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.
“You call that life? If an Apache cannot live in his home mountains like his fathers before him, he is already dead!” Massai: (Lancaster)
When Rose and I got back from Arizona and the Apache Trail … I sat down in my living room and turned on the TV. Guess what’s playing? ??? Apache… of course – on Turner Classic Movies.
Interesting that foreign posters are often better than domestic.
But all they would have had to do was stick a pic of Jean Peters on the
poster and the theatres would have been full.
Jean … with a bullet
Well, I’ve known about this movie for some some, but never gotten around to seeing it. But since this was such a coincidence (I don’t believe in coincidences), I figured I better watch it. I’ve also known for a long time that my attraction to Sedona and Arizona country was due to past lives that I had spent here as a native in times that pre-dated the coming of the Whiteman. Much of Apacheis filmed around Sedona and though I have no clear recollection of being Apache in particular, Apache is a very large and board label that covers many tribes in the American Southwest.
Apacheis not high on the list of most Western Movie fans, and I don’t consider it to be a major Western classic myself. But it still has some interesting and noteworthy features. For starters, it stars Burt Lancaster – one of the greatest Western Film actors of all time.
“The film was the first in a series of movies Lancaster made for United Artists (under the Hecht-Lancaster studio)
It was originally budgeted at $742,000. The film was a big hit, earning over $3 million in its first year of release and $6 million overall.”
A study of the film industry gives is a study of inflation: The recent The Lone Ranger (starring Johnny Depp) cost approximately $250 million to make.
Besides Lancaster as Massail, it also has other notable casting: Jean Peters as Nalinlel; John McIntire as Al Sieber; Charles Bronson (as Charles Buchinsky) as Hondo; John Dehner as Weddle; Paul Guilfoyle as Santos; Ian MacDonald as Clagg; Walter Sande as Lt. Col. Beck; Morris Ankrum as Dawson; Monte Blue as Geronimo.
Jean Peters, John McIntire, Charles Bronson, John Dehner, Ian MacDonald would all be well recognized actors even today.
Another 1950s pro-Indian Western featuring Caucasian actors in brown body paint speaking pidgin “Native,” Apache nevertheless manages to dispense more than the standard revisionist bromides. Showcasing his energetic style, director Robert Aldrich doesn’t stint on the violence perpetrated by either the whites or by star Burt Lancaster‘s athletic blue-eyed brave Massai, while Massai’s rough handling of Jean Peters‘ Nalinle makes him tough to admire. Nevertheless, Massai’s trip from Florida to his ancestral lands early in the film concisely and potently sums up the ruinous spread of white “civilization” across indigenous tribal territory, turning him into a Machiavellian hero saved by the agrarian ideal and Nalinle’s familiar instincts. As Aldrich figured, that salvation rings jarringly false, but the powers that be overruled the relatively inexperienced movie director’s artistically sound yet commercially difficult instincts. Aldrich’s first collaboration with producer/star Lancaster, Apache was also the director’s first hit and the beginning of Lancaster’s fruitful run as a Western action hero. According to historical accounts, the actual Massai’s eyes really were a Lancasterian azure.
Director Robert Aldrich
The film is directed my none other than Robert Aldrich – who also directed The Big Knife (1955), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), The Flight of the Phoenix(1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), and The Longest Yard (1974).
Aldrich further directed the Western Classic Vera Cruz(1954) that featured Lancaster, Gary Cooper, Cesar Romero, Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine … among others.
Other Westerns directed by Robert Aldrich:
– 4 for Texas (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Anita Ekberg, Ursula Andress, Charles Bronson, Richard Jaeckel, Jack Elam,and The Three Stooges.(Yep, you’re reading correctly – obviously a comedy.)
– Ulzana’s Raid (1972) starring Burt Lancaster, Richard Jaeckel, Bruce Davison and Joaquin Martinez. The film, which was filmed on location in Arizona – portrays a brutal raid by Chiricahua Apaches against European settlers.
– The Frisco Kid (1979) – another Western comedy with Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford …
The Professionals didn’t seem to indulge in a lot of marketing promotion. Possibly (credibly) relying on it’s AllStar cast to carry it.
But some of marketing images are still a bit of a head scratcher.
This DVD cover/poster headlines “Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance and Ralph Bellamy“. But … ? the image shows Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, Marvin, Ryan and Woody Strode. Palance and Bellamy are Billed, but not pictured. Cardinale and Strode are pictured, but not Billed. ???
This can only be attributed to contractual agreements regarding who would get Billed ahead of who … whom? I guess.
Even stranger: As shown below, Cardinale did not even appear in the original photo, but she was cleverly inserted later – between Lancaster and Marvin.
YET … she is not even identified on the Bill !! ??
Again, we have actors Billed (Lancaster, Palance, Bellamy) – but not pictured.
And actors pictured (Cardinale, Strode), but not Billed.
I know it’s hot out there in the desert, but …
How hot is it? Check this:
Whew … it’s sweaty out here in the desert.
Who are those slobs in the background?
(Foreign marketers had no problem showing where their interest lies.)
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).
“A director is a ringmaster, a psychiatrist and a referee.”
Director / Writer / Producer
“The power is for the director to do what he wants to do. To achieve that he needs his own cutter, he needs his cameraman, he needs his own assistant and a strong voice in his choice of writer; a very, very strong voice on who’s the actor. He needs the power not to be interfered with and the power to make the movie as he sees it.”
