Articles on this Page
- 07/07/13--06:00: _Comic Gallery: CRIM...
- 07/08/13--05:00: _Pulp Gallery: DOC S...
- 07/09/13--05:00: _Overlooked Films: T...
- 07/10/13--05:00: _Comic Gallery: GANG...
- 07/11/13--05:00: _ELLERY QUEEN Goes t...
- 07/12/13--11:40: _Forgotten Books: HO...
- 07/13/13--06:00: _SHADOW COMICS 10, 1...
- 07/14/13--06:00: _Pulp Gallery: SPICY...
- 07/15/13--05:00: _Guest Blogger: BRIA...
- 07/16/13--05:00: _Overlooked Films: T...
- 07/17/13--05:00: _Comic Gallery: WEIR...
- 07/18/13--05:00: _Paperback Gallery: ...
- 07/19/13--05:00: _Forgotten Books: WE...
- 07/20/13--06:00: _Comic Gallery: FIRE...
- 07/21/13--06:00: _WEIRD TALES 22, 23 ...
- 07/22/13--05:00: _Davy Crockett meets...
- 07/23/13--05:00: _Overlooked Films: A...
- 07/24/13--05:00: _Comic Gallery: ACTI...
- 07/25/13--05:00: _Pulp Gallery: PRIVA...
- 07/26/13--05:00: _Forgotten Books: DU...
- 07/07/13--06:00: Comic Gallery: CRIMES BY WOMEN (1949)
- 07/08/13--05:00: Pulp Gallery: DOC SAVAGE 10, 11 & 12
- 07/09/13--05:00: Overlooked Films: THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER (1981)
- 07/10/13--05:00: Comic Gallery: GANG BUSTERS 4, 5 & 6 (1948)
- 07/11/13--05:00: ELLERY QUEEN Goes to the Movies (1941-42)
- 07/13/13--06:00: SHADOW COMICS 10, 11 & 12 (1941)
- 07/14/13--06:00: Pulp Gallery: SPICY MYSTERY (1935)
- 07/15/13--05:00: Guest Blogger: BRIAN "The Rogue Gentleman" DRAKE
- 07/16/13--05:00: Overlooked Films: THE LONE RANGER (2003)
- 07/17/13--05:00: Comic Gallery: WEIRD COMICS (1940)
- 07/18/13--05:00: Paperback Gallery: THE AVENGER 4, 5 & 6 (1972)
- 07/19/13--05:00: Forgotten Books: WEEKEND TO KILL by Frederick Nebel
- 07/20/13--06:00: Comic Gallery: FIREHAIR, Girl of the Golden West (1948-49)
- 07/21/13--06:00: WEIRD TALES 22, 23 & 24 (1925)
- 07/22/13--05:00: Davy Crockett meets The Supremes
- 07/23/13--05:00: Overlooked Films: ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942)
- 07/24/13--05:00: Comic Gallery: ACTION COMICS (1938)
- 07/25/13--05:00: Pulp Gallery: PRIVATE DETECTIVE (1937)
Neither of our local library systems (which have dang near everything) had a copy of the film, and I sure has heck wasn’t going to buy it, so I watched it on YouTube. And for the first 56 minutes, I was mildly surprised. This doesn’t stink, I told myself. It’s not great, but it’s not as bad as I remembered. The worst things about it were the truly insipid theme song “The Man in the Mask” sung by Merle Haggard, and the amazing lack of acting ability displayed by Michael (Tonto) Horse.
At minute 57 Spilsbury finally put on the mask, the William Tell Overture fired up, and the movie began to suck. And it kept on sucking, harder and harder, until the thing was finally over. But though history has dumped most of the blame on poor Klint, it wasn’t his fault. It’s hard to complain about his acting, because - with his dialogue dubbed by actor James Keach - he did so little of it. What made the movie suck were the many bad decisions made by the producers.
So why was the last half of the film so bad? The reasons could probably fill a book, but here are a few of my main complaints.
1) The William Tell Overture was used so clumsily as to defy belief. It was simply dropped in every time we were supposed to think the Ranger was doing something exciting. The sound quality was lousy - as if someone had recorded it from their TV - and sloppily edited to fit the brief action sequences. As a result, it just distracted from the action and made it look silly.
2) The Ranger and Tonto have almost nothing to do. They ride around, walk around and slink around, saying little and accomplishing less while Butch Cavendish (Christopher Lloyd) and his gang menaces and finally kidnaps President Grant (Jason Robards).
3) For reasons unknown except to the toy franchisee, George Custer and Buffalo Bill are riding Grant’s train, and they have even less to do than LR and T. They’re unused until the very end, when they come riding in with the cavalry. This gives them a chance to wave.
4) The climax is ridiculously overblown, probably hoping to compensate for the lack of action in the rest of the film. A single box of dynamite produces an unending string of explosions, sending villain after villain flying through the air. And even amid all the carnage, LR and T just scurry about trying to look busy until the cavalry arrives.
A note about YouTube: Don't go looking, because the movie is no longer there. Thanks no doubt to the studio that once lived up to the name Disney, YouTube removed it the afternoon of July 2, the day before the premier of the Depp debacle.
See the first three issues HERE.
Although this appears to be L'Amour's very first novel, it sure doesn’t show it. I’ve read them all, and while my favorites are the pre-westerns like Sackett and Fair Blows the Wind, I’d rate this up with any of his straight westerns (and higher than some, because, as I mentioned, it’s about Hopalong Cassidy).
Beyond the book’s entertainment value, it’s interesting because of L’Amour’s thirty-year attempt to deny authorship. As Louie’s son Beau tells it in the afterword to the 1991 Bantam edition (and online HERE), it came about in 1950, when the folks at Doubleday developed an itch to publish some new Hoppy novels, and asked Clarence Mulford, who had retired in 1941, to write some new ones. He declined, but agreed to license the rights if a suitable writer could be found. Mulford found that writer himself, in the pages of the pulps, where L’Amour had been selling westerns and adventure stories for the past ten years.
Doubleday initially wanted L'Amour to pattern the character after William Boyd (shiny clean, with a black suit, silver-plated six-guns and hair to match), but he insisted on portraying him more in the Mulford mode, an ordinary looking red-haired cowboy. L’Amour won that battle (temporarily) and wrote the first two novels, The Rustlers of West Fork and Trail to Seven Pines, which were first published in the brand-new Thrilling pulp, Hopalong Cassidy’s Western Magazine.
Before the war, when Dad was writing adventure and sports stories, nobody had any objections to his using his own name. But in the mid '40's, when he started trying to sell Westerns, he ran into trouble. The management at Better Publications did not believe they could sell Western stories by a writer named Louis L'Amour. Westerns had to be written by a man who could have been a cowboy and everybody knew that cowboys had short, tough-sounding names: Luke Short, Max Brand, Will Henry, Brett Hart, Zane Grey. They told Dad that no one with a name like Louis L'Amour could ever sell Westerns - it was too hard to pronounce, too soft sounding, it was too, well . . . Foreign.
If the folks at Better Publications (the Thrilling line) actually said such a thing, Louie had to know it was bull. His western stories had been published under his own name in Popular Publications mags since at least 1940, and in the Thrilling pubs since at least 1946. While a few of those appeared under the pen name Jim Mayo, most were published as by Louis L’Amour. The more likely reason for the pen name, also mentioned by Beau, is that the publishers wanted to be able to carry on with another writer if L’Amour dropped out.
For reasons not explained by Beau, the pulp mag died after two issues and the Doubleday series died after four. That seems odd, with the Hoppy craze in full stride.
Anyway, says Beau, “somewhere along the line” someone asked Louie if he’d written those books back in 1950, and he said no. And for the sake of consistency, he kept on saying no for the rest of his life.
In a recent issue of the Western APA (Amateur Press Association) OWLHOOT (more on Owlhoot HERE), Bill Crider mentioned that he had outed L’Amour as the author in an entry for The Dictionary of Literary Biography, based on a tip from Mr. Bob Briney. After a little poking around I also came upon this interesting stuff in the Fall 1980 issue of Paperback Quarterly. It's from the article “Louis L’Amour’s Pseudonymous Works” by John D. Nesbitt:
Of course, this stuff about shaping or tailoring Mulford stories is just so much stuff - apparently a last-ditch attempt to muddy the waters. I suspect John Nesbitt recognized it as such, but out of respect for L'Amour (after a discussion of other works) he summed the article up thusly:
In a way, the whole thing is sort of sad. I’m glad these novels have been reprinted, and I’m certainly glad to know they’re by L’Amour. On the other hand, L'Amour went to his grave believing they would never see print under his name. Over the years, Doubleday had been gobbled up by his own publisher Bantam, and he trusted them to bury the books. But he’d been less than three years dead when Bantam, with the full cooperation of his son, started trotting them out in both hardcover and paperback. As you see, his name on the cover is HUGE. R.I.P.? Probably not.
