Hellbent for Letterbox

Paxton Holley (Nerd Lunch, Cult Film Club) and Michael May (Dragonfly Ripple, Starmaggedon) talk Westerns in movies and sometimes other media.
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Hellbent for Letterbox

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Oct 14, 2016

Before he was Doctor McCoy, DeForest Kelley was a cowboy. On this Hitchin' Post episode of Hellbent for Letterbox, Michael visits with author Kristine M Smith whose freelance writing career was launched by DeForest Kelley in 1969. It was DeForest and his wife Carolyn who encouraged Kris to try Hollywood on for size, which she did from 1989 to 2003. Most of Kris’s Hollywood career was spent at Warner Bros. Studios.

Kris served as Mr. Kelley’s personal assistant and caregiver during the final months of his life and presented heartfelt sentiments about her mentor at Paramount Studios' memorial service for him in 1999.

She has written two books about him: DeForest Kelley Up Close and Personal, A Harvest of Memories from the Fan Who Knew Him Best (2016) and The Enduring Legacy of DeForest Kelley: Actor, Healer, Friend.

For an extensive list of DeForest Kelley’s motion picture and TV westerns with links to information about each one and additional links to snippets of his performances, visit Kris' website at You can also find reviews and excerpts from her books there.

Also visit Cowboys & Indians magazine for information on the November-December issue - on newsstands NOW as this episode is being released - featuring Kris' article about Kelley's Westerns. 

Oct 10, 2016

Pax and Michael are joined again by DiGio and Bloom of the Classic Film Jerks podcast. One of our favorite parts of the Classic Film Jerks show is when they re-cast older movies with modern actors, so we did that with 1988's Young Guns, each of us picking new actors to play the six main characters and maybe a side character or three. 

Oct 4, 2016

Michael and Pax welcome our very first guests this episode.  We are joined by Digio and Bloom from the Classic Film Jerks podcast and all four of us discuss the classic western remake, The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.

Sep 16, 2016

Pax and Michael get ready for the upcoming remake by sitting down with the original Magnificent Seven starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Brad Dexter, Horst Buchholz, and Eli Wallach.

We also revisit DC's Justice Riders, talk over Chuck Dixon and John Buscema's Punisher: A Man Named Frank, discuss Sam Shepard as Butch Cassidy in Blackthorn, follow up on Bo Hampton's 3 Devils, converse on Kid Colt Outlaw #171 (guest-starring the Two-Gun Kid), and gab about early John Wayne movies Sagebrush Trail and Riders of Destiny.

Sep 8, 2016

In this special Hitchin' Post Michael and Pax delve a little bit more into Sergio Leone's influences by discussing the 1961 samurai classic Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa which was the influence behind A Fistful of Dollars.  We also discuss the 1998 TV movie Dollar for the Dead starring Emilio Estevez which itself was inspired by Leone's Dollars Trilogy.

Sep 2, 2016

In this episode, Pax and Michael finish Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy with the epic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. It's the longest of the trilogy, but is it the best? And how does it fit in with the other two?

Tune in as we hash that out, right after a discussion of the Weird Western comic The Sixth Gun, William R. Cox's novel The Gunsharp, the 1967 film Hombre, DC's Justice Riders, and "The Origin of Kid Colt" from Kid Colt, Outlaw #170. 

All this and listener mail!

Aug 26, 2016

Pax and Michael continue exploring the Dollars Trilogy with the second installment, For a Few Dollars More, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and a bunch of Sergio Leone's other favorite actors. We talk about the difference in Eastwood's character between Fistful of Dollars and this one, and we also start the discussion of whether or not the Dollars Trilogy works as a straightforward story of one man's adventures in the West. Plus: much love for Van Cleef and Gian Maria Volontè.

In our "Whatchoo Been Westerning?" segment, we cover the Vertigo comics series El Diablo by Brian Azzarello and Danijel Zezelj, John Ostrander and Leonardo Manco's Blaze of Glory for Marvel, Alejandro Iñárritu's film The Revenant, and Elmore Leonard's classic novel Hombre.

Aug 18, 2016

In this episode Mike and Pax start their three episode look at Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy.  We start with the movie that made Clint Eastwood a star, 1964's A Fistful of Dollars.  We talk about our history with this movie, we talk about Clint's performance, Ennio Morricone's score and we even discuss the rarely seen 4 minute CBS TV prologue filmed with Harry Dean Stanton.

Jul 22, 2016

At last! Pax and Michael discuss one of the greatest Westerns of all time. Or at least, certainly one of their very favorites. Grab your feather cape and gather 'round the campfire as we talk about the comedy classic starring Tom Berenger, GW Bailey, Marilu Henner, Sela Ward, Andy Griffith, and Carson from Downton Abbey.

Also up for discussion are the comic book series Six-Gun Gorilla, Trailblazer, and The Sixth Gun, the role-playing game Deadlands (which Michael can't remember the name of), Gary Cooper in 1929's The Virginian, Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson's Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights, and the pulp magazine adventures of Senorita Scorpion. 

Jul 1, 2016

Michael and Pax this week are watching the John Ford classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance starring Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, Lee Van Cleef and Woody Strode.  Before we talk about the movie we mention other things we're doing like reading the comics Galveston, Manifest Destiny, Kid Colt Outlaw and watching the movie The Big Trail starring a young John Wayne. 87bbvdpk

Jun 17, 2016

Pax and Michael bring noodles and meatballs to the campfire with the podcast's first Spaghetti Western episode. It's the Sergio Leone classic, How the West... no, wait... Once Upon a Time in the West. Keep getting those confused. Pax also shares Western reads To Hell on a Fast Horse and the two Rawhide Kid mini-series, Slap Leather and The Sensational Seven. Michael discusses the weirdness of the Shirley Temple short, Pie-Covered Wagon.

May 27, 2016

This week Michael and Pax are talking about The Quick and the Dead from 1995 directed by Sam Raimi and starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.  

May 7, 2016

Pax and Michael discuss the recent movie, Forsaken starring Kiefer and Donald Sutherland, Demi Moore, Brian Cox, and Michael Wincott. We also briefly touch on the concept of contemporary Westerns and whether or not those scratch the Western itch for us.

Apr 27, 2016

In this bonus episode Pax and Michael each picked a movie that was based on the themes and plots of High Noon, which we previously talked about in episode 5.  First, Michael chooses Outland from 1981 starring Sean Connery in a sci-fi take on the High Noon concept.  Next Pax chooses a 1980 TV movie sequel called High Noon II: The Return of Will Kane starring Lee Majors, David Carradine and Pernell Roberts.  

Apr 25, 2016

Mike and Pax talk about the 1952 western classic, High Noon, starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges.  We talk about likes and we talk about a surprising number of dislikes.  Come see if we wind up liking High Noon.

Apr 9, 2016

Michael and Pax discuss the 1958 epic starring Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons, Chuck Connors, and Sam the Snowman. Also: Pax talks about the TV shows Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, and The Wild Wild West, while Michael mentions Tumbleweeds (1925) and Jesse James (1939). Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck may come up as well.

Mar 21, 2016

Michael and Pax talk about Kurt Russell's other 2015 western, Bone Tomahawk.

Feb 20, 2016

Michael and Pax are back to talk about The Keeping Room starring Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru, and Sam Worthington. Proving the diverse possibilities of the Western genre, this one's set in the South, has horror influences, and a predominately female cast. We also briefly discuss other recent Westerns, Jane Got a Gun and The Hateful Eight

Feb 11, 2016

Welcome to the very first episode of Hellbent for Letterbox.  This is a new monthly podcast hosted by Michael May and Paxton Holley talking about Westerns.  In this episode Michael and Pax introduce themselves and start setting up camp, talking about their love of the Western genre including movies, TV shows and books.  They also talk about what to expect from this show each month and Michael reveals what movie we'll be reviewing in our next episode.