The Western III Hall of Fame

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Meek's Cutoff

I'm glad this was nominated, since I'm looking forward to watching First Cow by the same director, Kelly Reichardt. But this movie did nothing for me, unfortunately.

I want to start off positive, and I'll say that, much like Gandhi, this movie had incredibly cinematography, costumes, and use of color. We had a distinct color differences between the clothing the women wore (bright, colorful dresses) and the men (brown, dirty, dull), which made them pop out more. And that is what essential this movie is about, a twist on the "male Western" trope to make it about women.

Which is great. But then you gotta make it interesting. And it wasn't. At 1 Hour and 42 minutes, this movie dragged. I was counting down the minutes, and at the "climactic" final moments it just... died. There was no ending. I don't really see the point in this movie? Like, what was it trying to say? Perhaps a statement about the portrayal of women and Native Americans in westerns. I don't understand why you would make an entire movie about that, though.

The acting was fine. The script - when there was one - was pretty dull, and I felt that none of the characters actually were real, they were simply pawns in this film of Reichardt. If you like Westerns, go for it. It might be for you. I prefer my Westerns to have a little more story and little less artsy cinematography shots, no matter how beautiful they were.

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Ouch, but I'm still going to rep you I love Meek's Cutoff, it's a perfect movie for me, but it's understandably that people like different things, so all's cool. Have you seen any other of Reichardt's films?



Meek's Cutoff

I'm glad this was nominated, since I'm looking forward to watching First Cow by the same director, Kelly Reichardt. But this movie did nothing for me, unfortunately.

I want to start off positive, and I'll say that, much like Gandhi, this movie had incredibly cinematography, costumes, and use of color. We had a distinct color differences between the clothing the women wore (bright, colorful dresses) and the men (brown, dirty, dull), which made them pop out more. And that is what essential this movie is about, a twist on the "male Western" trope to make it about women.

Which is great. But then you gotta make it interesting. And it wasn't. At 1 Hour and 42 minutes, this movie dragged. I was counting down the minutes, and at the "climactic" final moments it just... died. There was no ending. I don't really see the point in this movie? Like, what was it trying to say? Perhaps a statement about the portrayal of women and Native Americans in westerns. I don't understand why you would make an entire movie about that, though.

The acting was fine. The script - when there was one - was pretty dull, and I felt that none of the characters actually were real, they were simply pawns in this film of Reichardt. If you like Westerns, go for it. It might be for you. I prefer my Westerns to have a little more story and little less artsy cinematography shots, no matter how beautiful they were.

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Ouch, but I'm still going to rep you I love Meek's Cutoff, it's a perfect movie for me, but it's understandably that people like different things, so all's cool. Have you seen any other of Reichardt's films?
I’m sorry , no I haven’t seen any of her films, maybe this was a bad starting point.



That's interesting. Despite it being directed by a woman, I didn't perceive the movie to be saying anything about women or men. Maybe it was and it slipped past me.
Oh yeah, there was a bit of social commentary being drawn between the women and men in so far as to how they handled adversity. Notice the women walked alongside the wagons while the men were either horseback or steered the wagon.
Williams character in particular spoke her mind, when the others kept their thoughts to themselves.






"Say goodbye to my wife, I'll say hello to yours"


Bone Tomahawk (2015) was released by one of my favorite filmmakers Craig Zahler, it tells the story of four men who ride off into the west to track down the kidnappers of three townspeople, the deputy, doctor, and the drifter. It's a film that walks that fine Western balance of hyper literate and incredible visuals.


I want to start off talking about how great these characters are. Richard Jenkins is the backup deputy...Chicory and what I like about Chicory is that he's old not necessarily wise. He's the backup deputy but he's also the backup doctor and while it's clear he's over his head he does have this strong personality.



Arthur is a cowboy and much like Chicory he's constantly emasculated. He's the husband of the town doctor..a woman. He broke his leg so he's just stumbling along everyone is keeping an eye on him because he's a liability.


Then you've got the Sheriff Hunt who is the leader but he's well over his head. When they go onto this mission he makes it clear that they are only going to win because they are smarter than the savages (guess what they aren't).



Finally we've got Matthew Fox's character who is straight out of a Chaplin film as a villain.




He's got this gorgeous white horse, this expensive tools (I love how they react to the spyglass...it's like an 1899 IPHONE) and in a lesser film he would betray his comrades or demonstrate cowardice but that's not really what this film is about.


