Remember …

11 Nov

the partisan / leonard cohen

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John Wayne Filmography cont. Born to the West / Hell Town / Zane Grey continued …

7 Nov


The Wayward Wind / Patsy Cline

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The Zane Grey Dilemna

For a long time I avoided doing any posts about John Wayne (not an easy thing to do on a Western Movie Blog) because I feared John would turn into a massive and daunting project. I was right. However, I figured out a way to handle it by simply doing his Western filmography one post/movie at a time. And this has been working out pretty good. UNTIL my post on Born to the West / Helltown when I accidentally opened the gate to Zane Grey’s corral – and was immediately trampled/stampeded to death. There is more stuff on Zane Grey that tumbleweeds in Texas. But I didn’t know that.

His books have been made into movies over a hundred times going all the way back to 1911 – and continue up to the present.
That’s a ton of images, artwork, film, posters, photos, etc etc.

So I’ve been stuck – mainly because there’s conflicting information about his early movies and because some of his books have been made into movies several times.

I will attempt something anyway.

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Zane Grey Movies 

Fighting Blood / 1911  

fighting-blood-1911-2fighting-blood-1911-reviewFighting Blood – a B&W silent filmabout 13:42 long. Very few images survive from this movie.

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The Heart of Texas Ryan / 1917

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The Border Legion / 1918

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 5 versions of The Border Legion have been filmed.
It is not known whether this silent B&W version currently survives.
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The Border Legion / 1924

This version of The Border Legion is lost.
Another silent version directed by William K. Howard and starring Antonio Moreno and Helene Chadwick.

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The Border Legion / 1930

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Even with Jack Holt and Fay Wray, AllMovie only gives this version a 1.5 out of 5.

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The Border Legion / 1940

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Roy tries his hand at poker.
(Until he starts singing I’m all in)

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Gabby takes the stage.

I gotta tell ya that the emergence of comedy sidekicks and singing cowboys was not my favorite thing for a Western.

John Wayne Filmography cont. Born to the West / Hell Town / Part 2 / Zane Grey

31 Oct


– jeff bridges 

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zane-greyPearl Zane Grey
(1872 – 1939)zane-grey-2

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Zane Grey Trivia: (Wikipedia)

  • Grey’s novels and short stories have been adapted into 112 films, two television episodes, and a television series, Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater.
  • Pearl“? There are a few guesses at how Grey was originally named Pearl – but nothing seems conclusive. He later dropped it.
  • Had a violent upbringing – often beaten by his father – and acted likewise – often brawling as a child.
  • Grey was an avid reader of adventure stories such as Robinson Crusoe as well as dime novels featuring Buffalo Bill and “Deadwood Dick“. He also loved the the great illustrators Howard Pyle and Frederic Remington.
  • Zane wrote his first story, Jim of the Cave, when he was fifteen. His father tore it to shreds and beat him.
  • Grey attended the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship, where he studied dentistry.
  • He proved to be a poor scholar, but an excellent baseball player. He had to choose between Writing, Baseball or Dentistry, but unhappily concluded that dentistry was the practical choice.
  • Still tried his hand at baseball, but only earned a single major league game in 1903 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Moved to New York: dentist by day, writer by night.
  • Married, but was an habitual and open womanizer with many mistresses.
  • Despite many rejections and false starts, he kept on writing.
  • Finally it clicked: In 1912 published Riders of the Purple Sage his all-time best-seller, and one of the most successful Western novels of all. Six movies have been made from this book.
  • Grey became one of the first millionaire authors. Was in the top ten best-seller list nine times.
  • Zane Grey was a major force in shaping the myths of the Old West; his books and stories were adapted into other media, such as film and TV productions. He was the author of more than 90 books, some published posthumously and/or based on serials originally published in magazines. His total book sales exceed 40 million.
  • Grey wrote not only Westerns, but two hunting books, six children’s books, three baseball books, and eight fishing books (his real passion).
  • Many famous actors got their start in films based on Zane Grey books. They included Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott, William Powell, Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen, Buster Crabbe, Shirley Temple, and Fay Wray. Victor Fleming, later director of Gone with the Wind, and Henry Hathaway, who later directed True Grit, both learned their craft on Grey films.

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Honors and awards

  • The National Park Service maintains his former home in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania as the Zane Grey Museum, a part of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River area.
  • His home in Altadena is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Zanesville, Ohio has a museum named in his honor, the National Road-Zane Grey Museum.
  • Zane Grey Terrace, a small residential street in the hillsides of Altadena, is named in his honor.
  • The Zane Grey Tourist Park Bermagui, Australia.
  • Zane Greys’” a headland at the western end of Matapaua Bay, New Zealand.
  • The Zane Grey Continuation School is located adjacent to Reseda High School in Reseda, Los Angeles, California.[citation needed]
  • Zane Grey room is located at the Sigma Nu – Beta Rho house in honor of where Zane Grey lived for part of his time at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz, California named the Zane Grey Trail after the author.

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A visit to Blue Rocks …

19 Oct

Part of our adventures in Nova Scotia was a visit to the small fishing Hamlet of

Blue Rocks.

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Goin’ fishin’ – back in 4 days.

Magnificent Sevens … myth, math and aftermath … Part 3

17 Oct

seven-samurai-10Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) was the inspiration for M7 1960.

Often regarded as one of the greatest films of all time
– and the first “Action Film”
“It has remained highly influential, often seen as one of the most “remade, reworked, referenced” films in cinema. (Wikipedia)

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Awards and nominations

Venice Film Festival (1954)
  • Winner – Silver Lion – Akira Kurosawa
  • Nominated – Golden Lion – Akira Kurosawa
Mainichi Film Award (1955)
  • Winner – Best Supporting Actor – Seiji Miyaguchi
British Academy Film Awards (1956)
  • Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Film
  • Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor – Toshiro Mifune
  • Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor – Takashi Shimura
Academy Awards (1957)
  • Nominated – Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White – So Matsuyama
  • Nominated – Best Costume Design, Black-and-White – Kôhei Ezaki
Jussi Awards (1959)
  • Winner – Best Foreign Director – Akira Kurosawa
  • Winner – Best Foreign Actor – Takashi Shimura

Showdown … on memory lane

14 Oct


Dylan / If not for You

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bonanza

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Magnificent Sevens … myth, math and aftermath … Part 2

12 Oct


House of the Rising Sun / Heavy Young Heathens

The CWF Charismometer: Test One Continued: 
Measuring Star Power / Charisma / Casting

Fuqua’s Folly? /  Formulathe-magnificent-7-2016-washington-fuqua

“So far, so good.”
– Vin

In a lot of ways a re-make of M7 1960 was a no win scenario. Except of one way: Money. In this, Fuqua knew his formula of Denzel Washington and Action Film couldn’t miss. Though he knew his movie couldn’t match the Original Western as a Western Classic, it was bullet proof as a money maker. Just as Director Sydney Pollack knew that Robert Redford’s Star Power guaranteed Box Office success in the 7 movies he Directed Redford (including Western Classic Jeremiah Johnson – over $50 Million profit), the Box Office take for the previous 2 Washington/Fuqua Action movies: Training Day (2001) ($57 million), and The Equalizer (2014) ($137 million) guaranteed that M7 2016 would be a success. The current Box Office for M7 2016 shows a profit of $46 million – and climbing. Combining all 3 Fuqua/Washington movies, we get about $240 Million profit. So far. Pretty good business. M7 2016 isn’t a Western Classic, but it’s sure going to pay the bills.

Amazingly Wikipedia claims the original Magnificent Seven (1960) was not initially well received in the US – but did well overseas. And despite unclear statistics on it’s overall Box Office, it’s a safe bet that it made it’s money back many times over – and it’s still selling well today on DVD and Blue Ray.

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Casting?

“Once You’ve Met Them …You’ll Never Forget Them”
– A tagline from the original M7 1960

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Most any Western Movie fan can name at least 6 of this guys.

Large ensemble Casts in a movie are a problem. Writers and Directors know how important Character Development is. Because if we don’t connect with the people in the movie, what exactly are you doing? And the larger the Cast, the harder this is. With M7 (1960) however, most of  the Actors had been around for quite a while – they weren’t unknown. They just weren’t Stars yet. We knew Brynner very well; McQueen was known from the TV series Wanted Dead of Alive; Bronson had been kicking around in support roles for years; Coburn had been in several Westerns already; Vaughn had done a ton of TV work; Dexter had also done a lot of TV work – and several movies; even Buchholz had been in about 17 movies by 1960; Eli Wallach had also done extensive TV and movie work.
The point is, we had seen them before. And it’s a lot easier to do movies with ensemble casts if the audience has some familiarity with the Actors.
Frankly, in that sense, the  Casting M7 1960 was brilliant.

Can you name these guys?
the-magnificent-7-2016-the-sevenJustice might have a number, but might lack a name.

If you get 4 of those guys, I’ll send you a Tootsie Roll and a box of popcorn.

In M7 2016 we have less familiarity with the Cast. We would definitely know Washington, and likely Pratt, Hawke, and D’Onofrio though D’Onofrio is so heavily made up, I doubt most people recognized him.
Most everybody else in the movie we are unlikely to know.
This puts M7 2016 at a definite disadvantage as far as the audience (us) is able connect with the Characters – and care about them – not a good thing for a movie.

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Back when Tom Cruise started this whole M7 re-make debate,
I proposed my own Cast:
Tom Cruise, Viggo Mortensen, Guy Pearce, Willem Dafoe, Benedict Cumberbach, Brenden Fraser, Aaron Paul, Antonio Banderas.
This would have been a hell of a Cast …
but it also would have broke the bank.

my-magnificent-seven-my-castAnd I still hadn’t figured out who would Direct that thing.

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Coming:

Magnificent Sevens … myth, math and aftermath … Part 3

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