A Collaboration of Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

We watched “Rustler’s Rhapsody” again last night. I love this movie. It’s an affectionate spoof of the B-Westerns of the 1940s starring Tom Berenger, Patrick Wayne, G.W. Baily (currently with “Major Crimes” on which Berenger has a recurring guest role), Andy Griffith and Fernando Rey.

The women include Sela Ward, a solid dramatic actress perhaps best remembered as Dr. Richard Kimble’s slain wife in the movie version of “The Fugitive”. There’s also Marilu Henner who riffs on the Miss Kitty/Miss Lily saloon ladies of our favorite TV westerns.

Andy Griffith and Fernando Rey both play power-mad cattle barons. Fernando usually plays an international drug czar and you probably remember him in “The French Connection”. He is slimy sinister personified. Rey and Griffith make a very odd couple. Check out the scene where they argue about who gets to do the countdown for killing the hero. They are hilarious, but Andy Griffith steals the show.

We love the movie so much we own two identical copies of it on DVD. It wasn’t going to be available for long, so Marilyn bought a copy for us, another for our best friends … and an extra. Just in case.

rustler's rhapsody dvd cover

NOTE: As it turns out, “Rustler’s Rhapsody” is available. Again. Who know for how long? If you are interested, Amazon has the DVD and the download.

Tom Berenger is The Hero who shoots the bad guys in the hand. Pat Wayne is the other good guy, but he used to be a lawyer, so be warned. Casting Pat Wayne was an inspiration. “Rustler’s Rhapsody” could easily be homage to his Dad’s ‘poverty row’ westerns of the 1930s. Pat even nails Duke’s acting range of that period.

My heroes have always been cowboys, even the stalwarts of those budget-challenged B movies. I had the good fortune to spend time with two legends of the genre. Buster Crabbe and Jack “Jock” Mahoney.

Crabbe, most famous for his “Flash Gordon” days, contends he had more fun playing the lead in the oaters where the line between good and bad is always clear and you get to wear nice costumes. He considers his westerns as “small classics” not B movies. (Crabbe continued his career into the late 60’s when producer A.C. Lyles revived the B cowboy movie with over the hill actors including Johnny Mack Brown, Rod Cameron, Bob Steele, Hoot Gibson and Richard Arlen among others).

Jack “Jock” Mahoney, known to many as TV’s “Range Rider”, is a former stuntman who graduated to supporting roles as nimble villains and finally established a following at Universal-International, playing literate good guys in lean, well written westerns. Mahoney clearly is proud of his work in the B movies. I remember the smile on his face as he recalled the fun of being recognized as a cowboy hero.

I think all the cowboy actors I’ve met (Including John Wayne) would heartily approve of “Rustler’s Rhapsody”. It’s an affectionate tribute to their work.

This is the song they play at the end of the movie when the credits are rolling. I love the song and the memories it brings because I’m of the generation that went to the movies and watched those B movies as part of the afternoon double-header at the Carlton or Laurelton, the second (third?) run movies houses where you could see two movies and a cartoon for a dime.

Warner Brothers, 1982. “Last Of The Silver Screen Cowboys” by Rex Allen Jr. and Rex Allen Sr. Be sure to listen for Roy Rogers in the final commentary and chorus!



Last night, we met up with Garry’s brother Anton who was in the area on a work project. “In the area” was actually “in the state of Massachusetts.” If you tried to pick a location as far as possible from where we live … and still be in the same state (Massachusetts is small), you might just select Beverly. An 85 mile drive through Boston rush hour traffic found us on Cape Ann, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and manicured lawns and huge, restored houses on the other.


The gated mansions  … some with actual gate houses … were a bit of clue that we had entered a different world.

Around our neck of the woods, when you see a gate, it’s there to keep something in or something else out. Cows in, coyotes out. Dogs in the yard, delivery people out. Chickens in, foxes out. Also, wild turkeys … outside, please.

(Those wild turkey want to be in with the chickens because the food is better. They do not call them turkeys for nothing.)

I commented that a “gated mansion” in our area is called a “farm with a big house.” A glorious rolling stretch of grass that leads to the river is called “a pasture” and usually contains cows, horses, the occasional llama, and less frequently, goats. Sometimes all of the above and maybe a visiting few deer who don’t mind sharing as long as no one shoots at them.

Mostly, we have cows and horses. Really big horses. Percheron and Clydesdale, the size of 10-ton trucks, but friendlier and certainly more fun to have around.


By the time you  can say “Don’t forget my Senior Discount” without missing a beat, pausing for breath, or feeling the least bit embarrassed — there’s nothing forbidden left. You’ve either got no interest in it — if you ever did — or you’re sure it would kill you. Life remains more a priority than doing something dangerous. For fun. Or whatever.

This is a little bit like one of those “bucket list” questions. I don’t have a bucket list. I never did. In the course of life, if I wanted to do something and I could find a way of doing it, I did it. Sometimes it worked out well. Sometimes, not so great. These days, there are things I ponder.

I’d like to go to Paris, but that would mean flying. I hate flying. I hated flying years ago when it wasn’t so bad, but I hate it more now. It would also mean packing, planning, and financing the journey.


Assuming we could come up with the money — you can always come up with money, but sometimes the cost exceeds the value of the thing — and I could figure out what shoes to bring (don’t laugh … uncomfortable shoes can ruin a vacation) — am I really up for long days of hiking through cobblestone streets and museums? I get tired quickly these days … as does Garry. Exactly how much of it would we do before it became work rather than play?


And what about the dogs? They’d totally freak out if we were away for weeks at a time. That’s probably why so many of our fellow seniors have stopped having dogs and other pets. We’d rather keep the pets and give up the traveling. It’s a choice. We all need to know what really matters most in our world.

And then … there’s the advisability factor. Right now, I’m on a short run of Prednisone. Which means I don’t itch. My back almost doesn’t hurt, and I have a frantic bubbling energy suggestive of revived youth. Beneath the chemical boost, I feel my breastbone grinding as I move. In a few days, I’ll be off the Prednisone and the energy will ebb. I’ll be back to limping along, grateful to be on my own feet, not in a chair with wheels.

Nothing is forbidden. I could take crazy drugs. I won’t, because I’m pretty sure I’d be happy for 15 minutes followed by dead for much longer. Inadvisable.

What else might be forbidden? Unsafe sex? Really? Is that a thing?

Bungee jumping? Deep sea diving? Taking a go at swimming the English Channel?


I miss horses. Maybe I could learn to drive a rig? They have some really nice ones up the road at Ironstone Farm. Hitch me up a team of four Clydesdale horses. Then me and Garry — and a lot of leather in hand — could take to the roads. Okay, that might work!



72-Road to Mountains-GAR-Sunday-011016_188

While Marilyn was deep into her favorite sport — shopping — I discovered the iron cowboy. There he was, sitting on the fence.


Watering his horse. Wizened from the sun, dusty from the desert. Stolid against the perils of the trail, impervious to thirst and heat.


The rain was closing in and sunset was near. Time to hit the long and dusty trail.


“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride … ” – Old Proverb


I do not know what a wish looks like, though I think it might look like a rising sun over a glassy harbor. Beggar that I am, I wish for a horse to ride and one more.


Gentle, well-school mounts so Garry and I can ride together again. And, I wish all of us the best life can give us — many sunrises on the shores of bright summer days.