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Ben Johnson, Someone to remember


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JackF. Thanks for posting that -(The Ben Johnson Memorial Award) - that's the one I couldn't find anywhere. I did find out that the man who created it lives not far from me - Mehl Lawson. Now I don't have to contact him to see what it looks like!

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Jack,to answer your question.As I said I'm retired,but yes I'm a BIG western fan.I grew up in the 40's and I loved Tim Holt,Randolph Scott, Roy Rogers,Lash LaRue and of course John Wayne. Any film Ben Johnson is in is my favorite, but the top of the list is "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon",Rio Grande ,"Wagonmaster ,of course "Mighty Joe Young".I was about 7 or 8 when that came out in 48 or 49 and I remember I was amazed they could train a giant gorilla to do all the wonderful tricks he did in the movie.I also think Ben shines in the small role of Chris in "Shane", that has to be one of the best fights ever put on film.I remember the night he won the Oscar and in his speech he said" What I"m about to say will surprise a lot of people,BUT...This couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.Thank You".I remember jumping off the couch and yelling "Yes", and the next day all the reviews of the show were loving his speech also....

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Right, Harryhausen and Willis O"Brien among others.John Ford had a 2nd unit director credit and Ex. Producer, But Ford claimed he had nothing to do with it,but he was in pardner ship with Marion C. Cooper at the time.

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I was just checking out eMoviePoster.com and they have a poster of the "Last Picture Show" and it's autographed by Ben Johnson. I don't know if anyone is interested but I though I would let you all know.I've been bidding on posters with them for a few years and I've been happy dealing.Again I don't work for them,just wanted to pass on some Ben Johnson info. It's on page 9 of their Thursday auction.

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You have good taste in westerns, Fred.

 

I am fairly new to westerns, but I have seen at least a couple of each of those star's films, except for Lash LaRue. I have seen pics of him and he looks like a cutie! He wields a mean whip, too. And of course, I have seen a lot of John Wayne films, mostly the Ford ones, because I came to like westerns because I liked John Ford first.

 

I am sure there are people here waay more familiar with the Tim Holt westerns and I know at least one person who holds Randolph Scott in the highest regard. I have seen a few of the R. Scott/Boetticher westerns and really enjoyed them a lot. I am slowly working my way through them and maybe we can discuss them some time.

 

I don't know if there are specific threads on Scott or Holt, or the B westerns, or individual movies, but as you poke around, I am sure you will find people to converse with. Western Rambles is a great thread for in depth discussion of specific films, so you might want to check it out. Oh, I am sure you have all this figured out already!

 

Wagon Master is my favorite Ben Johnson movie, as you probably can guess from the way I bring it up all the time....but I like all the ones you mentioned too. I also like him in Junior Bonner and The Wild Bunch although that one requires a different mind set altogether.....

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> {quote:title=fredbaetz wrote:}{quote}

> Right, Harryhausen and Willis O"Brien among others.John Ford had a 2nd unit director credit and Ex. Producer, But Ford claimed he had nothing to do with it,but he was in pardner ship with Marion C. Cooper at the time.

 

Well, yes, I think they were partners for a few movies. And I'm fairly certain Ford must have put in a good word for Ben Johnson. ;)

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Hello, all of you Ben Johnson fans. I met Ben( that's what he said, "Call me Ben") in 1989 while he was attending the now defunct Wild West Film Fest in Sonora, CA. I was a volunteer worker in the first few years of the Film Fests, and I got to talk to him one-on-one for almost thirty minutes. He was as friendly and down-home as you can imagine. I was full of questions about his films, and he tried to answer all of them, until i wore him out, probably. He was not only polite, he was very informational, discussing details of what it was like on certain films sets, etc. One thing I remember, he said he liked the film "GrayEagle" except for the completely unnecessary nudity of Lana Wood washing in the river. I didn't say so, but that's one of my favorite parts of that flick. He told me about "One-Eyed Jacks" and Brando, and seemed delighted when i said that I loved his movie "Mighty Joe Young," which announced on the opening credits "Introducing Ben Johnson," so i can only assume it was his first film. It was released in 1949, the year of my birth, and i still watch it every chance I get. His best role, in my opinion, other than Last Picture Show, perhaps, is his work in Rio Grande. He gets to sing,even, "San Antone", a song written by Dale Evans. His action scenes in that film, especially where he grabs a pistol from Trooper York, pulls his horse down, and takes out three pursuing Indians, then remounts, is as good as Western action gets. He did all his own riding in these Ford films, and is the smoothest man on a horse of anyone I can recall in films. To discover that , in addition to being larger than life on the screen, Ben Johnson was so friendly, polite, and respectful of little old me, not snooty or full of himself at all. He said that it was the reason he liked to come to these festivals in Sonora was to talk to the fans, and he signed an autograph for me. I'll never forget it as long as I live. He kept coming to Sonora each year, until he passed away. Harry Carey, Jr. came as well, during the years that Ben Johnson came. What a thrill it was to see the two of them together. They were best of friends. Somebody said on this thread that the fistfight in "Shane" was one of the best in film, and i just saw it again yesterday, and it is. Ben Johnson propbably made it so, because it takes a helluva good actor to make it seem believable that 5'4" Alan Ladd could whip up on big ol' Ben Johnson at 6'4". The camera angle, i noticed made it seem realistic, too, and i am sure that the directors are responsible, but, I prefer to think it was the actors. Ben was really rotten in that film. Can anyone remember or point out any other villain roles he played?? If you look him up in IMDB his filmography is astounding, the number of important Westerns he was in. He told me he felt so blessed by God to have had the life he has had, being able to do what he loved doing, and getting paid to play cowboys. He was, and always will be, a real cowboy...was a roping champion in rodeo, and, as I've said, a masterful rider at any speed. Thanks for listening...this was my first time..

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Hi, alhanna, and welcome to the boards! :)

 

Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful experience of meeting Ben in person - you're so lucky! :D

 

I never really thought about the height differential between Ladd and Ben, but now that you bring it up, it's a really interesting point, and another great example of the old-fashioned "movie magic" that the old directors were so good at, way back before fancy effects and CGI.

 

Hope you'll like it around here!

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Alhanna-

 

That remembrance is wonderful! Thank you. I am glad you picked this thread for your very first post..... :)

 

The warmth of his personality really shines through on the screen, but these real life stories are fantastic, because you find out he was the _genuine article._

You really capture his down to earth charm in your writing. Thanks especially for the Gray Eagle story! He was such a good man, I think he worried about young people like Lana Wood, and wanted them to respect themselves, hence the uncomfortableness with the nudity and strong language in Last Picture Show, and Gray Eagle.

 

He built his life on honesty, realism and respect. I think it kind of rubs off on you a little when you watch his movies....probably more so if you actually got to meet him....

 

I love *Rio Grande*, and especially that scene where he rides across running interference for the troops, drops his horse to the ground and takes out the three braves, all within maybe 30 seconds! I was looking for that clip of "San Antone" to post here, but it isn't on you tube. It's one of my very favorite parts in the movie.... Ben had a very pleasing singing voice, and he used it again in Wagon Master, but only for a half a verse....

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVgwlu82gog

 

As for the fistfight in Shane, I totally agree that Ben MAKES the entire fight. He is the one who propels himself all over the place, and manages to make it all look so real.... there is a post somewhere on this thread that I made about it if you care to go back and look through.

 

He played a few villains - and I think despite his real life niceness, he was very effective at it. There is a "don't mess with me" quality that exudes dangerousness, and it works well for the more shady characters he played. Usually his "villains' are not really that... they are just on the wrong side of the story.... there is a dubious line drawn about whether a character is "good" or "bad". *The Getaway*, with Steve McQueen is a notable villain role.

 

Thanks again for posting your recollections about meeting Mr. Johnson. He is my all time favorite actor, and I am so happy you got to meet him.

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The "Roman" riding with 2 horses abreast with Ben and Dobie Carey doing the riding has got to be one of the great horse riding stunts put on film. I think it was Dobie that said they did the stunt themselves because they were young and foolish and I assume Ford wanted them to do it or it would not have been done....

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> {quote:title=fredbaetz wrote:}{quote}

> The "Roman" riding with 2 horses abreast with Ben and Dobie Carey doing the riding has got to be one of the great horse riding stunts put on film. I think it was Dobie that said they did the stunt themselves because they were young and foolish and I assume Ford wanted them to do it or it would not have been done....

 

We should all be grateful they were both such excellent riders, so they could do those amazing stunts and not get injured in the attempt. Ford knew a good thing when he saw one, having worked with real cowboys from the start of his filmmaking career; Ben Johnson is one of his greatest "finds".

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Fantastic post, alhanna! I just love reading these remembrances...how lovely. And

welcome to the board.

 

MissFavell---have you seen Grey Eagle yet? If you haven't you really need to.

 

Hi Fred! I agree, that stunt is just incredible---I love watching it. I bet those boys

loved every minute of it, learning to do that.

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Hi, MissG! I haven't watched Grey Eagle yet. I finally just this second got through with *Chisum*, which I have been trying to watch now for a week. In my head, though, I changed the ending:

 

>Sally decides that neither Billy "the Kid" Bonney nor Pat Garrett is right for her. Only Pepper has shown real concern for her, so she and Pepper run off together. They live happily ever after. Pepper never grumbles again..... :)

 

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Message was edited by: JackFavell

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Sorry, Cinemafan, I must have posted at the same time.

 

Awww. The boys are so cute! I wonder if they are acting out a scene, cause Dobe looks kinda jealous..... the dancer looks like she only has eyes for Ben....

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Jack F. - No problem, the more photos, the better! I enjoy your screencaps tremendously - I don't have the skill to do that. So, keep 'em coming.

 

From my memories of 6th grade square dancing, looks like they're doing an allemande and Dobe is waiting for her to come around again, or he just let her go.

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I can't believe you remember that! I loved square dancing.... Do you remember some of the songs you danced to? The only song I can remember from those classes is "Somethin' Stupid" by Nancy Sinatra.....how bizarre is that?

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> {quote:title=JackFavell wrote:}{quote}

> I can't believe you remember that! I loved square dancing.... Do you remember some of the songs you danced to? The only song I can remember from those classes is "Somethin' Stupid" by Nancy Sinatra.....how bizarre is that?

 

going off topic of Ben here!

 

We danced to old fashioned square dance songs - no Nancy Sinatra in my day! Swing your partner round and round, do-si-do, allemande left, allemande right, circle left and right, promenade left and right, sashay. We to pay attention and listen or you would be lost.

 

I believe back then it was part of school life because it was a combination of U.S. History, dance, and social skills.

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Most of our songs were traditional, but I think they threw in a few so called "modern" songs to try to make us more interested...... but since Somethin' Stupid came out about 8 years before our square dancing class, it seemed really funny and hopelessly out of date. I still liked the song, but I was a weird kid.

 

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If anyone is looking for a new Ben vehicle, Retroplex Sun/Mon at 4:15am to 7:45am is showing a TV miniseries called "Wild Times." Sam Elliott is the star but you get Ben and a little of Harry Carey, Jr. (It's a two-part series so that is why if is so long.)

 

I thought it fair when I saw it recently but others may enjoy it more. If you don't get Retroplex but you get the Westerns channel keep an eye out there.

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> {quote:title=movieman1957 wrote:}{quote}

> If anyone is looking for a new Ben vehicle, Retroplex Sun/Mon at 4:15am to 7:45am is showing a TV miniseries called "Wild Times." Sam Elliott is the star but you get Ben and a little of Harry Carey, Jr. (It's a two-part series so that is why if is so long.)

>

> I thought it fair when I saw it recently but others may enjoy it more. If you don't get Retroplex but you get the Westerns channel keep an eye out there.

 

sigh. I don't really want to say it again, that I don't get either of these channels. Bummer.

 

I did notice that on July 11, at 12:00 pm TCM will be showing Badman's Territory (1946) starring Randolph Scott (cue reverent chorus), with Ben in a role as a deputy. The cast is huge and there seem to be a lot of fairly famous people sprinkled throughout the cast, in large and small roles.....like Robert Wilke and Kermit Maynard to name only two. I have never seen it, but the plot looks interesting, although maybe complicated.

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