Sunday, March 23, 2014


GOLD – A Film Review

When I heard that a new German-made Western had just been completed, “…visions of Winnetou danced in my head!”  Though most Americans are not aware of it, Germany has a long history of American Western story-telling, Karl May being the most popular Western writer in the world, easily eclipsing American Western writers from Max Brand to Louis L’amour with his non-English-language following. 

Emily and Carl

German Western film, likewise not well known in the States, has been tremendously influential.  The success of a dozen Karl May Western films made in the early 1960s, starring French actor Pierre Brice as Apache Chief Winnetou, opposite American and British actors like Lex Barker, Rod Cameron and Stewart Granger, were such a smash that they inspired the Italians to create the Spaghetti Western genre.  

GOLD, written and directed by Thomas Arslan, could not be further from the melodrama of WINNETOU, but that is by design.  It is a movie that strives for realism and naturalism.  Filmed where the tale is set, in British Columbia, Canada, GOLD surprisingly is not a gold-field story, ala the recent miniseries KLONDIKE, but a tale of people on their way to the gold-fields.  Near the turn of the century, when an improbably large nugget is found by a panner, Argonauts head for the Klondike, and fortune, anyway they can.   (When I saw Indians waiting at the railroad's end, wrapped in blankets with the distinctive design of the Hudson Bay Company, I knew that production designer Reinheld Blaschke knew his stuff. )

German-born Wilhelm Lasser (Peter Kurth), an experienced guide, advertises his services to other German-Americans, assembles five prospective prospectors and, with wrangler Carl Boehmer (Marco Mandic), sets out for glory. Among them is Emily Meyer, who has tired of being a house-maid in New York.  She’s played by Nina Hoss, a major star in German cinema who, appropriate to the role, bears a striking resemblance to Lillian Gish, who frequently played pioneers for D. W. Griffith; not by chance, Hoss wears her hair in the same distinctive manner.

Tension builds, a bit, as the travelers begin to suspect that wagon-master Lasser is no master at all.  He becomes upset when they reach a river that’s not on his map.  It’s almost as if he’s never been there before.  In fact, he’s greatly exaggerated his experience, and it is only through the assistance of the occasional Indian, for a five-dollar payment, that they stay anywhere near on the path.  Further, as we see at around the half-hour mark, in a scene that calls to mind Hemingway’s THE KILLERS, a pair of riders is tracking the group, or rather the wrangler.  It’s a scene with both menace and humor, and it’s about all we see of either element. Because the major flaw of this film is that, beautifully made though it is, not nearly enough happens.  

There is hardship aplenty, but damned little conflict.  The characters are so stoic that they never get impassioned enough about anything to get the viewer involved.  Cinematographer Patrick Orth makes the most of the varied and beautiful forests and vistas of British Columbia – much of the photography is spectacular, especially a scene in a forest of barren trees.  But there are so few close-ups that the viewer rarely has the sense that he knows what a character is thinking.  While the wide-screen process – the image here is more than twice as wide as it is tall – is perfect for landscape, when it comes to actors, as Leone taught us, you have to jam the camera all the way into the center of a face to fill the screen.  We never get half that close.  And I don’t ever recall seeing a movie where more screen-time is spent watching a small group of riders ride across the screen, over and over again.

In a ‘Ten Little Indians’ manner, their numbers drop.  Some give up; one goes mad, strips off his clothes and runs pell-mell into the forest.  In one of the most affecting scenes, a man’s injured leg must be amputated before gangrene sets in.  The use of sound rather than gory visuals is evocative and effective.  Finally we get a sense of passion, and the stoicism is truly moving.  But sadly we quickly soon lose him.  We also get one good shoot-out, but it’s a long time coming.     

If you’ve seen MEEK’S CUTOFF (2010), starring Michelle Greene, Bruce Greenwood and Paul Dano, this may all sound familiar; that film also involves an incompetent wagon-master leading a group of pioneers, and getting them lost.  But while MEEK’S had Rod Rondeaux as the menacing Indian following them, and a dramatic payoff, in GOLD, once we meet the men following the wrangler, they disappear until too late in the story to save it. 

The score by Dylan Carson is portentous and effective, but is often missing in scenes where it could have helped.  And not one of the voice-actors chosen to dub the film into English uses a German accent, a strange choice considering how much their ‘Germanness’ is a part of their character, and how everyone they meet immediately knows they are German.

GOLD will be available in May from Screen Media Films.


