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
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
I’m often asked how I got into westerns–sometimes with a tone of disbelief, as in how could one possibly like this hoary, cardboard cutout genre??
I barely know myself: I was always the one who insisted on playing the Indian in Cowboys and Indians because cowboys were just so not interesting to me. And watching movies where . . . → Read More: Fact and Fiction: What Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny, and Star Trek Taught Me about the West
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
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
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
The Dude totally got them. Roy Rogers harmonized for them in their self-titled theme song by Bob Nolan. The glamorous Supremes sang about them. Jack Palance recited their theme song. The Library of Congress, in 2010, honored them with their song’s inclusion into the National Registry.
Seeeeeeeeeeeee them tumbling down
Pledging their love to . . . → Read More: Drifting Along; or, Tumbling Tumbleweeds ‘R’ Me
In a reckless land…In a lawless place…Sometimes one man can make all the difference. –voice-over of trailer, The Miracle Rider
The story is an old one. Clichéd even. But satisfying.
Writer’s hopes for perfect manuscript leading to speedy publication, six-figure salary, film, and several homes around the world are killed in some suitably dramatic, bloody way. The writer, . . . → Read More: The Miracle Rider; or, How Tom Mix Saved My Novel
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
Reel-life cliffhangers in western serials run a narrow range. But cliffhangers in real life are much more subtle, devious, and hair-raising. Cue exclamation points here, and lots of them.
IN REEL LIFE:
A wagon hurtles over a cliff! (Don’t fret: The hero will jump off in the nick of time.)
A powder . . . → Read More: The Reality of Cliffhangers; or, Real-Life Versions for Real-Life People