The Flight of the Phoenix / The Choirboys / The Frisco Kid / Too Late the Hero / Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte / What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? / Twilight’s Last Gleaming / Emperor of the North / The Angry Hills / The Dirty Dozen /Ulzana’s Raid / The Longest Yard / Apache/ The Big Knife / Ten Seconds to Hell / 4 for Texas / The Killing of Sister George / Hustle
Aldrich Directed 5 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Victor Buono, Bette Davis, Agnes Moorehead, Ian Bannen and John Cassavetes.
Aldrich Directed 3 Westerns starring Burt Lancaster: Ulzana’s Raid, Apache, and Vera Cruz.
President of the Directors Guild of America (DGA). [1975-1979]
Head of jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1959
Berlin International Film Festival
1956 Won Silver Berlin Bear – Best Director for: Autumn Leaves (1956).
Cannes Film Festival
1963 Nominated Palme d’Or for: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).
Directors Guild of America, USA
Nominated DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for: The Dirty Dozen (1967).
1963 Nominated DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).
Hochi Film Awards
1982 Won Hochi Film Award Best Foreign Language Film for: …All the Marbles (1981).
1970 Nominated Golden Laurel Producer-Director 10th place.
1968 Nominated Golden Laurel Producer-Director 4th place.
1967 Nominated Golden Laurel Producer-Director 6th place.
1965 Nominated Golden Laurel Producer-Director 6th place.
Venice Film Festival
1956 Won Pasinetti Award for: Attack (1956)
Nominated Golden Lion for: Attack (1956).
1955 Won Silver Lion for: The Big Knife (1955).
Nominated Golden Lion for: The Big Knife (1955).
“The struggle for self-determination, the struggle for what a character wants his life to be . . . I look for characters who feel strongly enough about something not to be concerned with the prevailing odds, but to struggle against those odds.” – Robert Aldrich
Excerpt from Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0600060/bio
“It is quite impossible to cover here all the awards Sara Montiel has won in her long successful career but we must mention the “Premio del Sindicato” (at that time Spain’s equivalent of the Oscar) for best actress, won two years in a row for her performances in “El Último Cuplé” and “La Violetera”. In 1972 she was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Los Angeles by Mayor Sam Yorty and was given the gold key to the city. Similarly she has been awarded the gold keys of New York, Miami and Chicago. In 1981 she received Israel’s most prestigious honor, the Ben Guiron Award and in 1983 she was awarded France’s Legion of Honor medal, after a retrospective of her career ran at the Autumn Film Festival in Paris. In 1986 “Nosotros”, a Hollywood-based Hispanic actors advocacy organization founded by Ricardo Montalban, gave her its Golden Eagle Award for life achievement. The trophy was presented to Sarita by her “Vera Cruz” costar-producer Burt Lancaster in an emotional reunion that triggered a standing ovation from all their Hollywood peers witnessing the event. In 1997 she was awarded the “Gold Medal“, also a life achievement recognition, given–rarely–by Spain’s Academy of Arts and Sciences. The two-hour ceremony was beamed live by national television. In 2008 Sara returned to her hometown to unveil a sculpture with her image at the new Sara Montiel Park. A nearby avenue was also named after her and there was at the same time a dedication ceremony of her newly renovated museum, located inside a 16th-century windmill. In addition, the government placed a commemorative plaque on the house where she was born.”
I’m posting updates to my Vera Cruz page – slowly – as able. Right now I’m working on the wonderful Cast. Bios for Lancaster and Cooper are in MFW Cowboy Hall of Fame … and everybody else’s too. Below is the wonderful Cesar Romero … Onward !
Romero’s acting credits are so extensive I have refrained from listing them here. However, I’ll investigate his list of Westerns and post those later. Romero could indeed act, but unfortunately found himself ‘typecast’ – usually played the debonair mustachioed Spanish / Mexican / Latino even though he was an American by birth. Playing as the Joker in the TV Batman series must surely have been a ‘breathe of fresh air’ for him and he surely tackled that role with joyful enthusiasm and his usual consummate professionalism. His screen charisma is undeniable and his famous grin (“old crocodile teeth” as Lancaster referred to him) is equal to Lancaster’s. Hail Cesar !
Wikipedia: an American film and television actor who was active in film, radio, and television for almost sixty years. His wide range of screen roles included Latin lovers, historical figures in costume dramas, characters in light domestic comedies, and as the Joker in the Batman TV series.
In October 1942, he voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and served in the Pacific Theater. He reported aboard the Coast Guard-manned assault transport USS Cavalier in November, 1943. According to a press release from the period he saw action during the invasions of Tinian and Saipan. The same article mentioned that he preferred to be a regular part of the crew and was eventually promoted to the rate of Chief Boatswain’s Mate.
‘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.
Continuing to add pages to Gunfight at the OK Corral profile …
Thing is … I keep finding new stuff … and changing things. So I’m editing and adding new material as a go along.
Combined with my inexperience at Blogging, it’s taking quite a bit of work and I’m only able to add 2 or 3 sections a day.
BUT … it’s a labour of love … and I’m enjoying it. And I never want to get into a space where I’m just throwing things on there just to get it done.
So … I should have Gunfight at the OK Corral pretty well finished in about 3 days … I’m guessing.
Then it’s on to the next movie which I think will be Pekinpah’s ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’.
In any case these profiles are never finished. I rarely ever look at them when I don’t see something that needs fixing – or improving. Not to mention the fact that I keep finding new material. So if you check back here you will continually find that these profiles are changing, expanding and growing.