Sunday, March 25, 2012


Happily, lots of broadcast and cable networks have jumped on the Western bandwagon lately, but none has shown a longer-tern commitment to the form than the HALLMARK CHANNEL and HALLMARK MOVIE CHANNEL, who have produced at least two Westerns a year for longer than I can recall.

In late January they presented Luke Perry in the second GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE feature, THE MEASURE OF A MAN, and they already have number three in the can.   And I ran into a friend yesterday who’s just back from working on SHADOW ON THE MESA, with Kevin Sorbo.  On Saturday, June 9th they’ll premiere HANNAH’S LAW.  The story of an orphaned girl-turned bounty hunter, determined to track her family’s killers, Hannah is portrayed by VAMPIRE DIARIES star Sara Canning.  Her best friend, Stagecoach Mary, is played by FOR COLORED GIRLS star Kimberly Elise. 

Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday seem to be as busy on the screen today as Gabby Hayes was in his prime.  In this version, DURHAM COUNTY star Greyston Holt is Earp and HELLCATS star Ryan Kennedy is Doc.  Of greatest interest to Western aficionados is the presence of Danny Glover and Billy Zane.  Glover, who became a star with the LETHAL WEAPON franchise, was last in the saddle in 1997’s BUFFALO SOLDIERS. He also starred in Lawrence Kasdan’s SILVERADO (1985), and did some of his best work as Joshua Deets in 1989’s groundbreaking LONESOME DOVE, the miniseries that began the resuscitation of the Western.  Billy Zane, one of the few ‘pale-faces’ in Mario Van Peebles POSSE (1993), made his Western mark with his daring portrayal of the actor Mr. Fabian in TOMBSTONE.  

Director Rachel Talalay first gained attention with the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET entry FREDDY’S DEAD (1991) and TANK GIRL (1995), and has since been a very busy TV director.  Script is by John Fasano, who wrote THE LEGEND OF BUTCH AND SUNDANCE (2006), and in 1999 wrote the story for THE HUNLEY, the remarkable true tale of the Confederate submarine of the same name.  We’ll have more information on this production soon. 


High Noon’s Western Americana Auction and Antique Show, held in Mesa, Arizona on January 28th, set a record for the highest price ever paid for a saddle.  Once the property of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, then given by his widow to movie director Howard Hawks, the saddle was expected to go for between $150,000 and $250,000.  The final selling price was $718,750!

Montie Montana’s Bohlin spurs, estimated at ten to fifteen thousand, went for $14,375.  Montie’s boots and a Nudie shirt, estimated at one thousand to fifteen hundred, took $1,725.  VANISHING AMERICAN author Zane Grey’s saddle may not have been in the Pancho Villa league, but estimated at $4,000, it took more than double, selling for $9,200.

Tom Mix’s belt and Bohlin buckle was predicted to go for twelve to sixteen thousand, but actually raised $20,700.  I predicted that Hopalong Cassidy’s leather director’s chair would get more than twice the estimated two to three thousand.  In fact, it took less than the bottom estimate, just $1955.  In the future I will avoid such bold predictions.

The two items I found of the greatest historical interest were an autograph of Apache Chief Geronimo, and a 42” Cheyenne longbow recovered from the Little Bighorn.  The signature, estimated at $1500 to $2000, sold for $4600.  The bow, estimated at $3000 to $5000, brought $7475 and, I am sure, a big smile to the lady who sold it because of her son’s lack of interest in inheriting it.  For more about the auction, go HERE.


Bethany Braley, Executive Director of the National Day of the Cowboy campaign, tells me there have been two major successes this week.  Already this year, Texas and Arizona passed the resolution, and Wyoming became the first state to pass it in perpetuity. 

On Wednesday, March 21st, the Missouri State Legislature passed the resolution, and the next day the California Senate voted unanimously to pass the resolution, like Wyoming, in perpetuity.  “This means the 4th Saturday in July will forever be recognized as the National Day of the Cowboy in California.” 

To find out more about the National Day of the Cowboy, go HERE.


This annual celebration of film returns on April 12th, but even before it arrives, there are the Road To Hollywood events around the country.  Of special interest to Western fans, on Tuesday, April 3rd, 7 BRIDES FOR 7 BROTHERS will screen in Denver, at the Landmark Mayan Theatre.  It’s hosted by Leonard Maltin, with special guest Jane Powell.  And on Thursday, April 5th, in Portland, at the Northwest Film Center, MARTY will be screened, hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, with special guest Ernest Borgnine.

 The event is pricey: festival passes cost from $300 to $1200.  Single event tickets are $20 a pop, but cannot be bought in advance, and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.  Western events include the screening of Howards Hawks’ RIO BRAVO, with Angie Dickinson attending, and a newly reconstructed Cinerama print of HOW THE WEST WAS WON, which will be attended by Debbie Reynolds.   To find out more, visit the TCM Festival site HERE. 


Saturday and Sunday, April 21st and 22nd you can stroll the streets of Melody Ranch, where all the greats, from Gene Autry to Matt Dillon to Maverick, to the DEADWOOD folks, and most recently Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED cast have trod.  This is a wonderful not-to-be-missed event. 

Admission is $20 a day for adults, $10 for kids, with discounts for two days.  There will be a wide variety of musical performances at four stages.  The Melody Ranch Motion Picture Museum will be open to give you a peek into movie history.  Every manner of Western art, crafts, clothing, boots, and hats imaginable will be available.

Authors of Western fiction and fact will be signing and selling their tomes.   Entertainers like champion gun-spinner Joey Dillon, saloon pianist Professor David Bourne and magician Pop Haydn will be performing.  Cowboy poets and story-tellers will be rhyming words and spinning yarns.  And there will be a ton of activities aimed at kids of all ages.

In addition, there will be separate events, some at different locations, different dates and separate charges.  On Saturday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hasley Hall Theatre at College of the Canyons, attend AN EVENING WITH JOEL COX, the Oscar-winning editor of UNFORGIVEN, and thirty other Clint Eastwood films (he was even an assistant editor on THE WILD BUNCH!). 

On Thursday, April 19th  -- no admission for this – at Old Town Newhall on Main St. from 7 PM to 11PM, join the party filled with Music, Dancing, Food Trucks, Western vendors, and the unveiling of two new Stars in Old Town Newhall. The plaques for the new inductees into the Walk of Western Stars will be unveiled at 7:30 p.m. on the West side of Main Street. The inductees are Glenn Ford, who will be represented by his son Peter Ford, and Joel Cox, who will attend.

On Friday, April 20th, at 3:00 p.m. at the Repertory East Playhouse 24266 Main St. in Old Town Newhall, join Peter Ford, son of the great Glenn Ford, and author of Glenn Ford – His life and Movies.  They’ll be screening THE ROUNDERS and afterwards Peter will discuss his father's life and movie career.

And there’s so much more!  For details and directions, go HERE. 


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.

That's right, the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here:

That's it for this week!  In the next Round-up I hope to have the second part of our interview with BRANDED producer Andrew J. Fenady, and a review of GOOD FOR NOTHING, the new Western from New Zealand. Have a great week, and if you do anything of a western nature, fill me in!

Happy Trails 'til then!


All original contents Copyright March 2012 by Henry C. Parke - All Rights Reserved


  1. Glad to see westerns being made but most are very poor on the acting side or the stories presented. The Hallmark westerns are usually all talk with little action and made for family viewing. The photo show for "Hannah's Law" looks like kids dressed up playing cowboy. We don't have leading men anymore just a bunch of clean-cut looking kids trying to play adult roles. "Hell on Wheels" is an exception and very well made with good actors.

  2. I'm just hoping 'Hell On Wheels' is the start of a trend.