Tuesday, March 31, 2020
NEW WESTERN – ‘A SOLDIER’S REVENGE’, INTERVIEW W/DIR. MICHAEL FEIFER, PLUS RANDOLPH SCOTT DOUBLE-FEATURE REVIEW!
WRITER-DIRECTOR MICHAEL FEIFER ON 'A SOLDIER'S REVENGE':
GUN-RUNNING, AND POST-CIVIL WAR P.T.S.D.
With 64 feature directing credits, and 37 screenwriting credits since 2005, you can safely call Michael Feifer prolific. From action films to true crime to horror to Christmas movies, to ‘dog-who-saved-various-holidays’ movies, he’s delved into most genres. On Tuesday, June 16th, just in time for Father’s Day, his newest film will be coming out on home video, from Well Go U.S.A., available from Walmart and other retailers, as well as VOD download. It’s Michael’s third Western. His first was the contemporary SODA SPRINGS (2012), starring Jay Pickett and Tom Skerritt, followed the same year by WYATT EARP’S REVENGE, whose cast includes Val Kilmer and Trace Adkins. Partnered with co-producer and Western expert Peter Sherayko, in addition to A SOLDIER’S REVENGE, Michael has a fourth Western, SHOOTING STAR, in the can, to be released later this year, and three more Westerns set to go before camera: one would be rolling by the end of this week if not for the Coronavirus.
A SOLDIER’S REVENGE is a post-Civil War tale of a former Confederate soldier, Frank Connor (Neal Bledsoe), whose PTSD has made him unable to adapt to civilian life. He’s lost his marriage, isolated himself, and survives by taking assignments as a paid gunman. The unwanted responsibility thrust upon him by a chance meeting with two desperate children leads him to uncover a gun-running scheme operated by former friend and comrade-in-arms Briggs (Rob Mayes).
Back in 2011 I had the pleasure of spending a few days on the set of WYATT EARP’S REVENGE, at Caravan West Ranch and Paramount Ranch. (If you'd like to read those articles, go HERE and HERE.) Just a day ago I had the chance to catch up with Michael, telephonically, about A SOLDIER’S REVENGE, and his other Westerns in the pipeline.
Frank (Neal Bledsoe) and Griggs (Rob Mayes) as
HENRY: You wrote the script for A Soldier’s Revenge some years ago, and as another genre.
MICHAEL: I just wrote a low-budget action movie. There wasn't particularly a plan; I was just starting to write scripts. I've written now 40 or so scripts. It's just been sitting around for 10 years. And then, Peter Sherayko called me up and said, Hey, I have an investor, Rick Pihl, for a Western. You got any Westerns sitting around? I said, I don't, but I do have this action movie that I think I can convert into a Western. So I made a bunch of changes, but it’s basically a similar storyline. The action movie was based on an Iraq War soldier. It was a PTSD story. I changed the SUVs into wagons and horses, and changed the city of L.A. into a Western town. The original script had a DARPA, secret Defense Department compound, and that changed to Briggs' compound. Peter read it, and brought in all his Western-isms: Frank saying, I roll my own hoop, a hard-boiled egg is yellow on the inside, stuff about a curly wolf -- things like that. Peter brought that actual Western lingo to the script, which was really nice. And Peter's like, if you want to be true to the timeline, the men who ran guns, they ran women, too. So there's the scene where Frank pulls up the stagecoach, and my wife, Caia Coley, plays one of the prostitutes. Peter came in and brought in his lingo and the right types of guns and the right timeline and the right geographical settings, we changed Briggs into a gun runner.
HENRY: How did you like shooting the Civil War scenes?
MICHAEL: I really enjoyed them. You know, usually on a low-budget movie, you really don't have the money for practical effects (note: practical effects are effects that are done on-set and on-camera, as opposed to CGI). Most of the effects you see in a movie are visual effects. But we actually had Christian Ramirez, my production designer, put together some canons to blow material in the air, which is really, really nice. The civil war reenactor guys, they come ready to go with all the accoutrements and costumes, and so truly quick and easy to get into and start shooting. I would love to shoot another war movie that's just Civil War, trench warfare, or a World War One movie. It's just so visual and visceral and textured.
HENRY: Frank Connor's character, today we would say he had PTSD. What did they call it after the Civil War?
MICHAEL: They called it Soldier's Heart, the original name of the film. Peter was the one who named the film Soldier’s Heart. They didn't really have an understanding of what it was, but they knew that something traumatically would happen to you in war, and seeing such terrible things. The movie is being released as A Soldiers Revenge because that title had a little more of an action feel to it than a drama feel to it.
HENRY: When I talked to Peter about it, having been a Vietnam War veteran himself, and having friends who suffered from PTSD, the theme was very important to him. I was wondering if you've had a response from any other vets.
MICHAEL: Oh, you know it's interesting. Peter's a gang of background actors that work on the movies, we call them Peter Sherayko's Buckaroos, many of them are vets, and many of them came to me during the shoot and thanked me for making a story where you have a character who's suffering from PTSD, suffering from soldier's heart. They found a lot of moments that really expressed their feelings, and appreciated that it was being explored. And the more light you put on the subject, the more people could come out from their own personal shadows and get help and feel that there's others like others like them. So a lot of guys actually came up and, and, and thanked me.
Neal Bledsoe and AnnaLyne McCord
HENRY: You've certainly taken us far out of the 21st century with this one. Where did you film it?
MICHAEL: We filmed on three ranches in Los Angeles. Caravan West Ranch, which is Peter Sherayko's production facility, in Agua Dulce. We filmed at Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, which is where The Little House on The Prairie was filmed. We shot at Rancho Deluxe, in Santa Clarita. Big Sky Ranch is where the yellow house that's where Briggs' house is. People might be familiar with that from Westworld ‘s first season. There used to be more Western towns in Los Angeles. In fact, Paramount Ranch burned down, and another fantastic West town was torn down. So there were more options, but you know, L.A. is where they shot all the old westerns and what we're still doing here.
HENRY: How long was your shooting schedule?
MICHAEL: 17 days.
HENRY: Wow -- that's tight!
MICHAEL: Not for me, (laughs). Actually that's four days longer than my normal schedule. Shooting Star, the last one, I actually did that in 19 days, which was even nicer. You know, a studio film, they might shoot 45 to 90 days. When you shoot independent films, specifically Western, you’ve just gotta work fast, you've got to have a well-oiled crew working together. You could tell when a movie is gonna really work out when you're on on-set, when everybody's really enjoying the process. And the fruits of our labor will be revealed to the world on June 16th.
Val Kilmer, Michael Feifer, Neal Bledsoe
HENRY : What part of making a film is the most fun, or the most challenging?
MICHAEL: Actually the most fun and the most challenging is directing. I just thoroughly enjoy putting the pieces together, conceptualizing scenes, picking my lenses, camera movement, telling my crew, my cast what I need them to do. Everybody works together for one final goal. It’s just the complete creativity of directing a movie. I went to school for architecture, I was a graphic designer as a kid. I was a photographer and sculptor and drew, and directing movies is the aggregate of all of that together into one. If I couldn't direct movies, I would want to be a professional baseball player. It's like being a pitcher on the mound and you're in control of that game. And you only have those 17 days. That's it. There's no pickups or re-shoots on independent films; there's no budget for it. I'm so hyper-vigilant about getting the day started as quick as possible and shooting everything I can within a day.
HENRY: What is your favorite part of the finished film?
MICHAEL: There's a part where the kids are sleeping on a horse, and Frank leads them, comes to a spot and stops. He's leaning on the horse and he tells the kids, basically tells himself, and tells the kids while they're sleeping (something crucial that would give too much of the plot away!) There's something about the scene's really beautiful to me. I think Neil Bledsoe, his performance just hearkens back to Westerns of the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s. It's just a sweet moment, one of the kids kind of looks up and then looks down again cause she was listening. That’s Savannah Judy -- Savannah and Luke Judy play the kids. You know making moments where people are shooting each other and riding quick and killing somebody are really fun to do and really exciting. But when you could draw the emotion in the middle of a big Epic Western, and it's just him with the two kids, I think I might like that scene the best.
Luke and Savannah Judy
HENRY: I was delighted to see Jimmy Russo in the film.
MICHAEL: Well, he's a fascinating guy, really a legendary actor. I was just watching him in Open Range the other night, with Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner. My favorite part of his was in Extremities, with Farrah Fawcett. We have a friend in common, Jay Pickett, who's also in Soldier's Heart, and Jay Pickett and James Russo coached baseball together; their kids were on the same baseball team. I needed a really, really strong actor to start off the movie. Frank goes to take care of one of his bounty hunting jobs, which is to take out James Russo's character, Artemus Walsh. It's a long scene and it's a tension-filled scene and it has great moments. I needed someone to really start the movie off with a bang, no pun intended, and a really strong performance. Someone who's gritty and just real, and James came to mind.
And onset was actually fascinating to watch him. We get onset, rehearse it, block the scene, and once we shoot the master, you kinda know what you're doing. When you get to the mediums and close-ups, you can evolve the moments more. Russo grabbed Neil and just set out a couple of directors chairs while the guys are lighting the set and just started working with Neil: let's work it, let's work it, let's do it again, let's do it again. Generally with independent films there's no rehearsals, there's no money to do rehearsals ahead of time. But we had this moment in time because we were lighting the set and James was just working with Neil and was like, let's do it again, and Mike, do you mind if I change the words here? And Neil's really an actor's actor too, and he was loving it.
HENRY: It was so nice to see Val Kilmer as Frank's father. Haven't you guys worked together before?
MICHAEL: We worked together on Wyatt Earp's Revenge. And I did that in 2011 and filmed him at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. One day, 13 pages. It's one of those just sort of amazing experiences. But we had so much material to do. I didn't have time to get to know Val, to talk to him. Fast forward, eight years later, and I emailed him and said, Hey Val, do you remember when we got together for Wyatt Earp's Revenge? I’ve got another Western. And he emailed me back, yeah, I remember, good times. In fact, if you watch, I'm sure a lot of people recognize that Val's gone through some health issues, but there's a certain sort of pathos to his character, that he was able to bring out, that I think is really just fascinating to watch. Even with the health issues he's been having. I'm just so impressed with Val, he's such a good guy. Such a nice, a nice person who's really very giving and just wants to do the best he can and help his fellow actor. And it was a pleasure to work with him.
HENRY: I understand you have several other Western movie projects in the works.
Mike Feifer and Peter Sherayko
MICHAEL: We shot Shooting Star in October, and it's in post. Shooting Star stars Drew Waters, Heather McComb , Peter Sherayko and Michael Pare, Jake Busey, but it also stars two young actresses who've never acted before and just blew me away. They were brilliant. One is Lyana Ferrino who plays the young girl, Blaze, who gets hurt at the beginning of the film, and is sort of the impetus for the entire story of the film. And then the lead actress is Brooklin Michelle. We'll probably complete post production in a couple of months. Then I have three more Western's coming up: Catch the Bullet, Desperate Riders, and The Siege at Rhyker's Station. We were supposed to shoot Catch the Bullet April 6th, but unfortunately with the Coronavirus and the quarantine, we have to delay that. And Val Kilmer was going to be in that movie too.
You asked about something challenging. Probably the most challenging thing other than just directing a Western movie, is the horse-riding. It's very hard to find experienced actors who can also ride horses; not just ride a horse, like gallop a horse, but control a horse. And it's very difficult to get. So on Catch the Bullet, there's a gang of bad guys and there's three good guys chasing down the bad guys and they all have to ride horses. So for Catch the Bullet, I'm hiring cowboys and stunt men who ride horses to play the roles, rather than actors and teaching them how to ride. I want these guys to be able to ride like there's no tomorrow, so the scenes just feel more dynamic and more real. (laughs) In Shooting Star, I used a yoga ball. I’d put the actors on a yoga ball and have them bounce up and down, and make like their on a running horse. Sometimes we put the yoga ball in the back of the pickup truck and drive the pickup truck with the yoga ball. There's all sorts of techniques you have to use.
Jake Busey takes aim!
Shooting Star is going to be entirely in black and white, going to be reminiscent of westerns of the fifties and sixties, and we're going to do the music a very similar way. It looks spectacular in black and white. I'm really excited, really excited, and I'm not going to change it. People think, if you do it black and white, you're not gonna make any money. I'm like, ah, no, we're actually going to make a lot more money!"
“TO THE LAST MAN” AND “THE FIGHTING WESTERNER”
A RANDOLPH SCOTT DOUBLE FEATURE FROM ALPHA VIDEO DVD $7.98
Jack LaRue and Randolph Scott
Back in the early 1930s, Paramount brought ten Zane Grey Westerns to the screen, all starring young leading man Randolph Scott. Low-budget, but not B-Westerns in the usual sense, not aimed strictly towards kiddie matinees, some very fine films were made, all with strong casts, some with fine directors. Alpha-Video has released a double-feature pair, TO THE LAST MAN (1933), and THE FIGHTING WESTERNER (1935).
TO THE LAST MAN, directed by the wonderful Henry Hathaway (TRUE GRIT 36 years later!), it opens after the Civil War, with Mark Hayden (Egon Brecher), going home to the Kentucky hills, but only long enough to take his three kids to live somewhere away the deadly feud that has killed many in his family, and the opposing family, the Colbys, led by Jed Colby (Noah Beery Sr.). When Jed murders Mark’s father, Mark’s decision to have Jed arrested and tried rather than shooting him, is considered cowardly and dishonorable by both sides, and when Jed gets out of prison after fifteen years, he’s determined to destroy Mark as slowly and painfully as possible.
Randolph Scott, as Mark’s eldest son, doesn’t appear until 20 minutes into this just-over-an-hour movie, but when he does the film belongs to him, and to lovely Esther Ralston as Jed’s daughter Ellen – if you sense a Romeo and Juliet vibe, you’re not wrong. The supporting cast is delightful, with many actors you’ve never seen so young before, including Fuzzy Knight, Jack LaRue as Jed’s former cellmate, Buster Crabbe as Mark’s kid brother, Gail Patrick as their sister, and Barton MacLane as Mark’s son-in-law. It features a very early role for John Carradine, and the very first screen appearance for Shirley Temple, who is utterly charming.
Delmar Watson, Randolph Scott, and in her very first
scene in a movie, Shirley Temple
It’s a pre-Code film, which means, yes, Esther Ralston really seems to be skinny-dipping, and some of the violence is startling brutal. There’s one moment as tough as the scene in LITTLE CESAR when the gangster is brought home. Most interesting is a moment where Ellen asks cousin Eli (James Eagle) how a fine lady dresses. As he describes how his mother would dress, we realize what neither he nor Ellen do, that his mother was working in a brothel.
THE FIGHTING WESTERNER was originally released as THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN MYSTERY, and is in fact more of a Mystery than a Western, and not a very involving one at that. Randolph Scott is a mining engineer who arrives at a radium mine to find he’s there to replace a murdered man. All of the heirs have come for the reading of the will, and someone is bumping them off. Scott plays Watson to Sheriff (and vaudeville comic) Chic Sale’s Holmes. Also in the cast are lovely Ann Sheridan very early in her career; lovely Kathleen Burke, best remembered as the Panther Woman in ISLAND OF LOST SOULS; and David Belasco discovery Mrs. Leslie Carter. It was the second film directed by talented journeyman Charles Barton, who the previous year won an Oscar for Best Assistant Director – yes, they used to give Oscars for that job. He would make his reputation directing some of Abbott & Costello’s funniest films, including ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. He has one wonderful sequence here, a fight-to-the-death at the mine’s stamp mill. Both films are from badly scratched but high-quality prints. Alpha Video’s offices are currently closed due to the Coronavirus. But when things get back to normal, you can order them HERE.
…AND THAT’S A WRAP!
Have a great week, keep washing your hands and hiding from your neighbors!
All Original Material Copyright Mach 2020 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved
Monday, March 23, 2020
UPDATED 3-24-2020! ‘TRAVELS WITH DARLEY’ HOST DARLEY NEWMAN, DVD REVIEWS, ‘THE PATHFINDER’ AND ‘THE SONG OF HIAWATHA’, PLUS TCM ANNOUNCES FEST HOME EDITION!
HENRY’S WESTERN ROUND-UP RETURNS TO WEEKLY SCHEDULE!
Greetings from Quarantine, Rounders!
As I commence – or actually continue – the second decade of The Round-up, I have decided to return to posting every Sunday. As those of you who have been with The Round-up since the beginning will remember, The Round-up was a regular Sunday-night event – actually more like a Monday at 3 a.m. event. It gradually changed to a monthly-ish deal because of the success The Round-up brought me: I was honored to be hired as the Western Film and TV Editor of True West Magazine. I began reading True West when I was ten years old. The magazine was a rare sight in my Brooklyn neighborhood, but whenever my family would travel West for vacations – my parents loved long-drive vacations – I would snap up copies wherever I could find them.
Of course, my monthly duties for True West, in addition to teaching full-time, took a toll on the time I could spend on The Round-up. Well, with all of the bad news we are currently sharing, one surprise consequence for me is that, at least for the rest of the school year, I am not currently a full-time teacher. I plan to use some of that extra time to finish a book, and a screenplay that should have taken me three months, but has taken over a year. Maybe two years. And at least for the time being, I’m going to post The Round-up every Sunday night. It’s going to be a bit shorter than it has been of late, because as we all know, at the moment there is no scripted film or TV production going on. But there are completed shows and films in the pipeline, and there are filmmakers who, like all of us, are sitting around at home, that I can talk to. I will feature at least one review of a new or recent home video release every week: we all need new things to watch. I also hope to make book reviews a more regular event.
I’m starting this new Round-up with an interview with Darley Newman, host of Travels with Darley, a fascinating world travel series found on many PBS stations, here in L.A. on KCET, and on Amazon as well. I know none of us are going anywhere right now, but we will soon, and Darley has some wonderful ideas for places to visit. Things will get better!
TRAVELS WITH DARLEY – A Chat with TV Travel Host Darley Newman
Darley Newman has been traveling the United States, and the world, since 2016, creating and hosting her show, Travels with Darley. In each 30-minute episode – half of them in the United States and half around the world – she tracks down locals to advise her. “The idea for this show is to travel with locals as your guides. Actually, Travel Like a Local was the original name.” Athletic and adventurous, Darley’s show focuses on local history and food and drink, but also hiking, biking, horseback riding, bungee jumping, swimming with sharks, and the occasional need to put distance between Darley and an enraged elephant. It’s not an idea that came to Darley overnight. “I wanted to do this since high school. I said, I'm going to host a travel show one day and didn't know how to exactly do that, but I'm pretty creative. So I came up with a way. And I love doing it for Public Television because nobody dictates the content. I love that because you can still tell really good stories, and you can get in depth, which is harder to find in the media nowadays.”
We had a chance to meet and talk recently, when she came to Los Angeles, to celebrate the arrival of Travels with Darley at KCET. It’s currently seen on 96% of PBS stations, and available on Amazon. She first became interested in travel due to a sad circumstance.
