Author Topic: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019  (Read 12808 times)

Corndog

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #40 on: March 07, 2019, 07:16:56 AM »
The Moonlighter
* *

If it wasn't for Ward Bond showing up halfway in with a robbery idea, this thing would never have made feature length, and at 77-minutes it's still mighty short though not swift.

This is so accurate and you word it better than I did. It felt like they just threw ideas together to try to put a movie together. This also reminded me that, for a 77 minute movie, there was an Intermission slide! What!? Having just finished Hondo (also sub 90 minutes), there was an Intermission slide in it too!

Do we think the intermissions are there to give viewers eyes a break from the 3-D? It seemed so weird to me given how short the films were.
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Sandy

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #41 on: March 07, 2019, 02:48:59 PM »
And Iím not sure how I feel about the ending. Does he die at the end or just ride off? The ambiguity is intentional Iím sure.
Which way are you leaning? When I was young, I was certain he was alive. Now I'm just as certain he's dead.

Sure as shooting, he's a gonner.  :'(

Antares, I really like your description.


Westward the Women

Last month when I marathoned William A. Wellman, I passed on this one because I already had a full plate, figuring if there was the Western Marathon I would come back to it. Well, thank you Sandy for hosting and giving me one of the best films I'll probably see this year. A viewing which benefitted from not being crammed in with a number of other titles because it's the kind of film you want to sit with for awhile and admire just how well made it is.

...What keeps it from being dreary is watching the women harden and learn along the way until the men become unnecessary. You see the journey wear people thin and toughen them up. This makes the ultimate destination even more interesting because the ranchers aren't getting a bunch of dainty ladies, but partners who can take the reins and work the land just as well.

SOLD! This is a movie I want to see!

Happy to oblige with the hosting, 1SO. It's one of my favorite threads to follow along with. :)

Corndog

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #42 on: March 07, 2019, 02:56:03 PM »
Hondo (John Farrow, 1953)

It feels like itís been quite a while since weíve seen a movie with John Wayne in it in this marathon, so Iím certainly glad to have his presence back all things considered. One of the many things I wanted to achieve from this marathon was a more well formed opinion on such legendary contributors like John Wayne and other actors/directors famous within the genre. Weíve had a decent sample size to this point, but Iíll still hold off a final opinion with many more entries yet to come, but overall I think Wayne lives up to his larger than life billing. He has a way with his performances which makes him feel more at home in these settings than any other actor Iíve come across. But that doesnít necessarily mean I think heís the best actor either. Thatís something altogether different.

Hondo Lane (John Wayne), an Army dispatch rider who has lived his life in the west, comes upon the ranch of Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page), who is skeptical of this stranger while her husband, she claims, is away for the time. Hondo soon becomes welcome on the ranch, which is in Apache country, after he ingratiates himself with Angie and her son, and it becomes more and more apparent that Angieís husband is dead and never coming back. Hondo warns that the US treaty with the Apache has been broken, and she and her son are in danger, creating a tenuous relationship between the Loweís, Hondo and Vittorio (Michael Pate), the Apache chief who has been friendly with both in the past.

I was struck by the similarities (and differences) between this and Shane. This film is in fact quite different, but both Hondo and Shane was west-wise characters who come to support and in some ways protect friendly ranchers during a difficult time. Shane is a far superior film however, mostly owing to its ambition and story being much more well-rounded and fulfilled. The problem I found with Hondo was its slightness, which would be an issue easily overcome if the character of Hondo had a little more mystique or flare to him. Instead, heís just another John Wayne character, a role which Wayne himself brings very little too. How often can he simply play himself and get away with it? Shane has plenty of twists and turns in its story, while Hondo speeds through and is over before you know it.

Geraldine Page is great here, however, and hers is a story Iím very much interested in, but by focusing so much on Hondo and what he brings to the table, her fortitude and denial and largely overlooked, which is a shame since it ought to be the feature of the story, along with her relationship with her son. To be honest, I was very worried reading the synopsis of this film prior to watching, fearing Wayne would merely be the ďprotectorĒ for a weak woman incapable of survival without a man in her life. While that scenario is partially true, Page adds much more depth and strength to Angie than I was expecting.

It should be noted, I guess, that like The Moonlighter before it, Hondo was also a gimmicky 3-Dimension film during its time. While I of course didnít view it in 3-D, there is an obvious use of the technology during a knife fight where the knife is repeatedly thrust directly at the camera. Itís a shame that even way back then, filmmakers would stoop to gimmicks to get people in the theater seats, but itís such a small part of the film itís really just a footnote in a film that otherwise is quite slight and disappointing. The crisp bluray copy I watched was beautiful. I wish more older color films would get the treatment, but it also didnít have the sweeping landscape shots something like Shane featured in its use of color. A rather forgettable entry, both for Wayne and the marathon in general.

★★ - Didn't Like It
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1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2019, 03:16:34 PM »
It feels like itís been quite a while since weíve seen a movie with John Wayne in it in this marathon, so Iím certainly glad to have his presence back all things considered. One of the many things I wanted to achieve from this marathon was a more well formed opinion on such legendary contributors like John Wayne and other actors/directors famous within the genre. Weíve had a decent sample size to this point, but Iíll still hold off a final opinion with many more entries yet to come, but overall I think Wayne lives up to his larger than life billing. He has a way with his performances which makes him feel more at home in these settings than any other actor Iíve come across. But that doesnít necessarily mean I think heís the best actor either. Thatís something altogether different.
There's a lot of discussion about whether we can or should separate an artist from his art. Right now it's because of a recent documentary about Michael Jackson and the crimes he was able to commit because the money we spent on his music indirectly went on to protect him from his crimes. I have trouble saying positive things about James Woods' performances because he's a destructive jerk, and I learned years ago that any set he was on was a set you didn't want to work for. In his hyper-twitchy 80s and 90s he was my favorite actor and he stars in one of my Essentials (Indictment: The McMartin Trial). I can spit on his reputation now because when's the last time James Woods was doing good work?

I come across people who cannot look past John Wayne, which came up recently when an interview for Playboy magazine resurfaced, and I respect that. However, I think Wayne's beliefs were more typical of his time. (Someone wrote, "find me someone born that long ago who isn't a horrible racist by modern standards.) I also find contradictions between Wayne's image and his private life, (as well as private life stories that strengthen his negative persona.) That could make me a Wayne apologist. I think it's not simple to reach an agreeable opinion on John Wayne's body of work. I like that you do separate art from artist in this case. Do you find yourself struggling with that?

Onto Hondo...



I had to start with either that or that terrible 3D image of the knife.

The problem I found with Hondo was its slightness, which would be an issue easily overcome if the character of Hondo had a little more mystique or flare to him. Instead, heís just another John Wayne character, a role which Wayne himself brings very little too. How often can he simply play himself and get away with it? Shane has plenty of twists and turns in its story, while Hondo speeds through and is over before you know it.
When you brought up Shane, I thought of that as a full western barbecue and this had all the flavor of some of the sauce that dripped onto the floor. This was a rare John Wayne performance where I sensed he didn't want to be there. No good direction and none of the legendary reputation that kept him engaged in the later works, which are overall not good aside from him.

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2019, 07:55:05 PM »

Good Day For a Hanging (1959)
"Eddie is just a boy. Tom was killed by a hardened criminal."
"Since when is a young rattlesnake any less poisonous than an old one?"



Face of a Fugitive (1959)
"Anybody can be killed... any day."
"Anybody is me! Any day is tomorrow!"


I thought I was being clever watching two Fred MacMurray westerns from the same year. Neither film catches much fire and ol' Fred also brings a low flame of charisma, going for a rugged sternness. That's not to say there isn't something worth mentioning. With Hanging, it's the possibilities within the story. A bank robbery goes wrong and the marshal is killed. Fred believes the gunman was the thief he wounded (Robert Vaughn), who also happens the be the bad boy his daughter hasn't moved on from. I like that it's not clear if Vaughn did the killing. Is Fred out of justice or trying to show his daughter that this guy is no good? Like many good morality westerns, there's the thinly veiled metaphor for bigotry, but it doesn't know how to bring that out to full or even impactful effect.

With Fugitive, the interest is more superficial. Watching the film, I noticed a number of interesting frames. Interesting, but more distracting than successful. There's a good long take where Fred moves forward and backwards in the frame while other talk about him. The camera always seems to point to him, no matter where he stands. There's another cool shot where the camera is down low as a man with a rifle holds it across his body and cocks it. Problem is, the shot begins with the guy walking his crotch into the frame and parking it there while we hear the dialogue. After, I noticed MartinTeller has interest in this film, which lead me to discover the director is Paul Wendkos, whose noir The Burglar is something MT and I disagree in the extreme, largely on Wendkos' style.
BOTH FILMS: ★ ★ Ĺ

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #45 on: March 09, 2019, 02:59:43 PM »
Some will tell you there's Forty Guns (1957) to look forward to, but the rest of that film works against her. Sadly, neither gives her as much to chew on as The Furies.

Not me, here's a link to my review of that awful film...http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=11767.msg715007#msg715007
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Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #46 on: March 09, 2019, 03:05:45 PM »
but it also didnít have the sweeping landscape shots something like Shane featured in its use of color.

Every time I watch Shane, I say to myself..."This is what an Ansel Adams photograph would look like in color." The Technicolor cinematography in that film is beyond compare.
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Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #47 on: March 09, 2019, 03:11:01 PM »
I can spit on his reputation now because when's the last time James Woods was doing good work?

He was good in his short stint on Ray Donovan.

When you brought up Shane, I thought of that as a full western barbecue and this had all the flavor of some of the sauce that dripped onto the floor.

I like this, nice description. I may have to steal this sometime in the future.  ;)
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smirnoff

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #48 on: March 09, 2019, 03:28:19 PM »
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - 9/10

It really feels like the best of both of the previous films put into one. Each scene contains one or a combination of the three characters, all of whom I enjoy spending time with. And each scene feels like we're building on the epic story. It's a slower build... the slowest of the three really, but satisfying. There's always a cool reveal or a neat twist to punctuate each scene. And the score here provides more soul than anything before. It starts and stops very abruptly sometimes which takes some getting used to, but this film would be nothing without it to I'll take what I can get.

I appreciated Tuco more this go around that I ever had before. Especially early on, he has the funniest lines. Not much else new to report, it's about the same as I remember it.

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #49 on: March 10, 2019, 10:53:32 AM »
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 90/100 Ė If I only had to rate the first hour and fifteen minutes, plus the final fifteen minutes, I would be hard pressed not to give it a perfect score. On this viewing I really paid attention to Leoneís gift for framing his shots. He was only rivaled by Kurosawa, as both had vision that transcended other directors, and made them in my eyes, artists. Itís true that the western was a dying genre, and for the most part, it was on life support. But I do believe that it was accelerated along in its demise due to Leone making the two greatest westerns back to back. There was never going to be anyone else talented enough to reach the strata that could attain peer level on either of those two masterpieces. This being a re-watch, probably my fifth or sixth time, I did notice the vast difference in the added vocal tracks of Eli Wallach & Clint Eastwood, on the re-inserted scenes which found their way on the cutting room floor, for the American release. Iím kind of amazed that whoever did those tracks, didnít added a bit of bass boosting to Wallachís, and the opposite boost in treble to Eastwoodís. They both sounded aged in the delivery of the lines, and both could have used some equalization help to make the tracks less haggard in sound. On this re-watch, I did have a bit of a problem with the pacing, as I found myself fast forwarding through some of the filmís middle section. This section has always been an issue with me, because there are two scenes, which really donít add anything to the story, and always slow the action down to a crawl. The first is the scene with Tucoís brother, the priest. It should be there to add some exposition to what made Tuco become the man and outlaw he grew up to be. But it just serves as a way for the brother to admonish him, for not being at their fatherís side at the time of his death. The second scene, is probably one of the favorite scenes for most viewers, but has always made me yawn, the bridge. First, Blondie and Tuco get off their horses, and Tuco looks at his tattered map, proclaiming that they only need to cross the river, to get to their destination. Itís quiet; they start to walk a few paces and are then halted by Union soldiers. They are then taken a few more steps, past a small tree to the left, and the shot opens up to reveal an entire army of soldiers and artillery over the expansive vista of the river. Theyíve taken maybe twenty steps from the dismounting of the horses, to this spot, and should have been able to see the army ahead of them. Theyíve both just spent time in a Union prisoner of war camp, they know the Union army is nearby, and they donít tread warily at this point? What follows is about twenty minutes of exposition, by a Union captain, as to why both armies are there, and why it would be beneficial to both armies, if the bridge wasnít there anymore. All, just so Leone can blow up the bridge, which as a special effects scene is dazzling, but not necessary to the storyline. I still love this film, but with each successive viewing, it tries my patience more and more. Ironically, the next film, Once Upon a Time in the West, another investment in extended personal time, just seems to breeze by.
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