Sir Sean Connery … Cowboy / Part 2

“The West was a place where the improbable happened every day.”
– Louis L’Amour

I’ve always contended that most Movie Stars want to be in a Western at some point in their career.
But for many – especially European Actors – such a dream seemed far fetched. Impossible.
THEN… in the mid 60’s an incredible and unforeseen thing happened:
The Spaghetti Western.
Started by Sergio Leone – and spearheaded by Clint Eastwood‘s Star Power.
the door was flung wide open.
And the rage was on. 
Wikipedia: “Over six hundred European Westerns were made between 1960 and 1978.”

Shalako was shot in Almería, Spain.
This explains a lot about the it’s spectacular Cast.

Sean Connery (Scottish) as Moses Zebulon ‘Shalako’ Carlin
Brigitte Bardot (French) as Countess Irina Lazaar
Jack Hawkins (English) as Sir Charles Daggett
Stephen Boyd (Irish) as Bosky Fulton

Peter van Eyck (German) as Baron Frederick von Hallstadt
Honor Blackman (English) as Lady Julia Daggett
Woody Strode (American) as Chato
Eric Sykes (English) as Mako
Alexander Knox (Canadian) as Sen. Henry Clarke
Valerie French (English) as Elena Clarke
Julián Mateos (Spanish) as Rojas
Don “Red” Barry (American)as Buffalo
Rodd Redwing (American) as Chato’s Father

An amazing cross section of Cultural Thespian wannabe Cowboys!

Dig this:
Leone wanted to cast James Coburn for A Fistful of Dollars.
But Coburn was asking $25,000.
Leone couldn’t afford him!!
Clint only wanted $15,000.

The West is history.

Coburn did later Star in a couple of Spaghetti Westerns:
Duck you sucker/Fistfull of Dynamite – (1971)
and – A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die – (1972)
Not to mention that he Starred in 2 of the greatest Westerns ever made:
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

Not bad at all.

Coming up … more on this remarkable Cast.

Dennis Hopper Western Filmography …

Dennis Hopper Western Filmography

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. Gunsmoke and Bonanza would 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.

hopper cheyenne

hopper sugarfoot

gunfight at ok corral dennis hopper

hopper from hell to texas

hopper zane grey

hopper rifleman

hopper the young land

hopper wagon train

hopper the dakotas

hopper bonanza

hopper gunsmoke

hopper sons of katie elder

hopper jesse james

hopper will sonnett

hopper the big valley

hopper hang em high

hopper true grit

hopper kid blue

hopper mad dog morgan


East / West remakes … a film tradition …

There’s Remakes … and then there’s this:

In Yurusarezaru mono – a Japanese remake/adaptation of Clint Eastwood‘s iconic Western, Unforgiven (1992) we discover a cinematic tradition of Remakes that goes back a ways … pardner.

Legendary Westerns film Director John Sturges‘* The Magnificent Seven (1960) is well known to have borrowed from Japanese Director/Film maker Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai.

seven samurai - poster
Seven Samurai / 1954 / Akira Kurosawa
akira kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa
The Magnificent Seven - 1960 - poster
The Magnificent Seven / 1960 / John Sturges
John Sturges - Director
John Sturges – Director


Seven Samurai / Akira Kurosawa
Seven Samurai / Akira Kurosawa
The Magnificent Seven - 1960
The Magnificent Seven – 1960

In fact, the ‘borrowing’ of themes and story lines between the Orient and the West is sometimes so inbred and intertwined that it’s hard to know who started what … and where???

In this outstanding article/research by Kristen Brennan we see just how deep the rabbit hole goes:

Excerpts: “Kurosawa Films”

” … many elements from Kurosawa‘s work remain, including the two bickering peasants (who evolved into the droids – C3P0 and R2D2), elements of the Obi-Wan/Luke relationship and the queen who often switches places with her handmaiden. The Darth Vader-like evil general who has a change of heart at the end wears a kamon (commonly called simply a “mon”, a Japanese family crest) that looks very similar to the Imperial Crest.”

“Star Wars borrows a lot of great stuff from Yojimbo, (Akira Kurosawa film) including the cantina scene: several men threaten the hero, bragging how wanted they are by authorities. There’s a flash of blade and suddenly an arm lies on the ground. Mifune is offered “25 ryo now, 25 when you complete the mission.” (A ryo is a gold coin.) Jeremy Bulloch, the actor who played Boba Fett, said the character was based on Clint Eastwood’s version of The Man With No Name. You can hear a little cowboy-spur jingle when Fett enters the dining room in The Empire Strikes Back, soft and subtle enough that it’s probably meant to trigger our emotional association with the character without our conscious awareness.”


MFW: Speaking of Remakes: we’re still waiting for ANY news about Tom Cruise‘s “The Magnificent Seven” Remake. Not a peep has been heard in months. I’m guessing Cruise is waiting on the Writing – which has to be excellent – and trying to figure out the ALL IMPORTANT casting – which has to somehow match (if that’s possible) the cast from the original movie: Yul Brunner, Steve McqueenCharles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, and Horst Buchholz – most of whom enjoyed superstar film careers. No word yet if Cruise is (wisely) attempting to get the rights to the original magnificent sound track theme music by Elmer Bernstein.

The rumor mills are churning and you can bet that there are many actors campaigning and begging Cruise for a part of the action.


Yurusarezaru Mono Poster 3
Yurusarezaru Mono Posters


*John Sturges Westerns:

Escape from Fort Bravo (1953) / Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) / Backlash (1956) / Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) / Saddle the Wind (1958) / The Law and Jake Wade (1958) / Last Train from Gun Hill (1959) / Sergeants 3 (1962) / The Hallelujah Trail (1965) / Hour of the Gun (1967) / Joe Kidd (1972) / Chino (1973)

Unforgiven … Sushi Western ?

Unforgiven - Yurusarezaru Mono title

unforgiven japanese
Image borrowed from:

Unforgiven - Yurusarezaru Mono

This so-called remake of Clint Eastwood’s Oscar winning
Unforgiven (1992 Best Picture) is of special interest to me – having worked on the original film as a set painter.
And indeed looking at these trailers it does appear to follow the story:


Trailers are not yet in English – or sub-titled (how’s your Japanese, hombre?)

You may well recognize international Film Star Ken Watanabe – for his work in The Last Samurai, Batman Begins, Inception

Unforgiven Japanese style

Smart marketing – Watanabe will sell big in the international marketplace.

Curiously, Yurusarezaru Mono seems to translate as The Man in White

Should be interesting.

Release Date: September 13, 2013

Western Badguys … Lee Marvin … that’s a wrap

The Spikes Gang

I’m gonna say that The Spikes Gang (1974) was the last true Western that Lee Marvin made.

The Spikes Gang posters / 1974
The Spikes Gang posters / 1974

A pretty good little film that never got it’s due. Certainly worth a see.

Director Richard Fleistchers message is loud and clear: a badguy is not a hero (even if he is a Movie Star) and there is no glory – or freedom – in being a crook. And who better to deliver that message than Lee Marvin?

A great little cast – Gary Grimes, Charles Martin Smith, Marvin, Ron Howard – including two sweet cameo supporting roles by (Western Great) Arthur Hunnicutt and Noah Beery Jr. 

The Spikes Gang
The Spikes Gang; Gary Grimes, Charles Martin Smith, Marvin, Ron Howard
Arthur Hunnicutt - Noah Beery Jr.
Arthur Hunnicutt – Noah Beery Jr.
The Spikes Gang
The Spikes Gang; Ron Howard and Gary Grimes (standing / back)
Marvin and Charles Martin Smith (sitting)


Paint Your Wagon / 1969

Paint Your Wagon (1969) may qualify as having Western flavour … and Clint Eastwood. But it’s a musical. (Yet … so was Cat Ballou … in part) I think it’s a pretty good movie in it’s own right – and many folks like it, but … I don’t categorize it as a Western.

Survey says … ?? Your opinion ?

paint your wagon
Paint your Wagon / 1969


Death Hunt / 1981

Death Hunt / 1981
Death Hunt / 1981

Death Hunt (1981). It has action, guns and horses … and Charles Bronson. But a Western? I don’t feel it.

Others may challenge these judgements. My opinion is not final on anything.

Home on the Range …

Where to go next … ?? There is no end of possibilities.  So many great Westerns … so little time.

I’ve received two suggestions: Eastwood’s Academy Award winning Unforgiven – Academy Awards Best Picture in 1992. (Wow, was it really that long ago?)

And Open Range (2003) a worthy duster (also shot in Alberta) with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall.

Unforgiven 1992
Open Range wallpaper
Open Range (2003)

I worked as a set painter on Unforgiven which was shot near Longview, Alberta – the small Western town set was built on some (well guarded and secluded) private property. I wish I could tell you that it was a glorious experience where I smoozed with Movie Stars, Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Richard Harris. But it wasn’t.The set was tight and strict – high security. I never saw any of the Stars at all, but there was strict rules not to approach or talk to them unless invited.
My work has hot, dirty and tough. And even dangerous. I recall being up 3 storeys on a rickety scaffold – painting the back a building – by myself – that never even appeared in the film.
I made 8 dollars an hour – working alongside carpenters who were making 100 dollars an hour – or more.
Aw yes … the romance of film. Eastwood had a couple of henchmen whose only job seemed to be to go around kicking ass and hustling chicks on the set … who all mysteriously got better jobs. It’s not what you know …
We worked hard long days – bused in at 5 in the morning and often leaving sometimes late in the evening.
As I said, I never saw any of the Stars. There were several Locations in the area and I always seemed to working somewhere else.
Later, I got a temporary job with an outfit called F&D (Fast & Dirty) Scene Changes building the train station that was used in the movie – in a large hanger in Calgary. The station was then dismantled and shipped down to Senora California (that’s where the train was) and reassembled for some scenes that really take very little time in the movie. Clint has a blank cheque in Hollywood – his movies make money.
I hope I don’t sound too jaded – it was a worthy experience.
I’m sure I can come up with a few dozen  more anecdotes surrounding my experience with Unforgiven … and I will.

Westward Ho !!!


For a Few Dollars More … or less …

Soundtrack A fistful of Dollars / Ennio Morricone

A Fistful of Pesos ?? …

From Wikipedia – The Online Encyclopedia:

– 1964 – Clint Eastwood signed a contract for A Fistful of Dollars for $15,000 US ( $112,403 in 2012 dollars) in wages for eleven weeks work, with a bonus of a Mercedes automobile upon completion.

Sergio Leone intended Henry Fonda to play the “Man with No Name“. However, the production company could not afford to engage a major Hollywood star.

Next, Leone offered Charles Bronson the part. He too, declined the role, arguing that the script was bad.

Both Fonda and Bronson would later star in Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

– Other actors who turned the role down were Henry Silva, Rory Calhoun, Tony Russel, Steve Reeves, Ty Hardin, James Coburn and Richard Harrison.

Soundtrack For a Few Dollars More / Ennio Morricone

For a few pesos more …

From Wikipedia – The Online Encyclopedia

– 1965 – Clint Eastwood received $50,000 for returning in the sequel For a Few Dollars More, while Lee Van Cleef received $17,000.

– Charles Bronson was again approached for a starring role, but he passed it up, citing that the sequel’s script was like the first film. Lee Van Cleef then accepted the role.

 – As all of the film’s footage was shot silent, Eastwood and Van Cleef returned to Italy where they dubbed over their dialogue and the sound effects were added.


One of my favorite things is to investigate who turned down – or lost out – on certain movie roles.

 For instance. Gary Cooper turned down The Big Trail, Stagecoach, and Red River. John Wayne took all three. Cooper carried on very nicely, but Wayne went on to become the Number One Star in Movies and possibly the greatest Western Star of all time.

“112,000 dollars” in 1964 for Clint – for 11 weeks work. And a Mercedes. Not bad at all actually – and he wasn’t even a star … yet. Though by todays Movie Star standards that might sound a bit weak. But as they say in Hollywood: “The only bad actor is an unemployed actor.”

Of course ‘nobody’ (if you’ll excuse the expression) had no idea of the success these movies would be – the start of the whole Spaghetti Western phenomenon. And very obviously – by the number of actors that turned these movies down – plenty of people didn’t think much of the opportunity.

But if Bronson hadn’t been so picky, Lee Van Cleef might very well have just faded away into the Western sunset.

Bronson and Henry Fonda later appeared in Leone’s Western Classic: Once Upon a Time in the West / 1968. This also included Woody Strode, Jack Elam, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale. This Western is cited by many as their Favorite of time.