Hey folks, you've probably had enough of me and the Lydecker book, but here's what my partner in crime, Mike Bifulco, has been up to since the release of the book. His new book, Images of Old Tucson should be a must-have for all fans of cinema classics. Here's a short excerpt and other information for you to digest and enjoy.
All the best and good health in 2011

by Mike Bifulco

"Originally constructed in 1939 by Columbia Pictures for the epic Arizona starring Jean Arthur and William Holden, the location was salvaged and developed in later years to serve as the backdrop for dozens of cowboy movies including the three starring John Wayne and directed by Howard Hawks. Inside, you will be treated to memorable images devoted to some of the Westerns filmed on the uniquely southwestern landscape that eventually became known as Old Tucson.

Although by no means the definitive study of all the film production at the Old Tucson Studio, this book is affectionately dedicated to the Western film fans who remember what it was like to walk the same dusty, wind-blown streets where John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, Randolph Scott, Audie Murphy, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Ronald Reagan, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, William Holden, Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, and Gene Autry once walked in some of my favorite movies filmed at the location. The book includes over 240 illustrations including dozens of never-before-published photographs of the studio/theme park as it existed over the years including a look at the disastrous fire damage in 1995!

Hopefully, this essay of text and images will trigger some memories of what this famous film location means to you."

paperback 180 pages 7.5" x 9.25
240 plus illustrations
$24.95 includes shipping, available from Mike Bifulco, 1708 Simmons NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505

My first realization of a place called Old Tucson was in 1968 upon the return of two brothers, high school friends of mine, from a summer vacation road trip they had undertaken with their parents to Southern California. As we were part of a gang who shared a common interest in the movies and often gathered together with an 8mm movie camera to mimic the activities of our favorite silent and early sound comedians, the brothers were devoted to the visual documentation of their journey to the Golden State. They brought back hundreds of color slides and over a thousand feet of 8mm Kodachrome to share with the rest of us aspiring filmmakers.

We all got together one evening to review the slide show and the home movies of the brothers' cherished vacation. Today's generation would find it difficult to understand why this was such a treat at a time long before the existence of the travel channel on cable television, but we had a great time stuffing our faces with popcorn as the brothers and their parents relived their vacation with one adventure story after another. Of course, we were all intrigued with the slides and movies of their visit to Universal Studios, which included a professional short from Castle Films they acquired as a souvenir. After all, it was the studio that gave us the Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Creature, Abbott & Costello, W. C. Fields, McHale's Navy and the Munsters.

Before the evening was over, the unexpected surprise was finally revealed. On their way home from California, they had stopped in Arizona where they spent an afternoon at what a travel brochure professed to be a "famous movie location" in the desert outside of Tucson. It was a place I would want to know more about and visit someday--soon.

After a few years of college, I moved west to seek fame and fortune in Scottsdale, Arizona. In the early 1970s, I made at least a half dozen trips some two hours south to visit the Old Tucson Studio, my favorite place in the world until I discovered Lone Pine, California about 15 years later (but that's another story). A couple visits in the late 1970s and again during the 1980s when I lived in Southern California convinced me that very capable management was keeping the theme park/movie studio on solid ground.

When I returned to Michigan in 1990 for personal and professional reasons, my interest in Old Tucson was tucked away in the back of my mind. I was briefly reminded of its existence in 1993 with the release of Tombstone, and regularly revived fond memories of the place with many of the Old Tucson movies in my film collection.

Fast forward to October, 2001. In spite of the tragic events of September and the cancellation of my original plan to go to Lone Pine for the film festival, my wife and I decided to go ahead with new vacation plans for a two-week road trip to visit my father-in-law in Las Vegas. The first destination we scheduled for a busy, three-day stay was Tucson, Arizona. We hit all the high profile tourist attractions in the area: Tombstone, Colossal Cave, the Sonora Desert Museum, and the Pima Air & Space Museum and fighter jet graveyard at the Davis-Monthan Air Force base, but it was with the greatest anticipation that I looked forward to introducing my wife to one of my favorite places on earth--Old Tucson Studios.

It was our last day in the Tucson area, and we arrived five minutes before the gates opened. With so few cars in the visitors' parking lot, I should have sensed something wasn't quite right, but I was too busy stuffing fresh batteries into the cameras and deciding whether to wear the Stetson or the Lone Pine Film Festival baseball cap.

The box office was open, and the ticket price was still reasonable considering it had been 12 years since my last visit. I was eager to find out about the visiting hours for the Mescal location and make reservations if necessary, but we were abruptly informed that site was closed.

Upon entering the theme park, my initial destination was already decided--the front steps of Carlos Robante's Hotel Alamo where Feathers shattered the window with the flowerpot to distract the bad guys long enough for Colorado to toss the rifle to John T. Chance. Most of you who have managed to stay with me this far know I am referring to a pivotal scene in Rio Bravo featuring John Wayne, Angie Dickinson, and Ricky Nelson. Given that I was unaware of the devastating fire that had swept through the park in 1995, you can certainly imagine the depth of my disappointment when I eventually realized that most of what I had expected to see was gone.

When I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks, my wife must have known immediately from the expression on my face that something was wrong. I don't recall much of what I must have been babbling in my attempt to explain as we wandered around what was now the town square, but when we eventually walked into the museum, I found a guide who understood my confusion. He was able to tell us the whole story of April 24, 1995, and most everything that had happened since. Then he shrugged and suggested that I should try to enjoy what still remained of the famous site.

So, "Rio Bravo" was gone, and "Tombstone" was closed to the public. Needless to say, I took it on the chin, dusted myself off, and proceeded for my wife's sake to at least give the appearance of enjoying the rest of the vacation. It was on the way home that I began thinking about what would eventually become the idea for this book.

Mike Bifulco will be attending the Williamsburg Festival, where he will be debuting The Images of Old Tucson book, and will also have The Legendary Lydeckers book for sale. Hopefully those of you who are lucky enough to attend this great event will stop by and say hi to Mike, and check out The Images of Old Tucson.

Back with you before you know it!



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