Category: Western Movies

SHANE–BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041I’ve had some surgery, which has cut down on my time at the computer, and so thought I’d bring back my post this week on one of my favorite stories, Shane.  Jack Schaefer’s book, Shane, has been classified in many sub-genres, but to me, it will always remain my favorite western romance.

Romance?  Shane?

This story cannot have a truly happy-ever-after ending for all the principal characters, so it normally wouldn’t make it to my “Top Ten” list for that very reason.  But the story itself is so compelling, so riveting, that there is no choice once you’ve read page one—you are going to finish it.  And it’s not just a story about a very odd love triangle, but also about Shane discovering that he is worthy, and a good person, despite what he’s done in his past.

Shane is the perfect hero—a drifter, a loner, and no one knows why.  He plans to keep it that way.  If only his pesky conscience didn’t get in the way, he might have stopped briefly at the Starrett’s homestead, then moved on.

But from the beginning of the book, we know there is something different about Shane.  The story is told through the eyes of Bob Starrett, the young son of Joe and Marion.  Bob is about ten years old, and his account of the people and action that takes place are colored with the wonderment and naivete of a child who will be well on his way to becoming a young man before the story is over.

SHANE512WAvcxk8L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_The book starts with tension, as Bob is watching the stranger, Shane, ride in.  Shane comes to a fork in the road. One way leads down toward Luke Fletcher’s, the cattle baron who is trying to force the homesteaders out of the valley.  The other branch of the fork leads toward the Starretts, the homesteaders who will ultimately force Fletcher’s hand. Shane chooses that path, toward the Starretts, and the die is cast.

He would have looked frail alongside father’s square, solid bulk.  But even I could read the endurance in the lines of that dark figure and the quiet power in his effortless, unthinking adjustment to every movement of the tired horse. 

He was clean-shaven and his face was lean and hard and burned from high forehead to firm, tapering chin.  His eyes seemed hooded in the shadow of the hat’s brim.  He came closer and I could see that this was because the brows were drawn into a frown of fixed and habitual alertness.  Beneath them the eyes were endlessly searching from side to side and forward, checking off every item in view, missing nothing.  As I noticed this, a sudden chill, and I could not have told why, struck through me there in the warm and open sun.

In a nutshell, Shane drifts into the Wyoming valley, and is befriended by the Starretts.  Once there, he is quickly made aware of the brewing trouble between the homesteaders and the powerful local cattle baron, Luke Fletcher, who is set on running them all out of the valley.  Shane is firmly committed to helping Joe Starrett and the homesteaders who want to stay.  Fletcher’s men get into a fistfight with Shane and Joe in the general store, and Fletcher vows his men will kill the next time Joe or Shane come back into town.

Fletcher hires Stark Wilson, a well-known gunhawk, who kills one of the homesteaders that stands up to him.  Joe Starrett feels it is his duty, since he convinced the others to stay, to go kill Fletcher and Wilson.

Shane knocks Joe out, knowing that, though Joe’s heart is in the right place, he’s no match for a hired gun like Wilson.  There’s only one man who is—Shane himself, and that’s going to set him back on the path he’s so desperately trying to escape.

Shane rides into town and Bob follows him, witnessing the entire battle.  Shane faces Wilson down first, and then Fletcher.  Shane turns to leave and Bob warns him of another man, who Shane also kills.  But Shane doesn’t escape unscathed—Wilson has wounded him in the earlier gunplay.

Shane rides out of town, and though Bob wishes so much that Shane could stay, he understands why he can’t.  No.  Bob does not utter one of the most famous lines in cinema history—“Shane! Come back!” There’s good reason for this.  In the book, Bob’s growth is shown because of what he learns from Shane.  To call him back would negate that growth process.

He describes Shane throughout the book, and in many ways, with a child’s intuition, understands innately that Shane is a good man and will do the right thing, which is proven out time and again. So, he also realizes that there is no place for Shane there in the valley, now that the trouble has been handled.

Shane Movie posterimagesBob witnesses the conversation between his mother and Shane, as well, where so much is said—and not said.  It’s one of the major turning points in the book, though Bob, in his telling of it, doesn’t realize it—but the reader is painfully aware of it.  If Shane really is a good man, he will have no recourse but to leave.

This happens as the novel is drawing to a close, when Marian, Bob’s mother, asks Shane if he’s going after Wilson just for her.  He has knocked her husband out to keep him from going after the gunman.

Shane hesitated for a long, long moment. “No, Marian.” His gaze seemed to widen and encompass us all, mother and the still figure of father huddled on a chair by the window and somehow the room and the house and the whole place.  Then he was looking only at mother and she was all he could see.

