Posts by ZS_Maverick

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    Howdy my fellow Duke fans! It's been a long time since I've checked in, so I'd thought I'd drop in once again! Especially since I got an email last week reminding me to check in! I'll try to participate more, but no promises! I've been busy with this and that and, well you know how that goes! Anyway, (raising a mug of beer), here's to The Duke!

    I just watched this again tonight! I always thought that this is one of Duke's most underrated movies! I saw it for the first time on the big screen when I was a kid; at a drive in in Garland, Texas! At that young age, the story kept my interest! All these years later, I still get caught up in the story!

    A modest budget with a good story is so much better than what we get today; extreme budget and no story!

    By-the-way, the guy that played Duke's youngest son, Clay O'Brian [Cooper] is in the rodeo hall-of-fame, and as a team roper is still winning rodeos! He was also one of "The Cowboys".

    "Rio Lobo" is one of those movies that reminds me of why I never listen to critics; I watched it again last night and enjoyed every minute of it!

    Sure, some of the acting is not that great, but I see that in a lot of movies made in the late 60's and through the 70's - even in big critically acclaimed movies; it's just a product of the times!

    Of course, two of my favorites will always be "Rio Bravo" and "El Dorado"; "Rio Lobo" may pale in comparison with those; but to me, it's still a lot of fun and a very enjoyable watch!

    One more Duke/Star Wars Connection, they used archived audio of John Wayne in one scene of "Star Wars: A New Hope" to voice one of the characters; I copied and pasted this from the IMDB Trivia from the movie...

    While speaking at London's National Film Theatre in 2009, Ben Burtt disclosed that the alien gibberish sprouted by the Mos Eisley spy Garindan/Long Snoot was actually the processed voice of John Wayne.

    And this from Star Wars Fan sight...

    John Wayne (May 26, 1907June 11, 1979) was an American actor. He provided the voice of Imperial spy Garindan in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope via stock audio, making this his last role in a film before his death.

    Wayne's voice was processed greatly for the movie.

    His voice for Garindan would be recycled in LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy and its compilation re-release, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga.

    For a couple of months when it came to some of my movie nights, I decided to revisit the John Wayne Westerns of the 70’s. I started with the first one of the decade, “Chisum” from 1970.

    I really like this movie! It’s one of my favorite “Fun Westerns” of the 70’s. It came at the time of revisionist westerns, art-house movies and of course the Spaghetti Westerns; this is the old fashion style Western. It reminds of the old “Republic” Westerns of the 40’s – not the B-Westerns, but the movies like one Duke did 30 years earlier, “The Dark Command”; movies with good production values, but with enough of the B-Movie qualities to keep it fun! I even like how bad-guy Nodeen (Christopher George) looks like he rode in straight from the Spaghetti West!

    Some of my fellow history buffs criticize It for the way it rewrites the Lincoln County War, but in another movie from this decade, “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean”, there’s a title card at the beginning that says, “Maybe this isn't the way it was... it's the way it should have been!” And I recently heard a phrase on the news about an upcoming movie; “Historic Fantasy!” Both of those phrases fit this movie perfectly! (Really any time history is turned into an action movie, those phrases fit!)

    Anyway, this is a movie you don’t take seriously; it’s the type that helps you escape from the seriousness for a while! The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, Billy the Kid is somewhere in between! Plus it has one of the most action packed climaxes of any John Wayne movie! Great showcase for the stunt performers!

    So maybe the real cattle baron John Chisum didn’t team up with Pat Garrett and “Billy The Kid” to fight the bad guys of Lincoln County. And maybe Chisum didn’t really stampede Murphy’s cattle through the streets of Lincoln and then beat him in a fight to the death… but that’s the way it should have been! Fun movie!

    (By the way, I have visited the grave of the real John Chisum; he’s buried in a park in Paris, Texas where the Chisum family ranch was, about an hour away from me.)

    Ok, I was going to do a joke reply with titles like "The Conqueror" and "Jet Pilot" - but thought better of it! My real favorites...

    1. Rio Bravo
    2. True Grit
    3. The Searchers
    4. Stagecoach
    5. A tie - "The Alamo" and "El Dorado"

    Too hard to stop just at 5! I could easily do a top 15 or 20!

    I almost skipped it; but then I thought, "this has been my favorite movie since I was 6 years old, and how many chances do you get to see Duke "on the big screen?!"

    I bought my ticket in advance and am glad I did; for the 1pm showing, there were only a few good seats left! Guess I'm not the only Duke fan in town!

    I watched "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs", the new Cohen Brothers movie on Netflix last night. Got to say, I hated it!

    If you're a fan of art-house movies, which I'm not, or the Cohen Brother, which apparently I'm not, you might want to check it out; I just found it to be too weird for my taste!

    It's six short stories; the first one is kind of funny. With very dark humor, it's a satire on the fine line between good guys and bad guys! The other stories, I just found to be weird, pointless and very depressing!

    So if artsy movies are your thing, check it out, as for me, I'm going back to the classics!

    Some pictures from the "Real True Grit Trail!"

    I got a last minute vacation that I didn't have time to plan for, so I traveled some place that's not too far from me...the area that the story of "True Grit" took place.

    These places, not where the movies were filmed, but the actual setting of the stories, are not that far from me...not more than a three to four hour drive from where I am in North Texas. So, that's where I headed.

    First I drove to Fort Smith and toured Judge Parker's Courthouse. The first pictures are of the courthouse, the jail and the gallows! Now when Parker's court moved down the street, the original courthouse was gutted and the gallows were torn down, but for historic reasons, the courthouse was rebuilt to be as close to the historic courthouse as possible; including furniture and personal belongings from Parker. The gallows were rebuilt in the exact location.

    The last pictures are of the Winding Stair Mountains, where I stayed last night! This is where much of the story takes place.

    I found something interesting on line while doing some research; it's an article from May of 2000 and includes an interview with Charles Portis talking about "True Grit" and John Wayne! I copied and pasted the interview here, and included the link at the bottom if you want to read the entire short article....

    An Interview with Charles Portis
    In the summer of 2000, Charles Portis, the author of True Grit corresponded with park staff regarding the background of his novel and the famous film based on it. Below are excerpts of his comments:
    What was your inspiration for the story?
    “I was reading some frontier memoirs at the time…. I liked the form and tone – a first-person narrative, simple, direct and innocent. So, I thought I would try my hand at a fictional version. I settled on a revenge plot, common enough in such accounts.”
    Using a woman as the main character in a Western was unusual at the time True Grit was written. Tell us more about the character of Mattie Ross.
    “An old lady is telling the story. She relates these rather squalid events in what she takes to be a proper, formal way. And she shows herself , unconsciously, perhaps, to be just as hard in her own way as these hard customers she disapproves of, and has to deal with. For some reason I just liked the idea of having a starchy old lady as a narrator.”
    Are any of the events in the novel based on actual incidents?
    “Yes, I did take the snake pit episode from an actual event. Some other things too, from written accounts… “
    What type of research did you do for your story?
    “As for my research methods, they were alternately intense and slapdash. I did read newspaper accounts of the trials on microfilm from the Fort Smith Elevator and other papers. I read whatever books and pamphlets came my way, and I did walk the ground where the events in the story take place. If I couldn’t confirm something, or locate a fact I needed, I would just make something up. Still, you like to get things right.”
    How did you feel about the screen adaptation of your novel?
    “The screenplay stayed pretty close to the book. I noticed that the movie director, Henry Hathaway, used the book itself, with the pages much underlined, when he was setting up the scenes. I also noticed that some of the actors had trouble speaking the intentionally stiff dialogue. I didn’t write the screenplay. It was sent to me and I made a few changes, not many. I did write the last scene, in the graveyard, which didn’t appear in the book.”
    What can you tell us about the choice of locations for the filming of the movie?
    “Hal Wallis, the producer, had considered making the movie in Arkansas, and sent an advance man here. I drove this man around northwest Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. He did like the town of Van Buren, saying it would do nicely for 1870s Fort Smith. Later, Hal Wallis called to tell me that there were logistical problems with shooting the picture in Arkansas. I have the idea that Hathaway (the director) persuaded Wallis to make it in Colorado.”
    What impressions do you have of John Wayne from the film?
    “Wayne was a bigger man than I expected. He was actually bigger than his image on screen, both in stature and presence. One icy morning, very early, before sunrise, we were all having breakfast in a motel…. A tourist came over to speak. Wayne rose to greet her. He stood there, not fidgeting and just hearing her out, but actively listening, and chatting with her in an easy way, as his fried eggs congealed on the plate. I took this to be no more than his nature. A gentleman at four o’clock on a cold morning is indeed a gentleman.”

    Fort Smith Goes to the Movies: True Grit - Fort Smith National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)

    Over the last three weekends I watched "The Calvary Trilogy", all four of them! (Ok, so I added "The Horse Soldiers into the mix")

    1. "RIO GRANDE" - All of the experts tell me that this is the weakest of the trilogy, but being the stubborn guy that I am, this is my favorite of the three! The reason; the paring of Duke and Maureen O'Hara, and my favorite character, the action hero of the story, Tyree, played by Ben Johnson, who I thought stole the movie! Harry Carey Jr. was great in this one too as Tyree's sidekick; he was very funny as the smart-alecky sarcastic Texan (I can relate to that!)

    2. "FORT APACHE" - Just a great movie; while "Rio Grande" is my personal favorite, this, in my opinion is the best of the trilogy.

    3. "SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON" - This is one of the movies (along with "Red River", "The Quiet Man" and "The Searchers" among others) that I point to whenever one someone tells me that John Wayne only played one character and was a lousy actor! (Believe it or not, there are people out there that say that!) He was great in this one! Very good classic!

    4. "THE HORSE SOLDIERS" - This one is not part of the trilogy, but I included it here anyway! Not being one of my favorites, I haven't seen it in awhile. As far as Civil War dramas go, this is a good one!

    Tonight, I’m watching one of my all-time favorite FUN John Wayne movies; "The Comancheros!" It's just a non-stop, action filled, fun popcorn flick! It's kind of like a precursor to the buddy action movie like the "Lethal Weapon" series; only with a Western or, even better, a Texas setting (with Arizona and Utah playing the part of Texas of course)!

    But, here’s something that’s funny about this movie; as a history buff, I like to go to some of the history or "true west" sights on line. Whenever, on those sights, the conversation turns to film... Man do they hate this movie!

    I always have this conversation...

    JUNIOR HISTORIAN: This is an awful movie! There's not one ounce of historical accuracy in it!
    ME: That's because it's not a history lesson! It's an action movie! So, chill! Sit back, have a beer, and enjoy!
    JUNIOR HISTORIAN: But it's awful! It's a bad depiction of Texas in the 1840's and of the Texas Rangers, and...
    ME: Look, Sparky, NO MOVIE IS REAL! Watching this movie for an authentic portrayal of Texas History is like watching Indiana Jones to learn about archeology, or James Bond to learn about British Spies, or King Kong to learn about monkeys! Again, just sit back and enjoy!

    Yes, the weapons that they use in the movie were not around in 1843! And, I'm from Texas; so, I know there's no desert between Galveston and Austin! (For those of you unfortunate non-Texans, on the trail Cutter and Regret rode from Galveston to Austin, the landscape should start with coastal plains, then transition into piney woods, throw in some black dirt prairie, a few green rolling hills, and finally the hill country!)

    So, anyway, going to kick back, pop open a beer or two and once again, enjoy one of my favorites, “The Comancheros!” Have a good rest of your weekend and a great week! :D