Sunday, February 27, 2011


(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. Naïve. 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)


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.



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.



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.


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.)


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.


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.


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 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!



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


  1. Thanks for the tip on the paperback show. I'm going to try to be there. You going?

  2. Absolutely! I never miss it. (Well, once) But I'm hitting it early, so I can also catch Courtney Joyner's talk at OutWest.