June 17th will see the release of DOC HOLLIDAY’S REVENGE, from two very talented and prolific filmmakers, writer Rolfe Kanefsky and director/producer David DeCoteau (pronounced ‘Dakota’).  It’s exec produced by Barry Barnholtz (see my interview HERE  ) and Jeffrey Schenck, who previously produced WYATT EARP’S REVENGE among many other Westerns. 

The film features the very talented and busy Eric Roberts, and Tom Berenger, who won the Outstanding Supporting Actor EMMY for 2012’s HATFIELDS & MCCOYS. 

I’ll be sharing my interview with Kanefsky soon, but in the meantime, here’s the first trailer.


The final program of the UCLA/Billy Wilder Theater two-month retrospective entitled Dark City, Open Country: The Films of Anthony Mann, will be MAN OF THE WEST (1958) and THE TIN STAR (1957).


After attending the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival and covering it for the Round-up these last three years, this year I’ll be a participant!  At the OutWest Buckaroo Book Shop, in the heart of Veluzat's Melody Ranch’s fabulous Western street, I’ll be moderating a couple of authors’ panels.  On Saturday from 1:30 to 2, the topic is THE WEST IMAGINED, and I’ll be talking with Western novelists Edward M. Erdelac, author of COYOTE’S TRAIL; Jim Christina, author of THE DARK ANGEL; and C. Courtney Joyner, author of SHOTGUN.

And on Sunday, from 1:30 to 2, the topic is THE WEST LIVED, and I’ll be talking to non-fiction writers Jerry Nickle, great-grandson of the Sundance Kid; JR Sanders, author of SOME GAVE ALL; and Peter Sherayko, author of TOMBSTONE – THE GUNS AND GEAR. 

On Saturday at 12:30, and Sunday at 2:30, I’ll be chatting with Miles Swarthout, who wrote the screenplay for THE SHOOTIST from his father, Glendon Swarthout’s novel.  Miles is also involved with the upcoming movie THE HOMESMAN, directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones, from a novel by Glendon Swarthout.  You can learn all about the events at the Buckaroo Book Shop by going HERE.  


The mining town of Trona in San Bernadino County’s Searles Valley marks its first century with a historical symposium, parade, car show, street fair, and on-site Bureau Of Land Management Wild Burro adoption!  Learn more by calling 760-372-4091.


Ursula Andress & Alain Delon in RED SUN

The first gorgeous Bond Girl turns 78 today! She starred in THREE Westerns -- RED SUN, 4 FOR TEXAS, and mexico on fire -- but to me she’ll always be SHE! When I was ten or eleven, and madly in love with her, she was in New York for the premiere. I had this goofy idea to send flowers to her hotel – I had no idea what it would cost – I called MGM’s New York office to find out where she was staying, AND THEY PUT HER ON THE PHONE TO ME! I’ve never fully recovered. Happy Birthday!


Have a great week! 

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright March 2014 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 16, 2014



Danny Trejo

With Red Cavanaugh (Anthony Michael Hall) standing on the gallows, his half-brother Guerro (Danny Trejo) and his gang swoop in, and in a bloody shoot-out, rescue Red.  Then the gang decides to rob the gold-filled vault of a bank in Edendale (the original name of the downtown L.A. area that housed Mack Sennett Studios), and Red, tiring of his brother’s wimpy ‘Let’s not hurt anyone,’ attitude, shoots Guerro to death.  

Mickey Rourke looks like Hell as the Devil

Big surprise, Guerro ends up in Hell, where the Devil (Mickey Rourke) tortures him for a while, then agrees to a deal: Guerro can go back to life for 24 hours, to try and deliver the souls of Red and the other five gang members (i.e., kill them); if he does it, he goes free, and alive.  If not, more eternal torture (the worst kind).

So Guerro returns to the town, re-Christened (the right word?) Tombstone, now run by Red, his gang, and some sassy Brits, and tries to kill the six.  That’s it – end of plot, maybe fifteen minutes in.  From there it’s just killing.  If flashy shoot-outs are enough to satisfy you, then you may enjoy this film.  I found it completely uninvolving, as I didn’t give a damn who got damned and who didn’t.  Danny Trejo is a great screen villain, and I had a momentary twinge of sympathy for him when his brother whacked him.  But it didn’t last long.

Ironically, (and ironically, the word ‘Irony’ uttered by Trejo is the only laugh in the film) except for the early stuff, when the film is so dark it’s hard to make out, most of it is beautifully shot, by Dutch-born director/cinematographer Roel Reine.   Reine and the film’s writers, Brendan Cowles and Shane Kuhn, are specialists in direct-to-home-video sequels to popular franchises – they did SCORPION KING 3 together, as well as the upcoming SEAL TEAM EIGHT: BEHIND ENEMY LINES.  Reine is crazy for weird angles, odd camera placement and multiple camera coverage.  Unfortunately, he’s also crazy for moving camera, whether it reveals anything or not.  Some of the prolonged Hell scenes with Rourke and Trejo in conversation can produce motion sickness, as the cameras spin endlessly around the characters, and the editor cuts randomly from clockwise to counter-clockwise. 

Anthony Michael Hall

Surprisingly (to me) effective is Anthony Michael Hall, the goofy kid from the VACATION/16 CANDLES/WEIRD SCIENCE films, who has matured and developed an unexpected degree of on-screen gravitas, along with leading-man good looks.   Also surprising, not in a good way, is Mickey Rourke, a talented and charismatic actor, whose career had recently revived with THE WRESTLER.  Here he looks fat, his hair hangs limply across his face, and his ‘costuming’ looks like a trench-coat lifted off a homeless man.  And his speeches go on so endlessly and convolutedly that one wonders if they were scripted at all.   
Except for occasional whores, there are no real female characters until Dina Meyer appears far into the picture, seemingly like an afterthought (she has one scene early on, with her soon-to-be-dead lawman husband, but then disappears for over half of the film).  She’s a stunning woman, and if there is nothing particularly interesting or unusual about her role, at least she and Hall play their parts as if they mean it.

Dina Meyer

Produced by Universal for a reported $5,200,000, shot in Bucharest, Romania, on sets built for COLD MOUNTAIN and seen in HATFIELDS & MCCOYS, production designer Christian Niculescu has effectively utilized the unusually long Western street to good visual effect.  The sets and props and costumes and guns are very convincing.  It’s too bad a good look isn’t enough to turn DEAD IN TOMBSTONE into a real movie.  If you do rent this one, make sure you watch the several ‘making of’ shorts.  They’re the best part.


I remember my initial reaction when I heard that singer Trace Adkins was about to star as THE VIRGINIAN.  Gary Cooper, Joel McCrea, James Drury, and Bill Pullman, all fine, accomplished actors, had already played Owen Wister’s iconic hero.  I wasn’t overly optimistic.  But I am very pleasantly surprised.  This new VIRGINIAN is small, but sincere and surprisingly effective and moving, in no small part due to Adkins’ stoic and sheepishly understated performance.

Trace Adkins

In a day when most Westerns lean towards the cynical edge of the Spaghetti Western, this is a movie that, without self-consciousness or irony, focuses on men with an inflexible code of honour.  Adkins’ Virginian is the most code-controlled man since George Brent’s deadly southern gentleman in 1938’s JEZEBEL (I always thought he stole that picture from Bette Davis and Henry Fonda).   

This is a re-imagined VIRGINIAN, and while much of the core story and conflicts remain, there have been some major changes, not the least of which is placing author Owen Wister, though called Owen Walton (“Goodnight, John-Boy!”), in the story, as a man who has come West to write a novel.  He’s played effectively by Brendan Penny.  They’ve also given the Virginian, who never had an actual name in the novel, or any of the films or TV series, sort of a name – his friends call him ‘South’, which, come to think of it, is even more vague than ‘Virginian’.

Ron Perlman & Trace Adkins

Ron Perlman, who starred in the MAGNIFICENT 7 TV series, is Judge Henry, the Lee J. Cobb role, and is effectively maddening when he won’t listen to the Virginian.  Blonde beauty Victoria Pratt plays Molly West, the school-marm who catches the Virginian’s eye.  She’s good, but not always well-served by the crew.  Her hair sometimes looks odd, and her costumes, while properly in period, and quite attractive, are often jarringly wrong for her character:  she steps off the stagecoach in Medicine Bow in a dress more suited to a saloon-girl than a teacher.  Croation-born Steve Bacic plays Trampas, the Virginian’s most despised enemy (not his pal, as Doug McClure played him in the series), and the filmmakers have followed the Hitchcock rule of making the villain much more charming and attractive than the hero.     

