Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

I’ve been trying to figure this out for myself, but I should’ve turned to y’all in the first place.

Looking for the best book(s) on the Hopalong Cassidy film. series. There are quite a few out there, from memorabilia price guides to stuff like Hopalong Cassidy: On The Page, On The Screen. The latter is from Riverwood Press, which is usually a good sign. (I miss Packy Smith!)

Drop your recommendations in the comments. Thanks a bunch.

UPDATE: Y’all have spoken and it’s pretty unanimous — Hopalong Cassidy: On The Page, On The Screen by Francis M. Nevins from Riverwood Press is the best book out there on Hopalong Cassidy. Thanks to all of you who commented, emailed or texted — and thanks to Steve Bowen for the photo of his long out-of-print hardback copy. The paperback is still available.

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Packy Smith came up yesterday and I thought it was about time to pay tribute to him. He passed away in 2019.

Morton Packard “Packy” Smith was the absolute authority on B Westerns. And he was a real joy to hang around with. No matter if you ever met him or not, you owe him a debt.

Packy produced the Happy Trails Theater show with Roy Rogers on TNN. He was a founder of a lot of the stuff that goes on in Lone Pine, from the museum to the film festival. And he wrote, edited or published some of the best books on Western films. I’ve got a stack of ’em around here — you probably do, too.

Jennifer and I grabbed something to eat with Packy at a Krystal during the Western Film Festival, years ago, and I think of him every time I go there.

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Happy Birthday, Tom Mix!

The great Tom Mix was born 143 years ago today — and he’s been gone since 1940.

But he rides again in the cool Tales Of Tom Mix series of books by my good friend “Scott McQueen.” The latest (and fourth of six), Deuces Wild, came out this week. Click on the cover above to get yours.

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This month marks the 13th year of this blog. Wow.

That also means I’ve been working on the book that’s its namesake, 50 Westerns From The 50s, just as long. Along the way, there have been job changes, a move, several computer purchases and a steady coming and going of films on the list of “The Fifty.”

And while all that time is kinda embarrassing to admit to, I’m stoked to report that it’s getting pretty close and I have a publishing date in mind for it. Gonna try really hard to stick to it. As sure as the turning of the earth.

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One of my earliest movie memories is of watching an 8mm print of Tom Mix in The Great K&A Train Robbery (1926). What a cool movie — and you certainly don’t get any cooler than Tom Mix. He was a real ranch hand, starred in well over a hundred films, got John Wayne his job in the props department at Fox, appeared in the circus and was made an honorary Texas Ranger. Quite a guy.

Scott McCrea, the pen name of a great friend of this blog, is writing a series of novels featuring Tom Mix. The first one, The Mountain Killer, is now available. I highly recommend it. Click on the cover (above) or order yours today!

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fifty.

I usually dodge questions about the 50 Westerns to be covered in 50 Westerns From The 50s. The reason I’ve avoided the issue is that the list changes so often. Or it used to change often. Lately, it’s settled down quite a bit.

I’ve been really excited about some of the recent progress on the thing (and some recent back-and-forth on Dragoon Well Massacre), so I felt like sharing the list, with the disclaimer that it could still fluctuate some.

Wagon Master
The Gunfighter
Trail Of Robin Hood
Rocky Mountain

Man In The Saddle
Apache Drums
Saddle Legion
Westward The Women

Son Of Paleface
Bend Of The River
Rancho Notorious
The Duel At Silver Creek
Lawless Breed

Jack Slade
Last Of The Pony Riders
The Lone Hand

Masterson Of Kansas
Vera Cruz
Phantom Stallion
Johnny Guitar
Silver Lode

A Lawless Street
Stranger On Horseback

Seven Men From Now
Red Sundown
Stagecoach To Fury
A Day Of Fury
Fury At Gunsight Pass
The Fastest Gun Alive

Hell Canyon Outlaws
The True Story Of Jesse James
Fury At Showdown
Night Passage
Forty Guns

Dragoon Wells Massacre
The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold
Frontier Gun
Fort Dobbs
Gunman’s Walk
The Left-Handed Gun

Curse Of The Undead
Rio Bravo
Last Train From Gun Hill
Face Of A Fugitive
The Horse Soldiers

You might notice that things are skewed a bit toward smaller pictures — and that some “key” titles are missing, namely, High Noon, Shane and The Searchers. A few pre-1950 and post-’59 films will also be included (One-Eyed Jacks was gonna be one of those, but it ended up with its own book).

Hopefully, you’re as stoked about these films as I am. (Thanks to a few of you who’ve helped shape this list over the years.) Looking forward to hearing what you think — and to a winter spent wrapping this thing up.

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Active Ingredients.

Like the last post, which was a status report on the book, here’s another one dealing with something I’m often asked about — research and resources.

There’s a great big stack of books I’ve turned to quite a bit during the “making” of 50 Westerns From The 50s. You’re probably familiar with most, if not all, of them.

The B Directors: A Biographical Directory – Winston Wheeler Dixon
Close Up: The Contract Director
– Jon Tuska
Company Of Heroes: My Life As An Actor In The John Ford Stock Company – Harry Carey, Jr.
De Toth On De Toth – Andre De Toth & Anthony Slide
Escape Artist: The Life And Films Of John Sturges – Glenn Lovell
The Films Of Audie Murphy – Bob Larkins
The Films Of Budd Boetticher
– Robert Nott
The Films Of Randolph Scott – Robert Nott
Fritz Lang: The Nature Of The Beast – Patrick McGilligan
Highway To Hollywood, The Hard Way
– Maury Dexter
The Hollywood Posse – Diana Serra Cary
Hollywood Trail Boss – Burt Kennedy
I Was That Masked Man – Clayton Moore
John Ford – Peter Bogdanovich
John Wayne: The Life And Legend – Scott Eyman
Ladies Of The Western – Boyd Magers & Michael Fitzgerald
Last Of The Cowboy Heroes
 – Robert Nott
The Legendary Lydecker Brothers – Jan Allen Henderson
Lost In The Fifties: Rediscovering Phantom Hollywood
– Winston Wheeler Dixon
A Million Feet Of Film: The Making Of One-Eyed Jacks – Toby Roan (just kidding)
Paul Landres: A Director’s Stories – Francis Nevins
Print The Legend: The Life And Times Of John Ford
– Scott Eyman
The Ragman’s Son
– Kirk Douglas
Searching For John Ford: A Life – Joseph McBride
A Siegel Film: An Autobiography – Don Siegel
Talk’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive: The Films Of Robert L. Lippert
– Mark Thomas McGee
Three Bad Man: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond
– Scott Allen Nollen
Universal International Westerns, 1929-46
– Gene Blottner
Universal International Westerns, 1947-63
– Gene Blottner
The Western – Phil Hardy
Westerns Women – Boyd Magers & Michael Fitzgerald
When In Disgrace
– Budd Boetticher
White Hats And Silver Spurs – Herb Fagan
Who The Devil Made It – Peter Bogdanovich
Who The Hell’s In It – Peter Bogdanovich
Wild Bill Elliott
 – Gene Blottner
The Years Of George Montgomery – George Montgomery

This is just a small fraction of the books I’ve turned to in my research, and the list grows every day. (Assembling a bibliography is a real drag, by the way.) I’ve noticed that, next to maybe The Beatles and Bob Dylan, I have more books on John Ford and John Wayne (often combined) than any other topic.

Then there’s magazine and newspapers articles. There are several binders around here filled with those, some on the films covered in the book and others covering lots and lots of other 50s Westerns. Newspapers.com has been a godsend.

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Where’s The Book?

The 50 Westerns From The 50s blog was launched over a decade ago — at the same time I began writing a book with the same name. While the blog’s chugged along quite nicely all these years, the book’s still MIA. I get asked about it fairly frequently.

Well, it’s getting there. Rough drafts are in place for 37 of the 50 chapters. Some are even complete. A few late 40s and early 60s Westerns are in there, too. Images have been selected for about half the book.

There’s one film I still have to track down on DVD or something. And I have to settle on a few contenders for Picture #50. 

Read through it all over the weekend, and I didn’t hate it. That’s a step in the right direction.

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I don’t read near as much fiction as I used to. Of late, my reading’s become largely focused on research for my own books. So when I was offered a copy of Robert Dwyer and Austin Wright’s The Sheriff, I was happy to have a reason to read a novel again.

Austin Wright proudly admitted to me that The Sheriff was influenced by a handful of key Western movies — one is Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962), pictures he’s loved since childhood. That alone got me interested.

The Sheriff is centered around Sheriff John Donovan, who founded the Texas panhandle town of Three Chop. He’s run the place for a good 20 years. But the times, they are a-changing, a sad fact that Donovan has to wrap his head around, fast. With a new century on the way, Sheriff Donovan’s community (along with the West as a whole) in a state of flux and his health failing him, some bad men make their way to Three Chop.

Over the years, the end of the Old West has proven rich for storytellers, both in print and on film. And as we’ve seen in many terrific Westerns (especially those from the 50s), you can use the Western as a framework for all sorts of commentary on all sorts of issues. (Quick example: the ton of McCarthy/HUAC allegory packed into 50s Westerns.) This end-of-the-West story has plenty to say — about everything from religion to mortality to progress to big business, and it does it without sacrificing action, pacing or authenticity. 

It’s so easy to recommend The Sheriff. It’s a big story about some big issues — leading to the big showdown. Click on the cover to buy one.

One more thing: being that Wright is an admitted John Wayne nut, does his sheriff’s name come from Wayne and Donovan’s Reef (1963)? 

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When researching and writing my first book A Million Feet Of Film: The Making Of One-Eyed Jacks, the Facebook page I created for it turned out to be a real godsend. Through that page, I secured several images used in the book and even lined up a couple interviews.

So with this blog’s namesake a priority these days, it seemed like time to create a similar page for it. You’ll find it at facebook.com/50WesternsFromThe50s

There’s not much there yet, but there will be.

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