Monday, February 21, 2011


(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

(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, 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.


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.


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.



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.



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.



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


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.)


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.


Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.


Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.


This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.


Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.


Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

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!


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

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