Sunday, May 11, 2014
VOTE FOR MOTHER(S) OF ALL WESTERNS, PLUS TARANTINO DROPS SUIT, ‘SOME GAVE ALL’ REVIEWED, ‘LONG RIDERS’ INSIGHTS!
VOTE FOR THE MOTHER(S) OF ALL WESTERNS!
Karen Grassle in LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE
The Round-up wants to honor the Best Moms’ of Western film and TV. Please post your choices under comments or send an email -- and your suggestions for great ladies I’ve left out. And please SHARE this, so we can get more voters!
FOR BEST MOTHER IN A WESTERN MOVIE, the nominees are: Maureen O’Hara in RIO GRANDE, Jean Arthur in SHANE, Jane Darwell in JESS JAMES, Katie Jurado in BROKEN LANCE, Dorothy McGuire in OLD YELLER, Cate Blanchett in THE MISSING.
Dorothy McGuire in OLD YELLER
FOR BEST MOTHER IN A WESTERN SERIES, the nominees are: Barbara Stanwyck in THE BIG VALLEY, Linda Cristal in THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, Karen Grassle in LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, and Jane Seymour in DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN.
Granted, we’d have a lot more to choose from if we were going for ‘Best Saloon Girls,’ but after all, today isn’t Miss Kitty’s birthday, it’s Mother’s Day. And here are the Honorary Mothers Day awards:
BEST MOTHER IN A MOVIE IF SHE’D LIVED – Mildred Natwick in THE THREE GODFATHERS.
BEST MOTHER WHO NEVER TOLD THE FATHER THAT THEY HAD A CHILD – Miss Michael Learned, who was impregnated by amnesiac Matt Dillon (not the actor Matt Dillon, but James Arness), in GUNSMOKE – THE LAST APACHE.
BEST MOTHER YOU HEARD ABOUT BUT NEVER SAW – Mark McCain’s mother in THE RIFLEMAN.
BEST STEPMOTHER EVER, IF THE KIDS HAD LIVED – Claudia Cardinale in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.
TARANTINO DROPS ‘HATEFUL 8’ LAWSUIT AGAINST GAWKER
According to Deadline: Hollywood, writer-director Quentin Tarantino has dropped his copyright infringement suit against the website Gawker, for posting his Western work-in-progress screenplay THE HATEFUL EIGHT online. He has withdrawn his suit ‘without prejudice,’ which is legalese for saying he reserves the right to refile at a later date.
For those who haven’t been following the case, Tarantino, frustrated at how quickly his scripts have been leaked, went to great lengths to make sure this one would not be. When one of the only three copies to leave his hand turned up on the internet, he cancelled the project, and filed suit. As the case moved along on the docket, Tarantino decided, as a fund-raiser for the L.A. County Museum of Art, to hold an on-stage script reading of the script, which was held on April1 9th. You can read Andrew Ferrell’s review of the event for the Round-up HERE .
As had been hoped by many of us, the days of rehearsal reignited Tarantino’s enthusiasm for the project, and he is now engaged in writing another draft. Apparently the largest legal hurdle Tarantino’s lawyer’s would have faced would be the fact that Gawker did not post the purloined script on their site, but rather posted a link to where it could be found on someone else’s site. In a way it is disappointing that the case is not going forward, as it would be useful to have the law clarified. While I cannot deny having downloaded scripts from the internet, posted by people who often had no authority to put them there, the difference is that they were scripts from completed and released movies: there were no secrets exposed. But it’s clearly good news that Tarantino is focusing on the re-write rather than problems encountered with the first draft.
AUDIO INSIGHTS FROM ‘THE LONG RIDERS’ AT THE AUTRY
I hadn’t seen this Walter Hill-directed film on a screen since its 1980 release, and it holds up wonderfully. The trick to this one was casting actor brothers as outlaw brothers: the Youngers are played by David, Keith and Robert Carradine; Frank and Jesse James are Stacy and James Keach; the Miller brothers are Dennis and Randy Quaid; and the dirty little coward Fords are Christopher and Nicholas Guest. Also of note in the cast are Pamela Reed as Belle Starr, a very young James Remar as Sam Starr, and a great cameo by Harry Carey Jr. as a stagecoach driver held up by the Youngers.
As always, Curator Jeffrey Richardson’s introduction was full of information I’d never heard before. For instance, the genesis of the project was a 1971 PBS docu-drama about the Wright brothers, which starred the Keach brothers as Orville and Wilbur. They had such fun working together that they started looking for another project to do together. Reasoning that they’d enjoyed the ‘Right’ brothers, they decided to play the ‘Wrong’ brothers, Frank and Jesse. This led to the stage musical, THE BANDIT KINGS, and they decided to try and make it into a film.
The film musical never happened, but they kept trying, and came up with the idea of casting all brothers. Potential director George Roy Hill blew it off as too gimmicky. Then in 1975, James Keach was playing Jim McCoy in a TV movie, THE HATFIELDS AND THE MCCOYS, starring Jack Palance as Devil Anse Hatfield. Robert Carradine was playing Bob Hatfield, and wanted to know from Keach about the project. Pretty soon it started looking real, and Beau and Jeff Bridges were soon onboard, though schedule conflicts would cause them to be replaced by the Quaids.
Randy Quaid, Keith Carradine, Stacy Keach
Jeffrey had a surprise guest in LONG RIDER supervising sound editor Gordon Ecker. The work of a sound editor is much more covert than that of a film editor, and he revealed some fascinating details about how the soundtracks were built. At Walter Hill’s direction, a slightly different gun-sound was developed for each star – they may all have been firing Winchester rifles, for instance, but no two sounded quite alike.
Hill liked to underplay the audio volume in the non-action scenes, so the LOUD action would really jump out at you. Foley sound is the recording of live effects synchronized to picture, and to make the horse foot-falls sharper than the usual cocoa-nut shell method, they attached a Lavalier (clip-on) microphone onto a boot’s instep and stamped it in the dirt.
My favorite revelation was about the use of gunshots as a premonition. There were many shots fired for every hit. For the gunshots where characters actually got hit, a ricochet effect was used. Now, as Ecker pointed out, normally a ricochet sound would only be used if the bullet bounced off of something, as opposed to hitting someone. But what they did instead was play the ricochet sound in reverse before the shot, then the shot, followed by the ricochet played forward. The unconscious psychological effect is that, amidst all the others shots, you begin to anticipate, like a premonition, the bullets that will hit a victim, a fraction of a second before it happens. It’s an unnerving effect. I hope to have a full interview with Mr. Ecker in the near future.
If I were booking film programs, I would love to run THE LONG RIDERS and TOMBSTONE as a double-feature – the two great Westerns about brothers, on each side of the law.
SOME GAVE ALL by J.R. SANDERS – A Book Review
SOME GAVE ALL – Forgotten Old West Lawmen Who Died With Their Boots On, is a remarkable piece of research and writing by J.R. Sanders, who has previously penned two books, and many articles for WILD WEST magazine. His fascination with the wild west goes back to his youth, growing up in the once lawless cattle town of Newton, Kansas, and childhood vacation visits to Abilene, Dodge City, and the Dalton Gang’s hideout.
As a former Southern California Police Officer, he takes the subject of his newest book seriously and personally. He sifted through many possible lawmen to focus on, and selected ten to report on in depth. In all likelihood, not even one will be familiar to the reader. And that’s part of the point: plenty has been written about the Earps and the Mastersons, and these ten heroic men have been too quickly forgotten, some seemingly before their bodies had gone cold. The fate of some of their families is tragic.
Some of the histories are startling for what a different world they seem to take place in. Others are just as startling for how little has changed. On the one hand, a U.S. Marshall in Western District, Texas, died because, being a well-raised Victorian gentleman, he assumed a woman would not lie. On the other hand, a police officer in the mining town of Gold Hill, Nevada, died as a result of what is, to this day, the most dangerous situation for a lawman to get involved in: a domestic dispute. Some of the cases have unexpected elements that would never occur to a fiction writer, such as the pair of hold-up men who made their getaways on bicycles.
While many non-fiction books of the old west end their tale when the lawman dies, this is often just the midway point in Sanders’ telling. He writes about the pursuit, capture, trial, and punishment of the killers, and the reader will likely be amazed at how little has changed. We think of the wild old days as a time when someone uttering, “Get a rope!” was time for the story to end. In fact, just like today, legal maneuverings often made these court battles go one for years. Lawyers endlessly debated points such as the difference between ‘stooped’ and ‘round-shouldered’ in the description of a suspect. And also like today, the longer it took to bring the miscreant to justice, the more frequently the press would start to admire and fawn over the killer, the victims quickly forgotten.
Some of the whims of justice would be laughable if they weren’t so infuriating. A convicted murderer and train-robber serving a life sentence turns artist, and sculpts a bust of the governor, who soon after paroles the killer!
Author J.R. Sanders
Sanders’ subjects are meticulously researched with primary sources; his bibliography lists numerous newspapers, periodicals, census and other public records, court transcripts, and books. His style of story-telling is engaging and accessible, and never dumbed down: hooray for the writer with the courage to use ‘pettifogging’ when no other word will quite do.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about the every-day heroics of the lawmen of the old west.
On Thursday, May 15th, from 7 to 10 p.m. at William S. Hart Park in Newhall, California, J.R. Sanders will be taking part in The National Peace Officers Memorial Day. This is a free and open-to-the-public event, and Sanders will be one of a number of speakers, as well as signing his book. To learn more, please contact the William S. Hart Museum office at (661) 254-4584 or Bobbi Jean Bell, OutWest, (661) 255-7087.
You can learn more about J.R. Sanders by visiting his website HERE. You can purchase SOME GAVE ALL from OutWest Boutique HERE
THAT’S A WRAP!
And that’s all for this week’s Round-up! Have a great Mother's Day!
All Original Contents Copyright May 2014 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved