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Board: Beneath Wild Skies
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posted... Godless, eh? 
on Wed 24 Jan 2018 @ 6:33 PM (PBW Time)

  My wife watched that. Said it was pretty good.

"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... The Epic Films 
on Thu 25 Jan 2018 @ 11:50 AM (PBW Time)

The 50's offers a wide range of westerns, mostly because "the war" had really burned people out. They wanted to see conflict, but the uniform had to be way in the past, far removed from recent events. Up until this point, most of the "killings" in the movies were clean and almost bloodless with people flopping face down. After this period we start seeing a rise in "gritty" and "realistic" movies.

The Indian Fighter (1955) - It's a biased film that has a not so hidden prohibition message in it. It's got Kirk Douglas and Walter Matthau with Lon Cheney. It's pretty violent and not meant for young viewers.

The Kentuckian (1955) - Now i'm going through these things in alphabetical order by year, but THIS film is actually Walter Matthau's first one. It's directed and starring Burt Lancaster and stars the same riverboat from Gone With the Wind. It's been a while since I last saw this one (20+ years) so a lot of the key details are fuzzy for me.

The Man From Laramie (1955) - A stranger rolls into town delivering a shipment from Laramie to find out why his brother was killed by well armed "indians". That man is Jimmy Stewart and he's searching for gun runners, greedy ranchers, and murderers. It's a single town film that splits the audience into liking it or hating it. Either way, it's worth watching.

Oklahoma! (1955) - Okay, real talk. I don't particularly like musicals. I really don't like it when a musical steps in my western and gets the music all over the place. It's a mess. But when it comes to westerns, Oklahoma is meant for the general audience. That's not to say this movie isn't violent, there's still violence a-plenty, but it lacks the mass shootouts in favor of knife fighting.

The Searchers (1956) - Hoo boy. This film is an epic. It's a roller-coaster of emotion that takes the audience for a ride. Make sure you're well prepared to watch this with a box of tissues and a calming drink. John Wayne manages to play both the hero and the villain to make a character be more than just a character on a screen, but a man that might just be your neighbor.

Gunfight at OK Corral (1957) - Let's be serious here. The story is about a 30 second gunfight that they stretch into nearly 10 minutes of action in a 122 minute film. Don't let history get in the way of the entertainment. It's a hootn' and a holler'in good time with some of my favorite stars of the time blasting away at each other.

3:10 to Yuma (1957) - They remade this one in 2007, with modern stars and more action, but the original still holds up.

The Big Country (1958) - If you've ever heard of "The Happy Happy Joy Joy Song" then you've heard nearly all the best lines that Burl Ives says in my most watched film. Don't know who he is, just look for the Grizzly bear that wears clothes and that's him. It's the tale of culture clash and the true meaning of a man's worth. Does a man have to constantly earn respect in the eyes of his peers, or should he be respected because he does what is right without seeking the glory. Gregory Peck is a ship's captain in an ocean of prairie grass and spectacular vistas. For some reason everyone keeps forgetting that he's a ship captain and think that the man will get lost in "the big country" because of the lack of landmarks. Overall; DO watch this one. Can't stress it enough.

Rio Bravo (1959) - Apparently "High Noon" (1952) a film that I chose NOT to include in my list of "must see's" caused quite a stir when it was made. A lone Sherrif in a peaceful town must face a gang that wants vengance against him, and nobody will stand at his side, not even his girl. And that's not including the back end Communist scare that was going on at the time. Well, years later, this film is John Wayne's response. It's the same story, but instead of no help, everyone in town WANTS to help, even the people that have no business helping. The backstory alone between these films is amazing, but both can stand on their own without the controversy or the debate. Personally, this one's better because it has Walter Brennan whose career consisted of playing old men right up until he became one.

(to be continued in the '60's )


"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... Rise of the Spaghetti Westerns 
on Tue 30 Jan 2018 @ 1:28 PM (PBW Time)

The 60's brought about a drastic change in westerns. The "Gritty" and "Dirty" elements of any real western town that had been looked over, now become front and center. It used to be a time when good guys wore "white hats" and clean pressed shirts. Now the bad guys are the ones wearing the clean clothes, and the best hat a good guy can find is usually the one with a single bullet hole in it.

The Magnificent Seven (1960) - A re imagining of Kurasawa's Seven Samurai (1954) this movie holds a special place in my heart. It captures the feel of "Samurai" but has a story that is just different enough so that it stands on it's own without being a shot for shot remake with guns instead of swords. If you watch all the films that i've been writing here, you'll find a LOT of familiar faces in this film. They remade this movie recently (2016) but...as with a lot of modern remakes of old classics, they updated the film, but lost the spirit and it doesn't hold up as well as this one does. While this film is a solid retelling of "Samurai", the remake is a shadow that stands purely on the reputations of the actors within it.

How the West Was Won (1962) - If the previous film was good and star-studded, this one is an epic. Spanning four generations of the same family, it describes the journey across "the West" with different actors and even different directors each with their own segment. Personally, there's pieces I just don't like, but the movie gives it's all to the audience.

The Man who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) - One of the lesser but most widely used Western Tropes is the brave man standing up to the experienced killer. Liberty Valance is a mustache twirler so rotten it's surprising he doesn't decay all food up to a hundred yards away. Little Jimmy Stewart is a lawyer who has no business being in the west aside from his intent to bring law to the lawless. Even though the showdown is towards the middle, the movie doesn't follow the typical bell-curve. This movie is important because it gives what in the end ALL westerns are trying to prove; "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

McClintock! (1963) - Hooo boy. This is a comedy. It's exciting, but it's a comedy with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Now don't go cheap and watch some online transfer, make sure you catch this one on Blu-ray because half of this movie is in the visuals and the details they included for the observant.

A Fistfull of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966) - These Sergio Leone masterpieces are lumped here in one go because although the stories don't overlap, they're all equally spectacular. If you watch no other films on my list, make sure to watch these. The music alone by Ennio Morricone has inspired an entire generation of filmmakers.

Django (1966) - This one's a tough sell. No, it has nothing to do with Django Unchained (2012) but Tarantino gave Franco Nero (the star of this film) a cameo and I was the only one squealing when I saw him on the screen again. I say this one is a tough sell because it runs like a role playing game. You can practically hear the dicerolls as the characters move around. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, but they do a lot of setups with a lot of violent Chekhov's Gun payoffs. It's a LOT of fun and takes some unexpected turns. This one is NOT for kids... even though...I think I first saw it when I was 10. Maybe that's why I'm so mentally scarred?

The Professionals (1966) - I said the last one felt like a roleplaying game, this one IS a roleplaying game. Simply put it's a heist film, and it's a good one at that. My favorite line to zing back at anyone comes from this film, but it requires the setup of: "You're a bastard!" to which the zinger, "In my case, an accident at birth, but you, you're a self-made man." Besides, this one has Claudia Cardinale in it, and if you don't know who she is...you won't forget her.

To be continued....


"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... More S'ghetti 
on Wed 7 Feb 2018 @ 12:37 PM (PBW Time)

Now curiously a lot of the films I've mentioned in the 60's were NOT spaghetti westerns. The best analogy I can give for why this is would be Anime. Recently Anime has taken off and there's an Anime for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. It's over-saturated, and much like something that has been over-saturated, when the uncommon becomes common, it loses its unique identity. So if you've heard of Spaghetti Westerns, you're just scratching the surface, because they made a LOT of them well into the 70's. Some were good, some were less so. As someone that is trying to give an overview of "the quintessential western movies" not a lot of them will be included since they come in a variety of flavors and qualities. Some of my favorites won't make this list because of this issue.

The Ballad of Josie (1967) - I HAD to put at least one film that starred a woman somewhere in this list. Yes there's a few that are good, but they HAVE to be good since there are so few of them overall. Now sadly it's a comedy, but it tackles some real heavy issues.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) - What western trope have we been overlooking in film up to this point? Go on, think about it for a second. That's right, Harmonicas! This is the movie that brought badassery to the harmonica player. In less than six notes, you've got yourself a shooter that blasts his way through a gang of cutthroats all the way to the big boss standoff at the end. The entire time the audience is left to ask, "Why is he doing this?" And frankly, saying why kinda ruins it a little, so I'll just let Charles Bronson shoot character actors until he slaps iron against Henry Fonda (who usually was the good guy).

Hang 'Em High (1968) - I thought about this one for quite a while before including it. The gist of the story is essentially how difficult it was in the old west to prove identity and ownership of anything. In this film, we have mistaken identities and because of those mistaken identities a lot of people wind up having to die. Had Ghandi lived to see this movie, he would have quoted it as an example of "an eye for an eye, making the whole world blind." Maybe that's why justice is blind, it certainly is in this Eastwood starring production.

The Wild Bunch (1969) - This was another hard sell. I include it because films after this point tend to make references to the large posse of bad men wreaking havoc across the west. Now, i'm not saying that the idea of a large group running roughshod across the country is new, but we get to see it from their perspective.

True Grit (1969) - Based off a novel and redone in 2010, but this is the only one with Robert Duvall and a young Dennis Hooper both showing off their western chops alongside John Wayne. Kim Darby manages to speak only in complete sentences with no contractions or slang throughout the entire movie. It's un-nerving. Still, overall Its-a-purty-good.

Support Your Local SherrifF! (1969) - It's funny. Man is it funny. Just watch it and laugh. Don't spoil one of my favorite James Garner roles with a synopsis.

