Sunday, February 27, 2011

WYATT EARP, WYATT EARP, BRAVE, COURAGEOUS AND BACK WITH VAL KILMER!













(updated Monday 2/28/2011 -- see QUENTIN'S NEXT MAY BE A PASTA WESTERN)
I doubt I’ll get much of an argument if I state that Wyatt Earp is one of the most oft-portrayed historical figures of the Old West. But many are the arguments of whose portrayal of the lawman is best – Kurt Russell or Kevin Costner or Hugh O’Brien. Not to mention Errol Flynn in DODGE CITY (1939), Randolph Scott in FRONTIER MARSHALL (1939), Richard Dix in TOMBSTONE: THE TOWN TOO TOUGH TO DIE (1942), Henry Fonda in MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946), Joel McCrea in WITCHITA (1955), Burt Lancaster in GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1957), James Stewart in CHEYENNE AUTUMN (1964), Guy Madison in GUNMEN OF THE RIO GRANDE (1965) and James Garner in HOUR OF THE GUN (1967).

But you can never have too many Earps (don’t quote me to the Clantons), and I’ve just got word that WYATT EARP’S FIRST RIDE is being cast, and the only cast-member announced is Val Kilmer! Kilmer, who made a tremendous impression in TOMBSTONE (1993) as Doc Holliday to Kurt Russell’s Wyatt, will apparently be taking on the lead role! Oviously no stranger to the saddle, Kilmer starred as BILLY THE KID in the 1989 TNT movie written by Gore Vidal, and was in Ron Howard’s excellent THE MISSING (2003), as well as the embarrassing (not Kilmer’s fault!) miniseries COMANCHE MOON (2008). I’ll fill you in as soon as I learn more.

And that’s not the end of the Earp news! Broadway is preparing for a new musical entitled I MARRIED WYATT EARP. It’s the story of Josephine Marcus Earp, Wyatt’s third wife, but apparently no one is playing his part. This is a story about the pioneering women of Tombstone, and will have an all-female cast. The story will move back and forth between Los Angeles in 1944, and Tombstone, from 1879 to 1881. In case you’re an actress who is eighteen but can play sixteen, here’s the Equity casting notice: “Seeking Hattie Earp. Must read 16, seeking actress 18. Daughter of Bess Earp, Stubborn and impressionable. Na├»ve. A little boy-crazy, she can’t wait to grow up.” They’re looking for a “lighter teenage soprano,” and you need to bring your sheet music on Monday, March 1st, at ten a.m. Break a leg!

Incidentally, in 1983 Marie Osmond played Josephine to Bruce Boxleitner’s Wyatt in a TV movie also called I MARRIED WYATT EARP, based on Josephine’s memoirs.

But you say you haven’t had enough Earp news? How about this: Dreamworks has announced that director Sam Raimi, who brought you THE QUICK AND THE DEAD (1995), and more recently the delightfully chilling horror outing DRAG ME TO HELL, will be helming EARP: SAINTS AND SINNERS. And how’s this for a fresh idea: it’s a sci-fi Western based on a comic book. JONAH HEX took a dump, but I’ve still got my fingers crossed for COWBOYS & ALIENS -- but c’mon, another one?

And yes, I’ve got one more Wyatt Earp story, this one out of England, courtesy of reporter Paul Byrne in the Daily Mirror: FANCY DRESS PAIR GUILTY OF ASSAULT ON ‘WYATT EARP’ REVELLER. Two men dressed as Elvis Presley and Ozzy Osbourne have been found guilty of assaulting a cop wearing a Wyatt Earp costume. Stephen Cadman, 55, dressed as Ozzy, and his son Joe, 33, who was Elvis, clashed with off-duty Detective Constable Chris Lovatt as Stephen tried to hit a drunken guest who was being removed from a party.

Stafford crown court heard DC Lovatt was then kicked unconscious by an unknown person while on the floor. DC Lovatt suffered cuts and had a scan due to suspected bruising to the brain. (Stephan and) Joe Cadman, from Stone, and Morley, of Trentham Lakes, both Staffs, were each ordered to do 100 hours’ unpaid community work. Judge Simon Tonking told the defendants it had been “a very ugly incident”. (Community service? Not the sentence they would have received in Tombstone.)

(Photos from top to bottom -- a gallery of Wyatts, first the real one; Kurt Russell with Val Kilmer; Kevin Costner; Hugh O'Brien; Henry Fonda; James Garner; Burt Lancaster; Randolph Scott; two very different portraits of Josephine Earp;Chief Great Bear of The Delewares; Great War Chief of the Navajos)

QUENTIN’S NEXT MAY BE A PASTA WESTERN, SAYS FRANCO NERO

Round-up regulars will remember that a couple of weeks ago, Fred Williamson told me that he was preparing to do a Spaghetti Western, probably in Morocco with Franco Nero. Today comes word from DJANGO star Nero that he will be working in the U.S. on a Spaghetti Western which might be helmed by Quentin Tarantino. Nero said the film would be shot in the U.S. because “the Italian film industry is in crisis.” The interview, given in Italian, continued, “We have already collected signatures of fifteen people who will be part of the project. Among the filmmakers involved are Quentin Tarantino, Keith Carradine and Treat Williams. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in Italy, there were real producers, who produced movies that they believed in. Now all films are produced by television, and when you propose a project…they say this scene is too strong, it can’t go on at 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 p.m.” He also said, “The film will be called, The Angel, The Bad and The Wise, and is a tribute to Sergio Leone. It’s a movie that contains humor, lots of action, but also a great plot.” And hopefully, a better title in English.

Tarantino has been loathe to confirm or deny the details, but the usually reliable Ain’t It Cool News says that his next film will definitely be a Western, and will star his Oscar-winning Inglourious Basterds star Christoph Waltz, and will lens later this year in Italy and Spain. And before you scoff at the idea of a German starring in a Spaghetti Western, remember that Euro-westerns started not in Italy and Spain, but in Germany, with 1963’s Apache Gold, the first of the tremendously popular Winnetou Westerns based on the writings of Karl May.

With Tarantino saying Europe, and Nero saying The United States, and Fred Williamson saying Morocco, I wonder if we’re hearing about one, two or three different movies.

ON THE TUBE

HAPPY TRAILS THEATER ON RFD-TV SATURDAY, MARCH 5TH


When Roy Rogers heard that Cole Porter had written a Broadway musical parody of B westerns, but couldn’t get it financed, he contacted Cole, and bought the theme song, which was the genesis of DON’T FENCE ME IN (1945), the story of reporter Dale Evans’ search for retired outlaw Wildcat Kelly. It also features great non-Cole Porter songs like The Last Roundup and Tumbling Tumbleweeds, and the cast includes Gabby Hayes, Robert Livingston, and one of the greatest of all screen gangsters, Marc Lawrence.

Repeating on Thursday, SUNSET IN EL DORADO (1945) I haven’t seen this one, but it sounds quirky and fun, featuring a plot revolving around Dale Evans flashing back to her grandmother’s time, and meeting someone a lot like Roy. In addition to Gabby Hayes and Trigger, and my all-time favorite Republic villain Roy Barcroft, this one features a ton of top comedy names: Margaret Dumont, the Marx Brothers' favorite foil; Dorothy Granger, Queen of the RKO comedy shorts; Jack Norton, the movie businesses greatest drunk; and the Sons of the Pioneers. TIME UPDATE -- the first showing is again being preempted by an auction. It’s at midnight western, 3:00 a.m. eastern, and repeats on Thursday.


COMING ATTRACTIONS – EVENTS IN MARCH

DOUBLE FEATURE AT THE AUTRY SATURDAY MARCH 6TH


The next free double-feature matinee at the Autry will be THE BIG SHOW (1936- Republic) starring Gene is a dual role as a stuntman named 'Gene Autry,' and the movie star he doubles for, Tom Ford. Also along for the fun are Smiley Burnette, Sons of the Pioneers (including Roy Rogers), and Max Terhune and Elmer, before they went on to star in the Three Mesquiteers series. Next is TEXANS NEVER CRY (1951 – Columbia) starring Gene, Pat Buttram,and Gail Davis, who would star in Gene's ANNIE OAKLEY series, in a story about lottery tickets. The films begin at noon.

UCLA EVENTS AT THE BILLY WILDER THEATRE

Screenings as part of their Preservation Festival include, on Saturday, March 12th, a double bill of RAINBOW OVER TEXAS (1947) starring Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and HEART OF THE RIO GRANDE (1942) starring Gene Autry and the lovely Smiley Burnette. On Monday, March 14th, it’s THE FORGOTTEN VILLAGE (1941) from a screenplay by John Steinbeck, preceded by MEXICO IN THE HEARST METRONONE NEWS COLLECTION. And on Saturday, March 19th at 2:00 p.m. they will present the program BABY PEGGY: HOLLYWOOD’S TINY TITAN. The daughter of a cowboy and stuntman, Baby Peggy, co-starring with Brownie the Wonder-Dog, was a hugely popular star of Western child action comedy films in the 1920s. Few of her films have survived, but Baby Peggy has – she’s now known as Diana Serra Carey, and she will be present for the screening of several of her short films, and existing fragments of several more. (Here’s a historical note: a Baby Peggy film was the first movie to play at the Vista Theatre in Hollywood when it was opened in the early 1920s. The theatre was built at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, where the Babylon sets for D. W. Griffith’s INTOLERANCE once stood. Over the decades the theatre and neighborhood lost its luster, and the Vista became a gay porn theatre. When it was turned into a revival house in the 1980s, Baby Peggy, who had attended the original opening decades before, attended the new ceremony, where gay porn director Fred Halsted handed the theatre keys over to her.)

LOS ANGELES SPAGHETTI WESTERN FESTIVAL IN MARCH!

The historic El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood will play host on Saturday, March 19th to the Los Angeles Spaghetti Western Festival. This all-day event will feature live music, screenings, and some very special guest stars, leading men Robert Woods (GATLING GUN, read our review HERE -- read our interview with Woods HERE); Michael Forest (NOW THEY CALL HIM SACRAMENTO, read our review HERE); Richard Harrison ($100,000 FOR RINGO); Brett Halsey (WRATH OF GOD); Dan van Husen (LIGHT THE FUSE…SARTANA IS COMING) and Jack Betts –a.k.a. Hunt Powers (DJANGO AND SARTANA), as well as actor, stunt coordinator and Western historian Neil Summers. The movies to be screened will include the one that started it all, Sergio Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, plus GATLING GUN (courtesy of Dorado Films – click HERE for their site) and DEAD MEN DON’T COUNT (courtesy of Wild East productions – click HERE for their site). A live musical tribute to Ennio Morricone will be presented by The Insect Surfers, playing music from the album FOR A FEW GUITARS MORE. You can save $10 if you register before February 28th, WHICH IS TOMORROW! For all the details, go to the official website HERE.

PAPERBACK COLLECTOR SHOW AND SALE SUNDAY, MARCH 27th

If you’re a reader of Westerns as well as a watcher, here is an event you should not miss! From 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. you can search the wares of dozens of book dealers from around the country. They run from the very rare and pricey to the battered and cheap. Serious paperback collectors go for unopened books in perfect condition, but I go for what are disparagingly called ‘reader copies,’ and have found dozens of obscure Luke Shorts and Zane Greys for a dollar or two each. Also, more than 45 authors will be signing their books, and unlike other autograph shows, THERE IS NO CHARGE! Most of the authors are sci-fi and mystery types – for a complete list and schedule, click HERE. The event is at the Valley Inn and Conference Center, 10621 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills, CA 91345. For more information, call Tom Lesser at 818-349-3844 or Black Ace Books at 232-661-5052.
http://www.la-vintage-paperback-show.com/

BREAKING INTO WESTERN PRINT (BOTH ‘E’ AND PAPER)

If you’ve ever wanted to write a western novel or story – of if you’ve written it, but don’t know how to get it published (my hand is raised), make plans to go to Out West, at 24265 Main Street in Newhall on Sunday, March 27th at 2:00 p.m. Author C. Courtney Joyner, the very talented and prolific screenwriter and western film historian, will discuss breaking into the western print market, agents, editors, networking, the changes at Leisure Books, ‘E’ publishing, university presses, contests, and publishers across the pond. Mr. Joyner knows whereof he speaks: in addition to a long string of screen credits, both as writer and director, he wrote the fascinating interview-book THE WESTERNERS (see my review HERE), and his excellent tale, The Two-bit Kill, is featured in the new western story collection, LAW OF THE GUN. The event is free. For reservations call 661-255-7087.

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.

That's about it! I'm quitting to watch the Oscars, and rooting for TRUE GRIT, but I must say there are a lot of very fine movies that don't happen to be Westerns. But none of them will encourage Hollywood to make more Westerns -- so root for TRUE GRIT!

Adios,

Henry

Copyright February 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 21, 2011

‘TRINITY’ IS BACK IN ‘TRIGGERMAN’!











(Updated Friday 2/25/2011 -- See SWEETGRASS NOMINATION, RFD-TV Happy Trails Theater time change)
Fans of Terence Hill will be delighted to learn that the man who played Trinity in a trio of classic Italian comedy westerns is back in the saddle. His newest, Triggerman, has just arrived on American shores. Triggerman is a follow-up to Doc West, which slipped under the radar and into video stores a year ago. In both, Hill portrays a master poker-player and, perhaps, a physician. Shot at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, they were made for European television, but in English, and both co-star the fine character actor Paul Sorvino, and the lovely Ornella Muti. Co-directed by Hill, working with writers from Lonesome Luke and other previous collaborations, the rest of the cast (identical for both films) is mix of Italians and Americans. The movies appear to be less jokey than the Trinity films and Lonesome Lukes, more straight Westerns. They’re both from Lionsgate, and I’ll have more to tell you once I’ve seen them. CLICK HERE for the trailer of Doc West, CLICK HERE for the trailer of Triggerman. Both films are available from Lionsgate HERE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl9BL-sxmf4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MEXyVQqgDQ

(Pitures, top to bottom: Terence Hill; posters for Triggerman; Doc West; Gatling Gun; Dead Men Don't Count; author C. Courtney Joyner; Apache Chief Grey Eagle; Winnebagoes Chief Hairy Bear; Sheep and shepherd from Sweetgrass)

SWEETGRASS NOMINATED FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY, INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD

SWEETGRASS, Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor's fascinating documentary about a herd of sheep being trailed across Montana mountains for the last time, is nominated for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards, which will be presented tomorrow, Saturday, February 26th. This is a documentary long championed at the Round-up, and we sure hope they win! Watch the Awards on IFC at 10:00 p.m. on both coasts. To read our review, CLICK HERE.

LOS ANGELES SPAGHETTI WESTERN FESTIVAL IN MARCH!

The historic El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood will play host on Saturday, March 19th to the Los Angeles Spaghetti Western Festival. This all-day event will feature live music, screenings, and some very special guest stars, leading men Robert Woods (GATLING GUN, read our review HERE -- read our interview with Woods HERE); Michael Forest (NOW THEY CALL HIM SACRAMENTO, read our review HERE); Richard Harrison ($100,000 FOR RINGO); Brett Halsey (WRATH OF GOD); Dan van Husen (LIGHT THE FUSE…SARTANA IS COMING) and Jack Betts –a.k.a. Hunt Powers (DJANGO AND SARTANA), as well as actor, stunt coordinator and Western historian Neil Summers. The movies to be screened will include the one that started it all, Sergio Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, plus GATLING GUN (courtesy of Dorado Films – click HERE for their site) and DEAD MEN DON’T COUNT (courtesy of Wild East productions – click HERE for their site). A live musical tribute to Ennio Morricone will be presented by The Insect Surfers, playing music from the album FOR A FEW GUITARS MORE. You can save $10 if you register before February 28th! For all the details, go to the official website HERE.

EDDIE BRANDT’S IS THE WESTERN TV SERIES HEADQUARTERS


The search for a Ty Hardin Spaghetti Western, DAY OF JUDGEMENT (a.k.a. DRUMMER OF VENGEANCE) brought me, as such searches ultimately do, to Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, in North Hollywood – and yes, they had it. While there, I started checking out the TV aisle – I’ve gotten into the habit of taking breaks from work with a half-hour TV episode -- and was so amazed at the range of Western series on the shelves that I started making a list. Among the shows available on both DVD and VHS are Adventures of Jim Bowie, Adventures of Kit Carson, Annie Oakley, The Big Valley, Bonanza, Buffalo Bill Jr., Cheyenne, Cowboy G-Men, Death Valley Days, The Gabby Hayes Show, Gunsmoke, F-Troop, Have Gun Will Travel, Hopalong Cassidy, Rawhide, The Rifleman, The Roy Rogers Show, Wanted Dead or Alive, Wild Wild West, Wyatt Earp and Zorro. Among the just-on-VHS offerings are Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Alias Smith and Jones, Bat Masterson, Bronco, Cimarron Strip, The Dakotas, High Chaparral, Laramie, Laredo, Lawman, Range Rider, Lucky Luke, Maverick, The Rebel, Stories of The Century, The Texan, Virginian, Wagon Train, Yancy Derringer and Zane Grey Theatre. There are also a number of compilation or ‘sampler’ tapes with shows from several series, under the titles TV’s Cowboys and Early TV Westerns. And among the strictly DVD titles are Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Branded, Brave Eagle and Guns Of Will Sonnett. I left with a tape of Zane Grey Theatre, the first disc from F-Troop, and a disc of Brave Eagle, a Roy Rogers-produced series starring Keith Larson, Major Rogers from the Northwest Passage series, as a Cheyenne chief. Between all of those, and the Ty Hardin picture, it’ll be a miracle if I get any work done this week! Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee is located at 5006 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, CA 91601. 818-506-4242. They’re open Tuesday though Saturday, and they never get rid of anything, so if your looking for a 15-year-old VHS release, Eddie’s is your best bet. If you’d like to see the featurette TCM did about them, click HERE.

SCREENINGS THIS WEEK

SERGIO LEONE AT THE AERO


The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica continues their Leone series this week with ONCE UPON A TIME IS THE WEST on Thursday, February 24th at 7:30 p.m. For those who haven’t seen it, the opening minutes are so close to perfection that nothing else is needed. An absolute masterpiece, starring Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Woody Strode and Jack Elam. And on Friday, February 25th, at 7:30 p.m. it’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, a gangster saga rather than a western, starring Robert De Niro and James Woods. For more information, click HERE.

ON THE TUBE

HAPPY TRAILS THEATER ON RFD-TV SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH


SUNSET IN EL DORADO (1945) I haven’t seen this one, but it sounds quirky and fun, featuring a plot revolving around Dale Evans flashing back to her grandmother’s time, and meeting someone a lot like Roy. In addition to Gabby Hayes and Trigger, and my all-time favorite Republic villain Roy Barcroft, this one features a ton of top comedy names: Margaret Dumont, the Marx Brothers' favorite foil; Dorothy Granger, Queen of the RKO comedy shorts; Jack Norton, the movie businesses greatest drunk; and the Sons of the Pioneers. TIME UPDATE -- the first showing is again being preempted by an auction. It’s at midnight western, 3:00 a.m. eastern, and repeats on Thursday.

COMING ATTRACTIONS – EVENTS IN MARCH

DOUBLE FEATURE AT THE AUTRY MARCH 6TH


The next double-feature matinee at the Autry will be THE BIG SHOW (1936- Republic) and TEXANS NEVER CRY (1951 – Columbia).


UCLA EVENTS AT THE BILLY WILDER THEATRE

Screenings as part of their Preservation Festival include, on Saturday, March 12th, a double bill of RAINBOW OVER TEXAS (1947) starring Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and HEART OF THE RIO GRANDE (1942) starring Gene Autry and the lovely Smiley Burnette. On Monday, March 14th, it’s THE FORGOTTEN VILLAGE (1941) from a screenplay by John Steinbeck, preceded by MEXICO IN THE HEARST METRONONE NEWS COLLECTION. And on Saturday, March 19th at 2:00 p.m. they will present the program BABY PEGGY: HOLLYWOOD’S TINY TITAN. The daughter of a cowboy and stuntman, Baby Peggy, co-starring with Brownie the Wonder-Dog, was a hugely popular star of Western child action comedy films in the 1920s. Few of her films have survived, but Baby Peggy has – she’s now known as Diana Serra Carey, and she will be present for the screening of several of her short films, and existing fragments of several more. (Here’s a historical note: a Baby Peggy film was the first movie to play at the Vista Theatre in Hollywood when it was opened in the early 1920s. The theatre was built at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, where the Babylon sets for D. W. Griffith’s INTOLERANCE once stood. Over the decades the theatre and neighborhood lost its luster, and the Vista became a gay porn theatre. When it was turned into a revival house in the 1980s, Baby Peggy, who had attended the original opening decades before, attended the new ceremony, where gay porn director Fred Halsted handed the theatre keys over to her.)

