Tag Archives: Westerns

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.

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.

Movie Wisdom – Yaphet Kotto Edition

29 Nov

Yaphet Kotto is an actor in several movies that I like. Some of them are Westerns. Some of them are Action. Some of them are from the Blaxploitation genre. Through them all, Yaphet Kotto always makes an impression.

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to see what wisdom we can find from the movies of Yaphet Kotto.yaphet-kotto

From 4 for Texas

A secret whispered in a coffee house is as confidential as a headline in a newspaper.

A man who’d try to con you when he has a gun held on him can’t be all bad.

You really need only a little patience and self-discipline.

From 5 Card Stud

A man don’t work, he ain’t respectable.

The funeral is for the living.

From Live and Let Die

Names is for tombstones.

From Friday Foster

You treat a person like a person.

From Brubaker

You can’t reform the system if you’re not in it.

From The Star Chamber

It turns out that right and wrong count.

From The Running Man

Don’t touch that dial!

 

The Third Most Interesting Man in the World

7 Jul

Over the holiday weekend, we did a lot of sitting around. We did other stuff, too. However, lounging was the primary activity. During this time of leisure, I found myself wandering down the Internet rabbit hole to occupy my mind and found an interesting bit of information.

It all started with a Dos Equis commercial that did not include the Most Interesting Man in the World. In fact, it was about the soon-to-be unveiling of the new Most Interesting Man in the World. That is when my mind started wondering. What happened to the old one? Was there a contract dispute? Did he die? Did he stop being interesting?Most Interesting

I did the Google thing and found out that Dos Equis decided that it was time to revamp the advertising campaign. I am not sure that will work, but there are a bunch of highly paid advertising executives who think differently. I also found out something else.

This is another picture of the Most Interesting Man in the World.Tommy

Those of you who watch Westerns may recognize him as Tommy, one of the gang that lynched Clint Eastwood in Hang ‘Em High. Clint did not die, and he spends the rest of the movie chasing down everyone who tried to kill him. This includes Bruce Dern, the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island, Ed Begley and Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor who is the Most Interesting Man in the World.

That is not all. I also found out that Jonathan Goldsmith tried to kill John Wayne in The Shootist. As you can see from this clip, that did not go well for him.

What did I learn from my holiday weekend research?

He may be able to speak Russian in French.

He may be able to kill two stones with one bird.

He may have won the lifetime achievement award twice.

However, the Most Interesting Man in the World could not measure up to Clint Eastwood and John Wayne.

From Tex Ritter to Tex Ritter

26 May

I have been out of town for a while, which means that I have been away from my iPod. It was good to get back to it because you never know what it is going to do. A good example of this happened a few minutes ago. Tex Ritter came through the speakers singing the theme to High Noon.Tex Ritter

Of course, this made me think of John Ritter, the son of Tex Ritter. Most people remember John Ritter as Jack Tripper on Three’s Company. However, I also remember him in a movie called They All Laughed. It was also the last theatrical starring role for Audrey Hepburn.

Of course, Audrey Hepburn was in a ton of great movies. However, Breakfast at Tiffany’s has always been my favorite. The only downside is Mickey Rooney’s turn in the racist comedic role of Mr. Yunioshi.

Of course, Mickey Rooney was known for his many marriages, the first of which was to Ava Gardner.

Of course, Ava Gardner was also married to Frank Sinatra. A famous quote about Frank Sinatra’s, ahem, anatomy has been attributed to her, but I have no idea if she really said it. Said or not said, the quote has gone down in history.

Of course, Frank Sinatra was the leader of the Rat Pack, which included Dean Martin, one of the great singers of all time.

Of course, Dean Martin, like Frank Sinatra, did more than sing. He acted in a bunch of great movies. Some were comedies. Some were serious. Some were Westerns. Rio Bravo was one of my favorite Dean Martin movies.

Of course, many movie critics and historians believe that Rio Bravo was John Wayne’s response to the theme and point of view of High Noon, for which Tex Ritter sang the theme that popped up on my iPod.

Christmas Ramblings

23 Dec

My wife and stepdaughter just finished wrapping gifts. My job was picking up the scraps. Now, they are in the kitchen making banana bread. Yep, Christmas is upon us. It is time for family gatherings and reflection. For me, it is a time for rambling ruminations.

The other day, my nephew and I went to the movies, which meant that we had to enter the danger zone of a shopping mall at Christmas. As I made my way through traffic, I thought about the wise men who followed the star to that manger in Bethlehem. They had gold, frankincense and myrrh for the baby Jesus. I have often thought about that journey and its impact upon the world.wise men

Those wise men did more for our economy than they could ever imagine. Their bearing of gifts led to the shopping mania that accompanies this season. In other words, they created the traffic that bogged us down as we slowly made our way to the theater.

By the way, nowhere does it say how many magi journeyed to Bethlehem. It is the number of gifts that lead people to believe that there was the same number of gift givers. However, there is one thing for sure. The wise men were fireman. We know this because they came from afar.

Anyway, we saw In the Heart of the Sea, the new movie from Ron Howard. I was totally stoked for this one because I have my classes read the book. It is the tale of a whaling ship that was attacked by a whale. The men had to survive while floating in whaleboats. It is dramatic story of what people will do in order to survive. Unfortunately, the movie folks did not think it was dramatic enough.

I will not give up any spoilers, but the filmmakers added unnecessary embellishments to the story. The did it to create conflict between characters. Apparently, the conflict with the whale and the elements was not enough.

I understand that not all of history fits well on the screen. However, this story was an exception. The extras were not needed. Heck, they did not even talk about what happened after the survivors returned. Instead of talking about the true struggles of the survivors, they tried too hard to attach the story to Moby Dick.

Since I am on a movie rant, I will go ahead and talk about The Revenant. It is the story of Hugh Glass, the mountain man who was attacked by a bear and left to die by his fellow trappers. He did not die and pursued them to get revenge. It is another dramatic story. Once again, the filmmakers felt that being left for dead was not dramatic enough. They added the murder of his son, an event that is totally made up.

Oh yeah, Alejandro G. Inarritu, the director of The Revenant, stated that it is not a Western. He said that it cannot be a Western because there are no cowboy hats. Obviously, he is trying to distance himself from the genre, but he is wrong in his statement. The age of the cowboy lasted about twenty years in the American West. The age of the mountain men also lasted about twenty years. That means that a mountain man movie is just as much of a Western as a cowboy movie.

Oscar or no Oscar, I am beginning to think that Alejandro is all hat and no cattle.

I apologize for allowing the movies to get me off topic. This post was supposed to be a rumination of the holiday season.

The shopping malls are bad, and, at times, I wish the wise men had not been bearing gifts. However, Christmas is always a special time. Families gather. People talk and laugh. Great food is eaten. In the middle of all that, we remember that Christmas is a special time of year that cannot be ruined by traffic or bad movies. It is a time of love and peace.

Movie Wisdom – Earl Holliman Edition

26 Dec

As Christmas wound down, I turned on the television; flipped through the channels; and came upon The Sons of Katie Elder. This is not one of my favorite westerns, but I was lucky enough to catch the opening scenes, which I have always thought were cool.

As I watched the movie, I realized a couple of things. Martha Hyer, who plays the wholesome love interest of John Wayne, played a completely different kind of role the year before. She was soiled woman in The Carpetbaggers.

Also, I realized that Earl Holliman, who played one of Katie Elder’s sons, shows up in a lot of old movies. That is when I decided to find out if there can be any wisdom found in the movies of Earl Holliman.Earl Holliman

This is what I discovered.

From Broken Lance

Anybody that throws $10,000 in a spittoon makes me nervous.

From Forbidden Planet

We’re all part monsters in our subconscious, so we have laws and religion!

One cannot behold the face of the Gorgon and live!

From Giant

Money isn’t everything.

Just remember, one of these days, that bourbon’s gonna kill you.

From Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

There’s always a man faster on the draw than you are, and the more you use a gun, the sooner you’re gonna run into that man.

Poker’s played by desperate men who cherish money.

From Last Train from Gun Hill

If any of the girls try and tell you how wonderful you are, don’t believe them.

The human race stinks.

Don’t take no guts to kill a man when he’s cuffed!

There you have it. The wisdom of Earl Holliman.