Thursday, April 18, 2024



That’s right, my book, The Greatest Westerns Ever Made, and the People Who Made Them, has been published by TwoDot, and I’ve been asked to speak about it. If you like Westerns, and you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t, and you’re in the L.A. area, we’d love to have you join us, have a delicious breakfast, and you can purchase a book if you’d like. The Los Angeles Breakfast Club is a fascinating organization, started 99 years ago, to promote friendship, and the illustrious members over the years have included all of the studio heads, from Disney to Zanuck, not to mention Tom Mix. You can buy tickets, and learn all about the Club, here:

I’ve been the Film and TV Editor of True West magazine for nine years, and the book is based on about eighty of my articles. I don’t mean to brag, but here are a few reviews:

“Film and TV critic for True West, Parke presents a collection of his essays that will be a treat for western film fans… There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes detail and also sharp examination of the cultural impact of western films and of the social changes that affected their content… Parke’s enthusiasm is infectious.”

― Booklist

"A great read... a comprehensive, carefully curated look at the western genre on film and television. Chock full of personal anecdotes that bring humanity to its pages."

-- Patrick Wayne, Actor, The Searchers

"Honored to be featured in this new book by Henry C. Parke, film and TV editor for True West magazine. It’s an in-depth, on point, and eclectic review of the Western film and TV genre, from John Ford to Taylor Sheridan. If you love Westerns, you’ll get lost deep in this one."

-- John Fusco, Writer, Young Guns and Young Guns II

Here are links to a couple of places where my book is available:


The TCM Classic Film Festival is back in Hollywood, from Thursday, April 18th, through Sunday the 21st, and as usual, they will be headquartered at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The venues where films will be screening are the Chinese Theatre IMAX, several of the Chinese Multiplex Theatres, the Egyptian – newly refurbished by Netflix, the El Capitan, and there will be poolside screenings at the Roosevelt.   Check out their website here --

They have, as always, a wonderful array of films that are almost never shown in theatres. While the packages are insanely expensive, if you go on the stand-by line for a movie that isn’t THAT popular, or one that’s in a HUGE theatre, you can often get in: those tickets are only $20, and with a valid student i.d., only ten!

Among the screenings that will be of particular interest to Western fans, on Friday at 9:30 a.m., at the Multiplex 4, they’re showing MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, the 1949 follow-up to SON OF KONG. A western? No, but it stars Ben Johnson, and it’s introduced by John Landis, director of not only ANIMAL HOUSE, but THE THREE AMIGOS! At 12:15 p.m. in the same theatre, Leonard Maltin is introducing the 1936 version of THREE GODFATHERS. This is not the John Ford, John Wayne 1948 Technicolor version. It’s directed by Richard Boleslawski, and stars the movies’ Boston Blackie, Chester Morris in the Wayne role, plus Walter Brennan before he was cute and folksy, and Lewis Stone, when he was playing outlaws instead of Mickey Rooney's father in the HARDY family films. Very tough, very gritty, very good.

That night at 6, still in theatre 4, it’s John Ford’s 1936 film THE PRISONER OF SHARK ISLAND, starring Warner Baxter as Dr. Mudd, who treated John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated Lincoln, and was sent to prison for it. The cruel prison guard is the great John Carradine, and his son, Keith Carradine, will introduce the film.

Robert Taylor teaches the women to shoot in

Saturday morning they’ll be showing a rare 35mm nitrate print of ANNIE, GET YOUR GUN at the Egyptian Theatre. At 6:15 at the Egyptian, it’s WESTWARD THE WOMEN, with Robert Taylor leading an all-female wagon train, directed by William Wellman, and written by Frank Capra – he wanted to direct it himself, but couldn’t get it set up. Its premise might sound cute, but it’s a serious film, beautifully done, and Robert Taylor does some of his best work as a man who truly doesn’t expect many of his charges to survive. If you’d like to read the article I wrote about Robert Taylor’s Westerns for the INSP channel, here’s the link: WESTWARD is introduced by this year’s honoree for the Robert Osborn Award, Jeanine Basinger. I was not familiar with her until I interviewed Dana Delaney, who told me of her college experience, “Wesleyan is more of an academic school than a theater school. But they had a wonderful film department run by Jeanine Basinger, and that was where I really developed my love of westerns.”

Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in the Multiplex 6 they’re showing 1932’s LAW AND ORDER, the first talkie version of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, starring Walter Huston as Wyatt Earp, and Harry Carey as Doc Holliday, introduced by Brendan Connell Jr., C.O.O. of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

And at 3:15 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre, see the premiere of the 70mm restoration of John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS, introduced by the director of THE HOLDOVERS, and two-time Oscar-winner for scripting SIDEWAYS and THE DESCENDANTS, Alexander Payne.



ELKHORN, the new INSP series which airs on Thursday nights, stars Mason Beals as 25-year-old Teddy Roosevelt, a well-educated, socially prominent urban up-and-comer with a happy homelife and a growing political career, who saw his life shatter when, in one day, his mother died of Typhoid, and his wife died giving birth. Determined to rebuild his life, the frail, sickly young man abandons east coast city life and travels west, settling in the Dakota Territory.

Mason Beals, who plays Teddy has, to put it mildly, followed a non-traditional route to stardom. His self-generated career began as a reaction to desperate boredom. “For about nine months, I lived in the middle of nowhere, Idaho, in this town called Bonners Ferry. That’s because my dad had traded a Jeep for an acre and a half of property. My parents wanted to live debt free, so we built this place that looked like Noah's Ark, and lived there when the building was three-quarters finished. We were really trapped inside in the wintertime, and my younger brother and I were as bored as could be. I was just chopping and stacking firewood all winter, and I just started making YouTube videos, doing silly little vlog type things, and eventually started making stuff that was more scripted. That's where I learned how to edit and shoot.”

Mason Beals as Teddy Roosevelt

When his family moved back to his hometown of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, the performing bug had bitten him, “but there wasn't much of an acting scene out there, so if you wanted to act, you had to make your own stuff.” He moved to Austin, “and I worked for a production company as an editor, as a shooter, sometimes producing, directing, and continued to make short films,” until his final move to Los Angeles, when he “started to do work with other people.”

Unlike many men his age, the Western genre is not foreign to Mason. “My dad’s a really big movie fan. He’s a blue-collar guy, did hardwood floors for 30 years.  I was reminiscing about how we were going to Blockbuster every week, and I remember he and I had watched 3:10 TO YUMA for the first time and I just loved it. And TRUE GRIT is great. So there were a handful of westerns, and I always enjoyed them. And now having done one, anytime I watch a Western, it's very much like, now I know how the sausage is made a little bit more. So it's very fun to watch it from that angle; they’re such a fun genre.”

He credits his father’s example in preparing to take on the responsibility of playing a lead in a series. “A hard work ethic is needed for something like this, and I definitely got that from my dad. I did hardwood floors with him for a good period of time. I mean, he's just the hardest worker that's ever graced this earth, and so learning from him, it teaches you a little bit of grit, and learning how to be a little bit rough and tumble, going with the flow of things. Keeping a positive attitude when things go wrong; he would always keep a good demeanor. That kind of psyche skill.”

In what ways was does Mason think he and Roosevelt are alike? “You know, when I was reading about his time (in Elkhorn), he talked about how scared he was when he came out here. And he said, by pretending to not be afraid, he became not afraid. I really did relate to that, because the role is intimidating in a lot of ways because he's such an icon. It's definitely an adventurous kind of a shoot. I really relate to the fish out of water element. I was bullied in school and TR was bullied.”

Teddy at his wife's deathbed

Mason brought some Western-ish skills with him, but others he’s had to learn as he goes. “Horseback riding was definitely new for me. Even though I had grown up around people who had horses, I just had never had the opportunity. But it was a pretty quick learning period; I had just a handful of lessons, and then the experience came just being on-set. I learned a lot; I feel very comfortable on horses now in a way I didn't really think I was going to. I'm kind of a coward in a lot of ways. Riding, that's probably the biggest skill that I've like taken away from this. But I grew up shooting guns, growing up in Idaho.”



Coming in the next Round-up, my interview with TOMBSTONE costume designer Joseph Porro!

Happy Trails!


All Original Contents Copyright April 2024 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved




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