Virginia Pratt & Brendan Penny 

In the Joel McCrea version, the role of the Virginian’s irresponsible best-friend Steve went to Sonny Tufts: probably the best role and best performance of his career.  Caracas-born John Novak plays Steve in this one, and brings an unexpectedly powerful character and performance to it.  Novak is probably the most experienced Western actor of the cast, having appeared on TV in the series HAWKEYE, LONESOME DOVE – THE OUTLAW YEARS, DEAD MAN’S GUN, INTO THE WEST, and the 1997 version of CALL OF THE WILD.

It’s a small film, made for a fraction of what DEAD IN TOMBSTONE cost.  Medicine Bow’s streets are sparsely populated, the few sets and locations are seen frequently, and after some initial sighting of cattle early on, the much-discussed doggies are rarely seen.  But THE VIRGINIAN has a strong story, solid script by Bob Thelke, a talented cast, and able direction by Thomas Makowski.  The producers, NASSER GROUP NORTH, have made two previous Westerns, ANGEL AND THE BADMAN and THE DAWN RIDER, remakes of John Wayne movies which, like THE VIRGINIAN, are in the public domain.  Seems like a smart way to do strongly-plotted films economically.  I’m looking forward to reviewing THE DAWN RIDER shortly.   


Larry Hanna of Sherman Oaks is the lucky winner of two tickets to see The Stardust Cowboys perform in their first Los Angeles area concert, on Thursday night, March 20thIt’s part of the OutWest Concert Series at the Repertory East Playhouse, at 24266 Main Street, Newhall, CA 91321.   The Stardust Cowboys draw their inspiration from the fabled Bob Wills who, with his Texas Playboys, invented Western Swing, that delightful mash-up of cowboy and big band music.  They play a mix of traditional western songs as well as their own originals, and their live shows are full of humor and high energy.

The challenge was to name the band leader other than Bob Wills, who was also called The King of Western Swing, and who used to be a movie stand-in for Roy Rogers!  The answer, as Larry Hanna and many others knew, was Spade Cooley, who was one of the most successful stars in the early days of L.A. television. 

Spade Cooley

If you’re not lucky enough to be Larry Hanna, you can buy tickets for $20 by calling OutWest at 661-255-7087. This concert is part of the OutWest series -- in case you haven’t noticed, we have a new sponsor here at the Round-up, the OutWest Western Boutique and Cultural Center in Newhall – just go to the top left corner of the Round-up, click their logo, and you’ll be magically transported to their wonderful store.  The doors open at 7 p.m., and the concert begins at 8, and Bobbi Jean Bell, purveyor of OutWest, tells me that Newhall is having their 3rd Thursday of the month block party, SENSES (as in delighting the same), so you might want to arrive early for dinner from the food trucks, live music – and to find parking.   Bobbi also tells me that if you’re coming to the concert, you might want to dress up!  SCTV will be filming the show, and you just may be on TV! 


Li'l Rob Word met Duke Wayne on the set of THE SEARCHERS

These 3rd Wednesday of the month events at the Autry have become hugely popular since Western filmmaker and authority Rob Word began them half a year ago.  This month’s topic is a celebration of the Great Women of the West in film.  As always, the event, which starts at 12:30, is free – although you’ve got to buy your own lunch – and is followed by ‘A Word on Film’, with Rob Word leading a discussion among his guests, actors and other industry people associated with the topic.  Rob never announces his guests in advance, but he always comes through with an interesting and talented group – previous luncheons have been attended by Hugh O’Brien, Johnny Crawford, Bruce Boxleitner and many others.  Don’t get there at the last minute – as these events have grown in popularity over the last few months, latecomers have had to be turned away.  January’s salute to the 24th anniversary of LONESOME DOVE, and February’s celebration of the HOW THE WEST WAS WON TV series both packed the house to the rafters.  Below is a clip from the LONESOME DOVE program, with actor Barry Corbin discussing being directed by Tommy Lee Jones in the soon to be released Western THE HOMESMAN.


What was to be Maestro Ennio Morricone’s first concert Los Angeles, planned for March 20th at the NOKIA THEATRE has been 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.”  Ticketholders will have the same seats in June as they were to have on March 20th.  Morricone’s New York City concert has also been postponed. 


William F. Nolan & George Clayton Jackson

Had a good time today at the annual Paperback Book Show at the Glendale Pacific.  My favorite find was a pair of 1960s reprints of Dime Novels (actually nickel novels) from the turn of the century, one featuring Buffalo Bill, the other with Young Wild West, as well stories about Pawnee Bill, and the James Brothers – fake history at its most exciting!  Among the authors signing their books were Twilight Zone contributors William F. Nolan and George Clayton Jackson, and The Waltons creator Earl Hamner. 

Earl Hamner


In case you haven’t heard, the ‘word police’ have recently decided that we can no longer describe any girl as ‘bossy’, since it will hurt her self-esteem, and inhibit her attempts to be as pushy as a boy, I thought, before the word disappears forever from our lexicon, we should revisit the great bossy ladies of the American West, particularly the Western Movie.   After all, in the words of the immortal Zane Grey, “Where I was raised a woman’s word was law.  I ain’t quite outgrowed that yet.”  Here are the first four entries of a continuing series.  Please send me your suggestions for bossy gals who deserve inclusion.

#1 BARBARA STANWYCK – Whether as Victoria Barkley in THE BIG VALLEY, THE MAVERICK QUEEN, CATTLE QUEEN OF MONTANA, all the way back to ANNIE OAKLEY, you never had to ask twice where you stood with her.  Actually, you didn’t have to ask at all.

#2 – JOAN CRAWFORDJ – JOHNNY GUITAR!  While Mercedes McCambridge sits on the sidelines gnashing her teeth, Joan grabs Sterling Hayden and Scott Brady by the short-hairs and smacks them together for 110 minutes!

#3 – GRACE KELLY – in HIGH NOON!  Bossiness at its most gorgeous and infuriating.  As onetime lawman Gary Cooper says, “Don’t ever marry a Quaker – she’ll have you running a store!”

#4 – DALE EVANS – she was Queen of the West, and she ruled the coffee shop in Mineral City with an iron hand.  But with suave, debonair Pat Brady to deal with, would anything but uber- bossiness get the job done?


That's all, folks, until next week, when I'll have a first look at DOC HOLLIDAY'S REVENGE, and an interview with Western writer C. Courtney Joyner for you.

Happy trails,


All Original Contents Copyright March 2014 by Henry C. Parke - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 9, 2014



Eric Roberts as Tanner

Over the years we’ve gotten used to seeing Westerns made in Spain and Italy; in Germany and Croatia – the Karl May films; Australia and New Zealand; and even the Canary Islands – okay, just once, with TAKE A HARD RIDE.  But somehow, making a Western in Maryland seems the most bizarre of all.  Yet Maryland-based filmmaker Wayne Shipley and his One-Eyed Horse Productions has recently completed their second Western feature there, DAY OF THE GUN.  GUN and his previous feature, ONE-EYED HORSE, along with several shorts, have all been set in the fictional frontier town of Singletree, Montana, and for this newest film, his crew actually ventured to Montana, though the vast majority was shot in that neighbor to New England, Maryland.   

For Shipley’s most ambitious, and I would assume most costly, film to date, he has reached outside of his stock-company of actors to Hollywood, and hired Eric Roberts to play a crucial role.  The story concerns a widow, Maggie Carter (LaDon Hart Hall), who has taken over the reins of the family spread from her late husband.  An opinionated and aggressive woman, she is not welcomed to the fold by the other local cattle ranchers, and when one of them (Jim Osborn) starts fencing in open range to combat rustling, a line has been crossed which she cannot forgive: a range war is inevitable.  Into this battleground comes her son (Ned Carter), still smarting from disfiguring face scars; and her daughter (Rachel McCall), just home from an eastern college.  And the daughter’s romantic interest is none other than the son (Jason Brown) of the fence-raising cattleman.  The son was once Maggie’s son’s best friend, and even introduced him to the girl who took a broken bottle to his face.

This is an unusually big story for recent westerns, especially low-budget ones, a throwback to family-centered Western stories like BROKEN LANCE and FLAMING STAR and TV’s BONANZA and BIG VALLEY.  Shipley succeeds in making the production seem big enough.  The Western town is extensive and well-detailed, the rolling stock and horse-flesh substantial.  The location is attractively lush and green, and the gun-action is long and loud, well-staged, with plenty of participants.  The weapons and, by-and-large the wardrobe, are attractive and, with the exception of some of the ladies’ hats, historically accurate.  

Cinematographer and editor Jeff Herberger frames his shots to good effect – sometimes spectacular effect in the Montana sequences – and edits well.  Standout sequences include an extended shoot-out with the rustlers, and an unusual climax filmed on a mountain-top.

Writer- director Shipley stages the action well.  His manner of writing dialogue is not the naturalistic style mostly favored today, but a much more literary one.  That calls for precise delivery to not sound stilted, and not all of the cast is up to that challenge.  And there is one bit of casting for a central role that seems so off-the-mark that it’s hard for the film to recover.  But when, late in the story, Eric Roberts appears as a hired gun with a personal stake in the events, the professionalism of the project is kicked up several notches. 
Very recently completed, DAY OF THE GUN is making the rounds of film festivals, and we’ll let you know when it’s available.  To learn more about One-Eyed Horse Productions, HERE’s the link to their site.  


The Stardust Cowboys, having played Western Swing at concerts, rodeos, conventions, fairs and cowboy gatherings all over Northern California for two decades, will make their much-anticipated premiere Los Angeles-area appearance on Thursday, March 20th.  It’s part of the OutWest Concert Series at the Repertory East Playhouse, at 24266 Main Street, Newhall, CA 91321.   The Stardust Cowboys draw their inspiration from the fabled Bob Wills who, with his Texas Playboys, invented Western Swing, that delightful mash-up of cowboy and big band music.  They play a mix of traditional western songs as well as their own originals, and their live shows are full of humor and high energy.

You can buy tickets for $20 by calling OutWest at 661-255-7087. This concert is part of the OutWest series -- in case you haven’t noticed, we have a new sponsor here at the Round-up, the OutWest Western Boutique and Cultural Center in Newhall – just go to the top left corner of the Round-up, click their logo, and you’ll be magically transported to their wonderful store.  The doors open at 7 p.m., and the concert begins at 8, and Bobbi Jean Bell, purveyor of OutWest, tells me that Newhall is having their 3rd Thursday of the month block party, SENSES (as in delighting the same), so you might want to arrive early for dinner from the food trucks, live music – and to find parking.   Bobbi also tells me that if you’re coming to the concert, you might want to dress up!  SCTV will be filming the show, and you just may be on TV! 

So you say you’d like to win a free pair of tickets to see The Stardust CowboysHere’s what you need to do.  Number one, before you enter, make sure you live someplace where you can actually get to the concert from (I just checked, and right now folks are reading the Round-up in Thailand, The Netherlands and China, but I doubt most can make it here).  Number two, send an email to, with ‘Stardust Cowboys ticket giveaway’ in the subject line.  Make sure to include your name, snail-mail address, and phone number.  And here’s the challenging part: name the band leader other than Bob Wills, who was also called The King of Western Swing, and who used to be a movie stand-in for Roy Rogers!  Please be sure to send your entry by 11 pm Saturday, March 15th.  The winner will be selected randomly from all correct entries.  And below is a sneak preview of The Stardust Cowboys. 


Monday, March 10th, at 7:30 p.m., you can see one of the best and most important Westerns of recent years, 3:10 TO YUMA (2007), to be followed by a discussion with director James Mangold, moderated by Geoff Boucher.  The film stars Russell Crowe as an outlaw being transported to jail, and Christian Bale as the failing farmer who agrees to put Crowe on the train of the title, no matter what the cost.  Also starring are Ben Foster (who’s so good he steals the picture) and Peter Fonda.  One of those rare cases where the remake is comparable to the original, the Elmore Leonard story was first filmed in 1957, with Delmer Daves directing Glenn Ford in the Crowe role, and Van Heflin in the Bale role.  Go HERE for more information, and tickets. 


DO go to the Paperback Collectors Show on Sunday, March 16th, but DO NOT go to that hotel on Sepulveda where it’s been for a decade – now it’s at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale, CA 91208.   Parking is free, admission is five clams.  This is a great annual event, and a wonderful opportunity to fill in the gaps in your collection.  This is where I track down all my hard-to-find Luke Shorts and Donald Hamiltons and the like.  You can find not just westerns, but sci-fi, crime, horror, and lots of pulps.  The pristine stuff gets pricey, but speaking as a paperback slob rather than a snob, I’ve never paid more than $2.50 for anything.  Authors will be there to sign your books for free, and while there are no big  western guys, some of the civilian authors of note include Earl ‘The Waltons’ Hamner, George Clayton Jackson, David Gerrold, Ib Melchior, William F. Nolan, Larry Niven, and Harlan Ellison (Harlie will sign two of your books if you buy one from him – and don’t tell him I called him Harlie!) To find the authors signing times, go here:


