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 Post subject: Film Forum (NYC)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 12:30 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
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NYC's fantastic Film Forum will be running another "Essential Westerns" series when I'm there in March, and I need some advice on what to see. My choices are going to be:

Inferno-- in 3D! (Baker, 1953)
The Charge at Feather River-- also 3D! (Douglas, 1953)
Rio Grande, Wagon Master, and My Darling Clementine (John Ford)
Bad Day at Black Rock and Gunfight at the OK Corral (J. Sturges)
Duel in the Sun (K. Vidor, 1946)
The Gunfighter (King, 1950)
The Ox-Bow Incident (Wellman, 1943)

I'm planning to see Bad Day at Black Rock and Duel in the Sun for sure, and probably The Ox-Bow Incident as well. Any other recommendations or titles I should avoid like the plague?


Last edited by Martha on Mon Mar 21, 2005 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 1:54 pm 
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I would definitely go for the Sturges double feature of BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK and GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL on one day and the Gregory Peck double bill of DUEL IN THE SUN and THE GUNFIGHTER, but the absolute must see would be the Fonda twin bill of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE and THE OX-BOW INCIDENT. MY DARLING CLEMENTINE is a great film and to see it on the big screen would be a treat.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 2:38 pm 
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My Darling Clementine. Must must must see. I actually prefer this over The Searchers which is often known as Ford's masterpiece. My Darling Clementine has some of the most exquisite black & white photography in the history.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 3:46 pm 
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In my experience, My Darling Clementine is called Ford's masterpiece nearly as often as the Searchers is, and I'm going to agree that it's the most "essential" of the films playing during your visit. (You sure you can't get there earlier, in time for the amazing Fuller and Boetticher duble-bills?) But the other Ford double-bill should be a high priority as well. Though Rio Grande is often called the third part of the "cavalry trilogy" there is no need to see the other two films first, as they are really stand-alone films that deal with similar settings and themes. (Though if you do have the opportunity to see the others first, do so! Fort Apache is my own favorite Ford film) And without a star like Wayne or Fonda, Wagon Master is one of the more neglected Ford titles.

I don't know why Bad Day at Black Rock gets so much love from certain quarters. It always struck me as pretentious, stodgy, and not even a real Western.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 4:55 pm 
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I'd go for the first two - when are you ever going to see these in 3-d again? I'm with Brian on Black Rock....although seeing that train pull into the station on the big screen is something to see.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 5:39 pm 
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Wagonmaster is the most rarely screened of those titles and is not available on DVD, so that would be my priority. It was Lindsay Anderson's favorite Western and he called it the first "avant-garde" western.

And I agree with everybody else- "My Darling Clementine" is probably the best the genre has ever offered.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 6:15 pm 
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Quote:
In my experience, My Darling Clementine is called Ford's masterpiece nearly as often as the Searchers is, and I'm going to agree that it's the most "essential" of the films playing during your visit.

Lucky you. For the most part of my life, whenever I read or heard anything about Ford, it was either The Searchers or Stagecoach .. until Matt (yeah, the very sadly missed administrator of this forum) raved about My Darling Clementine early last year and I watched it in honor of his birthday. Not a Western fan but it's certainly the greatest Western film I've seen..since Rio Bravo.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 7:16 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2004 8:34 pm
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Yeah, My Darling Clementine, if only to see Fonda propped up in a chair on the porch.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 10:31 am 

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[Yeah, My Darling Clementine, if only to see Fonda propped up in a chair on the porch.]

And how about his dancing?

Great film!!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:48 pm 
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BTW, here is the full schedule for Film Forum's "Essential Westerns: 1924-1962".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:25 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:43 pm
Location: Kansas City
The two Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher films, The Tall T and Ride Lonesome with new 35mm prints look interesting.

Maybe they will be a prelude to a DVD. How about a box set of all the Scott-Boetticher films from the late 50's? The others are Seven Men From Now, Decision at Sundown, Buchanon Rides Alone, & Comanche Station.

They are tough stories with great color photography and Scott playing an array of different characters.

Great "B" movies.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:11 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:06 pm
Martha wrote:
Inferno-- in 3D! (Baker, 1953)
The Charge at Feather River-- also 3D! (Douglas, 1953)
Rio Grande, Wagon Master, and My Darling Clementine (John Ford)
Bad Day at Black Rock and Gunfight at the OK Corral (J. Sturges)
Duel in the Sun (K. Vidor, 1946)
The Gunfighter (King, 1950)
The Ox-Bow Incident (Wellman, 1943)

Everything you've mentioned is highly recommended for one reason or another. Inferno really isn't a western, more like a Film Noir in the desert. Nevertheless, if it or Feather River are being projected in proper polarized 3-D it is a MUST SEE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. The opportunity to see real 3-D is so rare that I highly recommend it. Of the others you mentioned I most highly Clementine and Gunfight at the OK Corral. Of the others you didn't mention I must recommend the following films which are VERY GOOD and not on DVD:

Naked Spur
Fort Apache
40 Guns
Ride the High Country


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:46 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: all up in thurr
BWilson wrote:
Of the others you didn't mention I must recomend the following films which are VERY GOOD and not on DVD:

Naked Spur
Fort Apache
40 Guns
Ride the High Country

Yeah, I wish I could schedule my trip entirely around the series, but sadly I have that whole job/life thing causing problems. Reality is sad.

Thanks to everyone for the tips/recommendations so far....


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 4:25 pm 
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The New York Times has made its own recommendations here, but as those recommendations ignore Mann and Boetticher I'd take them with a fistful of sand.

Here's the relevant extract:

Quote:
If you'd prefer to take the history of the western at a more leisurely, contemplative gait, though, you can probably get a gander at most of the scenery without having to wear out every mount in the Film Forum stable. You could manage, I think, with as few as four: Ford's "My Darling Clementine" (1946), John Huston's "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948), Hawks's "Rio Bravo" (1959) and "Ride the High Country." "My Darling Clementine" with Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp, Victor Mature as the conspicuously consumptive Doc Holliday, and Walter Brennan as the head of the vicious Clanton clan, is Ford at his most elegantly pictorial; and Fonda moves through the awe-inspiring landscape with the sort of unassuming grace that makes being American look like a very good idea. "Sierra Madre" - in which a trio of American bums (Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and Tim Holt) find gold and some rather unpleasant truths about human nature in the mountains of Mexico - is the high-water mark of the more "realistic," unheroic, un-Fordian western. It's no less satisfying, though, because order and justice prevail in this harsh environment, too. In this case, the justice is supplied not by a righteous man but by Fate - which, as the picture illustrates, can get the drop on anybody, anywhere, any time.

By the end of the 50's, westerns had become so popular both in the movies and on television that the genre was starting to show the inevitable signs of age and fatigue.Hawks responded with "Rio Bravo," a western that makes no attempt to reimagine the conventions, but instead just pokes them with an electric cattle prod, and somehow brings them back to ridiculously entertaining life. This is a picture whose star (Wayne) is on the wrong side of 50, whose supporting cast includes a Rat Packer and a teen idol (respectively, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson, who actually perform a jailhouse duet), and whose main characters are named Chance, Dude, Stumpy, Colorado and Feathers. The "real" West, like the rest of the real world, is a far piece from wherever "Rio Bravo" is taking place. Peckinpah treats the aging of the west and its lonely heroes altogether more seriously in "Ride the High Country," which is as classically pure as "Rio Bravo" is baroque, and at least as good. The elegiac tone of this movie would become the dominant mood of the genre in the 60's and the 70's, and beyond: a nostalgia for the sort of natural righteousness of Henry Fonda in "My Darling Clementine," and for the beauty that seemed so abundantly available- there for the taking - to John Ford.

These pictures, made by four of the most brilliant filmmakers this country has produced, are to my mind the most essential of the Essential Westerns. But in a way the vitality of the genre at its peak can be seen most clearly in movies like Henry King's "Gunfighter" (1950), John Sturges's "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955), and Delmer Daves's "3:10 to Yuma" (1957); westerns made not by great artists but by solid craftsmen, which achieve a kind of grandeur simply by virtue of their intelligent belief in the genre itself. "3:10 to Yuma" is a riff - as so many 50's westerns were - on the you-can't-count-on-anybody-but-yourself theme of "High Noon." The picture's chief distinction is its unusual villain (Glenn Ford), a soft-spoken seducer of women (literally) and men (metaphorically). Ford's characteristic under- to non-acting produces spectacularly ambiguous effects; it's the source of the movie's terrific suspense. "Bad Day at Black Rock," a modern-day western, is a one-man-against-everybody story, too: in this case, the one man (Spencer Tracy) has only one arm, and the everybody he's up against includes several of the most proficient bad-guy actors of the era - Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin. It's a trim, sweaty, stirring frontier thriller. There's no doubt westerns become a tad more self-conscious in the 50's: they began insisting on their own classicism - often by observing, as "High Noon," "3:10 to Yuma" and "Bad Day at Black Rock" all do, the Aristotelian unities of time and place. "The Gunfighter" does that better - less obtrusively, more organically - than any other western of the period, charting the last few hours of Johnny Ringo (Gregory Peck), whose reputation as a fast gun follows him wherever he goes, like the hound of heaven. Ringo's time really is running out; King's lucid direction makes the viewer feel how precious that time is, and how implacably it advances toward its showdown with the movie's hero. The western may be dead, but at its best it made every second count, and it didn't give up the ghost without a fight. As this series shows, it died with its boots on.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 9:13 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
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So, on the strength of a rather sudden trip to NYC I saw The Tall T and 3:10 to Yuma today. I have to say that, despite the direction of Boetticher, the only thing that kept The Tall T from totally sucking was that it was weird. But not consistently, darkly weird-- just periodically, unintentually odd. I thought the writing was sort of bad, acting often sort of bad, and direction totally uninspired. A plus, though, was Henry Silva as a Latin gunman named "Chink" who, if I'm not terribly mistaken, was gay gay gay. So by not liking a Boetticher film, I once again prove I'm a clod. 3:10 to Yuma, however, was absolutely amazing. Really creatively photographed, insanely great tension, and starring a shockingly great Glenn Ford (who can act! Like, really well! Who knew?).

Just so you all know. Is anyone else seeing any of these?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 9:43 pm 
Martha wrote:
...the only thing that kept The Tall T from totally sucking...

Just curious and all due respect to your moderator status, but are you trying to start a fight or trying not to start a fight? I thought TTT was one of the few truly untouchable westerns, and I don't mean untouchable in terms of the Indian caste system.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 9:54 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: all up in thurr
cbernard wrote:
Martha wrote:
...the only thing that kept The Tall T from totally sucking...

Just curious and all due respect to your moderator status, but are you trying to start a fight or trying not to start a fight? I thought TTT was one of the few truly untouchable westerns, and I don't mean untouchable in terms of the Indian caste system.

I'm certainly not trying to start a fight, but by the same token, my being a moderator does not automatically endow me with flawless movie taste. (I do, after all, love Hudson Hawk.) With regard to TTT, I just didn't like it. I thought the set-up was hysterically contrived, the characters were really uneven (I have no idea if sudden randomness was due to writing or acting, or both), and the action just wasn't that interesting. I kept almost liking Randolph Scott, but something about him was just a little bit off the whole time. Etc.

Is it really that highly-regard? I've found some glowing stuff on-line, but 4 or so reviews isn't exactly a tidal wave of opinion...


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:59 pm 
Well Boetticher is one of the key filmmakers of any genre, era, or nation, and TTT is a keystone of his work. An auteurist would respond by saying that his work is important for his use of screen/physical space, rather than his decision to give a dime-novel plot the time of day; you mention four reviews that have been uploaded to the internet (I presume?), but Robin Wood suggests in the full page (plus) devoted to BB in "Cinema: A Critical Dictionary," one can be captivated by Howard Hawks' Red Line 7000 without feeling the least interest in auto racing." In any case, silly films can look different if you want them to - not that I'd ever had a clue that The Tall T was silly or sucky or in any way a bad movie.

My most pleasurable moment in the above film was derived from dialogue having to do with a well being "chock-a-block" full of dead bodies, or Richard Boone's disarming laughter when Randolph Scott whacks his head against a too-short door jamb. Violence in Boetticher's westerns shares the quality of violence in Andre De Toth's in that it lacks the typical Hollywood signposts of righteous condemnation, but Boetticher has a touch of pleasurable sadism whereas De Toth is frequently, strictly concerned with physical forces and geometric shapes. Anyway that's something one has to deal with in Boetticher's case, since the violence is as guilty as it is pleasurable, and there's plenty of both to go around.

Anyway Wood also says Boetticher is irresolvable as an auteurist test case, and I like the plot as much as you dislike it. But try Ride Lonesome, one week from Thursday. If it doesn't change your mind, there's a good chance that nothing will.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 8:44 am 

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Thanks for your thoughts, cbernard. At first I actually thought that maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to sit and watch some westerns, but I was immediately deeply engaged with 3:10 to Yuma, so I think that TTT just didn't work for me. Sadly, I won't be here for Lonesome Ride (leaving Friday, coming back next Friday), but I'll definitely keep an eye out for it. (Totally unrelated to the film, I could not get over how much Randolph Scott looks like Robert Forster-- they even carry themselves with a similar dignity. It's weird.)

Anyone seen either Garden of Evil or The Violent Men (also called The Bandits, apparently)? This review has me seriously considering seeing the former....


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 11:38 am 
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Martha wrote:
Just so you all know. Is anyone else seeing any of these?

I saw 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T last night as well. (I've seen all eight westerns so far, and I'll be there tonight for The Naked Spur and Winchester '73.) I thought both were fantastic. Particularly The Tall T, which I thought was just completely stunning. The Technicolor and the acting styles worked together to create this inexplicable strangeness. The self-conscious corniess of the beginning left me wholly unprepared for the brutality of the ending. There was a wholesomeness to the first half-hour or so that was very reminiscent (especially with that gorgeous Technicolor) of live-action Disney films of the time. Of course bandits don't bury people in wells in Disney films. But 3:10 to Yuma . . . I was riveted by this one as well, although it took me a while to be able to focus on the film, as behind me I was flanked by a mouthsmacking nosebreather and a stentorian popcorn cruncher. It took a while to tune them out.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 8:50 pm 
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Cbernard, that's an excellent post. Thanks for your thoughts on Boetticher. He's a director that has intrigued me (from reading critical essays) long before I had seen my first of his films (the entertaining and dark The Killer is Loose (1956)), and I thought Comanche Station (1960) was astonishing.

Martha, I highly recommend the new release of Horizons West by Jim Kitses. The first edition was very influential in teaching me about the Western genre, and the new update features chapters on Leone and Eastwood. The chapter on Boetticher is great, and goes into detail on many of the points Cbernard brought up. Here's a review of the book.

-Rick


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 8:56 pm 

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Godot wrote:
Martha, I highly recommend the new release of Horizons West by Jim Kitses. The first edition was very influential in teaching me about the Western genre, and the new update features chapters on Leone and Eastwood. The chapter on Boetticher is great, and goes into detail on many of the points Cbernard brought up. Here's a review of the book.

Thanks, Rick-- why does Kitses' name sound so familiar to me? Did he write that great essay comparing gangsters and "westerners"? I feel like I've read essays by him before, but never a whole book....

ETA: I found it-- he's an editor of The Western Reader, a great collection I read a couple of years ago. When I get home I'll get it out and see if any of the pieces touch on Boetticher.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:02 pm 
Cri me a Tearion
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Martha wrote:
...why does Kitses' name sound so familiar to me?

Another reason may be that he wrote one of the best of the BFI monographs, on Gun Crazy.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 1:08 am 
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I've made a concerted effort to watch the Mann films with James Stewart (and also Man of the West, which features Gary Cooper in a role that Stewart would've been much, much better in) over the last year and they've taken up residence alongside Hawks' Rio Bravo Trilogy as real favorites of mine in the genre.

They've made Mann a Director whose work I look for more now out of more than mild interest and made Stewart into someone who I think I really appreciate more, and see much more depth and complexity to, than I did even a couple of years ago.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:51 pm 

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Polybius wrote:
Hawks' Rio Bravo Trilogy

Huh? I've seen Rio Bravo; what are the other two?


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