Thursday, February 15, 2018




Okay, he’s not the King yet, but maybe the Kaiser of the Cowboys? The body-building champ, movie star and former Governor of California, whose only previous Western was Hal Needham’s 1979 comedy THE VILLAIN -- in which he played Handsome Stranger to Ann-Margaret’s Charming Jones, and Kirk Douglas’s Cactus Jack -- will be heading to the Amazon West, to star in the series OUTRIDER, for Producer Mace Neufield, who previously produced GODS AND GENERALS.

Set in the late 1800s, when Oklahoma was still Indian Territory, the story centers on a deputy assigned to capture a famous outlaw, with the help of a ruthless Federal Marshal (Schwarzenegger). As the tale progresses, alliances will shift, and the demarcation between hero and villain will be obscured.  The show will be co-written and exec-produced by Trey Callaway and Mark Montgomery.


As Superbowl fans learned last Sunday, WESTWORLD will be starting its second season, on HBO, on April 22nd. The teaser trailer, seen below, doesn’t give too much story away, but it does confirm that it will be a western WESTWORLD, not the eastern Samurai variation last season’s ending hinted at (Whew!). As with season one, HBO remains tight-lipped. So fasten your seatbelts!


As part of the Autry’s long-running ‘What is a Western?’ film series, they will be screening John Ford’s classic Western courtroom mystery, 1960’s SERGEANT RUTLEDGE. Tremendously daring for its subject matter even today, and one of the high points of Woody Strode’s career. He star as a Buffalo Soldier on trial for the rape and murder of a white child. The film also stars Constance Towers and Jeffrey Hunter.  I wrote an article on RUTLEDGE, and other Buffalo Soldier films, for True West Magazine, and had the privilege of speaking to both Ms. Towers, and Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson, who played a Buffalo Soldier in the film. To read ‘Ford Set The Bar High’, click HERE.  The film will be introduced by Jared Moshé, director of the current Western THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN. The program in the Wells Fargo Theatre begins at 1:30 pm, and admission is free with your museum admission. 


In two weeks the L. A. Italia Festival, the 13th annual celebration of Italian culture and especially Italian cinema, will begin on Sunday, February 25th, at the Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood, and run for a week, through Saturday, March 3rd, Oscar eve. This year’s festival will be dedicated to legendary Italian directors Franco Zeffirelli and Lina Wertmuller.  There are screenings of dozens of Italian movies, both new and classics, all free, on a first come, first seated basis. There are also special programs that require reservations, and the red carpet is often packed with stars. The schedule of films was announced last night, and there is just one Italian Western on the bill. On Saturday, at 4:50 pm, TWO BROTHERS IN A PLACE CALLED TRINITY, starring Richard Harrison, will be screened. The program notes, “Harrison wrote, produced and directed the film, and understandably, it is his personal favorite among the Italian westerns he appeared in.” It doesn’t say whether or not Harrison will attend; I’ll try to find out. To find out about all of the films being screened, and their times, go HERE.


I was surprised to find this shot of me and Shirley
Jones on the Red Carpet at the TCM site!

The annual TCM Classic Movie Festival returns to the Chinese Theatre Complex and elsewhere around Hollywood, starting April 26th, and running through the 29th. This year’s theme will be that all-too-often ignored aspect of movies, the written word. According to TCM, “From original screenplays to unique adaptations to portrayals of writers real and imagined, we will celebrate the foundation of great film: the written word.”  The Fest will open with a screening at the Chinese IMAX of THE PRODUCERS, with writer/director Mel Brooks attending. Other guests already announced include writer/director Robert Benton, and actress Marsha Hunt.  

Dick Cavett introducing a film

Last year, although the number of Westerns featured was small, what there was, was choice. DAWSON CITY – FROZEN TIME is a fascinating documentary by Bill Morrison. A boomtown in the heart of the Yukon Gold Rush that started in1898, Dawson’s movie theatres were not only the hub of entertainment, they were the end of the line for movie prints that had made their way around the world. In 1978, a construction crew bulldozed an old sports club, and found hundreds of reels of film buried, some of them preserved, in the permafrost, most of them films thought to be lost forever. And that’s only the beginning of the story. The film is available from Kino-Lorber.

A frame from POLLY OF THE CIRCUS (1917)
partly decomposed, from DAWSON CITY

1952’s THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE was re-premiered at the Fest, not just restored, but seen in 3-D for the first time since its release. This lively movie from Paramount’s famous ‘Dollar Bills’, Bill Pine and Bill Thomas, was the first 3-D musical. It stars Gene Barry, Rhonda Fleming, Agnes Moorhead, and a bevy of singers and dancers, including the Bell Sisters, one of whom, to the audience’s delight, attended. It tells the story of a family of women that head to -- you guessed it -- Dawson City during the Gold Rush to be entertainers. This one is also available from Kino-Lorber. With their story overlap, I’m surprised REDHEADS and DAWSON aren’t offered as a set. 

Paramount Studio Head Archivist Andrea Kalas presented a talk, and clips from dozens of Republic Pictures in all imaginable genres. Paramount has acquired the entire Republic Library (minus, I assume, Gene Autry’s films, as he acquired all of them), and have for seven years been restoring them at the rate of 100 a year. Needless to say, this left all the Western fans in attendance salivating, but at the moment, no definite plans for releasing the films has been announced.

Peter Bogdonovich and Illeana Douglas

And speaking of things not yet announced, thus far only eighteen films have been announced for this year’s Fest, and there’s not a Western in the bunch. But last year they showed 83 films, so there’s plenty of space to squeeze in some oaters. Stand by for updates as we get closer to the event.


Kent McCray with High Chaparral stuntwoman
Jackie Fuller

On Saturday, March 17th, Kent McCray, who produced or production-managed BONANZA, THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, and THE LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, will be au the Autry, speaking about his career, and signing his new autobiography, KENT MCCRAY: THE MAN BEHIND THE MOST BELOVED TELEVISION SHOWS. A Q&A will be hosted by Dean Butler, who played Almanzo Wilder on LITTLE HOUSE, and other guests from McCray shows are expected. In addition to his extensive Western work, McCray spent years managing Bob Hope’s travels to entertain our troops around the globe. His friendship with Michael Landon, developed on the BONANZA set, led to a producing partnership on LITTLE HOUSE and HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN.
My next Round-up will feature an interview with McCray. And HERE is a link to the current True West Magazine, about McCray’s recent celebration of HIGH CHAPARRAL’s 50th Anniversary.


A Book Review by Henry C. Parke

It’s not so surprising that a young man’s early association with Western actor William S. Hart would inspire him to become a real-life western lawman. It’s not the first time a man changed his name in tribute to his idol – magician Eric Weiss dubbed himself Harry Houdini after French illusionist Robert-Houdin. The stunner is the name that he changed: lawman and prohibition agent Richard ‘Two-Gun’ Hart had been Christened in Sicily as Vicenzo Capone, and his brother, Al Capone, would make quite a name for himself on the other side of the law!

Jeff McArthur tells a fascinating, and entirely fresh, story of a man who reinvented himself totally, yet could never totally escape his family’s influence. Hart was a remarkable complex man, and his successes and struggles throughout the Great Depression are, by turns, inspiring and infuriating.

As a teenager, I was obsessed with Depression-era gangsters, and I devoured every word I could find on Al Capone. There is more information on the life of Scarface Al, and insight into his character and personality here, than I have ever seen before, and with a good reason. For the first time, the Capone family has opened up to an author, and granted unprecedented access to MacArthur.

Whether your interest is in lawmen, criminals, or simply humanity, you will be astonished. TWO-GUN HART is published by Bandwagon Books.               


Tom Tyler had a few standout sympathetic roles, as Captain Marvel in the Republic serial, and as Stony Brooke in some of the THREE MESQUITEERS entries. But most of his other outstanding, and best remembered roles were villains: Luke Plummer, the man who killed John Wayne’s brother in 1939’s STAGECOACH; King Evans in William Wyler’s THE WESTERNER (1940); and as the seemingly soulless gunman in POWDERSMOKE RANGE (1935). Likable, strong-jawed Kermit Maynard was as good an actor, and handsomer, than his superstar brother Ken Maynard, but no one else could do what Ken could with a horse. Kermit played countless drovers and henchmen and stagecoach drivers.  But once in a blue moon, these supporting players got a chance to shine, and in a new double-bill from Alpha Video, each man proves that he could carry a movie on their own.

In RIDIN’ THRU (1934), Tom Tyler and sidekick Ben Corbett come to the aid of a rancher-turned-dude-rancher friend whose horses are being rustled, and determine they’re being led away by a mysterious white stallion. In FIGHTING TROOPER (1934) Kermit Maynard stars as a Mountie sergeant whose superior, and personal antagonist, is murdered. While undercover, investigating a likely suspect, fur trapper LeFarge (LeRoy Mason), he grows to suspect LeFarge is being framed.

Also from Alpha is the long-thought-lost B Western DESERT MESA (1935), starring Wally West, a stuntman-turned-actor who pretty quickly turned back to stuntman. It's a story about two men, West and an old rancher (William McCall), whose paths cross as both seek the same man, who ruined their lives by killing West’s father and McCall’s wife. Not a great movie, but a surprisingly good print, it’s curious to note that as late as 1935, some poverty row Westerns felt almost like silents, between the stilted performances and West’s mascara. One of the more natural performances, as an unbilled sidekick named Art, is the film’s producer and director Art Mix, real name Victor Adamson, who was sued by Tom Mix to stop borrowing his last name.  It’s double billed with THE TEXAS TORNADO, aka RANCH DYNAMITE, from 1932, starring Lane Chandler as a Texas Ranger who takes on the identity of a Chicago gangster to infiltrate a gang. Master stuntman Yakima Canutt plays a henchman, and does stunt doubling in the spirited fights. It’s written and directed by Oliver Drake, who decades later would co-author Canutt’s excellent autobiography, STUNTMAN.

…and that’s a wrap! 

For your amusement, here are a few not quite 2” by 3” Swedish gum cards. My favorite is the one that identifies our most decorated soldier of World War II, and a fine Western actor, as Audrey Murphy. Things get lost in translation.

In the next Round-up, I’ll have my interview with Kent McCray, and a look at two upcoming Spaghetti Westerns from the folks who brought you 6 BULLETS TO HELL! And I’ll be updating this Round-up as titles become available for the TCM Classic Movie Festival.

Happy Trails!


All Original Contents Copyright February 2018 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved