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Western

John Ford – 3 Bad Men (1926)

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Synopsis (contains spoilers)
Set in 1877 during the Dakota land rush, 3 Bad Men gracefully blends the epic with the intimate. This seriocomic tale centres around three outlaws who redeem themselves by protecting pilgrims who need thier help to reach what 3 Bad Men explicitly calls the promised land.

The ostensible celebration of the pioneering spirit in 3 Bad Men is darkened not only by the necessity of the outlaws’ deaths but also by the fact that the promised land is morally tainted. The ground reserved for new settlers is former Indian homeland, seized by the white government that conquered the Sioux nation in the aftermath of the Custer massacre. Ford leaves that aspect largely implicit, reserving the role of overt villian for the corrupt sheriff of the town of Custer, Layne Hunter. Read More »

Otto Preminger – River of No Return (1954)

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Plot Synopsis
by Hal Erickson
Director Otto Preminger’s only western, River of No Return is set in Canada during the 19th century Gold Rush. Farmer Matt Calder (Robert Mitchum) is released from prison after serving a sentence for shooting a man in the back to protect a friend. He arrives in a small town to retrieve his young son, Mark (Tommy Rettig), who has befriended a sultry saloon singer, Kay (Marilyn Monroe). Matt is also friendly with Kay, and thanks her profusely for looking after Mark, but distrusts her paramour, Harry Weston (Rory Calhoun)- a gambler with the morals of an alley cat. Matt and Mark return to their rural homestead, but soon glimpse Kay and Harry on a sinking raft, apparently en route to make good on a gold claim; Matt rescues the two of them, but doesn’t count on Harry doing an about face, beating him up, and stealing his horse and gun; Kay stays behind to look after Matt. Meanwhile, the Indians go on the warpath, and the defenseless trio decides to seek refuge by fleeing the farm and sailing down the river on a raft. En route, the son – thanks to Kay’s doing – is unexpectedly disillusioned about the father’s original crime. Moreover, as Matt approaches town, he begins to plot a decisive revenge against Harry. Read More »

Michael Curtiz – The Boy from Oklahoma (1954)

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Plot:
Will Rogers, Jr. tames the Old West with a rope and a grin in this breezy adventure directed by Oscar® winner Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, 1943) and costarring Nancy Olson, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Merv Griffin in a rare screen appearance. Wandering across the New Mexico territory, law student Tom Brewster (Rogers, Jr.) mails his final exam from Bluerock, a corrupt town whose sheriff was recently killed. So when the stagecoach is robbed and the letters stolen, Tom is offered the lawman’s position when it’s learned he won’t carry a gun. Read More »

John Ford – Stagecoach [+Extras] (1939)

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A Ford-Powered ‘Stagecoach’ Opens at Music Hall; Mickey Rooney Plays Huck Finn at the Capitol
In one superbly expansive gesture, which we (and the Music Hall) can call “Stagecoach,” John Ford has swept aside ten years of artifice and talkie compromise and has made a motion picture that sings a song of camera. It moves, and how beautifully it moves, across the plains of Arizona, skirting the sky-reaching mesas of Monument Valley, beneath the piled-up cloud banks which every photographer dreams about, and through all the old-fashioned, but never really outdated, periods of prairie travel in the scalp-raising Seventies, when Geronimo’s Apaches were on the warpath. Here, in a sentence, is a movie of the grand old school, a genuine rib-thumper and a beautiful sight to see. Read More »

Henry Hathaway – From Hell to Texas (1958)

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Synopsis:
The naive cowboy Tod Lohman accidentally kills the son of the powerful land baron Hunter Boyd. Tod runs for his life, pursued by the dead man’s vengeful brothers. Tod shelters on the ranch of Amos Bradley and he falls in love with his daughter Juanita. However, Tod is concerned that he’ll eventually have to leave when his pursuers catch up with him. Read More »

Jim Jarmusch – Dead Man [+Extras] (1995)

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Jonathan Rosenbaum Review:

When we speak of “seriousness” in fiction ultimately we are talking about an attitude toward death. –Thomas Pynchon

Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, a disturbing, mysterious black-and-white western, opens with someone named William Blake (Johnny Depp), a recently orphaned accountant from Cleveland, traveling west on a train with the promise of a job at a metal works in a town called Machine. He keeps dozing off and waking to new sets of fellow passengers, including several who fire their guns out the windows at a herd of buffalo. (Such occurrences were common in the 1870s, encouraged by the government as a means of wiping out Indians by eliminating one of their staples; in 1875, over a million buffalo were slaughtered.) Read More »

Tag Gallagher – The Third Man – Howard Hawks’ The Big Sky (2010)

The Third Man – Howard Hawks’ »The Big Sky«
Tag Gallagher’s 20-minutes fine video-essay from 2010 on Howard Hawks’ »The Big Sky«. It’s a slightly revised version of an essay which originally was made for the 2004-Kinowelt-DVD-edition of the movie. Its focus is character in Hawks’ movies. The essay mainly uses excerpts from »Big Sky«. There’s a voice-over by Gallagher and some additional clips from other films. No talking heads or studio settings, no additional documents inserted. Here’s a transcript (English) and detailed description (German) (based on the 2004-version) to give you an idea of what you may download. Read More »