Nicholas Ray Archive

From the LA Times, click on excerpt to go to full article:

The Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin has acquired the archives of Nicholas Ray, the director of such classic film noirs as 1950’s “In a Lonely Place” and 1952’s “On Dangerous Ground,” and of 1955’s seminal troubled youth melodrama, “Rebel Without a Cause,” which transformed James Dean into a spokesperson for his generation. The archives include scripts, storyboards and correspondence

Bear Activity

Always like to keep an eye out for stories about Human-Bear interaction:

A Missoula woman jogging along a Crazy Canyon trail ended up in a boxing match with a black bear Friday morning when she inadvertently got between the bear and her cubs.

The bear backed down.

“She stopped … but it came up on its hind legs and pawed at her,” said Mike Thompson, wildlife manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “She started to beat on it … and finally, between the two of them, the bear dropped down.”

2011 Emmy Nominations

Western television series made a good showing in the nominations for Emmy awards (released a couple of weeks ago), with Friday Night Lights front and center, and two WLA Blog favorites winning nominations as well:  The Killing and Justified. In addition to a nomination for Best Drama Series, Friday Night Lights also received a best actress in a drama nomination, Connie Britton, who will be competing with Mireille Enos, The Killing.

Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights will compete with Timothy Olyphant, Justified, for the drama actor award.

Other nominations of interest:

Supporting drama actor: Walton Goggins, Justified.

Supporting drama actress:  Michelle Forbes, The Killing; Margo Martindale, Justified

Thirty-Eight Snub

After last week’s violent and shocking start to the season, the second episode was significantly quieter, with the exception of Jesse’s stereo equipment. Jesse throws a three day party to further prevent himself from feeling anything. However, at the end of the episode he sinks down in front of the sound system, a moment that symbolizes the frustration of the episode.

The first scene in “Thirty-Eight Snub” is explicitly western or perhaps shows the moments usually silenced in westerns. You never see Clint Eastwood awkwardly picking out a gun and practicing his quick draw in the kitchen. Walt’s gun guru tells him that a leather holster would be more authentic and reminds him that “This is the West.” People have a right to defend themselves. By the end of the episode, Mike easily spots the gun that Walt is trying so hard to conceal.

Hank is perhaps the most frustrated of all the characters. He methodically collects minerals and scrutinizes them, worrying if one is accidently fractured on delivery. From the previews for next week’s episode, it appears that Hank will have something more to focus on than minerals, never call them rocks.

New Breaking Bad Season

Last night Breaking Bad opened its fourth season with cutting action and dramatic silences. The season takes off at the exact same moment of last year’s cliffhanger season finale. Read no further, if you don’t want to hear the answers. Viewers see Gail, the replacement chemist hired by Gus, gleefully slicing open boxes with a box cutter that the camera focuses on when the cutter just rests on a box. Gail is excited about the lab, but doubts that the purity of his meth can get above 96%. Walt’s is 99% pure. Then the viewer sees Gail dead on his apartment’s floor as a pot of boiling water overfills on the stove. The scene pans across his apartment showing items like a Stephen King novel that construct Gail as a real person, not just the latest casualty of Walt and Jesse’s business.

The first episode is marked with long silences from Jesse and Gus. Jesse and Walt wait in the lab for Gus. Walt talks incessantly, but Jesse is still in shock from killing Gail. When Gus arrives he uses the box cutter decisively, but doesn’t speak until he’s almost ready to leave the lab. He tells Walt and Jesse to get back to work. Blood from Gus’s latest victim pools at Walt and Jesse’s feet. They try to pull their feet back, but it’s impossible. The scene holds larger implications for the blood pooling in their lives. The camera cuts from the blood to the ketchup on a plate at a Denny’s where Walt and Jesse go to have breakfast. Walt is wearing a Kenny Rogers shirt, the only thing he could scrounge up. Skylar comments on the shirt when she finally sees Walt. She doesn’t even want to ask exactly what’s happened. In the episode, Skylar displays a great ability to lie when she gets a locksmith to let her into Walt’s condo.

Breaking Bad continues to get a great advantage from actually filming in Albuquerque. The pueblo style home of Hank and Marie and the shots of surburban streets create a vivid and accurate setting for a western set in the contemporary, urban southwest. Walt and Gus will continue to escalate their confrontation.

Continuing with In Plain Sight

Season four of In Plain Sight continues to provide entertaining episodes. Mary Shannon, pregnant, has been about as fun as one might expect, particularly her commentary on her own changing body—noting that her enlarged bosom might get her sued by Dolly Parton for silhouette copyright infringement. Other highlights over the last few episodes have been Marshall’s relationship with the computer geek son of a witness in “Kumar vs Kumar,” especially his slow motion robotic high five; car salesman Peter coming up on Mary in undercover mode (dark glasses, shifty movements) to let her know that she needs to stop avoiding her sister Brandi (Mary didn’t want to reveal her pregancy); and the revelation of yet another type of bet between Mary and Marshall, this one requiring them to embrace something they despise for a week (Marshall and hotdogs—who new?)

Any time Mary and Marshall make a bet, I always hope it will end with The Song, the infamous “I’m right / You were wrong. / That’s why I get to sing this song” ditty that Marhsall got to sing this season. I do hope we get to hear The Song again before this season is out.

Bo Diddley’s a Gunslinger

This is an interesting clip from a documentary called The Legend of Bo Diddley (filmed in 1966) on singer Bo Diddley, one of the African American performers who most evokes western themes in his music.

There’s a brief excerpt of the song “Bo Diddley’s a Gunslinger” with shots of Bo dressed as a gunslinger and carrying a pistol.

An excerpt from the lyrics of “Bo Diddley’s a Gunslinger”:

Bo Diddley’s a gunslinger,
Bo Diddley’s a gunslinger,
Yeh, ah-ha,
Yeh, ah-ha,
I’ve got a story I really want to tell,
About Bo Diddley at the O-K corral,
Now, Bo Diddley didn’t stand no mess,
He wore a gun on his hip and a rose on his chest.

And to close out the post, here’s a link to a YouTube clip of life performance of the song (with Bo Diddley and Ron Wood, from 1988):