Monday, January 14, 2019
NEW SPAGHETTI WESTERN – ‘BOUNTY KILLER’ – PLUS ‘HOW TV WEST IS WRITTEN’, AUTRY EVENTS, DVD REVIEWS AND MORE!
THIS JUST IN! STARTING TUESDAY, JANUARY 15TH, THE AUTRY WILL EXTEND FREE ADMISSION TO LAUSD STUDENTS AND THEIR CHAPERONES DURING THE LAUSD TEACHERS’ STRIKE!
‘BOUNTY KILLER’ OPENS JAN. 25TH IN L.A.!
‘BOUNTY KILLER’, the new Spaghetti Western from Chip Baker Films, opens Friday, January 25th, at the Arena Cinelounge, 6464 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028. When a young woman, played by Naila Mansour, is abducted during her wedding, her father, Eurowestern stalwart Antonio Mayans (MORE DOLLARS FOR THE MACGREGORS, A TOWN CALLED HELL) hires bounty hunter Crispian Belfrage to rescue the woman, and kill the men. Also in the cast are Aaron Stielstra (THE SCARLET WORM, 6 BULLETS TO HELL) and Lenore Andriel (YELLOW ROCK). Directed by Chip Baker, written by Baker and Danny Garcia, Jose Villanueva and Nick Reynolds, many of the folks who made the fine 6 BULLETS TO HELL are also part of BOUNTY KILLER. Cinematographer of both films Olivier Merckx may be the first to use a drone in a Western, and did so to striking effect.
It’s filmed in classic sets and locations in Tabernas, Almeria, and Andalucia, Spain, much of it on the McBain Ranch from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. The film will be playing from Friday the 25 through Thursday the 31, and since the times vary from day to day, visit the Cinelounge website HERE for details.
‘HOW TV WEST IS WRITTEN’ AND MORE EVENTS AT THE AUTRY
TUESDAY JAN. 15 – A WORD ON WESTERNS SALUTES BURT LANCASTER
Detail from Thomas Hart Benton's 'The Kentuckian' poster
Tuesday, at 11 a.m., join Western authority Rob Word and his merry band at the Wells Fargo Theatre for another delightful ‘Word on Westerns’. The topic will be Burt Lancaster, whose Westerns include GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, VERA CRUZ, APACHE, and THE KENTUCKIAN. Word notes, “Lancaster cared greatly about quality and, when he directed and starred in THE KENTUCKIAN (1955), hired Bernard Herrmann for the music and Thomas Hart Benton to do the movie poster!” Among the guests joining Rob will be Burt’s stunt double from ULZANA’S RAID and POSSE, Billy Burton, and from Burt’s last Western, CATTLE ANNIE AND LITTLE BRITCHES, producer Rupert Hitzig and actors William Russ and Kenny Call. Did I mention this event is free with your Autry admission? Doors open at 10:30.
WEDNESDAY JAN. 16 – HOW THE WEST IS WRITTEN: INSIDE MODERN TV WESTERNS
A must-attend for any would-be Western screenwriters, Wednesday night at 7 p.m., writers and producers from the latest crop of TV Westerns share insight into the creation of their series, how they’re reimagining the genre, and why stories out of the American West continue to inspire. Panelists include LONGMIRE writer and exec producer Hunt Baldwin, THE SON writer and exec producer Kevin Murphy, and HELL ON WHEELS and BRISCO COUNTY, JR. writer and exec producer John Wirth. This one costs $20 for members & students, $25 for non-members, and reservations are advised.
SATURDAY JAN. 26 – SILENT TREATMENT – ‘CLASH OF THE WOLVES’
The Silent Treatment is the Autry’s new series of silent Westerns with live musical accompaniment. 1925’s CLASH OF THE WOLVES stars Rin-Tin-Tin, his sweetheart Nanette, 7TH HEAVEN star Charles Farrell, and original Keystone Kop Heinie Conklin, in a tale of Borax miners and claim-jumpers. Presented at 2 p.m. in 35mm, with piano by Cliff Retallick. It’s free with admission.
SUNDAY, JAN. 27TH -- THE MUSIC OF ENNIO MORRICONE!
Morricone conducting the Hateful 8 score recording --
and no, he won't be there.
At 1 p.m. – the 5 p.m. performance is sold out -- a concert of music from film scores by the maestro of the Spaghetti Western, performed by a special ensemble of world-class musicians and singers. It’s $10 for members, $20 for non-members, and you’d better make your reservations now.
COWBOYS AND INDIANS AND VIKINGS! – A DVD REVIEW
Wild East Productions presents Volume 60 of their Spaghetti Western Collection, a Giuliano Gemma double feature, DAYS OF VENGEANCE and ERIK THE VIKING. In VENGEANCE (1967), Gemma stars as man framed and imprisoned not for just any crime, but the murder of his own father! His old girlfriend, Nieves Navarro, is now with the lawman who set him up, and Gemma teams up with a traveling charlatan (Manuel Muniz as his comic character Pajarito) and his granddaughter (gorgeous Grabriella Giorgelli) to get justice, and uncover a startlingly baroque conspiracy. It’s elegantly made and highly enjoyable.
The second film, ERIK THE VIKING (1965) is goofy, exuberant fun. Gemma is Erik, nephew of Viking King Thorwald, and when the old man is on his deathbed, he says he wants his power to pass to his nephew, not his own son Erloff (Lucio De Santis). It’s a tough time for Vikings, who get no end of abuse from the more militarily organized Danes. Erik convinces several Vikings that they should find a new land far away from the Danes, and sails off in search of it. They arrive in – you guessed it – the New World, where they make friends with some Indians and enemies with others.
This action-packed daffy little history lesson is surprisingly entertaining, capturing the spirit of the Warner Brothers swashbucklers of the 1930s and ‘40s, and borrowing plot elements from them as well. Yes, there is a beautiful Indian princess (Elisa Montes), and evil plotters working for Erloff, including the indispensable muscleman Gordon Mitchell.
Among the special features is an excellent interview with actress Nieves Navarro conducted by Western screenwriter Danny Garcia (6 BULLETS TO HELL, THE BOUNTY KILLER). The double feature sells for $21.72, and can be purchased HERE.
A NEW SOURCE FOR TV WESTERNS – JEWISH LIFE TV!
Gail Davis and Jimmy Hawkins
Next time you’re spinning the dial – remember when TVs had dials? – looking for a Western, you might just find one in an unexpected location: JLTV, aka Jewish Life Television, has added oaters to the line-up! Episodes of BONANZA, ANNIE OAKLEY, and the 1954 Western anthology series STORIES OF THE CENTURY have joined THE JACK BENNY SHOW and YOU BET YOUR LIFE, with Groucho Marx, as reasons to watch. Lorne Green, Michael Landon, and BONANZA-creator David Dortort were all Jewish, so perhaps that’s the connection, but whatever the reason, thanks JLTV!
‘UNSPOOLED’ LOOKS AT ‘THE SEARCHERS’
Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson, the film critics who are re-examining all of the films on the AFI 100 Best Movies of All-Time list, with 100 individual podcasts, are up to #34, THE SEARCHERS. They are knowledgeable, but not big Western fans – it’s the first John Wayne Western Scheer has seen (!) – so their takes on it are by turns fascinating and infuriating. Well worth a listen. And I must give them credit on one point in particular: it NEVER occurred to me that John Wayne might be searching not for his brother’s daughter, but his own! THE SEARCHERS is #34. The episode about HIGH NOON, where I was guest, is #19. You can hear them all HERE.
I HAVE 5 ARTICLES IN THE FEBRUARY ‘TRUE WEST’!
It’s a personal record for one issue! If you’d like to read ‘em…
p.19 – ‘Cowboy Pens Best Rodeo Movie Ever Made’
p. 26 – ‘Remembering Jeb Rosebrook’
p. 52 – ‘Max Evans in Hollywood’
p. 54 – ‘Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ review
p. 55 – ‘Fire Engulfs Paramount Western Ranch’
ONE MORE THING…
Every spring there are two events in the Los Angeles area that movie nuts, western nuts, and especially western movie nuts dream about all year. One is the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, a great get-together of all things cowboyish, at the estate of the great movie cowboy William S. Hart. The other is the annual TCM Classic Film Festival, one of the great and rare chances to see classic movies, and especially westerns, the way they should be seen, on a big screen. Well, after years of having them one weekend after another, the Cowboy Festival has been moved up, so they will both be on the weekend of April 13 and 14. TCM is actually the 11th through the 14th, and before you say, “Then just go to TCM on Thursday and Friday,” it doesn’t work that way, since the movies you want to see are generally scattered through the four days. They’ve just started to announce films, and included are BUTCH CASSIDY, a new restoration of WINCHESTER ’73, and a Tom Mix double bill with live music, THE GREAT K & A TRAIN ROBBERY and OUTLAWS OF RED RIVER. Cowboy Festival hasn’t started announcing their events yet, but it should be noted that for the second year, the Cowboy Festival will be free, while TCM costs a fortune, and even individual movies are $20 a pop. I’ll keep you informed as I learn more!
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
All Original Material Copyright January 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
HAPPY 2019! NEW SEASON OF ‘COWBOY WAY’, STEVE MCQUEEN’S ‘WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE’ AND ‘VIRGINIAN’ JOIN INSP, PLUS VIDEO & BOOK REVIEWS!
‘THE VIRGINIAN’ RETURNS TO INSP NEW YEAR’S DAY!
While throughout 2018, Western fans have enjoyed the rare opportunity to watch THE MEN FROM SHILOH, the scarcely-seen revamped final season on THE VIRGINIAN on INSP, the excellent news is that the original series returns today, January 1st, New Year’s Day, at noon EST and 3 p.m. PST, with an 9-hour marathon. It starts with the very first two episodes, THE EXECUTIONERS and THE WOMAN FROM WHITE WING. The marathon will continue with big-name star episodes, including THE GOLDEN DOOR with Robert Duvall; THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, with Robert Redford, THE INTRUDERS, with David Carradine; and THE MODOC KID, with Harrison Ford. Starting noon Wednesday EST, 3 p.m. PST, the series will continue in its original sequence with THROW A LONG ROPE, episode 3 of season one.
The story of THE VIRGINIAN goes back to Owen Wister’s tremendously successful 1902 novel of the same name, which helped make the cowboy into a folk-hero, and elevated the pulp genre to legitimate literature. Wister created in his title character the original ‘man with no name’, for he was only identified by where he came from. Beginning in 1962 and running for nine seasons and 249 episodes, the series revolved around the Shiloh Ranch, the Garth family, headed originally by Judge Garth (Lee J. Cobb), and James Drury as the Virginian. Also in the cast were Doug McClure, Clu Gulager, Roberta Shore, Randy Boone, and over the seasons, many others.
As INSP Senior V.P. Doug Butts pointed out in his announcement, “The series was groundbreaking because it was the only 90-minute Western on television. This allowed writers and actors to give viewers a well-developed story arc, which is why it continues to hold an audience today. Not surprising, THE VIRGINIAN is one of our highest rated programs. What a great way to kick off 2019!” Back in 2012 I attended The Virginian 50th Anniversary celebration at The Autry, and was able to interview several of the series’ stars for a multi-part article. Here are the links: PART ONE.
STEVE MCQUEEN’S ‘WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE’ JOINS INSP LINE-UP!
Michael Landon guests on 1st episode of Wanted:
Dead or Alive, with Thomas Carr directing
Along with the return of THE VIRGINIAN, the series that made Steve McQueen a star, WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, will begin airing with episode one on New Year’s Day at 7 a.m. EST, 10 a.m. PST. This excellent half-hour series began in 1958 and ran for three seasons and 94 episodes, featuring McQueen as thoughtful, decent bounty hunter Josh Randall, who toted a cut down Winchester model 1892 carbine, caught miscreants but, as often as not, gave the reward money to someone who needed it more than himself. The series was very popular, and when McQueen was cast in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, but the series’ producers wouldn’t let him out of his contract to do the movie, he staged a car wreck to shut the series down!
INSP WELCOMES SEASON FIVE OF ‘COWBOY WAY’ SUNDAY, JAN. 6TH
Bubba, Booger and Cody, and their wives and kids, are back for a 5th helping of the realities of cowboy life in THE COWBOY WAY. The reality series that breaks the rules by actually seeming real follows the three friends who are partnered in the Faith Cattle Company, showing the nature of their day-to-day work. When the series began, only one cowboy was married. Now all three are, and have kids besides. This season the trio, who have largely concentrated on raising cattle, will be more involved in the buying and selling of the critters, and will venture from their Alabama homes to Texas. Here’s a LINK to my True West article about the show, as well as my interviews with Bubba Thompson and Booger Brown from the Round-up.
AMC’S ‘THE SON’ RETURNS IN APRIL 2019!
The ten-episode second season is ‘in the can’! Returning to the series that examines a Texas cattle and oil baron in two distinct eras, 1849 and 1915, are series stars Pierce Brosnan and Jacob Lofland, who together play the older and younger Eli McCullough. Also returning are Zahn McClarnon, Henry Garrett, Sydney Lucas, Paola Núñez, David Wilson Barnes, Jess Weixler, and Elizabeth Frances. Joining the cast will be Jeremy Bobb from GODLESS, Duke Davis Roberts from JUSTIFIED, Glenn Stanton, and David Sullivan. If you’d like to read my True West article on THE SON, featuring interviews with author Philip Meyer, producers Henry Bronchtein and Kevin Murphy, and stars Jacob Lofland, Zahn McClarnon and Carlos Bardem, go HERE.
THE SOUTHERNER – a video review
In 1945, the brilliant writer and filmmaker Jean Renoir ventured into John Steinbeck territory with The Southerner, for which he would receive a Best Director Oscar nomination. Having already written and directed the classics Grand Illusion (1937), Le Bete Humaine (1938), and The Rules of The Game (1939) in his native France, in 1941 he fled for America following the Nazi invasion of his homeland – he would become a naturalized U.S. citizen – and directed a few films before hitting his stride with The Southerner. Adapted from the novel by George Sessions Perry, The Southerner is the Great Depression story of Sam and Nona Tucker, impoverished Texas cotton-pickers who are determined against tremendous odds to own their own farm and raise a family. It is at times a harsh and bleak tale, the characters’ lives filled with suffering and indignities, but it’s never hopeless.
Renoir assembled a remarkable cast, sometimes using actors in their most familiar personas, other times going radically against type and letting the players spread their wings to wonderful effect. For Sam Tucker, the all-American driven farmer that would normally have been a Gary Cooper or James Stewart or Joel McCrea – and McCrea and wife Frances Dee were briefly attached – he instead used the hissable cad from Mildred Pierce, Zachary Scott. For his hard-struggling, honorable wife he chose the trollop from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Betty Field. To play the albatross of a Granny, who self-centeredly rails about their lack of concern for her, Renoir cast Beulah Bondi, who’d played the perfect mom for Frank Capra in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and It’s A Wonderful Life. The usually lovable J. Carrol Naish played the most spiteful character in the story, a neighbor farmer with a little success who does everything he can to sabotage the Tuckers, willing even to let their ailing child go without milk. On the other hand his son, played by Norman Lloyd, the title character from Hitchcock’s Saboteur, is right in character, and Percy Kilbride is Pa Kettle, only in nicer clothes.
The film is not heavily plotted; this is not a traditional story so much as it is a chance to watch the trials and triumphs of its characters against the land, the weather, and sometimes other people. It also has two wonderful knock-down drag-out brawls, one light-hearted but fraught with danger, the other deadly. These are not the thrillingly choreographed Yakima Canutt-inspired displays we’ve come to love, but rather the kind of fights real angry non-athletes have, with everything they ca lay their hands on included.
Despite three Oscar nominations – Best Director, Best Sound Recording: Jack Whitney, Best Musical Score: Werner Janssen – this indie, originally released by United Artists, had become something of an orphan film, and difficult to see. Fortunately, Alpha Video has released the DVD for only $7.98. Order it HERE.
A NEW PLAY PUBLISHED BY MICHAEL B. DRUXMAN – BRODERICK CRAWFORD: A PLAY IN TWO ACTS
As far as The Round-up is concerned, Michael Druxman’s most important accomplishment is writing the screenplay for 1994’s CHEYENNE WARRIOR, one of the very best independent Westerns of the past quarter century. The publicist, journalist, screenwriter, director, and playwright has published a series of plays, frequently one-character plays, in his Hollywood Legends series, focusing on the lives of such stars as Al Joslon, Orson Welles, Carole Lombard, and Clara Bow. His most recent entry is about a hugely talented but decidedly less glamorous star, Broderick Crawford. This two act play features three characters: Brod, his mother Helen Broderick, and father Lester Crawford.
Brod’s parents were important vaudeville stars – they played the Palace in New York, the pinnacle of success. Lester had some success in Hollywood, and Helen had a major film career, an attractive comedienne who appeared in numerous chic RKO comedies and musicals, typically as Ginger Rogers’s friend or Edward Everett Horton’s romantic interest. The play’s thesis is that although their son had a great career – a Best Actor Oscar for ALL THE KING’S MEN, his tremendous success in BORN YESTERDAY, a long string of movies, and two successful TV series, HIGHWAY PATROL and THE INTERNS, it was never enough to satisfy his parents. Their disappointment and disapproval haunt him literally in the play – the two acts are set in dressing rooms in 1971 and 1977, long after both parents have died, but that doesn’t even slow down their bedeviling of their alcoholic son.
Along the way you’ll learn quite a bit about the actor’s slow and steady decline. Humorous but not exactly uplifting, it’s a tremendous role for an actor of the right age and size. You can buy it from Amazon, either as a paperback or download, and check out Druxman’s many other plays, HERE.
…AND ONE MORE THING…
As I begin my tenth year writing Henry’s Western Round-up, I am immensely grateful to all of my readers for their interest and encouragement. If anyone had told me a decade ago that what I had to say about Westerns would be read in over a hundred nations, with close to a million-and-a-half page-views, I would never have believed it. Nor would I have dreamt that I would be entering my fourth year as Western Film Editor for True West Magazine.
Because of the increased – and very welcome – steadily increasing work-load from True West, the past few years have seen a steady diminishing in the number of Round-up posts, from weekly to monthly to less than that. I’ve never been a big one for New Year’s resolutions, but it’s my intention to return to weekly postings, or at least every-other-week postings. They may be shorter than in the past, but I’ll do my best to keep my news service current. Best wishes to you all for a successful and fulfilling 2019!
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
All Original Material Copyright January 1st 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved