Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why don't I like old westerns?

I've never been much of a fan of Westerns. I grew to appreciate The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and The Magnificent Seven, but I never really voluntarily watch the spaghetti westerns. I was bored by what little I watched of Lonesome Dove and every time The Beefcake tries to make me watch an old John Wayne western I fall asleep. Don't tell him I said that though.

The Quick and the Dead wasn't bad, which is why for a while I thought maybe it was the fact that there is no real place for a woman in most westerns.

But no, I recently saw The Good, The Bad and The Weird and fucking loved it, and there's pretty much no women in that movie at all. I also enjoyed the remake of 3:10 to Yuma very much.

I'm looking forward to True Grit in a big way, and good lord I am excited about Cowboys and Aliens. And because I'm sane I love Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

So why don't I like the old Westerns? It's not that they're old, because I adore Kurosawa films. Maybe they're a little slow? Maybe they seem uncomfortably sandy? I don't know. It's a mystery.


  1. Anonymous9:11 AM

    The Good, The Bad and The Weird , I got to watch that.

    Most of the Clint Eastwood westerns are okay. They don't cut it anymore. Most old werterns movies are so-so. They don't hold time. Very forgetable and sickening.

    Reason: Because now adays we are all -
    a) stressed,
    b) ADD,
    c) hyper-stylized mood swings,
    d) depressed randomly,
    e) lonely, beause of expectations, f) ambitious, can't commit, stuck on the Hollywood chase, want to marry beautiful sexy women or men
    g)not making enough money at work
    h) can't pay off VISA bill
    i) addicted to youtube and shock clips and porn and in general reading and watching the internet when we should be writing and directing

    You see - we need faster movies like THE MATRIX and BAD BOYS 2 and TONY SCOTT ACTION and more CRACK movies etc.

    Take care,


  2. It's just a genre thing.

    Westerns tend to be morality tales. They also used to be embedded in American values and Manifest Destiny.

    Those things tend to change over time and generation.

    Mainly those types of stories have moved over to a new genre -- SciFi.

    Manifest Destiny has become more equated to space exploration than westward expansion.

    Special effects and technological movements of film also help lean mainstream audiences more towards SciFi and Fantasy than Westerns which are now plain and dull by comparison. This wasn't the case in my grandma's day. Westerns were exciting and thrilling.

    The West is no longer a symbol of the unknown. We've been there, done that. A lot of its mystique is gone. And the Westerns that seem to work today tend to have a more nostalgic, looking backward feel than one of looking forward into the unknown.

    That's my take on it anyway.

    I'm very much in the same boat of not being a Western fan, but then again I can list off a handful of Westerns I do like.

  3. Scarlet's Other Letter1:30 PM

    Dunno, maybe 'cause you're 12?

  4. I think James is right. It's just genre. Some people hate sci-fi because it bores them, but they would probably like District 9 or the new Star Trek film which came out last year.

  5. Some interesting possibilities here. I like the psychoanalysis. I'm actually not 12, so that's not terribly helpful, but the rest are very interesting indeed. We may be getting to the bottom of it. I like that Manifest Destiny bit.

  6. So...I shouldn't try recommending RIO BRAVO or RED RIVER or THE SEARCHERS? Maybe, as a point of comparison to see how the same story is told by filmmakers from different eras, try watching the original TRUE GRIT which is a pretty good movie and not just a John Wayne movie.

    Some westerns, even if they have gunplay, just aren't action movies which might be what you're looking for. THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID, both films that I love, certainly aren't. UNFORGIVEN is one of the best films of the past thirty years but it wouldn't be called an action movie. THE WILD BUNCH is definitely an action movie and probably one of the most rousing films ever--have you ever tried it?--but it's also very dense and character-based. Maybe someday one of these films will click for you. You never know.

  7. Come to think of it, I did like The Wild Bunch.

  8. I will confess my take on John Wayne movies changed when I learned how much his ego got pandered to, but my darling (who watched spaghetti westerns with his grandmother) got me loving the spaghetti variety.

    Serenity, Star Wars, my kind of westerns, James is right, the new frontier stories are in truly distant lands.

    And surprisingly few video games are made in the western genre (happy exception, Red Dead Redemption, they did such a great job with it).

    I'm looking forward to Mongol (I'm sweet on Tadanobu Asano, and Khan is so brilliant he's fascinating), which I get western flavor from.

    OT, quick thing to share, teared me up (beautiful-hearted artist making beautiful art), 5 min docu on JR, winner of TED prize 2011.

  9. I pretty much turn away from almost all science fiction so I understand. When people talk about stuff like Deep Space Nine and Star Trek and whatever else swims in those waters I just can't be bothered.

    There are exceptions, but not many.

  10. Have you seen MY NAME IS NOBODY? If not, I recommend it ... it's fun.

    I love, love UNFORGIVEN, myself ... and SHANE is a classic.

  11. Matt, I get that. I like Deep Space Nine, but it moves at a pretty slow pace.

    JJ, I'll check it out.

  12. Emily,

    I'm not knocking that show specifically, as I've never seen it. It's just that science fiction in general turns me off and I'm not sure why. Fantasy (stuff like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) has the same effect on me.

  13. MY NAME IS NOBODY is probably the best 'light' spaghetti western I've seen, not that I'm any expert on them. Great Morricone score, but pretty insubstantial. Still fun, though.

    How about HIGH NOON? TOMBSTONE? MY DARLING CLEMENTINE? THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES? WINCHESTER '73? RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY? I'm deliberately going through different eras, but there are lots of good ones before totally shutting the door on them. Oh, and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.

  14. Tombstone's pretty good. High Noon is meh. The Outlaw Josie Wales and Once Upon a Time in the West bored me.

    I haven't seen those other ones.

  15. I think old people like Westerns. I didn't like many westerns when I was in my 20s and 30s - the MAN WITH NO NAME movies and THE WILD BUNCH and some other stuff were great... but I did not like John Wayne movies. Then, I got old. Now I actually like John Wayne and Randy Scott movies.

    Part of the reason might be that Westerns are often about the big country and feature wide shots of sunsets that last a couple of minutes, and are slower paced *on purpose*.

    Good point about sci-fi... Han Solo is a cowboy, FIREFLY was a western, etc.

    So, wait 'til you get old - then you'll love RED RIVER...


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