Sunday, January 4, 2015
THE YEAR IN WESTERNS - 2014
I’ve decided to begin the new year with something that will become an annual event if it is well received in these pages, a look back at ‘The Year In Westerns.’ Come to think of it, maybe next December I’ll list the Western movies and TV shows of the past year, and ask you Rounders to select your favorites.
WHAT WERE THE TOP WESTERN NEWS STORIES OF THE PAST YEAR? (I’m including links to the posts with my original stories, for those who’d like to read more.)
QUENTIN TARANTINO CANCELS, RESTARTS ‘HATEFUL 8’ OVER LEAKED SCRIPT!
With DJANGO UNCHAINED, director Quentin Tarantino has done more to bring in new audiences, and attach a patina of coolness to Westerns, than anyone else in recent memory. Unfortunately, one of the down-sides of being worshipped as a cinema-god is that fans are so eager to read his stuff that they won’t let him finish it before posting it on the internet. When, despite all of his precautions, a screenplay was posted, he was so angry that he cancelled the film entirely.
Eventually, he decided to hold a single script-reading with an all-star cast, as a benefit to the L.A. County Museum of Art. Happily, the reading went so well that it became the cinema event of the year – and Tarantino enjoyed himself so much that he reversed his decision, put HATEFUL 8 back into pre-production, and started writing another draft. This LINK will connect you to Andrew Ferrell’s coverage of the reading for the Round-up.
A&E CANCELS ‘LONGMIRE’ BECAUSE GROWN-UPS LIKE IT!
Although ‘LONGMIRE’, the modern Western series about lawman Walter Longmire, based on the novels by Craig Johnson, is by far the most popular successful original series A&E has ever produced, they decided the viewership skewed too old, and didn’t bring in the coveted youth advertising dollars, so they cancelled it. After extensive shopping and negotiations, LONGMIRE has found a new home, Netflix, for at least the 2015 season.
ALMERIA FILM FESTIVAL STOLEN!
THE ALMERIA WESTERN FILM FESTIVAL, created and run with great success for three years by Danny Garcia and Cesar Mendez, was effectively stolen by Tabernas Mayor Mari Nieves Jaen, who went behind the Fest creators’ backs and registered the festival name herself. She decided to have the festival, or rather a festival of the same name, run by others more simpatico with politicians who are more dedicated to photo ops than film history. Happily, Garcia and Mendez decided to add ‘INTERNATIONAL’ to their festival’s name, and go on with it. I understand both events were successful.
‘RIO BRAVO’, ‘LITTLE BIG MAN’ OTHER WESTERNS ADDED TO NAT’L FILM REGISTRY
As happens this time every year, twenty-five films have been added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry. Among them are several Westerns: RIO BRAVO (1959), Howard Hawks’ and John Wayne’s contemptuous response to HIGH NOON; LITTLE BIG MAN (1970), Arthur Penn’s entirely different take on Custer’s Last Stand; RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1935), where transplanted English butler Charles Laughton proves himself more American than his employers; and STATE FAIR (1933), the first of three filmed versions of Philip Strong’s novel, starring Will Rogers. Among the non-Western films named to the list are ROSEMARY’S BABY, FERRIS BEULLER’S DAY OFF, HOUSE OF WAX and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. For the complete list, go here: http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2014/14-210.html
‘A WORD ON WESTERNS’ – A DOZEN GREAT LIVE EVENTS AT THE AUTRY
back row - Martin Kove, Rob Word, Robert Woods, Brett Hallsey
front - author Tom Betts, producer-director Bill Lustig
The third Wednesday of every month, Rob Word produced A WORD ON WESTERNS, a remarkable free event that always packed the Crossroads West Café, spilling over to the outside tables. Rob emceed and interviewed guests with a different topic each month. January marked LONESOME DOVE’S 25th anniversary, with producer Suzanne de Passe, actor Barry Corbin, stunt coordinator Billy Burtin, and costume designer Luster Bayless. With similarly stellar guests, the other topics were HOW THE WEST WAS WON, WOMEN OF THE WEST, Sam Peckinpah and THE WILD BUNCH, John Wayne – A Salute to the Duke, Spaghetti Westerns – the Good, the Bad and the Music, Cowboys & Comics – the West in Comic Books, Melody Ranch, Lights! Camera! Lone Pine, Hal Needham – Godfather of Modern Stunts, Audie Murphy – No Name On His Bullets, and Cowboy Comedies. Among the actors who attended were Bruce Boxleitner, Morgan Woodward, L.Q. Jones, Bo Hopkins, John Saxon, Robert Forster, Michael Dante, Fred Willard, Chuck McCann, Mariette Hartley, Julie Adams, Jane Withers, Martin Kove, Robert Woods, Brett Halsey, Donna Martel and Patrick Wayne. I attended as many as I could, always had a great lunch, a great time, and I learned a lot. I can’t believe that ‘A Word On Westerns’ in not currently on The Autry schedule for 2015!
MORRICONE BACK INJURY DELAYS, THEN CANCELS U.S. TOUR
What was to be Maestro Ennio Morricone’s first concert in Los Angeles, planned for March 20th at the NOKIA THEATRE was postponed until June 15th. Surgery to repair a slipped disc necessitated the delay. Morricone, the 85 year old composer of over 500 scores, who gained fame for his soundtracks to Sergio Leone westerns, issued the following statement: “It deeply saddens me to have to postpone this concert. I am very much looking forward to my first Los Angeles performance. Hollywood has been instrumental in bringing my work to American audiences, and my 2007 performance in New York was one of the high points of my career to date. I’m grateful and sorry to my fans for having to delay this show. I look forward to seeing you in June.” Sadly, he was not yet well enough to travel for the June date. His New York City concert also had to be cancelled.
CLAYTON MOORE’S 100TH BIRTHDAY MARKED WITH MULTIPLE EVENTS
CINECON, THE LONE PINE FILM FESTIVAL, and THE SILVER SPUR AWARDS were among the many events that honored the versatile actor and greatest of all Lone Rangers, Clayton Moore, on or around what would have been his 100th birthday, September 14th. I had the pleasure of discussing his career with his daughter, Dawn Moore. HERE is the interview.
It became a tradition on the DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW that around Christmastime, comedian Jay Thomas would tell David’s all-time favorite story, about when in his radio deejay days, Jay made an appearance at a car dealership with Clayton Moore. With Letterman soon retiring from his show, Jay told the story for the last time a few days ago. Click below to see it – you’ll be glad you did.
WESTERN FILMS AND TV SHOWS THIS YEAR
My reviews are linked to each show’s title
ON THE BIG SCREEN:
THE HARVEY GIRLS – OPPORTUNITY BOUND – a Documentary
KAUBOJI (‘COWBOY’ in Croatian) A Croation Western Comedy
ON THE SMALL SCREEN:
DELIVERANCE CREEK Movie and 'Back Door Pilot' on Lifetime
WHEN CALLS THE HEART series on Hallmark
KLONDIKE mini-series Discovery Channel
HELL ON WHEELS – SEASON 4 on AMC
GUNSLINGERS on American Heroes Channel
STREAMING AND/OR DIRECT TO VIDEO:
DARK FRONTIER – An Australian Western
LEGEND OF THE RENO BROTHERS – A Documentary
GOLD – A German Western
THE LAST ROUND-UP:
A look back at the passing this year of the many men and women who contributed to the Western on the big screen and small, and on the page. If you know of anyone I've missed, please let me know, so I may update.
Jane Adams, an actress who was romantic lead to Johnny Mack Brown in several movies, and starred in many Universal thrillers.
Giorgio Ardisson, a star of spaghetti westerns, notable ZORRO, THE FOX.
Lauren Bacall, an actress and icon, who starred with John Wayne in his final film, THE SHOOTIST.
Juanita Bartlett, best known as producer of THE ROCKFORD FILES, was a writer on series including NICHOLS, BONANZA and LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.
Eric Bercovici, the Emmy-winning producer of SHOGUN, also scripted DAY OF THE EVIL GUN, THE CULPEPPER CATTLE COMPANY and TAKE A HARD RIDE.
Richard Bull, an actor with many western and non-western roles, and played Nels Olesen 147 times on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.
Thomas Burger, a novelist who wrote LITTLE BIG MAN.
John Cabrera, the British cinematographer of CAPTAIN APACHE, A MAN CALLED NOON and CALL OF THE WILD.
Tap Canutt, a stuntman since the 1950s in films like JOE KIDD, THE COWBOYS, THE LAST HARD MAN, famously doubled for Charlton Heston in the chariot race in BEN HUR.
Remo Capitani, an actor who played bartenders, sheriffs and soldiers in more than thirty Euro-westerns.
John Fasano, a screenwriter who wrote THE LEGEND OF BUTCH & SUNDANCE, HANNAH’S LAW, and who saved TOMBSTONE by deftly trimming the script when the original writer/director was fired, and the project nearly scrapped.
Mona Freeman, an actress who appeared with William Holden in STREETS OF LAREDO, and guested in numerous western series.
Arthur Gardner, who with his partners at Gardner-Levy-Levin produced THE RIFLEMAN, THE BIG VALLEY, and a number of Western features.
James Garner, a Western icon who starred as the title character in MAVERICK, played Wyatt Earp in HOUR OF THE GUN, and did many other Westerns.
Menahem Golan, a co-founder of Cannon Films, who produced two Israeli westerns starring Lee Van Cleef, GOD’S GUN and KID VENGEANCE.
Craig Hill, a supporting player in American movies who went to Spain and became a star beginning with HANDS OF A GUNFIGHTER.
Tex Hill, a stunt man whose credits include THE ALAMO, CAT BALLOU and THE RIDE TO HANGMAN’S TREE.
Martha Hyer, an actress who appeared in THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER and many other Westerns.
Don Ingalls, a producer and writer on HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, THE TRAVELS OF JAIMIE MCPHEETERS, and many others
Herb Jeffries, the Bronze Buckaroo, star of many all-black westerns, and last of the singing cowboys
Russell Johnson, an actor best known for playing The Professor on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, he starred as Marshal Gib Scott in the series BLACK SADDLE.
Christopher Jones, an actor who portrayed Jesse James in the series THE LEGEND OF JESSE JAMES
Dick Jones, an actor perhaps best known as the voice of PINNOCHIO, he was a fabulous horseman who starred on TV as BUFFALO BILL JR., and opposite Jock Mahoney in THE RANGE RIDER.
Don Keefer, a character actor whose 170 credits include BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, and ten GUNSMOKES.
Ernest Kinoy, a former WGA East president, who wrote BUCK AND THE PREACHER.
Glen A. Larson, a producer and writer on THE VIRGINIAN, creator of ALIAS SMITH AND JONES.
Audrey Long, who appeared with John Wayne in TALL IN THE SADDLE, and in other westerns.
Andrew V. McLaglen, a dean of action directors, he helmed more episodes of GUNSMOKE and HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL than anyone else, and directed John Wayne six times.
Gary McClarty, a stuntman who began his long career with THE WAY WEST.
Denny Miller, star of WAGON TRAIN and many other westerns.
Maximo Munzi, cinematographer of several Hallmark Westerns, most recently SHADOW ON THE MESA.
Ed Nelson, a PEYTON PLACE star often played handsome villains in nearly 100 western TV episodes.
Bob Orrison, a stuntman who began his career with BANDOLERO!
Riz Ortolani, a composer twice Oscar-nominated for MONDO CANE and MADRON, created the scores for about fifteen westerns, from SHATTERHAND to MASSACRE AT FORT HOLMAN.
Ted Richmond, who started on poverty row westerns went on to produce for Audie Murphy and Tyrone Power, and to make RETURN OF THE SEVEN, VILLA RIDES and RED SUN.
Stanley Rubin, a producer whose credits include DESTRY, THE RIVER OF NO RETURN, and the series HOTEL DE PAREE.
Joseph Sargeant, in addition to directing episodes of BONANZA and GUNSMOKE, he acted in many Western series.
Paul Savage, longtime writer on GUNSMOKE, and many other series and Western features.
Dick Smith, make-up genius who aged Dustin Hoffman for LITTLE BIG MAN.
Shirley Temple, the biggest child star ever in film, and a great talent, starred in TO THE LAST MAN and FORT APACHE.
Misty Upham, an actress who appeared in several westerns, most recently DJANGO UNCHAINED.
Ralph Waite, actor best remembered as the father in THE WALTONS also appeared in CHATO’S LAND, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN RIDE, BONANZA, and others.
Eli Wallach, the brilliant character actor who was unforgettable as Calvera in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, and as Tuco in THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY.
Gordon Willis, a brilliant cinematographer who shot BAD COMPANY and COMES A HORSEMAN.
Patrice Wymore, an actress starred opposite Errol Flynn in his best western, ROCKY MOUNTAIN, and then married the actor.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr., a Warner Brothers TV star who guested in their western series, and played Zorro’s father in the first season of THE NEW ZORRO.
THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2015:
6 BULLETS TO HELL – I’ll be seeing this Almeria-lensed, Texas-cut Spaghetti and Chili Western on January 15th, and reporting back!
BOONVILLE REDEMPTION is in the can, and should be coming out sometime this year.
HATEFUL 8, Quentin Tarantino’s new Western, concerning a group of travelers seeking shelter in a blizzard, began filming in December, and is set for a November 2015 release. It stars, among a large ensemble cast, Channing Tatum, Bruce Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kurt Russell.
BONE TOMAHAWK, a new thriller-western starring Kurt Russell, written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, is in the can. I visited the set during filming, and will file my report shortly.
WESTWORLD, produced by Jerry Weintraub for HBO, is a mini-series based on the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton and produced by Saul David. The tale of a robot-populated resort for people who want to live out their fantasies will feature Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, and Ed Harris as Man in Black, Yul Brynner’s character in the original.
THAT'S A WRAP!
I hope you had a very festive New Year celebration, and I thank you for your continued support of the Round-up! I just started writing a new Western screenplay, and set myself the goal of five pages a day. I wrote six on Friday, five on Saturday, so I should be up to 16 now, but I finished the Round-up today instead. I guess that means nine pages to do on Monday. Wish me luck!
All Original Contents Copyright January 2015 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved