The Tall T (1957, Directed by Budd Boetticher) English 9

Starring Randolph Scott, Maureen O’Sullivan, Richard Boone, Henry Silva, Arthur Hunnicutt, Skip Homeier, John Hubbard

Don't Get What's So Great About Westerns? Start Here - The New York Times

(9-Great Film)

Lean. Brutal. Gripping.

Willard Mims: Would I save my own skin and leave my wife here?

Usher: I think you would.

Pat Brennan (Scott), just a hired hand, finds himself in the middle of a kidnapping as three violent outlaws (Boone, Silva, and Homeier) hold up his stagecoach and ransom off its female passenger, Doretta Mims (O’Sullivan), the daughter of a wealthy landowner. Her scheming husband soon leaves her behind, so it’s up to Brennan to help her. Boetticher and Scott made a number of fine films together, none finer than The Tall T. Not a moment wasted, no superfluous detail or action, and surprisingly brutal, The Tall T seems at once old-fashioned (in the best sense) and original. Stripped down to the bare essentials, the emphasis then becomes its characters who are fascinating and well-played. Brennan’s budding relationships with Doretta and the leader of the outlaws, Usher, are unpredictable and give the film its suspense. Top-tier western.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,099)

Vera Cruz (1954, Directed by Robert Aldrich) English 8

Starring Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Denise Darcel, Cesar Romero, Sara Montiel, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, George Macready, Morris Ankrum, Jack Elam

The Ace Black Movie Blog: Movie Review: Vera Cruz (1954)

(8-Exceptional Film)

Violent. Exciting. Compelling.

Benjamin Trane: You just can’t do enough for me, can yuh, Joe?

Joe Erin: Why not? You’re the first friend I ever had.

Friends, indeed. Much of the underlying drama in Vera Cruz centers around this so-called friendship. Ben Trane’s (Cooper) older, seems wiser and less violent, but that doesn’t stop him from being mercenary when he can. He’s an ex-confederate soldier trying to start again below the border, during the Franco-Mexican War. His new partner, Joe Erin (Lancaster), has been there longer and built up a reputation as the most lethal crook around. They’re hired by Emperor Maximilian (Macready) himself to escort the beautiful-and treacherous-Countess Marie (Darcel) to Vera Cruz. There’s a good deal of plot in this film for a western and a number of relationships. The two male stars’ is the most interesting. The relationships between the stars and their love interests aren’t hard to figure out and their outcomes are more or less predictable. Trane and Erin’s relationship is more tenuous and I, for one, wasn’t sure how it would shake out. Vera Cruz, though slight in running time, feels like a great big western. Expansive setting, a large cast of characters, an abundance of plot, as mentioned. Despite finding Cooper unimpressive and rather stiff in westerns, he gets the job done here, and Lancaster wasn’t afraid to put his star power on the line to play crazed characters.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014, Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour) Persian 7

Starring Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Ana Lily Amirpour

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night' Gets Stunning New Trailer - Bloody  Disgusting

(7-Very Good Film)

Cool. Affected. Intriguing.

The Girl: I’m bad.

A film marketed as the first Iranian Vampire Western is sure to be looking for cool points, therefore, it could hardly achieve the effortless cool of an old Steve McQueen flick. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is calculated; the soundtrack, the black and white photography, vampires. It’s a cavalcade of hipster touchstones. That being said, hipsters are people too, and I’m probably one, at my core. This is a hypnotically interesting movie. In a town simply called “Bad City,” corruption and moral decay abound. Arash, a young man with a good heart in a bad situation, meets the Girl (Vand), ominous and beautiful. A vampire, she lurks through town, righteous and violent, much as Clint Eastwood used to in old spaghetti westerns as the Man with No Name. Spaghetti westerns are clearly the biggest influence on this bizarre work; desolate town, sparse dialogue, visual storytelling, moral anti-hero. By its end, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night does what it set out to do. It’s a cool movie.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Day of the Outlaw (1959, Directed by André De Toth) English 8

Starring Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, Tina Louise, Alan Marshal, Venetia Stevenson, Jack Lambert, David Nelson, Elisha Cook Jr.

Day of the Outlaw | Trailers From Hell

(8-Exceptional Film)

Bleak. Brutal. Beautiful.

Doc Langer: Well, I gave him a big shot of morphine. It deadens pain, makes the patient feel fine, but as soon as this dose wears off, he’s going to start coughing. Each cough’s going to rip the lungs a little bit more. A few hours after he starts coughing, he’s going to die.

The snow falls. The wind rages. A dying horse can be see almost crawling, slowly, on its knees. Set in 19th century Wyoming, this is a brutal environment, and Day of the Outlaw has a story to match it. Robert Ryan plays Blaise Starrett, a hard man and a steamroller. He’s in the middle of a land dispute with Hal Crane, and, perhaps more to the point, he’s having an affair with Crane’s wife, Helen (Louise). The two seem destined for a showdown that’s been a long time coming, but when it finally does come, their confrontation is interrupted by the arrival of a gang of outlaws, led by Jack Bruhn (Ives). Now all the townsfolk, even Blaise and Hal, have to work together to save their homes. Beautifully shot in black and white, perfectly capturing the relentlessly harsh setting, Day of the Outlaw is an outstanding, unique western. Like Rawhide years earlier, it blends the western genre with elements of a home-invasion thriller.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Bend of the River (1952, Directed by Anthony Mann) English 7

Starring James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy, Julie Adams, Rock Hudson, Howard Petrie, Chubby Johnson, Harry Morgan, Royal Dano, Lori Nelson, Jay C. Flippen

Bend Of The River | Movies ala Mark

(7-Very Good Film)

Exciting. Complex. Proficient.

Glyn McLyntock: You’ll be seeing me. You’ll be seeing me. Everytime you bed down for the night, you’ll look back to the darkness and wonder if I’m there. And some night, I will be. You’ll be seeing me!

Glyn McLyntock. What a name. It could only have been born out of the pages of some dime-store western novel, which is the case here. Played by James Stewart, Glyn is an old raider, an ex-criminal, out to prove to himself and his new group of friends-Jeremy Baile (Flippen) and his two beautiful daughters- that he’s reformed. He’s helping a group of settlers establish a life out in the wilderness of 19th century Oregon, but when a greedy businessman holds out on their supplies, it’s up to Glyn to get them for his new adopted town. Complicating matters is Glyn’s new friend, Emerson Cole (Kennedy), also an ex-raider, not nearly as reformed. Excellent western drama with a number of exciting action sequences. Better still, the complex characters portrayed by Stewart and Kennedy. Rather than the simple classic westerns that dominated the ’40s, it’s hard to tell where this story is going. Add to that, the good guys and bad guys eschew the black and white characterizations of those films and instead occupy the gray in-between area.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,000)

The Far Country (1954, Directed by Anthony Mann) English 7

Starring James Stewart, Walter Brennan, Ruth Roman, Corinne Calvet, John McIntire, Jack Elam, Jay C. Flippen, Harry Morgan

The Far Country (1954) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

(7-Very Good Film)

Gripping. Lean. Rewarding.

Jeff Webster: I don’t need other people. I don’t need help. I can take care of me.

From the moment Jeff Webster (Stewart in one of his five collaborations with director, Anthony Mann) drives into Dawson City, Yukon, he’s indifference personified. Something must have happened in his past to make him like this, but, as far as I can clearly recall, it’s never clearly explained. He’s a hard man; the type the people of Dawson City desperately need, if he could only care enough to help them. It’s the close of the 19th century and Yukon is booming with gold. A corrupt judge, Judge Gannon (McIntire) with dozens of men on his payroll is moving in on claims hardworking miners have already staked. Anthony Mann and Stewart’s collaborations are referred to as psychological westerns. The designation fits but it almost spoils how deceptively simple they are. The setup in all five films are a dime a dozen. Here, a jaded antihero doesn’t want to get involved but has his hand forced. You, no doubt, have seen a film or two like that before. I think the key is that this setup is infinitely satisfying. As long as you keep refreshing it with new characters and a fresh take, it can always be effective. Anthony Mann, as far as I can see, really introduced the antihero to the mainstream westerns. Classic westerns tend to revolve around irreproachable male figures. John Wayne and Henry Fonda were saints in a large portion of their westerns. We are definitely rooting for Stewart in The Far Country but we’re rooting for him to finally do the right thing as much as we are for him to fight. Judge Gannon makes for a truly despicable villain and it all builds to an immensely satisfying finale. Preeminent character actor, Walter Brennan, plays Jeff’s partner, Ben.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Gunfight at the O.K Corral (1957, Directed by John Sturges) English 6

Starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming, Jo Van Fleet, DeForest Kelly, Dennis Hopper, John Ireland, Jack Elam, Lee Van Cleef

Classicman Film en Twitter: "'Gunfight at the OK Corral' (1957 ...

 (6-Good Film)

Solid. Dramatic. Rousing.

Wyatt Earp: All gunfighters are lonely. They live in fear. They die without a dime, a woman, or a friend.

