Friday, October 28, 2011


Finished this very entertaining and informative book on one of Hollywood's greatest directors by Marilyn Ann Moss. Book straightens out a lot of facts from fiction as Raoul was known to embellish, re-write and edit parts of his life.
He had some spaghetti western connections. He directed THE SHERIFF OF FRACTURED JAW which was one of the first westerns filmed in Spain and he directed Rik Battaglia and other sw participants such as Rosalba Neri, Folco Lolli, Sergio Fantoni, Renato Baldini and Gabriele Tinte in ESTHER AND THE KING in Rome. The great Mario Bava was Director of Photography on this film and Walsh really liked him and they got along quite well. Walsh also directed most of the battle scenes for Robert Wise's HELEN OF TROY.

Not only did Walsh direct a lot of classic films... westerns and many non-westerns (WHITE HEAT, for one, with James Cagney) but he also discovered and re-named Marion Michael Morrison...John Wayne and had him star in THE BIG TRAIL. Moss uncovered some evidence that John Ford was so pissed at Wayne working for Walsh that he had him black-balled into "C" western territory for years. Ford was vicious at Wayne many times during this period and for what-ever reasons Wayne put up with it. Walsh also put Kirk Douglas into his first western....ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE.
Walsh over the years liked to remake his own films and the best example of this is he remade the classic Humphrey Bogart/ HIGH SIERRA as the great western COLORADO TERRITORY with Joel McCrea.

Walsh had a good relationship with Jack Warner and often, because he needed the cash (he had a weakness for horses and also was always behind in alimony) would take over troubled productions without credit, and he didn't mind doing this as long as he was well compensated. He completely took over and totally directed one film and, yet, let the novice director keep his credit. HE was a nice guy....very rare for Hollywood. He loved directing action scenes and often was called in by Jack Warner to direct them for many films. He had a unique directing style. Once he called "action" he would turn around and not watch the scene....only listening to it. If he liked the way it sounded and the camera man would say everyone hit their marks he would yell "print." Some say he developed a very keen sense of hearing to compensate for the lost of one eye. The loss of the eye cost him the lead in the first sound western as well as the directing job of IN OLD ARIZONA.

Iconic character actor L.Q. Jones is oft quoted in the book. L.Q. whose real name is Justice McQueen adopted the name of the character he played in Walsh's BATTLE CRY.....L.Q. Jones.

Good read. Walsh went from directing silent films to directing "talkies" well into the 60's when he was 77.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Just finished this interesting and very entertaining book on Richard Brooks. Made more interesting since I knew so little about his life other than his films. Lot of people didn't like him and after reading the book you will know why. He was very demanding and could be very very cruel at times. He wanted things done one way and that was HIS way. You do have to admire him for being his own man even while working under the studio system but you don't have to admire or even like his tactics. He did make some very great movies and deserves to be on the list of the greatest of Hollywood directors.....and screen writers. He opened up important screen roles for minorities and women.

Brooks had a chance to do a lot of other well known and successful films but turned them down, instead choosing to do only movies for which he would write the screenplays....mostly adaptations. Before he started directing he wrote the screenplays for THE KILLERS and KEY LARGO among others. His writing and directing accomplishments are many....THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, THE LAST HUNT, SOMETHING OF VALUE, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, ELMER GANTRY, SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, LORD JIM (a flawed but noble effort), THE PROFESSIONALS (my favorite of his), IN COLD BLOOD and BITE THE BULLET among many.

A couple of interesting pieces of trivia that came from this book....Early in the casting process, David Carradine had been given the Dick Hickock role in IN COLD BLOOD and was told not to tell anyone and Brooks meant this....he was very secretive about all his projects...and as soon as he heard that David had been telling people that he had gotten the plush part Carradine was fired and terminated immediately from the project and was replaced by Scott Wilson.

Columbia Pictures has purchased the screen rights to Frank O'Rourke's novel "A Mule for the Marquesa" with the hopes of turning it into a movie starring...get this....Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. Later Richard came aboard the project and rewrote the screenplay and renamed it THE PROFESSIONALS which he ultimately made with Lee Marvin, Burt Lancast and Robert Ryan instead.

This book and Peter Ford's book on Glenn were both published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

A dang good and fast read.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Peter acknowledges in this book that his dad documented his life on cassette, letters, notes and in journals. At every opportunity Glenn would record his thoughts, fears and observations. And Peter, himself, had the chance through the years to talk with and meet many of his dad's co-stars, contemporaries and various other Hollywood luminaries. And, yes, Glenn never told his son that he loved him....near the end (of Glenn’s life) they were more like brothers than father and son. As Peter says in the book...he (Glenn) often told others that he loved me, but he never said those words to me. Glenn was a momma's boy and until her death she either lived in the same house with Glenn or in an apartment located on the same property.

Glenn sure had his way with the ladies and especially his leading ladies. He had torrid affairs with almost all of his female co-stars. It was kind of accepted at this time that leading men and their leading ladies would hook up. The only name that popped up that I was not aware of was Connie Stevens. His affair with her started when she was playing Cricket on HAWAIIAN EYE....their age difference doomed it. Peter mentions that Glenn and Judy Garland were a number at one time. Other than Eleanor Powell...Rita Hayworth was probably Glenn's greatest love. Rita lived next door to Glenn for years and she had a special gate in the fence which separated their properties that allowed her to visit Glenn without anyone knowing.

Glenn loved making westerns and, according to Peter, appeared happiest when making them. Here is what Glenn had to say about foreign spaghettis. "No foreign country can make a western. In Spain, it's not a western. It's got to be done where it happened....The public knows a real western and God help anybody who tries to fool 'em......." Interesting thing here be the devils advocate.....Glenn made THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE totally on the back lot of MGM which stood in for the gritty streets of New York...yet people were fooled into thinking that it was made on location. What's the difference whether it be a western or an eastern?

Some interesting tidbits...Glenn always was a heavy drinker off the job but by the time THE SACKETTS was made he was also drinking heavily on the job and Peter said he could tell by his dad's looks and performance when he was loaded. On one of Glenn's westerns, DAY OF THE EVIL GUN, Lon Chaney was flown in to play one of the roles and they couldn't sober him up enough to say his he had to be sent home.

Book is a very realistic and honest portrait of Glenn, in my opinion, not like the damning books written by the daughters of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The sad thing is...towards the end Glenn had to be hospitalized several time to detox and each time he seemed to latch onto a nurse who had ulterior motives…pretending to like Glenn and under the pretext of this and taking care of him got him to sign over powers of attorney, etc...thus shutting him away from his family and his Hollywood friends and using Glenn’s money for their benefit. Fortunately before the end Peter and some of Glenn's friends, especially Debbie Reynolds, were able to sway the courts and get back control of Glenn's health and his property. (t was a similar situation with Burt Lancaster years before his end....his young wife supposedly cut off and shut out everybody and totally isolated Burt until the day he protect her interests and not Burt's.)

Peter and Debbie Reynolds and other Hollywood greats tried to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to honor Glenn with an honorary Oscar, to no avail, even though in the late 50's Glenn was number one at the box office in the world. The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts and Sciences when Peter and other approached them about honoring Glenn they seemed to dismiss his career...forgetting that THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE was a major, major breakthrough in film making and story telling. They couldn't even get AFI to honor Glenn AFI’s statement was that he never supported them....yet he was one of the founding fathers of the organization.

Book goes into a lot of other details about Glenn's life and there are other interesting anecdotes from the making of his films. In my opinion Glenn lived too long to be appreciated. If he had died 20 years earlier he would have been deified. Glenn did a lot of crappy things towards the end of his career, but he didn't do any of them just for the money. He did them because he liked to work.

One more thing about THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. This is the first movie wherein Glenn wore his hair short. He didn't want to cut his hair, even though the director Richard Brooks insisted he do so....he didn't want the military-like haircut. He almost had to be tied down for them to cut it.....but when he saw the look, he liked it so much that he kept his hair short for the rest of his career.

Totally worth reading.

One thing I remembered that was either over looked in the book or totally ignore… Johnny Carson's attack on Glenn during his opening monologues. After Johnny and his wife Joanne Carson broke up (separated or divorced....not sure) Glenn started dating Joanne and this was during his Cade's County days. I remember Johnny making some really bad jokes about Glenn and often he included Edgar Buchannan in them...sometimes they bordered on being homophobic. I remember hearing them live. Lot of people wondered why Carson was being nasty to Glenn. Glenn and Edgar were friends for many many was Glenn and William Holden even though in their early years both were often up for the same roles.

One sad note...everyone that Glenn picked to be his pallbearers died before he did..such as William Holden, Henry Fonda, Frank Sinatra, and Edgar Buchanan.

I found this amusing. Peter did The Dating Game....he actually cut a few records that did ok. The other two personalities involved in the show were Bobby Sherman and Rod Lauren. I knew Rod , back in the day, under his real name of Rod Lauren Strunk. Rod had a career moment of a couple of years with some records in the top 40 and he made movies with Rory Calhoun and Peter Breck. Years later Rod moved to The Philippines and married one of the top movie/tv stars there. Then she died under mysterious circumstances and he returned to Visalia where he died a few years ago. Until the day he died Rod was under suspicion of having had something to do with her death. Never charged and, obviously, never proven.

Interestingly Glenn's bedroom was so big that one of his granddaughters learned how to ride her bike in it. Glenn had his bedroon suite at one end of the house and Eleanor's was at the other end. AND...between them was Glenn's mother's bedroom. It was common back in the day for stars and their spouses to have their own bedroom suites...but not ones with a parent located in the middle. Glenn was a momma's boy from day one and his mother really doted on him.....she was good to Peter, too.

Book is well written and a very good read. I wholly recommend it.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Saw COWBOYS & ALIENS this morning and really liked it....excellents blend of oater and sci-fi. Like several other reviewers have said....Craig does remind me of Steve McQueen...and not in a negative way.......Steve McQueen lite. I will probably see it again in the next week or so with my son, if he can find the time. Movie kept moving along and time sped with it....not a slow spot in it. Lottsa fun. We gotta encourage all our amigos out there to go see this movie or the cycle of big budget westerns might end before it begins. Sure some of the stuff was a bit preposterous, but so what! And to top it off the movie was well cast...maybe the weakest of the actors was Paul Dano as Harrison Ford's son. But then an unwritten rule of the western, continuing from back in the day, is that either Rance Howard, John Carradine or Royal Dano had to be in every oater made. Since the last two are deceased John's son Keith was cast as the town sheriff and the only Dano they could find was Paul. Kudos to Producer Ron Howard for having the balls to not cast brother Clint or dad Rance...but then Rance probably couldn't find time in his schedule to do COWBOYS & ALIENS since it appears he's going to be in 700 movies released in the next year.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A COLD DAY IN western just out on dvd

This new western "stars" Michael least he's the biggest name in the cast and the only recognizable one at that. However, he's barely in the pic and it mainly revolves around a character called William Drayton, played by Jim Hilton who isn't that bad. However, the movie is not that good, the acting over all is poor and just about when I was ready to give up on the movie it gave up on me....the dvd froze. Seems this is some kind of sequel to the 2009 western ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE (which I have not seen or attempted to watch) top-lining David Carradine and featuring many of the same actors in the same roles as in "Cold Day." Christopher Forbes has almost as many credits on "Cold Day" as the Campagna Brothers have on SIX REASONS WHY. (See blog entry dated 2-26-09.) He co-produced, directed, co-wrote the script, co-wrote the music, did the cinematography and edited the flick. Wonder if he scouted the locations also? In a blurb on the front of the dvd jacket, Stuart Alson of "Independent Film Quarterly" says "3:10 TO YUMA rides up next to TRUE GRIT" and his blurb on the back of the dvd jacket says, "The best film Michael Madsen has starred in since RESERVOIR DOGS." What movie did this guy Alson watch? But then again, I didn't get to see the entire movie and I suppose it could have gotten much better at the end.....and…if frogs had wings their butts wouldn't hit the ground when they hop.

Don't get me wrong....I like westerns. I love westerns and I applaud people who get them made, but making bad ones only sets the genre back.

Friday, June 3, 2011

STEVE MCQUEEN, one of my all time favorites

Just finished watching Steve's last movie.....THE HUNTER. Sadly, it didn't improve with age. I was wanting it, the first time I saw it and today, to be so much better. Steve was reunited with his Mag7 costar Eli Wallach and his THE GETAWAY costar Ben Johnson. Sadly, they both weren't in that many scenes with him. Steve was dying when he made TH which was released in August of 1980...he passed away 3 months later. Movie could have been better if they didn't dwell so much on his character's bad driving. Still all in all....a bad Steve McQueen movie is better than most other movies.

I actually met the "bounty hunter" that Steve's character and the movie was based on...Ralph "Papa" Thosrson. "Papa" was a big bear of a man but gentle as a lamb....more of a Grizzly Adams look-alike than McQueen....and he can be seen in a bar scene near the end of the film.

I was working for the LA County Probation Department at the time and after one of my probationers failed to report I went looking for him knowing that he lived with "Papa" Thorson (who had all kinds of felons living with and working for him.) I was hesitant to make the home call but went ahead. I walked up on the porch and knocked on the door and the biggest person I had ever seen outside of pro wrestling stood there filling the door way. It was all I could do to introduce myself without shaking and after I told him who I was and why I was there, he said in one of the friendliest voices I had ever heard..."Come on in and we'll solve this problem right now." Then, he took me to his dining room (the one in the movie looked very similar) that had all kinds of characters sitting around its table...and then proceeded to dress down my probationer right in front of everyone there. Needless to say everyone listened and up until he got off probation my guy never gave me a bit of trouble. I think my guy was either a petty thief or got caught kiting checks. (Kind of looked like Tracey Walter who played the scum Rocco Mason in TH, but with darker hair.) That sure was one heckuva day.

Periodically, Thorson would call me up and ask how my/his guy was doing and would often ask me to come by for a bar-b-cue. Each time I politely declined....telling him how much I would like to but my supervisor would never approve it. He never once said or hinted that I could come by and no one would know. he had too much integrity. Shame there wasn't a better movie based on his exploits. "Papa" made "Dog" look like a sissy. He was called "Papa" because he took care of so many of the people he brought back and often put them up until they got a job or had a place to stay.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Here is some spaghetti related music you might enjoy....furnished by my friend Lauren at EMI.
Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi present: ROME - album release date 16th May.
Featuring vocals by Jack White and Norah Jones.

United by their shared passion for classic Italian film music, Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi created the ROME album over an intense songwriting period using vintage equipment and original musicians from films such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West. Every effort was made to replicate the recording practices of the 1960s/70s golden age.

For all its cinematic qualities, what follows is a complex, nuanced pop record with intensity and darkness as well as uplift and light. It’s an ambitious work with a uniquely modern sound that has been achieved through traditional, vintage processes. It is, above all, a fully realised album, perfectly formed and hauntingly beautiful.

Check out a trailer for ROME, including interviews with Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi, Jack White and Norah Jones here:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Recently I watched James Coburn in THE INTERNECINE PROJECT a movie, up until a few days ago, I had never heard of before finding it at Interact in Pasadena. Costars are Lee Grant, Keenan Wynn and Harry Andrews. Story involves Coburn as a Professor and former secret agent who is given the job opportunity of a lifetime: advisor to the President of the US. Of course o'l Jimmy has some skeletons in his closet (or else there would not be a movie) that need eliminating, namely the four people aware of his shoddy past. So, in order for him to make sure no one will ever know about his past dirty life, he hatches an ingenious plan to get rid of his four nemeses by getting them to unknowingly kill each other in the course of a single night. Interesting to find out how they will do it. manages to make a long sequence in which one man sits alone in a room waiting for the phone to ring quite suspenseful. 
Good film, even with it's 70's music and 70's pacing, and with a very good performance by JC (has he been bad?).....a movie that would never get green-lit today. DVD contains an interview with writer Jonathan Lynn (directed MY COUSIN VINNY) which is interesting in itself and is about both TIP and other projects Lynn has worked on. In passing, Lynn talks about the actor Harry Andrew's performance in the film...he feels it was a little over the top and somewhat homophobic.....considering Harry was homosexual. Never knew that...never ever heard that before and frankly I don't care. I've always liked Andrews, and like JC, was always good in every part he played. TIC was released originally in 1974...for Jimmy a year after HARRY IN YOUR POCKET and a year before BITE THE BULLET.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Robert Horton

In the late 50's and early 60's Robert Horton was one of my favorite tv cowboys and if an episode of WAGON TRAIN came on that didn't say "Tonight Starring Robert Horton" I wouldn't bother watching it and you can imagine my dismay when he left the series to "branch out on his own." Watching him in the opening credits, posted above, and hearing him sing the main theme to A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH almost always brings tears to my eyes. His vocals are impeccable and the background scenes remind me of one of my favorite spaghetti westerns....Sergio Corbucci's classic THE GREAT SILENCE which was filmed a few years later. I had the fortune of meeting Robert at the 2004 Golden Boots...the year he received his Golden Boot (way too late) and was delighted that he signed one of my old TV Guides with a picture of him from Wagon Train on the cover. Very nice man. Very friendly man... but I, to me, felt a sense of sadness about him and I feel this even more when I hear him sing A MAN CALLED SHENANDOAH. Needless to say when he left WAGON TRAIN, a mistake on hind sight, the series, to me, died with his departure. To the "Powers That Be" out there...."SHENANDOAH" is crying for a dvd release.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the name CRUMMETT

Crummett is not that common a name and is a name you don't hear mentioned you can imagine my surprise when on last week's episode of TNT's wonderful and very (and I do mean very) well done cop show SOUTHLAND (that NBC which needs a hit gave up on) I heard my last name mentioned in a start of a shift squad briefing about half way through the episode (#9 of 10). I was so taken aback at hearing it that I had to rewind my DVR to make sure that I had hear it. When the squad leader was handing out beginning of the shift assignments he said in passing..."Crummett and so and so do this and that." Don't remember what the assignment "Crummett" got or who his partner was, but I did hear Crummett. Kudos to the writer(s). For a really enjoyable and fast hour tune into this show and better yet rent or buy each season's box set.

Monday, March 7, 2011


No, the book "BRADY, BRADY, BRADY" is not about the life and times of Scott Brady but about the tv show THE BRADY BUNCH ..written by Sherwood Schwartz creator of the show and his son Lloyd. Interesting way they did the book...Sherwood wrote about creating the show and putting it together and finally getting it on the air and Lloyd wrote about the show after it aired...he went from Dialogue Coach (for the kids) to producer and director. Book confirmed what I had always heard about Robert Reed. He was an Asshole with a capital A and always was in disagreement with everyone about almost everything. Apparently, Reed was disliked universally all over H'wood. "Well," you say, "why would you read a book about the Brady Bunch written by the creator of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND?" so happens that I met both Sherwood and Lloyd back in the early 70's when I was kind of involved in the development of different quiz a somewhat professional freelance quiz show contestant. One day I get a call from Dick Clark Productions asking me if I could meet Dick and some others at the Universal Sheraton Hotel for some run throughs for a quiz show they were developing. Much to my delight when I got was Dick Clark and the Schwartz's (who were going to co-produce the show with Dick who was, needless to say, going to be the host). I cannot for the life of me remember what the name of the show was or the format but it was going to have celebrity guests as a part of the game since Abbe Lane was there, too. She still had it (beautiful and sexy) and was very funny and down to earth as were Dick and the Schwartz's....everyone had a great sense of humor. We even joked about how many people called her Abby Road (after the Beatles's Album). I had a great time, picked up some extra cash and went home. The show never sold and that was the one and only time I ever met Dick Clark and the Schwartz's. And, if you can believe it....totally forgot about it until I saw the BRADY, BRADY, BRADY book. Book is worth the read if only for how hard it is to sell a tv show and the many travails of doing a tv show for five years. A book about the life and times of Scott Brady might be interesting too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Director george waGGNer

For the past several weeks/months I've seen this name pop up in the credits as the director of various MAVERICK, CHEYENNE and WAGON TRAIN episodes. Yes, the fact that it was spelled george waGGner caught my eye. I never thought much about it until I started watching some of the extras on the Universal Legacy Series dvd set of the classic horror film THE WOLF MAN with Lon Chaney Jr and I saw this name again...this time spelled George Waggner. I put two and two together and discovered that they were and are one the same. So, I wonder, why hasn't this man gotten the acclaim he deserves for helming the best ever of the werewolf films or the recognition that other notable horror film directors got...such as James Whale (FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE INVISIBLE MAN) or Tod Browning (DRACULA, FREAKS)? Is it because he continued to direct almost every or tv show that was offered him or because scandal seemed to elude him like Whale whose sexual persuasion, some say, ended his career prematurely or like Browning who's movie FREAKS is now a classic, but at the time cost him dearly professionally? waGGner should be mentioned in the same breath as Whale and Browning as he, like them, helmed one of Universal's major triumvirates of horror and produced a character that everyone is still interested in and still talking about some 70 years later.

waGGner did direct some other films of note...THE FIGHTING KENTUCKIAN with John Wayne sidekicked by Oliver Hardy (yes that Oliver Hardy) and OPERATION PACIFIC also with the Duke.

And kind of like waGGner the other great Universal horror director Karl Freund (The Mummy) went on to be involved with all kind of genres and ended up, like waGGner, doing episodic tv work...but in the great scheme of things Freund made more movies that are known today, than wagGGner, but as a cinematographer not as a director.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

STUNTMAN new book by Hal Needham

Just finished this book and was very disappointed in it....didn't really shed any new info on anything. Yeah, Hal takes credit for a lot of break-throughs in stunt work such as air cushions for high falls and trampolines and explosives set under steel plates to make people "blown up" look more realistic and he helped design a new camera car to film high speed chases, etc. He dwells a lot on his NASCAR racing team and gives himself credit for all the product placements now found on the cars and on the drivers' suits. But not enough anecdotes about the movies he directed and he says nothing at all about why he stopped directing. Some interesting tidbits on his quest to break the sound barrier on land. Don't get me to Yakima Canutt he probably is the next best stuntman ever. Just wish he'd given us more stories about his various film-tv projects. He did confirm that the Robert Klein director in HOOPER was based on Peter Bogdanovich whom he worked for on NICKELODEON. Hal said, in passing, that Jack Elam once turned down a tv series at Warner's because they wouldn't allow card playing on the set...wonder what series that was as Jack later starred in THE DAKOTAS for Warners?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TRUE GRIT the novel

Was elated today when I located my copy of TRUE GRIT. First printing of the Signet Paperback in February 1969 cost me all of 95c. John Wayne movie tie-in pictures on the inside of the front cover and on both sides of the back cover. Higher printings can be purchased at used book sites anywhere from $25 to $35. Great read.


I'm really enjoying the episodes of WAGON TRAIN now airing on Encore Westerns...more so than I thought I would. I was (and am) a big fan of Robert Horton and was always disappointed when episodes would air that he was barely in. To me the show went down hill when Bond died (even though John McIntire has grown on me over the years, he seemed weak to me as the wagon master) and almost dropped off a cliff when Horton left the show. One of my favorite Golden Boots moments was when Robert Horton autographed a copy of TV Guide with him on the cover and the smile I got when I gave him a duplicate copy.