Western Movies

The Best of Movies, TV Series and DVDS for 2015

Western-Movies_All-Indian-cast-silent-film_The-Daughter-of-DawnThe Year 2014 proved to be a year of ups and downs for the Western, with a major film dying gutshot at the box office, while one of the most anticipated Westerns in years gained momentum and status at film festivals around the world. On television, the tug-of-war with the genre exploded, with A&E’s decision to cancel Longmire, despite its success, and rival networks launching new series, showing, again, the genre’s staying power.

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The Little Big Man Hoax?

Dustin-Hoffman_little-big-manIn 1992, American Heritage magazine asked historians, artists and novelists to name their favorite American historical novel. The overwhelming winner was Thomas Berger’s 1964 novel, Little Big Man, the story of Jack Crabb, a white man raised by Northern Cheyennes, who spent his life going between the two cultures and witnessed nearly every famous event of the frontier West.

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Buried Treasures

Westerns_movies_vintage-movie-posters_1950s_lone-rangerDuring the 1960s, when Philadelphia’s channel 48 ran Satan’s Satellites, I had no idea I was munching popcorn through a serial (Zombies of the Stratosphere) re-cut into a feature.  I was jumping out of my pj’s because it was action-filled Sci-Fi, starring a jet-propelled hero, but I had never seen a chapter play. Featuring more fights and stunts than I had seen in a dozen programs, the story flew as fast as Rocket Man did, but something made it different.

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A Horror Maestro Goes West

Willaim-Castle_Director_movie-postersWhen Director William Castle was grinding through his last Western film, 1955’s Duel on the Mississippi, B-movie immortality probably wasn’t on his mind. Duel on the Mississippi was just another movie Castle would make for Columbia Pictures’ low budget-mogul Sam Katzman, shot fast and cheap, but good enough for the Bijou.

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Old Tucson’s 75th

westerns_arizoan_jean-arthur_willian-holdenThe year 1938 was an off year for Westerns. Cecil B. DeMille hadn’t traveled West since making The Plainsman in 1936, while Stagecoach and Jesse James were still a year away. Major studio heads thought Westerns were strictly bread and butter for “B” outfits grinding out six-day features and serials.

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The Heart of the Movie

The Homesman-Mary-Bee-Cuddy-_Hilary-Swank_-Buster-Shaver-_Barry-CorbinIn February 1989, television history was being made with the CBS broadcast of Lonesome Dove. Adapted from Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the miniseries shattered ratings and became a “water cooler” favorite. Lonesome Dove was the show to watch, and one of the reasons was luckless Deputy Roscoe Brown, portrayed with great heart by Barry Corbin.

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Talking Dutch

western-yuma-tall-t-john-ford-paul-newmanI had shaken Elmore Leonard’s hand three times, twice at book signings and once on a movie set, years before I wrote him a letter in 2008 and asked if he would be a part of a book I was putting together for McFarland called The Westerners: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers.

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The Auteur Who Walked the West

/Director-Gordon-Douglas_Martin-Rackin_Alan-Ladd_Santiago

They’re the studio men, the directors who took assignments, working on Comedies, Westerns, Musicals and Horrors. They directed top stars, the youngsters coming up and the stars on the way down. They helmed movies the front office loved and second-rate features studios didn’t care about.

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The Best Western Movies, TV Series & DVDs of 2013

best-of-the-west-movies-dvds-tv-2014The Lone Ranger:
Masked Eye of the Storm

Hollywood loves trumpeting its failures as much as its successes: 1963’s Cleopatra, 1980’s Heaven’s Gate and 2012’s John Carter were all written about as their production costs soared, long before the branding they received from critics and the box office.

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Taking Aim at Gunslingers

Westerns-Sep-2014In the “Wyatt Earp: The Tombstone Vendetta” episode of Gunslingers, a weathered Kurt Russell states, “The O.K. Corral is the greatest gunslinger moment of all time.”

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Getting Shotgun Loaded

westerns_shotgun-comicCivil War doctor loses his family, and his right arm, to a group of psychopaths who have come to rob them, leaving everyone dying or dead. The doc replaces his missing limb with a double-barreled shotgun and goes after them.

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Bull Doggin’

Westerns_Steve-Ihnat_-Stephen-Lodge_The-HonkersWhen actor and director Steve Ihnat approached Stephen Lodge to work with him on a screenplay that eventually became The Honkers, Lodge had no idea he was in a race against Cliff Robertson and Sam Peckinpah.

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Digging for Treasure

Bob Murawski_Spaghetti Western_The Big GundownBob Murawski loves movies, and not in that bogus “Citizen Kane resonates on so many levels” kind of way. His is a dedication to underdog flicks, their history and their preservation.

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A Million Ways to Laugh in the West

westers_million-ways-to-die-in-the-westWhen a trailer is posted on the Internet, keeping track of the views and “shares” is the perfect way for studios to judge which films will hit...or miss. Godzilla? No question. But another trailer has taken the web by storm; incredibly, it’s a Comedy Western.

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Favorite Docs on Film

western-movies_doc-holiday-on-film_burt-lancater-kurk-douglasIn November 8, 1887, gambler and gunfighter John Henry “Doc” Holliday finally played his last hand, succumbing to the tuberculosis that dogged him most of his adult life, but his legend had been building even before he took his last breath.

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A Man to Match the Land

/John-Wayne_set-of-stage-coach_feature-sizeJohn Wayne had incrementally risen from three-day pictures to six-day pictures to ten-day pictures, with corresponding increases in salary but very little increase in prestige. “I kept nagging at [John] Ford,” remembered Wayne. “‘When is it my turn?’ He’d say, ‘Just wait. I’ll let you know when I get the right script.’ And he did.”

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Lights, Camera, Miracle?

The-Wild-Bunch-movie-poster"I prefer working where I can control things, and you can’t outdoors.”

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A Wild Western Zine

Westerns_lee-marivn_chester-good_matt-dillion_monogram-cowboyIn the 1960s, James Warren and Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland was such a runaway success, covering old and new Horror movies, the demand for another magazine was immediate. Drugstore racks were heavy with monsters for kids, but Warren wanted an adult readership, and they were watching Westerns.

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Tombstone at 20

tombstone-imaget-twoA lifelong Western and Horror movie fan, with an intense interest in history and weapons, screenwriter John Fasano was actually focused on Bruce Willis, not Wyatt Earp, when Hollywood fate took a hand and he found himself suddenly working on what would become a Western classic, 1993’s Tombstone.

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A True Giant

May15-WesternsTrue giants don’t need to declare themselves, they just are, and William Blinn, the quiet man from Ohio, is a true giant. Blinn has a talent for telling unusual stories, with a deep emotional center, which propelled him to the “top of the mountain” when he became a staff writer on Bonanza.

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Behind the Mask

tonto_johnny-depp_lone-rangerMichael Blake grew up in the “business.” His father was a fine character actor who appeared in scores of movies and television shows, including the classic High Noon, while Blake has carved out a three-decades-long career for himself as a first-rate makeup artist. Among recent projects,

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True West Site Guide

Mission

True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!
 

Product of the Month

The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

"Your book is fascinating, coupling your powerful illustrations [and] tracking...from birth to Tombstone to the legend [Wyatt] had become;...even Wyatt would approve." --By Hugh O'Brian, of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

"Hands down the definitive books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday." --By Allen Barra, New York Newsday