Well, Saint and Wash are rumbling away towards Salt Lake on the stage, Tommy's off to Three Crossings, and here I sit Wednesday afternoon and am not quite ready to post our next chapter. However, fear not, I have not left you without the means to enjoy a little tumbleweed action at your desk this week. Here is something I hope you can relate to and expand upon.
This may come as a massive shock to everyone, but most of my most favorite movies are Westerns.
They don't even have to be particularly good Westerns, either, as you will see when I show you my list. They just have to be entertaining, and I have to like them for whatever reason. So bear in mind that my "Favorite Western Movies" list is not about quality. It's about me simply digging the flick.
So, in no particular order:
1. Westward the Women, 1951
Okay, well, maybe this really is my number one favorite, so I guess for at least this title, it IS in a particular order. If you like Western flicks, this is a must see. That goes double if you are a chick.
I guess it goes double if you are a dude, too.
Yeah. I can't do math.
Anyways, this movie is about a wagon train of mail order-brides going west to meet, for the first time, the men who they will marry. The trail boss is a seasoned, cranky cowboy who is not happy about his assignment. I won't give anything away here, just watch it. But know this: Considering that this black and white gem was made in 1951, the portrayal of the women is breathtakingly refreshing. They are real women. More importantly, they are real humans. They show immense power and strength, crushing pain and weakness, heroism, stoicism, determination. Their portrayal is one of respect and admiration. This is a character movie, plain and simple, and a spellbinding one that that.
2. The Cowboys, 1972
Okay, the Duke is going to figure heavily on this list. I'm just being honest here. However, this is a bit of an unusual John Wayne movie in that...well...I'm not going to spoil it, but if you watch it, you'll understand what I mean.
This is another awesome character flick, and it's also in black and white. Without giving it away, John Wayne plays a trail boss who finds himself forced to utilize a crew of very young,very green boys to drive his cattle 400 miles.
3. The Frisco Kid, 1979
Think about this: Harrison Ford playing a gunslinger. Not much of a stretch. Gene Wilder playing a rabbi. Again, not much of a stretch.
In the same movie? Yeah. There's your stretch.
This movie is a charming, hilarious, and poignant buddy movie. Ford plays a gunslinger trying to help a lost, terribly green rabbi who literally just stepped off the boat from Poland and is trying to get to San Francisco. This is one of those movies you just never get tired of watching. Wilder's repeated exclamation of "What a wonderful country this is!" is just pure gold in the contexts in which he keeps saying it. Although I would argue that every other line in the movie is "my favorite line."
4. Unforgiven, 1992
This movie is far, far away from being "the feelgood hit of the summer." It is sad, brutal, and kind of makes you hurt a bit to watch. I think the achingly human way all the characters are portrayed makes it into a masterpiece. The good guys are not good. The bad guys are not bad. Everyone is just tragically human. And the amazing cast pull this off with incredible realism.
A cowboy violently disfigures a prostitute in a drunken rage. The girls band together to hire gunslingers (played by Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman) to avenge her. If that sounds simple...think again.
5. Valley of the Gwangi,1969
So we're playing putt putt down in Myrtle Beach, the husband and I. "Jurassic Golf", to be exact. We were actually talking about westerns, having seen Paint Your Wagon the night before over copious amounts of tequila (which, by the way, is an excellent way to watch that movie.). Having this conversation while standing next to this small flock of bright yellow fiberglass pterodactyls, he suddenly remembered something.
He remembered Valley of the Gwangi.
So when we got home, he rented it for me. Let me tell you something, Constant Reader, I challenge you to find a movie that combines cowboys, gypsies, dinosaurs, and dwarves in a single offering.
No, really. I'm serious.
I don't need to add any other description after that. Just watch it.
6. Rooster Cogburn, 1975
This had John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn in it. Really, that's pretty much all I need to know. The Duke plays a US Marshal and Hepburn plays a missionary trying to find her father's murderer.
Oh, yeah. And they're trying to recover a stolen shipment of nitroglycerine.
Yeah. I know. The African Queen. But you know what? The African Queen is one of my favorite movies of all time, so, that works for me.
7. Desperado 1995
The first time I saw anything with Antonio Banderas in it, it was this scene. Steve Buscemi is narrating this crazy story about a bar fight to Cheech Marin (and that right there ought to be reason enough to make you want to see it), and he says "So I'm sitting there, and in walks the biggest Mexican I've ever seen. I mean big as shit. Just walks right in like he owns the place..." and it cuts to Antonio Banderas tearing apart a cantina.
Well, I was in love after that.
This is just a fun movie. It's like reading a very good comic book. It's corny, campy, and...well...fun! It also contains one of my favorite movie lines, "Bless me Father, for I have just killed quite a few men."
8. City Slickers, 1991
You know, this is just a charming movie. It's about a regular joe who goes with some buddies to a dude ranch. In what I am now realizing is a recurrent theme with a lot of these movies, they end up having to manage the cattle drive themselves. Jack Palance is priceless as the scary trail boss.
That's pretty much it for now. If I can think of any more, I'll add them. I feel like I'm leaving some out, but can't think of them just now. What I would really like is to hear which movies are favorites of others as well. When this subject comes up among friends, a lot of the same movies get mentioned.
Got favorites? Send them in and I'll post a top choice list.
Props to anyone who gets the reference of the post title. Thanks for reading!