Paint Your Wagon (1969) - Unlike the previous film, I WILL spoil this one because for a film starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, you're going to expect a few things. I'm going to let you down HARD, they're NOT going to happen. The Simpsons made a joke about this one and the joke is they weren't too far from the mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM5-xFenaZI

To be continued in the '70's.


"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... The 70's (part 1) 
on Mon 26 Feb 2018 @ 12:48 PM (PBW Time)

Yea, there's no witty statement here. The 60's had it's charms with the Spaghetti and Euro westerns, the 50's had the epic films, but the 70's....The 70's is a time when westerns go all over the map. We still have the big stars and names from the 50's and 60's but they're all aging and it shows. Some movies are good, some are bad, others are "meh" despite the uglyness. As always, I'm cutting through a lot of the fat when it comes to putting these movies into a list. The downside is, fat is where the flavor is, even though it's not good for you.

Chisum (1970) - I didn't like it. It's not my favorite by a long shot, but my grandmother would be spinning in her grave if I didn't include it. My main reason for disliking it is how much of the killing in it is unnecessary. It's an example of how subjective and corrupt "The Law" was in the west. If you had the money, you controlled the hand of the fastest guns who would inevitably be "elected" as the sherrif. Chisum is played by John Wayne and the movie doesn't really focus on him. It focuses mostly on the actions of one William H. Bonney as played by Geoffrey Deuel. If you're not familiar with the "Bonney" name here's a history lesson; His real name was Henry McCarty alias Billy the Kid.

There Was a Crooked Man... (1970) - I haven't seen this film in over 20 years. They don't show it very often, so why am I including it? It's listed as a "comedy" but my memory of this film would lead me to believe it's a comedy in the same way that Fargo would be considered a comedy. It might be more lighthearted than that, but it's been so long the details are fuzzy. Main reason for including this one is the cast coupled with the ending. It echoes similar themes as Chisum, but I didn't walk away from this one with a bad taste in my mouth.

El Topo (1970) - DO. NOT. WATCH. THIS. ONE. WITH. COMPANY. This movie is included due to belonging to the thankfully rare sub-genre of "Acid Western." Primarily it's a social commentary where EVERYTHING IS AN ALLEGORY. I apologise for the caps, but the movie slams your face into an allegorical wall until your allegorical brains can't take the allegorical abuse. They fill it with very strange sights, very strange motivations, and extremely bizzare scenes. If you like John Waters stuff, then you'll probably love this movie. But frankly, shocking someone for shock value isn't my idea of a good movie, let alone a good western.

Two Mules for Sister Sarah (1970) - Phew, we're back to standard western fare with Clint Eastwood in a man-with-no-name adjacent role alongside the lovely Shirley Maclaine. It's a tale of love and hidden identities during an odd period of political upheval in Mexico. Just don't let the movie know that I told you that.

Big Jake (1970) - Another trope of Westerns is "The legendary gunfighter" that has to go for one last ride. Again, I would have left this one off, but my grandmother's voice prevents me from doing so. Unlike Chisum, Big Jake has John Wayne in a tale that could be taken as a continuation of McClintock from '63. Gone is the happy go lucky comedy, and instead of a daughter and a good family life, Wayne plays the titular Big Jake who understanding his wild ways, abandoned his sons and family for personal reasons. He returns when some rustlers wind up kidnapping his grandson for ransom and raising the ire of Grand-ma-ma Maureen O'Hara. It is HER idea to bring in "a certain type of harsh and unpleaseant man that is required to carry out such harsh and unpleasant business." Effectively, she brings a machine gun to a knife fight because in these days if you give even a single inch of ground, it'll all be taken from you.

Duck you Sucker, AKA "A Fistfull of Dynamite", AKA "Once Upon a time..The Revolution" (1970) - I've seen this movie under TWO of those titles and it's a trip. This one may feel somewhat preachy with its message, but doesn't go slamming your face into allegory and MESSAGE like El Topo did. It's helpful that Sergio Leone co-wrote and directed it, so there's a lot of familiar camera work and themes in it that will be "old hat" to anyone that's been going through my list. The film has a few confusing bits, but if you like Michael Bey type explosions that magically fix everything, then you'll like this one.

Lawman (1970) - Oh dear, we're back to the ones I don't really like. "So why is it in here?" It's in here because of the cast. If you're familiar with films and TV from the 60's and 70's this one is chock FULL of names and faces that you see over and over and over again. The question that the movie asks is, "What happens when being single minded blinds you to the effects of those around you?"

To be continued in part 2.


"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... The 70's (part 2) 
on Mon 26 Feb 2018 @ 12:55 PM (PBW Time)

Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) - The other movie in the "Support your local..." moniker. The movies are related because of the cast and crew but their stories couldn't be further apart. If you like Support your local sherrif then you'll probably like this one too, a safe-enough comedy for even the little ones to watch.

Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears, AKA "Los Amigos" (1971) - Anthony Quinn and Franco Nero (of Django) co-star in what is essentially a "Buddy Cop" movie set in the wild west. It's not funny, but it has it's moments. Lots of explosives in it, but really it hinges on the play between the Deaf Quinn and the mouthy Nero.

Buck and the Preacher (1972) - Stay with me on this one. It's a blacksploitation western BUT it's directed AND starring Sidney Poitier. It is a surprisingly good film for his first time directing. There are a few cringeworthy and cheesy moments, but overall it's a solid film with VERY solid acting. One thing of note is what happened to poor Harry Belafonte. See westerns were still in the "gritty" phase and Belafonte had PERFECT white teeth. So to "western" himself, he took a pencil or some equally awful nonsense and he greyed those pearly whites up so bad when he smiles it looks like he had a mouth full of slate. Just don't stare at it too long or you'll wind up reaching for your toothbrush.

Jeremaiah Johnson (1972) - Why is Robert Redford considered a male Sex Symbol for ladies of a certain age. It's because he starred in movies like this one where his family gets wiped out repeatedly. It's his reaction and desire to not be a murder hobo that really lets his star shine.

Joe Kidd (1972) - Clint Eastwood's back at it. The plot is paper thin, but OOOOH man there's an action sequence in here that you HAVE to see. You'll know what i'm talking about when you see it.

High Plains Drifter (1973) - Another Eastwood film, but this one is important. It's the same story of "The man with no name" trope, but this one has a twist. It's a very interesting twist that M. Knight Shamalyaymanamananan probably drew his filmmaking inspiriation from. It's one of my favorites due to the blend of flashback and action. Eastwood isn't a "good" person in this film since there's more than one rape scene. That's the only part of the film that really makes me cringe and go...mmmm no, lets get past this point faster please. To it's credit, there IS an in-movie explanation for every one of Eastwoods actions, even if I don't agree with them. Otherwise the views of the Mono Lake set and the actors make for a good movie and a VERY powerful plot that I can't even begin to go in or risk spoiling it.

My Name is Nobody (1973) - This is THE movie. It's a spaghetti western that blends into more traditional westerns. Remember "The Wild Bunch?" Well, they're in this movie as the faceless antagonists set loose on the countryside to terrorize and rob in the name of progress. All that's standing between them is a retiring gunfighter played by Henry Fonda who wants nothing to do with killing and a much younger man whose name is...nobody. Nobody, played by Terence Hill, was in a lot of the spaghetti westerns that i've plain passed over to get to this point, from Django movies, to the "Trinity" series. The main reason he's in this one is because if you don't like this one, you wouldn't like the other films he's been in. It's a culmination of genres and as far as I'm concerned they did the camerawork correctly to make the quick-draw scenes not look as stilted and jumpy as the older movies did unashamedly.

Westworld (1973) - Alright, this one's a Scifi movie in western clothes, but the point is the same: Yul Brynner with his face ripped off, slapping iron against idiots in a western amusement park. The movie isn't that great but it spawned the much more successful HBO reboot. I can't include that series since it's not a movie, but like Godless before it's worth watching because there is a good western story in there. As for Westworld '73, it has its charm and frankly the ride is ahead of it's time. They couldn't quite pull it off with the technology of the day, but all the key pieces are there. It's worlds better than Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978) which was a similar idea.

Continued in part 3...

The biggest issue with the 70's, you need more time to explain what the heck is going on. Whereas the earlier films, one or two sentences were enough.

"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... Place hoooolder 
on Thu 5 Apr 2018 @ 9:03 PM (PBW Time)

The 80's is taking a bit longer than expected. I'll get to it as soon as I can.

"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... The 80's 
on Mon 25 Jun 2018 @ 10:32 AM (PBW Time)

Still working on it, so stay away you reaper.

"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... Impatient Reaper 
on Mon 30 Jul 2018 @ 11:08 AM (PBW Time)

Geeze, I know it's taking a long time, but reaper please! The 80's are an odd time since westerns fell out of fashion for Action Movies in modern times. The war on drugs gave filmmakers plenty of villain motivation and a good excuse for their characters to blow away the bad guys, without having to consider family. Everyone got their hired goons from Goons R Us, where every goon is grown from 100% organic non-gmo non-dairy beef based soylent product.

"Blondie" The Preacher

posted... Reeeeeeper Keeeeeper 
on Tue 11 Sep 2018 @ 6:08 AM (PBW Time)

(something) (something) Empire. (something) (something) dark side.

Jergard Stanton

posted... Reaper Ward 
on Mon 7 Jan 2019 @ 5:24 PM (PBW Time)

Standard Warding

Admin

posted... Reaper Ward 
on Sat 13 Apr 2019 @ 8:46 PM (PBW Time)

  Standard Warding
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