BREAKING INTO WESTERN PRINT (BOTH ‘E’ AND PAPER)

If you’ve ever wanted to write a western novel or story – of if you’ve written it, but don’t know how to get it published (my hand is raised), make plans to go to Out West, at 24265 Main Street in Newhall on Sunday, March 27th at 2:00 p.m. Author C. Courtney Joyner, the very talented and prolific screenwriter and western film historian, will discuss breaking into the western print market, agents, editors, networking, the changes at Leisure Books, ‘E’ publishing, university presses, contests, and publishers across the pond. Mr. Joyner knows whereof he speaks: in addition to a long string of screen credits, both as writer and director, he wrote the fascinating interview-book THE WESTERNERS (see my review HERE), and his excellent tale, The Two-bit Kill, is featured in the new western story collection, LAW OF THE GUN. The event is free. For reservations call 661-255-7087.

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.

That's about all, Buckaroos! Hope you're having a splendid Presidents' Day, and taking a little time out to think about Washington and Lincoln, and where we might be without 'em!

Henry

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

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.

SCREENINGS

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!

Henry

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

MATTIE ROSS MEETS LITTLE BEAVER!









The best-recalled Western child-stars of two generations -- Kim Darby and Robert Blake – will both be meeting fans and signing autographs next weekend at The Hollywood Show, located at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, 2500 North Hollywood Way, Burbank, California 91505. On Saturday, February 12th, from ten ‘til five, and Sunday from ten ‘til four, Mattie Ross from the original True Grit (1969), and Little Beaver from the Republic Red Ryder films, will join a few dozen other actors, actresses and models for what is always a very entertaining event. Those who will be of particular interest to Western fans include Republic star Adrian Booth, Angie Dickinson (Rio Bravo), Corbin Bernsen (Trigger Fast, Savage Land), Fred Williamson (Joshua, Take a Hard Ride, Adios Amigos), George Hamilton (Viva Maria!, Zorro The Gay Blade) and Richard Roundtree (Bad Jim, Bonanza TV movies ). Note: Kim Darby, George Hamilton and Richard Roundtree plan to attend on Saturday only.

This event is fun, but it’s not cheap – admission is twenty bucks for one day, thirty-five for both, and having something signed will usually cost $20 and up. In addition to collecting autographs, it’s a great place to find posters, stills, videos and any other movie and TV-related collectibles you can think of.

(pictures top to bottom - Kim Darby flanked by True Grit co-stars John Wayne and Glenn Campbell; both Mattie Rosses -- Kim Darby and Hailee Steinfield; Robert Blake with Alice Fleming, 'The Dutchess', from a Red Ryder film; 'Tracker' cover; Lloyd Fonvielle; Buster Keatoon in 'The General'; cigarette cards of Deer Ham and Geronimo)

'TRACKER' - NEW eWESTERN FROM LLOYD FONVIELLE

I must admit I was initially intrigued about reading ‘Tracker’ not for the story itself, but for how it was offered – as a download from Amazon, for a Kindle. It only cost a buck, but I hesitated because I don’t own a Kindle, and don’t even want one, but it turns out there’s free Kindle Reader software that I could download to my PC. I’m glad I did.

‘Tracker’ is a western short story about an unexpected alliance between a bounty-hunter with a wounded shooting-arm, and a desperate young woman with a skill for shooting. It’s written in a very crisp and direct, unadorned style, and it goes places that I did not expect. While the tone is not grim, let me warn you that elements of the tale are very dark indeed. I strongly recommend anteing up the dollar. It’s written by Lloyd Fonvielle, a very talented and experienced screenwriter who’s lately started writing prose in part because he’s been unable to get a western movie made. Although he’s worked in the film business for years, he’s currently located not in Hollywood but in Las Vegas.

“I'm from North Carolina but lived most of my adult life in New York, commuting to Los Angeles frequently for work. New York got a little yuppified for me, so I lit out for the territory. Las Vegas feels like the last frontier town in America -- I was looking for that kind of wide-open Wild West feeling.”

Henry: What brought you to Hollywood initially?
Lloyd: I'd always wanted to work in movies. In 1980 I wrote a script which got me an agent, who got me a writing assignment in Hollywood, and I've worked as a screenwriter and director there ever since.

H: In 1983 you made a splash with your co-adaptation of the Pat Conroy novel, The Lords of Discipline. How did that come about?
L: I was working on a couple of projects with the director Franc Roddam when he got the assignment to direct The Lords Of Discipline. He wanted some changes to the script by Thomas Pope and brought me in to do them. It was a terrific experience. My first screen credit, and I was on the set the whole time -- got a great close-up view of a film production.

