Justin America, Webisode 1; or, The Extreme Perils of Parting Ways

Justin America is just the average guy pursuing the American dream—although he’s doing it in a dusty red union suit, no boots or hat or clothes, and with a bullet hole in his side. But Americans always have that sense, rightly or wrongly, that they can do ANYTHING, so no worries! Right? . . . um, I . . . → Read More: Justin America, Webisode 1; or, The Extreme Perils of Parting Ways

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

Unforgiven; or, I’ll Never Forgive the Blood-Soaked Retribution Blah, Blah, Blah Bits

Don’t get me wrong. I would recommend Clint Westwood’s Unforgiven (1992), even if it was just because people who don’t like westerns say they like this western. To them, I’m like, um, this is a total western, so I don’t get what you’re saying, but whatever–it kicked the genre in its dusty ass at a time . . . → Read More: Unforgiven; or, I’ll Never Forgive the Blood-Soaked Retribution Blah, Blah, Blah Bits

Reward Good, Fight Evil; or, the Western Hero Lessons of The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe

“I want to be a cowboy.”

–Chin Hao, aka Shanghai Joe, played by  Sessue Hayakawa, aka Chen Lee, The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe, 1973

I’ve always said that Silver-Screen Western Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and nationalities. Whether SSWHs are male or female, from the East or the West, they share

a certain stillness in their . . . → Read More: Reward Good, Fight Evil; or, the Western Hero Lessons of The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe

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

Justified My Love; or, Elmore Leonard Updates Western Hero

Silence is golden. Combine that with a serious western hero, and you have gunpowder to burn.

(Just one of the many promos pics of Olyphant aiming a gun. Note the un-western tie.)

One of the best modern takes on the classic laconic western hero is U.S. Marshal Rayland Givens, from the master of gab, Elmore Leonard. Leonard’s dialogue–from . . . → Read More: Justified My Love; or, Elmore Leonard Updates Western Hero

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

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

Of Rock Stars and the Rest of Us; The Seven Samurai’s Western Revival

“Find hungry samurai. Even bears come down from the mountains when they are hungry,” states the Old Man of the beleaguered village in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.

In the next scene, in a nearby town, four peasants look for samurai who would deign to fight for them against ruthless bandits. But would a noble samurai ever . . . → Read More: Of Rock Stars and the Rest of Us; The Seven Samurai’s Western Revival