The Searchers (1956) has been acclaimed not just as one of John Ford’s greatest films, and not just as one of the greatest Westerns, but as one of the greatest films of all time. This praise is all the more surprising given that The Searchers is a profoundly illiberal and even “racist” movie, which means that most fans esteem it grudgingly rather than unreservedly. (more…)
John Ford’s last great film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) enjoys the status of a classic. I find it a deeply flawed, grating, and often ridiculous film that is nonetheless redeemed both by raising intellectually deep issues and by an emotionally powerful ending that seems to come out of nowhere. (more…)
So they want to ban Gone With the Wind? Pity, because a movie they would really like to strangle is Santa Fe Trail. Made in 1940, Santa Fe Trail is an Errol Flynn/Olivia de Havilland Western with lots of action and romance that discusses slavery and the Southern point of view in rational terms.
Errol Flynn plays Jeb Stuart, and Ronald Reagan plays George Custer. They are classmates at West Point in 1854 (more…)
“Help us, Dave Filoni. You’re our only hope.”
On December 20th, J. J. “Death Star” Abrams and Disney Corp. will complete the destruction of the Star Wars saga that many of us have loved since childhood, while raking in untold millions by cynically exploiting nostalgia for the mythos they are desecrating. So pass the popcorn, because I’ll be right there, dear readers, to review it for you. (more…)
“Duke” Morrison as Metapolitical Icon John Wayne
The lighted pixels never go dark on John Wayne in the TV sphere. In the four decades since his passing, one can turn on a TV set at any time of day or night and there will be a John Wayne film being played on some channel.
When looking at John Wayne’s performances, many critics point out that John Wayne always plays John Wayne. However, he himself said, “That guy you see on the screen isn’t really me. (more…)
The Lone Ranger never had a chance as a movie. The Wild West setting is akin to Auschwitz in the eyes of educated opinion. The existence of the Indian sidekick “Tonto” is an embarrassing reminder that whites once assumed they would be in leadership roles, with the Other tolerantly accepted as helpers. The clean-cut eponymous hero is a symbol of everything that the post-Western world has pledged to destroy. The character of the Lone Ranger is the hero of a despised nation that no longer exists. (more…)
Joss Whedon’s Firefly is a science fiction series that lived and died on the Fox Network in the Fall of 2002. Fourteen episosdes were shot, but only eleven were aired before the series was canceled, to the consternation of the surprisingly large number of loyal fans that the show conjured up in the split second of its existence. In my view, Firefly is one of the best sci-fi shows ever, second only to Battlestar Galactica (more…)
London: The Spinning Top Club, 2008
This picaresque novel was published in August 2008 by the Spinning Top Club in England. The novel is a slightly unusual departure for Bowden in that it is a Western — albeit of a spectral or ghoulish sort. It could be best described as a supernatural western crossed with an intellectual treatise.