“No, Marian.  Could I separate you in my mind and afterwards be a man?” 

Shane was Jack Schaefer’s debut novel, published in 1949.  It was honored in 1985 by the Western Writers of America as the best Western novel ever written—beating out other works such as Owen Wister’s The Virginian, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, and Louis L’Amour’s Hondo.

In 1963, Schaefer wrote Monte Walsh, a book that chronicles the passing of the Old West and the lifestyle of the American cowboy.

Though Schaefer never deliberately wrote for young adults, many of his works have become increasingly popular among younger readers.  Universal themes such as the transformation and changes of growing up, the life lessons learned, and rites of passage from childhood to becoming a young adult in his writing have been responsible for the upswing in popularity with this age group.

Shane movie poster 2imagesThough I consider Shane a romance novel, it’s a very different and memorable love triangle because of the unshakable honor of the three characters. I love the subtlety that Schaefer is such a master of, and the way he has Bob describing the action, seeing everything, but with the eyes of a child. If you haven’t read Shane, I highly recommend it—at less than 200 pages, it’s a quick, easy read, and unforgettable.

A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything.  A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it.  Remember that.  (Shane to Marian) 

A man is what he is, Bob, and there’s no breaking the mold.  I’ve tried that and I’ve lost.  But I reckon it was in the cards from the moment I saw a freckled kid on a rail up the road there and a real man behind him, the kind that could back him for the chance another kid never had. (Shane to Bob)

If you’ve never read Shane, I urge you to run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or “buy with one click” for your Kindle. It’s a wonderful tale!

PRPGabriels Law WebI’m offering a DIGITAL COPY of my  western historical romance, GABRIEL’S LAW! All you have to do is leave a comment today with your contact information, and check back this evening after 9:00 p.m. to see if you are my lucky winner! For all of my work, click here: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

When Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, he doesn’t suspect a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob. When Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, nobody expects to hear the click of a gun in the hands of an angel bent on justice. Life is full of surprises.

Brandon and Allie reconnect instantly, though it’s been ten years since their last encounter. She’s protected him before. As Brandon recovers at Allie’s ranch, the memories flood back, and his heart is lost to her. He also knows staying with her will ruin everything. She’s made a life for herself and her son. She’s respectable. She has plans – plans that don’t include him. But could they?

Trouble is never far away, and someone else wants Allison Taylor and her ranch. Danger looms large when a fire is set and a friend is abducted. Allie and Brandon discover they are battling someone they never suspected; someone who will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who stands in his way.

As Brandon faces down the man who threatens to steal everything from him, he realizes he is desperately in love with Allie and this new life they are making for themselves. Has Brandon finally found everything he’s ever wanted only to lose it all? Can Brandon and Allie confront the past, face down their demons, and forge their dreams into a future?

My Favorite Western Musicals

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Ever since my teenage days, I’ve been a sucker for a good musical. I love Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Howard Keel . . . this list goes on and on. There’s just something so delightfully cheesy and romantic about a man breaking into song to tell his woman how much he loves her. My husband sang in our university choir in college and has a base voice I love to listen to when we sit together in church. If I were dreaming up my ideal hero, he’d be rugged and handsome, principled and honorable, and he’d sing like Josh Groban. Sigh.

So, since I love musicals and adore western settings, I thought I’d share some of my all-time favorite western musicals.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

This one tops the list. Rugged fronteir setting. Men in desperate need of a good woman’s influence. And seasoned ranch hands that can sing and dance while they do their chores. Awesome! This musical sparked the idea for the Archer brothers in Short Straw Bride.

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Harvey Girls

OK, ignore the giant bow on her head that looks like it came from the Minnie Mouse Collection. Judy Garland is her usual spunky self in this story about a mail-order bride who is left on her own after her husband-to-be chickens out. She joins the group of Harvey Girls she met on the train and works to open one of Fred Harvey’s hotels and restaurants much to the frustration of the local saloon owner, who, of course, is our romantic lead. Oh, and did you catch the star of Murder, She Wrote in the cast? Yep, that’s Angela Lansbury as the statuesque dance hall girl on the right.

Harvey Girls

Oklahoma!

How many of you are already singing the title song in your head? Me, too. Such a fabulous soundtrack to this down-home western musical. I own the soundtrack and sing along to it more often than I should probably admit. Some of my favorite tunes are Oh, What a Beautiful Morning, The Surrey with the Fringe on Top, Kansas City, All Er Nuthin, and of course the rousing square dance number The Farmer and the Cowman.

Oklahoma

Annie Get Your Gun

I watched this musical about the legendary Annie Oakley for the first time last summer with my daughter. This one is about as corny as they come, but my daughter fell in love with the hysterical lyrics and overdone faces. She does a great Betty Hutton imitation now. How can you not laugh with songs likeAnnie Get Your Gun Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly?

Folks are dumb where I come from,
They ain’t had any learning.
Still they’re happy as can be
Doin’ what comes naturally (doin’ what comes naturally).
Folks like us could never fuss
With schools and books and learning.
Still we’ve gone from A to Z,
Doin’ what comes naturally (doin’ what comes naturally)
You don’t have to know how to read or write
When you’re out with a feller in the pale moonlight.
You don’t have to look in a book to find out
What he thinks of the moon and what is on his mind.
That comes naturally (that comes naturally).

 

What are some of your favorites?

Do you roll your eyes at musicals or do you sing along?

 

An Epic Western Classic: Lonesome Dove

call and mcrae

Recently Lonesome Dove was on television in its entirely, and even though I’ve seen it a dozen times or more, I watched a lot of it. It’s available on Netflix – and I have a DVD. What is it about these characters and their plight that draws us back again and again? Three-dimensional, well-drawn characters, backstories of Texas Ranger heroes and lost loves, a yearning for times long past and future hopes suck us right in. I’m still as mad today as the first time that Captain Call wouldn’t acknowledge Newt as his son.

Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning western novel and the first published book of the Lonesome Dove series. Can you imagine the daunting task that native Texan and screenwriter Bill Wittliff took on when he adapted Larry McMurtry’s novel to film? First, he needed to rein in the sprawling 843 page story while still retaining its majestic essence. Wittliff’s work was also made more difficult because, in the novel, McMurtry uses the narrator’s voice to reveal information about characters and to describe events. To provide the same information in the film, Wittliff needed to create dialogue and provide visual cues that did not exist in the novel.

See an original costume sketch below:

costume sketch

A Southwestern Writers Collection is housed at Texas State and many of the original documents he used while creating this western classic can be viewed online at:

http://www.library.txstate.edu/swwc/ld/ldexhibit.html

The web exhibit features storyboards, costumes, including Gus’s boots, and even Gus’s dead wrapped body.

The epic four-part six-hour mini-series focuses on the relationship of retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana. McMurtry originally developed the tale in 1972 for a feature film entitled The Streets of Laredo (a title later used for the sequel), which was to have starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart. That didn’t happen, but thank goodness, McMurtry later resurrected the screenplay as a full-length novel. It deservingly became a bestseller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The mini-series won six Emmy Awards and was nominated for 13 others.

Casting for this epic was pure genius. Who better to portray these multi-faceted aging Texas Rangers who to this day represent the epitome of courage, loyalty and everything we think of when we think “American West?”

Robert Duvall is Captain Augustus McCrae, co-owner of the Hat Creek Cattle Company, and considers himself the brains of the outfit. Generous, humorous, and lazy to the point of eccentricity, he serves as a foil to the more serious, practical Call. When not working, which he does as little as possible, Gus pursues his three chief interests in life: women, alcohol and cards. He is well known in the territory for his loud voice, superior eyesight and accuracy with a revolver.

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Tommy Lee Jones is Captain Woodrow F. Call, Gus’s partner in the company. Less verbose and chatty than McCrae, Call works long and hard and sees no reason why others should not do the same. A former Texas Ranger, he served with Gus when both were young men. Though Call has utter disdain for lazy men who drink, gamble and whore their lives away, he has his own secret shame, which he hides carefully from his comrade. Call’s ability to manage unmanageable horses is also well known.

Danny Glover plays a magnificent role as Joshua Deets, an ex-slave and former Ranger. When the story starts he’s a ranch hand at the company. On the drive, he serves as scout. A remarkable tracker and morally upright man, he is one of the few men whom Call respects and trusts.

Before he hit the NY streets as a cop, Rick Shroder played Newt Dobbs, young orphan raised by Gus and Call. His mother was a prostitute named Maggie Tilton, who died when he was a child. He knows his mother was a prostitute, and has no idea who his father might be. Most other observers, notably Gus and Clara Allen, are quite certain that Call is his father. Call eventually comes to this realization privately, but is never able to admit it explicitly.

 

After watching her on the hit series SMASH, I love seeing the beautiful Anjelica Houston as Clara Allen, a former love of Gus’s. She declined his marriage proposals years ago, and now lives in Nebraska, married to a horse trader who is comatose, having been kicked in the head by a horse. They have two girls, though she is afflicted deeply by the death of her sons. Though separated from Gus by many miles and years, she still holds him fondly in her heart. In contrast, she has utter contempt for Call. When Gus arrives at her ranch their reunion is bitter-sweet.

 

gus and clara

lorena

Diane Lane is the lovely young Lorena Wood, a kind-hearted young woman who was forced into prostitution by her lover, then abandoned in Lonesome Dove. Lorena is silent, strong willed, and intimidating, refusing to submit meekly to her various admirers. Discontent with her line of work, “Lorie” hopes to leave the dead town and find her way to San Francisco. Gus is her champion, and who could ask for a better one?

Secondary threads with characters of July and Almira Johnson and Blue Duck are intricately woven into the plot and throughout the journey of the cattle drive. You can’t help but be enamored by the characters and caught up in their adventures. Watching the story unfold brings laughter and tears every time. The music that accompanies the panoramic scenes does a beautiful job of enhancing the grandeur of the vast landscape and feel of the untamed west. I often listen to the original soundtrack, composed and conducted by Basil Poledouris. Lonesome Dove spawned the follow-up miniseries, Return to Lonesome Dove.

 

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Trivia facts about Lonesome Dove:

* Robert Duvall, who has appeared in over 80 movies, told CBS that Augustus McCrae, the character he played in Lonesome Dove, was his all time favorite role. We can see why.

* The characters of July Johnson and Roscoe bear the same names as the sheriff and his sidekick who track James Stewart and Dean Martin in the movie Bandolero! (1968). Also, the sequence where Stewart and Martin discuss Montana resembles a similar scene in Lonesome Dove.

* The book, and the character Gus, is mentioned in country singer George Strait’s song “That’s My Kind Of Woman.”

So, fess up. How many times have you watched Lonesome Dove? Did you think return to Lonesome Dove lived up to the first? Have you watched Streets of Laredo or Deadman’s Walk which precede the story?

If you’re a western lover and you’ve never seen this movie, well, I’m just sad for you. But your situation is subject to change. Head for Blockbuster or put it in your Netflix cue!

Leave a comment today for a chance to win a $15 e-Amazon card from Tanya Hanson.

The Man From Snowy River

Last Saturday night, I was sitting in my chair looking for something to watch on TV to help me unwind from a day of laundry and soccer games. I couldn”t find anything that interested me, so I moved on to Netflix to see if there was anything available for instant watching that would suit. I scrolled through a long list of title, nothing sparking until I hitThe Man From Snowy River. Suddenly I couldn”t wait to start it.

I”ve probably seen the movie at least three or four times, but it never loses it”s appeal. Man and horse working as one to overcome odds and win the girl. What could be better? But as I watched the opening credits, I noticed something for the first time. “Based on the poem, The Man From Snowy River.” This movie was based on a poem? I had no idea.

As it turns out, the poem that inspired the movie was written by an Australian bush poet named Banjo Patterson, and it first appeared in print in an Australian news magazine on April 26, 1890. I found a copy and read through it, amazed at how closely the screen writer kept the movie to the original poem. The romance thread was added, and I for one am glad, being a sucker for romance that I am, but I thought you might enjoy reading parts of this poem. It is too long to post in its entirety here, but you can find the full text here.

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Regret had got away,

And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

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There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,

The old man with his hair as white as snow;

But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –

He would go wherever horse and man could go.

And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,

No better horseman ever held the reins;

For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,

He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

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And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,

He was something like a racehorse undersized,

With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least

And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.

He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won”t say die –

There was courage in his quick impatient tread;

And he bore the

badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,

And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

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But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,

And the old man said, “That horse will never do

For a long a tiring gallop – lad, you”d better stop away,

Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”

So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –

“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;

“I warrant he”ll be with us when he”s wanted at the end,

For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

When they reached the mountain”s summit, even Clancy took a pull,

It well might make the boldest hold their breath,

The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full

Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,

And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,

And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,

While the others stood and watched in very fear.

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He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,

He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,

And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –

It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.

Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,

Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;

And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,

At the bottom of that terrible descent.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.

He followed like a bloodhound on their track,

Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,

And alone and unassisted brought them back.

But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,

He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;

But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,

For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

 

I don”t know about you, but every time I see Jim and his horse go over the edge of that cliff and ride down, I get chills. Have you ever seen The Man From Snowy River or read the poem? The next time you need a movie night, give it a try. Next to Hugh Jackman in Australia, it”s one of the best Aussie westerns out there.

Those Oscar-Winning Westerns


Since last night was Oscar night, with only Django Unchained representing our favorite genre, I thought I”d sing the praises of the mighty movie western for a bit. But I need your help. While there have been many westerns given an Oscar nomination, did you know only three have actually won Best Picture honors? Can you name them?


Cimarron (1931)

Based on the Edna Ferber book of the same name. It tells the story of the opening of the Oklahoma territory.

 

 


Dances With Wolves (1990)

Starring (and directed by) Kevin Costner, this was the first western to actually use Native American actors in Native American roles.

 

 

 


Unforgiven (1992)

Clint Eastwood”s gritty, violent film. Eastwood also won Best Director honors and co-star Gene Hackman received the golden statue for Best Supporting Actor.

 

 


Now, I don”t know about you, but none of these make my top-ten list of favorite westerns–although I love the recreation of the Oklahoma land rush in Cimarron. So I searched for Oscar-nominated films and found all those movies I watch

time and time again:

 


Stagecoach (1939)

The Ox-Box Incident (1943)

 

 

 


She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

True Grit (1969 & 2010)

 

 

 

 

The Shootist (1976)

3:10 to Yuma

 

 

 

There are many, many more; movies starring Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood…far too many to list. And I haven”t even started on the list of musicals like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Oklahoma (1955), Paint Your Wagon (1969)…

I”ll stop now.

What about you? Is your favorite movie on my list? Was one of last night”s hopefuls a must-see movie? Or do you have a movie that I just have to try, that you know is bound to become another favorite. Western or not, I”m willing to give it a try.

The Amazing John Clum

One of my favorite Western characters is the man who won the respect of hostile Apaches, captured Geronimo without a shot, served as the mayor and newspaper editor of Tombstone, Arizona and was a lifelong friend of Wyatt Earp.   John Phillip Clum (1851-1932) was a bundle of chutzpah, energy and courage whose accomplishments became the stuff of legend.

 

Clum arrived in Arizona on February 26, 1874, as the newly appointed (and very young) Indian Agent for the San Carlos Apache reservation.  The Apaches, until recently on the warpath, had been abused by previous agents who used their position to line their pockets.  The Army, assigned to keep the Indians under control, only added to their animosity.

Clum was determined to change things.  At San Carlos he treated the Apaches as friends, set up an Indian Police department and a system of self-rule.  His charges nicknamed him “Nantan Betunnikiyeh” meaning “Boss with the High Forehead” because he was losing his hair.  On April 21, 1877, Clum along with 100 Apache Police captured the marauding Geronimo in New Mexico and brought him to San Carlos.   It was the only time Geronimo was ever captured  at gunpoint, and it was done without a shot being fired on either side.  Geronimo and his small band left again, to be recaptured by the Army in 1886.  By then Clum had quit his job.  Frustrated by an uncaring Indian Bureau and harassment by the Army, he resigned on July 1, 1877.

Before this, however, he organized a “Wild Apache” show and, in 1876,  took a number of his charges on the road.  They raised the money for this trip by putting on “Entertainments” in Arizona.  Back East the Apaches were well received, but tragedy struck in Washington, D.C. when Taza, son of the great Cochise, sickened and died of Pneumonia.   The Apaches finished their tour and returned home.  Clum, who’d resigned his post, took it up again until the following year. 

Clum and his wife moved to Florence, Arizona where he ran a weekly newspaper.  Following the great silver strike, they moved back to Tombstone where, in 1880, he began publication of The Tombstone Epitaph.  In 1881, when the town was incorporated he became its first Mayor.  During this time he became friends with Wyatt Earp.  Because of this friendship he was almost assassinated after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

After the famous shoot out, the Earps and their friends, including Clum, were labeled as undesirables.  Clum left Tombstone and later served as Postal Inspector for the Territory of Alaska.  In later life he worked giving lectures and promoting tourism for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  In 1928 he moved to Los Angeles where he died in 1932, at the age of 80.

Clum’s early adventures were made into a 1956 movie, “Walk the Proud Land,” starring the perfect actor to play Clum, Audie Murphy.

This book, one of my favorites, is set in Arizona in the time of the Apache wars.  The cover is a true classic.  Painted by Pino, the most famous cover artist of the early 1990’s it also features the great cover model John DeSalvo. 

The story is a classic, too.  Half-Apache scout Latigo flees for his life after being framed for murder.  Wounded, he collapses on the doorstep of the widowed Rose.  Alone with her baby, should Rose help this man or turn him over to the law?

