Monday, July 30, 2012

HELL ON WHEELS Season 2 Is Almost Here!



On Sunday, August 12th, HELL ON WHEELS, AMC’s blockbuster Western series will return for a second ten episode season.  The series continues to revolve around a group of  people engaged in building the transcontinental railroad, and ‘Hell On Wheels’ refers to the portable town that follows along the tracks, servicing the workers.  The central figure from season one was former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), and the ‘cover’ of his railroad job as a means to track down and kill the Union soldiers who murdered his wife and son, a story that was concluded with the end of the season.





While I have promised AMC not to reveal too much (not wanting to have Colm Meany send Common to ‘handle’ the situation), I can safely say that everyone who didn’t die in season one is back for season two, although there have been changes.  Cullen Bohannon is back, but no longer works for the railroad, and Mr. Durant (Colm Meany).  The Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl), last seen being tarred and feathered, has returned, and is again with the railroad, but working in a far different capacity. 





Elam Ferguson (Common) is working his way up in the railroad, but his romance with Eva (Robin McLeavy) has derailed.  Lily Bell (Dominique McElligot), beautiful widow of the railroad’s original surveyor, is determined to keep in the game.  Reverend Cole’s (Tom Noonan) daughter Ruth (Kasha Kropinski – allowed to look much more attractive this season) continues to be drawn to Cheyenne Christian convert Joseph Black Moon (Eddie Spears).   And the increasingly cocky Irish McGinnes brothers (Phil Burke and Ben Esler) are determined to subvert railroad construction to their own goals. 



In addition to their frequent nemesises, the Indians trying to discourage the relentless progress of the iron horse, the railroaders are faced with a new enemy: train robbers!  The first episode of the new season, ‘Viva La Mexico,’ written by the series creators, Tony and Joe Gayton, is a particularly strong entry to return with, well-directed by David Von Ancken.  Gustavo Santaolalla’s theme music has deservedly been nominated for an Emmy.  Marvin Rush continues as cinematographer on the most strikingly filmed series on television, and it’s completely inexplicable to me that his work last season wasn’t Emmy-nominated, ditto the Laytons’ writing.       



Here’s a teaser trailer to get you in the mood.




AN INTERVIEW WITH ONE OF JOHN WAYNE’S ‘COWBOYS’ – NICOLAS BEAUVY


Actor/director/writer and general wunderkind Mark Rydell had gone from directing GUNSMOKE to the D.H. Lawrence story THE FOX, to the good-naturedly nutty Steve McQueen period starrer THE REIVERS, and would soon go on to do the wonderful CINDERELLA LIBERTY and later the triple Oscar winner ON GOLDEN POND.  But in 1972 he had optioned – with the approval of his mother – a not-yet-published novel, THE COWBOYS, by William Dale Jennings. 



Rydell did not want John Wayne in the lead, but eventually the powers at Warner Brothers, and Duke himself, convinced the left-leaning director.  Although overshadowed by TRUE GRIT, Wayne’s Oscar winner, and THE SHOOTIST, his last, THE COWBOYS is certainly the equal of those fine films, and Wayne told director Rydell that it was his own favorite performance.  

John Wayne plays a cattleman who loses his crew to a local gold strike, and must hire schoolboys to move his herd.  As he tells the boys, drawing a rough map on the classroom blackboard, “Here’s the Double O.  This is Belle Fourche.  In between is four hundred miles of the meanest country in the west.”  The cast includes Roscoe Lee Brown, Bruce Dern, Colleen Dewhurst, Slim Pickens, and eleven boys from about twelve to sixteen, about half of them professional actors, and the other half professional rodeo riders. 



One of the professional actors was Nicolas Beauvy.  Nicolas had played King Arthur as a boy in CAMELOT, Trampas (Doug McClure) as a boy in a VIRGINIAN episode, and appeared with Gregory Peck in the Western SHOOT OUT, and an episode of BONANZA.  In THE COWBOYS, Nicolas plays Dan, the cowboy with glasses.  (In some of the promotional material his character is called ‘Four Eyes,’ but no one in the movie ever calls him that.)


All the young actors have plenty to do, and acquit themselves well, but Nicolas’ role is one of the most demanding.  In addition to all of the riding and roping, (SPOILER ALERT!) Dan is the boy kidnapped from the others by Bruce Dern, terrorized and damned near drowned.  He keeps the secret from Wayne and the others that they’re being followed.  And he has the trauma and guilt of losing a friend when the other boy tries to retrieve Dan’s dropped glasses, and ends up killed in a stampede.


As part of the National Day of The Cowboy festivities, Belle Fourche, South Dakota is celebrating with their CRAZY DAYS, Friday the 27th and Saturday the 28th.  And since it’s also the 40th anniversary of the release of THE COWBOYS, it was announced that there would be a screening, attended by several of the boys from the cast.  I caught up with Nicolas, now a successful real estate agent in Pacific Palisades (“I got out of acting when I was 21 years old,”), before he headed to South Dakota.  I asked him who else was attending.


NICOLAS BEAUVY: Al Barker Jr. (Fats), Steven Hudis (Charlie Schwartz), and Sean Kelly (Stuttering Bob); I know they’ll definitely be there.  They’re picking up on the name Belle Feurche because that’s the name we used in the movie, but we did not shoot in South Dakota.  My understanding is that some of the kids – like Al Barker Jr. – have been back there six or seven times.  They’ve asked me to go in the past but it just hadn’t worked out with my schedule; but this year it did, and I’m excited to go back! 



HENRY PARKE: Where did you actually shoot?


N: We shot two months in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  And one month in Durango, Colorado.  And one month on the sound stages of Warner Brothers. 


H: How did you get the part of Dan?


N: Well, as a working actor – I was an actor from age six – you went out for the interview, and we had seven or eight callbacks.  And they probably interviewed a thousand kids.  Then they narrow it down to five hundred, to one hundred, to fifty -  that’s how they typically do these things.  And I was the one they chose, so I got very lucky. 

H: How old were you?

N: Thirteen. 

H: Then you were very well aware who John Wayne was at that time. 

N: Absolutely. Oh, it was wonderful!  He was a father-figure on the set.  Very nice.  A little bit reserved, but I had some nice scenes with him.  We had a good time. 

H: What memories do you have of other actor in the show?

N: Bruce Dern!  Bruce Dern was the gentleman that I did a lot of scenes with; he played the bad guy, and he and I had a real good rapport.  In fact, I was a real big sports fan and so was he, so even after the movie was finished, he’d invite me to a few Lakers games – we saw a few basketball games in Los Angeles.  He was a great guy.


H: How about Robert Carradine?

N: All the kids get along with everyone.  Robert Carradine was a little older than me, so he wasn’t hangin’ with me or anything.  He was 18, 19 when he did that movie – maybe twenty.  But he got along with everybody.  A Martinez the same way.  Good guy.

H: And Colleen Dewhurst? 

N: You know I really didn’t have any scenes with Colleen Dewhurst.  I got along with her very nicely, and we did talk a lot off the set.  And she’s the one who happened to recommend me, along with Mark Rydell, to George C. Scott; she was married, of course, to Scott.  Because the film I did right after THE COWBOYS was RAGE (directed by and starring Scott). 

H: What did you think of director Mark Rydell?

N: Wonderful director; worked beautifully with all the kids.  A pleasure to work with.  Just was a class, class man. 



H: You had a wonderful script by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr., who also wrote HUD, HOMBRE and NORMA RAE..

N: Yes – great people worked on that movie.  John Williams did the music.  And Robert Surtees did the cinematography; two heavyweights there.

H: In 1972, now it’s clear in hind-sight that this was getting to be the end of the Western cycle for a while, but I don’t think that anyone sensed it then.  Were Westerns something special to you, or was it just another acting job?

N: Oh no; it’s very special, because you’re twelve or thirteen years old.  Other roles you’re just playing a normal kid in everyday life.  But here we are playing cowboys, and we get to wear cowboy outfits, and ride horses, and have guns in our holster.  It was a dream: it was living a dream. 

H: How much preparation time was there?

N: I want to say, if my memory’s correct, about four to six weeks.  We would go to a little stable in Burbank, and we would practice three hours every day after school; on the weekends about six, seven hours. 


H: And what did they have you practicing?

N: Just riding; riding a horse, holding a rope while you’re riding, just riding.  Just making us look as comfortable and natural and experienced as we could look. 


Nicolas Beauvy today


We’ll have more about Nicolas’ acting career in the near future.


LOS ENCINOS MARKS SALVATION WITH LIVING HISTORY CELEBRATION



On Sunday, July 15th, the Docents of Los Encinos Park in Encino celebrated their one-year reprieve with a living history day.  On the list of seventy parks slated for closure due to lack of funds, they were saved when an anonymous donor gave the park $150,000, their annual operating budget.  They celebrated with cake and punch, and a day of old-fashioned games, tours of the Rancho buildings, demonstrations of blacksmithing, music and other activities. 





With the attraction of its natural spring, which brings many breeds of ducks, geese and other birds on their migrations, it has seen human settlement for thousands of years, first with the Tongva people; it was taken over by the San Fernando Mission in 1797, and has passed through many hands since then – you can read about it’s rich history here: http://historicparks.org/data/park-history





Howard Harrelson, a docent who made a PSA for the park, was shooting interview ‘sound-bites’ at the event.  He told me, “I’m working on a ‘school tour’ video.  As you know, an anonymous donor donated enough money to keep the park open for this year.   But we want to get school groups and field trips here to the park, to keep it alive, and open, and green.”   Los Encinos has a Living History Day on the third Sunday of every month.     



R.G. ARMSTRONG DIES AT 95




Birmingham, Alabama-born character actor Robert Golden Armstrong has died at his home in Studio City, California.  An imposing figure, he played frequently in crime and horror stories, but is best remembered for his Western characters, especially preachers with feet of clay.  He was long associated with director Sam Peckinpah, who cast him in THE SHARPSHOOTER (1956), an episode of ZANE GREY THEATRE which would be a pilot for THE RIFLEMAN.  Peckinpah subsequently directed R.G. in two RIFLEMAN episodes, a WESTERNER episode, then RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, MAJOR DUNDEE, THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE and PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID.  He also starred with John Wayne in Howard Hawks’ EL DORADO.  With nearly 200 screen credits, his last Western and second-to-last screen performance was in the TV movie PURGATORY (1999).  Services are pending.    


Well pardners, that's a wrap for tonight!  Have a great week!

Happy trails,

Henry

All Original Contents Copyright July 2012 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved



Sunday, July 22, 2012

NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY -- NATIONWIDE EVENTS PLANNED





Next Saturday, July 28th is the 8th National Day Of the Cowboy, and Wyoming and California are the first two states to recognize the day in perpetuity.  Other states celebrating this year include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota and Texas.  A visit to the official NDOC calendar page HERE will give you a community by community listing.  There are parades, rodeos, historical demonstrations and displays, shooting competitions, musical performances, arts and crafts for kids, and much more. Some of these are one day events, and others are for several days, so check your local area, and don’t miss out!  Events are planned in Spearfish, South Dakota; Cumberland, Virginia; Dubois, Wyoming; Sedona, Arizona; Redlands, California; The Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora, North Dakota; Sullivan, Missouri; Slipoff Hollow, Alabama; Flagstaff, Arizona; Dalton, New Hampshire; Sacramento, California; Vernon, Texas; Altus, Oklahoma; Jefferson, Texas; Amarillo, Texas; The Autry Museum in Los Angeles, California; Kissimmee, Florida; Madera & Porterville, California; Santa Clarita, California; El Paso, Texas; Norco, California; Malta, Illinois; Mesquite, Texas; Grapevine, Texas; and Crockett, Texas.


Of particular interest, Belle Fourche, South Dakota is celebrating with their CRAZY DAYS, Friday the 27th and Saturday the 28th.  In addition to the NDOC, the 28th also marks the 40th Anniversary of the 1972 film THE COWBOYS, directed by Mark Rydell and written by Irving Ravetch, Harriet Frank Jr. and William Dale Jennings, from Jennings’ novel.  In it, (as many of you recall) John Wayne hires a string of school-boys to drive his herd to Belle Fourche – and it’s the only major Western that mentions Belle Fourche, for years one of the nation’s largest livestock shipping points.  There’ll be a screening, and several cast members will attend, including Nicolas Beauvy, who played Dan; Al Barker Jr., who played Fats; Stephen Hudis, who played Charlie Schwartz; and Sean Kelly, who played Stuttering Bob.  Incidentally, my interview with Nicolas Beauvy about the making of THE COWBOYS will be coming soon to the Round-up. 



The Autry’s full day of events will feature live music, square-dancing, roping and gun-spinning demonstrations, arts and crafts, an Olde Time photo-studio, a scavenger hunt, a chance to rope a cow, and screenings of episodes of THE GENE AUTRY SHOW.


Western writer J.R. Sanders, of Redlands, California, working with the Barnes & Noble is Redlands, last year started READ ‘EM, COWBOY, a program to introduce youngins to Western writing, and it’s spread like a prairie-fire!  There are several Read ‘Em Cowboy events in California, five in Texas, and one each in South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado, most or all featuring readings and book-signings by Western authors of fiction and non-fiction.  And no matter where you are, you can take part by printing out and using the voucher below, at a Barnes & Noble store or at their on-line site.  A part of each purchase will go to your local school or worthy organization. 




The Will James Society, named for the Western author of such beloved novels as SMOKEY and SAND and LONE COWBOY, will present four sets of his books to Read ‘Em Cowboy ramrods J.R. Sanders, Francie Ganje,  Liz Lawless, and Julie Ream, who will present them to their local libraries.  Julie Ream’s Read ‘Em Cowboy event at the Barnes & Noble in Santa Clarita will feature authors Peter Sherayko (TOMBSTONE: THE GUNS AND GEAR) and Peter Ford (GLENN FORD: A LIFE) as well as displays of a Nudie-customized car and a trailer he made for Roy Rogers, and a baby-animal petting zoo from the Iverson Ranch.


Incidentally, J.R. has a full week of events planned, starting today with the 50th Anniversary screening of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE at the beautiful Fox Theatre in Redlands.  And he asked me to highlight the Under the Cowboy Moon: An evening with Belinda Gail and Dave Stamey.  “It's a fundraiser for Redlands High School's historical mural project.  The school was built in 1891; the mural will feature the original buildings, sadly long gone.”  It’s on Friday, July 27th: at Clock Auditorium, Redlands High School - 840 E. Citrus Ave.



JULYAMSH POWWOW IN POST FALLS IDAHO





From Friday, July 20th, through Sunday, July 22nd, the Coeur d' Alene hosted one of the largest Powwows in the area, which is a short drive from Spokane.  There was music, drumming, dancing, food, venders, and a wide range of artwork.  There was even a live radio broadcast on Saturday night, from 4 to 8 pm on KYRS.  A great time was had by all, and many commented on what fine hosts the Coeur d' Alene were.





ANDRES PICO ADOBE CELEBRATES ‘SAN FERNANDO VALLEY



On Thursday night, June 28th, The San Fernando Valley Historical Society had a special Adobe Under The Stars evening featuring a tour of the Andres Pico Adobe, displays of several personal collections, and a screening of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in one of their charming Republics musical actioners, SAN FERNANDO VALLEY. 



The Adobe is in the Andres Pico Adobe Park at 10940 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills.  It was my first visit to the Adobe, the 2nd oldest standing building in Los Angeles.  Built in 1845, it was the home of Andres Pico, who needed more space for his cattle, and had taken a nine-year lease on the entire San Fernando Valley – it probably helped that his brother, Pio Pico, was the Governor, in fact the last Mexican Governor of California.  The adobe contains a beautifully furnished living room, dining room and, upstairs a bedroom and research library and exhibit hall.



Metal mitts to keep toddlers from thumb-sucking!


Pennant from L.A. Aqueduct opening ("Forget it, Jake.  It's Chinatown.")


Just outside the adobe is the Lankershim Reading Room, an octagonal building built from a kit in 1904.  The Lankershims were one of the early ‘land’ families of Southern California, and this structure is perhaps the only one left from their once-vast holdings.  Back in 2001 it was about to be demolished when SFVHS veep James Gulbranson drove by, saw what was about to happen, and crammed his truck between the structure and the bulldozer.  The SFVHS bought it, moved it and restored it.




Not nearly so grand, but interesting, is the 5’ X 8’ Southern Pacific Railroad flagman’s shanty, once a common sight, and now one of the last known.  The SFVHS also is preserving the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, the burial place of over 600 between 1889 and 1939, which had fallen into disrepair, and was the victim of disgraceful vandalism over the past few decades.



Among the interesting displays that night were John Brooks’ percussion pistol collection; grandfather Peter Fontanili and grandson Shawn Garrison’s collection of Civil War weapons and tintypes; Pat Coscia’s collection of toy horses; and Mrs. Fontanili’s collection of quilts.  There were also several classic cars.  Fresh popcorn was provided for the SAN FERNANDO VALLEY screening, which was particularly enjoyable because the event attracted an older crowd, which meant that no one talked, no one texted, and no one’s cell phone went off during the movie.




The Adobe is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the third Sunday of every month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and if you want to see it, do it in the next couple of weeks or you’ll have to wait for a year.  The park is slated to close on August 20th, and reopen August 19th of 2013 as the Park undergoes extensive renovations.  The dates are subject to change.  You can call at 818-365-7810, or visit their website: http://sfvhs.com/



TREMENDOUS SPAGHETTI WESTERN FEST MOVES FROM N.Y.’S FILM FORUM TO HOLLYWOOD’S CINEMATEQUE!



The hugely successful East Coast festival from earlier this summer has moved west, and will screen from Thursday, July 26th through Sunday, August 12th, mostly at the Egyptian in Hollywood, but with some programs at the Aero in Santa Monica.  Included are 

THE HILLS RUN RED, DJANGO, DJANGO KILL… IF YOU LIVE SHOOT!, THE MERCENARY, THE PRICE OF POWER, DEATH RIDES A HORSE, SABATA, IF YOU MEET SARTANA PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH, THE BIG GUNDOWN, THE BIG SHOWDOWN, HELLBENDERS, A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, THE RUTHLESS FOUR, KILL AND PRAY, COMPAƑEROS, TEPEPA, CHINA 9 LIBERTY 37, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.  Thursday it’s THE BIG GUNDOWN and THE HILLS RUN RED.  Friday, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.  Saturday, THE MERCENARY and DEATH RIDES A HORSE.  Sunday it’s SABATA and IF YOU MEET SARTANA PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH.  The fest then takes a hiatus of a few days, returning on Thursday, August 2nd with CHINA 9 LIBERTY 37 and THE SHOOTING (actually a Utah western), with the director of both, Monte Hellman, in attendance.  I’ll have more details next week.


SCANDALS SHAKE CAL. DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION


In a state famous for world-class fiscal incompetence, it was upsetting to see a list of seventy public parks scheduled for closure due to lack of money, among them parks of great Western historical importance like Los Encinos, Fort Tejon, and Will Rogers.  Upsetting, but not surprising in a state that plays ‘chicken’ with its citizens year after year.  Last month it was announced that most of those parks would not be closed after all!  Big sigh of relief! 


Then last week, the story broke that one Manuel Thomas Lopez, a high-ranking deputy director in Parks and Rec., had without authorization started a vacation buy-back program, where employees would be paid for unused vacation time, with fraudulent work-hours entered on the books.  Not surprisingly, he got over $20,000 for himself.  He’s been allowed to resign.  Then, on Friday, July 20th, Ruth Coleman, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, resigned, and chief deputy Michael Harris was fired, when it was learned that, while their department was crying poor, they had $54 million dollars in surplus money (what the Hell is surplus money?) that they’ve been hiding for a dozen years!  Resignings and firings are nice, but when do the prosecutions start?


That's going to be it for tonight, partners!  It's about ten o'clock, and ever since I spoke to Nicolas Beauvy this afternoon I've been dyin' to stop, and watch him and the Duke in THE COWBOYS!  I'm doin' it now!  Have a great week!

Happy trails,

Henry

All Original Contents Copyright July 2012 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved 


Monday, July 16, 2012

INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCER BARRY BARNHOLTZ


Today there are quite a few working producers who have made a Western, a very few who have made two, but none have shown the commitment to the genre that Barry Barnholtz has in the past few years.  After producing TRIGGER FAST and GUNS OF HONOR back-to-back in 1994, he came back to the form with a vengeance: since 2009 he’s produced ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE, A COLD DAY IN HELL, AMERICAN BANDITS: FRANK AND JESSE JAMES, COLE YOUNGER & THE BLACK TRAIN, and just this year two more back-to-back releases, WYATT EARP’S REVENGE, and BAD BLOOD: HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS.  We talked about his start in the entertainment business, his personal feelings about Westerns, and his five-year-plan for the future.  


Barry Barnholtz at BAD BLOOD: HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS preview


H: Let me tell you first off, how much I enjoyed BAD BLOOD: HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS.  It was really solid storytelling and entertainment.  I also watched the Kevin Costner mini-series, and they did a very nice job, but I’ve got to say, I liked yours better.  I think your decision to compress the historical events into a shorter time period, rather than drawing it out, was crucial.


BARRY:  Thank you so much. I haven’t seen the other one, but I’ve been told that it had very limited action.  You know, LIONSGATE released ours, it was very well received, and I think everyone on the crew gave it 1,500%, not 100%.  I thought that the talent went over and beyond, and gave it their very very very best.  The writer-director, Fred Olen Ray, this was close to his heart, this was a passion.  He’s from that part of our nation.  He had a personal involvement in it, and really wanted to provide more than 1500%, and I think that he certainly delivered that.


H: I think his personal involvement comes through in that, and in AMERICAN BANDITS.


B: Right; exactly.  He delivered on HATFIELDS.  And the locations were outstanding; we couldn’t have shot this on the west coast.  This had to be shot showing Kentucky locations, where it happened, you know?  To be as real to the story as possible.  It was very cold when we were shooting there.  And they put up with the cold, with the rain.   This not the most pleasant thing to shoot, so you can see how over and beyond everyone went.  The director’s like the captain of the ship.  And when it’s rainy and cold outside, and the director’s willing to stand outside, in the rain, and be a part of that scenario, the talent will follow.  And Fred really proved himself to be the great director that he is.  A lot of research was done on the story.  Fred put a lot of detail into it.  The opening scene, the (Civil War) battle scenes with almost a hundred extras, really added to the production value.  And the film really delivers.



H: Let me back up a bit.  I hear a trace of a not-California accent.  Where were you born?


B: I was actually born in the Midwest, but I spent a lot of time in Europe.  Had an apartment in Cannes, France.  Spent some time in England.  I travelled a lot.


H: When did you decide you wanted to make movies?



B: I came out of the music industry.  Been there ever since I was in high school.  I knew I wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry.  I began actually, booking fraternity parties.  And then moving up to promoting occasional dance concerts, to then promoting larger concerts, like the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, Old Spanish Days up there, Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino and larger venues.  Then I went on to producing records.  I guess I was semi- responsible for three platinum and fifteen or sixteen gold records.  What I did, when disco was hot, was I located all of these African-American tracks down at Muscle Shoals (note: the legendary Alabama recording studio).  Put Japanese lyrics to them, French lyrics, Italian lyrics, distributed worldwide.  I had a nightclub on Sunset Boulevard that became world-renowned, called Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco.  And it was responsible for breaking MOTT THE HOOPLE and SLADE.  We were responsible for that whole glitter sensation.  David Bowie was the chairman of the board.  We made the centerfold of PEOPLE.  We were in NEWSWEEK twice in a month; about 320 different publications.  Then I went on to booking films on TV; SPOTLIGHT, HBO, SHOWTIME.  TV in greater Washington, and handling independent films.  Then I started a (video) company called VIDMARK in ‘83.  And turned it into TRIMARK in 1985, so I was co-cofounder of TRIMARK.  We took it public, and it was a real success story.  And I was there for 14 ½ years.  The company was sold to LIONSGATE, and currently I’ve had almost a sixteen year relationship with LIONSGATE, in releasing films.  They have over 200 films that I’ve been involved with.  I teamed up with a fellow named Jeff Schenck almost four years ago, and with him started a company called HYBRID.  Jeff and I have made almost twenty films in that short period of time.  Mostly things for television; LIFETIME, SYFY, HALLMARK, ABC FAMILY.


MOTT THE HOOPLE


H: As you know, my focus with the Round-up is Westerns.  Were you a western fan as a kid?


B: I think everyone is a western fan as a kid.  With the lack of Westerns in the market place, if you ask any director, or any talent, if they’d like to be involved with a western, they all jump in immediately, and are very excited about the project.  If the script is very good, it really isn’t a problem attracting talent, because it’s something they grew up with as well. 


H: I was just watching what I think is one of your first westerns, TRIGGER FAST, this afternoon.  You made that and GUNS OF HONOR in ’94.  Were they your first westerns?


B: I believe so.  They were shot in South Africa. 


H: They’re both based on ‘The Floating Outfit’ stories by English western writer J.T. Edson, and I notice they both have the same very strong cast; Martin Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Christopher Atkins.  Are they different ‘cuts’ of the same story?







B: Each one is a stand-alone.  (One is a continuation of the other) but each can stand alone. 


H: How did they come about?


B: I was at TRIMARK when I was approached by someone that I thought was very capable of producing films, in London.  And their vision was to go to South Africa, and to make these films. 


H: TRIGGER FAST is a beautiful looking picture; South Africa works very well as the west.


B: It’s amazing, because of all the horses – it was less expensive to buy the horses and then resell them than to lease the horses. 


H: For the next several years you produced a wide range of movies: thrillers, horror films, Christmas pictures, family pictures.  But it wasn’t until 2009 that you made another Western.


B: I’m always looking at opportunities; and the opportunity didn’t come about until then.  Sure, a lot of scripts are introduced to me; I read a lot of scripts every week.  But I just didn’t feel that any were well-enough written, or they could not be negotiated, or I didn’t think the idea was strong enough to turn into a film. 


H: Well, in 2009 you returned to the western with ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE, which I understand is one of the last films of David Carradine. 



B: It was his last western anyway. 


H: Was that a project someone brought to you?


B: Yes; the project was brought to us, but we were instrumental in casting.  And I thought that David Carradine was a good choice. 


H: I’ve never seen when David Carradine was not a good choice.  I notice your company’s logo features a horse’s face. 


B: Yuh; I’ve had horses in my life now for twenty-five years.  That’s actually my first horse that I had.  I’ve retired him; he lives up in Ojai.  He was a cutting horse; grandson of Peppy San, a very famous cutting horse. (Note: Peppy San is the first National Cutting Horse Association World Champion to sire an NCHA World Champion.)   Sure made me a better rider, to get such a unique, spirited horse as my first horse.  I’ve always ridden in the past, even as a teenager.  Always had a passion to ride horses, and now I have four, right in my backyard.


H: In 2010 you and Jeffrey Schenck produced AMERICAN BANDITS: FRANK AND JESSE JAMES.  Since then, among the thrillers and Christmas movies and comedies, you’ve produced two more westerns back to-back: WYATT EARP’S REVENGE and BAD BLOOD: HATFIELDS & MCCOYS.  And that’s not even counting your other two westerns of the same period, COLD DAY IN HELL and COLE YOUNGER AND THE BLACK TRAIN.  Why have you decided that this is the right time for westerns?



B: Well, I think that there is a real lack of westerns in the marketplace.  In my library of films, I have HIGH NOON; I have STAGECOACH, THE LAST DAYS OF FRANK AND JESSE JAMES with Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash.  I had an opportunity to meet the ‘Highwaymen’ when they were around.  I also have ANOTHER PAIR OF ACES with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.  And a movie with Travis Tritt, THE LONG KILL, that we shot in Spain.  I’ve released nearly 900 films.


H: Most of your westerns of the past few years are based on historical figures: the James Brothers, Wyatt Earp, Hatfields & McCoys, Cole Younger.  Does this reflect your personal interest in Western history?


B: You know, if you make a film about an icon, people can identify it easier.  If you make a film about Billy the Kid, if you make a film about Wyatt Earp, they’re iconic, and people can relate to them.  So it’s easier to get that into the marketplace, than if you just make a western with a created character.  If you have Wyatt Earp or Billy the Kid in the title, it’s almost like having ‘A Stephen King Film,’ above the title.  It makes it a lot more desirable in the marketplace. 


H: Speaking of the marketplace, what is the worldwide market for westerns like?  What countries want to see them?


B: There’s a little bit in Canada, because of Calgary.  There’s Australia; there’s a little bit in the U.K., couple other territories.  Italy, because of the spaghetti westerns.  In Spain, somewhat.  But it’s really limited outside North America.



H: How about Germany?  I know they used to be huge,


B: It’s limited; it’s hit and miss.  And DVD has certainly changed the marketplace.  Video’s disappearing in the international marketplace.  So you have to have it in some form that people are willing and able to see. VOD and SVOD -- video on demand and subscription video on demand -- and things of that nature; it hasn’t taken off in the States yet.  It’s starting to take hold in the UK and France; slowly it’s expanding.  There’s a lot of piracy in a lot of the territories, international distribution.  Once it’s out there, it’s pretty difficult to stop it, because downloading entities are sprouting up on a daily basis.


H: I don’t think the audience has a very clear understanding of the executive producer’s role in filmmaking.  How would you explain your role?


B: I’m involved with raising or putting up the financing.   I’m involved with hiring the director, the producer, and a big part of the crew.  I make the decisions on the casting, because I have a distribution background, and that really helps in figuring out what names really mean something for all the different ancillaries, whether it be theatrical, video, VOD, television.  And of course I depend upon Jeff, who has a high degree of knowledge in the TV marketplace as well.  What we don’t know we have no shame in asking.  International sales companies, how they feel about certain talent, in order to be able to make intelligent decisions.  We’re not interested in making an art house film.  We’re not interested in making a film that has to go on a film festival circuit to find distribution.  With the contacts that we have, we’re making it with distribution in mind. 


H: How involved are you with script development?


B: Jeff has more of a handle on that than I do.  He has a better idea of what makes a good script than I do.  I’m better with the timing of the script.


H: I had an email from a woman who said she didn’t consider a movie to be a western if it didn’t have a barroom fight.  What things do you think a western must have?



B: It has to have a barroom fight.  People want to see gunshots, and they want pacing.  They don’t want to see too much before there’s a certain amount of action, to be able to keep their level of interest.  I certainly believe in starting out films with a ‘bang,’ whether it’s a western or a thriller; in most genres, except for a comedy or a romantic comedy.   It’s got to have a shootout; multiple shootouts.  They want to hear loud gunshots, they want to hear ricochets; they want to hear the guns sound real, not cap guns.  They want to see that the acting is good.  They want to see that the wardrobe is pretty authentic.  And the locations as well mean a tremendous amount.  They want to see talent that knows how to ride horses.  We had trouble with some of the people riding in a couple of the westerns, even though the actors said they were experienced riders.  We saw them bouncing on the saddle.  So we had to dress them in longer jackets so you didn’t see them bouncing.  You need people who know how to ride; audiences know the difference. 


H: It seems to me, just looking at your westerns, that there is a steady progression from AMERICAN BANDITS to WYATT EARP to THE HATFIELDS.


B: The movies have been increasing in size.  And they’re going to continue to.   And we’re stepping up, and trying to go for bigger and better talent all the time.    That’s our five-year plan.  It’s within our future, yes.


H: I had the pleasure of being on your WYATT EARP set, so I know how efficiently your sets run.  I was fascinated to see director Michael Feiffer finish a shot and, without cutting, literally pick up the camera and change the setup.  I thought, that could only be with digital; you couldn’t do that with film.  How has the move from film to digital affected your movies? 


B: Well, all the broadcasters now want HD.  And listen, it’s so much easier to shoot on HD now, where, if you made a mistake, you can see right away, instead of having to print dailies.  The future is right now, it’s here.  And the cameras are changing all the time.  You buy a new camera now, and in two years it’s outdated, because the progression of new cameras are coming out more than just yearly.


H: I know that Michael Feiffer has directed more than twenty projects for you.  What keeps you coming back to him? 


B: I started out with Michael doing the serial killer films.  And he has a long history of producing and directing.  He’s someone that I have faith with.  But we are diversifying, and at this point constantly seeking new directors to work with.  And new producers as well. 


H: Do you have a group of people in front of and behind the camera, a kind of stock company that you like to use again and again? 


B: We use some of the same crew on different projects – obviously it depends upon availability.  But having the luxury of shooting many of our films in and around Southern California, there’s a huge pool to be able to pull from.


H: Are you looking to get into theatrical releases, as opposed to home video?


B: We’ve been releasing things theatrically at BARNHOLTZ ENTERTAINMENT now for a long time.  Jeff and I, through HYBRID, we’re very secure in making TV-type of movies.   But our direction, within our five year plan, and with the type of elements that we’re bringing in, will certainly command theatrical opening and theatrical success, for the amount of money that we’re spending on them.  And the talent that we’re working with.


H: Where are you within your five year plan?


B: We just made a decision within the last year to make this five year plan.  And that’s why you see the natural progression of making bigger and bigger films. 


H: Have you chosen what your next Western project is?


B: No.  Not as yet. 


H: Have you considered doing sequels or follow-ups to any of the westerns you’ve done before?


B: I haven’t really thought about it.  We’re in negotiations on one; I can’t divulge the title yet. 


H: What are your favorite western movies?


B: I love STAGECOACH; I love HIGH NOON.  I like the movies I’ve been involved with in the past.  It was such a pleasure to be able to work with the elements on FRANK AND JESSE JAMES, and very exciting to be able to work with talented actors.  I’m noticing that there are a lot of country and western singers who would love to be given the opportunity to be in westerns as well. 



WYATT EARP’S REVENGE – a film review



WYATT EARP’S REVENGE, the new Western directed by Michael Feifer from Darren Benjamin Shepherd’s script, rewinds history to the very beginning of the Wyatt Earp legend and in addition to entertaining, to a surprising degree, it gives an accurate history lesson.  In 1878, a rich, spoiled, sociopathic thug named Spike Kenedy (Daniel Booko), angry at the Dodge City mayor, Dog Kelly, fires several shots through Kelly’s door, then rides away, thinking he’s killed the mayor.  In fact, Kelly is not home, and has let a couple of actresses sleep in his house.  One of them, Dora Hand (AMERICAN IDOL finalist Diana DeGarmo), takes a bullet meant for Dog Kelly, and dies.   





To see the cast of famous lawman characters that populate the tale, you might think screenwriter Shepherd was fantasizing – everyone but Wild Bill Hickock and Hopalong Cassidy are in the posse --  but that’s the honest truth.  When Wyatt Earp (Shawn Roberts) takes off after Spike, he’s accompanied by Bat Masterson (Matt Dallas), Charlie Bassett (Scott Whyte), and they’re soon joined by expert tracker Bill Tilghman (Levi Fiehler).  Granted, they do toss in Doc Holliday (HART OF DIXIE star Wilson Bethel), but it’s an amusing cameo that doesn’t really re-write history, and brings some much-appreciated levity to a very grim story.



Earp and his men are in a race against time to catch Spike and his brother Sam Kenedy (Steven Grayhm) before they can reach the property of their influential politico-father Mifflin Kenedy (singer Trace Adkins), at which point Spike will be all but untouchable.


Shawn Roberts as Wyatt Earp - 1878


There is a second, parallel story as well, where Wyatt Earp, in a San Francisco hotel in 1907, is being interviewed by a reporter about the events of 1878.  Here, Earp is Val Kilmer, old and dignified, and his thoughtful, introspective narration, heard at intervals throughout the story, adds a welcome gravitas to the proceedings.  Kilmer’s performance as a man haunted by his life-choices is quietly powerful. His dignity is all the more effective when faced with the arrogant questions of the callow reporter (David O’Donnell). 


Val Kilmer as Wyatt Earp - 1907


Shawn Roberts as Earp gives a sincere but understated performance, understated by necessity since Kilmer is frequently voicing his thoughts, and one can easily see the younger man growing into the older one.  Dora Hand is dead before we meet her, but in a series of flashbacks we learn that she was Earp’s woman, and on the way to being his wife, and while this is all invention, it gives important impetus to Earp’s hunt for Spike. 



Trace Adkins looks like he stepped right out of a Matthew Brady photograph, and although his role is brief, his fatherly quiet fury is moving and effective, complimented by Caia Coley as his wife, the too-indulgent mother of Spike and Sam. 


Trace Adkins as Mifflin Kenedy

While the members of Wyatt's posse are all familiar characters, the script doesn't give the actors  much chance to make an impression in their individual roles. Matt Dallas as Bat Masterson comes off the best, introduced with an elaborate fist-fight at the beginning of the story, before the chase is on, and later is effective as Wyatt’s best friend. 


Matt Dallas as Bat Masterson


Interestingly, the best role, and most memorable performance is by Daniel Booko as the villain of the piece, Spike Kenedy, whose treatment of people he meets along the way is the stuff of nightmares.  Spike may have a screw loose, or he may simply be a sadist, but Booko plays him with an smooth charm that chills, because you can easily see yourself making the mistake of trusting him. 


Daniel Booko as Spike Kenedy


There’s plenty of action, between the posse’s pursuit of Spike and company, the trigger-happy lowlifes Spike travels with, and Spike’s almost arbitrary homicidal tendencies.  An extended shootout between the posse and Spike’s gang, in a field with no cover except tall grass, is particularly exciting.



Michael Feifer’s direction is effective without distracting artifice.  Working with cinematographer Roberto Schein, the lighting and shot composition is always effective and frequently striking, as in the ‘forensic’ sequence at the crime scene.  Subtle use of a crane gives some scenes a considerable power-boost.  Christian Ramirez’s art direction gives a consistent sense of time and place, and Nikki Pelley’s costumes are correct, yet unusually varied, giving each character their own style.



IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO ENTER INSP’S SADDLE-UP SATURDAY SWEEPSTAKES! 





SADDLE-UP SATURDAY, featuring episodes of BONANZA, THE BIG VALLEY, DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN, and sometimes movies, now starts at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT, and runs all day and all night! You can learn more about the line-up HERE. To celebrate the expansion, INSP is sponsoring a sweepstakes that will win some lucky viewer an all-expenses-paid four-day Dude Ranch getaway for two worth $5000! The second prize is a Weber Barbecue, Omaha Steaks and groceries worth more than $1300! Third prize – these are worth $300, and there are a dozen of them – are BIG VALLEY and BONANZA DVDs, plus a new pair of Levis and a Fisher Gold Mining Kit! To find out more, click under the banner below, and good luck! This contest started last Monday, and it’s only running for five more days, so quit putting it off – enter now! 


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RIDE LONESOME: THE FILMS OF BUDD BOETTICHER – THE CURATOR’S PERSPECTIVE



Paul Malcolm, who has been a programmer at the UCLA Archive since 2007, has a wide range of film interests, and describes himself as a ‘generalist.’  But as he proved with last year’s TRACKING THE CAT: ROBERT MITCHUM IN THE WEST, he has a taste for cinema-sagebrush.  “I think Robert Mitchum’s western films had been overlooked, overwhelmed by his noir and urban personality.  And I love his westerns because there’s so much of that noir element in them.  The Mitchum series did really well for us; the audience was really responsive.  I’m a huge fan of westerns, and I just wanted to do another western series.



“I met Budd Boetticher back in 2000 or 2001, when I was getting my masters degree at UCLA, and Professor Janet Bergstrom arranged a meeting with Budd and Mary at his home down in San Diego, for herself and three teaching assistants.  She was teaching a noir class, and she had screened THE KILLER IS LOOSE in the class.  I just found him to be the most gracious and engaging and amazing guy.  And he was just an incredible host to give us an afternoon.  He showed us his horses, and the ring where he did the bullfighting recreations.  I’d just always loved his films, so when I got the job here in 2007, it was always in the back of my mind, doing a Budd Boetticher series.  Because his films, both the crime films like THE KILLER IS LOOSE and THE RISE AND FALL OF LEGS DIAMOND, and the Ranown Westerns, I haven’t seen play around in Los Angeles, and I think they deserve to be shown.  THE TALL T, RIDE LONESOME, I think all of these films should be part of the regular classic circulating titles out there, in the way that the Howard Hawks, the John Ford films get circulated.  He’s had these peaks of attention, but he’s never really quite gotten into the regular pantheon, and I think he deserves to be there.  His films are pretty amazing.”   




On hand for the July 22nd screening of BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY will be Mary Boetticher, and Robert Gitt, UCLA Preservation Officer, who did the restoration on BULLFIGHTER.



Just a side note; on Friday evening, as SEVEN MEN FROM NOW began, with applause for various credits, a man in his late teens, and his father, sitting beside me, applauded vigorously for composer Henry Vars.  After the movie, I learned that they were the grandson and great-grandson of the prolific and talented composer, far better known in his homeland of Poland, and most famous here for his music for FLIPPER.  SEVEN MEN was produced by Andrew V. McLaglen, and they told me that McLaglen used Vars frequently.  In fact, Vars composed the scores for five films that McLaglen directed: FRECKLES, THE LITTLE SHERHERD OF KINGDON COME, MAN IN THE VAULT, GUN THE MAN DOWN, and Vars’ final score, FOOL’S PARADE.  (You never know who you’ll meet at a screening in L.A.)



ANYONE KNOW THE HUDKINS BROTHERS?



This week I received a message from Kristine Sader: “I am writing a book about my uncles, the Hudkins, and also my cousin Rich Brehm, who were stuntmen, and wranglers in many westerns.  If you know anyone who knew them, I would like to talk with them.  Thanks so much.”



John ‘Bear’ Hudkins, Ace Hudkins, Clyde Hudkins, and Dick Hudkins (I think they were all brothers) were legendary stuntmen, who owned a stable and Hudkins Brothers Movie Ranch in Burbank, across the road from Warner Brothers Studios – the movie ranch is now Forest Lawn Cemetery.  They’re said to have owned both Trigger and Hi-Yo Silver when they were rental horses. 

Thanks to Boyd Mager for this image


As Neil Summers writes, “When you watch classic action filled westerns and see a ferocious wagon wreck, or turnover as they are called in the business, chances are real good you’re seeing the expertise of Bear Hudkins, one of the best wagon men ever to perform in films.”


If you have knowledge of the Hudkins, or Rich Brehm, e-mail her at SADERWWJD@AOL.COM.  And please let the Round-up know, as well.

Well, that's it for tonight.  Have a great week!

Happy trails,

Henry

All Original Contents Copyright July 2012 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved