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Archive for the ‘Dale Evans’ Category

Happy Easter!

Just wanted to wish you all a Happy Easter. And I can’t think of a better way to commemorate the King Of Kings than with the King Of The Cowboys and the Queen Of The West.

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Republic Trucolor logo

Martin Scorsese has curated a retrospective of Republic movies, for February and August at the Museum Of Modern Art, from the restored material at Paramount.

There’s some great stuff in February’s lineup, including Trigger, Jr. (1950), Stranger At My Door (1956) and one of my all-time favorite films, Hellfire (1949). Three of my favorite directors are represented: William Witney, George Sherman and Allan Dwan.

Working with the fine folks at Kino Lorber on commentaries for some of their Republic releases, the quality of the material coming out of Paramount is incredible. (I’m in the middle of Singing Guns right now.) So glad to see these films are being treated with the respect they deserve.

Thanks to Laura for the news!

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Producer Eddie White, Roy Rogers, Director William Witney.

While doing some research on Sunset In The West (1950), I came upon an intro to Under California Stars (1948) that aired on Roy Rogers’ Happy Trails Theater. William Witney was the guest, and he gave a bit of a rundown on how the Rogers pictures came together. Very interesting stuff, coming from a brilliant craftsman.

William Witney: “Our producer, the greatest guy, Eddie White… was from New York. He didn’t know which end of a horse was which, but he had good taste. And they brought me along and put me with him. I’d been a horseman all my life. I’m a jumping horse rider, and I love horses. So, we made a very excellent team, the two of us. We became the best of friends.

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They would give us a title from the front office, and I remember a couple of ’em. One was North Of The Great Divide. I said, ‘How in the world did they get North Of The Great Divide? There is no north of the great divide.’ But Bill Saal came up with that title… Now, that’s all they gave us, just the title. So we hired a writer. We had three of four stock writers that were excellent. Sloan Nibley comes to mind… Eddie and myself and Sloan would sit down and we would decide what we wanted the story to be about. Then Sloan would go back — now we might be working on three pictures at the same time, or maybe four… They’d go back and they’d kinda block it out, bring it back, and we’d say ‘No, you’re on the wrong track… Let’s do it this way or do it that way.’

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Now we come up with a finished script. Eddie and I would go through it, check the dialogue, check it out, and give it to the production department. Now Jack Lacey was our unit man for years. He’d lay it out on the board for a budget, and we would put the budget down, and if that was what the studio would okay, now we had to find the locations. We knew every location locally. I knew every location we could afford to go to. We’d pick the location — Big Bear, someplace like the Iverson… So now we’ve got the locations, we’ve got the departments — wardrobe department, makeup department… These crews that we had were held together with a tight hand. They were our friends.

Republic studios yellow

Republic was a small studio. I was under contract there for 28 years, and this studio, everybody used to say, was the hardest studio to work at in the world, but our crews were excellent. They had people in there that were just brilliant… Incidentally, the guy who swept the horse stuff off the street was called a sportsman — because he followed the horses. ‘Sportsman!’ We’ve got a casting office, and they read the script and they make suggestions. You also have a book of actors, and you know actors after all these years. You got through the book and you say, ‘See if you can get him, I wanna interview him.’ And you’d interview these people to look at them. You knew their ability, most of them, because you’d worked with them before. Once I said, ‘Oh, I know him. I just made a picture with him. Cast him.’ Well, he came in, and he’d just had all his teeth pulled out. It made it a little difficult.”

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The Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, California, has been destroyed by the latest wildfire. One of the films shot there was the Roy Rogers picture Bells Of Coronado (1950). Directed by William Witney and shot in Trucolor, it’s terrific — and it’s the only Trucolor Rogers to get an official release on DVD.

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Here’s wishing you all the merriest of Christmases.

If you’re not into football, or you want to get away from Uncle Bob and Aunt Edna’s constant bickering, I suggest Roy Rogers’ Trail Of Robin Hood (1950), a Christmas movie done up Republic style! It’s a tradition here at the 50s Westerns hacienda — and one of my all-time favorite films.

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Dale Evans
(October 31, 1912 – February 7, 2001)

Let’s remember Dale Evans, Queen Of The West, on her birthday.

The story goes that she wrote the lyrics to “Happy Trails” on an envelope and taught it to Roy and the Sons Of The Pioneers just minutes before a 1950 radio broadcast. I sure hope that’s how it happened.

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50 Westerns From The 50s turned four years old on October 1. Digging around for something to post, this photo of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans seemed like the way to go. (That’s not me in the lower right.) This blog’s seen more than 700,000 hits over that four years, and I want to thank you all for each and every one of them.

On a only slightly related note, yesterday was Beverly Garland’s birthday — with Roy’s coming up in a few weeks.

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