Sunday, July 25, 2021

Winners & Wrap-up for Legends of Western Cinema Week

Wasn't that a fun week?  I have been having the best time reading everyone's contributions to this year's festivities.  And I still have like twenty things to read, so that'll keep me occupied for a while yet!  If you haven't had a chance to read everyone's posts, I'm putting the link-up widget at the end of this post again, for easier finding.

But first, it's time to choose giveaway winners :-D

Is choosing the winners for a giveaway my favorite part of hosting a blog party?  No, I think finding prizes for the giveaway is my favorite part, but this definitely comes close!  Though I can't give things to everyone, which always makes me a little sad.  Still, this part is definitely fun, so here we go!  Let's see who wins the prizes from this year's giveaway.

Prize 1: the first season of The Big Valley -- Annie

Prize 2: the first season of Wanted: Dead or Alive -- Cissie

Prize 3: both seasons of The Magnificent Seven -- Heidi 

Prize 4: a set of six cowboy-themed greeting cards with envelopes -- Eva 

Prize 5: a set of six cowboy-themed greeting cards with envelopes -- VT

Prize 6: a set of six cowboy-themed greeting cards with envelopes -- Becky

CONGRATULATIONS to all six winners!!!  I will be contacting each of you via the email address you provided to the widget so I can ask where to mail your prizes.  So please check your email for that message :-)  

And to everyone else... there's always next year ;-)  And I've got my annual Tolkien Blog Party coming up on my book blog in September, which I already have many prizes for... so there's something to look forward to, if you're into Tolkien/Middle-earth!  I'll be formally announcing that in about a week.

Meanwhile, here's that linky widget full of posts for you to enjoy, if you haven't read everything yet.  

Thank you for all your wonderful movie reviews, tag posts, and other fun discussions!!!  I hope you've had as much fun as I have :-)

Answers to the Western Movie Casting Trivia Game

Here are the answers to this week's trivia game, with everyone's scores below.  How did you do?

1. John Wayne, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson = Rio Bravo (1959)

2. Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Katy Jurado = High Noon (1952)

3. Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott = Tombstone (1993)

4. Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin = Shane (1953)

5. Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones = The Mask of Zorro (1998)

6. John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin = The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

7. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson = The Magnificent Seven (1960)

8. Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld = True Grit (2010)

9. Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherine Ross = Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

10. Tom Selleck, Alan Rickman, Laura San Giacomo = Quigley Down Under (1990)

11. Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef = The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

12. John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine = Stagecoach (1939)


Caftan Woman -- 12
Classic TV Fan -- 12
Irene -- 11
MovieCritic -- 11
Olivia -- 11
Heidi -- 10
VT -- 8.5

Saturday, July 24, 2021

"The Sons of Katie Elder" (1965)

This is my favorite John Wayne movie.  My favorite American western.  My third-favorite movie of all time.  I absolutely love this movie.  

Why?  Um, because I love it.

Does that make any sense?  It's a total thing, for me.  There are some books, movies, actors, actresses that have been my favorite for so long that they simply are my favorite because they are my favorite.  Like, I can't imagine not loving them.  I wouldn't dream of not pointing them out and awarding "my favorite" honors to them.  I simply must.

It's not hard to see WHY this first became a favorite for me when I was a teen, though.  To begin with, you have John Wayne playing a Misunderstood Gunman who is trying to see that his father's murder is solved.  Then you have Dean Martin as his tricky, sly brother.  I mean, honestly, just watching those two pros play off each other is enough to make me love a movie.  Witness how wonderful they are together in Rio Bravo (1959).  Wayne and Martin were buddies offscreen as well, and I think that helps their rapport feel very natural, especially when they're playing brothers here.

The story opens with three of the Elder brothers waiting for a train.  Tom (Dean Martin) irreverently bets that he can predict where the train will stop.  Matt (Earl Holliman) chastises him for not being respectful of the occasion.  After all, they've only come back to town to attend a funeral.  Bud (Michael Anderson, Jr.) doesn't say much.  He's more focused on who he's expecting to be on that train.  It's a small scene, but we get such a solid sense of who each brother is just from these few minutes.

To their shock, the only person who gets off the train is a surly stranger, a gunfighter called Curley (George Kennedy).  He heads off to call on Morgan Hastings (James Gregory), who hired him as a bit of extra protection, just in case trouble comes calling because of that funeral.

Disappointed that the eldest Elder brother didn't see fit to arrive on that train, the other brothers decide to go ahead and have their mother's funeral without him.  At the funeral, we learn a lot about their mother, Katie Elder.  The minister eulogizes her as "a friend to all, a comforter to the sick... a woman who wanted nothing for herself, wanted only to give rather than to receive."  After the ceremony, neighbors tell the brothers funny stories about Katie, even show them a baby named after her.  But Tom, Matt, and Bud are mostly focused on the fact that their oldest brother never showed up.

Except, he did.  High in the rocks overlooking the cemetery, John Elder (John Wayne) watches his mother's funeral from afar.  It's not until the mourners have left, and the burial detail too, that he finally comes down to pay his respects.  I dig a guy who does the unexpected and totally flummoxes his potential enemies that way.  And John Elder does this again and again.  Oh, he's a wise one, all right.

The Elder Boys learn that their father's death six months earlier has remained unsolved.  Oh, and by the way, he was shot in the back.  Oh, and by the way, that was the same night he lost his whole huge ranch of prime Texas grazing land in a card game.  Yeah, that's not suspicious at all.  Nope, nothing to see here.  Time for the Elder Boys to just go their merry way and ignore all that suspiciousness, yessiree.

Hah.  Obviously, they must investigate.  They set about asking all kinds of questions of everybody in town who might know something about that card game where their father lost his ranch.  Or about his death.  Or about any unsettled affairs their mother might have left behind.

Guess who won their family's ranch in a card game?  Morgan Hastings, the guy who hired Curley.  And speaking of Curley, he is one mean sonofagun.  He nearly drowns a man who didn't answer a question the way he liked.  He goads Bud into a gunfight that Bud obviously could never win.  He leers and sneers and cackles like a maniac.  I have nothing good to say about Curley.  Hanging would be too good for him.  Ugh.

Anyway, the Elder Boys can't seem to get any answers about their father's death, so they decide that they're going to get the money to send Bud through college as a way to make their mother's dreams come true for at least one of them.  The other three may be big disappointments but, as John says, "Katie wins this one."  To get that money, they make a deal to drive 200 horses north to Colorado and sell them to the miners there, and drop Bud off at college in Colorado Springs on the way home. 

This leads to a brief, happy interlude of the four brothers all getting along really well and all working together toward a common goal.  And also some gorgeous shots of horses running around in Texas (well, actually Mexico, but close enough).  This is my favorite part of the whole movie.

Only hitch to this happy new family life they've found is that someone shoots Sheriff Billy Mitchell (Paul Fix) in the back while he's on his way to the Elder home.  The sheriff was trying to bring Tom Elder in because he's got his name on a wanted poster.  Obviously, that means the Elders shot him from ambush before he ever got to their house to tell them why he was there, just because they're evil, or so Certain People would have us believe.  So now gung-ho deputy Ben Latta (Jeremy Slate) is determined to see justice done for his old boss, who got shot in the back exactly like the Elder Boys' pa.  Funny how he didn't care at all about that earlier shooting, but now that it's personal, he's all fired up.  And yet, Ben just can't seem to understand why the Elder Boys would have felt the same.  Ben is very, very young still.

MAJOR SPOILERS in the next two paragraphs!  Skip to below the picture of John Wayne silhouetted against a fire if you don't want to know how it all ends up.

Anyway, the Elders get captured, then get free again, except Matt dies in the process, and Bud gets wounded.  John and Tom decide they are going to take care of Bud forever and make sure he gets raised right, and that will start with finding out the truth about their father's murder once and for all.  

