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Western Movie Rambles


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I think Candace gets short-changed, acting-wise. No, she is no Duse, but she has a nice presence and can be very funny, as in *Wind and the Lion*. I would hate it if I were judged all my life by my first performances, when I didn't know what I was doing.

 

And I would pay money to see Oliver Reed in a western.

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Nov 20, 2010 10:19 AM

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Lafitte,

 

*Bite the Bullet* is a nifty little western with Gene Hackman, James Coburn, Ben Johnson and Candice Bergen about an arduous horse race . Bergen is quite good in the film.

 

It is definitely one worth checking out. It is one of the best westerns made in the 1970s.

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i have tried to watch *the hunting party* a couple of times, but it really turned me off. i like gene hackman, but this was too much (or too little, creativity wise).

 

When Lee Van Cleef was shot dead he at least he fell over and died like a gentleman.

 

that was hilarious, laffite! :D

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*Ollie:* The "vague memory" quote is accurate, especially at the beginning and quite a ways into the film. But gradually there is some likability for at least a couple of these characters...maybe.

 

*Jackie:* Seeing OliverR in a Western, exactly! I was very curious. If you feel that way you might try this. He's the best part of the film.

 

*lzcutter:* Thanks for the recommendation. I put it on my queue. I may have to wait awhile so I can can see Hack and Bergen as different people. After THP, Hack has no way to go but up...and it might be nice to see CB as someone who is not being constantly harrassed (to put it kindly). Maybe she even smiles a little. :D

 

*Goddess:* I almost didn't make it through. Despite Candace being there, it was Oliver Reed that made me hang on to the movie. I turned down the sound and looked away at some of the bodice-ripping scenes. Come on. Laffite, it's only a movie...still.

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Please endure a few comments (I don't mean to hijack the thread, honest, but I appreciate your indulgence with this...don't worry, all this blabbering can't last :D ) about another recent viewing, one that most of you have already seen I?m sure, namely, *Ride the High Country*, ( *Minor spoilers* only, I think) about two aging fellas who also happen at be old friends (played by Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea) who are in need of money and who embark on a joint venture to get some. It?s an honest venture (not a robbery, for instance) but a possible subterfuge by one of these two guys (which we learn of early) provide the central conflict. The movie is likable for the most part, especially at the outset, helped by the barbs of the two principals about their advancing age as well as an amusing instance where one of them has to excuse himself because he doesn?t want to reveal that he is in need of spectacles.

 

There is a subplot that actually dominates the middle of the movie about a young man (Ron Starr) who is interested in a young woman (Mariette Hartley). Soon they have the love-hate thing going and so we know that they really like each other in spite of an indication or two to the contrary. Mariette has a certain boyish charm that doesn?t take anything away from her femininity. It?s all there.

 

There is still another (I say ?still? because there seems to be a lot of abuse towards women in these gosh darn Westerns) where she is, uh, harassed (to put it nicely) that I thought disturbing. I have to admit that graphic scenes showing violence against women seem to really bother me of late (Oh, Laffite, how noble you are! Such chivalry?right. :D ) The scene is so bad that I had to suspend disbelief for an instant, telling myself that all of this was shown from HER point of view, so that perhaps dictated the severity of the treatment. There?s a truth to that but as usual I?m probably kidding myself. It was not pleasant. (Oh, Laffite, get a life!) :(

 

And even I, the notorious un-Western watcher, knows I am seeing a legend when the ubiquitous and reliable Edgar Buchanan makes an appearance on screen. He doesn?t do much but what he does is amazing. Does anyone remember that speech he gives about marriage? He performs a marriage ceremony (while drunk, BTW, he?s actually drunk the whole time on screen) and manages to utter a few sage words to the principals (who, of course, are paying no attention.) It was great as well as unexpected (and seemly out of place, considering the milieu) coming from someone who might have simply and perfunctorily performed the ceremony and repaired quietly to his little space for another drink. Later he is threatened by one of the old guys if he doesn?t do what he?s told and all he does is assent with eyes half closed with a terrible hangover which doesn?t sound like much at all but there is such a naturalness and realness to his every move. A lesser actor might have hammed it up but Edgar has embedded within him that professionalism that allows him to be appropriately restrained and utterly convincing.

 

I enjoyed the show but wonder?would this movie had been better had Joel and Randolph switched roles? To elaborate on that would require telling more than I wish to?but I think it might have been better.

 

...

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>>I enjoyed the show but wonder?would this movie had been better had Joel and Randolph switched roles? To elaborate on that would require telling more than I wish to?but I think it might have been better.

 

I've read that the roles were reversed when they started shooting, but that both leads thought that they would be better off switching. I prefer it as is, McCrea always seemed basically decent, even in COLORADO TERRITORY where he played a western version of Roy Earle. Scott had WESTERN UNION and THE SPOILERS on his list of credits, even if he was usually the stalwart hero.

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I LOVE *Ride the High Country!* I do see completely what you are saying, about the two stars changing roles.....but I kind of like it this way, it's so refreshing to see Scott in a role that is a stretch. And McCrea also references back to a gem called *Stars in my Crown* in which he plays a preacher, so this role seems almost like an extension of that character to me.

 

I am so with you on the scary situation Mariette Hartley finds herself in. That section of the movie is very hard for me to watch, because she is so innocent, and her "fiance" is such a loathsome lying (bad word). I could really identify with Hartley which made the situation much worse. I thought that section was well done, even if it is not my cup of tea. Her father practically set her up to end up in a situation like that, with all his fear and control over her - the part was well played by ....what IS that guy's name? Geez, I feel bad, he was on almost every TV show I watched as a little kid...

 

To tell the truth, I could have done without the whole "young people" part of the movie and just watched Scott and McCrea meander across the screen for several hours. But the plot was a good one, and tied everything together pretty much, so it didn't hurt too bad to be interrupted by the boy/girl thing once in a while.

 

Anyway, I find the relationship between McCrea and Scott to be so moving, and true of long standing friendships, where sometimes people change without each other, or they have some kind of difference in lifestyle that comes between them. I cried like a baby at the end, what a wonderful couple of fellows they were.

 

 

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Nov 20, 2010 7:03 PM

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Nov 20, 2010 7:03 PM

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>I've read that the roles were reversed when they started shooting, but that both leads thought that they would be better off switching.

 

I wonder why? Anyway, that's very interesting. At least, the way it is now, it is easier to believe that the RS character will do "the right thing" at the end.

 

SPOILER

 

This is probably just quibbling but I had a problem with RS when he had those occasional asides with his partner, about what they were planning. In his scenes with his long time friend he came across so totally good natured and honest that it seemed hard to believe that he actually had something up his sleeve. The moments when he and his partner were alone, the tone changed and he seemed like a completely different person. So resolute, so determined, intimating even that he will kill his friend if necessary, "...if I have to," I think he said. I DO understand, this is the dark side coming out and he's supposed to sound different...but I don't know that RS integrated the two sides of his character into an understandable whole (for me.) (Would JM have been more convincing to me?) And the effect that those displays of camaraderie and friendship during the bulk of the movie were undermined by the awareness I had that RS was prepared to commit a dastardly deed against his friend in order to get what he wants. I am probably losing my way a little with all this, nitpicking too much. None of this really ruined the movie for me. Nevertheless, It would have been interesting to see what reversed roles would look like, but...it's all speculation, just another thing in life we'll never know.

 

Edited by: laffite on Nov 21, 2010 1:57 AM

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mon cher pirate, have you ever seen Randolph as the bad dude in THE SPOILERS? He's not really altogether bad, just rascally like in RTHC. It might give you a feel for him in this kind of part because he plays it rather the same way...smiling, friendly, flirtatious with marlene and all the while he has his eye on the main chance. hey, that almost sounds like a western variation of a Hitchcock villain! :D

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To me Scott was always up there with Wayne, Cooper et al as the ideal Westerner. His tall, thin frame with his weathered look was to me the way a cowboy looked.. I fell in love with RTHC when it first came out. Sadly not many others here did. MGM iin their wisdom didn't know how to promote it and released it as the bottom half of a double bill of an Italian epic "The Tartars". Critics were raving about this little gem, but it died here. In Europe they knew a great film when they saw one. It won best film at the Belgium Film Festival beating out Fellin's "Eight and a Half" and also took the Paris Film Critics Award" among others.

