Western

Lesley Selander – Arrow in the Dust (1954)


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Synopsis
Spoiler –

After deserting his command, cavalry trooper Bart Laish comes upon the remnants of a wagon train bound for Oregon and discovers that its inhabitants have been massacred by Indians. The only survivor is Major Andy Pepperis, a distant cousin of Laish’s who served with him at West Point. With his dying breath, Pepperis appeals to Laish’s sense of honor and decency and begs him to find the main train up ahead and lead it to safety at Fort Laramie. Having fled the rigors of army life, Laish remains ambivalent to Pepperis’ pleas until he reaches Fort Taylor and finds the men annihilated, the victims of another Indian raid. Read More »

Sam Wood – Ambush (1950)

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Plot:
The U.S. Cavalry knows that traveling the unmapped Arizona Territory canyons and trails in search of a woman kidnapped by Apaches could mean riding into a trap. So they ask the help of Ward Kinman, a prospector and scout who knows both the terrain and the ways of the warring tribesmen. Nearly a decade after Billy the Kid, Robert Taylor saddled up a second time and portrayed Kinman in Ambush, the film that began his steady string of work in a genre that suited him like a Colt .45 tucked easy into hip leather. Marguerite Roberts (True Grit) offers a script filled with blazing action and romantic subplots. Among the co-stars: Chief Thundercloud (Tonto in The Lone Ranger serials of 1938 and 1939). From Warner Brothers! Read More »

John Ford – 7 Women (1966)

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Plot
John Ford’s final film is set in China in 1935, where a group of American women, led by Agatha Andrews (Margaret Leighton), work as missionaries. One of the women, Florrie (Betty Field), is pregnant and accompanied by her husband, Charles (Eddie Albert), while the others are single and on their own. The mission has become crowded after a cholera epidemic forced several outsiders to flee a nearby British mission and seek shelter with the American group, while a Mongol warrior, Tunga Khan (Mike Mazurki), has assembled troops who are sacking the area. When a female doctor, Dr. D.L. Cartwright (Anne Bancroft), enters the picture, she attempts to bring humor and civility to the group, but her tough yet compassionate nature clashes with Agatha’s by-the-book approach, and when Cartwright is willing to put her own safety at risk to gain the attentions of Tunga Khan and slow his onslaught, the group is strongly divided — most of the women admire the doctor’s bravery, but Agatha (who seems to have a non-professional interest in Cartwright herself) considers her foolish and reckless. Seven Women was originally planned to star Patricia Neal as Dr. Cartwright, but when she suffered a stroke during filming that put her acting career on hold for several years, Anne Bancroft was recast in the role. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide Read More »

Tinto Brass – Yankee (1966)

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Review from IMDB:

Early in his career, Tinto Brass tried his hands at a variety of genres. In the wake of A Fistful of Dollars the Western was hot in Italy and so even TB had a go at it. The resulting film is definitely watchable, and with interesting cinematography and decent acting it is much better than many of the other low budget atrocities Cinecitta would throw at the unsuspecting cinema-going public in the following years.

Amongst the elements one could criticise is the wiseness of the casting choices. Both Philippe Leroy and Adolfo Celi are fine actors, but they do not blend very well into this setting. Leroy is not enigmatic enough for his role (he also looks uncomfortable in his gear) and Celi is better at playing non-physical villains.

The film has little to add to the genre. The title hero, Yankee, is just a slight variant of the man with no name and throughout I watched this with a sense of deja vu. Brass certainly had a good look at the work of Leone and Corbucci. In turn, Sergio Corbucci seems to have watched this – the final scene appears to be the inspiration for Corbucci’s I Crudeli. Read More »

Sam Peckinpah – The Wild Bunch [+Extras] (1969)

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Synopsis
Outlaws on the Mexican-U.S. frontier face the march of progress, the Mexican army and a gang of bounty hunters led by a former member while they plan a robbery of a U.S. army train. No one is innocent in this gritty tale of of desperation against changing times. Pump shotguns, machine guns and automobiles mix with horses and winchesters in this ultraviolent western. Read More »

Elia Kazan – The Sea of Grass (1947)

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This western begins with St. Louis resident Lutie Cameron (Katharine Hepburn) marrying New Mexico cattleman Col. James B. ‘Jim’ Brewton (Spencer Tracy) after a short courtship. When she arrives in “Salt Fork, NM” she finds that her new husband is considered by the locals to be a tyrant who uses force to keep homesteaders off the government owned land he uses for grazing his cattle–the so-called Sea of Grass. Lutie, has difficulty reconciling her husband’s beliefs and passions with her own. Written by kzmckeown Read More »

Fred Niblo – Way Out West [Pre-Code] (1930)

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Plot/Synopsis: from ROVI
A pleasant enough western parody starring one of the victims of sound, William Haines, Way Out West is the story of a carnival huckster forced to work on a western ranch in order to repay a couple of cowboys he once fleeced. There’s a sandstorm, a fist-fight with the ubiquitous crooked foreman (Charles Middleton), a pretty female ranch owner (Leila Hyams), and sundry other western clichés thrown in to prove the star’s manly qualities.The light-weight Haines played many such roles, but reshuffling due to sound (not to mention a quarrel with MGM studio head, Louis B. Mayer), ended his career. Haines later became a fashionable interior decorator. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi Read More »