Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Left Handed Gun

A 1958 movie about Billy the Kid was called The Left Handed Gun.  As we now know, The Kid (Henry McCarty 1859 - 1881) was actually right handed... and he didn't make any movies.  Paul Newman (1925 - 2008) played the title character.  This film was supposed to be about his teenage years, Billy the Kid was about 22 when he died, but Newman was 33 when the movie was made.  That's most of the bad stuff, so let's talk about the bit parts.

The westerns of the golden age of film include a lot of stunt men.  This one is no different.  Boyd "Red" Morgan (1915 - 1988) has 161 acting roles, and 79 stunt roles listed.  He worked from 1936 to 1984, including 11 movies with John Wayne

I watched most of TLHG last weekend.  I wasn't sure, but I thought I saw Denver Pyle (1920 - 1997).  His name is listed in the credits on IMDb.  That brings up a point.  When I go to the theater, I always stay until all of the credits roll.  Do you?  It is amazing how many people it takes to make a movie and they deserve to have their name read by someone.  When The Left Handed Gun played on TV (one of the western channels, I think) they sped up the credits, and then shrank (Is that a word?) them down to run an ad at the same time, making it impossible to read.  I hate that.

Back to Denver Pyle.  He has 259 roles spanning 50 years.  He should be recognized.  He may even rate his own B. A. Blog post soon.

James Best (b. 1926) has been in 180 titles starting in 1950.  His fifth film was Winchester '73 (1950) which is one of my favs.  He is in non-westerns, too.  The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) starring Paul Hubschmid (who?) (1917 - 2001), The Caine Mutiny (1954) with Humphrey Bogart, and the classic Forbidden Planet (1956), among others. 

A bit later, look for Best in Three on a Couch (1966) with Jerry Lewis, and Sounder (1972) with Cicely Tyson (b. 1933) and Paul Winfield (1939 - 2004).  His last film so far was Moondance Alexander in 2007, a family movie about a teenage girl and a horse, starring Don Johnson (b. 1949).  No, Johnson wasn't the teenage girl.  That part went to Kay Panabaker (b. 1990) who now has 36 titles in her 20 years.

One more.  Hurd Hatfield (1917 - 1998) was in 71 roles from 1944 to 1991.  Not exactly a household name, but in his second film, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), he had the title role.  That movie had a great cast and good reviews.  Hatfield did a few historical films over the years.  Joan of Arc (1948), King of Kings and El Cid in 1961, and Von Richthofen and Brown in 1971.

I don't think any of the actors highlighted above would be considered stars in their own right, but it can't be denied how much they contributed to movies over the span of their careers.  Next time you go to the theater, don't forget to read the credits!

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