They finally get their answers from Morgan Hastings' son Dave (Dennis Hopper), just before he dies from a gunshot wound.  And then, it's just a matter of time before we reach the explosive finale.

Gee, I have no idea why I would love this movie, do you?  Families, siblings, justice, a murder mystery, Texas, John Wayne... it's only a fairly comprehensive list of my favorite things, that's all.

Although Katie Elder never appears in this movie, having died before it began, her presence permeates it.  Everyone in town tells the brothers how wonderful she was, how she helped them or befriended them or stood squarely on her own two feet despite her sons basically turning their backs on her and her husband dying in a suspicious way -- there is never any mention of her complaining or feeling sorry for herself.  She did fancy sewing and gave guitar lessons to earn her keep.  She gave freely of herself to anyone who needed her friendship or advice or compassion.  

One of the things that really fascinates me in this film is the theme of guilt that runs through this movie.  The sons all feel guilty for not having been better sons to their mother.  For not having valued her.  They stopped writing letters, they stopped sending money to help her and their father, they stopped coming back to visit.  Even Bud only went to college because he was scared he was going to get arrested for stealing a horse, not because his mother wanted him to.  None of them were there for her when their father died.  None of them came home for his funeral. Guilt, guilt, guilt!

But the thing is, Katie Elder felt guilty too.  She confided in Mary Gordon (Martha Hyer) that she felt like she'd failed to raise her sons correctly.  Why else would John and Matt run off to be gunfighters and Tom to become a gambler?  Why else would they have so little to do with her anymore?  She blamed Texas for stealing her sons for her, but I think that really, she blamed herself.  The actions of a child are not necessarily the fault of the parent -- but it's hard to convince the parent of that.  Katie even lied to those around her, saying that her fine, big sons were still sending money home to help support her.  She felt guilty for how they turned out, and she tried to hide it from just about everyone.

Everyone but Mary.  Katie told Mary all about her sons, even let her read the letters they wrote to her years ago.  She confided the truth in Mary.  At first, Mary confronts the brothers with their failures, trying to make them feel guilty for having neglected their mother.  But when she sees that they already carry that guilt, she softens.  John gives her some of Katie's things, like her favorite rocking chair.  John and Mary share a few wistful scenes, filled with a sense that if only things had been a little different, they might have had a future together.  By the end of the film, so much has changed that I sometimes hope they might find a way to share life in the future, even if it's only as very good friends.

This is the first movie John Wayne made after having part of a lung and two ribs removed because of lung cancer.  Filming was delayed so he could have the surgery and recover, but he insisted on starting filming as soon as the doctors would allow because he knew all the people involved in the filming were depending on him for their livelihood.  Between shots, he relied on an oxygen tank to keep him going, as most of the film was shot in Durango, Mexico, which is a much higher elevation than California, and his missing lung made breathing difficult.  

He insisted on doing as many of his own stunts as they would allow, to show that cancer had not slowed him down too much.  One of those stunts was seemingly easy -- he got pulled into a river during a playful altercation with the other main characters.  But the water was cold, and he was still recovering from cancer and surgery, which led to his catching a bad cold that nearly turned into pneumonia.  But it didn't, and filming was completed on schedule.

Is this movie family friendly?  Yes.  It has a grand total of one cuss word in it.  There's a fistfight, a couple of gunfights, some fatalities, some alcohol consumption, some dangerous situations.  I showed it to my kids (13, 11, 9) a couple weeks ago.

This has been my last contribution for Legends of Western Cinema Week.  I saved it for today because today is the National Day of the Cowboy!  And what more perfect way to celebrate, right?

Today is also the last day to enter my giveaway.  I'll choose the winners tomorrow!  And I'll post the answers for my Western Movie Casting Trivia Game tomorrow too.

Friday, July 23, 2021

My LOWCW Tag Answers

It's high time for me to fill out this year's tag, isn't it?  You can easily copy the questions here in my kick-off post, if you haven't done this tag on your own blog yet, and want to.

The Legends of Western Cinema Week Tag 

1) Western movies or western TV shows?  I love both.  I love how different every movie can be from the rest, bringing me new characters to love.  But I love how TV shows give me the same characters in episode after episode, letting me get to know them so deeply and richly. 

2) Funny westerns or dramatic westerns? 

Dramatic.  I do love some funny westerns, but most of the time, I want allllllll the meaty drama.  I want serious trouble I can chew on, dripping with strong and juicy feelings -- something that will stick with me after the words The End come up.  (Did I just compare dramatic westerns to steak?  Yes, I think I did.)

3) Westerns that focus on loners or westerns that focus on families? 

Oh, that's tough.  I love both so much.  

I love loners who ride into a town and fix things and then ride on.  I love loners who get sucked into a found family.  I love loners who make one friend they will be loyal to forever, unquestioningly, even when they despise the rest of the world.

But I also love westerns that explore the meaning of family.  That turn a family inside out to see what makes it tick.  And families are always such a great source for drama and conflict and love and hatred and reconciliation... 

So what I REALLY love are movies like Hour of the Gun (1967) and The Lone Ranger (2013) and 3:10 to Yuma (1957) that give me both!!!

4) Male-centric westerns or female-centric westerns? 

Male-centric.  I tend to prefer male-focused stories, on a whole.  This is not generally a conscious thing -- I don't stand in front of my movie shelves (or bookshelves) and say, "Where's something with lots of guys in it?  That's all I'm in the mood for.  If it's about a girl, I'm not interested."  Those are just the stories I gravitate to, across all genres.  

I do read and watch things that are centered around female characters -- but if you look at my list of 100 favorite movies, more than 70% of them focus on a male character.  And more than 25% of them do not have women in what I would consider to be main or secondary characters.

5) 1930s to 1960s westerns or 1970s to 2020s westerns? 

My instinct is to say I prefer 1930s to 1960s westerns, especially since most 1970s westerns are just unwatchable junk.  But if you look at my lists of favorite western movies and tv shows, you'll see they're both 60% classic and 40% modern.  So I do like a lot of newer westerns... but in my film and TV collections, the classics far outweigh the modern.

6) Westerns that take place in America or westerns that take place internationally? 

I don't mind westerns that take place other places, and you can see from the graphics above that I love The Man from Snowy River (1982) and Five Mile Creek (1983-85), both of which take place in and are filmed in Australia.  However, my heart belongs in the American West, and I am more drawn to it as a setting than anywhere else.

7) Family-friendly Westerns or edgier Westerns? 

I mainly love family-friendly westerns, due to my predilection for classic westerns, but I do have some edgier westerns that I love too, like Tombstone (1993) and Slow West (2015).  It really depends on how they're being edgy -- if they're being gritty by anteing up the violence, or mixing the western with fantasy, or turning tropes and expectations on their heads, I'm cool with that.  If they're just adding sex scenes and calling that edgy, then I'm probably not going to be a fan.  (This is a big part of why I don't like '70s westerns -- I just don't need all the nakedness, thanks.)

8) Straightforward good guy or conflicted hero? 

I embrace both, but conflicted heroes tend to be my favorites.  I'm particularly fond of reluctant heroes, antiheroes, and uncertain heroes in general.  And my favorites are characters who start out convinced they're hard-hearted loners, only to discover they really are capable of genuinely caring about other people.  (Those are kind of a trademark for Alan Ladd, so it's no wonder watching two of his westerns back-to-back made me fall for him!)

9) Historically accurate Westerns or Westerns that aren't afraid to take some creative liberties? 

This will sound funny coming from a person who writes a column on real Old West history for a newspaper, but I am not even remotely a stickler for accuracy when it comes to the historicity of my westerns.  Are the costumes not entirely period-correct?  Don't care.  Are the hairstyles overtly modern?  Don't care.  Is everyone dirtier or cleaner or healthier or sicklier than they realistically would have been?  Don't care.  Is it clearly filmed in New Zealand, but supposed to be taking place in America?  Don't care.  At all.  Nope, nope, nope, no caring here.  

I'm in it for the characters and the story.  Everything else is just exterior frippery that I will blithely accept as is and go my merry way.

10) Bittersweet or happily-ever-after endings?

I infinitely prefer happily-ever-after endings for pretty much all stories in all genres... except when I find a story that I love dearly even though the ending is bittersweet, even sad.  (See my obsession for Hamlet, my love of Shane, and the fact that I own four different movies that involve the gunfight at the OK Corral and its aftermath.)  

What I absolutely abhor, however, are stories that end without moral balance being restored, like The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), and stories where everyone dies at the end to make a point about futility or the end of an era or whatever, like The Wild Bunch (1969).  Ugh.

Now that I've finally filled this tag out myself, I can start reading everyone else's tag posts without worrying that they'll influence my answers somehow!  Yay!

Don't forget that tomorrow (Saturday) is the last day to enter my giveaway!  And I believe that Heidi's giveaway ends Sunday night.  

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Build Your Own Western Adventure Game

Good morning, pals of the saddle!  How'd you like to play another game today?  Step right up and design your very own wild west adventure by choosing from the following options!  Add your answers together and share them in the comments so we can all enjoy seeing what hi-jinks everyone gets up to.

Your Nickname

Your Official Cowboy Nickname is formed by adding your first name/user name + the state/province you were born in + a nickname determined by your favorite color:

  • Red = Cayuse
  • Pink = Kid
  • Orange = Coyote
  • Peach = Bronco
  • Yellow = Sidewinder
  • Green = Sureshot
  • Blue = Tumbleweed
  • Teal = Wildcat
  • Purple = Whirlwind
  • Anything else = Terror

(That makes me Rachel, the Iowa Whirlwind, for example.)

Your Role

What you had for breakfast today determines what role you'll play in the adventure:

  • Pancakes or waffles = the hero/heroine
  • Cereal = the sidekick
  • Doughnuts = the love interest
  • Muffins = the school teacher
  • Eggs = the bartender
  • Toast = a cowhand
  • Fancy pastry = a ranch owner
  • Anything else = a drifting gunslinger
  • Nothing = the villain's sidekick

Your Story's Setting

What you're wearing on your feet determines where your adventure takes place:

  • Socks only = a cavalry fort
  • Sneakers/tennis shoes = a successful ranch
  • Sandals = the desert
  • Boots = the open range
  • High heels = a gold rush boomtown
  • Bare feet = a struggling farm
  • Slippers = a small frontier town
  • Anything else = a saloon

Your Enemy

Who is squaring off with you at high noon in the middle of... wherever it is you are?  The second letter of your middle name determines your foe:

  • A-E = your long-lost cousin
  • F-J = your grandma's new boyfriend
  • K-O = your mom's old sweetheart
  • P-T = your childhood best friend
  • U-Z = your dad's boss

The Reason for the Duel

Why are you facing them down, ready to shoot them as soon as they twitch a hand toward their own sidearm?  Well, because they did something terrible to you, obviously.  What was it?  Your favorite cowboy movie star determines their crime:

  • John Wayne = refused to help you capture your father's killer
  • Alan Ladd = pretended to be your long-lost brother
  • James Stewart = rustled your family's cattle
  • Gary Cooper = sent your brother to prison
  • Roy Rogers = punched your horse in the face
  • Randolph Scott = jumped your gold mine claim
  • Henry Fonda = shot your dog
  • Steve McQueen = spat in your whiskey
  • James Garner = lied to you about whether or not your gun was loaded
  • Clint Eastwood = stole your family Bible
  • Sam Elliott = poisoned your watering hole
  • Tom Selleck = got you drunk and then tickled you

(If your favorite cowboy movie star is not there, just pick the one you like best out of those twelve.)

Now, tell us in the comments what your adventure is all about!  Here's mine:

I'm Rachel, the Iowa Whirlwind, a drifting gunslinger who wandered onto a struggling farm where I'm now facing down my dad's boss because he refused to help me capture my father's killer!  (Seems like a good reason for a shoot-out to me!)

Please note that comments are still on moderation because of the first game, so your comment will not show up immediately.  It will as soon as I see and approve it, okay?

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

My Ten Favorite Western TV Shows -- 2021 Update

Back in 2016, I posted my list of My Ten Favorite Western TV Shows for that year's Legends of Western Cinema Week.  Well, five years have passed, and I've found some new favorites, so it's time to revise that list!  And what better occasion than this year's edition of LOWCW, right?  Especially since I'm giving away several of these shows in this year's giveaway!  (Enter it here!)

1. The Big Valley (1965-69)

The adventures of the rich, influential Barkley family:  wise matriarch Victoria (Miss Barbara Stanwyck); sensible lawyer Jarrod (Richard Long); hot-tempered charmer Nick (Peter Breck); sensitive tough guy Heath (Lee Majors); and bold little sister Audra (Linda Evans).  Together or apart, they're always encountering excitement of one sort or another in and around the big California valley they own.  I've reviewed my two favorite episodes: "A Time to Kill" and "Showdown in Limbo."

2. The Magnificent Seven (1998-2000) 

A "found family" formed from seven archetypical loners:  a volatile gunslinger, Chris (Michael Biehn); wistful bounty hunter, Vin (Eric Close); a cheerful ladies' man, Buck (Dale Midkiff); a snarky card sharp, Ezra (Anthony Starke); a former slave learning to be a doctor, Nathan (Rick Worthy); a doubtful religious man, Josiah (Ron Perlman); and an annoying tenderfoot, J.D. (Andrew Kavovit).  They're hired by a circuit judge (Robert Vaughn) to clean up and protect a lawless town.  You can read the list of my 10 favorite episodes here.

3. Cheyenne (1955-63) 

Nomadic loner Cheyenne Bodie (Clint Walker) travels the west helping people, taking odd jobs, and doing the right thing wherever he can.  Kind of like the Lone Ranger, but generally without a sidekick, and always without a mask.

4. The Rifleman (1958-63) 

Widowed rancher Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) and his son Mark (Johnny Crawford) contend with all the bad guys who seem irresistably drawn to the tiny Texas town of North Fork, where Marshal Micah Torrence (Paul Fix) is forever needing Lucas and his famous, specially modified Winchester to help stave them off.

5. Five Mile Creek (1983-85) 

The daily lives of a band of strangers working together to run a small stage coach line and its way station in the Australia frontier.  Through a variety of adversities and problems, they forge a "found family" that I have wanted to belong to for as long as I can remember.  You can read my overview of the series here.

6. The Mandalorian (2019-) 

A bounty hunter seeks to reunite an orphan with its family.  Although this is part of the Star Wars universe, I consider it to be a western with sci-fi trappings, not the other way around.  I reviewed the first eight episodes individually, and you can find links to those reviews here.

7. Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958-61) 

Bounty hunter Josh Randall (Steve McQueen) is on a quest to earn money by capturing bad guys and delivering them to the authorities, with many moral dilemmas mixed in.  This may actually be the strongest western show of all -- it has very few "so-so" episodes and manymanymany magnificent ones.

8. The Lone Ranger (1949-57) 

John Reid (Clayton Moore) is the only survivor of an ambushed party of Texas Rangers.  After the lonesome Indian Tonto (Jay Silverheels) nurses him back to health, the two embark on a crusade to bring justice, law, and order to the West.

9. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993-98) 

Intrepid woman doctor Michaela Quinn (Jane Seymour) moves to Colorado Springs, adopts three kids, romances handsome and sometimes mysterious Sully (Joe Lando), and generally works to eradicate disease, prejudice, and ignorance.

10. Zorro (1957-59) 

The merry adventures of wealthy Spanish scion Diego de la Vega (Guy Williams) as he battles injustice, oppression, and greed in old California.  It's superduper fun, appropriate for just about any age... and currently unavailable on DVD because of a distribution rights dispute :-(  BUT you can watch the first few episodes in the form of the movie The Sign of Zorro on Disney+ now!  Disney edited eight episodes together and released them to the big screen as a movie in 1958, and it is absolutely delightful.

Have you watched any of these?  Do you have other favorites that I didn't list here?  Let's discuss over a cup of coffee by the campfire, shall we?

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Western Movie Casting Trivia Game

For my first Legends of Western Cinema Week game, I'm testing your knowledge of movie stars and the westerns they made together.  I'll give you lists of three actors for each movie, and you have to tell me what movie they all starred in together.  Does that make sense?  I'll use all famous western films to make it a little easier on you.

1. John Wayne, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson

2. Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Katy Jurado

3. Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott

4. Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin

5. Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones

6. John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin

7. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson

8. Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld 

9. Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherine Ross 

10. Tom Selleck, Laura San Giacomo, Alan Rickman

11. Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef

12. John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine

I've put my comments on moderation so you can't copy each others' answers.  I'll post the answers and your scores at the end of the week!

Monday, July 19, 2021

Legends of Western Cinema Week 2021

Welcome, friends!  Welcome to this year's edition of Legends of Western Cinema Week, hosted by myself, Heidi at Along the Brandywine, and Olivia at Meanwhile, in Rivendell...

For this whole week, whenever you post something for this event, please visit one of our kick-off posts and add your post to our handy list widget!  It should show up on all three posts, giving everyone easy access to all the contributions.

I can't wait to visit all your fun posts!  Whether they're movie reviews, tag answers, lists, giveaways, whatever.  This event is a highlight of my summer!

As for the tag, here it is!  We decided to go with a "this or that" format this year, and I hope you'll have fun with it.

The Legends of Western Cinema Week Tag

1) Western movies or western TV shows?
2) Funny westerns or dramatic westerns?
3) Westerns that focus on loners or westerns that focus on families?
4) Male-centric westerns or female-centric westerns?
5) 1930s to 1960s westerns or 1970s to 2020s westerns?
6) Westerns that take place in America or westerns that take place internationally?
7) Family-friendly Westerns or edgier Westerns?
8) Straightforward good guy or conflicted hero?
9) Historically accurate Westerns or Westerns that aren't afraid to take some creative liberties?
10) Bittersweet or happily-ever-after endings?

Just copy those questions to your own blog and answer them there!  Then come back to this kick-off post to add the link for your post to the widget above.  Don't forget to add one of our official buttons to your post, and link to one of our kick-off posts so people can find the fun from your blog!

Serendipitously, the last day of this event (July 24) is this year's National Day of the Cowboy!  Just in case you needed an extra reason to celebrate.

Come back here to Hamlette's Soliloquy all week long for two fun western-themed games, a fresh edition of one of my Ten Favorites lists, and a movie review.  To kick things off today, I'm starting my giveaway, which you don't want to miss!  Learn more and enter it here.

Happy trails to you!

Giveaway for Legends of Western Cinema Week 2021

I have been looking forward to this giveaway so much!  I found some of my favorite western TV shows on DVD at the used bookstore this spring and knew I needed to share them with fellow western fans!  Plus, I found the cutest notecards that I know some of you will get a big kick out of, like I do :-)  So I'm giving three sets of those away too!

There are SIX prizes for this year's giveaway, as shown above and detailed below:

Prize 1: the first season of The Big Valley (aired 1965-66) used on DVD (5 discs)

Prize 2: the first season of Wanted: Dead or Alive (aired 1958-59) used on DVD (4 discs)

Prize 3: both seasons of The Magnificent Seven (aired 1998-2000) used on DVD (5 discs)

Prizes 4, 5, and 6: a set of six cowboy-themed greeting cards with envelopes.  These cards are blank inside and measure 4"x6".  THREE winners will EACH win ONE set of six cards and envelopes.

To enter this giveaway, simply use this handy widget: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You'll notice that one way to get extra entries is by leaving a comment on this post giving my your prize preferences.  You are welcome to tell me which prizes you DO want to win, as well as any you DO NOT want to win (for instance, if you already own a show or never use notecards).  I can't guarantee that winners will receive their first choice of a prize!  But I do try to match them whenever I can.

