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Tales of the Old [Westerns]

ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
edited July 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
The Western. Wide open spaces full of beauty and loneliness. Conflicts centered around codes of honor rather then the rule of law. Frontier verses civilization. All of these themes give us the Western, a genre that is generally much more complex then often given credit for. This thread is a place for the discussion of the Western in all of it's forms. I'm including a list of the influential and must watch movie Westerns. If someone wants to do a section of text for Western novels and TV shows, I'll add it. Also if anyone wants to do some of the later films, then feel free and I'll edit in.

The history of the Western films can be broken up sections:

Pre-Stagecoach
Stagecoach to The Searchers
A Fistful of Dollars to Unforgiven
Post-Unforgiven
Spoiler:
Spoiler:

At this point we hit a gap in the Western. The genre isn't quite sure what to make of itself.

Rio Bravo (1959) It's the story of a Sheriff who needs help, gets plenty of it from the town but doesn't want it. It's not a dark film at all and a very fun Wayne western. It also has an absolutely brilliant performance by Dean Martin.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Rio_Bravo/60020040?strackid=540fe852aad54750_0_srl&strkid=1379750461_0_0&trkid=438381

The Magnificent Seven (1960) This is the point where people chime in and say how it's simply a remake of the Seven Samurai. And it is, almost shot for shot. That's not the important part. The important part is that it shows how much Kurosawa was influenced by Ford, and how tightly intertwined the Samurai movie and the Western are. Which becomes a big deal when we get to Leone. It's also just a fun movie.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Magnificent_Seven/60011750?strackid=11cbe948f4b620de_0_srl&strkid=941307931_0_0&trkid=438381

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. (1962) Ford, Wayne and Stewart all in the same film. It's one of the last masterpieces of Ford's work and in this film he lays it all bare. He shows us the lies he told and more importantly why they were told. It's really his good-bye to the genre and at the end you'll understand all of his films with the line “Print the legend”.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Man_Who_Shot_Liberty_Valance/60011244?strackid=6f0cdf6d4bd9dad6_0_srl&strkid=816591020_0_0&trkid=438381

Hud. (1963) Hud is really the final deconstruction of the cowboy and the myth before we get to the rise of the Spaghetti Westerns. Set in the year of it's filming, it's the story of three men. Hud, a selfish bastard of a cowboy. Homer, Hud's father and a man of principle. And Lonnie, Hud's teenage nephew. Slowly over the course of the film we see Hud go from that friend who's a bit of bastard but you wanna be like to being just a bastard at the end. Paul Newman played a lot of anti-heroes during this time. And Hud is perhaps my favorite.

[url] http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Hud/60010460?strackid=2e8a0b4a64669908_0_srl&strkid=1527798544_0_0&trkid=438381 [/url]

And this brings us up to the Spaghetti western.
Spoiler:
And now we're in a period of looking for a new myth of the Western. There are some more modern westerns but the reality is that they haven't been influential.

Edit 1: Added El Topo and The Shootist
Edit 2: Added Hud and Hombre
Edit 3: Added a link for Hell's Hinges online

Thomamelas on
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Posts

  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Great post. I think if I was pushed to pick a single film as my favourite I'd go for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    I saw an Australian comedy troupe last year in London who had constructed an entire musical/comedy show around the concept of the Spaghetti Western. It was a combination of acted scenes and almost radio show like musical effects, in addition to their 5 piece band. They were pretty impressive.

    Here is a link

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Gosh, can't say I've seen enough Westerns, even though I like them. The remake of 3:10 to Yuma is great.

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  • BogartBogart MR. Lady Anime Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Once Upon A Time In The West will always be the paramount accomplishment in the genre for me. It's ridiculously beautiful, has what I think is Morricone's best soundtrack and is packed with stunning performances (Fonda especially).

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2010
    Great thread OP!

    I have a hard time picking a favorite. The subgenres are so different. Spaghetti Westerns are beautiful and iconic, the best traditional Westerns have rich characters, weighty themes and moral heft, and the revisionist Westerns are sometimes really fun and subversive. Of the various types, though, my favorites would be The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, High Noon, and Josey Wales.

    Those are subject to change at any minute, though.

    Have you seen The Big Country, Thom? Gregory Peck as a newlywed sea captain turned pacifist whose wife and rancher family all think he's a coward for not participating in a range war against a rival family. People don't talk about it much these days but I really like it.

    ---

    some random videos:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKLvKZ6nIiA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW-jSa9_k3M

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45KAjt7v4t4

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2010
    A while ago back in [chat] Irond Will and I were talking about Westerns and why he didn't like them and why I did. Let me dig out the exchange we had:
    Spoiler:
    Spoiler:

    Spoiler:

  • BogartBogart MR. Lady Anime Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I caught about ten minutes of The Outrage the other day as I flicked through the TV. It's a western remake of Rashomon, and isn't very good but it has Paul Newman as a Mexican and I'll be damned if it isn't the most jaw-droppingly woeful bit of miscasting I've ever seen.

  • BogartBogart MR. Lady Anime Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    There was an interview with Kurt Russell a while back that shed some light on the somewhat troubled production of Tombstone. Firing the director, the intriguing possibility of Willem Defoe as Doc Halliday, Russell being the director and hiring George Cosmatos as his beard, the frightening prospect of Richard Gere as Wyatt Earp, the competition with Costner's Earp film, etc.

    It's an interesting read.

  • AtomikaAtomika genius of the restoration Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Thomamelas wrote: »
    And now we're in a period of looking for a new myth of the Western. There are some more modern westerns but the reality is that they haven't been influential.

    Well, I chalk up our current state of Western cinema to our collective ignorance of where to take the genre next. The arc of the Western genre follows the arc of all genres: establishment, delineation, iconography, social relevance, exploitation, subversion, and finally realism. We simply are likely at the end point for any subset of narrative tradition. Where to go from that point is both everywhere and nowhere; there will likely be no more specific collective movements of the genre, but each individual effort will try to be as new as it can.

    The 3:10 to Yuma remake was a return to the classic tradition. Tombstone was a romanticized telling of real events (and highly romanticized, at that). The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a marked turn toward unabashed realism, which I personally could stand seeing more of. Deadwood, the TV series, was along that line as well.

    The West was a harsh and dangerous place, full of violent indigenous peoples, extreme weather, arid topography, and no real law to speak of. Further romanticizing of those attributes seems dishonest at this point, as the West did not suffer the weak or meek. It was truly the struggle of bringing order to chaos, and doing so in the hands of dangerous and chaotic people.

    Personally, I'd love to see a realistic take on Wyatt Earp or Johnny Ringo. Perhaps no figure in the Western mythology casts the shadow Earp does, and likely no figure has been so erroneously portrayed. As well, I'm drooling with anticipation over the new Coens movie, the remake of True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges.

  • GrisloGrislo Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Bogart wrote: »
    There was an interview with Kurt Russell a while back that shed some light on the somewhat troubled production of Tombstone. Firing the director, the intriguing possibility of Willem Defoe as Doc Halliday, Russell being the director and hiring George Cosmatos as his beard, the frightening prospect of Richard Gere as Wyatt Earp, the competition with Costner's Earp film, etc.

    It's an interesting read.

    Kurt Russell apparently suggested, not entirely joking, to Costner that they swap movies during the whole promotion campaign so they'd each promote the other's movie. It's a shame they didn't do it.

    Whatever people say about Russell, he's usually great in interviews.

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  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Great thread OP!

    I have a hard time picking a favorite. The subgenres are so different. Spaghetti Westerns are beautiful and iconic, the best traditional Westerns have rich characters, weighty themes and moral heft, and the revisionist Westerns are sometimes really fun and subversive. Of the various types, though, my favorites would be The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, High Noon, and Josey Wales.

    I tend to have a bias towards the older Westerns. I enjoy seeing Eastwood's work but I'd rather watch Fonda and Wayne. And I didn't even touch on a number of sub-genres of Western like the Ostern which tended to be very sympathetic to the Indians.
    Those are subject to change at any minute, though.

    Have you seen The Big Country, Thom? Gregory Peck as a newlywed sea captain turned pacifist whose wife and rancher family all think he's a coward for not participating in a range war against a rival family. People don't talk about it much these days but I really like it.

    I have not, but I'll look into it.
    Once Upon A Time In The West will always be the paramount accomplishment in the genre for me. It's ridiculously beautiful, has what I think is Morricone's best soundtrack and is packed with stunning performances (Fonda especially).

    The great thing about Fonda is that he's the villain in that role. He made his name always playing a hero and the audience expects it only to find out he's the bad guy.

  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I have to agree that I wouldn't mind seeing more realistic looks at the genre like Deadwood was (albeit with some major stylistic freedoms such as the use of modern, um, language). There have been some fine films recently, but they're basically just retreading old ground, which is okay, but not something which is going to be classic or influential.

    Great OP by the way.

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  • DuffelDuffel Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I was such a huge spaghetti western fan growing up. Still have a poster for TGTBATU on my wall.

    It's kinda sad that the genre has fallen by the wayside. The 19th century in general is very fascinating to me and I wish we got to see it more often than the occasional Oscar-bait period piece.

  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    OremLK wrote: »
    I have to agree that I wouldn't mind seeing more realistic looks at the genre like Deadwood was (albeit with some major stylistic freedoms such as the use of modern, um, language). There have been some fine films recently, but they're basically just retreading old ground, which is okay, but not something which is going to be classic or influential.

    Great OP by the way.

    The revisionist Westerns like Little Big Man are all about attempting to tell a more accurate picture of the West. I like Deadwood but it wasn't really breaking much in the way of new ground except in use of the word cocksucker.

  • Duchess ProzacDuchess Prozac Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I grew up hating westerns. I hated John Wayne with a passion and I found the John Ford movies to be untolerablly dull, but I discovered the Spaghetti western when I was about 16 with A Fistfull of Dollars and Hang 'Em High and began to see what's so special about gunslingers and bandits and what-not. I still can't stand the old John Ford movies, though.

  • QuetzatcoatlQuetzatcoatl Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The only classic westerns I've really watched were Leone's spaghetti westerns, and I really liked the atmosphere and pace of them. They really stand their ground even among modern movies with amazing music and atmosphere.

    Speaking of more modern westerns, wasn't there a movie with Bruce Willis that was a bit of a remake of a fistful of dollars? Also, 3:10 to Yuma was a pretty good movie, at least as a modern version of the western.

  • DuffelDuffel Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The only classic westerns I've really watched were Leone's spaghetti westerns, and I really liked the atmosphere and pace of them. They really stand their ground even among modern movies with amazing music and atmosphere.

    Speaking of more modern westerns, wasn't there a movie with Bruce Willis that was a bit of a remake of a fistful of dollars? Also, 3:10 to Yuma was a pretty good movie, at least as a modern version of the western.
    Last Man Standing.

  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I grew up hating westerns. I hated John Wayne with a passion and I found the John Ford movies to be untolerablly dull, but I discovered the Spaghetti western when I was about 16 with A Fistfull of Dollars and Hang 'Em High and began to see what's so special about gunslingers and bandits and what-not. I still can't stand the old John Ford movies, though.

    And a lot of people don't like Ford's stuff. But he has a really wide range of Westerns to look at. If the Calvary trilogy isn't right for you then I suggest looking at The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or Sergeant Rutledge. Both are much more thoughtful movies then most people expect for a Ford movie.

  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    And I checked YouTube's movie section to see what they had up and all I could find is McLintock. It's not one of the great Westerns. It is a rather fun Western that shows the transition from the frontier to society. It has Wayne and Maureen O'Hara who always had a great chemistry.

  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I know it's terribly unrealistic, but The Quick and the Dead was fun to watch. As for "real" westerns, I still like Big Jake quite a bit, and High Plains Drifter is my favorite old school western.

    I know they're almost different animals, but can we talk about TV westerns too? I watched The Lone Ranger and The Rifleman pretty regularly as a kid.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
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  • DuffelDuffel Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Also, I don't know how we haven't mentioned Zorro yet. An excellent heroic character, fun to watch and very influential.

    The Spanish Mexico thing is kind of a subgenre of the Western, though.

  • RocketSauceRocketSauce Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Once Upon A Time In The West is my all time favorite. Like someone said earlier, it's got it all. I don't think anything in a Western is as good as the slow-mo flashbacks as the guitar kicks in.

    I love Unforgiven and I would say it's the most beautiful looking Western ever made, and love the scene where the prostitute tells Eastwood about his partner and without skipping a beat he just begins downing the bottle, and from then on you see the kind of man he used to be.

    I'd also consider No Country For Old Men to be a Western as well, and really enjoyed it.

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Fantastic post Thoma.

    Also. Deadwood is the best wood.

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I greatly enjoy Leone, of course, and Deadwood, Unforgiven and Liberty Valance, but I've never considered myself a western fan as such. I was caught completely unawares by how much I loved The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I've rarely seen a film that beautiful and sad.

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  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    wwtMask wrote: »
    I know it's terribly unrealistic, but The Quick and the Dead was fun to watch. As for "real" westerns, I still like Big Jake quite a bit, and High Plains Drifter is my favorite old school western.

    I know they're almost different animals, but can we talk about TV westerns too? I watched The Lone Ranger and The Rifleman pretty regularly as a kid.

    Yes. I know some of the TV Westerns but I don't know them well enough to do the kind of post I made for the movies. Same for books, but if someone does I will gladly add it to the OP.
    Also, I don't know how we haven't mentioned Zorro yet. An excellent heroic character, fun to watch and very influential.

    The Spanish Mexico thing is kind of a subgenre of the Western, though.

    There are thousands of Mexican Westerns, it's still a fairly popular genre there I'm told. The only ones I really know would be the Mariachi trilogy.

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    My Name is Nobody is probably worth a mention. It's pretty funny in a really off kilter way, and has a handful of well done scenes.

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • YallYall Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    No mention of "They Call Me Trinity"?

    For shame PA!

  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Yall wrote: »
    No mention of "They Call Me Trinity"?

    For shame PA!

    I haven't seen it yet. I don't know the Terrence Hill movies beyond My Name is Nobody.

  • YallYall Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Thomamelas wrote: »
    Yall wrote: »
    No mention of "They Call Me Trinity"?

    For shame PA!

    I haven't seen it yet. I don't know the Terrence Hill movies beyond My Name is Nobody.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/They_Call_Me_Trinity

    Fantastic movie. My boss turned me onto Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer stuff a while back.

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2010
    Beautiful OP, Thom.

    Makes me want to start watching westerns

    Wqdwp8l.png
  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Beautiful OP, Thom.

    Makes me want to start watching westerns

    It's a massive genre that really does have something for everyone.

  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    http://www.archive.org/details/angel_and_the_badman

    Angel and the Badman is one of Wayne's Republic Westerns. It wasn't a huge hit when it was released but it's received lots of TV play because the copyright for it was allowed to lapse. It's an early example of the gunfighter trying to retire theme that Shane would later do so perfectly.

  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Unforgiven wins. It's one of the best movies ever, let alone the best western. I like my west ugly and gritty.

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  • YougottawannaYougottawanna Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I didn't see Once Upon a Time in the West until maybe a year ago, and after I did I had to put it in my top three with Unforgiven and TGTBATU.

    A couple halloweens ago I was gonna be Tucco and two of my friends were gonna be Blondie and Angel Eyes. It fell through at the last minute, now I wanna try and pull that off again this year.

  • YougottawannaYougottawanna Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Also, I'm just gonna put this in the thread:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6BQKFs3-VM

  • 3lwap03lwap0 Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    This might get me run out on a rail, but i've always considered Last Man Standing to be a pseudo western, even if it was 1920/1930 era. Really, just a gut feeling, nothing much else.


    My grandfather raised me, and more than anything, he loved westerns. I would watch Gunsmoke with him, Bonanza, and every single Clint Eastwood film he could find (he wasn't much of a John Wayne fan). When his health took a turn for the worse, we rigged a T.V. up by his hospital bed, and I would watch The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly with him. He died shortly after, and to this day, I can't watch The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It just hits me too hard. :(

    I think Pringles original intention was to make tennis balls... but on the day the rubber was supposed to show up a truckload of potatoes came. Pringles is a laid-back company, so they just said, "Fuck it, cut em up!".
  • ThomamelasThomamelas “Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    3lwap0 wrote: »
    This might get me run out on a rail, but i've always considered Last Man Standing to be a pseudo western, even if it was 1920/1930 era. Really, just a gut feeling, nothing much else.


    My grandfather raised me, and more than anything, he loved westerns. I would watch Gunsmoke with him, Bonanza, and every single Clint Eastwood film he could find (he wasn't much of a John Wayne fan). When his health took a turn for the worse, we rigged a T.V. up by his hospital bed, and I would watch The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly with him. He died shortly after, and to this day, I can't watch The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It just hits me too hard. :(

    I haven't seen it but given that Kurosawa has a writing credit for it, then I would consider it likely. Kurosawa had a huge love for the work of John Ford.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2010
    Kurosawa's writing credit is just there as acknowledgment that Last Man Standing is a remake of Yojimbo.

    And this is IMDB; I don't actually know if Kurosawa is really credited in the film or if it's just some internet wag having fun.

  • 3lwap03lwap0 Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Kurosawa's writing credit is just there as acknowledgment that Last Man Standing is a remake of Yojimbo.

    And this is IMDB; I don't actually know if Kurosawa is really credited in the film or if it's just some internet wag having fun.

    There's also the parallel of Fistful of Dollars. I guess they're both homages to Yojimbo?

    I think Pringles original intention was to make tennis balls... but on the day the rubber was supposed to show up a truckload of potatoes came. Pringles is a laid-back company, so they just said, "Fuck it, cut em up!".
  • Page-Page- Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I found the 3:10 to Yuma remake disappointing. There were some good scenes, and a couple of nice performances, but the ending was so bad it ruined the whole thing.

    For recent Westerns I'd have to go with The Proposition and The Good The Bad and The Weird. Neither are traditional in their settings (Australia and China), but they both carry at least the spirit of the genre. The Proposition especially; the parallels between the Australian frontier and the American frontier are so obvious that it really could have been set in either place, but Australia still manages to own the film. And the message of frontier justice being forced into a state where it's more brutal than the crimes it's supposed to punish is horrifying. The Good The Bad and The Weird is just a goofy action adventure movie with Western trappings, but it's still the only other movie in the genre I'd watch again since Unforgiven.

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2010
    3lwap0 wrote: »
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Kurosawa's writing credit is just there as acknowledgment that Last Man Standing is a remake of Yojimbo.

    And this is IMDB; I don't actually know if Kurosawa is really credited in the film or if it's just some internet wag having fun.

    There's also the parallel of Fistful of Dollars. I guess they're both homages to Yojimbo?

    All of them are ostensibly based on Dashiell Hammett's crime novel Red Harvest, although I think Fistful was more a remake of Yojimbo than of the book, while Last Man Standing was the other way around.

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