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Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Movie MeMe--Howdy Pardner!

I couldn't resist posting  The Bumbles' movie meme this week. It's all about cowboys! I must be part guy, because I love a good western. I don't know if it's the great western scenery, or the handsome cowboy scenery that lures me in....well, maybe it's both, but there's nothing like a good shoot-'em-up for me!

The hard part is just choosing a few, that is if you consider 13 a few! I suppose you can, considering all the great western movies that have been made in the last 106 years. Which brings me to the first movie on my list:

The Great Train Robbery (1903) was directed and photographed by Edwin Porter, a former Thomas A Edison cameraman. It was a silent film, of course. It is 10 minutes long and has only 14 scenes and was filmed in the rugged wilds of....New Jersey? Of course, they could hardly film it on location since it really was still the wild, wild west at that time!  The story was said to be based on actual hold-ups perpetrated by the real Butch Cassidy and his Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, which leads me to.....

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Were Paul Newman's eyes ever bluer? Was Robert Redford ever sexier? Was any western "bromance" any closer...until Brokeback Mountain? I've watched this movie a hundred times and know almost every line. "Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill ya!"

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  Yeah, Tombstone (both Kurt Russell's and Kevin Costner's versions) told more of the background story and they were prettier to look at, but "Gunfight" was an original (My Darling Clementine with Henry Fonda was the first). And you can't go wrong with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday...two over-the-top performances that are an impersonator's dream.

Lonely Are the Brave.  Kirk Douglas plays a cowboy in the sixties who can't quite adjust to the modern world. He finds out that a friend is doing time in jail for helping illegal immigrants to cross the border, so he decides to get himself arrested to help his friend escape. When he gets inside, he finds out the friend would rather stay and do his time so that he can go home to his family, instead of spending his life on the run. Kirk breaks out with the help of his faithful horse, Whiskey, and is pursued by the sheriff, played by Walter Matthau. ( I know! Walter Matthau as a sheriff? But, it works.) The lovely Gena Rowlands plays his friend's wife. It has one of the saddest endings ever.

The Man from Snowy River. Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson) lived his first 18 years in the mountains of Australia on his father's farm. The death of his father forces him to go to the low lands to earn enough money to get the farm back on its feet. Kirk Douglas plays two roles as twin brothers who haven't spoken for years, one of whom was Jim's father's best friend and the other of whom is the father of  Jessica (Sigrid Thornton) the girl he wants to marry. A 20 year old feud re-erupts, catching Jim and Jessica in the middle of it as Jim is accused of letting a prize stallion loose. The scene when Jim rides the stallion down a steep cliff is just breathtaking.

Cat Ballou.  The drunkest gunfighter in the West takes on evil Railroad magnate! Jane Fonda plays Cat and she hires Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin) to kill the S.O.B. railroad man who killed her father. It's really funny and Lee Marvin plays the best drunk ever....hmmmm, maybe he wasn't acting? There's also singing.....which leads me to.....

Paint Your Wagon.  Now, tell me, do you think of singing when you think of a Clint Eastwood western? Clint and Lee Marvin (in another funny role) play prospectors who share the same wife (the beautiful Jean Seberg). Believe it or not, this film was written by Paddy Chayefsky, directed by Joshua Logan, and the music was written by Alan Jay Lerner .

The Outlaw Josey Wales has Eastwood as a wanted man. He was a peaceful farmer near the end of the Civil War until a gang of renegade Union soldiers burns his home and murders his family. He vows to destroy the ones who took his "life". He joins up with a band of guerilla fighters after the Confederacy surrenders and sets out on a mission of mayhem and destruction. No matter how much Josey tries to deny it, his persona of peaceful farmer and builder of life comes through and finally he is able to listen to his inner yearnings to be that person again.

Unforgiven has been hailed as one of the greatest westerns of all time, with good reason. This movie is chock-full of great characters and performances by Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris. Clint Eastwood tells a great story about good and evil and the not-quite-good and the not-quite-evil. The shootout with "Little Bill" Daggett is classic and pure Eastwood.

The Cowboys is my favorite John Wayne movie and you can't mention western movies without listing a few of his films. Mark Rydell, who wrote and directed "On Golden Pond", directed this movie. Wil Anderson (John Wayne) is a rancher who has to get his cattle to market to avoid financial disaster. All the cattle drivers who usually ride with him desert him for the promise of  "thar's gold in them there hills". He is forced to resort to hiring young schoolboys. There is only one among them who has any experience, and he is only 15 and the oldest of the bunch. Needless to say, they run into their share of troubles and catastrophes along the way, but none more menacing than a gang of cattle rustlers led by the evil Long Hair (Bruce Dern in a perfectly cast role). These "cowboys" may have started out as greenhorns and little boys, but they ended up as true men of the west.

