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Save The Alamo (1960).

Colin:

I wanted to pass this message on from Toby’s westerns site. It’s a shocking state of affairs to say the least, and all of us who care about the movie, or just the legacy of cinema in general, need to pass our feelings regarding this along to the studio.

Originally posted on 50 Westerns From The 50s.:

alamo03_70mmprinttest

It’s hard to believe that John Wayne’s The Alamo (1960) is in danger of being lost. What’s doing it in? First, the natural breakdown of its original film elements. Second, MGM’s lack of interest in saving it, even if the public helped pitch in to pay for it. (If there was ever a reason for Kickstarter to exist, this is it.)

Read Robert Harris’ report on the elements and MGM’s crappy attitude here. And if a letter-writing or Facebook-flodding campaign gets going, hop on it.

View original

 
18 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

100,000 Views

Today sees this site passing another little milestone. There have been one hundred thousand views since moving to the WordPress platform – a very pleasing statistic as far as I’m concerned. It’s an opportunity for me to send out a big thank you to all the visitors, commenters and contributors – it’s you (and you all know who you are) who make the whole thing not only possible but a pleasure too.

I also thought it might be nice to let people see which posts – excepting hits on the home page and index – have drawn the most traffic so I’ve added a graphic below featuring the ten most viewed. It seems clear enough that westerns and western related material are easily the most popular.

 

 

 
50 Comments

Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Readers Choice 3

I reckon it’s time to feature another Audie Murphy western and I’ve narrowed it down to two options. Seeing as it’s been a while since I offered readers a chance to cast a vote for what they’d like to see, I thought it was a good opportunity to run a poll. The choice is between Tumbleweed (1953) and Ride a Crooked Trail (1958). I’ll leave the poll open until midnight on Saturday and will go with the majority decision. Take your pick people.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Movie Adaptations

Where do our favorite movies come from? A fair few have been, and continue to be, the result of original scripts but many are adaptations. While a modern movie may credit a play, a TV show, a comic book, or even a video game as its source, the most traditional inspiration came from the pages of novels and stories. Now there’s an obvious advantage built in here – screenwriters have a fully formed narrative from which they can work. On the other hand, this also imposes certain limitations on creativity, depending on how faithful to or respectful of the original writer’s work it’s considered important to be. The greatest difficulties, from the perspective of the filmmakers, tend to rear up when the work being adapted is particularly well-known or well-regarded. Fans of the author or story have a habit of getting up in arms if they sense the filmmakers are straying too far, either in terms of plot or spirit, from their beloved piece of writing.

Yet that is a situation which is virtually unavoidable. When you get right down to it, we’re talking about different media here, with different aims and different aesthetics. Something which proves successful on the printed page may not, for a whole variety of reasons, translate well to the cinema screen. That may be a consequence of the narrative structure not being especially cinematic – lack of pace and urgency, too great a sweep, or too much stream of consciousness. The point here is that changes, maybe major ones, are frequently not only desirable but also entirely necessary for an adaptation to work on the big screen.

It also begs the question of what exactly constitutes a good source for cinematic adaptation. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that very often it’s safe to say that the more worthy or respected the book, the less satisfactory the resultant movie is. Generally speaking, that is. Hemingway was one of the finest writers of the 20th century, perhaps even the finest, yet the adaptations of his writing have all been somewhat lacking. F Scott Fitzgerald is another who could be said to have suffered a similar fate. Frankly, I’m sure we could all name plenty of renowned writers who have been poorly served by the films their work inspired. Conversely, there are countless highly entertaining, and sometimes artistically impressive, films derived from the kind of pulp writing I’m sure even its creators would cheerfully admit never aspired to being regarded as great literature. So those are my questions for anyone who cares to tackle them: What do think are the best literary adaptations? And why does the anomaly of poor books leading to good films, and vice-versa, exist?

 

 
53 Comments

Posted by on April 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Underrated Westerns

Just wanted to let readers know that Brian at Rupert Pupkin Speaks has been running a feature on underrated westerns recently and getting contributions from various bloggers. Anyway, he asked me if I’d like to submit some for consideration. I was pleased to do so, and you can see my selection here. While you’re there it’s worth looking through the choices others have made – I think the series is a great idea.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

2013 in review & thanks!

A new year is just round the corner so it’s nice to be able to celebrate some of the high points of the last 12 months. Overall, it’s been a pretty successful year for this site with more visitors and chat/commentary than ever. The stats compiled by WordPress below highlight some of the more prolific visitors and I’d like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you, not only to those people but to all who have stopped by and read or left comments. I’m just the host, and it wouldn’t be much of a party without all those great guests. Cheers guys! And here’s to 2014!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
24 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A new LAMB!

 

I just found out that the site has been accepted as a new member of the Large Association of Movie Blogs. Excellent – the listing is here.

 
32 Comments

Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Six Years

Just a quick post here to acknowledge the fact that this place will have been open for business for six years tomorrow. Sadly, as I’m sure regular visitors have noticed, my output of late has slowed down considerably. Frankly, I’ve been hard pressed to find the time to post due to some pretty heavy work commitments. I think readers here have come to expect a certain level of quality and I don’t wish to knock out sub-standard material just to satisfy some notional quota. Suffice to say I’ll be posting when I find the time to write something which I feel has some worth. Anyway, I didn’t want the anniversary to slip by without thanking all those whose visits and contributions are the life blood of this site. More articles and the like will follow guys, just not quite as often as before.

 
82 Comments

Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Ten of the Best – Western Directors

Well, I’ve given myself another tough task here. Having tried something similar with actors before, I thought I’d have a go at the men behind the cameras. Once again, the sheer number of westerns produced, especially during the classic era, means that almost every director of note made a few. As such, picking my top ten represents something of a challenge. I decided to stick as far as possible with specialists, those whose names tend to be closely associated with westerns, or those who made a significant contribution to the genre, either stylistically, thematically, or through their work with particular stars. The first half-dozen or so are easy, more or less picking themselves. The problems start to become apparent further down the list though, resulting in a bit of soulsearching on my part to determine who would and wouldn’t make the cut. Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my selection.

John Ford

Clearly, the man who identified himself as a maker of westerns has to occupy top spot. It’s truly impossible to overstate the importance and influence of the extraordinarily complex old Irishman. So much of the imagery popularly associated with the genre stems directly from Ford’s films. From myth maker to myth buster, Ford dominated the development of western filmmaking like no one else before or since.

Anthony Mann

Starting out in film noir, Antony Mann brought some of that dark ambiguity to the western. His series of movies throughout the 1950s demonstrated how the genre was the ideal vehicle for the examination of  tortured and flawed personalities. If Ford placed his characters in an iconic landscape, Mann went a step further and merged that landscape with the characters themselves.

Budd Boetticher

Boetticher’s reputation has grown over the years, to the point where the Ranown cycle with Randolph Scott must be regarded as an essential component of the canon. Those beautifully crafted films fold into one another, their lean directness providing a masterclass on how to produce high art on a budget. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Boetticher was making these mature little gems at the point when the western was just reaching its peak.

Sam Peckinpah

More than anyone else, Peckinpah exemplifies the western’s transition from the classic to the modern era. Tales of his battles with the studio bosses and his own inner demons are legion, but the result was a handful of masterpieces of cinema. Maybe we didn’t always get to see exactly what Peckinpah had originally intended, and the emphasis on his depiction of violence tends to cloud the appreciation of the man’s artistry. However, he kept the western moving forward and pushed it in new directions at a time when it was threatened by stagnation.

Sergio Leone

While I remain ambivalent about the spaghetti western in general, my respect and admiration for Leone is unshakeable. He tends to be popularly characterized as the man who brought about a sea change in the way the genre developed, a new broom if you like. I’ve argued before that I don’t believe that’s entirely true – he was steeped in the mythology of the western and owed a huge debt to Ford, paying unashamed homage to the old man in his greatest works. If you take the time to look, there’s clear evidence that the western was already starting to move towards the place that Leone ultimately took it. Nevertheless, he did reinvigorate the western and his influence on filmmaking continues to be felt.

Clint Eastwood

A recent post of mine led to a long and fruitful discussion of Eastwood’s contribution to the genre. A variety of opinions ended up being expressed but the one thing everybody seemed to agree on was the fact that the western would be a lot poorer without Eastwood. Personally, I feel he’s owed a huge debt of gratitude for almost single-handedly keeping the genre I love the most alive during its leanest years.

Raoul Walsh

The man who gave John Wayne his first big break, and according to some stories even gave him his name, returned to the western again and again throughout his career. Walsh tends to be regarded primarily as an action specialist, and there’s no doubting his flair for that aspect of the job. However, he also understood the importance of strong characterization and knew how to fully exploit the potential of his actors – he managed to draw the best out of Errol Flynn for example.

John Sturges

The best directors seem to have a knack for hitting their stride at the just the right time. John Sturges was an unquestioned master of widescreen composition and took full advantage of that skill just as the process was becoming established.  I guess Sturges’ best known western is still The Magnificent Seven, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Personally, I tend to prefer his smaller, tighter efforts from the 50s – even if he’d only ever made Last Train from Gun Hill, he’d still be on this list.

Robert Aldrich

I mentioned the spaghetti western earlier, alluding to the fact that such developments don’t just spontaneously appear. Hollywood could be said to have first glanced furtively in that direction in 1954 when Aldrich made Vera Cruz, but the genre wasn’t yet at a point where a leap into fully fledged amorality was either desirable or possible. Still and all, it can be argued that Aldrich had laid the groundwork.

Delmer Daves

My final pick is a man whose work has risen progressively in my estimation over the years. I’ve come to deeply appreciate what I regard as the essential optimism that permeates his westerns of the 50s. His finest films contain moments of understated intimacy that are enormously powerful and unashamedly poetic.

So there you have it. I doubt if anyone would seriously argue with the inclusion of the first six names on my list. As for the others, I’m sure they won’t meet with everyone’s approval. There are strong cases to be made for directors like Hathaway, de Toth, Wellman, Tourneur, Ray and Hawks. Ultimately though, I had to whittle it down to ten and it was inevitable they couldn’t all make the cut. Feel free to drop in and add your own thoughts.

 
123 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Awards Time

It’s always nice when someone passes along an award. Sometimes these things have a whole raft of conditions attached which can be enormously time-consuming though. As such, it’s quite relaxing to get one which is relatively simple to accept and pass on. And that’s the characteristics of the award sent my way by blogger vinnieh today.

This one simply involves displaying the award logo (check), linking back to whoever gave it to you (check), nominating ten others to receive it (see below), and letting those ten know (OK, OK, just gimme a minute!) – and that’s it. Simple.

I’m not sure, but I think the award, mainly due to its name, is supposed to go to WordPress powered blogs. That gave me pause, there are plenty of worthy blogs out there – many I respect and like to visit – that operate on other platforms. On this occasion I’ve left out such sites and concentrated on WordPress ones. Maybe that’s not the correct reading of the award, but it’s the way I’ve chosen to interpret it. Anyway, having got that rationale out of the way, here are my ten worthy nominees:

Twenty Four Frames

Tipping My Fedora

It Rains…You Get Wet

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

Speakeasy

Movie Classics

Lasso the Movies

Only Detect

In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

ClassicMovieChat.com

 
28 Comments

Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
 
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