The Cowboy Star
Cast & Crew
Ed Peil Sr.
Homesick cowboy star Spencer Yorke, fed up after five years in the movie business, declines signing his new contract with Hollywood producer Jack Kingswell. He instead goes home to Arizona with his pal Buckshot, hoping to buy a ranch and a herd of cattle. Taylorsville, an out-of-the-way cow town, has little to keep Sheriff Clem Baker busy, and his daughter, Mary, a real estate agent, has the same complaint. Her little brother Jimmy, who wants to go to the deserted local village of "Ghost Town," is a movie devotee and a fan of Yorke. Entering Taylorsville, Yorke and Buckshot become instant heroes by saving two people from runaway horses. Yorke insists his name is George Weston, but Jimmy recognizes his idol. Soon Yorke and Mary fall in love, and he purchases a ranch through her. Her suspicions as to his identity are proven, but he convinces her to keep his secret. Three outlaws who are hiding in Ghost Town and they kidnap Jimmy when he disobeys his father and rides to the village. Knowing that Jimmy is the sheriff's son, they believe that he has been sent to spy on them, and they also fear that he may be acting for Yorke, whom they suspect is a G-man. Clem is shot when he arrives in Ghost Town, and Yorke follows him into battle. Jimmy escapes and seizes their machine gun, which Yorke uses to kill two of them before knocking out the other in a fight. Jimmy is delighted when Yorke reveals his true identity, and the star wins a bigger salary from Kingswell now that he is a real-life hero. Jimmy and Mary look forward to going to Hollywood with Yorke.
Ed Peil Sr.
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)
Born Max Goldsmith on February 17, 1910, in the Bronx, Lawrence had his heart set on a career in drama right out of high school. He enrolled at City College of New York to study theatre, and in 1930, he worked under famed stage actress Eva Le Gallienne. Anxious for a career in movies, Lawrence moved to Hollywood in 1932 and found work immediately as a contract player with Warner Bros. (an ideal studio for the actor since they specialized in crime dramas). He was cast as a heavy in his first film, If I Had a Million (1932). Although his first few parts were uncredited, Lawrence's roles grew more prominent: a sinister henchman in the Paul Muni vehicle in Dr. Socrates (1935); a conniving convict aiding Pat O'Brien in San Quentin (1937); a menacing thug stalking Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940); the shrewdly observant chauffeur in Alan Ladd's breakthrough hit This Gun For Hire (1942); and one of his most memorable roles as Ziggy, a fedora wearing mobster in the Bogart-Bacall noir classic Key Largo (1948).
Lawrence, when given the opportunity, could play against type: as the prosecuting attorney challenging Tyrone Power in Brigham Young (1940); a noble aristocrat in the Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon period opus Blossoms in the Dust; and most impressively, as a deaf mute simpleton in the rustic drama The Shepherd of the Hills (both 1941). Better still was Lawrence's skill at comedy, where his deadpan toughness worked terrifically as a straight man against the likes of Joe E. Brown in Beware Spooks (1939); Abbott and Costello in Hit the Ice (1943); Penny Singleton in Life with Blondie (1945); and Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951).
After that, Lawrence's career took a turn downward spin when he was labeled a communist sympathizer during the Hollywood witch hunts of the early '50s. He was exiled in Europe for a spell (1951-59), and when he came back, the film industry turned a blind eye to him, but television overcompensated for that. Here he played effective villains (what else?) in a series of crime caper programs: Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, The Untouchables, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; and eventually made a welcome return to the big screen as a returning exiled gangster in William Asher's underrated mob thriller Johnny Cool (1963).
It wasn't long before Lawrence found himself back in the fray playing in some big box-office hits over the next two decades: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Foul Play (1978); and The Big Easy (1987). Sure he was cast as a gangster, but nobody could play a rough and tumble mob boss with more style or conviction.
Interestingly, one of his finest performances in recent years was in television, as a severely ill old man unwilling to accept his fate in a fourth season episode of ER (1997-98). His last screen role was just two years ago, as a nimble minded VP in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).
In 1991, Lawrence published a memoir about his venerable career, Long Time No See: Confessions of a Hollywood Gangster that received much critical acclaim. He has also developed a cult following due to his appearances in such offbeat items as From Dusk to Dawn and Pigs aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, the 1972 horror film he directed and starred in with his daughter Toni. He is survived by his wife, Alicia; two children from a previous marriage, Toni and Michael; and a stepdaughter Marina.
by Michael T. Toole
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)
The working title of this film was Guns of the West. Although publicity materials contained among copyright materials call the picture "A topnotch drama by Peter B. Kyne," Frank Melford and Cornelius Reece receive story credit on the screen, in the copyright credits and in other contemporary sources. A Hollywood Reporter production chart includes Iris Shunn in the cast, however, her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to modern sources, the cast also included Nick Copeland and Lew Meehan.