I always say the best westerns are the ones that are about something deeper...a moral choice. And Bone Tomahawk is basically the story of Orpheus descending into Hades. You telling the story of men going into hell to rescue the innocents and it's a long journey where it just gets worse and worse and you notice the landscape changes it starts off in this garden and then it descends into this dusty pit of hell. The film is shot cinamatatically but the horror is very quick and brutal. A hallmark of Zahler's films is on second and third watch you'll catch these scenes in the background that are terrifying.



Meek's Cutoff
...And that is what essential this movie is about, a twist on the "male Western" trope to make it about women...
I didn't see it as being a male western troupe but with women instead. It's not really a western troupe at all. Now, The Quick and The Dead with Sharon Stone as the mysterious outsider gunslinger come into a western town for a gunfight, was certainly a woman in a typical male western role. But I don't feel that's what Meek's Cutoff was aiming for. I mean if you had everyone in the movie being all men, it would still be a non-western western movie.

That's interesting. Despite it being directed by a woman, I didn't perceive the movie to be saying anything about women or men. Maybe it was and it slipped past me.
I didn't perceive any kind of a gender message coming from the movie either.

Oh yeah, there was a bit of social commentary being drawn between the women and men in so far as to how they handled adversity. Notice the women walked alongside the wagons while the men were either horseback or steered the wagon.
Williams character in particular spoke her mind, when the others kept their thoughts to themselves.
That doesn't have to do with social commentary. Pioneers crossing the plains did just that, they got out and walked to spare the horses. The men aren't walking as they're driving the wagons or riding horseback.



Oh yeah, there was a bit of social commentary being drawn between the women and men in so far as to how they handled adversity. Notice the women walked alongside the wagons while the men were either horseback or steered the wagon.
Williams character in particular spoke her mind, when the others kept their thoughts to themselves.
[/quote]That doesn't have to do with social commentary. Pioneers crossing the plains did just that, they got out and walked to spare the horses. The men aren't walking as they're driving the wagons or riding horseback.[/quote]
Perhaps social commentary wasn’t the right word. But there is a stark contrast between the two sexed in the film, as the men are ALWAYS on horseback or starring the wagon while the women are walking. Yes, pioneers did just that, but the women seemed condemned to walk through the whole trek.
You’d think they’d take turns.
Unless I am not remembering some scenes where they had. But my memory seems to recall they didn’t.



McCabe & Mrs Miller 1971 Directed by Robert Altman



2h | Drama | Western
Writers: Edmund Naughton (novel), Robert Altman (screenplay)
Soundtrack: Leonard Cohen
Stars: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois, Keith Carradine, Shelley Duvall, William Devane

Included on the following lists:
- John Connor's Top 250 of All Time
- BFI Screen Guide's 100 Westerns
- Roger Ebert's Great Movies
- Movie Forums: Top 100 of the 1970s


(Read a review here where there was a complaint about the lighting. But I watched the Blu-Ray version and the lighting was perfect and every detail clearly visible.)

The film starts with a lone stranger riding into a small mining town on a grim and rainy day. When the stranger reaches the town’s shabby saloon we find out the stranger is the infamous cigar smoking gambler John McCabe. Played by Warren Beatty in one of his best performances. McCabe intends to move into town, he has a vision and a plan to establish his own saloon and brothel. He starts off very small time and amateurish until the arrival of the experienced and streetwise Mrs. Constance Miller. Played by the beautiful and talented Julie Christie. She offers her much needed professionalism and female touch to McCabe’s business for a share of the profits. The business deal results in a successful and luxurious whorehouse. A special chemistry starts to develop between McCabe & Mrs Miller and business is thriving. However an aggressive major corporation has their own plans with the town and offers to buy McCabe out. When McCabe refuses, the drama unfolds..

Engaging, believable, and poetic take on the Old West by Altman. Provides a pleasant change from cinematic Western stereotypes. Shot in authentic looking West Vancouver and Squamish, Canada.

Really enjoyed this re-watch and the atypical complex romantic chemistry between McCabe and Mrs. Miller. The script is fun, smart and heartfelt. High on my all time favorite western list and Hall of Fame ballot.








Trivia:
Before casting Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, Robert Altman originally wanted George C. Scott and Patricia Quinn for the lead roles.



Bone Tomahawk 2015 Directed by S. Craig Zahler (Re-watch)

*mild spoilers..

