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The Wild Bunch Casting Call Part 4: Ben Johnson

18 Feb

My Heroes have always been Cowboys .. Nelson

Ben Johnson The Wild Bunch

Ben Johnson seemed to live a charmed life. Western Movie Stardom seemed to fall right into his saddlebags. It helped, of course, that he happened to be a top notch Cowboy – and it’s certain he would have been happy (and successful) to remain such.

And if you’re going to be a Western Movie Star you might as well at the top too: with the Greatest Western Star of all: John Wayne and Great Western Director John Ford. In gambling – and Westerns – this is called the jackpot.

And in this long career Johnson just kept rolling into the sunset.

So much so, that it may well be noted that Ben Johnson probably appeared in more Classic Westerns that any other Western Actor (except Wayne?) in Western Film history. See for yourself.

So in The Wild Bunch it’s a bit of a surprise to see him 4th on the Bill  – behind William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, and Warrren Oates ??

Yet in Hollywood Star Power is the Law – and the others guys were ruled faster in charisma and money draw – despite Ben being the only real cowboy of the Bunch. The only card he couldn’t pull.

But I’m sure he didn’t complain.

Ben Johnson Filmography

Ben Johnson Filmography 2

Ben Johnson Filmography 3

Ben Johnson Filmography 4

Ben Johnson Filmography 5

Note: These aren’t all the movies that Johnson appeared in … just what I could round up. It’s said that he appeared in 15 John Wayne Westerns alone.

The Cast Ben Johnson

Go ahead Ben, smile. (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon / 1949)

The Wild Bunch cont. ……………… Casting Call Part 3

24 Jan

Warren Oates

Scorpion Bar The Wild Bunch - The Cast - Warren Oates 1 The Wild Bunch - The Cast - Warren Oates 2 The Wild Bunch - The Cast - Warren Oates 3 Warren Oates TV Westerns

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The Wild Bunch gray

Next: Ben Johnson role of Tector Gorch …

The Wild Bunch cont. ……………… Casting Call Part 2

9 Jan


The Wild Bunch - The Walk reversed

A Wilder Bunch??

Casting Call Part 2 / Dutch Engstrom / Ernest Borgnine
The Wild Bunch 1973

Ernest Borgnine

Wikipedia says: “Among those considered to play Dutch Engstrom were Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Alex Cord, Robert Culp, Sammy Davis, Jr., Richard Jaeckel, Steve McQueen, and George Peppard. Ernest Borgnine was cast based on his performance in The Dirty Dozen (1967).

Who would you have Cast?:

Charles Bronson

Dutch ?

Charles Bronson Western Filmography
1954 Vera Cruz /  1954 Drum Beat
1954 Apache /  1954 Riding Shotgun
1956 Jubal /  1957 Run of the Arrow
1957 Showdown at Boot Hill / 1960 The Magnificent Seven
1961 A Thunder of Drums1968 Villa Rides
1968 Once Upon a Time in the West 1968 Guns for San Sebastian

Jim Brown

Jim Brown Western Filmography
1964 Rio Conchos
1969 100 Rifles
1970 El Condor
1975 Take a Hard Ride

Alex Cord

Alex Cord Western Filmography
2009 Fire from Below
1977 Grayeagle
Gunsmoke (TV Series)
1966 Stagecoach
1995 Walker, Texas Ranger (TV Series)
1995 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (TV Series)
1965 Branded (TV Series)
1961 Laramie (TV Series) 

Robert Culp

Robert Culp Western Filmography
1963 The Raiders / 1971 Hannie Cauldur

Robert Culp TV Westerns 
 Trackdown (1957–1959)
Tate (1960)Johnny Ringo (1960)
Outlaws (1960) / The Westerner (1960) 
Zane Grey Theater (1957-1960)
Rawhide (1961) / Bonanza (1961)
Rifleman (
1960-1962) / Wagon Train (1962)
The Virginian
 (1964) Gunsmoke (1964)
The Hanged Man 
(1964) Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993)
Lonesome Dove: The Series  

Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy Davis, Jr. Western Filmography
Zane Grey Theater
(TV Series) / Lawman (TV Series)

Sergeants 3 (1962) / The Rifleman (TV Series)
The Wild Wild West (TV Series) / The Trackers (1971)
Gone with the West (1975)

Richard Jaeckel

Richard Jaeckel Western Filmography
The Gunfighter
(1950)Apache Ambush (1955)
3:10 to Yuma
(1957)Cowboy (1958)
Cimarron City
(TV) (1958)The Texan (TV) 1959
Trackdown (TV) 1959 / Zane Grey Theater (TV) (1960)
Tales of Wells Fargo
(TV) (1960) / The Rebel (TV) (1960)
Flaming Star 
(1960) / The Tall Man (TV) (1961)
Lawman (TV) (1961)Frontier Circus (1961–1962)
Have Gun – Will Travel (TV) (1962)Wagon Train (TV) (1961–1963)
The Dakotas (TV) (1963) / 4 for Texas (1963)
The Virginian (TV) (1964)Town Tamer (1965)
The Wild Wild West (1966–1967)Bonanza (1964–1967)
Chisum (1970) / Ulzana’s Raid (1972)
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) / Gunsmoke (TV) (1963–1975)
The Last Day (1975) / 
The Oregon Trail (1977)
Kit Carson and the Mountain Men (1977)
Go West, Young Girl (1978) 

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen Western Filmography
Trackdown (TV) 1958 / Tales of Wells Fargo (TV) 1958
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV) 1958-1961
Nevada Smith (1966) / Junior Bonner (1972)
Tom Horn (1980)

George Peppard

George Peppard Western Filmography
How the West Was Won 1962 / Rough Night in Jericho 1967
Cannon for Cordoba 1970 / The Bravos 1972

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Another decent group of candidates.
From among this Bunch I think a popular vote would likely see Bronson and McQueen win out.
But I can’t guess who would win between them?
Bronson had appeared in a couple of movies before with Borgnine,
including Vera Cruz (1954) – if that means anything?

Next let’s have a look at Warren Oates’ role of Lyle Gorch …

The Wild Bunch cont. ……………… Casting Call Part 1

6 Jan

The Wild Bunch - The Walk reversed

A Wilder Bunch??

Casting Call Part 1 / Pike Bishop
The Wild Bunch 1973

The Wild Bunch - Holden

The Wild Bunch / Pike Bishop / William Holden

I always like to check who got a particular role/part/casting – and how – why? Who refused it – missed out? The casting story for The Wild Bunch reveals some very interesting candidates.

Who would you have picked? Why? A very tough decision.

Wikipedia says: “Director Sam Peckinpah considered many actors for the Pike Bishop role, before casting William Holden: Richard Boone, Sterling Hayden, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart. Marvin actually accepted the role but pulled out after he was offered a larger pay deal to star in Paint Your Wagon (1969).”

Pretty well a Who’s Who of Western film Icons.

Who would you have Cast?:

Richard Boone

Richard Boone Western Filmography
Way of a Gaucho
– (1952) / Pony Soldier (uncredited) (1952)
City of Bad Men – (1953) / The Siege at Red River – (1954)
The Raid – (1954) / Ten Wanted Men – (1955)
Man Without a Star – (1955) / Robbers’ Roost – (1955)
Star in the Dust – (1956) / The Tall T – (1957)
The Alamo – (1960) / A Thunder of Drums – (1961)
Rio Conchos – (1964) / Hombre – (1967)
Big Jake  (1971) / Against a Crooked Sky – (1975)
Diamante Lobo – (1976) / The Shootist – (1976)

Richard Boone TV Westerns
Frontier – episode – The Salt War -1956)
Studio One in Hollywood – episode – Dead of Noon – (1957)
Have Gun – Will Travel – 225 episodes – (1957–1963)
Cimarron Strip – episode – The Roarer – (1967)
Hec Ramsey – 10 episodes – (1972-1974)

Sterling Hayden

Sterling Hayden Western Filmography
1949 El Paso / 1952 Flaming Feather
1952 Denver and Rio Grande / 1952 Hellgate
1953 Kansas Pacific / 1954 Arrow In the Dust
1954 Johnny Guitar / 1955 Timberjack
1955 Shotgun / 1955 Top Gun
1955 The Last Command / 1957 Gun Battle at Monterey
1957 The Iron Sheriff / 1958 Terror in a Texas Town
1975 Cipolla Colt

Sterling Hayden TV Westerns
1957 Zane Grey Theater / 1957 Wagon Train
1982 The Blue and the Gray

Charleton Heston

Charleton Heston Western Filmography
1952 The Savage / 1952 The President’s Lady
1953 Pony Express / 1953 Arrowhead
1955 The Far Horizons / 1957 Three Violent People
1958 The Big Country /  1965 Major Dundee
1968 Will Penny1972 The Call of the Wild
1980 The Mountain Men / 1993 Tombstone

