Author Topic: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015  (Read 12759 times)

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2015, 06:44:13 PM »
Decided to hit the trail a bit early...

Rio Lobo (1970) 40/100 - There is nothing sadder than when a film maker doesn't know when to stop making films and retire. Almost every great director has suffered this malady and Howard Hawks was no exception. Rio Lobo is Hawks' swan song and instead of mirroring the symphonic sagebrush set pieces of his glorious past, it plays like an out of tune saloon piano. It's said that "the third time's the charm", but not in this case. All the freshness of the two previous incarnations of this story (Rio Bravo, El Dorado) are long since past the expiration date. As I was re-watching this film, I wondered what John Wayne must have been thinking when he arrived for the shoot and realized what a train wreck he was about to embark on. Jennifer O'Neill, the leading lady of the film, is such a bad actress, she makes Angie Dickinson's performance in Rio Bravo look like an Oscar winning performance by Meryl Streep. Jack Elam, who just two years earlier, had an iconic, short lived performance in Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, is instead forced to recreate the drunken, crazy kind of character he played in Support Your Local Sheriff. Jorge Rivero, who was a star in Mexico, seems to be out of his league in his first Hollywood production. But what really lets this film down, is the rather cheap looking sets. There's one scene where Rivero is talking to O'Neill, and the film cuts back and forth between the two. In the background, behind Rivero, are painted clouds on a canvas. Rivero is standing still, yet the clouds never move. The film is peppered with these cheesy looking moments and you can't help but think, that the studio didn't want to invest too much money on what they must have known, was going to be a dud.

Original rating 58/100
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 06:39:04 PM by Antares »

smirnoff

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2015, 07:18:05 PM »
Even the existence of El Dorado is a bit unusual don't you think? I mean, it's not even hiding how similar it is to Rio Bravo. Your telling me Hawks did it again? I'm trying to think of other examples of this by other directors...

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2015, 07:40:10 PM »
To be honest, I've always liked El Dorado more than Rio Bravo. Wayne is at his best in RB, but his supporting characters in ED are far more grounded in acting talent. Robert Mitchum>Dean Martin, James Caan>Ricky Nelson, Charlene Holt>Angie Dickinson and Arthur Hunnicutt's character is not grating like Walter Brennan's.

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2015, 01:37:06 AM »
I have decided to martyr myself during this marathon by watching only John Wayne westerns... the good, the bad and a lot of ugly. I don't know if I'll survive this month, but I'm going in with guns a blazin'.  ;)
This is going to be interesting. I was searching for other comments by you on Wayne. Most support the unkind sentiment of this post. Looking at your Criticker, it appears you've watched the Essentials. Mrs. 1SO is always up for John Wayne re-watches so I'll probably be following your lead with this, as well as hopefully complete my own list of unwatched Wayne.
How far back do you plan to go with this? I have yet to find a pre-Stagecoach Wayne film I wouldn't call skippable, including Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail (1930)
Duty demands I once again suggest The Spoilers (1942). Also, I couldn't find if you've seen McLintock! We probably won't agree on that one, but the discussion could be fun.


As for Rio Lobo, that's one my wife likes so much we own it. I've seen it, but it's not one I seek out. I'll watch it again tomorrow, because I confuse it with Big Jake, which I re-watched last week. I remember it being similar to Rio Bravo, but not half as similar as El Dorado, which I also prefer to Rio Bravo. It's the more lively, funnier version of the story.

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2015, 01:43:59 AM »
Even the existence of El Dorado is a bit unusual don't you think? I mean, it's not even hiding how similar it is to Rio Bravo. Your telling me Hawks did it again? I'm trying to think of other examples of this by other directors...

There are a number of examples.
Howard Hawks' remade Ball of Fire years later as A Song is Born
Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much
Michael Haneke's Funny Games
Michael Mann did a TV Movie called L.A. Takedown, then remade it as Heat. He also did an episode of Miami Vice based on Manhunter.
Foreign Language directors sometimes remake their own films in English.

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2015, 01:50:56 PM »
Mrs. 1SO also wanted to get this wagon train a movin'.


Tall in the Saddle (1944)

I first watched this in 2011, and briefly commented that it's an unremarkable western, though it introduced me to Ella Raines, who has the sexiest eyes in the history of cinema. I enjoyed the film a lot more this time, though there are a number of scenes with irksome bits of editing and acting. It makes for a rather good Western for beginners, with all the necessary elements (including Ward Bond acting shifty), moves quick and there's a nice mystery element to the story.

As for the bad, the opening makes you think there isn't going to be much story. Things don't really start until the stagecoach gets into town. Some of the editing tries to patch up some holes, like a person who reaches through a window to pull a gun that's halfway inside the room. Those of you who don't like Walter Brennan's old coot acting, (and that's not me) this film features George 'Gabby' Hayes in what may be the oldest, cootenest Western performance ever. And I'm glad that I've seen Raines' solid noir work because she's downright horrible in spots here. Her tough girl act is as convincing as a Halloween costume. (Yes, even worse than Maureen O'Hara.) Awfully alluring though, and for that I forgive a lot.
RATING: * * * - Good


I'd like to keep score and see how many times Ward Bond pops up in this Marathon.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 03:00:38 PM by 1SO »

Junior

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2015, 01:55:55 PM »
I'm convinced that Ward Bond is in every movie made between 1935 and 1960.
Check out my blog of many topics

Im not a quitter, Kimmy! I watched Interstellar all the way to the end!

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2015, 02:22:30 PM »
Him and Frank McHugh, who only appear in 9 films together.

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2015, 08:27:34 PM »
Rio Lobo
* *

In terms of overall quality, I'm on the same page as Antares. Hawks' films slowed down considerably towards the end, their energy dimmed. By this point, he's pretty well asleep in the director's chair, uncaring if you can see the strings being pulled. The cheap sets, the fake blood, the poor acting and the uninspired writing. (That last one is perhaps Hawks' biggest sin compared to his other films.) Even basic technical logistics are passible at best. Like the hornet's nest opening. I'm sure it seemed interesting on paper, but Hawks can barely care if you buy this actually working. The pace of the escaping soldiers is as believable as the swollen stings makeup. "Out of tune piano" is an apt description. There are similar technical issues in El Dorado (and I think the sets look just as cheap), but with that one Hawks quickly moves onto the next great moment. Heck, in that one he has a great moment to move on to.

Now, I read about this being Hawks' third time with Rio Bravo, but by the time this comes close to looking like the other two films, it's 20 minutes from the end. The rest of the time, I was trying to figure out who was supposed to be the drunk sheriff. Where's the old coot? It's a very different film story-wise. I guess the connection is in the group of individuals coming together to fight evil, but then you might as well say this is a remake of The Thing also.

Antares, you being a non-Wayne fan, I wonder if you see the difference in him here compared to the other two films? He's not the dominant force anymore. More of a mellow grandfather figure. There's less confidence, and he even stands by while a man and a woman take a beating. He follows the advice of others and accepts help when others offer it. Even in the final showdown, he's no better then the rest of his group.

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2015, 06:29:31 PM »
Big Jake (1971) 72/100 - I must have had this confused with another Wayne film, because I rated it lower many years ago. This was a pretty decent popcorn western. One thing I have to say about John Wayne, he definitely got better as he aged when it came to his acting abilities. There's more of a redoubtable and stoic nature to him in the latter era films he made, as opposed to the brash, cocksure arrogance he displaced in his youth. But like in Rio Lobo from the previous year, his co-stars, with the exception of Bruce Cabot and Richard Boone, kind of let him down. Although she's only in the beginning of the film, Maureen O'Hara, who I've always loved, is the complete opposite of what I praised Wayne for a few sentences earlier. I don't know what happened to her, but she really became a subpar performer sometime in the early sixties and never really found it again. Maybe she needed a strong director to bring out the best in her, but her delivery of lines seems so empty, that I'm kind of glad she doesn't reappear. Patrick Wayne and Christopher Mitchum prove that screen presence and talent aren't genetically encoded in offspring. There are only a few moments in the film where I kind of cringed, like the staged fight scene and the last scene in particular. After the villains are vanquished, his eldest son turns to Wayne and says, "Let's go home", to which Wayne replies, "Good Idea!" They exit stage left and the screen goes to a still shot of the happy family walking merrily to their horses, while the end credits roll. No mention of Wayne's best friend Sam or his faithful dog who've been hacked to death with a machete just moments earlier. Both of whom were infinitely more instrumental in helping Wayne recover his grandson from the kidnappers. Now I can see why Maureen O'Hara's character threw him out, he has no loyalty. And one last thing, the music composed by Elmer Bernstein throughout the entire film, made me think I was watching the sequel to The Magnificent Seven, it sounded so similar. Shame on you Elmer, you could have put a bit more effort into it, instead of rehashing that score and collecting your fee.

Original rating 58/100
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 06:41:00 PM by Antares »