Western

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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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 »

Luther Reed – Rio Rita (1929)


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Plot: Capt. James Stewart pursues the bandit “The Kinkajou” over the Mexican border and falls in love with Rita. He suspects, that her brother is the bandit. Written by Stephan Eichenberg Read More »

Richard Brooks – Bite the Bullet (1975)

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Description
A great mid-1970s cast holds fort in this Western tale of a test of endurance in a 1900s wasteland. A railroad company sponsors a unique competition: a grueling Denver-to-Kansas City horse race that tests the motivation and determination of a motley collection of competitors. The rivals come to respect each other as they endure one beautifully photographed hardship after another. The film features riveting performances by Gene Hackman, James Coburn, and Candice Bergen, among others. Read More »

John Ford – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance [+Extras] (1962)


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synopsis
Like Pontius Pilate, director John Ford asks “What is truth?” in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance–but unlike Pilate, Ford waits for an answer. The film opens in 1910, with distinguished and influential U.S. senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) and his wife Hallie (Vera Miles) returning to the dusty little frontier town where they met and married twenty-five years earlier. They have come back to attend the funeral of impoverished “nobody” Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). When a reporter asks why, Stoddard relates a film-long flashback. He recalls how, as a greenhorn lawyer, he had run afoul of notorious gunman Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), who worked for a powerful cartel which had the territory in its clutches. Time and again, “pilgrim” Stoddard had his hide saved by the much-feared but essentially decent Doniphon. Read More »

John Hillcoat – The Proposition (2005)


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Nick Cave’s essay in the true and tried Western format, shows how a harsh land (Colonial Australia) brutalizes the men who try and conquer it. Yet this tale has passages of lyricism that counterpoint the sudden moments of savagery. It is a very gritty often grisly picture of 19th Century Australia, warts and all, right down to swarms of blowflies. Perhaps the sadistic violence gets a bit over the top especially towards the end, but thanks to a fine cast, crisp direction, and the scorched cinematography it generally works. A standout performance in a minor role by John Hurt rather steals the show, while Ray Winstone and Emily Watson are particularly sensitive together. One suspects the harsh conditions are somewhat overstated for dramatic purposes, though the story is supposedly based on fact. Tombstone Territory never looked as unpleasant as this. It is certainly one of the most interesting period dramas made in Australia. (imdb) Read More »

Budd Boetticher – Wings of the Hawk (1953)

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Synopsis
Gringo miner Gallager is caught up in the Mexican revolution of 1910-11 when corrupt administrator Ruiz appropriates his mine. Gallager saves the life of guerilla leader Raquel, then finds there’s a price on his head; he becomes romantically involved with her in the course of a series of rescues and ambushes, leading up to Orozco’s march on Ciudad Juarez. Read More »