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By Henry C. Parke

The INSP network has long been a home to quality Western films and television, beginning with their Saddle-Up Saturday, which expanded to include Sunday, and then chunks of the weekdays as well. They’ve been making original movies for a few years, and Western-adjacent programming, most notably the hit reality series The Cowboy Way, for some time. So it was inevitable that someday they would bite the bullet and make their own Western movies. Now they’ve made their first, hopefully the first of many, with The Legend of 5 Mile Cave. I was absolutely delighted when INSP invited me to come to Old Tucson for a couple of days, and watch the fireworks.

There is no other place in the world quite like the Old Tucson Movie Studio, just outside of Tucson, Arizona. It was first used as a filming location in 1939 for the Columbia Pictures Western Arizona. The epic tale of the 1860s settling of Tucson, which required the construction of fifty buildings, starred William Holden and Jean Arthur, and was produced at a then-staggering cost of $2 million. Actual ancient adobe walls were incorporated into the new Western streets, and they’re still visible today.

Over 400 movies and TV shows have been filmed there since then, including recent favorites like Tombstone and The Quick and the Dead, and classics like Winchester ’73 and Broken Arrow. John Wayne starred in four films there: Rio Bravo, McClintock!, El Dorado and Rio Lobo.  In addition to the dozens of Western TV series that visited there, it was home base for The High Chaparral, whose ranch house still stands.

To keep things going when the popularity of Westerns seemed to have crested, parts of the studio were turned into a Western-themed amusement park; coincidentally, that’s what was also done to Sergio Leone’s film locales in Spain, for the same reasons, and both are again very busy production locations.

Jeremy Sumpter, as Shooter Green, takes aim

The Legend of 5 Mile Cave is a story set in two time-periods. The 1880s story is about Shooter Green (Jeremy Sumpter), a dazzling marksman who takes on a dangerous job so he can afford to marry the woman he loves, banker’s daughter Josie Hayes (Alexandria DeBerry). The 1920s story centers on a young boy named Tommy (Jet Jurgensmeyer), whose dime-novel-fueled obsession with Shooter Green is enhanced by ranch-hand Sam Barnes (Adam Baldwin), who in his youth knew Shooter.
I arrived at Old Tucson at 8 a.m., two hours before the park opened to the public. There is always something magical about Western movie sets and streets, whether deserted, or in the midst of production. I made my way along the Rio Bravo Street, skirted a remaining piece of the O.K. Corral, to Town Hall, the base camp for the film.

Adam Baldwin as Sam Barnes

As I entered the rotunda, the pharmacy set to my left had been converted to the make-up department. To my right, the bank interior set – scene of countless hold-ups – had been commandeered by wardrobe. Straight ahead was town hall, or a courtroom, depending on how the set was dressed.  The man on the judge’s bench directed me to the assistant director, who introduced me to a tall young man who was one of the film’s producers, Jason White. We hopped into his RV, along with his assistant, and headed out to location.

The route into the Sonoran Desert was a baffling series of random-seeming switchbacks, hills and valleys dominated by countless saguaro cactus, mesquite plants, and creosote bushes covered with tiny yellow flowers and tiny cotton-like puffs. In a moment, all signs of civilization were gone. En route, Jason and I talked about movies in general, and 5 Mile Cave in particular, and producer Gary Wheeler gave me more details when we met up on location.   


Henry Parke:   How did 5 Mile Cave come about?

Gary Wheeler:  I did a movie with Nancy Stafford called Heritage Falls a couple of years ago and she said, you have to meet this actor/writer named William Shockley. I live in Charlotte, and William was scouting Charlotte for a movie, and I said sure, how can I not? I knew William’s work from Dr. Quinn. We met at a little restaurant, and he started talking about all the scripts that he'd written with his partner, Dustin Rikert, that he wanted to get made, everything from a modern-day love story to an action movie, and kind of buried in the middle of them was, “and we wrote this one family Western about Legend of 5 Mile Cave.” And then he kept going, and I said, let's go back to that little one you mentioned in the middle. He vowed to send me all the scripts, and he sent a bunch, but the one I kept looking for was 5 Mile Cave, and I even said, hey, send me that one. And I read it, liked it, my executive producers liked it. We put a deal together quickly, and we're in production less than a year later.

Henry Parke: Wow -- that is fast!

Gary Wheeler:  You know, I've done movies where it's taken years to develop, and then I've done movies where it comes together very quickly, and usually when that happens, it turns out well.

Henry Parke:  How long have you been working together?

Jason White: Just about two years. Not too long, but we've done about five movies so far together, ranging from romcoms to action movies to family dramas. So, yeah, it's been fun.

Henry Parke:   Could you explain for a layman what a producer does?

Jason White:   It’s kind of like you’re building a house, and I'm a general contractor. It takes a lot of people to build a house; takes a lot of people to make a movie. We assemble a team, and I try to get out of their way, and let them do what they do best. We work together great; we always have good crews. This time in particular we're blending a crew. We shoot a lot of our movies out east, in Georgia, so about half our crew is from the east coast, and half our crew is from here, and they've just melded together great. Which, you know, doesn't always happen. It's kind of nice. It's kind of like a family.

Henry Parke:   How much of this film was shot in Georgia?

Tommy reads about Shooter Green

Jason White:   About two thirds. Legend of 5 Mile Caveis a retelling, from an older gentleman to a younger kid, who’s gotten a pulp novel, and thinks he knows the real story. But this older gentleman says, no, I'll tell you what really happened to Shooter Green. We have a lot of flashbacks, and that's what we're shooting here in Arizona.  Georgia is present day, which is 1920s, so not really present day, but within our movie it's present day. And it was fun, too. We had a lot of 1920s Model A Fords, a lot of period 1920s costumes. Amazingly, we found a 1920s house in Georgia totally redone inside, like the 1920s, which is hard to find because once electricity came in, houses changed. This one had electricity, but we worked around that. And it looks great.

Henry Parke: How did you go about casting the film?

Gary Wheeler:  Beverly Holloway is our casting director. We had several people in mind. You make your lists like any movie, and you find cornerstone people.  We had worked with Jill Wagner before, and I texted Jill, hey, we got a Western. She's in the Georgia portion. And Jet Jurgensmeyer plays her son, and he's a kind of a cowboy kid anyway, so he loved it. We called William (Shockley) and I said, how about playing this character? You wrote him. He was like, I'm in! And then we got Adam Baldwin, and I've always been a big fan of Adam’s dating back to My Bodyguard – that was a sentinel eighties movie for me. Then I have always been a Jeremy Sumpter fan, I liked him from Friday Night Lights. I knew he was a cowboy, and I saw footage of him cutting cattle, and I thought he would be a great Shooter Green.

Henry Parke:   How many horses do you have in this picture?

Jason White:   We have six on the stage-coach, and probably another five or six, so like 12 or 13. Jesse Bell has bred and trained all these horses. He's from Tombstone originally and he runs the stables here at Old Tucson.

Henry Parke:   What are the biggest challenges you found doing a period film with two periods?

Jason White:   That you can't show anything modern: can't show a power line, can't show a car, can't show a Coke can. When you shoot a non-period piece, if you happen to see a bicycle or a Ford Focus or something, it's not a big deal because you know those things exist. But we're in a time when there’s no electricity, no telephone. It's easier to make a movie if it happened World War II or after, because a lot of things existed from then on, that didn't exist before that. 1920s, not everyone had indoor plumbing.

Henry Parke:   So you've got two time periods that are both challenges.

Jason White:   Yes. As far as getting the period stuff right, the one in the West was actually the less challenging because at Old Tucson they've really preserved it. It's here on county park land where no one has built behind them. So it's very easy to imagine what the 1880s looked like, easy to get lost in that.

Henry Parke:   What are your favorite Westerns?

Jason White:  I love Glenn Ford; I love John Wayne. Lately I've been watching Rio Bravo and El Dorado a lot, and I know they get a lot of flak for being similar, but I kind of like that, because you get to see what (Director Howard) Hawks was thinking.  I always liked Westerns, but when I got older, the good versus the bad, that became stronger imagery to me. I just fell more in love with them, especially Clint Eastwood movies. My stepfather was a very John Wayne-esque type person. In fact, at his eulogy, my wife referenced John Wayne in comparison to him.  So John Wayne has a special place in my heart because it reminds me of him.

Henry Parke: What's your favorite movie that got shot here?

Gary Wheeler: I really loved El Dorado . I just rewatched it, and there's a scene where John Wayne has to come and tell the family that their boy is dead. He tells him and then he takes his horse and he backs up, covering the family with his rifle. He's such a large man on this horse and the way he backs that horse up is amazing. Other than that, I would say Tombstone. And then after I scouted here I went back and rewatched The Three Amigos and I loved itYou could tell that they had studied.

Henry Parke:  How do you like working at Old Tucson?

Jason White:  I love it. People here are great. I mean, this is where Westerns were made, and we're standing on what we call ‘film sacred ground’, where iconic American Westerns were born, where we have the idea of what a Western is and what a cowboy is. It's not just an American thing: people all over the world identify with the Western, and that idea was born here, created here. From 1939, from Arizona to Rio Bravo to TV shows like High Chaparral, those were made here, so people's idea of the what the west looks like is Old Tucson.

Henry Parke: Are you planning to make more Westerns?

Jason White:   I'm hoping to. We really love the Western, and I think audiences really love the Western, and kind of miss it. And I think it's making a comeback. I hope we're part of that comeback and I hope we make more,

Henry Parke:   Do you think kids relate to westerns today?

Jason White:   Oh yeah. There's always that adventure that comes from a western. Kids like horses, they like challenges they have to overcome. I think kids will always be drawn to those types of stories.

We crested a hill and were suddenly in the location’s parking area. “Always park by the porta-potties,” Jason advised me. “You can be sure your car won’t be in the shot.” Sound advice. A short, steep, winding desert path brought us to the black tent that shaded the pair of video monitors for the two cameras that covered the action.  Brent Christy was watching a scene replay. Brent is both the cinematographer and the director of 5 Mile Cave, a very rare combination. Satisfied with what he saw, he left the tent and returned to the action.

They were shooting a series of gallop-bys – Shooter Green rides by camera, pursued by a posse of more than half a dozen riders.  It was exciting stuff, with lots of pounding hoofs and dust and riding around saguaros. They did several takes.

Tom Proctor fires straight at camera

The next set-up featured the head of the posse – Virgil Earp no less – taking a shot at the fleeing Shooter Green. Tom Proctor, an experienced stunt-man and stunt coordinator as well as an actor, was playing Earp, and he was to fire the shot directly into camera. It was a blank, of course, but at point-blank range, a person or a camera can certainly be hurt by a blank. A sheet of thick, clear plastic was mounted on a stand between gun and camera, and it was the plastic that took the impact.

I got a lift to the next location from a man I’d met before, but didn’t recognize. William Shockley, co-author of 5 Mile Cave, has had a long and impressive acting career, starting with Robocop, and is best remembered from Dr. Quinn – Medicine Woman, where he played Hank Lawson, the long-haired, tough, cynical saloon and brothel-owner, who often surprised people with his basic decency.  In the last several years, he and writing partner Dustin Rikert have had quite a few movies made, including the Westerns The Gundown, Ambush at Dark Canyon, and Hot Bath an’ a Stiff Drink. Without his long, scraggily hair from Dr. Quinn, he was unrecognizable. He looks much more respectable, and much younger, without it. “I had to lose it for the part. That kind of hair wouldn’t go for a 1920s lawman.” In addition to co-writing the movie, he plays the antagonist of the 1920s storyline.

WILLIAM SHOCKLEY – Writer and Actor

Henry Parke:   What is it like, as a writer and actor, delivering lines that you wrote?

Wm Shockley: Well, I've had the privilege to be cast in many of the films that I've written with Dustin Rikert. This one, they cast me in the brilliant role of Sheriff Small, who's the bad guy ultimately. To be able to watch other actors, as a hired actor along with them, participate and see it come to life, it gives you goosebumps. I mean, it's a beautiful feeling.

Henry Parke:   When did you start specializing in Westerns?

Wm Shockley:  I was talking to the executive producer yesterday and he said, not every actor is correct for a western. So I think the western found me.  I think there's a sensibility that an actor and an actress have to have, and the look, to participate in the truth and authenticity of the old west. So I think they found me. I fell in love with Hank Lawsen on Dr. Quinn, clearly. And then, when I started working with Dustin, there's just such a beautiful truth about the old west that I can really relate to.

Henry Parke:  How do you like shooting at Old Tucson?

Wm Shockley: Well, this is the seventh time I've filmed here, and I love it. Honestly, I feel like a little kid the first day whenever I'm back. It's just awe-inspiring. Tucson's almost like my home away from home.

Henry Parke:   Where is your actual home?

Wm Shockley: Los Angeles. I've been there my whole life, since I left Texas. I claim Austin (as my hometown) because it's such a fabulous city. I went to school there and had a restaurant there.

Henry Parke:   It's seems that Westerns are going through a revival, and a lot of the really good stuff is on television rather than theatrical.

Wm Shockley: What's the golden age of television? You know, with the shrinking economy of DVDs, it's harder to monetize an independent film. And with the advent of Netflix and Hulu and Amazon and all the great opportunities in television, there's exposure for everything, including Westerns. In the perilous times that we live in, this unusual moment in history, I think the world feels great about watching something that feels authentic and good, like a western. There's such pure honesty in the old west, you know? Steal a man's cattle, you get killed. Straight up truth. And one man can make a difference. There were bad guys, (and that) creates drama. I think people enjoy looking back to a time with no cell phones, and no computers and no Facebook: none of the clutter.

The next morning, I caught up with Jeremy Sumpter, who stars as Shooter Green.  He first made a splash in 2003, starring in the title role in the live-action blockbuster Peter Pan, so I was startled that he had no English accent.  It turns out he’s all-American.  He gave me a bit of a walking tour of the main street, excitedly pointing out the sights.

JEREMY SUMPTER – Shooter Green

Jeremy Sumpter and Alexandria DeBerry
between takes

Henry Parke:   I understand that you were a fan of Westerns long before you starred in this one.

Jeremy Sumpter:  Absolutely. It's been a dream of mine to do a Western, and to finally have that dream come true, I mean, I couldn't be happier. And being a part of this, in Old Tucson, where they made, Rio Bravo-- like right over here is where Dean Martin went into the horse-trough. And you see some of these foundations, that's where the old original sets were, when they built the place in '39 and shot Arizona. Seeing it all here and being part of that, and making my stamp in the history of the place, it's pretty spectacular.

Henry Parke:  Did you grow up western?

Jeremy Sumpter:  Yeah, I did.  I grew up in Kentucky, but I really grew up in L.A.  Been out there for 19 years, so 10 years in Kentucky first, riding thoroughbreds.  And then I went to Texas, and did a lot of horse cutting, and using what I've learned over the years. I'm a modern-day cowboy in the sense of my whole mentality, so to take that into my character (Shooter Green), the period seemed pretty easy for me.

Shooter and Josie

Henry Parke:   What are your favorite Western films?

