Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rare Cowboy Pics

These were all found in issues of SCREEN THRILLS ILLUSTRATED. L-R Bruce Cabot, Kent Taylor, William Bendix, Barton MacLane, Richard Arlen and Lon Chaney, Jr.  

Max Terhune and Elmer reunited with fellow ex-Mesqiteer Ray "Crash" Corrigan in the 1960s.

Ken Maynard on TODAY with its co-host Jack Lescoulie.

Buster Crabbe, Richard Arlen, Fuzzy Knight and, sitting, Broncho Billy Anderson.

Italian Western-The Opera of Violence

  For those not "in the know," so-called spaghetti westerns were/are motion pictures made by Italians, usually in Spain and on occasion with German financing, depicting the American West in ways that Gary Cooper never would have approved. Sex, extreme violence, highly stylized direction and often stunningly original musical scores are the highlights of the best spaghetti westerns such as THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and SABATA. Many of these films starred American actors such as Clint Eastwood--who became a big star in Sergio Leone's films-- and Lee Van Cleef, always a trivia question in this, his own country, but a huge international star in the seventies. Other TV actors such as Chuck Conners and Richard Crenna tried and failed to make it in Italian westerns so ultimately they invented their own stars such as Tomas Milian and Mario Girotti. Dubbed and with a name change to Terence Hill, the latter became quite popular in America in westerns such as THEY CALL ME TRINITY and MY NAME IS NOBODY, so popular that the big studios tried to capitalize by putting him in big American productions such as MARCH OR DIE with Gene Hackman only to realize that Hill really couldn't speak English well! The book above is probably the first of many books to deal with this peculiar Europeon style of film, a 1974 British volume that spends a lot of time comparing the epic violence of the Spaghetti Western to Grand Opera. 

Rare Dale Robertson Pics

My wife had a friend in college who was a bit older. In her youth, she had been a member of many a TV Western star's official fan club. Here are some pictures she amassed of TALES OF WELLS FARGO's Dale Robertson, a man who LOOKED like a cowboy even when he wasn't dressed like one. 


TV westerns in the 1970s were a little different than they had been earlier. They had to have a gimmick. The gimmick of McCLOUD was that it wasn't a western at all! Marshal Sam McCloud from Taos, New Mexico was a fairly traditional cowboy hero, though, albeit transplanted to Manhattan Island. Dennis Weaver created a memorable characterization that made people finally look past his limping Chester Good on GUNSMOKE. McCLOUD was my favorite cowboy in the '70s.

Lone Ranger Socks

TV cowboy merchandising was a huge business for a couple of decades. Here's an example of a product that Lone Ranger fans just HAD to have!


No relation to the TV series of the same name that appeared only a few years later, in fact this movie had its name changed to the rather silly SWIRL OF GLORY (from the poster) when it was shown on TV in order to avoid confusion. 

Randolph Scott is a rather straight-laced fella just looking to make his way after the Civil War ended but he runs afoul of Raymond Massey over a dancehall girl. 

Some typically wonderful character turns for this period including from veteran scene-chewers Arthur Hunicutt and Cuddles Sakall.

Scott was kind of an unlikely cowboy star, having started out in adventures and sophisticated comedies, but he successfully carved his niche and in the long run ended up as one of the most memorable cowboy heroes of them all. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sheriff John Slaughter

From COWBOY WESTERN # 17, 1948

Here's a less idealized look at Texas John Slaughter:

Howdy, Pardners!

Welcome to my new blog—my 21st overall and my 13th currently online. This one’s about cowboys. Not REAL cowboys so much as pop culture cowboys. Unless we really look into history, we don’t always remember that the real “wild west” was a lot harder to survive in than most movies, books and TV shows have ever made it out to be.

No, what we think of as the old west is a true American mythology that has built up over the past century and a half beginning with the earliest dime novels that lionized scoundrels and gunfighters and in the process unknowingly created legends. 

With all due respect to the hard-working, hard-living men, women and children—white, black, Asian, Mexican and, of course, Native Americans-- who quite literally pioneered the frontiers back in the day, RIDING THE POP CULTURE RANGE will be about the legends, the myths, the heroes and villains that have burned their way into our consciousness. John Wayne will be here. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Randolph Scott. But also Lee Van Cleef, Giuliano Gemma, Klaus Kinski and Terence Hill. The Lone Ranger, The Black Rider and the Hooded Horseman will be riding along with us, as will all those dang KIDS! Kid Colt, the Outlaw Kid, the Two-Gun Kid, the Rawhide Kid, the Cheyenne Kid, the Apache Kid, the Ringo Kid and all the rest! Plus Johnny and Jane West, the Maverick Brothers, Paladin, Sugarfoot, Smith, Jones and Rowdy Yates! A Westerns, B westerns and Z westerns will all be well-represented eventually. You’ll find comedy westerns like The Paleface and Blazing Saddles as well radio sagebrush sagas like The Six Shooter, Gunsmoke and Riders Radio Theatre!

We hope you’ll all stop by on a regular basis and tell your friends about us. We’ll keep some beans and bacon on the fire for ya, pardners. 

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys-Willie Nelson

Seemed an appropriate first post.