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CitySlicker

Five most "underrated" Westerns ...

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> {quote:title=JackFavell wrote:}{quote}I like Nevada Smith. It's got a great ending.

Yep. It's not like any other ending of a Western one will ever see...at least as far as I've ever seen, anyway.

 

And, Karl Malden was great in it, as usual.

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I think *Nevada Smith* is almost like a bridge movie between two times - it starts as traditional western, and ends in a very non-traditional way.

 

POTENTIAL SPOILERS

 

Not to give too much away, but the way the character of Nevada ends things seems to usher in a completely different way of looking at life - it almost could be translated as a father-son relationship, or a story of the generation gap. Nevada rejects everything that Tom Fitch represents, and everything he himself wanted. It would make a good double feature with *Cool Hand Luke.* Not to get too overblown about it, but to me, they both are about walking away, giving up a past generation's hard headed, meaningless quest for nothing, and not being manipulated into "playing the game."

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I agree, Dargo ... *Nevada Smith* also has a great cast, led by McQueen. I think it was a good story, too, which sort of gets lost in today's epics. I also agree Malden was fantastic. Lots of terrible people, mixed in with some good intentions (*Suzanne Pleshette*'s character, for example) ... good pick!

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> {quote:title=CitySlicker wrote:}{quote}I agree, Dargo ... *Nevada Smith* also has a great cast, led by McQueen. I think it was a good story, too, which sort of gets lost in today's epics. I also agree Malden was fantastic. Lots of terrible people, mixed in with some good intentions (*Suzanne Pleshette*'s character, for example) ... good pick!

Thanks CS. And yeah, Suzanne Pleshette...va va VOOM!

 

Hey, and speakin' of "underrated Westerns", maybe you can answer me this...

 

Why has it seemed to me that "The Big Country" has always been somewhat "dissed" and never mentioned in the same breathe as some of the other recognized great Western classics/epics?

 

 

It has a great storyline, a great cast, great acting(Chuck Connors was never better), great dialogue, great score, and great cinematography...especially the fistfight scene between Peck and Heston when Wyler pulls the camera way back and you see them fighting in the distance and in silhouette...among many other great shots throughout the film.

 

 

And so, am I wrong here about my perception of how this film is usually somewhat unfairly received, or what?

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> {quote:title=JackFavell wrote:}{quote}I think *Nevada Smith* is almost like a bridge movie between two times - it starts as traditional western, and ends in a very non-traditional way.

>

> POTENTIAL SPOILERS

>

> Not to give too much away, but the way the character of Nevada ends things seems to usher in a completely different way of looking at life - it almost could be translated as a father-son relationship, or a story of the generation gap. Nevada rejects everything that Tom Fitch represents, and everything he himself wanted. It would make a good double feature with *Cool Hand Luke.* Not to get too overblown about it, but to me, they both are about walking away, giving up a past generation's hard headed, meaningless quest for nothing, and not being manipulated into "playing the game."

Insightful, JF. Never thought of the "bridge" analogy before, but yeah, considering the lead villian isn't "put out of his misery" and/or brought to justice at the end because the hero of the piece has grown as an individual, yeah, that could've been the first time in a Western where that outcome is portrayed.

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Don't forget that the character Nevada Smith is based on a main character in Harold Robbins book "The Carpetbaggers', a thinly disquised book about Howard Hughes. It is one of the all time best sellers. It's been 40 years or more since I read it, i don't remember if the film was based on the back story of Nevada from the book. There was talk when the book came out that besides Hughes character Alex Cord that the Smith character was based on William Boyd ,Tom Mix or Ken Maynard. I remember the book was almost banned here in the states and it was banned in a few foreign countries....

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Jul 18, 2011 7:32 PM

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> {quote:title=fredbaetz wrote:}{quote}Don't forget that the character Nevada Smith is based on a main character in Harold Robbins book "The Carpetbaggers', a thinly disquised book about Howard Hughes. It is one of the all time best sellers. It's been 40 years or more since I read it, i don't remember if the film was based on the back story of Nevada from the book. There was talk when the book came out that besides Hughes character Alex Cord that the Smith character was based on William Boyd ,Tom Mix or Ken Maynard. I remember the book was almost banned here in the states and it was banned in a few foreign countries....

>

> Edited by: fredbaetz on Jul 18, 2011 7:32 PM

>

Yep fred, true on all counts...except the Hughes based character is named Jonas Cord Jr., the son of the man who mentored Nevada when he was a youth, and who was played very well in "Nevada Smith" by Brian Keith.

 

Alex Cord, as you probably know, was the actor who had the unenviable task of tackling John Wayne's star-making role of the Ringo Kid in that so-so 1966 remake of "Stagecoach".

 

(...why oh why do they attempt these remakes of recognized classics, when there are so many other lesser films which they could attempt to remake better, huh?!)

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Right you are, Alex Cord vs Jonas Cord,I should never have had that third Gin and Tonic. Sadly the film of the "Carpetbaggers" was Alan Ladd's last role as Nevada Smith. I though he was the best thing in the film....

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I never have thought of *The Big Country* as being underrated. Now, critics, that's another story. The NY Times review said: "It skims across standard complications and ends on a platitude."

 

I've always thought it a great Western, with a big cast, a big story and a great score ... The hell with the NY Times, I say.

 

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I like BIG COUNTRY a lot. But some people don't. It does get some unfavorable marks from classic western fans. To each his own!

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> {quote:title=CitySlicker wrote:}{quote}I never have thought of *The Big Country* as being underrated. Now, critics, that's another story. The NY Times review said: "It skims across standard complications and ends on a platitude."

>

> I've always thought it a great Western, with a big cast, a big story and a great score ... The hell with the NY Times, I say.

>

Yep CS, that's pretty much what I meant about the underrated thing. I know many many viewers really like the film, but I was referring to the critics in this regard.

 

I guess it's kinda like how Pauline Kael never liked *Casablanca*, due I suppose to its somewhat uplifting ending, among other things. Whereas, she was one of the first to call *Citizen Kane* a masterpiece, because, I might guess, of its rather depressing ending, among other things.

 

 

And of course, because the ending of *The Big Country* ties up all the storylines pretty tidily and has a happy ending for the hero and heroine, maybe that's why many of the critics have never especially ranked it very high.

 

 

I guess in their eyes, any happy ending isn't "real" and/or "how life really is". Yep, maybe it all boils down to how it seems nowdays especially, cynicism often seems to pass for sophistication, eh?!

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Compared to "The Big Country" we all know that "The Terror of Tiny Town" comes up a little short... :P

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> {quote:title=fredbaetz wrote:}{quote}Compared to "The Big Country" we all know that "The Terror of Tiny Town" comes up a little short... :P

LOL!

 

(...okay, maybe chuckle out loud, anyway)

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Here are my five most underratd westerns:

 

Yellow Sky

Electric Horseman

A Big Hand for the Little Lady

The Misfits

Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean

 

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I don't know if I can name five at once. Might have to keep coming back to this post to add titles.

1. Day of the Evil Gun

Glenn Ford and Arthur Kennedy in a surreal, morally-ambiguous western manhunt. Fighting each other as much as their enemies. I can't explain it any better than this, you just have to see it to grasp the atmosphere.

Maybe my #2 might be:

2. The Bounty Killer

Dan Duryea stars as a coward --and a poor gunhand-- who somehow manages to kill a gunman and then "gets a taste for blood" using a sneaky trick: he attends showdowns with a sawed-off shotgun

3. Walk Like a Dragon

A cross-cultural Eastern/Western starring Jack Lord and Mel Torme.

4. China 9, Liberty 37

A beautifully-photographed Italian production starring hot Jenny Agutter, some forgettable Italian beefcake as the male lead, and the great Warren Oates.

5. Duel at Diablo

James Garner and Sidney Poitier, really fun

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Blood on the Moon (1948)

Frontier Marshal (1939)

Powdersmoke Range (1935)

Return of the Badmen (1948)

The Younger Brothers (1949)

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On 10/4/2018 at 3:14 PM, Sgt_Markoff said:

I don't know if I can name five at once. Might have to keep coming back to this post to add titles.

1. Day of the Evil Gun

Glenn Ford and Arthur Kennedy in a surreal, morally-ambiguous western manhunt. Fighting each other as much as their enemies. I can't explain it any better than this, you just have to see it to grasp the atmosphere.

Maybe my #2 might be:

2. The Bounty Killer

Dan Duryea stars as a coward --and a poor gunhand-- who somehow manages to kill a gunman and then "gets a taste for blood" using a sneaky trick: he attends showdowns with a sawed-off shotgun

3. Walk Like a Dragon

A cross-cultural Eastern/Western starring Jack Lord and Mel Torme.

4. China 9, Liberty 37

A beautifully-photographed Italian production starring hot Jenny Agutter, some forgettable Italian beefcake as the male lead, and the great Warren Oates.

5. Duel at Diablo

James Garner and Sidney Poitier, really fun

Curious how you define 'underrated'.     I try to stay away from using the term (and overrated),  since they require guessing the opinion of others.    

E.g.  above someone posted this "Here are my five most underrated westerns:".

How does one 'underrate' a film?????

 

 

 

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How does one 'underrate' a film?????

(--JJG)

It sure beats me. Good question. The OP who created the thread...even if we could ask him, he might only be able to splutter out a half-answer. Its probably just the fault of a commonly misunderstood, casually bandied-about, "film-term".

Movie-going is always rife with this kind of thing. Its part-and-parcel of the loose-chatter of the movie-going community which has always been (at its core) vernacular and proletarian.

What I mean is, films being by nature 'escapist', we are already set up to view everything about them through a layman's fog and man-in-the-street haze. False terminology and erroneous assumptions...very easy to proliferate and become instilled in all of us.

As you may remember, another such phrase which sets me off is when someone labels a film (or a book, for that matter) as 'dated'. Its a hideously-abused criticism.

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ah! Here's another one which --let's not say "underrated"--but let's say I've personally never seen it receive much attention.

'Streets of Laredo' with Bill Holden, PLUS William Bendix PLUS MacDonald Carey. What more could you ask? Its a fun story and Bendix / Holden have good chemistry.

The story is that three down-and-out cow-punchers happen to nab an outlaw and they do it so well that the Texas Rangers asks them if they'd like to join up. They all three do so, but then the devilish rogue Carey, proves himself not up to it and the other two have to go after him even though he is their pal.

Its very similar to the first section of 'Lonesome Dove'--so much so that I occasionally wonder if McMurtry borrowed it?

Also present is peppy little minx, Mona Freeman; re-teamed here again with Holden after co-starring with him a few times in the 'Dear Wife' series (yes, the same which inspired JD Salinger). I bet Holden boffed her off-screen like he did so many others! ha, that dog

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I can probably name three of my least-favorite westerns and they all happen to star the otherwise wonderful Kirk Douglas.

  • 'War Wagon' (1967). A strange film. John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. Some comical moments but overall just..listless, limp, and half-hearted.
  • 'Posse' (1975) Kirk plays a renowned marshal and manhunter, who rides with a special hand-picked posse and they always get their man. They track down and capture wily bandit Bruce Dern but by the time Kirk gets him back to civilization, Dern has 'bought off' the posse with the promise of generous cuts from his ill-gotten wealth. I hate this story idea.
  • 'A GunFight' (1971) Kirk Douglas and Johnny Cash (in a fine performance) play a retired gunman and a retired gunfighter who want to augment their incomes by putting on a show of sixgun skill for a small town. Obviously, one of them has to die in the 'for real' duel. But its not clear to me why one dies and not the other. The character-arc for neither figure, seems to recommend one more than the other for failure, death, and ignominy. A terribly botched story in my opinion. Wasted performances with no emotional payoff.

 

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I'd wanna cite more flicks like 'The Shooting' (Warren Oates, Millie Perkins) but I think a film like that is now more of a cult  movie and has some notoriety and renown.

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10 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

I'd wanna cite more flicks like 'The Shooting' (Warren Oates, Millie Perkins) but I think a film like that is now more of a cult  movie and has some notoriety and renown.

TCM showed the film the other day.   I didn't watch it because I had seen it before and found it 'wanting'.

(and not in that I wanted to see it again).

 

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Fair enough. It'd be a dull world if we all liked the exact same things. I relish that movie myself, but hey I'm just one poor fish laying on the beach of life!

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