Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Available Now: URBAN RENEWAL by Andrew Vachss

In this second novel-length work (after last year's BLACKJACK, and several prior short stories),  author Vachss once again takes us into the world of Cross and his crew of highly specialized mercenaries.

The setting this time is exclusively Chicago. More specifically, Cross's world within Chi-Town, starting with his bunker-like "Red 71" headquarters. "XX", an off-the-grid strip club run by the crew also figures prominently in much of this tale --- keeping in mind that operating any kind of straight business venture is hardly what the team is known for.

This is a richly complex tale with several different subplots skillfully interwoven via Vachss's quick-cut style and spare, dead-on descriptions when it comes to setting a scene and/or creating a character. From the beginning, Vachss has used his fiction to teach and draw attention to various wrongs (some past, mostly current) within our society, abuses to our young and the threat of what may be reaped from that always at the core. This theme runs again through the heart of URBAN RENEWAL, fleshing out the backgrounds of Cross and several key crew members to help explain what made them what they've become and their fierce loyalty to one another.

The title is drawn from the crew's plan (acting on the urgings of the wife of crew member Buddha) to acquire a block of property in the leftover badlands --- a former battle zone, now unclaimed by the fragmented gang scene of present-day Chicago --- and turn over its houses for significant profit on the re-sale. Complications arise from this, compounded by the various other subplots previously mentioned, and Cross and his team find themselves being kept busy on several fronts. There are betrayals, assassinations to be carried out, scores to be settled, lingering obligations to be met, current "family issues" to be balanced … and all the while there is the uneasy sense of being watched --- maybe for protective purposes, maybe something else --- by the shapeless, mysterious Force first encountered in events from BLACKJACK.

It is advisable --- though not totally essential --- for one to have read the aforementioned BLACKJACK before starting URBAN RENEWAL. If you like crime thrillers, however, that hardly should be considered a chore. It not only will enhance your enjoyment of UR, but will double your exposure to Cross and crew. And, trust me, as long as it's not a real-life encounter, that's a good thing.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Available Now: TALES FROM INDIAN COUNTRY (edited by Troy D. Smith)

Edited and presented by Troy D. Smith—Spur Award-winning author and Assistant Professor of History, Tennessee Tech University—here is another worthwhile charity anthology that offers a fine assortment of stories for a good cause.

Standing Stone American Indian Cultural Center is located in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee, in the town of Monterey. SSAICC is dedicated to the preservation of the region's indigenous history and heritage. To further that goal, several authors have volunteered their work for this volume. All proceeds are being donated to the SSAICC. The stories feature American Indian protagonists and points of view, set in various regions and time periods. You will find tales of mystery and adventure, and of daily issues.

The following stories and authors are featured:
Miss Shoshone … by Win Blevins
The Last Willow Stick on the River … by Pamela Rentz
The Purification of Jim Barnes … by Troy D. Smith
Trickster's Song … by Christopher Reynaga
Play Dead or Die … by Rod Smith
Shot for a Dog … by Cheryl Pierson
Massacre Canyon … by Wayne D. Dundee
Becoming American … by Troy D. Smith
And the beautiful cover is a 1915 painting, Indian Party, by Charles M. Russell

Available in both print and Kindle versions, this is something I'm sure you will want to add to your library.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Available Now: IRON HEAD & Other Stories (from Fight Card)


Fight Card Presents: Iron Head & Other Stories is the first in a series of charity anthologies from the Fight Card authors cooperative – a writers community featuring many of today’s finest fictioneers, including Jory Sherman, Ryan McFadden, Mark Finn, Troy D. Smith, Ed Greenwood,  Jack Badelaire, James Scott Bell, James Hopwood, Bowie V. Ibarra, and Matthew Pizzolato.

Compiled by Paul Bishop and Jeremy L. C. Jones, 100% of the proceeds from these anthologies will go directly to an author-in-need (in this case, revered western writer Jory Sherman) or a literacy charity. Words on paper are the life blood of a writer.  The writers in this volume were willing to bleed in order to give a transfusion to one of their own – and then continue to bleed to give a transfusion to literacy charities in support of that most precious of commodities ... readers.  They are true fighters, every one ...

