Author Topic: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015  (Read 33183 times)

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #80 on: March 05, 2015, 02:07:31 PM »
I know I said I was only going to watch films with the Duke in them, but I found this on YouTube and started watching it. It turned out to be pretty decent.

Rio Conchos (1964) 72/100 - Made in the same year that Sergio Leone would turn the western genre on its ear, this is a dark, yet potently active western from journeyman director, Gordon Douglas. Starring Richard Boone, in a rare lead billing performance, Stuart Whitman and Jim Brown, in his first screen appearance, Rio Conchos reminded me a lot of The Guns of Navarone by the time it ended. There's a good deal of action, suspense and a good twist in the middle that I didn't see coming. The only reason I don't rate this higher is that when Edmond O'Brien is finally found, he goes into hyperdrive with his scenery chewing. Up until that point in the film, this was on par with some of the better westerns of the previous decades. And although the ending is rather abrupt, setting aside O'Brien's performance, I'd definitely recommend this film to anyone who loves a good horse opera.
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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #81 on: March 05, 2015, 07:37:37 PM »
Mad Max (1979)
Strong western tropes at play in the first two films. Definitely western in nature.
George Miller pitches his films in a heightened atmosphere, which leads to the strange bigness of the sequences and performances. You had asked how the same George Miller went on to make Babe and Happy Feet. Well, those kid of films also use cartoonish techniques, so it's not that much of a stretch. Haven't you also seen The Witches of Eastwick? It's a live action, battle of the sexes played at the same level but more suited to American tastes. If you haven't I recommend keeping it in mind for Shocktober. If you want to see Miller's technique working well on completely different material, check out Lorenzo's Oil.


McLintock!
1.5/5
Okay, so... wildly disagree here. This is one of those films where I really enjoy the company of the people gathered together. You say "incoherent plot", but I think this is more of a gathering of friends and family conflicts than the usual story, story, story that I love. Moments that tickle me like nothing else with Wayne, like the clay pit, started by one of John Wayne's best tough guy moments. (And I love the Indian who keeps asking "where's the whiskey?" finally saying "There's no whiskey. We go home.")

The dialogue is miles more clever than anything else with Wayne, and I'm a sucker for clever dialogue. And who better to portray the western equal of boorish male behavior? I didn't even know this was based on Taming of the Shrew. That main story gets as much time as everything else around McLintock's world, and the ending seems closer to The Quiet Man.

If you're comparing Andrew V. McLaglen to Hawks, that's hardly fair. Hawks is certainly the better filmmaker. However, this is McLaglen's best - definitely better than his more acclaimed Shenandoah - and I credit that to the script, which gets it pretty right.



Sweetgrass was recommended to me as well, but I didn't like Leviathan so not for me.


Mrs. 1SO is looking for more Richard Boone this month, so I might get to Rio Conchos.

oldkid

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #82 on: March 05, 2015, 08:40:43 PM »
Well, I can't really say anything good about McLintock!, so we'll just have to disagree here. Comedy is subjective.

The Outlaw Josey Wales
I have for years thought that I needed to catch up with this film... but it turns out I have seen it.  I don't know how long ago, but I distinctly remembered almost every scene, and knew the general outline of what was going to happen next.  I also remembered that I didn't think much of the film, that it seemed a pretty standard Western story (which probably meant that I saw it when I was much younger as well, as this story isn't especially common.)

I have to say that I'm really glad that I watched it again because it has certainly gone up in my estimation in this viewing. 

Clint plays the title character who finds himself in the middle of the Civil War after a Union troop destroys his house, rapes and kidnaps his wife and kills his son.  When the war finishes and he finds himself on the losing side, he cannot pledge allegiance to the Union, and finds himself an outlaw, being chased across the land, from Missouri to Texas. 

But my question about this film comes in the short introduction that Clint, in his current aged appearance, makes to the film.  He says that it is "about the destructiveness of war"... which puzzled me.   There is a brief war montage at the beginning of the film, but almost all of the film takes place in the aftermath of the Civil War.  I believe the director, so it caused me to reconsider what this film was really about.  Suppose it was all about war, how would it be read?

First, the situation comes as a result of war.  Clint's family is killed and he is thirsty for revenge because a group of men was given licence to ravage uncontrollably, which really would happen only in wartime. The betrayal of his men comes from the hatred and distrust of even honorable men that occurs in wartime.  Clint is declared an outlaw because he refused to put the war behind him.  Everywhere he went the bodies stacked up because no matter where he was the war followed him.  Even though many had put the war behind them, he didn't because his thirst for revenge hadn't been fulfilled, and there were many who wanted to take revenge on him.  The large price on his head was also an aftermath of the war, in which war crimes were overlooked (or even rewarded with promotions).  Because of this continuing war, Clint could never settle down, never relax, never create a new homestead.

There are signs of peace between individuals.  Hatreds can be set aside between individuals, and battles can be agreed to be avoided between individual leaders.  But this cannot happen, it is agreed, between governments.  Governments must fight and kill the innocent because they have no choice.  At the end, the man whom Clint thought betrayed him declared his peace, saying, "The war is over."  But this is only because the government's official records declared the outlaw dead.  War can only end in the face of a lie.

How does this fit into Clint Eastwood's filmography and politics?  I think it is clear that Clint supports the individual right of violence, but opposes any institutional violence.  Institutional violence kills too many innocents, ruins the independent nuclear family/homestead ideal, and destroys lives long past the war's cessation.  Clint is close to a libertarian, seeing government as a largely malevolent force, creating a context in which the individual is forced to be an outlaw to survive. 

While the ethics and politics I might question (especially any support of redemptive violence), I think that this film presents such an ideal in a marvelous way.  It is often subtle, and the brutality of the story is often softened by the beauty of the landscape, not unlike The Searchers.  The cinematography and pacing is certainly reflective of Leone's influence, although Eastwood doesn't have the patience of Leone to really develop an intense suspense.  This film is about as close as I've seen Eastwood get to an epic film, in both theme and size of landscape.  A powerful film.   
4.5/5
« Last Edit: March 06, 2015, 12:57:21 AM by oldkid »
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Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #83 on: March 05, 2015, 09:08:49 PM »
The cinematography and pacing is certainly reflective of Leone's influence, although Eastwood doesn't have the patience of Leone to really develop an intense suspense.

While he always paid homage to Leone, I always felt his style was more reminiscent of his other favorite director, Don Siegel.
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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #84 on: March 05, 2015, 09:33:37 PM »

The Black Bounty Hunter (1975)

This film is more popularly known by another title, but I don't want to get banned from the Boards.

Written and Produced by star Fred Williamson, The Black Bounty Hunter is reputed to be the best western among Blaxploitation cinema. I'd say it's about on par with Mario Van Peebles' 1993 film Posse. Williamson's got movie star looks, but he's not much of an actor. Mostly, he's visibly thrilled to be able to lead a western. (This is a positive, much like seeing the joy as Nick Frost and Simon Pegg play supercops in Hot Fuzz.) A black movie star in a genre dominated by white icons, though I think it's funny that the director is Jack Arnold (No Name on the Bullet), a white guy approaching 60.

The story is pretty original, Williamson and friend wander into a lawless town and set themselves up as sheriff and deputy, mostly to piss off the racist white citizens. However, the situations lean heavily on dated confrontations typical of the sub-genre. All whites are racist bullies or racist cowards. White women get weak in Williamson's presence. There's a pretty black woman, who some of the bad guys want to force sexually. Williamson always has the upper hand, except for the obligatory sequence where he's captured, tortured and threatened with lynching. Of course, as with spaghetti western icons, our hero is an amazingly good shot.


About that gun, a sawed-off repeater rifle. Never seen one before. Not sure it'd be very accurate in a fight, though it looks and sounds cool. (The mix makes it sound similar to a double barrel shotgun.) This isn't a bad movie, but more a curiosity. A time when a movie star like Williamson could give his fans a western star to root for.
RATING: * * 1/2

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #85 on: March 05, 2015, 09:41:18 PM »
I had an increased estimation of Josey Wales as well when I saw it again at an older age.

How does this fit into Clint Eastwood's filmography and politics?  I think it is clear that Clint supports the individual right of violence, but opposes any institutional violence.  Institutional violence kills too many innocents, ruins the independent nuclear family/homestead ideal, and destroys lives long past the war's cessation.  Clint is close to a libertarian, seeing government as a largely malevolent force, creating a context in which the individual is forced to be an outlaw to survive. 

I especially love that paragraph. I like how it extends out to his most recent, American Sniper. 40 years later, so I'm sure his views have fossilized, but it's also a depiction of the Individual ground up in Institutional Violence. Very well said.

And I agree with Antares. Josey Wales is epic in a lot of ways for Eastwood (ways different from Unforgiven), but it's a style similar to Don Siegel.

