20 items from 2013
By Darren Allison, Cinema Retro Soundtrack Editor
When considering the scores for movie Westerns, film music collectors often refer to classics such as Max Steiner's The Searchers, Dimitri Tiomkin's Rio Bravo or Victor Young's Shane, all of which are, of course, fabulous scores. Monstrous Movie Music have again, (and in keeping with their refreshing style), ventured into new territories with the release of Paul Dunlap’s Western score to Hellgate (1952) (Mmm-1972). Rather surprisingly, this CD marks the first full release to feature Dunlap’s film music. The composer was incredibly prolific throughout his career scoring diverse projects which spanned from many of The Three Stooges movies to the cult classic Aip horrors including the Teenage Frankenstein/Werewolf series of films. For a B movie western, there was something a little different about Hellgate – it was really rather good! Hellgate was directed by Charles Marquis Warren, a tough »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
Glenn Frankel’s The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend (Bloomsbury) has received more attention from the mainstream press than the average film book, and for good reason: it is an exceptional piece of writing and research. What’s more, it isn’t just a look behind the scenes of a famous movie; the author explores the notorious real-life incident that inspired Western author Alan LeMay to write his novel: the abduction of nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker by Comanche Indians in 1836. Hers was not a unique story, but it took on added significance because of her family background, and one relative’s refusal to give up on finding her. Frankel is an experienced journalist and...
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- Leonard Maltin
As if the film's dodgy dialogue and Dr Seuss suits weren't insult enough – casting John Wayne in the lead role really put the cowboy boot in the Mongol warrior's legacy
The Conqueror (1956)
Director: Dick Powell
Entertainment grade: D–
History grade: D+
Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire in the 12th century.
The Conqueror was written for Marlon Brando, but he dodged it thanks to his contract with another studio. Meanwhile, John Wayne was at the peak of his career – he made The Searchers soon afterwards – and producer Howard Hughes was inclined to give him whatever he wanted. What he wanted, apparently, was to be a 12th-century Mongolian warlord. Well, who doesn't? This is how one of the worst casting decisions of all time was made, and John Wayne became Genghis Khan.
The film opens with Temujin, as Genghis was originally known, intercepting a wedding procession of Merkits. No, »
- Alex von Tunzelmann
This week marks the 57th birthday of John Ford's seminal western "The Searchers" (1956), which came in 7th in Sight and Sound's most recent critics' poll. In recognition, director Martin Scorsese reviews the classic film in THR: "First, apart from being an American epic, 'The Searchers' also is a John Wayne Western; for many, even at this late date in film history, that's still an excuse to ignore it. Secondly, it doesn't go down quite as easily as the pictures mentioned above. Like all great works of art, it's uncomfortable. The core of the movie is deeply painful." The American Film Institute has also posted an enlightening clip from the archives on its YouTube page (below) in which Scorsese recounts seeing the Civil War-set film for the first time as a boy: "This lonely character comes out of the desert,” Scorsese says of John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards, »
- Ryan Lattanzio
The first of two crowd-funding projects to notify you of: Libbie D. Cohn (co-director of People's Park) is trying to Kickstart a feature film entitled Bad As Me described as "a wild romp through San Francisco tracing the misadventures of two lovers struggling with depression and Ptsd." Next up: via Kiss Kiss Bank Bank, Emilie Lamoine is looking to secure funding for her debut feature, Nevers. Starring Jean-Christophe Folly of Claire Denis' 35 Shots of Rum (and forthcoming feature, Bastards), the film is "a road movie by foot" about two African lovers lost in the French countryside. Vimeo is now streaming Don Hertzfeldt's It's Such a Beautiful Day on demand for a limited time. From Vimeo: "Hertzfeldt has seamlessly combined his three short films about a man named Bill (Everything will be Ok (2006), I Am So Proud of You (2008), and It's Such a Beautiful Day (2011)), into a darkly comedic, »
- Adam Cook
This week I didn't have a chance to watch any movies at home, though I did continue reading Glenn Frankel's "The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend", which I mentioned in last week's "What I Watched". Last week I was only a few pages in to the film, now I'm about 125 pages deep and it continues to get increasingly fascinating as Frankel has gone so deep into the history of the people that inspired the film and tells their story in such a compelling way it is very hard to put down. This past week Martin Scorsese actually wrote about the book and the film for The Hollywood Reporter, here's a snippet: Ethan also is genuinely scary. His obsessiveness, his absolute hatred of Comanches and all Native Americans and his loneliness set him apart from any other characters Wayne played and, really, from most protagonists in American movies. »
- Brad Brevet
Perhaps even more so than his last couple of films, Martin Scorsese's contributions to film preservation and education in recent years have marked him as one of the medium's greatest guardians. From his "A Personal Journey Through American Movies" to the cineaste evangelising of "Hugo," he's taken on the status of a vastly informed, infectiously enthusiastic film history professor -- sometimes those who can do indeed teach. Scorsese's most heartfelt, engaged tributes tend to be of the American films of his youth, so you know to expect a treat from his lengthy Hollywood Reporter guest piece on John Ford's "The Searchers," »
- Guy Lodge
This story first appeared in the March 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. The Searchers has been more or less officially recognized as a great American classic. But I have to admit that I never really know what that kind of recognition amounts to. The film turns up on many 10-greatest-films-of-all-time lists, including my own. At least two moments from the picture -- John Wayne lifting up Natalie Wood and then cradling her in his arms and the final shot -- are commonly included in clip reels. Film lovers know it by heart. But what about average
- Martin Scorsese
I'm going to start by telling you about a book I just started reading, titled "The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend" by Glenn Frankel and I'm hooked after only the first 25 pages. The main thing to note is that while Frankel delves into the making of John Ford's The Searchers, a film considered by the AFI to be the #1 American Western of all-time, his primary focus is the story that inspired it and how the film stuck to that story and diverted from it. Now, again, I'm only 25 pages in, which is hardly enough reading to give any kind of review of a 416 page book, so I'll let the book's description do the rest of the talking: In 1836 in East Texas, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches. She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior. Twenty-four years after her capture, »
- Brad Brevet
There is so much great content published every week here at Sound On Sight, the even we have trouble keeping up. So, every Sunday we will drop a list of ten of the best articles delivered by our hard working, and extremely talented staff.
House of Cards, 1.1-1.6: Charismatic leads, style make up for familiar story
House of Cards is a bold venture, to say the least. Netflix’s first sole foray into television, a remake of a 1990 BBC miniseries, the series came with a hefty price tag and a high profile, with David Fincher on board as a first-time television director. No one can know what the future holds for streaming television, but for Netflix, and House of Cards, it certainly looks rosy… (click here to read the full article)
House of Cards, Ep. 1.07-1.13: Surprising character moves conclude solid series
As in its strong first half, »
- Kyle Reese
From its very beginnings as a genre, Western film has trafficked in the iconic, in the larger-than-life imagery of the tall tale and the never-ending, expansive wilderness that forms the crucial backbone to these stories. More than perhaps any other genre, Westerns deal in types, with their characters standing in for the Other, the Immigrant, the Hero, and the Villain (in their black hat), telling universal stories of camaraderie and isolation, of running from and fighting for civilization, and morality tested by the harshest circumstances. The conventions of the genre run the gamut, from performance (heroes must be taciturn!) to costuming and scenery (gotta have a tumbleweed), and one of the most important elements to any Western is its score.
Most Westerns, particularly those from the heyday of the genre, feature orchestral scores. Given the American frontier setting, most scores tend to feature a number of specific characteristics which have »
- Kate Kulzick
When an actor gets pigeon-holed as an action star, it becomes very difficult to shake that title. You are deemed bankable more for your screen presence, physical attributes and ability to run from explosions, rather than your thespian skills.
Most action stars are not known for their acting chops. That is why it always baffles the mind when these movie tough guys decide in starring in a flat out comedy instead of their usual mind-numbing brand of cops ‘n robbers thrills.
Comedy takes a certain set of skills, and sometimes even the most brilliant of comic actors have had difficulty tackling this genre. But why do action stars, known for spending most of their previous screen credits running around with guns and spouting witty one liners, think that doing comedy would be a good idea? Here are 10 movies which show why action movie stars should not attempt comedy.
10. John Wayne »
- Kyle Hytonen
As Sound on Sight’s Western month reaches its conclusion, two of the hosts of your favorite Disney movie podcast, Mousterpiece Cinema, Josh Spiegel and Gabe Bucsko met in the show’s vaunted and secretive HQ to discuss and debate what many people would claim is the greatest Western of all time: the 1956 John Ford film The Searchers. One of your hosts considers that claim perfectly accurate, and the other one is Josh. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Can this debate ever be settled? It’s up to Josh and Gabe to answer these hard questions, so read on for the answers!
Josh: I don’t remember much about my freshman year in college–thanks more to an unfailingly poor memory than to partying, I assure you–but one clear memory is that of my fall-semester film professor blowing his gasket when I told him I hated one of his favorite movies. »
- Josh Spiegel
Our daily countdown continues with part 22 out of 30 in our list of the 300 Greatest Films Ever Made. These are numbers 90-81.
89) Yojimbo (1961) Akira Kurasawa Japan
88) Dracula (1931) Todd Browning USA
85) My Fair Lady (1964) George Cuckor USA
83) A Hard Days Night (1964) Richard Lester British
Numbers 80-71 coming up next.
film cultureClassicslist300 »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Rob Young)
The director's consummate revival of the spaghetti western journeys deep into America's unpalatable past
The Italian western appeared in the mid-1960s, its aim both to compensate for the reduced number of American westerns and their lack of action. Shot in Spain by directors usually adopting American pseudonyms, they rapidly became known for ultra-violence, sadism, operatic staging, sharp colours, enormous close-ups and emphatic music. In the dubbed and heavily cut versions that reached the English-speaking world they had a crude quality that offended the few critics who saw them.
They did, however, have a vigour and a broad Marxist thrust in their attitude towards capitalism and third world exploitation. They made a considerable impact on the Hollywood western in its last days (especially on those featuring Clint Eastwood, the only American actor to become a star through working in Italy), though the name of only one Italian director, Sergio Leone, »
- Philip French
When the Obama re-election machine began gearing up last winter, its presumed winning formula had the brevity of a high-concept Hollywood pitch: "General Motors is alive, Osama bin Laden is dead."
The mantra's first part received an unexpected iteration during half-time at the Super Bowl when, in an ad promoting the Us car industry, no less an icon than Clint Eastwood told the huge TV audience that Detroit had weathered the Great Recession and was coming back. (Apparently unaware he'd been cast as Obama's surrogate, the star would make amends by grotesquely lecturing the president during the Republican convention.) Meanwhile, the mantra's second part was also in the works, in the form of Kathryn Bigelow's big-budget thriller about Bin Laden's assassination; not yet named Zero Dark Thirty, the »
- J Hoberman
Feature Paul Martinovic Jan 18, 2013
Howard Hawks, one of the most successful Western directors of all time and a key influence on Sergio Leone, once said a great movie can be defined as one with "three great scenes, and no bad ones." There can be few directors who understood the power of great scenes quite as strongly as Leone, the director of the Dollars trilogy and de facto godfather of the spaghetti western.
Some might argue his emphasis on great individual moments was to his detriment, as the MacGuffin-laden plots of his films seem to exist mainly as devices on which he can hang his elaborate setpieces, and were subsequently labeled as exercises in pure style. While the artistic and intellectual merits of the three films are up for debate, »
It is strange to think that one genre can be closely connected to just one actor. When someone mentions silent cinema, people think Charlie Chaplin; martial arts, Bruce Lee and Westerns? It seems that the poster boy for many Western films is John Wayne. Even though his career included over 140 films, he received his only Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal as Us Marshal ‘Rooster’ Cogburn in True Grit, the 1969 adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel, directed by Henry Hathaway. The film follows young Mattie Ross (played by Kim Darcy), as she recruits Cogburn to avenge »
- Katie Wong
The “adult” Western – as it would come to be called – was a long time coming. A Hollywood staple since the days of The Great Train Robbery (1903), the Western offered spectacle and action set against the uniquely American milieu of the Old West – a historical period which, at the dawn of the motion picture industry, was still fresh in the nation’s memory. What the genre rarely offered was dramatic substance.
Early Westerns often adopted the same traditions of the popular Wild West literature and dime novels of the 19th and early 20th centuries producing, as a consequence, highly romantic, almost purely mythic portraits the Old West. Through the early decades of the motion picture industry, the genre went through several creative cycles, alternately tilting from fanciful to realistic and back again. By the early sound era, and despite such serious efforts as The Big Trail (1930) and The Virginian (1929), Hollywood Westerns were, »
- Bill Mesce
The Western was a movie staple for decades. It seemed the genre that would never die, feeding the fantasies of one generation after another of young boys who galloped around their backyards, playgrounds, and brick streets on broomsticks, banging away with their Mattel cap pistols. Something about a man on a horse set against the boundless wastes of Monument Valley, the crackle of saddle leather, two men facing off in a dusty street under the noon sun connected with the free spirit in every kid.
The American movie – a celluloid telling that was more than a skit – was born in a Western: Edwin S. Porter’s 11- minute The Great Train Robbery (1903). Thereafter, Westerns grew longer, they grew more complex. The West – hostile, endless, civilization barely maintaining a toehold against the elements, hostile natives, and robber barons – proved an infinitely plastic setting. In a place with no law, and where »
- Bill Mesce
20 items from 2013
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