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Arnie – Back in the Saddle Again

By Bennett Owen

Credit: Forum.santa.barbara

The Terminator – The Governator – The Philanderer – call him what you like, Arnold Schwarzenegger will reportedly begin filming this fall on a western tentatively named, “The Last Stand.” Sources describe it as “an old-fashioned western specifically designed for a 63-year old broken-down guy with a moral decision.”  An unnamed studio executive tells Deadline Hollywood, “We always needed an iconic figure for it.”

Credit: Dentonrc

Apparently the film will be a classic western that takes place in the present with Schwarzenegger playing a sheriff of a small border town in southern California.


Well, if they’re calling it a western, I’m counting it as one, further cementing my theory that the western genre is riding the crest of a comeback. Look at the evidence from the past 12 months alone:

  • True Grit
  • The Warrior’s Way
  • Rango
  • Meek’s Cutoff

And in just two weeks time and counting … Cowboys & Aliens! Surely the cinematic event of the summer!

And waiting in the wings we have -

  • The Lone Ranger, with Johnny Depp as Tonto –
  • Blood Meridian - Hollywood’s take on the classic by Cormac McCarthy

And several more are in the initial production stages. Then there are the true classics of the genre ... I think its time to do some additional research and put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign while I watch ‘The Outlaw Jose Wales’ for the 245th time …

Credit: Lucchese


Over the Rim Part Two – Wide Open Outer Spaces

By Bennett Owen

Wow! Four days, 13-hundred miles and four states behind us, now that is a My-West road trip! Makes you wonder how many miles … make that light-years … these guys had to travel, just to get their butts kicked by Harrison Ford!


Whooo-peee-dooo, this is gonna be good watching!

But as I mentioned in my last post, there is nothing new under the sun no matter which solar system you wander into.  So happens that Sci-Fi Westerns have a long and illustrious history … just check out stardate 4358.3 when the Starship Enterprise, under command of Captain James T. Kirk makes contact with the ‘Melkotians’, only to find himself and his crew in a gunfight at the OK Corral …

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Credit: YouTube

Or, The Time Tunnel, 1967, where two time-traveling scientists get a birds-eye view of the Battle of the Alamo … (click here to watch the full episode)

And not to mention The Wild, Wild, West, with two government agents outfitted with gadgets just slightly ahead of their time …

Credit: Steampunk

Credit: Visual Feast

And the silver screen has a history of genre-creep as well with offerings such as:

-       Westworld

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-       Back to the Future Pt. 3

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-      Ghost Rider (featuring the mighty Peter Fonda)

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And many others, not to mention the iconic, the legendary, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter!

And of course the genre proved irresistible to Rod Serling in ‘The Twilight Zone.’  In this episode, a down-on-his luck pioneer takes a walk ‘100 Yards Over the Rim’ and encounters modern-day Arizona. Well. Modern as in 1961.  Here is all 25 minutes and it’s well worth the time.

Now if I could just transport myself ahead to July 29th!

Credit: Beyond Hollywood


Cowboys & Aliens – 100 Yards Over the Rim

By Bennett Owen


Hot Damn!  Cowboys & Aliens is just one month away! The anticipation only grows as we inch towards opening night. Watch this!


I’m a kid again, counting down to Christmas! I haven’t been this excited since I found the Lone Ranger PJs in my parents’ closet with the ‘For Bennett – From Santa’ tag on it.

Credit: Vintage Treasures

And C&A is a gift that keeps on giving, bringing back the mighty Harrison Ford, restoring him at age 68 to his superstar, mega-force, butt-kicking splendor.  Now if you think the movie is set to be some camp, smirking, half-comedic western satire, you’d be oh-so wrong. Here’s how co-screenwriter Roberto Orci describes what we’re about to see:

“The world feels like the world in ‘3:10 to Yuma’ or even ‘Unforgiven’ but introduced into that are aliens who start attacking … the guys on the horses in the movie have no words for what they’re seeing.”

Credit: Movie Goods

Credit: Coming Soon

And Ford adds this assessment:

“…It’s a cowboy movie first and then stuff happens. Even after stuff happens…it’s still a cowboy movie. And that’s what’s incredible about it because nobody’s done that before, that’s new territory.”

Check out the full and fine Ford profile in the LA Times:

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‘3:10 to Yuma’…’Unforgiven’…Now those are some serious credentials.  You know where to find me on July 29th. I’ll be the guy down on the front row, so close to the screen I can count the pixels. Don’t even think about asking me to share the popcorn.

Science Fiction and the Western, mixing the genres, what a novel idea! Seems like someone would have come up with that one years ago…something along the lines of  ‘Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter…’

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It turns out the Sci Fi western is almost a genre unto itself and we will be exploring it in tomorrow’s post, including a full episode of  ‘Twilight Zone’ that you will NOT want to miss.


The Mighty James Arness has Passed Away

By Bennett Owen

Credit: svchistory

He was six foot six, seven inches…and that trademark gimp was not an actor’s quirk but the result of a war wound suffered at the WW2 invasion of Anzio…an injury that kept him hospitalized for over a year. 

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James Arness initially turned down the role of Marshall Matt Dillon, but his good friend, John Wayne eventually convinced him…”Guys like Gregory Peck and me don't want a big lug like you towering over us,” the Duke advised.  “Make your mark in television.” 

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And so he did.  For 20 years, from 1955 - ’75,  Marshall Dillon kept the peace in Dodge City in one of the longest running and most popular series’ in the history of television.  His character, perhaps more than any other, embodied the taciturn, heroic lawman of western mystique.

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That also was no act, but the persona of a very private man…So private that his long-time co-star, Amanda Blake (Miss Kitty) once said of him, "He's big, impressive and virile…I've worked with him for 16 years, but I don't really know him."



And that is perhaps the most endearing key to Gunsmoke’s longevity.  Aside from the quick-draw brilliance and tough guy tactics, Marshall Dillon engaged in a tender, 20-year long, unrequited love affair with Miss Kitty…the longing was palpable…and yet they never once kissed.

Arness later admitted there truly was method to this madness…

After his death, Arness’ website released a posthumous message from the actor that read in part, "I had a wonderful life and was blessed with so many loving people and great friends."

James Arness, dead at the age of 88.

Credit: SFGate


Gambit – More Coen Brothers Magic

By Bennett Owen

Wow. Nice pair of…boots. In case you hadn’t noticed, that’s Cameron Diaz, turning heads in Heathrow courtesy a Tough Country tank, a pair of Daisy Dukes and little else.


Yes, she’s a working girl, shooting a scene from GAMBIT, a remake of the classic 1966 comedy caper.

Credit: Cinematic Passions

The original starred Michael Caine and Shirley Maclaine…the new version puts Diaz alongside Colin Firth who plays an art thief planning to con a wealthy collector. He enlists a Texas steer roper (Diaz) to set up the swindle.  Diaz is a self-professed Texas Hold ‘Em fanatic…suppose that’s why she got the part?



I’ve always been a fan of the original…will watch about anything Michael Caine is in…

and am generally skeptical of remakes…but with the Coen Brothers writing the screenplay, it will most likely get my money. And Colin Firth is truly the only actor alive today remotely capable of filling the mighty Michael Caine’s place. 


From Blood Simple, to Fargo to True Grit, the Coen brothers continually capture the essential mystique of the western US.  My favorite line from Blood Simple:  “He gave me a little pearl-handled .38 for our first anniversary…I figured I’d better leave before I used it on him.”