Henry C. Parke has shared his expertise in the Western genre with us, as a guest blogger. Parke is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles with Stephanie, his wife of nearly 30 years. He is an INSP fan, a longtime Westerns aficionado and the creator and writer of Henry’s Western Round-Up.
Q: What was the Western TV show or movie that hooked you on the genre?
A: The funny thing is I got hooked on Westerns twice. As a kid, it was the Roy Rogers Show – I think Roy Rogers is the only person I ever sent a fan letter to – and I did get an answer. He was like a Steve McQueen for kids – so handsome, cool, funny, confident, tough when necessary – and a very good, very natural actor. He was just everything I wanted to be – including married to Dale Evans….As a writer, my focus was on comedy and films noir. Then in 2006, The Gene Autry Museum had a wonderful exhibition called The Westerns of Sergio Leone….That show, and seeing the Clint Eastwood/‘Man with No Name’ trilogy was a huge reawakening for me.
Q: Why do you think the Western genre has endured through the decades?
A: Westerns are full of hope. They’re full of battles between right and wrong, and a belief in justice, and honor – and often the more elusive these goals or ideals are, in films like THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE or THE WILD BUNCH, the more heroic they are. They’re stories where one person can make a difference.
Q: Aside from your blog, “Henry’s Western Round-up,” you’re also a screenwriter. Have you written a Western screenplay?
A: How many would you like? I have two, and they’re both based on real people, so I can’t reveal too much about them. One’s a biography of a very famous lawman who hasn’t been ‘overexposed’ in movies the way Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday have. The other, about an ancestor of mine, I’ve written as a long-form series, and I’ve plotted out the first three or four seasons. I’ve also got a modern story with a lot of Western elements, and I’ve just started a new script that I think of as what you’d have if Frank Capra made a Western.
Q: If you could strut in the boots of any Western leading man in the INSP lineup, who would it be and why?
A: The original man with no name, the Virginian. He’s the epitome of the not arrogant, but capable, confident guy who can handle any situation, and still seem human. If I wasn’t going for a lead, it’d be Nick Barkley from THE BIG VALLEY, or Buck Cannon from HIGH CHAPARRAL. I guess I just want to be a guy in a black leather vest who busts up saloons.