DARLEY: I grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The first big trip I took was when I was five or six, and I came out to California. My grandfather passed away, he got cremated, and we came out to spread his ashes in different areas that he felt strongly about. We did one in the San Francisco area. We went to Chinatown one night, over by the Golden Gate Bridge. I remember falling asleep in a restaurant in Chinatown, under the table, because I was so tired. But it was neat. I mean, I've got this love to travel. I love the adventure of it; I look at every day as an adventure.
HENRY: Tell me about your first travel series.
DARLEY: I started doing this show called Equitrekking many years ago. The idea was to go horseback riding around the world with locals as your guides, which sounds bizarre, but it's been really successful. Because you get into a lot of natural areas, and see things that people don't normally get to experience or film. I did everything; going to Botswana, Africa and doing a safari on horseback, where I got charged by an elephant.
HENRY: What exotic places have you visited on Travels with Darley?
DARLEY: I've ridden with the Bedouin in Jordan. I've snowmobiled across glaciers in Iceland, I just jumped off the Macau Tower in Macau, China and filmed it in 360 and survived.
HENRY: Anything unusual a little closer to home?
Darley at Theodore Roosevelt Park in North Dakota
DARLEY: I just did North Dakota this past year, which I thought was fascinating. And I didn't know anyone else who's filmed there. I looked up travel content and couldn't find anything done on the areas where we ended up going. We discovered such interesting things; you can hike to ice caves in the summer and cool off in the grasslands, which is kind of interesting. There's really fascinating Native American culture there, and tribes that I'd never heard of, which we all should learn about.
HENRY: North Dakota is perfect for my readership, because their main interest is the American West. Any other episodes that would be of particular interest to them?
DARLEY: Oh, tons. I just did this new season. We did Tahoe and Reno – Reno I thought was really interesting and underrated, really awesome art scene. There’re just murals all over town, I love when there's street art and murals. I think it makes something different for people to just enjoy things out in the public, public art. Then there's railroad history. I did a segment on the Transcontinental Railroad that's in the show. In Wyoming I did a whole thing on the history of ranches. Went to a hundred-year-old-ranch in Wyoming. I love going to ranches because again, there's not as many. There are dude ranches out there, but there's not as many that are getting preserved there. We're losing some still. The people that run ranches, they've chosen this lifestyle; they're fascinating to talk with or hang out with. And that goes for like so many businesses. Because if you choose to do what you love, wow, what freedom there is with that.
HENRY: Are you doing any riding in the current series?
DARLEY: It's funny, when I first started Travels with Darley, I was like, I'm not going to do any riding, because I'm going to try to differentiate the series. But I'm in the first season, in Maryland, eastern shore. I went to Assateague Island, and they've got wild horses there so I have to cover it, right? I ended up doing a fair number with horses. I just filmed in Qatar. We're going to release this winter (note: it’s a available now) and I actually got to saddle up there, and ride at a lot of those stables, and they’ve got a lot of the prize race horses there. But then you could also go and take a riding lesson. It was really hot.
HENRY: How hot?
DARLEY: Like 110.
HENRY: That's hot.
DARLEY: And humid. I was surprised.
HENRY: What is the first thing you do when you're visiting a new place?
DARLEY: I always walk around. It's nice to explore somewhere on foot, just kind of weaving through a place, not necessarily having a set agenda, to see what you can stumble upon, as long as you're safe about it. I love it in Seville, Spain, one of my favorite places, because you can just wind through their public streets forever, and just get lost, and see so much as you do so.
HENRY: How is Travels with Darley different from other travel shows?
DARLEY: Everything that I have done in all of these episodes, they're all things that anybody can go and do. I didn't get exclusive access; they're open to the public. So you can either just watch it, and feel like you've traveled, or you can really actually do it, which is nice. We're trying to cover a lot of U.S. places, because there aren't as many shows that are doing that, and there's just so much that we have in the U.S. to experience; things people don't know about.
HENRY: How big an operation are you?