Jeremy Sumpter:  The Shootist is great. The Outlaw Josey Wales. But my favorite is Unforgiven. Clint, he's one of my favorite directors too.
Later that morning, I would be acting in a scene with Jeremy. It was Shooter and Josie’s wedding, and I would have to be costumed for it.

Meeting Jenna Miller  on-set, you would probably assume that she was an actress rather than the costume designer. Despite growing up with a mother who was a seamstress, she took a very circuitous route to costume design. “She tried to teach me how to sew when I was a kid, but I was out with the horses too much.” Jenna was a wrangler first, and eventually got interested in sewing her own period costumes at the ranch where she worked. She assisted another costumer designer for some time. 5 Mile Cave is..
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The 10thAnnual TCM Classic Film Festival arrives in Hollywood this Thursday, April 11th, for four days and nights of wonderful movies seen as they should be, on big screens, introduced by knowledgeable and often famous guests, and attended by folks who love movies - and know as much about them - as you and I do.   This year’s theme is Follow Your Heart – Love At The Movies, and there are films for all interests.  I’ll have a link below to connect you to the entire schedule, but for this report I’m focusing on Westerns and attendees of Western interest.  You can’t see everything, because so many films are screened simultaneously, so it’s wise to plan ahead, and make sure you give yourself enough time to get from theatre to theatre. Rather than skip movies to eat meals, I often carry a briefcase full of Smuckers Uncrustables.

TICKETS: The various festival passes, which run from $2,149 down to a paltry $299, are all sold out. But, individual passes are available for most movies on a first-come, first-served basis, for twenty buck a pop, with the Sunday evening screening of Gone With The Wind for $30.  Lots of movies do fill up, so your advised to get to movies at least a half-hour early.

VENUES: The vast majority of films are screened at the Chinese complex, either the historic Chinese Theatre IMAX or the Chinese 6 Theatres Multiplex, on Hollywood Blvd., near Highland. Some films are shown a few blocks East on Hollywood Blvd., at the equally historic Egyptian Theatre. You may need to drive to films at Arclight Cinema’s Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd. A few movies are screened poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, across the street from the Chinese Theatres.  A new venue added this year is the American Legion Theatre at Post 43, chartered in 1919 by World War I film-industry veterans, and now with a stunningly renovated theatre. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk from the Hollywood Roosevelt, and click HERE to get more details.

THURSDAY NIGHT begins with an invitation-only, Chinese IMAX Theatre 6:30 pm premiere, of a restoration of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (not a Western), whic director Rob Reiner and stars Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal (of CITY SLICKERS) will attend.

At 7:30 pm, Poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt, the original OCEAN’S 11 will screen, preceded by a discussion with lovely Angie Dickinson (RIO BRAVO, among others).

At 8 pm at the Legion Theatre at Post 43, SERGEANT YORK will be presented, with a discussion beforehand with two of Sgt. York’s sons!

FRIDAY MORNING at 10:30 am, in the forecourt of the fabled Chinese Theatre, Billy Crystal will follow the long Hollywood tradition of placing his handprints and footprints in cement!
At 12 noon at the Legion Theatre at Post 43, there’s WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT REPUBLIC SERIALS? It’s a program of shorts hosted by Andrea Kalas, Paramount Pictures Archivist – Paramount now owns the Republic library.

At 9:30 pm, in Chinese Multiplex #1, WINCHESTER ’73! The premiere of a new restoration, done with the input of Martin Scorcese and Steven Speilberg, the brilliantly dark Anthony Mann Western starring James Stewart will be introduced by author Jeremy Arnold.

Do it Jimmy! Dan Duryea's got it coming to him!

SATURDAY MORNING, at 9:45 am, THE LITTLE COLONEL, starring Shirley Temple, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, and Lionel Barrymore, plays at the Legion Theatre at Post 43, introduced by film critic Tara McNamara.

At 2:45 pm at the Legion Theatre at Post 43, a double-feature of rarely seen Tom Mix Westerns, THE GREAT K&A TRAIN ROBBERY, and OUTLAWS OF RED RIVER, will be introduced by N.Y. Museum of Modern Art Film Curator Anne Morra. The films will be presented  with a live musical score by famed Silent Film Organist Ben Model.

At 6:30 pm at the Chinese Theatre IMAX, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID will be introduced by composer Burt Bacharach, who won Oscars for both the Original Score, and Best Song, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”

At 9:45 pm at the Chinese Multiplex #1, Director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell will present ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.

SUNDAY morning, April 14th, at 11:30 am at the Legion Theatre at Post 43, the Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball comedy YOURS, MINE AND OURS will be presented with stars Tracy Nelson, frequent TV Western guest star Kevin Burkett, BONANZA’s Jamie Cartwright, Mitch Vogel, and film historian Leonard Maltin.

At 2:30 pm at the Chinese Multiplex #1, Don Seigal’s and Ernest Hemingway’s THE KILLERS will screen. Star Angie Dickinson will speak before the film, which co-stars Western stalwarts Lee Marvin, Clu Gulager, John Cassavetes and, in his final screen role before moving on to another demanding job, Academy Award Winner Ronald Reagan.

Finally, at 4:30 pm at the Chinese Theatre IMAX, there’s GONE WITH THE WIND.  Hope to see you there! You can get details on all of the films programs, and all of the guests HERE.


Held at silent-movie cowboy legend William S. Hart’s own ranch in Newhall, now the William S. Hart Park, this annual FREE event gives real and wanna-be cowpokes an opportunity to immerse themselves in a world of western fun and entertainment.

While most of the action occurs on the weekend, there are activities leading up, and on Thursday, April 11th,  at 5 pm, on Main Street in Old Town Newhall, three new inductees will be added to the Western Walk of Stars: TV’s THE VIRGINIAN, James Drury; LARAMIE and WAGON TRAIN star Robert Fuller; and posthumously, Western character actor – generally a villain – Dan White.  Everyone is welcome!

Me and Bobbi Jean Bell

At Hart Park, on Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, visitors can roam the park and hear 22 different Western music acts perform throughout both days, including Krystyn Harris, John Bergstrom, Almeda Bradshaw, Shannon Rae and 100 Proof, The Hanson Family, and Sourdough Slim. Also, be dazzled by gun-spinning virtuoso Joey Dillon and rope twirling maestro Dave Thornbury!

Joey Dillon double-spinning!

You can also visit the Buckaroo Book Shop and meet your favorite Western authors, visit a Native American lodge, and shop for Western clothing and accessories. You can tour the Hart Mansion, and test your skills at archery, tomahawk throwing, mechanical bull-riding, gold panning and more.
And when it comes to food many fans come year after year just for the Cowboy Peach Cobbler, but there’s also barbecue, soul food, Thai food, sausage – you name it! There’s a special parking area, and shuttle buses to take you to the venue. For details, click HERE.


On Tuesday, April 16th, Western historian and raconteur Rob Word will present his free bi-monthly Western film program at The Autry’s Wells Fargo Theatre. The program is dedicated to the late, great character actor Morgan Woodward. The topic is Overlooked Westerns, and the stars who plan to discuss their movies are Keith Carradine, Tim Matheson, Donna Mills and Dennis Quaid. Rob always does well with his guests, but I can’t remember when he had so much firepower in one program.
Doors open at 10:30 am, and the program is from 11 am to 1 pm, after which most folks mosey across the courtyard for lunch at the Autry’s Crossroads West Café.  Don’t miss it!


A beautiful 35mm print of Cecil B. DeMille’s UNION PACIFIC will screen at the Autry’s Wells Fargo Theatre at 1:30 pm, as part of their long-running What is a Western? series.  The film, from a novel by STAGECOACH author Ernest Haycox, stars Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Preston and Akim Tamiroff. It will be introduced by James D’Arc, film historian and author of When Hollywood Came to Town: The History of Movie Making in Utah. Admission is free with Museum admission.


The Autry celebrates its loyal members (and up to four guests) with a great evening of fun, starting at 5 pm with games on the plaza, and an in-gallery scavenger hunt. Dinner is available for purchase from Crossroads West Cafe (member discount applies!) There will be free popcorn, snacks, lemonade, and soft drinks, complimentary beer and wine.

And at 6:30 pm, there will be a special live performance by the delightful Bob Baker MarionetteTheater, followed by a screening of Gene Autry’s 1941 classic, BACK IN THE SADDLE!


Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm, an extended version of Sam Peckinpah’s heavily re-edited classic, MAJOR DUNDEE will be screened.  It stars Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Jim Hutton and James Coburn.


Me and Morgan Woodward, who starred 
in my first film, SPEEDTRAP!

Sorry the Round-up appears so erratically; I’ve been up to my ears writing for True West Magazine! The current issue features my interview with Kevin Costner (notice my name on the cover for the first time!), and a look at the wonderful YouTube series THE FORSAKEN WESTERNS.  More good stuff coming soon! Happy Easter and Passover!


All Original Content Copyright April 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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Last Sunday, February 17th, the Los Angeles Italia Festival began, as it has for fourteen years, a week before the Oscars, in the same complex where the Academy Awards are held, at Hollywood and Highland. The week-long celebration of Italian film and culture opens with a red carpet outside the Chinese Theatre 6. Receiving special honors that night would be Franco Nero and Andy Garcia.
I first spoke to Diane Warren, the ten-times Oscar-nominated song-writer who might get her first win tonight for I’ll Fight, the theme from the documentary RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Henry Parke:   When you wrote I'll Fight, was the film completed, or was it based on knowing what it was going to be about?
Diane Warren: Well, I saw a rough cut of it and I just got really inspired, and it's such an honor to be associated with this, with RBG. Here I am, and a week from today -- eek!
Henry Parke:   Who's going to be performing?
Diane Warren: Jennifer Hudson. She's going to be singing it, and she's probably going to blow the roof off this place.
Henry Parke:   I bet she will. Previously, what have been your favorite songs you've written for movies?
Diane Warren: Last year was one of my favorites ever, was Stand Up For Something from MARSHALL. That was Common and Andra Day, and they gave me an award for that as well. And the Lady Gaga song, Til It Happens To You (from the documentary THE HUNTING GROUND), that I wrote a few years ago. It was really proud of that. I'm proud of all of them, you know.

I next spoke to Michael Imperioli, who’s been nominated for Emmys five times for his portrayal of Christopher on THE SOPRANOS.  I interviewed him, and then he interviewed me a little. In the 2018 prison-brake miniseries ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA, directed by Ben Stiller, Michael played New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Henry Parke:   How did you like playing Governor Cuomo?
Michael Imperioli:  Oh, I liked it a lot. I got to spend some time with him and talk to him about what it was like during the prison break that the movie is about. But it was a lot of fun. It was good to work with Ben Stiller (who) is, I think a great director and really knows how to work with actors. I had a good time on that.
Henry Parke:   Tell me, do people still call you Christopher?
Michael Imperioli:  Oh yeah. I think they'll call me that till the end of my life probably. As long as they keep watching THE SOPRANOS.
Henry Parke:   I don't think they'll ever stop. How do you think THE SOPRANOS changed television?
Michael Imperioli:  I think THE SOPRANOS brought a cinematic quality to television that never really happened before. What people loved about movies, THE SOPRANOS brought to their living rooms on a weekly basis. And I think that was a seminal moment in television history.
Henry Parke:   What's been your favorite roles since then?
Michael Imperioli:  I did a movie in Portugal called CABARET MAXINE, that has not been released yet, and I think that was my favorite role since then. I play the owner of a burlesque house, who's trying to keep the old, the old world of burlesque alive in the modern, gentrified big cities.
Henry Parke:   Terrific.
Michael Imperioli:  Thank you. Who are you with?
Henry Parke:   Oh, I'm with True West Magazine and Henry's Western Roundup. I mostly write about Westerns.
Michael Imperioli:  Oh, really? Big Weston fan, huh? What's your favorite western?
Henry Parke:   Currently THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, but it changes from week to week. What's yours?
Michael Imperioli:  Well, THE SEARCHERS, I never get tired of that, but THE WILD  BUNCH I think; I love that one.. And also, THE COWBOYS. Good friend of mine who passed away was in that: Roscoe Lee Brown. Oh, he's a great actor.
Henry Parke:   Wonderful actor, wonderful role in that, too.
Michael Imperioli:  Wonderful role; that's a really good movie. And Robert Carradine.

Next I talked briefly with Andy Garcia, who was just in THE MULE with Clint Eastwood. Garcia is working to make a film to be titled HEMINGWAY & FUENTES, about the friendship between Ernest Hemingway and boat Captain Gregorio Fuentes, the inspiration behind THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.
Henry Parke:   How did you like working with Clint Eastwood?
Andy Garcia:   Oh, Clint is incredible. That was a sublime experience.
Henry Parke:   I understand you're filming HEMINGWAY & FUENTES.
Andy Garcia:   I would like to; I'm in the process.
Henry Parke:   That sounds like a wonderful project.
Andy Garcia:   It is. Just trying to get the financing together.

Finally I spoke to the original Django, Franco Nero
Henry Parke:   Franco, which are your favorite among your westerns?
Franco Nero:   Well... maybe DJANGO and maybe KEOMA. I think KEOMA’s an interesting western, yes.
Henry Parke:   And Enzo Castellari is a wonderful director.
Franco Nero:   Yes. We are supposed to do a new one. Maybe; we are planning to do a new Keoma. But also a new Django.  But you know, we see. Maybe one or the other, maybe one western will come out this year. Maybe both.
Henry Parke:  I heard John Sayles had written the script of the new Django.
Franco Nero:   Yes, John Sayles wrote the new Django, DJANGO LIVES. That's the title. It takes place in the United States, at the border with Mexico. New California.
Henry Parke:   What other Westerns do you like, besides your own?
Franco Nero:   I love the Sergio Leone Westerns. Then I love DANCES WITH WOLVES.

Then it was time to go inside the auditorium for entertainment and awards. After a montage of Franco Nero film clips, Mark Canton, who produced 2010’s LETTERS TO JULIET, which stars Franco Nero and his real wife Vanessa Redgrave, introduced the actor, who gratefully accepted his award.
“You want me to say something?” With a wry smile, he said, “This is an award for the work I've done up until now. Then in a few year's time, you're going to give me another one. When I retire, maybe in ten years' time. Anyway, I owe everything to the cinema. Sometimes they ask me, 'What is cinema for you?' I say cinema, for me it's like a big city where people of different colors, and different ethnic groups have their home and their dreams. So cinema will continue to exist as long as people will continue to dream. Cinema means freedom. Because in the country where there is no freedom, there is no cinema. Cinema gave me the possibility to travel the world. I've been everywhere, I've been to more than a hundred countries around the world. It gave me the possibility to have dinner with presidents, princes, princesses, governors, but also gave me the possibility to have dinner with humble people. Like fishermen, like farmers. And I have to tell you. I prefer to have dinner with the humble people. They are wiser. They are much, much wiser. Thank you for this.”


Henry and Morgan 

Morgan Woodward, the Texas-born actor who excelled at playing villains in Westerns, Sci-Fi, Crime films, and just about every other genre, has died after a long, heroic struggle with cancer. He guested more often on GUNSMOKE than any other actor, was the third most frequent guest on WAGON TRAIN, and played Shotgun Gibbs to Hugh O’Brian’s WYATT EARP in 81 episodes. Despite his cold visage in COOL HAND LUKE, which created the craze of mirror sunglasses for lawmen, he was one of the nicest, most cheerful men you could ever meet.

I first met Morgan on the set of the movie I wrote my last year in college, 1977’s SPEEDTRAP. (In it, Joe Don Baker had to face down three great villains, Timothy Carey, Robert Loggia, and Morgan Woodward, who are now, sadly, all gone.)  I don’t think we ran into each other again until 1993, when Nickodell’s, the legendary restaurant outside the Paramount and former R.K.O. lots closed, and we were the last customers in the place.

Since then we’d run into each other at least once a year at western events, and he was always full of great stories about making movies, and friends like L.Q. Jones and Fess Parker. I interviewed him a few times, most recently for True West Magazine, and the article is in the current issue. I’m including the link. I’d received my copies a week ago Friday, and put one in the mail to him on Saturday. Yesterday, I had a phone message from his care-giver, telling me that Morgan had died, and that he’d insisted she call me, to tell me how much he enjoyed the article. I’m so glad I got it to him in time.  Here’s a link to the interview.
Nearly a decade ago I did a longer interview with Morgan here in the Round-up. Here it is.
I first met Morgan Woodward in 1978, in Phoenix, on the set of my first movie with a writing credit, SPEEDTRAP. The hero of the piece was Joe Don Baker, and the more gravitas the hero has, the stronger the villain needs to be. Morgan Woodward, as the corrupt Police Chief, was plenty strong, with a presence that grips the attention.

Although I’ve enjoyed Morgan’s work since then, I hadn’t seen him in person for more than thirty years, when I ran into him at an autograph show in Burbank a few weeks ago. He kindly agreed to sit down and talk about his long screen career in the saddle. Not surprisingly, he’s a Texan by birth, born September 16th, 1925. “I was born in Fort Worth, only because we didn’t have a hospital in Arlington, fourteen miles away.” Naturally, I assumed he plays a cowboy so well because, being a Texan, he did so much riding as a kid. “Nope, I did not. I learned to ride when I came to California.” Well, at least I was right about his always liking western movies. “Oh sure – every kid likes westerns! Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, Buck Jones.”

Interestingly, his first love was not acting, but aviation. “We had an Army airfield six or seven miles from Arlington and my family would go out there on weekends, and watch the weekend warriors fly the airplanes, and I was just always interested in airplanes. Most kids my age were interested in planes, back in the 1930s.” He first flew a plane when he was sixteen, and continued to fly until just a few years ago.

Graduating from High School in 1944, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps Training Program. “We went through basic training, ready to go to pre-flight. But they didn’t have room for us, so they sent us to CTD – College Training Detachment. I went to the University of Arkansas for about six months, and they still didn’t have room in preflight, so they sent us to Pampa Army Airfield, to do all the jobs the enlisted men wouldn’t do. (laughs) We saw the handwriting on the wall, because a lot of flyers were coming back from overseas, they had nothing more to do than chase pretty girls in West Texas. One morning we were told that the commanding General of the Flying Training Command said all flying training had stopped. The war was going too well, and they didn’t need any more pilots. That was the end of my hope for getting my wings in the Army Air Corps. I was sent to Scott Field, Illinois, to radio school, and I stayed until they decided we aviation cadets were just surplus, so they got rid of us just before Christmas of 1945.”

After the war he entered Arlington State, majoring in music and drama, planning on a career in opera. “I gave it up because I had a sinus condition, still do, that would not allow me to be a consistent singer. So I traded Grand Opera for Horse Opera.” In 1948, he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, a drama and music minor, majoring in business administration. Among his classmates were Fess Parker, Jayne Mansfield, Rip Torn, L.Q. Jones, and Pat Hingle. Not all of them seemed marked for greatness. “Jayne Mansfield certainly didn’t stand out at the time. L.Q. wasn’t in the drama department – L.Q. was the cheerleader. He didn’t get into movies until Fess Parker sneaked him in to see a director. L.Q. is so crazy; he convinced the director that he ought to be in the picture. Pat Hingle was a fine actor. Rip Torn was a good actor. Then he was Elmore Torn.”

In 1951, just as he was entering law school, Morgan was recalled to active duty. He finally got overseas. “I was in the Military Transport Command; we were flying between Japan and Korea. I was happy to be up in the air, and we didn’t get shot at.” When he was back stateside, he decided against going back to law school. “World War II and the Korean War, I thought, Hell, although I was only about 26 years old, I’m getting too old to go to school. Fess Parker at that time was Davy Crockett. And Disney was getting ready to do THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE. So Fess told Disney he knew this guy who would be just absolutely great as this wild-eyed Confederate Master Sergeant. So that’s how I got my ‘in’. I went to California to do a screen test for Walt Disney, and I was signed to a three-picture contract.”

Henry: Did you meet Walt, himself?

Morgan: Yes, as a matter of fact, the first day of shooting, when I went on the set, he came down to see this guy who had come out from Texas and was going to be in his first motion picture job. He was a great guy, great guy. Anybody’s a great guy who’ll sign me to a three-picture contract!

H: The next one was WESTWARD HO, THE WAGONS!

M: Right, and then ALONG THE OREGON TRAIL, a short film.

H: With WESTAWARD HO, you were with Fess Parker and Iron Eyes Cody.

M: Oh yes, Iron Eyes was a great friend of mine, just a splendid guy. In the words of the Indians, a straight arrow.

H: Your director, William Beaudine, used to be Mary Pickford’s personal director in silent movies.

M: That’s right, Bill Beaudine was just great. No bullshit, and he was terrific.

H: From 1958 through 1961 you had your first regular character, on WYATT EARP, as Shotgun Gibbs. How did you get that role?

M: I did an episode of WYATT EARP the year before, as Captain Langley of the Texas Rangers. The producers loved the character, so they had Stuart Lake write in a character somewhat like this Ranger Captain, Shotgun Gibbs, and I was on that until 1961. He was a wonderful writer.
(Note: Stuart N. Lake, a writer in the film business at least as far back as 1916, wrote the book WYATT EARP, FRONTIER MARSHAL, on which virtually all Wyatt Earp films, and the TV series, were based. He was nominated for a Best Story Oscar for THE WESTERNER (1940), about Judge Roy Bean.)

H: How did you like playing a recurring role, as opposed to playing a different character each time?

M: I loved it: I got a check every Friday.

H: Obviously, you worked a lot with Hugh O’Brien. What was he like?

M: He was a nice fellah. He was not the easiest fellah in the world to get along with, but he and I got along – we were together for over three years, got along fine.

H: What sort of a shooting schedule would you have for an episode?

M: We shot five days a week, Monday through Friday, usually shot three days on the set, at Desilu Studios, two days on location, out at Melody Ranch.

H: There were a lot of interesting guest stars on WYATT EARP, like Andy Clyde, and semi-regulars like Lash LaRue.

M: Well, Lash is a real character. And I working with Andy Clyde, because Andy Clyde was an icon. I also worked with Anna Mae Wong on WYATT EARP. I worked with Kermit Maynard, a lot of guys who weren’t stars anymore, and they were old, but it was quite something to work with them.

H: What are your best memories of working on that show?

M: It was the first time I had a regular series, and the producers of WYATT EARP were going to do a series on Sam Houston, called THE RAVEN, and they selected me to do Sam Houston. Unfortunately, the producer had a heart attack, and the show was put on hold for a while. Then he got better, we started to get into production, he had a another heart attack and died, and that was the end of that.

H: In the late 1950s you were doing a lot of western TV episodes. ZANE GREY THEATRE, CHEYENNE, SUGARFOOT, BROKEN ARROW, RESTLESS GUN, BAT MASTERSON 

M: That’s right, I think I did every western there was.

H: Were any of them particularly memorable?

M: They were all memorable because I got paid, I had a job. I remember all of them – I’ve never forgotten anything I ever did. Because actors never know when they’re going to work again.

H: You did GUNSIGHT RIDGE with Joel McCrea, Mark Stevens and one of my favorites, L.Q. Jones.

M: Mark Stevens – he had a fairly good career going at that time. Why is L.Q. Jones one of your favorites?

H: Because he’s one of those actors that just grabs the eye and makes you follow him.

M: Always playing crazy guys. (laughs) That’s what L.Q. does. We’ve been friends for over sixty years.

H: How did you like working with Joel McCrea?

M: He was terrific.

H: You did a couple of films with Audie Murphy – RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL and GUNPOINT. GUNPOINT was directed by Earl Bellamy, who we both know from SPEEDTRAP. What was Audie Murphy like?

M: Well, very distant. He was so distant it was hard to figure him out. He had a few very close friends, and that was it. I guess they were close. I remember GUNPOINT. In RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL I don’t think I had that great of a part. Walter Matthau was in it. He was very amenable. Henry Silva they brought from New York – it was popular at that time to bring New York actors out to California. Henry got his start on Broadway, you know. In ‘A HATFUL OF RAIN’, he played a character called ‘Mother.’ He and I became good friends.

H: You did about a dozen episodes of WAGON TRAIN. In the ALEXANDER PORTLASS STORY, you kidnap Robert Horton and help Peter Lorre search for Maximillian’s gold. And you got killed by Peter Lorre for your trouble. What was Lorre like by this time in his career?

M: Well, I didn’t get to know Peter very well. When we were not working together, we weren’t social. (laughs) All I can tell you is he was kind of a strange little man.

H: That’s what he played to perfection.

M: Himself, I think.

H: Because you were playing different characters in a dozen episodes of the same show, was there ever concern about your becoming too recognizable? Sometimes you had big scars, and sometimes you had an eye-patch. Was that to try and make you look different?

M: Well, it concerned me. I certainly didn’t want people recognizing me, saying, ‘There’s that character again.’ I hope I got away with playing the different characters.

H: You were usually a bad guy, but not always. In the JED POLK STORY, you’re a survivor of Andersonville Prison Camp. It was a very emotional part – very intense. Any particular memories of doing that episode?

M: Not really. I have all my scripts – I’d have to go back and read the scripts.

H: You did so many – which were your favorite WAGON TRAINs?

M: Well, I got to work with Polly Bergen, and that was interesting. We got to know each other, and as a matter of fact saw each other socially a few times after that.

H: What was Ward Bond like?

M: Very rough, very gruff, very profane. But in a kind of a lovable, likable way.

H: Kind of like his characters in John Ford westerns?

M: That’s right – that was Ward Bond.

H: Of course, in the middle of the series, he died, and was replaced by John McIntire. Did that change the show a lot?

M: Yuh, because they were two different types. McIntire was a very different type than Ward Bond. So it changed the character of the..
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‘BOUNTY KILLER’, the new Spaghetti Western from Chip Baker Films, opens Friday, January 25th, at the Arena Cinelounge, 6464 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028. When a young woman, played by Naila Mansour, is abducted during her wedding, her father, Eurowestern stalwart Antonio Mayans (MORE DOLLARS FOR THE MACGREGORS, A TOWN CALLED HELL) hires bounty hunter Crispian Belfrage to rescue the woman, and kill the men. Also in the cast are Aaron Stielstra (THE SCARLET WORM, 6 BULLETS TO HELL) and Lenore Andriel (YELLOW ROCK). Directed by Chip Baker, written by Baker and Danny Garcia, Jose Villanueva and Nick Reynolds, many of the folks who made the fine 6 BULLETS TO HELL are also part of BOUNTY KILLER. Cinematographer of both films Olivier Merckx may be the first to use a drone in a Western, and did so to striking effect.

It’s filmed in classic sets and locations in Tabernas, Almeria, and Andalucia, Spain, much of it on the McBain Ranch from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. The film will be playing from Friday the 25 through Thursday the 31, and since the times vary from day to day, visit the Cinelounge website HERE for details.

The Bounty Killer Trailer #1 (2019) | Movieclips Indie - YouTube



Detail from Thomas Hart Benton's 'The Kentuckian' poster 

Tuesday, at 11 a.m., join Western authority Rob Word and his merry band at the Wells Fargo Theatre for another delightful ‘Word on Westerns’. The topic will be Burt Lancaster, whose Westerns include GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, VERA CRUZ, APACHE, and THE KENTUCKIAN. Word notes, “Lancaster cared greatly about quality and, when he directed and starred in THE KENTUCKIAN (1955), hired Bernard Herrmann for the music and Thomas Hart Benton to do the movie poster!” Among the guests joining Rob will be Burt’s stunt double from ULZANA’S RAID and POSSE, Billy Burton, and from Burt’s last Western, CATTLE ANNIE AND LITTLE BRITCHES, producer Rupert Hitzig and actors William Russ and Kenny Call. Did I mention this event is free with your Autry admission?  Doors open at 10:30.


A must-attend for any would-be Western screenwriters, Wednesday night at 7 p.m., writers and producers from the latest crop of TV Westerns share insight into the creation of their series, how they’re reimagining the genre, and why stories out of the American West continue to inspire. Panelists include LONGMIRE writer and exec producer Hunt Baldwin, THE SON writer and exec producer Kevin Murphy, and HELL ON WHEELS and BRISCO COUNTY, JR. writer and exec producer John Wirth. This one costs $20 for members & students, $25 for non-members, and reservations are advised.


The Silent Treatment is the Autry’s new series of silent Westerns with live musical accompaniment. 1925’s CLASH OF THE WOLVES stars Rin-Tin-Tin, his sweetheart Nanette, 7THHEAVEN star Charles Farrell, and original Keystone Kop Heinie Conklin, in a tale of Borax miners and claim-jumpers. Presented at 2 p.m. in 35mm, with piano by Cliff Retallick.  It’s free with admission.


Morricone conducting the Hateful 8 score recording --
and no, he won't be there.

At 1 p.m. – the 5 p.m. performance is sold out -- a concert of music from film scores by the maestro of the Spaghetti Western, performed by a special ensemble of world-class musicians and singers. It’s $10 for members, $20 for non-members, and you’d better make your reservations now.


Wild East Productions presents Volume 60 of their Spaghetti Western Collection, a Giuliano Gemma double feature, DAYS OF VENGEANCE and ERIK THE VIKING. In VENGEANCE (1967), Gemma stars as man framed and imprisoned not for just any crime, but the murder of his own father! His old girlfriend, Nieves Navarro, is now with the lawman who set him up, and Gemma teams up with a traveling charlatan (Manuel Muniz as his comic character Pajarito) and his granddaughter (gorgeous Grabriella Giorgelli) to get justice, and uncover a startlingly baroque conspiracy. It’s elegantly made and highly enjoyable.
The second film, ERIK THE VIKING (1965) is goofy, exuberant fun. Gemma is Erik, nephew of Viking King Thorwald, and when the old man is on his deathbed, he says he wants his power to pass to his nephew, not his own son Erloff (Lucio De Santis). It’s a tough time for Vikings, who get no end of abuse from the more militarily organized Danes. Erik convinces several Vikings that they should find a new land far away from the Danes, and sails off in search of it. They arrive in – you guessed it – the New World, where they make friends with some Indians and enemies with others.

This action-packed daffy little history lesson is surprisingly entertaining, capturing the spirit of the Warner Brothers swashbucklers of the 1930s and ‘40s, and borrowing plot elements from them as well. Yes, there is a beautiful Indian princess (Elisa Montes), and evil plotters working for Erloff, including the indispensable muscleman Gordon Mitchell.

Among the special features is an excellent interview with actress Nieves Navarro conducted by Western screenwriter Danny Garcia (6 BULLETS TO HELL, THE BOUNTY KILLER). The double feature sells for $21.72, and can be purchased HERE


Gail Davis and Jimmy Hawkins

Next time you’re spinning the dial – remember when TVs had dials? – looking for a Western, you might just find one in an unexpected location: JLTV, aka Jewish Life Television, has added oaters to the line-up! Episodes of BONANZA, ANNIE OAKLEY, and the 1954 Western anthology series STORIES OF THE CENTURY have joined THE JACK BENNY SHOW and YOU BET YOUR LIFE, with Groucho Marx, as reasons to watch. Lorne Green, Michael Landon, and BONANZA-creator David Dortort were all Jewish, so perhaps that’s the connection, but whatever the reason, thanks JLTV!  


Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson, the film critics who are re-examining all of the films on the  AFI 100 Best Movies of All-Time list, with 100 individual podcasts, are up to #34, THE SEARCHERS. They are knowledgeable, but not big Western fans – it’s the first John Wayne Western Scheer has seen (!)  – so their takes on it are by turns fascinating and infuriating. Well worth a listen. And I must give them credit on one point in particular: it NEVER occurred to me that John Wayne might be searching not for his brother’s daughter, but his own!  THE SEARCHERS is #34. The episode about HIGH NOON, where I was guest, is #19. You can hear them all HERE


It’s a personal record for one issue! If you’d like to read ‘em…
p.19 – ‘Cowboy Pens Best Rodeo Movie Ever Made’
p. 26 – ‘Remembering Jeb Rosebrook’
p. 52 – ‘Max Evans in Hollywood’
p. 54 – ‘Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ review
p. 55 – ‘Fire Engulfs Paramount Western Ranch’


Every spring there are two events in the Los Angeles area that movie nuts, western nuts, and especially western movie nuts dream about all year. One is the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, a great get-together of all things cowboyish, at the estate of the great movie cowboy William S. Hart. The other is the annual TCM Classic Film Festival, one of the great and rare chances to see classic movies, and especially westerns, the way they should be seen, on a big screen. Well, after years of having them one weekend after another, the Cowboy Festival has been moved up, so they will both be on the weekend of April 13 and 14. TCM is actually the 11th through the 14th, and before you say, “Then just go to TCM on Thursday and Friday,” it doesn’t work that way, since the movies you want to see are generally scattered through the four days. They’ve just started to announce films, and included are BUTCH CASSIDY, a new restoration of WINCHESTER ’73, and a Tom Mix double bill with live music, THE GREAT K & A TRAIN ROBBERY and OUTLAWS OF RED RIVER. Cowboy Festival hasn’t started announcing their events yet, but it should be noted that for the second year, the Cowboy Festival will be free, while TCM costs a fortune, and even individual movies are $20 a pop.  I’ll keep you informed as I learn more!

Happy Trails,
All Original Material Copyright January 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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While throughout 2018, Western fans have enjoyed the rare opportunity to watch THE MEN FROM SHILOH, the scarcely-seen revamped final season on THE VIRGINIAN on INSP, the excellent news is that the original series returns today, January 1st, New Year’s Day, at noon EST and 3 p.m. PST, with an 9-hour marathon. It starts with the very first two episodes, THE EXECUTIONERS and THE WOMAN FROM WHITE WING. The marathon will continue with big-name star episodes, including THE GOLDEN DOOR with Robert Duvall; THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, with Robert Redford, THE INTRUDERS, with David Carradine; and THE MODOC KID, with Harrison Ford. Starting noon Wednesday EST, 3 p.m. PST, the series will continue in its original sequence with THROW A LONG ROPE, episode 3 of season one.

The story of THE VIRGINIAN goes back to Owen Wister’s tremendously successful 1902 novel of the same name, which helped make the cowboy into a folk-hero, and elevated the pulp genre to legitimate literature. Wister created in his title character the original ‘man with no name’, for he was only identified by where he came from. Beginning in 1962 and running for nine seasons and 249 episodes, the series revolved around the Shiloh Ranch, the Garth family, headed originally by Judge Garth (Lee J. Cobb), and James Drury as the Virginian. Also in the cast were Doug McClure, Clu Gulager, Roberta Shore, Randy Boone, and over the seasons, many others.

As INSP Senior V.P. Doug Butts pointed out in his announcement, “The series was groundbreaking because it was the only 90-minute Western on television. This allowed writers and actors to give viewers a well-developed story arc, which is why it continues to hold an audience today. Not surprising, THE VIRGINIAN is one of our highest rated programs. What a great way to kick off 2019!” Back in 2012 I attended The Virginian 50th Anniversary celebration at The Autry, and was able to interview several of the series’ stars for a multi-part article. Here are the links: PART ONE.


Michael Landon guests on 1st episode of Wanted:
Dead or Alive, with Thomas Carr directing

Along with the return of THE VIRGINIAN, the series that made Steve McQueen a star, WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, will begin airing with episode one on New Year’s Day at 7 a.m. EST, 10 a.m. PST. This excellent half-hour series began in 1958 and ran for three seasons and 94 episodes, featuring McQueen as thoughtful, decent bounty hunter Josh Randall, who toted a cut down Winchester model 1892 carbine, caught miscreants but, as often as not, gave the reward money to someone who needed it more than himself.  The series was very popular, and when McQueen was cast in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, but the series’ producers wouldn’t let him out of his contract to do the movie, he staged a car wreck to shut the series down!


Bubba, Booger and Cody, and their wives and kids, are back for a 5th helping of the realities of cowboy life in THE COWBOY WAY.  The reality series that breaks the rules by actually seeming real follows the three friends who are partnered in the Faith Cattle Company, showing the nature of their day-to-day work. When the series began, only one cowboy was married. Now all three are, and have kids besides. This season the trio, who have largely concentrated on raising cattle, will be more involved in the buying and selling of the critters, and will venture from their Alabama homes to Texas. Here’s a LINKto my True West article about the show, as well as my interviews with Bubba Thompson and Booger Brown from the Round-up. 


The ten-episode second season is ‘in the can’! Returning to the series that examines a Texas cattle and oil baron in two distinct eras, 1849 and 1915, are series stars Pierce Brosnan and Jacob Lofland, who together play the older and younger Eli McCullough. Also returning are Zahn McClarnon, Henry Garrett, Sydney Lucas, Paola Núñez, David Wilson Barnes, Jess Weixler, and Elizabeth Frances. Joining the cast will be Jeremy Bobb from GODLESS, Duke Davis Roberts from JUSTIFIED,  Glenn Stanton, and David Sullivan. If you’d like to read my True West article on THE SON, featuring interviews with author Philip Meyer, producers Henry Bronchtein and Kevin Murphy, and stars Jacob Lofland, Zahn McClarnon and Carlos Bardem, go HERE.

THE SOUTHERNER – a video review

In 1945, the brilliant writer and filmmaker Jean Renoir ventured into John Steinbeck territory with The Southerner, for which he would receive a Best Director Oscar nomination.  Having already written and directed the classics Grand Illusion (1937), Le Bete Humaine (1938), and The Rules of The Game (1939) in his native France, in 1941 he fled for America following the Nazi invasion of his homeland – he would become a naturalized U.S. citizen – and directed a few films before hitting his stride with The Southerner. Adapted from the novel by George Sessions Perry, The Southerner is the Great Depression story of Sam and Nona Tucker, impoverished Texas cotton-pickers who are determined against tremendous odds to own their own farm and raise a family. It is at times a harsh and bleak tale, the characters’ lives filled with suffering and indignities, but it’s never hopeless.  

Renoir assembled a remarkable cast, sometimes using actors in their most familiar personas, other times going radically against type and letting the players spread their wings to wonderful effect. For Sam Tucker, the all-American driven farmer that would normally have been a Gary Cooper or James Stewart or Joel McCrea – and McCrea and wife Frances Dee were briefly attached – he instead used the hissable cad from Mildred Pierce, Zachary Scott. For his hard-struggling, honorable wife he chose the trollop from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Betty Field. To play the albatross of a Granny, who self-centeredly rails about their lack of concern for her, Renoir cast Beulah Bondi, who’d played the perfect mom for Frank Capra in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and It’s A Wonderful Life.  The usually lovable J. Carrol Naish played the most spiteful character in the story, a neighbor farmer with a little success who does everything he can to sabotage the Tuckers, willing even to let their ailing child go without milk. On the other hand his son, played by Norman Lloyd, the title character from Hitchcock’s Saboteur, is right in character, and Percy Kilbride is Pa Kettle, only in nicer clothes.

The film is not heavily plotted; this is not a traditional story so much as it is a chance to watch the trials and triumphs of its characters against the land, the weather, and sometimes other people. It also has two wonderful knock-down drag-out brawls, one light-hearted but fraught with danger, the other deadly. These are not the thrillingly choreographed Yakima Canutt-inspired displays we’ve come to love, but rather the kind of fights real angry non-athletes have, with everything they ca lay their hands on included.

Despite three Oscar nominations – Best Director, Best Sound Recording: Jack Whitney, Best Musical Score: Werner Janssen – this indie, originally released by United Artists, had become something of an orphan film, and difficult to see. Fortunately, Alpha Video has released the DVD for only $7.98. Order it HERE.


As far as The Round-up is concerned, Michael Druxman’s most important accomplishment is writing the screenplay for 1994’s CHEYENNE WARRIOR, one of the very best independent Westerns of the past quarter century. The publicist, journalist, screenwriter, director, and playwright has published a series of plays, frequently one-character plays, in his Hollywood Legends series, focusing on the lives of such stars as Al Joslon, Orson Welles, Carole Lombard, and Clara Bow. His most recent entry is about a hugely talented but decidedly less glamorous star, Broderick Crawford. This two act play features three characters: Brod, his mother Helen Broderick, and father Lester Crawford.
Brod’s parents were important vaudeville stars – they played the Palace in New York, the pinnacle of success. Lester had some success in Hollywood, and Helen had a major film career, an attractive comedienne who appeared in numerous chic RKO comedies and musicals, typically as Ginger Rogers’s friend or Edward Everett Horton’s romantic interest.  The play’s thesis is that although their son had a great career – a Best Actor Oscar for  ALL THE KING’S MEN, his tremendous success in BORN YESTERDAY, a long string of movies, and two successful TV series, HIGHWAY PATROL and THE INTERNS, it was never enough to satisfy his parents. Their disappointment and disapproval haunt him literally in the play – the two acts are set in dressing rooms in 1971 and 1977, long after both parents have died, but that doesn’t even slow down their bedeviling of their alcoholic son.
Along the way you’ll learn quite a bit about the actor’s slow and steady decline. Humorous but not exactly uplifting, it’s a tremendous role for an actor of the right age and size. You can buy it from Amazon, either as a paperback or download, and check out Druxman’s many other plays, HERE.


As I begin my tenth year writing Henry’s Western Round-up, I am immensely grateful to all of my readers for their interest and encouragement. If anyone had told me a decade ago that what I had to say about Westerns would be read in over a hundred nations, with close to a million-and-a-half page-views, I would never have believed it. Nor would I have dreamt that I would be entering my fourth year as Western Film Editor for True West Magazine.

Because of the increased – and very welcome – steadily increasing work-load from True West, the past few years have seen a steady diminishing in the number of Round-up posts, from weekly to monthly to less than that. I’ve never been a big one for New Year’s resolutions, but it’s my intention to return to weekly postings, or at least every-other-week postings. They may be shorter than in the past, but I’ll do my best to keep my news service current. Best wishes to you all for a successful and fulfilling 2019!



All Original Material Copyright January 1st 2019 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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LARAMIE's Bobby Crawford, Robert Fuller
and John Smith

When the Emmy nominations for 1959 were announced, the Crawford clan managed a trifecta that no other show-business family has ever matched – not the Barrymores, not the Hustons, not the Fondas -- even though none of the Crawfords won. Robert Crawford Sr. was nominated for Best Editing of a Film for Television for THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW, and lost to Silvio D'Alisera on PROJECT 20. Son Johnny Crawford’s work on THE RIFLEMAN saw him nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Continuing Character, in a Drama Series, which he lost to Dennis Weaver, playing Chester in GUNSMOKE.  

But perhaps the most impressive nomination was for Johnny’s older brother, 14-year-old Robert Crawford Jr., whose appearance on PLAYHOUSE 90, in an episode called CHILD OF OUR TIME, would not only earn him a nomination for Best Single Performance by an Actor, but pit him against Fred Astaire, Paul Muni, Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, and Mickey Rooney. “I got to sit right in front of Fred Astaire during the show,” Bobby recalls, “And he tapped me on the shoulder and he says, ‘Oh, we're the same category, and that's ridiculous.’  And he won the award that night.” But remarkably, fourteen years later, Bobby would re-team with his show’s soon-to-be-legendary director, George Roy Hill, not as an actor, but as producer on a string of classic films including THE STING, THE GREAT WALDO PEPPER, SLAPSHOT, A LITTLE ROMANCE, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, and THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL.

In the heat of this past summer, I had the opportunity to chat with Bobby about his wide-ranging career, and his family, who already had a history in “the biz.” His mother, Betty Megerlin, was a stage actress with parents who were both vaudeville violinists. “On the other side of the family tree, my grandpa Bobby Crawford was a music publisher.” When he met his soon-to-be-bride, Thelma Briney, Bobby relates, “She was a piano player at a five and dime store. My grandpa later on was a music publisher with DeSylva, Brown and Henderson. And they created the song, I Found a Million Dollar Baby in a Five and Ten Cent Store.” Grandpa Bobby, who managed Al Jolson, built Crawford Music
“Sold it to Warner Brothers in 1928. And then lost his fortune in the 1929 [Stock Market Crash].”
Jump ahead a generation, and it’s déjà vu: Robert Crawford (the soon-to-be-editor), is working as an extra at Universal Pictures when a fellow extra wants to introduce him to the girl he’s been courting.  

“So, my dad walked into the room and my mom was playing the piano and he was smitten immediately by her.” It took some time, but he stole her away, and they were married in New York City by Norman Vincent Peale, the Minister famous for his bestseller, THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. Robert was working as a film librarian at Columbia Pictures when he was drafted into World War II. He joined the Marines, wanting to be a cameraman, but when they learned of his background, he was made a military film librarian at Quantico. “He never talked a lot about it, but he felt guilty about doing the librarian work because he would get all this footage in; the cameraman's shooting everything, and then oftentimes you'd see the camera images fall into the sand, as the man had been hit. He did that from ‘43 to ‘46 and I was born in Quantico.”

