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Tales of the Old [Westerns]

ThomamelasThomamelas SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWNMERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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
The Great Train Robbery (1903). It was a 10 minute short that was filmed most in New Jersey of all places. It's also one of the first films to incorporate a lot of cinematic technique like parallel editing. It was also one of the first films to make use of color (hand colored) and it was the first blockbuster film. It took the medium from being a novelty to something serious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc7wWOmEGGY

Hells Hinges (1916). It's responsible for defining large swaths of the cliches of the Western. The petticoat brigade, the outlaw pining for his lost love, the morally corrupt preacher all come from this movie. It stars the John Wayne of his day, a man by the name of William S. Hart. There Will Be Blood takes a lot from this movie. It's not on Netflix but the National Film Preservation Foundation has a copy of it for free online.

http://www.filmpreservation.org/preserved-films/screening-room/hell-s-hinges-1916
Stagecoach (1939). John Ford and John Wayne. Both had made plenty of Westerns before this one. But combined they found magic. It's the story of a mixed group attempting to make it across to Lordsberg while trying to avoid hostile Indians. It's amazingly tight in it's plotting. Ford doesn't waste anything from dialogue to actions. Everything fulfills some role later on. For people who tend to think of black and white films as boring and plodding, Stagecoach shows them the error of their ways. Wells studied it endlessly before making Citizen Kane, spending nights with various people in the production asking why everything was done the way it was. The shot of John Wayne riding up as the Ringo Kid is an iconic one, and it made him a star. Netflix has it for streaming.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Stagecoach/70135561?strackid=5bec91f21026f928_0_srl&strkid=1197688675_0_0&trkid=438381


The Ox-Bow Incident (1943). It's the first of the social conscience Westerns and probley one of the finest social conscience movies ever made. It stars Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan as two cowboys who end up mixed up with a lynching. I could go on about the power of the film but I won't. I'm just going to give you a clip. Netflix has the full movie for streaming.

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

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Ox-Bow_Incident/60011286?strackid=6cf0226330769af5_0_srl&strkid=146933954_0_0&trkid=438381

My Darling Clementine (1946) Is a bit of a turning point for John Ford. A lot of his films up till now have been creating the myth of the West. In this one we see the first hints of him taking apart the myth. Ebert calls this film the “Sweetest Western ever made”. It has Henry Fonda playing Wyatt Earp in the events leading up to the gun fight at the OK Corral.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/My_Darling_Clementine/60033392?strackid=56011929561e7e0_0_srl&strkid=322114355_0_0&trkid=438381

The Calvary Trilogy: Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950). These are the films people think of when you say John Wayne and John Ford. They solidify the myth of the West, the idea of the Calvary riding over the ridge to a bugle charge, the wagons circling, fighting off the Indians. They are some of the most fun Westerns that the team of John Wayne and John Ford did together. Also the Westerns that best fit the idea that the genre is full of imperialist dogma. Fort Apache is available for streaming.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Fort_Apache/70048598?strackid=317ed1e79424c42f_0_srl&strkid=1964733723_0_0&trkid=438381 (Fort Apache)

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/She_Wore_a_Yellow_Ribbon/60010885?strackid=5376bfb2dac4ad2b_0_srl&strkid=1967355203_0_0&trkid=438381 (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon)

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Rio_Grande/910497?strackid=3a09d13c195e64aa_0_srl&strkid=2132115221_0_0&trkid=438381 (Rio Grande)

Red River (1948) John Wayne plays a man driven to make a successful and powerful ranch with the help of his adopted son and his partner. During the cattle drive to market Dunson (Wayne) makes a brutal attack on a cow hand leading to a split between him and his son. Garth (Clift) takes the herd and drives it to market. When John Ford saw the movie he said 'I didn’t know the big son of a bitch could act!'

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Red_River/897527?strackid=97a929056b45b27_0_srl&strkid=1014381686_0_0&trkid=438381

The Furies (1950). Antony Mann is a director who is often over shadowed by Ford and Leone but he is as equally important to the genre as those two. What he brings is an air of darkness and cruelty to the Western. Where Ford uses the landscape of the West to show majesty and grandeur of the West, Mann used it to show the bleak emptiness of the land. The Furies is the story of a family ranch and the conflicts within it.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Furies/60011141?strackid=33e5a9167ec22d10_0_srl&strkid=2025748670_0_0&trkid=438381

Broken Arrow (1950). It is perhaps the first of the White Guilt movies but it doesn't fall into the traps that movies like Dances with Wolves does that make those films unbearable. Jimmy Stewart plays a retired scout who is tired of the constant warfare and wants to bring an end to it. So he begins to talk with the local Apaches and slowly they begin to build a peace that is threatened by old feuds on both sides. The movie is sympathetic to the Indians but it's clear that vicious crimes were committed by both sides. It's available for streaming on Netflix.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Broken_Arrow/70065051?strackid=1abd2b124ac7434_1_srl&strkid=1556176065_1_0&trkid=438381

Winchester ’73 (1950) , The Naked Spur (1952) , and The Man from Laramie (1955) Antony Mann and Jimmy Stewart made five films together, these are the best three. All of them are very, very dark. Stewart plays a man haunted by his past in all of them. And all three of them are worth watching. Mann is the director everyone forgets to mention but he did some truly brilliant Westerns.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Winchester_73/60027752?strackid=54d6685e2f699077_0_srl&strkid=1728407301_0_0&trkid=438381 (Winchester '73)


http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Naked_Spur/60011269?strackid=3e138f109012cdc9_0_srl&strkid=1309756945_0_0&trkid=438381 (The Naked Spur)

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Man_from_Laramie/733286?strackid=7e59b33c86a20255_0_srl&strkid=414718136_0_0&trkid=438381 (The Man from Laramie)

High Noon (1952) The story of a sheriff who is abandoned by the town he's sworn to protect, leaving him to face down a gang of criminals by himself. This is one of the most iconic Westerns of all time. The idea of the lone man standing for justice had been done before, but this movie made the trope it's own. If you have any interest in Westerns then you have to watch this film.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/High_Noon/589258?strackid=51c67d2f87df3084_0_srl&strkid=1118585516_0_0&trkid=438381

Shane (1953) Shane is perhaps the definitive Classic Western. If you had to only ever watch one, it would be Shane. All of the mythology of the West comes into place in this film, and if it seems cliché ridden then that's simply because this is where all of them were gather. I could go on about how perfect it is, but I'll let Woody Allen do it for me. (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/03/movies/watching-movies-with-woody-allen-coming-back-to-shane.html?pagewanted=all ) It has Alan Ladd as the gunfighter who is at the end of an era. The West has mostly been tamed and it's time for him to move on. Until he encounters a rancher and his family being bulled. Jack Palance plays a simply amazing villain in the film, someone who defines what it means to wear a black hat.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Shane/60001810?strackid=1ba137b5a90083d3_0_srl&strkid=1646551588_0_0&trkid=438381

The Searchers (1956) Is not a great film. The humor in the film is simply terrible and awkward. And Ford is a little timid about making this film. But it's an incredibly influential film even outside the genre. Wayne and Ford decide that it's time to break down the myth and deconstruct the Western. And this film turns all of Ford's previous works upon their heads. Wayne plays Ethan, a Civil War veteran who never quite gets over being on the loosing side, and one who's racism is a deep and burning passion. When audiences saw this film they were expecting something like the Calvary trilogy. What they got made them much more uncomfortable. Ethan starts out being a little racist. Then he's racist. Then he's very racist. And finally he gets to the point of simply being a villain. The basic story is that Ethan's brother and his family are attacked by Indian raiders. Most of the family is killed but the little girl is taken away. Ethan goes off to find her.
So he can kill her because she's tainted.
It's a complicated film with layers of subtext.

When the 70's film makers came around they took this movie and made it their own. Taxi Driver is almost a remake of it. The shots from the film show up in hundreds of other movies. It wasn't the first dark Western. It wasn't the first deconstructionist Western. Mann did that first. But when Ford and Wayne did it, you get something stunning. Netflix has it on streaming.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Searchers/70048803?strackid=294f322a3b8308c2_0_srl&strkid=1576426998_0_0&trkid=438381

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.
The Dollars Trilogy. Sergio Leone begins to rebuild the myth of the West here. These tend to be some of the Westerns that people know best. Leone had a fascination of with the rituals of violence that he picked up from the Samurai film and it becomes clear here. The long waits, the building to tension all to be released in a brief climax of violence. And at the same time, Leone shows us that life in the new era of Westerns isn't sacred. If you haven't seen them, then do so.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/A_Fistful_of_Dollars/21236200?strackid=6a84ed1af7255b55_0_srl&strkid=1231833452_0_0&trkid=438381 (A Fistful of Dollars)

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/For_a_Few_Dollars_More/11519851?strackid=5b9719a147c3356a_0_srl&strkid=1635148150_0_0&trkid=438381 (For a Few Dollars More)

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Good_the_Bad_and_the_Ugly/553500?strackid=634c6544540d6d85_0_srl&strkid=993803068_0_0&trkid=438381 (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)

Django (1966) The most violent Western ever made. Perhaps even one of the most violent movies ever made. It has the iconic image of Django pulling a coffin into town. The coffin has a Gatling gun inside it. I'd post the plot but it doesn't matter, people get shot. A lot. Some get tortured. Banned in Sweden.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Django/60026367?strackid=324622610dcf88c5_0_srl&strkid=136054812_0_0&trkid=438381

Hombre (1967) Hombre lays some of the ground work for the Revisionist Western. It stars Paul Newman as a white man who was taken by the Apaches, brought back to white society by the Army and then returns to the Apache as an adult. He's drawn back into town by the death of the white man who raised him and the boarding house he's been left. This film makes an interesting mirror with Hud. Hud starts out as a guy you want to be like then becomes a bastard. Hombre is a bastard but becomes likable towards the end. Paul Newman gives a compelling performance as usual. It's available on instant watch

[url] http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Hombre/60023041?strackid=207dcede250dd19d_0_srl&strkid=47383251_0_0&trkid=438381 [/url]


Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Leone's best film. Most of it is shots from other films stitched together into one story. It's one of those films that everytime you watch another Western you'll end up finding it referenced in this film. It's also part of a lose trilogy made up of it, Duck You Sucker (Once Upon a Time in Mexico/A Fistful of Dynamite) and Once Upon a Time in America.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Once_Upon_a_Time_in_the_West/60031884?strackid=535d442b18f88b86_0_srl&strkid=266866664_0_0&trkid=438381

Hang 'Em High (1968) Eastwood returns to the US and the Americans re-enter the Western. It's not a great film but a fun one.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Hang_Em_High/570427?strackid=198fe4593f71314b_0_srl&strkid=211225751_0_0&trkid=438381

The Wild Bunch (1969) This film had a pretty deep impact on cinema with it's realistic portrayals of gun violence and it's protagonists who were good men who did bad things for money. To quote Rodger Ebert
Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch," one of the great movies of the decade, saw violence as essentially unselective. That was unusual in a Western, where violence has always been highly selective; with all those bullets flying around, you might get a good guy wounded once in a while, but somehow, mostly bad guys got killed.

The Western reflected our national view of violence, of foreign policy, of a lot of things. But Peckinpah seemed to be recasting it in a new mold, throwing out the moral extremes and stranding everyone in a gray, blood-soaked middle ground. In the shoot-out at the end of "The Wild Bunch," everyone caught it: men, women, children, dogs, chickens, regardless of guilt or innocence.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Wild_Bunch_Special_Edition/70043348?strackid=1a165654b80b22c9_0_srl&strkid=1804168073_0_0&trkid=438381

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (1969) It had a certain nostalgia. It's not a perfect movie but one you can watch over and over again. Newman and Redford are just wonderful.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Butch_Cassidy_and_the_Sundance_Kid/26308213?strackid=7b71ed29015e5a06_0_srl&strkid=1311591981_0_0&trkid=438381

Little Big Man (1970) The first of the revisionist westerns. Not one of my favorite films but it spawned a whole sub-genre.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Little_Big_Man/60010600?strackid=483b4a2f6c302ad_0_srl&strkid=615195819_0_0&trkid=438381

Companeros (1970) A fun little film set in revolutionary Mexico. It's the story of a Swedish mercenary who goes to Mexico to sell guns. The reason I mention it is that it's a Zapata Western which is a weird little sub-genre of films set in Mexico during the revolution with Marxist themes.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Companeros/60034018?strackid=2c14038ea1afe4c4_0_srl&strkid=237571625_0_0&trkid=438381

El Topo (1970) The most bizarre of all Westerns. It's an attempt to do an allegory of all religions but done as a Western. It was a cult film shown at midnight screenings of it that managed to hang around by getting the patronage of people like John Lennon. It's the first and most odd of the Acid Westerns.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/El_Topo/70065389?strackid=11140d976025dc66_0_srl&strkid=2025814207_0_0&trkid=438381

High Plains Drifter (1973) One of Eastwoods finest movies. It's the violent Spagitti Western verison of High Noon.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/High_Plains_Drifter/589340?strackid=11cce6f905450364_0_srl&strkid=1584029290_0_0&trkid=438381

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) One of the last westerns of the period. Eastwood says good-bye to the Western for a while. It's ultimately the redemption of the violent hero's of the period.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Outlaw_Josey_Wales/835516?strackid=64a504e04c0a042d_0_srl&strkid=436476420_0_0&trkid=438381

The Shootist (1976) It's Wayne's last filmhttp://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Shootist/60011354?strackid=159a1a030be56262_0_srl&strkid=88409413_0_0&trkid=438381. He plays an aging gunfighter in a west that's been civilized and he's afraid he's dying. Not of being killed but of dying a slow painful death. So he decides to go out with a bang. It's his good-bye to the genre and it's a fine film.

Unforgiven (1992) Eastwood deconstructs the myth of his westerns.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Unforgiven/1080395?strackid=451f730ba332d16d_0_srl&strkid=706030101_0_0&trkid=438381
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.

    JKKaAGp.png
  • BogartBogart Newsflash, fuckwads: I'm a good person. 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!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!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:
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    hmmm i think i don't really care for the rugged individualism or the violence or the mythology of the virtuous gunslinger or any of that. like i enjoyed unforgiven because i felt like it kind of subverted the mythology of the west.

    the west was almost completely a vicious amoral shithole, and i guess i don't want movies to pretty it up.

    i do like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid though. I just can't help myself.

    I can see some of that. I actually think that sort of individualism is a good thing - to a certain extent - or at the very least an interesting thing, and I think it's a shame that it's been tarnished by association with lunatics and asshole businessmen in bolo ties. While not excusing anything or canonizing anyone, I think that there is something impressive about people taking a bunch of dry crappy windswept land and turning it through basically sheer force of will into a place where cities could be built.

    Really, though, many or even most westerns aren't about the west as a historic place. They're not purporting to tell the true history of the frontier. It's more that the west is the kind of landscape, like the desert or the sea in other cultures or storytelling traditions, where stories fraught with a lot of allegory or ethical lessons can be set, and where the classic dramatic conflicts - stuff like the individual versus the community, or man versus nature, or good versus evil - can be made starker. The movie The Big Country, which is really good, probably has nothing to do with the true history of ranching but it's a great story about a thoughtful person renouncing violence and trying to find a better way to live. A movie like High Noon probably has nothing to do with anything that ever happened anywhere, but it celebrates what I think is the positive side of individualism - someone standing against peer pressure and social opprobrium to call something wrong and try to change it.
    Irond Will wrote: »
    I guess that you make a compelling set of points. The themes of "man against a hostile world" are just not all that present in modern american cinema - even in movies like Sunshine that do a good job with the theme for the first two thirds eventually have to cook up an antagonist. It's a concept that I think was more central to the American identity fifty years ago, and maybe this is why it kind of fails to resonate with me.

    For your second paragraph, the movies you mentioned seem to be simply staging-grounds for a specific sort of story that the writer wanted to tell anyways - heroic sacrifice or redemption or whatever. It almost seems as though the western themes are secondary and mostly chosen because they were familiar to the audience of the era. These days the same story would be a cop drama or woven into some other familiar genre.

    I mean i see your point - i shouldn't turn my back on the western even if i find the central themes kind of offputting because the western was used as a familiar vehicle to tell some pretty great stories and explore some great themes for twenty years or so.

    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    For your second paragraph, the movies you mentioned seem to be simply staging-grounds for a specific sort of story that the writer wanted to tell anyways - heroic sacrifice or redemption or whatever. It almost seems as though the western themes are secondary and mostly chosen because they were familiar to the audience of the era. These days the same story would be a cop drama or woven into some other familiar genre.

    You're absolutely right. I think what the western brought to the table in contrast with cop dramas or whatever is that the landscape allows you to go completely minimalist with your story; you can prune away almost everything. You can have a western story with two speaking parts, or one.

    It lets you focus on the central conflict and brings it out in really sharp relief. Say your story is two guys want to kill each other. If those guys are in the modern day, or in Renaissance Italy, it will almost always make your story be about their social webs and all these other forces that impact on them. In the West, it can be boiled down to man vs. man and nothing else.

    I think a side-effect of this pruning is that it sometimes makes moral dualities starker and trims away leavening ambiguities - the bad cowboy never has a wife and a family and a sick grandma that will miss him - so it "feels" kind of right-wing even when it's really not, because they are fond of inventing dualities like that in the real world. So I can understand why urban dudes are skeptical of westerns. It's hard to not have them feel on some level like they are telling you to go out and salute the flag or something. But in terms of their portrayal of human characters and human foibles, many of them are as sensitively done as in any other genre.

  • BogartBogart Newsflash, fuckwads: I'm a good person. 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 Newsflash, fuckwads: I'm a good person. 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 or, The Whale 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 SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • 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.

  • 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 SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • 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 SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • ThomamelasThomamelas SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • 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.

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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
  • 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 SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • 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.

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

    For shame PA!

  • ThomamelasThomamelas SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • 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 WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited May 2010
    Beautiful OP, Thom.

    Makes me want to start watching westerns

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  • ThomamelasThomamelas SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • ThomamelasThomamelas SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • 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 SANTRON---HAS-COME-TO-TOWN MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL---EXCEPT THE AVENGERS. THE AVENGERS MUST 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.

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!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!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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