*Allison rides into town in her custom cowgirl outfit*
CLEAR THE STREETS, CITIZENS. I’VE GOT A GIF GUN AND AN ITCHY TRIGGER FINGER. THE GIFS ARE GOING TO BE FLYING, AND IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SHOT WITH LAUGHTER, YOU’D BETTER GO HIDE IN THE SALOON!
*removes hat with a sigh* Welp, I did it again, folks. I had all of my July blog posts scheduled and ready to go. I wrote them all early, trying to get some of the work off my plate so I could relax and focus on other tasks.
SO WHAT DO I DO? I SEE THIS VERY AWESOME TAG ON A FRIEND’S BLOG AND I JUST HAVE TO GET INVOLVED.
So I pile the work back onto my plate and start blogging like a mad dog again just as I was trying to take a break.
This tag is part of a blogging event for this week only and I can’t resist blogging about Westerns so, obviously, I HAD to overturn everything and embrace the grief and joy of writing a fresh and harried post so I could participate in this shindig.
And that’s why I am interrupting your pre-scheduled program for this special news bulletin AND YOU’RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO ACCEPT THE INSANITY OF IT AS I DID, BECAUSE I’M NOT GOING TO GIVE ANY MORE EXCUSES.
But I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute, Allison! You promised us a month of DISNEY themed posts. You’re breaking up the theme by doing a Western tag!”
You’re wrong, Pilgrim. I plugged up that problem, no sweat.
While this post is Western themed and I will be answering the tag questions, at the very end of the post, I’ll be adding on an extra spotlight on DISNEY’S LIVE-ACTION WESTERN MOVIES, THEREBY CIRCUMVENTING ANY PROTESTS AND STILL COVERING MYSELF IN HONEST GLORY.
ALLISON’S GOT YOU COVERED, COMPADRES. I was able to participate and collaborate with some amazing fellow bloggers, stuck to my promised theme, gave you FIVE posts instead of four this month, and wrote up the fastest blog post EVER. I think I set a new speed record for myself with this post.
And so, without further ado – ONTO THE TAG. And the spotlight.
1) Do you tolerate, like, or love Westerns?
(a picture of me at Old Tuscon walking up to the hacienda used for one of my favorite TV shows of all time, The High Chaparral)
I like them!!!! And there are certain Westerns I LOVE. Among them, Chisum and Big Jake. My favorite type of Westerns are the ones that don’t really FEEL like a Western. Let me explain.
Westerns, like any genre, are glutted with tropes, to the point where we will see the same story over and over again. In a Westerns case that means: Mysterious stranger cleans up the town. Some mild variation may apply.
What I like are Westerns that simply use these magnificent trappings as a back drop for the stories of different genres. For instance, War Wagon is a heist movie, but in a Western setting. Chisum could be an epic fantasy film with its feudal like land barons and its massive cast of dueling characters, but it’s set in the West. The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a samurai film, and still retains that foreign flavor. Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter are screwball comedies that just happen to be set in the Wild West.
(some Internet wit replaced the word “Sheriff” with “Mod” in this Gif – which makes it even more funny)
2) What do you enjoy about them and, more broadly, the West? (Eg. the history, accompanying paraphernalia, etc)?
Um – ALL OF IT???
History has always been my favorite subject, and so that’s definitely part of it. The paraphernalia – UH, YES. I love a good outfit – and how could you NOT like the standard cowboy gear (including that six-gun)? I could do an entire blog post just about the costumes I’ve seen in Western films and loved. Kristen Larson was my first American Girl doll, so that also explains some of my early infatuation with the Pioneers. Growing up, I played endless hours of Oregon Trail (I probably played it like no one ever has before). I adore the scenery of the West – it is ruggedly beautiful. It’s vastness is both awe-inspiring and overwhelming. As an artist, the light and shadow and the rich earth colors of the West greatly appeal to me.
But, most of all, I think it’s the spirit of the West and what it represents that I love most.
Many people around the world still to this day think of Americans as being synonymous with cowboys. Cowboy culture is quintessentially American. There was no other history quite like this on earth, no other land conquered in quite this way.
This Christmas, while driving across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, I deeply felt the richness of our nation. As we drove past crops, oil fields, cattle ranches, and railroads, I really felt as if I was moving through the heart of our nation, at the very least, the life-blood. But this is not a richness that we just snatched from the air, it’s an up-by-the-bootstraps success. We are blessed by a fertile and vast land, but it was up to us to conquer it, to cultivate it and connect it to every state, making it the powerful nation that we know today.
I love the straightforwardness and the toughness of the men and women of this historical period (and genre). They are true heroes, brave and honest and with a strong moral code who don’t waste time wallowing around in their emotions and doubts but act with decisiveness and boldness.
To this day, Westerns and cowboys are STILL popular all around the world, despite everyone’s best efforts to rewrite their history or decry them as politically incorrect. They’re an American icon, and I for one am going to fan the love for them – as well as the old-fashioned, rootin-tootin, don’t-take-no-guff America of our heritage.
*when anti-American subversives criticize our history and our ancestors*
3) What’s the first Western you can remember watching?
Oh gosh . . .
It was probably a John Wayne film or, more than likely, a Roy Rogers film. I do remember watching the Comancheros and North to Alaska since I was quite small. Or Support your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfight.
Westerns made up the bulk of what I watched as a child, so I really can’t remember.
4) Who are your favorite Western stars, the ones whose presence in a Western will make you pick it up off the shelf?
Probably John Wayne.
There was one period where I didn’t like John Wayne (I think it was his role in Mclintock that turned me off of him for a while – a movie and a performance which would sully anybody’s opinion). But I got over that brief bout of madness and the older I get, the more I love John Wayne.
I really admire his problem-solving abilities: hard words, swift action, flying fists, and hot lead. #GoodTimes
One of the things that really just makes him even better is that he was basically playing himself. He was a proud, tough American with gumption and cowboy wisdom and, whether you liked him or not, he had something that most people don’t possess – consistency.
He was a conservative hunk of unapologetic manhood that didn’t tolerate foolishness, corruption, or sass.
5) What’s your favorite performance by an actress in a Western?
Katharine Hepburn in Rooster Cogburn (the sequel to True Grit)! Miss Eula Goodnight is utterly magnificent! She’s the sort of person you might aspire to be when you grow up. *laughs* She is cheerful, bold, calm, possessing a fiery and grounded faith, and doesn’t take no guff from nobody (though when she gives it back to you, she does it in the most polite and refined way). She has a fabulous vocabulary, maintains her high standards no matter the situation, and she’s happily and independently single. This is a woman I can relate to and a woman that inspires me! Not many people can give John Wayne back as good as he gives, let alone flummox him, but Eula Goodnight does it with a smile.
And she’s a darn good shot with a gatling gun.
6) What is your “go-to” Western, the one you’ll typically reach for?
Chisum!!!!! CHISUM, CHISUM, CHISUM, CHISUM!!!!
This isn’t just a great Western, this is a great FILM – one of the best. Majestic scenery, masterful scripting, perfect editing, beautiful cinematography and perfect casting of dozens of brilliant actors, many of whom are playing real, historic characters. This is one of my favorite roles for John Wayne, and we get to see a bit more of his gentler side in his tender relationship with his niece. This film also features one of the best portrayals of Billy the Kid I’ve ever seen – Geoffrey Deuel is absolutely brilliant in his likable but tragic portrayal.
As I said earlier, this movie is almost like an epic fantasy set in the Wild West. The cast is huge, the plot complex, and the stakes high as mighty land barons fight for control of the territory. The little people are swept into the conflict and have to choose sides. Politics play a big part as the characters struggle to twist the law and leaders such as sheriffs and senators to do their bidding. In a lawless land, the strong moral men who have carved out a life for themselves are forced to uphold the code until the law arrives. Even the opening credits feel almost like we’re panning across epic tapestries as a troubadour relates a tale of ancient glory. Check out these opening credits and listen to the music (song) written by one of my favorite film composers, Dominic Frontiere!
7) Do your family/friends share your interest in Westerns, or are you a lone ranger (pun completely intended)?
Fortunately for this extroverted cowgirl, I do not ride this range alone. My dad was the one that instilled an appreciation for Westerns in my siblings and me and my mom used to watch shows like Branded and Bonanza as a child, so how could we possibly escape the Western bug?
I have many, many memories of watching Westerns with my family. If it’s well-made, we’ll all probably enjoy it. Our latest Western kick has been the Maverick TV show.
8) Pick one Western to live inside for a week, and explain why you chose it.
Castaway Cowboy? Because then I could still be a cowgirl, but I could live in HAWAII. I’ll be the cowgirl sipping a cold drink out of the coconut on the beach, thank you.
9) Share one (or several!) of your favorite quotes from a Western.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE? Westerns are SO quotable. Here’s a few.
Movie: Cahill: U.S. Marshall. The hero: John Wayne.
The Scene: John Wayne rides into a snowy clearing full of criminals. He’s completely surrounded but he coolly reaches into his pocket, sticks his badge on his jacket (got to keep this official) and asks calmly. “Any of you want to surrender?” #STYLE
Movie: True Grit (the REAL True Grit – not the remake). The hero: John Wayne.
The Scene: Mattie draws out her ancient weapon.
Wayne: “Why, girl, that’s a Colt’s Dragoon! You’re no bigger than a corn nubbin, what’re you doing with all this pistol?
Later, when describing the target he is perusing.
Wayne: “Short feisty fella, nervous and quick, got a messed-up lower lip.”
Quincy: “That don’t bring nobody to mind. A funny lip?”
Wayne: “Wasn’t always like that, I shot him in it.”
Quincy: “In the lower lip? What was you aiming at?”
Wayne (sarcastically): “His upper lip!”
(while introducing La Boeuf)
Wayne: “Yeah! This is the famous horse killer from El Paso. He believes in puttin’ everybody afoot.”
Movie: The Comancheros. The Hero: Stuart Whitman.
Paul Regret: (while playing poker). “Mind a suggestion friend? Trouble with you is you don’t enjoy the game for its own rewards: stimulation, relaxation, pleasant association, and interesting conversation.” (my family quotes this all the time when we play cards)
Movie: The Comancheros. The Heroes: Stuart Whitman and John Wayne.
Wayne (after trying to keep Whitman from being hanged): “Of course, MY conscious will be clear – I’ll have done all I could.”
Whitman: “Oh, great, GREAT. As I drop through the hatch I’ll think: Well, Big Jake did all he could!”
That does it for the tag. And now . . . *drum roll*
A SPOTLIGHT ON DISNEY’S WESTERN FILMS.
The Apple Dumpling Gang
After three poor orphans are sent to live with gambler Russell Donovan, they discover they have actually inherited a large fortune from their dead father. Soon a series of greedy undesirables shows up trying to get their hands on the money. In order to keep things uncomplicated, the kids decide to give their inheritance to a lovable outlaw duo, Theodore (Don Knotts) and Amos (Tim Conway). But there is only one problem — the gold is locked away in a bank vault.
Wacky and sweet, slapstick humor and exciting action are effortlessly juxtaposed in this classic Disney film that features one of my funniest bar room brawls of all time (and I’m a bit of a connoisseur of bar room brawls – er, in movies)
It’s corny and over-the-top, but it’s also a funny and charming film about lost souls becoming a family – since the highlight of the film is definitely the selfish, grumpy gambler growing softer and softer as he falls under the spell of three sweet and irresistible children. And guys, if you can’t laugh at Don Knotts and (especially) Tim Conway, I am really worried about your sense of humor.
It’s also full of hilarious and highly quotable dialogue. Such as: “You know something, Amos? The Lord poured your brains in with a teaspoon, and somebody jiggled His arm!”
Texas cowboy, Lincoln Costain (James Garner), gets shanghaied in San Francisco, then jumps ship and washes ashore on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, right into the arms of widow Henrietta and her son, who are struggling to make a living as farmers. A lot of wild cattle often trample their crops, so Costain gets the idea to start cattle ranching instead. The Hawaiian farm hands don’t readily take to the American cowboy culture, and Bryson (Robert Culp), is a banker with eyes to grab Henrietta’s land and maybe Henrietta herself.
Nobody in Kauai has ever raised cattle before, and transporting them by longboat to ships at harbor is even more of a difficulty.
The uptight Garner doesn’t mix well with the happy-go-lucky Hawaiian workmen – who would rather laugh and horse around than do anything else in life. A confirmed bachelor, Garner is also struggling with the fact that the young son of the lady who hired him is glomming on to him with a goal to keep him around permanently . . . a goal that his mother just might share. Add to that the acts of sabotage from the slimy local banker who will do anything to stop Garner from success, including paying off a witch doctor to curse the workers, a curse that results in the no-nonsense Garner tracking the witch doctor down to a taboo cave along the coast to have a violent showdown with the bitter shaman.
It has all the elements of a classic western (nasty banker, cattlemen, stampedes, the lonely widow) but it blends it wonderfully with Hawaiian culture and scenery. Even the music has a fabulous Western melody punctuated by happy luau rhythms – it’s wonderful.
One Little Indian
On the run from the Cavalry, a man tries to disappear while accompanied by two camels and a runaway boy. His escape is made harder when he meets a widow and her daughter who may turn him in.
This film is set before the Civil War, during an time of experimentation of the U.S. Government to create a United States Camel Corps and to implement camels as pack animals in the Southwestern United States (who says you can’t learn history from Disney??)
I love James Garner. You have to like him even if he isn’t always playing the most honorable character. *laughs* This movie is quirky and exciting but, most of all, it’s a poignant story about two outcasts who are lucky enough to find one another and form a father / son relationship. Clint Keyes is on the run from the army, and so is Mark – an Indian captive who has been collected by the Army but is determined to return to his adopted Cheyenne family. This common goal unites them, and thus, we have a buddy film as these this unlikely duo travels across the desert on the even more unlikely conveyance of a grumpy camel named Rosie and her baby, Thirsty.
James Garner is always wonderful with child actors, while still being fabulously understated and retaining his blow-heart manner, and this movie and friendship is no exception. A simple and decent film with a heartwarming finale.
Travis (Tommy Kirk) and Arliss Coates (Kevin Corcoran) are in charge of the family farm when their parents leave to visit their ailing grandmother. Thankfully, they have Old Yeller’s son, Savage Sam, to keep them company. Initially, Travis and Arliss bump heads because Travis is older and more responsible, and Arliss wants to shirk his duties. When the boys and a neighbor’s daughter are taken captive by a tribe of Apaches, it is up to Savage Sam to save the day.
I liked this sequel way more than it’s predecessor, Old Yeller (COME ON, YOU GUYS – WHO WOULD LIKE A MOVIE WHERE THE DOG DIES IN THE END?).
In this film, Sam the dog lives (that’s not a spoiler, that’s an assurance). But while he plays an important role in the film, he’s not the central character as the human counterparts are more developed.
This movie is full of humor, exciting action, and even hardship, but most of all, it’s about families determined to be reunited. I especially love Uncle Beck and the band of men (most of them family men, as well) who mount a desperate attempt to rescue the kidnapped children. But, I must say, it is ornery Arliss that steals the show in this film. By the end of the movie, the Apaches truly regret capturing that boy. He takes resistance to a whole new level. I’ve been told by my dad that some of his reactions in tormenting one particular Apache captor remind him of me – and I suppose I’ll take that as a compliment.
GUYS, WATCH THE OPENING CREDITS, I BEG YOU. I LOVE THIS SONG SOOOO MUCH. *WARM CHILDHOOD FUZZIES*
And there you have it! A spotlight on a few of Disney’s old westerns! Judging from the responses I got on my previous post (10 Disney Movies That Time Forgot But Shouldn’t Have) – I’m betting that there are very few of you that have seen these classic Disney films.
What about you, pardner? Do you like Westerns? (you’d better). If so, which is your favorite? I’m always looking for fresh recommendations, for movies OR books!
“Until we meet again – may the Good Lord take a liking to you.” #RoyRogers
(don’t forget to check out the rest of the bloggers and posts of the Legends of Western Cinema Week! You can find the links RIGHT HERE ON HAMLETTE’S SOLILOQUY!