Tag Archives: Old Tucson Studios

Look Out Tucson! Here We Come!

8 Oct

This week marks the annual gathering of the Western History Association, where historians come from all corners to discuss the history of the American West. For the first time ever, I am going to attend and am looking forward to some of the panels that are scheduled.Western History

The conference is being held in Tucson, Arizona, and that provides me with opportunities other than listening to other historians. I will also be able to visit some of my favorite historic sites. There will definitely be an excursion to Tombstone and Bisbee, old mining towns that gained some measure of fame.

Perhaps, I will also make it over the Old Tucson Studios, filming location of many westerns. Some may not think that is a historic site, but I beg to differ. The movies made at that location have affected the views of the American West for generations. Many people got their history from those films, and it is the job of historians to weed through that information and get to the heart of the matter. Westerns have affected our view and knowledge of the West in a tremendous way.

All of that is great, but I am really excited that my wife is joining me for a few days. She will relax while I am in sessions, but I am excited about the other part. I get to show her some of the places that I have researched and some of the places where my parents took me when I was a kid.

I will return with a post about the trip, and that post will include some good pictures.

The Westerns of Dean Martin

11 Jun

I have been reading about the Rat Pack and the exploits of its members – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. Together, they were legendary. However, I have been thinking about their individual careers.

Obviously, Frank Sinatra is one of the most famous performers of all time.

Sammy Davis, Jr. also had a great career.

Peter Lawford is probably best known as a Kennedy in-law.

I’m not sure what else Joey Bishop did.

Dean Martin, though, is my favorite. He sang great songs and made great movies. Some of the best movies were Westerns. For a cool crooner, Martin was pretty handy on a horse and with a gun.

In my mind, his best Western was Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan. Here’s a trivia question. How many people in Rio Bravo had records that reached Number 1? The movie is about a sheriff who has arrested the brother of a wealthy rancher. He and his deputies have to fight to keep him in jail and to stay alive. Martin plays Dude, a deputy who doubles as the town drunk.Dude

Another great thing, Rio Bravo was filmed at Old Tucson Studios, one of my favorite places to visit.

5 Card Stud is another good one. Martin plays Van Morgan, a gambler who has to solve a series of murders before he becomes the next victim.5 Card Stud

Everyone who is killed was playing in the same card game. It also stars Robert Mitchum and Inger Stevens but suffers from what I call the “law of diminishing suspects”. There are so few suspects that solving the mystery is too easy.

Bandolero! pairs Martin with James Stewart as brothers who have taken different paths but find themselves in trouble together.Bandolero

Along the way, they take Raquel Welch hostage.

My least favorite Dean Martin Western is The Sons of Katie Elder. It stars John Wayne and has the makings of a great story, but the “sons” are mismatched. The youngest “son” is way too young to play the part. I hate to say that a Western starring John Wayne and Dean Martin is bad, so I will say that it’s not very good.

Martin is the gambling brother, Tom Elder, and he follows older brother John in trying to figure out who killed their father. One of the best scenes has Martin playing a “fake eye” trick in a bar.The Sons of Katie Elder

Dean Martin made other Westerns, but these are the ones I have seen. Honestly, I don’t think I could make it through the comedy ones with Frank Sinatra.