Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why doesn't Hollywood make westerns anymore? Or more specifically, why aren't there any directors that can make westerns anymore? Clint Eastwood is due to prove that the genre isn't dead one more time (as he did with The Outlaw Josey Wales and then Unforgiven), but after he's gone, who do we have? I've had a lot of time this week to watch (or rather listen to from underneath a pillow) TV and I've wound up watching Rio Bravo, The War Wagon, For a Few Dollars More, Hang 'em High, and I'm in the middle of The Magnificent Seven right now. The genre has so much potential that I don't see why it wouldn't still work. For example, Four Brothers is really just The Sons of Katie Elder in a modern and urban setting. If the basic story and characters still resonate, then what's to keep them from resonating from underneath a cowboy hat? It's just frustrating that the genre is made for every kind of movie and yet no one wants to make them. Kevin Costner took a stab and it thankfully didn't turn out to be the mess everyone expected, mostly because of Duvall. Opie had his own take on The Searchers that managed not to insult (quick aside, why is that the two principle stars of Lonesome Dove are the only two men to make decent westerns in the last 10 or so years?), but I really can't think of a director today that could produce a masterpiece like Seven Men From Now or Vera Cruz. Hell, Howard Hawks made the same western three times (Rio Bravo, El Dorado, and Rio Lobo) and still managed to make each one worth multiple viewings. Guy Ritchie tried it with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and look where that's gotten him. And really, are there even actors that could carry the same presence as a John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Gary Cooper, or even guys like William Holden and Burt Lancaster anymore? It's not that I hate modern movies or other genres, it's just that this one in particular is so accomodating to any kind of story. Heist pictures, family comedy, mind bending violence, character studies, it's all there! So maybe instead of getting a useless degree from UAB to mollify my parents I should have applied myself and headed for film school and done the Cameron Crowe thing; make some studio a shitload of money and then go out and make a few vanity projects because they owe me.














Is it bad that this is what I see when I close my eyes?

11 Comments:

Blogger Nicole said...

Ouch. With the exception of Unforgiven, I haven't seen one movie you mention. Guess I have my homework for next week. That should help cure the boredom.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

if you want western recs then i can totally hook you up.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

You mean beside the cavalcade of titles you already posted?

9:32 PM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

that's nothing.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Well crap. I'll let you know when I get through the list you've already got here :/

9:49 PM  
Anonymous nico said...

I've been meaning to see The Magnificent Seven to see how it stacks up against Seven Samurai

10:19 PM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

it's pretty close, but the end "message" is a little different. samurai makes the farmers out to be the real heroes of the story while magnificent seven the gunfighters are the clear heroes of the movie.

10:27 PM  
Blogger breadchick said...

Todd, I firmly believe that Westerns are not going to be made by Hollywood because among other things, the major studios are no longer interested in making movies that force people to think beyond the latest special effects, kids toy tie in, or make movies that don't offer easy cheap to produce sequels (Anyone for Cheaper by the Dozen 11?). And you also hit the nail on the head when you named off a list of whose who in Westerns [even if I do take slight exception to you missing Jimmy Stewart and Lee Van Cleef in your list ;-)]. Who indeed can stand in those boots? Clint can do it but only as the aged gunslinger passing on his wisdom to the next generation ala John Wayne the Shootist but there is no young Mr. Cooper, et al to take up the reins. And much to the pity because right now, I could stand for a good Calvery riding over the ridge. Off to put in my copy of the Good, The Bad and The Ugly...

4:25 AM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

leaving lee van cleef off was definitely an oversight on my part, but while jimmy stewart made some excellent westerns, he's more associated with other genres. i mean, when you think of jimmy stewart you don't really think of fire creek or the cheyenne social club, it's more like harvey and rear window.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Todd Jones said...

and actually, i think the western lends itself to special effects. trains and bridges blowing up, people getting shot all the time? i forgot about sam raimi's "the quick and the dead" during my little rant, but he brought his wildly entertaining visual style to the genre and even though the story had some problems and no one is ever going to consider it his masterpiece it still showed that you can use all the camera trickery and editing room hijinks to take something that in lesser hands would have just been another mediocre movie and turn it into something to appreciate. yeah, sequels are hard, but wayne made true grit and then rooster cogburn,
and the man with no name trilogy, while not exactly sequels, took the same character and placed him in different stories. the genre could work damn it! why oh why didn't i go to film school?! if a couple of guys from BYU can make napolean dynamite and then write their own tickets, i could too!

6:37 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

It's possible short sighted thinking to say that there's no young actor out there that can pick up there reigns. Sure, none of the current crop of young hollywood is worthwhile, but you wouldn't want that anyway. No one would take them seriously. But that doesn't mean that the next John Wayne isn't out there waiting to be discovered.

10:23 AM  

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