Posts Tagged ‘western

08
Dec
16

#37. Rio Bravo (1959)

riobravoposter

Starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Ward Bond, and Angie Dickinson

Directed by Howard Hawks

The Short, Short Version:

John Wayne is John T. Chance, sheriff of an old West town who, with the help of his deputy and drunken friend “Dude” (Dean Martin) locks in jail local bad guy Pat Wheeler (Bond). Unfortunately Wheeler is part of the Burdette gang which all but runs the town. While they plot Pat’s escape it’s up to Chance and the Dude along with an older, crippled deputy named Stumpy (Walter Brennan) and a young gunslinger named Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson) to “hold the fort” at the jail until Federal Marshals can arrive.

Why This Made the 40:

In what feels like an eon ago I had a film class called Film as Literary Art which was taught by a British guy named Tony Hawk. I can still remember how distinct his voice was. That aside, our syllabus covered the films of Howard Hawks and this made the class (as well as Wayne’s, “Hitari!”). While I only became a moderate fan of Hawks’ work I did come away with movies I greatly appreciated such as “Rio Bravo.”

I think one of the reasons I like, “Rio Bravo,” so much is that I’m a sucker for tales of redemption. I was talking with a friend of mine recently whom I let borrow films and I didn’t realize that was an underlying theme – redemption. The characters have to all redeem themselves in some way – Dude goes from being an alcoholic to sober to clean himself out and up. Colorado Ryan and Stumpy want to prove their worth. John Chance gets another chance at love. Redemption.

Also, Hawks treated “Rio Bravo” not as a Western movie but a hybrid between the morally-conscious prior films such as “High Noon,” and TV Westerns such as “Maverick,” “Lawman,” etc. It’s entertainment with action, adventure, romance, suspense, and comedy – one of those rare blended-films of the genre which makes this movie actually fun to watch. It’s a half-popcorn, half-morality tale cinematic adventure.

And it’s got Dino (Martin). What’s not great about this movie?

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07
May
09

Movies on DVD: Appaloosa

appaloosa

Not the Western I was hoping for.

 

Stars Ed Harris, Viggo Mortenson, Renee Zellweger, Jeremy Irons, and Lance Henriksen. Directed by Ed Harris

 

When Marshall Jack Bell (Robert Jauregui) is killed by outlaw Randall Bragg (Irons), the three people who run the town of Appaloosa call in gun-for-hire Virgil Cole (Harris) and his hetero-lifemate Everett Hitch (Mortenson) to stop the outlaw from destroying it. Virgil and Everett are immediately deputized and go to work. Allison French, a new woman in town, complicates matters by falling for any guy within three feet of her, especially Virgil. Virgil makes it his mission to put Bragg away or see him hanging, while Everett tries to help Virgil keep his cool as well as watching out for him in regards to new love Allison.

 

I haven’t watched a Western this boring since “Open Range.” At least it had a shootout.

 

That’s not to say that the movie is bad; it’s just that it’s far from great and damn close to being forgotten. I’ll give Ed Harris his ability to act and pairing with Mortenson works well. The real problem here is the story (which Harris co-wrote) and direction (as noted above, he directed it too). Maybe Harris was aiming for some lamentation of the West as he would imagine it. The problem as much as he would like to be he’s not Clint Eastwood.

 

In all honesty it’s not easy to go from acting to directing. Several have tried with mixed results. Robert DeNiro did “The Good Shepherd,” which could have been better. Kevin Costner did “Dances With Wolves,” which was good but was followed with “Waterworld,” “The Postman,” and “Open Range,” which are mediocre at best. Kevin Spacey directed “Beyond the Sea” which I enjoyed. Anthony Hopkins did “Slipstream” which I haven’t seen nor heard anyone talk about.

 

And therein lies the question: who is the movie being made for? In this case I believe that Harris wanted to make a Western (as so many actors do) and got the funding and found that other actors (Mortenson, Zellweger, Irons) wanted to do one as well. While it may sound fun as a pet project and may have looked good on paper, the final product was less than desired. The sets looked okay and there were some story elements there but the rest seemed stale. I was literally waiting for the ghost of John Wayne to appear onscreen at any moment and start slapping the shit out of everyone.

 

Long, tedious, stale, and boring,

 

My grade: C

02
Sep
08

In Passing… Jerry Reed (1937-2008)

Singer, actor, and songwriter Jerry Reed passed away yesterday from complications with emphysema. He was 71 years of age. Reed was known for such hits as “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” and “Eastbound and Down,” the theme to “Smokey and the Bandit” in which Reed played sidekick to Burt Reynolds. He spent time acting on TV shows and other movies, and even directed a film called, “What Comes Around.” He will be missed.

 

For more information, check out the following link:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0715274/

 

Thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.