Much more coming from Fight Card in 2014 ... So, hang on and ...
Keep punching!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Another Look: THE BAYTOWN OUTLAWS (2012 Movie)

I vaguely recalled hearing the title of this film some time back, in a short interview with one of its stars, Billy Bob Thornton. Billy Bob is an interesting guy (which you can take to mean a whole range of things) who plays quirky, interesting parts in various films. I don't recall exactly what was said about BAYTOWN OUTLAWS in that particular interview, but for some reason the title stuck vaguely in my mind.
Then, one night about a week ago, I was channel surfing, trying to find something that sounded interesting, when BAYTOWN OUTLAWS popped up on the channel guide menu. It was already in progress, abut half way through, but I clicked on anyway just to see what it was about. It was right in the midst of one of its many road-chase action sequences. It took a while to gain some rough idea of what the hell was going on, but it really didn't matter --- I was instantly hooked and knew that, whatever this was, I was caught up in it and enjoying it. I stuck with it the rest of the way through, then immediately did a search to find out when it was next scheduled to play so I could DVR it and watch it again, from the beginning.
I did that last night.
Now to try and review it, to try and capture my impressions and present them in a manner that properly conveys the bizarre, serio-comic, wild-ass, adventure/thriller that played out on the screen before me. In broad strokes, I'll start by saying that director/co-writer Barry Battles clearly has a big Tarantino influence, leaning heavily on PULP FICTION and KILL BILL. Mix in dashes of MAD MAX/ROAD WARRIOR, a pinch or two of DELIVERANCE, a sprinkle of Russ Meyer's FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL, KILL! and you'll start to get the "flavor" of BAYTOWN OUTLAWS. If none of those sound the least bit intriguing, then head for the hills.
At the center of all this is the Oodie brothers --- Brick, McQueen, and Lincoln --- three tough, reckless, redneck lawbreakers from Alabama. As young orphans, they were taken under the wing of local sheriff Menard (played by Andre Braugher), who has molded them into his own personal band of mercenaries assigned to regularly purge his county of major criminals, thus keeping his county on record as having the lowest reported crime rate in the state. Things start to go off the rail when the Oodies take on a "side job" for a woman (Eva Longoria) who has witnessed one of their "crime purges". She hires them to kidnap her nephew from her ex husband Carlos (played by Billy Bob Thornton), a powerful drug lord based in Texas. Part of the deal is that they're to be sure and kill Carlos. So the Oodies pull off the kidnapping okay (a "smash and grab", as they describe it, complete with lots of smashing and gunplay) but fail to make sure Carlos is dead. That oversight sets into motion Carlos sending team after team of specialized assassins to catch up with the brothers before they can return to Alabama, kill them, and bring back the kid.
The assassin teams include: A bevy of sexy, vicious female dominatrixes on motorcycles; a heavily-armed gang of motorized thugs in an armored, tank-like truck; and a band of quasi-American Indians packing firepower, bows and arrows, and scalping knives.
In case you don't get the idea, the action is over-the-top, complete with blood and bullets flying everywhere, expletive-laden banter amongst the brothers and spewing almost constantly from the mouth of scenery-chewing Thornton, all told at a pace that seems never to let up. Yet there are a few quieter moments where some measures of poignancy and character depth are allowed to peek through.
Thornton, Longoria, and Braugher are the better-known names touted as being the "leads" in this picture. And each has his or her moments. But most of the screen time belongs to the three lesser known actors playing the Oodie brothers and they deliver with a freshness and energy that make them very watchable (even though you may be shocked or grossed out by some of their actions).
All in all, I had a lot of fun with this movie and I think you may too. Probably not worth the full-blown price of a theater ticket package (if it ever even played in the theaters), but on cable or as a reasonably-priced DVD, it's well worth an hour and a half of your time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reasoner #300: DANCING WITH DEAD MEN by James Reasoner

This is James Reasoner's 300th novel.
That, in and of itself, is impressive. Making it even more so is the consistent quality of his work --- up to and certainly including number 300.
Now I can't claim to have read all of James's books --- but I've sure read a heck of a lot of 'em over the years, and I've never once been disappointed.
DANCING WITH DEAD MEN is a good example why. Its clean, straightforward prose tells a traditional Western yarn with all the excitement and gunplay and colorful characters anyone could want, yet with psychological introspection, character depth, and plot elements that give it a distinction elevating it well above standard "shoot-'em-up" status. 
The mental and physical transformations of protagonist Logan Handley from gunslinger to illness victim to reluctant hero is masterfully done. Other than that, I won't say a lot here about the storyline, as that is covered sufficiently in the book description and other reviews.
I bought this book immediately when it came out on Kindle last summer, but kept it on my TBR list until just the other day. I urge others not to make the same mistake --- if you don't have yet, grab it immediately; if you have it and have been saving it for dessert, like me, don't waste any more time! Treat yourself to one of the best Westerns you're likely to read in a long while.
Strongly recommended!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Available Now in Print: THE GUNS OF VEDAUWOO (Cash Laramie)

This is my second novella-length work featuring Edward A. Grainger's popular Cash Laramie character. I felt more comfortable writing about the Outlaw Marshal this time around (after my first outing with MANHUNTER'S MOUNTAIN) and once I had the title and setting (provided inadvertently by my pal Richard Prosch) I was really excited doing it.
It has gotten some nice reviews in it initial eBook format. Now, for those who prefer print media, I hope it reaches additional readers who like it as well.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Interview: Robert J. Randisi (author of UPON MY SOUL)

Inasmuch as this blog deals primarily with books and movies in the Western and Mystery genres, the name Robert J. Randisi should be quite familiar to most people reading this. Bob is the author of over 600 books, countless short stories, and more than 30 anthologies, mostly in these same genres.
In addition to this amazingly prolific writing output, Bob also founded the Private Eye Writers of America, co-founded (with Ed Gorman) Mystery Scene Magazine, and more recently was one of the founders of the Western Fictioneers.
Bob's current novel (which means right now – because if you wait very long he'll have something new out) is a crime thriller introducing hit man Sangster, titled UPON MY SOUL. (My 5-star review is up on Amazon now.) We chose this occasion to do a Q&A interview that I think you will find interesting. It is as follows:

WD:  Many moons ago --- Summer/1985 to be exact --- we did a phone interview from which I wrote an article titled "Randisi, Private Eye Writer of America" that appeared in the debut issue of my small press magazine, Hardboiled. Needless to say, much water has passed under the bridge since then. Heck, at that time you were practically a fledgling who only had about eighty novels and a couple dozen short stories published. You were in your early thirties and, in addition to your writing, the PWA (the Private Eye Writers of America), which you founded and were working your butt off to establish as a widely recognized organization, was barely four years old. Thinking back on those times now, what are your recollections? Fondness? Chaos? Exhaustion, from all the effort you were pouring into such a workload?

RJR:  What I remember is being extremely gung ho about what I was doing—having, of course, no idea what I was getting myself into. I do recall it fondly, both the writing I was doing, and the organizing. I probably should have concentrated on one or other, but I’d be hard pressed to go back now and give one up. Certainly, I’d rather write, but given what PWA and the Shamus have become, I couldn’t give them up.

WD:  Fast forward to present day. Your published output is now at 600-plus books, countless short stories, and editor of over 30 anthologies --- including the latest, LIVIN' ON JACKS AND QUEENS, a collection of stories about gambling in the Old West. Back in the '80s you told me your writing creativity seemed to suffer in the daytime and that you preferred to write from about 8 PM to 4 or 5 in the morning. Does that still hold true? Please tell us some other details about your approach to writing --- schedule, research, revisions, etc.

RJR:  I still do most of my work late at night. I don’t have a set schedule except to say that I write every day, both during the day and at night.  Usually, I’m working on two books at once,  a Western and a Mystery. I work on one during the day, then eat dinner, take a nap, and start on the other one. The break allows me to distance myself. That pretty much means that I’m writing most of the time between 2 p.m. and 5 a.m. I try to do at least 20 pages a day on each project, but if I’m approaching a deadline I put myself on an hourly limit of 5-7 pages. Back in those “old days” we talked about I was doing 10 pages an hour. I do research on the spot, while I’m writing, using both a research library I’ve amassed over the years, as well as some websites.   On days when we have errands to run—bank, post office, grocery store, etc.—I get less done during the day.

WD:  Something I still can’t quite wrap my head around is your relocation from Brooklyn to small town, Missouri. Can you tell us some details on how that came about and what the transition was like for you? Hard? Easy? Are you fully acclimated now? Any likelihood of you ever returning to live again in a big city --- Brooklyn, New York, St. Louis? 

RJR:  The simple explanation is that I moved from Brooklyn to St. Louis to be with a woman. We are still together. She’s also a writer. About 8 years ago we moved from St. Louis to a small town (440 people) on the Mississippi. We live on a hill with a panoramic view of the river. We plan to move soon to Las Vegas, but I don’t see going back to St. Louis, or New York, anytime soon. That would be going back, and we prefer to look ahead.

     The transition from NY to St. Louis was not hard. Although smaller, St. Louis is still a major city, and offered most of what NY offered on a smaller scale.  The transition from St. Louis to Clarksville, Mo was more of an adjustment. Living in a town of 440 people, with the closest supermarket 11 miles away, and the closest mall 50 miles, takes getting used to.  We love the house we live in, and the view, but still wish we had better access to some things.

WD:  Although you've established yourself very solidly in the Western genre --- especially with your long-running GUNSMITH series, as by J.R. Roberts, as well as numerous other titles under other bylines and also your own name --- is it safe to say that your first love remains the private eye genre? Your series PI characters, Miles Jacoby, Henry Po, and Nick Delvecchio have recently seen resurgence via eBooks, with the last Delvecchio (THE END OF BROOKLYN) published in 2011. And your hugely popular "Rat Pack" series ( the newest – THE WAY YOU DIE TONIGHT – due out in February), despite the star appearances in each by Sinatra and his crew, at their core are really crime mysteries featuring the character of casino "fixer" Eddie Gianelli functioning as a PI. And then there's the recently published HONKY TONK BIG HOSS BOOGIE, featuring "session man" Auggie Velez, who is available to play guitar for any group in need of a fill-in and who also doubles as a PI … Please offer some personal reflection on each of these characters and what the future might hold for each of them (recognizing that Eddie and Auggie are sure to be seen again).

RJR: Yes, the plans are for Eddie and Auggie to keep appearing. I’m pleased that Jacoby, Delvecchio and—to a much lesser extent—Po have reappeared, and was very happy to have the third and final Delvecchio book published to a starred review from Booklist.

       Yes, the P.I. genre is still my first love.  I do consider the Rat Pack books to be P.I. books, but I really appreciate the reviews I’ve received that say the books are a love letter to the Rat Pack, because that’s what they are. I love those guys and that time, and often find myself watching Ocean’s 11 again. It’s a much better movie than it’s been given credit for.

      If I stuck my toe back into the “real” P.I. genre with THE END OF BROOKLYN, then I plunged back into it with BIG HOSS BOOGIE.  I was a musician in my youth, gave it up to write. So I’m combining my love of music with my love of the P.I. Genre with the Auggie Velez “Session Man” books. BTW, Auggie’s full name is Augusto Velez Colon, which was my grandfather’s name. I have two more Auggie books planned, and so far a 10th Rat Pack planned. I’d like to keep going beyond that with both characters. 

WD:  Now we come to UPON MY SOUL, your current novel from Down & Out Publishing, featuring retired hit man Sangster. First of all, the name: It immediately made me think of a screenwriter (mostly for Hammer Films back in the 60s) and sometimes novelist named Jimmy Sangster. Was he, by any chance, the inspiration for the protagonist's name?

RJR:  He was. I’ve read about half a dozen Sangster novels, and when it came time to name my hit man I wanted a single name and, for some reason, “Sangster” came to mind.

WD:  UPON MY SOUL sets up a wonderful premise whereby said protagonist, Sangster, a professional hit man, wakes up one day to realize he has a soul and a conscience. Concerning his profession, this presents him with quite a dilemma. … One of the lamest questions writers face is: Where do you get your ideas from? Nevertheless, I've got to resort to it in this case --- How did you hit upon this particular premise?

RJR:  When I edited a collection of hit man stories called GREATES HITS several years ago, I wanted to come up with something different, something I hadn’t done before, and maybe something nobody had done.  Of course, there have been other characters who have been seeking some kind of redemption, but Sangster is not even sure that’s what he wants. I wanted to present him with a dilemma. He can’t change the things he did, but he can stop doing them as he moves forward—if, indeed, he can ever move forward. As the book starts I think he’s stuck, trying not to look back, but not really moving forward.  He feels he has a soul, but he doesn’t know what to do with it, or about it. Is it even a religious thing? The three books are meant to show the process of getting himself to the point where he can move forward with his life.

WD:  UPON MY SOUL is announced as a trilogy. What made you plan it that way? I assume you have a pretty specific sequence of events already planned out for the three books. What if the whole thing is wildly popular? Will you close the final book in such a way as to leave open the possibly for more if that turns out to be the case?

RJR:  You and I are series people, Wayne. We think that way. We know the story of how Dan Marlowe killed his “Earl Drake” character in his first novel, and the publisher got him to change the ending so they could continue the character. I don’t want to say I’m going to leave it open, because that takes away from the suspense about what might happen to Sangster.

WD:  Not too far back, I recall reading that one of your "Rat Pack" books was under serious consideration to be made into a movie. I believe you even wrote the screenplay, is that correct? What was the script-writing experience like as opposed to the many books you've penned? And --- knowing that for every book-to-film proposal that actually gets made --- where do things stand for a "Rat Pack" movie? Is it still under consideration?

RJR: I had an option for the first book, EVERYBODY KILLS SOMEBODY SOME TIME,  and was hired to write the screenplay. I wrote it in three weeks. It was a pleasure. My books are dialogue driven, and screenplays are mostly dialogue. It was a match made in heaven. The man who optioned the book and hired me to write the screenplays—Sandy Hackett, son of Buddy Hackett—loved it. However, just as all of us have been hit by the economy, the money withy which he was going to fund the movie disappeared.  He let the option lapse, but he still owns the screenplay.  He still wants to produce it and star as Eddie. If he comes up with the backing, he’ll have to come back to me and option it again.

        I had a second call from Hollywood, a young actor who started his own production company was interested in making the Rat Pack books into films or t.v.  I signed a  “shopping agreement” with him. No money changed hands, but he had the right to shop it in Hollywood and, if and when he found somebody interested, they would make a deal with him. My deal with him was that he would be attached as a producer.  This is when I learned how things have changed in Hollywood. He said there was some interest from some studios, but that they first wanted a writer/showrunner attached to the project before they’d commit.  He was not able to come up with anyone during the time limit of our agreement.

   So, we wait . . .

WD:  Finally, your thoughts on the whole eBook "revolution"? I believe you've stated that you like the opportunities eBooks give writers, but for your own reading you still a traditional book, true? It's  hard to believe with your prolific output, but are you still the voracious reader you used to be?

RJR: Yes, I read as much as I ever did, and I want to have a book in my hands. Yes, ebook publishing has created opportunities for writers—maybe too many for too many writers—but I still do not own a Kindle or Nook or any kind of ereader. I WON’T read electronic books. Sorry.  Most of my backlist is out as ebooks, and I haven’t seen them.

WD:  I really appreciate your time and attention to these questions, Bob. Let's plan on doing it again in another thirty or so years. In the meantime, is there anything you'd care to comment on that I may have missed asking about? If so, feel free to include it here. 

RJR: I think this has been one of the better interviews I’ve done, Wayne, probably because we go back such a long way. I hope we’re both still here and active in another 30 years. I*know I certainly have no intention of EVER retiring. Thanks a lot.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Available Now: (Free on Kindle thru Jan 5) NIGHT SPOOR

This novel, combining elements of a traditional hardboiled crime thriller with vampire lore, is now available Free on Amazon Kindle through Jan 5.
Sales have never been good for this title (originally appearing in 2012) so we're trying to boost interest and get some word of mouth going.
I repeat - for Free. What have you got to lose?
The cover image you're looking at is the vampiress Lenore ... Just look at that beautiful face ... Those mesmerizing eyes ... Those lush lips ... The awaiting fangs ... How can you resist?
I've often said that everything I write is hardboiled. So going up against this fatal femme is a tough, amoral hit man named Pitcairn, who used to think *he* was evil. He finds out about true evil in his first encounter with Lenore, and from there on it is a race for him to stay alive long enough to figure out a way to kill a member of the undead.
Something of a change of pace for me, but one I think you'll enjoy.
Give it a try --- Spread the word!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another Look: HONDO (1953 film, starring John Wayne)

This excellent, often overlooked film was part of a string of solid, gritty, adult-oriented Westerns that started to come out of Hollywood following WWII. Replacing the wild and wooly "shoot-'em-ups" --- generally with little in the way of plot complexities or character development --- that had been a staple of the genre for too long, Western films of the 1950s gave us a more serious, more introspective look at the people and events caught up in the gunplay and hard riding that still supplied plenty of excitement and action for viewers. SHANE, HIGH NOON, THE SEARCHERS, MAN OF THE WEST, THE GUNFIGHTER, BEND OF THE RIVER, SEVEN MEN FROM NOW, etc., were part of this trend … including HONDO.

 Whenever I pause to reflect back on my favorite movies, the first thing I have to do is approach it as having to make two lists --- one, that of my favorite John Wayne films; and then, secondly, a list of non-Duke films. Otherwise, the first twenty or so entries would all be John Wayne-ers. (RED RIVER, RIO BRAVO, THE SEARCHERS, THE QUIET MAN, and EL DORADO always the top five - with RED RIVER never sliding out of first, but the others shifting positions now and then, depending on my mood.)
And yet, upon re-viewing it just the other day, I realized that I would seldom even think of HONDO, let alone place it anywhere near the top of my list. Despite the fact I enjoy it immensely every time I sit down to watch it, for some reason it doesn't come readily to mind when contemplating the Duke's roster of films. What's more, thinking back on discussions I've had either in person or have engaged in with others via the 'net, I suspect I may not be alone in that. It's not that it doesn't deserve to hold a fairly high ranking – it does – but for some reason it often seems to get "lost in the shuffle".

The back story on the film may explain part of why that is.
For starters, it was one of the first features to be made by the new business venture, Wayne-Fellows Productions, that Duke formed with long-time friend Robert Fellows. (Shortly thereafter, when Fellows fell on hard financial times, Wayne bought out his half and renamed the company Batjac, which maintains many Wayne business interests yet today.) HONDO was set to be filmed in the new 3-D process that was becoming all the rage at that point, and was originally geared for Glenn Ford to play the lead role. Veteran director-screenwriter John Farrow would be at the helm of the picture.
When Ford and Farrow clashed just before shooting was scheduled to start, Ford dropped out and Wayne had to step in at the last minute and assume the starring role himself.
Production went slower than planned, partly due to the All-Media cameras (used to achieve the 3-D effect) frequently breaking down as a result of the dust and other harsh elements of the desert location; and partly due to the unfamiliarity of Farrow and his crew when it came to using the specialized equipment. Ultimately, Farrow avoided resorting to many of the "gimmicky" shots such as used in other 3-D movies (meant to enhance the "coming right at you" sensation considered a prerequisite to help "sell" the concept) and did most scenes in a more standard manner. In the end, this made little or no difference at the box office when the film went into release. In the first place, the whole 3-D craze was starting to peter out by then. Secondly, distributor Warner Brothers went to considerable effort promoting the film as utilizing the 3-D process for richer visual scope and perception rather than its "gimmick" aspect. That way, those who wanted 3-D got a little extra zip in a handful of scenes where knives and arrows seemed to fly off the screen at them, those who preferred a more traditional viewing experience weren't distracted by those few scenes.
When all was said and done, the movie was quite well received. It placed sixteenth at the box office that year, grossing over 4 million dollars, and Wayne's female co-star, Geraldine Page, was nominated for an Academy Award in the supporting actress category.

Also of note: When filming ran over schedule, Director Farrow had to leave before completion to fulfill another commitment that couldn't be delayed. As a favor to Duke, his long time friend and mentor, John Ford, stepped in to direct the final climactic scenes where a wagon train of settlers and an already battle-battered troop of soldiers are chased by a horde of Apaches. Although the transition between directors is mostly seamless, you can see some trademark Ford touches in the camerawork and the way he stages the frantic running battle against the vast sweep of the desert landscape.
Another bit of Ford influence can be found in the members of his famed "stock company" --- Wayne, Ward Bond, James Arness, Paul Fix --- who are present in the cast. Andrew McLaglen, son of Victor, who was also a Ford regular, was assistant director on the pic. He would go on to direct numerous TV shows (nearly a hundred episodes of Gunsmoke) and movies, mostly Westerns, several featuring Wayne (notably McLINTOCK and CHISUM).

After HONDO's theater run, it played a few times on TV (where I first saw it, about 1961 or so) but then the Batjac company, under the leadership of Wayne's son Michael, "vaulted" the film for over two decades, making it unavailable anywhere --- including on VHS during the big home video boom of the '70s and '80s. In 1991, it played as a TV "special", complete with much hoopla and a nation-wide program to make the 3-D glasses available to viewers (proceeds from these sales going to cancer research). Then the film was pulled from circulation again, until a second frame-by-frame restoration was completed and it finally got a full-scale release on DVD in 2005.

It was all that time being unavailable, I believe --- the final years of Wayne's life and for nearly a decade after his death, a period when Duke's always-prominent star status was evolving into near-iconic stature (for each of the 35 years since his death he has placed consistently in the Top 10 on polls of favorite male actors) --- that caused HONDO to slip largely from viewers' memory.

As for the film itself, it is a lean (with a running time of only 84 minutes), episodic tale of settlers, cavalry, and Apaches on the warpath. Plot elements that have been used over and over again. But the handling, in this case, makes all the difference. For one thing, the storyline (based on a short story and subsequent novelization by Louis L'Amour) presents the Indians respectfully and much more than just one-dimensional savages. They have been wronged and lied to, it is explained, and these are the reasons for the uprising that backgrounds the film's central chain of events. There is even a subplot involving the Apache chief Vittorio making a young white boy his blood brother due to the bravery the lad shows in attempting to protect his mother. 

Other characters are multi-dimensional as well --- mainly Wayne as Hondo Lane, a former gunfighter and now cavalry dispatch rider; and Geraldine Page as Angie Lowe, a plain-featured, decent, hard-working pioneer wife and mother whose husband is a lout and a coward who leaves her and their son alone and unprotected on a remote ranch. The slowly building romance between Hondo and Mrs. Lowe --- made even more strained by the fact that Hondo was forced to kill Angie's husband when the latter attempted to ambush him --- is wonderfully layered and acted, especially by Miss Page, whose award nomination was surely justified.
(For what it's worth note: 20 years later, Wayne would again play a character simply called "Lane" opposite Ann Margaret's "Mrs. Lowe" in Burt Kennedy's THE TRAIN ROBBERS – a decent but decidedly less powerful film.)
When the action comes in HONDO --- and it is plentiful, what with chases on horseback, gunfights, a saloon brawl, a knife fight, and the aforementioned running battle at the end
--- it is staged every bit as expertly.

I highly recommend this film.
If you, like me, haven't seen it or thought about in a while --- or for sure if you've never seen it --- then I urge you to seek it out. If you like Westerns, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.