HENRY PARKE: When did you start acting?

BOBBY CRAWFORD: [My parents] did some shows at the Pasadena Playhouse. He had a scooter and they'd go out to Pasadena from Hollywood, Mom riding on the back, and then have to change from her scooter clothes into the costume. I remember being a child and watching them in a small theater in Hollywood. My brother I think was four years old when he did Little Boy Lost in a stage show somewhere in Hollywood. And I did a few little things that I don't recall except I recall being Tiny Tim in some Christmas show. I was about eight years old. My folks never really belonged to a church, but Grandma sent us off to Sunday school; we went to the Christian Science Church on Olympic Boulevard, and our Sunday School teacher just happened to be one of the major agents for children in Hollywood. She took an interest in both John and I, and she started representing us and sending us out on commercials. John started getting MATINEE THEATRE [an hour-long daily live TV drama anthology], and small parts, and I'd get a commercial now and then. Johnny was the Anglo-looking blond kid and I was the Hispanic-looking Latino, and I did Indians and French and Spanish-looking roles as a child. I remember the Fritoscommercial, being at the factory and eating them hot off the assembly line; it was really good.

HENRY PARKE: Did you take acting classes, or did your parents teach you?

BOBBY CRAWFORD: My mom was our coach. We’d go on interviews, and we'd sit out in the lobby and read through the lines. And the instruction I got from mom, then reinforced when I got my first big break, by the director George Roy Hill, is the most important thing about acting? Don't. Don't act. Just be real. I think that was my cue. Therefore, I figured I'd better not study acting, I'd better just do it. I remember years later reading the James Cagney autobiography. They asked him, what's your secret to acting? And he says, stand there and tell the truth. So, I think those are my two bits of instruction. And I was afraid to get into school plays or get into theater at UCLA, thinking whatever it was that I did -- and I didn't know what it was I did -- it seemed to be working, and I was afraid I'd get corrupted if I started to try to learn it.

HENRY PARKE: You appeared on a number of TV shows – DONNA REED, WYATT EARP, ZORRO.

BOBBY CRAWFORD: I did a couple of ZORROS. I remember, I loved being at the Disney Studios and I also loved being with Zorro, Guy Williams, a wonderful man and a beautiful man. And Mary Wickes played my aunt. And the sergeant on ZORRO, Henry Calvin. I didn't realize he was a great opera singer. A roly-poly fellow, and a wonderful man. Zorro saves me from the well, I guess, but I remember hugging the big burly Spanish soldier.

Bobby in Playhouse 90's
A Child of Our Time

HENRY PARKE: Before LARAMIE, you were nominated for an Emmy for A CHILD OF OUR TIME, where you play Tanguay, a boy who winds up in a Nazi Concentration Camp. How big an effect was your Emmy nomination on your career? Had you already been cast in LARAMIE?

BOBBY CRAWFORD: No, I got LARAMIE immediately after doing A CHILD OF OUR TIME, right about the time we were nominated. A Producer, Robert Pirosh, cast me, wanted me. He was the writer of the pilot, [and] strongly committed to the series, involved and in charge. I came out to do a reading with Bob Fuller, a screen test; we did the scene together. Slim [Sherman, the role John Smith would ultimately play], was the part that he had originally been cast for, and he went up to talk to a fellow I later worked with, Pat Kelly, and said, ‘It's wonderful, but the part's wrong. I should be Jess.’ And Pat Kelly said, ‘Oh yeah?’ He said, ‘Absolutely, I can't do it otherwise.’ John Smith was a very nice man and he said, ‘It's fine with me.’ Fuller said, ‘Let me test for it.’ And so we did the scene in which he was going to convince the powers that be that he should play Jess. And he convinced them that I should play Slim’s brother. Of course, me being the Latino, I’d had my head shaved. It's just, John Smith was blond, and I'm supposed to be his brother, and I looked a lot more like Bob Fuller. So they dyed my hair blond for the pilot. And it grew out in like four months. I went from being a short haired blond to brunette with long hair in the series. But anyway, it didn't really matter. They had their show and it went on the air along with RIVERBOAT which featured some unknown guys, one of them being Burt Reynolds. I just remember Eastwood starting RAWHIDE and Burt Reynolds on RIVERBOAT our same season, and I was astonished that our show was a hit. I just said, wow, I got a job, and I get to go to the studio every day. And then I was worried.  I still wanted to get into UCLA at that time. I was just starting high school, and I’d just run into the first defeat of my career in school, geometry. But I remember getting a leg up because I had a private tutor on LARAMIE.

HENRY PARKE: What were Robert Fuller and John Smith like?

John Smith and Bobby

BOBBY CRAWFORD: They were jolly. They were in their prime. They were just thrilled to be starring in the series. They were congenial and having fun on the set, which is the only time I got to be with them for the most part. We had some publicity stunt things that we did, I did a double- date with Bob Fuller once. At 14 or 15 years old I got myself a moped, and I would tool around, in the Hollywood Hills, before I could have a driver's license. And there is a shot of Bob Fuller on my moped. Other than that we had very little social contact off the set. But it was like going to Disneyland each a day of work when you walked into the set. The guys were all about the business of shooting the scene and the story and getting onto the next one. There isn't a whole lot of time between takes and so would have our chairs. I remember that first Christmas in the show, Bob Fuller bought us all nice leather director's chairs, with our names engraved on them.

John Smith was the most beautiful man I had ever seen in my life. I don't know what kind of curse that was on him, but he just wasn't real to see in life. He was decent, charming man, but it was so hard to get over -- it was like he was back-lit all the time. He just glowed in the dark, in the sunlight. You couldn't be help but be struck by it.  He's not real, he's so good looking. And Fuller was good-looking, but rugged; it wasn't quite the same impact.

Robert Fuller and Bobby

Bob Fuller had a forearm as big as my thigh. And my ambition as a kid in that series was to get a forearm as big as Bob Fuller's. So I would do my push-ups and pull-ups and my fencing. But I never learned how to build my body so I'd get a forearm like Bob Fuller. Bob was a great charismatic fellow. He was a quick draw. What I was learning on LARAMIE was my lines, and how to be a quick draw. I got the steel holster that helped make you a quick draw. But I could never quite out-draw Bob. I came close, but I didn't get the cigar.

HENRY PARKE: How about Hoagy Carmichael?

Smith, Fuller, Hoagy Carmichael and Bobby

BOBBY CRAWFORD: I adored Hoagy Carmichael. I'm ashamed to say I didn't get to know Hoagy other than in passing.  We have a couple of episodes where he's showing me the piano, and he's singing a cute song. Now in my later years, I find myself driving down the road singing Stardust in the morning. And I'm thinking, if only I'd known about that when he was playing at the piano.

HENRY PARKE: Did you have any favorite guest stars?

Ernest Borgnine plays a former soldier accused
of cowardice in this episode

BOBBY CRAWFORD: It was just terrific fun to work with Ernie Borgnine. I remember being under the table with him. I knew he was an Academy Award winner, and doing TV was still a second gig for a movie actor. He was always playing these mean tough guys, but in person, he was just the most easygoing, charming guy who just loved being there on the set, as I did. And on the first episode, Dan Duryea, playing the bad guy. He had this wonderful demeanor about him. I just remember him being scary. A scary man. He was good casting, a dangerous fellow. I loved all the actors that I got to be around. Every one of them was a character, but it was true of all the grips, electricians, the prop men; everybody who would be on a Hollywood set is a pro, especially if you got lucky enough to get into the major leagues, and I was in the majors then. Those guys are having fun. They're so confident about what they do that they can just have fun doing it. There's the pressure of getting it done, but they're very confident they're going to get it done well. You’re imbued with confidence when you're on a set like that. Everything works, and nobody gets hurt. You only appreciate as an adult, that movie-making is all about moving. You are moving arcs and lights, and in those days the equipment was big, heavy. And it's horses and wagons and, and I only appreciated later how physical making a good movie can be, and making a Western in particular. And also how absolutely prone to accidents things can be, and that's why you want guys who don't have accidents.

Dan Duryea is the villain in
Laramie's pilot

HENRY PARKE: On LARAMIE you had two of my absolute favorite action directors, Leslie Selander and Joe Kane. Do you have any memories of working with them?

BOBBY CRAWFORD: I remember Leslie Selander, because I loved his name. I remember the directors telling me what to do. I don't remember them vividly; in fact the only director I remember vividly was Lee Sholem, who was a director on CHEYENNE. Who was called “Roll 'em Sholem.” Which was because -- look, there's an airplane! Roll 'em! He was a forceful character. And you didn't want to do two takes with Roll 'em Sholem. You wanted to do one take.  I remember the cameramen and I remember faces, but I think I was kind of intimidated and shy on the set; I didn't develop relationships with the crew. I was always feeling a bit like I was the kid on the show, not necessarily the pro on the show. I don't know. Somehow, my brother John would get around to every member of the set, [even]the background extras. He knew everybody on the set, and I knew everybody to say hi, but I didn't develop relationships. I think I just sort of passed through my experience as a kid on LARAMIE, enjoying the moments and remembering some of them, but mostly just saying this too will pass.

HENRY PARKE: You did a few guest shots on THE RIFLEMAN. How did you like working with your kid brother?

BOBBY CRAWFORD: I did, and the problem was it was just a couple of days work. We got to get on horses, we'd be here and we'd be there. We had to go to school for three hours and then we’d get to be on the set a bit. We got to wrestle in one of them; we got a lot of practice at that.

HENRY PARKE: Early in season two of LARAMIE, you and Hoagy Carmichael disappeared.

BOBBY CRAWFORD:  Bob Pirosh left, and then John Champion came along. [Note: Writer and producer John Champion had made several successful Westerns for Allied Artists, and would produce LARAMIE and write 36 episodes.] I didn't know who John Champion was, and I didn't make it a point of trying to stay in the show, or even think that I wouldn't, until the next season began and they said well, they've written you out. And I said, okay, I'll do something else. Whether Hoagy wanted to leave or not, I don't know. And I never talked to anybody about it.

With LARAMIE, my experience with the cowboys and the horses, what was probably 20 weeks of working and being part of it, was sensational. It made me feel like a real Hollywood cowboy, and I could go to Griffith Park, where I had a horse for about three years, that I would groom and take care of, and be the king of corral 17, and go on parades and riding. I felt comfortable around horses and always have felt at home in a stable around the big animals. That I thought was my gift from LARAMIE.

HENRY PARKE: A couple of seasons later they brought in a new kid, Dennis Holmes and Spring Byington essentially playing a female version of Hoagy Carmichael. Did you feel vindicated?
BOBBY CRAWFORD: Well, I'm ashamed to say I haven't watched it, but I don't think I was watching it when I was making it, either. I didn't want to be inhibited. I do have the DVD set of the first season, and I have watched some episodes. If I'm going to a signing show, I'll run an episode or two, but I'm ashamed to say I haven't done that with THE RIFLEMAN episodes either. So I am an uninformed participant. And before I go to Kanab, I think I'm going to run some RIFLEMANS and some more LARAMIES, LARAMIES I haven't been in. I owe Dennis Holmes a look.
In the next Round-up, the second and final part of my interview, Bobby Crawford discusses his work on BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, and twenty years as Producer to iconic movie Director George Roy Hill.

SHOUT FACTORY has put LARAMIE out on DVD, although season one is out of print. The entire series is available on STARZ.


Following up on the fascinating Emmy-winning documentary TENDING THE WILD, produced in partnership with KCET and THE AUTRY MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN WEST, the partners have made a 3-year commitment to continue with the series TENDING NATURE, which premieres Wednesday, November 7th. Just as TENDING THE WILD examined land management techniques used for centuries by American Indians, TENDING NATURE will explore California’s Native stories, traveling across the state to visit and hear from several Indian communities striving to revive their cultures and inform western sciences. This season, the Tolowa Dee-Ni’, Ohlone, Pit River tribes, and the multi-tribal Potawot Health Village, will welcome the series and share their knowledge on topics including ocean toxicity, decolonizing cuisine, tribal hunting, food deserts, and traditional sweats.  Henry’s Western Round-up is honored to share the exclusive following first look.
Tending Nature (Trailer) - YouTube


Director Edwards on location

Filmmaker Jay Wade Edwards set out to make an American film, pretending to be an Italian film, which is itself pretending to be an American film: an Italian-language Spaghetti Western shot in, well, the West! Not just any west, but around one of the most photographed of western locales, Pioneertown!  And he shot it, spectacularly, on an iPhone!  I’ll have more details coming soon to the Round-up, but for now, here is the wonderfully daft movie itself.  Enjoy!


UNSPOOLED’s Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson are re-examining all of the films on the  AFI 100 Best Movies of All-Time list, with 100 individual podcasts. They're very knowledgeable about film, but are not Western nerds, which makes their discussion of HIGH NOON, and its placement on the list all the more insightful and entertaining. They’re also funny as Hell. I had a great time as their guest on this segment, and think you’ll enjoy it – especially since, whether you’re a HIGH NOON or RIO BRAVO loyalist, you’ll find plenty to be offended by! Here’s the link to the series. HIGH NOON is #19, and APOCALYPSE NOW, #20, begins with listener comments about HIGH NOON. Enjoy them all! 


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Booger Brown doing his best Jack Benny

If you’re on the West Coast, Booger and Cody and Bubba and their brides and kids will be back for season four of THE COWBOY WAY today at 5 pm. If you’re on the East Coast it’ll be 8 pm.  It airs again on Thursday night -- check your local listings for times.  Just a couple of days ago I had the chance to talk to Booger Brown about the show, the network, his partners and family, and what’s in store for fans. 

For those of you who haven’t watched the show, Booger, Cody and Bubba are partners in the Faith Cattle Company. They’ve been friends and co-workers for many years. Cody Harris is married to Misty, and they have a son, Carter. Bubba Thompson is married to Kaley, and they have a daughter, Andie. Booger married Jaclyn, a widowed pharmacist, with a young son, Matthew, in season two. Booger began by talking about the article I wrote about the show for True West Magazine.  If you haven’t read the piece, you can CLICKHERE.

Booger Brown: Mr. Henry,!

Henry Parke:   Booger! How are you doing, sir?

Booger Brown: Now I'm doing good. How are you?  I just looked at that magazine just this morning, man. You did a heck of a job. Everybody was real excited, and our photographer, he was pretty excited that he got his pictures in a magazine.

Henry Parke:   Well that's great. It was such fun to meet all of you and it's great to talk to you again. I can't believe when we met you had just wrapped up season three and now you've got another season ready to go. It seems so quick.

Booger Brown: Yeah.

Henry Parke:   My wife is a huge fan of the show and she made me promise that I'd tell you that she loved your wedding. Jaclyn looked gorgeous. My wife especially loved your having the pillow made out of your granddad’s shirt there.

Booger Brown: Thank you.

Henry Parke:   How are you enjoying being a daddy to Matthew?

Matthew, Jaclyn and Booger

Booger Brown:  Oh man, it's great. There ain't no if, ands or buts about it. I couldn't draw a picture or couldn't write down a kid who would be any more perfect fit in my life then my little old son Matthew. I mean, he is it. When I first met Jaclyn, Matthew loved cars. His daddy passed away when he was 13 months old, and he sold cars.  And Matthew, he's turned on this cowboy thing, and especially when I'm keeping him, he comes home and he puts on his cowboy shirts and cowboy hat and cowboy boots and cowboy buckle belt -- he calls it not belt buckle but his buckle belt. And he wants to ride his pony and he goes with me. You can't ask for more.

One evening about a week ago, I was real tired, and  he said, “Dad, I want to ride my pony. Will you catch Trigger so I can ride him?” And I was thinking, I waited my whole life for a little old kid to ask me that, to want to go do what I do. And you can't turn it down. So I called his horse and kind of caught my second wind. And I thought, you know, I need to pen them heifers, bring 'em in. I went and caught my horse and I was leading Matthew everywhere I went, and he followed me while we penned the heifers; he likes being big boy and he likes being a country boy. At that point he said, “Dad, can I take my shirt off?”  And I said, “You bet you can: take it off!” He throws his shirt off and he thinks that's cool, you know. And his boots, he's got slip- on boots and they're a little big for him, and they slide off his feet while he's riding the horse. I had to fix them a time or two, and I was trying to pen them cattle. And he said, “My boots! My boots!” I said, “Give 'em here.” And I threw them over by a tree. We went out of the house this morning and he couldn't find his boots, and Jaclyn said, "I don't know where they're at." And I thought about it, and they're still there in the pasture by that tree! (laughs)

Henry Parke:   I have to tell you I just got to see the first episode of season four, where you get Matthew his own horse and it's just the dream of my childhood.  

Booger Brown: Did you see him when he took his hat off? He got his horse, and he's trotting around the yard. He takes his hat off and holds it up in the air. Like 'Howdy y'all!'

Henry Parke:   A lot of season 3 was about you and your partners getting into the restaurant business. Were you disappointed that it didn’t work out?

Booger Brown: No, I wasn’t. It was something we thought we could go and do, it’d be profitable for us guys. And we got us a belly full of it, and we decided we were already married, and we was in the cattle business. We didn't need to be in two things. Couldn't be married to anything else, you know?

The trio plus one: Cody, unidentified,
Booger and Bubbah

Henry Parke:   Have you spent all of your life in Alabama?

Booger Brown: No, I actually grew up in South Florida. We had ranched in South Florida and  my family had a lot of historythere ; you should check it out sometime. William Brown come over from England when they were laying the transatlantic cable. He hid out in Cuba and then got a ride on over here to America.  He become an Indian Agent, and he started the Brown’s Boat Landing where the Seminole Big Cypress Reservation is now. There’s a video on Youtube called MYSTERY OF WILLIAM H. BROWN AND BROWN’S TRADING POST. I honestly haven't watched the whole Youtube video because it starts showing my granddaddy talking and I know I can't really handle seeing him, you know, but it's good stuff. The day they buried him, when they got done with a funeral, the Indians came and treated him just like he was an Indian and held an Indian ceremony at his grave. That's pretty cool, you know.

The Mystery of William H. Brown and Brown's Trading Post - YouTube

I was in my teens when we came to Alabama and bought a piece of property. (In Florida) it just got tough with the environmentalists and we realized if we were ever going to actually own anything ourselves, we had to get out of there.

My Dad is still a rancher here today. My mom and dad have been together for 35 years. Got married young and my Dad tells a story of when him and my mom got together. There was lots of wild cattle, and they had 'em a jeep, and a tranquilizer gun, and they would go around and tranquilize wild cattle in this old jeep, and had me in a car seat riding that old jeep at two years old. They would go around and tranquilize them, then come back with a trailer and load them up, and that's why they made extra money.

Henry Parke:   Without giving too much away, what can viewers look forward to in season four of THE COWBOY WAY?

Booger Brown:  We kind of expand, you know? We sign on with another business partner and we grow.  I mean, it just gets better. And I'm hopeful there'll be more action in there. I know they filmed a lot of action and it just depends on what makes the cut and what everybody wants to see on TV. And INSP is so supportive of us. They are so wanting to see the real cowboy side of things, and they treat us like real people. It's really good to work for somebody like INSP and know you're appreciated for what you do and what you stand for. They shoot us straight and we shoot them straight as well.

Henry Parke: And how are you doing personally?

Booger Brown: I've sold more cattle and traded more cattle this year than I have in the past. The economy is looking good and things are looking up for us. It's just a good feeling, and going back to the show, it seems like we're having such a positive influence on so many people.

Henry Parke:   Any other future plans, outside of the series, that we should know about?

Booger Brown:  Me and Jaclyn's really eager to find us a piece of property if we don't get my granddaddy's property back. And who knows, in the future might have a child. We're really ready to grow with what we got going on, expand our business in trading cattle and raising cattle.


Happy trails,


All Original Contents Copyright August 2018 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

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The folks at Paramount TV are so delighted with the popular and critical success of YELLOWSTONE that they’ve given the Kevin Costner vehicle an early renewal – the 10th and final episode of the tyro season will air on August 22nd, and the cast and crew will be heading back to Utah and Montana shortly. Reactions of Western aficionados to the Taylor Sheridan series have been mixed – Facebook complaints run the gamut from improper calf-delivery to no likable characters to “LONGMIRE did it better” – but all gripes seem to end with, “…but I can’t wait for the next episode!”

The series follows the Dutton family, led by Costner’s John Dutton, and their struggle to hold on to the largest cattle ranch in America, and the attempts of a developer (Danny Huston) and an Indian activist (Gil Birmingham) to take it apart.  It’s the 2nd most watched series on basic cable, following AMC’s WALKING DEAD.

What with production of YELLOWSTONE’s 2nd season imminent, it’s fortunate that Costner’s next project, THE HIGHWAYMEN, is already in the can. Made for NETFLIX, Costner and Woody Harrelson star as Fred Hamer and Maney Gault, respectively, the legendary Texas Rangers who got Bonnie and Clyde. Originally announced for October, the date has been changed to March of 2019. The movie is directed by John Lee Hancock (THE ALAMO) from a script by John Fusco (YOUNG GUNS).


Things are busy at Gene Autry’s old Melody Ranch these days, where WESTWORLD is moving out, and DEADWOOD is coming home. Absent since 2006, David Milch’s series that did so much to reinvigorate excitement about the genre, is returning to HBO. Everyone involved is being tight-lipped about story-lines, returning characters, and whether it will be a series or a movie. What is known is that it will be directed by Daniel Minahan, who directed the series in the past, and has been busy of late helming HOUSE OF CARDS and GAME OF THRONES.


Tim Blake Nelson as Buster Scruggs

The Coen brothers’ Western series THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS will have its premiere at The Venice Film Festival, which begins at the end of August.  It was originally announced as an anthology series with a difference – six episodes with six intersecting story lines.  You can read the details about the stories and casts from my earlier coverage, HERE.

Of course, an international film festival seems an odd place to premiere a TV series, but the Coens, who brought you the remake of TRUE GRIT and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, have decided to recut the series into a 132-minute movie.  NETFLIX says they will be premiering BUSTER SCRUGGS by the end of 2018, but no word yet on whether it will be in feature form or episodic. Or both (that’s my guess).


Booger Brown closing in on a steer

Bubba, Booger, Cody, and their wives and youngins make the move to Sunday nights with the 4th season of INSP’s remarkably popular and enjoyable reality series, THE COWBOY WAY.  The real-life day-to-day challenges and adventures of the Faith Cattle Company partners are a perfect antidote to citified stresses. You can read my Round-up interview with Bubba Thompson HERE. You can read my True West article on the series HERE.


It seems like THE REVENANT made a deep impression on a lot of filmmakers. After years of the sandy, gritty, deserty oaters that took their inspiration from Spaghetti Westerns, independent filmmakers have decided to look to the mountains.

The two new Westerns that open this week were both shot in heavy snow; A RECKONING in Montana, and THE IRON BROTHERS in Idaho and Wyoming.  And at the end of the month, a third Western, ANY BULLET WILL DO, from the writer-director of A RECKONING, Justin Lee, is also snowbound.  Below is an exclusive-to-the-Round-up clip from A RECKONING.

Western movie clip from A RECKONING // The Hunter of Men - YouTube

A RECKONING is the story of Mary O’Malley (June Dietrich), a young wife whose husband is brutally murdered. It’s not the first unsolved dismemberment murder in the small community, and the nominal mayor, played by Lance Henriksen, hires a flock of bounty-men to catch the killer. When Mary, with no faith in that rabble, tries to sell her property for a rifle, a pistol, and a horse, to find her husband’s killer herself, only one townswoman, played by Meg Foster, will help.

June Dietrich in A RECKONING

As Mary searches, through stunningly photographed forests, in snow, by lakes, we see she’s correct in her assessment: the bounty hunters are more interested in hunting each other than the killer. The problem is, you never get a sense that she has a plan. She isn’t following tracks, isn’t looking for sign, rarely speaks to anyone, has no suspect. She just rides or walks through stunning visuals. She once makes a comment that she’s sticking to well-travelled roads, assuming the killer would do the same, to look for more victims. But what she travels doesn’t appear to be a road or even a path; she’s just stumbling between trees, until she stumbles upon her husband’s killer, and that’s when the action starts.  A RECKONING is being released today by SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT.

IRON BROTHERS features a pair of real brothers, Tate Smith and Porter Smith, as Abel and Henry Iron, two mountain-men struggling to make a living as fur trappers since their father died.  Lazy and short-tempered Henry blows up at traders who offer him an insulting price for his pelts. In moments, a man is dead and Henry is on the run. At the same time, the more even-tempered Abel has an unexpected run-in with Shoshone hunters. Suddenly a chief is dead, and the Iron brothers are running a gauntlet of dangers on their way out of the mountains, trying to reach the safety of civilization.


As with A RECKONING, there is a wealth of beauty, but a poverty of incident. As Mary slogged through forest and snow, the Irons slog through snow and more snow. When the action comes, it’s entertaining, but the brothers, despite being engaging at times, mutter a great deal of their presumably improvised dialogue. Many of the conversation scenes are framed ala Ingmar Bergman, and shot in one take. If you have great actors, well-rehearsed, this can be very effective. But if you have actors doing their first film, what you have is a scene that cannot be edited, either to speed it up, or to use the best parts from several takes. THE IRON BROTHERS is co-written and co-directed by brothers Josh Smith and Tate Smith, and is available on many platforms, including AMAZON, from RANDOM MEDIA.



Back in the late 1930s, World War II was raging in Europe, but Japan had not yet pulled the sneak-attack on Pearl Harbor that would propel the U.S. into the fray. A group of American intellectuals, among them writers Dorothy Parker, Archibald MacLeish, Lillian Hellman and Ernest Hemingway, took the side of Spain’s democratically elected government, against the fascist Generalissimo Franco, and decided to finance a documentary to try and sway American public opinion. Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens shot the movie, and Orson Welles performed the narration written by Hemingway. But when Hemingway saw the finished version, he found Welles’ delivery too gentle and cultured – he rewrote the commentary, and recorded it himself. It’s a fascinating documentary, and a fascinating document, whether you are a history buff, or a Hemingway fanatic or, like me, both.


In 1948’s DEADLINE, Sunset Carson is a Pony Express rider on his last run. The Western Union Telegraph is putting the Pony Express out of business, and when sabotage and murder occur, Sunset seems a likely suspect. A decent entry in the Sunset Carson cannon, it’s written and directed by Oliver Drake, whose greatest service to Western movie fans was co-writing Yakima Canutt’s autobiography.

But of much greater interest than DEADLINE is a half-hour educational film sponsored by Standard Oil, INJUN TALK.  Apparently the last film directed by B-movie whiz Nick Grinde in 1946, at a powwow, Col. Tim McCoy and chiefs from several tribes tell the fascinating history of Indian sign-language. As a form of communication used then mostly by elders, there was real concern at the time that sign-language would be lost. And Tim McCoy was no casual signer. Before his movie career he’d been Adjutant General of Wyoming, lived for a time on the Wind River Reservation, and was considered one of the most articulate of its practitioners – he taught Iron Eyes Cody among others.


RIDERS was one of eight ROUGH RIDER films that Buck Jones, Tim McCoy and Raymond Hatton made for Monogram in the 1940s, movies that traded on the charm of Western stars who were getting a little too old for the rough stuff. They would have made more but, incredibly, Col. Tim McCoy was drafted – recalled to active Army duty at age 51. Shortly thereafter, tragically, Buck Jones, on a cross-country bond-selling tour, died in a fire in a Boston nightclub, The Cocoanut Grove, along with nearly 500 others.

As with the previous set, the best part here is the short, an episode of THE BUSTER CRABBE SHOW from 1951. Much like THE GABBY HAYES SHOW and a number of others, Crabbe hosted a half-hour program where he chatted with the viewers, and showed a truncated B-Western. The fun of this one, of course, is watching Buster. The film he shows is GUNS OF THE LAW from the P.R.C. TEXAS RANGERS series. Normally these chopped movies are hard to follow. Fortunately, P.R.C. Westerns tended to be so short on plot that this is probably the best way to watch it!


I hope you’re having a grand summer!
Happy Trails,
All Original Contents Copyright August 2018 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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The cast of BIG JAKE, top row John Wayne, Ethan Wayne, 
Maureen O'Hara, bottom row Patrick Wayne, Bobby Vinton, 
Chris Mitchum 


By Henry C. Parke

Interview Conducted May 17th, 2018

(If you missed Part 1, HERE is the link.)

First, an interesting update. When I asked Ethan, who was named after his father’s character in THE SEARCHERS, if that was one of John Wayne’s own favorite films, he replied, “It was. In fact, we found a questionnaire from the Academy of Motion Pictures where they asked actors to list their five favorite films. And he did put THE SEARCHERS down at number five.”

I asked Ethan if he could send me the complete list, and a couple of days later he sent me not only the titles, but a photo of the questionnaire. As it turns out, it was not from the AMPAS, but from THE PEOPLE’S ALMANAC, a hugely successful series of books by bestselling authors David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace.  He listed: 1.) A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, 2.) GONE WITH THE WIND, 3.) THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE (I’m assuming the 1921 Rex Ingram-directed version starring Rudolph Valentino), 4.) THE SEARCHERS, and 5.) THE QUIET MAN.  

Ethan also included John Wayne’s responses to “the 5 best motion pictures actors of all time.” The list: 1.) Spencer Tracy, 2.) Elizabeth Taylor, 3.) Katharine Hepburn, 4.) Laurence Olivier, and 5.) Lionel Barrymore. Sadly, of the group, he only acted with Katharine Hepburn, in 1975’s ROOSTER COGBURN.  

In part one of our interview, we discussed Ethan’s childhood, his relationship with his father,  and his film career. In part two, Ethan talks about his stuntman career, and his work running both John Wayne Enterprises, and The John Wayne Cancer Institute.

ETHAN WAYNE:     I didn't feel like the work had been done to try to create something timeless, and authentic, with a level of quality that was appropriate for my father or something that he would have enjoyed if he was still here and would like to see his name on.  Trying to change what the company did was another learning experience for me. We had some family disputes and that was totally unexpected, but also a nice learning experience. And I think everybody's on the same page now. We have a bourbon released called Duke Bourbon. It's a very nice product, and Tequila is just arriving at stores now. It’s called Duke Spirits and we have a Bourbon, a Rye and a Tequila

HENRY PARKE:       Great -- three things I drink!

ETHAN WAYNE:     When I took over the company, we found there was sort of an archive that had been stored since his death.  A lot of things were pulled out; all his artwork and memorabilia collections went to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The rest of the house was sort of stored in a wooden vault in one of those giant warehouses. Just a number on it.  When we started going through it, we realized there was a lot of great information in there. It was a terrific archive that had been preserved for many, many years. And something that was in there was all the alcohol from his house, and from his boat. So we had a real good idea of what he liked. And there's a tremendous amount of texture material, correspondence, notes, speeches, doodles. And so we were able to sort of piece together a profile of what he really liked and his Bourbon and this Tequila. And that's what sort of spawned this project. The other reason is when he would go on location, it'd be my job to load the car with the things that we would want. You're in Mexico for three months. You end up with a go-to pair of boots, a go-to jacket, go-to work gloves that you wear, a mug that you like for your coffee in the morning. And he'd go to a house. You find the things that you use, so I put those things in the car that we would send down to the locations. And I thought, oh my goodness, this is a great idea. This this how we ended every day, around certain items, and a little drink with his friends to recall the day, have a laugh and then go to bed, start over again. So Bourbon on the one hand, and now we're working on a coffee to come out soon and yeah, that's how we started every day there.

HENRY PARKE:       Do you deal with a lot of unauthorized use of the John Wayne Image?

ETHAN WAYNE:     Constantly. Yeah.

HENRY PARKE:       What sort of things do people do that you have to stop?

ETHAN WAYNE:     They run ads, they put a signature on things, they make products with him on it. It's just constant. We'll have a license with somebody like Case Knives and then somebody in China starts making copies. They intercept them at customs and we deal with it. So it's all the time. 

HENRY PARKE:       Your father has been gone a long time. How aware of John Wayne are the younger generations out here?

ETHAN WAYNE:     Well, great question. That's really hard to answer because obviously he has this audience that we're losing every year, the guys who actually went and saw him in the theater. But he's also been passed down from one generation to the next by millions of people who share John Wayne with their sons and daughters and their families. And so he's still very relevant to a lot of people, and he means a lot to a lot of people, because of his value set. And because the person that he represented on screen is the guy that we all want to be. And that John Wayne hoped to be.  I mean, he crafted that guy and constantly worked on him right up until his last film. You know, (when filming THE SHOOTIST, director) Don Siegel was like, ‘And then you shoot him in the back.’ ‘No, I won't. I haven't done it in 50 years. I'm not going to do it now.’  It was a big deal; they had an actual argument over it. He's like, ‘I don't do that. That's not me. I know who I am.’ He knew who he was and he was very, very protective of that guy. 

HENRY PARKE:       What does the John Wayne Cancer Foundation do now?

ETHAN WAYNE:     The Cancer Foundation supports research through grants. We support the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, at Saint John's Hospital, and it does research. The Cancer Foundation and the Enterprise have supported that research for many, many years. Along with the research, general surgeons will graduate and they can go into private practice or they can come to John Wayne and become a specialist in noninvasive neurosurgery, breast, melanoma, G.I. urology. A bunch of different disciplines. And then they go out there, top of the charts for those types of surgery. So 150 of those guys have graduated. And one thing the Foundation has done recently is connected them all, supported them all. We're sending four grants out tomorrow. It's for research that these surgical fellows are working on. We have a panel from the Society of Surgeons, Oncology, American Association of Breast Surgeons.

ETHAN WAYNE:     We've got an oversight panel that helps pick what research to fund.  So, training surgeons, funding research and educating kids how to avoid cancer. We have something called Block the Blaze, that started here in Newport Beach. Are you familiar with the Junior Lifeguard programs? There's a mass exodus of kids to the beach when school's out and they get into this program. You have to be able to swim (well) to qualify for it. It's for kids eight to 14. Thousands of kids become Junior Lifeguards, and they learn about rip currents, but nobody was teaching them about Sun Safety. So we go down and we have young people do these fun presentations. They get a John Wayne Cancer Foundation hat. We give them a John Wayne Sunscreen, which is ocean safe, reef safe, non nano, non paba; no chemicals. It's a terrific product. And that program has grown in the last three years from just being in Newport Beach, to every Junior Lifeguard program from the Mexican border to Canada and I think 11 or 12 other states, and it continues to expand rapidly. We've had kids find malignant melanoma; they’ve come to us for treatment at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, and have successful recoveries. So it's really an amazing program. And then we have athletic fundraising programs. They do whatever type of event they want and do peer to peer fundraising and raise money for the Foundation. 

ETHAN WAYNE:     My little sister (Marisa) has a number of spin studios (GritCycle) and she started doing a one-day spin class to raise money for the Cancer Foundation. I think this is the fourth year that they've done it. So it's just one spin class, right? They just raised over a million dollars so far this year. The event is June first, down here in Newport Beach. It's called the Gritty Up.  

HENRY PARKE:       I wanted to ask you a little about stunting.  Your credits include THE BLUES BROTHERS, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, BABY GENIUSES, RED STATE. Are there any particular stunts that you specialize in?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I worked on a lot of B. J. AND THE BEARS, and a number of KNIGHTRIDERS, as a stunt person, and I had acting parts in those as well. I was okay on a motorcycle. I could do a wheelie, I could jump it out of the back of the semi, I could do a cable-off.  I drove cars in THE BLUES BROTHERS.

HENRY PARKE:       What was John Landis like to work for it?

ETHAN WAYNE:     Well, you know, I was 17. I didn't know how to put my shoes on the right foot at that point. I was good at being quiet, listening and doing exactly what I was told to do.  Eddie Dano was a stunt man that was around on most of the films that that my father made when I was a boy, and he ended up being a great stunt guy. He doubled John Belushi on that show, but then they do a lot of other things. So we were rolling this car, and he was driving. And it was not just our car rolling.  We went over this embankment and down this steep hill, and then six or seven cars go over the embankment, and all these cars are crashing on top of it! I just remember like, they don't say anything, it’s just like hop in, put this hat on. It was terrifying when the other cars started landing on our car. Dirt starting to come in the windows, and it's shoveling its way into this wet soil. Oh man, I couldn't get out of that thing fast enough. But those guys were great.  They're like, eh, just hold still. It will be fine. You know, they were tough old dudes.

HENRY PARKE:       Well, when you hosted Westerns Icons With Ethan Wayne on HDNET, they show three of your father's great pictures, THE ALAMO, THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER, and THE UNDEFEATED. Do you have a favorite among those?

ETHAN WAYNE:     You know, it changes all the time for me. I know all the struggles that went into THE ALAMO. I know how important it was to him. So I have a soft spot in my heart for that film. I think SONS OF KATIE ELDER is probably the one that I like to watch the most. THE UNDEFEATED, I was there for. I have vague memories of it, but I don't think I've watched that film in quite a while.

HENRY PARKE:       What were your favorites among the films shown that didn't star your dad?

ETHAN WAYNE:     There was one with Omar Sharif, MACKENNA’S GOLD.It's not the greatest movie ever, but they had pretty cool special effects. So I got a kick out of that. They mounted the camera on something, it was like on a horse running through the trees, and there was a giant earthquake, and cliff fall when this thing collapses, and I just thought that was pretty aggressive for that time period.

HENRY PARKE:       I was wondering if any of the stars were favorites.

ETHAN WAYNE:     I love Lee Marvin. I loved him in LIBERTY VALANCE. He was just such a man. Just a frightening character. He was terrific. And Joel McCrea, I mean iconic. And then Randolph Scott. I don't know why I always liked that guy. Just something about him that I took to, you know? He seemed like a good guy. So I liked watching his movies.

HENRY PARKE:       And as long as we're talking about LIBERTY VALANCE, Lee Van Cleef.

ETHAN WAYNE:     Lee Van Cleef, that's right. I crossed paths with him on one of my horrible films -- I can't remember which one it was.

HENRY PARKE:       He became one of the kings of European films.

ETHAN WAYNE:     Exactly. Let me tell you something: it's not a bad place to be king.

HENRY PARKE:       What was the best part of it?

ETHAN WAYNE:     Go to Italy. You get an apartment, you work and you're getting paid. You're living in Italy! I mean, it's good. I felt the same way about Germany, France, Spain, England, just life experience. You know, as long as I was working I was really enjoying it. I felt like I was learning. And I wanted to learn, to get to a level where I was comfortable coming back and really going after work that would satisfy me, or be at a level that was significant compared to what I'd done here.

HENRY PARKE:       If a good acting role were to come along would you still be interested?

ETHAN WAYNE:     In a heartbeat!  I would love to do that sometime. That'd be terrific.


And speaking of John Wayne, starting this Friday, June 29th, and continuing throughout July, every weekend movie will be a John Wayne classic! On Friday night it’s THE ALAMO, Saturday night HONDO, and Sunday afternoon THE QUIET MAN. Following weekends will feature THE WAR WAGON, CAHILL – UNITED STATES MARSHAL, THE UNDEFEATED, THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER, BIG JAKE (featuring Ethan Wayne), THE SHOOTIST, and Wayne’s most popular Western comedy, MCCLINTOCK! 


Finally: a contemporary Western/Eastern slacker comedy-drama! Deputies Thurman Hayford (Jake Dorman of LADYBIRD) and Jim Doyle (Martin Starr of SILICON VALLEY) know they must be doing a good job of policing crime in their rural New York State community. After all, they make no arrests, so there must be no crime. But the Sheriff (Ron Perlman) doesn’t see it that way. He fires the pair. But the phone rings as they’re cleaning out their desks: a prisoner has escaped. Perhaps, the pair reasons, if they can catch the escapee they can earn back their badges!

But after capturing Prisoner #614 (George Sample III), they begin to suspect that he’s an innocent man. This comedy, by turns broad and droll, is always amusing and often laugh-out-loud funny. It also indulges in the almost frightening humor inherent in incompetent people with firearms.
Perlman, who made his Western bones starring in the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN TV series (1998-2000), and played Judge Garth in the 2014 remake of THE VIRGINIAN, is so well-suited to the West that the degree to which the deputies are outmatched is as laughable as it is menacing. Written and directed by Zach Golden, played straight and played well by a talented cast, photographed to take full advantage of the unexpected New York State locations, it’s a very enjoyable, and at times unexpectedly thoughtful, way to spend an hour and a half. From LIONSGATE, THE ESCAPE OF PRISONER 614’ goes on sale today, June 26th, $19.98 for DVD, $21.99 for Blu-ray plus digital. It’s also available from Amazon Prime and other platforms.

ESCAPE OF PRISONER 614 - Find it on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital June 26! - YouTube


If you’re anywhere near the town too tough to die on Saturday, June 30th or Sunday, July 1st, you’ve got to go to that real town to see the folks who immortalized TOMBSTONE on the big screen!  Attending will be Michael Biehn (Johnny Ringo), Joanna Pacula (Kate), Peter Sherayko (Texas Jack Vermillion), Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Mattie Earp), Frank Stallone (Ed Bailey), Sandy Gibbons (Father Feeney), Billy Zane (Mr. Fabian), Costume Designer Joseph Porro, and Producer Bob Misiorowski.  Julie Ann Ream will be panel moderator. Some events will take place at the legendary Crystal Palace and at The Bird Cage Theatre – one of the most wonderfully spooky places I have ever been! There will also be tours of Mescal, where so much of TOMBSTONE was shot. And unlike its sister-studio Old Tucson, which is always open, Mescal is almost never open to the public – so don’t miss it!  You can learn more HERE.


The contemporary Western series from Taylor Sheridan, who brought us HELL OR HIGH WATER and WIND RIVER, premiered with a two-hour episode on Wednesday night on the Paramount Channel (formerly Spike TV). The story of the Dutton clan, led by Costner, and their struggles to preserve the largest private ranch in America, is a hit!

According to Deadline: Hollywood, the premiere reached nearly five million viewers in Live + 3. In case you, like me, are not familiar with ‘live +’ terminology, what it refers to is the number of viewers who watched the program live, plus those who DVR’d it and watched over the next three days.

That number makes it the most-watched summer premiere so far on cable or broadcast TV. In fact, it’s basic-cable’s biggest premiere ratings since 2016’s THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON.


Zahn & me

I’ve been a fan of actor Zahn McClarnon ever since we met on the set of YELLOW ROCK back in 2011. He’s been awfully busy since then, varying humor and chilling intensity in movies like LEGEND OF HELL’S GATE, BONE TOMAHAWK, and as a regular in the series THE RED ROAD and FARGO, really making his mark as the hostile Officer Mathias in LONGMIRE. This past November, when I ran into him at the American Indian Arts Marketplaceat The Autry, I had to tell him he was brilliant as Toshaway, the Indian raising the young Eli McCullough (Jacob Lofland) in AMC’s THE SON. When I told Zahn it was the best role I’d ever seen him do, he grinned and said, “Wait until you see what I do in season two of WESTWORLD!” He wasn’t kidding. The website Gold Derby, which handicaps the Hollywood awards races, was the first to publicly predict that Zahn will get an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Akecheta, particularly for episode 8, which is entirely centered on his character. The season closer for HBO’s WESTWORLD aired Sunday night.
If he were to win, he would be the very first American Indian to win an acting Emmy, and only the second to be nominated – the first being August Schellenberg, nominated for..
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TRUE GRIT set photo of John Wayne
and Ethan Wayne by Phil Stern

HDNET is celebrating great Western movies with a more than week-long celebration, WESTERN ICONS WITH ETHAN WAYNE. The actor, stuntman, and youngest son of John Wayne will provide introductions to a classic double feature every night, concluding with a 24-hour marathon on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28th. There are three John Wayne classics in the line-up: THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER, THE ALAMO, and THE UNDEFEATED. The movies start at 4 pm Pacific Time, 7 pm back east. Today’s double bill is HIGH NOON and TWO RODE TOGETHER. Monday night it’s BILLY TWO HATS and YOUNG BILLY YOUNG.  Get the complete rundown at the HDNET channel on your system, or go HERE.

By Henry C. Parke
Interview Conducted May 17th, 2018

Ethan Wayne today

You may have assumed that Ethan Wayne, the youngest son of incomparable Western legend John Wayne, had the ideal boy’s life. Turns out you were right.  Then again, in 1979, when Wayne Sr. died at age 72, his 17-year-old son would face major challenges.  We discussed Ethan’s relationship with John Wayne, growing up on Western movie sets, Ethan’s career as an actor and stunt man, and his current occupation, heading both The John Wayne Cancer Institute and John Wayne Enterprises.

HENRY PARKE:       You're named after your father's character in THE SEARCHERS, one of his greatest performances, and one of his most complex characters. Was it a favorite of his?

ETHAN WAYNE:     It was. In fact, we found questionnaire from the Academy of Motion Pictures where they asked actors to list their five favorite films. And he did put THE SEARCHERS down at number five.
(Editor’s note: Ethan didn’t know the rest of the list offhand, but he’s getting me the information, and I’ll update the article when I have it.)

HENRY PARKE:       Which are your favorites of your dad's movies?

ETHAN WAYNE:     People ask me that a lot. It's a tough question for me. Obviously I love THE SEARCHERS. I love THE SHOOTIST. And I like different movies for different reasons. For me, it's sort of a window into my DNA. I get to see my dad when he was younger, because I knew him as an older man. So at different periods in my life I'd see him, when he was my age, and I could see what he looked like physically and how he moved. And I'd get that sort of, ‘oh yeah, I see where that comes from.’ For me it changes, and it might not be the greatest film, but I get to see him in a different place. But he died when I was 17, and I was lucky enough to get hired by a couple of guys to do stunt work, and that led to small acting jobs. I would never pose because I thought that my father would never pose for a photo. And it's funny, since I took the Wayne Enterprises over a few years ago, I started looking through all the photos that we’ve been collecting: he poses in everything!
I'm not coming to him from the screen, I'm coming to him, you know, as my dad. I loved my dad. I liked being on location with him, and on the boat. So, it's just different. But again, you're dealing with me having memories that are from the child.

HENRY PARKE:       Of course. I think many Americans feel a great personal connection with John Wayne, but it's nothing like your personal connection.

ETHAN WAYNE:     I didn't come to them through the screen. I didn't really start watching John Wayne films until I was older, and he was gone. So it's just different. Great Dad.

HENRY PARKE:       Was he a very involved dad when you were growing up?

ETHAN WAYNE:     Yeah, he was. When I was doing my best, it was when he had time to sit with me while I did my homework, or we'd read stories together. There was a period of time where we had that time. And then his marriage started getting tough, you know, and there were some business issues; all that starts happening, and he gets pulled away. I certainly noticed that as a young person, the difference. I couldn't articulate it at the time, but it was better when we had our time together.

HENRY PARKE:       I have a friend whose mother starred in a beloved Christmas movie, and she finds it disconcerting to walk into somebody's kitchen and see pictures of her mother all over the place. Do you ever have that kind of moment?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I'm just so used to it; it's just a part of life. You walk into homes that have displays related to John Wayne, or you go to a bar and he's painted on the men's room door (laughs). I think it's all done out of love, and I get a kick out of seeing all the different ways that people pay tribute to him. I haven't really come across anything negative with him.

HENRY PARKE:       But your dad was very controversial especially politically.

ETHAN WAYNE:     Controversial. I guess he was. He had his viewpoint, and he shared his viewpoint civilly with people who were at the far, far other end of the spectrum. And they could still get along, and they could still work together.  He was very capable of articulating his point of view and why he had certain feelings. Today we have a lot of people making a lot of noise, but they can't articulate exactly why they feel that way, and they're not doing it in a civil manner, which is not good for any of us.

HENRY PARKE:       That's very true. What's the first visit to one of your father’s sets that you can recall?

ETHAN WAYNE:     He was older when I was born, and he knew we weren't gonna have a lot of time together, and I'd eventually turn into a teenager and we'd probably spend some years apart. So he took me with him on every film. I mean, I can remember Old Tucson, and Dean Martin, so that would be RIO BRAVO. So that'd be one of the early ones. I have these small images. Probably the first true memories were TRUE GRIT. To run around and have some freedom. And then BIG JAKE, obviously I was very involved. In THE COWBOYS I was getting old enough to be independent in the sort of wild country, and I could get on a horse and leave the set and go exploring. It was terrific. Great Childhood.

Ethan and John

HENRY PARKE:       Speaking of THE COWBOYS, I find it very interesting that you first appeared with your father in RIO LOBO, and then you had a very nice part in BIG JAKE. And the next picture your dad did was THE COWBOYS. I was surprised that you weren't one of the cowboys.

ETHAN WAYNE:     It's funny. I don't know why. Maybe they didn't like, me in BIG JAKE (laughs) -- you never know. Even on BIG JAKE, I kinda remember coming home and he said, “Put this on.” And I'm like, “Why?” This is the weirdest outfit I've ever seen. Green felt shorts. Why would I put this on? “Because you're going to be in the movie. We're leaving tomorrow.” At least for me you were just sort of told, and you did it. It's like, you come home and you get your dog and we're going on a road trip. The dog has no idea what's happening. I think it was that way for me as a young guy; I honestly don't know why I wasn't in THE COWBOYS. I was there with my father, but I don't know.

HENRY PARKE:       I’ve read that you had an uncredited appearance in RIO LOBO. I just watched it again. I could not spot you. What do you do in it?

ETHAN WAYNE:      I have no recollection of being in RIO LOBO. I have seen photographs of me dressed in some sort of costume on the set, but I don't remember if I did anything. I'll have to go back to watch the movie.

HENRY PARKE:       RIO LOBO was directed by the great Howard Hawks. I know you were just a little kid, but do you have any memories of Hawks?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I do. I liked him. There was something about him, he had like a cool look. I don't know how to describe it. And some of those guys were pains, you know? Richard Boone was kind of painful to be around; you'd get pinched, or he'd put duct tape on your hair, do something to you, you know? Very antagonistic with some of those people.  But I remember Hawks was a nice guy.

HENRY PARKE:       As long as we're are talking about directors, did you ever meet John Ford?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I did. And he was my godfather. But again, I was pretty young by the time he passed and my memories of him are just like little images. Maybe the smell of a wet cigar.  That's all I’ve got.

HENRY PARKE:       How about Henry Hathaway on the TRUE GRIT set?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I was seven then. I liked Henry Hathaway too. Very nice guy, nice to me. He could wear a cowboy hat and a sweater and he looked Western but still professional. They had a good style, those guys.

HENRY PARKE:       In BIG JAKE you’re Little Jake McCandles, the kidnapped grandson of Big Jake. Did you think it was odd at the time, that you’re playing your father’s grandson and not his son?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I did. It was a little like, well that's weird. Why is that? But again, I'm like eight years old.  

HENRY PARKE:       As an eight-year-old you got to do a lot of cool stuff. You're grabbed off of horses, chased, shot at, you fire a derringer.

ETHAN WAYNE:     That was kind of normal life around our house. I mean, I can't remember a time when there wasn't a loaded gun around the house. That was a tool, like anything else. You had to do the lawn mower a certain way and you had to take care of the gun a certain way; it was just the way it was. You know, on all the movie sets, I loved the wranglers, I loved the stunt guys. And they would help me figure stuff out or show me how they did things. So it was just something that you absorb by being there. So by the time I got to actually be involved in the film, they'd drop you into the pads, or shoot squibs on you, or let you shoot the blank guns. It was just part of part of my life as a little boy,

HENRY PARKE:       It sounds like an ideal childhood to me.

ETHAN WAYNE:     You left the set, where everything's sort of make believe, and then you got on my father's boat, which was a World War II minesweeper that was converted for pleasure use. Then it was another outdoor kind of lifestyle. He gave you a lot of freedom, but he expected you to be somewhat responsible. I always had to watch my little sister (Marisa Wayne). I could never do anything that would put her in trouble. And if I did, I caught hell, even if it was a misunderstanding. There were chores, just like on the set. The boat had chores, and the boat had guns, and the boat had fishing, and the boat had exploring -- and bears, and all these things that you encountered when you were exploring British Columbia and Southern Alaska. You just had to be aware. It's like the kid who grows up on a ranch. He's aware of different things than when a kid who grows up in the city. It's just a certain set of things that you learn about.

John, Ethan and Patrick Wayne aboard the Duke's
beloved Wild Goose
from Vanity Fair

HENRY PARKE:       Any favorite memories of the shooting of BIG JAKE?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I love that I got to do the pitchfork! I loved the dogs. There was one dog that you could pet, and one that didn't want you to pet him. My tutor was a guy named Tom Hennessy, who was much bigger than my father. He has the scene in the movie where my dad hits him (and he doesn’t go down). He was a giant man and kind of a big teddy bear, but pretty gruff. I spent three hours a day in studies with him, and the rest of the time we would go into town; he'd explain why I'm learning this or that, why you do division, or how you add a percentage. He showed me in real life how that translated and it was just a great, great time. I lived with my dad, and Bruce Cabot, we all stayed in the same house. We’d make Bruce a little vodka in the morning, threw him in the shower. I helped my dad with his stuff to get ready, and read the script with my dad at night. I don't think I ever had a script. They’d just tell me what to say before we shot the scene. I’d always go to bed with my father, and he would be studying the story. 

HENRY PARKE:       How did you like Bruce Cabot?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I liked him. He was a great guy. I love my brother Patrick. He was there. Michael was a producer. We had great stunt guys. A number of guys that I grew up with were on that movie. Maureen O'Hara, Hank Warden, a family from Nogales, Arizona, the Wingfields, were there, the boys were in it. Man, it was great. I was old enough to ride away from the set on a horse, and I knew all the guys. It was just, it was really living for me.

HENRY PARKE:       Did your interest in being a stuntman start here?

ETHAN WAYNE:     No, not really. You know, if the stunt guys had their kids there, we'd run around and fake fight scenes, fall off little ledges or fall off the horse -- do whatever we could do to try to impress the older guys. After my father died, I'd reached out to (stunt coordinator) Gary McLarty about a motorcycle race somewhere and he just said, how old are you? Do you want to work? I was pretty rudderless at that time and he gave me a job. I got to be there and I got to learn and got a paycheck, and was hooked up with another guy when I got back to L.A. who put me to work on series, in the eighties.  B.J. AND THE BEAR, KNIGHT RIDER. A bunch of shows and I got little acting parts out of it. And just kind of grew.

HENRY PARKE:       Now Chris Mitchum was in RIO LOBO and BIG JAKE. And you certainly had something in common in terms of parentage. Any memories of him?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I do and I've seen Chris recently. He's come down to the office and we've talked about licensing. He's in Santa Barbara. He ran for a Congressional seat. I probably haven't seen him in a year, but it was nice to cross paths with him and see him again. He looks great. He and my brother both look very young, you know; those guys are very well preserved.

HENRY PARKE:       Your dad did not put you into movies after BIG JAKE. Do you think that your parents didn't want you to be a Hollywood kid or didn't want to push you into it?

ETHAN WAYNE:     Gosh. As soon as I was born my parents moved out of town, and then moved down to Newport Beach. Going to the set was not about (Hollywood), it was like going to the ranch. You know, where my father filmed was Durango, Mexico. Or outside of Santa Fe, or Ridgeway. We weren't near civilization. He’s my dad. That's what he did and that's what we did, and I went with him. I loved the guy, loved all the adventure, and to do my schoolwork, and not stepping in anybody's a line of sight, or block a light, or step on a cable or get in front of the camera; you know, I knew all the rules. And then, I never had a chance to talk to him about it.

HENRY PARKE:       In 1984 you did CALIFORNIA COWBOYS, aka ESCAPE FROM EL DIABLO, in Spain, with my old friend, director Gordon Hessler. What was that experience like?

ETHAN WAYNE:     That was crazy! There was a takeover of that production. Somebody was trying to put that thing together. They raised the below the line money (money for everything except star salaries), and then they were putting up the above the line money, but it was a shell game, so they're trying to pull the thing off on just what they'd gotten. And we weren't being fed, we didn't have hotel rooms. It was crazy. I called my agents and I said that this was going on and they were like, what?And so people flew over, and Gordon Hessler was stabbing the tires of the producer's car, trying to stop him from getting away with the film. Eventually the production got taken over by my agents and they ended up being producers. And they did a bunch of stuff later on.  But Gordon Hessler was such a nice man and the poor guy had to deal with three or four, like 20 year old kids (Note: Ethan’s co-stars were Timothy Van Patton, Jimmy McNichol, and the late Marilyn Burns of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE fame).

HENRY PARKE:       In THE ALAMO: 13 DAYS TO GLORY, you worked with James Arness, of course a western icon, and one who got his career-making role of Matt Dillon because your dad recommended him.

Ethan Wayne in THE ALAMO: 13 DAYS TO GLORY

ETHAN WAYNE:     He was very nice to me and an interesting man to talk to. He was a pilot and I started flying very young so I liked him. Brian Keith was there, Alec Baldwin was there. Those guys were great. It was an interesting bunch. Buck Taylor, he works a lot, he’s a great guy. We've maintained the friendship for many years because of that project. And then (director) Burt Kennedy. (Note: Burt Kennedy wrote a number of pictures for John Wayne, and directed him in THE WAR WAGON and THE TRAIN ROBBERS) Again, when I came to these guys in my early twenties, I didn't know the history. I didn't know it because when my dad died, the executors locked the house up and we were out. And then at one point I got 12 stickers, and the kids from L.A., and me and my sister, went in and put stickers on things. That's what we were able to take out, and that was it. I lived with my dad. I mean, I didn't live with my mother, and spent little time with her, and then was pretty much out of it. It was a difficult time for me, and I'm really grateful to those stunt guys for giving me just a nudge in the right direction. You know, sometimes that's all it takes to change someone's life, and they did it, so I’m forever grateful to those guys.

The Waynes at home - John, Ethan, Aissa, John's wife
Pilar, and Marisa

HENRY PARKE:       Speaking of Burt Kennedy, I read that you starred with Kris Kristofferson, Wilford Brimley, Gerald McRaney and Buck Taylor again, in COMANCHE, the true story of the only survivor of Custer’s Last Stand, a horse. It’s the last film written and directed by Burt Kennedy, but I can find hardly anything about it. Was it finished? Was it ever released?

ETHAN WAYNE:     I don't know if it was ever finished and I think he paid for it. You know, he was in the last regiment of mounted cavalry in World War II, in the Philippines. It was a story that he always wanted to see made, and it never happened, so he put this small production together and got people to go on it. I actually made a behind-the-scenes documentary on it, so I have a bunch of footage of the making of COMANCHE. But I never saw COMANCHE actually come out, and I wouldn't know where it is or who's got it. I think that was just a labor of love, something he wanted to do. He wanted to be with some friends, and those guys came out for him and we filmed it up in Canada and in Kansas, and it was just a pet project of his. Something he cared about,

HENRY PARKE:       In the 1980s and ‘90s, you acted in action films and TV series, not only in the U.S. but in Spain, Italy, Argentina. How does working internationally differ from working in the U.S.?

ETHAN WAYNE:     Oh, it differs significantly. (laughs) I got a job on a soap opera here, and that soap opera, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, was sold a few years later to Europe, and they started at episode one. So they said, hey, we’ll go do some press for this, and when I got over there it was very popular. They ran it at night, with everybody's voices dubbed into Italian, but it became a big thing.  They did a lot of..
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