True Grit. Slap an eye-patch on John Wayne and give him a bottle and you've got "Rooster" Cogburn, a washed-up, drunken, don't-give-a-damn U.S. Marshal with a reputation for getting the job done. Mix him up with a teenage girl, Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), seeking vengeance for her father's death and you've got a match made in Cowboy Heaven. Throw in a little Glen Campbell (what?) and you've even got some cowboy singing. Now that's what I call a western!

Open Range. 
"Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) and Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) freegraze their cattle across the vast prairies of the West, sharing a friendship forged by a steadfast code of honor and living a life unencumbered by civilization. When their wayward herd forces them near the small town of Harmonville, the cowboys encounter a corrupt sheriff and kingpin rancher who govern the territory through fear, tyranny and violence. Boss and Charley find themselves inextricably drawn towards an inevitable showdown, as they are forced to defend the freedom and values of a lifestyle that is all too quickly vanishing. Amidst the turmoil, life suddenly takes an unexpected turn for the loner Charley when he meets the beautiful and warm spirited Sue Barlow, a woman who embraces both his heart and his soul." (from IMDB.com)
This is one of David's favorite recent westerns, and he thinks it is a great vehicle for Kevin Costner's talents. And you can't miss with Robert Duvall playing the ultimate cowboy, and that leads me to......

Lonesome Dove is THE greatest portrayal of western cowboy life. Some of you will argue that it isn't a movie, and you would be right, it is a television mini-series. But to me it is a cowboy movie that just happens to be nearly six hours long (on DVD without commercials). The combination of Robert Duvall as Capt. Augustus McRae and Tommy Lee Jones as Capt. Woodrow Call is even better than Newman and Redford. They epitomize the former Texas Rangers turned cattle thieves that they portray. None of the actors who played them in the sequels can compare with their performances. Lonesome Dove has everything that you could want in a cowboy movie:  cattle thieving, a cattle drive, lonely women, a prostitute with a heart of gold, beautiful breathtaking scenery, bad men with a heart of gold, bad men who are pure evil, witless bad men who bid the call of a woman who hankers after a bad man, hangings, boys who grow up in the time space of a cattle drive, death, snakes, and the neverending familial love between two men.

One of my favorite scenes is when Gus and Woodrow are getting ready to leave Lonesome Dove for the cattle drive to Montana. Gus insists on taking the wooden sign on which he has written something in Latin....
[referring to the Hat Creek Cattle Company sign]

Woodrow Call: ...and if that ain't bad enough you got all them Greek words on there, too.
Gus McCrae: I told you, Woodrow, a long time ago it ain't Greek, it's Latin.
Woodrow Call: Well what does it say in Latin?
[Gus blusters some gibberish]
Woodrow Call: For all you know it invites people to rob us.
Gus McCrae: Well the first man comes along that can read Latin is welcome to rob us, far as I'm concerned. I'd like a chance t' shoot at a educated man once in my life. 
For those of you who have read Larry McMurtry's great book of the same name, you will know that in the book Gus and Woodrow run into a man who does read Latin and translates it for him.

Never let it be said that cowboys were politically correct:

33 comments:

Cindy said...

That's a great list, although you don't have one of my favorites on there... Shane (with Alan Ladd and Jack Palance, among others). It's from 1953. Another one I liked is Appaloosa, which I think was made last year. It stars Renee Zellweger and Ed Harris. I'm with you on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Anytime I can watch Paul and Robert together at one time is a good time.

kaye said...

I loved how you told why you liked the movie . . . I might have to try that. you picked some great movies. I think I've seen every John Wayne movie there is. I loved the Cowboys and I think Rooster Cogburn is one of his best-loved characters. Paint Your Wagon is a classic!!!! Enjoyed your list so much. If you want to wander down my road I’m home.

Tattered and Lost said...

There's a mini-series I recommend watching again, Centennial. I watched it last winter for the first time since it was on in the 70s and was pleased that up until the final couple episodes it was good.

Great list. I'd also add Winchester 73 starring Jimmy Stewart.

And 3:10 to Yuma. New one with Russel Crowe and Christian Bale and Ben Foster or the old one with Van Heflin and Glenn Ford. Both really good.

Heather said...

Good ones! Paint Your Wagon was one I thought of after I posted my list.

California Girl said...

No Butch Cassidy & Sundance? waaahh!

California Girl said...

Never mind. my eyesight is going. I see it now.

As Homer would say, "doi!"

Susan said...

Cindy, Shane was actually on my list and it's one of David's faves, but I didn't include it because my eyes were beginning to cross and my right arm felt like it was going to fall off! Maybe I'll do a Part II of best western movies!

I haven't seen Appaloosa yet, but it looks really good and I love Ed Harris. Did you know that there is another Appaloosa starring Marlin Brando?

Susan said...

kaye, thanks so much for visiting! You sound like a very devoted western movie viewer! I'm glad you liked my choices and I popped over to your blog and will be back for a longer visit soon!

Susan said...

Tattered, I loved Centennial and haven't seen it since it's first run! I saw a few months ago that it was out on DVD, but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. Sounds like a good plan for this winter! The 70's and 80's were certainly the decades for mini-series weren't they?

Winchester 73 was really good...love Jimmy Stewart. Haven't seen either 3:10 to Yuma films. Thanks for the recommendations!

Susan said...

Heather, thank you for coming by! Wow, several of the movies on your list almost made it onto mine, too! As I said, I guess I'll have to do a Part II! I'll be over for a real visit soon!

Susan said...

Cali Girl, now you know I couldn't make a western movie list without Butch and Sundance near the top! Can you believe that it and True Grit were nominated for Best Oscar in 1969...well, Rooster Cogburn won out, but I bet Butch and Sundance came in a close second!

Sandy Nawrot said...

If I would have had a few minutes to answer you today, I would have said that you should participate this week! And you did! You are definitely the expert in this genre! I have seen so few of these! I've just never been that into westerns, but I suppose I need to give them a try!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

What about Blazing Saddles? ;-)
I actually don't care a lot for cowboy movies but that parody cracks me up.
"Excuse me, while I whip this out"

I love your memes, you really put a lot of thought into them.

ds said...

Wow, Susan, you know your Westerns like nobody's business! Does knowing the song from "Paint Your Wagon" count (think 6th grade chorus...shudder)? Never, ever heard of "Lonely are the Brave" but your description makes me want to see it. Thank you.

Char said...

you picked some wonderful ones - i grew up on clint eastwood and have seen most of these. i love cat ballou and most people did not realize one of the singers is nat king cole.

unforgiven was fantastic. i also love 3:10 to yuma (the new one)

Alaine said...

Loved Lonesome Dove. Love anything with Robert Duvall. Was Brad Pitt in it? So long ago but I recall seeing him in a western when he was very young.

Susan said...

Sandy, I suppose my knowledge and appreciation for western movies comes from having grown up in the 50's and 60's when every other movie and TV show was one. It helps having a husband who loves them even more than I do. There are some really great ones, and like most genres and movies in general, there are some real stinkers, too.

Susan said...

Hey, Natashya! Let's say I have come to enjoy "Blazing Saddles" over the years after raising two boys and having three grand-boys! lol When I first saw it in the theater, I thought it was rude and crude and especially didn't like the bean scene around the campfire, but now I think it's hilarious. I didn't include it, because a.) there were too many others that I wanted to write about, and b.) several others had already listed it on their blogs and I didn't want to be repetitive. But, yeah, it's a classic!

Susan said...

ds, I think knowing that song is a great start! But you have to hear Eastwood sing it...he really does (or did) have a nice singing voice. Did you know he has written the scores to most of the movies he has directed, including "The Bridges of Madison County"? He also plays the piano beautifully. He's a very talented musician.

Susan said...

Char, I did know that Nat King Cole was one of the singers. I just forgot to include that in my synopsis...and you're right, there aren't many who know it. It's nice to know you are a fellow western lover!

Susan said...

Alaine, I've watched "Lonesome Dove" so many times, I can say most of the dialogue right along with the actors. I'm pretty sure Brad Pitt wasn't in it and it isn't listed in his filmography on IMDB...maybe you're thinking of Rick Schroder or D.B. Sweeney.

Robert Duvall is a great actor! Did you know that his first movie role was Arthur "Boo" Radley in "To Kill a Mockingbird"? Not too many lines to learn for that one! lol

CottageGirl said...

Yee-hah! Thanks for the reminder on how great westerns can be! I love Tombstone... "I'll be your huckleberry." ... and Shane. And John Wayne's swagger in any of his movies is meant for a western!

Ruth said...

You should do a Ken Burns series on Westerns! ;-)

'Open Range' is one of my all time favorite movies. I was pretty ho-hum about Kevin Costner to that point, but he won me over. It was so realistic and understated. Oh, and a couple film students and I had a conference call conversation with Robert Duvall while he was on location in BC filming it! I didn't speak, I was too nervous. He talked with those students for about 20 minutes. One of our students had some connection with him. He is one of my very favorites.

Susan said...

CG, westerns were the backbone of the movie industry for many decades and made the movie studios lots and lots of money.

Which "Tombstone" do you like best? I can't decide...I think both of them had great casts, writing, directing and I love both Costner and Russell. I really love Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday though. Did you know that he lost so much weight for that role that he almost ruined his health? That's going above and beyond for a part, IMO.

Many impersonators have tried to imitate John Wayne's walk, but his shoes are just too big to fill. I didn't care for his politics, but he was an honorable man and a damn fine cowboy!

Susan said...

Ruthie, aw shucks, ma'am, yer makin' me blush!

I can't believe I'm admitting this, (sssh) don't tell anyone, but I've never watched "Open Range". David raves about it every time it's on TV, and I've seen little pieces of it, but never all of it.

I have this strange little personality quirk that when someone raves about something, it instantly makes me resist seeing the movie, reading the book, etc. Isn't that the weirdest thing? Well, just like overcoming my fear of bridges, I must overcome my fear of...agreeing? What exactly would you call that anyway? lol Pure, plain stubbornness? I am a Taurus, you know! haha

That's so awesome about Robert Duvall! He obviously is an actor who really cares about his craft. Did you know that he is an expert at the tango? He and his much younger Brazilian (I think) wife enter competitions all the time. I just hope he never lowers himself to appear on Dancing with the Stars....that would just be soooo wrong!

dutchbaby said...

Found you via Ruth. I so agree with your comment about her writing. Such talent - seems so effortless too.

My mother likes to tell people that she came to America because she wanted to live where all those Westerns were filmed. It's not true, of course, but it starts a great conversation.

I agree with your choices - some I will have to add to my ever-growing Netflix queue.

"Lonesome Dove" is the most fabulous, most perfectly cast, mini-series. The book was fantastic as well. My husband and I read it on tape way back when. I remember one time he disappeared on me and then I found him lying on our bed with his headphones on listening to "Lonesome Dove" :-)

Ruth said...

Susie, now you have really surprised me, about not wanting to see a movie someone raves about. Wow. I would not have thunk that.

Please do see "Open Range." I'm telling you, it's in my top five, maybe even top two.

Nice to see Dutchbaby here!

Susan said...

dutchbaby, welcome!

Ruth is such a deep thinker and always, always provokes me to do some deep thinking of my own. I treasure her posts.

Lonesome Dove certainly is everything you say! And it has a lot of loyal, devoted fans. I really need to read the book again...it has been so long. I always like to revisit my favorite books, especially the ones that are so rich in characters and prose. It's a long one though.

I really like your blog, and see? I've already added it to my bloglist! See ya!

Susan said...

Ruthie, like I said, it's a strange personality quirk! I also resisted getting a microwave and a VCR for years after they became popular...I'm just kinda weird. But I will take your very esteemed advice and see Open Range soon, when David gets home from his trip. See, I can be persuaded! lol

Oliag said...

What a great list!...I can see I will have to plan a Western movies theme night soon through Netflix...I loved Lonesome Dove as a book and was reluctant to see it filmed but when I did I loved it...Unforgiven and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were the only others I recall seeing and loved them both...

Susan said...

Oliag, I can see you have a lot of catching up to do! But you can't go wrong with watching those 3 again and again!

Deborah said...

I'm so impressed, Susan - not only that you remember all these movies but that you can talk about them so knowledgeably! I'm the type who rents a movie and then rents it again a month later 'cause I forgot I already watched it. The one that did strike a chord with me on your list was 'Lonely Are The Brave'. I saw that while fairly young and it made a huge impression on me, quite possibly making me fall in love with Kirk Douglas on the spot. The ending bothered me for years.

Based on your list, I'm going to be renting a few of these!!

Susan said...

Hi, Deborah! I think you are the only other person I know who has seen 'Lonely are the Brave'! I had the same reactions as you did, and saw it the first time as a teenager.

I have to confess that my memory is NOT all that great! I had a little help from IMDB. I also haven't seen 'The Great Train Robbery', but felt I had to include it since it was the very first one. And I haven't seen 'Open Range' (see comments above), but plan to see it soon, based on Ruth's and my husband's recommendations.