H: You’ve written two very high-profile horror hits, The Bride (1985) and The Mummy (1999). Is it a favorite genre’ of yours?
L: My first love as a kid was the cycle of classic Universal horror films. They were what made me want to be filmmaker. It was a dream come true to revisit those movies and try to create modern versions of them.

H: How did those two experiences differ?
L: I was not involved in the productions of either of those films. The Bride didn't turn out to be the film I envisioned, and I was a little heartbroken over it. The Mummy wasn't what my co-writer Kevin Jarre and I envisioned, either, but I loved what Stephen Sommers did with it. We wrote a kind of adult horror film, but Sommers decided to pitch it to a younger audience, and he made it work. I thought it was a wonderful film.

H: Both films were reworkings of Universal classics. What particular challenges did you face, rewriting really fine films?
L: With The Bride, it was just a question of wanting to do more with the Bride character, who's only onscreen for about ten minutes in the original and yet is such an iconic female figure. I wanted to place her at the center of a modern feminist fairytale. With The Mummy, we wanted to take a classic movie and bring modern special effects to it -- but in the spirit of the original.

H: Good Morning Babylon (1987) has such an offbeat premise, the story of two brother Italian stone-masons coming to Hollywood to help build the sets for D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916).
L: I got the idea from Kevin Brownlow's book The Pioneers, about the silent era, which mentions the Italian plaster workers Griffith recruited to help create the sets for Intolerance. I'm a big fan of the Taviani brothers, wanted to find a project about America they could do, and this story seemed like one they might relate to. Meeting them was one of the highlights of my career. (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have co-written and co-directed, among many other films, The Night of The Shooting Stars (1982) and Padre padrone (1977).) It was all shot in Italy except for a few days on location in San Francisco. I was only on the set in San Francisco, which was great fun. Ironically, The Lords Of Discipline was shot mostly in England, standing in for America. A lot of the exteriors for The Bride were shot in France. I was along for the location scouts for The Bride but not for the shooting.

H: I understand you’ve been having a tough time trying to get a western movie made.
L: I've written several Western screenplays over the years but could never get anyone interested in making them. Hollywood has decided that "people don't like Westerns", even though they do, if it's the right kind of Western, as True Grit has demonstrated. Recently I decided to write a super-low-budget Western which could be financed through private equity. It's about two young people who fall in love in the course of a mission of revenge.

H: Is Tracker your first experience with ePublishing?
L: This was my first experience with ePublishing, and I'm very excited about its possibilities. I think there's a market out there for the sort of rip-roaring tales that used to be published in magazines like "The Saturday Evening Post" and pulp novels, even though print venues for them have dwindled. ePublishing offers a way to get the stuff out there and see if there are other folks who like that sort of thing as much as I do. Tracker actually began as the outline for a screenplay, but I quickly realized that its natural shape was too short for a feature film. But it seemed just right for a short story, and ePublishing gave me a way of presenting it as that.

H: What are your future writing plans?
L: I'm working on a Western novel, which I plan to ePublish. It was conceived as novel from the start.

H: Were you a Western fan as a kid?
L: As a kid I loved Have Gun Will Travel. My appreciation of Western movies has developed over the years, to the point where it's now just about my favorite genre.

H: What are your favorite Western films?
L: I love the Ford Westerns best of all, and then the Westerns of Boetticher and Mann. But the truth is that I love almost all Westerns, and have a special fondness for B-movie series like the Hopalong Cassidy and Tim Holt films. Beautiful photography and good horsemanship get me every time.

H: Who are your favorite western writers?
L: Elmore Leonard is a special favorite. True Grit is one of my favorite novels of all time.

H: Does it seem like we’re in a Western revival over the last few years?
L: The Western is always threatening to make a comeback, but people seem to want Westerns that affirm traditional values, and those are the kinds I like, too. Lonesome Dove, Unforgiven, Tombstone, Open Range and True Grit are all traditional Westerns at heart and all have been successful. Darker and more cynical Westerns, like The Assassination Of Jesse James and Appaloosa, which don't appeal to me, also don't seem to appeal to audiences. Hollywood doesn't seem to have gotten the message -- it doesn't like Westerns and always wants to make anti-Westerns, dark, revisionist Westerns. Then, when they flop, it just confirms Hollywood's conventional wisdom that "people don't like Westerns".

H: Any feelings about up-coming high profile westerns, like Cowboys & Aliens, the Big Valley ?
L: Don't know much about them, but I think I can safely predict that new Westerns which are rooted in traditional values will succeed, and ones that don't will flop.

Tracker is available to download to your Kindle for one dollar HERE, or at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GHN6G8/ref=cm_cd_asin_lnk

VIDIOTS SENDS OUT S.O.S.!

Maybe it should be R.O.S. – for “rent our stuff!” Vidiots has long been the eclectic video store on the south side of the hill in Los Angeles, and they’ve fought the good fight as most independent video stores have disappeared. They recently sent an e-mail call for help to all their on-line customers. I phoned to ask why, and spoke to the businesses’ two owners, Cathy Tauber and Patty Polinger, who have been friends since they were three, and opened the store together more than twenty-five years ago. “We’ve been struggling for a while,” Cathy told me. They recently opened another business, the Vidiots Annex, for screenings and classes. “It’s doing okay, not as well as we hoped. It’s still very new, and we’re still trying to get the word out on it, to rent it to people who want to do screenings or parties.” Of course the majority of their business is DVD rentals, “But we still do VHS, though it’s a pretty small percentage of what we do.”
“About three percent,” says Patty.
“But on the other hand we have things like Sam Shepherd’s True West, which has never been released to DVD. We have, like, 15,000 VHS – there’s just not that many people who rent them. We’ve kept pretty-much everything that’s not on DVD, so we’ve got a lot of rare things.”
Patty adds, “We have a Western section, a John Ford section, a Peckinpah section. True Grit has been going out a lot. We probably have over 500 Westerns – that’s a guestimate. We have two-day rentals, but if you rent three you get them for three days. If you’re a member, you rent five, you get five days.”
If we want to continue to have choices in what we watch, if we don’t want to be limited to a short list of top hits, we need to skip the Redbox occasionally and rent from the few places like Vidiots that are still in business. Vidiots is located at 302 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

SCREENINGS

BUSTER IN BURBANK!


On Wednesday, February 9th, the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Library will present what is not only one of Keaton’s finest comedies, but also, perplexingly enough, the finest silent film about the Civil War, The General (1927), co-directed by Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman. The film, which screens for free at 7:00 p.m., will have a live piano accompaniment by celebrated pianist Michael Mortilla. The address is 300 N. Buena Vista St., Burbank. 818-238-5620.

‘THE SEARCHERS’ AT THE AUTRY

A 35MM print of John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) will be screened at the Autry’s Wells Fargo Theatre on Saturday, February 12th, at 1:30. With a screenplay by Frank Nugent, from the novel by Alan Lemay, the picture stars John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Ward Bond, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood, Lana Wood, John Qualen, Hank Worden, Henry Brandon, Olive Carey and Harry Carey Jr. – and it is among the best work of every one of them. Admission is free with museum admission. And here’s more info from the Museum calendar. “Jeffrey Richardson, Associate Curator of Western History and Popular Culture, will lead a discussion of the film’s history prior to the screening. After the screening, please visit the Autry’s Imagination Gallery, an exploration of the Western genre. The gallery’s John Wayne case includes many interesting artifacts, including one of the red bib-front shirts he wore in The Searchers.”

AND ON THE TUBE

Saturday, February 12th, RFD'S Roy Rogers movie is HEART OF THE ROCKIES (1951). Directed by William Whitney, it stars Penny Edwards, Gordon Jones (who will always, for me, be Mike the Cop from the Abbott and Costello Show), Ralph Morgan, Foy Willing and the Sons of the Pioneers, with Hopalong Cassidy’s sidekick and Scarlet O’Hara’s first husband, Rand Brooks. Music is by Dale Evans' first husband, R. Dale Butts. First showing is noon eastern time, 9 a.m. western time.

WESTERN EVENTS ON THE HORIZON

FEB. 18TH-21ST – WHISKEY FLAT DAYS IN KERNVILLE

Events include a parade, rodeo, frog-jumping contest, food, music and melodramas. 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.

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.

Well, I don't know about you, but I've got some tough choices to make, like how to squeeze The Searchers and The Hollywood Show into one afternoon. Have a great week!

Henry

Copyright February 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved