Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Westerns...a reflection of their time

The Western is a movie genre with a set time period, say the 1800's and slightly into the 1900's, when people looked like this...

Or this...

But Western movies more reflect the time they are made like Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston in Big Country (1958).

Tall, quiet, well groomed, with clean faces and slicked back hair, wide tailored pants and dude ranch, yoked, snapped cowboy shirts, until sex and the 60's came along and taste changed to...

Big Valley (1965), the popular TV show staring Barbara Stanwyck , Lee Majors and a very young Linda Evens, pin up girl for a 60's blonde bombshell...
Of course the male heart throbs of the 60's - had their turn in the Western as well, it became common fair for the aging John Wayne to have a hunkish somewhat of a rebel side kick- complete with the slicked back hair, chip on his shoulder and of course the tight tight pants, my it must of been hard to get on a horse.

in fact you could catch Jim West's pants ripping, in TV's Wild Wild West, if you looked real close in the fight scenes. Please don't judge me, I was young.
Then on came the 70's and who would be the consummate Western persona of that decade other then Clint Eastwood and such movies as High Plains Drifter (1973).

I tried to watch that last night, it is truly a Western on acid. Not making a judgment on Eastwood, who directed as well, it just has the flavor of the era...very weird. In fact according to IMDB, Eastwood wrote John Wayne after the movie's release wanting to work with him and was surprised by the Dukes very condemming  response- here on imdb.com
I really don't like the Westerns of the 70's- Cowboys too scruffy, women too slutty, too long of shots setting the mood, not enough dialogue, music is just weird.
I take that back, one of my favorites is the Frisco Kid (1979)

I liked Gene Wilder with all his crazy, cury hair and antics in the Frisco Kid (1979) but then he is a Rabi from Poland, Harrison Ford is the cowboy, actually outlaw, and the representative late 70's hunk, as I remember being twelve at the time. Think Ford's haircut is the same that it was in Star Wars, filmed two years sooner, hummm?

Can't think of a Western from the 80's?

Of course Eastwood came back to the Western in Unforgiven (1992) , again directing and his Western World is a little bit more accurate I think. No slicked hair, no over the top scruffy/slutty-ness.

And of course there is from my era, the best Westerns...

Legends of the Fall (1994),

Dances with Wolves(1990) - do not like that movie poster, I don't think it reflects the flavor of the movie.

Last of the Mohicans (1992), ok pre 1800's story.

And believe it or not, Kevin Costner's not so well received The Postman (1997) is really a Western...of the times.

I am waiting to see what flavor the Western will take on in the new milenium. Wasn't too impressed with 310 to Yuma (2007)...

It looked good, had Russell Crowe in it for peet sakes, but it broke the first rule of story writing, once you create your universe you are bound and dicated by the contraints of that univers. Read my disappointment in a previous post on my other blog Moonflower Musing.

Even though they are not popular at the moment and fading farther and farther in to some sort of  "mythology" the Western will always be one of my favorit genres. Here is hoping there are people in Hollywood who still love them and want to make them to be a reflection of the times they are made.

(Wikipedia source of most  movie poster, most movies available at Netflix and more info at imdb.com)

1 comment:

  1. I saw "The Big Country " movie. The film is about land and its influence and power over people... A story that can occur everyday in every country, zone and family... The love, the hatred, the war for land, for power, for water rights.