Posts Tagged by john wayne
|October 2, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Westernfilms||
In Westerns, living is a dangerous affair, and this is probably why the films about the Old West rarely have room for meaningful children characters. Taking this in consideration, it is easy to see how The Cowboys (1972) stands out – with its youthful cast, as well as the refreshing plot.
Will Andersen (John Wayne) is a rancher looking for substitutes for his cattle drivers, who abandoned him because of the gold rush. Eventually left without much choice, he reluctantly agrees to hire a group of local schoolboys after they prove to have a good riding ability. Apart from the boys, several shady men led by Asa Watts (Bruce Dern) also show up looking for work, but are rejected. Soon, Andersen, the boys, and the chef Jeb Nightlinger (Roscoe Lee Browne) depart on a long cattle drive…
The story actually only begins here, because the center of the plot is the way boys come to age, from learning to work with cattle to overcoming some far worse difficulties on their trail. Here, John Wayne is not in his typical role of a masterful gunman, but rather a hard working rancher and a father figure to the boys.
Perhaps not one of the most famous Western masterpieces, The Cowboys is nonetheless a truly memorable film. From Stuttering Bob’s (Sean Kelly) speech difficulties, to Cimarron’s (A Martinez) redemption after he first fails to join the group, it is easy to engage in the cowboys’ adventures. Still, this is not a children’s film – the events leading to the boys’ maturation are ultimately as serious and harsh as in any other Western film.
Beautiful scenery packed with the large herd of cattle, a well paced Mark Rydell’s direction and excellent acting performances are further reasons why this film makes an enjoyable watch. It’s also notable that The Cowboys caused a bit of controversy at the time. There were two main reasons for this: one was a John Wayne related plot moment, which you’ll discover upon watching the film; and another was the fact boys were depicted in situations that were hardly suited for children characters.
A unique coming of age tale, The Cowboys is a charming, deeply touching film that stands the test of time and provides a wonderful watch even today.
|September 13, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Westernfilms||
It was a long time since I’d last watched El Dorado, and the only thing I could recall about this Western was a scene where the very drunk Robert Mitchum sobers up with a little unwanted help from his friends. This memory gap gave me a good excuse to watch it again, and I’m glad I did! The premise of the film is simple, but well executed. In fact, El Dorado’s seeming lack of ambition might be the very reason of its charm.
The story takes place over the span of several months and is mainly set in the titular town of El Dorado, somewhere in the Old Southwest. Here, a chain of events leads a gunslinger Cole Thornton (John Wayne) to help his friend sheriff J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum) in a range war. It would be easy for them to protect the local family from Bart Jason (Ed Asner) and his hired gunmen, if there weren’t some complications taking a toll on both J.P. and Cole…
Just like Rio Bravo and Rio Lobo, El Dorado is one of Howard Hawks’ films that spin the theme of a sheriff defending his office from the outlaws. Hawks directs El Dorado as good as it would be expected, and the story flows flawlessly. Long and medium shots dominate the film, often letting us catch a good glimpse of the town, looking dusty in the daylight and deceivingly calm in the evening.
Nelson Riddle wrote the music, the highlight of which goes to the main theme “El Dorado” – I found myself humming it after watching the film.
I was surprised to realize how the film felt more relaxed as it moved toward the end. It is typical for the intensity to grow as the plot thickens, but here I found the process to be reversed. This happens thanks to some dialogues and excellent performances by the actors, who bring their characters to life so well that their interactions steal the spotlight from the storyline itself.
Cole and J.P. start off somewhat reserved, but as the film continues, their friendly bickering grows more and more amusing. J.P.’s deputy Bull (Arthur Hunnicut) goes from muttering stereotype one-liners about Indians to actually being likeable, whereas Mississippi (James Caan) is simply terrific from his first scene in the film! Perhaps with the less competent actor he’d end up being just a comical sidekick, but with James Caan’s performance Mississippi feels as much of a lead character as Cole and J.P. Charlene Holt is beautiful as Maudie, and adds a touch of softness to the mostly male cast.
This Western is not epic, but if you’re looking for some good old entertainment, you will certainly find treasure in El Dorado.