I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

tn_310-07The remake of 3:10 TO YUMA is a pretty good modern western, but it dilutes the simple power of the original by overcomplicating it. Delmer Daves and friends took this very short story mostly about two men in a hotel room (don’t take that the wrong way please) and expanded it to movie length, but I thought they made it work beautifully. Now they take that expanded version of the simple idea and they go expand on that. Give the hero more of a backstory, involve his son in the action, have the outlaw escape and get captured by other people, etc. The only thing they simplify is the number of guys in Ben Wade (Russell Crowe)’s gang, so you lose that menacing scene of them all lined up at the bar with one defenseless woman pouring them all shots.

They kind of pump it up to make it more modern. The robbery of the stagecoach is a big action scene with an explosion and everything. The musical score by Marco Beltrami has guitars and shit.

And this really is a remake, you can’t claim it’s just going back to the book and starting over like they say about TRUE GRIT or something. They use the same character names that were made up for the movie and the same idea of Dan Evans not being a marshal but a rancher trying to get some money to save his farm. And the same idea of his sons thinking he’s a coward. This time Evans is played by Christian Bale and his family seem to just be ashamed of him and think he’s a loser because he can’t get this money.

mp_310-07I really despised his older son (Logan Lerman) who’s even more of an ungrateful little shitbag than the brats in the original, and old enough to know better. When he sees the Ben Wade gang robbing and killing he not only thinks his dad is a coward for not rescuing everybody, he also gets excited about Wade’s shooting, saying “He’s fast!” Wow, that guy was awesome when he murdered that innocent man right in front of us! Also, dad, you are such a pussy for not running down there and catching the bullet in your teeth or something. I hate you! LEAVE ME ALONE!

Evans is a civil war vet, sharpshooting for the North (phew!), and he lost his leg. Later on Wade’ll give him a bunch of shit about it and try to make him angry about getting a $198.36 payment for it. I know, it sucks to think of your leg as a side of beef or something, but that was actually pretty good money back then I bet.

So it’s Bale in his grim mode. He’s always good, and I will even defend his currently out of vogue Batman voice, but he should cut down on these pouty roles. He’s so much better when he can be funny and likable, like THE FIGHTER, or funny and not likable, like AMERICAN PSYCHO.

Crowe has a good take on Wade, though. You really can’t rationalize the stuff he does, but he still ends up pretty likable. Maybe it’s ’cause he’s aware he’s a bad guy. When Evans’s asshole son tries to find his good side (“Because you’re not all bad,”) Wade says “Kid, I wouldn’t last five minutes leading an outfit like that if I wasn’t rotten as hell.” He does his share of Luciferian philosophical-tempting, saying shit like “It’s a man’s nature to take what he wants, Dan,” which is an obvious movie villain kind of thing, not that great. But he’s also pretty good at insulting people. When he says he doesn’t want to talk because “I just don’t find you that interestin'” it hurts.

Also he draws a picture of a hawk at the beginning. He’s an artist. So he’s sensitive.

The most show-offy performance is Ben Foster as Charlie Prince (Richard Jaeckel’s character in the first movie). He plays him as openly psychotic and kind of swishy, and at some point we find out people derisively call him “Charlie Princess.” It’s weird because he played kind of a subtler version of this character in the remake of THE MECHANIC, complete with the ambiguous sexuality. It’s a fun kind of comic book bad guy, but I have to say I prefer Jaeckel’s regular old menacing hardass. He’s scarier.

With Ben Wade’s gang so much smaller than in the first movie the filmatists gotta figure out a way to make the trip from hotel to train dangerous, so Charlie Prince offers citizens $200 to shoot Evans. This is a reverse of the original, where they’re paid to help transport the prisoner. That kind of shows that things have gotten a little more cynical in 50 years. In ’57 you figured the people would try to do the right thing but would chicken out. In ’07 you figure they don’t mind doing dirt if somebody’ll give ’em a buck for it.

Surprisingly though this one comes off a little more macho than the original. Evans explains to his son why he’s not gonna give up, and is gonna go on what pretty much amounts to a suicide mission. It makes alot of sense for a dude to explain to his son, but then he has to explain it to his wife (Gretchen Mol), and it seems to make a little less sense.

Crowe’s charisma is strong enough that it’s real exciting when they’re making the run for the train together and he decides he likes Evans enough to help him get there. He even yells “Dan!” to warn him when a gunman is behind him.

The ’57 version had a more of a big-smile ending, this one is a mix of tragedy and victory with a nice little touch: one of the old prisoners on the train gets up and offers Ben Wade his seat. ‘Cause Ben’s a likable killer. I bet he wouldn’t’ve done that for fuckin Charlie Princess.

This version was directed by James Mangold (WALK THE LINE, KNIGHT AND DAY) and written by Michael Brandt & Derek Haas (2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, WANTED). As much as I like 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS I’d say it’s a little better than that pedigree would imply.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

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132 Responses to “3:10 to Yuma (2007)”

  1. I have never been a fan of the genre but I do realise this is something I must amend. My extent of watching Westerns is the staple cassics of The Magnificant Seven and The Wild Bunch. Damn….haven’t even watched any Eastwood! And I call myself a film fan!!

  2. one guy from andromeda

    May 24th, 2011 at 3:25 am

    I tried to watch this twice but never made it past the 20 minute mark. Everything seemed so kitschy to me. Everytime someone spoke i could hear the script pages rustle.

  3. As a fan of the original, a lot of the choices made in this one seemed insincere, i.e. less character motivated and more this is what a modern film audience demands from a movie. One of my big complaints is the final get him to the train sequence where Christian Bale is essentially performing Batmanesque stunts with the gimp leg and all. I wish they would have found a way to work the handicap into that sequence and add an additional hurdle. Instead, we see him limp but then basically run, jump and otherwise physically act like an action hero.

  4. Mr Man, if The Magnificent Seven and The Wild Bunch are the only westerns you’ve seen, there’s quite a few movies you should see before this one. The twelve best westerns ever are as follows; 1. The Wild Bunch. 2. Once Upon a Time in the West. 3. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. 4. The Outlaw Josey Wales. 5. Rio Bravo. 6. For a Few Dollars More. 7. A Bullet for the General. 8. The Great Silence. 9. Death Rides a Horse. 10. Lawman. 11. The Long Riders. 12. Django.

  5. This review pretty much nailed it. It’s an enjoyable film, but with a few flaws. After reading the review for the original, I need to see that asap.

    It took me a long time to get into the western genre, and it was only really when I started watching spaghetti westerns that I started to enjoy them. Still, there are some good classic westerns, like High Noon that are pretty great. I still have difficulty enjoying John Wayne in anything. For me, he is always striking the same note. If I like a film he’s in, it’s usually despite his performance and not because of his performance.

  6. pegsman has a great list. Once Upon a Time in the West is especially great. Once you’re done with those you should top it off with Unforgiven. Granted, it’s probably my Favorite Movie Ever but it’s even better after seeing a bunch of westerns.

    I liked this remake more than Vern, I think. This may be a case of enjoying the ending so much that it gave me a better impression for the rest of the movie. I really did get caught up in the race to the train and when Ben Wade helps him along I totally bought it. I’m sometimes a sucker for a good ending, though, and it wouldn’t be the first time I was able to overlook an otherwise bad movie because of it. I’ll have to revisit this one of these days.

  7. Apologies! Once Upon a Time in the West!! Love that movie and have it on DVD special edition!!! I think my love for that is more based on a outstanding film rather than the genre. What an oversight that was. Cheers for the list pegsman. I guess I have to get my Eastwood on though. Unforgiven and all his old classics. I’m still not overly excited at the prospect though….I’m I too negative?

  8. If you like Once Upon a Time in the West than you’ll like a lot of other Westerns. It really is just one of those essential films that really define a genre.

  9. Once Upon A Time In The West…..Claudia Cardinale…..droooooool……..

    anyway nice review although I think your viewing the original maybe diminished your view of the remake a little. It really is a very well made modern day Western with several very strong performances to carry it, Crowe and Foster in particular.

    Interestingly enough Tom Cruise was originally in talks to play Crowes character with Eric Bana in Bale’s role. I would like to see Bana’s version of a cowboy but I really think Tom Cruise wouldn’t have been able to project the badassiness of a real outlaw.

  10. Since ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is being brought up, let me also mention a few other Bronson westerns you should seek out.

    RED SUN – You guys have probably already seen this one. It’s not as great as it could have been, but it’s still a damn good movie.

    BREAKHEART PASS – Based on an Alistair MacLean novel. You know, the guy who wrote GUNS OF NAVARONE and WHERE EAGLES DARE. Bronson teams up with Ed Lauter, presaging their historic partnership in DEATH WISH 3.

    CHATO’S LAND – Bronson vs. Jack Palance and his posse of character actors. I think this is Bronson’s first collaboration with Michael Winner.

    Thanks for listening.

  11. As a fan of Westerns and the Old West, I kind of hated this one. At no point did it feel like I was transported to a different time and place, and it didn’t even have the stylized hyper-reality of the Spaghetti Westerns. Just a generic action film in Stetsons. One guy’s description of hearing script pages rustle is spot-on and far more poetic and evocative than anything in the film.

    Speaking of, pegsman’s list is full of fine films, but is too Spaghetti/Revisionist Western-heavy to be a well-rounded representation of the genre. In addition to the films he named I would recommend THE SEARCHERS, McCABE & MRS. MILLER, SHANE, PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID, THE TALL T, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, THE MERCENARY, STAGECOACH (see what the end chase of THE ROAD WARRIOR is based on), THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, PURSUED, RED RIVER, HELL’S HINGES, HEAVEN’S GATE, WINCHESTER 73, FORT APACHE, 7 MEN FROM NOW, THE LONESOME DOVE, THE GUNFIGHTER, RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY…ok, I’ll stop for now.

  12. That’s a good point, David. I imagine my tastes are towards more revisionist Westerns as the ones in your list that I really like are The Searchers, Shane, Assination of Jesse James, Red River, Heaven’s Gate, and Lonesome Dove.

    I also really like Liberty Valance, Stage Coach, and Fort Apache.

    What are people’s thoughts on Open Range? I kind of like it. It has some good scenes and is fairly traditional and doesn’t have a lot of the modern sensibilities that creep into most post-Unforgiven Westerns.

    Even the remake of 3:10 is more than a little cynical, although I think the contrast of the cynicism of Ben Wade with the rancher is why the movie works for me. I think the contrast between his resentment towards the commodification of his leg and his reimbursement for it versus what he is willing to do for a similar amount of money, even when he realizes he is on a suicide mission, is interesting. I realize this is one of those times where having a hammer makes everything into a nail, but as a Marxist I think there’s a lot of interesting things to think about in this film.

  13. Echo Lambert’s list. Especially Winchester 73 and Pat Garrett. The rest are all great as well. Has anyone listed The Professionals yet?

    I also like The War Wagon with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. Feels like one of the first true action comedies a la the mold that would become Lethal Weapon. There is a great stand off where both Wayne and Douglas drop the respective baddies and Douglas says “Mine hit the ground first.” to which Wayne deadpans, “Mine was taller.” Truly great movie.

  14. Didn’t War Wagon have that awesome song?

    It was like, look at those wagons what are they carrying war waaagon war waaagon.

  15. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8YVxR_otmo

    Yeah, it’s even better than I remember.

  16. Sorry to be super chatty today, I just really like Westerns.

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance also has a rad song.

    I’d also recommend The Proposition. It’s basically a Cormac McCarthy novel set in Australia. It’s really good stuff and probably my favorite of the modern Westerns.

  17. Casey,

    Concur with the love of Westerns as well as the love for The Proposition. In terms of Open Range, I unabashely love it. The slow burn and buildup of the characters, the interplay between Costner and Duvall and then when they cut loose with the action – Holy Shit. For the record, the final gunfight has some of the most explosive and loud gunshots, kind of like the sound mix in Way of the Gun.

  18. SEVEN MEN FROM NOW has a pretty great opening, and Lee Marvin. Actually, all of the Budd Boetticher / Randolph Scott Westerns are pretty solid and clock in around the 75 minute mark, so if you’re looking for something short, those are ideal.

  19. caruso_stalker217

    May 24th, 2011 at 11:33 am

    WAR WAGON also has one of the best bar fights ever:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdiZUdQMrB0

  20. Well as long as people are throwing out westerns, I just wanted to add Unforgiven. I think it can hold it’s own against any of the classics, and I don’t think a better western has been done since.

  21. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    May 24th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Appaloosa is one of the best modern westerns. Saw that at the same time I saw this. I got quite excited about the possibility of the western making a come back and seeing off super hero movies, but alas…

  22. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    May 24th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Great lists of westerns being handed out by the way. I think the only one I haven’t seen is Open Range. Someone told me its one of the best.

  23. I think my cousin put it best when he said “It’s like a FOR DUMMIES version of a generic western”. Such a disappointment; yeah it didn’t help that I had seen the original way before it but still it should’ve managed to stand out on it’s own as a good piece. APPALOOSA and THE PROPOSITION shit on any other modern western.

  24. Oh yeah OPEN RANGE was damn good I’d add that one to the list of modern westerns that completely wipe the floor with this one. Never been much of a Costner fan but that was one of the best movies I saw since the year 2000 for sure. One of his very best for sure.

  25. OPEN RANGE was decent outside of the Costner-isms (the over-the-top and yet uninteresting villains, Charlie and Boss getting more choked up over their dog than their friend, Sue slapping that one guy in the middle of the gunfight, etc.) The end gunfight was pretty bad-ass, although I could have done without all the people flying everywhere when they got shot. Also, I didn’t like their silly hats. They looked more like modern country singers than 1880s era cow-boys.

    Similarly, APPALOOSA was excellent outside of Renee Zelwegger. The rapport between Harris and Mortensen was absolutely perfect and the period detail was spot-on. But damn, Renee.

    Not to be a shameless self-promoter, but I guess now’s as good a time as any to mention the Western I wrote that’s being released on Blu-Ray by UNEARTHED on August 16th.

    Here’s a trailer (and before you get the wrong idea, the film is NOT pro-life propaganda): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppJC44TJSts

    If you’re a fan of Spaghetti Westerns you might recognize some familiar faces (in addition to Montgomery Ford and Dan Van Husen, the film also features Michael Forest and Ted Rusoff) although it’s definitely not a Spaghetti homage/pastiche.

  26. And the song for LIBERTY VALANCE is indeed bad-ass, unfortunately it’s not in the final film!

    Speaking of songs in Westerns, I wonder how many people are aware that KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR came from PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID?

    And what’s with this trend of singer-songwriters doing music for revisionist Westerns? Leonard Cohen on McCABE & MRS. MILLER, Bob Dylan (happy 70th, btw) on PAT GARRETT, Neil Young on DEAD MAN, Joe Strummer on WALKER, Nick Cave on THE PROPOSITION and THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES, Ry Cooder on THE LONG RIDERS…hell, he’s not really a singer, and it’s really only Western-flavored, but you might even be able to make a case for Johnny Greenwood on THERE WILL BE BLOOD. I think there’s a couple more (you could include Willie Nelson on THE RED-HEADED STRANGER, but that’s not quite fair).

    And don’t get me started on teen idols appearing alongside John Wayne. It would be like Justin Bieber or whoever popping up alongside…jeez, who are our bad-ass icons right now? Anyway, it’s kind of worth it to see Bobby Vinton get wasted in BIG JAKE.

    Sorry, I kind of went off-topic.

  27. Good review Vern, but what did you think of the other supporting cast, like Peter Fonda as the grizzled veteran always antagonising Wade, or Alan Tudyk as the Doc?

