About Me

My photo
Charlie started in the entertainment business with his own Salt Lake City based show, "Hotel Balderdash," on which he played several different characters; as well as hosting Arizona based shows such as, "Dining Out In Arizona," "Chrome Highway," and "At Home in Arizona." He has also appeared in movies and network television programs such as: "The Highriders," "Good-bye, Franklin High," "The Lucifer Complex," "Greatest Heroes of the Bible," and "Mark Twain's America." His most recent film, "Out of Reach," will be released in the Summer of 2007.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


For a more updated view of what's going on link to my facebook. Lots of photos of the cowboy stars. Sign up to my twitter page as well.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ROBERT HOY, God Bless You

I am extremely sad to report that on Monday,February 23, we lost not only a great stuntmant,and a wonderful actor, but an extremely warm and giving human being.
Bobby Hoy was 82. He was always a welcome guest at the festivals and always shared wonderful tales about his time as as a stuntman and actor - with great stories about his time starring on The High Chaparral as Joe Butler. He was one of those with a rough exterior, but you knew inside he would do anything he could for you. Farewell, Bobby, you're with God now.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

POLITICS IN THE SADDLE - Part 3. The Story Behind "High Noon."

High Noon, released in 1952, is considered a Western film classic. President Eisenhower loved to screen the film while he was in office, Bill Clinton has declared it his favorite film, and Ronald Reagan said that it showed a "strong dedication to duty, law,and well being of people with conservative/anti-communist views."
All this would have been a shock to Carl Foreman who wrote the screenplay as an indictment against the so-called "Communist Witch Hunts" or "McCarthyism," named after Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, and hearings on the subject in 1950. As a young man, Foreman had joined the Communist Party, and now knew it was just a matter of time before he would be called before the House on Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC to testify. He also knew that he would beexpected to name other Communists and Communist sympathizers. Indeed, after completion of the script for High Noon, he was called before the committee and pleaded his "Fifth Amendment" rights. Feeling that his "non-testimony" before the HUAC would blacklist him from working in Hollywood, he immediately re-wrote many scenes that would appear in the film to reflect his own beliefs on the committee and his plight.
"I became the Cooper character," Foreman would later say. "I felt that, like the marshal, I had been abandoned by everyone and left alone to fight the battle." Marshal Will Kane would end up leaving Hadleyville and Foreman would leave his country for London.
Like the brave marshal he played in the film, Gary Cooper wanted to defend Foreman for standing up for his rights. John Wayne and Ward Bond, both well known conservatives, warned Cooper that it would be unwise and unhealthy for his career. Cooper backed away from the fight.
The film's young producer, Stanley Kramer, and Columbia Pictures president, Harry Cohen where able to silence any publicity about Foreman's rewritten content and America enjoyed what film-goers viewed as a well-crafted, taunt, little Western with the interesting advantage of being told in real-time, much like the popular television program 24 today.
Even though the screenplay was based on a short story, "The Tin Star," by John W. Cunningham, Foreman was able to write enough of his beliefs into the screenplay to get his point across. Wayne called it the "most un-American thing he had ever seen," and promised, along with Hawks to one day film their version of the same story. Indeed Hawks and Wayne would live up to their word when they made Rio Bravo, a few years later.
High Noon would go on to be nominated for several Oscars including, Best Picture, Best Director, and Carl Foreman for Best Screenplay. It would win, among others, Best Actor for Gary Cooper, and Best Song as sung by legendary Western star, Tex Ritter. Surprisingly, Cooper was out of town and asked none other than John Wayne to accept his Oscar for him, which Wayne graciously did.
Others connected with the film would suffer to varying degrees due to alleged Communist backgrounds. Co-star Lloyd Bridges, although not blacklisted, was "gray listed," meaning that his promising career was not stopped but curtailed, until his successful TV series Sea Hunt gave him a much needed boost. Famed cinematographer Floyd Crosby (father of musician, David Crosby) was likewise gray listed for a time due to the fallout.
Carl Foreman, would go on to a popular screenwriting career with films like: A Hatful of Rain, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Guns of Navarone, and MacKenna's Gold.
Today, the film that was a screen writer's retaliation against the HUAC has become a Western film classic, recognized as just that by such diverse presidents as Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bill Clinton. President Reagan's saying that it is an indictment against Communism isn't exactly what Carl Foreman had in mind, but it proves that, no matter how it's packaged, a classic Western is something that is inherently about the legend called "the winning of the west." In the end, no matter what, it boils down to good over evil. Something that, all too often, the films of today have forgotten.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Kingman, Arizona has been given a federal grant to revive the historic Beale Hotel (or Hotel Beale - take your pick). This, as many Western fans will know, is the hotel that Andy Devine's family owned when Andy was a kid, and where legend has it he had the accident that may have caused his unusual voice.
Andy Devine's history in film and television is remarkable with hundreds of appearnces in both mediums. Of particular interest to Western Fans should be the time he spent in the late 1940s as sidekick to Roy Rogers. In the 1950s, he moved to television with a hit kid's show, "Andy's Gang," and the show he is best remembered for, "The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok," as Jingles, which played on television in reruns well into the 1960s. Films include, John Ford's "Stagecoach," and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," both with the great John Wayne.
This is an exciting new step in revitalizing the historic town of Kingman, which is right in heart of the longest stretch of Route 66 still in use. Andy Devine Days has been a staple of the town for decades and now, with the restoration of the Beale, things seem to be moving in a great direction to make Andy Devine Days a terrific time to visit Kingman.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The word is that Jeff Bridges will take on the role of Rooster Cogburn in the 2010 version of "True Grit." Reports are that Matt Damon may play Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, originally played by Glen Campbell, while Josh Brolin has been approached to play Robert Duvall's original role as Tom Chaney. The role of Mattie, played by Kim Darby in the original, is up for grabs at this time. The producers, Joel and Ethan Cohen are said to be approaching the film from Mattie's viewpoint as it was in the book.


"High Noon" and "Rio Bravo," one a dark, somber, black & white film from 1952, the other a 1959 action film in color with vivid, bigger than life, characters. On the surface they couldn't be different, but the reality is there might not have been a "Rio Bravo" if not for "High Noon."
The earlier film is a simple tight story that takes place, in real time, during the morning hours leading up to the gunfight at noon. The latter film unfolds at a leisurely pace with more characters at it's core to develop.
In "High Noon" the townspeople - including the marshal's mentor and his deputy - are for the most part cowards. Frank Miller, a crazed outlaw, has been pardoned and is coming to town to exact revenge on Kane for sending him to jail. Although Kane has retired, and is leaving town with his Quaker bride (Grace Kelly), he decides it's his responsibility to defend the town. The townspeople, however, want him to leave, believing that Miller and his gang - who are already waiting at the train station for their boss - might leave them alone if he does. The conclusion finds Will standing up to the Miller Gang on his own, until help comes at the last minute from a surprise supporter.
The final scene of the film shows Cooper taking his badge off, throwing it on the ground, and leaving Hadleyville with his bride. As a side note, to make sure the scene went right (watch it closely), Gary Cooper actually palms the badge he takes off and only acts like he throws it on the ground. The camera then quickly pans down to show a duplicate badge that had already been set in place at Will's feet. This particular scene angered John Wayne, which he incorrectly remembered in an interview as the scene where Gary Cooper stepped on the badge as he walks off.
"Rio Bravo" takes the same basic story and adds the Wayne/Hawks' touch. Instead of waiting for the outlaw to come to town to exact his revenge, Sheriff John T. Chance has jailed Joe Burdette for murder. His brother, powerful rancher Nathan Burdette, swears to get his brother out of jail one way or another; this is the villain coming to town. Unlike "High Noon," where the gang watches the town from the train station, waiting for their leader, Burdette's gang actively quarantine the town - no one in, no one out. Also, unlike Will Kane's quest for help, John T. Chance actually has help from a crew of misfits that bring the right 'color' and a touch of humor to the story. The old codger type "Stumpy" (Walter Brennan), the town drunk "Dude" (Dean Martin), and the young gunslinger "Colorado" (Ricky Nelson). Not only does this mix add some amusing moments, as well as some terrific character study, but it covers all the bases for the different age groups watching the film - it perfectly covered all the demographic areas. Brennan for the older crowd who had enjoyed him in film roles for years, and were then enjoying him in his TV series,"The Real McCoys." Singer Dean Martin, whom had recently broken up with his longtime showbiz partner Jerry Lewis, and recently enjoyed a terrific resurgence in "The Young Lions," with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, was there for the pop crowd. Ricky Nelson, who was enjoying a thriving career in rock and roll, as well as his family's long running television show, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," was there for the teens. And then, of course, there was the Duke himself. Already a superstar, this film would help establish his film persona for the next decade. To be fair to "High Noon," from the standpoint of characterization, the real time storyline doesn't allow for anyone's character development but that of Will and possibly his bride.
