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Archive for the ‘John Wayne’ Category

Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, Natalie Wood, Harry Carey, Jr., Hank Worden

John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) might be the finest film ever made, it’s almost certainly the greatest Western ever made, and it’s easily John Wayne’s best performance. Of course, I’m probably preaching to the choir.

Here’s a rare change to see it on film, in a theater. Sorry for the short notice.

Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas Pacific Palisades
April 9 & 10, 7 PM
Click the lobby card for details.

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We’ve been in Louisiana and Texas all week to attend a conference, visit some old family spots and do something I’ve always wanted to do — track down some locations from Bonnie And Clyde (1967). (Will have a post on those sites on The Hannibal 8 soon.)

The Ranchman’s Steakhouse in Ponder sits just up the street from a bank not only used in the film, but actually robbed by Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Turns out John Wayne was a regular at Ranchman’s, and I ended up sitting in his preferred seat (this photo hangs above it). If the steaks Duke had were half as good as mine, it’s easy to see why he was a repeat customer.

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A trip to Raleigh’s flea market yesterday turned up a couple of arcade cards I was really stoked to find. You see these things all the time, but it’s usually the same stars over and over again. This time, the selection was a little more varied.

First, a Yakima Canutt card from Exhibit. Dates from the 30s, I’d guess.

Canutt went from rodeo champion to cowboy star to the absolute master of movie stunts — going from doubling John Wayne in Stagecoach (1939) to doing second unit direction on my favorite movie, Where Eagles Dare (1969).

Next was a more common card, from the 40s, featuring Tim Holt. Of course, Holt’s Western series for RKO is hard to beat.

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My favorite of all the cars I’ve owned was my 1971 Volkswagen Type 3 Fastback. It was so much fun to drive, and Jennifer and I went on dates in it.

Seeing this picture today of John Wayne in a VW Squareback, the wagon version of the car I had, blew my away. Now, more than ever, I want another Type 3.

Get this, when I looked up VW/Porsche dealer Chick Iverson (of Newport Beach), I saw that he’s buried next to John Wayne. They were the best of friends.

Thanks to Jennifer for finding this.

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Nick Redman
(1955 – 2019)

I didn’t know Nick Redman, but I sure knew his work. We all do. He made two excellent documentaries that Western fans (should) hold near and dear: The Wild Bunch: An Album In Montage (1996) and A Turning Of The Earth: John Ford, John Wayne And The Searchers (1998). He passed away last week.

He was also one of the founders of Twilight Time, a company that’s released some terrific 50s Westerns on Blu-Ray — Gun Fury (1953, in 3-D) and The True Story Of Jesse James (1957). I’m always grateful to anyone who presents these old movies the way they ought to be seen.

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I first became aware of Mr. Redman from the series of Lalo Schifrin soundtrack CDs he produced. The CDs of the Dirty Harry (1971) and Magnum Force (1973) scores have been in almost constant rotation in my office since the day they came out. He did a terrific job putting those together, and I was always hoping he’d get around to Schifrin’s music for Don Siegel’s Charley Varrick (1974). He also did a series of excellent Jerry Fielding CDs, including the complete score to The Wild Bunch (1969).

Western and action movie fans like us certainly owe a debt to Mr. Redman.

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Been meaning to do a piece on Hank Worden for quite a while. He turned up in an episode of The Lone Ranger last night, so I figured now’s the time.

His real name was Norton Earl Worden, and he was born in Rolfe, Iowa in 1901. He grew up on a ranch in Montana, attended both Stanford University and the University of Nevada, served in the Army, and worked on the rodeo circuit as a bronco rider. While rodeoing in Madison Square Garden, he and Tex Ritter were chosen to play cowhands in Green Grow The Lilacs on Broadway.

That’s Hank in the yellow shirt to the right of Tex Ritter.

Worden broke into the movies with Cecil B. DeMille’s The Plainsman in 1936, and was soon appearing in Tex Ritter’s B Westerns.

Hank with Joanne Dru in Red River (1948)

Hank had a small part in Howard Hawks’s Come And Get It (1936), and they say Hawks recommended Worden to John Ford. For Hawks, he did Red River (1948) and The Big Sky (1952). (Why wasn’t he in Rio Bravo?)

Right, as one of the vile, dim-witted Cleggs in Ford’s Wagon Master (1950)*

As a member of John Ford’s stock company, Worden’s in Stagecoach (1939), Fort Apache (1948), Three Godfathers (1948), Wagonmaster (1950), The Searchers (1956, up top) and more.

As the Parson with Frankie Avalon in Wayne’s The Alamo (1960)

Hank continued to work with John Wayne — as part of his stock company. Their last picture together was Cahill, US Marshall in 1973.

Left, with Forrest Tucker and Kathleen Crowley in The Quiet Gun (1957)

He turns up in so much stuff: a couple of the Ma and Pa Kettle movies, Hellfire (1949), The Quiet Gun (1957), Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957), One-Eyed Jacks (1961‚ Marlon Brando killed him off way too early), Smokey And The Bandit (1977) and Clint Eastwood’s Bronco Billy (1980). On TV, he was on The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, Wagon Train, Petticoat Junction, even a few episodes of Twin Peaks (his last role).

Hank Worden added something special to every movie he was in, but it’s Mose Harper in The Searchers that he’ll always be remembered for. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

* One of my favorite photos ever posted on this blog.

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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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