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LawrenceA

Recently Watched Westerns

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"The Cowboys" - 1971 - directed by Mark Rydell and starring John Wayne -

It's an extraordinary Western in which an aging man is forced to hire boys to get his cattle to market - the environment poses many difficult problems, especially for the boys who are trying to grow up and for Wil Andersen (Mr.Wayne's character) who is trying to protect the boys, especially from a group of low-lifes who want to steal the cattle - Mr. Wayne is at his very best, because he pulls no punches and the boys are able to convery their awkwardness and confusion - the ending, which is highly unexpected, is, in its' way, perfection - this film should be both famous and celebrated - it's an unusual achievement for a Western - but then this one is far more than a Western.

 cowboys_group.jpg



 

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Broken Arrow (1950) is a gorgeously photographed Technicolor Western, and as noted by Ben Mankiewicz in his introduction, the film marked the start of Hollywood portraying Native Americans as human beings rather than crude caricatures.  Jimmy Stewart, one of cinema's great humanists, plays a white man who, against the advice of skeptical white settlers, sets out to forge a lasting peace between the settlers and the Apache, who are led by Cochise, played with gravitas and nobility by Jeff Chandler, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role. 

The only flaw, and it's a minor one, is the familiar Hollywood plot device that has Stewart's character falling in love with a much younger Indian woman, played by Debra Paget. But the acting is effective enough to make this relationship quite touching. Director Delmer Daves maintains a seamless pace, allowing the characters to take center stage.  Broken Arrow has everything you want in a Western: action, pathos, and the added redemptive understanding of two cultures bound by a common humanity.

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7 hours ago, cinemaspeak59 said:

Broken Arrow (1950) is a gorgeously photographed Technicolor Western, and as noted by Ben Mankiewicz in his introduction, the film marked the start of Hollywood portraying Native Americans as human beings rather than crude caricatures.  Jimmy Stewart, one of cinema's great humanists, plays a white man who, against the advice of skeptical white settlers, sets out to forge a lasting peace between the settlers and the Apache, who are led by Cochise, played with gravitas and nobility by Jeff Chandler, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role. 

The only flaw, and it's a minor one, is the familiar Hollywood plot device that has Stewart's character falling in love with a much younger Indian woman, played by Debra Paget. But the acting is effective enough to make this relationship quite touching. Director Delmer Daves maintains a seamless pace, allowing the characters to take center stage.  Broken Arrow has everything you want in a Western: action, pathos, and the added redemptive understanding of two cultures bound by a common humanity.

The problem I had with this film was that Stewart and Paget shared no discernible chemistry. In fact LGBT critics could argue he had more chemistry with Chandler. It threw the whole thing off for me. 

Re: Ben's comments, it seems as if he's never seen MASSACRE (1934) which is in the TCM library. Richard Barthelmess plays a native man separated from his people who finds his way back to them and an appreciation of what his culture means. It's definitely not your typical Injun caricature.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_(film)

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I had never thought bout the lack of chemistry between Stewart and Paget.  Maybe it's because I'm so fond of those two actors that  I didn't even think about that.  Of course the age difference is obvious, but maybe it was common back then.  But no one can deny that it's a very enjoyable Western and the acting is great.  And it must have been a thrill for Ms. Paget to have a starring role like this so early in her career.  

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Massacre (1934) is one of my all time favorites. The subject matter, one Hollywood often hesitated to touch on, was shown realistically, the suffering, the injustice, the conditions that Native Americans were forced to live in on the reservations. I'm not a fan of non-natives playing native Americans, but I didn't mind Richard playing that role in the film, because it was handled respectfully and I felt the film was really trying to point out the injustices and not be offensive. (I also just really like Richard so I'm a big fan no matter what he is in :P ) 

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Taggart (1964) Is an interesting B  western from Universal .  It stars Tony Young  as a young man in search of the outlaws who killed his parents. He kills one of the outlaws a;nd then goes on the run.  He is pursued by a hired killer ( Dan Duryea).  Also in the cast is Dick Foran in one of his last roles and David Carradine in his first role  Young and Duryea made another film together titled He Rides Tall (1964).  Tony Young is handsome and has a rather deep voice.  It's a shame he didn't go on to bigger roles.

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Image result for Blackthorn 2011 poster

Blackthorn (2012) Directed by Mateo Gil, beautifully shot, by cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía. This is, hands down, one of the best Westerns, albeit actually a "Southern American" Western, of this century. It has what Tarrantino Westerns lack and that is breathtaking landscapes, it fits perfectly in the same time period as The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, The Good The Bad The Weird, and the "Northern" Death Hunt. The plot is plausible enough. About an 8/10 

This is the second feature connected to director/screenwriter Mateo Gil that was impressive. The first was as screenwriter for Agora (2009)

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The Westerner (1940) pits Cattlemen vs. Homesteaders, Notorious Judge Roy Bean vs. Gary Cooper, and Lawlessness vs. The Rule of Law. Director William Wyler's films depict the goodness of America absent the chauvinistic patriotism. And Wyler could not have found a better choice than Gary Cooper to embody American idealism, based on compromise, tolerance, and justice. Walter Brennan, who won a Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance, plays Judge Roy Bean as a corrupt political boss, a law unto himself, with a twinkle in his eye, shrewd but ultimately too clever by half. A thrilling scene in which he jumps on a horse to chase down Cooper's character, whom he's arrested, demonstrates Bean must always act the tough-guy enforcer.

Gary Cooper, as the decent but canny Cole Harden, plays Bean like a violin, entertaining his vanity, and exploiting Bean's strangely immaculate obsession with stage star Lily Langtry.  Bean gets paranoid when Cole says he knew Ms. Langtry. How well? Bean asks, ready to blow a gasket should Cole reply they were intimate. Cooper and Brennan have an easy screen chemistry. There's a bromance aspect to Judge Bean and Cole, playful, adversarial, and at times resembling that of a father and son.

A moral arc gives Judge Bean a shot at redemption, by having him negotiate with cattlemen to peacefully share the land with their homesteader neighbors. When flames ablaze destroy the homesteaders' village, it signals justice must be served.  That task falls to Cooper's Cole Harden, not vigilante style, but with a badge. Legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland's pristine yet atmospheric photography (which would become more experimental a year later in Citizen Kane), is a treat.  The Westerner is first-rate entertainment.

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Harry Tracy: The Last of the Wild Bunch (1982) (aka Harry Tracy, Desperado)

A sirupy sweet take on the story of Harry Tracy, nice scenery (shot in British Columbia and Alberta) but story lacks grit. Seems more of a love story with Bruce Dern in his aw-shucks mode. Also stars Helen Shaver, Michael C. Gwynne, and Gordon Lightfoot. If it had a music video included it would fit right in the Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, The Life And Times of Judge Roy Bean, The Ballad Of Cable Hogue, and The Dutchess And The Dirtwater Fox. 6/10
 

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Dodge City (1939) is a big, Technicolor extravaganza.  Warner Bros. spared no expense in making their mark in the western genre.  Errol Flynn plays a former soldier of fortune newly arrived to Dodge City, a town envisioned as the ideal family destination that's become a Mecca of licentiousness, ruled by a smooth-talking murderer (Bruce Cabot), who buys cattle on credit and has his backers killed when they try to collect.

Flynn reluctantly becomes Sheriff to clean the place up. Alan Hale as Flynn's sidekick provides a tonic of comic relief. The film has tonal shifts from happy-go-lucky to tragic, and doesn't pause to catch its breath. There are three great action set pieces: a cattle stampede, a saloon brawl that escalates to near-comic proportions, and a spectacular train hijacking sequence, all staged with virtuosity by director Michael Curtiz.  Olivia De Havilland plays a well-bred miss who blames Flynn for the death of her brother. But, to no one's surprise, the two end up falling in love.

You quickly get past Flynn's posh accent, and with his dashing leading man persona, he makes for a believable cowboy.  Ann Sheridan's part as a dance-hall entertainer is terribly underwritten, and barely worth mentioning. The color photography is stunning, even if the themes are black and white. Still, I found Dodge City thoroughly enjoyable. 

In the film’s introduction, Ben Mankiewicz had as a guest Alan K. Rode, a Michael Curtiz biographer.  Mr. Rode said Flynn's agent was opposed to him doing Dodge City because he felt Flynn was not a good fit for a quintessentially American genre as a western. And De Havilland wasn’t happy because she wanted to be working and preparing for Gone with the Wind.

 

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