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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

4 Apr


This review opens with cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli assembling a stunning wide-angle shot of this blog while composer Ennio Morricone fills the moment of silence with his amazing, original score. I stare at the keyboard with an itchy finger waiting to press return. Sergio Leone’s signature western, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly continues to be an international sensation forty-five years later. The story about three distinctly different gunslingers with a history with one another search for a shipment of confederate gold. Although, Eastwood and Van Cleef get all the glory for being the ultra-cool cowboys, it is Eli Wallach that pushes the action forward and keeps the movie moving towards its big payday. In this film, Leone is able to put everything together in the right spots and make the best of film of the Dollars trilogy, as well as the most iconic western of all time. This critic presses publish and rides off into the sunset.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: A

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid still ride on

10 Oct

Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and The Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) easily have the all-time coolest names of any outlaw tandems. George Roy Hill directs William Goldman’s Academy Award winning script as an adventurous western that borrows some factual events from the real life outlaws, but for the most part is a film inspired by “true events”.

Newman and Redford give memorable performances and the script provides enough action for audiences to get behind the bandits, even when they flee to Bolivia. The two characters; friendship push the film forward, but the on going tension between them keeps this film interesting. This movie is not one of the best westerns made, but it does haves some endearing qualities that keeps this film in the conversation.

Chuck’s Grade: B
Adam’s Grade: B+

The Outlaw Josey Wales steers westerns down the right path

24 Sep

Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales is a revisionist western that takes an unapologetic look at the “horrors” of war. The film is often talked about being a post-commentary on the Vietnam War, but I think it is less about war and more about the revenge of a man wronged by an oppressive group that did not fear any sort of retribution because they were on the “winning” side. This film borrows from a combination of John Wayne movies and Sergio Leone’s anti-heroes to make this hybrid film that will change the perception of Westerns for decades to come.

Wales character wants to fight a one-man war, but he is forced to take take on a couple Native American characters, as well as a naive pioneer family. Wales reluctantly softens his steadfast ways and accepts the fact that all of these characters are trying to begin again, like him. Josey Wales steers the Western genre down the right path.


Chuck’s Grade: A+

Adam’s Grade: B

Jesse James: Fascination turns to Obsession

15 Aug

Writer/Director Andrew Dominik’s “Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is a western unlike anything you’ve seen before. Dominik creates a stalker/celebrity movie into a period piece. It’s a story of the last few months of Jesse James (Brad Pitt) and his outlaw gang. Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) is a nineteen year old who wants in on the gang because he is fixated by James. The film is a slow paced character study, but it works because it gives audiences time to watch the tension grow between Robert and Jesse, as well as reveal a more personal side of the James gang. Something often absent in Westerns.

The title reveals the film’s “true story” outcome, but the climatic scene holds your attention as Robert Ford makes a name for himself. I believe everyone should experience this film because of its masterful cinematography, acting, writing and directing. Its one of my favorite Westerns.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Red River

11 Aug

Director Howard Hawks’s classic, Red River reminds me, Mutiny on the Bounty, but on horses. Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) sets out on a one hundred day journey to take nine thousand steers across the dangerous Texas frontier to Missouri. Along the way, his men must fight Native American attackers, stampedes, food rations, and bad coffee, but the film’s main antagonist is Dunson and his tyrannical rule over his company. Eventually, his prodigy, Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift) thwarts his efforts to hang two deserters and leaves Wayne on the open plains, wounded and alone. The film turns from ride to revenge at the tip of a cowboy hat.

I love Wayne wearing the black hat and Clift is a great actor, but I am not sure today’s audiences would have the patience to sit through the numerous scenes of cattle walking along the Texas plains. This is one film I would like to see in color and on the big screen.


Chuck’s Grade: A-

Adam’s Grade: B+