2010 2010

For film buffs the trail leads to Lone Pine California for the 21st Annual Film Festival

           May 28, 2010: TY-POWER-BRIGHAM-young-film.jpgFilm fans will be following the “Trail to Lone Pine” this year on the Columbus Day weekend, October 8-10th. Those are the dates for the twenty-first annual Lone Pine Film Festival. The now world famous film festival focuses on the films made in Lone Pine, Death Valley and the eastern Sierra and has been a favorite for film buffs in the know for more than two decades.
            This year the trail leads to Lone Pine for those celebrating the 75th anniversary of Republic Pictures which begins on September 25th at the CBS Studios (the old Republic Studios lot.) Republic producers and directors loved going on location to Lone Pine as one of their favorite locations for nearly thirty years. The first Republic film, Westward Ho! starring John Wayne, in fact was their first released B western, a genre of film for which they became famous.
            The Lone Pine Film Festival will screen many Republic Picture classics by Wayne, Autry and Rogers among other Republic western stars and events at the High School Auditorium and the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History will focus on Republic. But there will be two other themes. The Festival this year has Tyrone Power on the souvenir button, which will get you into many of the doings at the Festival. Power made three films in Lone Pine: Brigham Young, Rawhide and King of the Khyber Rifles. His son Ty Power will be in attendance and there public interviews on his life and career. Another focus will be the upcoming 100th birthday of Roy Rogers, with his daughter in attendance this year. Next year the theme for the 2011 festival will be Roy Rogers.    

Many favorite Festival events are scheduled again this year. There will be the Friday concert featuring legendary cowboy singer Don Edwards. There will be panels of invited movie guests at various times during the weekend. What makes this Festival different from all other western movie festivals is the fact that it happens right in the middle of the familiar movie locations.
            The Festival to run escorted tours with specialist museum docents to the locations allowing visitors to actually walk where John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Tyrone Power, Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr., Hopalong Cassidy and Tom Mix all worked. Tours include “Hoppy Hop-On”, “The Duke Stopped By,” “Tom Mix” and these subjects as well: science fiction, how nature made the locations, photography of the Alabama Hills, favorite Republic Pictures locations; more than a dozen different experiences. Since many of the movie locations are on public lands, you can pick up self-guided tour brochure at the Museum and go out and search the land for yourself. A complete program for the Festival that includes schedules and in depth articles about the film history of the area and the film program for this year will be available for purchase by mid summer.
            hopalong-hop-on.jpgThere is a parade of stars on Sunday at 1 pm, an Arts and Crafts Fair in Russ Spainhower town park and a closing campfire featuring movie stories, cowboy poetry and music. Statham Town Hall where various panels and interviews will take place during the weekend also will have guests signing autographs. In the Wild West Theater at the Museum, there will be presentations on film history, screening of brand new short westerns filmed in the area during the previous year and a special performance by Jake Thorn interpreting the life an work of iconic actor John Wayne.
            The town of Lone Pine, located between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Death Valley will be on display and there will be music and associated events all weekend on Main Street and at the Willie Bonham Rodeo Grounds. If you are a western fan, a movie buff or just looking for a weekend get-away, the Lone Pine Film Festival is your destination.

To get on the mailing list to receive the brochure and ticket order form, call 760-876-9100, 760-876-9103 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Festival website lonepinefilmfestival.org will have frequent updates on developments, new additions to the line-up and exciting news concerning the festival and the museum.

Film Museum exhibit on reel/real women of eastern California opens with author event

chris-enss083.jpgMarch 08, 2010: This coming Saturday evening Author Chris Enss will present a program on the images of women of the West in film and in real life, kicking-off the Lone Pine Film History Museum’s part of the “Celebrating Women of Eastern California” exhibit organized through the Eastern Sierra Cultural and Heritage Alliance (ESCHA).

The exhibit is actually distributed throughout the area from the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest to the museums in the snow (whose exhibits will open later in the spring.) ESCHA has involved most of the local museums and interpretive centers in the project. To see the entire exhibit you need to visit all of the participating institutions. The exhibit will be on display through the fall and will have many events and speakers associated with the theme during that time.
The Lone Pine event starts at 6:30 with a “meet and greet” period with liquid refreshments. At 7:00 pm, Chris Enss will do her presentation with slides in the Wild West Theater. Afterwards she will answer questions and sign some of her books that will be on sale in the Museum Gift Shop. The event and refreshments are free.

Enss is an award-winning screenwriter who has written for television, short subject & feature films, and standup comedians. She is the author of “Hearts West: True Stories of Mail Order Brides on the Frontier;” “How the West Was Worn: Bustles and Buckskins on the Wild Frontier;” and “Buffalo Gals: Women of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show”. Two of her books about Roy Rogers and Dale Evans: “The Cowboy and the Senorita” and “Happy Trails,” were co-authored with film producer Howard Kazanjian.

Some other titles by Enss show the diversity of her subjects and the diversity of the role of women in the settling of the west, a partnership often overlooked in the B westerns of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Many films in this genre were shot locally. Her titles in women’s history in the West include: “Buffalo Gals: Women of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show;” “Gilded Girls: Women Entertainers of the Old West;” “Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order;” “Love Untamed: Romances of the Old West;” “Pistol Packin' Madams: True Stories of Notorious Women of the Old West;’ “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon: Women Soldiers and Patriots of the Western Frontier;” and “The Doctor Wore Petticoats: Women Physicians of the Old West” among others.

oakley_davis.jpgThe Museum’s exhibit is subtitled “Women of the Reel/Real West” and explores the images of women in westerns made here and compares these images with real women who lived and worked in our area. Some of the local pioneer women will be familiar to locals.

“Western films until after World War 2 reduced women to several stereotypical roles in films. They were often ‘set decoration’ looking beautiful but with little real things to do,” explained Chris Langley, the Museum film historian.
Occasionally women were ranch owners, usually left a ranch by a dead brother or father, and usually unable to actually take charge or protect the herds. That’s when the hero would ride in and save the day. We see clearly in the images of the women of our area that they were not so much ‘cowgirls’ but instead equal partners with their husbands. Not only did they work alongside them, especially during busy times of year, but they cooked, gardened, raised the kids and also did many handicrafts like quilting. Although women in the West started to gain the vote before it was won on the national stage, they worked as hard or harder than men with few of their rights guaranteed.”

The exhibit explores these facts in terms of images both on and off the screen. It is really only in the last forty years that feminist western historians have fully explored the role of women in settling the West. “With Annie Oakley played by Gail Davis and Dale Evans on the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show on television in the 1950’s that girls in the audience were given consistently competent and powerful images on women on the western Frontier in films and popular media,” Langley concluded.
The exhibit will be on display during the summer and fall.

Community Reads film series starts January 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm

January 02, 2010:

COMMUNITY READS FILM SERIES STARTS JANUARY 20TH, 2010 AT 7:00 PMjill_kinmont_boothe.jpg
The Museum is participating again this year in the Inyo County Superintendent of School's, 2nd Annual Community Reads program. This year’s book to read is “The Other Side of the Mountain”, by Evans G. Valens. Join us here in the “Wild West Theater” for the following:
January 20th, 7:00 pm – “The Other Side of the Mountain” the movie.
January 27th, 7:00 pm – “Mammoth Dreams – The Story of Dave McCoy” This documentary film of the founder of Mammoth Mountain.
February 3rd, 7:00 pm – “Tracks of Passion” with author Robin Morning Slideshow and talk of the history of skiing in Inyo and Mono.
February 10th, 7:00 pm – “White Ecstasy” Watch this Austrian movie about skiing in the 30’s with breathtaking jumps and tricks. This movie is a piece of history

Visiting Film Museum exhibit tells life of three movie cowboy stars from one family

March 02, 2010:

By Chris Langley, Executive Director, Lone Pine Film History Museum

            A visiting exhibit at the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History examines the film careers of three cousins: Cactus Mack, Glenn Strange, and Rex Allen. While Rex Allen has the more familiar and recognizable name of the three, Mack and Strange may actually have been seen more frequently by many western fans. Consequently, their faces may be more recognizable, while their names remain unknown. They often played henchmen, bad guys and villains, but frequently in the background or as a member of a gang.
            Julie Ann Ream created the exhibit at the Museum and she is a granddaughter to Cactus Mack. All three actors were cousins and from time to time actually worked with one or more of the other cousins. The exhibit has many photos, letters, memorabilia and costumes from their careers.
            Cactus Mack’s life in some ways is wrapped in some mystery. First of all, Cactus Mack was his stage name. His real name was probably Taylor Curtus McPeters, born on August 8, 1899 in Weed, New Mexico. All three cousins had musical talent and Cactus Mack and cousin Glenn joined a group of singing cowboys who eventually took the name “Arizona Wranglers.” Cactus Mack and his fellow musician began by supplying music for various low budget oaters in the 1930’s, playing the role of the cowboys sitting around the campfire, singing. This led to small roles in the films, frequently uncredited.            His filmography contains a list of seventeen movies with scenes made in Lone Pine. Early films made locally with Cactus Mack include I Cover the War (1937) with John Wayne; Where the Buffalo Roam (1938) with Tex Ritter; Saga of Death Valley (1939) with Roy Rogers; and In Old Monterey (1939) with Gene Autry. The exhibit contains many pictures of Cactus Mack with his musical groups, with cousin Glenn Strange in Hoot Gibson’s Rodeo and a letter from “a lonesome cowboy” signed by Mack.
            The second actor featured in the exhibit is Glenn Strange who, although he appeared in nearly 300 westerns, is probably best remembered as the Universal Frankenstein monster and the bartender in television’s long-running series Gunsmoke.
Glenn Strange appeared in fully twenty-five films with scenes made in and around Lone Pine and Inyo County.
            Records indicate Strange was also born in Weed, New Mexico in August, 1899, a few days after cousin Cactus Mack. Glenn Strange was of Cherokee Indian and Irish descent and actually grew up in Cross Cut, Texas where he learned “cowboying” skills. His musical experience grew when he teamed up with his cousin, and by the late 30’s his casting began to get better and better. However, his real fame rests on a day when he was working at Universal when make-up artist Jack Peirce (often spelled Pierce) noticed him and offered to pay him $25 to stay after. It was then that he made up Strange in the classic Universal Frankenstein make-up made famous by Boris Karloff.
            Strange’s size, over six feet five, worked perfectly with his facial features and he “became” the famous film monster.   Karloff had grown tired of playing the same character, and was also afraid he would become stereotyped. So he gladly let Strange assume the role for several films with the famous monster. In fact, Karloff played opposite Strange once.   
            When making westerns became rarer and rarer, Glenn Strange moved over to television where he assumed the role of Sam the bartender in “Gunsmoke” and worked in that series for twelve years until shortly before his death from lung cancer in 1973. The Film Museum exhibit has many pictures of Strange in his various western roles, but of most interest are the full size model of his Frankenstein make-up, as well as several pictures of him preparing for the role. 
            Finally, the exhibit features Rex Allen, credited with being the last of the popular breed of singing cowboys that dominated the screen for several decades. He has said, “My dad was a fiddle player. He used to play for all the dances and stuff, and I learned to play guitar when there was nobody to accompany him. And then I sang in all the church choirs and glee clubs in school. Basically, all I ever wanted to do was try to be a singer and make a living at that. And then, went into radio and the recording field, and had a few hits.” When Roy Rogers left Republic to go into television, Rex Allen was a natural replacement.
            Allen was born in Wilcox, Arizona in 1920 where the museum that celebrates his life and career is found today. After high school, he spent two years cowboying but had gotten tired of picking himself up off the ground. His sense of humor is caught in his famous remark about this period. “Yeah, I rode bulls and buckin’ horses for about two years when I first got out of high school, but I got tired of pickin’ myself up off the arena floor, and I found that a guitar never kicked me, never hurt me a bit, so I decided I better stick with that.” In his movie career he became known as “The Arizona Cowboy,” the title of his first starring role for Republic.
            He didn’t want to be accused of copying the famous cowboys that had preceded him so he wore his guns butt forward, had a dark brown horse name Koko. When he finished with nineteen films, the singing cowboy was also finished so Rex migrated to television to do a series called “Frontier Doctor.” His costume from that series, while not in the exhibit per se, is exhibited right next to it, permanently in the museum, a gift from Jim Rogers. Allen also developed a voice-over career narrating several Disney true-life adventures as well as doing other commercial work.
            Rex Allen performed at the Lone Pine Film Festival in one of the earliest Friday night concerts, a feat that was duplicated by his son, Rex Allen Jr. several years later. Rex Allen died tragically on December 17, 1999 in Tucson, run over by his caretaker’s car after suffering a heart attack.
            The Cactus Mack, Glenn Strange, Rex Allen Exhibit is rich in diverse film career history and worth a visit. The Museum is open everyday from 10 am. 


Contact Info

The Museum of Western Film History
701 S. Main Street
Lone Pine, CA 93545