Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Luke Short Again

  I always appreciate it when a reader takes the time to respond to this blog.  Here is what one reader had to add about Luke Short. 
 Western writer Frederick Dilley Glidden(1908-1975), was better known as Luke Short.  He was a good storyteller and he developed his characters so they weren't one dimensional, but were complex, which makes for better reading.  Yes, his women characters were more realistic frontier types, probably because he had a good role model in his mother, who after her husband's death raised her sons as a single working mother.  She was an English teacher who became the dean of women at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.                                            

     Luke Short's stories were outstanding and his plots contained great characters. Often the stories were much closer to noir. His novel Ramrod was very much so.It was made into a movie in 1947 Starring Joel McRea and Veronica lake.  The movie followed the book very closely and was a big success in its day. It is still popular on classic movie channels today. Many of Short's other other works were made into movies as well. Vengeance Valley is a good example of the adult themes that permeated his works.

  As for Joel McCrea, he was the epitome of the western man. He fitted the role perfectly as he almost always did in all his other roles. He was so much entrenched in westerns that later on in his career, he decided he would only perform in westerns.
  In real life, Joel was really a cowboy. He had a ranch and he worked it as such. He never claimed to be an actor.  When ever asked his occupation, he would say rancher. His tax returns always displayed rancher as occupation.
  He retired from movies in 1962 with a final western movie Ride the High Country in which he starred with Randolph Scott. This was a classic western and served as a retirement vehicle for both outstanding western stars.

Thanks for riding the trail.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hostiles- A Big Screen Western Treat

There was a time when western movies was the usual fare at the local movie theater.These days with so few western movies coming of Hollywood it is a rare treat to see a new one on the big screen in a movie theater. The other day I had the rare treat of seeing "Hostiles". This is a revisionist western, much different from the usual shoot-em-ups that we used to thrill too. But, it is a western  and it is a good one.
  Westerns were made for color, though most westerns of the past were in black and white because of the technology of the time, both in movies and black and white TV. Excellent cinematography makes "Hostiles" a visual delight.
  Christian Bale delivers an excellent performance as Joe Blocker, an Army Captain detailed to escorting a dying Indian chief to Montana, where he could die and be buried in tribal holy land. Blocker is haunted by the savage past of Indians wars and loss of life of former friends and soldiers. The task assigned to him is not of his liking and he only wants revenge, but he is a stalwart individual and above dealing it out himself.
  "Hostiles" is a one word title which i believe the producers wanted a one word title to be austere and as a remembrance of Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven." I do not believe the title here was that appropriate. Granted it is a word that conjures up some semblance of indicating this a western. I have know suggestion for what it could have been titled. Could have been "Maybe Forgiven" but that would have been awful, if perhaps appropriate.
  The direction of this film was fine in a poetic way. There were a few scenes that I felt were extraneous and reminiscent of those inserted in silent movies to evoke a moment of emotion. Often times the pace was slow and lumbering. This seems to be the understanding of what a western is these days as a direct result of the slow but dramatic Sergeone Leone films that spawned the era of spaghetti westerns. The story here, though slow paced,  progressed nicely. Action scenes, though quick and intermittent were well done and the violence was realistic and brutal.The ambush scene as the cavalry officers and their charges rode on steadfastly, was quick and surprising. The initial shot stirred me in my seat with a jolt. Very effective.
  Hopefully, "Hostiles" will do well in the theaters and will prompt Hollywood to make more good westerns. I have little hope though, that younger generations find this type of western appealing. It is too slow and too thought provoking. Younger audiences need action and constant visual attraction.
  Just as westerns evolved from the early day action packed oaters to the slow moving pace and cinematic landscapes, perhaps it is time for westerns to evolve again into an exciting and perhaps not so brutal and realistic form. I do do miss the mythic western, although I recognize that the more realistic versions are also mythic, but in a more subtle way.

  Until next time,
Thanks for riding the trail


Monday, January 22, 2018

Buck Jones Rangers- Festivals and Dominick Marifioti

  For many years, I was privileged to be part of The Buck Jones Rangers organization which was founded to honor Buck Jones. He was a famous cowboy star that came from silent movies and transitioned sucessfuly to sound. He died prematurely in a fire at the Coconut Grove in Boston in 1942 while he was on a war bond drive. Because people crowded into the stationery doors until they couldn't get out, revolving doors are now reqired next to stationary door in all hotels.
  Dominick Marafiotifi resurrected The Buck Jones Rangers and established an annual western festival in Rochester NY. He is pictured above with Scott Shepherd, who was at the time the official Lone Ranger for Golden Books ; the then current owner of the Lone Ranger rights. Scott was removed when Classic Media, the new rights rights owner took over.
  Dominick hosted this festival for many years with guest stars appearing. Among those stars was SunsetCarson, Iron Eyes Cody, Richard Martin, Victor French, Peter Breck, Charles Starrett, Peggy Stewart, Claude Akins, and Kay Linaker. There were many more before my time with the organization.
  Dominick Passed away in 2004, and the festival came to an end. By this time there were few old time western stars left and it was difficult to find and attract guest stars. Robert Horton and Hugh O'brien were very gracious, but declined to appear because of personal restrictions. Membership was declining and attendance at the festivals declined as participants aged or/and passed on; just another sign of the waning western.
                                                                                                                          Buck Jones
    Dominick did not provide for a successor to carry on the festival. Since he had not asked me, I did not think I should take it upon myself to continue the organization.
  He had turned his house into a museum in Buck Jones honor and had a treasure house of memorabilia. Unfortunately these items were sold in an ordinary garage sale. I did not attend for I would feel like a vulture. I sometimes regret that decision. I often think about Sunset Carson's hat that he had given to Dom. Oh Well.
  I include this in my blog now for I may reference it in the future. I am thinking specifically of Dickie Jones who starred with Jock Mahoney as I featured in an earlier article.                                                                     
     Thanks, for riding the trail.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Range Rider or Range Writer

When I adopted the name of The Range Writer, I did not realize that there were those who would not make the connection to The Range Rider, especially those of younger generations.
   The Range Rider was an outstanding western adventure TV show in the early 1950's. It was produced by Gene Autry and starred Jock Mahoney as The Range Rider. At the time he was billed as Jack Mahoney. He was a former stuntman and he did all his own stunts and horsework.
   When I first saw the show, I thought he reminded me so much of another cowboy star, Charles Starrett who starred in a long running series for Columbia Pictures as a masked rider all in black on a white stallion similar to The Lone Ranger. This character was known as The Durango Kid.  Jock's moves and athleticism was so similar, it was almost as if they were both the same man.
   Years later, I learned that Jock was the stuntman for Charles Starrett and when the Durango Kid rode wearing his mask, it was actually Jock Mahoney. Charles Starrett often quipped. "Jock let's me say the words."
   Columbia pictures soon learned that Jock could also act and later began giving Jock additional roles in the Durango Kid films. He was billed as Jack Mahoney and often times as The Durango Kid, he would be chasing himself as the other character.
   Jock went on to star in another TV series, "Yancy Derrtinger" in the late 1950's. Later on he became Tarzan in two major motion pictures.
   Jock was probably one of the greatest stuntmen of all time and he was simply fascinating to watch.
   He will forever be The RANGE RIDER..

Friday, December 15, 2017

Luke Short (Frederick Glidden) The before Louis L'amour

I don'r want to get into the ranking of authors; who is better than whom? There have been many great western authors who were great in their own right. Some were similar to others and some were a little more unique, but quality was still there. The overall success of any author is marketing. The author's work needs to be exposed. Some received more exposure than others. Some had great recommendations by influential personalities. Some had works made into great motion pictures.
    Luke Short was the pen name of Frederick Glidden. His publisher assigned him that name. He did not know at the time that Luke Short was a famous gunman in the old west. He wrote outstanding rugged western stories with well developed characters  including strong women roles, as well as complex and often times convoluted plot lines.He was very prolific and many of his works were adapted into successful motion pictures and often in comic book form.
      In his latter years he was contracted by Bantam books to supply two or three books a year. Whether it was his health or other reasons, he often failed to deliver on the designated deadlines for publication. He was replaced by a newcomer named Louis L'Amour. Bantam initiated a new marketing policy of having all L'Amour books in print all the time.
     I am not saying that L'Amour was not as good as Luke Short for I hold L'Amour in high esteem and I have read all of his books and are favorites. With the aggressive marketing  by Bantam Books as well as the purchase of the short story "Gift of Cochise" by John Wayne and turned into the very successful movie, "Hondo," Louis became a household name and discovered by millions of readers. I sometimes wonder if Luke Short or many of the other great writers of our time would have achieved as much success and notoriety.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

First day of this blog.

   Never having blogged before,I don't know exactly how to start but I decided to show the cover of my latest release. This is a reprint under my own name. It was previously published under the name CHAD CULL.
   I started writing using this name as a tribute to my grandfather. His name was Charles Cull, but everyone called him Chad. He was born in 1881 and was the real deal and I leaned a lot from him about farming, cattle, and horses. We live a life much like western ranching, so westerns were were a natural part of our life.
   Chad Cull's father worked the railroads and was associated with Frank and Jesse James, who came regularly to his home. Needless to say, a great deal of western lore was learned there. Later on Chad's father was an Indian agent and he lived on a reservation.
   Chad was an avid reader of western pulp magazines. This is how I learned to read as he would hold  me on his lap and read exciting adventures. This led to my life long interest in reading, writing, and westerns. The first western I read was Rustlers of West Fork by Tex Burns in the first installment of Hopalong Cassidy Pulp Magazine.
It was later known that Tex Burns was Louis L'Amour. ,I have wanted to write stories all my life. My first grade teacher would read my stories to the class.
    After a lifetime of making a living at other endeavors, old age has given me the time to return to writing. i hope my efforts now is a suitable tribute to the most important person of my life.
    Next time I will look at western writers that have shaped to genre we all love.
    Se you on down the trail.