Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A few more apologies

I should apologize to all of you for not paying closer attention to the main page of the TCM web-site, and not just the schedule pages. If I did, I would have read this page on Star of the Month John Wayne, which very obviously mentions that Robert Osborne is sitting down with Wayne biographer Scott Eyman to discuss those of the Wayne films that will be on in prime time. And if I had read that, I would have made a point of to all of you. As for last night's airing of The Big Trail, I was very impressed by the print, which for the most part seemed quite good. There were a few scenes that didn't look so good, with a line running down it as sometimes happens in old prints, but for a movie that's over 80 years old, who can complain?

Scott Eyman also mentioned the origin of the "Duke" nickname, which I probably should have looked up before posting yesterday. Apparently it came from a dog Wayne had back when he was still the child Marion Morrison. Eyman also mentioned how Morrison got the name John Wayne in part from the Revolutionary War general Mad Anthony Wayne, and in part because John sounded good put together with Wayne. "Duke Morrison" apparently sounded like a more appropriate name for a stuntman, goes the story.

The Big Trail was followed by the 1937 Technicolor Warner Bros. short A Day at Santa Anita. This is one of those shorts that I think I've seen the opening of but have never stuck around for the end, and didn't last night either. But Technicolor shorts from the 1930s, other than the whole Traveltalks series, aren't all that common and probably deserve a mention. Technically, the short has made it to Youtube, but in a version dubbed into Russian. The terrible dubbing reminds me of the semester I studied in Sankt-Peterburg, the former Leningrad, back in 1992. It seemed any time there was a western movie on Russian TV, it was dubbed into Russian, but you could hear the origian dialog underneath. Yikes.

The Searchers is on overnight tonight at 2:30 AM. It's basically the story of John Wayne becoming obsessive to the point of it being damaging for everybody around him in the attempt to rescue his niece from the Indians who kidnapped her as a young girl. It's a good movie, to be sure, but I've never found it quite as good as a lot of the critics do, with the way they heap praise on it. It probably has something to do with so many of them talking about the movie's discussion of racial issues, with the implication being that because it's John Ford coming to grips with race, that automatically makes it a better picture. I was born in 1972, after all of the Baby Boomer stuff on race and civil rights had happened, so I think I come in to movies like The Searchers wiht a different frame of reference than a lot of the critics, not obsessing about race the way many of the older critics seem to do. But, I really wanted to mention tonight's airing of The Searchers because it's another example of TCM's databases not working together. The TCM daily schedule claims that The Searchers is not on DVD, which surprised me since Amazon lists a TCM Greatest Classif Films Collection box set of John Wayne mvoies that includes The Searchers. Certainly, that ought to be available from the TCM Shop. And sure enough, that box set is available at the TCM Shop, too, and in stock.

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