Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Searchers (1956)

The Searchers is a classic 1956 Western directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne as an aging Confederate Civil War veteran who is determined to find his niece who was kidnapped by Comanche Indians. The Searchers co-stars include Natalie Wood, Ward Bond, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ken Curtis, and Patrick Wayne.

Chisum (1970)

Chisum is a 1970 western movie directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and starring John Wayne as an aging rancher who  locks horns with a greedy land developer who will stop at nothing to get control of the trade and even the law in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Chisum co-stars include Forrest Tucker, Ben Johnson, Glenn Corbett, Geoffrey Deuel, Christopher George, John Agar, Richard Jaeckel, Andrew Prine, and Lynda Day George.

3 Godfathers (1948)

3 Godfathers is a 1948 western film starring John Wayne, directed by John Ford and filmed primarily in Death Valley. When three cattle rustlers rob a bank in the town of Welcome, Arizona, one of the men suffers a bullet wound and they have to flee into the desert, pursued by the local sheriff and his posse. They eventually lose their horses in a desert storm and end up walking. In their search for water, they come across a water hole, which has, however, been destroyed by the misguided efforts of a bumbling tenderfoot. In his covered wagon left nearby lies his wife who is very pregnant and about to give birth. With the help of the three outlaws she gives birth to a boy. Before dying, she extracts a promise from the baby's three godfathers that they will take care of him. Moved by the woman's plight, the three desperadoes uphold their promise despite the acute lack of water. 3 Godfathers co-stars Ward Bond, Harry Carey Jr., Pedro Armendariz, Mildred Natwick, Jane Darwell, and Mae Marsh.

El Dorado (1966)

El Dorado is a 1966 Western that featured John Wayne in the story of a sheriff who must defend his office against an aggressive outlaw element in the town. Wayne stars as Cole Thornton, a gunfighter who helps an old friend protect a group of ranchers from a rival who had previously hired Cole. The film co-starsRobert Mitchum, Edward Asner, James Caan, Michele Carey, and Arthur Hunnicutt.

The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)

The Sons of Katie Elder is a 1965 Western starring John Wayne as the eldest of four brothers who reunite to attend the funeral of their mother. When they discover that the deed to their land may have been unjustly taken from them by an unscrupulous gunsmith, the brothers find themselves having to fight to regain what is rightfully theirs. The film co-stars Dean Martin, Earl Holliman, George Kennedy, Dennis Hopper, Jeremy Slate, and Michael Anderson, Jr.

Percy Helton (1894 - 1971)

Born in New York City on January 31, 1894, Percy Helton was one of the most familiar faces and voices in Hollywood pictures and on television. The short actor with a hoarse, raspy voice and breathy delivery was a fixture in a wide range of films and TV programs in the 1950s and 1960s. He began performing in his father's vaudeville act and went on to appear on Broadway. A veteran character actor of nearly 200 films, he made his big screen debut in "The Fairy and the Waif' (1915). Some of his most memorable pictures include "Let's live Again" (1948), "Copper Canyon" (1950), "20000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954), "Jail Busters" (1955), "Hush. . .Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964), "The Sons of Katie Elder" (1965) and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969). On television, he appeared on "Gunsmoke", "Perry Mason", "Bonanza", "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Green Acres", "Petticoat Junction" and many more. He died September 11, 1971, at age 77 in Hollywood, California.

Percy Kilbride (1888 - 1964)

Born in San Francisco, California,on July 16, 1888, Percy Kilbride's first introduction to the theatre was working as an usher at the Central Theatre at the age eleven. He developed easy-going bumpkin characterizations and twangy voice, both of which became his trademark from the first time he stepped on the stage in a role in the San Francisco production 'Tale of Two Cities.' He continued with his career by working on the road with various stock theatre companies. His career was interrupted by a tour of military duty during World War I and he served in France. In the postwar years, he continued to work for regional stock companies while performing bit character parts in a few Hollywood motion pictures. He also had minor parts in some Broadway theatre shows, debuting in 1928. Already in his fifties by 1942, when he appeared in one of his best known roles in "George Washington Slept Here", some of his many credited film appearances include "Annie Oakley", "Keeper of the Flame", "Crazy House", "Woman of the Town", "The Adventures of Mark Twain", "The Southerner" and "State Fair." He appeared with Marjorie Main in the roles of ‘Ma Kettle' and ‘Pa Kettle' in the movie "The Egg and I", which launched the highly successful series of ‘Ma and Pa Kettle' films. There were ten in all, but Percy Kilbride retired after filming the eighth, 'Kettle at Waikiki.' Universal Studio's attempted to carry on without him and made two more which were unsuccessful. In his later years he suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and in December 1964 he was crossing with a friend  in Hollywood when both were struck by a speeding car. His friend was killed instantly, but Percy Kilbride survived and was taken to a Los Angeles Hospital where he underwent brain surgery. He lingered for over a week but finally succumbed to pneumonia and his injuries on December 11, 1964, at age 76.

Marjorie Main (1890 - 1975)

Marjorie Main (February 24, 1890 – April 10, 1975) was an American character actress, perhaps best known for her role as Ma Kettle in a series of ten Ma and Pa Kettle movies. Born Mary Tomlinson in Acton, Indiana, Main adopted a stage name to avoid embarrassing her minister father, Samuel J. Tomlinson. She worked in vaudeville on the Chautauqua and Orpheum circuits, and debuted on Broadway in 1916. Her first film was A House Divided in 1931. 

Main began playing upper class dowagers but was ultimately typecast in abrasive, domineering, salty roles, for which her distinct voice was well suited. She repeated her stage role in Dead End in the 1937 film version, and was subsequently cast repeatedly as the mother of gangsters. She played Sonora Cassidy, the chief cook, in The Harvey Girls (1945). The director, George Sidney, says in the comments on the film that Miss Main was a "great lady" as well as a great actress who donated most of her paychecks over the years to the support of a school. Perhaps her most famous role is that of "Ma Kettle", which she first played in The Egg and I  in 1947 opposite Percy Kilbride as "Pa Kettle". She was nominated for an Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the part and portrayed the character in nine more Ma and Pa Kettle films.

Marjorie Main was married to Stanley LeFevre Krebs from 1921 until his death in 1935. In 1974, a year before her death, she was invited to the Los Angeles premiere of the MGM compilation film,That's Entertainment. It was her first public appearance since she retired from films in 1957. At the post-premiere party, she was greeted with cheers of enthusiasm from the crowd of spectators. She died of lung cancer on April 10, 1975, in Los Angeles at the age of 85. She is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Her name is listed on her headstone as Mrs. Mary Tomlinson Krebs, with her stage name Marjorie Main underneath.

Maria Montez (1912 - 1951)

Maria Montez (June 6, 1912 – September 7, 1951) was a Dominican-born actress who gained fame and popularity in the 1940s as an exotic beauty starring in a series of filmed-in-Technicolor costume adventure films. Her screen image was that of a hot-blooded Latin seductress, dressed in fanciful costumes and sparkling jewels. She became so identified with these adventure epics that she became known as "The Queen of Technicolor." Over her career, Montez appeared in 26 films, including Cobra Woman, Arabian Knights, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Maria Montez died in Suresnes, France, on September 7, 1951, at the age of 39 after apparently suffering a heart attack and drowning in her bath. She was buried in Paris where her tombstone gives her amended year of birth (1918), not the actual year of her birth (1912).

Happy 4th of July!