  28. To anyone who’s a fan of UNFORGIVEN, read the book THE SHOOTIST (yes, what Wayne’s final film is based on). It’s a pitch black Western and a huge influence on David Webb People’s screenplay (I can point out the similarities if anyone’s interested, they’re pretty obvious, really). It’s ridiculously readable. I plowed through it in one night. The descriptions of bullet wounds are awe-inspiring and the ending line perfect. As big a fan I am of Wayne, I wish Siegel would have went through with George C. Scott as the lead, if only to retain the darkness of the source material.

  29. Given Wayne’s health at the time I don’t think anyone could have made a bigger emotional impact than him as the dying gunslinger. The Shootist is perhaps (even if Gran Torino turns out to be Eastwood’s last acting gig) the most memorable farewell in any actor’s career.

  30. Somewhat sad that the two western threads get so few posts, relatively speaking.

  31. MDM, that kind of begs the question, what is the state of the western in the 21st century? It seems like we get one or two westerns per year and that’s about it. With the exception of Cowboys and Aliens (and I’m not sure it counts), I don’t remember any western being released this year. I wonder why audiences no longer want to see this period of history, especially when it used to be so popular.

  32. David, that trailer was pretty cool. Some good camera work and some good dialogue. Shame about the rather stilted line readings but if it packs enough style one could overlook the amateur acting.

    RBatty024, COWBOYS & ALIENS totally counts. It just falls into that rarified category of the weird western. I hope to hell it’s good.

  33. I think the Western can become incredibly relevant if the movies start to better reflect history and tell more stories about African Americans, Mexicans, and Native Americans. While I appreciate the remake of 3:10, and I find it a little weird I seem to be alone in that while Open Range is much more appreciated than I thought it would be, it is a movie with a ton of white folk. The Old West, or whatever you want to call it, was much more diverse and I think Westerns are largely seen as something for old white people that are trying to fight modernity and our multicultural world.

    I also think that Westerns have also grown up. Even before Unforgiven they were telling more adult stories and started to have a message beyond “might makes right”. I think a lot of comic book movies are telling a lot of those fascist fantasies of masculinity. I’m a young guy but I also get the impression that a movie like The Searchers or even High Noon would no longer be able to be mainstream even if audience tastes were still towards Westerns because of the complex ways they talk about power, authority, and morality. I think a lot of audiences want something much simpler and when something becomes too complex it starts to only appeal to a crowd that largely rejects the Western as something only rednecks would like.

    Sure, True Grit made a ton of money but that’s because of the Coen Brothers and an otherwise awful Holiday season for movies.

  34. Also, you guys with the lists, I don’t think you’ve mentioned TOMBSTONE at all. Not just one my favorite westerns, but one my favorite movies of all time. I understand the delineation between the classic and the modern western but, to my mind, TOMBSTONE bridges that gap. It’s an exhilarating film experience that holds the sensibilities of both eras with equal weight. The amazing cast all seem to embody that classic gentility and badass resourcefulness without a hint of post-modern winking. The final shot behind the credits of the men walking toward the camera down main street was one of the most iconic and satisfying conclusions ever. I thought about that movie for a long time afterward and it’s one I revisit often.

  35. Casey, I think Tarantino’s next project may satisfy you’re desire for a multi-cultural western. Early reports claim that DJANGO UNLEASHED may focus on an escaped plantation slave in 19th century America. Knowing Tarantino, there’s more going on than that but it seems like an outstanding premise at this point.

  36. RBatty024, there was also RANGO this year. But, as with COWBOYS & ALIENS, it sort of seems like these filmmakers feel the need to smuggle westerns into the theaters like they are store-bought candy or something. “What, officer? No, of course this isn’t a western, I don’t know what you are talking about, this is totally sci-fi and, um, spaceships and lasers, um, uh… Look over there! James Bond with a wrist gun!” Ninja smoke bomb. And Favreau vanishes without a trace.

  37. RBatty024,

    From what I understand there are a number of extremely solid western screenplays that have been purchased and are just sitting around in filing cabinets in producers offices. I believe the state of the Western in the 21st century is more of an open question that goes directly to the heart of the industry and the current glut of cotton candy movies. Casey touched upon this somewhat, but I will carry it a little further. Studios and producers only want the sure thing, i.e. remake, reboot, comic book, young adult book, etc. that they hope gets the 13-30 demographic out en masse opening weekend. Westerns generally cost quite a bit because of the period detail. So I believe it is more the capitalistic approach that Hollywood has developed of money first, marketing second, and story a distant third.

    For Open Range, I remember Costner shopping that thing all around town and being unable to get it made. Touchstone finally stepped in and said they would co-finance and handle distribution if Costner ponied up the first $25 million of the budget. From what I recall, it turned a nice profit, but imagine if Costner had balked.

    That being said, part of what makes a Western inherently trickier for me at least are getting the details of the world right. It was much easier to do in the forties and fifties because the world was only one generation removed from the end of the “Wild West”. As I stated in one of my posts, part of what fails for me on the remake of 3:10 are the details. It felt like they were trying so hard to get the prop and makeup details as authentic as possible that they missed out on some of the character details that really make a Western work. I would argue that besides everything else, precisely what makes The Wild Bunch is a classic is the fact that Peckinpah got all of the details of the sort of men of that era exactly right. Most of the time these details go unnoticed unless someone gets them wrong. So I think it takes the right director and screenwriter to make a good Western. Walter Hill only works when he wants to and Clint has moved on. Most of the young guys aren’t interested in doing it.

    Also, as for Tombstone, somewhere on the internet there is a fascinating interview with Kurt Russell from some years back in which he talkes about Kevin Jarre getting fired from directing and Kurt got George P. Cosmatos name from Sly. George then ghost directed the movied for Kurt. Basically, Kurt says he would go to George late every night and give them the shot list for the next day. Pretty interesting stuff.

  38. So for the typos above, I forgot to proofread before hitting submit.

  39. Never really understood the TOMBSTONE love. It’s got an amazing cast and several great scenes, but they’re all at the beginning. The movie pretty much ends halfway through. I never remember a thing from the last hour and change. Remind me?

  40. I’ve never been able to make it through Tombstone. It just never worked for me. I even had a ton of friends who were not fans of Westerns that really enjoyed it. I just never made it through.

    Tarantino’s Django Unbound sounds good. I’m skeptical as every movie he’s made has a premise that interests me and I end up hating it. To be fair, I ended up really hating Basterds because of how he managed to “pay homage” to Leone while filling the movie with tons of awful dialogue and just made it miserably boring. Again, I’m sure I’m alone here but Tarantino just doesn’t work for me.

    My wife was a big fan but then she saw some interviews with him and I think that’s ruined it for her. I always knew he was a video store nerd who never had any life experiences to share and instead substituted a life of film for personal experiences. Basically, he feels like a copy of a copy and I’d rather just watch the original.

    I think you’re onto something, MDM. I also think all the secondary elements of a movie are important. Hollywood wants a movie that they can make money off of at the theatre but also in toys, videogames, spin offs, a cartoon show, and maybe a musical.

    That’s hard to do with Westerns. Thankfully the Great Gatsby pulled it off: http://greatgatsbygame.com/

  41. Tarantino has survived without compromise in Hollywood for about 20 years now. I’d say he’s racked up quite a few life experiences by this point.

  42. I’m eager to see them on the screen. So far everything he’s done just rings hollow to me.

    I’m open minded about it. I’m no Matrix fan and I don’t care for Japanese cartoons but I’ll be damned if Speed Racer isn’t one of my favorite movies of the last decade.

  43. – mdm

    I think that the world has lost simple, innocent view of that era, that is required for a traditional western. A lot of the post-westerns (The Wild Bunch, Soldier Blue, Unforgiven etc) are all about turning the genre on its head, resulting in gritty depressing realism aka box office poison. A modern western that truthfully portrays that era, would be very un-pc, R-rated and quite expensive. A western that portrays that era as we know it from old black and white movies, would be an insult to the audience.

