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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Johnson’

The Wild Bunch

Friday, March 6th, 2020

1969. Woodstock and the moon landing and the Manson murders and all that. A different time.

Not just because of bed-ins and bellbottoms, though. Another thing that was different was that people watched westerns. Tons of them! BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID topped the box office, TRUE GRIT won a best actor Oscar for John Wayne, plus there was MORE DEAD THAN ALIVE, CHARRO!, 100 RIFLES, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF!, SAM WHISKEY, MACKENNA’S GOLD, GUNS OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, PAINT YOUR WAGON, THE UNDEFEATED, TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE, A TIME FOR DYING. By comparison, I only count nine super hero movies last year, and to get there I had to include GLASS, HELLBOY, BRIGHTBURN and JOKER.

It couldn’t go on forever. John Ford, Anthony Mann, Raoul Walsh and Delmer Daves were done making westerns. Howard Hawks only had one more in him. Several years earlier, Sergio Leone had rebuilt the genre in a completely different style, launching an entire national industry in Italy. Then in ’67 BONNIE AND CLYDE pushed the limits of onscreen violence, and in July of ’69, the countercultural, modern western EASY RIDER revved the engine on what would be come “New Hollywood” in the ’70s.

And Sam Peckinpah was hungry. He’d gotten into trouble with MAJOR DUNDEE in ’65, going over budget, fighting with the producer, getting it taken away from him and re-edited. His reputation took a hit, and he got fired from THE CINCINNATI KID a couple days into filming. Luckily NOON WINE, his 1966 hour-long for ABC Stage 67, was well received, giving him the opportunity for a comeback. So what the hell, he went and made an all-timer of a western, but a little different from his previous ones. This was a western made for a time when people were disillusioned about the war in Vietnam and the violent images it brought into their homes. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cherry 2000

Monday, August 11th, 2014

tn_cherryCHERRY 2000 is a quirky post-apocalyptic adventure, one with a cool sci-fi western premise and alot of underlying oddness and satirical observation about life in the ’80s. The action is slightly stilted, and I think director Steve De Jarnatt (who followed this up with the pre-apocalyptic MIRACLE MILE) is more comfortable doing funny twists on the genre than sincerely following its tropes, but I also think there is a good faith effort to deliver the goods. There are lots of machine guns and blowtorches, some explosions, some great stunts involving a car hanging from a crane. When the weinery yuppie protagonist decides to man up he does it by setting fire to a bunch of cars and rigging an explosion that knocks over Tim Thomerson and swarms him with bees. Not bad. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Sugarland Express

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

tn_sugarlandspielbergTHE SUGARLAND EXPRESS is the feature debut of young TV director Steve Spielberg. It’s hard to think of it as his first real movie when DUEL was so damn good, but officially it’s the first one he made for theatrical release. Things have really changed, haven’t they? You don’t get hungry young up-and-comers starting out in TV and then making a splash in movies. There’s great TV now but it’s not a place for visionary directors.

To commemorate the 2 (two) new Spielberg movies that came out recently I decided to finally get aorund to watching all the Spielberg movies I’ve never actually seen. This is gonna include a couple that you guys will be surprised by because everybody else in the world saw them a long time ago. But mostly it will be the “lesser” Spielbergs. Not JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS or E.T. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Getaway (1972)

Wednesday, January 1st, 2003

Now this is what I call a fuckin MOVIE. I forgot about it until seeing it on Bravo today but it is even better now that I’m older and now that I’ve done my own bid. First though, a word about Bravo. This is the “film and arts network” they CLAIM, but they don’t have the balls to live up to that slogan. You know how Sam Peckinpah movies always have the real slick opening credits with the freeze frames and the atmosphere and what not? They show these in widescreen and your thinking, “Look at that! Look at that rectangular screen! That atmosphere! THIS is a fuckin MOVIE.”

And then it says “directed by Sam Peckinpah” and BAM, no more widescreen. No, that’s just so the words will fit, we don’t need it anymore. The picture is square and cramped and the film is all faded and dark and you’re thinkin, “What is this crap, Hunter?” (read the rest of this shit…)