BY C.L. HARMON
His name is Curt Cordell and he’s a normal guy from Mannford who had the incredible opportunity to play a bad guy in a real big screen movie. He’s not just an extra either. He plays a bank robber, along with two other characters. He is the ring leader of the trio and is collecting the loot when something goes wrong and a lawman and a very young man are killed by one of his cohorts.
He actually has speaking parts and can be seen and heard as the bank robbery begins the movie. No spoilers here though as to what happens to him. For that you will have to wait for the premiere or the DVD. Sadly the local actor’s part is not a lead role, but just being involved was a real treat for him.
“We had a blast, Cordell said. As for getting involved in the project, Cordell was in the right place. As for the right time, well that would be seven years later. The place was an Old West museum in Enid, Oklahoma where he was attending a family reunion. While there, he struck up a conversation with Rick Simpson, owner of the museum. That talk produced info about Cordell’s horse riding experience and to an offer.
Cordell’s western style attire, coupled with his skills on a horse, prompted Simpson to ask him if he wanted to be in a movie. He asked for some photos and seven years later the call came. Cordell was still interested and he read for the part. Simpson explained to Cordell at the reading that a lot of actors want to play cowboys, but can’t ride a horse. So he was in.
The movie is titled Canyon Trail and is the the sixth western Rick and brother Larry Simpson have made. Filming began in April for this series of westerns which focuses on the main heroes, characters named Stormy Lane, Texas and Cimarron and wrapped in September. The brothers, who started Skeleton Creek Productions in Enid 20 years ago have a very unique perspective about entertainment in today’s culture. It seems just about every movie these days uses cursing, sex, substance abuse and sexual innuendo to attract an audience. None of these cinematic tools can be found in one of their movies in this series. According to their Facebook page, ‘America has never known a more enduring symbol than the cowboy. In the forties and fifties every youngster lived his own “Wild West” right in his own backyard. The traits acted out while “playing cowboy” shaped youngster’s characters for the rest of their lives. These games sowed the seeds of wholesomeness, moral courage, honesty, and sacrifice.’ These traits are exactly what the brothers bring back to the screen.
Rick explained that the movie is exciting. action-packed, family entertainment, very reminiscent of the Hopalong Cassidy or John Wayne westerns of yesteryear. These are the type of movies the brothers were raised on and grew up watching cowboy heroes on TV and played cowboy on a ranch in Oklahoma. Western heroes of their youth, such as Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and of course John Wayne, had a major influence on their lives and that’s where their heart’s remain today.
As adults, the brothers close friendships with academy Award winning cowboy actor Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., and Buck Taylor have greatly shaped their film making. The Simpson brothers have become very frustrated with TV and movies and their lack of morals and true heroes
Canyon Trail will had 140 in the cast, with actors from a nine state area. Although most actors are regular folks doing this for fun, there are some big names including Buck Taylor of Gunsmoke and big screen, Tom Ward, Wyatt McCrea, Bryanna Holt and nationally known cowboy singer R.W. Hampton. Rick and Larry also star in the movie.
Tickets available at the Simpson’s Museum in downtown Enid. Premiere night dinner and movie is November 9th.