Horton, L.Q. Jones. What’s L.Q. Jones like?

TY: He’s a character, he really is. He’s got diarrhea of the mouth. Everybody likes him. He plays great character parts – he’s just a very fine actor. I think a lot of it is his personality is so good. You’re gonna like him on film, you’re gonna like him in person.

H: How’d you like Jim Arness?

TY: I like Jim. Jim has been in the business a long time, he’s a real pro. He’s Jim Arness on the screen as he is off he screen. He has that appearance, that prestige, an aura about him.

H: You were Sheriff Stone in 1990 in BORN KILLER, an escaped maniac movie. Then you did a western, BAD JIM, which toplined James Brolin and Richard Roundtree. And you’re there with Harry Carey Jr. and Rory Calhoun and Clark Gable’s son.

TY: Big cast, wasn’t it? I didn’t see it, so if you get the chance, let me know.

H: How did you like Harry Carey and Rory Calhoun?

TY: Honestly, I didn’t work with them: I’m in scenes that they’re not in.

H: Now I understand we’re going to be seeing you soon in a romantic comedy called HEAD OVER SPURS IN LOVE, where you play Col. Sanders. Do you have other upcoming stuff we should be looking for?

(Ty speaking at Republic Pictures' 75th Anniversary last year)

TY: Not that I know of. I’ve been retired for quite a while in principle. I don’t even have an agent. But it’s funny you should mention that, because I was thinking the other day that at 80 years old I look good, I feel good, I’m in good shape. What I want to do is do parts to my age; I want to do good supporting roles.

H: What are your favorite westerns, TV or movie, that you’ve been in? What was your best work?

TY: Well, I enjoyed BRONCO. Because it was all centered around being good, and revealing good over bad. I liked that, I liked the concept that we have values, and principles that we live up to. It never got romantically heavy; it avoided a great deal of that, which is often more of a distraction than an attraction. Stay away from that and direct yourself to the plot, and develop the plot. Because there’s a story to tell, and that’s what I’ve been more dedicated to than anything else.

H: What are your favorites of other people’s westerns?

TY: Well, I grew up as a kid with Bob Steele and Roy Rogers and all the others. And as a kid I loved them. And I grew up in Texas where westerns were the big thing. Johnny Mack Brown and all that. And of course going to Hollywood I never had any idea of getting in the film industry. My model was Gary Cooper. Him and John Wayne were my two people, and when I met John Wayne and he helped put me in the industry. I never met Cooper. Wait, I take that back. He was down on the set there at Warners one time. I don’t know what he was doing, but I went down to the set and watched him. And I went up to him, I said, ‘Hi Cooper,’ that kind of thing. He wasn’t very friendly to me. But those two people were I thought a great image for a kid growing up. I’ve always admired their work, and always wished I was as good as they were.

H: Aside from poker, how do you like to spend your time?

TY: Well, I’m in the process of finishing my second book. And I’ve enjoyed it, but I’m just not a good writer. I’ve been trying to find a ghost writer who would do kind of a look-over for the book, because my first one didn’t do good at all. (laughs) Mainly I think because it wasn’t legible, and the company didn’t put any money behind it. That was a big disappointment, and it took out a lot of my money, too.

H: Is there anything your fans don’t know about you that they should know?

TY: I think you should tell everyone that I am a Christian, and that I have tried to hold up those values, that I think are important to make a person feel like he is in essence a creature of God, that he is not just an animal living out of instinct. That he has a value and importance that is inherited in being a part of a belief system. We all know it’s just a belief system, but at the same time, what are we except what we believe ourselves to be? I believe there is purpose behind life, and meaning in life and I think that’s one of the great values that we are losing in our society.


The current COWBOYS & ALIENS star will portray Earp in BLACK HATS, based on the novel by Max Allan Collins. A blend of fact and fiction, in 1920s Los Angeles, 70ish Earp is working as a film technical advisor and p.i. when Doc Holliday’s widow, Big-nose Kate, approaches him for help. Seems the Doc had a son, who is now in trouble with Al Capone. Also in the mix is Bat Masterson, now sports-writing for the New York Telegraph.

The project is being produced by Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk and Kickstart Productions’ Jason Netter. Script is being penned by 300 co-writer Kurt Johnstad.


If you’ve been missing the Barkleys, and getting impatient for the big-screen version of their stories, here’s great news -- The Inspiration Channel, found in many basic-cable plans, will begin airing the classic series THE BIG VALLEY on September 26th. Barbara Stanwyck, Linda Evans, Lee Majors, Peter Breck and Richard Long will soon be back on the air. A family-friendly outfit, INSP-TV currently shows THE WALTONS, and will soon be adding BONANZA and DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN.


On Sunday, August 21st, The Silent Society will present their 24th annual Silents Under The Stars program at historic Paramount Ranch in Agoura. THE GREAT K&A TRAIN ROBBERY (1926) stars Tom Mix, Dorothy Dwan and Tony the Wonder Horse, and is directed by Lewis Seiler. The talented Michael Mortilla will present a live musical accompaniment. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for kids under 12, free for kids under three, and $5 for Hollywood Heritage members. The movie starts at 7:30 pm, and you’re encouraged to come early and bring a picnic dinner. As you’ll be in a National Park at night, a flashlight is a good idea as well. For details call (805) – 370-2301.


LAREDO fans can meet William Smith, who co-starred with Peter Brown and Neville Brand in all 65 episodes of the series at the convention, held at the Shrine Auditorium Expo Center, 700 West 32nd Street, Los Angeles, Ca. He’ll be signing autographs, and his new book of poetry, from noon ‘til two. Admission to the event is $8. To find out more, go HERE.


And speaking of TCM, have I mentioned that the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here?


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.


More than once in the Round-up I’ve made comments to the effect that every western that does well helps the cause of all, and every western that does badly makes it more difficult to get another made. So while I’m sorry that THE LONE RANGER may not happen in the near future, I’d rather see it pulled than see it made for so high a price that it could never be profitable.

I think that there are two absolutely crucial elements for making a good, successful western, and the first is a strong plot and screenplay. It’s not by chance that both 3:10 TO YUMA and TRUE GRIT, the two most successful westerns of recent years, were based on an Elmore Leonard story and a Charles Portis novel. Conversely, the potentially upcoming LONE RANGER and the current COWBOYS & ALIENS and the recent JONAH HEX were all based on comic books or graphic novels (and no, this LONE RANGER is not based on the radio or TV series, but on a comic). COWBOYS has a strong screenplay considering the source material, and I found the movie very enjoyable, but it still is saddled with a comic-bookish premise.

The second crucial element to a western film is some humor. There’s humor throughout the films of Howard Hawks and John Ford, and those who imitate just the dark elements of Leone and Peckinpah need to watch the whole of the films: for all of the grimness, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and THE WILD BUNCH have hysterically funny moments. If the west was as relentlessly bleak as a lot of recent films show it, there’d be no need for shootouts: everyone would have shot themselves.

Happy Trails!


All Contents Copyright August 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

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