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Archive for the ‘George “Gabby” Hayes’ Category

Since wrapping up a commentary for El Paso (1949), the Pine-Thomas Western starring John Payne, Gail Russell and Sterling Hayden, I’ve been thinking about Gabby Hayes.

George Francis “Gabby” Hayes was born in his father’s hotel, the Hayes Hotel, in Stannards, New York. He played semiprofessional baseball in high school — and ran away from home at 17. He toured with a stock company, joined a circus, and became a successful vaudevillian.

Hayes married Olive E. Ireland in 1914, and she joined him in vaudeville. Hayes was so successful that by 1928, at just 43, he retired to Long Island. But he lost everything in the 1929 stock-market crash, and Olive persuaded George to try his luck in the movies. They moved to Los Angeles.

In his early days in Hollywood, Hayes played all kinds of roles — sometimes two parts in a single film. He did well in Westerns, though he didn’t know how to ride a horse until he was in his 40s and had to learn for a movie. In fact, he didn’t care much for Westerns.

From 1935 to 39, Hayes played Windy Halliday, the sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy (played by William Boyd). In 1939, Hayes left Paramount in a salary dispute and moved over to Republic. Paramount owned the name Windy Halliday, so he became Gabby.

As Gabby Whitaker, he appeared in more than 40 pictures between 1939 and 1946, usually with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry or Wild Bill Elliott — and often working with director Joseph Kane.

Hayes, Wayne and Rogers would all appear in Raoul Walsh’s The Dark Command (1940). Its dream cast also includes Claire Trevor, Walter Pigeon, Marjorie Main and Joe Sawyer. Its success would spur Yates to put more money into their John Wayne movies, and it hints at the bigger pictures Republic would do heading into the 50s. It’s a good one.

George “Gabby” Hayes’ last feature was The Cariboo Trail (1950) with Randolph Scott. He then headed to TV and hosted The Gabby Hayes Show from 1950 to 1954 on NBC and on ABC in 1956. When the series ended, Hayes retired from show business for a second time. He passed away in February 1969.

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Directed by Lewis R. Foster
Starring John Payne, Gail Russell, Sterling Hayden, George ‘Gabby’ Hayes, Dick Foran, Henry Hull, Mary Beth Hughes, H.B. Warner, Denver Pyle

Kino Lorber has announced their upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray release of the 1949 John Payne picture El Paso. Directed by Lewis R. Foster, and co-starring Gail Russell and Sterling Hayden, it was shot in Cinecolor. It’s a post-Civil War story, with a lawyer (Payne) coming to El Paso, Texas, and staying to clean it up.

ElPasoLobby2.jpgIt’s a good picture with a great cast — I love Gabby Hayes in this. Payne is really cool, and Gail Russell is beautiful. Payne and Lewis R. Foster would team up again in a couple years for Passage West (1951).

El Paso‘s getting the glorious 4K treatment they’ve been giving the Republics. And they’re dragging out some guy to do another commentary. Watch for it this summer.

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The subject line pretty much says it all. Right now, Kino Lorber has a terrific sale on some of their Blu-Rays. From The Cariboo Trail (1950) to The Wonderful Country (1959), there are a few choice 50s Westerns in there — along with some really good non-Western stuff. Wait, there are movies that aren’t Westerns?

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belgianchainlightninglipn2Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Starring Randolph Scott, George “Gabby” Hayes, Bill Williams, Victor Jory, Karin Booth, Douglas Kennedy, Jim Davis, Dale Robertson, James Griffith

Kino Lorber has announced they’ll have Randolph Scott in The Cariboo Trail (1950) out on DVD and Blu-ray sometime this year. With a great cast (it was Gabby Hayes’ last movie), solid direction from Edwin L. Marin, and Cinecolor’s gloriously funky hues, it’s a load of fun and not to missed.

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Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Starring Randolph Scott, Jane Wyatt, J. Carrol Naish, Victor Jory, Nancy Olson

First, Scott, Marin and producer Nat Holt gave us Canadian Pacific (1949). It’s not as good as the second picture, but I’m looking forward to seeing its Cinecolor in high-definition.

Thanks to Mike Kuhns and Vitaris for the tips.

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Many of you have already nabbed these pictures for your collections, but I like the box. Warner Archive has corralled their Randolph Scott releases and slid them into a nice-looking slipcover. It contains:

Badman’s Territory (1946) I’ve always liked the chemistry between Randy and George “Gabby” Hayes, and this may be their best picture together (though I’m a big fan of 1950’s Caribou Trail). Lawrence Tierney’s also on hand.

Trail Street (1947) casts Scott as Bat Masterson. Robert Ryan and Gabby Hayes lend support. Ray Enright directs, with an emphasis on action and pacing.

Return Of The Bad Man (1948) adds Robert Ryan as a very nasty Sundance Kid to the Randolph Scott/Gabby Hayes mix.

Carson City (1952) is a good one from Andre De Toth, which has been covered here before. The transfer’s gorgeous, showing that WarnerColor isn’t the end of the world. It was the first picture in WarnerColor, by the way.

Westbound (1959) stirs up a bit of controversy among 50s Westerns fans, since it’s a run-of-the-mill Scott picture that happens to be directed by Budd Boetticher. Scott owed Warners a picture and asked Budd to help him make the most of it. If you can come at it not expecting another Ride Lonesome (1959), you’ll really enjoy it.

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