Tuesday, February 19, 2013


New book out on the making of THE SEARCHERS and the true story the movie (and book) was based on. From "Entertainment Weekly".......

THE SEARCHERS by Glenn Frankel
Reviewed by Chris Nashawaty | Feb 15, 2013

Details Release Date: Feb 19, 2013; Writer: Glenn Frankel; Genre: History; Publisher: Bloomsbury

John Ford's The Searchers is one of the greatest Westerns ever made. Released in 1956, the film is the tale of Ethan Edwards — a Civil War veteran, played by John Wayne, whose niece is kidnapped during a Comanche raid. Burning with grief, racial hatred, and Old Testament rage, the Duke leads a five-year search to save her and exact revenge on her bloodthirsty captors. Ford, who directed Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, was Hollywood's most iconic interpreter of the American West.

But the story of The Searchers wasn't the fabrication of some armchair-cowboy screenwriter sitting in front of an Underwood. It was based on the 1836 kidnapping of a 9-year-old girl in East Texas named Cynthia Ann Parker. In this well-researched dual history, Glenn Frankel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Washington Post reporter, attempts to interweave these two stories: the fact and the legend. The fact turns out to be more fascinating. After all, most readers who pick up a book about The Searchers will already know something about the film's backstory. They may well have an idea about the arduous shoot in Monument Valley and Ford's prickly reputation as a tyrannical drunk. Frankel doesn't add much that's new to that story. Instead, it's his account of Parker's abduction and the quarter-century quest to recover her that casts a haunting, harrowing spell. By the time she was finally recaptured in the Battle of Pease River, she was no longer the girl her family remembered and prayed would be returned to them one day. She was fully Comanche — the wife of a warrior and the mother of three Native American children. Her reimmersion into white society against her will and the sad remainder of her days play out like a cruel, heart-wrenching tragedy — the exact opposite of the John Wayne yarn. No wonder Ford went with the legend instead of the fact. B+
Memorable Line:

''...something about a man riding a horse through a rugged landscape, Ford liked to say...made it the most natural subject for a movie camera."


FORT DOBBS is one of Clint Walker's best westerns. It is interesting to note that the patterned jacket Clint wears in the beginning of the film pops up once or twice in some episodes of his CHEYENNE tv show. Warners made the tv show CHEYENNE on the cheap by using lots and lots of footage from other Warner Bros. westerns. The Pilot episode of CHEYENNE used so much footage from the Errol Flynn western ROCKY MOUNTAIN that it is almost a clone of the movie. So why not recycle clips of Clint from his own movies when you recycle clips from the movies of others, including the Gary Cooper classic SPRINGFIELD RIFLE? The joke used to be...."How can you tell if it is original footage or stock? The answer..."If the scene contains more that three people it's stock." Clint deserved better.  (I have mentioned some of the CHEYENNE episodes that rely heavily on footage from well known movies in earlier blogs.)


Just finished the new Lee Marvin Book POINT BLANK by Dwayne Epstein. A pretty darn good book. I learned that Lee was even more of a drunk (alcoholic) than I previously knew. Some interesting tid bits. John Lennon liked THE WILD ONE and the name of Lee's gang was "The Beetles." Jack Palance lobbied hard for the lead in CAT BALLOU and the production company wanted either Kirk Douglas or Jose Ferrer...JOSE FERRER!! before settling on Lee. When Ann-Margret found out her agent has passed on the role of "Cat" without first consulting her she fired him. Lee was one of the first actors to be involved with THE WILD BUNCH (before SamPeck was involved) and even worked on the script before turning it down for PAINT YOUR WAGON...he went for the bigger pay check. Book barely mentions THE SPIKES GANG and doesn't even point out that it was made in Spain. Even with all his problems and foibles Lee still remains one of my all-time favorites. He died at age 63 but looked much much older. Happy Birthday, Lee (2-19). R.I.P.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Howard Hawk's THE BIG SKY

THE BIG SKY was a very good and very enjoyable western from Howard Hawks and it had a memorable Academy Award nominated performance from Arthur Hunnicutt.....and vast wide open locations filmed masterfully by Cinematographer Russell Harlan (also "Oscar" nominated for "Best Cinematography, Black And White"). Hollywood is always wanting to do remakes and what better movie is ripe for a remake than this one? As good as this one is, to see it in color and on the widescreen would be epic.

My Life as a My Life as a Mankiewicz: An Insider's Journey through Hollywood

My Life as a My Life as a Mankiewicz: An Insider's Journey through Hollywood by Tom Mankiewicz is one of the best inside Hollywood books I have ever read. Tom was born into great stock. His dad was the great writer-producer Joseph L. and his uncle was the great Herman J.who co-wrote CITIZEN KANE. Book pulls no punches and I finally got to read a "Hollywood" book that actually contains new anecdotes and behind the scenes stories of well known movies and movies that never got off the ground. Interesting stories of how his Dad got talked into doing CLEOPATRA and how that movie almost killed Joe. Tom wrote some of the SUPERMAN and James Bond movies and his stories involving the making of these classics, alone ,are well worth the price of the book. One of Tom's first jobs was as a glorified gofer on the John Wayne Western THE COMANCHEROS. Very funny anecdote involving Wayne, Jack Elam and two vultures (turkey buzzards). Tragically Tom was only 70 when he passed away. He lived the Hollywood dream. He dated most of the upcoming starlets of the 60's and 70's and was friends with a lot of the young rising stars such as Robert Wagner.