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The Westerners: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers

 by C. Courtney Joyner, McFarland & Co., Jefferson, N.C., 2009, $39.95.

Perhaps the best low-budget big-screen Western of all time, The Tall T starred Randolph Scott, but it could have easily featured John Wayne in the lead. Burt Kennedy says, in one of the interviews in this 256-page gem for classic oater lovers, “I got Duke to buy it [Elmore Leonard’s short story “The Captives”] as a vehicle for himself. And I did the script, and for some reason, Duke didn’t want to do it.” Kennedy was also involved as a writer and/or director in such other fine frontier fare as Ride Lonesome (also with Scott), The War Wagon (this one did have Wayne) and Support Your Local Sheriff (with James Garner). Kennedy is no longer spinning yarns on this earth, but it’s wonderful that author C. Courtney Joyner had the chance to interview him, as well as several other legends who have died in the last 20 years—including quiet star Glenn Ford, badman extraordinaire Jack Elam and character actor supreme Warren Oates. Writer Leonard and actor Harry Carey Jr., both thankfully still with us, are among the other interviewees, as are two often-overlooked women from the Western glory days— Virginia Mayo and Julie Adams. Even though one can’t help but notice who is missing—Gregory Peck and Richard Widmark, for example—we can still appreciate the ones the author landed from a dying breed.


Originally published in the October 2010 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here.