The two-month retrospective entitled Dark City, Open Country: The Films of Anthony Mann.  Which opened in January at the UCLA Motion Picture & Television Archive at the Billy Wilder Theatre, continues. Best known for his post-war western collaborations with James Stewart at Universal, he also directed many other excellent westerns, as well as gritty crime stories, at all of the major studios as well as the poverty row outfits.  On Wednesday, March 12th, it’s T-MEN (1947) and RAW DEAL (1948).  March 15th SIDE STREET (1950) and WINCHESTER ’73 (1950).  March 23rd THE TALL TARGET (1951) and THE FAR COUNTRY (1954).  And finally, on March 30th MAN OF THE WEST (1958) and THE TIN STAR (1957).


One of the high points of the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, which will be April 26 & 27 at Melody Ranch, is the Buckaroo Book Shop, where author of Western fact and fiction will be signing their books and meeting their fans.  The Book Shop is run by the folks at OutWest, and they’ve just finalized their list of authors who’ll be attending.   Cheryl Rogers-Barnett (daughter of Roy and Dale), Margaret Brownley, Jim Christina, Peter Conway, Steve Deming, Edward M. Erdelac, J.P. Gorman, Dale B. Jackson, Jim Jones, C. Courtney Joyner (see my review of his SHOTGUN in next week’s Round-up), Andria Kidd, Antoinette Lane, Jerry Nickle (a descendant of Harry Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid), J.R. Sanders, Tony Sanders, Janet Squires, ‘Cowgirl Peg’ Sundberg, Miles Hood Swarthout (who scripted THE SHOOTIST), Rod Thompson, and Nancy Pitchford-Zee.  We’ll have a schedule as the date gets closer.


Held at and around the original Vallecito stage station, this one-day event will feature tours, a reenactment of California soldiers’ historic march along the southern Overland Trail at the start of the Civil War, how-to demonstrations for throwing a tomahawk, archery, flint and steel fire making, soap-making and how to cook on an open hearth.  There will be mountain man demonstrations as well.  You are encouraged to come in 1850s and 1860s attire, and encouraged to bring food, as none will be available.  Learn more details, including how to get there. At this link:


According to Deadline Hollywood, Chris Boal has been signed to script a new Zorro, to be produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald.  Playwright Boal has lately scripted three upcoming films: sci-fier OLD MAN’S WAR for Paramount, and Viking pic VANGUARD for Wolfgang Peterson, and CESAR for Warner Brothers.


Just about cracked up the Toyota on the way to Sharky’s when I saw the ‘Grand Opening’ sign!  The new Video Hut at 13326 Burbank Boulevard in Sherman Oaks 91401, has been open just a week, still getting organized, so they don’t have a Westerns section yet.  But a casual glance around showed more than a dozen Western titles, including DJANGO UNCHAINED, new and old TRUE GRIT, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, OPEN RANGE, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, SWEETWATER, LAST RITES OF RANSOM PRIDE, GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE – MEASURE OF A MAN, GUNDOWN, the HATFIELDS & MCCOYS miniseries, and Fred Olen Ray’s film on the same subject, TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARAH, 3:10 TO YUMA, ACE HIGH, ACES & 8S, APALOOSA, AMERICAN BANDITS – FRANK AND JESSE JAMES, AMERICAN OUTLAWS, BLAZING SADDLES, BROKEN BULLET, and LONE RANGER both for rent and for sale.  I rented DEAD IN TOMBSTONE on BluRay, and will soon have a review (take THAT, Universal, who wouldn’t answer my requests for a review copy!).  They also had multiples of the Oscar pics, and the HUNGER GAMES movies.  They’re open 7 days a week, from ten ‘til midnight, and all rentals are $1.50, $1.62 with tax.  Their phone is 818-994-5878.


Every time someone has a monopoly, the customers get burned.  We saw it when Blockbuster drove the mom and pop stores out of business with their huge selection, then dumped 3/4s of their films.  Blockbuster got killed by Netflix, and now Netflix is dumping tons of their content.  I tried to catch up with Oscar movies through VOD on DirecTV, it worked twice, and then it took 36 hours to download half of 12 YEARS A SLAVE – during which my internet was dead (wish I’d realized the connection sooner).  And have I mentioned lately that DirecTV dropped INSP?  My point is, the more choices we have, the better.  Support your local video store if you still have one!

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright March 2014 by Henry C. Parke - All Rights Reserved