JOHNNY CHAZZ: We speak of genre in film and there are so many directions to turn: Drama, Foreign, Thriller / Suspense, Fantasy, Comedy, etc. This week however, we go West........
There is little doubt that Film Westerns have been a dying art over the years, and the appreciation by audiences for this genre is fading rapidly.
Westerns typically reflect American ideology more than any other genre. “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) just shows how that's changed, and perhaps there and the changes that our culture is going through in respect to more of a ‘feminist world’, per se. Are Westerns simply becoming, well…..melodramas?
|JOHN WAYNE: "THE DUKE"|
Let’s drop some names now: John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Gary Cooper serve as the classic Western icons in American film. Nobody fits the bill like Wayne, a towering presence both on and off his horse. These are the icons – and the whole world once knew it well.
It was during the 1950's that the genre found its rhythm, as rough-neck cowboys like Wayne, Cooper, Henry Fonda, and perhaps the not-so-tough Jimmy Stewart rode their horses, battled Indians (funny enough: they were usually played by white men in make-up) and rode into one-horse towns with an air of sheer overconfidence.
These films were decidedly different star- making turns than the westerns of the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. While most of Clint Eastwood’s characters in the 1970’s were memorable and distinctive, his best known Western may have been “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976). Here, Eastwood would play in the role of a revenge story moving the genre back into the mainstream for film-going audiences.
It has been almost 20 years since the release of Academy Award winning “Unforgiven,” and today the western has all but disappeared. The early 1990s saw two dueling variations of Wyatt Earp, the somber (and painfully slow) “Wyatt Earp” with Kevin Costner along with “Tombstone,” starring Kurt Russell.
The flops? Just take one look at the disastrous and utterly ridiculous “Waterworld” (1995) or “Treasure Planet” (2002) directed by Ron Clements. These were utter disappointments.
“No Country for Old Men,” could easily be classified as a Western – and quite a good one at that. Still, is what we call westerns today really just “Thriller / Crime Genres”? The point being, it seems that today’s Western can fit into any sub-genre category including everything from fantasy, to science-fiction and most often than not, the crime-genre.
Perhaps audiences are just bored and need every genre to fit into another sub-genre. Is this another topic for the future on CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT? The possibilities, therefore, might be considered endless without a doubt!
Your thoughts Jer?
|JER's DAD- THE COWBOY|
|DALE EVANS, TRIGGER & ROY ROGERS|
|EASTWOOD: The "LEONE" Years|
|BEST DIRECTOR/ BEST FILM= UNFORGIVEN|
|DIRECTOR/ WRITER: SAM PECKINPAH|
|MY DAD'S FAVORITE FILM: THE WILD BUNCH|
|BEST DIRECTOR/ PICTURE= DANCES WITH WOLVES|
|(left) Russell in TOMBSTONE/ (right) Costner in WYATT EARP|
|Jeff Bridges in TRUE GRIT (2010)|
|(left) Craig and (right) Ford: COWBOYS AND ALIENS|
Until then, enjoy the THANKSGIVING holiday with family and friends from yours here at CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT!