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

A Fistful of Westerns; or, History Channel Rounds Up Bucko’s Greatest Westerns

VERY pleased to announce an excellently fun gig with History Channel–the daunting task of recommending a series of westerns to savvy history buffs. Check out my recs at their History Shop (oh, and buy some westerns for holiday gifts, especially if you or your friend/lover/pard is the laconic hero type!).

As a special bonus for this roundup of . . . → Read More: A Fistful of Westerns; or, History Channel Rounds Up Bucko’s Greatest Westerns

Clothes Maketh the Man; or New Silver-Screen Western Hero Django Unchained

Two pics from Django, Unchained are seeding the Wild Western Web. Be still, my beating heart. You’re making me type typos. 

One is of Leonardo DiCaprio wielding a hammer and Mephistophelian eyebrows, the devil with a red suit on, degeneracy signified by not only a cigarillo in a holder (instead of tucked into the corner of mouth, . . . → Read More: Clothes Maketh the Man; or New Silver-Screen Western Hero Django Unchained

Music and the Western; or, The New West’s Bittersweet Lesson

The stirring, swelling strains of Cimarron (1960), directed by Anthony Mann, music by Franz Waxman, make me want to chop wood and haul water and ride fast horses over wide plains and watch over cattle in the cold moonlight night and sweep a woman into my arms. It’s that insidious. This score would trick anyone into becoming . . . → Read More: Music and the Western; or, The New West’s Bittersweet Lesson

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

New Grit; or, The Coen Brothers Remake Retribution

Vengeance is mine, saith the main character of True Grit, because I hath paid good money for it. So begins the saga of a trail of revenge from so-called civilized town to wilderness, a narrative trail so often traveled in westerns that it’s become like a tame, broad, well-lit avenue with stoplights.

The players: Grizzled, troubled veteran with heart . . . → Read More: New Grit; or, The Coen Brothers Remake Retribution

The Modern Buckaroo’s Guide to Happiness; or What Else to Give the Silver-Screen Western Hero of Your Life

Two words: Special Features.

If your Silver-Screen Western Hero wanna-be has a New Year’s resolution that entails

learning to kick miscreant butt in showdowns
wearing spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle
eating calf nuts on the range in between cattle drives and drinking bad rye in shot-up saloons (whee!)

then he or she is going to need a go-to pick-me-up for those . . . → Read More: The Modern Buckaroo’s Guide to Happiness; or What Else to Give the Silver-Screen Western Hero of Your Life

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

A Manly Star in the Firmament; or, George Montgomery’s Vox Viri

Mortal humans who play silver-screen western gods–I mean heroes–have to go through rigorous vocal exercises to deepen their voices, strangle their vowels, and clip off extraneous words like adjectives (the last being a good plan for anyone, actually). These exercises serve to broaden the chest and strengthen one’s cajones–as George Montgomery can attest to.

In The . . . → Read More: A Manly Star in the Firmament; or, George Montgomery’s Vox Viri

In the Beginning; or, William S. Hart and the Western Cliché Genesis

William S. Hart bid adieu to the West and westerns as he loved them in the prologue of 1925’s Tumbleweeds, his last film, reissued in 1939.

He wore too much makeup (OK,unfair–all actors did in silent films), acted in a stilted manner (OK, OK, it goes with silent-film territory), and moralized about how little the westerns being made . . . → Read More: In the Beginning; or, William S. Hart and the Western Cliché Genesis