Top Ten-Boston Globe


(Jack Burns) #1

Interesting picks and some great films, but I strongly disagree.

The best of the West

By Paul Andrew Hutton | September 30, 2007
The Boston Globe

Any Top 10 list is highly subjective. Excluded are silent films and spaghetti westerns (because they annoy me - although “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in the West” are exceptional). Only the first four films are ranked in order.

PAUL ANDREW HUTTON

  1. “The Wild Bunch” (1969) - Sam Peckinpah’s masterpiece about honor-bound outlaws running out of time in a changing West shocked audiences when first released. Some see the apocalyptic final bloodbath that kills off William Holden’s band as also marking the end of the western.

  2. “The Searchers” (1956) - John Wayne was never better than as Ethan Edwards, a man driven by deathless hate and perverse racism to find and kill the lost child taken from his family by the Comanches. A dark and brooding commentary on the stain of American racism filmed against the stark moral universe of director John Ford’s favorite locations in Monument Valley.

  3. “Shane” (1953) - George Stevens directed from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning western novelist A.B. Guthrie Jr. and Jack Sher. The lush beauty of Jackson Hole, Wyo., provides the backdrop for the conflict between farmers and cattlemen to control this new Eden. Alan Ladd’s Shane must reluctantly strap on his gun to save the homesteaders from that perfect embodiment of evil represented by Jack Palance. This is all seen through the eyes of young Brandon De Wilde.

  4. “High Noon” (1952) - Fred Zinnemann’s classic was written by blacklisted Carl Foreman and is often seen as a commentary on the McCarthy witch hunts. It so angered Howard Hawks and John Wayne that they responded with “Rio Bravo” in 1959, but their film pales in comparison. Forget the politics, the film works because we can all identify with Gary Cooper’s brilliant performance (he received the Oscar for Best Actor) as the lawman, deserted by all, who must face down a gang of killers.

  5. “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948) - Whenever the western heads south of the border the gringo protagonists are sure to find trouble - and never more so than in this film based on B. Traven’s novel. Humphrey Bogart’s paranoid Fred C. Dobbs is his finest role, but the most memorable moment in the film goes to Alfonso Bedoya’s bandido: “Badges? Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”

  6. “Fort Apache” (1948) - Ford’s brilliant commentary on military folly was based by screenwriter Frank Nugent on a James Warner Bellah short story. Bellah also provided the source material for the two other films in Ford’s superb cavalry trilogy - “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (1949) and “Rio Grande” (1950). Henry Fonda plays the Custer-like martinet who in search of glory leads his regiment into a massacre, while Wayne is the wise captain who protects the colonel’s name for the sake of the regiment.

  7. “Red River” (1947) - Howard Hawks’s tale of the Texas cattle drives is a reworking of “Mutiny on the Bounty,” with Wayne as Captain Bligh and Montgomery Clift as Fletcher Christian. Magnificent photography by Russell Harlan and a grand score by Dimitri Tiomkin help the film achieve epic status.

  8. “Stagecoach” (1939) - Ford’s classic is generally credited with returning the western to critical and box office success after a decade of decline. It certainly saved Wayne from budget westerns and set him on the road to iconic status.

  9. “Ride the High Country” (1962) - Peckinpah cast Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott as retired lawmen who find themselves reduced to escorting a gold shipment from a distant mining camp to a bank in town. They must battle their own demons and a band of outlaws in order to deliver the gold. The film established Peckinpah, the ultimate cynical romantic, as the inheritor of Ford’s mantle, and was the final major film for veteran western stars McCrea and Scott.

  10. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) - George Roy Hill’s perfect blend of comedy, romance, and tragedy is simply too good a piece of entertainment to ignore. William Goldman’s masterful script, so full of wit, creates characters the audience can’t help but adore, especially when played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Released the same year as “The Wild Bunch,” this tale of outlaws running out of time could not be more different.

(Also “Lonesome Dove,” the magnificent 1989 television miniseries. Bill Wittliff’s teleplay romanticized Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel into an American entertainment classic. Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones created unforgettable characters under the steady hand of director Simon Wincer.)


(Bill san Antonio) #2

[quote=“Jack Burns, post:1, topic:729”]Excluded are silent films and spaghetti westerns (because they annoy me - although “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in the West” are exceptional).[/quote]And the boy wins a cigar! Praise the lord!, we have a film critic here! :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:


(alk0) #3

What an asshole. As my father used to say ‘critics are not normal people’.


(scherpschutter) #4

Mind your words, AlkO, you never know who’s reading over your shoulder.
And I strongly disagree: this list is much too … normal.
Peckinpah, Ford, High Noon, Shane, Stagecoach, Red River … anybody who hasn’t been living on Mars during the last half a century could come up with this list.
And then calling it highly subjective …
Maybe this critic is an … after all


(alk0) #5

You’r right. I hope i haven’t offended anyone and i’m sorry if i did , but i’m fed up with this spaghetti-western-hating crap usually written by critics that never saw anything SW except Leone movies. I hope event like Venice festival spaghetti westerns screenings will help to give those movies respect they deserve.


(valenciano) #6

[quote=“alk0, post:5, topic:729”]You’r right. I hope i haven’t offended anyone and i’m sorry if i did , but i’m fed up with this spaghetti-western-hating crap usually written by critics that never saw anything SW except Leone movies. I hope event like Venice festival spaghetti westerns screenings will help to give those movies respect they deserve.[/quote]hey mind your words again, what makes the spaghettis so cool, is that most people dont know or dislike them. so we are an underground movement. and when we become more popular we turn into pop and would not be special anymore.
so anybody can hate on spaghettis as much as they want we will make up our own minds right.


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #7

Isn’t Ironic that number 1 on his list is “The Wild Bunch”, which borrowed heavily from Spaghetti Westerns.

If it wasn’t for SW’s, there would be no Wild Bunch.


(JONAH HEX) #8

JUst another typical list, these movie best of list always have the same movies,seems strange to me that all critics have the same taste (cant think for themselves?) i knew high noon would be included,the most overated western ever but kudos for including lonesome dove.


(Stanton) #9

The Wild Bunch borrows nothing from SWs.
It’s an highly individual film by a director who stood in the tradition of american westerns, but changed this tradition considerably. The Wild Bunch is a combination of themes and ideas of his 2 previous westerns Ride the High Country (1961) and Major Dundee (1964). If Peckinpah had borrowed ideas, he had borrowed them by himself.

SWs were widely ignored by american critics and intellectuals in their heydays, even the Leone films were not reputable in the years of their american release, they were regarded as violent trash.
Sure, they earned much money for UA, because they were cheap, but if you compare the box office of the Dollar Trilogy with the income of several late 60s american westerns, it is disillusional. Even a lousy film like Paint Your Wagon has made more then twice of the money that GBU has made, and GBU was the biggest hit of all SWs in the USA. A half as attractive Eastwood western like Hang 'em High or rubbish like The Cheyenne Social Club were also more successful. Unbelievable.

I think only a few american westerns in the 70s were influenced by SWs.


(Silvanito) #10

Re: The Wild Bunch

Maybe this film doesn’t borrow anything in particular from spaghetti westerns, but still I always thought the overall violent content and the setting in the Mexican revolution was an inspiration from spaghettis?


(Chris_Casey) #11

The funny thing about this list is the Paul A. Hutton is NOT a film critic.
He is a Prof. of History at the University of New Mexico and a good friend of my friend, artist and historian, Bob Boze Bell.

So…given that he isn’t a film critic, his Top 10 doesn’t mean all that much, I’d say.
He’s a nice guy…but, no critic!

Any of us here are more qualified to be film critics than Paul, in my opinion.
And I will tell him so, next time I see him!


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #12

If he is not a film critic than why in the blazes is he doing a top ten western list in the boston globe?

And what is a guy in New Mexico doing writing for a boston paper?

The world is illogical…


(Chris_Casey) #13

[quote=“mrchallenge, post:12, topic:729”]If he is not a film critic than why in the blazes is he doing a top ten western list in the boston globe?

And what is a guy in New Mexico doing writing for a boston paper?

The world is illogical…[/quote]

The article appeared in many other papers apart from the Boston Globe–and I guess the folks that hired him to write the article figured a History Prof. who specializes in Old West History should know a lot about Western movies. That was just one of their many mistakes, in my opinion. :slight_smile:

And you are right, the world is definitely illogical! More proof of that can be found in the fact that they hired my buddy, Bob Boze Bell, to do the audio commentary for the recent special edition of TRUE GRIT! Again, they picked him because he is a noted Old West historian and had mentioned that he loved the movie TRUE GRIT. Otherwise, he has no connection with the movie!

Mind boggling stuff…

Like I said before, Paul is a nice guy…but he doesn’t know a good movie from a hot rock.


(alk0) #14

I hope i didn’t make a very bad impression because of my over-the-top emotional reaction :-[


(JONAH HEX) #15

[quote=“Chris_Casey, post:13, topic:729”] More proof of that can be found in the fact that they hired my buddy, Bob Boze Bell, to do the audio commentary for the recent special edition of TRUE GRIT![/quote]im a suscriber to true west magazine, think you can hit up bob boze bell about mentioning this site in his mag?


(The Halitosis Kid) #16

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but writing an article about The Best Western Movies excluding Spaghetti Westerns because they annoy them was bound to arouse a reaction on this forum :wink:


(Chris_Casey) #17

Sure. I have tried it before, though. Unlike Hutton, Bob loves Spaghetti Westerns. A couple of issues ago, when TRUE WEST ran Henry Cabot Beck’s article about Spaghetti Westerns—Bob was supposed to add a comment or two concerning websites (this one chief among them). But, somehow…he forgot (which is very much the way Bob is, a lot of the time. ha ha!).

I’ll keep after him!


(Chris_Casey) #18

You got that right, compadre!!
And it is certainly going to raise a reaction from me personally the next time I see Paul!!!
:smiley:


(Chris_Casey) #19

Not at all, amigo! I perfectly understand your point of view!
Don’t worry…


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #20

[quote=“stanton, post:9, topic:729”]SWs were widely ignored by american critics and intellectuals in their heydays, even the Leone films were not reputable in the years of their american release, they were regarded as violent trash.
Sure, they earned much money for UA, because they were cheap, but if you compare the box office of the Dollar Trilogy with the income of several late 60s american westerns, it is disillusional. Even a lousy film like Paint Your Wagon has made more then twice of the money that GBU has made, and GBU was the biggest hit of all SWs in the USA. A half as attractive Eastwood western like Hang 'em High or rubbish like The Cheyenne Social Club were also more successful. Unbelievable.

I think only a few american westerns in the 70s were influenced by SWs.[/quote]

This is sad but true. The gross of Hollywood westerns dwarfed that of any of the Leone westerns in initial domestic release. However, I believe over time the popularity of the Leone westerns has grown and even eclipsed that of the american westerns. Take imdb for example, GBU has garnered more votes on that site than any other western. Once upon a time in the west bombed in its initial US release but has since gone on to be an undeniable classic.Spaghettis where considered trash back than, but they are more accepted now, less stigmatized because of more revisionist thinking.

Having said all that, I believe that many backward thinking people even today, think SW’s are trash, and Mr. Hutton is one of them. If you look at his list, it is actually quite a good list of Hollywood westerns! I am sure his knowledge of Hollywood westerns is considrable. I believe that when he finds SW’s “annoying”, his incompetance as a critic has more to do with his narrowmindedness and ignorance rather than lack of knowledge or intelligence. He is obviously a very intelligent man, but like alot of professors, he tends to abide by only one school of thought while shutting the windows on others.

Remember, Spaghetti Westerns arre for open minded people!