Thursday, November 09, 2006

November 9, 2006
One of my goals for 2007 is to colorize Honkytonk Sue in the magazine. Since I’ve been so busy this week, I just haven’t had time to attack it, but today Robert Ray granted me the time to do it so I went home and converted the next Sue into color. Of course I had big visions of subtle-Southwestern-postcard-style color, but I didn’t quite get there. Still, it’s sweet to see the gal in color and I imagine I’ll get it down better as the year progresses. Here is a close-up frame (sans dialogue ballon of course):

And The Unmasked Cowboy Is?
“The cowboy [in yesterday’s blog] is Allan ‘Rocky’ Lane one of Republic's biggest western and serial stars. In later years he was the voice of Mister Ed the talking horse on tv. He played Red Ryder in seven pictures with Robert Blake as Little Beaver.
—Jim Trumbo

Alan Huffines forwarded me a sneak peek preview of The Assasination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. It appeard on the Ain’t It Cool News website:

“Long time reader of Aint It Cool this is the first time I have felt compelled to turn in a review of a sneak preview. I am going to keep this review as spoiler free as possible.

“So last night I got to catch a special sneak preview of, ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.’ This is a new western starring Brad Pitt and is directed by Andrew Dominik who also directed the wonderful, ‘Chopper.’

“I went into this film with almost no knowledge of the Jesse James gang or the assassination of the legend. This film surprised me. The opening alone will grab you, with Roger Deakins amazing cinematography, Nick Caves entrancing score and a narration that is strongly reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Barry Lyndon.’

“This is not your average western. This film is very dark, with Brad Pitt playing his darkest character since, ‘Kalifornia.’ Brad Pitt doesn’t use a lot of words in his performance, it’s all looks and internal turmoil, he is truly mesmerizing in this performance, showing a more mature actor then we have seen before.

“He is matched perfectly by Casey Affleck who is finally used to his full potential as Robert Ford. Casey Affleck plays Ford as a very vulnerable, fragile young man with a thirst for recognition. Hopefully this performance might break Casey out of his brother’s shadow. The rest of the cast is superb with a funny and odd performance by Sam Rockwell.

"The cinematography is excellent. Roger Deakins turns in some of the best work of his career. He brings a dream like quality to the images that gives the film a fable like quality. It’s this quality that separates this film from other westerns. It has more in common with Sam Peckinpah’s underrated, ‘Pat Garret and Billy the Kid.’ It has to do with living up to ones own myth and also how far a person will go to be famous.

“But I see one serious problem with this film. A major studio made it. This isn’t a film for everyone. This isn’t, ‘Tombstone,’ it’s not an action packed western. It’s a very emotional film. The action that does happen is quick and realistic much like a Sergio Leone film. This is a film for my father, a person who grew up on westerns and loves them. It has more in common with art house films and this might make it a tough sale for the studio, which will probably try to sell it as another, ‘Legends of the Fall.’ I’m not saying that,’Legends,’ is a bad film; it’s just that this is a much darker film.

“Another problem is that the version I saw the other night was easily three hours in length. That can make any studio nervous and I’m afraid the studio will start cutting the film up in hopes of getting a bigger audience.

"This film needs the three hours, much like Sergio Leone’s westerns (which were notoriously edited by the studios) this film is about anticipation and scope. I wouldn’t be surprised if they cut this film up but I beg the studio not to.

“Basically I hope everyone gets to see this film in its current cut. This is the kind of film that will probably be passed over in theatres but will get a lot of recondition over time and will be seen as the truly great film it is.
You can call me Bronson.”

Ironically, another review on the same site makes the opposite argument, and hopes that the studio cuts the film. It’s eternal, isn’t it? Art vs. commerce. I saw this first hand at Old Tucson, where they rebuilt after the fire and got a little carried away on the theme park side of the equation, thus distorting the originality and uniqueness of the original Old Tucson. It never ends. One of our guides at the park said they were trying to restore some of the original charm and authentic style buildings. I hope so.

Left-hooved Horses?
“Dear Bob, I am 65 years "young" and have the Westerns channel, know a lot, but have a silly question.

“ #1 Why do riders always mount the horses from the left? Is it due to the horse or the dominated rt sided riders? #2 Why don't we see episodes of the Cisco Kid and Pancho? I loved "Hoppy" and the others in my young childhood, Lone Ranger, etc. I am very much female and enjoyed the handsome cowboys. Ha Ha! Love the info you give and learning about words, ‘chaps’, train language that survived the times.”
—Carol Carlson, Carver Massachusetts

You know what's funny? We just taped an answer to your first question about the left-side business, last Monday at Old Tucson. Yours is the fourth question about this. There are various theories as to why this started, here are the two I think that have the most merit: unlike most people who are right-handed, horses are evidently left-side dominant (according to the wrangler on the set), and to mount on that side gives them an extra edge for balance. The other answer is since most cowboys are right-handed and their gear—rifle and rope—are on the right side, it would make sense to mount on the opposite side, the left.

That said, many horse trainers today train horses to be mounted on either side. However, in the Old West, the left side was the law. In the taping we had two cowboys behind me, with one mounting up on the right and the other on the left.

When I was growing up, you wouldn’t think of mounting on the right. It was quite a no-no, a sure sign someone was a dude, or worse. But according to Lou Cady, Jr. everyone around Cody, Wyoming today trains to mount on either side.

So, when I went to the Coolwater Church last Sunday, I sat next to Russ Garrett, an old cowboy and horse trainer, and as soon as I sat down I asked him when the either side mounting began, and a cowboy sitting in front of us, Dave Voita, immediately turned around and said, “I know exactly when it started. In 1974, roper Roy Cooper dismounted on the right and that started it. Before then, ropers dismounted on the left, ducked under the rope to get to the calf.” So, the either sides mounting and dismounting, eminates from there.

Back to the left-sided mounting tradition, I just called Russ to ask him who the cowboy was sitting in front of us, and Russ told me Dave’s name, and that my question about when the left-side business started bugged him and he finally called his old pard Don McKinley in Tucumcari, New Mexico, and he didn’t know, but it bugged him too and he called back several days later and told Russ he had been quizzing everybody and what he found out was: “It goes back to the days of the knights. They had so much armor, swords, shields and such, which all hung on the right side that they couldn’t get on, on that side.” So, essentially, we have come all the way around to the answer I gave on camera, last Monday.


“As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice every day, so after some years, it can boast of a long series of successes.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

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