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February 17, 2012


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That Fuzzy Bastard

So Shirley Temple is the drag identity of Buffalo Bill? That makes a lot of sense, actually.

Glenn Kenny

Why you, I oughta...

Actually I suppose I ought to be irritated at Jonathan Demme. It WAS pretty underhanded/clever/funny for him to use a classic Fordian framing on his villain. I GUESS.

David Ehrenstein


Very Jacques Tourneur.


Very nice.


I can't wait for the Blu-Ray! Though hopefully it gets better treatment than The Horse Soldiers.

Mr. Gittes

It's very sad. There has never been a great Western made. I think Stanley Kubrick would agree with this. Steven Soderbergh might, too.

All one has to do is read about what actually happened, which is wholly cinematic, and realize that filmmakers have largely failed in "sculpting that time" to the screen for us. I could say adapting "Blood Meridian" is a start but why insist?


ZS: I've thought about picking up that Blu of THE HORSE SOLDIERS (10 bucks at Walmart) -- mind if I ask what's wrong with it?

Mr. Gittes: I'm not sure I understand your post. By "what actually happened," are you referring to the true events that FORT APACHE is loosely based on?

As for the alleged lack of great Westerns, I simply disagree. I feel not even a twinge of sadness, even if you, Kubrick and Soderbergh weep. Of course, our definitions of "great" may differ, but I'm quite happy with THE SEARCHERS, RIO BRAVO, DAY OF THE OUTLAW, THE TALL T, THE RAID, WINCHESTER 73, GUNMAN'S WALK, etc., etc.


@jbryant: The Horse Soldiers is worth the 10 bucks but take a look at the DVDBeaver review. The lack of sharpness was something I noticed too when watching it.

As for great Westerns there so many! I simply don't understand thinking there aren't great Westerns.

J. Priest

Kubrick and Soderbergh are more likely to ridicule such hyperbolic generalizations than believe in them.


I think Mr Gittes is suggesting The Searchers shouldn't have had a happy ending (for Debbie).


If Gittes was talking about THE SEARCHERS, he should've actually, you know, mentioned THE SEARCHERS. I've read his post several times, and I'm really only guessing at what he's getting at. First time I read it, I thought "what really happened" referred to the events that inspired FORT APACHE; now I think he meant the entirety of that era. He thinks most all Westerns have failed to capture the "wholly cinematic" reality of that time.


So what makes the nineteenth-century American West any more "wholly cinematic" that any other time or place, apart from all the movies that have already been made set in it?


It's sad that Gittes has to make a generalization and then invent opinions for two people I'll assume he doesn't know to back up his point.

There are too many great Westerns to list. Starting most recently with MEEK'S CUTOFF which is a very successful attempt to depict "what really happened" inasmuch as anyone can.

That Fuzzy Bastard

What I find curious is just how completely out of fashion the Western is today. Every so often someone tries to revive it (Young Guns, The Quick and The Dead, etc.) and even when the individual movie is successful (True Grit), it doesn't seem to launch any imitators. I mean, the movie musical is back! Even the sword'n'sandals genre is back! So why can the Western find no purchase? Is the just the white-men-conquering-America thing?


Wish I knew, Fuzzy. I think I could watch a good Western every day. Heck, even a bad one can be entertaining. I wonder if the inundation of the genre in the 50s and 60s somehow seeped so far into the cultural DNA that the last few generations have been BORN with an aversion to them.

warren oates

I agree with jbryant. I can't relate to anyone who claims to like movies and not like Westerns. If it's true that Soderbergh and Kubrick both said there'd never been a true masterpiece of the Western genre, I'd submit, in part, it's because their colder more cerebral approach to filmmaking has nothing to do with what rocks the Western, which is a swirling mess of all things earthy, a hot running humanist faucet of pure imagery and emotion (Did Kubrick say this before or after THE WILD BUNCH? Could Cronenberg make a Western?)

As for the yet to be made epic Western about the systematic genocide of Native Americans, well, I'd nominate Andrew Dominik, who at one point I believe was attached to BLOOD MERIDIAN among other McCarthy novels in Hollywood development hell.

Glenn Kenny

Warren, before you use Gittes' statement as a club to smack Kubrick and Soderbergh with, please remember that Gittes was merely supposing, not citing. Kubrick was not widely noted for a disdain of Westerns. As for Soderbergh, I suspect he would be amused by Gittes' presumption. But I'm not gonna waste an email to him to prove it.

warren oates

Fair enough Glenn. I know Kubrick was supposed to make ONE-EYED JACKS. I suspect if he ever said something like what Gittes' was implying it was probably more likely in the context of "...so I'm now going to make one." Which he proceeded to do with so many other genres. Still, I'm hard pressed to think of a genius of the Western whose cinematic blood runs ice cold or tends to intellectual abstraction. Maybe if Jean-Pierre Melville had made one?


Why Kubrick and Soderbergh? Why not Jerry Lewis and F. W. Murnau? Francois Truffaut and Guy Maddin? The list of filmmmakers who may well, for all we know, believe there has never been a great Western film is seemingly endless!

Glenn Kenny

...Tommy Wisseau and Slava Tsukerman; Alexei German and John G. Avildsen; Maya Deren and Doris Wishman...


...Larisa Shepitko and Fred Schepisi. Tinto Brass and Edgar G. Ulmer. The Quay Brothers and Richard Benjamin.


It's very sad. I can only make unfounded empirical statements. Jesus and Gandhi and Buddha and Dr. Bronner are in 100% agreement with me. I could say making me Kind of All Internets is a start but why insist?

warren oates

I'd definitely be down for an Ulmer, Murnau, Truffaut or Maya Deren Western. Guy Maddin, not so much, but he's still alive and most likely to make a warmly cerebral one if he ever does. I've seen three Jesus Westerns: SHANE, EL TOPO and PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID. But no Ghandhi or Buddha Westerns (probably because most gunslingers come not in peace but with a sixshooter).

Johnny Quick

Actually Kubrick was famously all set to make the Western One-Eyed-Jacks before Brando decided he wanted to direct as well as star and develop the story. And Kubrick worked with Brando on story development before basically getting booted off.


And ONE-EYED JACKS is a great Western! Perplexing!


to Warren Oates - Ulmer did make at least one Western, "The Naked Dawn" in particular was a big favorite of Truffaut's...


Warren Oates: I think that Buddha would probably be cool with DEAD MAN. However, the world still anxiously awaits a western that might conform to Gandhi's lofty standards.

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