Melvil

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #86 on: March 05, 2015, 09:44:29 PM »
The Outlaw Josey Wales

I also just watched this, so I'm happy to have your thoughts here to piggy back on. I have to admit, I didn't give the theme as much credit as you do. Your previous dismissal of it being "pretty standard" is not far from where I fell. Even though I had certainly not seen it before, it is a very familiar feeling film, and most scenes were instantly recognizable and predictable as part of the established language of western storytelling.

In certain ways it is a very blunt film, but it can also be meandering and a little too reliant on characters that feel more like archetypes than people. The opening scene seems so eager to establish the conflict and legend of Josey Wales that it almost feels like parody, but the rest of the movie rarely follows up with a similar tone to make me think that was the intent. We then get a lot of time spent showing how Josey operating as an outlaw is more justified in his violence than those working within the law, but until the final scenes it never feels like the conflicts are very meaningful or hold any complexity.

So I did enjoy it and thought that Clint's take on these familiar elements was worthwhile, but I'm not sure how I feel about what the film has to say ultimately. Structurally the film works very well, even if it's a bit episodic and repetitive in the first half. Other than perhaps tipping his hand a little too readily in a lot of the scenes, I felt like Eastwood's direction was pretty solid.

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #87 on: March 05, 2015, 09:45:01 PM »
Chisum (1970) 60/100 - Andrew McLaglen spent far too many summers on John Ford western film shoots in his youth, because he can't help trying to emulate him. He mimics the cinematography and has the same penchant for corny scenes that make me just cringe. There really isn't much going on in this film that's new, with the main plot centering on a land war between a righteous, pioneering cattle man and an evil land baron buying up as much property as he can. The twist is the insertion of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett into the mix. Maybe McLagen thought it would add a bit of history to the mix and help fuel the action. But in McLaglen's hackneyed handling of the film, it just dawdles until the final climactic showdown. John Wayne does a serviceable job as the cattleman every has so much respect for, but he really isn't given much to do again in another of these late career films. The spotlight is really on Geoffrey Duel, a young actor who parleyed his effort in this film, into meteoric TV glory in the short lived, but successful Alias, Smith and Jones on ABC. Too much success, too soon in his young career would take a personal toll on him, and sadly, he would commit suicide just a few years after this film was made. I've always wondered what would have become of him, had he not made that fateful choice, because he was a gifted actor, with what seemed, a lot of untapped talent. On the other sided of the coin, you have a badly miscast Richard Jaeckel as a tough guy cattle rustler who hires his gun out to the land baron. I have never understood why Hollywood studios and directors would cast him as villains in a lot of the films he appeared in. Standing next to Forrest Tucker, he looks like a tater tot in chaps. And finally, there is one moment in this film that was not suppose to be funny, but I found myself laughing at it. During the final shootout, Jaeckel's character is told to build a barricade at the end of town to stop Chisum from coming to Billy's rescue. When Chisum stampedes a large herd of cattle through the barricade, Edward Faulkner, who must have played in every John Wayne western after 1960, utters one of the most ridiculous lines in a John Wayne western. As he witnesses the stampede coming at him, he stands up and yells It's Chisum!!!. Well no shit Sherlock, who the CINECAST!ing hell did you think you were building the barricade for? Damn, that gave me a good chuckle.

Original Rating: 60/100
« Last Edit: March 05, 2015, 09:47:36 PM by Antares »
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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #88 on: March 05, 2015, 10:10:11 PM »
Edward Faulkner was discovered by Richard Boone, who introduced him to Wayne and McLaglen. The trailer for the film contains the moment you talk about, though it plays funnier in the context of the film.

Pretty much agree about the film, though I really like John Wayne in it. This was perhaps the start of his Living Legend phase. I hate that name. Have to suppress the adolescent giggle every time somebody says his name, especially when it's spoken tersely during a stand-off.

I see so little John Ford in Andrew McLaglen, even though I think McLintock! is similar to The Quiet Man. I respect Ford more than you anyways, but McLaglen is a studio hack for hire and I never see ambition to be more than that. He's closer to Henry Hathaway. Interchangeable with Burt Kennedy.

oldkid

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2015
« Reply #89 on: March 05, 2015, 10:24:05 PM »
The cinematography and pacing is certainly reflective of Leone's influence, although Eastwood doesn't have the patience of Leone to really develop an intense suspense.

While he always paid homage to Leone, I always felt his style was more reminiscent of his other favorite director, Don Siegel.

Certainly Outlaw isn't a match for Leone, I just saw some influence, especially in the work in shadows and some of the longer takes.  It's been a while since I've seen a Siegel film, and his style never stood out to me. 
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