Author Topic: Westerns  (Read 11459 times)

1SO

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #250 on: October 03, 2017, 11:57:42 PM »
Seeing The Duke in front of the camera is often electric, but I would have never thought about his ability behind it. Iím not sure the background for this project, which is written/directed by James Edward Grant. Did Grant come to Wayne? Wayne to Grant? Was this just a film the studio system didnít feel as strongly as Wayne did?
Grant and Wayne were good friends, and Grant worked on a dozen John Wayne films of various quality. Grant's scripts don't generally standout as good pieces of writing, such as Donovan's Reef, his one script made by John Ford. I'm in the minority of liking the scripts for McLintock, The Alamo (directed by Wayne) and Sands of Iwo Jima. But it's because of Angel and the Badman that I think of Grant as talented writer. The plot isn't ingenious, and the title makes it seem even more simplistic, but the characters are rich and deep. The actors have a lot of gray area to work with.

I don't think the budget was much higher or lower than other formula Westerns at the time. It's just that Grant is clearly a writer first and he doesn't try to elevate the words with visual flair. He keeps the focus on the script, which is great for the writing but does make it a little confining when it should be expanding and building.

This is one of the first films to strip down and examine Wayne's evolving cowboy persona. There's a famous story about Red River (released the following year) that John Ford was so impressed with Wayne's performance that he is reported to have said, "I didnít know the big son of a bitch could act!" To me, that only shows that Ford didn't watch Angel and the Badman. You can compare Wayne to Mickey Rourke. Red River might have been his The Wrestler but Angel and the Badman is his Sin City.

Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #251 on: October 04, 2017, 07:28:59 AM »
Red River is up in 6 films and I look forward to it. Thanks as always for the comments 1SO!
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smirnoff

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #252 on: October 05, 2017, 01:54:23 AM »
Angel and the Badman (James Edward Grant, 1947)

You know, we've talked a lot about the western genre on the boards, but have we ever dug into the wardrobe? Like who had the best cowboy hat? I don't like Wayne's hat in this movie at all. It's so boring! Also, I much prefer Wayne when he had wrinkles and grizzle... this baby face Wayne looks like like a bellboy with a brim.


Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #253 on: October 05, 2017, 07:17:19 AM »
Interesting you bring up fashion. I found his shirt here to be fascinating, though I wonder if it was the style of the time. And perhaps we've seen it before in some of the westerns I've already seen, but I wouldn't be able to remember, but that shirt that buttons up on either side is weird to me. What a nuisance that would have to be to put on. Just button it up the middle.

A little searching, apparently it's a Cavalry Shirt. Make's sense for a lot of the roles in Westerns, I also wonder if that's a clue to Quirt's past. (Also what the hell kind of name is Quirt?

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saltine

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #254 on: October 05, 2017, 04:23:03 PM »
Dammit, Corndog, you made me do that internet deep-dive that chews my time!  But, I did find some interesting information on the shirt (not on the name Quirt except I know a quirt is a whip with a short handle, still no excuse to call someone that).

Fruits of my deep-dive here. Page down to a post by Amberlei:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-734090.html

Also, my dad wore that style shirt. He was a real cowboy (according to Urban Cowboy). Those are snaps, not buttons.
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smirnoff

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #255 on: October 05, 2017, 10:59:24 PM »
Good read! Thanks for digging. :)

Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #256 on: October 06, 2017, 06:02:34 AM »
Good read! Thanks for digging. :)

Same!
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Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #257 on: November 03, 2017, 12:15:56 PM »
Pursued (Raoul Walsh, 1947)

Admittedly, this marathon has not exactly gone as I have planned. That is not to say I haven't enjoyed it a great deal. I have. That is not to say I haven't discovered some great films. I have. That is also not to say I am not making the progress I thought I would. This was always going to be a long long long marathon. Rather, I seem to be hot and cold with this set of genre movies, insomuch as I watch a chunk of them, and then my attention is taken elsewhere in the cinematic realm. It is now November, and what that means is awards season. The time of year when tons and tons of very interesting and often very good movies comes out. This will be the penultimate Western review this calendar year, and I will return to the great West upon the new year, and hopefully have greater success staying on task with this ambitious marathon, which has already rewarded me with spectacular films.

Jeb Rand (Robert Mitchum) finds himself holed up in the cellar of his frontier home as a child, unaware of what had just taken place until Mrs. Callum (Judith Anderson) comes to discover the boy. Without a family, Jeb is then raised by the Callum's, striking up a friendly relationship with Thor (Teresa Wright) and a rivalry with Adam (John Rodney), Mrs. Callum's two birth children. Jeb always felt like an outcast in the Callum family, and after winning big in a casino, takes a partnership with the proprietor, Jake Dingle (Alan Hale). But while Jeb has always lived his life on the outskirts of morality, his innocence is perpetually put to the test, as someone always seems to be after him, someone always wanting to get the better of him. Jeb must persevere while coming to grips with what really happened to his family when he was a child.

Pursued is the third Western in the marathon directed by Raoul Walsh, who I feel is know for his genre films, and the first starring the incomparable Robert Mitchum, whose screen presence is undeniable. I don't have much comment on how the pair works together, but I can say that Mitchum's appearance is very welcome. He is just larger than life and turns out to be perfect casting for the role of Jeb Rand, a man always being pursued, and yet seemingly innocent. Mitchum has the type of smug face that is easy to hate, but he also has the talent that makes him hard not to like. That charm comes across here really well as he fills each room into which he walks, while also providing enough innocent swarm to understand why he may be pursued.

But what makes this film notable is that it is hardly a western at all. If anything, I might call it a noir. It certainly takes place in the west with saloons, horseback riding, gun fighting etc. Look, it qualifies no doubt. But might this be the first NOIR western? Jeb is a good man, but has his questionable past, and seems to always be eluding these unnamed pursuers.. The cinematography certainly feels very noir-ish, black and white, shrouded by shadows. Teresa Wright may not quite be a damsel in distress or femme fatale, but she, along with Judith Anderson, give off a certain vibe. And speaking of Judith Anderson, she is great here. I have seen her just a few times, but every time she has been great, playing some variation of a menacing aging woman. In Pursued, Anderson is also able to provide a depth of emotion, a sympathy, which makes hers a very impressive, layered performance.

All that said, all that intrigue, I feel as though the execution of the film lacked in many aspects. I never felt invested in Jeb, with too much mystery surrounding his aura. Look, the "surprise" seems well thought out, but with every nightmare and flashback, the reasoning seems to be crystal clear, eliminating any effect of surprise or reveal when the ending comes and Jeb is able to garner his revenge and justice. Raoul Walsh reveals his hand way too early and spends the rest of the film attempting to show off, but the trick is already spent. The film was less than subtle, making it painfully obvious the direction in which the film was moving, causing the perceived thrill and mystery to feel dead on arrival. Mitchum does all he can to carry the film, but the film is flawed at its foundation, making it nothing more than a Western footnote.

**1/2 - Average
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1SO

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #258 on: November 03, 2017, 12:32:48 PM »
But what makes this film notable is that it is hardly a western at all. If anything, I might call it a noir. It certainly takes place in the west with saloons, horseback riding, gun fighting etc. Look, it qualifies no doubt. But might this be the first NOIR western?

Depends on how you define Noir. It certainly beats Station West by a year, but The Spoilers and Tall in the Saddle also have a good amount of Noir.

I don't disagree with your opinion. The more Raoul Walsh I watch the more I realize subtlety isn't in him. This isn't as heavy handed as They Died With Their Boots On, but it pretty well smacks you in the face with what it's trying to say.

Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #259 on: February 09, 2018, 09:53:23 AM »
Full disclosure:
I watched Ramrod back in early November and failed to ever write up a review. I could attempt to now, but it's a mix of being unmotivated to do so, and feeling it would do the film a disservice to attempt to write about it so long after having seen it. That being, said, I liked the film fine, but was not overly impressed by it. I gave it my 2.5 star rating, which equates to "Average".

Now that I have put Football behind me for the offseason, it's time to return to the trail...
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 09:55:32 AM by Corndog »
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."