Tag Archives: Steve McQueen

The Gunslinger That Cannot Be Killed

23 Jan

In 1960, audiences went to the theaters and watched The Magnificent Seven, a Western that stars Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, James Coburn and a lot of other great actors. However, the leader of the Seven and the most memorable character is Chris, the black-clad gunslinger played by Yul Brynner.magnificent-seven

It was an iconic role and a memorable character for anyone who loves Westerns, but it could not be known that this character would live on in different incarnations and different genres. There have been many characters that have graced the screen in multiple films, but it is possible that none of them have a journey similar to this one.

The 1960s had sequels. There was James Bond movies, Derek Flint movies (starring Coburn) and Matt Helm movies. However, there were not many Western sequels. Well, Yul Brynner as Chris showed up in Return of the Magnificent Seven, which came out in 1966.

More “Magnificent Seven” movies were made, but Brynner abandoned the role. At least, people thought he abandoned the role. In 1973, he donned the black hat in Westworld, a movie about a futuristic theme-park where people can play out their fantasies with robots. This time, the gunslinger is not the hero. He is a robot in the middle of a robot overthrow. As people are killed across the park, Brynner chases Richard Benjamin, the last surviving human. Once again, he is the most memorable character.

Westworld was a hit, and it begat another film. Futureworld came out in in 1976, and the gunslinger came back to life. I may be wrong, but that could mean that Chris the Gunslinger is the only character to appear in two different pairs of sequels.

I started thinking about this because the character has made a return. The other night, we watched the 2016 version of The Magnificent Seven. This one stars Denzel Washington as the man in black who brings together a collection of tough guys to help out the citizens of a farming town. His name is not Chris, but it is the same character.denzel-magnificent

However, that is not the only time 2016 brought the gunslinger to new audiences. Westworld is an HBO show inspired by the old movie. In this one, Ed Harris plays a gunslinger in a black hat. However, he is human. He is not the character. In an homage to Yul Brynner, the gunslinger is seen standing in an old underground lab. Apparently, he has been taken offline.westworld

That may be true of the robot, but I am not sure it is true about the character. After all, how many characters have spanned the world of movies and television for 57 years? It looks like this gunslinger cannot be killed.

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Watching the Blob – A True Learning Experience

25 Jan

The other night, I was skimming through the television guide and came across The Blob, the 1950s Sci-Fi/Horror movie. I have never seen a 1950s Sci-Fi/Horror movie that I did not like, so I tuned in to see what this one was all about. I had heard of it but, honestly, had gotten it mixed up with The Thing, which starred James Arness in the title role.

The movie was almost over when I turned it on. A group of people were trapped in a diner as the Blob engulfed it. Police and a group of teenagers were watching helplessly. It was typical 1950s Sci-Fi/Horror fare. That is when I started noticing some things that I did not anticipate.

The young man trapped in the diner was taking charge of the situation and seemed to be a major character in the movie. Then, the realization hit that he looked familiar. He looked like a young Steve McQueen. Hitting the Info button, I found out that it was Steven McQueen. I never knew that he was in The Blob or that he ever went by Steven.

With that information out of the way, I settled in to see what was going to happen to Steven and the rest of the group. There was a little kid; the owner of the diner; a woman who looked like the owner’s wife; and Steven’s girlfriend. At some point, the girlfriend said something, and I thought, “I have heard that voice before.”

It was Aneta Corsaut, who played Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show.

Here is the cute couple.The Blob

For those who do not know, The Andy Griffith Show is my favorite show of all time. I own a model of Mayberry and was a member of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. Heck, I even shook hands with Don Knotts. As you can probably tell, seeing Helen Crump in The Blob was pretty cool.

That is when I started thinking. Helen Crump went from being Steve McQueen’s girlfriend in high school to being Opie’s teacher in Mayberry, North Carolina. She also went from being Steve McQueen’s girlfriend to Andy Taylor’s wife.

Getting back to the movie, the people trapped in the diner are saved when Steven figures out that the Blob is afraid of the cold. He sprays it with a fire extinguisher and yells to the guys outside that they need to get more extinguishers. the high school principal hops into a hot rod with some juvenile delinquent looking dudes and heads to the school. This brings us to the most dramatic scene that I saw.

As they rush to the schoolhouse door, the principal cannot find his keys. Everyone looks at each other trying to figure out what to do. Nevermind that a cop is standing there with a gun and could shoot the lock open. Instead, the principal picks up and rock and stares at it. With lives at stake, should he dare break the glass to open the door? After a dramatic pause, he does, and the schoolhouse gang comes to the rescue.

The people trapped in the diner are saved, and the Blob is completely frozen. Steve realizes it is not dead, and the police officer tells him that the military is going to take it to the Arctic.

Police Officer: At least we’ve got it stopped.

Steve: Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold.

I am sure this movie had some deep, underlying meaning from the time period. Probably something about how authority figures should listen to young people and not view them as a bunch of troublemakers. However, I learned a few more things.

1. You never know where life is going to lead. One day you are dating Steve McQueen, and the next day you are marrying Andy Taylor.

2. For many reasons, 1950s diners do not last forever. We have a great one in my town that could be on its way out. I promise that there will be a future post about that.

3. In the 1950s, juvenile delinquents drove some nice cars. These hot rods were top of the line.

4. Like them or not, principals have to make tough decisions – like saving lives instead of saving a pane of glass.

5. If Al Gore is right about global warming, then we are screwed. Stop worrying about a heat wave and start worrying about the return of the Blob!The Blob Ending

That dot landing behind the big question mark could thaw out at any time.

Movie Wisdom – Steve McQueen Edition

26 Dec

The other day, my dad and I watched The Cincinnati Kid with Steve McQueen playing the starring role. It was a cool movie that I had never seen before, and it made me start to think about how many Steve McQueen movies I have seen. He is a legend and is known as the epitome of cool, but he has never been on my list of favorite actors. That may have to change.Steve McQueen 2

In honor of this new movie watching experience, I decided to look into the wisdom that can come from watching Steve McQueen movies. As you may know, I have explored the catalogue of other performers in a similar way.  There have been Burt Reynolds, Don Knotts, Kevin Costner, Paul Newman, George Peppard, Don Johnson, Jodie Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, and Ellen Barkin.

The rules are simple. I must have seen the movie, and the wisdom can come from any character in the movie.

From The Magnificent Seven

If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.

Farmers talk of nothing but fertilizer and women. I’ve never shared their enthusiasm for fertilizer.

Well, the graveyards are full of boys who were very young, and very proud.

From The Great Escape

Tea without milk is so uncivilized.

From The Cincinnati Kid

Gets down to what it’s all about, doesn’t it? Making the wrong move at the right time.

From Bullitt

Integrity is something you sell the public.

Time starts now.

From The Towering Inferno

All fires are bad.

You know there’s nothing that any of us can do to bring back the dead.

From Tom Horn

If you really knew how dirty and raggedy-assed the Old West was, you wouldn’t want any part of it.

Listeria – Western Actors Edition

24 Oct

I know that this edition of Listeria is coming along soon after the last edition of Listeria, but I went overboard on my last trip to the magazine stand. Besides, this one covers one of my favorite subjects – Western movies. I grew up watching them with my dad, and that experience played a role in my interest in the history of the West.

American Cowboy published a special issue called “Legends of Western Cinema” and listed the 20 greatest Western actors. However, there is one problem that needs to be addressed before I begin. When people think about Westerns, or the history of the West, they think about cowboys first. Some of the greatest Westerns don’t involve cowboys at all. They involve mountain men, Native Americans, cavalry and all sorts of characters. In the real West, not everyone were cowboys. A good way to see this? If there are no cows around, then there are probably no cowboys around.

The rant is over, so here we go with the list. These are the 20 greatest Western actors according to American Cowboy in the order that they have listed. I will list my favorite movie of each and add the actors that I believe should be included.

John Wayne – The Searchers

Gary Cooper – High Noon

James Stewart – The Far Country

Henry Fonda – Once Upon a Time in the West

Clint Eastwood – The Outlaw Josey Wales

Steve McQueen – The Magnificent Seven

Kirk Douglas – There Was a Crooked Man

Robert Duvall – Open Range

Ben Johnson – She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Lee Marvin – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Sam Elliott – Tombstone

Tom Selleck – Quigley Down Under

Charles Bronson – Once Upon a Time in the West

Woody Strode – Sergeant Rutledge

Gregory Peck – The Gunfighter

Paul Newman – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Tom Mix – Riders of the Purple Sage

Glenn Ford – 3:10 to Yuma

Tommy Lee Jones – No Country For Old Men

James Garner – Duel at Diablo

That’s the Top 20. I could name a bunch that belong on the list, but I will limit myself to five.

Randolph Scott – Ride the High Country

Kevin Costner – Silverado

Robert Mitchum – Five Card Stud

Robert Redford – Jeremiah Johnson

Richard Widmark – Broken Lance

There is the list. Who else should be included? Who should be omitted? What are your favorite movies? Let me know.