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 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.
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.
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 / Jessica’s Theme
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. ????
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.
- 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 TheMan 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.
“Banjo” is a writingpseudonym that Paterson chose for himself – named after a horse of his.
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 River, Ned 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.
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.
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.
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 Elliott, Tom Selleck, Slim 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.
Quigley Down Under
and the Sharps 1874 Model Rifle
“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.”
“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!”
- Quigley Down Under Soundtrack – Main theme: Basil Poledouris
“God created all men. Sam Colt made them equal.” - Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck)
Selleck with co-Star Laura San Giacomo
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)
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.
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 ???
“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?
The Magnificent Seven Official Soundtrack theme … Elmer Bernstein
Yul Brynner / Chris
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
“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
“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
1990 Young Guns II
1996 Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right
2000 Texas Rangers
Charles Bronson / Bernardo
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 ?
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.”
“I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.”
~ Charles Bronson / The Magnificent Seven.
“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 (1958) 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
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 …. renegotiating
el toro !
Horst Bucholz and Rosenda Monteros
Brad Dexter / Harry Luck
Brad Dexter as Harry Luck
The Magnificent Seven
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.
Playing Harry Luck.
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.
Brad Dexter / Veljko Soso
April 9, 1917 – December 11, 2002
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
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.
“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.
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
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. Gunsmokeand Bonanzawould 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.
“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.”
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 (DirectorPhilippe 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”.
DirectorPhilippe 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 Keach, Martin Sheen, Malcolm 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 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 dead … with a rather large pistol
From: Bushrangers – Australian outlaws in the 1800′s
“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”
“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
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 Bloom, Geoffrey 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.
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.
Heath Ledger / 1979 – 2008
Dusters Down Under: Mad Dog Morgan, Snowy River, Quigley Down Under …
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 … 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 KingAella); and others …
Littering … Roman style
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.
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.
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. _________________________________________
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.
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 …
Dusters Down Under Part 5: Ned Kelly (2003) …
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.”
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
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 …
“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
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 …
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 in his famous armour
Dusters Down Under Part 3: The Kelly Movies cont …
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 …
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 Quigleyand 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 …
Although there’s stillgood chunks of unspoiled country out there, I think it’s generally felt that the American WesternFrontier 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 USStates (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.
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 – isAustralia- and it’s Outback.
And over the years several excellent Western style movies have emerged from this frontierDown 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.”
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.
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
“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
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.
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.
The Metacritic score of 74 by the criics is generous in my opinion. I fully concur with the Users score of 6.4.
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 – 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.
But the marketing was brilliant. ___________________________________________
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.
Captain Dick … and ‘The Toe’
The Downtown Hotel in … well, downtown Dawson … Yukon Territory
‘The Toe’ … mmmmmm … yeah !
The Sour Toe Cocktail Certifcate
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.
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.
“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
“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 London, The Call of the Wild
“Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code …”
The Cremation of Sam McGee
BY ROBERT W. SERVICE
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”
On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.
And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”
Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’tain’t being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”
A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.
There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”
Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.
And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.
Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”
Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.
Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Everything about the Klondike Gold Rush seems over-the-top and inflated. But I don’t believe it is. Gold Fever and the infamous history of gold strikes on a world-wide scale tell the same tale – of what men will do in the quest for the yellow metal – be it the Transvaal, California or from Kalgoorlie to the Klondike, it’s a history written in blood and lust. Few are tales of success – mostly of tragedy, failure and broken dreams – and incredible exploits. And surely great fodder for Western lore and Film.
A number of excellent and readable books have emerged over the years. One such book is that written by the eminent Canadian author Pierre Berton:
Klondike The Last Great Gold Rush 1896-1899.
I single Berton’s book out not just because it is excellent, but because he was born in Whitehorse, Yukon. The Klondike was his back yard. Who better to write the definitive book on it’s History?
The Discovery Channel’s expensive gamble on gold-rush fever — and Alberta — is paying off big time for the network, bringing it its biggest Monday prime-time numbers in the U.S.
The six-hour miniseries, which finishes its three-night run tonight (Wednesday), reached 1.9-million viewers in Canada and 3.4-million American viewers. Shot in Alberta last year, it stars Richard Madden, Abbie Cornish, Sam Shepard, Tim Roth and Augustus Prew.
The miniseries, loosely based on Charlotte Gray’s historical book Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike, tells the story of gold-rush fever in Dawson City. Reviews have been mixed — although it earned a respectable 73 per cent approval rating on metacritic, which aggregates reviews — but critics who enjoyed it were lavish in their praise.
The San Francisco Chronicle said “With a cast headed by Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden, Klondike grabs you with terrific performances, an unusually rich script, magnificently sweeping visuals of jagged mountains overlooking valleys of ice and snow, and such a convincing attention to period detail, you’ll believe you’re back in Dawson City at the end of the 19th century.”
While the Hollywood Reporter said it mixed “sweeping, awe-inspiring images of nature with the up-close ugliness of dank, mud-packed streets, Klondike stands out instantly with its large canvas.”
“Maybe that wasn’t the break I was looking for … “
Sutherland father, son appear onscreen in gunslinger film shot in Calgary area
Kiefer and Donald Sutherland finally appear onscreen together in gunslinger tale shot in the Calgary area
BY ERIC VOLMERS, CALGARY HERALD SEPTEMBER 26, 2013
Kiefer Sutherland, Greg Ellis, Demi Moore, Michael Wincott
After directing 58 episodes of the hit TV series 24, Jon Cassar has covered a lot of dramatic ground and pulse-quickening action sequences with actor Kiefer Sutherland.
Still, there was one scenario they could never quite shoehorn into the narrative, despite repeated suggestions by Jack Bauer himself.
“He would always be trying to get a horse into 24,” says Cassar, in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “It was pretty funny. ‘Maybe, we’re in Central Park and I grab a horse off a policeman.’ He was always just trying to ride in 24 but we were never quite able to make that work for him. And so we always talked about doing a western.”
Kiefer, of course, is an accomplished rider, having spent part of the late 1990s perfecting his skills on the rodeo circuit after playing cowboys in films such as Young Guns and the Cowboy Way.
But there was a more compelling reason to make Forsaken, a classic gunslinger tale that recently wrapped shooting in Springbank just west of Calgary.
Father and son have been in the same films before. Kiefer’s debut was a tiny role in the 1983 comedy Max Duggan Returns, which starred his father opposite Jason Robards and Marsha Mason. He also played a heavy in 1996′s A Time To Kill, in which Donald also had a supporting role. But, up until now, they had never been in the same scene together.
“I think it was about trying to find a picture for his dad that gave him more than a guest star role,” says Cassar, who was born in Malta but grew up in Toronto. “I mean, Donald works all the time. He is in everything. But it was about getting a meaty role. Getting a role from the beginning to the end. It wasn’t just coming in and doing a few scenes.”
Spotlight Forsaken is scheduled for release in 2014.
“Then it morphed from that to ‘My dad and I together.’” So, after years of discussing the possibility of doing a western with Cassar, Kiefer commissioned the screenplay for Forsaken from Brad Mirman, designing it as vehicle for himself and his father. He plays reformed gunfighter John Henry Clayton, a haunted Civil War veteran who returns home after 12 years to patch up his relationship with his estranged father, who is a minister and rancher. When a ruthless businessman and his thugs decide they want Clayton Sr.’s land, his son is reluctantly pushed back into action. If this all sounds like a fairly typical setup for a western, that’s because it is. The idea was to hearken back to the classic western tropes: The greedy landowner, the reluctant hero, plenty of gun play.
During a visit to the set a few weeks ago, much of the day revolved around filming a shootout in a saloon. It doesn’t get much more classic-western than that.
“There wasn’t the pressure of a big studio saying ‘we want to do a western but how can we do it differently?’” says Cassar, whose credits also include episodes of Fringe, Terra Nova and the miniseries The Kennedys. “Which is kind of the world right now. ‘We want to do Jump Street but how can we do it differently?’ It’s a world of trying to dredge up these old ideas and trying to do them differently. And (with Forsaken) I don’t think anybody at any point wanted to do this differently, which was attractive to me right away because I was there right at the beginning of talking about it and we always talked about just doing a classic western with classic western characters. In one way, it almost becomes revisionist because no one has done it in such a long time.”
Shot for under $20 million, Forsaken began filming in late July on the CL Ranch, which conveniently comes equipped with a ready-built western town. But it was right after Discovery Channel’s Klondike had wrapped, meaning the town had to be quickly transformed from a booming Dawson City circa 1890 to a not-so-booming town in the wild west circa 1870.
The Sutherlands are joined by an impressive cast of veterans and up-and-comers. Demi Moore plays Kiefer’s former sweetheart. Brian Cox is the ruthless businessman attempting to buy up land he can resell to the incoming railroad. Michael Wincott is his verbose hired gun named Gentleman Dave.
Meanwhile, Alberta natives Landon Liboiron, last seen as a werewolf Gypsy in Netflix’s Hemlock Grove, and Siobhan Williams, a Calgary native appearing in Hell on Wheels, are cast as a young gunslinger and his love interest.
But while there are plenty of classic western touchstones, the heart of the story is the relationship between John Henry and his father, which allowed for plenty of dramatic scenes for the Sutherlands to sink their teeth into.
“It was a little nerve-racking at first,” says Cassar. “Only because I had worked with Kiefer and knew how he worked but had never worked with Donald. Donald is definitely an icon of not only Canadian film but worldwide film. The movies he’s done, the directors
he’s worked with, it was little intimidating at first. But it didn’t last long because I realized he is just the consummate professional, exactly like his son. They virtually have the same work habits.”
“Some of those scenes were tough,” he added. “They were very intense emotional scenes that were about father-and-son having this very rocky relationship. Those are tough to get through. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you really have, those are just hard to get through. Those are a challenge but we came out in the end in a really good place with incredible scenes that were the backbone of the show.”
For now, the film has entered post-production and producers – which include Kevin DeWalt of Regina’s Minds Eye Entertainment and Edmonton’s Josh Miller of Panacea Entertainment – are aiming for a theatrical release some time in 2014.
Meanwhile, Cassar and Kiefer Sutherland are preparing to shoot 12 more episodes of 24 for Fox.
“It’s 12 episodes instead of 24,” Cassar says. “Basically it’s the same format. It’s still an hour an episode and it’s still one full day but you miss an hour or two. So it gives us the ability to move around a bit which we never had the ability to do. When you are doing 24 hours you have to virtually stay in the same city, there wasn’t time to move around. This gives us the opportunity to skip a couple of hours and move to a completely different city and really push the storyline forward.”
Updated 12:50 pm, Wednesday, January 15, 2014
“Haul out all the plays on the word “gold” because
that’s what the Discovery Channel has struck with its
very first scripted content, the stunning six-part
miniseries “Klondike” airing over three nights beginning
on Monday …”
Gold and Survival, Yes,
but Scripts and Stars, Too
‘Klondike’ Brings Law and Drama
to the Frozen North
” … The series, which begins on Monday night, is full of the same brutal weather and dubious quests as Discovery’s reality shows, but professional actors — Richard Madden, Sam Shepard, Tim Blake Nelson, Abbie Cornish and Tim Roth among them — make it a much more compelling attraction than any of that other fare …”
The immense success and popularity of the Lonesome Dove (1989) Mini Series starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones spawned a veritable industry surrounding Larry McMurtry’s iconic characters Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae (Duvall) and Woodrow F. Call (Jones) that extends to this very day with obvious influences in several succeeding TV and Mini Series like Hell on Wheels – which seems to me to have ‘Dove‘ flavour written all over it – each attempting to recapture or exploit the magic of the original epic. Some succeed – to a degree. Others? … Not so well.
3? Successive ‘Dove‘ Mini Series – plus a TV show – have attempted to take us back.
All that being said let’s look at those who have portrayed McMurtry’s two main characters over the last 25 years.
I’ve debated over and over (with myself) whether I want to issue any commentary on Lonesome Dove itself – which has been covered extensively – and well – by other fans and Western critics – smarter than myself. But it seems some commentary is inevitable. So … I will get to that later.
In the meantime …
The four descendants of McMurtry’s saga:
Lonesome Dove (1989)
Return to Lonesome Dove (1993) – set a year after the events of Lonesome Dove, isn’t affiliated with McMurtry in any way. He does not condone the movie nor approve of it.
Streets of Laredo (1995) Dead Man’s Walk (1996) Comanche Moon (2008)
My Favorite Westerns: If you’re going to shoot a Western period piece – in the mountains – in the winter, why not choose the most brutal winter we’ve had in years?? Because that’s exactly what they’ve done with Klondike.
Maybe the weather is different up there in the mountains? but down here in Calgary we’ve had at least 3 blizzards – so far.
So I gotta believe a lot of the hardships that will be depicted in Klondikewon’t require a great deal of acting.
Anticipating a good show – with a lot of snow.
Reposted from CBC News site:
Klondike series could bring gold rush for Discovery Channel
Richard Madden, Abbie Cornish, Tim Roth among big-name stars
CBC News Posted: Jan 12, 2014 11:46 AM MT Last Updated: Jan 12, 2014 1:01 PM MT
Richard Madden, left, and Augustus Prew are several of the high-profile stars in Klondike, which is set to premier on Jan. 20 on Discovery Channel. (Dan Power/Discovery Communications)
Discovery Channel is set to launch its first-ever scripted venture, Klondike, in a bid they hope will help them strike it rich with viewers.
The six-hour, three-night miniseries begins Jan. 20 on Discovery Canada before continuing the following Tuesday and Wednesday. Scottish actor Richard Madden, best-known for his role as the brutally-murdered Robb Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones, is among multiple high-profile stars who have been in Alberta filming for the series.
Abbie Cornish, Tim Roth, Sam Shepard and Augustus Prew also star, while powerhouse producers Ridley Scott, Paul Scheuring and David Zucker have been working away behind the scenes to bring the series to life.
It’s all based on Charlotte Gray’s 2010 book, Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike.
On Thursday, the cast and producers took questions from reporters as part of the semi-annual Television Critics Association press tour.
According to Scheuring, who wrote the script, said he wasn’t intimidated to be writing for Shepard, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, “because the part was written, thank goodness, before he was cast.”
Days of Heaven actor returns
Shepard was a last-minute replacement for Chris Cooper, who had to withdraw with an illness right before production was scheduled to begin.
The 70-year-old actor had worked in Alberta before, memorably on Days of Heaven in 1978.
He was apparently hard to reach after Cooper pulled out because he was offline and out fishing, something he indulged in while on location in Alberta.
“Some of the biggest cutthroats I’ve ever seen in my life,” Shepard said about fly fishing “way up there on the Athabasca River.”
No chance of shooting in Dawson City
The producers say there was never any thought of shooting the series right in Dawson City, despite the fact that the picturesque Yukon town retains much of the look it had back in the gold rush days of the 1890s.
The usual lure of tax grants and funding — from the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Film Development Program — lured production to Alberta.
And it was damn cold, says Brittish-born Prew,
The actor plays Byron Epstein, who teams up with Madden’s character, Bill Haskell, as the two childhood friends set out to make their fortune along with thousands of others during the peak year of the Klondike gold rush.
“We were in period costumes, no thermals,” Prew said of his experience on location in Alberta last April through July. “I went on holiday right after to Turkey. It was lovely and warm there.”
‘Brutal’ shooting conditions in Rockies
The cast, producers and crew faced a 40-minute snowmobile ride followed by another 40-minute trek — sometimes by helicopter — for scenes shot in a tiny town high up in the Rocky Mountains, northwest of Calgary.
There are Canadians in the cast, including Brian Markinson (Da Vinci’s Inquest), who is currently shooting Fargo in Calgary, and Saskatchewan native Michael Greyeyes.
While Prew said the relatively isolated mountain-top locales could be “rather meditative,” he won’t miss the 18-hour days.
“I only saw my hotel six hours a night,” he said.
According to Zucker, one of the series’ producers, much of the shoot “was brutal. There was so little time to shoot such a big thing and it took four months of 18-hour days.“
Despite that, the real-life struggle and challenges look good on screen.
“We wanted to emphasize that it was miserable,” Zucker said. “A lot of that was in the script and I pushed it even further. It is about the battle with nature and we didn’t want that to look easy.”
MGM are leaving no stone unturned in their catalogue when it comes to remakes. With “Robocop” and “Poltergeist” on the way for 2014, and ”Road House,” “Death Wish,” “WarGames,” “The Idolmaker,” “Ben-Hur” and more all in development, the name of game seems to reboots over original material. And that brings us to the classic western “The Magnificent Seven.” In the works for a couple years now, the project gained some serious steam when Tom Cruise put his name to it in 2012, with a writer added over this past summer. But heading into 2014, the redo will need to find another star as a screenplay gets more work.
The Wrap reports that John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side,” “Saving Mr. Banks”) has been brought in to re-write the first draft of the script by Nic Pizzolatto (“True Detective”). For now, it’s just a writing gig for Hancock who has no plans to direct, but with credits to his name including “The Alamo,” “Snow White & The Huntsman” and next year’s “Maleficent,” he knows his way around spectacle. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise has exited the project mostly because his plate is currently full with about five zillion other movies on the go, so he could probably do with one less.
So the remake machine continues on this project, and we’ll ask you this: who do you think can direct or star in this movie and at least attempt to do justice to the original?
I’ve already posted my own fantasy cast which I will boldly match up against anybody else’s projections.
Except for Tom Cruise, of course, who has now bailed out. This leaves a VERY large hole – as casting Yul Brynner’s former role was the biggest challenge of them all.
My Favorite Westerns casting for The Magnificent Seven / Remake:
Yul Brynner … TOM CRUISE
Steve McQueen … VIGGO MORTENSEN
James Coburn … GUY PEARCE
Charles Bronson … WILLEN DAFOE
Robert Vaughn … BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
Brad Dexter … BRENDAN FRASER
Horst Buchholz … AARON PAUL
Eli Wallach… ANTONIO BANDERAS
O’Reilly (Bronson): “I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.”
TOM CRUISE’s departure from a planned remake of the star-studded western has put the project back to square one
HOLLYWOOD studio MGM has “called in the cavalry” to rescue a planned remake of classic 1960 western The Magnificent Seven after Tom Cruise stunned producers by quitting.
Cruise, 51, blamed a personal “scheduling conflict” for his departure more than six months after agreeing to a lead role.
As he rode off into the sunset, studio bosses hired John Lee Hancock, who directed current box-office hit Saving Mr Banks, to re-write what was seen as a troubled script.
The turmoil comes at the end of a year in which the original Magnificent Seven was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of America’s Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. It starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz.
Yesterday a senior MGM source said: “Tom’s departure has thrown a real wrench in the wagon wheel.
“He was the only one of the seven we had cast and would obviously have helped draw other A-list stars into the project.
“Now it’s a case of going right back to square one in terms of casting and having John Lee Hancock re-write the script from top to bottom. You might say he’s leading our cavalry on a rescue mission.
“We’re hoping that once John Lee has completed a first draft of a new script, we will be firmly back on track and in a position to attract some of Hollywood’s best-known actors.”
Hancock, a hugely respected Hollywood figure, is no stranger to the genre, having directed 2004’s Disney remake of another 1960 western classic, The Alamo.
Even before Cruise backed out, studio bosses had become concerned about committing a reported £100million-plus to the film. They saw rival Disney take a financial hit earlier this year as an equally costly remake of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp as Tonto, flopped.
Los Angeles-based media analyst Mike Raia insisted yesterday: “I believe the western can survive and even thrive as a genre.
“However, the onus is on the filmmakers to make their modern versions resonate with today’s younger audiences as well as older fans.”
In Streets of Laredo we see mainly3 standard rifles – plus a couple of oddities. There are others long guns, but their appearance is too brief to mention.
Firstly we have the Winchester 73′ rifle – ‘the rifle that won the West’? Combined with the Colt 45 pistol, these are backbone of many a Western Film and probably a good chunk of Old West history as well.
James Garner (Captain F. Woodrow Call) carries two rifles (not sure why .. but Why Not?): a Winchester 73′ and a 1860 Henry Rifle Brass Frame .45 LC.
Woodrow / Garner with his Henry
Garner using the Henry – folding sight.
Ned Beatty (Judge Roy Bean) and his Winchester 73‘
Between drinking and hanging people the Judge shoots things.
George Carlin gets ready to demonstrate the ‘Yellow Boy‘.
Hang on to your ears.
The 2 Unusual Weapons
Smith and Cannon
Charles Martin Smith and Cannon? Sounds like a Law Firm. And he’s got the guns to back it up.
The first of the 2 unusual weapons that I spoke of, is the The Holland & Holland Paradox shotgun (well named).
“The Holland & Holland Paradox was an interesting design. It was a smoothbore until the end of the bores where there was rifling … The 8 and 10 gauge shotguns were considered to be the most effective against Elephant, Cape Buffalo ect, but lacked the accuracy and range of a rifle. The Paradox design was a compromise which offered improved performance from the smoothbore design … “
In other words, Charles Martin Smith is carrying an elephant gun. Sheesh.
This weapon eventually contributes to the demise of our main antagonist.
Thanks to my brother Richard for finding this information.
Don’t ask me what the pistols are though … he never pulled ‘em.
Charles Martin Smith seems to have a fondness for shotguns:
Charles Martin Smith with shotgun in The Untouchables – 1987
That other weapon is claimed to be a Model 1889 Schmidt-Rubin rifle with Scope.
Model 1889 Schmidt-Rubin rifle – without scope
Apology: I lost my sources for this reference. I do recall the the individual who recognized this rifle said that this weapon did not exist in the era of Streets of Laredo. I would not be surprised as we find this quite often in Westerns (and other movies) where technology from the future is imported to the past. Most often nobody cares or notices, but some Gun and Western history fans/experts do take note.
The only thing I can say for sure it that if Joey Garza (Alexis Cruz) takes a liking to your gun, you better just give it to him. And run away. Fast.
Streets of Laredo contains most your standard Western gunfare: Yer Colt 45, Yer Winchester ’73, and Yer double barrel shotgun ….
But it also has 2 unique weapons – plus another that’s fairly uncommon.
I was not able to locate any resources that specifically itemized the Guns in Streets of Laredo. It took considerable detective work to discover the identity of at least 2 of the firearms. A Thank You goes to my brother Richard who identified the mysterious and unusual shotgun carried by Charles Martin Smith.
Most of the main characters use handguns at some point Streets of Laredo – including Sissy Spacek and Sonja Baca.
The handgun of choice appears to be the famous Colt 45 – either long or short barrel.
A Colt Refused
Near the beginning Episode 1 (of 3) of Streets of Laredo, James Garner (Captain Woodrow Call) is offered a pearl handled Colt by his employer – which he refuses - upon advice there may ‘strings attached’.
Uncommon Gun Number One
Randy Quaid, who plays the very surly John Wesley Hardin in Streets of Laredo, brandishes anickel plated handgun that looks almost too grand to be a ‘shootin’ iron’ of the Old West.
But there it is. This gun was not easy to for me to identify and I’m still not certain I have it right, but I’m going with a:
Smith & Wesson Schofield
Subsequent editions of a successful weapon design often remain or appear almost identical to the original – even over years of production – with only minor refinements. Or can be copied by other Manufacturers.
In other words, they aren’t easy to identify. So this is just a guess on my part.
Top Breaking handguns.
When you consider that the ‘top breaking’ feature (similar to double barrel shotgun) of this handgun appears to be make loading and unloading quicker and easier, you’d think they would have been more popular, but it seems the side loading style of the Colts was more common. I do not know who originally invented this design, but it was clearly used by other manufacturers as well – including Colt.
NO HUMANS OR HORSES WERE HARMED
IN THE PRODUCTION OF THIS POST.
- The Management
When I initially started My Favorite Westerns, I had intended to include a page/section on the Guns that appear in each movie I profiled. Certain things have evolved however, to make me adjust or re-think this intention.
The first is the number of horrific and disturbing gun incidents over the last few years. Enough said… almost.
The second is less idealistic: many Westerns use the same guns – so identical gun profiles seemed redundant.
BUT/YET … What the hell is a Western without a Gun? You can pretty well define Westernsby guns. There ARE a few Westerns that don’t have guns … very few. Even Little House on the Prairie had an occasional gun.Fact is, if a Old West period piece doesn’t have any guns, most of us wouldn’t even consider it a Western. Or even watch it.
I’m not defending gun culture – or guns. It’s just a fact.
Further, this predilection for guns in our Entertainment is hardly unique. Take a look at the current list of films showing at your local theatre. Over half of them have guns – or violence – be it delivered via sword of Hobbit or gun by Willis.
Guns? Swords? Monsters? Space ships … ? You name it … We shoot it.
We are blood soaked and blood fuelled.
Violence you say? Nahhhh. They’re called ‘Action Movies’.
TV is not exempt. Sports, for instance, is huge on TV … and full of violence. And it’s debatable that we would watch it if it wasn’t. A hockey, football, or baseball game with no hitting is boring. And when there’s no Action we flip the channel – searching for Action/Violence. And what about Cop Shows? Game of Thrones, etc. etc? There’s no end of examples. Even most Reality Shows have Conflictsbuilt into their setup – to raise the Entertainment factor.
“Lights! Camera! Action!” Every day, all day, year ’round, we fight – we kill.
Comic books? You might think you were in a porno shop … if it wasn’t for the killing. Rated G.
VIdeo games? Over 90% have graphic violence and bloodshed. Killing.
Bottom line: WE LOVE THIS STUFF!
And we keep the pushing the envelope – more action, more violence, more graphic, more blood, more killing …
Another thing I truly wonder about is the Desensitization that seems to be occurring. Nobody bats an eye at most of this stuff any more.
The real question though …. is WHY? do we Love this Stuff?
Company Always on the run
Destiny is the rising sun
Oh I was born 6-gun in my hand
Behind a gun I’ll make my final stand
That’s why they call me Bad company
And I can’t deny
Till the day I die
Till the day I die
Till the day I die Rebel souls
Deserters we are called
Chose a gun and threw away the sun
Now these towns
They all know our name 6-gun sound is our claim to fame
I can hear them say Bad company
And I won’t deny
Bad Bad company
Till the day I die
Till the day I die
I can’t deny
Till the day I die
And I say it’s
Bad company Oh Yeah—Yeah
Till the day I die Oh Yeah Tell me that you are not a thief
Oh But I am
It’s the way I play
Dirty for dirty
Oh Somebody Double-crossed me
We’re Bad company
Kill in cold blood