Friday, January 15, 2016

See the Late, Great, John Vernon in The Outlaw Josey Wales and The High Chaparral (Rare Videos)


John Vernon in The Outlaw Josey Wales

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

[Previously, at WEJB/NSU:

John Vernon (1932-2005), R.I.P.]

John Vernon is best known for playing the hero, Dean Wormer, in Animal House (1978). From my 2005 obituary for him:

“The War’s Over”: The Final Scene of The Outlaw Josey Wales

John Vernon as “Fletcher”; Clint Eastwood as “Mr. Wilson” (the Outlaw Josey Wales).

Fletcher was Josey Wales’ Confederate commanding officer during the Civil War, but at war’s end, Fletcher betrayed his old comrades, and became part of a group of paid Federal Army killers hunting them down and slaughtering them, one by one, in competition with bounty hunters. They murdered Josey’s wife and children, and Josey became a notorious outlaw with a price on his head. At the end of the picture, after Josey has killed all of his original nemeses, save for Fletcher, the latter finds him in a ghost town saloon. The other patrons, who know Wales, warn him by addressing him as “Mr. Wilson.”


The haunting music is by Jerry Fielding, best known as Sam Peckinpah’s favorite composer, who said that he settled musical differences by giving his dear friend a kindly punch in the nose.

Peckinpah and I hit each other a lot. He's a terribly volatile person. We are close friends, but we fight an awful lot. In many ways Sam doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. In other areas, he's a fantastically gifted man. He has very strong instincts about the job music ought to do. He has less than no idea of how to go about accomplishing that. I usually know what he wants to do. Sometimes he tells me what he wants and I let it go in one ear and out the other. Then I do the score, and if he hates it, we have a fist fight. But it all comes out in the end. [(1972)]

Jerry Fielding’s Score to Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales (Suite)

“The War’s Over” music runs from 19:32 to 21:03, followed immediately by the driving theme from the opening credits, which is reprised with the closing credits.


The High Chaparral: “No Irish Need Apply”

In an episode of The High Chaparral that first aired on January 17, 1969, entitled “No Irish Need Apply,” Vernon gave a tour de force performance as heroic but bullheaded Irish miner Sean McLaren, who leads an increasingly violent strike against a murderous, crooked, mine owner.

Vernon’s overpowering performance reminded me of the two times I’d watched James Earl Jones in the legitimate theater, both times in Fences. The booming voice, the electricity, the intimacy, the power of a man bestriding the stage like a colossus. Filmed plays for TV and theatrical release rarely have that sort of power. I believe it’s because the lays are filmed with medium and long shots, when the only way to recapture the intimacy of live theater is through intense, even claustrophobic close-ups.

Vernon deserved, at the very least, an Emmy nomination. But he never had a chance.

Although westerns like Gunsmoke (1955-75), Bonanza (1959-73), and The Virginian, if no longer dominant, were still popular, and The High Chaparral had graced the cover of TV Guide, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ powers that be rarely nominated performers from westerns. In a twenty-year run that, for instance, made Gunsmoke the most successful prime-time series of all time, the show was only nominated for six Emmys, winning but two.

And so, in the Emmy categories for which Vernon qualified, “Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” and “Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role,” only three and four (of a possible five) actors were nominated, respectively. The Academy left nominations vacant! In the supporting role category, no one was awarded an Emmy, and in the lead category, the award went to Paul Scofield for Male of the Species.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

High Chapparel had maybe the best theme music ever.Majestic doesn t even start to describe it.What made you put John Vernon on here?He s been gone quite a while.