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A Passage Through Time into the Western Era


From the 1910′s to ’50s there was one genre’ of filmmaking that made a point to stress values, while at the same time providing action and adventure for the whole family.

These were the Westerns dominated with “B” films starring the likes of Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue, Peggy Stewart and Randolph Scott. They also included the great faces of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Dale Evens, and before he went into big epic Westerns, the biggest Western hero of them all, John Wayne.

The alphabet ratings in those days meant nothing to kids, as a number of mainstream stars clamored to be in “A” Westerns including Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda.

“Slap some bacon on a biscuit and let’s go. We’re burning daylight.”

~’The Cowboys (1972). John Wayne


John Wayne

“Well, there are some things a man just can’t run away from.”

~The Ringo Kid (John Wayne) in Stagecoach


Westerns were in demand and Hollywood studios followed the money. The new media of television recognized the popularity of Westerns, and jumped on the bandwagon. At one time there were approximately thirty Western shows running on the tube when you could only get three channels.

Today a big budget Western is as popular as a pair of gloves and a top hat. If Hollywood makes one at all, they require the standard degree of sex, violence and of course, profanity.


King of the Cowboys Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

“The time to live and the place to die. That’s all any man gets. No more, no less”
~Parson (Hank Worden) in The Alamo, 1960.


The sole exception in recent films was The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp, which despite bombing at the box office had a good response from the 12-18 year old audience.

Yet there is proof that these films have been missed as seen with the popularity of Western film conventions. One such festival is the Western Film Fair which was recently held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina July 11-13.

Film and TV stars gathered to meet with fans and enjoy hundreds of classic Western films. There were autograph sessions, panel discussions and great country music. One topic seemed to come up again and again – how to return to those “thrilling days of yesteryear” when cowboys and cowgirls ruled the silver screen.

Clu Gulager (The Virginian) expressed a concern that the day of the great Westerns is over


” Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges”.

~Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ (1948).

Clu Gulager, a veteran of many TV Westerns opined that Westerns, as we once knew them, were hurt by films with Clint Eastwood types who introduced the anti-hero.

Rex Allen, Jr. advocated a need for us to go back to the type of films that were so popular for so many years.

He commented “Tom Brokaw wrote a book titled The Greatest Generation in which he writes about America’s citizen heroes and heroines who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War, and went on to build modern America. This generation was united not only by a common purpose, but also by common values–duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself.”

We agree with Brokaw on what made that generation great.

Rex Allen, Jr. wants to see the day come when we will again have the type of films that helped build The Greatest Generation.

From “The War Wagon” 1967; they just shot two Bad Guys.
Kirk Douglas:   “Mine hit the ground first.”
John Wayne:    ”Mine was taller.”


That generation grew up with the Western films of the 20s, 30s and 40s. These films extolled the virtues of morality and ethics. They saw the importance of honesty, purity and a strong sense of justice.”

I must add that these were also films where people went to church and prayer was more than just saying grace at meal time.

When it was voiced that kids today would never respond to this style of film, a reminder was given by Carol Webster, a drama teacher from Roanoke, Virginia.


SCH Contributor Dr. Fred with Morgan Brittany (Dallas) who shares the idea that we need to restore patriotism in film making as was once done in classic Westerns.

In the early seventies when the old “Space Operas” with Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were deemed to be dead along came the Star Wars series which broke all records.

The Adventure Serial was also considered a thing of the past and suddenly box office records were again shattered with the Indian Jones series. All ages responded and once again we had kids cheering and applauding like they did for the classic Westerns.

The question was how do we bring back the Westerns? The board of the Western Film Fair came up with an exciting solution  - now being announced for the first time anywhere.

Dawn Wells (Gilligan's Island) led the panel discussion on how to bring back Westerns.

It is a proposed short Western filmmaking contest what will be open to cinematic departments in high schools and colleges. Steps are being taken in this direction by the Western Film Fair and other groups are expected to follow.

There will be prizes and as with most film festival programs, winners will want to get involved in other competitions and may even want to start projects to create new full length Western feature films.

This is the type of strategy that is expected to encourage more young people to make Westerns.

Sandra Van Natta has starred in movies such as The Shunning, The Confession, and The Screenwriters. She is a regular guest at the Western Film Fair

One guest, actress Sandra Van Natta who attended the event for the premiere of her film, Season of Miracles, definitely saw the point behind holding programs like this, and the desire to rebuild the genre’ to bring back those thrilling days of yesteryear.

She wrote “I was immersed in history and the genteel manner while at the Western Film Fair. I was reminded of what it means to have a conversation and look into the eyes of others and hear their stories. I put my phone and laptop to the side and reminisced of my childhood. I am thankful to meet heroes and heroines.”

Orvon Gene Autry best known as Gene Autry is considered by many to be the greatest western star of all time.


From The Virginian (the 1929 version with Gary Cooper): 

Trampas:    When I want to know anything from you, I’ll tell you, you long-legged sonova –

The Virginian:    If you wanna call me that, smile.

Trampas:    With a gun against my belly, I always smile.


To the event organizers she said “Thank you for inviting me to commune with you. You prevail with a culture that must not be forgotten. Let’s teach our children and grandchildren by example and by Westerns captured on film.”

Miss Sandra, you definitely understood what this is all about, and we hope this message will reach a great many other people.


“I may sound like a bible beater yelling up a revival
at a river crossing camp meeting
but that don’t change the truth none, there’s right and there’s wrong.
You gotta do one or the other.
You do the one and you’re living, you do the other and you may be walking around
but you’re dead as a beaver hat.”

- Col. Davy Crockett in The Alamo 1960, directed by John Wayne



If you love movies, you might also enjoy A Compelling Interview with Christian Actor – Bruce Marchiano.


Dr. Fred Eichelman has written five books, four of them textbooks and one co-authored novel. For thirty years he was involved in creating and running media conventions.  He is a retired educator and one of the founders of a Christian media organization. He is the editor of its publication, For information about this organization or to subscribe to receive it free on the net, contact






As a women’s magazine, created for Christian Women, Sonoma Christian Home offers articles by bestselling authors on a variety of topics including: daily devotions, Christian reviews of movies, family movie ratings, celebrity interviews, relationship advice, interior design ideas, everyday gourmet recipes and so much more! Sign up now to get the best articles of the week delivered right to your inbox – Click Here to Subscribe – it’s free!


A Compelling Interview with Christian Actor – Bruce Marchiano

bruce marchiano

Meet Bruce Marchiano, a familiar face in Christian movies. He’s best known for playing Jesus in a number of movies including The Encounter, The Lion of Judah, The Visual Bible: Acts, and The Gospel According to Matthew.

Bruce Marchiano: Glory to Jesus! It’s a blessing to be with you!

SCH: Thanks! So tell us, when did you first decide you wanted to be an actor?

Bruce Marchiano: I was 12 or 13 when I began focusing on an acting career, inspired by a Dustin Hoffman film.  I remember sitting in the theater and even at that young age I could see that he was heads and tails above the rest, and I was just totally intrigued.

I walked out of that film saying to myself, “This is what I want to do.” I remember I got the sound tracks from all these Broadway musicals and would act them all out in my room, over and over.

I got involved in high school productions and just couldn’t get enough of it.  I began acting classes… and just carried on advancing toward a real career.  Little did I know the Lord was preparing to do films for HIM! Wonderful!

Bruce Marchiano in The Encounter: Paradise Lost; Photo Courtesy of Pure Flix Entertainment

SCH: What was your first film/television role?

Bruce Marchiano: Haha! I’m always a bit embarrassed by this question because at the time it was such a major event for me but looking back it was so tiny.

But I guess a guy has to begin somewhere, haha! It was on a classic TV show, Murder, She Wrote. I had two lines, and you can’t imagine how many hours I spent rehearsing them, haha!

The funny thing is we were shooting on the Universal Studios lot. I was walking from the make-up trailer to the set and a tour bus rode by.  They all began taking pictures of me, haha!  I had lots of laughs over that one.

Bruce Marchiano runs his own ministry; Photo Courtesy of Marchiano Ministries

SCH: What impact has your faith had on your acting career?

Bruce Marchiano: I could write for pages on this one.  Needless to say, it has had a MASSIVE impact.  With my Mediterranean heritage, I was consistently cast in bad guy roles.

Then shortly after I came to Jesus my career went into a terrible slump, and I remember a friend suggesting I take this/that action.  But I looked at him and said, “No, I think the Lord wants me to start playing nice guys.”

The next role I was cast in was Jesus – the “nicest guy,” if you will, in universal history, haha! And I’ve never looked back. Today, I don’t think I’m capable of playing a bad guy even if I wanted to (which i don’t!) – the Lord has done such a wonderful work inside me that I wouldn’t be convincing – people would laugh! That is just one small example.

Bruce Marchiano has played roles in Encounter 2,Revelation Road and The Gospel According to Matthew; Photo Courtesy of Bruce Marchiano

On top of that, the kinds of films I’m interested to do has completely been transformed, and the Lord has given me a tremendous sense of responsibility about it because these films influence lives.

Yes, I’ve lost agents because of this stance and blah blah blah, but to quote Pastor Chuck Smith, “You’re either part of the problem of part of the solution.”  At the end of the day I have to stand before God for what I did with the gifts he gave me, so… Praise Jesus!

SCH: What led to you becoming the “Jesus” actor?

Bruce Marchiano: It is a long testimony but to give you the quick version – I felt the Lord asking me to join a missions team that was looking for actors for dramas to be done in high schools and all. I was mortified – I mean, here I was a professional actor and the Lord was asking me to do kiddies dramas!

I really struggled but eventually gave in and went on the trip. To cut to the chase, it was the leader of that missions team who first heard about the casting of Jesus for The Gospel of Matthew and called me about it.  And the rest is history.

Bruce Marchiano, actor is best known for playing Jesus in many films; Photo Courtesy of Visual Bible

Because of that missions trip I fought with God about, I’ve enjoyed the most remarkable privilege anyone can imagine – portraying Jesus in films that touch countless lives; bringing Him “to life” for people.

So I guess the lesson is, wahtever the Lord says, rush to do it!  Because His plan for your life is WAY beyond anything you can imagine for yourself.  Glory to Jesus!

SCH: What do you do to get into character as Jesus?

Bruce Marchiano: For me it is 90% burying myself in God’s Word and burying my face in the carpet in prayer, because if He, by His Spirit, doesn’t “shine through,” then I’m just another actor in a robe/sandals.

So I approach it as a mission in full understanding that people will make eternal decisions based on what they see me (as Jesus) do.

Bruce Marchiano on set for the New Jesus Movie; Photo Courtesy of Marchiano Ministries

At the same time, there is a great deal of actor prep, which is basically a process of combing through Jesus’ actions/choices, scene by scene, and asking, “Why would He do that in this situation?  Why does He say these specific words?”

You see, a man’s heart is revealed through His actions/choices, and it is the heart that must be brought to life. I’m convinced that most people know the Gospel events – what they don’t know is the heart of Jesus.

What they don’t know is His nature and Person.  What they don’t know is the depth of His love and care.  So these are what I focus on and aim for.

Bruce Marchiano on set for the New Jesus Movie; Photo Courtesy of Marchiano Ministries

SCH: What is the biggest challenge with playing such powerful roles?

Bruce Marchiano: Off the top of my head I would say keeping it simple and not trying to over-do it.  Especially in the role of Jesus, you have to restrain this urge to make every syllable so big and impacting.

But it’s God’s Word, so you need to trust that the power is there already.  Another challenge is making it real as opposed to “religious.”

These are iconic scenes and you’re SO aware that this is God you’re representing – but 2000 years ago on the day it actually happened it was as practical as a “Man” interacting with other men and women.

So yes, I would say the huge challenge is keeping it simple and real, and not trying to over-do the work of the Words that are already packed with life-changing power.

Bruce Marchiano on set for the New Jesus Movie; Photo Courtesy of Marchiano Ministries

SCH: Tell us about your latest films being released this year.

Bruce Marchiano: I’m thrilled to see the release of For Love’s Sake, which I shot in December last year, and one of the few films that I don’t portray Jesus, haha!

It’s a story about a family torn apart by tragedy, kids being thrown into “the system,” a mom struggling with addictions and a father tragically killed… And how the Lord puts it all back together.  It’s a true testimony based on the writer/director’s life – he was one of those children.

So I’m extremely thrilled to be part of it. I play the role of a therapist who is the one guy who believes that this mother can overcome her problems and regain her family.  Together we stand against a sea of opposition.  But he knows, “With God all things are possible!” and the rest is history. Exciting!

Bruce Marchiano wants to use his ministry in a powerful way to glorify God; Photo Courtesy of Marchiano Ministries

SCH: Is there any additional projects that you are currently working on?

Bruce Marchiano: I just completed shooting another Jesus film to be released in the fall, titled Come Follow Me, and I’m developing a script that places Jesus in the midst of the darkest circumstance you could imagine (stay tuned!).

At the same time, many of your readers will know that I’m developing a major Jesus film “for a new generation,” that will be on a scale of the biggest blockbusters.  What a BLESSING to be with you!  Glory to Jesus!


Click here to learn all about Bruce Marchiano’s New Jesus Movie

Ready for another wonderful celebrity interview? Don’s miss The Lost Medallion – An Indiana Jones-type Family Adventure:  Interview with Producer Bill Muir


Sharon Wilharm is a writer and filmmaker who helps spread the word about other Christian filmmakers with her Faith Flix blog. She and her husband have been making feature films for the past decade and are currently working on The Good Book, an evangelistic silent film. Their film Flowers for Fannie will be released to stores nationwide October 15th.




As a women’s magazine, created for Christian Women, Sonoma Christian Home offers articles by bestselling authors on a variety of topics including: daily devotions, Christian reviews of movies, family movie ratings, celebrity interviews, relationship advice, interior design ideas, everyday gourmet recipes and so much more! Sign up now to get the best articles of the week delivered right to your inbox – Click Here to Subscribe – it’s free!


SCH Interview with Guy Noland

Guy Noland prepares to direct an interview with UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson

SCH Contributor, Phil Cooke sat down to get to know Salvation Army Vision Network Executive Producer, Guy Noland. Noland is responsible for launching and leading the new video driven web initiative for one of the best known ministries in the world. Phil asked him about the remarkable journey that’s been his life and career in the industry:

SCH:  I understand you’re second generation Salvation Army.



11th Annual 168 Film Festival Nominees Announced


168 Film Project Founder and Director, John David Ware announced the nominations today for the 11th Annual 168 Film Festival, to be held August 8 - 10, at the Performing Arts Center in Glendale, CA.
For the contest, filmmakers got seven days (168 hours) to shoot and edit a 10-minute-or-less short, based on scripture.
The field was reduced from 152 entries to the remaining seven (7) 'Best Film' Nominees eligible for a filmmaker's dream, the Grand Prize is a feature film production budget up to $1 Million from Presenting Sponsor - EchoLight Studios.



Sue Detweiler Doesn’t Bottle Healing Rain – She Pours It

Sue-Detweiler headshot SCH v

People on radio and television are quite the diverse assortment and most media personalities fiercely guard their privacy… that is, until they are ready to share a well crafted, public relations spun story about some special prism in their lives.

Then, it becomes “prudent” to disclose a very personal detail about themselves to their audience.



Our Nation’s Heritage Through The Eyes of Historian William Federer

William Federer on Capitol steps Featured Image

William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author of 20 books and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s Christian heritage. He is a brilliant man who is able to assimilate both the big picture and historical details of what America once was, and where she is headed.

As a former U.