Rooster Cogburn (..and the Lady)
Two of the most popular stars in screen history are brought together for the first time in the adventure-filled follow-up to True Grit. The legendary John Wayne reprises his role of the rascally, eye-patched, whiskey-guzzling U.S. Deputy Marshal that won him an Academy Award. Katharine Hepburn joins him as the prim Eula Goodnight, a missionary who pairs up with the grizzled gunfighter to avenge the death of her father. While in pursuit of the outlaws, a tenderhearted relationship develops between the rough-and-tumble lawman and the flinty reverend's daughter as they join forces to secure justice in the untamed west.
A cattle baron fights with his foster son on the first cattle drive up the Chisholm Trail. Directed by Howard Hawks. Any short list of the all-time greatest Westerns is bound to include this 1948 Howard Hawks classic about an epic cattle drive. Red River features one of John Wayne's greatest performances. Like his Ethan Edwards in John Ford's 1956 masterpiece The Searchers, the Duke plays an isolated and unsympathetic man who is possessed by bitterness. Wayne is Texas rancher Tom Dunson, who adopts a young boy orphaned in an Indian massacre. That boy, Matthew Garth (played as an adult by Montgomery Clift in his screen debut), becomes Dunson's assistant and heir apparent--until Dunson's temper gets out of control during a long cattle drive and Matt intervenes to stop him. From that moment on, Dunson swears he will kill Matt. Red River has everything a great Western ought to have: a sweeping sense of history, spectacular landscapes, stampedes, gunfights, Indian attacks, and, of course, Walter Brennan as Dunson's crusty old cook and comic sidekick, Nadine Groot. As a special bonus, the film also features the legendary Harry Carey (upon whom Wayne would base some of his gestures in The Searchers) and his son Harry Carey Jr., who became a fixture in Ford and Hawks Westerns. Red River is essential for anyone who loves Westerns, or movies in general. This one's a real beaut. --Jim Emerson
Oklahoma! The hit Broadway musical from the 1940s gets a lavish if not always exciting workout in this 1955 film version directed by old lion Fred Zinnemann (High Noon). Gordon MacRae brings his sterling voice to the role of cowboy Curly, and Shirley Jones plays Laurie, the object of his affection. The Rodgers and Hammerstein score includes "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," and "People Will Say We're in Love," and Agnes DeMille provides the buoyant choreography. Among the supporting cast, Gloria Grahame is memorable as Ado Annie, the "girl who cain't say no," and Rod Steiger overdoes it as the villainous Jud. --Tom Keogh
8 Seconds (DVD)Professional bull-riding. The roughest, most dangerous, most gruelingcompetitive sport. Life or death ... victory or defeat ... decided atopa 2,000 pound bull in 8 Seconds. This riveting drama based on the lifeof Rodeo World Champion Lane Frost (Luke Perry -- TV's "John FromCincinnati," TV's “Beverly Hills, 90210”) tells the story of his dreams,ambition, perseverance, and sacrifice that lead to an Oklahoma boy'smeteoric rise to fame as a champion bull-rider before his rough andtumble life is tragically cut short. To stay atop a bucking bull,holding on with just one hand, takes equal parts skill, courage, luckand determination from those willing to risk all for the ultimate thrillin 8 Seconds]]>
Young Guns II
Billy the Kid and gang break loose from jail and certain hanging during the Lincoln County Wars.Genre: WesternsRating: PG13Release Date: 1-JUN-2004Media Type: DVD This time around, the Brat Packers (Emilio Estevez, Christian Slater, Lou Diamond Phillips, Kiefer Sutherland) are on the run from the law and making a break for the border. Sutherland is yanked from his school-teaching job back East and extradited for trial, until he's liberated by the other members of the gang. There's a memorable scrap between Phillips and Slater, and a couple of pretty decent firefights, but all in all this is rather forgettable fare. It taps into the futility and camaraderie of classics like The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but Sam Peckinpah or George Roy Hill it ain't. Jon Bon Jovi adds to the Rock-Stars-in-the-Old-West feel of this one, rife as it is with non-period dialogue and long, blowy hair. Still, fans of the original movie may find plenty to like in this sequel, even if it comes across as being a bit tired and turgid (notice there never was a Young Guns III). --Jerry Renshaw
Little Big Man
Recounting how the West was won through the eyes of a white man raised as a Native American, Arthur Penn's 1970 adaptation of Thomas Berger's satirical novel was a comic yet stinging allegory about the bloody results of American imperialism. As a misguided 20th-century historian listens, 121-year-old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman) narrates the story of being the only white survivor of Custer's Last Stand. White orphan Crabb was adopted by the Cheyenne, renamed "Little Big Man," and raised in the ways of the "Human Beings" by paternal mentor Old Lodge Skins (Chief Dan George), accepting non-conformity and living peacefully with nature. Violently thrust into the white world, Jack meets a righteous preacher (Thayer David) and his wife (Faye Dunaway), tries to be a gunfighter under the tutelage of Wild Bill Hickock (Jeff Corey), and gets married. Returned to the Cheyenne by chance, Jack prefers life as a Human Being. The carnage wreaked by the white man in the Washita massacre and the lethal fallout from the egomania of General George A. Custer (Richard Mulligan) at Little Big Horn, however, show Crabb the horrific implications of Old Lodge Skins' sage observation, "There is an endless supply of White Men, but there has always been a limited number of Human Beings."
