The Last Western You Watched? ver.2.0

And another thread bites the 10,000-post dust! So here we go again.

A few days ago: Started to watch Outlaws & Angels (Mollner, 2016) but it started to feel as though it was going to become a bit much for viewing while my son was milling around the house so I gave up on it for the time being. Seemed okay as far as I saw it, though. Not a true great but I’ll have to find out if it hits those highs another time.

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Managed to finish Outlaws & Angels (Mollner, 2016).

Henry and his gang of ne’erdowells turn a standard robbery into a bloodbath of innocent civilians and, with a posse on their tail led by mean-eyed tracker Josiah, they have to find somewhere to refuel, regroup and recuperate before skinning out for the border at the light of dawn. They happen upon the frontier homestead of George and Ada Tildon, and their daughters Charlotte and Flo. The Tildons are a deeply God-fearing and righteous family… well, apart from maybe the, ahem, “rubdowns” old George likes to receive from his daughters after a day’s toil in the fields, or the fact that tubthumping matriarch Ada turns a blind eye to those shenanigans, or that older sister Charlotte seems to enjoy the act, and is openly hostile to her prettier younger sibling, to whom daddy seems to lavish most, um, attention. So when Henry and his gang arrive and fancy a spot of enforced ooh-la-la for themselves, who are we rooting for here?

Less a western and more a home invasion horror in period clothing, Outlaws & Angels contains a good few outlaws but no f*cking angels whatsoever, of that you can be sure. It’s a mean, mean piece, and quite spartan too, starting as it does as a typical western chase but hitting the brakes hard to take place for much of its runtime almost entirely inside a solitary frontier household. The characters are mostly caricatures, with most depth being afforded to the leads: grizzled gang-leader Henry (Chad Michael Murray) and to fifteen year-old Flo (played by Clint Eastwood’s 23 year-old daughter Francesca), upon whom Henry has a lusty eye.

The vernacular was a little hackneyed - some of the lines felt as though they belonged to Yosemite Sam - a fair few scenes dragged on longer than they needed to, I needed subtitles to completely understand Chad Michael Murray’s mumbling growl and the sequences involving Josiah the tracker (Luke Wilson) and his deputy Alonzo (Breaking Bad’s Steven Quezada) didn’t seem to go anywhere but overall, I quite enjoyed it. It’s very grisly but, since everyone’s an utter bastard, it doesn’t matter who’s being offed at any particular moment. And Francesca Eastwood was IMO excellent.

The piano score was quite beautiful in its way, too.

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Ride the high country ,

TRADED (2016) - This one gets a lot of shit in the reviews I’'ve read, but I didn’t find it too bad myself. It’s a simple, straightforward one with some pretty violent scenes and nasty characters. Something like TAKEN in the wild west, not as good though. Kept me entertained for 1,5h so I can’t say anything really negative about it.

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Reprisal! (1956), The Hard Man (1957), directed by George Sherman

If judged exclusively by its treatment of interracial relations and gender roles, Reprisal! would be an outstanding Western, comparable to Anthony Mann’s Devil’s Doorway (1950). Guy Madison plays Frank Madden, a young man who buys land to become a rancher. The town and area he has chosen for this venture are fraught with tensions between three racist white ranchers, the Shipley brothers, and Native Americans who live in nearby “Indian town.” Madden tries his best to stay neutral and out of trouble but unavoidably gets drawn into the one-sided racist conflict. In fact, he himself is a marker for its racial demarcation line, since it turns out his father was a European-American hunter and his mother a Cherokee.

The Native Americans get a lot of screen time, including close-ups and sensible dialogue, and are depicted in a positive way as reasonable citizens, not bloodthirsty savages (quite common since the success of Delmer Daves’s Broken Arrow [1950], which, by the way, was completed after Devil’s Doorway, as noted by Richard Slotkin, who discusses the latter film at length in his Gunfighter Nation [pp. 366 ff.]). Even more remarkable, Reprisal! features two female protagonists, one Native American, Taini (Kathryn Grant), one European-American, Catherine Cantrell (Felicia Farr), and both of them play crucial roles for the story’s denouement; contrary to Hollywood Western conventions, the Native American woman survives. Last but not least, the film’s happy ending is an emphatic endorsement of interracial love and presumably marriage.

By (initially) denying his Native American ancestry, the film’s mixed-blood protagonist tries to apply a social strategy known as “passing” (adopted, for example, by comic-strip genius George Herriman; by Susan Kohner’s character Sarah Jane in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life [1959]; or by Coleman Silk, the protagonist in Philip Roth’s novel The Human Stain [2000]). Hence one might suspect that the racial(ist) tensions depicted in Reprisal! are not so much based on nineteenth-century conflicts between European and Native Americans but rather reflect 1950s black/white social problems. In that regard, Reprisal! is a laudable exercise in liberal politics, but its dramatic structure and characters are ultimately too flat to make the film a great Western, not to mention its lack of thrilling action sequences.

New York City-born Hollywood all-rounder George Sherman (1908–1991) and Pumpkin Center-born actor Guy Madison (1922–1996), later star of numerous Italian productions, teamed up again for another Western in 1957, their second and final collaboration during their long careers.

The Hard Man puts into motion a sinister triangular relationship between a trigger-happy Texas Ranger, a disgruntled, desperately unhappy wife and her spouse, a crooked expansionist rancher-oligarch. All three are hardened human beings, reckless in their disregard for life and liberty. Their pursuit of unhappiness – not very pleasant to watch: The Hard Man rarely leaves town – results in death and catharsis. Madison as Texas Ranger Steve Burden, who kills too many men, delivers a tough, taciturn performance, anticipating his tight-lipped, violent Spaghetti Western characters. English actress Valerie French as Fern Martin of consumptive pallor and pretended concupiscence all but reprises her Desdemona role from Delmer Daves’s Jubal (1956). Pre-Bonanza Lorne Greene, soon forever Ben Cartwright (1959–∞), convincingly portrays Fern’s evil husband Rice. The film’s most aggressive and disturbing moment is provided by a young boy, Larry (Rickie Sorensen), vehemently urging Burden to shoot Rice Martin, whose henchmen murdered Larry’s father: “Kill ’im, Steve, kill ’im!”

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Actually they made also Dawn at Socorro (1954) together. It is also one of the better films in Sherman’s undistinguished b-picture carreer.

But Reprisal is an underrated movie, even if my memory does rate it with 6/10. I would like to rewatch it.

Little Big Man (1970)

Wild West was like a box of chocolates…


But filled with delicious chocolate …

Are you sure? I checked their respective filmographies but couldn’t find Dawn at Socorro among Madison’s movies. Does he appear uncredited in it?

Sorry, my mistake. It was Rory Calhoun.

Both are somehow a bit similar for me, easy to confuse.


The last time I watched this Edward Dmytryk film was at least eight years ago, on DVD. It was a movie that I’d grown up with, with regular showings on BBC and ITV.
There was a great ‘power’ behind the performances, and that ‘power’ was not only the superlative majesty of Spencer Tracy, but, also, the equally brooding performances of Robert Wagner and Richard Widmark.

On Bluray, ‘Broken Lance’ takes on a life of its own. It is a beautiful film, a majestic film, and one in which the performances - and the scenery - compete for First Prize…I loved every second, and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a gritty Western.

I liked it too, it’s a fine Western / family drama; in my opinion not as strong as Dmytryk’s Warlock but much better than his pretty mediocre Shalako.

“And you must be Rory.”

I wasn’t aware Calhoun was that tall.

All three look the same. Is Rory the girl in the middle? No? No …

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YUMA (1971, Ted Post)

A made for TV western, produced by Aaron Spelling, supposedly a pilot for a TV-show that never came off the ground, directed by the man who did Clint Eastwood’s Hang 'm High and would also do Magnum Force. That other Clint - the gigantic Clint Walker - is Dave Harmon, the new Marshal of the town of Yuma, Arizona (the film was shot in Old Tucson). Upon his arrival two of the King brothers - both members of the family that virtually owns the place - are causing trouble. One of them is shot by the new lawman, the other one put behind bars. The situation looks critical, and things get even worse when the imprisoned King brother is killed by someone who wants to put the blame on Harmon …

At first Yuma looks very much like a poor man’s Rio Bravo (tough lawman, brother in jail, other brother demanding his release, and so forth), but man, they sure managed to complicate things. With a story about murder, backstabbing, Indians, pilfered beef plus a Mexican orphan and an attractive young widow (I guess Kathryn Hays’ character is supposed to be a widow) they have crammed so much into the mere 73 minutes of running-time that even Walker with his 6 foot 5 (1.98 m.) must have had trouble to overlook the overworked plot. Walker is still tall - very tall - in the saddle, but we’re more than a decade after his Cheyenne days and I thought he was looking a little tired in this one. Strictly average, but a great supporting cast helps (if you don’t know the actors by name, you’ll recognize their faces).

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
-Probably my favorite Ford western. Great cast with Lee Van Cleef in a supporting role.

Haven’t, of course, seen all of Ford’s Western films (virtually impossible) but among his sound Westerns definitely a favorite, alongside Wagon Master (1950).

Revenge of the Virgins (1959), directed by Peter Perry Jr.

A scruffy old prospector, Pan Taggart (Stan Pritchard), leads a group of gold-seekers (Charles Veltman, Jodean Russo, Hank Delgado [better known as Henry Darrow {The High Chaparral}], Hugo Stanger) into rough, secluded territory. On their way they are joined by two deserters (Lou Massad, Del Monroe). Unfortunately, the gold they’re looking for is fiercely protected by the last surviving members of an Indian tribe, all of them female (Joanne Bowers, Pat O’Connell, Jewell Morgan, Betty Shay, Jan Lee, Nona Carver, Ramona Rogers). – Very basic but surprisingly effective film-making; screenplay by Ed Wood, credited as “Pete La Roche.” Watched Revenge of the Virgins because Lee Broughton mentions it in The Euro-Western, emphasizing “the fact that Wood had actually written a Western that subversively allowed its Indians to successfully defend their land and its natural resources” (p. 43).

STARS IN MY CROWN - One for the family and god-fearing, law-abiding people, but not for me. Objectively it’s quite well-made though.

How does it compare to Tourneur’s Canyon Passage (1946)?

I prefer CANYON PASSAGE and every other Tourneur western I have seen to it. Technically there’s nothing seriously wrong with it, problem is that it’s as harmless and PC as a western can get.