High Noon. Great movie. Here are some very good reasons to watch it: 1. It takes place in real time – 85 lean, tense minutes. The deadline is firm. No dilly-dallying. 2. There’s plenty left unsaid/implied. I love when the backstory and mechanics aren’t fully clear and you end up guessing (often along with the characters themselves) and interpreting relationships based on a few clues here and there – a gesture, a look, a rhythm of conversation that suggests years. (And in this movie, given that the plot hinges on an event approaching at noon, there’s not much time for backstory, either.) 3. Gary Cooper is really good. I need to see more with him. 4. Grace Kelly. 5. It’s the first film appearance of Lee Van Cleef.
Six years ago Wikipedia started with a radical idea. That’s true. I ain’t promising you nothing extra. I’m just giving you life and you’re giving me life. And I’m saying that men can live together without butchering one another.
Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.
Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.
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Nowadays, while literary men seem to have neglected their epic duties, the epic has been saved for us, strangely enough, by the Westerns.
Are you going in or are you staying out? In the world of The Searchers you must choose. You can’t have both. In this movie, everyone is on the threshold of that choice. And for some, it isn’t a choice at all, it’s just the way things work. Everything you want, everything you search for, is “out there”, or, on the flipside, everything you want is “in there”. There is a giant gap between in and out. Characters are seen standing a bit away from the house, with people clustered in the doorway, and it seems like anything, anything can happen in that gap.
I was reminded of this by the True Grit shot.
Basically, Sword-and-sandal : Hollywood epic film :: Spaghetti Western : Hollywood Western. And this is fascinating: “A number of English-dubbed Italian films that featured the Hercules name in their title were never intended to be Hercules movies by their Italian creators. [List of 8 examples]” Italian imitations of Hollywood that were later twisted and repackaged by the American movie industry. I love it.
Unforgiven. This is a very, very good movie. There’s so much psychological fodder here: regret, revenge, greed, vanity. Beautifully shot and edited. A killer starring cast and a deep bench of side characters that round out the town life. My favorite part is the subtext with the biographer W.W. Beauchamp and his parasitic/symbiotic relationship with the narcissistic, murderous men in the film. He’s the everyman, fascinated and terrified of the violence, jotting down every detail while pissing his pants. Eastwood dedicated the movie to Don and Sergio.
Once Upon a Time in the West. It’s awesome. One of the most satisfying stories you’ll come across, from the opening title sequence to the very end. Like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I’d seen and enjoyed most of this movie before, but this was the first time I’d set aside time for the whole thing in one focused sitting. It’s long, sure, but most definitely worth watching a few times.
Ennio Morricone – Once Upon a Time in the West (via Once Upon a Time in the West: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (vocals by Edda D’ell Orso)
“For me the music is fundamental, especially in a Western where the dialogue is purely aphoristic. The films could just as well be silent; one would understand all the same. The music serves to emphasize states of mind, facts and situations more than the dialogue itself does. In short, for me the music functions as dialogue.”
Here is portion of a very cool map of the path of the main characters in Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. It’s in the July 2010 edition of Texas Monthly magazine.
One of my favorite books ever. Usually my first recommendation for people looking for something, anything to read.
Sergio Leone | The Surrealist Western « Chasing Light. A great review of shots and motifs in Leone’s movies.
For a Few Dollars More. I’ve finally finished the Dollars Trilogy. This one is great. I found it much better than A Fistful of Dollars and almost up there with The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The first duel in this movie is either the first or second best in the whole trilogy. I love the way Leone builds from silence to melodramatic swells of music and back to silence and only then gives you resolution. And nice little details like in the delightful hat duel where every time Eastwood shoots the hat it lands in a pool of light. And the repeated appearance of the safe during the bank robbery scene. You know something is going to happen with/to/near/around it, but you gotta wait for the moment. Sweet, sweet suspense.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I’d seen about 90% of this one, but never before in one uninterrupted stretch. Every bit as good as they say.