John Wayne and director Howard Hawks hated "High Noon," feeling it showed the American West and it's settlers in a bad and cowardly light. Wayne went so far as to say it was the "most unAmerican thing I have ever seen." They also believed that the earlier film had Communist undertones. Wayne and Hawks vowed to one day set the record straight by making their own film version of such events, which they would do 7 years later with "Rio Bravo."
Was the charge of Communist leanings in one of the great Westerns of all time true? The story behind the story of "High Noon," next time.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Many film-goers view the western film genre as nothing more than a "shoot-em-up." Good guys vs. bad guys with the good guy usually winning in the end. Very little plot changes from film to film - only in character names and locale. You might say, "Isn't this why we go to them, because we know what we're getting?" In the case of the standard B Western this may be right - I still love to see a good Audie Murphy or Randolph Scott oater, compared to some of their expensive big-league relatives.
However, on another level, Westerns provide a great platform for their creators to expound on their political beliefs. Let me give you some examples from the great director John Ford.
Ford was a master at providing great entertainment while making a statement with his Westerns. In the 1946 classic "My Darling Clementine" Ford presented his version of the events leading up to and during the gunfight at the OK Corral. Flawed and historically inaccurate, Ford believed that when the "legend is more interesting than the truth, print the legend." Thus, one of the catalysts for the feud is the killing of James Earp. James would actually die of natural causes in 1926 many years after the October 26th, 1881 gunfight. But why nit-pick with minor characters to the event? In the film, Doc Holliday isn't a dentist but a surgeon. Victor Mature, save for coughing up a bit of blood in a handkerchief, looks like he just came from the gym and dies in the gunfight. Old Man Clanton, who actually had died two months before the gunfight, appears at the corral for the fight which lasts much longer then the 30 seconds it actually took. As far as the corral it is just that - a simple corral area on the outskirts of Tombstone - the actual shootout took place outside the OK Corral not in it. This is just a small dose of the legend Ford creates in the film - however he does make a point of the polital sense of the time through the conflict of the Earp clan and the Clantons for control of the town. No simple gunfight, but a fight for power-positioning in Tombstone, no matter how simplistic Ford makes the story.
Ford's terrific trilogy of calvary films, "Fort Apache" (1948), "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949), and "Rio Grande" (1950), dealt with Indian uprisings in the west, but "Fort Apache," a retelling of Custer's last stand, with Henry Fonda's Lt. Col. Owen Thursday standing in for Custer, transposed the action to Arizona. The politics are clear. Thursday is a stubborn, arrogant leader who refuses to listen to reason. As a result, he leads his men into a trap in which they are killed through his bad judgment. It is through John Wayne's character, Captain Kirby York, the conscience of the film, that the message is brought home loud and clear. For moral and morale purposes, Thursby must be remembered as a hero who lead his men bravely. When all is said and done, York realizes that he must play the politician, however personally distasteful, and put a politically correct "spin" on the event - in this case "when the legend is important to save face, forget the truth and print the legend."
In 1956, John Ford tried to balance the scales in helping us to see both sides of the relationship with Native Americans in "The Searchers." If Ford used political manuvering to tell a good story in "Fort Apache," with "The Searchers" he brought home the fact that there are indeed two sides to this part of history. This time racism is brought to the fore-front in the hatred Ethan Edwards shows towards Commanches, for what they have done to his brother's family. It's a complicated story that evolves through many years. It has a strong message leading to a very tense reunion between Edward's and his niece - some say it may actually be his daughter, although it is never mentioned - as played by Natalie Wood and the Duke. The ending is the way it should be with Edward's story unresolved and evolving, as is the west and man's understanding of the changing times. No simple solutions other than he has brought his "niece" home for a happy reunion of sorts - but for how long?
Ford carried the political fires of racism one step further in 1960. "Sergeant Rutledge," is a comment on the racial turmoil of the 1950s and 1960s, disguised as a John Ford cavalry film. The story of a black soldier, 1st Sgt. Braxton Rutledge (Woody Strode), accused of killing his commanding officer, and then raping and murdering the officer's daughter, is more a courtroom drama than a full blown Western. The familiar Ford theme of an Indian uprising is still apparent in the form of flashbacks shown during the trial. Ford's message rings loud and clear when Sgt. Rutledge remarks in his defense, "It was alright for Mr. Lincoln to say we was free. But it ain't so! Not yet! Maybe someday, but not yet," it's a clear and bold statement by Ford on racism - though not so much racism of the 1980s, but of the time the film was made. The truth and legend had now come closer together, but once again legend would take the forefront in Ford's next political Western, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."
"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," is a film whose reputation has grown with time. In 2007, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States Film Registry, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," (but then again, so was "My Darling Clementine")for it's portrayal of the old west. At the time of it's release, it was thought of by many as a very slow, black and white, studio bound, John Wayne western with a catchy title tune. This isn't fair to the film or Wayne. While film-goers had gotten used to the action of "Rio Bravo," "The Horse Soldiers," "North to Alaska," or "The Commancheros," "Liberty Valance," taken on it's own merits, is a well crafted character study and should not be judged along with the typical John Wayne westerns of the period.
The fact is that John Wayne is not really the prominent character in the film, yet it is his character of Tom Doniphon that is the dominent character that thrusts the story forward to it's bittersweet conclusion. This film really belongs to James Stewart and Edmond O'Brien, but it is the memory of Doniphon that takes the final bow long after his character has faded from view.
The ending returns to Ford's view that the legend must overcome the facts for the sake of the story and those involved. Thus, Senator Ransom Howard (Stewart) must live with the fact that not only his public but personal life is a lie. He has served as a congressman, a governor, and even ambassador to Britain, now as a Senator he is a potential candidate for vice-president of the United States. All this was made possible due to the belief that he is the man who shot Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). It is the ultimate dark joke of legend vs. truth as viewed by John Ford. Legend must prevail, because it is one man's reason for success at the expense of the truth - the very foundation of political "truths."
In 1964, Ford would make his final western film, "Cheyenne Autumn." It was as if Ford was trying to rectify any misunderstandings he had made about the noble Native Americans. As opposed to the simplicity of most of his Westerns, it is an epic with an "all-star" cast. Shot in his favorite local of Monument Valley, it tells the story of the long trek 300 Cheyenne took in 1878, from their relocated reservation in the Oklahoma territory to their home in Wyoming. Seen as an act of rebellion by the U.S. government, Captain Thomas Archer (Richard Widmark)is ordered to lead his troops against the tribe. The press (yes, even back then the press was up to their tricks) misrepresent the reasons behind the trek which stirs up more animosity for the Cheyenne. Secretary of Interior, Carl Schurz (Edward G. Robinson), tries to stop any violence between the army and the Cheyenne, but politics abound on the frontier and in Washington. "Cheyenne Autumn," is ripe with political manuverings and thoughtful dialogue, but short on action. The very story has to be politically correct in order for both the Native Americans and the U. S. government not to appear in a bad light. There are two versions of this film, one includes a comical interlude featuring Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, played by James Stewart and Arthur Kennedy respectively. It doesn't fit well into the story, but either version gives us a film that meanders. "Cheyenne Autumn" is overblown and over-long. Ford would only make three more films after this one and none where Westerns.
As politically motivated as many of Ford's westerns were, there was one western film in particular that caused quite a firestorm in the early 1950s. Next time I will tell how one critically acclaimed Western was heavily influenced by the hunt for Communists in the film industry, and how this film begat another popular Western in angry response 7 years later.