What the hey Cody? No mention or talk of Sturges other commentary on Wyatt and Doc and the OK Corral? 1967's Hour of the Gun with James Garner playing Wyatt (also played Earp again later in Sunset opposite a Bruce Willis Tom Mix) after the shootout gives a more realistic, closer to accurate and darker portrayal of the 2 Amigo's. What's your thoughts on it? Love to hear... And totally agree with your reviews of the other 3 Corral movies. Tombstone was plain awesome and the only one I have seen on the big screen. So amazing and full of great stars doing spectacular work that I had to see it 5 times in a row each week when it was released! Russell and Kilmer are great together and "almost" as memorable as Burt and Kirk.
Last Edit: Aug 6, 2020 22:49:30 GMT -5 by brutalis
Gimme a home on the ol' prairie where I can sit in my rockin' chair reading my favorite old comic books of yesteryear!
What the hey Cody? No mention or talk of Sturges other commentary on Wyatt and Doc and the OK Corral? 1967's Hour of the Gun with James Garner playing Wyatt (also played Earp again later in Sunset opposite a Bruce Willis Tom Mix) after the shootout gives a more realistic, closer to accurate and darker portrayal of the 2 Amigo's. What's your thoughts on it? Love to hear...
Haven't seen that one. Will have to peruse it first.
As it is, I only ever saw one, maybe two episodes of the Wyatt Earp tv series, as a kid, visiting my grandparents. It was never syndicated in my neck of the woods; just Gunsmoke and Branded. Only every saw one or two episodes on Have Gun, Will Travel, for the same reason (visiting same grandparents). I had to but the first season dvd set to see Maverick.
I also haven't seen:
The Searchers She Wore a Yellow Ribbon Stagecoach The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Winchester 73 Shane Rio Bravo all of True Grit or Rooster Cogburn um.....a bunch more of the 50s stuff and some more from the Duke
What can I say, I had greater affinity for 1960s westerns than the earlier ones and was never a great John Wayne fan, though I will be discussing a comedy of his, at some point. I just haven't gotten around to correcting some of that.
Now, we did get The Wild, Wild West and I was all over that show.....movie sucked worse than a black hole.
I have seen some of those early John Wayne two-reel oaters, as we had some kind of syndicated "tv series" package with Wayne in those things, swinging like a windmill in undercranked fight scenes. They were shown in the mornings, weekdays, before cartoons (New 3 Stooges, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Underdog, Abbott & Costello and Space Angel). I think that helped to color my view of John Wayne westerns, as a kid. I've seen most of his war films, though. I was always more of a Clint Eastwood guy.
Post by codystarbuck on Aug 10, 2020 15:32:02 GMT -5
Now, the western genre had pretty much petered out, byt the 70s, with a few last hurrahs. There were a few attempts to do one in the 80s, with things like Silverado and Clint Eastwood dropped by to do Pale Rider (I'll get to it). Occasionally, someone would do one, with some kind of twist, until Eastwood showed them how to do them, with Unforgiven. We had Young Guns, black guns, girl guns and what have you. One of the more interesting ideas was to take a cowboy to the wilds of Australia. So, they got the ex-Marlboro Man, Tom Selleck, gave him a Sharp's rifle, and sent him on a clipper ship to Australia, where he would meet up with Alan Rickman.
If you paid attention to the trailer's narration, you may have caught why this movie, in part, got made. The director is Simon Wincer, who directed the mini-series, Lonesome Dove, based on the novel by Larry McMurtry (and starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones). The script had originally been written in the 70s and had passed through several hands, with Tom Selelck set to star, in 1987, with Lewis Gilbert set to direct, before it fell apart. The rights ended up at Pathe and Alan Ladd Jr (the man who gave the green light to Star Wars) set a $20 million budget and signed Selelck to star and Wincer to direct.
The first thing Wincer did was hire an Australian, Ian Jones, to rewrite the script and make it more accurate to Australian history and the use of firearms. Laura San Giacomo and Alan Rickman came on board to fill out the principle cast, with the bulk of the remainder being Australian actors, with everything shot Down Under.
The story finds American rifleman Matthew Quigley sailing to Australia, where he gets involved with a fight between a group of men and a woman, known as Crazy Cora. It turns out the men are there to meet him, for his new employer, and the woman is a prostitute, joining others to provide "comfort" for the men at the ranch. The men all work for Eliot Marston, who Quigley meets, first seeing him practice with a pair of Colt revolvers, then gun down British Army deserters. Quigley answered Marston's ad for a long range marksman with the add, and 6 well placed holes, created by firing at the target from 900 yards, with a Sharp's Rifle.
Quigley proves that the holes weren't faked and he and Marston talk over the job, at dinner. Marston wants him to shoot the aborigines, who have learned t stay out of range of standard rifles and pistols. Marston's family were killed by aborigines and he has a deep hatred of them, though he uses them as servants. Quigley responds by knocking him on his ass and throwing him through a door and out of the house. he then holds off Marston and his men, until the aborigine servant hits him over the head, from behind. Crazy Cora attacks the men and is knocked out and then she and Quigley are dumped in the desert; but, not before Quigley kills the two men and secures his rifle. he and Cora walk the desert and nearly die, before they are saved by aborigines. They spend time with them and Quigley witnesses Marston's men attacking them and kills three of them. Others ride the people off a cliff and Cora finds a baby still alive. They care for it, but Quigley has to leave Cora in a desert cave, with food and water, while he goes to the nearest town for help. While he is gone, Cora fights off wild dingoes. Quigley meets a German gunsmith and dry goods trader and secures more ammunition, plus food water and a dress for Cora. He runs into some of Marston's men and a shootout erupts, with the gunsmith's wife killed in a crossfire and their home set ablaze. Quigley returns to find Cora alive, with the dead dingoes around. They return the baby to her people, then Quigley goes to face Marston, sniping at his men from long range. They eventually find his firing position and outflank him, then beat him and drag him behind a horse. Then, he is forced into a gunfight with Marston.
If ever there was an actor of the modern era, who looked like the mythical image of the cowboy, it was Tom Selleck.
Selelck had been the Marlboro Man, with the cowboy image, for the cancer sticks. he had already starred in two tv movie adaptations of Louis L'Amour novels (The Sacketts and The Shadoow Riders) and Quigley was perfect for him. San Giacomo had done Pretty Woman and Stephen Soderbergh's breakthru film Sex, Lies and Videotape. They made a good match. Rickman was riding high on his turn as hans Gruber, in Die Hard and would follow this with his Sheriff of Nottingham to Kevin Costner's Robin Hood, Prince of Bad Accents. The Australian actors are all excellent and the film looks fantastic, with shots of the Australian landscape that are up there with John Ford's use of Monument Valley.
Wincer was perfect for this. He had made a name as a director in film and television, in Australia and had directed The Lighthorseman, an Australian movie the recounted the Australian Light Horse, in World War I, including the Battle of Bersheba, where they rode under the Turkish guns and took the city. He had done Lonesome Dove, which was universally hailed for both its accuracy in depicting the West, and the performances of a great cast. Wincer directs his cast well, captures the beauty of Australia, but keeps the focus on the characters.
Quigley is old fashioned whit hat vs black hat; but, with a bit more modern sensibility, and an Aussie style that sets it apart. Australia was dabbling with its own westerns, via the successful pair of films The Man From Snowy River and Return to Snowy River; plus, the US was undergoing a mini-Aussie fad, with Paul Hogan delighting audiences in Crocodile Dundee 1 and 2 (and the Australian Tourism ads) and things like Matilda Bay Wine Coolers (which were made in New Jersey). The bloom hadn't worn off the rose yet, though Yahoo Serious had mortally wounded it. The Simpsons would write the eulogy.
Selleck plays Quigley with quiet, competent calm, reminding one a bit of Gary Cooper and Randolph Scott. Rickman is Rickman, doing his charming best, while playing an unredeeming slimeball. Marston and Quigley are pretty thinly sketched characters, but, the actors make it work. The nuance is provided by Cora and Giacomo. Cora, we slowly learn, is from Texas and was married to a man named Roy (she continuously calls Quigley Roy, to his frustration). While Roy was gone, some Comanchees came to their farm and Cora hid in a cellar, with their infant son. The Comanchees found whiskey and got drunk. The baby started to cry and Cora tried to keep it quiet, but accidentally smothered it in fear. Roy threw her out and she ended up in Australia. She faces the same situation when the dingoes are out hunting, but Cora stops herself when she realizes she is nearly smothering the aborigine baby. She shouts ofr it to cry its head off, as she shoots each dingo as it enters and reloads, eventually killing off most of the pack and scaring away the rest. She provides much of the humor, but even more of the humanity. Without her, the film would be pretty cookie cutter and she was singled out for praise by critics, even as most were lukewarm to the film.
There are just so many great scenes, well written, with great actors doing their thing. Here, we are introduced to Matthew Quigley, as the clipper docks and the passengers prepare to disembark. Notice the way in which Quigley handles a loud bully...
Wincer shows the man's character and establishes Australia in the latter half of the 1800s, like America, a young nation on ancient land, a frontier where white Europeans are at odds with the native people. He also reminds us that Australia was a penal colony, as we see prisoners marched through. Then we meet Cora, who is kicking the crap out of Marston's men, before Quigley gets involved.
Later, Quigley meets Marston and demonstrates his prowess with his Sharp's Rifle...
Quigley's rifle is almost a character in its own right. It is an 1874 model, in a .45-110 caliber, weighing in at a bit over 13 and a half pounds. The type was a favorite of buffalo hunters and frontiersmen, for its range and accuracy and heavy punch. Sharp had also made percussion rifles for the US Army, including during the Civil War. They were breech loading, with a percussion cap. Quigley's is shown to fire metallic cartridges, with their own primer. Unlike your stereotypical cowboy, Quigley carries no sidearm and his ammunition belt carries only his rifle cartridges. At dinner with Marston, he tells him he never had much use for the revolver, which plays into the final gunfight.
This scene shows why the film is beloved by men and women...
You can hear the theme, from Basil Poledouris (Conan the Barbarian), which is right up there with Elmer Bernstein and the other great Western scores, but with a little piece of Australia mixed in.
Next up, another modern western, with a slightly different Aussie connection.
Post by codystarbuck on Aug 13, 2020 19:03:16 GMT -5
Now, another western, with an Australian connection. No, it isn't Ned Kelly and it isn't set in Australia. It is a film that features a rising young Australian actor, in his first American film. Okay, technically, he's a New Zealander, but he made his acting name, first, in Australia. The actor is Russell Crowe and the film is Sam Raimi's The Quick & the Dead...
Now, this isn't the only western with this title. In 1987, Sam Elliott starred in a film of the same name, based on the novel by Louis L'Amour. The title is the only connection between the two, as this is an homage to Sergio Leone, not L'Amour. Writer Simon Moore wrote the script on 1992 as a deliberate homage to the Dollars Trilogy, with several biblical references (the title comes from 2 Timothy 4:1, "Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead".) including the town name, Redemption, and that of Gene Hackman's character, Herod. Moore placed a woman at the center of the story, as he felt it shook things up in interesting ways. Sony Pictures bought the script and brought it to Sharon Stone. She became a co-producer and was instrumental in naming Sam Raimi as director, as she was impressed by Army of Darkness, though felt Raimi hadn't fully displayed his talents. Russell Crowe autioned for a couple of lesser roles; but Stone had seen Romper Stomper and encouraged him to try for the lead male role, Cort. He got the part. Sony had mixed feelings. Gene Hackman was signed for the villain, which necessitated a change of shooting venue from Durango, Mexico, to Tuscon, AZ. Leonardo DiCaprio won the role of the Kid, over Sam Rockwell, again to Sony's ill-ease. The rest of the cast was rounded out with excellent character actors, including Pat Hingle. Keith David, Lance Henrikson and Raynor Scheine. It was also the last film appearance for Woody Strode, though you have to pay very close attention or you will miss him. He gets one brief line and a couple of background shots, but he was in very poor health and his other scenes were cut. It was also the last theatrical release for Roberts Blossom, who plays the doctor (and was the neighbor, in Home Alone).
The plot of the film finds a mysterious woman ride into the border town of redemption, where there is no apparent law. A quick draw contest is being staged and there is much drinking and partying going on in preparation. The rules of the contest are that names will be paired up at random and any contestant can also challenge another directly. No one can refuse a challenge and must fight at least once, each day. The fight goes on until one person yields or is killed. Mr Herod, who runs the town, signs himself up and delivers another contestant, a preacher, named Cort, who is forced into it or be hanged. The Lady shoots away the noose, saving his life. She enters the contest and so does the Kid, a young man who owns a gunshop and claims to be the son of Herod. In the first round, the Kid defeats a Swedish gunman with ease, showing lightning fast reflexes. Herod kills a braggart, named Ace Hanlon, who has falsely claimed kills that were committed by Herod. he first shoots a hole in his gunhand, before putting a hole in his head. Cort is given an old gun by Herod and one bullet and refuses to use it; but, when the time comes, he automatically draws and kills his opponent. A man who tried to Ambush the lady turns up to challenge her and she kills him. Ata an evening celbration, she learns that Cort rode with Herod, and learned from him. They were shot up after a robbery and a group of monks saved their lives. Herod repaid them by murdering them. Cort left to atone and become a preacher. Clay Cantrell, a professional gunfighter, has dinner with Herod. he has been hired to kill Herod and they face off the next day. Herod kills him and then tells the town people he will continue to raise their taxes until they learn he is the sole authority. A gunman rapes the saloon keeper's daughter and the Lady challenges him and shoots away his genitals, but leaves him alive. He comes back at her and she kills him. Cort is forced to face Spotted Horse, a native who seems invulnerable to bullets. Cort hits him with his one bullet, but Spotted Horse gets up. Cort calls for another bullet, but Herod denies him. The Blind Shoeshine boy tosses him a cartridge and he shoots Spotted Horse through the head. Herod andThe Lady have dinner and she has a Derringer to shoot him, but he intimidates her and she loses her will. She tries to ride away and goes to a cemetery and is met by the doctor, who recognizes her as Ellen, the daughter of the town marshal. Herod came into town and strung him up, then gave Ellen a pistol to try to shoot the rope off. She misses and hits her father in the chest, killing him. Herod leaves him hanging. The town was taken over by Herod and the marshal was denied a burial. She knows she has to face Herod. She returns and challenges Herod, but he already has a fight, with the Kid. the Kid is able to wound him in the neck, but he hits the Kid in the chest and he dies, with Herod denying him to the end. Ellen is forced to fight Cort and he shoots her dead. The doctor won't let anyone near her and carries her away. Cort now is to face Herod. At night, one of Herod's men, Ratsy, smashes Cort's gunhand. in the morning, Herod sees it and tells Ratsy to get out of town, then shoots him with a rifle as he runs. He faces off against Cort, who scares him, as he knows he is fast enough to beat him. Explosions tear through the clock tower and Herod's house and the Lady turns up alive, having faked her death. She tosses the marshal badge at Herod and says she is fighting him. Cort grabs a revolver and shoots one of Herods men and takes his rifle and takes out his men on the rooftops, making it a fair fight. The Lady is hit, but Herod looks down and sees light shining through his body and falls down dead. The Lady tosse the badge to Cort and says Law has come back to town and then rides off.
Raimi does a great job juggling the characters and making them important enough to sustain your interests through the fights. He uses several camera tricks, including camera pulls, to heighten the tension, as well as quick cuts to crowd and actor reactions. The cast is great across the board, though Stone is probably the weakest of the principles, as she is a bit too deadpan at times, trying to mimic Clint Eastwood. Hackman is terrfic and really pulls the film together, as any good villain should. Herod is a truly evil man, but capable of being charming and he pulls you in. No matter what, you respect his cunning and deadly skill. Crowe is a bit subdued, as he tries to maintain the accent; but, he has a presence that helps carry through his scenes. DiCaprio is brash and flashy, like the kid he is, trying to build a reputation. he is also trying to prove to his father that he is worthy of his respect, like Cort. Herod rejects him, as Cort is the son he wanted.
The film exists in a hyper-reality, as applying normal logic to things reveals the plot holes, though the same is true of Leone's films. The story homages moments from the Dollars films, including mirroring Eastwood's entrance into A Fistful of Dollars, with a similar exchange of dialogue between The Lady and an undertaker, played by Strode. It also homages Once Upon a Time in the West, as the murder of the town marshal (played by Gary Sinise, in a flashback cameo), is practically shot for shot copied from the flashback of the death of Harmonica's brother, killed by Henry Fonda's character, who shares many similarities with Herod.
The gunfights make the film episodic, but they are compelling. Here is Cort's battle with Spotted Horse...
The scene shows that Cort's instinct for survival is greater than the vows he made. it also reveals the depths of Herod's evil, as he forces Cort into the situation and would let him die, but the end result proves he was right, that Cort is still a killer. In his eyes, no one can change.
I can't find a clip of it; but, the dinner scene, between Hackman and Stone is mesmerizing. Herod relates a story about his father, who was a judge, who made them watch hangings. One day, he said there was to much evil in the world and put a bullet in a revolver and held it to each person's head and pulled the trigger, but ended up shooting himself, when it was his turn. He tells the story to show he has no fear of death. All the while, The Lady has a small pocket pistol hidden in a garter and retrieves it and takes aim, but hears a click, like a hammer being cocked and loses her will to go through with it and abruptly leaves. herod brings his hands above the table and we see he is flicking the lid on a silver match case, which made the clicking sound.
Pat Hingle is the saloonkeeper, who keeps book on the contest and gives a masterclass in character work. When the Lady arrives, he has his back to her and is standing on a stool, doing work and calls out "Whores around the back!" The Lady kicks the stool out from under him and he sees her and begs her forgiveness and attends to her. He is shown to be a weak man, like the rest of the common folk of the town, surrounded by killers and criminal, who prey upon them. His daughter idolizes the Lady but her own innocence puts her in the position that leads to her rape by the pedophile gunman. He crows about it to the saloonkeeper and deliberately stops, daring him to pull out the pistol from his gunbelt, hanging over his shoulder. The man reaches for it, but his hand shakes and he lowers his head and goes back to filling a bowl with peanuts, as the Lady watches and the men jeer. He wants to kill that man for what he did to his beautiful child; but, like the rest of the town, he is to weaks to stand up to the bullies who run it. The scum crows with his cronies and the Lady grabs him by the back of his head and pulls him to the floor and starts beating and kicking him and challenges him to a gunfight. The run at each other, firing blindly, then she hits him in the groin. Herod comes out to witness it and tells her the fight is now to the death, but she walks away. She gets a drink to calm her nerves and the man comes back at her and she shoots him dead. The Saloonkeeper tries to thank her and she walks away, in disgust.
When I was in the Navy, is was tasked to act as a bailiff in a court martial for a warrant officer. the case turned out to be about him sexually molesting his 15 year old stepdaughter, from the time she was 11 to that time. As I heard the case and his admissions, I wished I had a sidearm to put a bullet in him. It is the one time in my life I truly wanted to commit violence against someone. At the same time, I heard the mother give testimony and the prosecuting Navy JAG officer cross-examine her and he was hitting her about where she was when the man set up a situation at a motel, with the daughter in his room, like she was responsible for his actions. The judge shut him down and reprimanded him, as he should, but, I did have similar thoughts in the back of my head; where was she in all of this? the sad truth is such things are well hidden by the perpetrator, in most cases and the child rarely turns in the predator, without intervention or a long period of time, out of fear and shame, or similar emotions. Watching the film, you can feal disgust for the saloonkeeper, as he does nothing to protect his young daughter; but, at the same time, you see how violent and vicious the men are who rule the town. Herod is the sole authority and he encourages it, to keep the people living in fear, so he can continue to bleed them of everything. It is far more evil and far simpler than stealing. He even calls it taxes. The townspeople have been beaten and intimidated into being subservient wretches. How can you expect those driven so low to fight back?
The film isn't without its flaws; but, the good far outweighs the bad.
Next, we stop dancing around things and head deep into Eastwood territory, as we look at some of his American westerns. You know the ones.
I remember being interested in the Quick and the Dead because of Raimi and then thinking the preview to it looked good, so I was motivated at the time to see it but for some reason never got around to it. Nice to have a reminder, I'll add it to my list of 90s movies to watch.
Speaking of 80s westerns, have you covered The Long Riders yet?
Nope; haven't seen it, as of yet.
One of the few 80s westerns I saw when it came out - or since, come to think of it. I remember thinking it was very good when I watched it at the time, no idea now it would hold up now after all these years. The decision to cast actual brothers as the various sets of brothers in the story of the film worked well and didn't come across as a cheap gimmick to me once the movie started. Good soundtrack too, if I remember.
