Tuesday, January 1, 2019



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.


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!


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. 


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.


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.


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!



All Original Material Copyright January 1st 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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