The Purple States of True Grit; or, Bridging the Gap, One Movie Theater at a Time

True Grit has accomplished the impossible. Unity! It’s a miracle! It’s hope, change, and Old West dialogue all mixed together!

True Grit has bridged the red state/blue state divide, Frank Rich of The New York Times writes. It’s a hit with coastal elites and Middle America family-values families alike, something that the blue/red mix of voters . . . → Read More: The Purple States of True Grit; or, Bridging the Gap, One Movie Theater at a Time

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

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

From William S. Hart to the Dude; or, We Have Met the Hero, and He Is Us

In the 1920s, William S. Hart was the icon of the West. As well as Uncle Sam, a shining-knight cowboy, west-ho adventurer, and all-around patriotic patriarchal figure.

Thirty years later, John Wayne became the next icon of choice for manly men everywhere. Embodying home and hearth as well as risky adventure, Wayne’s shade of derring-do was equally . . . → Read More: From William S. Hart to the Dude; or, We Have Met the Hero, and He Is Us