ANOTHER COMIC-BOOK WESTERN
JONAH HEX SET FOR JUNE 18, 2010 RELEASE
Nobody's seen a frame of film, but the action figures were already a hit at the Comic-Con. And speaking of action figures, Megan Fox, as Leila (seen below in what is being euphamistically called her saloon-girl outfit), is currently billed above Josh Brolin, who plays the title character, a face-scarred bounty hunter on the trail of a voodoo-er planning to liberate the South with an army of the undead. Based on the long-running comic book, the film also stars John Malkovich, Will Arnet, and Aidan Quinn as President McKinley.
The director is Jimmy Hayward, the writers are Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
TRUE GRIT - CAMERAS ROLL ON MARCH 8
No coincidence that it's the day after the Academy Awards. The Coen brothers are hopeful that Jeff Bridges will win an Oscar for Crazy Heart, which would put him in a good mood for playing Rooster Cogburn.
BIG VALLEY - SUSAN SARANDON IN TALKS
The Oscar-winning actress is interested in following in the boot-steps of Barbara Stanwyck, who played Victoria Barkley in series which ran on ABC from 1965 - 1969. The feature will be produced by Katy Edelman Johnson, whose father, Louis F. Edelman, co-created the series with A.I. Bezzerides. Daniel Adams, who penned the screenplay, and is Johnson's producing partner, will direct.
THE LONE RANGER - STILL JUST TONTO, BUT WITH NEW SCRIBE
The Jerry Bruckheimer project, with Johnny Depp on board as Tonto, still lacks a masked man, but it's got a new writer. Justin Haythe, who wrote The Clearing and Revolutionary Road, takes over the reins from Pirates of the Caribbean scripters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot.
GUNSMOKE RE-LOAD IN THE WORKS
CBS Films, reportedly pleased with Gregory Poirer's draft of a Gunsmoke feature (he previously wrote National Treasure: Book of Secrets) is looking at Brad Pitt as a possible Marshall Matt Dillon, and Ryan Reynolds is also in the running. Pitt may have the edge, having starred in a western, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
PARAMOUNT SNAPS UP DOC HOLLIDAY SPEC
According to Variety, Chad St. John's script, The Further Adventures of Doc Holliday,will be produced by Transformers/G.I. Joe vet Lorenzo di Bonaventura. The aim is to make a history-based western tentpole.
TARANTINO WANTS TO MAKE A SOUTHERN WESTERN
It's well-known that the Inglourious Basterds director has been toying with doing a western for some time, but he recently got specific in a chat with the New York Daily News. "I'd like to do a western. But rather than set it in Texas, have it in slavery times. With that subject that everybody is afraid to deal with. Let's shine that light on ourselves. You could do a ponderous history lesson of slaves escaping on the Underground Railway. Or you could make a movie that would be exciting. Do it as an adventure. A spaghetti western that takes place at that time. And I would call it 'A Southern.'"
THE VIRGINIAN REUNION IN TENNESSEE
Saturday Feb. 27th -- The 10th Annual Saddle Up festival in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee will feature a reunion of stars from the NBC series which ran from 1962 to 1970. James Drury, Gary Clarke, Roberta Shore and Randy Boone will meet up for a three hour event that will include clip screening, Q&As and autographs. Not coincidentally, the event coincides with the release of the first season of The Virginian on DVD, which will be available for sale at the event, but otherwise not until late May. At a time when most series were thirty or sixty minutes, The Virginian was unusual: it's 90 minute time slot gave a chance for greater depth of plot, making each episode a small movie. For further information, click here.
SPAGHETTI WESTERNS FREE ON-LINE
The next time you're working hard at the lap-top, and get a sudden urge to see some Italian cowboy action, click here, and you'll be brought to the AMC B-Movie Classics site, where, with a simple click of the mouse, you can see Dynamite Joe (1968) or The Ruthless Four (1968). I haven't seen either movie yet myself, but Ruthless Four, which claims to be "In The Tradition of Treasure of the Sierra Madre," stars Van Heflin, Gilbert Roland and German western star Klaus Kinski, so it's certainly worth a peek. Incidentally, there are a number of other movies in various genres at the site.
