HEATH'S REVENGE! Lee Majors to Play Tom Barkley In 'Big Valley' Feature!
UPDATED THURSDAY 4/15/2010 -- ON FRIDAY SEE 'BUTCH CASSIDY', 'TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE', KATHERINE ROSS IN PERSON.
ON SATURDAY SEE 'TOMBSTONE', POWERS BOOTHE IN PERSON -- DETAILS BELOW.
ON SUNDAY SEE 'THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD' AT USC - DETAILS BELOW
UPDATED WEDNESDAY 4/14/2010 -- SEE AUTRY AND 'VARIETY' ITEMS BELOW
Lee Majors, who became a major TV heartthrob playing the bastard son on The Big Valley from 1965 to 1969 will now play his own (character's) father in the movie which should go to camera this summer. As mentioned here before, the matriarchal role of Victoria Barkley, played by four-time Oscar nominee Barbara Stanwyck, will be taken on by Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon. Also in the cast, not as family members, are Richard Dreyfus and Bruce Dern, and, according to rumor, Billy Bob Thornton. The eldest son, Jarrod, originally Richard Long, will be portrayed by Ryan Phillipe, of Crash (2004) and Flags of Our Fathers (2006). Jason Alan Smith will portray the hot-headed brother Nick, who was Peter Breck in the series. No one has yet been cast as Audra (Linda Evans), nor is there any word as to whether either Evans or Breck might appear in the film, along with Majors. The film is being produced by Kate Edelman Johnson, whose father, Louis Edelman, was one of the original show's creators. It's being written and directed by Daniel Adams.
HARRISON FORD JOINS 'COWBOYS AND ALIENS' CAST
Director Jon Favreau has confirmed, on Twitter, that Harrison Ford has joined the cast of the sci-fi western comic-book feature. The Indiana Jones star who gained fame in a battered fedora last wore a Stetson in The Frisco Kid (1979), (see above, right)with Gene Wilder, although he also appeared in episodes of THE VIRGINIAN and GUNSMOKE.
GRANGER, TEXAS RESIDENTS SHOWING THEIR 'TRUE GRIT'
This rural crossroads, population 1,400, has been selected to represent Fort Smith, Arkansas, where much of the action in the Charles Portis story takes place. Wooden walkways are being built over concrete sidewalks, and dirt is being poured over the town's locally famous brick street-paving. According to location manager Robbie Friedmann, "We chose Granger because it's appearance...matched the reference photos we have of Ft. Smith. Also, Granger has a lot of empty lots between brick buildings. There are a couple of buildings, a vacant lot, then more buildings. We are constructing wood buildings on these lots from rough sawn lumber, which is what Fort Smith looked like."
Local men with facial hair, and women with long, uncolored hair, are picking up work as extras, and all the construction has been helpful to the local economy. Mayor Scott Murrah says, "Business has picked up. They've purchased as much material in town as they could. They gave us an economic boost for sales taxes and such. And they've hired a lot of local labor." To read the entire news story, by Harper Scott Clark for the Temple Daily Telegraph, click here.
DVD REVIEWS - NEW TO HOME VIDEO FROM DORADO FILMS
'GATLING GUN' (1968) and 'NOW THEY CALL HIM SACRAMENTO'(1972)
In GATLING GUN, in the midst of the Civil War, a prototype for the weapon is stolen, its inventor is kidnapped, and both are held for ransom, each offered to a different side. Robert Woods is U.S. Army Captain Chris Tanner, sent to recover them before the Confederacy can get their hands on either one. Although important higher-ups are in the shadows, it is John Ireland as the swarthy and evil Tapas whom Tanner must deal with. Directed by Edmondo Amati, GATLING GUN is a major step above the average spaghetti western -- the plotting is clever, the women are beautiful, the photography is striking, the tech credits are strong, and so is the action. In addition to all the fighting and shooting, poor Robert Woods has TWO dragging scenes that are at times hard to watch, and gives a solid performance as the troubled hero. If you didn't read Woods' interview in the blog last month, you can by clicking here. Ireland, normally a suave sophisticate, plays very much against type as a feared and despised 'half-breed' whom even whores think themselves too good for -- it's a performance that compares well to Eli Wallach's as Tuco, without being imitative of it. The condition of the movie image is pristine, and show in the original aspect ratio. More unexpectedly, this version contains three or four sequences not seen in the original English-language release. As a result, since these scene were never dubbed, you'll occasionally find yourself hearing not English but Italian, and reading subtitles. I know it sounds jarring, but it's really not. Also included are nearly a dozen coming attractions for other westerns -- no surprise since Dorado Films has about 65 European westerns in their archives.
Back in the 1920s, Charlie Chaplin's 'Little Tramp' was such an international sensation that he was shamelessly imitated, to provide more two-reelers than Charlie could possibly supply. To this day, people stumble upon old Billy West comedies and think they've found a 'Lost Chaplin.' In the days of the spaghetti western, the 'Trinity' comedies, starring Terrence Hill and Bud Spenser, were so popular that their style was imitated, but I didn't know that anyone ever tried to counterfeit a Trinity film until I saw NOW THEY CALL HIM SACRAMENTO. Michael Forest, an American with many stateside and European credits, only resembles Terence Hill in height. But with the meticulously copied costume and an unconquerable cheerfulness, he makes a convincing and likable Trinity. And Terrence Hill has no right to complain -- he got his big break because Franco Nero wouldn't do another DJANGO picture, and the producers slipped Hill in as a carbon copy. Fred Harrison, in the Bud Spenser role, is not fat enough to fool you, but his attitude and mannerisms -- and shtick -- can often make you forget that he is not Spenser. The plot centers around the robbery of a train carrying money for farmers to pay off the banker, and the possibility that the banker and the robbers are in cahoots -- until our boys rob the robbers. It's frequently amusing, and some of the best business, early on involves the crazy interplay between Forest and his horse. The film includes the surprisingly elaborate burning of a western town. Both films are available from Dorado Films, which can be reached here.
FRIDAY, APRIL 16TH AT THE AERO - SANTA MONICA 7:30 P.M.
DOUBLE FEATURE - BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE,
KATHERINE ROSS ATTENDING!
BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID
Dir. George Roy Hill
1969, 20th Century Fox, 110 min.
"Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?" drawls blue-eyed, laid-back train robber Robert Redford to his equally charming partner-in-crime Paul Newman. Hill’s hilarious and wildly romantic look at the infamous Hole in the Wall gang is brilliantly scripted by William Goldman. Co-starring a lovely Katharine Ross (winner of the BAFTA Award for Best Actress) as the woman who joins Butch and Sundance on their adventure.
TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE
1969, Universal, 98 min.
Blacklisted filmmaker Abraham Polonsky returned to the director's chair for the first time in 21 years for this tale of a Native American man (Robert Blake) on the run from the law after he kills his lover's father in self-defense. Robert Redford is the sheriff leading the posse, and Katharine Ross plays Willie Boy's girlfriend Lola.
**IN PERSON: Discussion in between films with actress Katharine Ross.
SATURDAY, APRIL 17TH AT 7:30 P.M.
DOUBLE FEATURE - THE EMERALD FOREST & TOMBSTONE, POWERS BOOTHE ATTENDING!
THE EMERALD FOREST
Dir. John Boorman
1985, Embassy Pictures, 114 min.
When the young son of engineer Bill Markham (Powers Boothe) is kidnapped into the wilds of the rainforest by an aboriginal tribe, Markham dedicates the next 10 years of his life to finding the boy. As in DELIVERANCE, director John Boorman proves his expert eye for the simultaneous awe and horror of nature untamed.
Dir. George P. Cosmatos
1993, Buena Vista Pictures, 130 min.
Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton and Powers Boothe all pack a wallop in this star-laced revisionist Western. Lawman Wyatt Earp (Russell) is under the mistaken impression that retirement in Tombstone, Arizona, will mean a rest from his successful but exhausting career of chasing and eliminating outlaws. Instead, the town is plagued by an array of nasty villains, and Earp must get back into full-throttle butt-whoopin' mode one last time.
**IN PERSON: Discussion between films with actor Powers Boothe. Prior to the screening, we’ll present a Powers Boothe clip show from the soon-to-be-released MACGRUBER (based on the "Saturday Night Live" sketch) provided by Universal Pictures.
(Yes, I know THE EMERALD FOREST isn't a western, but it's with TOMBSTONE, which is, and Powers Booth is there.)
SUNDAY, APRIL 18TH -- U.S.C. - OUTSIDE THE BOX (OFFICE) SERIES PRESENTS
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD. It's a South Korean 'western' set in Manchuria in the 1930s, and the trailer looks great. CHECK OUT THE TRAILER HERE. As to where it's showing, I don't quite get it -- it's at USC, but I usually don't go that far downtown unless I'm packing. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS -- maybe you can figure it out.
EVENTS AT THE AUTRY THIS WEEKEND
OPENING FRIDAY APRIL 16TH: HOME LANDS - HOW WOMEN MADE THE WEST
THROUGH AUGUST 22ND
SATURDAY APRIL 17TH 9:30 A.M. 11:00 A.M.
