Author Topic: Westerns  (Read 37194 times)

1SO

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #380 on: February 24, 2021, 12:16:29 PM »
You're too kind.

Mrs. 1SO - "They got the title right... and that's about it."

It's like someone asked Barton Fink to write a wilderness adventure and he went on for pages with people sitting around the dining table debating the nature of family.


Carl Switzer ('Alfalfa' from Little Rascals) as the old Indian is still some of the worst makeup ever in a film. He looks like a zombie.

Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #381 on: February 24, 2021, 02:08:35 PM »
Yea Joe Sam was a wild one. You cast a 27 year old Alfalfa to be an ancient Native American?
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Antares

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #382 on: February 24, 2021, 02:21:24 PM »
Track of the Cat (William A. Wellman, 1954)

SNOW WESTERN ALERT!

★ ★ - Don't Like It

One my least favorite Wellman films.

At number 135 on your list is a very good Snow Western, Day of the Outlaw, if you can get by some of the bad acting by a few of the peripheral supporting actors.
Masterpiece (100-91) | Classic (90-80) | Entertaining (79-69) | Mediocre (68-58) | Cinemuck (57-21) | Crap (20-0)

Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #383 on: May 10, 2021, 07:46:09 AM »
The Man from Laramie (Anthony Mann, 1955)

James Stewart is one of my favorite actors of all time, with a filmography chock full of classics and great performances. His on screen presence has always drawn me into his characters, and often by proxy his movies. And as a result of being one of the best working actors in his time, Stewart managed to build relationships and collaborations with some of the best directors in Hollywood. Perhaps his most famed partnership is with Alfred Hitchcock, the master. Their films include Rear Window and Vertigo, two of the most acclaimed movies of all time. But Stewart was so versatile that he made quite the number of impressive westerns as well, including a lasting and fruitful collaboration with Anthony Mann, a director not often cited alongside the likes of Hitchcock. But his work with Stewart shows him as one of the most capable western hands available, and that includes The Man from Laramie, the last of their official collaborations.

Will Lockhart (James Stewart) and his troop have just arrived into Coronado with a wagon load of goods for the local general store, run by Barbara Waggoman (Cathy OíDonnell). Hoping to return back to Laramie without empty wagons, they begin loading with salt from the nearby salt flats at Barbaraís recommendation, but soon the son of the local cattle baron, Dave (Alex Nicol) rides by to set their wagons ablaze for attempting to steal the salt. Promised reparations for his damaged goods, Will meets with the baron himself, Alec Waggoman (Donald Crisp), but instead of heading on his way afterwards, he still has a bone to pick with Dave. And soon enough, the foreman of the ranch, Vic (Arthur Kennedy) gets involved and the plot thickens: someone in town is supplying the nearby dangerous Apache with repeating rifles. Perhaps a lucrative proposition at present, but one with potentially long lasting and deadly consequences.

One of the things I like most about Jimmy Stewart as a performer is his wholesomeness. I think of roles like the ones in his Frank Capra films: Itís a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and perhaps especially his role in the quirky but magnetic Harvey. I think most people remember Stewart most fondly as the charming, funny, sweet good guy. And while he is all those things in his westerns mostly as well, the western setting also forces a certain level of grit and edge that we donít see in his other, perhaps more notable roles. In The Man from Laramie for instance, heís just a enterprising businessman who gets into trouble in Coronado for trying to bring a wagon full of salt back instead of empty handed. But when the conflict arises, he doesnít back down. Heís not afraid to throw a punch or discharge his firearm in defense of himself and others. So itís a dynamic, a different side of the same shape. This element of edge and rough-and-ready, that to be fair weíve seen from him in previous westerns, brings a new level of appreciation for his career and accomplishments, making his filmography all the more interesting.

What is great about The Man from Laramie specifically is the supporting cast around Stewart, some of which are familiar faces and welcome sites. Arthur Kennedy is a good example. His Vic is a layered character with a full, well thought out story arc all on his own. Kennedy is not someone Iíve seen often, but to this point in my westerns journey, he has been a welcome site each time he has appeared. Donald Crisp and Cathy OíDonnell, even Aline MacMahon as the older rival rancher Canaday, are all a delight as well. Sometimes the casting maters, and sometimes it just adds value and quality to a story, where good or bad. In the case of The Man from Laramie, Anthony Mann crafts a complete picture, with great story and cast, which results in an entertaining, engaging ride from start to finish. Come from Jimmy Stewart, stay for the intrigue. Some of the best westerns are built upon a good story. The great ones often come with memorable performances as well. And while not Stewart or Mannís best work, itís further proof that the pair are more than capable players in the genre. The Man from Laramie is an easy recommend as a result.

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1SO

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #384 on: May 11, 2021, 05:41:43 PM »
When I did the gauntlet of Mann/Stewart Westerns, Winchester was the Masterwork but Laramie was my 2nd favorite. It mightíve been a reaction to not liking The Naked Spur, which is often noted as the 2nd best. Far Country is generally considered the worst, but I like its charm. Iíve seen them all twice, still donít like Spur, though it starts great. Laramie has a pacing issue. I like the darkness, the anger Stewart pulls up from inside, but a lot of the surrounding story tones everything down and is a bit of a drag. Itís gone from my #2 to #4.
Winchester Ď73
Bend of the River
The Far Country
The Man from Laramie
The Naked Spur

Only now, anyone watching the Mann/Stewart Westerns has to continue onto The Furies and The Tin Star, which are just as great. Itís no accident that Anthony Mannís Top 8 Westerns on IMDB are rated between 7.2 and 7.6

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #385 on: May 26, 2021, 08:22:45 AM »
Man with the Gun (Richard Wilson, 1955)

Weíve uncovered a few of these type of films throughout the marathon already to this point, but Man with the Gun is another solid reminder that not every movie needs to be some crowning achievement that stands the test of time as one of cinemaís greatest. Certainly that is the goal, but making small, B-movie type productions is honestly just as valuable to the history of cinema as Casablanca and Citizen Kane, especially if they still maintain a high level of execution and entertainment. That is the joy of movies, and seeing a lot of them. Through time, youíll see great films of all sorts of shapes and sizes, that are great for all very different reasons. And as we all know, variety is the spice of life. So I donít need an iconic John Wayne performance, or a classic cowboys vs. Indians storyline to whet my appetite when it comes to the western genre. Sometimes all I need is a man with a gun, especially so when that man happens to be Robert Mitchum.

Clint Tollinger (Robert Mitchum) is a tough ďtown tamerĒ, a gun for hire who enters a rough and tumble city, imposes his will, and often gets the rowdy crowd to settle down or leave altogether. So when he comes to Sheridan City to see his old girl Nelly (Jan Sterling), he gets recognized and hired to help stop powerful rancher Dade Holman and his men from continuing to wreck havoc on the town, most notably the Harkness brothers. As Tollinger stands off against the gang, he learns that the town saloon owner, Frenchy (Ted de Corsia) is also on Holmanís side. In a controversial decision, Tollinger enforces a no guns law, leaving tensions running very high, which leads to multiple showdowns. But as tensions continue to rise, so too do those between Tollinger and Nelly, as we soon learn of their past, and the danger to their future, along with the fate of the town.

In reality, this is a very small western as far as the genre goes, but as Iíve already mentioned, itís executed very well, led by a winning lead performance by the singular Robert Mitchum, who has charisma enough to carry just about any movie. In many ways, an easy comparison can be made to a film like Silver Lode, which tells a small story, with a largely anonymous cast, with a sparse run time, but does so extremely well, to the point that the film is a soaring success and a great way to spend 80 minutes of entertainment. Director Richard Wilson, a name I had not heard before this film, stages the set pieces well, full of tension and suspense, and even when we know whatís coming, itís still a thrilling experience, made with a surprising amount of polish and surehandedness. It really is an impressive debut film, which makes me curious why Wilsonís career never panned out afterward.

With a marathon like this one, filled to the brim with nearly 350 films, it can become very easy to have genre fatigue, or just fatigue in general, especially if you keep getting similar stories, or sub-par ones. Films like Man with the Gun are a salve, even as I pace myself through this mammoth project. It may not seem like the classic of the genre that might beckon many, but when you undertake a project like this, even the small surprises, and maybe especially so, are often the most enjoyable discoveries of the marathon, above and beyond seeing The Searchers and realizing itís one of cinemaís greatest achievements. Perhaps Iím jaded, perhaps Iíve lost my way down the trail of this westerns marathon, but while I will still enjoy revisiting The Searchers, and likely a great deal, the small discoveries are always going to be the most rewarding.

★ ★ ★ - Like It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

1SO

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #386 on: May 26, 2021, 02:20:13 PM »
I don't get Western fatigue because of the personalities that thrive in this genre. Whether it's directors like John Ford and Anthony Mann, or movie stars like Mitchum, Fonda, Stewart and Wayne, this is their comfort zone where they can work their charismatic magic over and over. I'll never get bored watching Robert Mitchum be cool, so long as he's not bored with the project. I don't need a big story or big action. I don't even need Mitchum to make a big speech or gun down dozens of bad guys. All he has to do is walk into the room and react to everyone reacting to his presence. I've recommended a number of Westerns where the stuntwork was poor or some of the acting was bad. Westerns are as reliable as BBQ, and even if I'm not impressed I'm more likely to return for more of this than most other genres, including Musicals, Noir and Horror.

Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #387 on: May 26, 2021, 02:58:47 PM »
Is BBQ the right comparison, or is it pizza, because even bad pizza is still pizza.
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1SO

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #388 on: May 26, 2021, 03:06:30 PM »
Pizza didn't sound right for a western.

Corndog

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Re: Westerns
« Reply #389 on: May 26, 2021, 03:30:14 PM »
Pizza didn't sound right for a western.

Spaghetti then ;)
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."