Hugs & Kisses



Check out the new free pattern for Hugs & Kisses! xo, L

'BANDITS' TALK WITH FRED OLEN RAY







UPDATED THURSDAY JULY 1ST -- SEE AMC 4TH OF JULY SALUTE BELOW

I recently interviewed writer-director Fred Olen Ray on the eve of the release of AMERICAN BANDITS: FRANK AND JESSE JAMES. To read my review of BANDITS, CLICK HERE. I knew that Ray was a prolific director, but not how many times he’d sat in the director’s chair.
FRED: I don’t actually know. I stopped counting some time ago, but it’s close to 100.
HENRY: What year did you make your first?
F: The very first film I ever worked on was in 1975. The first one I directed was probably 1977.
H: You’re primarily known for crime and action, sci-fi and horror. Why did you decide to make a western this time?
F: Well, I don’t actually choose a lot of the projects that we do. We’re like anyone else, we get a job offered, and we take it or don’t take it. And we try to do the kind of films that other people are wanting to pay for. And I had made a western before that was very successful.
H: What was that called?
F: When we first did it, it was called THE SHOOTER (1997, starring Michael Dudikoff and Randy Travis). And then on the Western Channel they played it as DESERT SHOOTER. Plays pretty often on TV now. No one ever finances (westerns) any more, so you figure if you get a chance to do a western, that may be the only opportunity in your whole career, so we jumped at it. And it turned out pretty well. It had been nominated for a GOLDEN BOOT AWARD for best picture, but at the budget that it was made at, it wasn’t going to compete with the other films, and we lost out to LAST STAND AT SABRE RIVER (1997). That was a PBS or TNT thing.
H: Oh right, with Tom Selleck, from the Elmore Leonard novel.
F: Right now, the domestic market is actually looking for westerns again. There’s an upswing of westerns. Of course, when Buster Crabbe and those guys were making westerns in the 1940s, there were three or four western towns that you could film at for varying budget levels. Everyone had horses and everyone had wagons, and costumes and their stunt guys who did horse-work. Nowadays, because westerns have been pretty dead, these things don’t exist anymore. They don’t exist at the level that makes it easy to make a low-budget western, and everybody that comes to you wants it to be low-budget. You keep trying to tell them it’s very difficult to do a movie where every single item has to be a period piece. It means renting everything – a guy can’t even wear his own shoes to the set. Everything has to be rented – every prop, every gun. And you know they do a lot of CG (computer generated) gunfire now, but you can’t do that in a western, because there’s so much black-powder smoke that you feel obliged to use blanks. Then there are horses that have to be wrangled. You know, making a western now, if you don’t have a lot of money, that’s a tough way to go, but we did it. I don’t know if we’ll do it again. Everyone wants us to do another one, because the one we did was pretty well received, or at least it has been so far.
H: Talking about western towns, I just spent yesterday at Peetzburgh.
F: Well that’s where part of this was shot. I just spoke to Pete Shereyko two days ago, and that’s an interesting place. We managed to shoot a little bit outside of his buildings, but for the most part what was done there was done interior.
H: I was in the interiors, and they really looked very nice.
F: We actually cleared one half of the saloon area, and made it into the doctor’s office, and it worked pretty well. And Pete has a lot of clothes and he has a lot of guns and this and that, and it does make it a little more manageable, but you still need that all-important either country-side or exterior western town, and if Paramount Ranch doesn’t suit you, or Sable Ranch doesn’t suit you, the price starts going up dramatically. We shot at Melody Ranch for THE SHOOTER. And it was so expensive the producers wouldn’t let us shoot the interiors, because they didn’t want to pay for this big town and then be stuck inside a room. So all the sheriff’s (office) interiors and saloon interiors were all done at Sable Ranch on sets that were dilapidated and falling down, and then when they would walk out they’d be at Melody Ranch. (laughs) So as they came and went they were changing locations.
H: Now you wrote this one as well as directed it?
F: Yes, I wrote it because the budget was limited. I don’t consider myself a writer, I don’t actually like the act of writing. I do it sometimes because I know I can make the movie for the money the producers want to spend if I control that part. That’s the front line of defense, to write the script for the locations that you know, and in a way that you can make it for the money. I was interested in the Jesse James story because my family has a distant relationship to them. I studied up on that. And I am also a Civil War buff, I’m a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans. I was interested in the plight of people after the Civil War. It’s more of a post-Civil War film than a western. It’s pre-cowboy era. It addresses the tough times, the situations the people in the border states found themselves in after being on the wrong side of the war when it ended. We’re not too preachy, but I certainly portray that, and nobody’s busted me for that, so why not?
H: Why not indeed. Now Peter Fonda, coming off his recent success in 3:10 TO YUMA (2007) is top-billed. How did you like working with him?
F: Well, he may look like he’s top-billed on the box-cover, but he’s actually last-billed on the film. He was somebody we were really looking forward to having, because he’s very iconic. And for one moment in time it looked like it wasn’t going to happen. We had made the deal, and I had spoken to him in France, and coming back on the plane, he fell on the jet-way. He busted his jaw open, and he had to have stitches. And (his people) were saying, he can’t be there on this day, and he could probably be ready in a week.
And that’s a week after the movie shoot had ended. So we thought, let’s not get ourselves caught in a tough spot here. Let’s go ahead and film these scenes anyway with a different actor. And if Peter Fonda comes in, we’ll re-shoot them. But if he never shows up, we’re not sitting here with a movie that’s unfinished. So an actor named Greg Evigan came in filmed that role. It was really tough to let go of it because Greg gave it everything he had, everybody did it to the very best of their ability, we were very happy with it and a few days later, after the movie had wrapped, we heard, ‘Okay, Peter Fonda’s ready!’ So we shot the scenes over again with (Peter Fonda), and those are what we used in the movie.
H: I just saw Greg Evigan in the other recent western, 6 GUNS (2010).
F: Yuh, that was actually made some time after ours but came out before ours. The people who made it (The Asylum) are like a film machine – they just grind them out as quickly as possible, and they’ll wrap one week and two weeks later you see it on a shelf somewhere. (laughs) We don’t operate with that kind of speed or efficiency around here!
H: How about the casting of Frank and Jesse James?
F: Well, I brought in a guy named Tim Abell, who worked for me a lot. He was on SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, INC. (1997-1999), the TV series. I had been working with Tim since the very beginning of his career. I knew he was good with horses, I knew he was good with guns, and he had that look that I thought was the way to go. And when everybody saw and met Tim, everybody agreed: this guy is Frank James. And this isn’t really a movie about Jesse James, it’s a movie about Frank James that Jesse James happens to be in. If you watch the film, you may agree.
H: I noticed that Frank gets top billing in the title, which I thought was a nice change.
F: Well you know, it always has to be ‘Frank and Jesse James’ because if you were to reverse it, then the name ‘Jesse James’ would not appear in the title of the film. It would be ‘Jesse and Frank James.’ And it was always Frank and Jesse, because Frank was older. People were asking me if it was possible that a lawman wouldn’t know which one was Frank and which one was Jesse. And I said, absolutely. They were only four years apart, and with most wanted posters being drawings of people, and people growing beards and mustaches all the time, unless somebody was extremely distinctive, there’s a good chance that you’d have to ask which one they were. Now some of the Confederate history guys commented on a few things that were probably not (historically) correct. I said, look, I can’t be the art department, the wardrobe department, and the gun department. I’m the director, I’ll drop back and blame everybody else for every little technical imperfection. I was trying to tell a story.
H: What projects are you working on now?
F: Well, you know, we have another western in the hopper, and we were all set to make it. We’d raised the money and everything. And then we started having cold feet about the foreign territory not returning the money that would justify the risk. And we may yet make that if somebody else wants to put up the money for it. So we’re going back to what we usually do, which is a sort of sci-fi/monster movie. We’re making a movie about a giant shark next.
H: I saw something online about a Sasquatch meeting a Chupacabra (the perhaps mythical ‘goat–blood sucker’).
F: That’s something we had been developing in secret, and we got wind that someone else might be jumping on that bandwagon, so we decided to go ahead and promote the Hell out of it. I’m not planning to make it for a few months. But I wanted to let other people know that we did have this project and we were planning to make it, as a way of sort of warding off copycats. Once we announced that we got contacted by all kinds of people who either wanted to provide a musical score, or wanted to be the writer, or whatever. We actually did hire one of the guys who contacted us to write the shark movie, so I guess it worked out for him.
H: I guess so. What are your favorites of your own films?
F: You know, THE SHOOTER is probably at the top of my very short list. It was well-acted, it was staged properly, I really enjoyed that film. Most of the films we make, it’s like a contractor – which are the favorite houses that you built? Most of the films, we do because someone’s paying us to do it. It’s a job, this isn’t a hobby. Any film that I do that is successful, I’m happy about. I did a film called ACCIDENTAL CHRISTMAS (2007), and Lifetime Channel picked it up as a world premiere, and it plays five or six times a year. So, I’m really fond of that film just because it was successful. And I just did a movie the SyFy Channel has run a couple of times in just the last week called SEA SNAKES (aka SILENT VENOM 2009), with Luke Perry and Tom Berenger. I’m happy with that because it validated itself and people liked it. And if Paramount or Warner Brothers or 20th Century Fox buys one of my films, I’m happy with those films, because it’s hard to get a bigger, better. I’m still waiting for Universal to buy one of my films, but I’ve got all the other top labels.
H: What are your favorite westerns? What westerns have influenced you?
F: I enjoyed FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965). Of those Italian-type westerns, that’s probably my favorite. I worked with Lee Van Cleef in ARMED RESPONSE (1986), another of my very short list of films that are my top favorites. I like the Leone westerns. I liked DJANGO (1966), I liked a movie called KEOMA (1976) which was another Franco Nero film. In THE SHOOTER there are nods to KEOMA. In that film, I believe the guy looks up at one point, there’s a lightning flash, and an old woman looks like a young girl from his past. And I did that when Michael Dudikoff is crucified, he looked down at this prostitute holding an axe. And the lightning flashed, and he saw a woman who you’d only seen in a photograph in his Bible, which was he dead wife. You see her for one brief moment looking up, and then it flashes back, and it’s the prostitute. That came right from KEOMA. There’s probably some other things.
H: How about American westerns?
F: I watched STALKING MOON (1968) recently, I enjoyed that. John Wayne films from the late fifties to the late sixties are my favorite. I liked RIO LOBO, I liked RIO BRAVO, I liked CHISUM, BIG JAKE is one of my all-time favorites. Not a fan of THE WAR WAGON. I kind of like the one with Rock Hudson, where he’s the Confederate, UNDEFEATED. THE SHOOTIST is a great picture. I was lucky enough to connect up and direct John Carradine in some films as well, toward the end of his life, so we had a chance to talk about all of that. I’m doing Billy the Kid next – that’ll be the next one.
H: Can I announce that?
F: Well, that’s what everybody wants. It’s not what Fred wants, but you know what? People say, you’ve got to have a famous character name, and they want Billy the Kid. It’s going to bend all the rules, and we’re not going to follow the real history. I’m going to follow Billy the Kid as if Buster Crabbe was playing the role again. I’ll just make a story about him.
H: I love those old Buster Crabbe, PRC things.
F: You know it’s very funny because I directed Buster Crabbe in a movie.
H: Really, what was it?
F: It was called THE ALIEN DEAD (1980), and it was one of the last things he did. At one point his career sort of stopped. I said, Buster, why did you choose to stop acting? He said, “Well, I’ll tell you, kid. The budgets on these westerns had gotten so low. It was the end of the day, the sun was going down. The producer took me aside, he whispered in my ear. I got on my horse, I raised my hand to all the guys in my posse, I said, ‘Guys, we’re gonna ride to the bottom of the hill, we’ll dismount, and take ‘em by foot.’ And they all rode to the bottom of the hill, jumped off their horses and ran up the hill on foot because at five o’clock the horses went into overtime, and they didn’t want to pay for it.” Buster said, “That was it. When I went home that night I said, that’s it, I’ve had it!” And he retired from films for a while until he did CAPTAIN GALLANT in the fifties. But he sure did make a lot of films.
H: What more can you tell me about BANDITS?
F: We all very much enjoyed making AMERICAN BANDITS. It was originally called SCOFIELD .45, named after the gun, and nobody wanted to call it that but me, so I said, great, I’ll put that title in my back pocket, you’ll be sorry. They wanted to call it AMERICAN BANDITS, I said, dude, there’s a movie called AMERICAN OUTLAWS (2001) about Jesse James already. I don’t really care what you call it. But when you see the film, it’s not a shoot ‘em up. I said, we can afford to do some action at the beginning, some action at the end, and maybe something in the middle, but it has to be about something. And I think that is why people like it, because it’s about something, about these people, and you give a shit. And I felt like it plotted itself out really well. I thought Jeffrey Combs made a very good villain. You don’t think of him as a western star, but, you know, everybody wants to be in a western.
H: Certainly every guy.
F: Yeah, when you say you’re making a western, people come out of the woodwork. I don’t know if it’s because everyone wants to dress up like they were a kid again. They want to ride up, and they’ve got to have that hat and that gun – a lot of people will buy their own gun! They want that gun when the movie’s over, they want to take that gun home. They want to get on those horses, and people will tell you they can ride horses who haven’t a clue how to ride a horse. They get on and you can see they’re terrified. These horses – I don’t even like to stand next to them – they’re gigantic beasts that weigh a ton, and they’re not as controllable as people think. But I felt like the film succeeded because it had a good story between the people, it was sort of a bittersweet thing, and it’s not a rousing western, you know? It’s not cookie-cutter. But we’ll see, won’t we?
H: We sure will. (Photos, from the top, Fred Olen Ray, Tim Abell as Frank James, Tim Abell ans Siri Baruc, Michael Gaglio and Anthony Tyler Quinn, Ray directing Peter Fonda)

SCREENINGS

ANTHONY MANN FESTIVAL AT NEW YORK’S FILM FORUM

What a treat for all of you that live East but love West! From June 25th through July 15th, the Forum will be presenting 26 movies – most in double features and a few in triple bills! -- directed by the great Anthony Mann, whose post-war westerns brought a new-found maturity to the form, and gave James Stewart a chance to stretch as an actor as never before. In addition to the westerns being shown, Mann's fine crime and war stories will also be on view. Among the westerns: BORDER INCIDENT (1949) and DEVIL'S DOORWAY (1950) on Wednesday, June 30th; THE LAST FRONTIER (1956) and GOD'S LITTLE ACRE (1958) on Thursday July 1st; MAN OF THE WEST (1958) and a new 35MM print of THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955) on Friday and Saturday July 2nd and 3rd; BEND OF THE RIVER (1952) and a new 35mm print of THUNDER BAY (1953) on Sunday and Monday, July 4th and 5th; CIMARRON (1960) on Monday July 5th, THE FURIES (1950) and THE TIN STAR (1957) on Tuesday July 6th; THE FAR COUNTRY (1955) and THE TALL TARGET (1951) on Friday and Saturday, July 9th and 10th. To whet your appetite -- and this is for everyone, not just New Yorkers - CLICK HERE to see trailers of several of the Anthony Mann westerns.


AROUND LOS ANGELES

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. Currently they have HOMELANDS: HOW WOMEN MADE THE WEST through August 22nd, and THE ART OF NATIVE AMERICAN BASKETRY: A LIVING TRADITION, through November 7th. I've seen the basketry show three times, and am continually astonished at the beauty and variety of the work of the various tribes. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.

ON TV

4TH OF JULY WEEKEND JOHN WAYNE SALUTE ON AMC!

Starting Thursday night, July 1st, AMC will run a marathon of John Wayne pictures which, with the exception of a few infomercials and Three Stooges Shorts, will run through Sunday night, Independence Day. The films will be hosted by the husband and wife team of Ty Murray and Jewel. He is the champion bull-rider who did so well on DANCING WITH THE STARS this season. She's the very attractive and talented singer/songwriter whose impressive acting debut was in the excellent Civil War film RIDE WITH THE DEVIL (1999). The movies, most of which will be seen more than once, and begin at 12:30 Friday morning with THE WAR WAGON, include THE COMANCHEROS, HONDO, RIO BRAVO, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, THE WINGS OF EAGLES, OPERATION PACIFIC, THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS, MCLINTOCK!, CAHILL, U.S. MARSHAL, NORTH TO ALASKA, CHISUM, THE COWBOYS and THE SHOOTIST. Check your cable of satellite system for the proper times -- and have a great 4th!

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.

I've got a few other items I'll try to get listed today or tomorrow.

Adios,

Henry

Copyright June 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

End Of School, Start Of Summer




Prince And The Pea. We are officially in summer holiday mode. There are days of reading and napping after spending time at the pool. Apparently, some little princes think that it is fun to stack up my sofa cushions and sleep on top of them. 


School's out but work still goes on. I've been doing work behind the scenes but I can show you the strike offs from the fabric plant. At this point I decide on the final colors. Luckily there wasn't much to change on these. I made a block for a magazine from these pieces and I'm going to make something small with what I've got left.


The folks at Leisure Arts just posted the front and back covers of Knit Prayer Shawls. They asked me to contribute a design for this book last year. I designed and knit the green shawl below on the right. It turned out so pretty and I loved using the Lion Brand Organic Wool.



See you next week. xo, L

Coming Soon!






I apologize for the long absence here! I've been working really hard on getting my website ready for re-launch and building up the brand new collection to go along with it! I can't wait to share it with you, but it's not quite ready yet. So stay tuned! Until then, here's a sneak peek at some of the new goods.

Guangxi Province - Capital of Rain


There can be few places on earth more soul destroying than the tragic city of Guangzhou. Like a set piece from the relentless chuckle-thon, The Road, it boasts a grey sky, grey buildings, grey water, cockroaches and toddlers in dirty clothes gnawing on chicken's feet.
Mercifully, our time there is spent exclusively in the train station while waiting to transfer for our train to Guilin. We travel through the night, on the bottom of three story bunk beds. Getting them ready is flat out fun – like making a den or putting up a tent. But that's where the fun ends: people scuttle up and down the corridor, seats slam, mobiles ring, the chain bucks and chunters... China by hard sleeper.
We arrive in Guilin, bleary eyed and a little achy, but thankfully have two largely unremarkable days pass in another luxury hotel. The highlight is sneaking two 30p mega Pot Noodles through the lobby, half hoping to be spotted. Disappointingly, Guilin is far more industrial than advertised, although some of the locals are at least quite friendly.
Still, we're both happy to leave for Ping'an, a mountain village three hours drive away. We check into a new-looking guest house and get a new, pine room overlooking the valley for the princely sum of £6. This region is famous for two things – a minority ethic group who's women never, ever get a haircut (and who now subsequently demand money from gullible tourists for a photo) and the rice terraces.
There's something strangely beautiful about these things. Terraforming agriculture – they look like they should be the work of insects. Insects like this colourful chap:

Finding colour, though, is a difficult task, given the weather. We have arrived in China in summer, but also during the potentially deadly rainy season and every day that we spend here in Guangxi Province, it rains. Sometimes only for a few minutes, but more often for hours on end. At night the thunder sounds like someone throwing a fridge down a flight of stairs. It's dreich, to say the least and that's a particular disappointment when it comes to the incredible topography in and around the town of Yangshuo.
We check into new, trendy hostel for four days and spend the majority of it getting soaked as we explore the bizarre karst landscape. With all the rain it's too slippery to even attempt scaling one of these awkward looking jellies and as such, they remain somehow unreal. Even when standing under one – more often than not, one swathed in wisps of cloud – it never feels like I could actually reach out and touch it.

Instead we make do with very real, brutally tactile, cycling. We hire two bikes from the hostel and disappear for hours in the deluge, getting lost, destroying our arse cheeks, racing a couple on a tandem and becoming wetter than we thought possible. I don't know when I forgot that I love cycling, but racing around Yangshuo County takes me right back to tearing around the scheme, playing chicken with buses as a juice carton roars in my spokes.

“We will eat anything with legs, except a table”

In another, altogether unhappier lifetime in Dubai, Wee Mo and I were once asked to write a plethora of food reviews on Chinese food in the city. We visited 21 of those suckers in a couple of months – many of my views on which were disappointingly, though unsurprisingly neutered – and the only real conclusion I could reach at the end was that I'm not really a fan of Chinese fare. Naturally, though, the food on offer in Actual China is a good deal different what was served up in Bastard City.
Two and half weeks into our Chinese trip and we've already seen a loads of food that by Western standards, can only be regarded as a bit weird. In five star hotels, we've come across duck tongue soup, marinated frog and pork knuckle broth. In shops, they've got vacuum packed fish heads and half-kilo packs of ground ants, while out in the street they seem determined to sell only the boniest, grizzliest selections of mystery meat. It's little wonder KFC is getting more and more popular here.
Generally, though, the Chinese love to have their flesh as fresh as possible. This is best evidenced in restaurants that keep teeming vats of fish and prawns and crabs and frogs and eels. Elsewhere, chickens are sold whole and still warm, while one traveller told us of a friend having to wait for a pork dish while a pig was butchered out back.
Walking into a market in Yangshuo, past a guy selling bags of live frogs, past the woman selling pigs trotters and tails (disappointingly straight, at that) we stumbled across another fabled Chinese speciality. Neatly dressed, hung and slightly steaming there were two dogs. Grim, to say the least, and all I needed to see to know with certainty that I've got no interest in trying it. It wasn't so much the dead pooches that disturbed us, though – it was the three live ones in the cage behind, surely aware of the fate that awaited them too. We left, both feeling a little nauseous, but assured of what great people we truly were, lovers of all things, man and beast alike.
Enough of such morbid chatter. Here's a picture of fido and foghorn in happier times:

 

Knitted Chairs

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, PA!









Updated Monday 6/21/2010 - see NAZI WESTERN and JONAH HEX review below.

Happy Father's Day to all of the dad’s who read the Round-up! And let’s have a big round of applause for every westerner’s favorite TV dad, Lorne Green as Ben Cartwright! And in a nod to dysfunctional families, let’s not forget Leif Erickson as Big John Cannon (yes, in the titles, ‘Big’ is his first name), both shows creations of that great father of TV westerns, David Dortort, who is still going strong at 94! (To watch a long and fascinating interview with Dortort, CLICK HERE.)

WAR BETWEEN THE STATES PACKS ‘EM IN!

Folks who attended the Civil War reenactment at Pierce College Farm last weekend had a wonderful time. Prior to battle, visitors could tour the Yankee and Rebel camps and talk with re-enactors who were wonderfully knowledgeable about the Civil War in general and their unit, weapons and uniforms in particular. It was a delight to be surrounded by so many people who know and care so much about U.S. history.

There were more than five hundred re-enactors taking part, with roughly 200 Union and 200 Confederate soldiers, and a hundred civilians, many of them women, representing those who waited and held the fort at home. The battles themselves were realistic, exciting – and deafening. My wife and I could see the battle very well from our position beside the row of Confederate cannon, but afterwards we couldn’t hear much of anything for a few hours!

There was food available for purchase, as well as Civil War related books and souvenirs, and clothes, from $4 children’s kepis to beautifully tailored dress uniforms for hundreds of dollars – not to mention percussion caps and replacement ramrods. This is the first of what is planned as an annual event. If you attended, and enjoyed yourselves as much as we did, CLICK HERE to e-mail Pierce College and let them know. There are more Civil War-related events on the horizon – in Long Beach in the end of July, and in Moorpark in November, and we’ll bring you details as the dates get nearer. (photos from top: cast of BONANZA, cast of HIGH CHAPARRAL, Union Zoave soldier, Confederate soldiers on the march, women wisely fleeing the battlefield, Confederate cannon battery, General Lee giving commands)

MOVIE REVIEW – JONAH HEX

JONAH HEX
is not the worst western ever made, but it’s a very disappointing one. I never read the comic books it’s based on, so I won’t judge it in terms of how closely it follows its source material. The story of Hex, a bounty hunter who, after a near-death experience, is able to get information by laying hands on the dead seems very promising, and actually works in several scenes.

In fact, technically, there is much good to be said about the film. The costuming (Michael Wilkinson), art direction (Seth Reed) and cinematography (Mitchell Amundsen) are excellent. The make-up is highly effective. Josh Brolin’s Hex had a branding iron pressed into his cheek, and later he tried to remove the offending monogram with a Bowie knife, leaving a gaping hole in his cheek. It’s so convincing that it’s sometimes hard to look at (and according to Brolin, it hurt like Hell).

It’s hard to tell where problems of story end and problems of casting begin. Brolin is just right for the role, but the script makes it nearly impossible for him to give anything but a one-note performance. John Malkovich plays, as always, John Malkovich, and while he has his trademarked unnerving presence, he isn’t supposed to be a creepy neighbor, he’s supposed to be Quantrill! He’s far too effete to convincingly play a military officer. Similarly, the usually excellent Aidan Quinn is laughably soft as President Grant. The normally very funny Will Arnet has absolutely nothing to do as Lt. Grass. The dynamic Michael Fassbender plays Burke, Malkovich’s cruel right hand, with admirable gusto. But his cocky Irishness is completely undermined by the fact that his face is completely covered in Maori tattoos! I’m not kidding – the filmmakers assume the audience doesn’t know the Emerald Isle from New Zealand! The girl, actually the ho, is played by Megan Fox, who may be the most beautiful brunette to grace the screen since Hedy Lamarr – who, you will remember, could act. Actually, that’s a bit unfair, because in most of her scenes she acquits herself well. But towards the end of the picture, there’s a sequence where she and Brolin are chained to overhead pipes, and one repeatedly sees a smirk appearing on her face, followed by abrupt cuts. One suspects that to get a disciplined performance out of Fox, a more Hitler-like director is required. (Okay, since this is the second Nazi reference in this entry, I’ll explain that Fox was just fired from the next TRANSFORMERS movie for describing her director/discoverer Michael Bey as Hitler-like).

SPOILER ALERT!
And what an original plot! The Civil War is over, but there’s this Quantrill-like Southern officer with a personal grudge against Jonah Hex (natch) who won’t accept defeat, and he has this incredible secret weapon stolen from the government, and he’s going to use it to attack Washington D.C.! And this secret weapon is (hold your breath) A CANNON THAT SHOOTS GLASS BALLS FULL OF GASOLINE! Will the planet Earth survive? It’s like a rejected pitch for an episode of WILD WILD WEST after they jumped the shark. It’s written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who were originally supposed to co-direct. When they were dumped, they dropped their first names from the credits, in some sort of half-assed protest, and are billed as Neveldine and Taylor. They were replaced by director Jimmy Hayward of HORTON HEARS A WHO fame.

One reason the super-weapon falls so flat is because we’ve already seen so much fire – every set that Hex exits explodes into flame behind him. As Variety reviewer Justin Chang points out, “Given the relative paucity of Westerns on the current movie-going landscape, it’s somewhat dispiriting to…painstakingly erect a fa├žade of 19th century mining towns, military forts and runaway locomotives…only to blow every one of those sets to yawn-inducing smithereens.”

Some audience members have felt gypped at the movie’s 81 minute running-time, including end credits, but I was just as happy to see it end. If I seem unusually hard on this film, it’s because I love westerns, and I believe every good western makes it easier to get the next one made, and every bad one makes it more difficult for all of us. The irony is that two other westerns have come out this year, both direct to video, and 6 GUNS and AMERICAN BANDITS: FRANK AND JESSE JAMES, are both ten times the western JONAH HEX is, even though their combined budgets aren’t a fraction of HEX’s catering costs.

DAVID ROSE CENTENNIAL

Speaking of BONANZA and HIGH CHAPARRAL, David Rose, the composer of the themes for both shows, as well as the score for HOMBRE (1967), was born 100 years ago this past Tuesday, June 15th. Rose, who died in 1990, was equally well-known for his delightfully bawdy composition, THE STRIPPER. Born in London, he was married thrice, to Martha Raye, Judy Garland, and Betty Bartholomew, with whom he had two children. His star on the Walk of Fame can be found at 6514 Hollywood Boulevard. To hear the theme from HIGH CHAPARRAL, CLICK HERE.

SCREENINGS

ANTHONY MANN FESTIVAL AT NEW YORK’S FILM FORUM

What a treat for all of you that live East but love West! From June 25th through July 15th, the Forum will be presenting 26 movies – most in double features and a few in triple bills! -- directed by the great Anthony Mann, whose post-war westerns brought a new-found maturity to the form, and gave James Stewart a chance to stretch as an actor as never before. In addition to the westerns being shown, Mann's fine crime and war stories will also be on view. Among the westerns: NAKED SPUR (1953) and WINCHESTER '73 (1950) on Friday and Saturday June 25th and 26th; BORDER INCIDENT (1949) and DEVIL'S DOORWAY (1950) on Wednesday, June 30th; THE LAST FRONTIER (1956) and GOD'S LITTLE ACRE (1958) on Thursday July 1st; MAN OF THE WEST (1958) and a new 35MM print of THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955) on Friday and Saturday July 2nd and 3rd; BEND OF THE RIVER (1952) and a new 35mm print of THUNDER BAY (1953) on Sunday and Monday, July 4th and 5th; CIMARRON (1960) on Monday July 5th, THE FURIES (1950) and THE TIN STAR (1957) on Tuesday July 6th; THE FAR COUNTRY (1955) and THE TALL TARGET (1951) on Friday and Saturday, July 9th and 10th. To whet your appetite -- and this is for everyone, not just New Yorkers - CLICK HERE to see trailers of several of the Anthony Mann westerns.

A NAZI WESTERN FILMED IN ARIZONA?

The June 2010 issue of TRUE WEST MAGAZINE has a fascinating article by Joe McNeil, detailing the making of DER KAISER VON KALIFORNEIN, a.k.a. THE EMPEROR OF CALIFORNIA, in 1936. Bankrolled by the Third Reich through a wholly owned film company, it’s the official party version of the life of German immigrant Johann Augustus Suter, or as we know him, John Sutter. He was the man who owned Sutter’s Mill, where a gold find triggered the 1849 Gold Rush, which eventually destroyed him.

There is also a lot of side information on Karl May, the best-selling writer in the history of Germany, whose western stories about Winnetou and Old Shatterhand were favorites of both Hitler and Einstein, and whose stories influenced the western films of German immigrant directors like Fritz Lang, Fred Zinneman, Michael Curtiz and so many other. The article is an excerpt from McNeil’s ARIZONA’S LITTLE HOLLYWOOD: SEDONA AND NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S FORGOTTEN FILM HISTORY, 1923-1973. If you CLICK HERE, you can see a clip from DER KAISER, and even buy the book.


AROUND LOS ANGELES

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. Currently they have HOMELANDS: HOW WOMEN MADE THE WEST through August 22nd, and THE ART OF NATIVE AMERICAN BASKETRY: A LIVING TRADITION, through November 7th. I've seen the basketry show three times, and am continually astonished at the beauty and variety of the work of the various tribes. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.

ON TV

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.

It's getting a little late tonight (Sunday), so I'm going to finish up tomorrow by adding a few items including my review of JONAH HEX tomorrow.

Hasta manana!

Henry

Contents Copyright June 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day! I hope that you enjoy this day with your dads. My husband's company just moved to new digs so I wanted to make something fun. The kids and I brain stormed and put together this fun set of photographs. The kids are finally at an age where they may look at the camera at the same time if I let them go through all of their goofiness first. Hence, the first two photos in the series. We printed them out and framed them. Then, I wouldn't leave things alone so I made him some bookmarks too! Easy peasy. Add a batch of brownies and breakfast in bed. We were all set.



Seriously, enjoy your day with your dad, grandfather, uncle, ...


I miss you, Dad! Love, L

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

title
I’ve had peanut butter on my mind lately. I’ve mixed it through my oatmeal and used it in these granola bars. That is not even to count the times in between I’ve it spread on a slice of warm toast to accompany some tea. I love its comforting familiarity…its unfancy goodness. Peanut butter…really…sometimes one need not look far afield for gastronomic treasures.

I was chatting online with my friend M (lovely M of the Moomin chopsticks) and she mentioned that she had made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and everyone at her workplace loved it. Just take your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe and add chocolate chips she said. Shamefully, I had no such favorite peanut butter cookie recipe.

That had to change.

Flush in peanut butter love, I searched the web for a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe and this is what I came across. I’m so glad I did.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from Canary Girl)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

- Cream butter and both sugars until creamy, then add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Add the peanut butter and continue to beat until combined.
- Add flour, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine.
- Add chips and stir again.
- Drop small spoonfuls of dough onto parchment (you should get a dozen per sheet).
- Bake in a pre-heated 375F oven on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let them rest on the cookie sheet for one minute before removing to cool on a wire rack. Do not over-bake them. They may seem a little underdone but they will continue to cook outside the oven.

As you can imagine, peanut butter being so well loved, a marriage between it and chocolate chips would most likely be exponentially wonderful. It is. There are a lot of recipes out there but what I like about this one, aside from it's deliciousness, is its simplicity. It is a snap to make and yields so much more than the efforts you put in. I recommend you have them freshly baked when they are still soft and warm at their centers, and a glass of cold milk alongside is all you need to reach some sort of childhood-food nirvana. Like Reese’s peanut butter cups in cookie form. They are still good the following days although a bit crisper around the edges. I used sweet & creamy peanut butter and I think this made my batch a tad too sweet. I’ll stick with regular creamy next time. You can use any type of peanut butter you prefer, so if you like crunchy go ahead and use that. I am a strictly creamy peanut butter girl :)

I’m wondering if I may soon reach the end of my peanut butter rope. Will I wake up one day to find I’ve tired of my old friend? I sincerely hope not! It’s such a dependable pick-me-up and never fails to improve my disposition. Whoever said you can’t buy happiness was in looking in the wrong jar ;)

DO AS I DO

Big A is in this video! I believe that the CPS Foundation is in the process of submitting their proposal to PEPSI Refresh. I'll let you know when you can vote!

xo, L

Is School Finished Yet?


Oh, it has been crazy busy around these parts. Crazy. Insane. Can't think straight kind of nuts. We've so many things going on that I don't think that I can keep it all straight. I still have some Market things to wrap up but I'll get to that next week.

Things have been winding down for the kids. Our Chinese school has an awesome year-end weekend. We have a delicious appreciation dinner for the teachers and there's karaoke too. My little one sat on my lap but danced in his own way. My older one, on the other hand, was Mr. Karaoke King.

Look at the food! I am hungry right now! I will dedicate myself to finishing this blog post before I head upstairs. Fish, lobster, abalone, oh my!
The next day we had graduation and a reception. It was long and hot but so very fun. My little is very relaxed before these sorts of things. He and his buddies just play with Nintendo before class.

My older one and his friend, Miss K, are keeners. They stand there and stare at the trophies for the top three students, the winners of the class speech contests and other awards. My boys are so different.
Big A loves to win trophies. We're proud of them both!
Later, at the reception, they have balloon stations and tattoo stations for the kids. [Oh those Silly Bandz are everywhere!]
Apparently, mommies need to get a cool tattoo too. 

Are you doing anything cool and exciting this summer? A lot of my Facebook friends are still quilting vigorously through the holidays. See you soon.
xo, L

The Dragon's Back


Slumming it on the island really isn't so bad. Firstly there are the views, which are not inconsiderable:

 
And, thanks to some classic British bureaucracy, quite a lot of amazing countryside. More than two thirds of this special administrative region is reserved for greenery – the reason it's such a lanky, fraught metropolis. The vegetation looms over the iconic skyline, up and over hills, round bays, dipping all the way to the South China Sea. And that's just on Hong Kong Island.
North of the city in the New Territories lies the Maclehose trail, perhaps the most famous – and certainly most brutal – trek in the area. The route runs for 100km and is said to contain so many ascents and descents that it's the equivalent of walking up and down Mount Everest. A fit, experienced walker will hope to finish it in 20 hours. During an annual Oxfam charity walk, those not used to such exertion will be closer to 30. There are tales of Nepalese soldiers running it in 11, which is only fleetingly a surprise. 
We opt for something considerably more, well, realistic. Not far behind the fringes of Hong Kong Island's hustle and bustle lies the start of one of its most famous treks. Hailed as perhaps the best urban trek in the world, the Dragon's Back trail can be started from various points, but we opt for its city jump off.
Leaving Wan Chai, the last stop on the Island Line of the metro system, we pass through a noisy mall, across a blaring street and up a curving road towards one of the city's cemeteries. Here things become a good deal more quiet, although the traffic continues to roar below. Anyone looking for a flavour of Hong Kong's colonial past could do worse than to stop a while here. Crammed onto impossibly steep slopes, the cemetery houses Chinese, English and Portuguese names – and frequently mishmashes of all three.
We march upwards and quickly find ourselves under thick foliage, but we've barely entered the woods before we notice large numbers of butterflies. What's remarkable is not simply the number, but how many different types there are. Blue Barons and Common Tigers are joined by countless others (not quite countless: Hong Kong is home to 235 different species).
Our path leads us on, along a skinny road, past an old boy, tap aff, practising tai chi in the warm morning, and eventually a sign that takes us off the road altogether and into a forest path. While it's hot, the sky is covered in a dull cloud, pierced only occasionally by the sinister silhouette of a black kite. 

As we continue into the Shek O country park, the roar of the city fades to a distant growl. And as the woods deepen, it disappears completely. We've been walking for less than an hour and already the city seems like a ridiculous impossibility. No sooner have the engines died, however, than the screeching of the insects has started.
By an experienced hiker's standards, this isn't too arduous a test, but for the casual us, especially in such humidity it provides a decent test. Sweating between the flowering bushes either side of us, we barely notice the retreat of the trees as we reach another crossroads. Now, finally, we are to walk the Dragon's Back proper.
The path could hardly be named better: a half hour of rugged, red road that leads along an undulating spine between a series of little peaks. The ground has flashes of rouge between gnarled stones giving the impression of marching along Smaug.
By the time we reach the Shek O peak (which stands at a hardly Himalayan 293 metres) we are exhausted but happy with our effort, and absolutely delighted to be greeted by a park bench. From this lofty perch they say on a good day, it's possible to see all the way up to the New Territories. Today we take their word for it.

Make no mistake, Hong Kong isn't a cheap place. Everything – the fruit, the water, the milk – everything is expensive. Also, it's certainly not real China and as if to underline that point, they use a different currency. We are about to leave and soon our Hong Kong Dollars will be pretty much worthless. With 41 of them left – about £3.60 – we're determined not to take any more out. That however has to see us through the next 30 hours.
One bag on the front, one on the back, we look like two turtles doing it missionary as we stumble around in the rain working out how best to spend our pittance. Eventually we stumble across a little supermarket, take turns at spending what we have and by the time we're done we have quite a pile of nutritionally-questionable fodder to sustain our border train to Guangzhou. From there we will transfer onto another train that heads north, and into mother China.

CIVIL WAR PLAYS RETURN ENGAGEMENT!






UPDATED MONDAY 6/14/2010 -- SEE TCM WESTERN STORY BELOW
UPDATED TUESDAY 6/15/2010 -- SEE 'REEL INJUN' AT MOMA - STORY BELOW
UPDATED FRIDAY 6/18/2010 -- SEE 'TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE' SCREENING BELOW

Lovers of the blue and/or grey can get a whiff of cordite this Saturday and Sunday, June 12th and 13th, at Pierce College's HERITAGE DAYS CIVIL WAR HISTORICAL REENACTMENT! Hundreds of re-enactors will recreate the epic conflict of the American Civil War on the broad fields of Pierce. There will be cavalry charges, artillery barrages, and infantry assaults, as well as Victorian dancing, military drill, music, and period arts and crafts. It is hinted that a certain bearded president will be attending and delivering his famed Gettysburg Address (for security reasons he cannot be named). It's fifteen dollars a day, and the program, which is the same for both days, can be seen HERE. You can also purchase tickets there, and if you do so today (Friday) and enter the code "DN20%" you will get 20% off (there is a $2 service fee, but you still save a few bucks). You can also buy tickets at the event. The Pierce Farm Center is located at 20800 Victory Boulevard, Woodland Hills, CA 91367.

FILM TREASURE-TROVE FOUND IN NEW ZEALAND

75 'lost' early American films have been found in the New Zealand Film Archive. These nitrate-base rarities are in the process of being preserved in the United States by the National Film Preservation Board, a nonprofit affiliate of the Library of Congress. Among the films are one of John Ford's last silents, UPSTREAM, a comedy directed by Keystone star Mabel Normand, a Clara Bow period drama, and several early one-reel westerns.

Ironically, the New Zealand archive holds a substantial number of rare non-Kiwi movies because, by the time a film, being distributed around the world, reached far-away New Zealand, it was cheaper to just leave the film there than to pay to have it shipped back to the States. In N.Z. Archive manager Steve Russell's words, "It's one of the rare cases when the tyranny of distance has worked in our and the films' favor." Two of the westerns are THE GIRL STAGE DRIVER (1914), and Selig Polyscope picture, THE SERGEANT - TOLD IN THE YOSEMITE VALLEY (1910). To see a few minutes of SERGEANT , click HERE. David Wells of the N.F.P.F. further tantalized me by asking, "Have you heard about our upcoming DVD set, Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938?" I hadn't -- it's an up-coming 10-hour DVD set of early westerns being culled from archives like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, Museum of Modern art, the National Archives and UCLA Film & Television Archive. To learn more, CLICK HERE. I'll give you more details as I get them.

JONAH HEX OPENS FRIDAY JUNE 18TH

Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you know that screens all over the country will be showing the horror-western-comic-turned-movie starring Josh Brolin as the title face-scarred bounty hunter, Megan Fox as the ho, and John Malkovich as the crazed ex-Confederate officer who branded Hex's cheek. Some of the images coming out of the picture look spectacular. And a special THANK-YOU to whoever of my spies anonymously sent me the HEX script dated October 31, 2007! I don't know how close this is to the final shooting script, but I'm dying to see the movie and find out -- it's rated PG-13, but if shot as this draft was written, it would be a hard R for violence and language. Actually, I've never read a screenplay with so much profanity even in the description! "The main house is a two-story Victorian that looks like the war tore it a new *ssh*l*." Writers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor previously teamed on PATHOLOGY (2008), GAMER (2009), and the two CRANK movies. Director Jimmy Hayward comes from the animation side of the world, and previously directed HORTON HEARS A WHO! (2008).

BIG VALLEY FINALLY HAS A FULL SET OF BARKLEYS!

With the addition of Stephen Moyer and Lorraine Nicholson, the BIG VALLEY feature has a full compliment of Barkleys: Jessican Lange as Victoria (Barbara Stanwyck), Lee Majors as Tom (never seen in the series), Stephen Moyer as Jarrod (Richard Long), Lorraine Nicholson as Audra (Linda Evans), Jason Alan Smith as Nick (Peter Breck), and Travis Fimmel as Heath (Lee Majors -- complicated, isn't it?). Nicholson was the princess in PRINCESS DIARIES 2 (2004), appeared in WORLD'S GREATEST DAD (2009), and is the daughter of Jack Nicholson. Stephen Moyer is one of the stars of the TV series TRUE BLOOD.

Also in the cast are Richard Dreyfus and Bruce Dern, both of whom guested on the TV series, and both of whom have worked before with writer-director Daniel Adams. The movie is aiming for a 2011 release. If all of this whets your appetite for the old series, CLICH HERE and watch the original pilot episode.

DICK FORAN CENTENNIAL

Actor Dick Foran was born one hundred years ago, on June 18th, 1910, in Flemington, New Jersey, the son of a Senator. Excelling at athletics and singing at Princeton, he worked first on a freighter, then as a railroad investigator before heading to Hollywood. Under contract to Warner Brothers, Foran, who projected a solid, likable, easy-going personality, played many supporting roles in a wide range of genres, and made strong impressions in a pair of Humphrey Bogart starrers, PETRIFIED FOREST (1936) and THE BLACK LEGION (1937). In 1935 Warners, which had gotten out of the B-western biz when they let John Wayne go, decided to try again, and perhaps responding to Gene Autry’s success at Republic, starred Foran, billing him as “Dick Foran The Singing Cowboy.” He made a dozen films in the series, and though rarely seen today, they were popular, well produced, and hold up well if you can track them down – I found some at Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee. As with the Warner John Waynes, they make use of footage of Ken Maynard from his later silents at that studio. Foran had an excellent voice, but although he was a cowboy who sang, he was not a ‘singing cowboy’ in the Gene and Tex and Roy sense. Rather than campfire songs, his songs and style were more operatic, and looking back, I understand why, as a kid, I was always confusing Foran with Nelson Eddy (though in retrospect, I can’t imagine why, as a kid, I knew who Nelson Eddy was!). His best-remembered film of the era was CHEROKEE STRIP (1937), where he sang “My Little Buckaroo,” to Tommy Bupp. In 1938 he played a Mountie in HEART OF THE NORTH, one of his rare Technicolor outings, which writer Tony Thomas describes as, “the best produced of all programmers about the Mounties.”

When he finished up his contract at Warners Foran went to Universal, where he starred in a pair of fine western serials, WINNERS OF THE WEST and RIDERS OF DEATH VALLEY. And in 1942 he made one of his most popular films, RIDE ‘EM COWBOY, with Abbott and Costello and Johnny Mack Brown, a comedy that still holds up today – I know because I watched it today. He made several other films with Bud and Lou, and a neat pair of horror pics, THE MUMMY’S HAND and THE MUMMY’S TOMB. He had a good supporting role in one great western, John Ford’s FORT APACHE (1948), and followed with a few more second leads in independent films like EL PASO (1949), DEPUTY MARSHAL (1949), and AL JENNINGS OF OKLAHOMA (1951) for Columbia. In television, Foran played in just about every western series you can think of. He died in 1979. If you want to celebrate Dick Foran's 100th birthday by renewing your acquaintance with his work, nearly every movie mentioned can be found at Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee. CLICK HERE to visit their website.

SCREENINGS

'REEL INJUN' AT NEW YORK'S MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

Monday, June 14 through Sunday, June 20th, Cree Indian Neil Diamond's terrific documentary about Indians in westerns, and their counterparts in real life -- to read my review go to May 15th HERE -- will be shown at MoMa. My wife and I both consider it the best documentary we've seen in years. Here are the showings:
Monday, June 14, 2010, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 2, T2
Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 4:30 p.m. , Theater 2, T2
Thursday, June 17, 2010, 4:30 p.m. , Theater 2, T2
Friday, June 18, 2010, 4:30 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
Saturday, June 19, 2010, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
Sunday, June 20, 2010, 2:30 p.m. , Theater 1, T1

SHANE AND THE KENTUCKIAN AT THE NEW BEVERLY

Sunday June 13th and Monday June 14th. SHANE (1953) - Director George Stevens' masterpiece, from the Jack Schaeffer novel, screenplay by A.B. Guthrie Jr. Although all the leads -- Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin and Brandon de Wilde -- are excellent, to me it's the performances by Jack Palance and Elisha Cook Jr. that are unforgettable. SHANE screens on Sunday at 3:05 and 7:30, Monday at 7:30.

THE KENTUCKIAN (1955), directed by its star, Burt Lancaster, from the novel by Felix Holt and the screenplay by A.B. Guthrie Jr. It also stars Diane Foster, Diana Lynn, John Litel and John Carradine. A Kentucky widower bound for 1820's Texas with his young son is thwarted in his efforts by a corrupt constable, a long-standing family feud, and a beautiful indentured servant. It screen on Sunday at 5:25 and 9:50, and on Sunday at 9:50.

The New Beverly Cinema is at 7165 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. Tickets are only seven buck, six for students and five for seniors and kids, and they always show 35MM prints.

EDGAR G. ULMER DOUBLE BILL AT NY'S ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVE

Monday June 14th and Tuesday June 15th. Experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas chose this pairing -- THE NAKED DAWN (1955), and DETOUR (1945). DAWN is a western starring Arthur Kennedy as a bandit, and Betta St. John and Eugene Iglesias as the couple whose home he happens upon, making an escape. DETOUR is a film noir, and in spite of Ulmer's direction and Ben Cline's moody camerawork, is one of the most laughably awful dramas ever made -- you just can't triumph over that parade of contrivances.

'TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE' AT OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL FRIDAY THRU SUNDAY

Henry Hathaway's TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE (1936), a story of feudin' and fightin', starring Henry Fonda, Silvia Sydney, Fred MacMurray, Fuzzy Knight, Nigel Bruce and Spanky MacFarland, is the first full-Technicolor outdoor picture. It's showing at the Old Town Music Hall at 140 Richmond Street, El Segundo, CA 90245. It screen Friday at 8:15 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 and 8:15 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30. p.m., and admission is $8.

AROUND LOS ANGELES

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. Currently they have HOMELANDS: HOW WOMEN MADE THE WEST through August 22nd, and THE ART OF NATIVE AMERICAN BASKETRY: A LIVING TRADITION, through November 7th. I've seen the basketry show three times, and am continually astonished at the beauty and variety of the work of the various tribes. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.

ON TV

RANDOLPH SCOTT AND OTHER WESTERNS ON TCM TUESDAY!

If you, like me, have lately bemoaned the fact that Randolph Scott westerns have disappeared from the airwaves, you'll be glad to know the drought is broken! TCM is showing eleven western on Tuesday, and four are with Randy. And there are some with John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin and Joel McCrea. The line-up starts just after midnight (all times given are Pacific): 12:45 a.m. THE BURNING HILLS (1956), 2:30 a.m. THE`SEARCHERS (1956), 10:15 a.m., SILVER RIVER (1848), 12:15 p.m. FIGHTING MAN OF THE PLAINS with Randy(1949) , 2:00 p.m. TRAIL STREET with Randy (1947), 3:30 p.m. DECISION AT SUNDOWN with Randy (1957), 5:00 p.m. WILL PENNY (1968), 7:00 p.m. MONTE WALSH (1970), 9:00 p.m. RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY with Randy and Joel(1962), THE SHOOTIST (1976) ans 1:00 a.m. THE MAN FROM LARAMIE with Randy.

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.

THAT'S ABOUT ALL FOR THIS WEEK, but I want to say a special thank-you to A Man Called Valance, and all the other folks who take time to leave a comment. Please take a minute to do so, and keep me informed -- the only way I find the events I cover is by stumbling upon them, or tip-offs from readers like yourself.

Adios,

Henry

Contents Copyright June 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved