Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February 20, 2008
Worked late again last night on Steins Pass images. Here are sketches of suspects in the failed train robbery:

Can you spot the criminal? Top, left is cowboy Bill Warderman, and to his right, cowboy Leonard Alverson, and, (bottom, left) cowboy Walter Hovey (aka "Fatty Ryan"). Before he was hanged, Black Jack Ketchum wrote a letter to President McKinley, claiming the three were "as innocent of the crime as an unborn babe." President Teddy Roosevelt finally pardoned them. Meanwhile, Dave Atkins, (lower, right) looking innocent as a lamb, was definitely one of the train robbers, and a killer to boot. Proving for the umpteenth time that looks can be mighty deceiving.

Or, at least drawings of killers can. Ha.

Every time Ace In The Hole comes on TV, I get a call from Lew Jones in Mogollon, New Mexico, telling me to turn it on. I invariably do. This morning Gus Walker sent me some other tidbits about the slick, little film:

• When the film was released, it got bad reviews and lost money. The studio, without Billy Wilder's permission, changed the title to The Big Carnival to increase the box office take of the film. It didn't work. On top of that, Billy Wilder's next picture Stalag 17 (1953) was a hit and Billy Wilder expected a share of the profits.

• Paramount accountants told him that since Ace lost money, the money it lost would be subtracted from the profits of Stalag 17.

• The studio constructed a replica cliff dwelling at a cost of $30,000. The set was located behind the Lookout Point Trading Post on U.S. Route 66, west of Gallup, New Mexico. After filming was completed, the set was left intact and the owner of the trading post used it to draw tourists to his store.

• Residents of Gallup, New Mexico were hired as extras. They were paid 75 cents an hour for a ten-hour day. Extras earned an additional three dollars if they could bring an automobile to the set.

• Billy Wilder's wife Audrey came up with the line "I don't pray. Kneeling bags my nylons."

• Actor Victor Desny brought a lawsuit against this film while the script was being written. He claimed the film was an unauthorized version of the Floyd Collins story. Collins was actually stuck in a cave years earlier, as mentioned in the film. Since Desny had the rights to the story, he claimed copyright infringement. The lawsuit was settled before production began.

Meanwhile, Back At The Hats
"I don’t understand folks that get upset with your blog. It’s yours. I always enjoy reading and sometimes get quite an education. I have come to realize in the last little while what makes a great western. Hats! That is the be all and end all of what makes a movie worth watching. Sometimes I feel guilty when I’m watching an old western. The other day I was watching True Grit on Turner Classics. I caught myself enjoying it again. Then all of a sudden I realized not all the hats were correct. I grabbed my hankie, covered my face and began to weep.

"I checked and there is no Oscar for Hats. I find that appalling. The closest Oscar would be for costuming. That is to general and does not give the Hat quite the honor it deserves. I have a solution. You need to develop a Hat Award at TW. You could give it to any western themed flick that has the correct type hats or limit it to the best of the best and give out one a year

"I think the award should be called The Boze or The Bozo. I envision a BBB Bobblehead Doll with your El Grando on top of your head.

"I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Booth western Art Museum in April. I hope you like my hat.

"See You down The Trail."

—Hugh Howard, Maniac# 9

"Hats say the darndest things."
—Art Linkhatter

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