Of Cattle and Men: A Review of The Big Drift, by Patrick Dearen

“In the early days storms drove the cattle irresistibly before them; the cowboys not able to handle the frightened and half frozen animals were forced to drift with them, often for a hundred miles, living as best they could.” –Frederic Remington

“A bovine was what made a cowboy a cowboy, with the help of a horse, and . . . → Read More: Of Cattle and Men: A Review of The Big Drift, by Patrick Dearen

Did the Duke take the Myth to the Grave?; or, Tim Neath’s Search through Western Films

We’ll find ’em in the end, I promise you. We’ll find ’em. Just as sure as the turnin’ of the earth. —Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), The Searchers (1956)

The Meaning of Life was easier to know before World War II. They were bad; we were good. Since 1945, it’s been harder to maintain the line in the . . . → Read More: Did the Duke take the Myth to the Grave?; or, Tim Neath’s Search through Western Films

Writing the High Country; or, Author Larry Bjornson on His Western, Wide Open

Writing a novel is hard work. Writing a good western can be even more daunting: westerns, which tend to have plotlines so well traveled you can drive a wagon train through them, nonetheless require historical specificity and a protagonist who typifies rugged individuality—laconic and gimlet-eyed from the start or in a dude-to-hero arc.

So whenever I read . . . → Read More: Writing the High Country; or, Author Larry Bjornson on His Western, Wide Open

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

Get Your Heroic Story Arc On; or, The Teachable Moments of Cliffhangers

It’s one of the hoariest cliches of westerns known to humankind: the cliffhanger. You know, the dramatic end of the episode when the good guy faces certain death and hangs from a cliff/is trapped in a room with a powderkeg’s lit fuse/is about to be eaten by mountain lions, only to save himself against all odds . . . → Read More: Get Your Heroic Story Arc On; or, The Teachable Moments of Cliffhangers

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!?

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

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

Roadtrip Sidebar #4; or, A How-To Wyatt Earp Makeover

Wyatt Earp brought himself from pragmatic businessman/lawman/gambler/loyal brother

to epic gunfighter of the high plains.

A straight-talking, straight-shooting saint to pray to when life needs dividing into black and white.

How’d he DO that? How can we do that too, before our ending credits?

1. Accept your averageness . . . → Read More: Roadtrip Sidebar #4; or, A How-To Wyatt Earp Makeover

Roadtrip Sidebar #3; Finding Happiness with the Heroic Far-Away Stare

Today are exercises 2 and 3 of learning to apply the second principle of the Silver-Screen Western Hero Code:

Reach for the skies—the possibilities are endless.

Ever notice how often the hero in a western is silent and wish he or she would just say something already? Ever wonder why his or her . . . → Read More: Roadtrip Sidebar #3; Finding Happiness with the Heroic Far-Away Stare