Big Iron / 2020 Colter Wall written by Marty Robbins
“You sit in your tepee and dream and then you go to wherever the dream may take you. It might come true. You wait for real life to catch up.”
IMDB (Internet Movie Database) says that Burt Lancaster made 16 Westerns. That’s wrong. Desert Fury (1947) ain’t no Western.
Just because a movie is made in Sedona AZ
or somebody is wearing a Cowboy hat
doesn’t make it a Western.
So … let’s say about 15 Burt Lancaster Westerns.
Did you know that?! (I didn’t.) But I regard 5 of them to be Western Classics.
Here’s my list:
The Gunfight at the OK Corral / 1957 Definitely one of the most
influential Westerns of all time
Vera Cruz / 1954 Lancaster and Cooper
Wa do ya want?
The Professionals / 1966
One of the Top Ten Westerns every made.
The Unforgiven / 1960
One of the most controversial Westerns ever made.
And some said that Hepburn doesn’t look very native.
But it’s Hepburn – so all is Forgiven.
The Rainmaker / 1956
Some say this isn’t a Western.
But it’s got Hepburn.
So let it rain.
“I walked out of class one day and I never went back.”
In no special order: My First Western Star is Burton Stephen Lancaster But he’d definitely be near the top.
Born in New York, New York, U.S,A.
November 2, 1913 – October 20, 1994
As a kid in the 1930s New York, Burt learned to Act
in local theatre productions in also studied Circus Arts –
eventually becoming a Circus Acrobat and Trapeze Artist.
He seemed ‘custom made’ to be a Action Film Star.
But it also helps to have a ton of Charisma/Star Power.
Burt’s first Action Film: The Flame and the Arrow / 1950
Yes … well … not an auspicious beginning to be sure …
(Burt’s swordfighting skills need a bit of work too.)
But his second Action Film The Crimson Pirate / 1952
opened the flood gates to Stardom.
Heave Ho and up she rises!
Can you identify this kind of ship for me
that was used in The Crimson Pirate ?
I was saying to Cindy that I consider Burt Lancaster to be among the Top Western Movie Stars of all time – appearing in so many Classics that I’d place right up there with John Wayne.
Permit me to prove that.
The film received three nominations at the 1967 Academy Awards. Writer and director Richard Brooks, for Best Director and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and cinematographer Conrad Hall, for Best Cinematography.
The film won two Motion Picture MagazineLaurel Awards in 1967, for Best Action Drama and Best Action Performance for Lee Marvin. In Germany, it was one of only four movies to receive a Golden Screen Award (the others were Doctor Zhivago, Marvelous Angelique
and You Only Live Twice) in 1967.
Burt Lancaster Western Filmography
1951 Vengeance Valley 1954 Apache / 1954Vera Cruz 1955 The Kentuckian / 1956The Rainmaker 1957Gunfight at the O.K. Corral / 1960The Unforgiven 1965 The Hallelujah Trail / 1966 The Professionals 1968 The Scalphunters / 1971 Lawman 1971 Valdez Is Coming / 1972 Ulzana’s Raid 1976 Buffalo Bill and the Indians / 1981 Cattle Annie and Little Britches
Not all gems – but the red ones are definite Classics.
Others are notable.
A very impressive Western Film legacy.
You want good Writing?
How about great Writing.
And great Actors to deliver it.
And if you’ve never seenThe Rainmaker … Shame on you.
Casting Call Part 1 / Pike Bishop
The Wild Bunch 1973
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 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 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 Western Filmography 1952 The Savage / 1952 The President’s Lady 1953 Pony Express/ 1953Arrowhead 1955 The Far Horizons / 1957 Three Violent People 1958 The Big Country / 1965Major Dundee 1968 Will Penny / 1972The Call of the Wild 1980The Mountain Men / 1993Tombstone
Burt Lancaster Western Filmography 1951 Vengeance Valley /1951 Ten Tall Men 1954Apache / 1954 Vera Cruz 1955 The Kentuckian / 1956The Rainmaker 1957 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral /1960 The Unforgiven 1965 The Hallelujah Trail / 1966The Professionals 1968 The Scalphunters/1971 Lawman 1971Valdez Is Coming / 1972 Ulzana’s Raid 1976Buffalo Bill and the Indians / 1981Cattle Annie and Little Britches
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)
Wagon Train, Bonanza, and The Virginian …
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 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 1967Mackenna’s Gold / 1982 The Blue and the Gray 1989Old Gringo
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 …
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.
The film won two Motion Picture MagazineLaurel Awards in 1967, for Best Action Drama and Best Action Performance for Lee Marvin.
In Germany, it was one of only four movies to receive a Golden Screen award (the others were Doctor Zhivago, Merveilleuse Angélique and You Only Live Twice) in 1967.
“Maybe there’s only one revolution, since the beginning, the good guys against the bad guys. Question is, who are the good guys?” – Burt Lancaster / The Professionals
The Professionals …
Lee Marvin moves into full blown stardom – becoming a legitimate box office titan – in one of the greatest Westerns ever made (My Favorite) starring along side Western Film Greats Burt Lancaster, Jack Palance, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Claudia Cardinale, Ralph Belamy … What a cast!
Following Cat Ballou (Oscar) this is one of 4 Westerns remaining in Marvin’s Western filmography: Monte Walsh / 1970 (with Jack Palance); Paint Your Wagon / 1969 (with Clint Eastwood); Emperor of the North / 1973 (with Charles Bronson).
‘Projection’ they call it. Some actors have it. Most never will. It’s the ability to take a simple line of dialogue and make it sing; have impact; the knack of making a whisper into a shout. All the great Shakespearean actors have it: Olivier, Burton, Dench, Jacobi, O’Toole …
YET … out of the unwashed West emerged several notable thespians who entered the stage via a different door: Hollywood.