Wednesday, April 27, 2016



This trailer is almost twice as long as the one I posted oon Facebook a week ago – check it out!


UNDERGROUND, WGN America’s original series about the Underground Railroad, the secret channels that transported runaway slaves to the North in the pre-Civil War days, has been picked up for a second ten-episode season.  Averaging 3 million viewers per episode, it’s the most successful new cable show of the season, and the most popular scripted series in the network’s history.  Produced by John Legend, UNDERGROUND was created by Misha Green (SPARTACUS, SONS OF ANARCHY) and Joe Pokaski (CSI, DAREDEVIL).  The series stars Jurnee Smollet-Bell from TRUE BLOOD, and Aldis Hodge from STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON and TURN, as slaves running from a Georgia plantation.   Airing on Wednesdays, this one flew under my radar, so all I’ve seen so far is a few minutes of episode 2, which looks very good.  But it’s available through Amazon, and presumably other platforms, and before the season finale on May 11, WGNA will rerun the entire season, so we can catch up! 


Thursday April 28th through Sunday May 1st, the great cinema event of the year, the TCM Classic Film Festival will once again take over Hollywood!  Movies will be screening at the Chinese Theatre, the Egyptian Theatre, several screens at the Chinese Multiplex, plus a few other venues.  With five movies generally showing at a time, you can’t see everything, but you can see a ton!  There will be special guests introducing films, including Alec Baldwin, Carl Bernstein, Francis Ford Coppola – who’ll get his footprints in cement at the Chinese, James Cromwell, Faye Dunaway, Elliot Gould, Darryl Hickman, Angela Lansbury, Gina Lollobrigida, Marlee Matlin, Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Adam West, and many more. 

Most of the pass packages, which cost as much as $1,649, are sold out, but there’s still the Palace Pass for $299, and happily there are tickets for individual movies.  Those are $20 a pop, and all the pass-holders are let in before they sell tickets for any remaining seats, so study the schedule, and have a second choice in mind in case your first choice is full. 

Few Westerns are on the schedule this year, but the ones that are there are well worth seeing on a big screen.  On Saturday, see THE YEARLING (1946), based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman as parents who have doubts about letting their son (Claude Jarman Jr.) raise a young deer.  The film won Oscars for Art Direction and Cinematography, and Jarman himself will be in attendance. 

On Sunday, see LAW AND ORDER (1932) starring Walter Huston as Wyatt Earp (with a name change), in a script by his son John, from a novel by W.R. Burnett.  It’s a tough but at times sweet pre-code Western, featuring Harry Carey, and a moving performance by Andy Devine.   

Unless you’re cried out from THE YEARLING, see OLD YELLER (1957). Walt Disney’s heartwarming but uncompromising story of a frontier family, who comes to love and depend on a big-old dog, is from the Fred Gipson novel.  It’s the perfect Disney family – mother Dorothy Maguire, father Fess Parker, sons Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran.  There’s a lot of joy and tragedy in this story, beautifully performed by the cast, including the neighbor-girl played by Beverly 

Washburn, who will be in attendance.

Keith Carradine will introduce John Ford’s SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1948), and if you read the Round-up, you probably know more about the film than I do. 
The Festival is a wonderful event; one of the highpoints is meeting so many people from around the world who have the same passion for and knowledge of film as you do.  And did I mention they’re showing a movie in Smell-o-vision?  To learn more, visit the website here: 


I told ya – raising a stink can have a fragrant effect!  DISH, who April Fooled their subscribers by 

yanking INSP, and its 50 hours of westerns per week, has reinstalled the network, at least for now.  

Thanks to everyone who sent snarling and snarky emails, Facebook comments and Tweets!  Nice to 

know the powers that be actually listen!


Alpha Video has come up with a fascinating oddity from the early days of TV, a 1957 hour episode from the CLIMAX anthology series, STRANGE SANCTUARY.  Live shows from the early years of TV are rarely seen today because the quality of image is less than people are used to today.  Unlike today’s dramatic shows, where stories are shot and assembled like movies, live TV dramas were performed like plays, from beginning to end, and broadcast live.  They were preserved as Kinescopes, films shot off of a TV monitor, and lack the sharpness we expect, but there is a treasure-trove of high quality story-telling out there that has been ignored for too long.

STRANGE SANCTUARY is the moving story of a pair of outlaw partners, Irish Michael Rennie and Mexican Cesar Romero, who are on the run after a bank robbery.  Planning to start new lives in California, things go wrong when they decide to stop at a convent to retrieve Romero’s daughter.  The strong supporting cast includes future Oscar-winner Rita Moreno, Noah Berry Jr. as the sheriff, Osa Munson, and John Ford stalwart Hank Worden.  It’s directed by Buzz Kulik, who would go on to helm several GUNSMOKE and HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL episodes, as well as the Emmy-winning BRIAN’S SONG.  It’s worth remembering, during shootouts, that while we’re used to seeing them in movies, assembled from dozens of individually shot pieces of film, here the staccato action happened live – it’s very nice work.

Also on the disk are a pair of half-hour Western episodes of another anthology series, SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE.  NO COMPROMISES (1953) stars Stephen McNally as a Texas Ranger transporting outlaw Robert Strauss, who would be Oscar-nominated that same year for playing Animal in STALAG 17.  Although very contained – virtually all of it takes place on a train, director Arnold Laven, who would go on to produce and direct THE RIFLEMAN and THE BIG VALLEY, makes it entertaining.  THE LONG TRAIL (1957) has a very similar set-up, with Anthony Quinn trying to take a fugitive back to Texas, but even with KING KONG’s Robert Armstrong along, it’s a tedious talk-a-thon with zero action.  STRANGE SANCTUARY is available for $5.95 at


It’s been one of those strange and wonderful periods where I’ve been so busy doing interesting things that I haven’t had time to write about them – interviews with Earl Holliman, Constance Towers, Rafer Johnson, Chris Mitchum – visits to film sets, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, and now TCM at the end of the week!  Details soon!

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright April 2016 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved


  1. Thanks Henry! I like that Mag 7 trailer.

  2. I'll definitely see The Magnificent 7 but I wish they would call it something else. I get tired of remakes especially when they aren't really remakes other than in name only. They made 3 additional Mag 7 films why not use another title for this one. I also don't care for the wise-guy gunfighter character as none of the originals were like that. I guess that's modern Hollywood.