Sunday, October 15, 2017

The 28th Lone Pine Film Festival: Saturday and Sunday

After a great Opening Night and a very busy Friday at the Lone Pine Film Festival, we were up early again on Saturday!

We started our day watching two episodes of the TV series HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL: "The Road to Wickenburg" (1958), written by Gene Roddenberry and directed by Andrew McLaglen, and "The Marshal's Boy" (1960), written by Robert James and directed by series star Richard Boone.

Both episodes guest-starred Harry Carey Jr., whose daughter Melinda was a festival guest, although she didn't participate in this particular event. I've only seen a few episodes, spread over many years, and seeing these entertaining shows definitely made me interested in checking out more. (The complete series is out on DVD.)

After watching the shows it was back into the Alabama Hills to check out the locations! Our tour guide, Don Kelsen, mentioned that while the locations for "The Road to Wickenburg" were fairly straightforward and easy for a camera crew to access, the locations selected for the episode Boone directed showed more creativity. They were quite a bit more challenging to get to, requiring some hikng up and downhill.

As a sample of just one of the spots we took a look at, the booklet here includes a photo (center bottom) of Richard Boone riding around a rock...

...and here's the rock seen more clearly:

Boone's Paladin hides in this hole during a gunfight, then later emerges to jump an unsuspecting villain!

A terrific shot of the tour group:

Click on any photo to enlarge it for a closer look.

Special festival guests Rob Word and Bruce Davison came along on the tour, and Davison spoke to us briefly on what it meant to him to be standing in the places where the Westerns he enjoyed as a child were filmed.

I also had the chance to tell Mr. Davison that I had fond memories of seeing him in a stage production of AS YOU LIKE IT in Long Beach, California, as a teenager. He immediately remembered the production and his costars, Stockard Channing and Ian McShane.

He then reminisced about seeing AS YOU LIKE IT himself, in Stratford-on-Avon with Alan Rickman, and he begin imitating how Rickman delivered the "Seven Ages of Man" speech. That was quite a fun and slightly surreal moment out in the Alabama Hills!

Back in town there were numerous interesting events taking place, and difficult decisions had to be made, along with eating a meal once in a while! We shot some photos at the panel discussion on "The Image of the American Cowboy: John Wayne and John Ford," although we regretfully had to move on in order to fit in lunch and get to our next event.

Left to right at the panel, seen above: actor Ed Faulkner, who appeared in half a dozen Wayne films; historians Bob Boze Bell and Ed Hulse; Wayne and Ford biographer Scott Eyman; and Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, who moderated.

Above is a wider shot, showing some of the audience. The panel discussion took place in the quad at Lone Pine High School.

We had a good lunch at the Frosty Chalet, which was recently written about in the Los Angeles Times:

After lunch we watched Harry Carey Sr. and Hoot Gibson in John Ford's STRAIGHT SHOOTING (1917), with excellent accompaniment by pianist Jay C. Munns.

I enjoyed it but honestly the print of this century-old film was so faded that it was difficult at times to maintain concentration and follow it. The movie is on YouTube, and I intend to watch it again soon and try to get more out of the experience. It was fun to notice certain Carey mannerisms, such as stroking his chin, which were still part of his film persona in movies released three decades later. (July 2020 Update: I had a much better opportunity to see this particular film thanks to Kino Lorber's excellent Blu-ray release, which I've reviewed here.)

The fun Tim Holt film RIDER FROM TUCSON (1950) immediately followed STRAIGHT SHOOTING, and if anything I enjoyed it more than I did the first time I saw it four years ago.

The movie provides a great overview of Lone Pine locations, including the Alabama Hills, Anchor Ranch (photographed by me in 2014), and the "Tim Holt Cabin" (also photographed in 2014).

RIDER FROM TUCSON costars Richard Martin as Tim's pal Chito, plus Elaine Riley, who was Martin's real-life wife. She passed on in 2016 at the age of 98.

Earlier in the day Don Kelsen remembered meeting Martin in Lone Pine not long before he passed on and said Martin was a great guy, always wonderful to hear!

Dinner was a good meal at The Grill; then, as sunset fell... was time to head back to the high school for the evening's keynote film, THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB (1970).

I've honestly never particularly cared for this film about an unsuspecting cowboy (James Stewart) who discovers he's inherited a high-class bordello, which costars Henry Fonda as his loquacious buddy. It did play better with an audience, and I thus enjoyed it more this time around than I expected.

Here are Scott Eyman and Ben Mankiewicz getting ready to take the stage after the movie:

For over an hour Eyman and Mankiewicz had an interesting discussion, inspired by Eyman's new book on Stewart and Fonda's long-running close friendship. Though different in some ways, including politically, they remained the best of friends for decades.

The story I found most touching centered around Stewart's beloved movie horse Pie, who went on location for CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB but was nearing the end of his life and wasn't well enough to appear on screen. Stewart spent his lunch breaks in Pie's company, and at some point Fonda began sketching Pie, which ultimately turned into a painting which he presented to Stewart. For the rest of Stewart's life the painting hung in Stewart's living room, with a light shining on it day and night. We were told it now hangs in Stewart's stepson's home, and the light is still on 'round the clock.

Sunday morning I had the pleasure of revisiting Glenn Ford and Eleanor Parker in John Sturges' very good ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO (1953) for the first time in a decade. It was also nice to see it again in tribute to Richard Anderson, who costars in the film and recently passed away. (Update: Please also visit Escape From Fort Bravo (1953): A Photo Gallery.)

All too soon it was time to get on the road back to Orange County! This year the festival added a few tours on Monday's Columbus Day holiday. We might stay a day longer in the future; among other things, I'd love to see the Sunday festival parade and attend the informal Cowboy Church hosted each year at Anchor Ranch.

Coming soon: A review of SERGEANT RUTLEDGE (1960), as well as a gallery of some images from ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

Another wonderful roundup of pictures and stories, Laura! Thanks so much for sharing them with us.

Lovely, touching story about James Stewart's movie horse, Pie (also used at times by Audie Murphy, I believe).

I quite like "CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB", mostly because of the pairing of Stewart and Fonda, two favourite actors for me. I preferred their earlier pairing in "FIRECREEK".
I heard that they argued just once about politics so vehemently that they virtually came to blows so they agreed never to mention the subject ever again! How sensible.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much, Jerry! It makes me very happy knowing others are vicariously enjoying a bit of our experiences.

I have FIRECREEK in a Stewart set but haven't seen it yet. They actually showed it at the festival ahead of CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB but we took a dinner break. :)

I like when people work out how to put aside their differences and celebrate all they have in common!

Best wishes,

8:17 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

It's been following your adventurous Laura. Is there any film festival like this? It seems singular in its approach.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Raquel! I wonder if there is anything else comparable -- it's quite unique having the festival set right where hundreds of movies were shot. A lot of varied opportunities at the festival as a result!

Best wishes,

3:08 PM  
Blogger KC said...

I love the photo books they gave you for the location tours. I'm sure they really helped you to visualize the films. Must be a great souvenir as well!

6:16 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, KC! They're a great plus on the tours and definitely a fun memento! All the guides we've experienced in the last few years put a lot of effort into preparing their presentations.

Best wishes,

9:39 PM  

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