Bone Tomahawk is a well made film and an interesting mixture of genres; Western, Mystery, Action and Horror.
So far I'm pretty impressed by both films I've seen by Craig Zahler. This one and Dragged Across Concrete.

Great casting job on all the characters involved. Big Kurt Russel fan, so can’t go wrong with him as the tough heroic Sheriff. Lili Simmons who was absolutely amazing in the TV show Banshee as the town doctor and Mathew Fox I think we all know as Jack from Lost as a brave Indian killing dapper Dan bachelor. And last but not least Richard Jenkins as the colorful and humorous deputy Chicory.
The film also features a brief appearance by Captain Spaulding.

The final showdown with the savages and the terrifying imagery in the last couple of scenes were pretty gruesome but it did do the trick for me, and gave the film a memorable and climactic grand finale.
Good nomination and enjoyable re-watch!



That's interesting. Despite it being directed by a woman, I didn't perceive the movie to be saying anything about women or men. Maybe it was and it slipped past me.
It just seemed to me like Reichardt was making a point of showing how the women had to look on as the men made all the decisions and got them into trouble. I may have been reading too far into it.



It just seemed to me like Reichardt was making a point of showing how the women had to look on as the men made all the decisions and got them into trouble. I may have been reading too far into it.
That might have been to some extent. Though I think these days we're conditioned to see tribalism in every aspect of life, especially movies. IMO the director was striving for a much more realistic film than most westerns. That's why the women don't make the decisions as in 1845 they wouldn't have...except for a few individuals like Michele Williams character. I just never got the feeling the director was trying to inject 21st century social politics into the movie.




Dirty Little Billy (1972)

Trapped in the muddy confines of Coffeeville, Billy a kid faced teen, languishes with no direction and zero motivation. He ends up forcibly ejected from his own home by an abusive stepfather and takes up living in a run down shack-of-a-sallon with a crazed pimp and his angelic faced prostitute girlfriend. Thus raw circumstances and a lack of personal hygiene starts the career of one of the old west most notorious outlaws.

I dug this indie style, coming of age film. It reflects the journey that the young adult, baby boomers were taking at the time. With it's psyche of non conformity and un-traditionalism it embodies the hallmark of the counter culture of the late 60s and early 70s.

Dirty Little Billy is a unique, non-hollywood western that brings much realism into this deep character study of Billy the Kid. I loved the slow paced, deeply introspective style of film making. The film is about the ambiance and the in-between moments that makes up a life. And in between the violent climax of the film where Billy becomes an outlaw, and the bleak start where he's forced out into the world on his own...we have all the lost moments that go to make up the individual that we call Billy the Kid. I thought that was fresh film making and I quite enjoyed it. and the style of the film making reminds me of my nom Meek's Cutoff.

One cool nom.

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The Big Gundown

Much, much, better than I was expecting, I actually quite enjoyed this movie! There were a lot of issues with continuity of editing, some stiff acting, and overall tropes that a lot of Westerns in this era had, but it was legitimately super fun!

The main reason I took this movie down two stars was because it's really nooooot a good portrayal of women in this time period - the premise is a 12-year old girl got raped and killed by a Mexican. Then the main character - a bounty hunter - is payed to go pay the guy that did it, until he founds out that he's being payed to kill a witness to the rape. The killer and rapist does get killed in the end... but it's just... weird. The rape is seen as a super trivial thing, and multiple times the main character says he doesn't really care about the rape, he just wants money. It's seen as a proponent of the plot, some law that some guy broke for some random reason, is what I'm trying to say, and not something that's legit an issue that they go into detail about. This is all coming from someone who usually gets annoyed when old movies are criticized for being sexist/racist.

But aside from that, this was honestly pretty amazing. The structure and pacing was smooth and confident, Ennio Morricone's score is absolutely excellent, and we just got some great Western outside atmosphere. Reccomended!

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Red River

My third Howard Hawks film cements him as one of My Favorite Directors. The man is just legendary at getting a good plot, amazing characters, and sharp dialogue into an often stereotypical genre (in this case, the Western).

It's a classic for a reason; beautifully shot, wonderfully written, yada yada. The black and white is crisp and almost makes the title ironic, as obviously there is zero red in this thing. This is my 6th John Wayne film, he gives great performances and wasn't a let down here.

While the story admittedly has pacing issues, such as the terrible ending- actually, yeah, let's talk about that ending.

What? The ending was so abrupt, unsatisfying, frustrating. It had the potential to be a climax along the lines of The Searchers or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Instead, the men hassle for two minutes, get yelled at by Matt's girlfriend, and make up. And what about the poor kid John Wayne's character had just shot two minutes before? Nah, he'll be fine, who cares...

Well, whatever. It's not a big complaint since most of the movie is fantastic. Just not the ending I would have wanted. Seriously, check this one out, especially if you're a Hawks fan! It's a good one, although my least favorite Hawks at the moment.

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The Big Gundown (1966)

This was pretty good as far as spaghetti westerns go, though I don't actually care for spaghetti westerns. I guess with the in your face tropes and dubbed dialogue they remind me of Tarantino's films and I'm not a fan of his. So I'm not surprised to learn that The Big Gundown is actually one of Quentin Tarentino's favorite spaghetti westerns. He'll probably remake it someday.

The twist ending was cool and I didn't see that coming. But I'm just not into a film where a bounty hunter rides into a ranch run by a woman and all of her male employees take it upon themselves to try and kill the bounty hunter instead of letting him take the wanted man. I mean why would they risk their lives for him, when in an earlier scene they had scorned him for being Mexican and whipped him.
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Meeks Cutoff (2010)


Can we just take a moment to talk about how fake Meek's beard looks...holy low budget Batman!. Meek's Cutoff is a film that has promise but fails to deliver on that promise. This is the story of a group of settlers lost in the desert attempting to get to the sea...or California honestly I kinda just rolled my eyes to the back of my head and just absorbed the journey. I don't understand why nobody can make a thrilling Donner party or Oregon Trail film and why every one of these films has to be slow. The strength of the film to me was the insertion of the native american and how you have this group trying to use him...but also some of them want to kill him. Westerns are always at their best when they are presenting us with moralistic choices. I also enjoyed how the night shots were pitch black..it was something different which I liked. End of the day this was a rewatch and it didn't grab me the first time and it didn't grab me the second time.



I watched McCabe & Mrs Miller for the second time last night. The first time I watched it was for the first Western HoF. My opinion didn't really change but I do have a deeper respect for the director Robert Altman's artistic and technical expertise. Instead of writing another review, I just now rewrote my old review and updated it.

McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)

I loved the shooting location in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. It gave a really authentic look to the town, with all the mud, rain and evergreen trees. The small, rustic town built on a step mountainside also added to the film's ambiance. One beautiful movie to look at!


Great sets too...I loved the look of the film and the cinematography choices. The entire film was expertly handled by Altman. It's really near flawless. I especially liked the scene of the man dancing on the ice, which reminded me of one of the greatest movie scenes ever filmed.

I liked the story premise too, it was an interesting subject matter and I did enjoy watching it. Overall there's a lot to like here, unfortunately there's a few things that didn't work for me:


The theme song that played over and over, drove me nuts. It took me out of the film and was distracting as I kept focusing on it instead of the film.

Also I couldn't make out what was being said half the time. The words were so mumbled that I actually had to use subtitles to know what they were saying. This made it hard to connect to the film emotionally. The sound mix needed to be done differently.

The interior shots were to dark at times and hard to see, but they sure looked authentic. Just a tiny bit more light would have helped. I read other reviews that mentioned the darkness and sound quality so I know it just wasn't me. I also read Robert Altman deliberately 'frosted' the negative of his film so that it would have a dark slightly hazy look, that could not be corrected later on by the studio. An artistic choice that I liked.

But I don't like Warren Betty, I never have. His movie star fame didn't last long and he's not much of an actor either. Though I will say he's perfectly cast here as a successful but clueless business man. And true to Altman's style he spends a lot of time on colorful dialogue and yet doesn't give us much insight or development on the characters (or maybe I just couldn't hear it!) I felt like I didn't even know what Julie Christie's character was about. Nor did we get much on the momentous task of building a thriving town out of the wilderness mud.

McCabe & Mrs Miller is the kind of film that can grow on you and takes more than one viewing to get it's full effect. However as I already knew what was coming at the ending, the rewatch wasn't emotional rewarding and the last 20 minutes with the hired guns dragged.



Tumble weeds are so cool! Congrats for being the first to finish Think I'll watch a western tonight and then watch my last nom real soon so I can be done...then I'll finish off my last two Best Picture noms for that HoF.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
LOL

I've actually seen 3 films, Dirty Little Billy, Red River and McCabe & Mrs Miller and haven't posted ANY reviews for them


ALSO, along with John we have ahwell's Ballot as well!
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