According to Sam, the character played by McCrea is heavely influnced by Sam's father. "All I want to do is enter my house justified" was one of his father's favorite quotes from the bible.Maybe I over thinking this, but has anyone else ever picked up on a incest theme between Elsa and her father, maybe just feelings, but when caught with Heck talking , she says to her father" Every single man is the wrong kind of man, Except You" Then he back hands her across the face.......

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>mon cher pirate, have you ever seen Randolph as the bad dude in THE SPOILERS? He's not really altogether bad, just rascally like in RTHC. It might give you a feel for him in this kind of part because he plays it rather the same way...smiling, friendly, flirtatious with marlene and all the while he has his eye on the main chance

 

Ah mon dieu, c'est peut-etre la probleme pour moi... :) I haven't see a lot of RS. But, honestly, I thought there was more than "rascally" here. Maybe I took it too seriously. I'm still blaming RS for not making that clear to me :D . Randolph has presence, no doubt, and I hope that one day I'll be able to appreciate him more as an actor. I don't want to trash him to extravagantly since he is so well liked in these here parts, I don't want to get strung up. Remember, I'm still a tin horn in this, the Territory of the Western Ramblers (hey, that would make a good movie title). :)

 

*Fred* That didn't occur to me at all. I'll leave it those who know Hollywood better as to whether a movie of this era would want to play around with even the slightest innuendo of such a thing. My thought is probably not...but who knows, some movie makers might get frisky with things like this. They are masters at implication and maybe they wanted us to have an unpleasant vibe or two about it.

 

Edited by: laffite on Nov 21, 2010 12:40 PM

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> {quote:title=fredbaetz wrote:}{quote}

>Maybe I over thinking this, but has anyone else ever picked up on a incest theme between Elsa and her father, maybe just feelings, but when caught with Heck talking , she says to her father" Every single man is the wrong kind of man, Except You" Then he back hands her across the face.......

 

I got that idea too, fred, though I think Peckinpah meant to leave it unspoken, or maybe so you aren't sure one way or another. Something like that could have been going on, if you were disposed to think so, and all the actions of father and daughter would play out as if that were the case.

 

I got the impression that the father's obsession with evil and the ways of the world was because it was inside of him, and that every other man would be like him. Creepy!

 

Laffite - we aren't going to string you up for voicing your opinion! I think Scott is not to everyone's taste.

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Nov 21, 2010 4:57 PM

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My mind must be shot today; I couldn't remember a title on another post either

 

In one film, he is the bad guy whose brother is the good one. He dies redeeming himself. It a Western similar to yesterday's Carson City. And I think he's a Dalton in another film about them. Joel McCrea also played men on the other side of the law. I think they both did well and proved they were actors as well as "stars".

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Are you thinking of "Western Union", Scott is the good bad man and tries to change but is hounded by his bad bad brother Barton Mac Lean. A beautiful color oater from 20th Century Fox, directed by Fritz Lang. He starred in "When the Daltons Rode" but didn't play a Dalton brother.A very under rated western wirh a wonderful performance by Brod Crawford among others. He also starred in "The Doolins of Oklahoma" as real life outlaw Bill Doolin.. "Hangman's Knot" another teriffic western with Scott, Claude Jarman jr and Lee Marvin as Confiderate soldiers robbing a Yankee gold shipment unaware the war is over.. This was 5 years before he co-starred with Marvin in "7 Men From Now"

 

The only films I can think of with McCrea as the good bad man are "Four Faces West" where he plays a bank robber being chased by Pat Garrett, he co stars with his wife Francis Dee. One of my favorite McCrea oaters is "Colorado Territory" the great remake of "High Sierra", where he takes Bogarts role...

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Fredb: There is a McCrea Western from the 50's with, I think, Susan Cabot where he plays a soldier who has an insane hatred for Indians and never changes-it gets him in the end. It's the flip side of Trooper Hook. Again, I'm short a title.

 

Yes, it's Western Union. It's been a while so I was off on the plotline a bit. I think I also mixed up the Daltons and Doolins-thank you for the corrections. I always appreciate getting my head cleared when necessary. Will watch for all these movies.

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Glad to be of help, I specialize in clearing heads. I'll just bill your insurence company......

 

The film you're talking about is "Fort Massacre" with Susan Cabot and Forest Tucker from 1958..No charge for this one....

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WouldBe, Fred was writing about [HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL radio|http://www.archive.org/details/HaveGunWillTravel_OldTimeRadio] , and the link takes you to Archive ORG's page of downloadable MP3s.

 

And yes, like GUNSMOKE, it crossing into the early '60s on radio. I was shocked, 10-12 years ago, to discover that. I only knew them as TV shows and found it interesting that TV studios were still using radio as a means to bolster a video-series.

 

We've heard that "modern films and TV lack good writers" or good imagination, or both. During the '40s, '50 and '60s, most of those writers had decades of experience doing films and radio. I suppose most of them were pushed aside or died off by the '80s, so perhaps it's no wonder that I perceive a lower quality and/or imagination level. Or maybe I'm just bored with petroleum-based nuclear-explosions every time there's a TV car crash. Boy... parking can be REALLY hazardous these days.

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One of the things I enjoyed doing was seeing a TV episode of Gunsmoke and comparing it to the radio script when I heard or had heard one. Even then I was intrigued by how programs or films were made, in some cases not made, or came out very different from the original plan. I still am and have enjoyed having my suppositions validated or corrected. You folks have made my year.

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In recent days, two more Westerns, *The Lonely Man* and *The Stalking Moon*. I enjoyed both films but they have a dubious similarity, in fact, a very common one, I'm afraid. They both end with a showdown, a shootout, and I am coming to believe that there is a caveat emptor, so to speak, with Westerns (and probably all genre films) that entail the acceptance of conventions and realizing that they (the endings, in this case) may not hold with a general verisimilitude with life as we know it. Suspension of disbelief is necessary but, unfortunately, not without a grimace or two. In films like this I hope to learn not to rely on good endings (or ending that I would approve) but be happy at least with all that went before it, if it so merits. This was the case with both films.

 

There is a lot of verbiage here (too much, I know) but I have tried to hold spoilers to a minumum. Just the broad outlines to make certain points. But... *SPOIL ALERT* anyway, just to be safe.

 

In *The Lonely Man*, Jack Palance plays a gunfighter who has called it quits and returns home to his grown son (played by Anthony Perkins). The son hates his father and tells him so without mincing words. Now, JackP has the look of a man who might take offense easily but I was interested to see that he takes it quite calmly that causes me to think, ?What?s up?? It turns out that JP is on a mission, not that kind that is often the case---revenge, for instance---but something near quite the opposite.

 

The story proceeds slowly but generated interest for me by the sudden revelations throughout the story of what has gone on in the past. It reminded me of how stage plays work. We see people acting and talking in real time and we are of course seeing the action unfold but the real emphasis and life blood of the story is what we learn about what has already transpired---back stories of the characters, for instance---and how it affects present behavior. Sometimes this results in more talking and less action (gunfights, etc) and how that comes across will depend on taste. But this is how I experienced this film and it sure worked for me.

 

If you like horses, you?ll love the mustang sequences. No need of the past there, these were just beautiful shots.

 

*Spoiler*

 

*The Stalking Moon* opens with a well-done scene where a group of Apaches are captured by the US Cavalry. Among them is a white woman (played by Eva Marie Saint) who had been captured by and for the last 10 years lived with the Apache tribe. She has a son looking to be about that age. This was not a conquer and destroy type mission, it seems (if memory serves) that the Indians were treated with some respect and a proper disposition was being made for them. The woman makes an appeal to a man (Gregory Peck) who is just finishing service and making plans to return home in retirement. She needs to be somewhere and she wants him to take her there. He refuses but accompanies her to the stage depot where arrangement are made for passage to a destination that she knows nothing about. It?s sad and there is a scene that tugs a little at the heart, showing the woman and child sitting on a bench waiting, a feeling of hopeless was there that I could feel. So could Gregory, he finally approaches her and talks with her ?

 

Eva Marie Saint does well and is well directed. There is practically nothing left of whatever she must have been like. She is taut, expressionless, and a living picture of what the last ten years must have been like. She comes across, realistically I think, as an actual Indian squaw (or at least how they tend to be represented on screen). Her use of language is impaired, compared to what it might have been before her capture.

 

Gregory, of course, is brilliant and carries the movie. But Eva did her part and an unusual relationship ensues between the two. I was more interested in them than in other aspects of the story and I would have liked to see a little more made of them. There is a brief role, a "breed" (half-breed) who is fluent in English and Apache, with a passion for poker, and who gives the kid a lesson in a game of stud, stuffing a cigar in his mouth to boot. Amusing.

 

The main conflict is the existence of a sort of Super Apache, who, acting alone, is so formidable that he can apparently destroy whole villages and train depots, killing any and all humans in the environs. We see little of him but we get ample testimony from those who still breathe and can still talk. Oh, and there?s a connection between him and Eva. I wouldn?t have thought that a cumbersome white guy, even the great Gregory, would be any match for such a redoubtable foe, but?

 

Both of these movies are good viewing?and don?t worry about what I said about the endings. I?m finicky as all get out.

 

Of this recent spate of Westerns, I think the best ending for me is *The Bravados*. The action, the gunfights, etc., took place earlier in the film and the ending had more to do with character, right and wrong, and was very pensive. *Ride the High Country* was much like that too, but made a lesser impression on me.

 

On the surface, the ending of *The Hunting Party* seems really far fetched, but I liked it because an insight to one of the main characters is illuminated, less on what he wanted to do (we know that from the beginning), but how he wants to do it and what he is willing to pay to accomplish that. A good example, to me anyway, of how an ending might seem implausible but nevertheless play well on screen.

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oh, laffite, I can't wait to reply later to your post...i have to run now but it's just great all these westerns you are exploring.

 

one quickie...you mentioned the typical showdown endings and I think you should see some Ford when you get a chance. he didn't like to film the shoot outs in the typical manner. well, none of his westerns are typical. *my darling clementine* can show you a creative twist on a very familiar showdown a the ok corral. :)

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*MissG*, please recommend some Ford. Even I'm aware of some of the titles but point me in the right direction. I've seen *My Darling Clementine*, but to my chagrin, I cannot remember the actual gunfight. I recall being put off a little by the alterations to what is commonly accepted as truth of the legend but I know that I must get by that and accept the story, as is, in order to see the movie on its own merits. What I remember most is Henry Fonda and his Wyatt. I wouldn't have cast him in that role but I remember liking him very much. Henry's voice can be boyish and whiny sounding at times and I wasn't sure he could be a "tough guy." But the early scene with Doc Holiday (Victor Mature) showed me a lot. Victor's entrance was a bombshell for me, so powerful. He commanded the screen and I would have expected Vic to dominate poor Henry in that encounter at the bar. But no. Henry stood up to him and was convincing doing it. This may sound ridiculous but I was proud of Henry. I thought, wow, way to go, you did it! Henry is a great actor and I don't condescend, it's just that I thought that his wasn't his type of role. But it is. I should put *Clementine* on my list.

 

*Arkadin:* *The Lonely Man* is a classy little film. Palance is such a rough looking dude and it's interesting to see him in a nurturing role. And that soft voice of his fit right in. Perkins has a lot of poise and was superb.

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Ooh, I want to jump in with some Ford recommendations. THE INFORMER (1933) with Victor McLaglen. Powerful work. Ford and Victor had so many films under their belt, but this deserves all the award considerations it received.

 

And 1940's THE LONG VOYAGE HOME is another powerful piece. Yeah, John Wayne's in it, but this is a Thomas Mitchell film, in my mind. John Qualen, too, and Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and so many others - it's like a parade of character actors with John Wayne's name as perhaps bait to draw me into it.

 

Then, 1931's THE SEAS BENEATH has a US schooner doing battle with a U-boat. Spies, betrayal, wind-sails versus torpedos. Pretty interesting film.

 

All of these were part of the 2009 FORD AT FOX box sets, most of which I'd either never heard of or never paid attention to. And not a shabby one in the lot. While they're not Westerns, they are adventure films - or perhaps with The Informer, an unfortunate choice leads to an unfortunate venture.

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