Drama · Western

A Big Country that Ain’t Big Enough

In the early 1960s, the world became uncomfortably familiar with the term “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD). MAD was a Cold War peace strategy that prevented countries with nuclear arms from getting too trigger happy. So Country A would think twice about launching nuclear weapons because they knew Country B would retaliate with the same amount of nuclear firepower. See? This ensured… Continue reading A Big Country that Ain’t Big Enough

Drama · Western

William Wellman and the Accusatory Close-Up

*Spoiler Alert The trouble with creating a masterpiece is sometimes people don’t automatically see it as such. One example is The Ox-Bow Incident, a 1943 western directed by William Wellman. This film was released during some of the darkest days of WWII and, as a result, it was a box office disappointment. Audiences were in no mood to… Continue reading William Wellman and the Accusatory Close-Up

Adventure · Western

A Word About Fräulein Maria

Nine years before Hollywood unleashed the world’s greatest schmaltz-fest known as The Sound of Music, German filmmakers released a biopic of the famous von Trapp family. Die Trapp-Familie (1956) is a more down-to-earth telling of the Fräulein-Maria-vs.-the-von-Trapps story. It set the basic template for the later Hollywood version, although neither film is an exact re-telling of actual events. (One could argue the… Continue reading A Word About Fräulein Maria

Comedy · Musical · Western

The Algonquin Table of the Old West

You would have a skewed view of life if you only watched musicals. For example, look at the recently-restored Rodgers and Hammerstein western-comedy musical, Oklahoma! (1955). This film is about a group of farmers and ranchers in turn-of-the-20th-century Oklahoma, who hold a box lunch social to raise money for the schoolhouse roof. This film makes it look like these… Continue reading The Algonquin Table of the Old West

Comedy · Western

Buster Keaton: Animal Rights Activist

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a herd of cattle were suddenly turned loose in a major city? Really? You’ve never wondered about that? Well, if you have pondered this, then you must see the 1925 Buster Keaton comedy-western, Go West. You’ll be delighted with a glorious scene where Keaton frees 1,000 head of cattle from a train in downtown… Continue reading Buster Keaton: Animal Rights Activist

Comedy · Musical · Western

Judy Garland’s Comedic Gifts

Judy Garland made everything look easy. She could sing and dance and make you believe she flew to an emerald city in a tornado. Combined with her dramatic talents, it’s easy to forget how funny she was. We marvelled at her comedic gifts when we screened The Harvey Girls (1946), a delightful musical-comedy Western. Garland plays a young woman travelling from… Continue reading Judy Garland’s Comedic Gifts


Oscar Snub: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

We admire a great script. In our view, a great script is one that hides itself from us. It creates characters we love or hate, and makes us believe on-screen events are unfolding organically. Such is the case with the 1957 western, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the famous story of upright lawman Wyatt Earp and his… Continue reading Oscar Snub: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral


Walter Brennan’s Power Trip

*SPOILER ALERT* It’s funny, isn’t it, how sometimes you see a showdown coming. Look – there it is, galloping across the plain, heading straight toward you. Even if you try to jump out of the way, it’ll still knock you over. Such is the case with the 1940 western, The Westerner. Here is a movie… Continue reading Walter Brennan’s Power Trip


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club. It runs Feb. 1 – Mar. 3, in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies’ 31 Days of Oscar. We love a movie that gives you so much to enjoy, you even like the hats. Yes, the hats. No two… Continue reading The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance


A New Perspective of a Difficult History

Sometimes Hollywood really did try. The major studios made millions from portraying Native Americans as primitive warmongers with bad aim, but once in a while they made a movie that tried to correct the stereotype – if somewhat clumsily. They Rode West is a 1954 western set in the American midwest circa 1870. It examines… Continue reading A New Perspective of a Difficult History