The book is now available in e-book format.  Here’s a purchase link if you’d like to learn more.

http://www.amazon.com/Apache-Fire-Harlequin-Historical-ebook/dp/B0056H7P32/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1343707295&sr=1-1&keywords=Apache+Fire

Do you have a favorite real-life Western character?   Has anyone seen the movie about John Clum?

Updated: August 11, 2012 — 9:23 am

Kat Martin’s All time favorite movies


Since Academy Awards Night is one of my favorite evenings, I thought it might be fun to talk movies.  Old favorites, new favorites, worst picks of all time.

Let’s start with the positive.  Who doesn’t love ETStar WarsGone with the WindWizard of Oz?  They’re classics, never to be forgotten.

Sometimes I look back and realize some of the books I’ve written were probably inspired by films I had seen and loved.  Gone with the Wind, at least the pre-civil war time in the South, elegant hoop skirts and Georgia mansions led to Captain’s Bride and Creole Fires.  I went on to follow Creole Fires with Savannah Heat and Natchez Flame.  Actually stayed in a gorgeous old plantation house inNatchez built in the 1840’s.

I’m a Star Trek fan, a total Trekie.  Maybe that’s how I got interested in UFO’s and wound up writing Season Of Strangers.  I did a ton of research for that one and was amazed to find myself convinced there’s a very good possibility UFOs are real.

I love Western movies.  Quigley Down Under with Tom Selleck is a personal all-time favorite (if you haven’t seen Tom in a pair of chaps you are really missing out!).  There’s a scene in my book, The Secret, a modern-day Western set inMontana, that was definitely inspired by the movie.  I’m excited that the publisher is re-issuing the book next year.

I loved True Grit, both versions, love some of the great old Westerns like Wagon Master, Wagons West, Brigham Young.  My husband, who still writes Western novels, and I belong to Western Writers of America.  We love attending the conferences and plan to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico mid-June this year.

I love high action adventure movies.  Old ones like The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Kathryn Hepburn, new ones like Taken, with Liam Neeson.  The plot for my new book, Against the Night, may have developed from the abduction theme of the movie.

Against the Night is Johnnie Riggs’s story, a fish out of water tale about a kindergarten teacher who braves the LA underworld to find her missing sister.  Its clear Amy needs help, and John Riggs is just the man for the job.  Unfortunately, Johnnie is more interested in Amy’s luscious little body than the money she can’t afford to pay him.

It’s a romp that starts on L.A.’s Sunset Strip and travels all the way to the tropical jungles of Belize, a fast-paced, high-action, hot-blooded adventure I’m hoping readers will enjoy half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Here’s the back cover copy:

He knows what goes on in the dark.

She’s got the face of an angel and the body of…well, isn’t that what he’d expect from an exotic dancer? But there’s something about this girl that Johnnie Riggs can’t shake. The former army ranger is hot on the trail of an elusive drug lord—and suddenly very hot under the collar, as well.

Amy’s got her own agenda to pursue: her sister is missing and Amy seems to be the only one who cares. She’ll enlist Johnnie’s help and do her best to ignore her growing attraction to finally get some answers. But when the two trails begin to converge and reveal something even more sinister than they imagined, their mutual desire is the least of their problems. They’ll bring the truth to light…or die trying.

Johnnie is a hunk and the cover of the book looks just like him.  I hope you’ll watch for Against the Night and other of the books in my AGAINST series.  Out the end of May is AGAINST THE SUN, Jake Cantrell’s story, another fast-paced, heart-pounding tale.

In the meantime, have fun and happy reading.

Warmest, Kat

 

Miss Kat is giving away a copy of AGAINST THE NIGHT to one lucky commenter. Join the conversation to be entered to win.

It All Started With A Wagon Train . . .

Readers and interviewers often ask about what got me interested in writing western romances. Well, there’s a reason my logo features a wagon wheel. It all started with a wagon train.

The early seeds were planted with Laura Ingalls and Little House on the Prairie, both the books and the television series. But it wasn’t until the late 80’s when I was a senior in high school that the love affair truly began. I can still recall standing in a bookstore  during one of those high school band trip time killers – you know, the ones where the bus pulls up to the local mall and lets the kids loose on the food court and shops with the only perameter being, “Meet back here by 5:30.” Well, where else would I spend time but in a bookstore? Besides, I needed something to read on the bus ride home.

I sat staring at the shelves, picking up book after book but not realy finding anything I liked. Then a friend (a boy, no less!) suggested I try Dana Fuller Ross’s Wagon’s West Series. Apparently his sister liked them. I picked up Independence!, the first in the series, and was instantly hooked. I can’t remember how many I ended up reading, but I think I read at least the first 8, up through Nevada! There were 24 total in the series.

Now that my appetite for romance and adventure on the western trail had been whetted, I sought more. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across Saturday reruns of the old westerns from the 50’s and 60’s. Bonanza. The Big Valley. The Rifleman. I loved them all.

Yet when I saw a promo for Wagon Train, teenage heart palpitations nearly sent me into a swoon. I’d thought Pernell Roberts was to-die-for as Adam Cartwright, but when I caught a glimpse of Robert Fuller as the trail scout, Cooper Smith, I was in love. And the fact that the channel only showed Wagon Train for a short time before discontinuing it, only made my heart grow fonder. We were star-crossed lovers, Cooper and I, held apart by a tragic whim of fate.

About this same time, my best friend got me hooked on old movies. We’d go to the video store and try out everything from Audrey Hepburn to Fred Astaire. I started watching the classic movie channel on TV as well. And that’s where I found it. My favorite western movie of all time. Westward the Women.

Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad. Most haven’t. It doesn’t star John Wayne or Gary Cooper. In fact, nearly the entire cast is female. Odd for a western, right? But that’s part of the reason I loved it. That and the fact that it all takes place on a . . . you guessed it . . . wagon train.

In the story, a land developer arranges for the transport of moral, able-bodied women to travel from Chicago to his settlement in California to become wives to the frontiersmen there. The women have a variety of motivations for joining the train. Some are in financial straits. Some have lost husbands and have no where else to go. Some are simply looking to make a new start. The wagon master has serious doubts about their ability to cope with the arduous demands of the journey and tries to convince the land developer to give up on the scheme. The women prove tougher than he expects, though, and with a little training on firearms and team driving, they set out. As the wagon master’s respect for the women in his care grows so do the women’s respect for themselves. The film destroys sterotypes of women as the weaker sex. And the central love story between the wagon master and the French saloon dancer who is looking to leave her past behind demonstrates that love really does conquor all.

Westward the Women came out in 1951 and was based on a concept idealized by Hollywood legend, Frank Capra, after he read an article in a 1940’s magazine about a group of South American women who crossed the Isthmus to become brides for a group of male settlers. It was filmed the Utah mountains and California desert and all the actresses were given extensive training in handling frontier weapons, bullwhip cracking, blacksmithing, horseback riding, mule driving, and assembling and disassembling covered wagons. My writer’s research heart is drooling in envy.

Alas, Netflix doesn’t carry it, so I might have to find a copy I can purchase. Because even though I haven’t seen it in probably 20 years or more, I still remember it in vivid detail. I still want to be like those women–tough, determined, and ready to take on any challenge this journey of life throws at me.

So what about you? What got you started on western romances? Books, movies, television, growing up on a ranch? I’d love to hear your story!

Cowboy Crushes

Why do I write western romances? Even more telling—why do I read western romances? There are many reasons, but the most compelling one is simple. I do it for the cowboys.

Those rugged, hard-working men, so capable, so honorable, so devoted to the women who capture their hearts. I can see the silhouette of a man on horseback, sitting straight in the saddle, and my heart starts fluttering before I even see his face. Crazy, huh? But the image stirs the romantic in me like nothing else. After all, if you’re going to ride off into the sunset with a hunky hero, he needs to have a horse.

It probably started back in my early teen years. I’d outgrown Saturday morning cartoons, so I turned instead to the Saturday westerns. It was the 80’s, the decade that introduced MTV and video games. Westerns were the last thing on anyone’s mind. Well, except for me. I found channels that aired re-runs of wonderful shows like Bonanza, Wagon Train, and The Big Valley. I couldn’t get enough. I started daydreaming my own episodes, writing myself into the script so that I could win the heart of the cowboys I fancied. I had desperate crushes on Adam Cartwright (Pernell Roberts, at left) from Bonanza and Cooper Smith (Robert Fuller, at right) from Wagon Train. I guess I have a thing for dark-haired men in black hats.

That theme continued into the 90’s when the western made a slight comeback in the television world with shows like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, The Young Riders, and The Magnificent Seven. I’ve been re-watching The Young Riders on Netflix with my 13 year-old daughter. We both agree that Josh Brolin makes a very dreamy Jimmy Hickok. Although I think the beautiful Palomino he rode played a role in the attraction, too. I haven’t introduced her to Eric Close in The Magnificent Seven yet, but he was another cowboy who made my heart pitter-patter.

                          

Then we could talk about those cowboys from down under. Tom Selleck is now a western icon, but I first discovered him in chaps and hat in Quigley Down Under. I had never been that impressed with him when he was driving around Hawaii in a red sports car, but give him a western makeover and stick him atop a horse, and I couldn’t resist. A man that impresses me in any setting is Hugh Jackman. And he made me sigh mightily when he donned western garb for the movie Australia. Hugh proved to me that you’re never too old for a new cowboy crush.                  

                        

And of course, with the release of Cowboys and Aliens, I would be remiss if I failed to mention my latest crush. Daniel Craig makes a fabulous James Bond, but there’s no comparing 007 to Jake Lonergan to my way of thinking. The cowboy’s gonna win every time.

So what about you?

Who are some of your cowboy crushes?

Oh, The Dastardly Villain … by Charlene Sands

Before we get into the world of villains, desperados and scoundrels, I’d like to say how happy I am to be rejoining the Fillies at Petticoat Junction!  Thank you for having me back.   As usual, life has a way of dictating to you, rather than the other way around – I find I’m destined (gratefully so) to write strong hunky western heroes set in small towns!  It’s where I belong and where I’m most comfortable.  

Now on to the VILLAIN:

When I picture a villain, the cliché image comes to mind – a moustache-twirling, evil-eyed man wearing a sinister smirk.  

Wikipedia describes a villain this way:

A villain (also known in film and literature as the “bad guy”, “black hat“, or “heavy”) is an “evil” character in a story, whether a historical narrative or, especially, a work of fiction. The villain usually is the antagonist, the character who tends to have a negative effect on other characters. A female villain is sometimes called a villainess (often to differentiate her from a male villain). Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines villain as “a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot.”

In this quote by film critic, Roger Ebert, we see how much importance he places on villainy. “Each film is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph.”

In westerns, often the villain is the greedy land baron, the corrupt sheriff or the wicked stepfather.  Villains give a good story, conflict.  They can be the diverse opposite of the hero.  A good villain makes the hero, “heroic.”  

 I’ve certainly written my share of villains, who were evil and sometimes, murderers.  I have written villainesses as well and by far, they are the most fun to write.  But sometimes, a villain isn’t all that evil. Sometimes, they are merely, selfish, uncouth and greedy.  Not nice traits, to be sure, but those characteristic are just bad enough to make a story truly entertaining.  I really believe the success of my last Harlequin Desire, Carrying the Rancher’s Heir, which spent two weeks on the USA Today Bestseller List and 3 weeks on the Borders Top Ten List had a great deal to do with the sworn enemy theme.  Yes, it was a sexy story with an intriguing hero and heroine, but there was a villain that just couldn’t be brought down and his true appeal, to me, was that he really believed he was protecting his daughter, Callie, (heroine) the way any father would.   On one level readers could relate to him.  He was believable in his dastardly ways.   

Thank you Hawk Sullivan!

Sometimes a villain isn’t so much a person, per se, but a reputation or occurrence the hero or heroine has to live down.  That’s the case in my newly released Kindle romance, Smooth-Talking the Hometown Girl.  Kyle Warren comes back to his hometown of Bentley, Arizona to settle his father’s estate.  While there, he learns some things about his “Pop” but even more things about himself.  Wealthy and successful now, Kyle fights to change one woman’s opinion of him and debunk her wary perception about him, even if he has to be slightly devious to do it. 

I’ll challenge you to guess which of these Great Villains of the Silver Screen, holds the #1 Spot. 

The Joker –  Batman

Darth Vader – The Empire Strikes Back

Norman Bates – Psycho

Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs

Wicked Witch of the West – The Wizard of Oz

Mr. Potter – It’s a Wonderful Life

Nurse Ratched – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Did you guess?  Hang on – I’ll tell you at the end of this blog…

According to AMC these are the Top Seven Western Villains… some might surprise you.

  1. Walter Brennan  – My Darling Clementine
  2.  John Wayne – Red River
  3. Jack Palance – Shane
  4. Eli Wallach – The Magnificent Seven
  5. Lee Marvin- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
  6. Lee Van Cleef – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
  7. Richard Boone – Hombre  

My favorite villain(ess) from a movie is the character Kathy Bates played in Misery.  She scared the stuffing out of me.  My Western villain has to be, more recently, Russell Crowe, in 3:10 to Yuma.  So what famous villain from a novel or movie scares you the most? Who’s your favorite dastardly scoundrel and do you secretly love to hate them?  Did you guess right?  Post a comment and you’ll be entered into a RANDOM drawing for a $10 Amazon Gift Card.  

#1 Villain of the Silver Screen:

Hannibal Lecter

 

 

 
Updated: July 13, 2011 — 2:55 pm
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