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.
I very much feel you on the "creative liberties vs historical accuracy" bit. And not just for Western movies, but period dramas more generally.ReplyDelete
People are like "bUT THE COSTUMES--" and I'm like "my dude, it's valid that you care about that, but I cannot express to you how much I DON'T."
Katie, that is exactly perfect. It's valid that other people care about these things -- valid for them. But I DON'T.Delete
The questions really made us think and perhaps, for some of us, our answers may have surprised us. You lay out your thought process so thoroughly and entertainingly - always do.ReplyDelete
Your answer to 9 is perfection. Do not care at all.ReplyDelete
DKoren, yeah, I thought that one might get a thumbs-up from you, heh.Delete
Lol I just had a vision of me being like "Where's something with lots of guys in it?" So true though. And what was with the 70's? John Wayne had quite a few good westerns in there, but movies in general were terrible.ReplyDelete
I think westerns exceed in the beautiful bitter-sweet ending category.
Anna/Irene, hee! I mean, not saying it's wrong to just be in the mood for something with lots of guys in it, cuz sometimes that's just what a girl wants... but for me, it's usually about hunting for something with a specific guy in it.Delete
The thing with John Wayne '70s westerns is that he had this insistence on never making a movie that a fan would be ashamed to bring their mom or wife or sister or daughter to. So his movies continued to be non-icky. But the rest of the '70s, I tread gingerly. Very, very gingerly.
Westerns do really handle bittersweet very well. Because the genre allows one ending to set up a new beginning, really. Like how Shane rides away from Joey... but into his own future. It's got room for the sweetness to not be overtaken by the bitter. For me, anyway!
I'm usually searching for a specific guy when I'm looking through the movie shelves (the virtual ones, that is)Delete
Is that so? That's incredibly sweet. I love John Wayne so much, darn it. So gingerly though, just like the 80's.
That's true, same with The Magnificent Seven. Chris and Vin ride away to be alone, but Chico is going to make something of his life, and of course the two gunfighters could now ride together, which makes life that much better.
Your answer(s) to 10 give me food for thought. Absolutely concur: I prefer the happily-ever-after, with some exceptions – see my total obsession with "Shane" (although I like to think Joe Starrett, after recovering from his raging headache, might have rushed after him begging him to come back...). Moral balance restored: interesting. Saw "The Ox-Bow Incident" once while I was in very low spirits anyway (BAD idea...)... Yeah, awful, but couldn't one say a tiny, microscopic little bit of moral balance was restored when Henry Fonda read the lynched man's letter to the posse, and watching their faces, one could at least hope that they have learnt their lesson and won't rush off to merrily kill innocent people in the future?ReplyDelete
Andrea, I do feel like Shane ends more sweet than bitter because although Shane leaves, and I'm achingly sad for him that he must... I feel like he's going forward a happier, healed man in many ways, and he'll carry the love of all the Starretts with him forever.Delete
I suppose there is a little, tiny, teeny, microscopic bit of good done at the end of Ox-Bow, but not enough to tip the scales back to balance.
Well I never... so I post a comment on your thoughts of "The Ox-Bow Incident" and I turn my TV on and there's Dana Andrews waiting to be lynched... And they promised to show "Bite the Bullet" with Gene Hackman, which I would have liked to watch (Wyoming scenery, my favorite (Shane!!), plus Hackman plays an animal lover). I am so totally NOT going to watch Ox-Bow. They had "Solidarity Day" with telethons etc. (German channel) because of the awful flood catastrophe there (weird – floods here, wildfires raging over there in the US), that's the reason they show s shorter Western later at night (every Friday is Western night on the Bavarian channel). Will watch biopic about great US athlete Jesse Owens ("Race") instead (Olympics...). NO Ox-Bow tonight. (And no western, *sigh*)ReplyDelete
What a coincidence, Andrea! But not a nice one, since you missed out on watching a western you were looking forward to :-(Delete
Ooops, hope my earlier post about the possible tiny restored moral balance at the end of "Ox-Bow" wasn't lost in cyberspace?!ReplyDelete
Andrea, no, Blogger just sent me all the comments for this post weirdly out of order, so that one didn't get through until this morning. But it did come through!Delete
You know, when it comes to the historical-accuracy thing, I think I'm actually less annoyed by surface things like hair and costumes (though I'm definitely one of the people annoyed by them, ha!) than by fundamental mistakes about the way people from a past era thought/behaved—or egregious errors in the depiction of practical occupations that are really central to the genre. For instance, if you're showing someone move cattle, handle a horse, run a stagecoach line, etc. in a totally wrong way, that'll annoy me.ReplyDelete
Elisabeth, that's an interesting difference!Delete
You know, I never fully understood why you hated stories like The Ox-Bow Incident or Lord of the Flies, but 'the moral balance not being restored' made it click for me + makes perfect sense. =)ReplyDelete
Eva, yup. I stand with Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks when he said that storytellers "restore order and instill hope." That's the job. If you don't do that, you failed me.Delete
I should watch more Westerns. It isn't usually my go-to genre but I know there's some really good ones that I'm missing out on.ReplyDelete
I didn't even think about 5 Mile Creek as being a Western, I don't know why I didn't though it definitely fits. Same with Zorro actually.
Yes, I totally consider Zorro a western! Very much so. I'm a big Zorro fan, in fact :-) And in Five Mile Creek you even have some legit American cowboys for characters :-) No shock that Con Madigan has always been my favorite...Delete
Comparing Westerns to steak? You know what, it works pretty perfectly!ReplyDelete
Chloe, it does! Though some westerns are more like a hamburger... but I love burgers too :-9Delete