Arthur Penn – The Missouri Breaks (1976)

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Synopsis from
A wonderfully quirky Western, brilliantly scripted by Thomas McGuane, which strips all the cute whimsy away from the Butch Cassidy theme (outlaws on the run from a relentless lawman), replacing it with a kind of pixillated terror. Playing the ‘regulator’ as a camp Buffalo Bill with an Irish accent, Brando makes his entrance playing peekaboo from behind his horse, and at one point even stalks his prey in a dress and poke bonnet. But he is also a legalised killer, expert with a rifle but preferring (as the flail of God) to use a harpoon shaped like a crucifix. And as his gloating sadism shades into hints of bizarre perversion when he dedicates a love song and a kiss to his horse, the tone gradually darkens to a kind of horror. It’s one of the few truly major Westerns of the ’70s, with a very clear vision of the historical role played by fear and violence in the taming of the wilderness. Continue reading

John Ford – The Iron Horse [US Version] (1924)

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allmovie wrote:
David Brandon (James Gordon) is a surveyor in the Old West who dreams that one day the entire North American continent will be linked by railroads. However, to make this dream a reality, a clear trail must be found through the Rocky Mountains. With his boy Davy (Winston Miller), David sets out to find such a path, but he’s ambushed by a tribe of Indians led by a white savage, Peter Jesson (Cyril Chadwick); while the boy manages to escape, David is killed. Years later, the adult Davy Brandon (George O’Brien) still believes in his father’s dream of a transcontinental railroad, and legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln has made it an official mandate. Davy is hired on as a railroad surveyor by Thomas Marsh (Will R. Walling), the father of his childhood sweetheart Miriam (Madge Bellamy). While Davy hopes to win Miriam’s heart as he helps to find the trail that led to his father’s death years ago, he’s disappointed to discover that Miriam is already married — and shocked to discover her husband is Peter Jesson, now working with the railroad as a civil engineer. As the Union Pacific crew presses on to their historic meeting at Promitory Point, Davy must find a way to earn Miriam’s love and uncover Peter’s murderous past. Continue reading

Andy Warhol – Lonesome Cowboys (1968)


An outrageously funny spoof on the Western film, Lonesome Cowboys is a synthesis of Warhol’s sorties into the New York underworld, but much more humorous and with closer adherence to a nonsensical plot. The film was photographed in Arizona, in a ghost town where (somehow) two of Warhol’s superstars are discovered. The incongruous montebanks happen to be Viva, as chic and sarcastic as she was in Bike Boy and resembling a displaced model for Hound and Horn, and Taylor Mead. Mr. Mead is the zany of our time, and when five mysterious cowhands saunter into town, the hilarity commences. The cowboys are an odd assortment, a bit androgynous and city-wise, and they interact with the two in varying attitudes of lust and indifference in set-pieces of inspired film comedy. Often, Lonesome Cowboys reaches the ultimate in surrealist imagery: cowboy-deputy Mead performing the Lupe Velez Twist, his own choreographic distortion; or one of the cowboys performing ballet exercises at the hitching post. Viva’s langorous seduction of the most innocent-looking among the cowboys is actually a satirical comment on sexual artifice. This erotic, sagebrush comedy has its cruel edge, and one feels that Andy Warhol attempts to make some statement about the nature of brotherly love and the impossibility of virtue rewarded in these times of fallen idols. Select just about any Warhol film from the mid-sixties and you’ll find a scandal tucked away. Lonesome Cowboys’s most notable run-in with the law was in Atlanta where it was seized after replacing Gone with the Wind in a mall theater. Continue reading

Sam Peckinpah – Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)


It’s 1881 in New Mexico, and the times they are a’changing. Pat Garrett, erstwhile travelling companion of the outlaw Billy the Kid has become a sheriff, tasked by cattle interests with ridding the territory of Billy. After Billy escapes, Pat assembles a posse and chases him through the territory, culminating in a final confrontation at Fort Sumner, but is unaware of the full scope of the cattle interests’ plans for the New West. -imdb Continue reading

Szabolcs Hajdu – Délibáb AKA Mirage (2014)


Synopsis: “Mirage tells the story of an African football player in a small Hungarian town, who commits a crime and has to flee. He finds refuge on a farm deep in the Hungarian flatland. Soon he realizes that the farm is a modern slave camp where he is forced to fight for his freedom and ultimately his life.”

The Hungarian plains might as well be Sergio Leone’s American West in Szabolcs Hajdu’s Mirage, an atmospheric fable whose setting feels like no place, any time. Isaach De Bankolé, as the loner who shows up here for reasons we never learn and contends with a gang of slave-driving farmers, carries a film that is philosophically related to but more satisfying than Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control. The picture should draw well at fests, but is willfully obscure enough that, sans an auteur whose name is known in the States, it may be a hard sell here. – John Defore, Variety Continue reading

John Ford – The Searchers [+Extras] (1956)


Ethan Edwards, returned from the Civil War to the Texas ranch of his brother, hopes to find a home with his family and to be near the woman he obviously but secretly loves. But a Comanche raid destroys these plans, and Ethan sets out, along with his 1/8 Indian nephew Martin, on a years-long journey to find the niece kidnapped by the Indians under Chief Scar. But as the quest goes on, Martin begins to realize that his uncle’s hatred for the Indians is beginning to spill over onto his now-assimilated niece. Martin becomes uncertain whether Ethan plans to rescue Debbie… or kill her. Continue reading