DARLEY: When we're filming, there's four of us in total. That includes me. We're a small team. I hear about other shows, and they're like half a dozen, dozen people on them. and I'm like, what do they all do? I edited every single episode up to this last season. You don't need a huge team now with all the modern technology. And since I started doing it, things have just gotten easier, year upon year, and I think it's really exciting.
‘THE PATHFINDER’ & ‘THE SONG OF HIAWATHA’ – SPLIT DECISION
A DVD REVIEW
The tremendous success of 1992’s LAST OF THE MOHICANS, with which Director Michael Mann made an international star of Daniel Day Lewis, led to a rise in Indian-centered Westerns, and a revived interest in the writings of MOHICANS author James Fenimore Cooper. The two films presented in this double-feature from Mill Creek Entertainment, 1996’s THE PATHFINDER, based on Cooper’s 1840 novel, continuing the MOHICANS story, and 1997’s THE SONG OF HIAWATHA, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 epic poem, were a direct result. Produced back to back for Hallmark Entertainment, they are clearly of the same world, yet are remarkably different.
Both films were shot in the beautiful green wilds of Ontario, Canada, and both feature MOHICANS star Russell Means, and fine fellow Native actor Graham Greene. PATHFINDER is shot competently, if without inspiration, with good costuming. There are some splendid sailing ships, and the most exciting sequence is a well-done storm at sea that threatens to destroy the ship. But while there are some good performances – Charles Edward Powell as a traitorous English officer, female lead and later THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN series star Laurie Holden, many performances are weak, and Kevin Dillon has the thankless job of following Daniel Day Lewis in a terribly underwritten role, coming off as the great stone face. Even Jaimz Woolvett, who was so memorable as The Schofield Kid in UNFORGIVEN, is woefully miscast here as a ship’s captain. Stacy Keach has a nice cameo as a French politician. I was recently interviewing him about his Westerns. When I asked him about PATHFINDER, he said, “Oh my, yes. I went up (to Canada) for a day to shoot that thing.” When I confessed that, at the time, I hadn’t seen it, he laughed, “Nor have I.”
THE SONG OF HIAWATHA, on the other hand, is awfully good, and largely unknown. In addition to Means and Greene – who do far better work here – the excellent Indigenous cast includes Gordon Tootoosis, Adam Beach, beautiful Irene Bedard as Minnehaha, and as Hiawatha, Litefoot, who played the title character in THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD, and has the distinction of being the first successful Native American rapper. Among the talented non-Native cast members are Michael Rooker and David Stratairn.
Screenwriter Earl W. Wallace had a long career in television, including GUNSMOKE episodes and movies, and shared on Oscar for WITNESS. Remarkably, director Jeffrey Shore has no other directing credits. The double feature is available from Mill Creek Entertainment, for $9.98, HERE.
UPDATE 3-24-2020 – TCM ANNOUNCES CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL HOME EDITION!
It was no surprise, but a big disappointment, when TCM cancelled it’s TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL: after all, everything is cancelled until further notice. But those clever characters at TCM have decided that the original dates for the event, April 16th through the 19th, will be the first ever HOME EDITION version of the classic event, featuring movies that have been presented at the Fest in the past, and ones that would have been presented this year. Also, interviews and events that were filmed at previous TCM Fests will be featured, including Luise Rainer (2011), Eva Marie Saint (2014), Kim Novak (2013), Faye Dunaway (2017), Norman Lloyd (2016), and Peter O’Toole (2012). The announcement adds, this special edition of the Fest begins April 16 at 8pm (ET), continuing until April 19 on TCM and will include TCM hosts, special guests and events to follow on-air and online.
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
And I’ll be back next Sunday with more! In the meantime, please check out the April True West Magazine, on newsstands now, featuring my article on the 40th anniversary of the release of THE LONG RIDERS. In writing the article I had the pleasure of interviewing stars and producers and brothers James Keach (Jesse James) and Stacy Keach (Frank James), Robert Carradine (Bob Younger), Pamela Reed (Belle Starr) and director Walter Hill!
All Original Contents Copyright March, 2020 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved