eight of my favorite westerns

Y’all know (or should) that westerns are my favorite genre, so this post was long overdue.

~The Magnificent Seven (1960) – Are you surprised?  My favorite movie, my favorite western, and it’s perfection in almost every way.  And the score is worth a listen or two, even if you’ve never watched the film.

~3:10 to Yuma (1957) – A tense, gripping western with a great cast and a great ending.  Love it!

~The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) – Sitting through over three hours of three guys fighting over some treasure might not be everyone’s idea of epic, but it’s mine.  You’ve heard the theme song a million times…now it’s time to watch the movie that goes with it. #thatshowdownthough

~High Noon (1952) – Gary Cooper’s performance alone makes High Noon a film you need to see, whether you enjoy westerns or not.  Come to think of it, several of the movies on this list live up to the ‘great movies, not just great westerns’ thing.

~Rio Bravo (1959) – My newest favorite.  Dude is easily my favorite character, but almost all them are likable, in one way or another.  And the music!  The songs that Dude and Colorado (and Stumpy) sing, of course, but also that eerie Mexican tune that was played at the Alamo… *shivers*  I dig it.

~True Grit (2010) – Haven’t seen this one in a while because my family misplaced our DVD.  But Jeff Bridges is the BOSS.  Not to mention Hailee Steinfeld.  Overall, the film is a carefully crafted masterpiece from beginning to end, and I love the soundtrack so much that I now own the CD (very rare for me).

~Hidalgo (2004) -A western set (mostly) in Arabia.  It’s a unique concept and one that this film pulls off exceptionally well.  Hidalgo is a rich, vivid experience, with an addictive ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ feel to it.  “Let ‘er buck!”

~The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) -I’ve praised this movie before in my review, so I’ll leave you with a link.

Do you spot any favorite westerns on this list?  What are some of your favorite westerns?

Eva

announcing the Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon 2017!

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*squeep*

Last year, I said that I’d be hosting another Alfred Hitchcock blogathon, and it looks like it’s time.  Hitchcock’s birthday is August 13th – sorry I didn’t give a more advanced heads-up about this whole thing; I forgot/the time got away from me – and the blogathon will be held from August 11th-13th.  The previous blogathon was lots of fun and I’m hoping that everything will go just as smoothly this year.

To explain things for any newcomers…

A blogathon works like this: if you want to participate, leave a comment with a link to your blog and what you’ll be writing about (review of a Hitchcock film, something about Hitchcock’s life…basically anything, as long as it’s Hitchcock-related).  I’ll add you to this post’s roster (down below the event buttons/posters/whatever you want to call them) and on August 11th, 12th, or 13th, you’ll publish your post and leave a link to it in the comments on a blog post I’ll set up for that purpose.

my 2016 ‘announcing the Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon’ post

As there are lots and lots of topics that could be covered in this blogathon – movie reviews, Hitchcock’s life, the actors/actresses/composers/directors/designers he worked with…and so, so much more! – duplicate topics will not be allowed. (Sorry.  I hate that, too, but we could end up with five reviews of North by Northwest, or something like that.)

Anyway, here are some buttons you can display on your blog’s sidebar, post on Facebook, etc., to promote the upcoming blogathon.

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Blogathon Participants:

~Experience Film – EFC Classics: Vertigo (1958) – a psychoanalysis of the film and its characters

~Cristina Wehner – The Lodger (1927)

~Movie Movie Blog Blog – North by Northwest (1959)

~Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – Thoughts on some of Hitchcock’s British films

~The Lonely Critic Dial ‘M’ for Murder (1954)

See you there!

Eva

the 2017 reel infatuation blogathon: glenn ford as ben wade in ‘3:10 to yuma’ (1957)

(A list of the other posts in this blogathon can be found here.)

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‘3:10 to Yuma’ (original, not re-make) was the first Glenn Ford movie I ever watched (besides ‘Is Paris Burning?’, which I watched before I knew who he was).  I can’t be sure, it being so long ago and all, but I believe my attention was more on Van Heflin, who I’d seen and liked in a couple other films (‘Shane’, for one).  It wasn’t until I read Hamlette’s in–depth analysis of ‘3:10 to Yuma’ that I found myself drawn to Glenn Ford’s Ben Wade.  But I didn’t re-watch the film until after I’d seen Blackboard Jungle and fallen head-over-heels for Richard Dadier.  (My crush on him probably had something – though not everything – to do with my liking for Ben Wade, come to think of it.)

Anyway, I watched ‘3:10 to Yuma’ again and thus began my one and only crush on a bad guy, a villain, an outlaw. (Unless you’re counting Robin Hood or Bucky, which I don’t.)  I mean, I’ve had an interest in several villains before (mostly Disney ones, ’cause they can be pretty epic in that twisted for evil way) but I always found it weird and vaguely disturbing when girls would swoon over Loki or Richard Armitage’s Sir Guy.  They’re murderers!  They do evil, nasty things!  (And to be honest, it’s a very fine line, crushing on Ben Wade, because he is a murderer and he did do evil things.  So I try not to be too obsessed.)

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The biggest obstacle to my wholeheartedly crushing on Ben is something that happens in the first few minutes of the film.  Ben and his gang hold up a stagecoach and proceed to steal the money from it.  In the middle of all this, the driver of the stage grabs one of Ben’s men and holds him hostage.  And Ben proceeds to coolly shoot both the driver and his own man, just like that.  I believe the screenwriter(s) did this to establish Ben’s reputation early on in a relatively short movie so that we, the audience, understand why the mere mention of Ben Wade elicits such a strong, fearful response in the ranchers and townspeople.  And we definitely do understand.

Personally, I think that Prince is a way more cruel, cold, and calculating than Ben, but the whole scenario with the driver/Ben’s man getting shot is still quite violent and disturbing.  In some ways, though, I think it’s incongruous to Ben’s charming demeanor throughout so much of the rest of the film.

And Ben is charming.  He really is.  First with Emmy, the saloon girl, and then with Mrs. Evans.  It’s pretty hard not to at least grin during the scene where he eats dinner with the Evans family. (Especially when Dan’s sons go off about how Dan could shoot Ben if he wanted to.  Or the whole thing with saying grace.)  And when he talks with Mrs. Evans, I think that on some level he might be trying to make her feel more at ease around him, trying to let her know that he poses no threat to her family.

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Then, of course, there’s what he says to her after supper…

“I’m obliged for your hospitality.  I appreciate it, and your husband too.  I hope I can send him back to you all right.”

I know it may be silly to think this, but… <33333

That isn’t an idle hope/wish/promise of Ben’s, in my opinion.  Ben means what he says (always, I think).  Even though my brother, Ezra, thinks he’s psychotic, the way he keeps picking away at Dan in the hotel room, talking and talking and talking and trying to bribe him and bringing up Dan’s family, I tend to take an entirely different view of things (surprise, surprise).

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I don’t know when it happened (feel free to share your thoughts about the following in the comments), but I have a theory that eventually, at some point, Ben went from hounding Dan simply because he wanted to escape, to hounding Dan so that Dan could walk out of that hotel room alive (by taking Ben’s bribe).  Like I said, I don’t know when Ben switched his thinking on all that (and I’m guessing it wouldn’t be clear in his mind either), but I believe there was a switch.  And that’s what really counts.

This post wouldn’t be complete without at least some mention of the ending of this film, so… (SPOILERS GALORE)

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Dan and Ben make their way to the train station against all odds, with Ben’s gang shadowing their every move.  It’s a tense, fast-paced scene with plenty of nail-biting moments.  But they get to the station, which is the important thing.  And as the train pulls up, swathing Dan and Ben and the gang in clouds of steam/smoke, Prince yells at Ben to duck so he can get a good shot at Dan.  Only Ben doesn’t.  And at the last minute he and Dan jump on the train and, just like that, they’re gone. (Well, not just like that…the gang runs after them and Dan shoots Prince.  But anyway.)

The last couple minutes of the film are powerful stuff.  The theme song, the glorious rain, the smile on everyone’s faces, and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Ben can finally turn his life around for good. (Or at least for better.  Because even though redemption is definitely not a theme in ‘3:10 to Yuma’, I could easily see a fanfiction sequel written with just that in mind.)

And, after all, Ben Wade has escaped from Yuma before.

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Eva

high noon VS. 3:10 to yuma

A while back, I compared The Magnificent Seven to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly but they weren’t really alike.  At least, not when compared to how similar High Noon and 3:10 to Yuma (1957 version, of course) are.  I love both these movies, I think they’re both great westerns (two of the greatest ever made), and today I’ll be comparing and contrasting different elements of both films.  Let’s have fun with this, shall we?

-Story-

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High Noon: On the day of his wedding, Marshall Will Kane receives news that Frank Miller, a man he sent to prison, has been released and is coming to take his revenge on Kane.  Kane elects to stick around and wait for Miller.  One by one, the townspeople desert him (including his wife) and he must face Miller alone.

3:10 to Yuma: Dan Evans, a rancher whose cattle are dying from a long drought, witnesses a stagecoach robbery and murder carried out by notorious outlaw, Ben Wade, and his gang.  Through a series of unfortunate events, Dan ends up with the job of getting Wade on the 3:10 train to Yuma, having been deserted by almost everyone else.

-Characters-

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High Noon: Will Kane is a reluctant hero (played with quiet, tired desperation by Gary Cooper) and almost the only truly likable character in the entire film (Helen Ramírez could be another).  The townspeople, almost to a man, are cowardly and fearful.  Harvey is weak.  There aren’t a whole lot of great characters in High Noon, truth be told, but they are real.

3:10 to Yuma: Dan Evans is another reluctant hero, a family man who would only risk his life to such an extent because he needs the money to keep his ranch running/provide for his family. (Well, at first it’s about the money, but later on it’s much more complicated.)  While lots of people run out on Dan in the end, his wife and Alex Potter (the town drunk) stick with him and are good, solid people.  Emmy (played by the intriguing Felicia Farr) is an interesting character as well.

-Villains-

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Because, yes, the villains in both films need their own category.

High Noon: Lee Van Cleef!  The ultimate western bad guy after playing, y’know, The Bad.  Mostly, he just slinks around and doesn’t say much of anything, but…still cool. (Just like in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.)  Frank Miller is sort of bland for all his big reputation – Colby (Van Cleef’s character) and Ben Miller steal the the show for me. (Mainly because Ben is, um, kind of cute.  Sheb Wooley, the guy who plays him, is credited – according to Wikipedia – for originating the Wilhelm Scream.)

3:10 to Yuma: Okayyyyy.  Ben Wade is hands-down my favorite part of this movie (and that was before I started seriously crushing on Glenn Ford).  I’ve always had a certain weakness for great villains, but Wade is the first one I’ve actually liked.  He’s cool and calm and smart.  And charming, to boot.  Plus, he makes some great choices in the end that go to show that he’s not a lost cause where decency is concerned.  As for the rest of his gang…they’re all pretty faceless, except for Richard Jaeckel, who makes a chilling right hand man.

-Music-

High Noon: The theme song is just…wow.  Melancholy, beautiful, even a little heartbreaking.  I love it.  And I love how it’s repeated so often, either in the soundtrack, on the piano in the saloon, or bits of the song proper here and there throughout the film.

3:10 to Yuma: You know, as I started writing this blog post, I was listening to soundtrack suites for both these movies, and the first one I listened to was High Noon.  And I was like “I love this theme song!  Definitely more than 3:10 to Yuma.”  And THEN I listened to 3:10 and it’s so achingly bittersweet and soulful and I really can’t decide.  All I know is that when it starts playing at the end, I get a big lump in my throat.  I like how it’s riffed on in the score and especially how Glenn Ford whistles it off and on a lot.

-Ending-

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SPOILERS.  Like, maaaajor spoilers.

High Noon: Kane faces down Frank Miller and his men.  Amy joins him at the eleventh hour and, together, they defeat The Bad Guys.  Once the danger has passed, the townspeople emerge from their houses, Kane throws his tin star in the dust, and he and Amy drive off.  It’s a powerful, albeit bitter ending, brightened only by the hope that Will and Amy will finally be able to live in peace.

3:10 to Yuma: Evans and Wade end up facing down Prince and the gang together, with Wade eventually choosing to save Evans’ life over escaping.  They jump onto the train together as it pulls out of the station, and Evans shoots Prince, who was running after the train/shooting at them.  As the train passes a waiting Alice and she spots her husband, rain begins to fall and the theme song plays.  It’s rather awesome and emotional and such a relief after the hour or so of nail-biting tension.  Plus, Glenn Ford’s dimples are adorable.

-Overall-

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Sooooo…which film is my favorite?  I don’t know.  I think that High Noon is the better film, that it works together as more of a cohesive whole and all that, but it’s not my favorite of the two.  And I don’t know if 3:10 is my favorite either.  They’re not just excellent westerns, they’re excellent movies in general.  I think High Noon’s story is stronger, but I like the characters in 3:10 to Yuma better.  It’s a toss-up, it really is.

But fine.  If you twisted my arm…

High Noon.  But only by the tiniest fraction.

Have you seen one or both of these films?  Which is your favorite?

Eva

william holden in “the devil’s brigade”

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I’m writing this post as part of the 2nd Golden Boy Blogathon – A William Holden Celebration.  Since duplicates weren’t allowed, I wasn’t able to write about Holden’s portrayal of Sefton in Stalag 17 (his best role of all time, I do believe).  I wasn’t able to write about just how much I love and adore him in The Horse Soldiers as the brave, kind, and caring Major Kendall.  I wasn’t able to write about how wonderful he and Audrey Hepburn were together in Sabrina and Paris When it Sizzles. 

So, I decided to go with The Devil’s Brigade, ’cause that’s a pretty great movie on its own even though I didn’t think there was much to write about William Holden’s character, Colonel Frederick.  I mean, he’s the one who gets the First Special Service Force together, but I’d say that the film focuses more on the members of the Force in general than their commander.  However, going into this film determined to watch Colonel Frederick opened my eyes to just how much he does.  He’s the glue that holds the force together.  He’s never been in combat before the film starts, but despite that, is always at the very front of the fight, first when the Force captures a German-held town (losing no men and taking all the Germans prisoner) and then when they take Monte la Difensa.  He’s the one who fights for the Force to stay together when it’s in danger of being disbanded.

And the Force loves him in return.  My favorite scene in the whole movie is Colonel Frederick’s birthday party.  It’s such a great little moment of happiness and joy and celebration and camaraderie in the middle of the difficult, near impossible missions the Force undertakes.  But William Holden’s incredible acting comes through the most in the heartbreaking bits.  Like when the Colonel goes around to several of his men as they’re prepping to take the mountain and basically he’s saying goodbye because he knows that most of them won’t make it out – and he probably won’t make it out either.  Or when that Canadian officer gets shot and killed (I hate that I can’t remember his name) and Colonel Frederick just hands the radio receiver to his aide because he’s sick and tired of it all.  The Colonel’s grief comes through to you in a very real way because Holden always totally inhabits his roles, making you believe, for just that moment, he’s really the character he’s playing and not actually William Holden.

Overall, The Devil’s Brigade is a great war film and William Holden does a super job portraying Colonel Frederick (who was actually a real guy and the only American serviceman to receive eight Purple Hearts in WWII – I just looked it up on Wikipedia).  Plus, his character is friends with Dana Andrews’ character, which is simply splendid for screenshots. 🙂

Though neither of them look very friendly or happy right here.

Have you ever seen The Devil’s Brigade?  What did you think of it?  And what did you think of William Holden as Colonel Frederick?

Eva

valentine’s day 2017: #relationshipgoals

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~”If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” – #relationshipgoals

~When some famous movie star takes you into an empty set and creates a beautiful (albeit fake) rose-trellised garden flooded with moonlight and star dust and then proceeds to sing you a song and you realize he’s more than just a shadow on film. – #relationshipgoals

~”I’m your density.” – #relationshipgoals

~How Jack looks at Rose and vice-versa. – #relationshipgoals

~”You were my new dream.” – #relationshipgoals

~Anne and Gilbert and how she cracks the slate over his head at first but then when he’s dying she shows him her book and then they get married and go through so many ups and downs and then WWI breaks into their family but they’re still strong for each other and love each other. – #relationshipgoals

~”I let her go.” – #relationshipgoals

~TheMarried Life Montage’ from UP. – #relationshipgoals

~”Stay with me?”  “Always.” – #relationshipgoals

~When your husband’s slowly killing you with a combination of poisoned tea and sheer terror and then the guy you really love shows up, ready to rescue you, and then actually does while under enormous pressure and plenty of danger and you’re just hanging onto him, trusting him to get you safely away. – #relationshipgoals

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious:

~”Baby, all your facial parts are in the right place.” – #relationshipgoals

~Robin Hood + Maid Marian, any version/adaption of the story EVER – #relationshipgoals

~”Fraulein…I want you to stay.” – #relationshipgoals

~Steve and Peggy and how even before Steve got all tall and buff, Peggy liked him because of the thing with the grenade and he’s smart and funny and pretty awesome to boot, and how Steve was sort of scared of her at first (not really, but pretty much) and then their friendship/professional relationship deepened into something beautiful and then he died and she got married and it’s just too much, guys, but it’s still #relationshipgoals.

~”Will you love me just as much when I’m normal?”  “I’ll be insane about you.” – #relationshipgoals

~Larry Daley and Amelia Earhart’s rather unique relationship in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – #relationshipgoals

~”You’re as beautiful as the day I lost you.” – #relationshipgoals

~Also, y’know, my mom has stuck so close to my dad’s side during his battle with cancer and my grandparents have been married for almost fifty years, so I have the greatest #relationshipgoals examples right in front of me every single day.  And that’s a blessing I’m hugely grateful for. ❤

Legit photo of my parents.

Eva

“i’m singin’ and dancin’ in the rain…”

AKA all my favorite old Hollywood movie musicals.  And there are a ton.

// Mary Poppins – 1964 //

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A singing nanny, a cross father, and plenty of magical (and sometimes animated) adventures.  This one makes me cry simply because of Saving Mr. Banks (though even before that, ‘Let’s Go Fly A Kite’ always did leave me a little teary).  There’s plenty of smart humor in this one, so adults and older teens can enjoy it, too.  ‘Feed the Birds’ is simply wonderful.  Favorite part of the film?  The finale.

// State Fair – 1945 //

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Dana Andrews is splendid in this film, but everyone else turns in a great performance, too.  The songs give me all the happy feelings, as does the way the whole thing turns out perfectly in the end. (When Elisabeth and I watched this for the first time, we were getting a little worried when there was only about two minutes left and Margie and Wayne were still mopey.  Thankfully, it all turned out fine.)  Favorite part of the film?  All the songs.

// Singin’ in the Rain – 1952 //

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For the longest time, this was my favorite movie.  And it still is one of my favorites.  I love the friendship between Don and Kathy and Cosmo – it’s so fun to watch! (Especially during ‘Good Morning’.)  The costumes are the BEST and Jean Hagen totally deserved her Oscar nomination.  Fun fact: my siblings and I used to sing the songs to this so often that Mom literally banned it for about a year.  Favorite part of the film?  Debbie Reynolds.

// The Happiest Millionaire – 1967 //

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*siiiiigh* This movie is my happy place.  The songs, the story, the characters, the actors…all of it.  Cordy’s relationship with her dad is so sweet and the romance is adorable and the Sherman brothers almost outdid their song-writing turn in Mary Poppins with this movie.  Plus, it’s so very funny.  Favorite part of the film?  The ball, I think.  Or the whole opening when John is getting used to the Biddles’ way of doing things.

// Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – 1954 //

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The first time I watched this film, I hated it for some inexplicable reason. (I was quite young.)  Then I watched it just last year and I loved and adored it.  It’s so perfect!  Millie is one of the best heroines in the history of cinema, in my opinion, and the Pontipee brothers are…unique.  And lovable, too.  Favorite part of the film?  The barn-raising scene, of course.

// The Sound of Music -1965 //

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Christopher Plummer kinda makes this movie what it is.  I mean, Julie Andrews is QUEEN and all that, but there’s just something about Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp that puts The Sound of Music on my list of favorite musicals.  I also enjoy all the children (you really need to read Forever Liesel by Charmian Carr) and Eleanor Parker as the Baroness.  Favorite part of the film?  Maria’s wedding. ❤

// White Christmas – 1954 //

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Favorite Christmas movie and one of my very favorite movies in general.  Most of the songs make me feel like my heart is filled with sparkles and little glittery hearts and diamonds.  Love it.  Also, the characters are great, especially Judy and Betty, and Dean Jaggers as General Waverly makes me cry and it’s just…gahhhh.  So amazing.  Favorite part of the film?  Either ‘Count Your Blessings’ or the bit where they surprise the General.  I can’t decide.  Oh, and all the costumes.

How many of these movie musicals have you seen?  What are some of your favorites?

Eva