All My Heroes Might Be Cowboys

Plastic Hero © 2008 es

Anything can look heroic–it’s all in the way the lights and camera work. Maybe that’s why cowboys in movies don’t say too much. All candidates on Campaign Trail ’08 have to keep talking, but the more they talk, the less heroic they seem. It’s a problem, buckaroos and buckarettes. I think they know it, but their words (except for any hate-mongering-type words) bring them to the status of mere mortals. So I hope the candidates are investing in good lights and camera. And a shiny white horse.

What actually makes a hero? Tune in over the next week as guest blogger Batboy42 describes the hero’s journey. The hero, that is, of the worst western ever made. Call it a mash-up between Joseph Campbell and Gene Autry. Call it a story of Everyman. Call it what it is: brilliance.

With eyes that hide the man within
You see behind the eyes of other men
You’ve lived and died and come to life again
And now you stand alone at the crossroads of your mind
You’ve left your yesterdays behind..
But which road leads you to tomorrow?
Charro…

You’ve turned your back on yesterday
Betrayed a man who swore he’d make you pay
For when you left you took his pride away
You know he’ll never let you break away so easily
You’ll have to fight, before you’re free
But how much more time can you borrow?
Charro…

Now in a single moment your past grows dim
One thought goes racing across your mind
You ride to meet the woman you stole from him
Oh no!…Charro don’t go!…
Charro don’t go!!…

There’s something hanging, in the wind
Your past is catching up and closing in
You’ve been halfway to hell and back again
And now you laugh in the devil’s face
with your last breath…
You’ll run a race with life and death…
But will you live to see tomorrow?

Charro…To prep you for the birth of the hero were the words from Elvis western Charro (for a full review and a multitude of factoids, check out Aussie fansite For Elvis Fans Only). He sang the title song, but otherwise he just moved his lips to mutter his lines, and to give a sexy pout. Those eyes, those eyes. Remember the mystery eyes? Those were pure Elvis smolder.



9 comments to All My Heroes Might Be Cowboys

  • batboy42

    Elvis!
    The King of Rockabilly, in a cheap Western.
    This I gotta see.
    I have seen Rudolf Valentino, and others who were the sexpots of old movies.
    Elvis is the only one who really was, from his first movie…
    Elvis. His every move was sex.
    He didn’t have to act.
    His heavy-lidded stare heated up
    every female in his radius.
    Elvis!
    Elvis!!
    Elvis!!!

  • Bucko

    This was before he became a bloated caricature of himself. He still had that charisma. And that theme song! Pure western movie bittersweetness.

  • Picksburg Kid

    How about John Wayne as Singing Sandy????? (hee)

  • sidekick sal

    “Wayne’s character is a notorious gunman with a name that must have put the fear of God into whoever crossed his path, Singing Sandy Saunders.”

    The Bible according to imdb.com.

    All that needs to be said. But I have to admit, I’m kinda curious.

  • Picksburg Kid

    Something else on the Singing Sandy Controversy,
    in Riders of Destiny

    As one of the biggest and most-repeated myths in Hollywood film history the one about Smith Ballew dubbing John Wayne’s singing voice in RIDERS OF DESTINY may well rank close to the top. It is only out there because it was published in a book on Westerns movies circa 1962 that, line-for-line, contained more errors than most of the self-serving, ghost-written Star bios in recent years. The author and name of the book will not be mentioned since the author is dead and nothing he ever wrote is taken seriously by any real fan or western film historian then or now, other than the mention of his name has caused a lot of films historians to moan, throw up or cry. Often all three. Let’s start at the top. RIDERS OF DESTINY was filmed in Lancaster and Palmdale California in August of 1933, and Smith Ballew was nowhere near the whole state of California in August of 1933. Books by the likes of the very-respected Bob Nareau and Bobby Copeland, in which each spent hours, days and/or weeks in the company of the film’s director and his son, western film star Bob Steele (Robert Bradbury, Jr.), established for a fact that the man who dubbed John Wayne in this film was Bradbury’s son and Bob’s twin brother Bill Bradbury, who went on to become a prominent physician in California. (The Bradbury twins, as young boys, had starred in a silent series of films directed by their father.) We visited – bull, forget the royal “we” – I visited Smith Ballew in his home in Fort Worth, Texas in 1966 (following his retirement after 25 years with General Dynamics in Texas and California) in company with the late Elston Brooks, columnist and entertainment editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Smith Ballew denied, when asked, that he was the “singing voice” for Wayne in this film. “Who thought up that piece of…” was the question he asked. The tone of his question was such that I quickly made sure he didn’t think I was the one who thought up that piece of…! Brooks wrote a story on the interview for the Star-Telegram that expressed Ballew’s denial of being Wayne’s dubber (minus Ballew’s question), and did a couple of follow-up stories and/or columns in the following years on Ballew, in which Ballew hastily, and often without being asked, denied dubbing John Wayne anywhere … anytime. In later years, a tired and much older (in his late 70’s) Ballew went to a couple of, or several, film conventions and was asked again about dubbing for Wayne (some dolt source also thinks he dubbed Wayne in 1934’s THE MAN FROM UTAH, although Ballew didn’t come west to make films until 1936) and I’ve been told that he sometimes just shrugged his shoulders and said something like “whatever you think”, and a very respected western film historian has said that Ballew was old, sick and tired and mostly tired of denying it and wasting the breath to do so. Flash forward to 1971. Cinema Center Films made a little ditty called SOMETHING BIG starring Dean Martin, Bryan Keith and Honor Blackman, and sent some of the stars and supporting players in the film around and about the U.S. on a junket promoting the film. I don’t know who went where but do know that Bryan Keith went to Dallas and Fort Worth, while Bob Steele (who played Teamster No. 3 in the film) came to remote Texas outposts such as Amarillo, Abilene, Midland-Odessa and Lubbock to plug the film. Lubbock was a lay-over stop for Steele and I was fortunate enough to get to spend most of a day in his company including breakfast and lunch. A lot of that time was spent discussing, in addition to his own career, the career of his director-father Robert North Bradbury, and RIDERS OF DESTINY came up. Bob Steele said: “My dad used my twin brother Bill to dub Duke in that film, as he had done several times in the past to dub me in a couple of films, as Bill could at least stay on key and carry a tune and I could do neither, and the small fee Bill got helped to pay his bills in medical school.” And director Robert North Bradbury said pretty much the same in a couple of well-researched and documented books on western films by the authors previously mentioned. Summary: Robert North Bradbury was there and said Ballew didn’t dub Wayne ever … Bob Steele was there making films for the same producers (Trem Carr and Paul Malvern) and in the vicinity and said Ballew didn’t dub Wayne … Smith Ballew, who wasn’t even in the state of California at the time, said he didn’t dub Wayne ever. Well, we, excuse me, I wasn’t there but I’m more than familiar with Smith Ballew’s singing voice (even have some of his earlier recordings he gave me) and, even without Bob Steele and Robert Bradbury’s testimony, it would take one tin ear indeed to think that “Singin’ Sandy’s” singing voice in RIDERS OF DESTINY was Smith Ballew. No way, Jose. I go with the people who were there … Bradbury and Steele and not there … Ballew. And Elston Brooks, who was a close friend of John Wayne and spent a few days on location of every film Wayne made from the 60’s until his final THE SHOOTIST once asked Wayne who dubbed him in RIDERS OF DESTINY and Wayne’s answer was …”hell, I don’t know but “Pappy” Kirk (Jack Kirk) dubbed me in a lot of the latter Lone Star and Republic westerns”. Which brings up who is the source that thinks Glenn Strange dubbed John Wayne in those films? Glenn Strange was in most of them along with his former Arizona Wranglers band members such as Cactus Mack, Chuck Baldra and Jack “Pappy” Kirk, but it is Kirk’s bull-frog singing voice dubbing Wayne in those films and not Strange.

  • Bucko

    Lotta words, good stuff. Whose words? I like to attribute when I can. Eagle-eye Picksburg Kid.

  • Picksburg Kid

    found it on http://www.b-westerns.com/jwayne1.htm

    but the original comment is attributed to Les Adams ,
    Internet Movie Database
    http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0024500/usercomments

  • batboy42

    Ya mean they DUBBED that awful voice?
    Somebody whack that singer offside the head with his second-best guitar…

  • Picksburg Kid

    Damn thing comes up on auto-repeat on one DVD collection.
    My pardner threatened to whap me upside the head if she heard it again….

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