Young Joe is paralyzed as he is bucked by a wild horse, a strawberry roan. Angered, his father, Walt, tries to shoot the horse but is stopped by his foreman, Gene Autry. The roan escapes ... See full summary »
Young Joe is paralyzed as he is bucked by a wild horse, a strawberry roan. Angered, his father, Walt, tries to shoot the horse but is stopped by his foreman, Gene Autry. The roan escapes and Autry, told to leave the ranch by Walt, finds and trains the horse, now named Champ, in hopes that by returning it to Joe it will provide him with the will to overcome his disability. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
Listen, son, if he starts riding the rails, empty the saddle like it was something hot.
Yeah, no glory riding. It's better to pull up than to reach your shadow on the ground.
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I'll start by saying that this is the perfect western. Its absolutely perfect in how all the parts seamlessly fit together and those parts and the assembly fit with the world.
Westerns aren't unique to film; long before movies, pulp stories were weaving the abstractions that movies inherited. But its a specific type of mythology that movies perfected. From the midthirties until the Leone era, these were the slate on which Americans drew their character.
They're roughly in two types. One is the the narrative spun by John Ford and for better or worse appropriated by Republicans (as I write this). Simple men, drinkin', fightin', cussin' misogynists who "win" their women. These are men nestled into the land, free in spirit, loners. Quick to violence and often motivated by revenge-as-justice.
The unhappy fact is that John Ford was Jerry Bruckheimer before it became uncool.
There's a different western: cowboys with a higher sense of justice. Rather than being motivated by revenge, he'll drive a story often based on redemption. He's likely to sing. He always gets the girl, but somehow we feel that it is because the woman is seeking a husband rather than rough sex.
Gene Autry isn't the first player I think of in this context. (His first movie, a serial actually "Phantom Empire" is on my list of "must see.") But this movie is so well quilted, so naturally centered in all the things that westerns can be. It has place. It has clarity without simplicity. It has courage without punching. It has sex yes it does and its not deeply hidden. But it runs away from the prurient.
I wonder. I wonder if something as American as this is possible to be exploited for political advantage. I suppose not, because if it could, it would have.
I was asked recently what I would put on a list that asked for the best western. It would have to be before Leone. And it couldn't be "Yellow Ribbon." It might even be this, The comedy is just perfect, not worn out. fresh.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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