Posts Tagged by westerns
|October 7, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Western Literature, Westernfilms||
What did Wyatt Earp tell John Ford about the real gunfight at the O.K. Corral? What problems did Joan Crawford cause on the set of Johnny Guitar? Why did Steve McQueen fake a car accident prior to filming The Magnificent Seven?
Answers to these questions can be found in Stagecoach to Tombstone, a book full of interesting details about 27 great Westerns. Howard Hughes, the author of the book, based his choice of films on the lists collected from various Western experts, ensuring the book will cover relevant films in the genre.
Before I got my hands on this book, I expected a simple guidebook – a quick and an easy read. However, it was clear at the first glance that Stagecoach to Tombstone is a result of an extensive research – the pages are tightly filled with text, with an occasional photograph on every few pages. To my great delight, the chapters turned out to be written in a way that easily grabs attention, amuses and perhaps even educates. While not quick, this turned out to be a rather easy read after all!
Hughes is very informative and writes about a lot of things, mixing plot overviews with trivia facts and a comprehensive background of the film in question. I must say, his writing would sometimes make me feel as if I transported back in time when the film was made. Also, while writing about Western films based on historical events, such as Butch Cassidy and Sundance the Kid, he makes comparisons between the facts and fiction.
Stagecoach to Tombstone is a versatile delicacy: all the Western enthusiasts who want to take a deeper look behind their favorite films will enjoy it; then again, this is also a great starting point for those who would like to learn something about Western films. Just one thing though – if you never saw (some of) these films before, beware of the plot spoilers. Another warning: this book is heavy with facts, so if you’re looking for a guide with a lot of photos and less text, you might end up disappointed.
Red River, High Noon, Shane, The Searchers, Once Upon a Time in the West, Unforgiven and The Man from Laramie – these are only few of the Westerns discussed in the book. In short, Stagecoach to Tombstone is a stagecoach taking you to the excellent ride down the valley of some of the best Western films ever made.
|September 22, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Western Literature, Westernfilms||
With Cowboys & Aliens being a summer hit, this seems like a good time to say something about science fiction Westerns – a genre mix that has been around for quite some time now. It’s important to note that science fiction Westerns include science fiction elements in a Western setting; the opposite of this are space Westerns – where Western elements are incorporated into a science fiction setting. For example, Joss Whedon’s Firefly is often considered to be a space Western.
I have to admit that my personal favourites of science fiction Westerns include some of the occasions where a science fiction franchise would take a one-time trip to the Old West. For instance, the fantastic Red Dwarf series had an episode where all of the characters found themselves in a virtual reality Old West, fighting against the Gunmen of the Apocalypse. Another personal favourite includes the Back to the Future III – this film was so enjoyable that I don’t know how to start describing it. The entire concept allowed some nice jokes and nods to the Western genre, such as Marty McFly’s character introducing himself as Clint Eastwood once he travels back to the Old West.
A good example of this subgenre is Wild Wild West, a 1999 film that’s in fact a remake of the Wild Wild West series that ran in the ’60s. The film mixed Western, espionage and science fiction. Westworld, on the other hand, was a 1973 thriller with Yul Brynner as a lifelike robot in a Western-theme amusement park. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, this film was well received by critics. Recently there have even been rumors about a possible Westworld remake.
Among novels, most prominent are Stephen King’s Dark Tower series of books. King himself admitted that the main character of Gunslinger was in part inspired by the Clint Eastwood’s character of “The Man With No Name”, from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. Then, among graphic novels we have Rosenberg’s Cowboys & Aliens – the piece which inspired this year’s film of the same name. The title, I believe, is self-explanatory!
In short, this unusual mix of genres might not be for any Western fan, but it can be interesting for those who sometimes want to see the Western genre from a different angle.