View from the Cheap Seats

This was all we needed to hear: The DUKE was coming to Oklahoma City.

It was the year of our Lord, 1972 and The National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City (now called the National Cowboy Museum and Western Heritage Center) hosted every year a grand event called the Western Heritage Awards, where they gave a trophy called “The Wrangler” to outstanding theatrical and television Westerns and the winner this particular year was a film called “The Cowboys,” starring, well, you know who.  [Read on here...]

Movie Casting and More

September 26, 2013 - 11:09 am   |   By

I’ve never been one to go to a movie solely based on casting because, let’s face it, actors sometimes aren’t the best judge of script or director material.  The exceptions these days might be, for me, Leo DiCaprio, Nicholson or Redford or Clint or Woody Allen or, if he should ever work again, Warren Beatty.  People like that.  It’s sad, but so many great stars have lost goodwill with their audiences – remember when you looked forward to a Robert De Niro movie?  An Al Pacino move?  Those actors have to do what they have to do in order to pay their bills, but De Niro’s latest movie The Killing Season, also starring another dud as of late, John Travolta, went straight to DVD.  [Read on here…]

Reaching Out

August 22, 2013 - 11:47 am   |   By

Our topic today was prompted by a conversation I had after my dear friend Bill Thrash’s funeral a couple of weeks ago.  His surviving sister told me that when my pal, about whom I thought I knew everything, was 16, around 1954, in the small southeastern Oklahoma town of Ada, he commandeered a shitload of dimes and tried, to the very best of his ability, to call his hero, Frank Sinatra.

I started thinking then about how many of us have attempted to be in touch with our favorite movie star, director, producer, writer, composer or author?  I used to do that very thing a lot when I was single and bored.

Here are two stories that are so personal that I’ve never written about them before...  [...]

The Only Game In Town

Here’s the first time I ever stumbled upon a film set – my family and my eight year old bad self had driven from Purcell, Oklahoma to San Antonio, Texas to attend the HemisFair ’68, a wing ding of a World’s Fair (do those still exist?) which featured H.R. Pufnstuf as its mascot and the Tower of the Americas as its symbol of both American and Texas ingenuity and, as I remember, a heck of a place to eat while slowly spinning above the earth.

Seriously, is there anything more gloriously American than the singing cowboy?  A white hat-wearing, square-jawed male specimen equipped with a sharp aim, a stout heart and a dramatic tenor, the performance of which would cause even a tone deaf villain to tip his hat?

We seem to have the singing cowboy on our minds here in Oklahoma – Roy and Dale were actually married in Davis, and Ol’ Gene has an entire town that bears his moniker – the only such in America named for a movie star. 

But today it is not of the first team we speak – no, our long legged guitar pickin’ men also enjoyed “B” picture status and played for teams bearing names such as Monogram.  We speak today of Oklahoma born Jimmy Wakely, whose cinematic exploits have recently been released in wonderful box sets from Warner Archive.

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