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 Roaming the West(erns)

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Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Roaming the West(erns)   Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:41 pm

This weekend has my head reeling from familiar Western faces turning up in the wrong movies or shows.


It starts with Little Joe Cartwright trying to convince me he’s really Tom Dooley, of Kingston Trio Ballad fame. Turns out there really was a Tom Dooley, even though his name was spelled “Dula”, who got hanged for killing his lover. Well, one of them. And it might not have been him who did the killing after all. The song was made about him, the film was made about the song, and the film manages to get basically everything wrong, even the name. But Little Joe, er, Tom looked cute, as always.


Next, there is Wheat, as an outlaw (what else *snigger*), calling himself “Smith” in Gunsmoke. And that two years before Heyes got stuck with the name. He is really good, too. His acting, I mean. And guess who also makes an appearance in the same episode? Sid Haig, better known as Merkle of the Devil’s Hole gang. I’m getting the feeling these boys really did move around as a gang.
The episode also featured Festus, aka Ken Curtis. Guess what I recently found out about him: He was one of the soaring tenors of the “Sons of the Pioneers” who sang so many of the famous Western songs. Yeah! Gnarly Festus with his funny voice a famous singer! And to make matters worse, it turns out I have seen him in a few films as a “Pioneer Son” with John Wayne and never recognised him. And not just in Westerns. Turns out he also had a singing (and speaking) role in one of my favourite John Wayne films. A film I have seen often. A film which will never look and sound the same to me again. I’m of course talking of “The Quiet Man”. Ever noticed the accordion player? Yes, Festus, years before he moved West on his mule!


I’m still recovering from these shocks and try to get things straight again with a little Bonanza – what Western could be straighter than this? – when again I’m in for a surprise: what is Sam, the foreman from the High Chaparral, doing in Virginia City? Only three hours ago, he was helping Buck and Manolito against some Mexican bandits. Aaargh.
Can’t they stay where they belong?


Well, I guess ASJ would be poorer if they had. Wickenburg would have been a bit boring if Adam Cartwright had not strayed there. And he liked our boys so much that he hung around and hired them to drive cattle to Tenstrike a bit later.

Hmm, maybe it is a good thing after all that the West(ern) was open and people could roam around.

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WichitaRed

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PostSubject: Re: Roaming the West(erns)   Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:09 pm

Nothing notable to reply here...but I do have to say, I very much enjoyed your ramblings. And, got a similar feeling when I re-watched the Movie Maverick recently.

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Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Re: Roaming the West(erns)   Sun Apr 19, 2015 7:42 pm

Thanks, WichitaRed!
I should have waited a little bit with posting. During chat I had the telly running in the background. Some Clint Eastwood Western. And imagine my shock when I hear someone in the movie address someone else as "Preacher" and I look and see Robert Donner answer to the call.
Yep! Preacher playing Preacher in High Plains Drifter!


And not long ago, when one channel here did a John Wayne Western Day (five Westerns with the Duke), Robert Donner was in three of them (Rio Bravo, Rio Lobo, Chisum).

And talking about Chisum. I wasn't paying much attention in the beginning and hadn't really registered which movie it was.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed someone in the movie walking. The way he walked looked so familiar and I thought: What is Pete doing in a John Wayne movie? I looked - and of course it was Geoff.
It was eery. Sometimes his walk, his stance was so much like Pete, it hurt to watch. But his acting, his eyes, his voice were so different.
I had watched Chisum before, but it was years ago, before re-connecting with ASJ and learning about Pete and Geoff...
Now, there's another movie that will never be the same again.

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PostSubject: Re: Roaming the West(erns)   Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:39 pm

Loving all the interconnections. You'd be great in Crime intelligence, Stepha3nie.
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APothecary

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PostSubject: Re: Roaming the West(erns)   Thu May 21, 2015 3:48 am

Is Dula/Dooley pretty much interchangeable in a Carolina accent? I note that the 2012 Neil Young version of the ballad is spelled Dula, though it's pronounced much as it is everywhere else.

Someone once told me that the murder was actually because Tom Dula believed he had caught syphilis from the victim, but had in fact got the syphilis from her cousin and given it to her. Oh, the romantic irony...

... nothing like a bit of rambling.

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PostSubject: Re: Roaming the West(erns)   Thu May 21, 2015 9:01 am

Feel free to ramble far and wide.  This has been very interesting.
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Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Re: Roaming the West(erns)   Thu May 21, 2015 1:46 pm

APothecary, As far as I learned, "Dula" was pronounced "Dooley" in the local accent. Just like a certain great old opera building has become known as "Grand Ole Opr(e)y" in country slang.

As for who gave whom an STD - you are probably correct with what you mentioned. And it's not sure that Dula killed his lover, it might have been the cousin (his other lover) either because of feeling jealous or because of the STD...

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Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Re: Roaming the West(erns)   Wed May 27, 2015 8:15 pm

Back to roamin' an' ramblin' agin.


A few days ago I got the feeling of having been stranded in Groundhog Day. I had only watched it shortly before, after all. Can a movie like that have lasting effects?
I mean, apart from sparking plot bunnies.

But I soon realised, it was not a repetition. Okay, it was the same channel and they were showing the same five Westerns with the Duke, but - ta dah, in a different order. So, all was good.
Another chance to go "Preacher-spotting". Argh, that horrible artificial white wig in Rio Lobo. And I never noticed that he seems to have been a shortish man. As Preacher he always seemed tall to me. Or was it just clever positioning of the camera? In Rio Lobo he is clearly the shortest of his bunch of outlaws/bad sheriff's even worse deputies.
Another opportunity to admire Festus as a much younger man in The Searchers. Not sure if his tenor can be heard in the song (I believe he had already left the Sons of the Pioneers by the time the song was recorded), but he was definitely very much present on screen, trying to get married to Jeffrey Hunter's love interest, played by Vera Miles.
I can't quite follow how she ended up marrying Jesse Jordan and took on the alias of Belle Jordan in the end. Sorry Keays. Maybe she got fed up with Jeffrey Hunter's searching gallivanting about after abducted adopted family members or something. And she seemed quite happy with her adolescent daughters Beth and Bridget, didn't she? At least Heyes and the Kid seemed to think so.
Charles H. Gray must have seemed like a better prospect than old Festus. I hope she never found out about his shady ASJ past as Bannerman man gone bad Carl Grant, or about his own roaming ways, from Gunslinger, to Gunsmoke, Rawhide, High Chaparral, The Virginian, and Bonanza to name just the better known series. And in several he was a repeat offender.
I must have seen him in a number of different roles without ever realising.

Isn't it funny how some actors blend into the scenery and don't stand out? Is it because they are forgettable? Or because they do such a good job at what they do? Are they so good that they completely change with each role, and we never recognise them? So good at playing small(er) parts, they don't distract the viewer from where we are supposed to focus our attention?
Not like loveable Monty Laird with his distinctive overacting in Brimstone or Smiler (to name but two episodes). Fair enough - he wasn't billed as an actor most of the time.

I admit to not having the best memory for faces or names. Recently I noticed that I recognise actors quite often by their voice. I would almost be persuaded to choose a certain mobile phone provider just because it's Sean Bean's voice telling me so.
I never would have recognised good old Wheat in the company of John Wayne and Dean Martin if his role in The Sons of Katie Elder had been a non-speaking one (not likely, since he played one of the sons from the title). Or, more recently, the episode of Gunsmoke mentioned in one of the above postings.

Today I was happily listening to another episode of Cimarron Strip (of which I have developed some fondness over the last few weeks) while doing some writing when a certain gravelly voice jarred me out of my train of thought. I searched the screen. No recognition. But that voice? Unfortunately the actor in question had just been blasted by dynamite out of a wagon and his buddies decided to leave him for dead. He didn't talk again until 8 years later. Or after the commercial break (or so).
Imagine my surprise at then recognising a slightly younger, one-handed Harry Briscoe. Definitely not a good man with some bad in him. More an extremely determined man with a whole lotta vengeance to dole out and plans clever enough to make Heyes blink.
An interesting scene made me realise that the on Facebook so often bemoaned "bubble-baths of the West" must have been invented sometime between 1967 and 1970. J. D. Cannon had to take a definitely non-bubble-only-a-little-soapy bath. But at least he confirmed one of my lingering suspicions, that every well-bred (ex-)outlaw or lawman who enjoys having a chat while bathing knows that a cigar to smoke or chew on is a required prop.
A certain dimpled darling, of course, is excempt from this rule, since we know he is really too shy to carry on much conversation while bathing. Spoilsport. At least he grew out of his mortification to be seen in only his Henley (remember the Pilot?) and seemed quite comfortable clad in said garment outside the Jordans' bunkhouse.
Back to the topic, before I get sent to the naughty corner.

Well, if a butt-nekkid, non-bubble-bathing, one-handed, vengeful Harry Briscoe is not enough to rattle you, follow me.
Cimarron Strip is, of course, very much a Stuart Whitman show. I only knew him so far from his role as gambler turned prisoner turned very reluctant Texas Ranger in The Comancheros opposite - who else - John Wayne.

Who brings me back to the five movies this one channel seems to love and show whenever they can. Or decide to have another John-Wayne-Western-Day.
Shall I have a go at the entourage of actors or directors who seemed to follow John Wayne around? Nah, I think I'll leave that for the next repeat of the "Big Five".

A short aside:
Thinking of last month's challenge topic, This Town Ain't Big Enough, I have to conclude that Rio Bravo must have decided to be big enough for any cowboy ego. So big in fact that the famous walk from the jail to the barn for the final showdown must have taken hours. At least when you look at the rate that the shadows of the men grow between outside the jail and shortly before reaching their destination...
The joys of watching the same beloved movies over and over again. ;-)

But I'm now roaming into an off-topic area, so I stop my ramblings.
For now.

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