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"Modern" Westerns


MikeBSG

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I just watched "The Misfits" for the first time on DVD and was pretty impressed. Most of what I had heard about that movie had been bad or dismissive, but I thought it was pretty good.

 

That made me remember "The Electric Horseman," which I enjoyed in the theater but haven't seen since.

 

What other "modern" westerns do you know and like. I saw "Hearts of the West" ages ago on TV and thought it was pretty fun, but that one hardly ever turns up any more. I missed "Lonely Are the Brave" when it was on a few weeks ago. (My wife doesn't like Kirk Douglas.)

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The Misfits is one of my all-time favorite movies, of any genre. But it is sad, as Lonely are the Brave is sad---about a departing era. I also enjoyed The Electric Horseman. The Horse Whisperer wasn't as good but it was enjoyable and I like the man who inspired the story, I mean I like his approach to training animals (which works with people, too!)

 

Did you ever see THE LUSTY MEN, with Robert Mitchum and Arthur Kennedy both in love with Susan Hayward? That's another good one. TCM airs it now and then.

 

Miss G

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Ken:

 

"Bad Day At Black Rock" is one of my favorites. You're right, there are great performances all around. I started to post it but I thought is it really a modern "western"?

 

Thinking about it I thought it wasn't but I guess the underlying theme about the way the town treats Tracy makes it as western as a real one. The basic premise of the movie doesn't seem to be much of one except for the location.

 

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Marvin or Borgnin in their parts. (Duryea, maybe) Terrific movie.

 

Chris

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I'm a bit surprised no one has mentioned "Hud" here. I've never seen it myself. I grew up thinking that "Hud" was a dirty word because the movie was so controversial. What do you think of it?

 

Speaking of Larry McMurtry's stuff adapted to film, I love "Last Picture Show." it is an extremely well-done movie. I love the close-up of Randy Quaid when he puts his head in front of the camera and says "I did it last Easter." The grin on his face always breaks me up. Someone once said that LPS is an odd movie in that it ends with everyone dead or their lives ruined, but you walk out of the theater feeling happy.

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Chris- I don't think of "Bad Day" as a western either. It's a terrific film, but just because it takes place in the west doesn't mean it's a western. I simply think of it as a drama. As you point out, the casting was great.

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Going back to "The Misfits," I think I liked that movie so much because I had previously seen and liked Huston's "Fat City," and there seemed to be a link (or maybe an echo would be a better way of putting it) between the characters of the two films.

 

Some of the things I've never forgotten from "Fat City:" the one woman saying she had never been ashamed of an act of love, the whole business with the Mexican boxer who never says a word. He gets off the bus looking like the scariest man alive, but then we see that he has health problems. He loses the fight and gets on the next bus. The low-key way Huston got that across just really impressed me.

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MikeBSG:

 

I never saw Fat City but did like the Misfits. I'm with your wife on Kirk Douglas, his son gets included too.

 

The best western I've seen recently is not from the movies but (dare I say it), this past summer's made for AMC Broken Range with Robert Duvall and I think it was Keith Ledger (not sure). It was a 4 hour mini-series run over two nights at 2 hours each. It really gave the feel of the west and a cattle drive in addition to other very unusual events. If you see it in rental stores, I would recommend renting it.

 

Anne

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jane Fonda, Jason Robards and James Caan in a battle over oil rights.

 

Not as good as one would hope. But the scenery is beautiful.

 

I prefer A River Runs Through It and Legends of the Fall.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Like mrsl, my all time favorite western is from a TV mini-series titled Centennial. A number of years ago I was fortunate to received the whole series (12 tapes) for Xmas. This is truly an epic! It spans two centuries of settlers opening the west. Robert Conrad, and Richard Chamberlain are the main stars. I play it about once a year and love it just as much as the first time I saw it.

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Lucky you. I mentioned in another thread it was my favorite mini-series. I really enjoyed it. The last two hours it seemed to lose some momentum for me. Just about anybody who was anybody was in it. A huge and well done production. The price tag kept me from getting it.

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I have only Episode 11 thus far from the Centennial Series. Largely because my boyhood hero, Claude Jarman, Jr., plays the head of the Grebe family who suffer horribly during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl years. The family was doomed from the outset, duped by developers in cahoots with the lenders. Being exploited by land profiteers and unscrupulous bankers was not uncommon during the period and into the postwar years. It was Jarman's last screen appearance. He of course is best remembered as Jody from The Yearling, a performance that earned him a special Oscar at age 12.

 

One of Centennial's plotlines describes Hereford cattle being corrupted by show ring standards and it rings true. The fad of downsizing the breed into what became known as "Watch Fob" steers or "Belt Buckle Bulls" eventually created dwarfism in both it and the Angus breed as well. It took years to right the situation.

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Lonely are the Brave torgues my jaw watching Douglas cruelly forcing his saddle horse into the finale. Can't stand it or him in this role.

 

Having been in and close to ranching families in most areas of the western U. S., I found Hud to be pretty authentic, especially the generation gap and conflicting values it portrayed.

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I love the Peckinpah Westerns, particularly Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, which is sort of like a Western ghost written by William S. Burroughs, lurching in and out of the modern world, but embodying the same twisted values system common to the classic Western. It may not seem so shocking now, but in 1975 I can see why none of the critics made sense of it.

 

spadeneal

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