Friday, July 31, 2015

Western Legends: Robert Duvall

(Emma's thoughts in brown and Olivia's thoughts in blue.)

So, you may know that Emma and I are very fond of a certain actor. We kind of talk about him a lot. In fact, this mutual interest was one of the reasons we got to know each other in the first place.  We discovered, through Emma's review of The Stars Fell on Henrietta, that we both really quite adored the man.  We tend to swoon a bit at the mention of his name, so we'll try not to get too fangirly (but we will likely fail).

Yeah, you could say we really like him.

Oh yes, and he has a name. It's Robert Duvall.

His co-stars call him Bobby, so we do too. :-D

One director who's worked with him termed him, "a first-class actor…an American institution," and Emma and I definitely agree with that!  (Well, as must anyone in full possession of their mental faculties.)

I'm trying to think of what the first movie I ever saw Robert Duvall in was....I guess it must have been Lonesome Dove. I saw the first part of LD when I was...thirteen, maybe? At the time I didn't like it at all, believe it or not! I wasn't into westerns at that point in my young life, and the depth of the story and the characters went right over my head. Then I watched The Great Santini, which did not help matters at all. ;-P I thought Robert Duvall was annoying. I resolved to dislike him forever.

Well, time happened. I saw Gods and Generals, in which he plays Robert E. Lee, and realized, this guy is actually a REALLY good actor. He's enjoyable to watch. I watched Lonesome Dove again -- all the way through, this time -- and the rest is history. :-)

As I've said before, you just can't not like Robert Duvall. I've tried it. It just doesn't work. Now I've seen him in about eight films, read interviews, watched special features, and he's one of my very favorite actors. I admire the way he carries himself, how he's always genuine and has a deep feeling for each one of his characters. And of course, I love his unique sense of humor. :-)

I'm fairly sure that I first saw Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions--that's a popular movie in our household, and it was one of our "staple watches" when we kids were younger:)  Anyway, I always loved Uncle Hub (because, I mean, like Emma said, you can't not), but I didn't really know who he was.  Then a number of years later, I watched Seven Days in Utopia, and I think, strangely enough, that was when I started to realize my love for Bobby.  I knew going into it that it was the same guy who played Hub, and then I started to realize, "Hey, this actor is pretty cool.  He seems like 'a good ol' country boy.'"  And I think he is:)

I appreciate how Bobby has dedicated himself to quality movies--movies with high morals, high values.  Movies parents and kids can watch together and enjoy without discomfort or embarrassment on either side.  Discuss-able movies.  I guess what I mean is, all of his movies, that I've seen or heard of, have a higher point.  They're not movies for the sake of blood 'n' guts, action, romance, etc.  I feel like you can come away from his films having learned something.

I also love that you sense real humility from him as an actor.  I love his sense of humor.  I love how you get the idea that he doesn't really take himself too seriously;-P

Mack Sledge in Tender Mercies (1983)

This movie isn't a western, but Robert Duvall wears a cowboy hat, so we're counting it. :-) Plus it's really good, in a simple, down-to-earth sort of way. Mack Sledge is a down-on-his-luck country singer who takes a job working at a gas station run by a nice lady named Rosa Lee. What's really neat about this role is that he actually sings in the movie, and almost every song on the soundtrack. I didn't know that until the credits rolled by, and I realized the guy singing that song that kept playing throughout was actually Robert Duvall! It gained him even more points in my book. :-)

I honestly don't remember much of anything about this movie, but I'm sure I'd love it if I watched it again:)

Print Ritter in Broken Trail (2006)

Oh, yes.  THIS I know;)  Okay.  Prentice Ritter, or Print, is absolutely AMAZING.  I love him.  I love how he cares for the girls, and his special relationship with "li'l number five" is even more precious.  Print is anxious to repair and preserve his relationship with his guarded nephew, Tom, and that's admirable.  It can be so very hard to preserve familial connections where there is pain, misunderstanding, and emotional walls.  And his courage in the face of Ed Bywaters--"Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name!"  Ohhhh myyyy worrrrd;-P  It's wonderful.  "Don't hurt the children"--and then, when Tom had saved the day--"You will not hurt these children.  No, sir."    Another great thing is how open Print is about his weaknesses and/or failures.  He knows himself, and he accepts himself, even while admitting that he lacks courage in some areas.  That's really inspiring--to see a character who acknowledges that he isn't perfect, but refuses to wallow in self-condemnation or regret.