    I never got into old-school westerns, even though my dad showed me hundreds, they just seemed fake and naive. That changed when I discovered Peckinpah and Sergio Leone, though, but anything else seemed like a whitewash of american history to me. And on the other hand, movies like Dances with Wolves, seemed to romantic in its portrayal of native americans.

    I lot of my favorite movies are westerns though; stuff like Mann`s The Last Mohican, The Assassination of Jesse James, Ride with the Devil, The proposition etc, I just can`t get into the romantic oldfashioned portrayal of the good old times, that most westerns seem to represent.

  44. I’d argue that there are quite a lot of Westerns, even old ones, that go beyond the “romantic” and “oldfashioned” portrayal. The Searchers and High Noon are two that I think have something to say and are more than naive. Maybe even Shane. It may not be the norm, but I think the really good ones that are most remembered are the ones that do have something to say.

    Mostly I just really like The Searchers and would like to say it’s awesome.

  45. Casey: Why? Just to use one example, John Carpenter has gone through divorces and deaths of loved ones and cancer and all that real-life shit, but it’s in NONE of his movies and nobody ever gives him crap for it. It’s not what fires his imagination. He likes big, iconic characters who act like they’re in movies, and so does Tarantino. If you don’t like Tarantino’s movies, that’s totally fine and even understandable. But that Writing Workshop 101 crap about “Write what you know” is for amateurs. Pros write what they want.

  46. Are you guys serious about TOMBSTONE? Here are a few reminders from the third act.

    “You tell ’em I’m comin’ and Hell’s comin’ with me! Hell’s comin’ with me!”

    Wyatt cuts a Cowboy’s face with his spur.

    A Cowboy mistakes a gun barrel for an opium pipe.

    “Why are men like Ringo the way they are, Doc?”
    “They’re lookin’ for revenge.”
    “For what?”
    “For bein’ born.”

    “I’m your huckleberry.”

    “You ain’t no daisy. You ain’t no daisy at all.”

    “Let’s go get em’, Doc.”
    “Indeed, the final charge of Wyatt Earp and his Immortals.”

    A Cowboy falls off his horse after getting a rifle butt to his teeth.

    “There is no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just life. Now go grab it.”
    “Thanks for always bein’ there, Doc.”

  47. I agree to a point. My problem is that all Tarantino seems to know, at least from seeing his movies, are other (and oftentimes better) movies. I know Carpenter never went to Antarctica and was suspicious of his comrades being infected by an alien virus, so you’re right that personal experience isn’t everything.

    But, you get the impression that Carpenter has actually lived a life and knows actual real people. All I get from Tarantino is that he’s seen a lot of movies. I don’t think he has any personal experience or anything in him that could ever offer anything unique to the world.

    It could be worse, I guess. We could have yet more copies of Tarantino like the guy who did Boondock Saints. I guess I should be thankful we don’t have too many copies of that copy of a copy of a copy.

  48. I pretty much agree with all the reasons given as to why the western isn’t as popular as it once was. I would like to add an unwillingness on the part of American audiences to go to a film that takes place too far in the past. If a movie takes place in an era that’s more than fifty years ago, it seems like only a niche audience is interested (there are, of course exceptions, like the new Sherlock Holmes and the aforementioned Cowboys and Aliens). I remember Guillermo Del Toro mentioning that he had a terrible time getting studios to take a chance on At the Mountains of Madness because he wanted to set it in the 1920s. In places like China there are films and movies about their history everywhere, from classic dramas to heroic fantasies. But for some reason Americans just aren’t that interested in our own history, or even representations of that history.

    Casey, I’m a Tarantino fan, but I’ll admit I was disappointed in Basterds. It looked like he wanted to make a spaghetti western but that the man on a mission movie got in the way. It’s probably my least favorite film of his. Hopefully it will serve as a nice dry run for his actual spaghetti western, Django Unchained.

  49. Darryll: Nope, I remember not one of those moments, and I’ve seen the movie three times. They sound awesome when you describe them, though. Maybe the fourth time is the charm.

  50. I was also disappointed by BASTERDS. It felt like a number of very thinly connected vignettes to me and not a wholly integrated film.

  51. I agree, Mr 024. I think America has a lot of really great stories that could make for some excellent films. Harpers Ferry, the Pullman Strike, the Bonus March, and a ton of other stories would make for gripping and dramatic films.

    The thing about Tarantino is that I always get excited about his movies. I saw Basterds opening weekend. I’m a Jewish guy so I wanted to see them kill some Nazis. Not that I’m a blood thirsty kind of guy, but I was game for a Jewploitation where the Jewish guys were badasses. Instead we get Tarantino reshooting the opening scene to GBU, two scenes of badass action, a long and boring scene of people talking and talking in a bar, and a finale that manages to be boring, hamfisted, and almost offensive. From what I gather, and I’ve not bothered to look up other opinions because I just don’t care too much, is that he shows scenes of Nazis getting ecstatic over a film that shows a German murdering Americans. I think he was trying to point out that anyone that went there to celebrate the murder of Nazis was similarly disgusting. That’s my read of it, at least.

    I also hope anyone that complained about Ben Foster in the 3:10 remake is similarly annoyed at the main Nazi actor’s acting.

    Darryll, I’ll give the movie a shot sometime soon. It’s on my Netflix queue at least. Everytime I’ve tried to watch it I end up falling asleep. I recognize a few of those lines, though, and I’ve recently run into a glut of people who will say “I’m your huckleberry” instead of saying “Yes, sure, I’ll do that thing you are asking me to do”.

  52. Also, many characters were woefully under developed. Poor Marcel, you were but an extension of Shosanna’s will and nothing more.

  53. To be fair, Darryll, I think all of Tarantino’s films suffer from that. Even the Kill Bill movies, which is probably the simplest in terms of plot and characterization, is just a montage of back stories intercut with present day scenes.

  54. That’s the Tarantino style. For all of his excesses, his plotting has always been minimalist. He only writes and films the scenes he’s excited about and forgets about the filler. His movies are all pillars, no bridges. This is the guy who left out the caper in his caper movie because it was standard heist movie shit, so he assumed the audience would fill in the blanks. This was in 1991, yet people still act surprised and disappointed when he doesn’t deliver a fully fleshed out story with all the i’s dotted. I like that there are big gaps between his scenes, that relationships are left undefined, that supporting characters seem important but give up none of their secrets. It indicates a whole world that the actual film being run through the projector only hints at, but you can feel it all throbbing beneath the surface.

    Also, as an actual guy named Marcel, I don’t mind that my fellow Marcel got shortchanged. He worked at an awesome movie theater, got to bang a hot French chick, and brought down the Third Reich. Second coolest Marcel ever.

  55. I disagree, Casey. Compare the boys from RESERVOIR DOGS to the Basterds from BASTERDS. Every one of the Dogs gets something interesting to say at some point that sets them apart from there fellows. I can’t remember a single character trait from most of the Basterds that would make them individuals within the group.

    With KILL BILL, it’s one of the many reasons I feel it’s T’s best film. Every single character gets a moment to shine and reveal some motivation. Sure, it’s all in relation to the Bride but that’s as it should be. They all sing to her righteous music. I fell in love with her. I feel I barely know Shosanna.

  56. I guess that’s the problem I had with BASTERDS, Mr. M. Aside from the opening scenes I never once felt that “throbbing beneath the surface.”

    I agree with your general thesis, though.

  57. Fair enough. I think BASTERDZ is his best since PULP, so it very much worked for me.

  58. The problem with most westerns made the last 20 years is that film makers seem to think that any actor will do. You can have a budget of Michael Bay proportions with specially built sets the size of New Zealand and 20 000 extras, and it won’t make a lick of difference if the lead looks like he’s the cowboy in a Village People tribute band. I mean, I like 3:10 to Yuma ’07, but that’s mainly because of Fonda and Foster. Crowe and Bale look like twits in their direct-from-the-costume-departement clothes, designer beards and I’ve-been-in-Oklahoma-on-Broadway hats. In the 60’s the Italians where able to make hundreds of westerns on shoestring budgets just by focusing on really cool looking actors who could wear a hat properly (those who couldn’t didn’t) and who wore clothes that didn’t look like they came straight from the dry cleaners. I hate to bring up Timothy Olyphant again, but today he’s the ONLY believable cowboy around now that Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, Tommy Lee Jones, Franco Nero and Robert Duvall are in their older-and-wiser-sidekick years. The ultimate proof of this came in Rango, when the main character met a cowboy who looked like Eastwood and sounded like Olyphant.

  59. I agree, pegsman. I think that’s why No Country for Old Men worked for me. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem were totally believable and badass. I’d add them with Olyphant in your list.

    Speaking of Olyphant, I saw A Perfect Getaway over the weekend. Not a bad film. It’s the most charismatic I’ve seen Olyphant, at least, and wouldn’t mind some more of that from him.

  60. That’s cool, Mr. M. It sure looked like Brad Pitt was having a ball. I always wonder what happened to Aldo Raine when he got Stateside after the war. Was he career military or did he run moonshine through the bayou, scalping crooked sheriffs?

  61. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    May 25th, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Deadwood is an amazing western. Not a film, but still an amazing body of work. Anyone who loves the genre will seriously get into deadwood.

    The Quick And The Dead is a good romp too, not up there with the best, but always worth a watch.

  62. I actually really liked Brad Pitt in Basterds. Hell, I liked all the Basterds. They just marketed the film wrong and lied to me. They should have just called it Inglorious Shoshana And A Bunch of Shit No One Cares About.

  63. Darryll, isn’t that comparison with RESERVOIR DOGS invalid? Since the crooks are the main characters in RESERVOIR DOGS, but the Basterds, despite the title, are not the main characters of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. I think the comparison would only be valid if you think Pitt, Waltz, Laurent, Fassbender, Kruger, Brühl and Schweiger are not playing as well-rounded characters as the guys in DOGS. For me this is clearly not the case, but maybe you see it otherwise.

  64. Not a fan of TOMBSTONE. Kevin Jarre’s original script is decent but overly ambitious and when he was fired as the film’s director, his script got chopped up. Instead of anything resembling a climax, we get two montages of people being shot (akin to the opening credits of some cheap action TV show) and then Wyatt and Josephine dancing in the snow. What the hell? And even though historically Wyatt never killed Ike Clanton (despite what HOUR OF THE GUN would have you believe) shooting a scene where Wyatt and Doc are chasing Ike and then they let him go because he throws off his red sash is just dumb. We just saw Wyatt and Co. brutally shoot, hang, and outright murder anyone possibly involved in Morgan’s death. No way would they let Ike get away based on some lousy symbolic gesture.

    And don’t get me started on Dana Delaney and ‘room service’

  65. Daryll, just for curiosity sake, who do you think gives a stilted line reading in the trailer?

  66. I have to be on the Basterdz pro side. I would go so far as to say it and Jackie Brown are the only two of his films that work for me. Otherwise, I largely track with the sentiment that I get why other people might like them, but for me – his self aware dialogue sometimes becomes too overbearing.

    Pegsman is exactly right about the look of actors. There are no young actors working that I feel could actually pull off that world weary look that would be required for a modern western.

    And I kind of hated Deadwood. The first five or six episodes of season 1 were so badass with Olyphant killing his own prisoner and then getting introduced to Swearengen. Then the show went and made both of those badasses not badass anymore. By the time the series ended, Olyphant’s character was like a whiny declawed cat and Swearengen seemed almost like a good guy which made Powers Boothe as the bad guy completely lame. That is the problem with badass (as this site defines) television. It seems shows have a hard time of staying true to the badassness of the character that we love initially and seek to humanize, ie debadass them over the course of the series. Please don’t do that Justified.

  67. And therein lies the problem, Jake. The movie’s called INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. While I’m not offended they didn’t turn out to be the main characters I am bothered that most of the Basterds were little more than background extras. This problem extends further than the Basterds themselves, though. I mentioned Marcel earlier, who is basically a device allowing Shosanna to be in two places at once, but I also had a problem with Fassbender’s character who is shoe-horned in late and about whom we know very little. He’s a Bond-like British spy and . . . what? What else? The Basterds pretty much are relegated to the sidelines while we watch this guy verbally spar with a bunch of characters we don’t know. It’s an interesting scene, granted, and even tense at times but it exists as separate from the body of the film. A body that moves in a somewhat cumbersome manner from one scene to the next with very little overall story arc. I always imagine all the characters kind of shuffling together in a group to the next location but they never bother to talk with one another between scenes. They have nothing to say to one another beyond what the plot dictates.

    Back to Marcel (My best example of what’s wrong with this film): Has it not occurred to anyone that he is a third party in a classic love triangle but he gets zero opportunity to confront his rival, or develop his relationship with Shosanna, or show any personality beyond his assigned role as a boyfriend and as a projectionist. But we only know these things because we’re told so. We’re never shown how he loves Shosanna or why he’s a great projectionist or what he’s even doing in occupied Paris. He does as he’s told and little more. He is a sounding board for Shosanna so she doesn’t look awkward talking to herself. He is a tool of the script as are many characters in this film.

  68. I’d like to say to the people concerned about Tarantino copying and pasting scenes from other films for DJANGO UNCHAINED, that you have little to worry about. There’s obviously a Spaghetti Western vibe to the script and maybe a few homages to MANDINGO and perhaps GOODBYE UNCLE TOM (and he name-checks Sergio Corbucci, Bonanza, and FLAMING STAR) but I couldn’t really spot any scenes that were outright stolen, and I’ve seen a few Westerns in my time. It’s funny, because I could take you through a film like ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and show you where just about every scene came from, but people rarely complain about Leone not being original.

  69. I’m glad to hear that about Django Unchained. It sounds like an interesting film. I want to like it. I’ll likely see it when it comes out as I have friends that drag me to such things.

    Of course Once Upon a Time in the West was an homage. You can tell it is from the title. It’s one of those films I rewatch every year or so after I’ve seen a few more Westerns and it gets better and better because of that. There’s so many scenes, themes, actors, and beats in the film that are from other films and it even takes a lot of those and puts them on their head. Henry Fonda is great in it for that very reason. Even the final shoot out is original, or at least I can’t think of any other movie that mixes a flashback with a duel scene in that way. That’s seriously one of my favorite scenes in film.

    I think Leone can get away with it because he did something interesting with Once Upon a Time in the West. He can also get away with doing an homage because he contributed a lot to the genre before and made other films that had originality. It isn’t like he made his entire career reflecting upon the films he enjoyed as a film store clerk.

    Granted, I’m not as familiar with gangster films but Once Upon a Time in America seems wholly original to me.

  70. Leone, like Tarantino, where totally open about the fact that he stole everything from earlier film makers. In Sir Christopher Fraylings book “Spaghetti Westerns” there’s a few interviews with Leone where he talks about Mark Twain, Kusosawa, Vera Cruz, John Ford and his biggest influence Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdeux. Very interesting stuff.

  71. The video game western RED DEAD REDEMPTION was a pretty big hit last year, and while it was a mashup of a lot inspirations and western types, I think it’s success shows that a modern/younger audience can get behind the genre if it’s good enough.

  72. David, I suppose I’m referring to the exchange that opens the trailer between the two men. The guy on the ground sounded especially amateur. Bear in mind, I liked what they were saying I just didn’t care for the way they were saying it. No offense if this film is your pride and joy. I’d still watch it.

  73. I’ve heard a lot of Frayling has to say and I think he’s a brilliant guy. Still, looking at some of what he’s said and remembering some of the commentaries he’s done it is obvious what the difference is between Leone and Tarantino. Leone does something with the films and works he references. He rarely just uses scenes, music, dialogue, or plot points just for the sake of using them. He does something interesting when he references Shane or whatever.

    I don’t think Tarantino does. I just really get the impression that he just really likes a lot of these films and instead just wants to use a lot of the same shots and music from films he enjoys. I could be totally missing out on the interesting things he does do and I would love to be proven that I have so I can go back and enjoy these movies.

    I also don’t think Tarantino has ever shot a scene half as good as something like:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyvzfyqYm_s

    I apologize for coming off as being an internet hater. That’s something I’m against and something I appreciate Vern talking about recently. I’m sorry for doing that. I really did not mean to.

    One of the things I really like about Leone is that he was fantastic at casting interesting faces. There are no extras in a Leone film. Every face is interesting. His films seem so real and alive because of the casting that even if the costumes and sets weren’t that great I think the world he populates would still come off as real. I think that’s one of the big faults of movies like the 3:10 remake.

  74. What do you guys think about the early reports of Will Smith being courted for the titular character in DJANGO UNCHAINED? Personally, while I’d certainly prefer Michael Jai White, I could kinda’ see Smith delivering some classic T dialogue with a certain panache.
    Any thoughts?

  75. Also, thanks for some good insight and discussion on Basterds. Especially Darryll, I really think he has some great points on the Marcel character, or lack thereof.

  76. I like Will Smith. He’s good in almost everything and even when he’s in a bad movie, like that one with him doing the stuff with the octopus or squid and his eyes with that guy from Cheers, he gives it his all.

    Still, my first reaction to ever hearing about him getting cast in something is to be annoyed and worried because I’m always afraid he’ll be too big and obtrusive. Still, I usually forget it’s Will Smith I’m watching and get lost in whatever he does. I kinda feel the same way about Tom Cruise, actually. I thought he was great in Valkyrie but dreaded seeing it because of him.

    I’d prefer Michael Jai White because he should be a huge star, but Hollywood is awful and racist so he never got to be as big as he should be.

  77. “I also don’t think Tarantino has ever shot a scene half as good as something like: . . .”

    Casey, I’ve got the feeling that Tarantino would probably agree with you, wholeheartedly. He’s never claimed to have anything over on his heroes.

    Thanks for the props.

  78. Totally. I think Tarantino and I like all of the same films. I think his tastes and my tastes are really similar, at least from what I’ve seen him publicly appreciate and from what some of his obvious influences are. I just wish I could like what he’s made a bit more because I really want to.

  79. “He can also get away with doing an homage because he contributed a lot to the genre before and made other films that had originality.”

    You see, I think someone could argue that Leone wasn’t original the same way that people argue that Tarantino isn’t original. I mean, he was sued by Kurosawa for a reason. I could break down each element of Leone’s work and say he stole this idea and that idea, but it’s not really the ideas so much as the way they’re assembled. Someone might not like the way Tarantino assembles things, but I don’t really see the difference.

    I do understand your point about Tarantino’s films only being about other films, but I feel the same way with Leone. I love Leone’s films, but they’ll never be as powerful as, say, Peckinpah’s films (in my eyes), because of the thick layer of artifice (and when Leone tries to make grander points that extend beyond the movies, I don’t think they resonate very well. For example, the anti-war diversion in THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY). Something like PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID is far more lop-sided and flawed than, say, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, but I’ll always prefer PAT GARRETT because of how naked it leaves its director. Not that I want to see Peckinpah naked or anything. What gave you that idea? Ahem.

    People complaining about Tarantino not having life experience or just being a video store clerk could just as easily say Leone was just a morbidly obese cinephile who only ate pasta and watched movies. But, I’m going to be staying at Joe D’Augustine’s house this Friday, so I’ll ask him if Tarantino has ever opened up about his life and then I’ll report back to you so you can weigh the value of his movies based on what he’s done in his life…

  80. Whoops, Casey, you already kind of laid out what I said. You can ignore my last comment. At his best, I DO think Tarantino does original things with his influences.

  81. It’s funny, Darryll, because that’s Brett Halsey, easily the most experienced person working on the film. I think perhaps it’s an older acting style than amateurish, although that’s not really a defense of his performance. He’s worked in the industry since the 50s, starring in numerous Spaghettis and Giallos (working with Bava, Fulci, and Argento), and even appearing in GODFATHER III (yeah I know). The bastard married a Bond girl.

    He also really likes Denny’s.

  82. I really regret my statements about the type of person Tarantino is. From what I know about Leone he was a cinephile, like Tarantino, but that was a much more difficult thing to be back then. He was also a worker that worked his way from the bottom to get to where he had creative control.

    At the end of the day my major problem with Tarantino is that his films annoy me, and when they don’t annoy me I find them rather boring. He writes dialogue that no one in the history of forever would ever say. He gets caught up in being cute and interesting too often. I think his films betray a subtle bourgeois racism that annoys me as well.

    All the same, I think he’s the kind of guy I’d have a good time watching movies with as I’m sure our tastes are more similar than not.

  83. That’s a fair point, David. I’ll need to revisit a few of Tarantino’s films sometime this summer and see if I can find something interesting about his references to other films. Any advice on where to look would be very helpful, because right now the one big reference I’m thinking of (the opening of Basterds aping GBU) seems to not do anything interesting or worthwhile with that reference. Or am I missing something?

    Oddly enough, I’ve been listening to the Beastie Boys a lot lately. I really love those guys even if they’re just a reflection of their culture and music that they appreciate.

  84. David, I’m basing that observation, on a single clip in a short trailer, remember. I have no clue what his whole performance is like. I can only report on what I’ve seen thus far. The man’s acting pedigree is sound but the recital of those opening lines seemed rushed and lacked inflection. A lack of rehearsal, perhaps? I don’t know.

  85. ThomasCrown442

    May 25th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I feel like I’ve been defending Costner for the last ten years or so. He’s one of my favorite actors and always gives a good performance. This guy directed and starred in Dances With Wolves for fucks sake. Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, etc., all classics. Its a shame he became a punchline in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. People just all of a sudden decided to hate him for some reason. By the way, would you consider The Postman to be a western? I would.

  86. Darryll, I don’t see any reason why Marcel needs to be a fully fleshed out character. It’s like Deep Throat in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. Yes, he is important to the plot, but it is not his story so how much do we really need to know about him? The important part in this particular story is Shoshanna’s revenge, not the guy who helps her achieve it.

    Also, I don’t see how the bar scene is separate from the main body of the film. That scene sets up the climax. At least the Basterds half of the climax. Did you mean you would prefer the scene to be shorter, with less tension and enjoyable dialogue?

  87. I really liked Costner in MR. BROOKS. His essential aloofness was a real asset to that role. In fact, I liked the whole movie. I have this little fantasy where they make a trilogy. MISS BROOKS would focus on the daughter, then MS. BROOKS would follow the wife as she discovers that she’s got two serial killers in the family.

    Everyone saying my name all the time is really freaking me out.

  88. Yes, Jake, I hate tension and enjoyable dialogue. No, I wanted that scene, with all it’s tension and enjoyable dialogue to involve characters in which I’ve become invested during the first half of the film. Instead, we get tension and enjoyable dialogue from veritable strangers while the Basterds wait outside.

    At least Deep Throat provided exposition. Marcel doesn’t even get that job. Give me just one trait that makes Marcel even just a partially fleshed out character and I will concede my point. Something that makes him more than an employee with benefits for Shosanna and an important point in the love triangle as it exists.

  89. ThomasCrown442

    May 25th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Yeah, Mr. Brooks was surprisingly good. If you subtract Demi Moore and Dane Cook the movie is almost great. Its also the only movie other than Body Heat that I liked William Hurt in.

  90. I liked the weird phoniness that Demi Moore and Dane Cook brought to the movie. It was almost like an Italian movie, both in the overcooked and illogical plotting and in the incongruent casting.

    And yeah, I never, ever liked William Hurt. He was the very definition of bland, and I could never remember which one was him and which was John Heard because they not only have similar names but they kind of look alike too. But then I saw BROOKS and HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and suddenly Hurt became one of my favorite doughy character actors. He really seems to be having fun getting to play evil for a change.

  91. Fair enough, Darryll. I actually agree with your assessment of those line readings, but only in the context of the trailer. In the context of the scene they’re pulled from they work much better. We only had one day of shooting with Halsey, which is actually ridiculous considering that he’s in about 1/4 of the film’s running time. The whole movie was shot in 11 days, which is just retarded since the film is feature length.

  92. Jake, look, in a way, you’re right. It is Shosanna’s story of revenge but Mr. Majes . . . I mean Marcel sacrifices himself to make her plan happen. That’s pretty heroic. Doesn’t he deserve even a little fleshing out to make that grand gesture seem like little more than a function of the plot? He’s supposed to be a very important figure in her life.

  93. Does burning up a bunch of Nazis count as a character trait? At the very least it suggests that he is not a Nazi sympathizer.

    I actually wouldn’t have minded him being fleshed out more. Though I could say that about every character in the movie because I like it so much. I just didn’t find it to be necessary. Like how the guy hiding Shoshanna’s family having a fully developed character is irrelevant. Since that scene is about dialogue and tension and Landa’s character.

    And I’m glad Tarantino didn’t do anything with the love triangle. I’ve seen tons of movies with a love triangle. I’d rather he focus instead on Marcel using celluloid to burn down a theater with a bunch of Nazis in it to help his girlfriend get revenge for her family’s murder since I haven’t seen that before.

  94. 11 days? A heroic effort, indeed. I’ll bet it’s hard for any actor to walk onto a set for one day and be expected to know their character, to know why they are saying particular things, referring to events they may have little or no knowledge of, etc. Direction happens on location with little time for ‘getting into’ character. That’s quite often the nature of independent filmmaking, though, isn’t it?

  95. But don’t you think it’s a testament to Tarantino’s je ne sais quoi that he can toss off these little characters who end up being so fascinating that it’s considered a valid criticism that we don’t know their whole life story? I mean, I think I get what I need to know about me…er, Marcel. Shosanna is clearly his whole life, but he is not hers. He is fully aware of this, but he loves her so much that he gives his life willingly to give her the revenge that means more to her than their life together. That’s some heavy fucking duty romantic shit, but it’s still not the point of the movie, or even of his scenes. I don’t need to know what made him that awesome to know he’s that awesome.

  96. In fact, not knowing anything else about him makes his actions even MORE romantic in my opinion. He gives us Marcels a good name.

  97. Your right, Jake, he definitely went for the original take on things but I also feel he had trouble deciding which characters he loved the most. As a result, no one (save a few key characters) really gets their due. I feel the only reason Marcel is a love interest for Shosanna is so that he would have an expedient excuse for sending himself up in flames for her. But shouldn’t such a grand sacrifice have been explored at least to some degree? Shouldn’t we have felt the connection between these two doomed lovers? Some dramatic weight should have been leveraged in that direction. But, ultimately, Marcel is really only a way for Shosanna to be symbolically present in both in the projection booth, inserting her revenge reel of film, and behind the screen throwing the match on the celluloid. That’s what I meant by Marcel being only an extension of Shosanna’s will. It’s why he is in the script.I can’t see any other reason.

  98. A compelling argument, Marcel. I didn’t want your whole life story but a few more lines would have been nice.

  99. As for the casting of Will Smith as Django…I’m on the fence. I’m not a fan of Will Smith at all, but he might be able to pull it off. I really don’t know who I’d cast (I don’t think Michael Jai White is right for the role, either). Waltz is definitely Schultz, the German bounty hunter that frees Django. And there are definitely parts for Keith Carradine, Treat Williams, Franco Nero, and Samuel L. Jackson…if early reports are in any way accurate (so far Tarantino has denied everything).

    Also, as to be expected, the script is completely anachronistic and nutty. Not ‘they blow up Hitler’ nuts, but I will say it has the most uses of the word ‘motherfucker’ of any Western I’ve seen. It takes place before the Civil War, but everything about the script screams post-Civil War, from dynamite, Winchesters, Peacemakers, and a weird a reference to a Teddy Bear. I wouldn’t expect anything less.

  100. I’ve never understood the point of reading a script before the movie comes out. That’s like X-raying your presents on Christmas Eve.

  101. I agree for the most part, Mr. Majestyk, but I’m a screenwriter, and I was prepping a Black Western script for 50 Cent, of all people, so I wanted to avoid any kind of overlap.

  102. That’s funny. I just saw 50 today. He was in my magazine’s studio for a photo shoot of chicks dressed up like video game characters. That love of playing dress-up is why I can totally see him doing a western. I interviewed him a few weeks ago and he seemed sincere about film’s ability to let him get out of his gangsta rap box. He just did that cancer movie, and he was committed to doing a Jeckyll and Hyde flick with Abel Ferrera (!) before it fell through.

    Nice guy. Kind of a flake, though. Stay on him if you want that movie to ever get made.

  103. As far as historical accuracy goes in terms pre/post Civil War, I doubt that’s a concern for T at this time. (I hate typing his name for some reason.)

  104. Yeah, I got a contact with someone in the company he just started with Floyd Mayweather Jr. asking to look at my scripts. I told them I only have Western scripts, but they loved the concept of one of them, so now I have to tailor it to a Black lead. I was advised to write a character ‘with a lot of pain.’

  105. “With a lot of pain.” Giving or receiving?

    Just out of curiosity, what sort of revisions, if any, would you make to suit a black lead? Or could you simply cast a black actor in the role without any commentary whatsoever? An interesting problem or an opportunity, perhaps.

  106. Emotional pain, I believe.

    The biggest revision is that a town he goes to will now be a black settlement started by the Exodusters. But yeah, I have to acknowledge the racism at the time. No offense to UNFORGIVEN, but Morgan Freeman allowed in a white saloon (and eventually into a white prostitute), would never happen (it’s not surprising that in the original script, the character of Ned is white). There were a lot of black cow-boys in the West, and there was surprisingly little racism on the range (most cow-boys were the lowliest, poorest people), but once they got into town, things changed. There’s one case of a black cow-boy walking into a white saloon where his friends were, and getting a chair to the back of the head for it.

  107. Luckily for him the chairs back then just shattered like balsa wood. At least that’s what the movies have taught me.

    Yeah, I guess you do have to at least acknowledge the racism. Depends on how much realism you want, I would think, though. A real shoot em up adventure film could be needlessly bogged down by details like that but a serious period piece should show it. But then again, it didn’t hurt UNFORGIVEN either to ignore the issue for the most part.

    From a strictly ‘story’ point of view the presence of racism can either hinder the flow and the heroes ability to get things done or it can be an opportunity to show the hero’s grit in the face of society’s ignorant roadblocks. The quandry here is, I suppose, that to be truly realistic would be to show that the vast majority of people at that time were simply powerless to do anything about the truly ingrained racism. It was more than active racism, it was just taken as rote by everyone; both those in power and by those in submission. It was part of the fabric of daily life and seemed to them the natural order of things, never to change. A depressing thought, to be sure, and actually difficult to type, but a fact nonetheless.

  108. If I read you right, David, Franco Nero’s in Django Unchained, but WILL SMITH plays Django?! Who does Nero play, an escaped slave called Mandingo? That’s a bit like doing a remake of Josey Wales and hire Eastwood to play the old indian chief.

  109. As much as I love UNFORGIVEN, that aspect of the film always bothered me a little. I think the problem is that UNFORGIVEN does kind of set itself up as a more realistic take on the Old West so that such an anachronistic element sticks out.

    One of the reasons I want to set a good deal of the action in an Exoduster settlement is to avoid a lot of the racism that isn’t pertinent to the plot. Plus it’s never been touched upon in any Western I know of outside of maybe Lee Frost’s THE SCAVENGERS.

  110. pegsman, it’s a DJANGO film in name only, much like all the numerous DJANGO rip-offs that used the name of the original, but were completely unrelated.

  111. DB: {{I would like to see Bana’s version of a cowboy but I really think Tom Cruise wouldn’t have been able to project the badassiness of a real outlaw.}}

    Collateral? Admittedly he looks like an urbane assassin in a movie about an urbane assassin, and not a somewhat grungy but urbane Old West outlaw. But still, I have heard it said by a casting agent that in real life Tom Cruise is (and I quote) “as ugly as a mud fence”. (She was saying that to assure potential hires that it doesn’t much matter what a person looks like off camera.) So if they filmed him without using lenses and makeup and lighting to pretty him up, viewers might be quite surprised at how grungy (yet urbane {g}) he could look.

  112. David, I get that. But those movies didn’t have the actual Django as part of the cast.

  113. Speaking of actors who look like they could have lived in the old west, I’m kind of excited to see Harrison Ford playing an old grizzled cowboy in Cowboy and Aliens. Ford is someone who could easily take advantage of his age. I would love to see him in a more straightforward, less blockbustery western.

  114. Three words: Nick. Fucking. Nolte.

    That dude’s got Old West written on every crater and chasm in his majestically ruined visage.

  115. Agreed, RBatty024. It’s a wonder he hasn’t done a western in all this time. I’m also amazed he’s following up CRYSTAL SKULL with another adventure film involving aliens.

    Does anyone have an opinion on what happened to his career post . . . say, THE FUGITIVE? A lot of bad choices after that.

  116. I think he got bored. He went through a midlife crisis, got himself an earring and a skinny new girlfriend, and tried not to work if he didn’t have to because it seemed like such a hassle. Through disuse, his charm has been overtaken by his grumpiness, and we’re left with the joyless husk we have now, the one with the smile that looks like it was produced by an electrical prod to his cheek muscles.

    Okay, that was meaner than I intended. But there’s just something missing from his these days. I sincerely hope he’s happier than he seems.

  117. RBatty024 and Darryll; Ford did a western i ’79 called The Frisco Kid. It’s really a Gene Wilder comedy, but in a western setting. Of course I can’t claim to know what goes on in Harrison Ford’s head, but the grumpiness might have something to do with the fact that nobody want to see him do serious roles. It’s the same thing with Sean Connery. Why can’t he realize that he’s an action man and not some dusty college professor. With those two grumpy old men on set, Indy 3 must have been a gloomy affair behind camera.

  118. Jareth Cutestory

    May 26th, 2011 at 8:19 am

    RBatty024: I agree with you about Ford fitting into a cowbow role. So long as he loses the ear-ring.

    Majetyk: I would have been on board with you about Nolte, but I think his performance in MULHULLAND FALLS was horrible, despite Nolte seeming like a great choice for playing a film noir character. Maybe his particular talent would translate better in a western. Maybe Nolte, Gary Busey and Nic Cage should do a MEGA western together. With Verhoeven directing, of course.

    David Lambert: Did you see how race was depicted in DEADWOOD, particularly the uneasy power relation between Woo and Swearegen? I thought that was some of the best stuff on that show.

    Surprised no one in this thread has mentioned Jarmusch’s DEAD MAN. That’s one western (of the “decidedly weird” variety) that I like a lot.

  119. Jareth Cutestory

    May 26th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    pegsman: I’m not disputing your hypothesis about Ford’s motivation, but it seems strange to me that he would think he was given a hard time over his non-action roles. WITNESS, WORKING GIRL and REGARDING HENRY were all well-received byt he critics. Wasn’t WITNESS nominated for an Oscar? And that courtroom thriller he did with Brian Dennehy and that light horror film he did with Michelle Pfeiffer both did well at the box office. So it’s not like he wasn’t rewarded in one way or another.

    Now Bill Murray had reason to be disillusioned after THE RAZOR’S EDGE. That thing flopped. I even remember radio commercials for that film where Murray explicitly told audiences: “Go see GHOSTBUSTERS if you want a laugh. This film is serious.”

  120. GRIM PRAIRIE TALES was another weird western I have fond memories of. Haven’t seen it in a century. The weird western, while fertile soil in pulp literature has always been one of the rarest of creatures in cinema. A genre mix that’s considered exceedingly tough to pull off. I would just about sell my daughter to see a well done lovecraftian western on the big screen.

    Will Smith’s WILD WILD WEST is often held up as an example of why the genre doesn’t work but while the tone of that film was all wrong there were elements that I thought were pretty cool. Specifically, the part where Gordon shines a lantern through the back of that severed head to project, through the eyes, the last thing the dead man looked at. That is such a pulpy, gothic, mad science moment that’s ruined by West’s stupid dialogue. They should have been in Spielbergian awe at the sight of it and instead they’re crackin’ jokes. That one scene illustrates the few things they got right on that picture and all the things they got wrong.

    I’m reminded of the scene from HORROR EXPRESS where Peter Cushing peels back the monster’s eye under a microscope and sees an image of dinosaurs in the cornea. A chilling scene that reveals the vast age of the monster and the scope of the horror they must face. Mad Victoriana at it’s best.

  121. Darryll: The actual tales of GRIM PRAIRIE TALES are somewhat underwhelming (except for the cannibal vagina one, which is a classic) but the framing material with Brad Dourif and James Earl Jones is quite good. The discussions they have around the campfire about the meaning and subtext of the individual segments make a good case for the value of horror stories, whether used as a metaphor for hard-to-broach social issues, a simple morality tale used to impart a lesson by negative example, or merely as a cathartic release of tension via consequence-free shock or disgust. In the end, the movie’s saying that fear and the overcoming thereof through storytelling is something that people of all backgrounds have in common and can be a great unifier.

    I *ahem* happen to have a copy for sale if you feel like clicking on my name.

  122. I did notice that, Mr. M. Thanks for the shameless self promotion (I kid).

  123. If you’re going to self-promote, do it shamelessly.

    But seriously, buy some shit from me.

  124. “I feel the only reason Marcel is a love interest for Shosanna is so that he would have an expedient excuse for sending himself up in flames for her.”
    Who says he died? Didn’t the two of them make plans to rendevous later, and if they didn’t, how is he exactly doomed by setting the fire? He locked the germans in the theater, there’s no indication he did the same to himself(and btw, people like to say if the Basterds hadn’t done anything, nothing would have changed, which is wrong, as they specifically killed Hitler. There’s no guarantee Shoshanna’s fire would have done the same, as he wasn’t locked in his box with Goerbels, so could have escaped otherwise). As for an explanation of “what he’s doing” in german occupied Paris, well, he’s french, isn’t he? Were the germans known for doing any particular thing to the black populations of the places they took over? I’m not knowledgeable about that.

  125. If indeed Nero has been cast, his part would be very small. There’s really only one character in the script he could play and he has about 3 lines. It would be more of a cameo than anything.

  126. I just got back from seeing MEEK’S CUTOFF. Another one to throw on the list of modern westerns that are better than Batman & Robin Hood’s 3:10 TO YUMA.

  127. Jareth, please dispute my theory. I’m mostly wrong, anyway. The movies you mention are all good, especially Presumed Innocent. But when people talk about them, they usually mention how boring Ford can be when he’s in a serious movie. And as I said earlier, I don’t know what he thinks about this, mostly because he barely speaks at all when he’s interviewed. Maybe he’s just a bit weird? It took him 20 years to realize that Blade Runner is his best movie, so…

  128. I got to work from home today and Hidalgo is on. Not a great movie but not bad to watch since it’s on AMC.

    I have a question for Outlaw Nation, does this movie count as a Western? I’m of two minds, I think it involves characters and icons from the Old West but it feels more like historical fiction than a Western. Not a bad flick to watch on a slow day, though, and I do like Viggo. He’s a weird looking guy and seems humanly flawed in appearance so I can buy him actually existing somewhere.

  129. If you love films, you gotta love 50´s westerns. John Ford and Anthony Mann are GODS.

  130. Awesome, David. Be sure to provide a link when they post their full review. Thanks.

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