I am joining in on the blog world’s celebration of western films this week, as hosted by Hamlette and Heidi!
There are, alas, a few questions in this tag that I didn’t answer because I found them a bit difficult and ran out of time I could devote to responding. But, I did more than half! I hope you’ll enjoy what I did manage.
~ Legends of Western Cinema Week Tag 2020 ~
What’s the last western you watched?
I haven’t watched many westerns lately as I’ve been trying my hand at writing a more-or-less contemporary mystery and have therefore been watching and listening and reading mysteries to bolster and maintain my mystery-mood.
Can I claim Fargo as a western? No?
The last no-doubt-about-it western I watched was 2010’s True Grit, which I unreservedly recommend. Before that I watched 2013’s The Lone Ranger for the first time, finally getting around to it after reading this 2013 article from The Atlantic, which laments how much of a disaster that movie was and talks about the “death” of the western film genre. Fortunately The Revenant came out in 2015 to prove you can still make hugely popular western films. It’s a pretty good article if you’ve got the time. I wouldn’t say I agree with everything in it, but I’m glad people are thinking about these things!
I’ve also been re-listening to a few episodes of classic radio western drama The Six-Shooter in the past month or so, just for fun.
A western of any stripe (happy or tragic) where you were highly satisfied by the ending?
I have seen four or is it five versions of the various film adaptions of Peter Kyne’s The Three Godfathers and have yet to be disappointed. Some film versions of this redemption tale are better than others but I’ve yet to watch one that was bad. Probably the best of the one’s I’ve seen is the Chester Morris led version, from 1936. I’ve got the 1929 Hell’s Heroes waiting for me to watch it for the first time some time soonish. I’ve just discovered while answering this tag that the animated children’s film Ice Age is sometimes listed as an adaption of The Three Godfathers! And when you think about it, yes, it could well be that it is!
The funniest western you’ve seen?
Trying to remember more recent movies to contrast with naming of a movie from 1936 in response to the last question, I seem to recall that it relies a bit too much on jokes related to an outhouse, but 2018’s Damsel is pretty funny. And kind of weird, too. A really weird western that is also sometimes quite funny is 1996’s Dead Man. I am also a fan of the often amusing space western TV show Firefly and the resultant 2015 movie Serenity.
What similar elements/themes show up in your favorite westerns?
Oh heck. I don’t know. Redemption, friendships, when outsiders prove to be the opposite of the threat the insiders believe them to be. People just doing the thing they think is right no matter what others say. I love “barn-raising” scenes. No actual barns need be erected. It seems like the best westerns often have a musical interlude, but perhaps that’s just co-incidence. Bonus points for a scene where some one squeezes a cactus to get water or runs along the top of a train. Perhaps there’s a movie where both happen at the same time?
Scariest villain/antagonist in a western?
Favorite romance in a western?
Growing up I appreciated the relative lack of gushy icky kissy face romance plot in westerns quite a lot. As an adult I’ve come to realize that there were more romantic motives in many of the classic westerns than I realized, but I still couldn’t really point to a favourite romance.
Three of your favorite westerns?
Oh geez. Well, True Grit is excellent, but I’ve already mentioned it. Okay, Let’s see which others come to mind first. Johnny Guitar is wild. Some of the oft-mentioned classics like High Noon and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance have their flaws but are still worthwhile. I’m expecting to re-watch Rio Bravo this evening. (As a break from the mystery movie marathon I’ve been on.) I like the smallness of some of the Randolph Scott westerns, how they were able to tell entertaining stories with only a handful of characters. And, of course, there is Shane, which I might talk about more not very long from now in another blog post.
That’s it from me, thanks for reading, and I look forward to reading other responses and posts this week this Legends of Western Cinema Week!