Sunday, September 12, 2010

SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES “B” WESTERNS

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Ordinarily I post all product reviews on my politics and product reviews blog ‘Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends’. But in this case, I’m posting my old review of the 'THE ROY ROGERS COLLECTION' (20 Movie Pack; 4-DVD Set) here since all of my recent Western movie lists were also posted on ‘Stephen T. McCarthy STUFFS’.

This one’s for Sheboygan Boy Six (the artist formerly known as Mr. Paulboy VI).

[From The STMcC Archive; March 1, 2007]

A lot of folks don’t know that ROY ROGERS (Leonard Slye; 1911-1998) was born at approximately where 2nd base in Cincinnati’s old Riverfront Stadium would eventually be located. How American is that? It’s a wonder he didn’t emerge from the womb draped in The Stars And Stripes, holding aloft an apple pie still hot from “the oven” and whistling ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ (or ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’). Every time Pete Rose slid into 2nd base, ol’ Roy probably thought that the Reds had scored a run because Charlie Hustle was safe at “home.”

Roy Rogers was one of my great heroes when I was a kid, and I can still recall the pride with which I wore my bright yellow raincoat with the black pictures printed on it of Roy (“King Of The Cowboys”), Trigger (“The Smartest Horse In The Movies"), and Dale Evans (“The Queen Of The West”). I even had a little schoolboy crush on Roy’s wife, Dale.

These old “B” Westerns starring Roy were so wholesome and exuded such innocence that I can’t help saddling up from time to time with my old hero and revisiting a simpler, more pleasant bygone time that won’t be riding our way again. Heaven? Well, it can’t be much better than lounging around late on a Saturday morning in cotton flannel jamas, with hot coffee, and watching Roy round up rustlers. “Look out behind that rock, Roy!” Too late. Oh well, Roy will ultimately win the fight (even if he does consistently “fall” for that leg sweep trick) because the good guys and bad guys are always clearly delineated in “B” Westerns and the good guys always win. And what’s wrong wit dat?

In 1990, my girlfriend and I self-published "CALAMITY CAT'S AND BLACK COLE KID'S UNCOMPLICATED GUIDE TO WESTERN MOVIES FOR THE SIMPLE-MINDED COWPERSON." It’s quite a collector’s item now; I’ve even heard of some copies selling for as much as ten cents! Calamity Cat and I saw every Western you can think of (and plenty that you can’t). On September 7, 1990, we drove out to the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, California, and since The Good Lord had taken a liking to us, we actually met Roy and Dale. I recognized that distinctive “double rolled” crown of his cowboy hat as he drove past in a van. “It’s him!” I yelled. “Cut him off at the pass!” Calamity demanded. I was really going to attempt to box him into the parking lot with my car (Calamity and I were both temporarily insane), but he pulled over of his own volition.

When Roy said he no longer signed autographs, Calamity and I were crushed. He added, “But we’ll be happy to have our picture taken with you.” Yeah sure. We watched Roy work the crowd for awhile and then as someone started to hustle him off, he stopped and said, “Wait! You two wanted a picture, didn’t you?” We couldn’t believe it! He and Dale posed with us, and Roy insisted that a second shot be taken for insurance. (I later tried to feed Trigger a handful of oats but he refused to take a bite as he was already stuffed.) We were so eager to see the pictures that Calamity and I went to a one-hour photo joint in Victorville and waited while the film was processed.

Roy Rogers was probably the most famous of the old “singing cowboys”, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that the “singing” part was just a movie production gimmick. Roy was a founding member of the renowned and influential Country-Western group THE SONS OF THE PIONEERS, and he had a d*mn fine voice and really knew how to swing. There was nothing “B” about Roy’s vocals! No, sir – he was the real McCoy when it came to music. And by all accounts, one of the nicest gentlemen in the history of Hollywood. (But then there’s never been a lot of competition in Tinsel Town in that department.)

Although the audio/visual quality of some of these old prints is pretty ragged at times, you’re getting 20 of Roy’s classic Westerns (2 in Trucolor – which is something of a small fib) for a dern low price. Will you find a better deal anywhere? “Neigh.”
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Included is 1944's historic “COWBOY AND THE SENORITA” (the first time Roy and Dale appeared in a film together) and perennial favorites of the Roy Rogers fan clubs, “KING OF THE COWBOYS”, “ROBIN HOOD OF THE PECOS”, and “MY PAL TRIGGER” which chronicles the birth of Roy’s famous palomino.

For this little wrangler, the inclusion of my three favorite R.R. pictures alone made this DVD worth the price:

“HELDORADO” has Nevada Ranger Roy tracking counterfeiters in Las Vegas. It includes the quintessential old coot sidekick, GABBY HAYES (“Pershnickety females!”); the rubber-faced pre-Jim Carrey Jim Carrey, PAT BRADY, who sings the wonderfully comic “I’m A High-Strung Lad”; Roy’s great line when he rescues Dale from a locked refrigerator (I won’t spoil it); and concludes with an astounding shot of what downtown Las Vegas looked like in 1946!

“BELLS OF SAN ANGELO” (1942, in Trucolor) has some great songs (including THE SONS OF THE PIONEERS doing “Lazy Day” and Brady’s manic antics over “Hot Lead.”)

And I suppose my favorite is “UNDER CALIFORNIA STARS” (1948, in Trucolor) which in a sense is an archetypal “B” Western. It commemorated Roy’s 10th anniversary in motion pictures and he and THE SONS revisited “Dust”, the featured song in Roy’s very first movie. The story revolves around the kidnapping of Trigger, a lame little boy, Ted, and his scruffy ragamuffin dog named… what else?… “Tramp”. At one point, Trigger stomps on the face of a prostrated “inflatable” villain (HOO!-HOO!-HOO! Watch in slow motion for capital “B”, “B”ad special effect laughter) and this movie contains perhaps the meanest, most downright ornery thing Roy ever uttered on the silver screen… brace yourself now: “IT’S TOO BAD A KID LIKE TED HAD TO GET HIMSELF MIXED UP WITH A NO GOOD GUY LIKE YOU!”
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But don’t worry, Roy will eventually get Trigger back and get the best doctor in the country to heal Ted’s leg. Everything’s Gonna “B” OK (EGBOK).

Unfortunately, the Mill Creek Entertainment company felt it necessary to display their logo in the bottom right corner of the screen every so often, but really, what does that matter? I mean, you’re viewing movies in which the good guys chase the bad guys on horseback around the very same rock formations from one movie to the next (watch them boulders, some of them are like recurring characters!)

Nevertheless, mind your tongue around me! As I wrote in the out-of-print Western movie guide that Calamity Cat and I created: “Let me spell it out for you… I don’t give an armadillo’s tail in Texas what you think of his movies, but you best not say not nice things about MY Mr. Rogers when I’m around, lest your butt and my metal-tipped cowboy boots get acquainted!”

Well, ‘Happy Trails To You’ until I review again.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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13 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I well remember Roy Rogers when I was small. His wife Dale was also with him on quite a few films I saw. I can't remember names of films but I do remember hins singing !A Four Legged Friend"

Ah those were the days
Enjoyed your post brought back many memories,

Yvonne.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

YVONNE ~
"Those were the days" indeed!

~ D-FensDogg

arlee bird said...

I know I used to watch Roy Rogers on TV when I was a kid. I loved that there was the guy driving that jeep, but I couldn't quite wrap my head around that. I didn't get the concept that it was a contemporary western where they had jeeps.

I don't recall ever having a crush a Dale Evans though. I was more into Penny from Sky King--she was closer to my age. Actually if I remember correctly Sky King was also sort of a contemporary western where they had a plane instead of a jeep.

They moved that museum to Branson, MO. didn't they? Didn't make much sense in Victorville anyway. Most people are in too big of a hurry to get to Las Vegas or get home from Las Vegas to be stopping in Victorville. I recall passing the museum though with the statue of the white horse rearing up on it's hind legs. I have been to the Gene Autrey museum though.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

r-LEE-b ~
The Jeep guy was Pat Brady.

I've heard of Sky King, and yes, I know it involved an airplane in a modern-day Western, but I can't recall ever having seen an episode of it.

I know the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville closed several years ago. But it was relocated to Branson, MO.? All I'd heard was that it closed in Victorville.

>> I recall passing the museum though with the statue of the white horse rearing up on it's hind legs.

