A Century of Film
Westerns

The Genre:

Westerns are a uniquely American art form.  It has been said that the three things America has contributed to world culture are baseball, Jazz and Westerns.  The very start of Westerns goes back to the start of narrative story-telling in American film with The Great Train Robbery perhaps the first great narrative American film.

I had written a paragraph about what I see as the basic Western (as opposed to the sub-genres listed below) but then I found this bit on page 195 of The Rough Guide to Westerns that summed it up much better than I had:

Pulp writer Frank Gruber says there are seven essential Western plots:

  1. The Union Pacific story (the railroad/stagecoach comes to town or wagon train adventures)
  2. The ranch story (conflict between ranchers or ranchers vs. others)
  3. The empire story (an epic version of the ranch story)
  4. The revenge story
  5. The cavalry and indians story
  6. The outlaw story
  7. The marshal story.

Those pretty much sums it up.  The fifth one is a specific sub-genre below and the third one really kind of fits into the “Epic” sub-genre.  But otherwise, those are pretty much the films that don’t have a sub-genre.  Ironically, most of the films starring the biggest Western stars (also listed below) aren’t in any of the sub-genres but fit those basic story types.  You can also get much more detailed by going here, though most of what is down below you will only find here which is why I wrote all this. (more…)

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“The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.” That line is nowhere in the book but neither is almost any other line of dialogue in the film.

My Top 10:

  1. Lawrence of Arabia
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird
  3. Jules and Jim
  4. The Manchurian Candidate
  5. Throne of Blood
  6. Lolita
  7. Billy Budd
  8. The Music Man
  9. Sweet Bird of Youth
  10. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Note:  There are 20 films on my list.  Only one of the other ten is reviewed: #12 – The Miracle Worker while the rest are listed down towards the bottom. (more…)

"Your future's all used up." The line doesn't go with this scene, but neither that line nor this scene are in the original novel. All that great work comes from Welles.

“Your future’s all used up.” The line doesn’t go with this scene, but neither that line nor this scene are in the original novel. All that great work comes from Welles.

My Top 10:

  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  3. Separate Tables
  4. The Horse’s Mouth
  5. Vertigo
  6. Therese Raquin
  7. The Last Hurrah
  8. The Bravados
  9. The Horror of Dracula
  10. The Brothers Karamazov

Note:  There are 13 films on my list.  Me and the Colonel is reviewed because its was a WGA nominee and the other two are listed down below. (more…)

The ending of The Killing isn't in the original novel at all.

The ending of The Killing isn’t in the original novel at all.  But damn is it brilliant.

My Top 10:

  1. The Killing
  2. Baby Doll
  3. Diabolique
  4. The Trouble with Harry
  5. The Searchers
  6. Richard III
  7. Anastasia
  8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  9. Written on the Wind
  10. Wuthering Heights

Note:  The list once again exceeds 10; the rest of the list is down at the bottom except my #11 (Lust for Life), which is reviewed as an Oscar nominee. (more…)

PULVER: Captain, this is Ensign Pulver. I just threw your palm trees overboard. Now what's all this crap about no movie tonight? (He throws the door open, banging it against the bulkhead, and is entering the CAPTAIN's cabin) Curtain.

PULVER: Captain, this is Ensign Pulver. I just threw your palm trees overboard. Now what’s all this crap about no movie tonight? (He throws the door open, banging it against the bulkhead, and is entering the CAPTAIN’s cabin) Curtain.

My Top 10:

  1. Mister Roberts
  2. East of Eden
  3. To Catch a Thief
  4. Picnic
  5. Bad Day at Black Rock
  6. The Man with the Golden Arm
  7. The Heart of the Matter
  8. Lady and the Tramp
  9. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
  10. Ugetsu

Note:  This year has one of the longest lists of this era, with several more mentioned down towards the bottom of the post. (more…)

"But the moment my eyes locked onto hers in that dark grove, I knew I couldn't leave there until I had killed him."

“But the moment my eyes locked onto hers in that dark grove, I knew I couldn’t leave there until I had killed him.”

My Top 10:

  1. Rashomon
  2. The Bad and the Beautiful
  3. Miss Julie
  4. The Man in the White Suit
  5. The Quiet Man
  6. A Christmas Carol
  7. The Card
  8. Sudden Fear
  9. Moulin Rouge
  10. Carrie

(more…)

"I have known her six years and seen her twice in a decent dress. Once was at a funeral of a big producer for whom she had no respect and once when she had to receive a Critics award she didn't want." (The Wisdom of Eve)

“I have known her six years and seen her twice in a decent dress. Once was at a funeral of a big producer for whom she had no respect and once when she had to receive a Critics award she didn’t want.” (“The Wisdom of Eve”)

My Top 8:

  1. All About Eve
  2. Night and the City
  3. Kind Hearts and Coronets
  4. The Asphalt Jungle
  5. Harvey
  6. In a Lonely Place
  7. Cinderella
  8. Broken Arrow

Note:  Yes, only a Top 8.  There are 20 films in this year that I rate ***.5 or better and only seven of them are adapted (Broken Arrow is a high ***).  The Third Man is often thought of as adapted, but the script was actually written first. (more…)