You can see the outlines of a more thoughtful western in Gunfight at the O.K Corral. Wyatt Earp, as portrayed in the film, is unmarried (historically inaccurate, for those who care) and we see the toll his duty, his profession take on his personal life represented by miss Laura Denbow (Fleming). He’s a marshall in title, but above all, he’s a man who brings law and order to western towns without scruples. Why does he do this? It’s a thankless job. One that pays in notoriety rather than material wealth. This is the root of John Sturges’ take on Wyatt Earp and it’s an interesting take, but apparently, Sturges had his hands tied to a degree by Paramount and producer, Hal B. Wallis. The result is a film that feels compromised and unfulfilled intellectually while still delivering as a rousing, solidly made western superficially. Kirk Douglas plays Doc Holliday and the strength of this movie is the compelling, budding friendship between him and Earp. The ending, eponymous gunfight is also nicely done.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(967)

The Mercenary (1968, Directed by Sergio Corbucci) English 5

Starring Franco Nero, Jack Palance, Tony Musante, Giovanna Ralli, Eduardo Fajardo, Franco Giacobini

Jack Palance as Curly in The Mercenary (1968) | Once Upon a Time ...

(5-Okay Film)

Jumbled. Undeveloped. Uneven.

Kowalski: When our story began, Paco was only a peon. But one… with a difference.

Sergio Leone made great spaghetti western epics by stretching about twenty minutes of plot into 3-hour films. He understood revenge is an infinitely compelling character motivation. The Mercenary, directed by Sergio Corbucci (a talented director of many excellent westerns, some great), tries to condense several hours worth of plot into an hour and fifty minutes. The film follows Paco (Musante), who goes from peasant to revolutionary, through the eyes of a seemingly indifferent Polish mercenary, Kowalski (Nero), and a garble of flashback, obscure narration, and Mexican history. The result is an often confusing film with scattered moments of inspiration and sometimes greatness. The score, for instance, by Ennio Morricone, is as beautiful a piece of music as you’re ever likely to hear. Jack Palance plays the villain, Curly, sporting one of cinema’s worst haircuts (he resembles Little Debbie and it’s frightening). Unfortunately, The Mercenary squanders his performance.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(956)

Yellow Sky (1948, Directed by William A. Wellman) English 7

Starring Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, Richard Widmark, John Russell, Harry Morgan, Robert Arthur, James Barton

Shirtless Gregory Peck and John Russell in Yellow Sky (1948 ...

(7-Very Good Film)

Brash. Tense. Strong.

“Hell is empty
And all the devils are here.”-The Tempest

As far as I’m concerned, uncouth as I am, William Shakespeare’s greatest contribution was to film; the inspiration he gave to so many different movie scripts. Yellow Sky, a very fine, surprisingly brutal western starring Gregory Peck and Richard Widmark, springs from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Peck leads a band of thieves across a scorching desert until they finally reach an apparently abandoned old western town. There, they meet an old prospector who goes by “Grandpa” and his beautiful granddaughter who goes by “Mike” (Baxter). The thieves are smart enough to see that the two are holding out on  something; probably gold. Peck and his gang stick around and, in the meantime, jostle around for attention from Mike. Much rougher than most westerns from this era, even Peck is less lovable hero than forgivable rogue.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Magnificent Seven (1960, Directed by John Sturges) English 7

Starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, Horst Buchholz, Eli Wallach, Vladimir Sokoloff, Rosenda Monteros

The Magnificent Seven

(7-Very Good Film)

Fun. Rousing. Derivative.

Chris: You forget one thing. We took a contract.

Vin: It’s sure not the kind any court would enforce.

Chris: That’s just the kind you’ve got to keep.

Based on Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven moves the story to the old west, south of the border, to a small village in Mexico. Terrorized routinely by a nearby gang of thugs, led by Calvera (Wallach), the village has had enough and looks to hire outsiders to come and protect them. They find honorable drifters Chris Adams (Brynner) and Vin Tanner (McQueen) who do the work of assembling a team that includes the soft-hearted local mercenary, Bernardo (Bronson), the mysterious outlaw, Lee (Vaughn), the fortune-seeking friend of Adams, Harry (Dexter), the young hot-head, Chico (Buchholz), and my personal favorite, laconic Britt (Coburn). The Magnificent Seven works from an infinitely promising premise. There have been a number of variations of this theme; the bereaved town, the stranger who comes to save them (or in this case strangers). It’s a thrill and The Magnificent Seven adds to this an iconic score and an indelible cast of some of the coolest guys to ever grace the screen. If it pales in comparison to Seven Samurai, that’s okay, most films do.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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