Cowboys of the Silver Screen Stamp Ceremony
On April 17, the United States Postal Service will release the "Cowboys of the Silver Screen" commemorative set featuring Gene Autry, William S. Hart, Tom Mix, and Roy Rogers. An official unveiling will take place at the Autry National Center, where the USPS will be hand-canceling the stamps with the official First Day of Sale postmark.
SATURDAY APRIL 17TH from 2:00 pm to 4:00 p.m. in the Autry Store
KNOTTS PRESERVED: FROM BOYSENBERRY TO THEME PARK, THE HISTORY OF KNOTT'S BERRY FARM
Christopher Merritt and J. Eric Lynxwiler discuss their latest book,which represents 20 years of research on the designs and history of the varied attractions at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. With over 200 photos, rarely seen conceptual art, and interviews with the original designers and the Knott family, Knott’s Preserved gives an overview of the farm from its earliest years to present day.
VARIETY PROFILE OF WESTERN PRODUCER ARTHUR GARDNER
CLICK HERE to read Brian Lowry's Wednesday column about Arthur Gardner who, with partners Arthur Laven and Jules Levy, produced THE RIFLEMAN and THE BIG VALLEY. He'll turn 100 this June!
CHRIS HOPKINS PAINTINGS
It sounds a little weird sending people to a cemetery to see art, but the Forest Lawn Museum at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park - Glendale, is featuring a show of paintings by Chris Hopkins honoring the Northwest Coast Native Culture. The pictures on the invitation I received are strikingly handsome. The exhibit continues through April 25th -- the museum is closed on Mondays. The address is 1712South Glendale Avenue, Glendale, CA 91205. For more information, visit the website here.
LOS ENCINOS STATE HISTORIC PARK
Sunday 4/12 Living History. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. you can step back in time! The living history program features a working blacksmith shop, 19th Century children's games, traditional music, tours of the historic structures, and strolling folks in period costume -- great fun for kids and adults, and you can feed the ducks! They do this program on the third Sunday of every month. Los Encinos is located at 16756 Moorpark St., Encino, CA 91436-1068. (818)784-4849. For more information, click here.
LEE VAN CLEEF DOUBLE-BILL!
Sunday and Monday, April 18th and 19th, The New Beverly Cinema at 7165 West Beverly Boulevard in L.A. will be showing a pair of Mr. Bad's pasta-western treats: Death Rides A Horse (1967) and Sabata (1969). Horse co-stars John Phillip Law, and features a wonderful Ennio Morricone score. Sabata is produced by Sergio Leonce's producer, Alberto Grimaldi, and features production design and costumes by Carlo Simi. Tickets are $7. For showtimes, call 323-938-4038 or visit their website here.
SWEETGRASS AT LANDMARK THEATERS
Here is the official blurb about a new documentary. "SWEETGRASS is an unsentimental elegy to the American West. The documentary follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana's breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. The astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times calls the film 'a really intimate, beautifully shot examination of the connection between man and beast,' while Ronnie Scheib of Variety considers it 'a one-of-a-kind experience...at once epic-scale and earthbound.'" Okay, none of those Brokeback Mountain (2005) cheap-shots -- I'm sure these poor shepherds have heard 'em all. Sweetgrass is playing at the Varsity Theatre in Seattle, and the Lagoon Theatre in Minneapolis.
SILENT WESTERNS IN AT THE DRYDEN IN ROCHESTER, NEW YORK!
Silent Cinema -- Broncho Billy and Beyond: Early Westerns
Tuesday, April 13, 8 p.m.
This program of short films from the pioneering days of cinema puts the spotlight on a genre that’s been with us almost as long as the medium: the Western. We begin with the legendary and influential THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (Edwin S. Porter, US 1903, 12 min.); Western icon Gilbert M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson stars in WHY BRONCHO BILLY LEFT BEAR COUNTY (Gilbert Anderson, US 1913, 9 min.); early Western auteur Romaine Fielding wrote, directed, and stars in THE RATTLESNAKE (Romaine Fielding, US 1913, 29 min.); and a stagecoach chase filmed by a moving camera is the highlight of THE STRUGGLE (Thomas Ince, US 1913, 29 min.). Live piano by Philip C. Carli. For more information, click here.
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.
TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE
Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.
NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?
Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run THE LONE RANGER at 1:30 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.
Monday, April 12th
TCM 4:45 a.m. GO WEST, YOUNG LADY (1941) A sheriff's girl friend tries to discover the identity of a masked bandit chief. Penny Singleton, Glenn Ford, Ann Miller. Directed by Frank Strayer from a script by Karen DeWolf. This was supposed to be Penny's chance to play someone other than BLONDIE, but I'm told that it plays rather like Blondie Out West Without Dagwood -- not that that's a bad thing!
Tuesday, April 13th
TCM 4:30 a.m. AMBUSH (1949) Robert Taylor searches for a white woman held captive by Apaches. With John Hodiak and Arlene Dahl, directed by Sam Wood. The screenplay by Marguerite Roberts is based on a story by the great Luke Short.
TCM 9:15 a.m. DEVIL'S DOORWAY (1950) An Indian Civil War hero returns home to fight for his people. Starring Robert Taylor, Louis Calhern, Paula Raymond, directed by the great Anthony Mann from Guy Trosper's screenplay.
Wednesday, April 14th
AMC 6:00 a.m. BLAZING SADDLES (1974)Mel Brooks directed and co-wrote, with Norman Steinberg, this delightfully broad western comedy about a town getting it's first black sheriff, Cleavon Little, helped only by Gene Wilder as the Waco Kid. With Slim Pickens and Madeline Kahn, and featuring a rousing theme sung by Frankie Laine.
Thursday, April 15th
FMC 9:00 a.m. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CONDOR (1953) The remake of 'Son of Fury' concerns a young man (Cornel Wilde) cheated out of his inheritance by his uncle (George Macready) who travels to the Mayan hills of Guatamala seeking a hidden treasure. Based on the Edison Marshall novel, written and directed by the excellent Delmer Daves.
Friday, April 15th
FMC 5:00 a.m. THE PROUD ONES (1956) Marshal Robert Ryan must protect his town when a Texas herd arrives with murderous Jeffrey Hunter. Directed by Robert D. Webb, also starring Virginia Mayo, Walter Brennan, Robert Middleton. Verne Athanas's novel was adapted by Edmund North and Joseph Petraca.
Saturday, April 17th
AMC 6:30 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 II, 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 10:30 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.
TCM 11:00 a.m. THE YEARLING (1946) Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's novel comes vividly to life in this story of a boy (Claude Jarman) whose pet deer threatens the family farm. With Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman as his parents, directed by Clarence Brown from Paul Osborne's screenplay.
AMC 1:30 p.m. THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2009) Disappointing telling of the tale, with Brad Pitt as Jesse, and Casey Affleck dribbling and hyperventilating as Ford: he's so nuts from the start that he has nowhere to go, and Pitt comes off as a moron for trusting him. Beautiful photography by Roger Deakins, but not worth 160 minutes out of your life. Sam Fuller did so much better with I SHOT JESSE JAMES (1949) in 81 minutes, with Reed Hadley as Jesse and John Ireland as Ford. Written and directed by Andrew Dominik from Ron Hansen's novel.
TCM 9:00 p.m. ROSEANNA MCCOY (1943) The famous Hatfield-McCoy feud gets the Romeo and Juliet treatment. Starring Farley Granger, Joan Evans, Charles Bickford, Raymond Massey and Richard Basehart. Directed by Irving Reis, with uncredited assistance by Nicholas Ray. From the novel by Alberta Hannum, scripted by one of the greatest of creepy writers, John 'Evening Primrose' Collier.
AMC 11:00 p.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 II, 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.
Sunday, April 18th
FMC 3:00 a.m. THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940) A delight! Rouben Mamoulian directs John Taintor Foote's adaptation of the Johnston McCulley story. Ty Power, Basil Rathbone, Linda Darnell et al have great fun, and the audience has even more.
AMC 4:00 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 7:00 a.m. JEREMIAH JOHNSON (1972) Sydney Pollack directs Robert Redford in the story of a real mountain man, culled from several different writers: Vardis Fisher, Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker. The screenplay is by John Milius and Edward Anholt, and is co-stars Will Geer. Probably Redford's best western role (yes, I know SUNDANCE KID is good, too), and it was a wise move to eliminate his character's nickname: Liver-Eating Johnson.
AMC 9:30 a.m. THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2009) Disappointing telling of the tale, with Brad Pitt as Jesse, and Casey Affleck dribbling and hyperventilating as Ford: he's so nuts from the start that he has nowhere to go, and Pitt comes off as a moron for trusting him. Beautiful photography by Roger Deakins, but not worth 160 minutes out of your life. Sam Fuller did so much better with I SHOT JESSE JAMES (1949) in 81 minutes, with Reed Hadley as Jesse and John Ireland as Ford. Written and directed by Andrew Dominik from Ron Hansen's novel.
AMC 11:30 p.m. JEREMIAH JOHNSON (1972) Sydney Pollack directs Robert Redford in the story of a real mountain man, culled from several different writers: Vardis Fisher, Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker. The screenplay is by John Milius and Edward Anholt, and is co-stars Will Geer. Probably Redford's best western role (yes, I know SUNDANCE KID is good, too), and it was a wise move to eliminate his character's nickname: Liver-Eating Johnson.
That's all until next week!
All contents copyright April 2010 by Henry C. Parke