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Henry Hathaway Director of Westerns / To the Last Man / Esther Ralston Part 1

6 Nov


A Kiss to Build a Dream On / Jill Barber

To the Last Man / 1933

I’ve been stuck for over a month. This time on Esther Ralston. My problem is the incredible number of awesome images of her. Many of which needed some editing. Finally I’ve got something to put up. 

Esther has over 40 years of portrait pics (taken by anonymous Artists) – hundreds. If you ever wondered that Portrait Photography was a worthy Artform – here is the proof. I’m sure there’s some good Portrait Photographers around these days, but they’d be hard put to equal many of these photos. Like I said, it almost seems a lost Artform.
I have so many that I’m posting these pics 3 installments. 

Esther Ralston
17 September 1902 – 14 January 1994

Esther Ralston

Herself, almost unknown these days, Esther Ralston was a major Movie Star from 1915 to 1940 – appearing in 44 movies. She Starred and co-starred with the likes of
Randolph Scott, Charlie Chaplin, Hoot Gibson, Lon Chaney, Jackie Coogan, William Desmond, Tom Mix, Wallace Beery, Clara Bow, Gary Cooper, Richard Dix, Basil Rathbone, Paul Lukas, Joan Crawford, Betty Grable … and others. Quite a career. 
Her last leading role was in To the Last Man / 1933 with Randolph Scott. 

Embed from Getty Images

Meet the Ralstons

Esther began her career as a child actress in a family vaudeville act which was billed as “The Ralston Family – with Baby Esther, America’s Youngest Juliet“. From this, Esther appeared in a few small silent films including a role alongside her brother in the 1920 film adaptation of Huckleberry Finn … 

Esther in the middle

In the late 1920’s Esther appeared in many films for Paramount, at one point earning as much as $8000 a week (!!!), and garnering much popularity, especially in Britain. She appeared mainly in comedies, often portraying spirited society girls, but received good reviews for her forays into dramatic roles. Several of Ralston’s films from the 1920’s are ‘lost’.

Esther with Gary Cooper / 1928

Young Esther

Next: Esther Ralston Part 2 … 

Henry Hathaway Director of Westerns / The Last Round-Up / 1934

16 Oct


The Last Round-Up / Vivian Blaine / Songwriter Billy Hill / 1933

Songwriter Billy Hill (1899 – 1940) wrote several Western Classic’s including  “Old Pine Tree“,”Wagon Wheels“, and “Empty Saddles“.

The Last Round-Up / 1934

Zane Grey’s “The Border Legion” must be a helluva story because it was adapted to film 5 times – in 1918, 1924, 1930, and in 1940. The The Last Round-Up (1934) was also based on the novel.

IMDB says: “One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. However, because of legal complications, this particular title was not included in the original television package and may not have ever been televised.

“A nitrate print of this film survives in the UCLA Film and Television Archives, and is not listed for preservation.”

MFW: They might want to rethink that. We all know that some old movies have been ‘Lost’, but to deliberately decide not to preserve/save these old movies is unacceptable. Once they gone, they are gone for good. Some come to be valued much more as time goes by.

Only one Poster.
No Trailers – No clips.
Very few images of any kind.
But plenty of Lobby Cards.

Reviews

“6.5” out of 10 from IMBD? … not bad.

AllMovie is not so generous … “1.5” out of 5

Co-Star Barbara Fritchie was Billed as Barbara Adams. She made 6 movies between 1934 and 1935. The Last Round-Up was her first. There is very little other Bio information.

Henry Hathaway Director of Westerns / To the Last Man / Part 4

27 Sep


Oh! Susanna/ Burl Ives

To the Last Man / 1933

Randolph and Shirley … continued

Ya, I know that Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm isn’t a Western.
And NO, I’m not starting a new blog called My Favorite Farmers.
Nothing against farmers, but I just found this connection between Shirley and Randolph to be interesting.
Still do.
They made one more movie together in 1939.
It was a Western.

Susannah of the Mounties 

A Shirley Temple movie all the way.
Randolph is not even 
on the banner.

Flaming Arrows! Cracking Rifles!

But peace can come at at price 

 Wikipedia says:
“As an act of good will, Temple swore in all members of the Blackfoot tribe as members of the Shirley Temple Police Force while Temple was made an honorary member of the Blackfoot tribe and given the name Bright Shining Star.”

(Guess I got that one right)

Shirley was now 11-years-old.
Still a cute kid, but …

Oh Susannah …
Don’t you cry for me … 

Becoming a young lady … 

… a confident young lady.

Next … To the Last Man
Part 5 Esther Ralston

Henry Hathaway Director of Westerns / To the Last Man / Part 3

20 Sep


It’s a Beautiful Day

To the Last Man / 1933

Randolph and Shirley 

“Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
How could he see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so?”

Not cute at all. *cough*

When I was a kid I hated Shirley Temple. On Saturday mornings I had to share TV time with my little sister – who always seemed to be watching a Shirley Temple movie. I just knew that Roy, RandolphRory, Cisco, and Hopalong (or some other Western Star) was on the other channel. It was infuriating watching that little cherub dancing around when decent cowboys were galloping into the sunset! Many years later I came to appreciate Shirley as the very special person and talent that she was. Today when I look back on it all, I really have to marvel that she was the Top Box Office Star for four consecutive years: 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938! Partly because I figured only women and girls were watching her movies!? It sure wasn’t me – or any guy that I knew. Could women and girls really have comprised that huge an audience?? Especially during the Great Depression? I still haven’t figured it out. It’s safe to say however, that Shirley – her incredible personality and talent – was a very important person during those very difficult and troubled days. She seemed a person born for the moment.

So … 5-year-old Shirley had an uncredited bit role in To the Last Man which Starred Randolph Scott. You can see on the poster below that she got no Billing in the movie.That would soon change. More than just a dimple and some curls.

I think Randy and Shirley got along just fine. 

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm 

Flash ahead 5 years … to 1938. To Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Shirley is 10-years-old. Her Star has started to fade, but she still commands the Bill – as the Banner and Poster show. Randolph is second on the Bill now. Quite a turn around.

No CGI necessary 
But they still got along just fine

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

BY JANE TAYLOR
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
How could he see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so?

In the dark blue sky you keep,
Often through my curtains peep
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveler in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Next … To the Last Man
Part 4

Henry Hathaway Director of Westerns / To the Last Man / Part 2

16 Sep


the circle / byrds 

To the Last Man / 1933

Now … where was I? Oh yeah, To the Last Man Casting. I’ll get back to Shirley in a minute because she’s worthy of a lot more space.

Meanwhile:

Our Hero, 35 year-old Randolph was a pretty terrible Actor in 1933 – very wooden. But became very good later on and is indisputably one of the greatest Western Movie Actors of all time –  Starring in over 50 Westerns.

Esther Ralston plays a pretty hard bitten gal in the movie (guess that’s how Grey wrote it). But she’s not short on looks.

Noah Beery is a back shooting badguy – again – with his hillbilly partner John Carradine.

Colorized Lobby Cards.

Some bad karma chases our hero all the way back to his youth.

Jack LaRue plays a lecherous thug.

Fuzzy Knight supplies some comic relief.

A Review or Two

Original book cover

Illustrations by Frank Spradling

Next … Part 4
To the Last Man

Henry Hathaway Director of Westerns / To the Last Man / Part 1

11 Sep


only time

To the Last Man / 1933

“The Law of Vengeance is the Law of the Land!”

“A Lawless Breed in a Lawless Land!”

“A Fight to the Finish … which could only lead to … Death!”

You might think that these old Westerns are pretty formula – same Director, same Cast, etc. But when you dig a bit deeper you’ll find something special about each one. And To the Last Man has a couple of surprises. 

To the Last Man / 1933

It’s 1933 – the Great Depression – the Dirty Thirties – and Henry Hathaway has just completed To the Last Man – the last of 5 Westerns that he Directed in 1933 – 4 of which Starred young Randolph Scott.

One special feature of all of these movies was that they were created from books written by legendary Western writer, Zane Grey. This assured us a good yarn, with strong characters and dialogue – unlike many of the pulp Westerns of the era.

This sometimes made for some unusual story telling. For instance, Scott (the Star of To the Last Man) doesn’t make his appearance in the movie until about the 23:00 minute mark! – and the movie is only 1:08 minutes long. Very few films would hold back the appearance of it’s Star for that long!

The Cast

Yes these movies often used a cast of Stock players (Scott, Noah Beery, Buster Crabbe, Harry Carey, Raymond Hatton, Fuzzy Knight …)
BUT … let’s look at bit closer at the Casting list for To the Last Man

Notice anything special? Any names that jump out at you?
If you say John Carradine I’ll definitely give you point.
BUT that’s not the name I’m talking about.
Waaaaay down on the list among  the Uncredited Cast names …

See her?

Holy Doodle!
It’s Shirley Temple!

Yes, this was one of Shirley’s very first movies!
5-year-old Shirley is not a Star yet (obviously) and despite a line or two of dialogue
she gets no Credit.

I’m pretty sure that nobody at that time had any clue that in about 2 years Shirley would become one for the Biggest Movie Stars in Hollywood History
and the Movie Box-Office Champion for the consecutive years 1935-36-37-38.

Twinkle Twinkle … 

Next … Part 2
To the Last Man

When the Daltons Rode / 1940 Part 1

22 May


Doolin Dalton – Desperado / Eagles

Into the Sunset …

I was just a kid – or not even born – when many of the Greatest Westerns Stars who ever lived had already rode off into the sunset – or died. So I missed a hell of lot of good Westerns from the 30’s, 40’s and even the 50’s. Still haven’t seen most of them. This blog is pretty well a research project for me on a lot of them – trying to discover Western Movie history – and their Stars.

So … I found this pic from When the Daltons Rode (1940) on the net the other day. I looked at the riders … but didn’t recognize any of them?

Can you?

I’ll give you ten plugged nickels and my spurs if you get 2 right.
And they were all well known Actors of their day and beyond.

????

OK … from Left to Right …
Stuart Erwin, Andy Devine, Broderick Crawford, and Brian Donlevy.

Stuart Erwin / (1903–1967)
as Ben Dalton

Andy Devine / (1905–1977)
as Ozark Jones

Andy as Jingles from Wild BIll Hickok TV Series (1951 – 1958)

“If there’s anything I don’t like, it’s driving a stagecoach through Apache country.”
Stagecoach / 1936 

Broderick Crawford / (1911–1986)
as Bob Dalton

Crawford from Johnny Concho

“I’ve made upwards of a million bucks in the cops-and-robbers business.”

Brian Donlevy / (1901-1972)
as Grat Dalton

Oh Yeah … Randolph Scott was the Star of the movie.
as Tod Jackson

No Trailer available – but some clips exist on YouTube.

On this poster though, Crawford’s image is bigger?

Yet on the screen we see Randolph at the top …

and Broderick 5th on the Bill ???
*shrug*

Director George Marshall (1891 –1975)

A rather odd movie: (Spoiler Alert) LoL – We all know the Daltons don’t ride off
into the sunset, but much of the movie is played out as a comedy? – interspersed with other nonsense – such as romance. (LoL)
Even Yakima Canutt reprises his famous Stagecoach stunt.
But in the end a fun yarn to watch …
and historically accurate (as we know it) in it’s wrap up.

Andy … just dandy!

Crawford with Kay Francis

Next:
When the Daltons Rode / 1940 Part 2

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