Friday, October 23, 2009

B-Westerns on Stage Today on Turner Classic Movies

For those of you who can watch television during the day (or have the capacity and intelligence to know how to record something), there is a boatload of B-Westerns (I know, a mixed metaphor) from the 1930s and 40s on Turner Classic Movies today. One of them even features our own Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson, who are shown here as Vasquez Rocks.

Why am I so interested in these? I don't know. I'm just goofy I guess. Plus I know that many of the Westerns that were published in the pulp magazines during that time were eventually transferred to the screen.

A special thanks to Walker Martin for this information.

Here's the lineup. Pacific time is shown first, then Eastern.

10:00 a.m. PT, 1:00 ET: Land Beyond the Law (1937). Starring Dick Foran and Linda Perry.

11:15 a.m. PT, 2:15 ET: Law of the Ranger (1937). Starring Bob Allen and John Merton.

12:30 p.m. PT, 3:30 ET: Gun Law (1938). Starring George O'Brien and Rita Oehmen.

1:45 p.m. PT, 4:45 ET: The Law Rides Again (1943). Starring Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson.

If you figured out that there's a theme in the titles, you would be right.

As for me I have to work, but I may be able to catch one of them on my lunch hour. I guess I'll have to record the others, if I can figure out how to do it.

Next up on the blog: a review of The Savage Breed, a new novel by Randy Denmon.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've found that I never watch stuff I record so I just quit recording.

Laurie Powers said...

Yeah, Charles. I used to subscribe to Netflix, but every time I got a movie it would sit on the coffee table for weeks and I'd feel guilty about not watching it - I would just end up saying "Oh the hell with it" and send it back.

Walker Martin said...

Hope you all saw Land Beyond the Law starring Dick Foran as "The Singing Cowboy" and Smoke the Wonder Horse. I looked up Smoke on the Internet Movie Data Base and see he appeared in 14 B-westerns. He's also on a site if you google "Smoke the Wonder Horse".

Laurie Powers said...

I saw part of it, and Smoke sure didn't look like smoke to me. He (she) looked more like Trigger. I'm going to look him up. I smell a new blog post!

Rick said...

I've never thought much about writing westerns (although I enjoy them very much), after visiting your blog I'm giving it some thought!

Evan Lewis said...

Dang, wish I got TCM.

Laurie Powers said...

Rick, try it - you might find it fun. And look at my blog list and other lists from those blogs - there are a lot of resources out there that can help you if you have questions.

Dave - TCM is the best. Sorry you don't get it. Right now they're showing Rebecca.


There's nothing goofy about digging these old oaters. Great stuff methinks

Barry said...

I am puzzled why TCM never seems to run any westerns on their Silent Sunday Nights when they play silent films. Or they have and I missed them.
Tomorrow night they have Nosferatu on. Came out in 1922 but still a very creepy movie.

Walker Martin said...

TCM doesn't really show alot of the old 60 minute B-westerns from the 20's, 30's, 40's. The four shown yesterday were unusual on the schedule. Maybe they don't have the rights to these old films or maybe they just don't think their audience wants to watch B-westerns(I'm not talking about the A-westerns from the 50's, 60's, 70's).

Some of you might not be aware of the Western Channel, part of the Starz or Encore lineup of older movies. Westerns 24/7, all the time. Mainly A-westerns but some are pretty obscure. They do show B-westerns every now and then, for instance Gene Autry is on noon tomorrow. They show alot of TV series westerns like Maverick, Cimmeron Strip, etc. TCM and the Western Channel should be part of your basic TV. There should not be an extra charge like with HBO or Showtime.

Oscar said...

George O'Brien was one of my favorite actors in those days.

Laurie Powers said...

Gary - glad to know someone's as goofy as I am.

Barry - I know. I've noticed that about TCM too and the silents they show. I'd love to see some William Hart once in a while.

Walker - I may be wrong, but here you have to pay for TCM. At least with my cable company, which is the only one around (and why is that? I always ask). They always give you this line about different "tiers" of basic cable you can buy - and TCM is on the higher tier. Either that, or you have to buy it as part of what they call their basic cable package which really isn't basic cable as I define it - and you get a lot of crappy channels that you never watch. As you can see, nothing gets my blood boiling more than the cable companies. I become sub-human when I have to call them on the phone.

Oscar - I'm not familiar with George O'Brien - I'm going to look him up.

Walker Martin said...

I meant that TCM is usually just part of basic cable compared to a $10.00 or more per month charge for a premium channel like HBO, etc. Of course I guess every area is different. Here in Trenton, NJ we have Comcast, Verizon, Dish Network and Direct TV as the main companies offering cable or satellite.

But speaking of George O'Brien, he was one of the very best of the B-western actors. His movies always had a higher budget with better plots. I put him up there with Harry Carey, Buck Jones and Randolph Scott.

Barry said...

Laurie, where I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania it's is Comcast or nothing (as far as cable is concerned) when they dropped TCM from my tier (and it was one that included everything but HBO, etc) and told me I had to pay extra every month for a digital box I said "nuts to that" and went with Dish and love it.
It was quite funny when I made the call to cancel cable and they wanted to know why and I said "ya got an hour or two to spare and I'll give my reasons"?

Laurie Powers said...

Barry, you're a man after my own heart.

David Cranmer said...

Some fine B titles you have listed.

I've been going to Hulu and they have been adding old B western classics and since I'm a traveling fool I've been enjoying the net to watch them.

Laurie Powers said...

I keep forgetting about Hulu. Good to hear from you David. It's been a while.

David Cranmer said...

It's good to have internet again!

Ed Hulse said...

There's nothing goofy about liking B-Westerns. All the bright people do.

A consequence of having very little work these days is being able occasionally to fritter away an entire afternoon on stuff like this, which is exactly what I did -- even though I already had three of the four films on DVD.

This particular grouping of films had special resonance because I met Dick Foran and was friendly with George O'Brien and Bob Allen in their twilight years. In fact, I persuaded both of them to appear at the 1979 Cinecon I chaired in NYC.

LAND BEYOND THE LAW just might be the best of Foran's 12 Warners B-Westerns. For years I've felt that CALIFORNIA MAIL deserved top honors, but after seeing LAND again I think it might squeeze into first place. LAND is one of several pictures in which Foran sings his theme song, "The Prairie Is My Home." I met him in 1976 at a Western Film Fair in Orlando, Florida, and he looked like Death eating a cracker. So when he was asked to sing "Prairie" as part of the after-dinner entertainment at the closing-night banquet, my friends and I cringed. But that booming baritone had survived pretty much intact, and his robust performance was the evening's indisputable highlight.

GUN LAW was the first of 16 bonafide B-Westerns O'Brien did for RKO. Curiously, screenwriter Oliver Drake (another acquaintance of mine and a wonderful raconteur) chose to dust off a trunk item; the script is a retread of 1928's WHEN THE LAW RIDES (starring Tom Tyler), which in turn was remade as 1932's RECKLESS RIDER (starring Lane Chandler). It's a fair picture, but O'Brien did much better at RKO, including LAWLESS VALLEY, ARIZONA LEGION, RACKETEERS OF THE RANGE, and MARSHAL OF MESA CITY.

LAW OF THE RANGER, a much cheaper picture produced independently by Larry Darmour for Columbia release, was the last of Bob Allen's six starring Westerns. Bob always felt that if his series had been extended another year, and his budgets increased, he could have solidified his fan base and become a long-lasting Western star. I don't know about that, but he certainly had potential that wasn't realized.

THE LAW RIDES AGAIN, a real cheapie, is pretty awful even by the loose standards we fans apply to B-Westerns, but it's always great to see Ken and the Hooter together, even in the final days of their starring careers.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I too think Foran's Smoke the Wonder Horse is Trigger. Warners often rented Trigger before Roy Rogers bought him; Olivia de Havilland, for example, rides him in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.

Barry said...

Thanks for that info regarding The Adventures of Robin Hood Ed. I always wondered about that and assumed it was just a coincidence.
My oh my, what a lucky horse.
While I am on the subject would you happen to know what Trigger was called before Roy Rogers bought him?

Laurie Powers said...

Yes, thanks Ed for a great comment. I didn't know that about Trigger - very interesting.
I'm also thinking that a lot of the Ken Maynard/Hoot Gibson flicks were pretty mediocre. Just guessing.

Ed Hulse said...

Barry, Trigger's original name was Golden Cloud. Roy later claimed that he renamed the horse Trigger because he was abnormally quick of mind and foot.

Some sources claim that Golden Cloud made his movie debut in ROBIN HOOD, but some of the Western-movie vets I've interviewed (including ace Western and serial director Bill Witney) claimed that he had been active in movies for several years before Roy purchased him. Roy began riding Trigger in 1938 and the Dick Foran series began in 1935, so I think there's better than an even chance that Golden Cloud was Foran's "Smoke the Wonder Horse."

By the way, Trina Mitchum (Robert's daughter) has written a wonderful book on the subject of movie horses, HOLLYWOOD HOOFBEATS.

Laurie Powers said...

I know my horses that I know that Smoke is Trigger. How's that for confidence?

I'm going to get a copy of that book, too, Ed. Thanks for the tip.