Check out this week's Forgotten Books round-up at pattinase.
See the first nine covers HERE. Many more to come.
Among Ranger aficiandos, this 2003 Made-for-WB movie is an even greater stench in the nostrils than the 1981 disaster starring Klinton Spilsbury. Until recently, that was my feeling, too. But, having re-viewed both films recently, I must revise my opinion. Here it is: I now believe this film is not a bit worse than The Legend of the Lone Ranger, and might even be a hair less bad.
Much of this movie’s inherent badness is due to the concept. The folks at the WB tried to retool the Ranger story to appeal to their teen and twenty-something audience. As a result, both young Tonto and the young Ranger are sometimes-angst-ridden, sometimes-smart-alecky twenty-somethings with a lot of growing up to do. The cast includes a hot young blonde as the newspaper editor, a hot young brunette as Tonto’s sister, and a hot young in-between as the widow of the Ranger’s brother. And there’s an eighties-rock soundtrack, totally inappropriate to the time or the setting. But once you get past all this kowtowing to youth (abhorrent as it may be), parts of the film can be mildly entertaining.
The future Ranger, in this incarnation named Luke Hartman, is played by Chad Michael Murphy, the veteran of such WB classics as Dawson’s Creek and The Gilmore Girls (two shows I've never seen), and went on to a ten-year career on the WB’s One Tree Hill (another show I’ve never seen, and plan to keep it that way).
Tonto is played by Nathaniel Arcand, who in recent years has been a regular on such unwatched Canadian TV series as Blackstone, Heartland and Arctic Air.
One of the dumbest parts comes at the beginning, on the first meeting of Tonto and the future Ranger. T’s hot sister is being harassed by a gang of snot-nosed ruffians, and our hero, newly arrived from the East, rushes to her defense. But because he’s totally inept at fighting, he must be rescued by Tonto, who (and here’s the dumbest part) enters the scene with a flying Kung Fu kick right out of Enter the Dragon. There’s a little bit of a payoff later, when the Ranger performs the same stunt, but it’s still plenty dumb.
The story then gets more familiar. Luke is reunited with his Texas Ranger brother just long enough to ride off with his 12-man troop in pursuit of the bad guys. The bad guys here are not the Cavendish Gang, but an evil bunch called the Regulators, who are trying to force farmers off their lands to clear the way for the railroad.
The Regulators slaughter the Rangers, leaving Luke for dead, and his Faithful Kung Fu Master Tonto finds him and nurses him back to health. After that, much film time is consumed by Tonto training Luke in the ways of the West (read Force), with the help of his own spiritual advisor (Wes Studi). Yep, there’s a lot of Star Wars influence here. “Luke” even has a Mark Hamill hairdo.
All of this is no worse than it sounds up until the point Tonto deems Luke ready to don the mask. That’s where the film goes to hell. The mask, which Tonto tells him will give his enemies nightmares, is more likely to leave them laughing. Murray was 22 at the time, but looks about 18. In the role of a skinny teenage nobody, he’s everything he needs to be. But in the Ranger’s hat and mask, he looks so wimpy it’s ridiculous. He comes across like some little kid’s big brother taking the squirt out for trick-or-treat. When he rides into action with a rock-laced William Tell Overture thumping in the background, it’s just silly.
It’s clear the WB had hopes of turning this into a series, and if they’d picked the right Ranger they might have had a shot. As it was, this film was just a minor bad smell between the major league stinkers of 1981 and 2013.
This is the sixth (and last) in our reviews of old Lone Ranger films. You'll find the first five HERE.
More and better Overlooked Films at SWEET FREEDOM.
See the first three Avenger covers HERE.
Frederick Nebel was one of the most important contributors to the two most important hardboiled detective pulps - Black Mask and Dime Detective. His work stood head and shoulders above that of most other writers in the field. But sadly, he did not write mystery novels.
Of Nebel’s three hardcover novels, Sleepers East (1933), But Not the End (1934), and Fifty Roads to Town (1936), only the first has mystery elements. So in 1945, when paperback publishers (and their readers) wanted mystery novels, he didn’t have much to offer. Avon, possibly at the urging of ex-Mask editor Joe Shaw, had issued collections of hardboiled novelettes by Raymond Chandler and George Harmon Coxe, and Shaw wanted Nebel to submit a collection of his own. But Nebel wasn’t interested.
On Sept. 18 he wrote his agent: I’ve looked over some of those novelettes. They were written a dozen and more years ago and I think we ought to forget about them. However, I ran across a book length of about 50,000 words that was published in McCall’s in 1937 and of which you probably have a copy in your files. My title was DEATH FOR A HOLIDAY but it was published under the title of WEEKEND TO KILL. It was not, so far as I know, offered anywhere for book publication. This might interest one of the pocketbook outfits.
The agent responded on Dec. 4: You remember a long time ago when I asked you for material for a collection for direct publication in cheap editions you suggested WEEKEND TO KILL. Since Avon, the house which inquired for the Black Mask short, was not interested in novelette length, I sent WEEKEND TO KILL after Century Publications, another 25 cent house. They want it for publication sometime next year and are offering an advance of $500.00, payable half on signature and half on publication, against a royalty of ½ cents a copy to 150,000 copies, and a ¾ cents royalty on all copies sold over 150,000 copies. This is because they generally put two novelettes by different authors in one 25 cent book.
That bit about Century “generally” putting two novelettes together was not exactly true, because when the book was published a list of fifteen previous Century Mysteries shows only one containing two stories.
Weekend to Kill does qualify as a mystery, because one of the main characters is an ex-cop working to solve a murder. But it’s really more a play of manners and romantic foibles, and the murder is mainly an excuse to create conflict among the characters. There are faint echoes of Nebel's MacBride and Kennedy series from Black Mask. The narrator is a reporter, his pal an ex-cop, and there’s talk about a crusading editor striving to expose a corrupt political regime. But the characters are creampuffs compared to Kennedy and MacBride, and the corrupt politicians remain offstage. The murder is eventually solved, but takes a back seat to the resolution of the romantic subplot.
This book, complete with the shorter Hugh Pentacost story, is now available as a POD trade paperback from Wildside Press. Is it worth the $13.46 Amazon price? Not really. Weekend to Kill is good example of Nebel’s slick fiction, but lacks the crackle of snap of his pulp work. You’d do far better putting your money toward Black Dog Books’ adventure collection Empire of the Devil, or one of the five volumes so far available from Altus Press: Tough as Nails, the Complete Adventures of Donahue (from Black Mask) or The Complete Casebook of Cardigan (a four-volume set of stories from Dime Detective).
More Forgotten Books at pattinase.
See the first 21 covers HERE.
Proof that Davy has soul.
More Overlooked Films at Sweet Freedom.
The saga of Frankish knight Sir Hugh of Toranto originally appeared in three long novelettes in Adventure in 1926 and 1927. In 1931 they were assembled and published together for the first and only time by Doubleday Doran, as Durandal: A Crusader in the Horde.
Part 1, originally published as “Durandal,” finds Hugh out crusading with the army of the Emperor Theodore Lascaris. Hugh is chosen to wear the Emperor’s armor into battle, supposedly to protect the ruler’s life and inspire his troops. But it’s really a trick, part of Theodore’s plan to dispose of 700 troublesome Franks, and it nearly succeeds. The problem is that Hugh survives, and gets his hands on the Sword of Roland to boot. Durandal is an awesome blade, so heavy that few men can lift it. Sir Hugh can swing it with one hand, and the effect is devastating.
In Part 3, originally titled “Rusadan,” Subotai seeks a route to Constantinople, aiming to bring the rest of the known world under the yoke of Genghis. Barring his path is a city manned by Russian Christians, and Hugh is sent as an envoy, in hopes of avoiding war. This suits Hugh, for what he desires most is to reach Constantinople, confront Theodore and expose him as a scoundrel. Though war proves unavoidable, Hugh meets the Georgian princess Rusudan, who leads him - both body and soul - a merry chase for the rest of the book. How Hugh eventually finds peace, and Subotai does or does not conquer the rest of the known world, makes for great reading.
Lamb’s prose, as always, has such power, rhythm and charm that it gets into your blood and sweeps you magically along. I have never read a bad story - or even a bad sentence - by Harold Lamb.
In the 1980s Donald M. Grant issued lavish volumes containing the first two parts of Sir Hugh’s saga, but the third - and longest - portion, involving Rusudan and the conflict between the Mongols and the Georgians has been out of print since 1931. And that’s a dang shame. This is a Forgotten Book that cries out to be remembered.