Another way to get extra entries is by participating in this blog party with a post of your own.  That can be anything from filling out the official tag to writing a review, or whatever you dream up.  My official kick-off post provides more information on ways to participate.

This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE.  If the USPS ships to your country, you are eligible.  However, you must be 18 or older in order to enter, or have a parent's permission to provide your mailing address.  PLEASE make sure you sign into the widget with an email address you check REGULARLY.  

This giveaway runs through 11:59pm EST on Saturday, July 24, 2021.  I will choose six winners on Sunday, July 25, and announce their names/handles here on my blog, and I will also use the email address provided to contact each winner and ask for their mailing address.  Winners have one week to reply.  If I do not receive a mailing address from a winner by Saturday, July 31, I will disqualify that winner and choose a new winner for that specific prize.  

This giveaway is not affiliated with Blogger, Google, the USPS, Rafflecopter, or anyone else.  I purchased all prizes myself and will pay to ship them myself.  All DVDs are USED and I cannot guarantee they will work in your player.  They are all REGION 1 discs and will not play in most DVD players on other continents.  Please check the region specifications of your DVD player before you enter if you do not live in North America.

All these DVDs are used.  I did not have time to try them all in my DVD player, but the shop I bought them from has always sold me good, playable discs.  I don't guarantee that they will work for you.

Any questions?  Good luck!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

"Black Widow" (2021) -- Initial Thoughts

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is at its best when it brings all its shiny machinery to bear on something very, very human: a relationship.  Think of the greatest MCU movies out there, and then notice how they entirely revolve around what happens when two people become friends, become enemies, discover they're related, discover they're not related, and so on.  That's what the MCU understands that the DC franchise seems to miss.  It's not about the explosions or the fight scenes or the mind-blowing CGI effects.  It's about people dealing with other people.  Loving them or hating them or being annoyed by them or wanting to thrash them or wanting to save them.  Relationships are the key.

And that's what made me love Black Widow.  The entire story revolves around the fake family Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) briefly had as a child, then lost.  Her little sister Yelena (Florence Pugh), her pseudo mom Melina (Rachel Weisz), and her pseudo dad Alexei (David Harbour) are all ripped from her one by one, but she never lets go of the love she had for them.  Not through all her torture and reprograming in the Red Room that turned her into a superspy.  Not through finding a new family in the Avengers and then losing them too (this takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War).  Not even though she's convinced herself that the love she felt for them was as fake as the family they were pretending to be.

Is it cool that she gets to take down Dreykoff and atone for a few of those red items in her ledger?  Yup.  Were there abundant cool fight scenes?  Yup.  Did stuff blow up about ever five minutes?  Yup.  Did any of that come even close to mattering as much as the deep, rich emotional journey that Natasha goes on here?  Nope.  Not at all.

And I think that's pretty genius, really.  Pull the audience in by promising them a summer blockbuster with lots of bang-bang-shoot-em-up thrills and laughs, and then give them so much more.  

Anyway, I've tried not to be spoilery in this.  I know a lot of people have decided this is the movie that will pull them back into the theater for the first time in how ever many months.  I applaud that decision, just like the audience in the theater with me this afternoon applauded at the end of this movie.  It's a great experience (and it is NOT as dorky as the trailer made it appear, though there is a lot of humor, and some of it is dorky or kinda stupid -- but intentionally so).

Is this movie family friendly?  Um, there's quite a bit of cussing, some juvenile humor, and a LOT of non-gory violence.  I wouldn't recommend it for people under like 15.

Monday, July 05, 2021

I've Done It Again

Every couple of summers, I get the urge to dye my hair red.  So, I do.  Well, Cowboy usually helps because my hair is about 4 feet long and takes quite a lot of time and effort to dye.  He had today off, so this happened:

I need to touch it up a little, but yeah... I completely love it :-D  And I just happened to have time to dye it in time to go see Black Widow this weekend with red hair!