Tag Archives: James Stewart

My iPod Has Issues – Stuck in the House

21 Jul

Because of a medical procedure, I am sort of stuck in the house. I went out this morning but found that being inside feels a lot better. Of course, that gives me time to watch television, and some big things have happened.

O.J. was paroled.

Red West, a member of Elvis’s Memphis Mafia, passed away. He was also in one of my favorite Magnum, P.I. episodes.

Hugh Freeze was fired as head football coach at Ole Miss, which makes this post more relevant.

Oh yeah, two of my favorite events are finishing up. The Tour de France is in its last stages, and the World Series of Poker Main Event is down to the last table.

However, one can only watch so much television. That is why I am cranking up the iPod to see what is going on in there.

“Hard Times” by Ray Charles

“That’s the Way I Wanna Rock n’ Roll” by AC/DC

“Walk on By” by Isaac Hayes

“Mississippi” by Bob Dylan

“Cover of the Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook

“Session Blues” by Big Mama Thornton

“Mumblin’ Guitar” by Bo Diddley

“Boom Boom” by The Animals

“Cry Me a River” by Diana Krall

“Crying in the Chapel” by Elvis Presley

“Long Hard Times to Come” by Gangstagrass

“Stereotomy” by The Alan Parsons Project

“Mother” by Danzig

“That’s What They Always Say” by Chris Rea

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles

“Kern River” by Merle Haggard

“The Chicken and the Hawk” by Big Joe Turner

“Crying in the Rain” by Whitesnake

“The Legend of Shenandoah” by James Stewart

“Tin Man” by America

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Wisdom – James Stewart Edition

25 Jun

My wife and stepdaughter are in Lowell, Massachusetts for a student conference. Therefore, I am holding down the fort. This includes keeping the dog fed and the house standing. It also gives me the opportunity to spend some time with my parents.

Tonight, my dad and I watched Bend of the River, a Western starring James Stewart and Rock Hudson in one of his early roles. It is a pretty good movie with a bunch of character actors from the 1950s. Jay C. Flippen, Harry Morgan, Frances Bavier and Royal Dano are just a few. It is also the first time I have ever seen Stepin Fetchit, a comedian who caused controversy by the racial stereotypes of his on-screen persona.

After watching the movie, I decided to look for movie wisdom in the films of James Stewart. After all, I do not have much else to do.

From Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books.

Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light.

Don’t miss the wonders that surround you.

From It’s a Wonderful Life

No man is a failure who has friends.

Youth is wasted on the wrong people.

From Rope

We all do strange things in our childhood.

From The Stratton Story

A man has to know where he’s going.

From Broken Arrow

To talk of peace is not hard. To live it is very hard.

You should always wipe your hands on your arm after eating.

It is not easy to change, but sometimes it is required.

From Bend of the River

There’s a difference between men and apples.

Never mix marriage with gambling. Percentage is all against it.

From Rear Window

Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence.

Sometimes it’s worse to stay than it is to run.

From The Man from Laramie

Everybody should have a place to remember and feel they belong to.

From Two Rode Together

Sometimes it takes a lot more courage to live than it does to die.

Well, there are some men you just can’t trust to stay where you put ’em.

I can tell when a man walks through that door whether he prefers blondes or brunettes, drinks whiskey or beer, plays blackjack or poker, is a cheapskate or a high roller.

From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Courage can be purchased at yon’ tavern.

From How the West Was Won

There ain’t much glory in trompin’ behind a plow.

It don’t pay to eat too much on an empty stomach.

There ain’t much glory in lookin’ at a man with his guts hanging out.

From Cheyenne Autumn

Now, as I understand it, a mademoiselle is a madam who ain’t quite made it yet – only younger and friskier.

From Shenandoah

When you love a woman without likin’ her, the night can be long and cold, and contempt comes up with the sun.

A man who eats with his hat on is going nowhere in a hurry.

From The Flight of the Phoenix

Insurance companies move in mysterious ways. Much like God… only far less generous.

From The Rare Breed

You cannot live with dreams.

A man in love is neither lord nor master of himself.

While beauty is skin deep, meanness runs all the way through.

From Bandolero!

There things a man ought never do – spit in church, scratch his self in front of his ma, and pick his nose.

 

 

 

 

The Man Who Shot the Shootist

22 Jan

Earlier, I was flipping through the channels and landed on The Shootist, John Wayne’s last movie. It is not my favorite, but, since it is the Duke’s final film, I have seen it several times. I guess that means I do not have this one memorized like a bunch of the other ones.The Shootist

Despite it not being a favorite, The Shootist has some good parts. James Stewart makes a cameo and having him in a movie is always a good thing. Ron Howard also appears during his transition from Opie Taylor to Richie Cunningham to famous director. Lauren Bacall shows up as Bond, a character named in honor of Ward Bond.

The movie has some good scenes and some good lines, but the ending always gets to me. Perhaps, it is because I know that it is the last time John Wayne appeared on film. The movie is about an era coming to an end and, although they did not realize it, the movie also marks the end of a career.

I have always wonder about the actors who took part in that final shootout. In the years that followed, did they think about that scene? Did they feel honored to be part of it? Did they care?

In short, John Wayne sets up one last gunfight with three people who would like to kill him.

Richard Boone was well-known as Paladin on Have Gun, Will Travel and had been in a bunch of movies, including John Wayne’s Big Jake.

Hugh O’Brian played the title character in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and had a bit part in In Harm’s Way with John Wayne.

Bill McKinney, a native Tennessean, accomplished something that could be unique. He was killed in the movies by John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. The final scene in The Shootist did not work out for him, and, earlier that same year, he played Captain Red Legs Terrill in The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Each one of those actors could challenge John Wayne in a gunfight, but, in true Duke fashion, they could not do him in. Instead, he was shot in the back by the bartender.

That is the whole point of this post. Who was given the role of shooting John Wayne in the back? Who killed John Wayne in his final film? After an extensive search, I discovered that the role went to an uncredited actor named Charles G. Martin.

He had sixteen acting credits, and The Shootist was also his last movie. Unfortunately, more information was hard to come by. I found no pictures and little about his life. He was born in Arlington, Texas in 1912 and passed away in Sarasota, Florida in 1998.

If anyone knows more about Charles G. Martin, then I would be interested to read about it.

The Makers of Legend

11 Mar

This semester, I am teaching Expansion of the United States and had my students read The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend by Glenn Frankel, an excellent study of how a historical event can get turned into a movie.

The book is chronological, and the reader can see how the story continues to evolve as different people use it for different reasons. I will not go into great detail, but, as the story gets passed on, those who tell it do so with various reasons. In the end, the story barely resembles the reality, and the reality, to many, would be more interesting.

I chose this book because I want my students to know that there is more to history than what happened in the past. History is also about who interprets it and when they do that. I believe it is as much about the people looking into the past as it is about people who lived in the past.

One of my favorite movie lines comes from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. When Senator Ransom Stoddard finished telling reporters about his life and what happened in the town of Shinbone, Maxwell Scott, the newspaper editor, rips up the notes and throws them into the fire.Print the Legend

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

That line conveys the difficulty that historians of the American West, or any other history, faces when trying to find out what happened way back then. Dime novels. Newspapers. Journals. Diaries. Inaccuracies and embellishments can be found everywhere.

However, it is not just those who record history who cause problems. Those who took part in history do the same. In the book I mentioned, the story was being told incorrectly from almost the beginning, and those incorrect accounts were coming from people who were there.

This brings me to a video I stumbled upon while scanning through YouTube. It is called The American West of John Ford and should be watched by anyone who likes the Western genre. John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda reminisce about working with Ford and take turns interviewing him.

During those interviews, all of them freely admit that Ford was not interested in depicting historical accuracy. He was interested in telling stories within a Western backdrop. He used the genre to study the human condition. However, there was one part of the documentary that got my attention.

While talking about My Darling Clementine, about the actions at the OK Corral, Ford said that Wyatt Earp had personally told him what happened at the gunfight and drew a map for him. In the movie, Ford depicted the gunfight just as Earp had described. According to Earp, a stagecoach came by, and he used it for cover to get closer to those he was after.

I have read a ton about Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral. I have been to Tombstone, Arizona and stood where the gunfight took place. At no point have I ever heard about a stagecoach being used as cover. It could have happened, but that would be a new take on it for me. Hopefully, a historian can tell me that I am wrong, but I do not think a stagecoach had anything to do with it.

So, who are the makers of legend? Was it John Ford, a director who admitted to not caring about historical accuracy? Was it Wyatt Earp who could have embellished a story to impress his Hollywood friends? Was it the director of the documentary who included that story in his movie? Is it me for writing about it?

The Westerns of Dean Martin

11 Jun

I have been reading about the Rat Pack and the exploits of its members – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. Together, they were legendary. However, I have been thinking about their individual careers.

Obviously, Frank Sinatra is one of the most famous performers of all time.

Sammy Davis, Jr. also had a great career.

Peter Lawford is probably best known as a Kennedy in-law.

I’m not sure what else Joey Bishop did.

Dean Martin, though, is my favorite. He sang great songs and made great movies. Some of the best movies were Westerns. For a cool crooner, Martin was pretty handy on a horse and with a gun.

In my mind, his best Western was Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan. Here’s a trivia question. How many people in Rio Bravo had records that reached Number 1? The movie is about a sheriff who has arrested the brother of a wealthy rancher. He and his deputies have to fight to keep him in jail and to stay alive. Martin plays Dude, a deputy who doubles as the town drunk.Dude

Another great thing, Rio Bravo was filmed at Old Tucson Studios, one of my favorite places to visit.

5 Card Stud is another good one. Martin plays Van Morgan, a gambler who has to solve a series of murders before he becomes the next victim.5 Card Stud

Everyone who is killed was playing in the same card game. It also stars Robert Mitchum and Inger Stevens but suffers from what I call the “law of diminishing suspects”. There are so few suspects that solving the mystery is too easy.

Bandolero! pairs Martin with James Stewart as brothers who have taken different paths but find themselves in trouble together.Bandolero

Along the way, they take Raquel Welch hostage.

My least favorite Dean Martin Western is The Sons of Katie Elder. It stars John Wayne and has the makings of a great story, but the “sons” are mismatched. The youngest “son” is way too young to play the part. I hate to say that a Western starring John Wayne and Dean Martin is bad, so I will say that it’s not very good.

Martin is the gambling brother, Tom Elder, and he follows older brother John in trying to figure out who killed their father. One of the best scenes has Martin playing a “fake eye” trick in a bar.The Sons of Katie Elder

Dean Martin made other Westerns, but these are the ones I have seen. Honestly, I don’t think I could make it through the comedy ones with Frank Sinatra.

Listeria – Western Actors Edition

24 Oct

I know that this edition of Listeria is coming along soon after the last edition of Listeria, but I went overboard on my last trip to the magazine stand. Besides, this one covers one of my favorite subjects – Western movies. I grew up watching them with my dad, and that experience played a role in my interest in the history of the West.

American Cowboy published a special issue called “Legends of Western Cinema” and listed the 20 greatest Western actors. However, there is one problem that needs to be addressed before I begin. When people think about Westerns, or the history of the West, they think about cowboys first. Some of the greatest Westerns don’t involve cowboys at all. They involve mountain men, Native Americans, cavalry and all sorts of characters. In the real West, not everyone were cowboys. A good way to see this? If there are no cows around, then there are probably no cowboys around.

The rant is over, so here we go with the list. These are the 20 greatest Western actors according to American Cowboy in the order that they have listed. I will list my favorite movie of each and add the actors that I believe should be included.

John Wayne – The Searchers

Gary Cooper – High Noon

James Stewart – The Far Country

Henry Fonda – Once Upon a Time in the West

Clint Eastwood – The Outlaw Josey Wales

Steve McQueen – The Magnificent Seven

Kirk Douglas – There Was a Crooked Man

Robert Duvall – Open Range

Ben Johnson – She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Lee Marvin – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Sam Elliott – Tombstone

Tom Selleck – Quigley Down Under

Charles Bronson – Once Upon a Time in the West

Woody Strode – Sergeant Rutledge

Gregory Peck – The Gunfighter

Paul Newman – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Tom Mix – Riders of the Purple Sage

Glenn Ford – 3:10 to Yuma

Tommy Lee Jones – No Country For Old Men

James Garner – Duel at Diablo

That’s the Top 20. I could name a bunch that belong on the list, but I will limit myself to five.

Randolph Scott – Ride the High Country

Kevin Costner – Silverado

Robert Mitchum – Five Card Stud

Robert Redford – Jeremiah Johnson

Richard Widmark – Broken Lance

There is the list. Who else should be included? Who should be omitted? What are your favorite movies? Let me know.

Birthday Celebration

9 Jun

Tonight, we belated celebrated my youngest nephew’s 15th birthday. It was actually on June 6, which most of the world knows as D-Day. Our family also knows it as B-Day, Bronson’s Day. To honor his day of birth in the blogging world, here is a list of events from the year he was born.

On the big screen:

Titanic made a triumphant return from the depths and dominated the film industry.

– Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue starred in The Saint.

– James Stewart passed away.

– Robin Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting.

In the athletic arena:

– the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.

– Tennessee beat Old Dominion to win the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship.

– Mike Tyson bit a piece off of the ear of Evander Holyfield.

– Tiger Woods won the Masters for his first win in a major.

On the boob tube:

The Crocodile Hunter debuted on Animal Planet.

South Park first aired on Comedy Central.

– Jacques Cousteau, famous for marine documentaries, passed away.

The Simpsons passed The Flintstones as the longest running prime-time animated series.

In the music world:

– Elton John re-recorded Candle in the Wind to honor Princess Diana.

– Paul McCartney became Sir Paul McCartney.

– Colonel Tom Parker, the manager of Elvis Presley, passed away.

– The Bee Gees, the Jackson 5 and others were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For the literate people:

– Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie was published.

– Harry Potter looked for the Philosopher’s Stone.

– James Michener, writer of sweeping epics, passed away.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was removed from the English curriculum in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Scientifically:

– the Pathfinder landed on Mars.

– the United States barred federal funding for research on human cloning.

– Deep Blue defeated Gary Kasparov in a chess match, the first time a computer defeated a grand master.

– the domain name Google was registered.

A lot of other stuff happened in 1997. Perhaps, you can list a few in the comments.