The sleeper hit of 1965, CAT BALLOU was declared an instant classic when its sly blend of Western parody and rapid-fire action hit the screen. Lee Marvin won an Oscar(r) for Best Actor in his dual role as both Tim Strawn, a noseless ("it got bit off in a fight") gunslinger, and as Kid Shelleen, the woozy, boozy, has-been who goes up against Strawn at high noon. In accepting the award, Marvin said, "I think half of this belongs to a horse somewhere in the Valley," referring to the hilarious scene where Marvin and the horse both lean against a shed in a drunken stupor (certainly one ofthe most famous sight gags ever). Jane Fonda, at the height of her sex-kitten period, stars as Catherine "Cat" Ballou, the schoolmarm-turned-outlaw who teams with Kid to protect her father's ranch from a greedy railroad tycoon. Filmed in just 32 days, CAT BALLOU went on to become one of the biggestbox office hits of 1965, proving the popularity of the Western spoof. Singer Nat King Cole and comedian Stubby
Support Your Local Gunfighter
The wild west just got wilder and a whole lot wackier! James Garner is back in the saddle again in Support Your Local Gunfighter, a powder keg of laughs in which the most dangerous gunslinger in the west isn't the fastest but the funniest! Gigolo con man Latigo Smith (Garner) needs to get something off his chestthe tattooed name of his most recent ex-fiancÃ(c)e. But while he's waiting for the local doctor to sober up and perform the operation, Smith overhears that local mining baron Taylor Barton (Harry Morgan) is looking to shut down his mining competition by hiring the notorious gunman, Swifty Morgan. Seizing the opportunity for an easy con, Smith passes off a reprobate cowhand (Jack Elam) as the dreaded Swifty and pockets the cash. Bankroll in hand, he plans to head for the hills until he falls for Barton's pistol-packin' daughter, Patience (Suzanne Pleshette). But when the real Swifty shows up looking for blood, Smith comes up with an outrageous scheme to save his hide, stop the mining feud and win over Patience and it might just work if it doesn't blow up the entire town! James Garner returns for this pseudosequel to Support Your Local Sheriff, this time as a gigolo con man mistaken for a legendary killer. Escaping matrimonial entanglements, he lands in the town of Purgatory in the midst of a raging war between gold miners racing for the mother lode. In a play right out of Maverick, he quickly casts drifter Jack Elam into the gunfighter role and names himself the man's agent, selling his services to the highest bidder and pocketing a sizable commission. Garner double-talks his way through one deal after another with a wink and a smile while Elam growls and swaggers and rolls his eyes, playacting the role of the cold-blooded gunslinger like a wild-eyed clown. Suzanne Pleshette shoots up the town as Garner's romantic interest, a tomboy in buckskin with an itchy trigger finger and lousy aim, and Chuck Conners walks tall as the real bald-as-a-billiard-ball killer. Apart from the tongue-in-cheek tone and returning cast members (Elam, Harry Morgan, Henry Jones, and Gene Evans are among the familiar faces joining Garner), the film has little in common with Sheriff and never quite recaptures the clever twists and low-key hilarity, but this is a cast who knows how to deliver a gag, and Kennedy's laid-back direction keeps an even, affectionately spoofing tone throughout. --Sean Axmaker
Support Your Local Sheriff
Armed with a wry sense of humor and a straight-shooting sidearm, James Garner (Maverick, My Fellow Americans) fights for peace, justice and fun in this outrageous, irreverent and "very funny" (Los Angeles Times) farce co-starring Joan Hackett, Walter Brennan, Harry Morgan and Jack Elam. Support Your Local Sheriff is "sheer entertainment from start to finish" (Boxoffice)! On his way to Australia, frontier opportunist Jason McCullough (Garner) stumbles into a small gold-rush town and decides to earn a little extra pocket money by accepting a temporary assignment as its sheriff. Happily applying himself to his new position, McCullough manages to turn the town derelict (Elam) into his deputy, outsmart the dreaded Danby clan (led by Brennan in a hilarious comic performance), and fend off the lusty advances of the mayor's daughter (Hackett) all without breaking a sweat or dirtying his shiny black boots! While hardly the first Western spoof to ride out of Hollywood, Support Your Local Sheriff is easily one of the best. James Garner plays the confident, cool-headed cowboy who strolls into a wild gold rush town on the way to Australia and takes the job as sheriff. Like a parody of My Darling Clementine by way of Rio Bravo, he arrests the hotheaded but hopelessly confused son (Bruce Dern) of a ruthless ranching magnate (Walter Brennan). Stuck with a half-built jail (where he keeps his prisoner penned up with pure psychology and a few spatters of red paint), a rummy sidekick (google-eyed Jack Elam in one of his first comic turns), and a disaster-prone tomboy (Joan Hackett), he takes on a succession of gunfighters with increasing exasperation. "Sure is a childish way for a grown man to make a living," he laments before chasing one gunman out of Dodge by pelting him with rocks. Directed with laconic ease by veteran Western director Burt Kennedy, it's a clever spoof of familiar conventions in a lighthearted vein, more understated and affectionate than Mel Brooks's outrageous farce Blazing Saddles. It inspired a slew of imitators, including a decade of silly Disney Westerns that sank the genre in slapstick shenanigans, and was followed in 1971 by Kennedy's pseudosequel Support Your Local Gunfighter, which reteamed Garner and Elam in a more mercenary story of con artists and gunslingers. --Sean Axmaker
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