Western

Budd Boetticher – Seven Men from Now [+Extra] (1956)

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Seven Men from Now is a 1956 Western film directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott, Gail Russell, and Lee Marvin. The film was written by Burt Kennedy and produced by John Wayne’s Batjac Productions.

Praised by the pioneering French critic Andre Bazin as “one of the most intelligent westerns I know but also the least intellectual,” this 1956 feature by the underrated Budd Boetticher stresses action over dialogue while constructing a subtle moral allegory. Randolph Scott plays an ex-sheriff trailing the seven men who murdered his wife in a robbery; along the way he picks up a bumbling couple en route to California and an outlaw (Lee Marvin, whose appealing swagger contrasts with Scott’s laconic certitude). Boetticher uses the landscape not as a metaphor for wildness but as a starkly neutral ground on which his characters play out their shifting positions, which suggests that each individual is responsible for his or her own choices. The taut opening is stunning: the protagonist strides into a tightly framed patch of ground from behind the camera, initiating his attempts to both traverse and dominate space, and the ensuing gunfire offscreen accompanies images of the horses he’ll take from the men he’s killing, a beautiful elision that emphasizes destiny over violence. This recently restored 35-millimeter print has mostly excellent color. 78 min. By Fred Camper Read More »

George Sherman – The Last of the Fast Guns (1958)

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SYNOPSIS:
A rich, dying Easterner hires gunfighterBrad Ellison to find his brother and heir in Mexico.
En route, it becomes clear to Ellison that his is a dying profession. At a remote rancho, Ellison enlists ranch foreman Miles Lang to help him search the hills where the missing man is rumored to have lived. They find nothing …except that someone wants to kill them
and Ellison becomes wrapped in a maze of double crosses.
Read More »

Richard L. Bare – Return of the Frontiersman (1950)


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Plot:
The law is the law. No exceptions. So Sheriff Sam Barrett saddles up a deputized posse and rides in pursuit of an accused outlaw: his son Logan. Meanwhile, Logan is on the run, living by his wits and attempting to clear his name of murder. Justice rides hard in Return of the Frontiersman, a shoot-’em-up filled with horseback chases, raging gun battles and men who know how to take – and deliver – a swift sock to the jaw. Gordon MacRae plays Logan, heading a cast that includes Rory Calhoun and Julie London. MacRae adds a couple tunes for good measure. And when he offers London a buggy ride at picture’s end, it’s hard not to recall the “surrey with a fringe on top” that awaited MacRae in the smash musical Oklahoma! From Warner Brothers! Read More »

Wisit Sasanatieng – Fah talai jone aka Tears of the Black Tiger (2000)

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This is the uncut 110 minute version.
Quote:
Imagine John Ford (The Searchers), Jean-Luc Godard (Weekend), and John Waters (Pink Flamingos) collaborating on an insane 1950s melodrama, drenched in succulent Technicolor–rose-petal reds, turquoise blues, saffron yellows, and Pepto-Bismol pinks–and you’re just barely encompassing the cinematic delirium of Tears of the Black Tiger. This fever dream of a movie features rival gunslingers, a poor farmboy and the daughter of a wealthy landowner, a murdered father, bloody revenge, a forced marriage, and a half-dozen other cliches stitched into a preposterous yet weirdly engaging story. But the story isn’t the point; director Wisit Sasanatieng takes every opportunity to dive into a different style or device, ranging from delicate shots of a lovely girl in a mint-green gazebo to spewing gore and full-on battle with machine guns and grenade-launchers. The sets are often blatantly theatrical, the lighting exaggerated, and the acting ranges from wooden to maniacal. In short, this Thai movie is like nothing you’ve ever seen, born of a deep moviemania and unbridled chutzpah, and you owe it to yourself to watch it. Read More »

Burt Kennedy – Dirty Dingus Magee (1970)


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Plot:
Dingus Magee wants to flag a ride. “Hold up!” he yells to a rolling stagecoach. “It’s a holdup!” shouts the coach driver’s panicked sidekick, who tosses a jewel-packed strongbox over the side. Magee, who began his criminal escapades with a $10 price on his head, is suddenly wanted for much, much more. The ways of the West are outrageously unsaddled in this rowdy comedy deftly directed by Burt Kennedy (Support Your Local Sheriff!, The Rounders). Frank Sinatra – always on the grift and always in red-flannel longjohns when it’s time for boudoir activity – plays ring-a-ding Dingus. George Kennedy is the addled sheriff on his trail. With double entendres, goofy slapstick and unbridled glee in its rapid-fire carbine, Dirty Dingus Magee has laugh ammo to spare. From Warner Brothers! Read More »

Sam Peckinpah – Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1988 Turner Library version) (1973)


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An aging Pat Garrett is hired as a lawman on behalf of a group of wealthy New Mexico cattle barons–his sole purpose being to bring down his old friend Billy the Kid. (IMDB) Read More »

Sam Peckinpah – Ride the High Country (1962)

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Amazon.com essential video
Ride the High Country is the one Sam Peckinpah movie about which there has never been controversy–save at MGM in 1962, when a new studio regime opted to dump this beautiful, heartbreakingly elegiac Western into the bottom half of a double-bill. Westerns rarely even got reviewed back then, so it’s wellnigh miraculous that critics discovered the movie and raved about it. Newsweek called it the best American picture of the year.
Veteran cowboy stars Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea portray aging gunslingers in the twilight of the Old West. McCrea’s character, Steve Judd, signs on to transport a shipment of gold from a remote mining camp. Gil Westrum (Scott), an old crony now trick-shooting in a carnival, agrees to help but really aims to seduce Judd into stealing the treasure. The slow-building tension between longtime friends–one still true to the code he’s lived by, the other having drifted away from it–anticipates the tortuous personal dilemmas played out to the death by Peckinpah’s Wild Bunch, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and Benny and Elita in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Read More »