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.