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Ben Johnson, Someone to remember


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That's one of the reasons I don't like her in SWAYR! I swear, I'd have been mooning around, staring at Ben as he flew past on his horse..... Pappy would have had to fire me!

 

Agar is a stiff, even without competition from Ben. But I guess he is kinda cute, in a beefy way. I just need more personality in my men.

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*I just need more personality in my men.*

 

I know what you mean. Jeffrey Hunter had more of that than Agar but neither

compare to Ben. I mean, they are so "actorly" compared to his naturalism.

I like people who can just "embody" a character with their own personality.

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

> I know what you mean. Jeffrey Hunter had more of that than Agar but neither

> compare to Ben. I mean, they are so "actorly" compared to his naturalism.

> I like people who can just "embody" a character with their own personality.

 

I am right with you on that. The funny thing is, in The Searchers, I just LOVE Jeffrey Hunter. And I have never again seen him act with that level of authority, humor or naturalness. After I saw him in The Searchers, I did a search on him, and was shocked to discover he was THAT actor that I didn't like. And he never did anything else that has even remotely caught my attention. Even The Last Hurrah. Pappy must have messed him up good on The Searchers to get that performance out of him. I think he also "messed him up" as far as his costumes and hair were concerned. He is so great looking that a little dishevelment goes a long way toward making him more realistic...and less actorly.

 

But he's still no Ben. Ben has IT. I really don't know how someone can do that, just show up for the first time on a movie set and really play the hell out of a part, underact it. People spend years trying to pare it down to that essence that he had. There are only a handful of actors who did it.

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>

> I am right with you on that. The funny thing is, in The Searchers, I just LOVE Jeffrey Hunter. And I have never again seen him act with that level of authority, humor or naturalness. After I saw him in The Searchers, I did a search on him, and was shocked to discover he was THAT actor that I didn't like. And he never did anything else that has even remotely caught my attention. Even The Last Hurrah. Pappy must have messed him up good on The Searchers to get that performance out of him. I think he also "messed him up" as far as his costumes and hair were concerned. He is so great looking that a little dishevelment goes a long way toward making him more realistic...and less actorly.

>

 

Me too---I never cared for him much either. He shows much more energy in The Searchers

than he ever did anywhere else.

 

 

> But he's still no Ben. Ben has IT. I really don't know how someone can do that, just show up for the first time on a movie set and really play the hell out of a part, underact it. People spend years trying to pare it down to that essence that he had. There are only a handful of actors who did it.

 

I really like how you said "pare it down to the essence"---so true. It's a gift.

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from *Chisum*, with John Wayne:

 

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"Would you like to hear my opinion, Mr. John Simpson Chisum?"

 

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"Nope."

 

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"Well, my opinion is all this speechifying, storekeeping, prayer-meeting don't amount to spit in the river."

 

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"There's only one thing that's going to make this territory know who's bull of the woods....

 

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.....and sometime or sooner it's going to happen, and you know it."

 

 

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"Do I?"

 

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"You do. It's just going to be you and Murphy, head-to-head and horn-to-horn... and one hell of a fight."

 

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"But one of you has got to lose, so the other one walks away with the herd and the whole shebang."

 

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"Now, that's my opinion."

 

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

> I am right with you on that. The funny thing is, in The Searchers, I just LOVE Jeffrey Hunter. And I have never again seen him act with that level of authority, humor or naturalness. After I saw him in The Searchers, I did a search on him, and was shocked to discover he was THAT actor that I didn't like. And he never did anything else that has even remotely caught my attention.

 

It's possible that he never again got such a good role - although some would say he did fairly well in A Kiss Before Dying (1956). But in my mind, there's no question that Martin Pawley was one of his best parts.

 

Having said that, you're right - he's no Ben Johnson.

 

And great screencaps from Chisum, too!

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch... here are some pics of Ben looking as happy as you will ever see him, rescuing a runaway stagecoach in SWAYR.

 

It's a little lesson in stunt riding, as well as a lesson in how to make a really gangbuster chase scene:

 

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

> Meanwhile, back at the ranch... here are some pics of Ben looking as happy as you will ever see him, rescuing a runaway stagecoach in SWAYR.

>

> It's a little lesson in stunt riding, as well as a lesson in how to make a really gangbuster chase scene:

JackF - I had to wait til now to say that I *LOVED THOSE SCREENCAPS!*

Ben looks like he was born to ride - smiling all the way! Nice - keep 'em coming, please.

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>Speaking of Ben Johnson photos, Wendy, are you planning on posting yours on the CFU Ben Johnson page? Because I would be happy to do it if you can't do it for whatever reason... :)

 

I will post my photos there, Holly. Thanks for asking.

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I had read before that Ben doubled for several stars, like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, among many others. He did stunt riding in scores of movies, big and small, during the 40's.

 

I found out something in the last few days that I suspected during our discussions of *Fort Apache* at the Rambles thread some time ago.

 

While watching *Fort Apache* at that time, I became convinced that Ben was doubling Henry Fonda in this movie, and I just found out that it is true. The little newspaper article that I bought on ebay confirmed it for me, saying that Ben doubled Fonda and did the fall at the beginning of the last battle. Now, I only have that one source, but I went back today and watched the movie on my computer where I could get a really close look at what's going on.

 

Watching the movie, this is what I found:

 

In the build up to the big battle, Ben can be seen riding with the soldiers, dressed as Henry Fonda, and in full makeup and beard. After these establishing shots, we see Ben also as one of the first soldiers riding up behind Fonda. Then there is a shot of the real Fonda riding full tilt alone on his horse. Back to the group shot, and Fonda is now Ben again and takes a spectacular fall as the men enter the pass. After this, we see the real Fonda, since he has fallen off his horse and is on foot.

 

These caps are in order as the scene plays out, however there are at least fifteen other shots interspersed in between these of indians, John Wayne, etc:

 

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This is NOT Henry Fonda.

 

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Now this one IS Fonda. He is riding very fast, but alone. This shot is interjected into the action at this point, probably to keep the audience from realizing there is a stunt double.

 

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Now to confuse matters even more, I believe this horseman is also Ben.

 

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Now Fonda is Ben again.

 

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

> Yes, I am a bottomless pit of useless and obsessive knowledge..... :)

 

Not a bit of it, that is a very interesting and significant discovery. I really admire

the hard work and courage that goes into stuntwork and can appreciate now that Ben _really_

earned his pay the day they shot those scenes!

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This is NOT Henry Fonda

 

My gosh, my golly, gal... That's flat out amazing!! Good eye, kiddo....

 

And PS.. I am getting the biggest kick out of the way you've taken to westerns (and beloved Ben) like it was second nature... GO WEST Young Favell!! ha.

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