westerns: CoD

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for at least 70 years the central pop space in US culture in which to debate and explore the tensions between law, liberty, morality, civilisation, courage and decency

then in the 60s just disssolved, in the space of two or three years: by — among other things — vietnam, civil rights, rock counterculture, blah blah blah (bcz these were elements which couldn't easily be rendered as metaphors in the Western Space?)

anyway i love em: if there's one thing i am unfailingly grateful to [xXx] for, and despite all horrible remnants of a crush and a broken heart, it's having my eyes and mind opened to the excellence of the Western as a form

mark s (mark s), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The Searchers? Cable Hogue?

bobby davro (david h), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:02 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Can you explain why The Epic and The Musical disssssoleved as well? notwivstanderin, Moules Rouge and Gladiatrix

david h (david h), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:03 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The Musical: Ptee to thread when he has completed his dissertation (and had it korrekted by me obv)

The Epic: Cleopatra lost money and wz lame-o. Heaven's Gate, intended to resuscitate it in the wake of the Godather etc, lost even more, destroying Universal Studios.

mark s (mark s), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:07 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(oh sorry, you mean the Classical Epic, not just the V.Long Movie...)

(haha in Italy they call these PEPLUM FILMS)

mark s (mark s), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:09 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I wiz thinking about this in relation to Moulin Rouge and Gladiator, as I sat at my computer - fleeting thought:

"how would you describe these two films - well three options:

1 as direct antecedents of the obv lineage
2 as morphings of the lineage, drawing from and recasting
3 as completely new types of film"

i didn't have time to sit through and verify the usefulness of these thoughts or even the interestingness quotient < /second boring useless post of the day> < rerail>

Yeh, the classical Jason and The Argonauts style thing. There was one on channel 2 today, got me to thinking.

david h (david h), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:13 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

peplum: CoD

mark s (mark s), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:18 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Its a perfect action format for starters.

Surely the popularity comes from the time period itself as a defining period in America itself. It may be a cliched thing to say but there must be some truth in it. The period westerns chronicles are the time in which America defined itself territorially and spiritually. One of the firsts things the US did after freeing themselves from George III was by Louisiana and start spreading out.

From a film-maker's point of view there exists in the history of this period a gold mine of stories, and characters. Flawed heros aplenty, noble savages, triumph over adversity and the environment (another American theme), self sacrifice, robin hoods, heists, the triumph opf progress, the resistance of the old against the new....

Its also a non-controvesial choice in an era of McCarthy and Un-American activities. Either a great mirror for the 50s and 60s or an easy choice so they don't notice you.

So why did they end, metaphor no longer required, free expression reigns. The same themes trod by new idioms. Out with the old in with the new.

Glib or what?

Ed (dali), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:27 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

so which ones do you like and which not? (there wz one which looked good w.burt reynolds and robert duvall on thursday... i only saw a bit though)

mark s (mark s), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:32 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I like all the Eastwood Italian ones,
trippy 90s one: Dead Man
70s SciFi Westerns: Westworld & Time Rider

A Nairn (moretap), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:45 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i feel like i am missing something, but i have never got into them.

anthony easton (anthony), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:51 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

To be honest I've seen a lot of westerns but cannot really name many due to my goldfish like memory and often coming in after the start. stylistically though I like the later western which have a certain sadness, perhaps more for the modern world than for the lost world of the films, the films that try with almost sackcloth and ashes repentance for the destruction of a lost world. One loner against the world, making peace between the Indians and settlers, only to lose it all. Films where the cinematography makes the landscape one of the stars of the film. I'm less enamoured of the more action filled pulpier westerns; spin round three times when shot before dying.

Ed (dali), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Cleopatra, who i am writing on as we speak, was not a bad film- in fact it was a rather brilliant one, in the way it constructed sexual personae, as well as its operatic tendecies.

anthony easton (anthony), Saturday, 23 November 2002 18:56 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I really loathe Westerns because there were so many of them on cheap local TV when I was growing up, I became forever bored. Also my dad was hot on them due to his dad filling him with stories of life with flatmate John Wayne in days before Stagecoach. Grandfather was actually in Stagecoach in very small part - we had to humour my dad that we could recognise Grandpa Jack hanging off the stage every single time he made us watch it. Yawno.

That said the reason for the popularity of the Western in McCarthy/Eisenhower-era America is down to the elements of subversion which fly naturally to Western story lines. The desires and solid moral centre at the heart of an apparent outlaw or loner with a gun was the chief means of conveying the sentiments of a lot of blacklisted screenwriters fucked over by the Un-American Activities posse, as in High Noon, written by Carl Foreman, whose credit was altered to a pseudonym due to his blacklisting. The cowboy figure could be used to address all sorts of social injustices; his value as a positive symbol of American expansion made it possible for the cowboy to be a Trojan horse for many subversive or idealist ideas, whether socialism, the cost of racism, commentary on current political maneuvering, anti-war sentiments, and much later, all kinds of male sexuality.

Okay so I know I hate Westerns when on paper it appears that I have an appreciation for the form. This is true; I just failed to be captivated by the play-out of action over three fucking hours while own father, the aficionado, snores and farts in sofa-sleep. And I hate hate hate films with guns.

suzy (suzy), Saturday, 23 November 2002 19:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(pete is doing his dissertation on musicals? publish please)

u & k westerns: Blood On The Moon with mitchum (kind of atypical in tone, somehow closer to noir but still firmly in the tradition). n.ray's Johnny Guitar!!! the a.mann/j.stewart pictures are great too. king vidor's are very boring, but worth glimpsing just for the strange technicolor set -pieces.

the idea that the specifics of current events became harder to find analogues for within western archetypes is a great one, mark. it runs circles around the standard "westerns died because of their outdated B&W morality" line, which fails to account for even hawks and ford really [bah - excized bit which suzy just covered better]

jones (actual), Saturday, 23 November 2002 19:21 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

can't recall any names but the more violent the better really.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 23 November 2002 19:29 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

my favorite Western is Hawks' "Rio Bravo," just because it's not just the anti-"High Noon," but the anti-Western: two and a half hours of (I forget who said this, but) pure behaving! there's a little action, but they never even leave the town! and Dean Martin steals the show from John Wayne! at one point they even let Ricky Nelson sing!

a close second is "Red River," because of the weirdly unresolved relationship between Monty Clift and John Ireland ("There are only two things more beautiful than a good gun, a woman or a Swiss watch...Ever had a good Swiss watch?") and Wayne's shockingly nasty performance.

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Saturday, 23 November 2002 19:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yes to that. great clift double feature = red river + the misfits

jones (actual), Saturday, 23 November 2002 19:50 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Knife In The Water to thread!

david h (david h), Saturday, 23 November 2002 20:02 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Re: the musical, I saw a poster last night for a film version of Chicago. Are they trying to bring back the Musical? How badly will Chicago the Movie fail? Will it fail?

(it bloody well should, it cast the three least appealing people I could think of in Catherine Zeta Jones, Richard Gere and Renne Zellwegger - do the producers hate personality?)

Ally (mlescaut), Saturday, 23 November 2002 20:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

My favourite (and actually one of my favourite films in any genre) is 'Shane' which I find very moving, partly for personal reasons. It's full of subtle little touches and looks beautiful as well (although there are some indoor shots that don't look as good as the outdoor ones). Completely different, of course, but I also like 'High Plains Drifter' because it's funny and sadistic.

David (David), Saturday, 23 November 2002 20:19 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I love the Hawks ones Justyn mentioned (and El Dorado too, similar as it is to Rio Bravo), but John Ford needs much more love here, esp. for The Searchers and the cavalry films, but there are lots of winners. Sergio Leone too, not just for the Clints but also Once Upon A Time In The West. Clint's own westerns are good too, especially Unforgiven. There are many other good, solid films - John Sturges and Anthony Mann are reliable.

I'd also mention some good TV based on books by the wonderful Larry McMurtry. Everyone should see Lonesome Dove, if only for Robert Duvall giving my favourite EVAH TV performance. The sequel The Streets Of Laredo has James Garner taking the role played by Tommy Lee Jones in LD, and is excellent too. The original books (four by now) are, for me, the best westerns ever written, some of the best historical novels of any kind, and an immense joy to read. On another level, Elmore Leonard's westerns are nearly as enjoyable as his contemporary thrillers.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 24 November 2002 19:51 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Death of the Musical:

It's official. The world-historic death of the musical film is upon us. It's been said before, but usually followed by some caveat about how (Woody Allen/Lars Von Trier/Rivette/Parker&Stone/etc.) intends to resurrect it. But the musical is no longer a mode of expression, a cultural norm, a form in concert with an era. Rather, it is another tool in a directorial canon, a device to comment with and to comment on. Passed from the realm of the living, it resides in a cultural graveyard of tropes subject to periodic reanimation. To produce a musical film is not a reflex action, but a deliberate semiotic act.

Tune back to the early days of talkies, and remember an era before television. A film was an event, a plan for a day. All forms of entertainment assumed an organic single form. One couldn't flip between CNN, HBO, MTV, NBC. There weren't half-hour blocks of various format. If you wanted your drama, your music, your comedy, it all had to come in one neat package. Why did people sing in films? Well, where else were they going to? It was natural. But as mass media further massed itself, sharper simpler genres emerged. The art-house became specialized, the music became specialized, and it all began to be stripped away, piece by piece. To produce a musical today is to hark back to that simpler era, to reassemble the diaspora of the entertainment industry, to swim against the spirit of the times which demands ever more division of the labor of fun.

The staged musical continues to flourish, but only as a celebration of spectacle over substance. The stage has nothing to offer over the big and little screens but flash. Webber's triumph is the downfall of large-form theater, as staged musicals become less events than phenomena, cross marketed and subject to endless sitcom jokes, thrown on bestselling albums and onto the billboard singles chart. But at least reality remains suspended. Film's situation is even worse. No longer can a character burst into song. They must sing for a reason, and the reason becomes, again and again, a commentary on the nature of song itself. Dancer In The Dark was a wry commentary on the musical, demanding near-Dogme restrictions on it, but in the end an exultation of the musical, of imagination and escape, a great lost dream cut short by the hangman's noose of grey reality. But burying Bjork's character wasn't enough to bury the musical film. Moulin Rouge, however, while still imperfect, may be the best memorial service we will ever be offered.

http://www.freakytrigger.co.uk/moulinrouge.html

My fav westerns are Peckinpah coz he did the best films ever. I also like the one with Dean Martin. The closest we have to replace them are, I think, techno-thrillers which rely as much on the restriction of space to play out their tropes (mainly similar) as western's did on the expansiveness of it. Cf that Will Smith film where he's hunted by satellites.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Sunday, 24 November 2002 23:07 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

johnny guitar, obv

bob zemko (bob), Sunday, 24 November 2002 23:11 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

peckinpah also spells the end of his name v.excellently

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 24 November 2002 23:13 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/72/039_24190.jpg

LETS GO

Sorry couldnt resist returning for this.

Kiwi, Sunday, 24 November 2002 23:27 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

good call kiwi

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 24 November 2002 23:33 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

bob i said that one! but i didn't say Rancho Notorious so i will now (ok mostly for the title, but dietrich too)

martin - all my ford comments were in the paragraph i deleted. short version: searchers and liberty valance are especially tremendous, and more complex character-wise than the genre is usually credited for. i'll second your sturges nod too, particularily Bad Day at Black Rock, whether it fully qualifies as a western or not.

the only peckinpah movies i like have winnebagos and satanists in them. leone never did it for me either, not sure why.

jones (actual), Sunday, 24 November 2002 23:38 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

oh sorry sorry jones!

(but surely failure in rendering social metaphors includes failure to cope with broader moralities? i see the distinction but not the break)

bob zemko (bob), Sunday, 24 November 2002 23:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

my prob with westerns: find em boring but love em as form device but feel like a dick cos that means i instantly go to see the breakdowns and dissolutions cf johnny guitar rather than enjoy it too. it's too much of an exercise.

so are we including samurai films? yakuza films? ("easterns"?)

bob zemko (bob), Sunday, 24 November 2002 23:53 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yeah i had the same thought, looking over my favorites - a bit heavy on the playing-with-the-genre, subversive side (haha oh no we only like indie westerns! WINDIES!). the canon's ok by me tho.

i'll have to mull over the metaphors/moralities question: i may be seeing the distinction but not the break myself.

jones (actual), Monday, 25 November 2002 00:26 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

LETS GO

You wan Anjel, no? Okay...I am going to geev eem to you...

Joe (Joe), Monday, 25 November 2002 04:25 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

You wan Anjel, no? Okay...I am going to geev eem to you... greatest fight scene ever. Im going to dig that video out right now.

ahhhh the Wild Bunch perhaps a childhood of violent classic westerns has left a nasty stain, still "I wouldnt have it any other way";)

Kiwi, Monday, 25 November 2002 05:09 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I have just started reading another Larry McMurtry western, this called Zeke And Ned (obviously I am only reading it because it has the name of a leading ILXer in its title), which seems to be largely focussed on the 'Cherokee Nation'. This one is written with Diana Ossana, but that seems not to be hurting it so far (actually I have noticed a couple of bad sentences, but I have no way of knowing if she was responsible - it does still read like McMurtry).

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Monday, 25 November 2002 13:26 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

obviously I am only reading it because it has the name of a leading ILXer in its title

And does that bastard McMurtry give me a cut of the royalties? NO!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 25 November 2002 15:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

pshaw! y'all deserve no less fer 'avin' me put away all them yeers ago so's never to embarriss comp'ny no more

Zeke Raggett, Monday, 25 November 2002 15:53 (fifteen years ago) Permalink


I cannot let this thread pass without saying: it's my favourite genre.

the pinefox, Monday, 25 November 2002 18:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

b-b-but Joyce didn't write a lot of westerns, did he? (I leave a modicum of doubt in that sentence, since I haven't read FW, so it may be all cowboys and saloon brawls for all I know.)

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Tuesday, 26 November 2002 13:58 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...
POX

adamrl (nordicskilla), Tuesday, 10 January 2006 21:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

No order, multi media

1. Once Upon a Time in the West.
2. All the Pretty Horses (novel).
3. Unforgiven.
4. Blueberry (comic).
5. Deadwood.
6. Dead Man.
7. Brokeback Mountain.
8. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (I can't actually remember which Man With No Name film is which, but this one has the best theme tune).
9. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.
10. Blazin' Saddles.

chap who would dare to work for the man (chap), Tuesday, 10 January 2006 23:58 (twelve years ago) Permalink

1. One Eyed Jacks
2. Warlock

andy ---, Wednesday, 11 January 2006 00:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

It's pretty easy, chap. The first one has one main character, the second has two, the third has three.

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 00:46 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The Big Sky

gabbneb (gabbneb), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 00:47 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Mad Max is a western. Sort of.

andy ---, Wednesday, 11 January 2006 00:56 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I really don't know as much about westerns as I'd like! I need to see some.

adamrl (nordicskilla), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 04:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

As I have said on other threads
Search: 3:10 to Yuma

b-b-but Joyce didn't write a lot of westerns, did he?
Is this a sly reference to Joseph Cotten/Holly Martin's speech at the cultural center in The Third Man?

Redd Harvest (Ken L), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 14:49 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I am not that clever.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 18:02 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Leading post-post-Westerns: Fassbinder's Whity and Warhol's Lonesome Cowboys.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 18:06 (twelve years ago) Permalink

eight years pass...

More than a decade ago I saw the start of what looked like a quiet cowboy film set in the snowy mountains. Even though I'm not really into these films the setting really impressed me, it seemed incredibly atmospheric but I was far too tired to watch it. Maybe the film didn't stick to that setting but I hope it did. It looked like it was from 60s/70s, it was in color.

Ring any bells? I'd love to know what it is.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 7 August 2014 22:05 (three years ago) Permalink

any actors at all?

is this empty sanitism (darraghmac), Thursday, 7 August 2014 22:11 (three years ago) Permalink

like chaps idea of multi media picks

books: yeah to McCarthy, particularly all the pretty horses. sudden books, by the excellently named Oliver strange, good pulp stuff from maybe the 60's I guess? jack reacher of its time. and there's another uberviolent series similar that'll come to me, was it edge? yeah I think it was: edge. jt edson stuff decent reads, little formulaic. haven't read lonesome dove but I'll get to it.

TV obv deadwood. haven't seen lonesome dove, I'll get to it.

movies: few dollars more, once upon a time in the west from Leone. Rio bravo for the gaudier style, tho tbrr I never dug john Wayne much besides.

is this empty sanitism (darraghmac), Thursday, 7 August 2014 22:18 (three years ago) Permalink

No clue who the actors were. I can't even remember what language it was in.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 7 August 2014 22:26 (three years ago) Permalink

lol well played

is this empty sanitism (darraghmac), Thursday, 7 August 2014 22:33 (three years ago) Permalink

Never mind Lonesome Dove darraghmac check out Yojimbo and Sanjuro. Once you have watched Toshiro Mifune in his pomp then Clint Eastwood becomes completely unnecessary.

autumn reckoning faction (xelab), Thursday, 7 August 2014 22:41 (three years ago) Permalink

I like lots of unnecessary stuff! but yeah I've meant to check that stuff out for a long time too

was given recs of some obscure 70's westerns from an aul fella at the weekend but damned if I remember anything of it now

is this empty sanitism (darraghmac), Thursday, 7 August 2014 23:12 (three years ago) Permalink

There's some great 70s revisionist westerns - Jeremiah Johnson, McCabe and Mrs Miller, The Missouri Breaks

everyday sheeple (Michael B), Thursday, 7 August 2014 23:24 (three years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

No Shane, High Noon or Liberty Valance here!

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 24 August 2017 02:20 (eight months ago) Permalink

Congratulations on being the first person in the history of the internet to post a "Best 26" list of western movies!

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 24 August 2017 02:53 (eight months ago) Permalink

btw, I agree with you about Ride the High Country vs. The Wild Bunch. It's a pretty sweet list you've put together there.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 24 August 2017 02:54 (eight months ago) Permalink

I'm not so happy with that list; there's at least six Italian westerns that I'd put up there

Josefa, Thursday, 24 August 2017 03:45 (eight months ago) Permalink

Of the modern ones, I feel Tombstone is the most under-rated or at least I can't recall anyone rating it much at the time.

calzino, Thursday, 24 August 2017 08:27 (eight months ago) Permalink

More than a decade ago I saw the start of what looked like a quiet cowboy film set in the snowy mountains. Even though I'm not really into these films the setting really impressed me, it seemed incredibly atmospheric but I was far too tired to watch it. Maybe the film didn't stick to that setting but I hope it did. It looked like it was from 60s/70s, it was in color.

Ring any bells? I'd love to know what it is.

Maybe, The Great Silence?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063032/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_94

Wewlay Bewlay (Tom D.), Thursday, 24 August 2017 10:03 (eight months ago) Permalink

Someone identified it for me on the Hateful Eight thread but thanks anyway. It's a pretty good film.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 24 August 2017 10:54 (eight months ago) Permalink

Ah, I was right then! Great soundtrack by Morricone too.

Wewlay Bewlay (Tom D.), Thursday, 24 August 2017 10:56 (eight months ago) Permalink

Indeed.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 24 August 2017 11:06 (eight months ago) Permalink

I'm not so happy with that list; there's at least six Italian westerns that I'd put up there

― Josefa, Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I tried every Leone and shift in my seat through the spaghetti things.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 24 August 2017 14:39 (eight months ago) Permalink

Would then recommend A Bullet for the General, The Big Gundown, and the aforementioned The Great Silence. One of those spaghettis might stick to the wall. Of course there are loads of silly ones too.

Josefa, Thursday, 24 August 2017 15:02 (eight months ago) Permalink

Clementine, Valance & Yellow Ribbon are the top Fords for me, all essential.

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 24 August 2017 15:42 (eight months ago) Permalink

and the best revisionist westerns are likely Ulzana's Raid, Good Bad Ugly, and perhaps McCabe & Mrs Miller.

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 24 August 2017 15:44 (eight months ago) Permalink

five months pass...

Robert Preston proposing to Debbie Reynolds:

"Why, for you, child bearin' would come as easy as rollin' off a log."

"Well, I... think I'd rather roll off a log, Mr. Morgan."

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Monday, 12 February 2018 22:50 (three months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

1939 was such an amazing year for westerns, after eight years of mostly B flicks no one remembers you suddenly get

Stagecoach w/John Wayne
Dodge City w/Errol Flynn (Flynn's accent kind of incongruous but he does a good job anyway)
Union Pacific w/Joel McCrea
Destry Rides Again w/Jimmy Stewart
Jesse James w/Tyrone Power & (hot young) Henry Fonda

Josefa, Thursday, 19 April 2018 18:12 (one month ago) Permalink

ive never seen Union Pacific

the ignatius rock of ignorance (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 19 April 2018 20:00 (one month ago) Permalink

I admit that's the one I haven't seen either - it's supposed to be on the level of the others, which are all great. It's curiously difficult to find Joel McCrea westerns via the normal channels. I need to see Colorado Territory and Four Faces West for starters.

Josefa, Thursday, 19 April 2018 21:09 (one month ago) Permalink


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