Westerns Movie Log Journal & Recommendations

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"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



I only watched Silverado because it was a trailer on another western DVD. Glad I did watch it though. I hopefully can squeeze in a bunch more westerns before the countdown deadline is up.




Tall in the Saddle (1944)

Tall in the Saddle is a lesser known John Wayne western made during WWII. It's indicative of the style of westerns that were made during the 1940s. During the 1940s, especially in the first half of the decade westerns were often seen as being relatively cheap to make as Southern California and the various ranches that existed there made for easy shooting locations for the folks from Hollywood. A lot of westerns at the time were aimed at matinee goers, usually kids and were made by the smaller studios on a small budget. Hence they had simplified stories with bad villains, good guys, pretty girls and lots of horse riding and bar fights. But usually the story lines weren't to real thought out.

However Tall in the Saddle being made by one of the big studios RKO, had more money for action scenes and better writers for a better script. And they had John Wayne too, who had a six film deal with RKO at the time.

What makes this film stand out is that it works as a mystery & romance & action all roled up in one film. The mystery is who has killed the owner of the ranch that had hired John Wayne...and why the neighboring ranch has an elderly, feisty woman manipulating her young niece who stands to inherit the ranch.

The elderly aunt is played to perfection by Elisabeth Risdon and she's a hoot! Especially when paired with Gabby Hayes and the two go at it! Her innocent young niece, Audrey Long, is the pretty blonde that catches John Wayne's eye. But it's the dark haired, tough & fiery cowgirl played by Ella Raines that really stood out in the movie. She adds needed zest and is quite unique as I can't think of another actress at the time with her qualities. Rounding off the cast is Ward Bond a real life friend of John Wayne who ends up going toe to toe with The Duke.

If you like your westerns with mystery, romance and a thrilling stage ride at break neck speeds...and not much graphic violence than Tall in the Saddle might be your ticket to fun.




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I only watched Silverado because it was a trailer on another western DVD. Glad I did watch it though. I hopefully can squeeze in a bunch more westerns before the countdown deadline is up.
I didn’t care for it, myself. There was something lacking about it.



Unless it's something that really appeals to me, it has to get at least a
from you for me to consider it
From on now they'll be all 4s! I don't see you loving Tall in the Saddle.

I didn’t care for it, myself. There was something lacking about it.
The one flaw IMO was the Scooby Doo ending with one character spilling the beans and solving the mystery just like they use to do on Scooby Doo.



!!!***spoiler for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
When you look up the movie on mofo, via the 'Movies' search section, you will see two reviews, the first one by Iroquois, reveals a major spoiler. Not his fault cause when you open this review it's properly hidden with spoiler tags.
https://www.movieforums.com/movies/1...y-valance.html

I would notify yoda but only if he's already seen it, otherwise fixing the problem will spoil the movie for him.
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The Alamo (1960)

The only movie John Wayne ever directed was the epic film, The Alamo. The scale of this film is huge! There were over 7000 people on screen during the epic battle of the Alamo with 1500 horse. Wayne had to finance part of the film himself as it was costly!...The sets alone took 2 years to complete. What resulted is something that will never be duplicated on film again. The Alamo complex is huge and so is the nearby town. The sets alone are well worth the price of admission. So is the sweeping wide angle shots of the Texas countryside with the Mexican army in their colorful uniforms and they march towards the old mission.

But for all of it's visual achievements, the script just doesn't elevate the film to greatness. There's no real standout scenes or goose bump moments. The Alamo is well worth a watch and quite the achievement in epic film making. But it's just not that stirring of a film, especially for the subject matter involved.

+

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The Horse Soldiers (1959)

I hate to say this, but this was the most disappointing of John Ford's movies that I've watched so far. It's a film without focus and without heart. There's some big on-location scenes done in Louisiana but it still lacks the sweeping cinematography that's the hallmark of a John Ford movie. Maybe that's because it was a troubled production: The doctors had just ordered John Ford to stop drinking or else he wouldn't live long. Reportedly he was even more verbally abusive while on the wagon than usual. Then a stunt man was killed which deeply effected John Ford and he abruptly stopped on-location shooting and wrapped up the film in Hollywood. In doing so he left off the film's planned ending leaving the movie abbreviated.


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The Alamo (1960)

The only movie John Wayne ever directed was the epic film, The Alamo. The scale of this film is huge! There were over 7000 people on screen during the epic battle of the Alamo with 1500 horse. Wayne had to finance part of the film himself as it was costly!...The sets alone took 2 years to complete. What resulted is something that will never be duplicated on film again. The Alamo complex is huge and so is the nearby town. The sets alone are well worth the price of admission. So is the sweeping wide angle shots of the Texas countryside with the Mexican army in their colorful uniforms and they march towards the old mission.

But for all of it's visual achievements, the script just doesn't elevate the film to greatness. There's no real standout scenes or goose bump moments. The Alamo is well worth a watch and quite the achievement in epic film making. But it's just not that stirring of a film, especially for the subject matter involved.

+

I watched this a few years ago, and somewhat enjoyed it. It’s not terrible, but I’d like to have seen what a more capable director would have been able to accomplish.
Wayne shouldn’t have directed it.




Fort Apache (1948)
Dir. John Ford

This is a good one! It wasn't what I expected either. The action came only at the end, and only after building up to the foreshadowed crisis throughout the movie. Mostly this is a John Ford signature movie.

Ford shines in his Monument Valley setting with cinematography that matches the grandeur of the location. Pay close attention to the clouds in this film...they're very striking...and for a good reason. Ford also delivers his hallmark family and hearth style of film making, complete with lighter comic elements. Here his comic elements work and help move the story along. The story isn't about the threat of an Apache attack, and it's not about any one character. This is an ensemble film where many of the actors are utilized in true ensemble fashion. That's a rarity for a film from the 1940s.

The story is ultimately about the soldiers and their families who occupy Fort Apache. The other thing that strikes me about the film is it's forward thinking in how it treats the Apaches. There not just the bad guys to be shot at. We learn of their backstory and how corrupt white Indian agents cheated them out of food and their dignity which caused them to leave the reservation and go on the war path.



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The War Wagon (1967)

A rather forgettable western that's best filed under 'pot boiler'. It's a heist movie without much ingenuity or action, no character development or much drama either. The big draw is the brand name stars who populate this summer of love western. John Wayne leads the pack but it's not a Duke movie. Kirk Douglas is probably the most colorful of the cast, though one might consider the very odd choice of baritone singer Howard Keel as an Indian to be even more colorful. Then there's a young Bruce Dern who only has a scene or two before being knocked out. And Keenen Wynn doesn't get to do much either though he is married to one of two Star Trek guest stars. His young wife is Valora Noland best known as Daras on Star Trek: Patterns of Force. Then there's Robert Walker's son, Robert Walker Jr. This was the only movie I've seen him in, to me he will always be Charlie X from Star Trek.

If you're a Star Trek fan this might be worth the watch, otherwise not much to see here.
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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?

Fort Apache (1948)
Dir. John Ford

This is a good one! It wasn't what I expected either. The action came only at the end, and only after building up to the foreshadowed crisis throughout the movie. Mostly this is a John Ford signature movie.

Ford shines in his Monument Valley setting with cinematography that matches the grandeur of the location. Pay close attention to the clouds in this film...they're very striking...and for a good reason. Ford also delivers his hallmark family and hearth style of film making, complete with lighter comic elements. Here his comic elements work and help move the story along. The story isn't about the threat of an Apache attack, and it's not about any one character. This is an ensemble film where many of the actors are utilized in true ensemble fashion. That's a rarity for a film from the 1940s.

The story is ultimately about the soldiers and their families who occupy Fort Apache. The other thing that strikes me about the film is it's forward thinking in how it treats the Apaches. There not just the bad guys to be shot at. We learn of their backstory and how corrupt white Indian agents cheated them out of food and their dignity which caused them to leave the reservation and go on the war path.



Haven't had the chance to follow this, but this is definitely up my wagon trail. I am intrigued! And have heard of this movie and never checked it out. Will definitely have to make that happen.
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Haven't had the chance to follow this, but this is definitely up my wagon trail. I am intrigued! And have heard of this movie and never checked it out. Will definitely have to make that happen.
I'm trying to watch a western most every night. I got a bunch of John Wayne films from the library, but when I'm done with those I'll do some others.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?

Angel and the Badman (1947)

This is one of my favorite westerns and it's not the greatest film of all time, but it does a lot right and does a lot things different than the average western movie. And it's those differences that makes me appreciate, this under appreciated, John Wayne western. But it's not the Duke who makes this picture special, it's the lead actress Gail Russell.

Penny (Gail Russell) is a Quaker who lives with her mom and dad. They find a half dead, infamous gun man named Quirt Evans (John Wayne) and take him home and nurse him back to health. They do that because that is their way. And that's what makes this western special, it's the idea that there's good in all of us and doing good is in itself it's own reward. Of course Quirt doesn't believe in all this 'good doing' but the unashamed love of a young woman turns Quirt from violence to something much more peaceful.

Angel and the Badman doesn't have a lot of violence, in fact you could call it a romantic western and yet it contains some of the craziest stunts performed on film. And that's thanks to second director Yakima Canutt who directed some down right dangerous stunts including having two stunt men drive a wagon over a cliff into the water below.

But for me it's Gail Russell with her fragile beauty and inner shyness that makes Angel and the Badman special.

++

VERY good movie! Been a while since I saw this, but I do remember Gail Russell doing an excellent job and the whole conflict of John Wayne's character between his "gut" and his "heart" was a great aspect to the film.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
I'm trying to watch a western most every night. I got a bunch of John Wayne films from the library, but when I'm done with those I'll do some others.
theses recent ones also seem to be a run of John Ford films as well. But I'm sure going by a specific actor or director is a far better organized way of watching for you and for us reading this we can browse favorites. So, nicely done!



VERY good movie! Been a while since I saw this, but I do remember Gail Russell doing an excellent job and the whole conflict of John Wayne's character between his "gut" and his "heart" was a great aspect to the film.
Have you ever read about Gail Russell? It's a sad story and I swear you can see her sadness in that photo too.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Have you ever read about Gail Russell? It's a sad story and I swear you can see her sadness in that photo too.
sadder than Gene Tierney or Hedy Lamar? Or, hell, even Judy Garland?
Far too many extraordinary people paying such horrific prices.

But no, I have not.

***Edit***
So I did a quick research. I've heard of a lot of performers who have that kind of crippling shyness and insecurity. Always breaks my heart when I hear about it and what it costs them in such a sad, terrified, nerve-wracked existence before dying. Like Gail, usually alone.