|Westerns, or, This is what happens when I have writing utensils, no books handy and am bored
||[Jun. 25th, 2017|11:44 pm]
I've pretty much only been using this livejournal to keep up w/friends and communities for a long time now, but I wrote this when killing time in a pizza hut w/nothing to do earlier today, and going to put it here so my last post isn't ... what had previously been my last post...
In honor of The Quick and the Dead Playing on tv above me in Pizza Hut (home of the smallest medium drinks I have ever seen and I'm still wondering if they gave me the wrong one), I give you lists of Westerns (order subject to change day to day or hour to hour or minute to minute):
Best Westerns With Female Leads:
The Quick and the Dead
I'm sure there are others (got to be some Annie Oakley or Belle Star movies out there, right?) but these are the only ones I know the name of. At least they are all pretty good (all VERY good, if memory serves) If no good movies w/those two (or simply hardly any movies) or any of the other female outlaws/gunslingers/etc then that would be majorly sexist. Errr, okay, that means there are no movies, doesn't it?
The Sons of Katie Elder does not count. Katie Elder was a real (and important) person in the history of the west, iirc and haven't mixed her up w/someone else, and this was a movie I enjoyed very much (might make my upcoming best John Wayne westerns) but it was indeed a movie about Katie Elder's SONS. Gah. And there was "The Cattle Queen of Montana" w/Barbara Stanwyck but I don't remember anything about that other than it existed.
Best Westerns w/no Eastwood or Wayne or Female leads:
Dances With Wolves
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Five Card Stud
The Magnificent Seven
The Wild Bunch
Young Guns 2
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
One Eyed Jacks
Once Upon A Time In the West (docked a few spots because of the line where the gunslinger tells the woman who owns the town that when the local men want to grab her ass, she should let them because they built this place for her; to be clear, the audience is clearly intended to view this comment as wise and true and maybe even profound)
Pat Garret and Billy the Kid
The Legend of Tom Dooley (this made me cry when I was in nursery school. It might or might not hold up to viewing now and not 100% sure it was in the west as opposed to the south but it must be on all such lists ever for me)(and looking it up on google, the movie was based on the song, which still makes me want to cry, which was in turn based on a real event; so much for me thinking the song was written for the movie; it does indeed count as a western, though the real life events were in North Carolina, that the folk song was considered part of the "Appalachian Sweetheart Murder Ballads" genre should tell you something about the original source story, tho iirc in the movie he was innocent and framed; no idea the truth of the matter, or if any original accounts were true; we have a story like that for around here that there have been plays of and the truth of that is disputed also, whether framed or guilty; there are historians on both sides a la Richard III)
Honorable mention for great name and premise, albeit I do not recall it being anything resembling a good movie:
Billy the Kid vs Dracula
Secondary honorable mention, tho I never saw it:
Jesse James meets Frankenstein's Daughter
(it is interesting, the complete and utter lack of great Jesse James movies that I can think of, combined w/the plethora of terrific Billy the Kid movies. There's the one thing w/Brad Pitt that was very good but very slow, and ... otherwise I got nothin').
Third Honorable Mention: There was something w/Willie Nelson as the lead and Gary Busey as the costar that I remember REALLY liking but I can't remember the name or enough about it to rank.
Clint Eastwood Westerns:
Okay, this is hard to do a best of because there are five supposedly great ones I don't remember well enough to rank and need to rewatch, in the unlikely event I live long enough: Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Outlaw Josey Wales (does this list make anyone else think of the Kim Harrison Hollows' novels about Rachel Morgan? For A Few Demons More, A Fistful of Charms, The Outlaw Demon Wails. Yay for great titles riffing off Clint Eastwood movies; you think she is a fan? See Also: The Good, The Bad and The Undead; Pale Demon;The Undead Pool, and The Witch With No Name, plus apparently some short stories/novelettes/novellas I never read that I just discovered upon looking up these titles to make sure I got them all), Hang Em High, and Two Mules for Sister Sarah (I think I saw all those as a little kid, just don't remember; at that age, at least, I did not like them nearly as much as Cat Ballou or Tom Dooley, which I also saw as a little kid and lovedlovedloved and remember reasonably well; was not in first grade yet when saw Tom Dooley; 2d grade when saw Cat Ballou staying up at night watching TV after parents had gone to bed and I was supposed to be sound asleep)
And then there is
High Plains Drifter. What do I do with this movie? If you ignore two little bitty sequences, this is one of two Eastwood westerns in the running for "Best Western Ever Made." Lots of great moments and some of my favorite scenes ever. It has elements of The Magnificent Seven and High Noon and the Man With No Name Trilogy and any great revenge story ever made. And it's got the whole supernatural element, which apparently Eastwood himself added--in the original script, the lead with no name was clearly the brother of a deceased sheriff who was dead thanks to betrayal by the corrupt townspeople. in the movie, there is a very strong sense that the lead IS the deceased sheriff, tho it is never clearly stated. When he has the locals literally paint the town red and change the sign outside the town to "Welcome to Hell," you get the idea that maybe this isolated desert town has somehow crossed over the border into the real Hell. A shot of our lead riding off into the desert and suddenly vanishing into the heat waves reinforces this, tho everything (including that part) could have a natural explanation. Whoever he is, these idiot townspeople managed to hire either someone bearing a strong resemblance to or the ghost of or the brother of their former sheriff. They have hired him to defend them from the gang they previously hired to kill said former sheriff because he was actually enforcing the law, which gang they need defending from because after they killed the sheriff, the townspeople then had them all arrested and jailed by state or federal authorities (I can't recall which) for the sheriff's murder. Can't really feel sorry for the townies, but having our lead/avenging angel/hero/protagonist take out his revenge on two of the female townspeople by raping them? Just say no. No, he doesn't rape any of the men. Yes, he makes a joke about "she's just angry because I didn't come back for more." Yes, the other victim appears somewhat ambivalent about whether she considered this a positive or negative experience. And yes, both these women are just as awful and sociopathic as all the rest of the locals, but ... just no. I can't put this on a best movie list. But I can't ignore it, either. Partly because I first saw it as a kid on possibly highly edited network television and didn't realize how horrible the rape as revenge things were, and in fact probably didn't realize there were rapes and quite possibly still didn't know what rape was, and so already had this firmly ensconced as "Best Western EVER!" in my head before I got older and saw it again and was like "huh wah? NO!" So I don't know what to do with this one. Too good to leave out, in most ways, too awful to put in, in another.
So, Best Eastwood Westerns, other than High Plains Drifter and the three movies that are generally considered among the greatest westerns of all time but that I don't remember well enough to rank:
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly -- In running for "Best Western of All Time" and also "Best Instrumental Theme of Any Western Ever" and "Best Theme Music Ever"
Pale Rider -- I think Eastwood wanted to redo High Plains Drifter without the rape. Sadly, he also wanted to redo it with an all round more positive, uplifting ambiguous drifter and much nicer locals with a much nicer backstory. This movie has positive, uplifting themes, of locals throwing off an oppressive yoke and learning how to live sustainably. And no rape! And I give him points for realizing his earlier mistake and trying to make another, similar, equally great and memorable movie that wasn't also despicable. So I put it here as a noble gesture. But, sadly, I think he failed at making a great movie. He made a decent movie, not a great one.
And that's it. Is Eastwood an iconic figure in Westerns? Yes. Did he make some great movies? Yes. Do I remember enough of them to fill out a list? No.
John Wayne (I either never saw or don't remember The Searchers or Stagecoach or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, all of which are considered by practically all film historians as among both his best and the best westerns of all time; bad me)
The Alamo (not really a John Wayne vehicle, he was one among many leads, and not in fashion these days and obviously told a one sided version of events, but nonetheless a terrific movie)
Chisum (fans of Young Guns will see many parallels; covered more or less the same events (the real life Lincoln County Wars) in the same time period)
The Sons of Katie Elder
The War Wagon
Angel and the Badman
(if you want to put them all together, at this exact moment in time, for a top ten list I would say: Dances with Wolves, High Noon, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and an eight way tie for fifth between Five Card Stud, Young Guns, The Magnificent Seven, Cat Ballou, and .... four of the Wayne movies ... Alamo, True Grit, and ... Rio Bravo and El Dorado are very similar movies and it's hard to pick one and leave out the other, or leave out either, so, ummmm, both)(yes I know that's 12 not ten)