Over the past few months I've attended the 40th Anniversary screening of The Wild Bunch at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown L.A., a pre-release showing of Wyatt Earp from the PBS documentary series American Experience at the Autry Museum, and a double-bill of The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid at the Billy Wilder Theatre in Westwood. All events were well-attended, even the Earp, which took place during a brief lull in a series of rain-storms. But it occured to me that I found all of these events as a matter of dumb luck -- I missed several Jesse James and Billy the Kid-themed screenings at the Wilder, and today I missed a Clint Eastwood documentary at the County Museum of Art. So I've decided to try and build a resource, a blog where fellow western-movie fans can go to find out what screenings are taking place, what programs are running on TV, what series are coming out on DVD. And maybe most importantly -- because westerns are not dead -- what new westerns are in production and soon to be released!
I plan to update the blog every weekend, so you can check it and find out what interesting events are coming up in the week ahead. I'm located in Los Angeles, and that's where I know what's going on, but I want this blog to be a resource for folks around the country and around the world -- and for that I'll need your help. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know what events are happening where you are that should be included. I need to know what museums, revival houses and other venues should be on our radar. I also need your comments -- if you watch a program or attend an event that we've mentioned, let's have your reactions.
True Grit -- Brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, who brought us No Country For Old Men, 2007's Best Picture Oscar winner, are tackling the Charles Portis novel that Henry Hathaway first filmed in 1969. Playing U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, one of John Wayne's best-loved performances, will be Jeff Bridges, who's currently starring in Crazy Heart. Matt Damon will play La Boeuf, the Texas Ranger that Glen Campbell portrayed, but no word yet on who'll be Mattie Ross, the Kim Darby role. Josh Brolin is also in the cast. Bridges will be the third actor to play Cogburn. Wayne did it again, opposite Katherine Hepburn in 1975's Rooster Cogburn, a western haircut on The African Queen, and Warren Oates played the part in 1978's TV movie, True Grit: A Further Adventure. The new True Grit is scheduled for a Christmas Day, 2010 release. True Grit (1969) plays on TCM Friday, Feb. 5th at 8pm, Pacific time.
6 Guns -- From The Asylum (no, I'm not being cute -- it's the actual company name) comes the story of a young woman who enlists the aid of a bounty hunter to teach her to be a gunfighter, so she can hunt down the men who killed her family. Sounds a little like a 'girl-power' version of Nevada Smith (1966), or a re-tooling of the Raquel Welch starrer Hannie Caulder (1971). The direct-to-video release stars Sage Mears and Barry Van Dyke, who was a regular with his father, Dick Van Dyke, in the Diagnosis: Murder series, and is directed by Dick's grandson, Shane Van Dyke (and a director named 'Shane' certainly should be making westerns). Also top-billed is Greg Evigon, star of the series BJ and the Bear (1979-1981). 6 Guns should reach your video shelf March 30, 2010.
ON THE TUBE
NEW STUFF: Wyatt Earp is the newest episode of the PBS documentary series, American Experience, and presents a convincing telling of the life of one of the west's most controversial figures. It's startling to imagine that a man who is today generally revered was so worried about his reputation that he begged William S. Hart to play him on film, and set the record straight. In addition to the commentary by several historians, the beautiful background footage is a cut above what you generally get in documentaries -- the slow-motion gunfire during the O.K. Corral sequence was so purty I kept rewinding and watching it again. Check your local PBS affiliate for airdates. Also check out an episode from some seasons back, The Donner Party, which is also currently playing.
WESTERN MOVIES ON TV 2/1 - 2/7
Note - All listings are Pacific Standard Time. TCM = Turner Classic Movies, FMC = Fox Movie Channel, AMC = American Movie Classics
10:00 a.m. - Broken Arrow (1950) James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, D:Delmer Daves, W:Albert Maltz(another writer's name may be one the credits -- Maltz was blacklisted and had someone 'front' for him)
12:00 p.m. - The Undefeated (1969) John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr.,D:Andrew McLaglen, W:James Lee Barrett
12:30 p.m. - Billy The Kid (1941) Robert Taylor, Brian Donlevy, D:David Miller, W:Gene Fowler. (Robert Taylor's 1st western!)
2:00 p.m. - Bandolero! (1968) James Stewart, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch, Harry Carey Jr., Jock Mahoney, Don 'Red' Barry, Roy Barcroft, D:Andrew McLaglen, W:James Lee Barrett (If you want to see an incredible list on stuntmen, check out the listing on IMDB)
5:45 a.m. - Viva Villa! (1934) Wallace Beery, Fay Wray, Leo Carillo, D:Jack Conway, W:Ben Hecht (This one has uncredited help on direction and script by Howard Hawks and Wild Bill Wellman. Stu Erwin's part was being played by Lee Tracy, but during production, Tracy got drunk and urinated off a balcony onto a Mexican military parade -- they had to rush him out of the country!)
2:00 p.m. - Flaming Star (1960)Elvis Presley, Steve Forrest, Barbara Eden, L.Q. Jones, D:Don Seigel, W:Clair Huffaker, Nunnally Johnson
2:45 p.m. - Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Earl Holliman, Dennis Hopper, D:John Sturges, W:Leon Uris
5:00 p.m. - True Grit (1969) John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin, D:Henry Hathaway, W:Margeurite Roberts
7:15 pm - The Shootist (1976) John Wayne, James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, Richard Boone, John Carradine, Henry Morgan, D:Don Siegel, W:Miles Wood Swarthout, Scott Hale. (John Wayne earned his Oscar for this one)
1:30 a.m. - Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, D:John Sturges, W:Millard Kaufman
6:00 a.m. - Call Of The Wild (1935) Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Jack Oakie, Buck, D:William Wellman, W:Gene Fowler - from Jack London's novel. (Great stuff, and Gable at his best - no wonder Loretta got impregnated by him on the shoot!)
6:30 a.m. - How The West Was Won (1962) James Stewart, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, D:John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall, W:James Webb, from his series of LIFE Magazine articles.
9:30 a.m. - The Magnificent Seven (1960) Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn, Horst Buchholtz, Eli Wallach, D:John Sturges, W:William Roberts.
11:45 a.m. - Maverick (1994) Mel Gibson, James Garner, Jodie Foster, D:Richard Donner, W:William Goldman from the Roy Huggins series. (Fun, and countless cameos by cowboy actors and country music stars.
That's all for today, but in my next post I'll be adding more info about westerns on TV, radio, podcasts and more! Let me hear from you!