Monday, May 7, 2012


Actor Leon Rippy, who plays Collins in THE LONE RANGER, has just returned from several weeks of location shooting, much in and near Monument Valley and Canyon DeShay. 

I asked him how the shoot had gone.  “I had a blast.  What a magnificent experience it is, and will continue to be:  I get to go back in another six or eight weeks.  So I’m excited, and can feel the spirit of John Ford, John Wayne and all the countless character actors who galloped across that sacred ground before me.  I would step outside the trailer and think, I cannot believe that I’m actually in this place.  You’d have to slap me to get the smile off my face.”

Leon Rippy in THE ALAMO

I asked him what he could tell us about his character, Collins.  “Well, he’s a crusty old tracker.  Not much of a stretch for me – that’s what I see in the mirror every morning.  Interesting character: he plays both sides of the fence.  There’s room for some fun, and alcoholism and emotion; all the things that a character actor looks for in a role.” 

New Lone Ranger Armie Hammer

It’s his first time working for director Gore Verbinski.  “And it didn’t take long to notice his excellent eye for detail.  The slightest nuance, he’s very interested in.  I had a great time working with him. 

Monument Valley is all on a Navajo Reservation.  Just to be there, with the history of the Spaniards trying to take control; being in those same canyons and hearing those gunshot reports from on top of those cliffs echo throughout those canyons – it was chilling.  Wondering what it was like so many years before.  I had a ride that ended where White Corn Woman was taken by Kit Carson back in the day, and you can still see the remains of her home, the foundation.   Historical chills.”

Johnny Depp's stunt double

I knew he hadn’t had any scenes with Johnny Depp yet, but wanted to know what he thought of the other actors.  “Excellent, everybody was great.  I spent time with some incredible actors.  Their riding skills were great – we had a lot of riding to do.  I had a small scene with Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger), which was excellent; had a fun time.  I’ve loved riding ever since I was a kid, and don’t get to do much of it in L.A.  To do it, and get paid for it!  I had known several of these wranglers from other films I had done in the past, so it was a treat to be put back with them, this time as an elder,”  he laughed. 

“I got to meet (producer) Jerry Bruckheimer, and he made an interesting comment.  Carol and I were having our breakfast in the hotel one morning, and I told him it was unsettling, after being cast, when Disney pulled the money out and said it was too expensive, leaving us in limbo.  He said, ‘Yes, that was a shock.  But the long and short of it is it wouldn’t have made any difference to me because I’m bound and determined to bring the Western back.’  To hear this coming from the mouth of someone like him gave me reason to quietly celebrate.  There’s so much to be said for the Westerns, and I live for Saturday morning and watching reruns of THE RIFLEMAN and what have you.  There was some moral content in all of it and it was clear-cut, who was good and who was bad.  I think Hollywood gets cold feet after the dismal box-office of one or two things that they’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in, so everyone kinda gets gun-shy.  And hats off again to Gore for saying, ‘No, we’re going to do this there.’  It’s not an easy thing to truck that many people and that many tractor trailers and horses (so far).  They’re going to Moab, Utah; Santa Fe; Colorado and other locations.  It feels like they’re putting together something very special.” 


Sunday morning at ten, a crowd of invited guests packed theatre 1 of the Laemmle Town Center in Encino, to be the first to see Fred Olen Ray’s story of the famous blood feud. To this day there is no firm agreement as to the number of lives the Hatfield and McCoy feud claimed in Kentucky and West Virginia at the time of the Civil War. 

Lisa Rotondi, Perry King, Jerry Lacy, Kassandra Clementi

Fred and his cast and crew braved freezing December weather to make the film in Kentucky, where the events actually occurred.  Among cast members who attended were Perry King, who plays Ran’l McCoy, patriarch of his clan; Priscilla Barnes, who plays Vicey Hatfield; Lisa Rotandi and Kassandra Clementi, who play Sarah and Rosanna Hatfield; Dylan Vox, who plays Elias Hatfield; Griffin Winters, who plays Tennyson Hatfield; Ted Monte, who plays Special Agent Frank Phillips; and Jerry Lacy, who plays General Burbridge.  Among other attendees of note were director Jim Wynorski and beautiful Sybil Danning. 

Priscilla Barnes

Also attending were executive producers Barry Barnholtz and Jeffrey Schenck and writer/director/producer Fred Olen Ray.  All three men spoke before the movie, and voiced their gratitude to the hard-working cast and crew, and to each other.  In a nod to some of his recent movies, just before the lights went down, Fred added, “I just want to say that this is not a Christmas movie, there are no sharks in the movie, and none of our female leads have to land a disabled plane.” 

Fred Olen Ray

BAD BLOOD: THE HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS, which will be released on June 5th, also stars Jeff Fahey as Devil Anse Hatfield, Christian Slater as Governor Bramlette, Sean Flynn as Johnse Hatfield and, in one of the stand-out performances of the movie, Tim Abel as Uncle Jim Vance.

Exec. Producer Barry Barnholtz

When the lights came up, more than one person commented that it might be the best film Fred has ever directed.  For a man with more than 120 directing credits, that is no small compliment.  My review will be in next week’s Round-up.


On the eve of the release of his new starrer, MEN IN BLACK 3, Tommy Lee Jones is set to adapt, direct and star in THE HOMESMAN.  It’s based on the novel of the same title by Glendon Swarthout, whose previously filmed novels and stories include the unforgettable THE SHOOTIST, as well as THEY CAME TO CORDURA, BLESS THE BEATS AND CHILDREN, WHERE THE BOYS ARE, and the Randolph Scott starrer 7TH CAVALRY. 

It’s the story of a man with dubious morals who undertakes the transporting of three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa.  A project that has been in the works for decades, it had long been owned by Paul Newman, who at one time had it set up at First Artists, with John Milius slated to direct.

It will be produced by Michael Fitzgerald, who previously produced THE PLEDGE and THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA.  THE THREE BURIALS was Tommy Lee Jones’ feature directorial debut.  Jones, who was in last year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA, will also be seen in Steven Speilberg’s LINCOLN, portraying Thaddeus Stevens.  My thanks to C. Courtney Joyner for historical details on this project.


100 years of Universal Studios film history is being celebrated, in May and June in California at the Billy Wilder Theatre of UCLA, and in July and August in New York at the Film Forum.  Taking part here in the west is Carla Laemmle.  Not only is she a niece of Uncle Carl Laemmle, who built the studio, and an actress who appeared in their films, including DRACULA; she is also proud of the fact that she pre-dates the studio by three years!  The representation of Western movies is woefully small: at UCLA on June 17th there’s a double bill of HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER and WINCHESTER 73, and at Film Forum on July 21st there’s a double bill of WINCHESTER 73 and DESTRY RIDES AGAIN.  But they both have a wonderful selection of non-westerns scheduled.  You can find details for UCLA here:  Details for Film Forum are here:

On the plus side, next week I’ll tell you about Film Forum’s mind-blowing three-week festival of Spaghetti Westerns in June!


As I first reported here last July (see HERE), WR Films is planning at least a trio of movies about Morgan Kane, Louis Masterson’s western hero of 83 novels written between 1966 and 1978.  Masterson’s real name was Kjell Hellbing, and his Kane is the most popular fictional character in the history of Norwegian literature.   The adventures of a Texas Ranger and U.S. Marshall, they’ve sold twenty-million copies internationally – ten million in Norway alone, which has a population of only five million! They’re popular in Spain and France and Germany and, translated into English, they sold well in Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada by Corgi Books.

But they’ve never been available before in the United States, and by way of introducing the character to American readers, a new e-book has been released every month or so.  There are ten available now, with number eleven coming soon.  The screenplay for the first film is still in the development stage, but it will be based on the first two novels in the series, EL GRINGO and EL GRINGO’S REVENGE, and will be entitled MORGAN KANE: THE LEGEND BEGINS.  The intention is to make him a Western James Bond-like hero.  One of the things that strikes you when reading them is the influence that Ernest Hemingway had on Masterson.  It’s an influence he clearly acknowledges by naming one of his female protagonists ‘Pilar,’ after a similar character in FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that, if not for the template of FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, the first two Morgan Kane novels would not exist.  They are fast and exciting reads, and often more emotional than traditional westerns.  The first ten e-books are all available from iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobobooks.  Number eleven, THE DEVIL’S MARSHALL, will appear shortly.    


I am hugely jealous of anyone who gets to attend the event Sara Monacelli is organizing on May 11-13, in Orvieto. In addition to a great line-up of films to be screened, here are some of the guests who will be making personal appearances: composer Ennio Morricone; Spaghetti Western stars Tomas Milian, Fabio Testi and Gianni Garko; director Giancarlo Santi (The Grand Duel); screenwriter Sergio Donati (Once Upon A Time In The West); editor Nino Baragli (all of Leone’s Westerns!); and producer Claudio Mancini (many Leone films). For more information, go here:


More and more, classic TV Westerns are available all over the TV universe, but they tend to be on small networks that are easy to miss. Of course, ENCORE WESTERNS is the best continuous source of such programming, and has been for years. Currently they run LAWMAN, WAGON TRAIN, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, LAREDO, RAWHIDE, GUNSMOKE, THE REBEL, and MARSHALL DILLON, which is the syndication title for the original half-hour GUNSMOKE.

RFD-TV is currently showing THE ROY ROGERS SHOW, first at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Pacific Time, then repeated several times a week. They show a Roy feature every Tuesday as well, with repeats -- check your local listings.

INSP-TVshows THE BIG VALLEYMonday through Saturday,LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE seven days a week, DR. QUINN: MEDICINE WOMAN on weekdays, and BONANZA on Saturdays.

WHT runs DANIEL BOONE on weekdays from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., Pacific Time, and on Saturdays they run two episodes of BAT MASTERSON. They often show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

TVLAND has dropped GUNSMOKE after all these years, but still shows four episodes of BONANZA every weekday.

For those of you who watch TV with an antenna, there are at least a couple of channels that exist between the standard numbers – largely unavailable on cable or satellite systems – that provide Western fare. ANTENNA TVis currently running RIN TIN TIN, HERE COME THE BRIDES, and IRON HORSE.

Another ‘in between’ outfit, ME-TV, which stands for Memorable Entertainment TV, runs a wide collection: BIG VALLEY, BONANZA, BRANDED, DANIEL BOONE, GUNS OF WILL SONNETT, GUNSMOKE, MARSHALL DILLON,RAWHIDE, THE RIFLEMAN, THE REBEL, and WILD WILD WEST.Some of these channels are hard to track down, but if they show what you’ve been missing, it’s worth the search.


 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.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for tonight, but be sure to check our Facebook page during the week for updates and news.

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright May 2012 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved


  1. Thanks very much for this one. Good stuff! Cant wait to see your review on Fred's film! Excellent, pal!

  2. This was great, Thanks.