Friday, February 26, 2010

Great Westerns #1

For the past three years I've secretly been working on a new series: The Western Mysteries.

One of the best things about it has been re-watching some of my old fave Western films and TV shows. In the next day or two I'll post my top ten westerns of the many I've watched over the past couple of year. In the meantime, here are a dozen of my older favorites:

1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966
When I revisited this classic spaghetti western three years ago, I couldn't believe how good and funny it was. There are at least three classic scenes, some wonderful lines and an iconic soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. My favourite character is Tuco - 'the Ugly' - magnifiently played by Eli Wallach, who will be 94 later this year.
quote: 'Don't die, I'll get you water. Stay there. Don't move, I'll get you water. Don't die until later.' (Tuco)

2. "Deadwood" 2004
This amazing HBO TV series rekindled my passion for The Western. Like all good historical fiction, it made me think: 'That's exactly how it would have been.' Kids DO NOT watch this at home.
quote: 'Avoid looking left as you exit, if idolatry offends you.' (E.B.Farnum)

3. Little Big Man 1970
Dustin Hoffman plays a 111-year-old man in this moving western which always makes me laugh and also cry. Chief Dan George is in it.
quote: 'Every time I believe you are dead and the buzzards have eaten your body, you come back!' (Younger Bear)

4. The Outlaw Josie Wales 1976
Clint chews tobacco and spits! Chief Dan George is in this one, too!
quote: 'I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender. They have him pulling a wagon up in Kansas I bet.' (Chief Dan George)

5. The Searchers 1956
The classic John Ford/John Wayne film which influenced many, many directors and films. Filmed in Monument Valley, Utah.
quote: 'That'll be the day!' (Ethan)

6. Once Upon a Time in the West 1968
The western to end all westerns. Sergio Leone's masterpiece. Another brilliant soundtrack by Ennio Morricone and the longest buggy ride in film history. Claudia Cardinale starts out in Spain and ends up in Monument Valley, Utah. Henry Fonda is brilliantly cast against type as a cold-blooded, child-killing baddie, Charles Bronson is Harmonica and Jason Robards is everyone's favourite: Cheyenne. Get the new DVD; it has one of the best commentaries I have come across so far.
quote: 'Looks like we're shy one horse.' (Snaky) 'No, you brought two too many.' (Harmonica)

7. Two Mules for Sister Sarah 1970
Another great Eastwood role. Shirley Maclaine as the 'nun' is brilliant. The animal that inspired part of the Morricone soundtrack is her mule.
quote: 'All the women I've ever known were natural-born liars but I never knew about nuns until now.' (Hogan)

8. The Magnificent Seven 1960
Based on Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, this film is a classic. Many filmmakers have stolen from it. I will, too.
quote: 'Yes. The final supreme idiocy. Coming here to hide. The deserter hiding out in the middle of a battlefield.' (Lee)

9. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid 1969
Another anti-western. 'Who ARE those guys?' They are Robert Redford and Paul Newman.
quote: 'Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?' (Sundance)

10. Dances With Wolves 1990
Kevin Costner has starred in two great films in his career. This is one of them. The buffalo hunt was done before the days of CGI and Kevin really rode in it. The new DVD has some great supplementary material.
quote: 'My name is Dunbar, not Dumb Bear.' (John Dunbar)

11. Cat Ballou 1965
A musical comedy version of the Western, with Lee Marvin and Jane Fonda.
quote: 'You won't make me cry. You'll never make me cry! .' (Cat Balloo)

12. Eagle's Wing 1979
Last but not least. This underrated western with a young Martin Sheen as a runaway bluecoat and Sam Waterstone as a boozy Comanche has almost no dialogue. A brilliant example of 'show don't tell'. Filmed entirely on location in Mexico, the scenery is stupendous. Some very clever scenes, too.
quote: 'Any man alive would give his vitals for that horse.' (Pike)

Going to post my more recent discoveries soon!

1 comment:

  1. John B.9:16 AM

    My list, in no particular order, The Cowboys, Once Upon a Time in the West, Magnificent Seven (recommended to me by John Truby), High Noon, Open Range, Big Jake, Shane, Hang 'em High, Old Yeller/Savage Sam, True Grit/Rooster Cogburn.

    TV westerns: Rifleman, Branded, Loredo, Bonanza, The Big Valley, Rawhide, Kung Fu, Death Valley Days All Lonesome Dove based mini series.