This is one of my very favorite of Bobby's roles. (But hey, I say that about almost every single one. ;-P) Print is an aging cowboy, much like Gus in Lonesome Dove, except he's more...oh, I don't know...morally upstanding? than Gus is. While Gus is a genuinely good guy, Print is more of a polished gentleman. (He's also a very snazzy dresser -- I mean, for a cowboy out on the trail, those are some fancy duds.) The way he talks to the five Chinese girls in his care is SO adorable, doing everything he can to make them feel safe and naming them 'Number 1, Number 2, Number 3, Number 4, and Number 5'.

One of the things I love about this movie is how much the characters come to know each other and depend on each other without even speaking the same language. (Especially with Tom and Sung Fu...but we won't go into that now or else I might morph into a puddle of sentimental fluff.)

Short version: I love Uncle Print. :-)

Hub McCann in Secondhand Lions (2003)

Bobby is so much fun as a grumpy old man! :-) Hub is such a great character, the more aggressive and charismatic of the two crazy uncles. That hat he wears is a classic. And he's so quotable! "You live to be a hundred." "You old ladies want to get in, I'll drive you home." Oh, and of course his "What Every Boy Needs To Know About Being a Man" speech is a bit of epicness itself. It's fun to see Robert Duvall in something on the silly side for a change. :-)

Oh, Hub McCann.  Where to start?  I feel like the character of Hub is iconic--which is strange, since (and more's the pity) few people talk about this movie much.  But is it not great?  While Hub isn't exactly lovey-dovey towards Walter (or, really, anybody), you can tell that he cares.  Life hasn't always treated him kindly, and he can tend to be grumpy at times, but boy, oh boy, when he gets going:  "I'm Hub McCann…"  I just love this movie, especially Hub's character, and his relationship with Garth is particularly amusing.  "To h*** with that!  *tosses rake away*  You live to be a hundred!"

Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove (1989)

Although I've only seen this once, it's certainly not an easy story to forget.  Robert Duvall, as always, lends even more epic-ness to the tale.  His character, Gus McCrae,  did take a little while to grow on me, I admit.  However, by the end, I was wholly won over.  Did he have issues?  Yes--but everyone does, and don't we appreciate realism in a story more than picture-perfect characters like Elsie Dinsmore?  Anyway, let's just say that some tears squeezed past my eyelids in Certain Scenes...  Oh, to heck with spoilers--people, the pain!  "Been quite a party, ain't it?"  Too much.  Just couldn't.  Really, he has some of the best quotes.  I even have an awesome bookmark with one of his great one-liners, made by dear Emma herself!:D

When they finished filming Lonesome Dove, Robert Duvall said, "I can retire now. I've done something I can be proud of." He's also said the role of Gus McCrae may be his favorite, and I'm inclined to agree that this is definitely some of Bobby's best acting. In fact, it's some of THE best acting ever. Having read the book (*blushes and waves proudly*) I can say that absolutely no one could have done it better. Robert Duvall IS Gus. Charming, irritating, lovable, loyal, with a quick tongue and a lazy sense of fun. He's also extremely brave, when he has to be, but he'd rather be sitting on the porch drinking whiskey and kicking the rear end of a pig every now and then. :-)

And now, here are some of our personal favorite words of wisdom from this amazing actor!

"A young actor once asked me, What do you do between jobs? I said, Hobbies, hobbies, and more hobbies. It keeps you off dope."

"I just have a feel for this [for Westerns]. And maybe if I hadn't been an actor I would've become a rancher."

"A friend is someone who many years ago offered you his last $300 when you broke your pelvis. A friend is Gene Hackman."

"I like the good feeling movies."

"I think I nailed a very specific individual guy who represents something important in our history of the western movement. After that, I felt I could retire, that'd I'd done something."

"We either accept weaknesses in good people, or we have to tear pages out of the Bible." 

"I'm not perceived as a traditional leading man, but I never aimed at that sort of thing either. I never straightened my front teeth, or whatever. I wan't cut out for that. Even if I did a 'big' movie, I'd still want to make it a real character."

"Stripping away artific--it's the constant standard I aim for in acting, to approximate life. People talk about being bigger than life--but there's nothing bigger than life."

So yes, we really admire this fella.  We love his humor, his down-to-earth personality, and his effortlessly natural performances.  He's a strong actor, an inspiring personality, and has earned his place as an American classic.

"The English have Shakespeare, the French have Moliere, the Russians have Chekov, the Argentines, have Borges, but the Western is ours--from Canada down to the Mexican border."
~ Robert Duvall

Thursday, July 30, 2015

LoWCW: Western Quote Game

Okay, time for a game for Western Week!  This one should be fairly self-explanatory:  Guess from which movie each quote comes, and bonus points if you can name the characters who say them!  Answers will come sometime at the end of the week.  (Oh, and I classify all these movies as Westerns, but some people might not.  #10 is especially tricky.)

#1.  Character 1:  "Well, 'at didn't pan out."

#2.  Character 1:  "Put his boots on him, Clute, and his gunbelt, and his spurs."

#3.  Character 1:  "So, what's your name?"
Character 2:  "Beans."
Character 1:  "That's a funny kind o' name."
Character 2:  "What can I say?  My daddy plumb loved baked beans."
Character 1:  "Well, you're lucky he didn't plumb love asparagus."

#4.  Character 1:  "Been quite a party, ain't it?"

#5.  Character 1:  "I didn't ride eleven hundred miles to finish second place!"
Character 2:  "Why did ya, then?"

#6.  (Pardon the language in this one.)
Character 1:  "Are those tears for me?"
Character 2:  "Yes."
Character 1:  "Well, I'll be damned." 
Character 2:  "No...I don't think you will."

#7.  Character 1:  "You know something, [blank]?  The Lord poured your brains in with a teaspoon and somebody joggled His arm!"

#8.  Character 1:  "Never use money to measure wealth, son!"

#9.  Character 1: "[Blank], say something nice." 
Character 2:  "Uh...nice night for a coon hunt."

#10.  Character 1:  "The truth of God's love is not that He allows bad things to happen.  It's His promise that He'll be here with us when they do."  

Go to town, people!:)

LoWCW: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance {review}

Er mah gersh.

People, this is one fine Western. 

I'd heard the general, vague "it's a big classic" hype about TMWHSLV, but I didn't really know the storyline.  I knew Jimmy Stewart starred in it, and, given the title, I randomly assumed that it was some kind of murder mystery for a long time. isn't.

There were two main draws to this movie for me:  it was a classic, and it was Jimmy Stewart.  I enjoyed Jimmy's performance, but what really blew me away was John Wayne in the role of Tom Doniphon.  Oh. My. Word.

The story is about an idealistic young lawyer (Ransom Stoddard) who finds himself in the town of Shinbone after being mugged by the notorious Liberty Valance and his gang.  There he is welcomed and befriended by the locals, who are impressed by his lauded courage at the time of Liberty's attack, and by his cultured education and glowing new ideas of justice.  Particularly twitter-pated is Hallie...but she is loved by tough-as-nails Tom Doniphon.  This causes problems for Tom, who likes Ranse well enough but doesn't want to lose Hallie.

Prepare for feels.

Ransom Stoddard...I wasn't crazy about him.  Don't get me wrong, he's nice and all, but something's just a  He's definitely a firebrand, and I have difficulty warming up to firebrands, especially fictional ones, even if they're good people (i. e. Nicholas Higgins from North and South).  For one thing, I'm not overly impressed by their volcanic tempers.  They're just so danged excitable, and I prefer more mellow dispositions.  Ranse was definitely one of the former, which was a little off-putting, especially since I've read that Jimmy Stewart was a pretty easy-going guy.  It didn't seem very...I dunno, natural.  But then again, there were moments when he was really pretty cool and I liked him ("That's all right, Pompey; a lot of people forget that part of it."), and part of my dislike for him was probably founded on the fact that *SPOILERS* Hallie chose him over Tom *END OF SPOILERS*.  It's just that overall, I was a wee bit disappointed with Jimmy Stewart's role in this one.

THIS GUY, though!  This guy was a totally different matter.  

Wow.  What can I even say about him?  I loved and pitied Tom (why are there so many awesome cowboys named Tom??) so much.  For one thing, he has some of the best lines ("You're a persistent cuss, pilgrim.").  

How he would watch Hallie with that lovelorn, puppy-eyed expression and that lopsided smile whenever she spoke or came anywhere near him...ohhhhh.  Sniffles.  I think sometimes he'd say things just to "get a rise" out of her, because one of the things he so loved about her was her feisty personality (I didn't, but to each his own).

I honestly believe that he did truly love her--which is wonderful, because sometimes in movies one can't be sure whether or not it's just a very intense like instead of an authentic love.  This guy, in my opinion, definitely proved it by his actions.   I loved his adorable little "attentions" to her--giving her the rose, and then can we talk about how adorable it was when he opened the little door for her as she was coming into the kitchen?!  THAT GRIN ON HIS FACE.   And the way he talked to/about her: 

Tom:  "Hallie?  You know, you're awful pretty when you get mad."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mr. Peabody:  "Mighty nice girl, that Hallie.  Mighty pretty."
Tom:  "I agree with you, sir."

*SPOILERS AHEAD*  But the biggest proof of his love was definitely *sniffle* what he did at the showdown between Ranse and Liberty.  It could have been easy to let Ranse face Liberty alone, you know.  Sure, Tom knew that it was 99.99% positive that if he did, Ranse wouldn't even stand a chance against Liberty's astronomically superior gun-fighting skills, but there was always that .01% possibility--enough to clear Tom from knowing allowance of an inevitable murder.  And if Ranse had faced Liberty and been killed, all Tom's troubles, at least hypothetically, would be over.  Ranse's awe-inducing presence would be gone, and Tom could feel safe of the chance to "win" Hallie "back."


"Hallie wanted you alive."  Tom knew deep down that Hallie was already lost to him.  She'd already fallen for Ranse, and so Tom decided to sacrifice all his hopes, dreams, goals--all for hers.  He saved Ranse's life and stepped quietly out of Hallie's.  Isn't that the greatest kind of love?  The selfless kind, the sacrificial kind.  The kind that says, "I want and love you more than you can possibly imagine, but I respect your right to make your own choices, and so I'm going to let you go."  Reminding anyone else of the love shown on the Cross?  (Okay, I know that's an extreme example to which to liken TMWSLV, but y'all know what I mean.)  *SORTA-KINDA-END OF SPOILERS*

The tragic thing, though, is that that sacrifice took something from Tom--his purpose.  I don't want to remind you all of the room he was building for Hallie, but...I'm going to anyway.


It was soooooo saaaaaaaaad.  

But it was also really sweet, because POMPEY THOUGH.  And he drags him out…and the Tom's all, "The horses, Pompey!"…and then Pompey gets them out of the corral and takes care of Tom and it was just a very feelsy scene, okay?!

And then when Tom stumbles into the election, all disheveled and heartbroken, but he takes the time to whip Ranse into shape and make him accept the election and make Hallie happy…  

At the end, this part:

You know the cactus rose got you.  You know it did.

Whew.  I could go on…but I'm not going to.  Basically, this Western is stupendous.  It's really quite good.  It's also so incredibly sad and sobering that I don't know if I even want to re-watch it all the way through anytime soon.  It's a story about choices and consequences, and heroism and sacrifice.  

"Nothing's too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LoWCW: Why I Love…{Tom Harte}

*clears throat and grins*

So, y'know how I have this great love for Broken Trail?  Well, one big component of that is the character of Tom Harte.  After only a few viewings of the miniseries, he skyrocketed into one of the top three spots on my list of favorite fictional heroes.  Because the guy is awesome, y'all.

And here's why (at least, in my opinion).

Tom is basically an embodiment of the hardened, introverted cowboy.  When we first meet him, especially, he's very emotionally guarded.  One senses almost immediately that there are substantial wounds in his past, and that he has a habit of erecting and maintaining emotional walls to keep from being hurt further.  And yet in spite of these attempts, it's fairly obvious that deep down, his heart is very big, very open, and very vulnerable.  His uncle, Print Ritter, tells him, "Truth is, you're as loose as ashes in the wind"--but that doesn't refer to any moral or personal failing, mind you.  He isn't really "stable"; he has an isolated occupation and an isolated lifestyle, and that concerns his uncle.

He's quiet, not exactly given to extraneous speech, but he's a great listener--giving his full attention to the talker and asking few but insightful questions.

Unlike other cowboys one could encounter, Tom isn't hung up on vulgar conversation *primly*, nor on patronizing prostitutes.  Instead, he's determined to keep a group of five girls from being thrown into that horrific world.  (If you want to know the storyline of Broken Trail, you can read my review here.)

Tom is open to new ventures, and once he has committed to a cause, he's committed body and soul, as it were, to seeing it through.

He respects his uncle, despite not always agreeing with his decisions, despite feeling patronized or babied at times.  He listens to Print and to his advice, he converses with him, he strategizes with him.  They're a team (and a dang fine one at that).

Though he's the "strong, silent" type and tends toward brooding and pessimism, there are rare and delightful moments when we can catch a glimpse of his very agile sense of humor--dry, almost sardonic, yet irresistibly playful.  (For instance, when he's recruited Heck Gilpin and is introducing him to Print:  "Thought you might like some music," and then when he pats Heck's head with that adorable grin on his face.)

I think the biggest draw to Tom's character for me, though, is how he has such a heart to rescue and protect.  He's a defender.  He's a provider.  When the group unwittingly stumbles into the guardianship of those precious girls, he quietly but instantly slips into the role of protecter.  That scene when he and Heck rescue the girls from those drunken assailants during their stop in town…when he sits up all night with Mai Ling as she's dying, holding her hand and cooling her forehead…when he quite literally rides in and saves the day when Ed and his gang have invaded that homestead…

Not only is he totally invested in the best interests of these girls (why, perhaps, he was willing to let Sun Fu go--he wanted the best for her and he thought that that was staying with the other girls and returning to her homeland), but he goes above and beyond the call of duty with regard to them.  He hires Long He to translate and interpret, even though they'd already devised a rough but moderately effective method of communication.  And back when Billy Fender had dragged Ye Fung away with him, Tom was sure to bring her back when he went after Fender and retrieved their stolen property.  He gave her his coat and his hat to protect her from the cold and the drizzle.  You see, "it's the little things"--the little things like that that endear this toughened, weather-beaten man to you.

Yeah.  He doesn't have a strikingly varied wardrobe, I admit.

The three main relationships in which he is involved (those with Print, Heck, and Sun Fu) are all SO adorable.  Cannot even:D  All three are well-developed and engrossing.  With Print, 't'is more of a father/son or partner/partner relationship; with Heck, easygoing camaraderie; and speaking of his attachment to Sun Fu…

There are feels.  Many and intense.  I love his speech to her during the above scene ("I reckon I got somethin' to say to you…I know you can't understand my words, but--you can hear me"), and I love her reactions (THE HAND).  Oh, and how he lets out that slow, self-controlled breath, trying to steady his emotions, as he's waiting for her to leave--and then when the stagecoach rolls away, and we see that she has decided to stay--that small, hopeful, precious glimmer of a smile when he sees her--the romantic fangirl in me swoons with happiness:)

There are other little things I could mention, but they all basically tie into the same overarching theme--he's quiet yet funny, selfless, courageous, and protective, and I love him to pieces.  In fact, as Emma described him, he's "the ultimate cowboy hero."  I quite agree.  

Legends of Western Cinema Week: Is It a Western?

Howdy, people!  Welcome to the first joint post of Emma's and Olivia's, put together for Legends of Western Cinema Week!:D  *fanfare*

Let's dive right in!  To make things simpler, Emma's thoughts will be in brown, and Olivia's thoughts will be in blue.  Other stuff will be in plain old black:)

"What makes a Western?  It seems to me that it's not simply that it took place in the Western part of the United States, nor is it big hats and peacemakers and horses. I mean, all of those are elements, certainly, but what makes a Western a Western to me is that you lack the recourse of civilization to work out whatever the problem is, and therefore characters must work out the dilemmas for themselves." 
~ Walter Hill, director of Broken Trail

Most people have a pretty good picture of what a 'classic' Western is supposed to look like. Cowboys, cattle drives, cavalry scouts, outlaws, and a healthy dose of family tension are what characterize most of the great oldies.  Oh yes, and of course the famous ruts and cliffs of the American West.  And dust; lots of dust.

But sometimes the line between what's classified as a 'Western' movie and what isn't can be a little blurry.  We're going to take a look at some of our favorite movies that are kind of on the fence in that regard.  Sort-of Westerns, off-beat Westerns--whatever you want to call 'em. 

    Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)

This is a drama about the legendary Apache chief Geronimo and his resistance to the U.S government. It's a well-made historical movie, but not particularly epic; mostly it's just sad. Not a very enjoyable movie. The cast is excellent (though I was a little disappointed with Robert Duvall's role), and Jason Patric's character, Lt. Charles Gatewood, is one of my favorite screen characters of all time. Worth watching if you like historical dramas about Indians, but not something I'd want to watch more than once.

Really, though, watch it just for Lt. Gatewood. He's wonderful.

     The Alamo (2005)

I've seen the old 1959 movie The Alamo on several lists of 'best westerns ever made', but this newer version doesn't seem to be considered among the Western genre. IMDB lists it as historical, war, and drama. There are no cowboys, and the Texas Revolution took place before the stereotyped 'western' period, but the movie DOES take place in Texas and there's a healthy dose of that Old West feel. It's a fantastic historical drama, with an amazingly talented cast and some of the most heart-tugging scenes I've ever seen in a movie...such as the last night before the battle, when all the men are sitting around writing letters to their families, and the part where Davy Crockett plays his fiddle on top of the fort along with the Spanish military band. *shivers* Read my review here.

    Dances with Wolves (1990)


One of the most classic American movies ever, Dances With Wolves is also on the edge of Western and just plain Drama. I've seen it on some people's Western Bucket Lists (I read a lot of magazines, you see), but then I've also read that some people consider it a 'fake' as a western. Well, whatever it is, it's pretty darn good.

     Hidalgo (2004)

One of my all-time favorite movies, Hidalgo is the one that really started my whole western obsession. Frank Hopkins is responsible for my infatuation with cowboys everywhere. :-) 
So strictly speaking, you wouldn't call this a western. Most of the movie takes place in the Middle East, but it IS the story of a cowboy and his heritage, how he overcomes ginormous obstacles, and it's got plenty of the grit that's prevalent in stories about the West. So if I want to call it a western, I will. :-)

Okay, yes, I did choose one of the most Western-y pictures to put there;)  

Anyway.  Is Hidalgo a Western…well, admittedly, the majority of the movie actually takes place in the Middle East, not the American West.  There aren't bank robberies, lassos, or spurs (except, of course those belonging to Frank).  However, the main character comes from the West, is actually *SPOILERS* part-Indian *END OF SPOILERS*, rides a painted, decidedly Western-looking horse, and is called 'Cowboy' by several characters.  Furthermore, he encapsulates the best of the spirit of the West--chivalry, courage, triumph over adversity, etc.  Also, in the middle of the Arabian desert, civilization is of course a mirage, and he must problem-solve independently. 

Long story short, while I'm not sure I could classify Hidalgo as a Western in the most technically hard-core sense of the term, I think the beginning and end of the movie capture the essence of a truly splendid Western (and the art of inducing sniffles from vulnerable teenage fangirls *ahem*).  

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is certainly a…stretch to classify as a Western.  But I think it works.  It takes place in the American West, and there is mention made in the beginning of the film about "land needing to be settled."  This isn't really the cowboy sort of Western, though--it's the homesteader sort.  However, Millie is definitely thrust into a rather, ahem, uncivilized world, and has to take control and whip these men into shape almost singlehandedly.  

Spirit:  Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

First of all, this movie can be whatever it jolly well wants to be.  Just want that duly noted;)  It's an animated film, a kid's movie, a moving drama, a romance, a sociopolitical commentary, and a story of unlikely friendship that may well bring tears to your eyes.  (I'm dead serious.)  

But anyway, the question is:  is it a Western?  I think so.  Taking place at a time when the cavalry was "settling" the West, it looks at that settlement from a different perspective--from the heart of a horse.  (Because, you see, he was there.  And he remembers…he remembers the sun and the sky, and the wind calling his name, and a time when wild horses ran free, and--shutting up.  I mustn't spoil the movie, must I?  Leave the quotes for your review, Olivia, and get back to the task at hand.)  It explores the interactions between the U. S. cavalry and the wild mustangs it sought to tame, and between the Indians and said cavalry, and between the mustangs and the Indians.  It also even includes a sort-of-representative Battle of Wounded Knee Creek.  So, I mean…just sayin'.  The movie takes you back to a different part of the Old West, and it's quite interesting to see it from that viewpoint.  

I'm babbling.  I must refrain.  Bottom line:  yes, I think this is a Western, though admittedly an off-beat one.  

Calamity Jane (1953)

I mean…it's Calamity Jane.  You can't get much more Western that that;)  

I'm sure, however, that the makers took some *ahem* liberties with the historical facts, due to this being a musical, but it's got characters such as Wild Bill Hickock, so there's a definite Western vibe to it.  The musical doesn't really focus on the West, though…it's more focused on music and love and such like (basically, what you'd expect from a 50's musical).  

So I suppose it is a Western, but, kind of like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, it doesn't really feel like one.  

"It [a Western] is about the value system of a bygone era." 
~ Thomas Haden Church, actor in Broken Trail

LoWCW--Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron {review}

"The story that I want to tell you cannot be found in a book.  They say that the history of the West was written from the saddle of a horse, but it's never been told from the heart of one.  Not 'til now.  
I was born here, in this place that would come to be called the Old West.  But, to my kind, the land was ageless.  It had no beginning and no end, no boundary between earth and sky.  
Like the wind in the buffalo grass, we belonged here--we would always belong here.  
They say the mustang is the spirit of the West.  Whether that West was won or lost in the end, you'll have to decide for yourself, but the story I want to tell you is true.  I was there, and I remember.
I remember the sun and the sky and the wind calling my name, and a time when wild horses ran free."


Darlin's, I don't even know where to start.  (But be prepared for a lot of gifs and pictures.)

I suppose with a plot summary?  Very well, I shall try my best.  This movie follows the adventures of a stallion who is captured by the cavalry of the Old West at the time when they were trying to settle the wilderness.  The cavalrymen who take Spirit (as we call him, though he's really nameless throughout the majority of the movie) aim to 'break' him and transform him into the automatons they 'needed' in order to conquer the West.  But Spirit is fiercely loyal to his homeland and his herd, and fiercely protective of independence, and thus he refuses to bend, earning punishment and the General's anger.  However, another captive is soon brought into the outpost--an Indian named Little Creek.  He helps Spirit to escape, and brings him to his tribe's camp, where he meets the mare Rain ( = love interest), and for a while, everything's fine and dandy.  But soon the General comes calling with his troops, determined to overpower this stallion…

…Okay, I am officially butchering this description, but you get the idea.  It's more compelling than it sounds.  

There's really not much of anything negative I can say about this movie, I'm that in love with it, but I will mention that the cavalry are extremely stereotyped in this film.  It's pretty unequivocal that the Soldiers Were the Bad Guys and the Indians Were the Good Guys.  That's not entirely true, and "it behoves us all to take very careful thought" before we take sides on this issue, since, ultimately, none of us were there and none of us can expertly decide what was what in the struggle for this land.  But I warn you, if you watch this movie, you might just come away determined to hate all U.S. Cavalry members you ever encounter in films, books, etc.  So, anyway.  That's basically all I can say that's wrong with this movie.  And honestly, even that can be a plus--because it is such a sociopolitical commentary (seriously, it can be legitimately interpreted that way)--it's more than a goofy love story about two horses, or even a drama about the friendship between an Indian and a horse both struggling for freedom.  It explores the triumph and the tragedy of the Old West as a whole--not just the individual stories with which it primarily deals.  

Ohhhhhh, yes.  I am so feeling this now.  New OTP!  Haha, just kidding.  But seriously.  They would be perfect.

There are so many things one could talk about concerning this movie, but right now I'm not feeling very eloquent.  Basically, all I can say is, watch this movie.  It's so powerful.  I know it might seem strange that an animated movie could be as epic as I'm putting it up to be, but I honestly think it is.  However, I grew up with it, and sometimes when one grows up with a particular movie or book, one loses something of objectivity.  


Simply in the way it's animated, the emotions (very real and deep emotions) are so clearly expressed through the characters that you might find yourself tearing up.

It's really quite an emotional movie, if I haven't emphasized that enough, haha.  

For instance, this part, when Spirit has been captured again after saving Little Creek and Rain, and he's loaded onto the train, is "the low point" in the story.

The song that plays at this part is sooooooooo saaaaaaaaaddd but at the same time hopeful and inspiring and powerful and PEOPLE I JUST CAN'T.  

*breaks down and cries like a baby*

When Spirit is trying to escape from the forest fire the train started...and his chain gets caught over the tree limb...and OH THE FIRE'S GETTING CLOSER!...and then Little Creek is there and frees him and they're running for their lives as the forest burns behind them and heart-pounding music and animation

Or when they're both being chased by the cavalry, and THIS PART

(okay, yes, I know it's unrealistic, but I like to think of it metaphorically, thankyouverymuch) and then this guy's all, "Respect"

and then they look at each other like, "so are we done yet?"

and then…gaahhh it's just too beautiful:D

BUT.  The MOST emotional part, possibly, is the part when Little Creek bids Rain and Spirit farewell--when, in fact, he gives our protagonist the name 'Spirit.' 


Now, people, Hans Zimmer composed the score for this movie, and LET ME TELL YOU.  So. Flipping. Amazing.  Behold:

That track, "Homeland," is my favorite, I do believe, but they are all so beautiful.  And the lyrical songs hold a lot of memories, hehe ("Get Off of My Back", anyone?) ;)  My favorite of those would probably be either "You Can't Take Me" or "I Will Always Return".  

Anyway, drawing a very rambling and inadequate review to a close, go watch it.  Just do.  You won't regret it. 


"I've seen every sunset, and with all that I've learned…oh, it's to you, I will always…always return."

Monday, July 27, 2015

Legends of Western Cinema Week Kick-off!

PEOPLE!  'T'IS HERE!  The event Emma and I (and hopefully you) have been awaiting with bated breath!  Welcome to Legends of Western Cinema Week!  As you may have figured out, I'm nearly beside myself with excitement.

So, after lengthy consultations *snort*, Emma and I decided that it would be best for us to start off this week with a list of our top ten Westerns, but to do our lists separately, as we have two other collaborative posts in the works.  Thusly (yeah, I like that word), hop on over to her blog to view her top ten Westerns.  Meanwhile, here are mine.

This is a countdown list, like the majority of my top ten lists are (you can click on the handy little label on the sidebar if you wish to see other top-ten lists), with #1 being my very favorite Western.  I tried to be as accurate as I could in these, but, you know, 't'is difficult.   And I tried to take into consideration exactly how 'Western-y' each movie was in my rankings, but I don't know--I really do preface too often and too much in my posts.  Shutting up.

#10:  How the West Was Won (1962)

First of all, I loved the cast in this one.  Seriously--it's like the ultimate dream cast for oldie movies.  However, even though I know the three-pan-filming-thing was a big deal at that time, and was considered revolutionary and wonderful and everything, I gotta say, it distracted from the storyline.  Or, should I say, storylineS, because there were so many.  And they didn't always transition smoothly:-/  BUT, again, the cast was spectacular, and I did really enjoy the music.  All the old folk ballads, and hearing different lyrics to the tune of 'What Child Is This?' were wonderful.  Especially when the chorus started singing it at the very end, and an old Debbie Reynolds was rolling away in a wagon, laughing with her nephew and and his children, and it started to pan out into a vista of the Old West… "Come, come; there's a wondrous land, for the hopeful heart, for the willing hand.  Come, come away with me, and I'll build you a home in the meadow."  

#9:  Lonesome Dove (1989)

Aww, look at Woodrow and Augustus being epic Western bosses together.

Though it isn't my favorite overall, LD has several moments in it that are just too awesome to be ignored.  I like the latter parts of it better, for instance.  When *SPOILERS!* Gus dies, it's just too beautifully sad that it just…sniffles.  And then when Woodrow is bringing him back, and it's so hard, and he buries him in Gus and Clara's special spot, and the Latin inscription (which really doesn't make much sense in Latin, but we get the idea, so whatevs), and then THAT ENDING (oh my heavens above, that ending) and I just can't *END OF SPOILERS*  

#8:  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

You guys know already how I love this movie:D  Mainly because Howard Keel's, in my personal opinion, is one of the greatest voices God ever gave this earth;)  And then there are the delightful characters, and the dance sequences.  Like the one pictured above--one of my favorite ever!  It is soooo much fun.  (And no, I don't care that the costumes are historically inaccurate XD )

#7:  Rango (2011)

I admit, this is a very odd movie.  But honestly, that's part of the reason I like it--it is so extremely original.  I don't think I've ever watched a movie quite like it.  And, of course, it's funny:)

#6:  True Grit (2010)

You can read more of my thoughts on this movie here.

#5:  Hidalgo (2004)

*sniffle*  This movie, though…okay, so it's pushing the boundaries of being termed a Western, but  there is a definite Old West feel to several parts in the movie.  Plus, whether it's a hardcore Western or not, it's a dang good story about a cowboy.  

#4:  The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)

This is one of the most adorable, hilarious movies I've ever watched.  But then again, I grew up with it, so I may be biased;)  If you'd care to read my review, here 't'is.

#3:  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

*clutches at heart*  Oh my word, peoples, do you know what I was wholly unprepared for when I watched this movie?  THE FEELS.  *sobs*  WHY, JIMMY?!  WHY DID YOU STEAL JOHNNY'S GIRL?!  I mean, I'm a great fan of James Stewart, but TOM WAS THERE FIRST!!!  And he loved her the whole time (Ranse didn't), and he was building her a house, and he saved Ranse's life, and he got his heart broken, and I was almost tearing up by the end.  There were so many feels!  I wasn't expecting them from a 60s' Western!  WHAT IS THIS LIFE?!  

Ahem.  Calming down.  

#2:  Spirit:  Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

This movie is like…perfection, captured in an animated film.  I'm not even kidding.  I love it so much.  AND THE MUSIC.  Don't even get me started...

And my absolute favorite Western IS…*drumroll*...

#1:  Broken Trail (2006)

I love how completely Western-y this picture is!

Forever and always.  <3 <3 <3  You can read my review here.