Western RoundUp: Western Film Book Library – Part 5

Western RoundUp: Western Film Book Library – Part 5

Once or twice a year I’ve enjoyed sharing some of my “Western Film Book Library” here at the Western RoundUp.

I’ve had some wonderful responses as readers have let me know that these columns helped inspire them to track down books for their own collections. With that in mind, this month I’m presenting a new list of film books I’ve enjoyed!

For past Western Film Book Library columns, please check out the links at the end of this post.


Arizona’s Little Hollywood: Sedona and Northern Arizona’s Forgotten Film History 1923-1973 by Joe McNeill

Arizona’s Little Hollywood: Sedona and Northern Arizona’s Forgotten Flim History 1923-1973by Joe McNeill was published by Northedge & Sons in 2010.

Arizona's Little Hollywood: Sedona and Northern Arizona's Forgotten Flim History 1923-1973 by Joel McNeill book
Arizona’s Little Hollywood: Sedona and Northern Arizona’s Forgotten Flim History 1923-1973 by Joe McNeill

Although the book has been out for over a decade, I didn’t discover it until I chanced to find it in Lone Pine’s Museum of Western Film History gift shop earlier this year.

I consider this book one of the most significant additions to my film library in the last few years, and that’s saying something! It’s 678 glossy pages of relatively small type, extensively detailing the Northern Arizona filming of over five dozen films – all but a couple being Westerns.

As seen below via these sample pages, the book is beautifully illustrated with glossy photographs:

The book is a fascinating history of many favorite films; it’s so dense that I haven’t digested it all yet, but it was a tremendous help as my husband and I visited Western movie locations in Sedona this past May. I highly recommend this book.

Gene Autry Westerns by Boyd Magers

Gene Autry Westerns by Boyd Magers is another discovery thanks to the Museum of Western History gift shop. I came across it during a brief stop in Lone Pine earlier this month.

Gene Autry Westerns by Boyd Magers Book
Gene Autry Westerns by Boyd Magers

While Autry‘s not my favorite “B” Western star, there’s no denying his importance to the genre, including his foresight in making sure that his films were preserved in good condition. (The same sadly cannot be said of Roy Rogers‘ Republic Westerns.) Western fans also owe Autry a debt of gratitude for his establishment of the Autry Museum of the American West, which I wrote about here in 2019.

Author Boyd Magers is a key Western film historian; in 2019 I recommended a pair of books he co-wrote on Western film actresses.  Magers’ name on this book made it a “must buy” for me.

As seen on this sample page, this 456-page book is beautifully detailed. Each film has a credits list for cast and crew, lists of songs and locations, cast biographies, reviewer comments, and detailed information on the making of each film. This will be an extremely useful reference for me going forward, and I suspect it will also interest me in seeing a greater number of Autry’s films.

Gene Autry Westerns by Boyd Magers

Gene Autry Westerns was published in 2007 by Empire Publishing of Madison, North Carolina.

On Location in Lone Pine by Dave Holland

On Location in Lone Pine by Dave Holland was published by the author’s The Holland House back in 1990. It’s subtitled A Pictorial Guide to Movies Shot In and Around California’s Alabama Hills.

On Location in Lone Pine by Dave Holland Book
On Location in Lone Pine by Dave Holland

This book was a gift from my father years ago and was what my husband and I used to track down Western film locations when we first began visiting the Alabama Hills about 15 years ago.

The book’s numerous detailed maps and photographs helped us find locations for films such as Yellow Sky (1948), Rawhide (1951), and 7 Men From Now (1956) years before we began attending the Lone Pine Film Festival and going on location tours with experienced guides.

Along the way, Holland also shares extensive history on movies shot in Lone Pine. It’s a key resource for anyone interested in movie locations in general and Lone Pine specifically.

Anthony Mann, New and Expanded Edition by Jeanine Basinger

Anthony Mann is a study of the director by pre-eminent film historian Jeanine Basinger, published by Wesleyan University Press. I have the New and Expanded Edition published in 2007; the book was originally published in 1979.

Anthony Mann, New and Expanded Edition by Jeanine Basinger
Anthony Mann, New and Expanded Edition by Jeanine Basinger

The book covers Mann‘s entire life and career, but as Western film fans will be aware, many of Mann’s greatest films were Westerns.

Two chapters in the book, “Mann of the West” and “Mann and Stewart: Out of the West,” focus specifically on the director’s Westerns. A partial list of the classic Western titles discussed includes Devil’s Doorway (1950), The Furies (1950), Winchester ’73 (1950), Bend of the River (1950), The Naked Spur (1953), The Man From Laramie (1955), and The Tin Star (1957).

Basinger is, in my opinion, an extremely engaging writer who always causes me to jot down lists of films I want to see thanks to her descriptions. She examines the films from numerous angles, including themes, character analysis, cinematography, and editing; her writing is simultaneously sophisticated and accessible.

Joel McCrea: A Film History by Tony Thomas

Joel McCrea: A Film History by Tony Thomas was originally published in 1991. In 2013 a revised edition was published by Riverwood Press with a new foreword by the actor’s grandson, Wyatt McCrea.

Joel McCrea, A Film History by Tony Thomas book
Joel McCrea: A Film History by Tony Thomas

In my experiences with Thomas’s books dating all the way back to my pre-teen years, his books are more error-prone than most; my understanding is that some of the author’s past errors were cleaned up for this new edition. Minor things have still crept in, such as 1937’s Internes Can’t Take Money being referred to in multiple places as Interns Can’t Take Money, but in my opinion, these types of issues are not significant enough to detract from the book’s value.

Also like Thomas’s other books, this volume excels from the standpoint of photographs; some are new to this volume, thanks to the McCrea family and other sources. The book also presents engaging descriptions of the movies, many of which, of course, are Westerns. It was this exact type of book which was key to helping develop my interest in classic films. Wyatt McCrea’s warm introduction is another big plus.

Joel McCrea, A Film History by Tony Thomas and Frances Dee, A Film History by Ed Hulse books
Joel McCrea: A Film History by Tony Thomas and Frances Dee: A Film History by Ed Hulse

Fans of Joel McCrea may also be interested to know that in 2016 Riverwood Press published a companion volume on McCrea’s wifeFrances Dee: A Film History, by Western film historian Ed Hulse. Like the book on Joel McCrea, it has a foreword by Wyatt McCrea and is exquisitely illustrated.

Fans of McCrea and Dee will definitely want both of these volumes on their bookshelf.

For more ideas on Western film books, please visit my lists from July 2019November 2019May 2020, and January 2021.

As always, recommendations for additional books on Westerns are always very welcome in the comments!


– Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub

Laura can be found at her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she’s been writing about movies since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film fan, Laura loves the classics including Disney, Film Noir, Musicals, and Westerns.  She regularly covers Southern California classic film festivals.  Laura will scribe on all things western at the ‘Western RoundUp’ for CMH.

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4 Responses to Western RoundUp: Western Film Book Library – Part 5

  1. Jerry Entract says:

    As always, Laura, your reviews of interesting reads is wonderfully helpful. I would happily get ANY of these books. In fact, I do have Tony Thomas’s 1991 original book on the ‘Films Of Joel McCrea’ (of course). That plus Robert Nott’s work on 3 western favourites including McCrea are all that are available. I just wish Robert Nott or another knowledgable writer would write the in-depth book on McCrea that is needed.
    I love reading of the trips by you and Doug of filming locations. The books you recommend look terrific too. My good pal, John Brooker, who made two pilgrimages to The West in the late 60s and early 70s and visited the most familiar locations always has great snippets of info for me whenever we meet to talk over and watch the westerns made there. Golly, I’d love to get you and Doug and John and me together to chew the fat!

  2. Hi Laura, great piece. And a lot of great books for movie fans. You might like ADVENTURES IN THE B MOVIE TRADE. Here’s the website and trailer: https://briantrenchard-smith.com/ Best wishes!

  3. Laura Grieve says:

    Hi Jerry,

    I’m so glad to know these looks at my library are helpful, especially given your own extensive knowledge of Westerns. I agree, the Nott book you mentioned is really good!

    I’m so glad you enjoy my location posts. What I/we wouldn’t give to sit down and talk Westerns with you and John Brooker!

    Best wishes,

  4. Laura Grieve says:

    Thank you for reading, Brian, and for the mention of your book.

    Best wishes,

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