Tuesday, January 17, 2017
VILLAINS AT THE AUTRY TUESDAY! PLUS ‘MERCY STREET’ RETURNS, OLD WEST AUCTION, ‘BOONVILLE REDEMPTION’ AND ‘HIS FIRST COMMAND’ STARRING HOPPY REVIEWED!
MORGAN WOODWARD TO STARE DOWN ‘WORD ON WESTERNS’!
Tuesday, January 17th, at eleven a.m. sharp – don’t make him wait! – the man who faced down Matt Dillon nineteen times, and was killed my Matt in nearly all of them, will be joining Rob Word in the Wells Fargo Theatre of The Autry Museum for a look at WESTERN BAD GUYS in the newest edition of ‘A Word on Westerns.’ Other sinister visitors will include Jerry Potter from GUNSMOKE, THE WILD WILD WEST MOVIE, and THE ALAMO: THIRTEEN DAYS OF GLORY. Also Patrick Kilpatrick from THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, LAST STAND AT SABRE RIVER and LAZARUS MAN, and Tara Gordon, daughter of Leo Gordon, of MCCLINTOCK!, MAVERICK and GUNSMOKE fame! It’s a free event, always entertaining and informative. Don’t miss it!
ALSO AT THE AUTRY – ‘THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE’ ON SATURDAY
As part of the Autry’s long-running ‘What is a Western?’ film series, on Saturday, January 21st, at 1:30 pm in the Wells Fargo Theatre, see Sam Peckinpah’s charming and surprisingly gentle THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE (1970), starring Jason Robards Jr. and the dazzling Stella Stevens, and screened in glorious 35MM!
BRIAN LEBEL’S OLD WEST AUCTION SATURDAY – JAN. 21ST!
This year’s annual Old West Auction in Mesa, Arizona will feature a compendium of beautiful and fascinating art and artifacts from American history. They always have wonderful posters, paintings, Cowboy art, American Indian Art, guns, saddles, Edward Bohlin silver. Among the most fascinating items, seen on the catalog cover above, is a Sharps rifle scientifically proven to have been used by an Indian at The Little Bighorn – it’s expected to fetch from $300,000 to half a million. And there are costume items from John Wayne, Buck Jones, and Gene Autry, Roy Rogers’ watch, Tom Mix’s chaps, letters written by Buffalo Bill Cody, a gold watch given by Will Rogers to Charlie Russell, and much more. The link to learn more is HERE.
‘MERCY STREET’ RETURNS! SEASON 2 STARTS SUNDAY, JAN.22ND!
The story of two volunteer nurses on opposing sides of the Civil War, working together at a military hospital, PBS’s MERCY STREET is back for another season starting this Sunday. As schedules for PBS vary from station to station, check for times, and also check to see if they’re doing any kind of recap from season one. The one criticism I heard last year was that the show was a little claustrophobic, but the producers have promised to open it up more for season two, as the trailer indicates.
BOONEVILLE REDEMPTION – A Film Review
Feeling a need to get out of town, film executive, casting agent and author Judy Belshe-Toernblom visited the town of Boonville, in Northern California, learned about the locals’ unique dialect, ‘boontling,’ and the seed of a story took root in her imagination. In time it grew into a screenplay, and now a movie, BOONVILLE REDEMPTION (to read about my visit to the set, go HERE and HERE), and a prequel novel, BOONVILLE REDEMPTION: THE END OF THE BEGINNING.
Directed by Don Schroeder, the faith-based film set in 1906 boasts an impressive supporting cast, including Pat Boone as the town doctor and story narrator, Diane Ladd as the grandmother, Robert Hays as a pastor, and Ed Anser as the judge.
Pat Boone and Emily Hoffman between scenes
But the film truly rises and falls on the shoulders of the very young and very talented Emily Hoffman at the story’s center. She plays Melinda, a child who has always known she was looked down upon, but only recently learned the reason; that she was born out of wedlock. She lives with her mother Alice (Shari Rigby), half-brother (Callder Griffith), and stepfather, a man named Maddox (Richard Tyson), who is the most wealthy, and feared, man in town. He considers himself to have ‘saved’ her mother by marrying her, and he hates Melinda as a living reminder of his wife’s history, and shame.
When Alice’s mother (Diane Ladd) is ailing physically and mentally, Maddox seizes the opportunity, and sends Melinda away to care for the old lady. Through the old lady, who drifts in and out of rationality and the boontling language, Melinda starts to uncover the truth about her true father, his disappearance, and crimes that include murder. She’s helped in her efforts by an eccentric young boy nicknamed Shakespeare (Nicholas Neve).
I’m not going to say ‘spoiler alert’, but it is 1906 in Northern California, and true history does intrude in this fictional tale. A Western only in terms of its setting, it is in many ways a mystery, though without the urgent pacing we identify with that genre. But whether in several genres or none exactly, it’s a well-acted, attractively filmed story of an endearing girl’s search for the truth about her own existence, and how her revelations turn a seemingly sleepy and highly secretive community on its head.
BOONVILLE REDEMPTION is available on Amazon.com, and in stores on DVD.
HIS FIRST COMMAND – A Video Review
Early in the story, spoiled playboy Cary Culver (William Boyd) is asked by a society lady if he is ‘that’ Culver, whose scandals are always in the paper. He laughs it off – that’s his cousin, he fabricates, who makes it hard for folks who share his name. Ironically, less than two years later Boyd would be in precisely the same position, with no fabricating. In 1931 another actor named William Boyd would be arrested in a brothel, and when newspapers ran a picture of the wrong man, the white haired DeMille star would be ruined for years, until he was hired to play the role that would change his life and make his career, Hopalong Cassidy.
In the 1929 service comedy HIS FIRST COMMAND (Pathe), Boyd’s character is so determined to prove to Col. Gaylord’s smug but lovely daughter Judy (Dorothy Sebastian) that he can be more than a dilettante, that he enlists in the cavalry, and unexpectedly (okay, very expectedly) has a chance to prove himself a hero.
Originally promoted as “All Music, Color and Dialogue” (the color sequences presumably no longer exist), this early talkie shares many of the traits common to films in the transition from the silents – pacing problems, some stilted performances, with most scenes done in one shot, because it was so difficult to edit. But it’s amusing, and novel to see Boyd playing a character so different from his trademark role. And Boyd’s naturalness and ease with sound is years ahead of its time. The film was important in Boyd’s life as well as career, since he subsequently divorced his second wife, Elinor Fair, and married leading lady Dorothy Sebastian. She was well-known for starring opposite Buster Keaton in SPITE MARRIAGE (1929) and other films, and they were said to have been lovers at one time.
It’s directed by Gregory LaCava, whose 1936 comedy hit MY MAN GODFREY would find William Powell and Carole Lombard examining many of the issues raised by COMMAND. LaCava co-wrote COMMAND with actor/writer James Gleason and Jack Jungmeyer. The audio quality is good, and the grey scale and condition of the print is good, although the focus is fuzzy throughout. But odds are it’s the best, quite possibly the only, copy available of this entertaining little film. It’s available from Alpha Video HERE.
ONE MORE THING…
It’s a pity that after 146 years, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus is, or soon will be no more. I loved it as a kid, and I loved it as an adult who likes to feel like a kid once in a while. While I was often dubious about the treatment animals received at the tiny fleabag circuses, most of the complaints about abuse at Ringling Brothers didn’t ring true. Sorry, kids of coming generations. You’ll never experience the Greatest Show on Earth!
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
All Original Contents Copyright January 2017 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved