Tag Archives: Pale Rider

The John Russell Effect

27 Dec

The other day, I visited my parents and found my dad watching the Western Channel. He always watches that channel, and I am usually familiar with whatever is on. After all, me and my brother were raised watching old Westerns. However, I had never seen what he was watching this time.

It was a television show called Cheyenne that stars Clint Walker. Some of you Western aficionados probably know it. As I watched it, my mind focused on the actor playing the bad guy. With his features and his voice, I knew that I had seen him, and I had a feeling where. Despite my dad jumping on me for looking at my phone, I did a quick search.

The actor in question was John Russell, and I knew him from Rio Bravo. In that movie, he plays Nathan Burdette, the local land baron who goes up against John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan. Obviously, he loses in the end.john-russell

That discovery was not surprising. However, it was surprising to learn that John Russell was in another of my favorite movies, The Outlaw Josey Wales. In that one, he makes a brief appearance as Bloody Bill Anderson.

Wait, there is more. He also plays the bad guy in Pale Rider and appeared in Honky Tonk Man, which was partially filmed in Nashville. Of course, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider and Honky Tonk Man have something in common other than John Russell. They also star Clint Eastwood. Apparently, they were buddies.

I thought that I had seen John Russell in one movie. As it turns out, he has shown up in several places. Heck, he just got shot on my television screen as I typed this. The mysterious stranger got him in Pale Rider before disappearing into the distance. Coincidence? I am not so sure. It could be the John Russell Effect.

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Movie Wisdom – Richard Kiel Edition

22 Jun

I was flipping through the channels and happened upon Pale Rider, one of those mystical Westerns that Clint Eastwood liked to make. It is not one of my favorites and, therefore, is something that I have not seen in a while.

I caught one aspect that I did not realize. The bad guy is played by John Russell, who also played the bad guy in Rio Bravo. I caught another aspect that I had forgotten. Richard Kiel is in the movie.

Kiel was one of those actors that stood out because of his physical persona. At over 7 feet tall, he played tough guys. However, he was also good at comedies. It had always been my opinion that Kiel’s stature overshadowed his acting ability.

To honor Richard Kiel, here are some words of wisdom that we can glean from his movies.Richard Kiel

From The Nutty Professor

You might as well like yourself. Just think about all the time you’re going to have to spend with you.

People just don’t like teachers blowing up their kids.

From The Longest Yard

Shaving points off of a football game, man that’s un-American.

From Silver Streak

Keep your foot on the pedal.

From The Spy Who Loved Me

When someone’s behind you on skis at 40 miles per hour trying to put a bullet in your back, you don’t always have time to remember a face.

It’s very important to have a positive mental attitude.

From Pale Rider

A man without spirit is whipped.

There’s plain few problems can’t be solved with a little sweat and hard work.

Starting fresh always sounds good when you’re in trouble.

From Happy Gilmore

You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad.

 

Into the Sunset

1 Apr

It’s a cliché of the western movie genre. The hero has lived through some adventure, and, when it’s over, he gets on his horse and rides into the sunset. I have watched that scene dozens of times, and it fascinates me every time.

What happens when they disappear over the horizon? What happens after the “The End” placard covers the screen? Does the hero take time off before finding another adventure? Does he die of wounds suffered during the movie? Does he live happily ever after in some frontier town?

All of those questions go through my mind because I have to know the rest of the story. It doesn’t matter how bad the movie is. I still want to know what happens after the credits roll. However, something else goes through my mind, as well. The “into the sunset” scene isn’t always the same.

One of the greatest “into the sunset” scenes doesn’t even have a horse. In The Searchers, Ethan Edwards spends years attempting to rescue his niece from her Comanche captors. When he returns with her, everyone goes into the house except for him. He turns and walks into the desert as the door closes behind him.The Searchers

Where did Edwards go? Did he leave because most of his family was dead? Did he wander because there was no purpose in his life? All of the wars were over. Or, did he think back over the past years before turning around and coming back?

John Wayne walked away in The Searchers, but Clint Eastwood could be the king of “into the sunset” rides. In The Outlaw Josey Wales, he is bleeding as he rides away. Does he live? If so, then does he go back to the friends that he has gained throughout the movie? Or, does he disappear from history?

Sometimes, he completely disappears because we really don’t know what he is. In Pale Rider, Eastwood evaporates from the scene. Is he some kind of spirit or is he just a mysterious gunman?

Those were great, but my favorite Eastwood ending comes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Blondie leaves Tuco with a noose around his neck and gold at his feet. After an impossible rifle shot to save Tuco, Blondie rides away to one of the greatest movie scores of all time.

A more recent western has an “into the sunset” scene at the end. The difference is the adventure that precedes it. In Cowboys and Aliens, James Bond defeats aliens with the help of Indiana Jones. Oh, Boyd Crowder helps out, too. This time the hero is truly a loner. His wife is dead. His alien love interest is dead. He is considered dead. Heck, the dog doesn’t even go with him. In this one, the hero probably went somewhere and cried.

The cool thing about “into the sunset” scenes is that they are no longer reserved for westerns only. Remember what happened at the end of The Dark Knight? He agrees to be the fall guy and live life as a villain. Then, he hops on his jacked out motorcycle and rides into a tunnel. There is no sunset, but there is a cool speech and some kind of light up ahead. I hope it’s not a train.The Dark Knight

Everybody knows what happened to him after that because we have sequels now. There should not have been a sequel to this one. Wondering what happened to Batman was a lot better than knowing that he faked his death and ended up with Catwoman.

Ok, so John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, James Bond and Batman all have had great scenes to end movies. However my favorite “into the sunset” scene comes from a movie that isn’t very good. At the end of Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Don Johnson, as Marlboro, goes back to his roots and enters a rodeo. At the same time, Mickey Rourke, as Harley, rides his motorcycle into the sunset with an 80s vixen on the back and Black Eyed Susan playing in the background.Harley Ending

Why is that my favorite? Because it’s the only one that seems like a happy ending. He’s not alone. He’s not wounded. And, there is no doubt that something good is going to happen further down the road.