“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)
MGM are leaving no stone unturned in their catalogue when it comes to remakes. With “Robocop” and “Poltergeist” on the way for 2014, and “Road House,” “Death Wish,” “WarGames,” “The Idolmaker,” “Ben-Hur” and more all in development, the name of game seems to reboots over original material. And that brings us to the classic western “The Magnificent Seven.” In the works for a couple years now, the project gained some serious steam when Tom Cruise put his name to it in 2012, with a writer added over this past summer. But heading into 2014, the redo will need to find another star as a screenplay gets more work.
The Wrap reports that John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side,” “Saving Mr. Banks”) has been brought in to re-write the first draft of the script by Nic Pizzolatto (“True Detective”). For now, it’s just a writing gig for Hancock who has no plans to direct, but with credits to his name including “The Alamo,” “Snow White & The Huntsman” and next year’s “Maleficent,” he knows his way around spectacle. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise has exited the project mostly because his plate is currently full with about five zillion other movies on the go, so he could probably do with one less.
So the remake machine continues on this project, and we’ll ask you this: who do you think can direct or star in this movie and at least attempt to do justice to the original?
I’ve already posted my own fantasy cast which I will boldly match up against anybody else’s projections.
Except for Tom Cruise, of course, who has now bailed out. This leaves a VERY large hole – as casting Yul Brynner’s former role was the biggest challenge of them all.
My Favorite Westerns casting for The Magnificent Seven / Remake:
Yul Brynner … TOM CRUISE
Steve McQueen … VIGGO MORTENSEN
James Coburn … GUY PEARCE
Charles Bronson … WILLEN DAFOE
Robert Vaughn … BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
Brad Dexter … BRENDAN FRASER
Horst Buchholz … AARON PAUL
Eli Wallach… ANTONIO BANDERAS
O’Reilly (Bronson): “I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.”
TOM CRUISE’s departure from a planned remake of the star-studded western has put the project back to square one
HOLLYWOOD studio MGM has “called in the cavalry” to rescue a planned remake of classic 1960 western The Magnificent Seven after Tom Cruise stunned producers by quitting.
Cruise, 51, blamed a personal “scheduling conflict” for his departure more than six months after agreeing to a lead role.
As he rode off into the sunset, studio bosses hired John Lee Hancock, who directed current box-office hit Saving Mr Banks, to re-write what was seen as a troubled script.
The turmoil comes at the end of a year in which the original Magnificent Seven was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of America’s Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. It starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz.
Yesterday a senior MGM source said: “Tom’s departure has thrown a real wrench in the wagon wheel.
“He was the only one of the seven we had cast and would obviously have helped draw other A-list stars into the project.
“Now it’s a case of going right back to square one in terms of casting and having John Lee Hancock re-write the script from top to bottom. You might say he’s leading our cavalry on a rescue mission.
“We’re hoping that once John Lee has completed a first draft of a new script, we will be firmly back on track and in a position to attract some of Hollywood’s best-known actors.”
Hancock, a hugely respected Hollywood figure, is no stranger to the genre, having directed 2004’s Disney remake of another 1960 western classic, The Alamo.
Even before Cruise backed out, studio bosses had become concerned about committing a reported £100million-plus to the film. They saw rival Disney take a financial hit earlier this year as an equally costly remake of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp as Tonto, flopped.
Los Angeles-based media analyst Mike Raia insisted yesterday: “I believe the western can survive and even thrive as a genre.
“However, the onus is on the filmmakers to make their modern versions resonate with today’s younger audiences as well as older fans.”
The Magnificent Seven: Casting James Coburn / Britt
James Coburn played Britt in The Magnificent 7.
I figured it would be very difficult finding someone to physically
match Coburn lean and lanky physique, so I put that to the side.
But I think I did find someone who could pull this role off otherwise …
Looking everyone over, I finally decided Guy Pearce would do a great job here.
Pearce is extremely versatile as an actor. He has the talent to
morph into any role he takes and own it. He can do Action and has already
been in one notable and highly regarded Western: The Proposition.
Whatever you want, he delivers.
– 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. Instead, 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 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.
I doubt many care – or even that it’s all that important – but Robert Redford doesn’t look much like the real Jeremiah Johnson.
However … in most Westerns, it don’t really seem to matter whether the actor looks like the actual person – or not. There’s plenty of examples: Kris Kristofferson as Billy the Kid in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Kristofferson was too good looking for ‘the Kid’ – and was also in his 30’s. While the ‘Kid’ was … well … an ugly cuss (if I can tell by the famous photo) and was about 20 years old … almost ‘a kid’. But, James Coburn didn’t look a whole lot like Pat Garrett … I better stop here. Great movie though.
So if likeness’ is a casting necessity … ?
Hell, maybe it’s just too darn hard to find anybody that ugly who can act.
A young Henry Silva actually looks a lot like ‘the Kid”.
In most other movie biographies though, likeness is important. For instance, If you’re playing Winston Churchill … Redford wouldn’t get the job … and also (hopefully) the chance to murder an English accent.
And I do admit that Redford’s ‘matinée idol’ looks did initially grate on me a bit when I first watched Jeremiah Johnson. I figured they should have cast somebody a bit more (or a lot more?) rugged looking than Redford. Someone like Tom Selleck maybe, or Lee Marvin. Bronson? (Trivia says that this movie was initially to star Clint Eastwood as Johnson – and be directed by Sam Peckinpah … WOW! … that would have been a different movie … punk) We didn’t get lucky.
Director Sydney Pollock, however, had a very simple philosophy about making a movie: Employ Stars. Star Power guarantees success. And Pollock surely knew Redford’s Star Power – Directing him in seven movies.
And all in all … Redford did a great job: one of My Favorite Westerns.
The other beef I had with the movie was that the actual (supposed) true story about Jeremiah Johnson seemed more interesting than the movie version.
I suspect, however, that some of these ‘facts’ about Johnson pushed a few credibility buttons … and was hardly the stuff of ‘Heros’. “Liver Eating Johnson”?! Some believe Johnson actually did this. It’s said that the Crow believed that unless a body was intact that the spirit could not pass over. So Johnson removed the liver and … yet it’s also said that Johnson confessed once that this story was a story he propagated (to scare or anger the Crow?) But if you were a cannibal, would you admit it?
Possible. Probable? Believable?
I figure some of these ‘details’ were kept out of the movie because not only do they seem implausible, but they made the character – our Hero – a lot less of a Goodguy.
As the Crow flies …
Then there’s the story that Johnson killed over 300 Crow braves. 300?!! That’s a hell of a lot of empty Teepees. Let’s see … if the Crow sent only one brave at a time (as the movie suggests)… and Johnson killed one brave a month … it would take 25 years to kill 300 Crow. That’s almost as hard to swallow as liver. 30 would be impressive enough … and believable. But 300 … ??? You have to question it.
But who’s counting?
Johnson? The Crow? (I might believe their count). But Johnson’s …
Yet … maybe it’s true.
Billy the Kid’s myth labours under similar suspicious history. Some claim ‘The Kid” really only killed about 4 people … though folklore and myth claim about 20 … or more.
So … the truth is … we really don’t know the truth.
Yet again … sometimes the truth IS indeed ‘stranger than fiction’.