"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

TV Watch!

Our friend Spencer Warren sent us a reminder that Turner Classic Movies is presenting a very special film tonight:

Tonight Turner Classic Movies at 9.30 pm. is presenting the restored classic Western, Seven Men from Now, made in 1956 with the leading Western icon Randolph Scott and directed by Budd Boetticher. This film has not been seen on TV in decades. Readers who wish to gain moral sustenance and inspiration from this product of a Western civilization and popular culture when they still were vital should tune in.

In the later 1950's, Scott and Boetticher made seven modest Westerns, little noticed at the time. Today, Seven Men from Now, Ride Lonesome (1959) and Comanche Station (1960) are widely considered three of the greatest Westerns ever made. No films dramatize more powerfully the Western hero as knightly man of honor -- a man who forsakes personal happiness out of loyalty to the code of doing what is right. Seven Men from Now also has a scene (around the wagon) which is a masterpiece of understated, allusive eroticism -- possible only in a society that upheld and venerated moral self-restraint.

Readers who identify the Western only with the medicore—cinematically and morally—Clint Eastwood owe it to themselves to see this masterpiece. Those who are interested in the context of this film can read Spencer Warren's article, "Rediscovering the Classic Western," here, and his discussion of the greatest Westerns, here. (The last two [films] listed date from 1962 -- just before the cataclysm of the 1960's began.)

Spencer Warren is correct about the high quality of these films, and I am delighted to inform you of tonight's showing and grateful to Spencer for suggesting that I do so.

6 comments:

James Elliott said...

I wish I got TCM. I love old Westerns. My personal favorite is "The Searchers."

. No films dramatize more powerfully the Western hero as knightly man of honor -- a man who forsakes personal happiness out of loyalty to the code of doing what is right.

Of course, this image of the cowboy is a myth. But it's a good myth, and uniquely American in flair.

Thanks for the links to the articles. I plan on counting down my last hour until my vacation with them.

James Elliott said...

Warren left out "The Shootist," "The Magnifecent Seven," and only included one of Ford's "Cavalry" trilogy? For shame. At least he included "High Noon" and "Shane."

Back in my high school conceit of going to film school, I thought I was going to single-handedly revive the Western genre. I'm glad I got over that. But there's nothing better than watching a good John Ford Western or indulging in the occasional Louis L'Amour quick read.

James Elliott said...

And "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid!" Who could forget Butch and Sundance?

No, really, I'm done now.

James Elliott said...

I guess I wasn't done. Warren would find much to love in a number of "made for TNT" Westerns. Ed Harris is fabulous in the film version of Zane Grey's "Riders of the Purple Sage." And Tom Selleck has made a nice selection of Westerns for TNT, all of which adhere to the classic genre mold. My personal favorite was "Crossfire Trail," based on the Louis L'Amour story.

Hunter Baker said...

Oh, The Shootist. What a cool film. Jimmy Stewart informs John Wayne that he's going to die slowly and badly of cancer:

"You're too brave a man to die that way."

And the die is cast. Wayne will go out with guns blazing.

JFE, you're a conservative at heart. You know that, don't you? A man can't love westerns like you do and be fully of the party of Dean.

tbmbuzz said...

WHAT??? No mention at all of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns from the 1960's? Forget Eastwood's Western film efforts in the 1980's and 90's - Spencer Warren is quite correct about their effeminate leftist leaning - but hey, the Man With No Name trilogy (plus one), culminating in the surrealistic The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, have to rank in anyone's top list, as well as some of Sergio Leone's other Westerns. In addition, the musical scores by Ennio Morricone, one of Hollywood's all-time musical talents, have become classics. The Man With No Name series all encompass the classic Western themes of good guy vs bad guy, good guy wins. The omission of Leone's and Eastwood's efforts here on the part of Spencer Warren is egregious IMO. There is more to Western films than the just the cliched John Wayne flicks (many of which are excellent, don't get me wrong!).

By the way, for a sound spectacular, check out

Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops.