Joffrey bites it …

14 Apr

The King Is Dead …

but nearly anybody would be better.

Game of Thrones Main Theme Official Soundtrack Version 

“Everyone is mine to torment! You’d do well to remember that … “
King Joffrey / Game of Thrones

My favorite TV mini series, Game of Thrones, has lost it’s King – the most evil, vile and despicable villain on TV: young King Joffrey - played brilliantly by 21 year old Irish born actor Jack Gleeson.

evil king joffrey

And that’s saying a mouth full considering the legions of evil folks that people this hard edged series – now into it’s 4th season.

joffrey has some pie ...

Having not read the books I have to admit Joffrey’s death was a surprise/shocker at this moment. Most of us figured he’d get it eventually (though there’s never any such guarantees in George R. R. Martin’s writing) but felt he’d hang around for while longer – and perform even more dastardly deeds. And I’m sure many people also felt he deserved a more extreme end than poisoning – which only took about 20 seconds to kill him. The Fiend!

But as an actor you have to feel for Gleeson a bit – for 3 reasons:
1. He’s outta work.
2. You’d be surprised how many people think that the actor is like the character he is portraying. So if you’ve been portraying a particularly evil character- and doing a great job of it - you might want to be a bit cautious walking down the street.
3. There is also the problem of becoming Typecast to such roles.

And he didn’t exit easily – as the main protagonist of the series – the amazing Peter Dinklage who plays Tyrion Lannister - is getting fingered for the assassination.


Now everyone is speculating who actually did perform the deed? of which but there is no end of suspects because nearly anybody/everybody has a just motive. I’m betting it was the knight who was demoted by Joffrey to be the King’s fool …

But unfortunately, in Game of Thrones being innocent doesn’t mean Tyrion won’t get executed for it – as writer Martin routinely bumps off your favorite characters.

We’ll see …

Dinklage with Emmy

Yee Haw !


The Last of the Mohicans ? … revisited

11 Apr

The Kiss – The Last of the Mohicans / Trevor Jones

The Last of the Mohicans 

Chingachgook: “The frontier moves with the sun and pushes the Red Man of these wilderness forests in front of it until one day there will be nowhere left. Then our race will be no more, or be not us.”

Not knowing exactly where I want to go right now. No shortage of directions. I believe frizztext was commenting that he liked The Last of the Mohicans page – which always gives me cause to look things over again – and I inevitably see a lot that I want to fix or edit. I initially stopped working to the TLOTM page because it was getting so large (by my estimation). But I’ve gotten over that and will now add quite a bit more!

The Last of the Mohicans is a great movie and a huge favorite of many people. In fact, it almost seems to have it’s own fan club.

The Last of the Mohicans title banner 1

lotm opening date

lotm opening prologue

lotm opening prologue 2

The Last of the Mohicans original poster

The Last of the Mohicans Director's Cut poster 2

Many Visions … 

Internet Movie Database (IMDB) says:

“The film was originally scheduled for a summer 1992 release, as the teaser posters said, but when Michael Mann’s first version clocked in at three hours, he was told by Fox to cut the film down and the release was postponed to September. Mann was never happy with the resulting two-hour version, feeling he had not had enough time to properly trim it, and so Fox allowed him to re-edit it entirely for the 1999 DVD release. Although only a few minutes longer, the new version features minor changes throughout the film. It is Mann’s preferred version and the only one available on DVD in the US.”

There is much dissention among the fans about the 5 separate DVD versions of this film. Some applaud newer versions while others are mortified that some features, such as the removal of dialogue, has changed the movie from the original. I would question such changes myself and the Director’s Cut is one version that does precisely that – not that most of us would notice.

This raises the issue of Director’s Cuts in general – some, of which, improve a movie – while others seem to do the opposite. ‘More’ or ‘Less’ of something is not always a good idea.

DVD Talk has a superlative review of the Director’s Cut – (Thomas SpurlinStaff Reviewer)

Existing Versions 

1. The Last of the Mohicans: Director’s Definitive Cut Blu-ray 10/14/10
2. The Last of the Mohicans DVD Video 2/13/07
3. Last Of The Mohicans (DTS) DVD Video 1/11/01
4. The Last Of The Mohicans: Director’s Cut DVD Video 3/20/00
5. Last of the Mohicans DVD Video 1/4/00

Kentucky Long Rifle space bar

Another interesting Mohicans anomaly is the abundance of ‘clips’ available on the net – some fairly lengthy – where you can watch most of the best scenes in the movie. I could easily devote a whole page to the numerous clips alone. I can only guess this has occurred due to the number of versions??

Lewis and Stowe

Lewis and Stowe 

Kentucky Long Rifle space bar

Duncan: “There is a war on. How is it you are headed west?”
Hawkeye: “Well, we kinda face to the north and real subtle-like turn left.”

last of the mohicans book cover


Albert Bierstadt …

10 Apr

Albert Bierstadt, Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Albert Bierstadt, Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Albert Bierstadt, Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak

Albert Bierstadt, Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak

Albert Bierstadt, A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Rosalie

Albert Bierstadt, A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Rosalie

Albert Bierstadt

Albert Bierstadt (January 7, 1830 – February 18, 1902)

Mickey …

9 Apr

“I don`t regret anything I’ve ever done.
I only wish I could have done more.”

mickey rooney

 “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” 
- Puck / A Midsummer NIghts Dream
William Shakespeare

mickey rooney star

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Default Frame Problem fixed …

8 Apr


People …

De fault wuz all my own.

The Default Frame problem is fixed – thanks to Fabiana at WordPress.

Thank you also to the Doug and CIndy for responding.

I was very frustrated with this issue and my attempts to fix went on for a LONG time - and really got to me. I was beginning to think WordPress was run by bots or a computer.

Anyway …. now I can do something.


Australian Native“I wuz framed I tell ya!”


untitled …

6 Apr





Default Frames … help please.

4 Apr

Default Frames

WordPress is nagging me to renew my subscription.  I want to … but I have a problem with them - They won’t tell me how to remove Default Frames – though I’ve asked them several times.

Default Frames on my images has been a problem ever since I started my blog. Up till now I’ve been removing them manually – which is a pain, but it works. However, recently WordPress made another one of it’s unannounced ‘improvements” to the Toolbar – and I am completely unable to remove them at all.

Unless I place a caption under every image. Which I do not want to have to do. Would you?

I’ve gone on YouTube and tried to follow advice on editing CSS, but I can’t figure it out. Hell I don’t even know how to get in there? I have very little technical ability with this stuff – though it’s elementary to most everyone else.

Below … example of how Default Frames can ruin a blog image


Below: the only way i know how to remove a Default Frame – by adding a caption.


A caption: the only way i know how to remove a default frame

Any help would be appreciated … then I can get on with things.

Thank you.

Now Available !!!

1 Apr

You can’t make this stuff up …

April fools … it’s true!!!

“As high as an elephant’s eye”

30 Mar

I’ve surely had some privileges in my life. One of those was that my folks were great lovers of Movie Musicals. So I grew up listening to many on our stereo (another privilege) like The King and I, My Fair Lady, Camelot, The Sound of Music … and on and on.

Among those was Oklahoma – and us kids on the farm at Brooks knew all the words and songs.

Anyhow, I came upon this clip on YouTube … thot I’d put it up.


Times have surely changed … yet I still love it.

Waltzing Matilda – history of a song

29 Mar


Very nice job Mate! Thanks for coming around.

Originally posted on Flickr Comments:

Waltzing Matilda , first lyrics were written 1895 in Australia, the title is not related to a dance and not related to a woman. Matilda was the name for a bag on the back of wandering shepherds. The lyrics are related to a sheep-shearer, who was a protester vs bad working conditions. During the protest a barn was burned, some sheep were killed. The protester Samuel Hoffmeister was accused, but he said he was not guilty and made suicide beneath his favorite water hole – where he usually ate some stolen sheep.

Maybe you have an interest to read more at wikipedia. The song became a kind of second national anthem in Australia, was used for the opening of Olympic games 1976, was the soundtrack for a female soccer team (the Matildas) or was used supporting the out-sending of Australian troops vs Iraq etc. In Australia the whole…

View original 60 more words

canyon …

25 Mar


canyon 2

canyon 2

The Legend of the Wilhelm Scream …

22 Mar

In movie Lore, the Wilhelm Scream is one of the most famous Sound Effects of all time / Iconic  - very often inserted in action films and even comedies. Movie buffs watch for it and have recorded many instances of it’s use. See below:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Wilhelm scream

“The Wilhelm scream is a legendary film and television stock sound effect that has been used in more than 200 movies, beginning in 1951 for the film Distant Drums. The scream is often used when someone is shot, falls from a great height, or is thrown from an explosion.

The Wilhelm scream’s revival came from motion picture sound designer Ben Burtt, who discovered the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled “Man being eaten by alligator”) and incorporated it into a scene in Star WarsBurtt is credited with naming the scream after Private Wilhelm (see The Charge at Feather River) – a Western (MFW: YAY!).

Research by Burtt suggests that Sheb Wooley, best known for his novelty song “The Purple People Eater in 1958 and as scout Pete Nolan on the television series Rawhide, is likely to have been the voice actor who originally performed the scream.  the sound is named after Private Wilhelm, a character in The Charge at Feather River, a 1953 Western in which the character is shot with an arrow. This was its first use from the Warner Bros. stock sound library, although The Charge at Feather River is believed to have been the third movie to use the effect.

The effect gained new popularity (its use often becoming an in-joke) after it was used in Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Indiana Jones series, Disney cartoons and many other blockbuster films as well as many television programs and video games.

The Scream has become such a popular legend that it is now often seen (heard) on many TV Shows, Cartoons and has made it’s way in popular Video and Computer Games !!!

Who knew !!???

Ben Burtt with Oscar, C3PO and R2d2 …

High Noon Badguys - Sheb Wooley, Ian McDonald, Lee Van Cleef, Robert J. Wilkie

Sheb Wooley, Ian McDonald, Lee Van Cleef, Robert J. Wilkie in High Noon (1952)

Colt Peacemaker

So the next time you hear a Wilhelm you might be inspired to utter one of these:


Spring blizzard …

20 Mar

Spring Blizzard

First Day of Spring ______ First Spring Blizzard …

20 Mar

Spring in Alberta … the West 

It’s been a brutal winter for many across the continent but today we had our first authentic Spring blizzard.

Winter doesn’t leave easily around here.

We have a tall tale here about some cowboys that go to church one Winter Sunday. The snow is so deep that they have to tie their horses up to the steeple.
During the Service a Chinook come up (a warm Westerly wind we get here at times) and when the cowboys come out they find all the snow is melted and their horses are hanging from the steeple.
I’ve wondered at times if that tale isn’t so Tall.

A day or so ago we had another sudden snowfall – resulting in over 200 accidents around town. We may surely double that today – and I could hear the sirens blaring before I even got out of bed. It’s even worse out on the highways due to whiteouts and such – you often can’t see the lines on the road so you don’t know whether you are in your lane or not. Even headlights don’t help at times.

Spring Blizzard

typical highway in snowstorm

Only blessing is that I don’t have to work today. So I’ve plugged my car in and hope things are better tomorrow. Now I’m going out to shovel the walk.

Up in the mountains they are having a very bad avalanche season and have been warning people about it. Still, 8 people have died in avalanche mishaps. So far.

In all this, somebody sighted a grizzly yesterday – out of hibernation. Guess that’s a sign of Spring for sure.

I’m ready … just have to shovel the snow off my barbeque …

Aussies … over the top …

20 Mar

While somebody was whining that there are too many Canadians in Hollywood, the Aussies marched in the bloody front door.

Errol Flynn

Kidman and Jackman

Australian Actors

Australian Actors 2

Kidman and Jackman 2

Australian Native

Yes, I know I’ve missed quite a few people. There are hundreds of Aussies working in every area of the Entertainment Industry.

G’Day Mate !!

Shalako (1968) _________ Western Anomaly ?

19 Mar


“Sean Connery is Shalako! Shalako means action!
Action means Bardot!”

Colt Peacemaker

“Connery is Shalako – He tamed the West!
Bardot is Irina – She tamed Shalako!”


Countess Irina Lazaar (Bardot):
“Shalako – it’s a strange name”.
 Shalako (Connery):
“Yeah. It means “rain-bringer.” Zuni Indian”.

Colt Peacemaker

My eldest brother, Richard, asked me what I thought of Shalako (1968)?

Wikipedia says: Shalako is a 1968 Western film directed by American Edward Dmytryk, starring Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot. The British production was filmed in Alméria, Spain.

Though not regarded as a Western Classic, Shalako is really not a bad Western at all – and a damned interesting one due to its notable Cast – an overall international collaboration – Directed by Edward Dmytryk (American) - shot in Spain - from the book by Western author Louis L’Amour (American) –  Starring Sean Connery (Scottish), Brigitte Bardot (French), Jack Hawkins (English), Steven Boyd (Irish), Eric Sykes (English) , Honor Blackman (English), Woody Strode (American), Valerie French (not French) and others …

Jack Hawkins (was already a well-respected veteran Star/actor) and Steven Boyd - would both be recognized by their Starring roles in Ben Hur (1959). 

So … a coterie of fine acting talent and charismatic Movie Stars. Mostly European – strange for a Western – but not unrealistic to the times / Old West.

So, if Shalako has nothing else, it has Star Power - Not to be under-rated.

And though Shalako is made in the Spaghetti Western era – it  doesn’t have the feel of a Spaghetti Western? You’d think it would … but …

(All this proves my Theory (#83) as to why Western Films will never die: Every Actor and every Director want to make or appear in a Western at some point.)

Connery and Bardot have some nice interplay in sharing the bulk of the screen time. Also there’s some decent action in what is a pretty well a straight up Western action tale with the Apaches (again) playing the heavies. Possibly a Western that may enjoy greater appreciation with time.

MFW Review?:

Shalako is an interesting Western – a curiosity. Worth a watch … but maybe just one.

Shalako review IMDB


- Other Steven Boyd Westerns: The Bravados (a Classic), Bandolero (not a Classic).

- Wikipedia: “Jack Hawkins, a three-pack-a-day smoker began experiencing voice problems in the late 1950s; unknown to the public he had undergone cobalt treatment in 1959 for what was then described as a secondary condition of the larynx, but which was probably cancer. In private, he used a mechanical larynx to aid his speech. In December 1965, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. His entire larynx was removed in January of the following year; thereafter his performances were dubbed, often (with Hawkins’s approval) by Robert Rietti or Charles Gray. Hawkins continued to smoke after losing his voice.
He died at St Stephen’s Hospital, Fulham Road, London, on 18 July 1973, following an operation to insert an artificial voicebox. He was 62.”


Shalako Poster 1

Shalako Poster 2

Shalako Poster 3

Shalako Poster 4

Shalako Poster 5

Shalako Poster 6

Shalako Poster 7

Shalako Poster 8

Shalako Poster 9

Shalako Poster 11

Shalako Poster 10

The Book

Shalako Louis L'Amour books

Colt Peacemaker

Shalako Sean Connery

Shalako Bardot as the Countess

Shalako Bardot as the Countess

Shalako Jack Hawkins

Jack Hawkins

Shalako Woody Strode as Apache

Woody Strode as Apache

Shalako Steven Boyd and Bardot

Shalako  - Steven Boyd and Bardot

Shalako Sean Connery and Bardot

Shalako – Sean Connery and Bardot

Shalako Sean Connery 2

Shalako – Sean Connery

Shalako The End

Cue the Lights (2014)

14 Mar


Some Classic stuff … surrounding a Classic Western scenario … nicely done.

Originally posted on timneath:

A video montage exploring the removal of studio lights from westerns to leave a more authentic scene. Taking place within the saloon environment.

View original

Dusters Down Under: Part 9: The Proposition

11 Mar

I’ve been somewhat reticent in placing The Proposition among my Dusters Down Under. It certainly qualifies as a Western, and it’s a well made film, but it’s excessive violent and brutal scenes is something that I would warn others about – and of which I believe has negatively impacted it’s popularity.

Be forewarned.

The Proposition (2005)




kangaroo bar

THE PROPOSTION imdb review

THE PROPOSTION rotten tomatoes review


Guy Pearce


Ray Winstone


Danny Huston


John Hurt


Australian Film Institute:
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design
Best Original Music Score
Best Production Design

Australia Film Critics:
Best Cinematography
Best Musical Score

Chlotrudis Awards:
Best Screenplay – Original (Nick Cave)

Inside Film Awards (IF Awards)
Best Cinematography
Best Film
Best Music
Best Production Design:

San Diego Film Critics:
Best Supporting Actor (Ray Winstone)

Venice Film Festival:
Gucci Prize

Parallax Update / Jeff Bosley !

9 Mar

Paralax update

From Jeff Bosley:
jeffbosley March 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm

New site is up. New YouTube channel is up.

Some leaked footage may be coming out. Email list is up. (And by “up” I mean being constructed).

Keep you eye out on

From Jeff Bosley:

jeffbosley March 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm
 Tonight is the night!!!!

The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival

7 Mar
The Man from Snowy River Riley

Jack Riley – The Man from Snowy River ???

The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival

The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival

kangaroo bar

The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival

is held annually in Corryong, Victoria in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains halfway between Melbourne and Sydney.

The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival was established in its current format in 1995, when promoter Jonathon King celebrated the centenary year of Banjo Paterson’s poem “The Man from Snowy River”. This was a celebration of bush folklore, skills and traditions based around the icon Jack Riley and all he represented. For historical information please refer to The Man from Snowy River Museum.

It is a unique bush gathering of mountain riders, poets, artists and lovers of the Australian High Country and pioneering spirit. Held every April, the Festival brings together people from around Australia as well as international visitors to celebrate traditional high country and bush culture and in particular the imagery created by AB Banjo Paterson’s and Australia’s most famous poem “The Man from Snowy River”.

The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival recreates the fun and excitement of a bush gathering where both new and old friends come together to have a yarn and a beer, to enjoy traditional bush tucker and, of course, kick up their heels.

The Festival offers contestant and visitor alike a unique opportunity to be part of the celebration of traditional Australian Bush skills that remain an essential part of Australia’s heritage.

The Man from Snowy River Challenge, Art and Photography Exhibition, Bush Poetry and Music The Re Enactment of Banjo’s famous poem, Aussie Bush Idol and Ute Muster have grown to be events listed on calendars all over Australia.

Riley’s Ride

Riley’s Ride 2013 & 2014 are fully Booked:  Next Ride avaiable is 2015.  A limited number of bookings for the 2015 Ride can be made at the 2014 Man From Snowy River Festival with the balance opening at a later date in 2014. This date will be announced at the 2014 festival.

Each year prior to the Festival, horse riders set out on a four day trail ride through breathtaking scenery which leant poetic inspiration to Banjo Paterson. Known as ‘Riley’s Ride’ the event is an essential element of the Bush Festival. It traces the last journey of legendary Upper Murray stockman Jack Riley who met Banjo Paterson in 1890 and is locally regarded as the inspiration for Paterson ‘s famous ballad, “The Man from Snowy River”.

Follow the footsteps of the Man from Snowy River, meet new friends and have a great time whilst enjoying the scenery of the magnificent Upper Murray.

The annual ride is held to commemorate Jack Riley’s life, and the part he played in the early days of this district, and also to laud the efforts of those who selflessly sought to rescue him under harsh and trying conditions. Jack and his meeting with Banjo, is reputed to be the inspiration which led to the penning of “The Man From Snowy River”, Banjo Paterson’s epic ballad. Riley’s Ride was instigated in 1989. The ride offers spectacular views and the chance to meet people from far and wide, who may come from many different walks of life but share a love of the Australian bush and deep respect for the pioneering families of the area. It is a challenging ride and a character building experience.

Please remember that the 4 day trail ride does cover mountainous terrain with several very steep climbs and descents. You and your horse should have a good level of fitness and be well prepared to limit the chance of injury. You will be travelling through remote and difficult to access, other than by horse or foot, areas. You must have current ambulance cover.

We travel on average about 30kms a day. You can expect to spend between 5 to 8 hours in the saddle each day. We break into groups of about 8 horses for most stages of the ride.

Waltzing Matilda …

7 Mar

Not sure if this is Western or not … I just found it darn interesting:

Paterson’s “Waltzing Matilda”
by Steve King

From Today in Literature:

On this day (Feb 17) in 1864 A. B. (“Banjo”) Paterson, the Australian bush poet who wrote “Waltzing Matilda,” was born in New South Wales. The story of the creation of Australia’s unofficial national anthem is an engaging one, a convergence of history, politics, biography, etymology and irony that unravels in all directions. In 1894 Paterson was a thirty year-old city lawyer with a distaste for both cities and the practice of law. He preferred horses, history and his outback home, and writing ballads about them. While on a visit with his fiance to Dagworth Station (large ranches, originally run by the government on convict labor) in Queensland, Paterson was taken with a nameless tune that he heard his hostess play on the piano from memory. Having decided to set words to it, Paterson immediately found his raw material in his host’s guided tour of the Station, which included a description of those events surrounding the eight-day Shearers’ Strike several months earlier. The “swagman [a drifter or itinerant sheep-shearer, carrying his swag or blanket-roll] camped by a billabong [waterhole]” was Samuel “Frenchy” Hoffmeister. He was a militant member of the Shearers’ Union, thought to have been the one responsible for burning down the Dagworth woolshed, killing 140 sheep. He was not relaxing “under the shade of a coolibah [eucalyptus] tree” but hiding out. If “he sang as he watched and waited ’til his billy [tin can of water] boiled,” it would have been very softly. When the swagman “stowed that jumbuck [sheep] in his tucker [food] bag” he was adding the fuel of poaching to the fire of political and class war. When “up rode the squatter [wealthy landowner], mounted on his thoroughbred,” backed by “the troopers, one, two, three,” it was a contest no swagman — least of all a militant unionist-arsonist-poacher — could win. When he suicidally “leapt into the billabong,” crying “You’ll never catch me alive,” it was the leap of a cornered, outback, underclass, convict-bred martyr, to the cry of ‘up yours, mate.’

“Frenchy” Hoffmeister, the historical swagman, shot rather than drowned himself, and was from German stock, as was the expression “waltzing Matilda.” Auf der walz means to ‘go on the tramp’ or hit the road, used in Germany to describe traveling workers or soldiers on the march; a Matilda came to mean those women who followed the soldiers, to ‘keep them warm.’ Eventually the soldier’s greatcoat or blanket was a Matilda. Thus Paterson’s swagman-hero was not only without justice, or food, or a way out, but a woman’s warmth. And the nameless tune that Paterson first heard at Dagworth Station and took for his swagman turned out to be a version of the “Craigielee March,” which was itself taken from a century-old Scottish air called “Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielee.” There may be older, less direct roots for the tune that Paterson made famous, but “Craigielee” was written by Robert Tannahill, a lonely, semi-cripple who would escape to the woods, and whose final relief was to kill himself by drowning.

waltzing matilda a b paterson 1

Dusters Down Under: Part 8: The Man from Snowy River: Part 2

3 Mar

The Man from Snowy River (1982): Part 2

The Man from Snowy River / Main Theme. Bruce Rowland composed the music for the film, and also conducted the orchestra during the recording of the album. The powerful, brilliant soundtrack drives the film

The Man from Snowy River banner

The Man from Snowy River tagline

The Man from Snowy River / Jessica’s Theme

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The Man from Snowy River posters

Notice anything about these posters? Kirk Douglas – among the greatest Western Film actors of all time, and who has an important and prominent role in the movie (two roles in fact!!) receives next to no Billing or on the posters. ????

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The Man from Snowy River review rotten tomatoes The Man from Snowy River review imdb

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The Man from Snowy River kirk douglas

Kirk Douglas … the one and only

The Man from Snowy River kirk douglas 2

Kirk Douglas … Role 2

The Man from Snowy River tom burlinson

Tom Burlinson

The Man from Snowy River Sigrid Thornton

Sigrid Thornton

The Man from Snowy River thornton and burlinson

Thornton and Burlinson

Dusters Down Under: Part 8: The Man from Snowy River: Part 1

3 Mar

The Man from Snowy River

Between my work schedule I’m trying to get something done here daily basis – but I’m losing ground.

But I ran into another interesting snag. Remember that I said that when you dig around a bit Down Under you never know what you might uncover. it’s a bit like flipping a rock over and finding a gold nugget underneath. Lots of nuggets. Such is the case with the The Man from Snowy River. It has lots of nuggets – that I just can’t brush by.

For example:

- Did you know that story of The Man from Snowy River is based on a poem by a guy named A. B. Paterson?
- And that A. B. Paterson also wrote Waltzing Matilda? – the ‘Unofficial Anthem of Australia?’
- Did you know that The Man from Snowy River seems to have been a real person?
- Did you know that Australians have it’s their rodeos and authentic Western style culture? – very similar – if not identical to rodeos in the US and Canada? Yet not a copycat.


So the first part of Snowy River is about this guy called to A. B. Paterson.

A B Paterson

“Banjo” is a writing pseudonym that Paterson chose for himself – named after a horse of his.

A B Paterson The Man from Snowy River

A B Paterson statue

One of several statues of A B Paterson .. an important man in Aussie History.

What we will ultimately – and clearly – discover in The Man from Snowy RiverNed Kelly and Mad Dog Morgan (and others) is that Australia has it’s own authentic, genuine and distinct Western style traditions and culture.
In that sense Quigley Down Under is a bit of a Wanna Be Western whereby an American is imported to Australia to make a Western  - a good movie, but completely unnecessary really. Australia has it’s own thing going – and as of yet not yet fully explored or exploited.

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A B Paterson Snowy River

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Australia Map

Snowy River map

The Man From Snowy River by A.B. Paterson (1890)

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.
There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up-
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.
And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least -
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die -
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.
But so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop-lad, you’d better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend -
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.”
“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”
So he went – they found the horses by the big mimosa clump -
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”
So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.
Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their sway,
Were mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”
When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.
He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timbers in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat -
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.
He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.
And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound in their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.
And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

cowboy too …

27 Feb

the real cowboy

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cowboy …

27 Feb


Tom Selleck Westerns: The Sacketts

25 Feb

The Sacketts tagline

The Sacketts opening banner

The made-for-television western The Sacketts combines the plotlines from two seperate Louis L’Amour novels, The Daybreakers and The Sacketts. In this film, the three Tennessee-raised Sackett brothers migrate to the West following the conclusion of the Civil War. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Movie Guide.

The Sacketts poster

The Sacketts dvd cover

Made ten years before Lonesome Dove, The Sacketts (1979) may well have been the first great Western Mini Series – and in looking at the cast, it’s easy to understand why some Western fans may hold it with similar esteem, with Western Greats like Glenn Ford, Sam ElliottTom SelleckSlim Pickens, Jack Elam, Ben  Johnson, L.Q. Jones, and some notable support players including John Vernon, Gilbert Roland, Buck Taylor  and on. Pretty impressive. So although The Sacketts does show itself to be a little shy in production values compared to modern fair, it still shines with notable Star Power.

The Sacketts IMDB review

The Sacketts Rotten Tomatoes reviewRatings were favourable … as they should be.

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The Cast

The Sacketts - Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, Jeff Osterhage

Sam Elliott

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Tom Selleck

tom selleck the sacketts

 Jeff Osterhage

The Sacketts - Jeff Osterhage 2

 Glenn Ford

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Ben Johnson

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Jack Elam

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Slim Pickens

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John Vernon

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THE SACKETTS ... doing 'the walk'

Sacketts … doing ‘the walk’

Sam Elliott … The Sacketts

23 Feb

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Dusters Down Under: Part 7: Quigley, Down Under: Part 3

20 Feb

Quigley Down Under
and the Sharps 1874 Model Rifle

Quigley ... down the barrel

E Arthur Brown

Quigley Sharps Rifle by Shiloh Sharps

“The Quigley® rifle itself was a custom conversion from a cavalry model breech loader and it retained the patch box and saddle ring from that incarnation. The older 1863 rifles shot non-metallic paper cartridges, loaded from the breech. The falling block served to slice off the end of the paper cartridge and expose the gun powder. The Quigley® 1874 conversion was rebarreled and re-worked to fire 45 calibre 110 grain metallic cartridges. The 45 -110 stands for 45 calibre and 110 grains of black powder … Authenticity is everywhere in this movie, including the time it takes for a heavy 45 calibre bullet to travel 1,000 yards AND the fact that it gets there a noticeable few moments before the sound of the shot can be heard by the bad guy who’s getting shot!
The Quigley® Rifle used in the actual movie was made by Shiloh Rifle company (Powder River Rifle Company). Its rumoured the movie production schedule had to wait in line three years for the rifle to be completed! After the movie it was donated by Tom Selleck to the NRA for a fund raising auction. In 2010, Powder River Rifle Company acquired the Quigley® trademark from Cimarron Firearms Company. See the actual rifle at ShilohSharps Rifles.”

Quigley and Sharps Demo - Rickman

Quigley and Sharps Demo

Quigley and Sharps Sight


“The Movie Is Magnificent - Tom Selleck makes the Quigley® character into a hero we all wish we could be. He wins the love of a beautiful girl, beats the bad guys with heroic American style, and introduces the audience to the deadly efficiency of Single Shot Rifles… See the Movie. Own the Gun!”


Gold Fever … Canadian Style …

20 Feb

Womens' Gold Hockey

Pardon the diversion …  it really means absolutely nothing to us … (cough)

Dusters Down Under: Part 7: Quigley, Down Under: Part 2

19 Feb

- Quigley Down Under Soundtrack – Main theme: Basil Poledouris

“God created all men. Sam Colt made them equal.”
- Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck)




QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER rifle bracket

QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER Selleck with Laura San Giacomo

Selleck with co-Star Laura San Giacomo

QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER Selleck with Laura San Giacomo 2

QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER Selleck with Laura San Giacomo 3

Cora: You know, if we’re lost, you can tell me.
Quigley: We’re lost.
Cora: I can take bad news. Just tell me straight.
Quigley: I don’t know where the hell we are.
Cora: No sense takin’ time to make it sound better than it is.
Quigley:  I reckon we’re goin’ in circles.





“This ain’t Dodge City. And you ain’t Bill Hickok.”
- Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck)

From WIkipedia:

John Hill first began writing Quigley Down Under in 1978, and both Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood were considered for the lead, but by the time production began in 1980, McQueen was too ill and the project was scrapped. In the mid-1980s Tom Selleck heard of it and UAA got involved; the film was almost set up at Warner Bros with Lewis Gilbert as director but it fell over during pre-production. Simon Wincer then became director, who felt a good story had been ruined by numerous rewrites from people who knew little about Australian history, so he brought on Ian Jones as writer. They went back to the original draft, re-set it from the 1880s to the 1860s and made it more historically accurate.


QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER Rotten Tomatoes review



Dusters Down Under: Part 7: Quigley, Down Under: Part 1

18 Feb

I stumble out of the bush … flinging down the worthy ghost of Ned Kelly …
(I never thought he would be so heavy … maybe it’s that armour?)
I’m heading for desert and high country … the lands of crocodiles, the Aborigine, Snowy River, and the Outback …
3 Dusters await: Quigley, Down Under (1990), The Man from Snowy River (1982) and The Proposition (2005), Australian-style: ‘not necessarily in that order’ …  but who knows what the hell else is out here ???
Not me.


“There’s a price on his head,
A girl on his mind,
And a twinkle in his eye.”

“The West was never this far West.”

Quigley, Down Under (1990)

… this outta get some dust in my mouth.

Tom Selleck’s notable (and long anticipated) appearance in a Western worthy of his stature. We can now see why Speilberg wanted him for Indiana Jones – and are somewhat saddened that he hadn’t done more work like this up till now as Selleck seems to be one of those actors who was born to be a Cowboy.
Strange that it had to happen in Australia?




No matter – it’s all good: A Classic.


Massive UPDATE: The Magnificent Seven Page …

16 Feb

The Magnificent Seven Official Soundtrack theme … Elmer Bernstein

MFW Banner


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Yul Brynner / Chris

Yul Brynner official pic magnificent seven

Yul Brynner as Chris

“I’ve been offered a lot for my work, but never everything.”

It’s said that the idea of (“An Americanization of the film, Seven Samurai (1954)”) to The Magnificent Seven, was Yul Brynner’s idea.
In any case, it’s no secret who the Star of this film was: Yul himself. And a magnificent Star he was – surely one of the most charismatic actors in Hollywood history.
The whole success of the film and it’s cast – one the the major Western Classics even carries to this day – where constant rumours or a remake swirl. A remake, which would possibly be an impossible task in it’s challenge to find Stars of the stature or a Yul Brynner – and the rest of the cast. A very daunting task.
Brynner cemented his image as Western Film Star and went on to appear in several spin-offs – none of which were as imposing as Magnificent Seven – yet still worthy of a look due to Brynner’s Star power.
Alas dying far too early at the age of 65 from lung cancer.

Yul Brynner Western Filmography
The Magnificent Seven / 1960
Invitation to a Gunfighter / 1964
Return of the Seven / 1966
Villa Rides / 1968
Adios, Sabata / 1970
Catlow / 1971
Westworld / 1973

Steve McQueen / Vin

steve mcqueen 3

“We deal in lead, friend.”

Billed 3rd behind Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach, McQueen’s shameless antics to steal scenes is the stuff of movie legends – as McQueen evidently feared Brynner’s notable charisma would overshadow him – and eventually started a one-upmanship duel between Brynner and McQueen throughout the filming. Steve, of course, eventually went on to become a big Star and success in his own right – and I wonder if they both didn’t share a chuckle about all this later on.
In the long run, it’s interesting that both of these great Stars seemed to pass before their time: McQueen of cancer at age 50 and Brynner of cancer at age 65 – both from smoking.
Tragic, as both would have undoubtedly continued to make good work.

Steve McQueen Western Filmography:
Tales of the Wells Fargo
/ TV Western / 1958 Guest Appearance
Trackdown / TV Western / 1958 Guest Appearance (2)
Wanted: Dead or Alive 
/ TV Western / 1958 Series Star / 1958 – 1961
The Magnificent Seven / Co-Star / 1960
Nevada Smith / Star / 1966
Junior Bonner / Star (Directed by Sam Pekinpah) / 1972
Tom Horn / Star / 1980

James Coburn / Britt

james coburn

“Nobody throws me my own guns and tells me to ride on. Nobody.”

James Coburn Western Filmography
1959 Ride Lonesome
1959 Face of a Fugitive
1960 The Magnificent Seven
1963 The Man from Galveston
1964 Major Dundee
1967 Waterhole No. 3
1971 Duck, You Sucker! / Renamed A Fistful of Dynamite for U.S. release
1972 A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die / Renamed Massacre At Fort Holman for U.S. release
1973 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Sam Peckinpah
1975 Bite the Bullet
1984 Draw!
1990 Young Guns II
1994 Maverick
1996 Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right
2000 Texas Rangers

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Charles Bronson / Bernardo

CASTING charles bronson

Bronson seemed (to me) to be a man that had paid his dues (he had) and this seemed to shine through his on-screen persona.

But he had that soft side too – as we see with the kids in The Magnificent Seven. Maybe that comes from his upbringing in a real life family of 14 brothers and sisters.

When we are introduced to Bronson in The Magnificent Seven we encounter him chopping wood. You better believe that no acting was necessary. And he could just as easily have been swinging a pick.

It’s a smart casting trick: choosing people who don’t need to act.

Bronson’s unique looks, however, allowed him to play roles of different cultures and races. Mexicans, Indians … his name in The Magnificent Seven is Bernardo O’Rielly … Italian Irish ?


Charles Dennis Buchinsky

WIKIPEDIA: Bronson was born Charles Dennis Buchinsky in Ehrenfeld in Cambria County in the coal region of the Allegheny Mountains north of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. During the McCarthy hearings, he changed his last name to Bronson, fearing that Buchinsky sounded “too Russian”; the name was taken from Bronson Avenue in Hollywood, where the famous gated entrance to Paramount Pictures is located.

He was one of fifteen children born to a Lithuanian (Lipka Tatar) immigrant father and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father, Walter Bunchinski, who later adjusted his surname to Buchinsky to sound more “American”, hailed from the town of Druskininkai. Bronson’s mother, Mary (née Valinsky), whose parents were from Lithuania, was born in the coal mining town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. He learned to speak English when he was a teen, before that he spoke Russian and Lithuanian.

Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. As a young child, Bronson did not initially know how to speak English and only learned the language while in his teens. When Bronson was 10 years old, his father died. Young Charles went to work in the coal mines, first in the mining office and then in the mine itself. He earned $1 for each ton of coal that he mined. He worked in the mine until he entered military service during World War II. His family was so poor that, at one time, he reportedly had to wear his sister’s dress to school because of his lack of clothing.

In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based on Guam. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his service.”

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“I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.”
~ Charles Bronson / The Magnificent Seven.

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Robert Vaughn / Lee

Yaughn as Lee


“Till you lose your nerve. You can feel it. Then you wait … for the bullet in the gun that is faster than you are …”

Lee is probably the most complicated Character of the Seven.

Vaughn’s and (Director) John Stuges’ portrayal of Lee is be-gloved, dapper, dudish, white shirted, articulate gentleman gunsfighter – with a string tie,
who had lost his nerve and his touch.
A washed up gunslinger.

A bit of a tragic figure to be sure … only redeemed moments before his death – a death we sense is somewhat of a relief for him from the torture of the failure that he feels himself to be.
It’s pretty well telegraphed to us from the beginning that Lee will not be one of the Seven who rides off into the sunset.


Robert Vaughn Western Filmography
Good Day for a Hanging
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
TV Work:
Gunsmoke (1956) Guest
Frontier (1956) Guest
Tales of Wells Fargo (1957) Guest
The Rifleman (1958) Guest
Law of the Plainsman (1959) Guest
Wichita Town (1959) Guest
Laramie (1960) Guest
The Man from Blackhawk (1960) Guest
Bonanza (1961) Guest
The Blue and the Gray (1982 mini-series)

Horst Buchholz / Chico 

Horst Buchholz

I wonder if people really appreciate the acting of Horst Buchholz in The Magnificent Seven? I doubt it.

Here’s a young German actor who comes over here … and does a Mexican Hat Dance, a mock bullfight, handles the romance, the action, some comic relief, and is also brilliant in the several dramatic scenes including the famous ‘audition scene’ with Yul Brynner. Displaying a breadth and depth of emotion throughout the movie.

Pretty heady stuff.

Brynner and Buchholz

Brynner and Buchholz …. renegotiating

Horst Bucholz bullfighter

el toro !

Horst Bucholz and Rosenda Monteros

Horst Bucholz and Rosenda Monteros

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Brad Dexter / Harry Luck

Brad Dexter as Harry Luck
The Magnificent Seven

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The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven - Bronson, Dexter, Vaughn

Bronson, Dexter, Vaughn

Let’s call it Luck … bad luck, because sadly, strangely, unfairly, movies often all boil down to that intangible element called Charisma.
You either got it … or you don’t.

The Magnificent Seven

The proof is in the most famous trivia question of Western Film:
“Who was that Seventh guy anyway?”

Even when people are shown his picture …
most people STILL don’t know his name.

Brad Dexter

Playing Harry Luck.

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Against the other members of the Seven … Brad simply fell into shadow.

Oh, Brad Dexter was cast correctly for his part alight – as the cynical member of the Seven who was ‘just in it for the money’.

But most everyone else in the cast was already an established Star (Brynner, McQueen, Wallach) – or moving swiftly up the ladder toward bright daylight (Bronson, Coburn, Bucholz and Vaughn).
Brad simply fell back – and never quite made it.

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Brad Dexter / Veljko Soso
April 9, 1917 – December 11, 2002

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Yet Dexter still had a successful film career that spanned some 50 years and included at least 40 movies.

Luck had nothing to do with it.

Eli Wallach / Calvera

“My first Western was called The Magnificent Seven.”
~ Eli Wallach

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Eli Herschel Wallach (born December 7, 1915)
Eli Wallach is 97 years old.

In his acting career Wallach appeared in approximately 90 films and 85 Television shows.

“I never dreamed I would do Westerns.”
~ Eli Wallach

Eli Wallach Westerns

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
How the West Was Won (1962)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Mackenna’s Gold (1969)
Long Live Your Death (1971)
Shoot First… Ask Questions Later (1975)

Wallach says he once received a letter from the Pope who told him that his favorite Wallach Movie was The Magnificent Seven.

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“As an actor I’ve played more bandits, thieves, killers, warlords, molesters, and Mafiosi than you could shake a stick at.”
~ Eli Wallach

Below is my favorite Wallach scene from the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

I heard Wallach say that Director Sergio Leone basically gave him free reign to improvise that scene any way he wanted.
Nicely done.

Bandito ?

Amazingly, by today’s standards for Western Badguys, Wallach was a pretty nice chap. In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly he may be Ugly and ornery, but he’s basically comic relief, while Eastwood and Van Cleef handle the drama.

Likewise, in The Magnificent Seven, after Wallach and his gang get the drop the Seven, he merely scolds them … and then lets them go! THEN, he gives them back their guns !!! Nice guy. The Seven promptly ride back and kill all the bandits – including Wallach.

He’s also pretty clean … nice red shirt and vest … no tortilla stains, no spitting, cussing, abusing, raping … a little bit of pillaging … but that’s it.

And those peons … in immaculate white togs.

Fact is, the Mexican government was furious at the way Mexicans were depicted in a previous Western, Vera Cruz (starring Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper) and therefore placed people on the set whose job it was to censor any negative depictions of Mexico or Mexicans.

Funny, but nobody seems to notice this … unless someone points it out.

“I always end up being the evil one, and I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
~ Eli Wallach

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Let’s ride !

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Dennis Hopper Western Filmography …

15 Feb

Dennis Hopper Western Filmography

I count Dennis Hopper’s appearances in at least two Western Classics: Gunfight at OK Corral with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas (1957); and True Grit (1969) with John Wayne. Even if Western movie fans didn’t count these movies as Classic, it would be recognized that Hopper had appeared with three of the Greatest Western Movie Stars of all time: Wayne, Lancaster and Douglas.

Some Western fans may also include Hang ‘em High (1968) with another of the Greatest Western Actors of all time: Clint Eastwood; and The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) with John Wayne (again), Dean Martin and Earl Holliman.

Among Western TV Shows. Gunsmoke and Bonanza would well be considered Classics. Cheyenne ? (Note: Hoppers roles in the TV Westerns were as a Guest Star – not a regular.)

Even so, not a bad legacy for one the legendary bad boys of the Entertainment industry.

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hopper sugarfoot

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hopper from hell to texas

hopper zane grey

hopper rifleman

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Hopper …

14 Feb

Dennis Hopper

Dusters Down Under: Part 6: Mad Dogs and Hoppers …

13 Feb

the lost cowboy award

“Beaten, branded, brutalized, but never broken.”

“Ferociously violent – unexpectedly kind. Ruthless bandit or rebel hero? An outlaw’s outlaw with a score to settle.
The true story of the legendary Mad Dog Morgan… a jolting chapter in history.”

Mad Dog Morgan

You know all those stories about Dennis Hopper ?
They’re all true.
A true Hollywood madman and renegade  - and proof positive that nobody can die before their time – no matter how hard they try.

Black listed and black balled from Hollywood for his insane antics, massive substance abuse and irascible nature, he just wouldn’t stay down. And somehow along the way left a noticeable trail of pretty good work – even appearing in 2 or 3 Western Classics

Wikipedia: “The director (Director Philippe Mora) says that Hopper was a handful during the making of the film, constantly imbibing drink and drugs. However he says the actor could be very professional, a skilful improviser and gave a performance which was “really extraordinary. I think he identified with the role.” He “brought an insanity to the role, and an intensity that most actors would have found impossible to create”.

Director Philippe Mora: recalled that when they finished filming Hopper: “Rode off in costume, poured a bottle of O.P. rum into the real Morgan’s grave in front of my mother Mirka Mora, drank one himself, got arrested and deported the next day, with a blood-alcohol reading that said he should have been clinically dead, according to the judge studying his alcohol tests.”

(MFW: Yep … there’s some strong “identification’ going on here.)


Mad Dog Morgan (Fully Restored Director’s Cut) Movie Trailer:
In 2009 Philippe Mora released his Director’s Cut - greatly improving image quality and the overall movie.


Incredibly, Hopper wasn’t the first choice for Morgan. Stacy KeachMartin SheenMalcolm McDowell and Alan Bates were all considered for the part. Keach was the first choice but disagreements meant his hiring fell through. Sheen was the second choice, and this casting too did not happen. Hopper finally was approached and did the part for 50,000 dollars.

Outside of Australia, this movie has been described an Australian Western. This movie actually won an award for Best Western at a Western Film Festival at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. A 2009 Director’s Cut re-edited and remastered much of the footage – greatly improving it’s viewability.

This movie is based on the real life and death of Australian bushranger Daniel Morgan. All filming was done in the actual locations of the real events. The film was made and released about two years after Margaret Carnegie’s source book ‘Morgan: The Bold Bushranger‘ was first published in 1974 -  based on twelve years of research. Carnegie is credited for the film for both story and research.


MFW: I wouldn’t say Mad Dog Morgan is everybody’s bottle of rum (Morgan’s?). There are a some fairly graphic scenes in there and some of the movie making shows … edges. But there’s also some very good scenes and Hopper is almost mesmerizing in his maniacal presence and acting.

Mad Dog Morgan

Mad Dog Morgan and Dennis Hopper

Mad Dog and Hopper

The mythology of Australian bush-ranger Daniel Morgan says that Morgan was legendary for carrying eight revolvers, two in his hands and six on his belt.

Mad Dog Morgan at rest

Mad Dog dead … with a rather large pistol


Bushrangers – Australian outlaws in the 1800′s

Mad Dog Morgan
1830 – 1865

“We know him as Mad Dog Morgan but he was a man of many aliases. His known criminal record began in 1854 when, under the name “John Smith”, he was sentenced to twelve years’ hard labour for highway robbery at Castlemaine, Victoria. When he was released from jail he had a hatred of authority and become Australia’s public enemy No 1.

After his 3rd murder the reward for Morgan’s capture was raised to £1000 and police were sent to track and capture him.”

Apparently, the real-life Daniel Morgan’s real name at birth was John Fuller. He was also apparently known as Jack Fuller and John Smith as well as the nicknames of Billy the Native and Down-the-River Jack. There is also some debate as to his “Mad” nickname i.e. as Mad Dog or as Mad Dan.


This film is considered an Ozploitation picture, an Australian exploitation movie.

Ozploitation (a portmanteau of Australia and exploitation) films are a type of low budget horror, comedy and action films made in Australia after the introduction of the R rating in 1971. The year also marked the beginnings of the Australian New Wave movement, and the Ozploitation style peaked within the same time frame (early 1970s to late 1980s). Ozploitation is often considered a smaller wave within the New Wave, “a time when break-neck-action,schlock-horror, ocker comedy and frisky sex romps joined a uniquely antipodean wave in exploitation cinema”

Coming Up:
Dennis Hopper Western Filmography:

Shirley …

12 Feb

Shirley Temple

For my sister Jennifer …  and Shirley


Dusters Down Under – Part 5: Ned Kelly (2003) …

10 Feb

“I’ve never shot a man, but if I do, so help me God,
you’ll be the first!” - Ned Kelly (Heath Ledger)

Poor Ned by Redgum

Ned Kelly Banner


This will be the last of the Kelly movies that I’m covering. It was generally well received and reviewed. It’s main interest for us is the notable cast of Heath Ledger. Orlando BloomGeoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts.

Internet Movie Database IMDB gives it a 6.5 out of 10. Rotten Tomatoes, 56%. I think it warrants a 7. I believe time will be more generous to this movie. Not a bad movie at all.

IMDB review

Rotten Tomatoes review

Metacritic review

Ned Kelly 2003 poster

Ned Kelly 2003 poster 2

Ned Kelly 2003 poster 3

The Kelly Gang ?? evidently a name change took place …

A movie which clearly favours the image of Kelly as the hero – not the villain.

I have a general theory about movies where the Hero dies at the end – that this usually hurts the popularity of the movie – often in a large way. Tom Horn, for instance, I believe would have been a much more popular (maybe even a Classic) Western had Steve McQueen hadn’t been hung at the end – even though this was true to fact. In Westerns, it seems people want their Heroes to ride off into the sunset … not hang from a tree. But due to the political and social ramifications of Ned Kelly – which are actually magnified by his execution - plus the fact that it is a much better known story – Ned Kelly seems to smash my theory all to bits. It’s a different animal.

Ledger and Bloom are both competent actors and have no trouble doing the heavy lifting to carry the movie. Ledger fails in physically looking like Kelly (IMO), but is strong otherwise. Geoffrey Rush is our villian which seems similar to his role he later played in Les Miserables (2012) as the tenacious Inspector Thenardier. Rush is special actor and does his usual excellent work.

Naomi Watts inclusion is the film is dubious – and questionable as an historic event – it seems merely to be included to create a romantic interest. I can understand the intent, but …

On another tack, I feel the movie suffers for the same reason most of the Kelly movies suffer – in not being able to tell Kelly’s story as fully as it should be in just 110 min - where some interesting parts of Kelly’s story are purely glossed right over – such as the making of his famous armour. (But perhaps little is known about that??) But waiting for the perfect Kelly movie is likely something that will never happen.

Neds Gun 1

Heath Ledger / 1979 – 2008

Heath Ledger

Orlando Bloom

orlando bloom

Geoffrey Rush

Geoffrey Rush

Neds Guns

Coming up:
Dusters Down Under: Mad Dog Morgan, Snowy River, Quigley Down Under … 

The Thring thing …

7 Feb

Frank Thring 2

Looking waaay down the Casting credits for Ned Kelly (1970)I noticed a name that seems almost buried down there. Possibly hiding. “FRANK THRING - as Judge Sir Redmond Barry”

Frank Thring


Frank Thring … A Man Who Could Deliver a Line

When you see some pics of Frank Thring, you’ll recognize him right away as he was a famous Heavy in several epic flicks including: Ben Hur (as Pontius Pilote); King of Kings (as Herod); The Vikings (evil King Aella); and others …

Ben Hur Frank Thring with Heston

Ben Hur Frank Thring

Littering … Roman style

Frank Thring - The Vikings

Littering … Viking style

Thring was an Australian and his family was steeped in the Film and Theatre trade so Acting came naturally to him – soon operating his own Theatre troupe - before heading to England to star with the likes of Olivier in Shakespearean productions and plenty of renowned Stage work – as you can surely tell by his imperial demeanour and powerful projection.

In most of his films, Thring was definitely (typecast) the villain. And what a villain he was – playing some of the most heinous people in history: Herod; Pontius Pilate … the stature of his roles as evil emperors, kings, politicians, etc. seeming to amplify this evil persona – and you can’t get much more evil than being the guy responsible for executing Jesus. One wonders if Thring didn’t have a difficult time just walking down the street.

Frank Thring in Ned Kelly 1970

Ned Kelly is not the only Western style movie that Thring appeared in. He’s in another Aussie Western called Mad Dog Morgan (1976) which stars Dennis Hopper (which I will cover later). As a Bad Guy in both per usual.

Mad Dog Morgan poster 2

Frank Thring Facebook Page:

The Frank Thring Website:

Dusters Down Under: Part 4: Ned Kelly (1970) …

6 Feb

Wild Horses / Stones

Ned ... the truth________________________________________________________

I feel it’s safe to say that at this point, that no definitive film depiction of Ned Kelly has yet been made. It would take a protracted mini-series to tell his whole story properly – as it spans many years and many events.
There have been some good documentaries, but …
The question still remains: Was Ned Kelly a Hero? or a villain?
I believe Kelly was a pretty rough character and certainly a law breaker. And he and his family were definitely on negative terms with the authorities/police – for quite a while – whose own behaviour seems to have been much less than honourable or praiseworthy.
Wrongs and bad blood on both sides – leading to an inevitable conflict – which Kelly, and his gang, could not win.
You might say however, that Kelly extracted his ‘pound of flesh’ – and made his point – before he left.
His courage and bravado are admired by many in spite of what may be acknowledged as dastardly deeds.
Kelly Historians and experts often simply present their evidence and leave us to decide for ourselves.

More Kelly

After 1960 a fistful of Kelly movies were made. Some are parodies/comedies which would really mean little to us over here – not being as immersed – or inundated (as it were) – in Kelly culture and lore as our friends Down Under. Therefore, I will not cover those here, but I look to 2 well known – and interesting – takes on Kelly’s tale:
Ned Kelly (1970) starring Mick Jagger
and Ned Kelly (2003) with Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush …

Ned Kelly (1970)

It’s amazing how many actors and entertainers successfully jump from music to the movies. Over the years a large number of singers, pop artists, crooners, Rock Stars, County Music entertainers, etc. have all made the leap: Sinatra, Streisand, Kristofferson, Dean Martin, Timberlake … Liza Minnelli, J Lo, Bing Crosby, Elvis (gulp), … it’s actually a very long list, with some not only becoming very good actors and Stars, but winning Oscars: Sinatra, Streisand, Minnelli, Crosby, Cher (what!?) …

But it doesn’t always work that way. Right Mr. Dylan?

So here we have Mick Jagger seemingly cast out of nowhere as Ned Kelly (Albert Finney was Director Richardson’s first choice – but not available).
Jagger has actually appeared in over 25 movies since 1966. He’s persistent if nothing else, but even if he did have some degree of charisma on the Big Screen, his acting is … well, bad. And though Jagger is photogenic enough in stills, this charisma does not translate when the pictures are moving.

Plain and simple: if you’re going to be the Star in a movie, you better be able to shine.
Most of us would do no better – but it just wasn’t there. 

Strangely, Mick did not do the soundtrack for the movie- singing only one track “The Wild Colonial Boy.” But that’s another story – with several people bailing out – the task eventually falling to a song writer named Shel Silverstein, and singing done mainly by either Waylon Jennings or Kris Kristofferson - who were not established music stars as of yet. Interesting.

Overall Ned Kelly (1970) is often viewed as a mere curiosity. And if Jagger wasn’t in it, it might never be viewed at all.


Ned Kelly 1970 IMDB

Ned Kelly 1970 Rotten Tomatoes

Stick to Rock & Roll Mick.

But there’s no need to have sympathy (for the devil) because Jagger surely has carved out a place in the entertainment industry amongst the greatest Rock & Roll stars of all time. And still going.

The Last Time / Stones 


If only the movie was as good as the posters …

Ned Kelly 1970 - Mick 1

Ned Kelly 1970 - Mick 2

Ned Kelly 1970 - Mick 3

Ned Kelly 1970 - Mick 4

Ned Kelly 1970 - Mick 5

Coming up:
Dusters Down Under Part 5: Ned Kelly (2003) … 

Dusters Down Under: Part 3: Ned Kelly / 1906 to 1960 …

4 Feb

I’m going to move through the Kelly movies movie right up to 1960:

The Kelly Gang (1920)
When The Kellys Were Out (1923) 
When The Kellys Rode (1934) 
The Glenrowan Affair (1951)
Stringybark Massacre (1960)

The Kelly Gang 1920

The Kelly Gang (1920)

One Image (above)

From Iron Outlaw

Director: Harry Southwell
Cast: Godfrey Cass … as Ned Kelly

“Welsh-born filmmaker Charles Southwell had a vision: to present the great drama of the Kelly saga on the Australian screen. He laboured at this task for 15 years, producing three films of indifferent quality along the way – The Kelly Gang, When the Kellys Were Out, and When The Kellys Rode. Southwell’s endeavours were hampered by political sensitivities, with any pro-Kelly material liable to be banned.”

When The Kellys Were Out (1923) 

No images – No posters.

Australian State Records Website:

Australian film censorship in the 1920s:
“…no official encouragement whatever should be given to moving picture promoters to attempt to make a hero of a criminal.”

In accordance with the relevant regulations, the film had to be submitted for approval by the Censor Board. As this correspondence shows, despite some differences of opinion, permission to screen the film for the public was not granted, even though the company had made a number of changes following initial rejection by the Board.
The authorities were well aware that the exploits of the gang endured in the public imagination, despite the passage of forty years. The Board’s concerns about the possible glorification of outlaws (and consequent ‘corruption of public morals’) meant that it could be difficult to obtain permission to screen any film that featured bushrangers, particularly the Kellys.

When The Kellys Rode (1934) 

Several excellent Posters

when the kellys rode
when the kellys rode 2when the kellys rode 3
The Glenrowan Affair (1951)

No posters – No images

The Glenrowan Affair - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

It was Rupert Kathner’s final film and stars VFL star Bob Chitty as Kelly. It was known as one of the worst films ever made in Australia.

The film was given its first screening in Victoria at Benalla. Townspeople were worried relatives of the Kellys would cause trouble. However, the screening was accompanied by audience laughter. Nonetheless the screening raised ₤400 for charity.

Reviews: - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“This near-unendurable stretch of laboured, amateurish film-making is something that the developing Australian film industry will wish to forget-swiftly and finally … A film made on a shoe-string (as this obviously was) could still achieve a little crude vitality. This one isn’t even robust enough for the unconscious humour (and there is plenty of that) to be really enjoyable. The script is dreary, the photography more often out of-focus than in, the editing is unimaginative and the acting petrified. It would be misplaced kindness, in fact, to try and ferret out a redeeming feature.”

Stringybark Massacre (1960) 

No posters – No images

Director: Gary Shead

Garry Shead’s avante-guard filmmaking techniques result in a stylish re-creation of the murder of three police officers at Stringybark, Victoria by Australian bush outlaw, Ned Kelly.

Dusters Down Under Part 4: The Kelly Movies 1960 to present … 

Dusters Down Under: Part 2: The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906)

2 Feb

“A thrilling moving picture from start to finish
The Most Sensational, The Most Thrilling and Interesting LIVING PICTURES EVER TAKEN.”

ned kelly song … waylon jennings

the story begins

Wikipedia: The Story of the Kelly Gang is a 1906 Australian film that traces the life of the legendary infamous outlaw and bushranger Ned Kelly (1855–1880). It was written and directed by Charles Tait. The film ran for more than an hour, and at that time was the longest narrative film yet seen in the world. Its approximate reel length was 4,000 feet …

the story of the ned kelly gang poster

There are only about ten minutes the of film left. Many rolls of damaged film were found in an old barn which was once the family home of the Crews in Yarraville, Victoria. The roles were sent to Canberra but they were unable to recover most of the footage. In November 2006 the National Film and Sound Archive made a new digital copy of the movie. This has 11 minutes of extra film which was discovered in the United Kingdom. The movie now is 17 minutes long. It has the main scene of the Kelly’s fight with the police at Glenrowan (called the Kelly’s Last Stand).

ned kelly and gang


shooting sidesaddle

ned in his armour

Ned in his famous armour

neds's end

ned stamp

ned kelly armour

Dusters Down Under Part 3: The Kelly Movies cont … 

Waddie Mitchell _____ Cowboy Poet

2 Feb

“I just feel we owe it to the people who came before us—that we keep their legacy alive … ”

waddie mitchell cowboy poet

Last of the Cowboy Troubadours Preserve American Tradition

2012 Nevada Heritage Award
Member Nevada Writers Hall of Fame
Co-founder of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

waddie mitchell cowboy poet 2

nevada panorama


Life intrudes … The Journey …

2 Feb

I’m stuck again. A bit.

It’s fear. It’s always fear.

Sometimes I just want to walk along a beach with my feet in the sand and the ocean.
or sit by a campfire.
look at the Stars …

waddie mitchell cowboy poet

all these things stop my mind. they are primal and make me know that Life is all something so precious and very special.
my ‘little self’ can never understand encompass it. but here I feel ‘connected’. at peace.
so we try … with our arms open wide.
to understand the plan … and our place … in all this

tomorrow i go back to work. i’ve essentially taken 6 months off since i quit my job as a security guard doing 12 hour night shifts for 4 years – which was killing me.
(shoulda quit that job 2 years before i did).
meanwhile my pension has kicked in. and everybody was right: you can’t live on it.
so back to work.

i’m going to be a Greeter at a huge appliance/hardware/home building place. it’s not as anaemic as it sounds – actually useful – as 80 percent of the people that come in the door don’t know where to find what they’re looking for.
i don’t know either. yet.
so i’m worried … and nervous. hoping this will all work out …. and permit me to survive.
maybe it won’t. maybe God has a different plan.
he often does. i might not like his idea, but it’s usually better than mine.
i just can’t see the big picture. yet.

in looking at my blog … it’s mind bloggling.
i got all this Ned Kelly stuff. and i wonder: is anybody really interested? would anybody really care?

1906 The Story Of The Kelly Gang
1920 The Kelly Gang
1923 When The Kellys Were Out
1934 When The Kellys Rode
1951 The Glenrowan Affair
1960 Stringybark Massacre
1960 Ned Kelly
1970 Ned Kelly
1993 Reckless Kelly
2003 Ned Kelly
2003 Ned

how much should i use? how deep should i go? is Crocodile Dundee a Western?
maybe i outta just jump over this stuff and go straight to Quigley and Snowy Mountain???
I’m frozen with indecision … like a jumbuck in the headlights. and no handy billabong.

OK .. i’ve decided on a smattering of Kelly – some of it IS good.
Then on to the Classics …

Dusters Down Under: Part 1… Frontiers and Kelly

30 Jan

The Vanishing Frontier ??

waltzing matilda …

Although there’s still good chunks of unspoiled country out there, I think it’s generally felt that the American Western Frontier is gone. That’s only partially correct. If you check any map, you will see that huge areas of Montana, Oregon, Washington and the Central US States (the Mid West) still have plenty of wild areas where there are few roads, few people, and little development – much is still uncluttered and unspoiled. Further, we might mention Alaska and other North American habitat such as in Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territory - all sparely peopled. map of US and Canada

But the American and Canadian frontiers are not the ONLY frontiers on this planet. One other such place – which still has a ton of Frontier - and an Old West history to boot – is Australia - and it’s Outback. Australia

And over the years several excellent Western style movies have emerged from this frontier Down Under, including a couple of Western Classics. Let’s have a look.

So far, my research has uncovered about 25 Western style movies made in Austrailia - dating all the way back to 1906! Yeah.

The Ned Kelly Industry

 “It is not that I fear death. I fear it as little as to drink a cup of tea … Let the hand of the law strike me down if it will; but I ask my story be heard and considered.”

ned kelly


Most of you will not be surprised to discover that about half of these Western style movies made in Australia are about the famous Australian Outlaw, Ned Kelly, and his gang.

The Australian media on Ned Kelly is staggering: movies, films, documentaries, websites, TV shows, books, comic books, merchandise, coins, statues, toys … on and on.

Despite our obvious fascination with Outlaws (Billy the Kid (23 movies), Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, (many more) there are other reasons for Kelly’s high profile in Australia. Firstly, due to Australia’s short history his exploits and adventures stand out. Secondly, he is Iconic in Australia - he fits Australian mood and attitude like a glove (or suit of armour) – the common (underdog) man pitted and rebelling against an overbearing dictatorial force – the Brits. Australians – many of whom are ancestors of prisoners sent here by the British – still have a large angst against stuffy authority of any kind – particularly if it’s British. Check their national anthem, for instance, Walzing Matilda, which depicts a lowly hobo (a swagman) being set upon by the police – whereby he commits suicide rather than be taken prisoner. Ned Kelly IS that swagman – to a T – who also sacrificed himself for his brothers and fellowman and Freedom. This mindset carries through to this very day and can be readily seen in such movies as Crocodile Dundee - a modern day unpretentious hero and bush ranger who’d rather share a drink with doorman than ride in a stretch limo, Mate. And though not all Australians share the view that Kelly as a sort of Australian Robin Hood, it’s safe to say that many surely do strongly relate with with his character and his cause – the rugged individual battling again injustice and oppression.

 I Won’t Back Down – Johnny Cash

All this being said the same problems that have risen with other celebrity outlaws – most notably Billy the Kid – arise with Kelly – the mixture of fact and fiction. A rather large gulf may existed between what is legend, and what is the truth? The depiction of Kelly most often appears to be sympathetic – and maybe that is just. Several documentaries have attempted to uncover the true Ned Kelly. But I won’t be covering those here. I’m just looking at the movies. Otherwise this could turn into and extra long expedition. 

For info on Kelly this Website looks pretty good:

Iron Outlaw website: – perhaps the definitive source and resource of all things Ned Kelly.

Coming up:

Dusters Down Under Part 2: The Kelly Movies … 


pete seeger passes …

28 Jan


pete seeger, If I had a Hammer, 1956

If I had a hammer,
I’d hammer in the morning,
I’d hammer in the evening,
All over this land,
I’d hammer out danger,
I’d hammer out a warning,
I’d hammer out love between,
My brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a bell,
I’d ring it in the morning,
I’d ring it in the evening,
All over this land,
I’d ring out danger,
I’d ring out a warning,
I’d ring out love between,
My brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a song
I’d sing it in the morning
I’d sing it in the evening
all over this land
I’d sing out danger
I’d sing out warning
I’d sing out love between
my brothers and my sisters
all over this land

Well, I’ve got a hammer
and I’ve got a bell
and I’ve got a song to sing
all over this land
It’s the hammer of justice
It’s the bell of freedom
It’s a song about love between my
brothers and my sisters
all over this land

It’s the hammer of justice
It’s the bell of freedom
It’s a song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this la-a-and


Klondike … my Review

26 Jan
“For a director there are commercial rules that it is necessary to obey. In our profession, an artistic failure is nothing; a commercial failure is a sentence. The secret is to make films that please the public and also allow the director to reveal his personality.”  - John Ford


My opinion? 


Not quite Good. Not quite Bad.

Possibly damned by mediocre praisings.

I don’t make movies. So I’m no expert. I only know what I see. And how I feel about it.

I was happy to see that Klondike was a success – commercially. I like people to do well. And I like assurances that further Western style projects may ensue. Nothing ensures that more than money success.

klondike gold 2

Artistically? Another matter.

On the outset – in looking at any such production: the actors. production values, money, cast, concept, writing, logistics etc. etc. you would think/hope – that any film’movie/mini-series/TV Show coulda/woulda/shoulda been successful – though GOD KNOWS that there are a ton of things that go wrong – sick actors, bad weather, bad writing, poor Directing, equipment breakdowns, lack of time, short of money etc .etc … All of the above – and a hundred other things. And then “There’s always the unexpected” as Jack Hawkins so wisely noted in Bridge on the River Kwai.


As a matter of fact, when I look at all that is involved in putting any such production together, I’m often amazed that anything can come out of such collaborations at all. But, amazingly, something often does.

Richard Madden (Haskell) just came from a supremely high quality production where all components have come together in glorious fashion: Game of Thrones. (And we eagerly await it’s coming new season).

Sadly, however, such quality does not bear fruit in the Klondike. Except for one expensive orange.

Metacritic Score

The Metacritic score of 74 by the criics is generous in my opinion. I fully concur with the Users score of 6.4.

How so?

When it all comes down to any kind of rating in these things, Blame, Shame or Fame, it all usually falls directly on the Director. Bang.

Was he good or bad?

Other elements can interfere of course: poor script, bad dialogue, lousy screenplay, evil weather, actor injury/sickness – a hundred things to fight through. BUT … all we see is the movie/mini-series/TV show … and whether we liked it – or not.

My initial impression of episode 1 is that things seem to be rushed – a lot seemed to be getting jammed into a very short time frame.

This is common problem with such productions – especially TV productions – that may have definite budget and time restrictions. Then you’ve also got to get this damn thing Edited – and on the shelf. Post production. And Logistics are huge. No Director wants to be worrying about production details. He wants to focus on the artistic end of things – and the actors. Not whether the tracks are missing for the camera.

I’m trying to be generous.

As the story progressed, there seemed to be peripheral side events/stories that (to me) added nothing to the venture. The side event with the Natives (for instance) sometimes seemed like a distraction. And was poorly executed.

As well, some the climactic scenes were weak and poorly conceived: a native runs out of forest onto a huge frozen lake while being pursued by horsemen. ?? Who are shooting at him with handguns from horseback – from a distance – when it is clearly evident he cannot get away. There is just one of several feats that challenge our credulity …

Several climatic events are unsatisfactorily resolved. Our very evil bad-guy, Tim Roth, is dispensed with by freezing to death … somewhere? But we don’t really see it – and after all the carnage, killing and injustice he created I felt cheated. Anti-climatic. I would have had him end up in Haskell’s toilet … or some such more worthy demise.

tim roth klondike

Tim Roth – Bad Guy

I also scratched my head at some production concepts: we are informed at the outset that the story is “based upon true events”. OK. But we are not told until the very end that most of characters in Klondike were actually REAL people who had been through these misadventures in Dawson – the Klondike – except for Jack London of course – who most of us would know as the famous author. I would liked to have known about this at the outset because it would have pulled me in to the story and characters more – and also helped explain some of their irrational and illogical behaviours – since us humans often don’t behave all that rationally. 

Ah well. Still glad it happened. Still glad I watched.

Just wished it had been the epic I hoped for.

klondike billboardBut the marketing was brilliant.

Klondike IMDB

IMDB says different.

The Sour Toe Cocktail and The Ballad of the Iceworm Cocktail …

25 Jan

Most any fraternity requires some kind of initiation or ritual to acquire membership – and the Old West is full of such lore.
So is the Old North.
One such rite will make you and honorary Sourdough: The Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City, Yukon Territory
It’s a bit of a spin-off from Robert Service famous poem The Iceworm Cocktail.
And a bit of fun. Have a look.

The Sour Toe Cocktail .. Captain Dick

Captain Dick … and ‘The Toe’

The Sour Toe Cocktail ... Downtown Hotel, Dawson, Yukon

The Downtown Hotel in … well, downtown Dawson … Yukon Territory

The Sour Toe Cocktail ... The Toe

‘The Toe’ … mmmmmm … yeah !

The Sour Toe Cocktail Certifcate

The Sour Toe Cocktail Certifcate

The Sour Toe Cocktail ... Wallet Card

The Sourtoe Cocktail Wallet Card … yep

It’s said they’ve gone through quite a few toes over the years … some have been swallowed … accidentally … and deliberately.

Robert Service

Robert Service

The Ballad of the Ice Worm Cocktail

By Robert Service

To Dawson Town came Percy Brown from London on the Thames.
A pane of glass was in his eye, and stockings on his stems.
Upon the shoulder of his coat a leather pad he wore,
To rest his deadly rifle when it wasn’t seeking gore;
The which it must have often bee, for Major Percy Brown,
According to his story was a hunter of renown,
Who in the Murrumbidgee wilds had stalked the kangaroo
And killed the cassowary on the plains of Timbuctoo
And now the Arctic fox he meant to follow to its lair,
And it was also his intent to beard the Arctic hare….
Which facts concerning Major Brown I merely tell because
I fain would have you know him for the Nimrod that he was.

Now Skipper Grey and Deacon White were sitting in the shack,
And sampling of the whisky that pertained to Sheriff Black.
Said Skipper Grey: “I want to say a word about this Brown:
The piker’s sticking out his chest as if he owned the town.”
Said Sheriff Black: “He has no lack of frigorated cheek;
He called himself a Sourdough when he’d just been here a week.”
Said Deacon White: “Methinks you’re right, and so I have a plan
By which I hope to prove to-night the mettle of the man.
Just meet me where the hooch-bird sings, and though our ways be rude
We’ll make a proper Sourdough of this Piccadilly dude.”
Within the Malamute Saloon were gathered all the gang;
The fun was fast and furious, and loud the hooch-brid sang.
In fact the night’s hilarity had almost reached its crown,
When into its storm-centre breezed the gallant Major Brown.
And at the apparition, with its glass eye and plus-fours.
From fifty alcoholic throats resounded fifty roars.
With shouts of stark amazement and with whoops of sheer delight,
They surged around the stranger, but the first was Deacon White.
“We welcome you,” he cried aloud, “to this the Great White Land.
The Arctic Brotherhood is proud to grip you by the hand.
Yea, sportsman of the bull-dog breed, from trails of far away,
To Yukoners this is indeed a memorable day.
Our jubilation to express, vocabularies fail….
Boys, hail the Great Cheechaco!” And the boys responded: “Hail!”

“And now,” continued Deacon White to blushing Major Brown,
“Behold assembled the eelight and cream of Dawson Town.
And one ambition fills their hearts and makes their bosoms glow-
They want to make you, honoured sir, bony feed Sourdough.
The same, some say, is one who’s seen the Yukon ice go out,
But most profound authorities the definition doubt.
And to the genial notion of this meeting, Major Brown,
A Sourdough is a guy who drinks…an ice-worm cocktail down.”

“By Gad!” responded Major Brown, “that’s ripping, don’t you know.
I’ve always felt I’d like to be a certified Sourdough.
And though I haven’t any doubt your Winter’s awf’ly nice,
Mayfair, I fear, may miss me ere the break-up of your ice.
Yet (pray excuse my ignorance of matters such as these)
A cocktail I can understand-but what’s an ice-worm, please?”

Said Deacon White: “It is not strange that you should fail to know,
Since ice-worms are peculiar to the Mountain of Blue Snow.
Within the Polar rim it rears, a solitary peak,
And in the smoke of early Spring (a pectacle unique)
Like flame it leaps upon the sight and thrills you through and through,
For though its cone is piercing white, its base is blazing blue.
Yet all is clear as you draw near-for coyly peering out.
Are hosts and hosts of tiny worms, each indigo of snout.

And as no nourishment they find, to keep themselves alive
They masticate each other’s tails, till just the Tough survive.
Yet on this stern and Spartan fare so rapidly they grow,
That some attain six inches by the melting of the snow.
Then when the tundra glows to green and nigger-heads appear.
They burrow down and are not seen until another year.

“A toughish yarn,” laughed Major Brown, “As well you may admit.
I’d like to see this little beast before I swallow it.”
“ ‘Tis easy done,” said Deacon White. “Ho! Barman, haste and bring
Us forth some pickled ice-worms of the vintage of last Spring.”
But sadly still was Barman Bill, then sighed as one bereft:
“There’s been a run on cocktails, Boss; there ain’t an ice-worm left.
Yet wait…By gosh! It seems to me that some of extra size
Were picked and put away to show the scientific guys.”

Then deeply in a drawer he sought, and there he found a jar,
The which with due and proper pride he put upon the bar;
And in it, wreathed in queasy rings, or rolled into a ball,
A score of grey and greasy things were drowned in alcohol.
Their bellies were a bilious blue, their eyes a bulbous red;
Their backs were grey, and gross were they, and hideous of head.
And when with gusto and a fork the barman speared one out,
It must have gone four inches from its tail-tip to its snout.
Cried Deacon White with deep delight: “Say isn’t that a beaut?”
“I think it is,” sniffed Major Brown, “a most disgustin’ brute.
Its very sight gives me the pip. I’ll bet my bally hat,
You’re only spoofin’ me, old chap, You’ll never swallow that.”
“The hell I won’t !” and Deacon White. “Hey! Bill, that fellow’s fine.
Fix up four ice-worm cocktails, and just put that wop in mine.”

So Barman Bill got busy, and with sacerdotal air
His art’s supreme achievement he proceeded to prepare.
His silver cups, like sickle moon, went waving to and fro,
And four celestial cocktails soon were shining in a row.
And in the starry depths of each, artistically piled,
A fat and juicy ice-worm raised its mottled mug and smiled.
Then closer pressed the peering crowd, suspended was the fun,
As Skipper Grey in courteous way said: “Stranger, please take one.”
But with a gesture of disgust the Major shook his head.
“You can’t bluff me. You’ll never drink that ghastly thing,” he said.
“You’ll see all right, “ said Deacon White, and held his cocktail high,
Till its ice-worm seemed to wiggle, and to wink a wicked eye.
Then Skipper Grey and Sheriff Black each lifted up a glass,
While through the tense and quiet crowd a tremor seemed to pass.
“Drink, Stranger, drink,” boomed Deacon White. “Proclaim you’re of the best,
A doughy Sourdough who has passed the Ice-Worm Cocktail Test.”
And at these words, with all eyes fixed on gaping Major Brown,
Like a libation to the gods, each dashed his cocktail down.

The Major gasped with horror as the trio smacked their lips.
He twiddled at his eye-glass with unsteady finger-tips.
Into his starry cocktail with a look of woe he peered,
And its ice-worm, to his thinking, most incontinently leered.
Yet on him were a hundred eyes, though no one spoke aloud,
For hushed with expectation was the waiting, watching crowd.
The Major’s fumbling hand went forth-the gang prepared to cheer;
The Major’s falt-ring hand went back, the mob prepared to jeer.
The Major gripped his gleaming glass and laid it to his lips,
And as despairfully he took some nauseated sips,
From out its coil of crapulence the ice-worm raised its head;
Its muzzle was a murky blue, its eyes a ruby red.
And then a roughneck bellowed forth: “This stiff comes here and struts,
As if he’d bought the blasted North-jest let him show his guts.”
And with a roar the mob proclaimed: “Cheechako, Major Brown,
Reveal that you’re of Sourdough stuff, and drink your cocktail down.”

The Major took another look, then quickly closed his eyes,
For even as he raised his glass he felt his gorge arise.
Aye, even though his sight was sealed, in fancy he could see
That grey and greasy thing that reared and sneered in mockery.
Yet round him ringed the callous crowd-and how they seemed to gloat!
It must be done….He swallowed hard…The brute was at his throat.
He choked…he gulped…Thank God! At last he’d got the horror down.
Then from the crowd went up a roar: “Hooray for Sourdough Brown!”
With shouts they raised him shoulder high, and gave a rousing cheer,
But though they praised him to the sky the Major did not hear.
Amid their demonstrative glee delight he seemed to lack;
Indeed it almost seemed that he-was “keeping something back.”
A clammy sweat was on his brow, and pallid as a sheet;
“I feel I must be going now,” he’d plaintively repeat.
Aye, though with drinks and smokes galore, they tempted him to stay,
With sudden bold he gained the door, and made his get-a-away.

And ere next night his story was the talk of Dawson Town,
But gone and reft of glory was the wrathful Major Brown;
For that ice-worm (so they told him) of such formidable size
Was-a stick of stained spaghetti with two red ink spots for eyes.

John Ford … revisited …

24 Jan
“For a director there are commercial rules that it is necessary to obey. In our profession, an artistic failure is nothing; a commercial failure is a sentence. The secret is to make films that please the public and also allow the director to reveal his personality.”  - John Ford

John Ford stagecoachJohn Ford

John Ford 2

John Ford at John Ford's Point - Monument Valley

John Ford at John Ford’s Point – Monument Valley


Jack London … The Call of the Wild …

24 Jan


Jack London 4

jack london 2

jack london

jack london books“Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.” ― Jack LondonThe Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild


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