“Stillness in Motion”; or, The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Westerns

Anson Mount, handsome and gifted star of AMC’s railroad blood-mud-and-guts western Hell on Wheels, waxes poetic in Cowboy & Indians magazine (August 2014) as he explains what about westerns gets him in the solar plexus. But first he stakes an XY chromosome claim on the genre, describing it as perhaps the most masculine of them all, depicting manly manly men men men men men . . . → Read More: “Stillness in Motion”; or, The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Westerns

Rescue Me, Flint!; or, Of Wagon Train and Writer’s Block

The wilderness of writer’s block is vast, dangerous, and difficult–if not impossible–to cross.

Or is it just the packaging that makes everything look so vast?*

(*Image used with permission from the delightful Toy Soldiers Collecting blog, where adventure awaits after a click on the link…)

A writer never expects to get seriously lost in this wilderness; like . . . → Read More: Rescue Me, Flint!; or, Of Wagon Train and Writer’s Block

Shut up; or, The Eternal Silence of the Western Hero

It’s a well-worn stereotype that western heroes don’t talk about their feelings. But it’s not that they don’t have them. Western heroes are deep wells of emotion, actually. If you flicked a pebble into one of those wells, that little “plink” would echo and re-echo a thousandfold-fold-fold-fold-fold…

Spoiler alert: Coop gets the gal in The Virginian.

Take . . . → Read More: Shut up; or, The Eternal Silence of the Western Hero

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

Sagas of Fighting Men and Flaming Guns; Max Brand’s Words Move Me

A mighty happy (um, late) birthday to Max Brand! He never thought much of his westerns between May 29, 1892 and May 12, 1944, but I can’t hold that against him for too long. If you had been named Frederick Schiller Faust, you might have wanted to be a high-falutin’ poet too.

Unlike many pulp western writers, . . . → Read More: Sagas of Fighting Men and Flaming Guns; Max Brand’s Words Move Me

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall; or, The Magnificent Seven’s Professionals ‘R’ Us

“We deal in lead, friend,” says Steve McQueen. And the 1960s western was born.

Exit stage left the single-minded lone gunfighter shooting it out with a single-minded lone villain, the only real conflict between the two being who is the fairest of them all. It had been an epic time–a time when one man’s word had more . . . → Read More: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall; or, The Magnificent Seven’s Professionals ‘R’ Us

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

How the Western Heart Is Won; or, Happy Valentine’s Day in Cowboylands

The West has something for everyone on Valentine’s Day…

For the breast-loving bucko or buckarette (but be respectful–Hannie Caulder is primed for vengeance)

Raquel Welch in Hannie Caulder, 1971

For the beefcake-loving buckarette or bucko (but if you want him to do anything but pose, he’ll have to put . . . → Read More: How the Western Heart Is Won; or, Happy Valentine’s Day in Cowboylands

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

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