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MissGoddess

Saddle Pals and Sidekicks: Favorite Western Supporting Players

37 posts in this topic

Well by definition a co-star is someone that gets first billing ranking; e.g. Libel Lady where Tracy and Powell are co-stars.

Generally if one is NOT listed either prior to the title of the movie or in the first screen after the title they are not the star of the movie. They are listed in the following screen as a supporting player. Depending on their rank or contact they may get a bigger font on the supporting player screen but still they are supporting players.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. For example, when some of the major classic stars of the 30s - 50s played in movie of the 60s or 70. e.g. Stanwyck in Walk On The Wild Side; In these cases they are listed last with some type of special caption. I for one don't know how to classily an actor that get this type of billing. Generally I'm just happy to see a classic star in the movie.

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Well, pardon me. I just used it in the broad term. I should have stated supporting role or player........
I was just watching "The Seachers" opening and it reads ...co-starrimg Ward Bond......

Edited by: fredbaetz on Dec 30, 2011 5:08 PM

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Well it looks like I was wrong if the term co-staring was really used for Bond in The Searchers. I'm surprised Wayne's contract would allow that. Of course Ford loved to pick on Wayne so I wonder if that has something to do with it. I can see Hunter getting a co-staring tag but not anyone else in the film.

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How could we have forgotten our most talked about companion at the Oasis - *Ben Johnson.*

Once again a man with his roots in the western but could do just about anything, especially later in his life. Gentlemanly, loyal and witty he played someone smarter then he let on and never made a wrong step.

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*Ben*, *Ben*, [b]Ben[/b]! We mustn't forget him and his place riding across Monument Valley and Moab like the western wind. It was great seeing him on the big screen in a leading role, as Travis Blue in *Wagon Master*.

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Did someone say *Ben?* :)

Oh, you KNOW this is my kind o' thread.

You all know I love Ben best. He could play anything, once he got his sea legs, and I especially love his more dark supporting characters, like Bob Amory in *One Eyed Jacks.* Couldn't trust him any further you could throw him, the snake. :D

I would put dear *Wardy* wayyyy up high at the top of the list. I just saw him in *Joan of Arc* the other night, and he was just great, you wouldn't think he would fit in in that kind of movie, but he did, exceptionally well. Another performance of his that gives me the heebee jeebees is his turn in *The Mortal Storm.* A more evil, representative Nazi factotum you will never see. But the west fits him like a second skin. Speaking of *Wagon Master*, watching Ward on the big screen gave me a new appreciation of his depth, and ability to convey subtle things with his eyes and face. One thing people usually don't accuse Ward of is subtlety, but as in *On Dangerous Ground*, he is able to present more than meets the eye, when he's given the chance to stop blustering.

Here are some of my other favorites:

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*Will Wright* is another of those actors, like Brennan, who had a rich life before turning to acting in films. He started out as a newspaper reporter (can't you picture it?) and actually became a producer on Boradway before he became the quintessential crusty old codger for the movies. He always gives the hint of something a little bit darker in his serious roles. I just love him, When he turns up it's always good.

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*Burl Ives* and I have had a love-hate relationship since I was a little kid - loved Jimmy Crack Corn and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but he scared me as Big Daddy and in his TV appearances in the 1960's, usually as a big, blustery bad guy. I just finished watching him in *The Big Country* and he broke my heart as a good bad man forced to realize his own corruption and wasted life. He was brilliant and arguably gave the best performance in the movie. Another of my favorite characterizations has Burl walking that fine line again between sweetness and corruption....he's exceptionally fine as the German Dr. Hasselbacker in *Our Man in Havana*, a very disconcerting role because we like him so much. As much as i love him in this one, Burl seems at his best in those western landscapes.

Here are a few men of the west, supporting actors, a couple of whom were leading men long before they were known as supporting players, but whose faces tell their story better than any words about them could:

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Will Wright's very good, I didn't know that about his background. He was in a lot of TV shows, too. I remember him as the mean shopkeeper, Ben, in "The Andy Griffith Show" and he was in a couple of "I Love Lucy" episodes. he was everywhere. That screencapture looks like it's from *People Will Talk*. He was a real selfish miser in that one, wasn't he? Though a couple of things he said actually made sense.

Harry, Sr., of course, though he was a pioneer western lead. Without him there would have been no John Wayne/John Ford. You can say the same about Francis.

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Love Will Wright in "The Blue Dahlia" with Ladd and Lake. He played "Dad" Newell the house detective, who at the last minute turned out to be the killer. The original script had William Bendix as the murderer but the Army didn't like the idea of a returning disturbed vet as a killer, so at the last minute the made Wright the "heavy". A good solid character actor......

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I couldn't find any pictures of Will Wright in westerns, though he did a slew of them. I also couldn't find any really good ones of Francis Ford.

I actually saw Will Wright in an *I Love Lucy* episode this week, and that'[s why he was on my mind.

Harry Morgan has been on my mind a lot lately, too, he was in that recent *Yellow Sky* showing.

Edited by: JackFavell on Jan 11, 2012 4:05 PM

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Well it looks like I was wrong if the term co-staring was really used for Bond in The Searchers. I'm surprised Wayne's contract would allow that. Of course Ford loved to pick on Wayne so I wonder if that has something to do with it. I can see Hunter getting a co-staring tag but not anyone else in the film.

I'm with you Jamesjazzguitar. Ward Bond is one of my favorite character actors and, regardless of where you place his name in the film or TV credits, he did 22 films with John Wayne and in my book that qualifies him as a sidekick...just like Alan Hale Sr. was to Erroll Flynn.

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More candidates for your consideration:

 

Denver Pyle was a real-life Westerner which might be why he was so great in movies and TV shows of the genre whether he was a hero or villain.  He also got better with age; see him with dark as opposed to grey hair and you'll know what I mean.  

 

James Best who made his movie debut in a Western movie about a place called "Spanish Boot" and never looked back.  He also could do good or bad guys with equal believability. 

 

Paul Fix, Harry, Jr.'s father-in-law and charter member of the Ford-Wayne Company as an actor and writer.  He was "Marsall Torrance" on The Rifleman.   

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