Uh... "white horse"?
Surely you mean "Trigger - The Smartest Horse In The Movies!"

Actually, a friend told me that Trigger and Bullet (the brown dog) were recently sold at auction (they're both stuffed). I guess that means that if the Roy Rogers Museum really was in Branson, MO., it ain't no mo'.

~ Stephen (the white guy)

arlee bird said...

Yes, I looked it up and the Branson museum has also closed and Trigger was auctioned off. Now the stuffed horse has been installed on the carousel at Santa Monica Pier. Just kidding...about the carousel part.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Anonymous said...

i remember this one.

Marc

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

And it remembers you too, Marc.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

DiscConnected said...

Stephen-

I honestly cannot say I remember ever seeing a Roy Rogers western.

I guess I was too busy dropping acid...

LC

Sheboyganboy #6, AKA Mr. Paulboy #VI, AKA... oh, forget it! said...

I loved your line: "Will you find a better deal anywhere? 'Neigh.'"

I laughed aloud for at least 30 seconds (doesn't sound like much, but just TRY doing it! That's a long time!) and I chuckled again writing it here.
HA!

I loved Roy Rogers and I also visited the museum in Victorville maybe 15-20 years ago. I didn't get to see the man hisself, though. It was sad, visiting then, as I sensed that the world was done with Roy, unfortunately.

Rogers movies are always worth watching, for the reasons you mention. They were corny when the were made, and corny later on. That's fine. They deliberately focus on an innocence that perhaps never existed, other than as a worthy goal.

We have to CULTIVATE our innocence. The world wants so badly to take it from us, and we should resist at every opportunity.

Maybe that is the biggest bad guy Roy ever battled: worldliness.

BTW- I also liked Sky King, and watched that show a lot. It was not as good as a RR movie (or Hopalong Cassidy, or Tom Mix, or Gene Autry, or Tex Ritter...) though. By the years I was watching it, it was definitely in reruns in the mid-sixties.

Sheboyganboy #6

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

DISCDUDE ~
>>I honestly cannot say I remember ever seeing a Roy Rogers western. I guess I was too busy dropping acid.

Aww, it's just as well. Those Roy Rogers movies can really mess up your mind.



SHEBOYGANBOY SIX ~
Wow! What an A-List comment! You absolutely nailed it, Brother. Man, you're the one who should be writing these reviews!

Yeah, Roy was defintely my favorite but I liked Hoppy, too. Gene less so and Tom not so much. I'm speaking of them strictly as silver screen cowboys, of course. By all accounts Gene Autry was a great and much beloved man.

And by the way, if you've never been to the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, I highly recommend a visit there the next time you're in Los Angeles. I've been there a few times, and anyone who is interested in American West history and cowboy movies will find it very much worth their time.

And I'm glad ya enjoyed this blog bit, Brother. You inspired me to post it.

~ Mad Dog McDogg
[Wanted dead or alive in the state of Drunkenness]

Sheboyganboy #6 said...

Thanks, Stephen!

I've never been to the Gene Autry Museum, but I have now put it on my list. I didn't know he had one.

Man, that's a big list I am putting together! I'll work on it til I drop and see how far I get.

Paul

arlee bird said...

I will strongly endorse The Autry Museum. It's been many years since I've been there but I'm sure it hasn't changed a great deal. It is not so much an homage to Gene Autry and his legacy as it is a true museum of Western and American Indian art, history, and heritage. It has a very extensive collection that is superbly displayed. I believe they still also sometimes show western films and have other special programs.

I should really go back one day. I didn't even have a chance to see it all-- it would take at one entire day to do so.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Right you are, LEE.
The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum is a legitimate museum with many historical artifacts on display, from authentic Frontier relics to great Western art depicting the life of pioneers as well as Native American Indians.

Unlike the Roy Rogers Museum, which was really just a building that mostly housed Roy Rogers related memorabilia, the G.A. Western Heritage museum is the real deal.

One thing in particular that I saw displayed there, which stands out in my memory, was a piece of paper upon which Wyatt Earp had used a pencil to sketch the layout of the OK Corral and where everyone was positioned when the gunfight began. How much $ ya suppose something like that is worth?

~ West McDogg
'Loyal American Sheboyganite'