Burt Lancaster 2

Burt Lancaster Western Filmography
1951 Vengeance Valley / 1951 Ten Tall Men
1954 Apache1954 Vera Cruz
The Kentuckian / 1956 The Rainmaker
1957 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral / 1960 The Unforgiven
1965 The Hallelujah Trail / 1966 The Professionals
1968 The Scalphunters / 1971 Lawman
1971 Valdez Is Coming1972 Ulzana’s Raid
1976 Buffalo Bill and the Indians 1981 Cattle Annie and Little Britches

Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin Western Filmography
Gun Fury (1953) / The Raid (1954)
The Comancheros (1961) / The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Cat Ballou (1965) / The Professionals (1966)
Paint Your Wagon (1969) / Monte Walsh (1970)
The Spikes Gang (1974)

TV Westerns:
Wagon Train
Bonanza, and The Virginian … 

Robert Mitchum

Robert Mitchum Western Filmography
1943 Hoppy Serves a Writ / 1943 Border Patrol
1943 Leather Burners / 1943 Colt Comrades
1943 The Lone Star Trail / 1943 Beyond the Last Frontier
1943 Bar 20 / 1943 False Colors
1943 Riders of the Deadline / 1944 Nevada
1945 West of the Pecos / 1947 Pursued
1948 Blood on the Moon / 1949 The Red Pony
1952 The Lusty Men / 1954 River of No Return
1955 Man with the Gun / 1956 Bandido
1959 The Wonderful Country / 1967 El Dorado
1967 The Way West / 1968 Villa Rides
1968 5 Card Stud / 1969 Young Billy Young
1969 The Good Guys and the Bad Guys
1993 Tombstone Narrator / 1995 Dead Man

Robert Mitchum TV Work
1985 North and South

Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck Western Filmography
1946 Duel in the Sun / 1946 Yellow Sky
1950 The Gunfighter / 1950 Only the Valiant
1958 The Bravados / 1958 The Big Country
1962 How the West Was Won / 1967 The Stalking Moon
1967 Mackenna’s Gold / 1982 The Blue and the Gray
1989 Old Gringo

James Stewart 2

James Stewart Western Filmography
1939 Destry Rides Again / 1950 Winchester ’73
1950 Broken Arrow / 1952 Bend of the River
1953 The Naked Spur / 1954 The Far Country
1955 The Man from Laramie / 1961 Two Rode Together
1962 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
1962 How the West Was Won / 1964 Cheyenne Autumn
1965 Shenandoah / 1966 The Rare Breed
1968 Firecreek / 1968 Bandolero!
1970 The Cheyenne Social Club
1976 The Shootist

Amazing … stunning. You can’t lose. Put all the names in a hat and pull one out … any one of them would have done a great job.

Next let’s have a look at Ernest Borgnine’s role of Dutch Engstrom …

Ernest Borgnine

Flu Bugged …

1 Jan

The Wild Bunch - sunset


Happy New Year. Hope you all have a fruitful 2015.

Pardon my lack of activity lately – slower than usual.
I’ve had some kind of nasty flu thing that’s going around.

Still working on things …
Hang in there.

I am.



The Wild Bunch Reviews —- Part 5

14 Dec

The Wild Bunch reviews / Part 5:
Leonard Maltin

Leonard Maltin talks about the film THE WILD BUNCH during an interview for AFI’s 10 Top 10 (2008)

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The Wild Bunch Reviews —- Part 4 …

8 Dec

The Wild Bunch reviews / Part 4:

The Wild Bunch AllMovie Review

AllMovie Review

From the opening image of children happily watching fire ants kill a scorpion, Sam Peckinpah presents a relentlessly pessimistic view of frontier life in 1913 as it gives way to modernity; any sense of honor is strictly relative, and “civilization” means venal businessmen and mercenaries. The western’s myth of “righteous” violence is literally blasted to pieces in the two battle sequences evocative of the 1968-69 carnage in Vietnam. In elaborately edited montages using different camera speeds and distances, Peckinpah and cinematographer Lucien Ballard show what it looks like when bullets hit flesh, drawing out moments of death amidst bloody chaos in a balletic yet repellent spectacle. The Wild Bunch eventually became a moderate hit, and it got Oscar nominations for Jerry Fielding’s score and Walon Green’s and Peckinpah’s script. Unsatisfied with Peckinpah’s 145-minute cut, Warner Bros. pulled the film after its debut and shaved 10 minutes of exposition but left the violence intact. The footage was fully restored in 1995. With its stunning technical finesse and uncompromising view of the West’s bloody demise, The Wild Bunch remains one of the most powerful “last” westerns ever made.

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Nice and short …

The Wild Bunch portraits


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