ON THE TUBE
WESTERN MOVIES ON TV
Note:AMC=American Movie Classics, EXT= Showtime Extreme, FMC=Fox Movie Channel, TCM=Turner Classic Movies. All times given are Pacific Standard Time.
Monday Feb. 22nd
AMC 2:00 a.m. Dances with Wolves (1990) Actor Kevin Costner's directorial debut won him an Oscar, and there were seven more: best picture; Dean Semler for cinematography; Neil Travis for editing; John Barry for his score; Michael Blake for his adapted screenplay; and Russell Williams III, Jeffrey Perkins, Bill W. Benton and Gregory H. Watkins for sound. Starring Costner as an army officer who befriends the Lakota Souix. With Mary McDonnel.
AMC 1:00 p.m. Dances With Wolves (1990) See above.
TCM 5:00 p.m. Ruggles Of Red Gap (1935) Comedy pro Leo McCarey directed this 3rd version of Harry Leon Wilson's novel, with a script by Walter DeLeon and Harlan Thompson. Charles Laughton, in a delightful comic turn lays the gentleman's gentleman imported from England to give a western family some class. With Charley Ruggles, Mary Boland and Zasu Pitts.
Wednesday Feb. 24th
TCM 11:00 a.m. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) John Huston directed from his own screenplay, based on novel by the elusive B. Traven. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston (Academy Award perfoemance) and Tim Holt go gold prospecting in the Mexican Sierras. For my money, one of the best movies of any genre ever made. With Bruce Bennett, and with Barton MacLane in one of the most realistic bar-brawls ever filmed. Look for John Huston himself as the frequent victim of a panhandler, and little Robert Blake as the kid with the lottery tickets. "Badges?! I don't got to cho you no badges! We don't need no stinkin' badges!"
TCM 1:15 p.m. Duel In The Sun (1946) Directed by King Vidor, producer David O. Selznick wrote his own screenplay from the Niven Bush novel about a half-breed Jennifer Jones who comes between two brothers. With Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotten.
FMC 8:00 a.m. Drums Along The Mowhawk (1939) John Ford directed with gusto from the Lamar Trotti, Sonya Levian script, based on the Walter D. Edmonds novel. Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda star in one of the finest of 'eastern' westerns, a Revoltionary War story packed with Ford stock company greats like John Carradine, Arthur Shields and Ward Bond. In a more normal year, it might have been named Best Picture, but in 1939 it received only two Oscar nominations, for Edna Mae Oliver's comic turn as Best Supporting Actress, and for Ray Rennahan and Bert Glennon's glorious Technicolor photography -- and it won neither. Highly recommended.
TCM 9:45 a.m. General Spanky (1936) Though not the best of Our Gang's work, it ceratinly is a novelty, and the only Our Gang feature (I don't count the two from the 1940s, with replacement kids). Gordon Douglas and Fred C. Newmeyer direct from a script by Richard Flournoy, John Guedel, Carl Harbaugh and Hal Yates. Spanky MacFarland, along with Buckwheat Thomas and Alfalfa Switzer, fight the Civil War.
FMC 10:00 a.m. Flaming Star (1960) An early film from the soon-to-be-great Don Siegal, working from Nunnally Johnson's script of a Clair Huffaker novel. Elvis Presley, playing a role planned for Marlon Brando, is the half-breed son of white John McIntire and Kiowa Dolores Del Rio, forced to take sides in a local war between white and Indian. Surprisingly good, you realize how good an actor Elvis could have been if Col. Parker hadn't steered him into mostly inane crap. With Steve Forrest and Barbara Eden.
TCM 7:00 p.m. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) The finest of John Ford's later films, and his last great film with John Wayne. James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck adapted Dorothy M. Johnson's story, told in flasback, about a Senator (James Stewart) whose career turns on the fact that he shot outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).
Friday Feb. 26
EXT 2:30 a.m. Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) Directed by Takashi Miike, co-written with Masa Nakamura, the filmmakers try to transplant every spaghetti western cliche' into one pseudo Samurai epic. Strikingly shot and edited, but after an hour of identifying the homages, I did a lot of fast-forwarding. Starring Hideaki Ito and Masanobu Ando, with Quentin Tarantino popping up at the start and finish to tell you the story.
Saturday Feb. 27
TCM 2:00 a.m. The Reivers (1969) Charming, easy-going turn-of-the-century tale of Steve McQueen, Rupert Cross, and Mitch Vogel's adventures in a stolen car. Sharon Farrell is at her most radiant, and B-western fans will appreciate the cameo by Roy Barcroft as the judge. Written by the Oscar-winning wife and husband team of Harriet Frank Jr, and Irving Ravetch, from William Faulkner's novel. Directed by Mark Rydell.
TCM 4:00 a.m. Tom Sawyer (1973) Disney tunesmiths Robert and Richard Sherman wrote the screenplay as well as the songs for this musical adaptation of Mark Twain's novel. With Johnny Whitaker as Tom and Jodie Foster as Becky Thatcher. Directed by Don Taylor.
AMC 6:30 a.m. Stagecoach (1966) No, not that one, it's the pointless remake. Gordon Douglas directs with flair as always, and Joseph Landon's adaptation of Dudley Nichols 1939 screenplay, from the Ernest Haycox story is fine. But even with good actors like Alex Cord, Ann-Margaret, Bing Crosby and Red Buttons, could they possibly think they were improving on the John Ford version? Yes, because this one would be in color, and in tghe 1960s, that meant everything.
AMC 9:00 a.m. The War Wagon (1967) You've got John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and an armored coach packed and gold and protected by a Gatling gun. What more do you need to know? Great fun, directed by Burt Kennedy, written by Clair Huffaker, featuring Bruce Dern and Bruce Cabot.
AMC 11:30 a.m. Silverado (1985) Larry Kasdan directs from a script he wrote with his brother Mark. Lots of good stuff in it, but at 133 minutes, it's at least a half hour too long. Starring Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner.
AMC 11:00 p.m. Silverado (1985) See above.
AMC 2:00 a.m. Backlash (1956) Director John Sturges is at the top of his powers in this western mystery scripted by Borden Chase from the Frank Gruber novel, starring Richard Widmark and Donna Reed.
AMC 4:00 a.m. The War Wagon (1967) You've got John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and an armored coach packed and gold and protected by a Gatling gun. What more do you need to know? Great fun, directed by Burt Kennedy, written by Clair Huffaker, featuring Bruce Dern and Bruce Cabot.
AMC 6:30 a.m. Silverado (1985) Larry Kasdan directs from a script he wrote with his brother Mark. Lots of good stuff in it, but at 133 minutes, it's at least a half hour too long. Starring Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner.
EXT. 9:45 a.m. Barbarosa (1982) Fred Schepisi directs from western specialist William D. Wittliff's script, about a young man falling into company with an outlaw. Stars Willie Nelson, Gary Busey, Isela Vega and the great Gilbert Roland.
FMC 11:15 a.m. Rio Conchos (1964) D: Gordon Douglas, W:Joseph Landon and Clair Huffaker. Stars Richard Boone, Stuary Whitman, Anthony Franciosa.
FMC 3:30 p.m. - The Undefeated (1969) D:Andrew V. McLaglen, W:James Lee Barrett, from a story by Stanley Hough. At the close of the Civil War, Confederate officer Rock Hudson leads a group of southern loyalists to Mexico and Emperor Maximillian -- unless John Wayne can stop him. Rock Hudson later described the movies as "crap." Ironic, considering it's one of his more convincing performances. With Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr.
That's it for this week! Again, if you attend any events we discuss here, let's have some feedback -- click on the 'comments' thing below. Or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I need your suggestions -- there's got to be a lot of western happenings around the globe that we don't know about, so fill us in. Next week we'll feature an interview with spaghetti western star Robert Woods!