When the Legend Becomes Fact; or, The Sand Creek Massacre’s Inconvenient Truths

This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

That infamous line in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (dir. John Ford, 1962) succinctly describes much of what lies behind sepia-toned country nostalgia and pumped-up cowboy-wannabe posturing: the legend of the West is bigger than its reality, and it’s a lot more interesting to watch . . . → Read More: When the Legend Becomes Fact; or, The Sand Creek Massacre’s Inconvenient Truths

Wild, Wildebeest West; or, When Wagon Train Jumped the Gnu

Sometimes it  takes just a split second to realize (or remember) that those peddling the western mythos in the middle of last century thought their audience–the common folk eating TV dinners on vinyl poufs–were idiots.

I know full well that our nostalgia for westerns and the monolithic western hero is only made possible by crafty screenwriting and . . . → Read More: Wild, Wildebeest West; or, When Wagon Train Jumped the Gnu

Zombie Cowboys; or, Why Western Henchmen Never Die

They’re the snarling thugs behind the mustache-twirling villain. The what’s-his-name-again guys holding prisoner the beautiful cowgirl in distress. The cannon fodder who aim their guns at the well-armed Silver Screen Western Hero. On cue they say “Okay boss,” “Let’s get him!” or just grunt. 

Let's get 'em, boys!

Henchmen come in all sizes, most ethnicities, one gender, and . . . → Read More: Zombie Cowboys; or, Why Western Henchmen Never Die

Fast Times at Liberty Valance High; or The Reel-Life Politics of Ford’s Anti-Western

I knew where it was going. Anyone who’s done his or her western homework would.

There are two American archetypes that were sometimes played against each other in old Westerns.

The egghead Eastern lawyer who lacks the skills or stomach for a gunfight is contrasted with the tough Western rancher and ace shot who has no patience for . . . → Read More: Fast Times at Liberty Valance High; or The Reel-Life Politics of Ford’s Anti-Western

Wild, 24/7; or The West of Atlantic City

Nothing makes my day more than drifting through a town that has mojo already and finding a shrine to the West. Like discovering the Mithraic alter beneath a Roman church, it means that I have uncovered a power so potent it can’t be hidden.

So here was Atlantic City: slots, mobsters, boardwalk, 1940s-sailors-on-leave / bad-1980s-haircut feel.

And . . . → Read More: Wild, 24/7; or The West of Atlantic City

Et tu, Cimarron?; or More Rules for Epic Westerns

As I was saying before paying work and Valentine’s Day and the call of the West in the form of watching The Stalking Moon, starring Gregory “Awesome Gimlet-Eye” Peck, epic westerns aren’t my cuppa tea. Or joe.

I’d just finished spinning my snark about epic westerns in an earlier post when Nuts4r2 “Awesome Gimlet-eyed Film Reviewer” called . . . → Read More: Et tu, Cimarron?; or More Rules for Epic Westerns

Men Will Be Men and Women Will Be Women; or, The Sexual Frontier of Epic Westerns

Westerns = Greek drama. And shut up, Aeschylus is so not rolling in his grave.

He’d have appreciated the golden-boy good looks of John Wayne in John Ford’s Stagecoach and the film’s subtle yet sharp critique on so-called civilized society–the stagecoach journey as a vehicle for a development of a humane community  that cannot survive in . . . → Read More: Men Will Be Men and Women Will Be Women; or, The Sexual Frontier of Epic Westerns

The Animal Hero’s Journey into Serial Darkness; or, Not Another Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Western!?

Just when you thought it was safe to go blog surfing, one more Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Western! Nooooo!

Actually, it’s not too bad. In this flick, Rex and Rinty far outshine the human actors and the ridiculonkulousness of the script. Like their man’s-best-friend comrades in the real world, Rex and Rinty prove themselves to be . . . → Read More: The Animal Hero’s Journey into Serial Darkness; or, Not Another Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Western!?

Following the Soundtrack of Dreams; or, Franz Waxman’s Cimarron

Cimarron!!! Cimarron!!!!

The woodwinds and brass crescendo, a chorus of voices swells in epic awesomeness. And “epic” is the target word in 1960’s Cimarron, directed by Anthony Mann et al, a frontier saga that swells with its own importance from the opening credits. Full disclosure: I have not yet completed watching this film. Why? Because I have . . . → Read More: Following the Soundtrack of Dreams; or, Franz Waxman’s Cimarron

Like a Mighty Cannonball; or, Can’t Stay Away from the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns

This Thanksgiving, in between shots of rotgut rye, I gave thanks to all the gods and goddesses of the western world that Flapjack42 has the epic psychic strength to haul the universe into righteousness with the continuing countdown of the top-ten list of the absolute worst animal-as-hero westerns EVER.

Confused by life? Don’t be. Be confused . . . → Read More: Like a Mighty Cannonball; or, Can’t Stay Away from the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns