Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Duke!

I figure John Wayne's birthday is as good a day as any to get in the saddle here on blogger. I come to my interest in westerns from many years of reading about the historical west and cowboys in particular. Years ago, I discovered real-life cowboys of the 1880s were not regarded as icons of national character but rather as public nuisances on their trips into town from the open range. Then I wondered how they got to be the heroic figures we're familiar with from the movies. And that started a lot of reading, reading, reading.

Eventually, my interest expanded to cowboy songs, cowboy poetry, rodeos, comics, western movies, radio and TV. And I have an idea now of how myth and history overlap in these different genres - also how prolific was the output of cowboy-related material in popular culture. I'm just now discovering pulp westerns, thanks to Laurie Powers' book about her pulp writer grandfather, Paul S. Powers. Sagebrush Trail (1933) is one of John Wayne's many B-westerns made in the 1930s. Great example of how pulp westerns and B-westerns came together. And it's one of my favorite John Wayne movies. It also stars Lane Chandler and the incredible Yakima Canutt, who was a champion rodeo rider and stuntman for Wayne's early movies.

Anyway, that's how I got here today. I just acquired a stack of westerns from amazon that I intend to view in the coming weeks, with the intention of leaving my comments here and inviting those of any cowboy fans who happen to find this blog

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