Post by codystarbuck on Aug 23, 2020 18:08:44 GMT -5
By the 1970s, westerns were a dying genre. Gunsmoke was still on tv; but, the upheavals of the 60s had audiences questioning our love of the American myth and over-saturation from the 50s through the 60s had everyone burnt out. We get a few attempts at doing turn-of-the-century westerns; but nothing that really seemed to really capture an audience's imagination. Even the Spaghetti Westerns were in decline. However, one actor was still bankable in a western, though even he didn't play western heroes of old. That actor was Clint Eastwood, though his post-Leone westerns were a mixed bag, at first.
After being propelled to superstardom by the Dollars Trilogy, Eastwood was in demand, in Hollywood. Westerns were still a thing and he did a few, like Hang 'Em High, which was an attempt to mimic the Italian films, with mixed results. Paint Your Wagon is pretty much a trainwreck that people watch for the laughs that weren't intended. two Mules for Sister Sarah is more of a character film, in a western setting and The Beguiled is a period drama, rather than a western. Joe Kidd is more in the modern vein, while Coogan's Bluff is a Western-style lawman in the big city. No, I am skipping those. I like some of them; but, I don't feel they are that memorable, compared to the ones Eastwood launched on his own, taking control of the direction. For that, we have to start with High Plains Drifter.
Clint Eastwood stars as The Stranger, a man who rides into Lago, a small mining town in California. He is harassed by three thugs and guns them down, while getting a shave at the barber shop. The men were hired by the town to defend them against three outlaws, who are getting out of prison and have sworn vengeance against the town. Immediately after, a woman, Callie Travers (Mariana Hill) deliberately bumps into him and knocks out his cigar, berating him. He drags her into the livery stable and rapes her and no one does a thing to stop him. The town council votes to offer him the job to protect them from Shelly Bridges (Geoffrey Lewis) and the Carlin Brothers (Dan Vadis & Anthony James). They send the sheriff (Walter Barnes) to make the offer. The Stranger turns him down and the sheriff offers him anything he wants. he reveals that the townspeople double-crossed Bridges and the others, after using them to get rid of the town marshal. Upon hearing this, the Stranger takes the job and anything he wants. He makes Mordecai (Billy Curtis), a Little Person who works at the barbershop and is abused by everyone the new sheriff and mayor. He kicks the guest out of the hotel and takes it over. he helps himself to free whiskey and cigars and gives food and blankets to some Native Americans who are being mistreated in the general store. The townspeople do nothing. He takes Callie to his bed, int he hotel and dreams of being whipped to death, in the street. Callie tries to slip out, as some of the town council have decided he has gone too far and try to kill him, only to attack a dummy and have the hotel blown up. He takes over the only standing bedroom, the owners and takes his wife to bed. She tells him that the marshal was buried in an unmarked grave. He assembles the townspeople into a militia and forces them to practice fighting the outlaws. He then has them pain the town red and set up a big picnic. he rides out of town, after changing the town sign from Largo to Hell and then harasses the outlaws on their way toard the town, with dynamite and rifle fire. They easily defeat the townspeople and taunt them in the saloon, until one of the Carlins is ensnared in a bullwhip and whipped to death. no one is seen. They soon find the other brother hanged by a bullwhip. Finally, with the town on fire, Bridges faces down the Stranger and realizes who he is, before he is shot dead. The Stranger rides out the next morning, as Mordecai is placing a marker on the grave of the marshal. He says he doesn't know the Stranger's name and the Stranger replies that he does and rides off, as Mordecai looks at the name of the marshal on the tombstone and then back at the departing figure.
The film is gripping and Eastwood learned a lot, as a director, from Leone. much of his staging and the style of the story follows the path of the Italian westerns. The "hero" is not a noble person. He rapes and takes from seemingly innocent people, while championing the victims of abuse, like Mordecai and the Native American family. In flashbacks, we see that Mordecai witnessed the whipping death of the marshal, while under the front steps of the saloon. He was a victim, same as the marshal and the Natives are innocents. The townspeople, though, are all complicit, which is why we come to forgive the evil deeds of the Stranger. They conspired to kill the marshal, after he discovered that the mine was on government land. All have blood on their hands and you see them meet their reward, as the hotelier loses his business, his wife and his life. The sheriff loses his position. The town is mostly burnt down and the people terrorized by the outlaws. Then comes the realization that the Stranger may be a ghost of the dead marshal. It is left up to the viewer, as the original story treatment had the stranger be the brother of the marshal; but, Eastwood felt the ambiguity made the story better. Is the Stranger supernatural or does he just use the townpeople's own fear to attack them. Is it personal or did he just decide to F with them after hearing the story. The dream suggests he has a connection to the marshal; but, you could decide that he is merely dreaming of what he has been told. However, it is extremely hard not to reach the conclusion that he is the ghost of the marshal, claiming vengeance on the people who had him murdered.
The performances are fantastic. One of Eastwood's strength, as a director, is casting great character actors in well developed roles and letting them get on with their work. he has a reputation in Hollywood for knowing what he wants and running an efficient production, that wraps up by 5:00 pm, so everyone can have a home life. The film is filled with character actors who worked in dozens of films and tv shows. Geoffrey Lewis appeared in tv shows from th 60s onward and was a favorite of Eastwood, appearing in many of his films, including Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, the "Clyde" movies, and Midnight int he Garden of Good and Evil. Dan Vadis was a bodybuilder, actor and stuntman, who starred in Hercules and gladiator movies in Italy, as well as other European films and stunts and small roles in America. he has a charismatic physical presence. Anthony James was another veteran of tv of the 60s and 70s, as well as movie roles, usually as the villain, due to his face and drawl. He did several Gunsmokes and would also appear in Unforgiven, as the saloon and brothel keeper. He just recently passed away.
Billy Curtis was one of the more prominent Little People actors, with roles in such things as The Terror of Tiny Town and The Wizard of Oz, in the 30s, comedies of the 40s, Superman and the Mole Men in the 50s, and tv shows like Batman and Star Trek, in the 60s. More often than not, he was cast in stereotyped comedic roles, with his height being the focus. here, Eastwood lets him stretch his acting muscles a bit, as Mordecai is a real person. He has been kicked around the town and gets to give a bit back, thanks to the Stranger. We see the terror in his eyes as he sees the marshal die. It's a brilliant performance and one can only think of what more he could have done, if casting directors saw past his height.
This is a dark film, but it is also somewhat Biblical, as justice is dealt out to the wicked. As such, it fits into the anti-hero style of the 70s, while representing an old school idea of eye-for-an-eye justice, which suits Eastwood's conservative political outlook. His heroes have been rebels and outlaws, but they are grounded in very traditional conservative ideals of individualism, Old Testament justice and the like. Eastwood was a successful blend of the John Wayne heroes of old and the more morally ambiguous heroes of the Italian westerns that Leone crafted. They are not cut and dried white hats and even labeling them as conservative ideals is simplistic as the ambiguity allows the viewer to assign their own beliefs onto the character.
Next, Clint portrays a man who lost everything in the horror of the Civil War and goes looking for reasons to live after, finding it in an odd band of stragglers and refugees, as The Outlaw Josey Wales.
I remember watching High Plains Drifter on tv in the 70s, along with most of the other early Eastwood westerns. I was about to say this one one of the best his American ones but then, they were all good.
Trivia note: there was an episode of the UK show Minder in the late 70s or early 80s called "High Drains Pilferer", about a cat-burglar. As far as I recall there was nothing else about the story or characters that referred back to the Eastwood movie but I think it shows to what degree he and his movies had penetrated the general pop-culture consciousness.
I'm trying to recall, without looking it up, the title of the MAD parody but drawing a blank so far. I thought I remembered reading it but maybe I'm imagining the whole thing. Or it might have been Crazy or Cracked, if I actually did read one.
Post by codystarbuck on Sept 1, 2020 17:28:20 GMT -5
Alright back to Clint. In 1976, as America celebrated its Bicentennial, Clint gave us a film with a Confederate raider as a hero, adapted from a novel by a former KKK head, who wrote segregationist speeches for George Wallace, then pretended to be Cherokee and wrote a fake memoir, that was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, until its author was exposed.
And you thought it was just about a gunfighter...
Eastwood is Josey Wales, a Missouri farmer whose wife was killed by ruthless troopers of the Kansas Brigade, a group of Jayhawkers. He joins up with a group of Confederate raiders, who carry out a guerrilla war across Kansas and Missouri, before the surrender of the Confederacy. His comrades are murdered when they turn in their arms and Wales escapes with a young man who idolizes him. A bounty is placed on his head and his former commander, who betrayed his own men, is sent to find him. He ends up collecting strays along the way, including an old Native American warrior, a young Native American woman he rescues from rape, and a family of Jayhawkers from Comacheros. They all head to Texas, where the Jayhawkers expect to find a ranch, owned by the old woman's son, who is dead. It turns out to have been an exaggeration, as there is little more than a cabin, in scrub land. Josey protects them, while also killing bounty hunters and criminals, while also brokering a peace with a Native tribe nearby. The end comes down to a confrontation with the men who killed his family.
The film is both a character piece and a revenge tale, as Josey Wales loses everything and hunts for the men who took it all away. He is destroyed by the Civil War, but finds that he is a born killer. Throughout the film, the man looking to die, for revenge, finds reasons to live and heal.
As is usual with Eastwood's Malpaso films, the cast is filled with great character actors, including Chief Dan George, who had earned an Oscar nomination for Little Big Man. Dean Wormer, himself, John Vernon, is Fletcher, the man who betrays his own group to the Kansas Brigade, then leads the hunt for Wales. Bill McKinney is Capt. Terrill, leader of the Redlegs, who murdered Josey's wife and son. Paula Trueman, an actress with a long career on stage, film and tv, plays Grandma Sarah, a racist, xenophobic Jayhawker, while Sondra Locke plays her daughter, who is smitten with Josey. Young Sam Bottoms is Jamie, the young Confederate that idolizes Josey, who of course ends up dead. The rest of the cast is filled with familiar faces, like Joyce Jameson, Woodrow Palfrey, Will Sampson, Royal Dano, Sheb Wooley, John Quade, and John Russell, star of The Lawman.
The film is filled with conic scenes and great lines, as Eastwood dishes out memorable line after line, in his usual gritted lowed voice. "Dyin' ain't much of a livin, boy'." The film sold tons of posters of Eastwood as Josey Wales, particularly the film poster and this image...
In essence, Josey Wales is Jonah Hex, though Hex predates the film and appeared the same year as the original novel. Hex is a bounty hunter, though, largely inspired by Sergio Leonne's Man With No Name, which brings us back to Eastwood. His scarred face suggested a nasty history, as did his Confederate cavalry hat and coat. Josey Wales was an irregular guerrilla fighter (little fiber will help that) who is chased by Bounty Hunters. However, the connection wasn't lost on Joe Lansdale and Tim Truman, when they did their Joanh Hex mini-series, Two-Gun Mojo...
Josey Wales is an outstanding western, with Eastwood at his peak, as an actor (well, maybe not, as some of his later work is more rounded). As a production, it has a checkered past. The author sent the novel to Malpaso an Eastwood's partners jumped on it. Philip Kaufman revised the script and toned down much of the politics in the novel. He was also the director; but quickly found himself at odds with Eastwood, as his attention to detail led to longer shoots. It came to a head when he left shooting to find the right beer can and Eastwood took over and finished the scene, then left before Kaufman returned. Eastwood then demanded that Kaufman go and he was fired and Eastwood took over as director. This led to outrage in the Director's Guild and the film was hit with a hefty fine and the "Eastwood Rule,' was enacted, prohibiting someone responsible for a director's firing from assuming the role for themselves. Further conflict came in a love triangle between Kaufman, Sondra Locke and Eastwood. Eastwood & Locke became a couple for a while (with a messy ending) and Kaufman was fired.
The original source material would cause further problems. The novel, The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales was credited to Forrest Carter, as supposed Cherokee-American writer, who studied at the foot of his Scottish/Cherokee grandfather. In reality, the book was written by Asa Earl Carter, a former KKK leader and speechwriter on segregation for George Wallace. Carter was a rabid segregationist and Civil War revisionist and the book is filled with the same anti-government sentiments, painting the Civil War as being the War of Northern Aggression, rather than the complex economic and social conflict that blew up into outright war. Kaufman tried to temper the political side; but, as he says, in Eastwood's hands, much of it returns, as it fit his ideas of the character, as well as some parallels to his own conservative politics. Carter also wrote a "memoir," The Education of Little Tree, which Oprah picked and recommended, until Carter was outed for his Klan past and she then disowned the choice, as she did with James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, a "memoir" that was also exposed as a fraud.
Outlaw Josey Wales is another modern western that adds a lot of shades of grey to the genre and is filled with great scenes and performances.
Next, after a bit of an absence, Clint returns to the western, riding a pale horse.