1972 / Glendale Train / New Riders of the Purple Sage
Jesse James (1939)
Jesse James was a smash hit and the fourth largest-grossing film of 1939, behind Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and in front of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
That’s a hell of a year for Movies – those are 4Classics.
A sequel, The Return of Frank James, directed by Fritz Lang and with Henry Fonda reprising his role as Frank James along with a variety of other actors playing the same characters as they had in Jesse James,
was released in 1940.
It seems almost daily that somebody finds another photo
of Jesse James or Billy the Kid. A lot are fakes or false of course, but even some that
are authentic are so bizarre that you have shake your head.
Like this one with Robert Ford (Jesse assassin)
and Jesse himself seated together.
It’s rather amazing.
And is that a top knot on Jesse’s head?
I wanted to post an authentic Jesse James “Wanted Poster” here,
but I couldn’t identify even one that I can confidence in.
Between 1921 and 2007 we count 28 movies about Jesse James
or where Jesse James was a prominent character.
Between 1911 and 2011 we count 23 movies about Billy the Kid
or where Billy the Kid was a prominent character.
If this was a football game, The Kid needs a touchdown.
But it’s not a football game.
It’s the stories of two killers. Two men driven to violence and killing …
who have become Western folk heroes.
Until they were assassinated by their friends.
Jesse James / 1939
The movie was criticized for Historical inaccuracies.
Not that I care. It is not a documentary.
Jesse James (1939) was the 4th movie about Jesse James.
The Epic Story of the most Colourful Outlaw who ever lived
Motion Pictures’ Supreme Epic !
The world branded him . . . an OUTLAW . . . a KILLER . . . a WOLF . . . but to the simple folk who knew him he was a victim of injustice – and to the girl who loved him he was brave and a gentle lover ! !
The Tremendous Dramatic Thrills Of the Midwest’s Lawless Era will burst from our screen…
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.
17 September 1902 – 14 January 1994
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.
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’.
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.
“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.
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.
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
“As an act of good will, Temple swore in all members of the Blackfoottribe as members of the Shirley TemplePolice Force while Temple was made an honorary member of theBlackfoottribe and given the name Bright Shining Star.”
(Guess I got that one right)
Shirley was now 11-years-old. Still a cute kid, but …
“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,Randolph, Rory, Cisco, andHopalong (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 SunnybrookFarm. 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.
Now … where was I? Oh yeah, To the Last ManCasting. I’ll get back to Shirley in a minute because she’s worthy of a lot more space.
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.
“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!
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 …
Holy Doodle! It’sShirley 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.
I got stuck a bit on this one for. My impression was that this film was more popular than most films in it’s time. I wanted to verify that, but there’s not a lot of history on many of these early Westerns. So my investigation dragged on, but … it has some pretty nice posters and images.
Scott looks a bit like and early Errol Flynn.
Fortunately he later turfed the ‘stache’.
No Trailers available.
However Man of the Forest is classified Public Domain.
This is one of 20 Zane Grey stories, filmed by Paramount in the 1930s, which they sold to Favorite Films for re-release, circa 1949-1950. The failure of Paramount, the original copyright holder, to renew the film’s copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. (From Internet Movie Database IMDB)
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?
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
“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
“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’simage is bigger?
Yet on the screen we see Randolph at the top …
and Broderick 5th on the Bill ???
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.
Henry Hathaway / Director of Westerns / Part 7
Before 1800 scientists estimate there were 60,000,000 buffalo/bison on the North American plains.
The Buffalo / Bison has been around for a long time. The cave painting (from France) above is believed to be about 10,000 years old.
The ancient hunters would never have dreamed about wiping all of them out.
Yet it only took a mere fistful of white hunters less than 50 years to slaughter the North American buffalo to near extinction.
And it was done deliberately.
The simple plan was to force the Natives onto the Reservations by killing off their food source.
Thus opening up the West for settlement. (Civilization?)
Buffalo hunting still goes on today. It’s a bit controversial as you might imagine – as some ‘hunts’ amount only to shooting a Buffalo standing in a field or pasture – for a fee. There are other hunting formats however (Bow, Crossbow, period Firearms … ) and most any real hunter would insist on a greater experience. Myself, I’m against Trophy Hunting, but not conventional hunting whereby the meat would be taken and used.
Myself, I don’t hunt and I own no firearms or weapons.
Henry Hathaway / Director of Westerns / Part 7 continued …
He followed a trail of blazing action across the prairies!
The Thundering Herd – a Pre-Code Western hasa rather amazing cast of Western Icons:Randolph Scott, Judith Allen, Buster Crabbe, Noah Beery, Sr. and Harry Carey.
The film is now in the public domain and also known as Buffalo Stampede.
Buffalo Stampede (1950)
As Big … and Great as the Wide … Wild West!
Buffalo Stampede can be watched on You Tube
in watchable 480 resolution – 57:15 long.
Sprague (Harry Carey)and Jett (Noah Beery)and their men are buffalo hunters. Doan (Randolph Scott) is with Sprague and is looking for Jett who tried to kill him and is holding his girlfriend Milly (Judith Allen) hostage. Jett’s is also stealing Sprague’s furs. Meanwhile, Indians are attacking the buffalo hunters.
There are very few reviews on The Thundering Herd. I watched it on You Tube and I’d give it a 6 out of 10 at best. It’s climax is unusual and not entirely satisfying in how the badguy is dispatched.
Yet the Cast is interesting and it is a Talky.
Henry Hathaway / Director of Westerns / Part 7 continued …