Jeff Arnold’s West

The blog of a Western fan, for other Western fans

Jeff Arnold’s West Rides On…

Dear e-pards (as Jeff would say),

Jeff Arnold referring to ‘The Big C’ seemed apt to some of his blog’s loyal readers. No less a Western luminary than John Wayne reputedly coined the term during his own battle with the disease.

But Jeff posting about his own inoperable diagnosis was a shock to all his readers. Even though the notice was handled with (characteristic) grace, and even without knowing the man beyond his words, ‘The Last Post’ was a heart-rending read. For many of us, Jeff Arnold’s West had become an internet equivalent of a dependable friend.

Over time, the co-writers of this post found ourselves returning to the site often, reading the latest posts or searching the Index for a recently viewed film. Some of the returned posts were older, some were newer. Only rarely did one screen a Western that somehow escaped an essay by Jeff. The comparison of one’s own reactions to Jeff’s was a pleasure: usually (and satisfyingly) agreeing with him, occasionally (and interestingly) disagreeing, always enlightened by his knowledge and insights.

In his posts covering entire Western careers, Jeff often uses the acronym CV: Curriculum Vitae. But his own CV is impressive: over 1800 long-form essays spanning not just Western films and books, but the American West in history and popular imagination. The scholarship is staggering in breadth and volume; the writing style, while thoughtful, intelligent, and deeply knowledgeable, is friendly, wry, and easy to read.

So when we read the words “Actually, if anyone out there wanted to take it over, I’d be more than happy”, they struck a chord. We felt then, and feel now, that this CV is worth preserving. Several emails later, the two of us were delighted to learn we were not alone in feeling this.

Jeff himself brought us together. With his blessing, we two volunteers are happy to announce that Jeff Arnold’s West will continue. We are Bud Ford and RR; you have perhaps seen our comments and replies to various essays.

Two Rode Together, you might say.

But to be clear, we are approaching this venture as caretakers. Our overriding aim is to keep Jeff’s own work accessible for the foreseeable future. Although taking the reins of the site, we have no illusions of replacing Jeff or posting in the way that Jeff did. The length and, critically, the quality of Jeff’s articles are beyond the limits of our time and skills.

But, dear e-pards, we want the wonderful community of Jeff Arnold’s West to continue its engagement. This CV still has plenty of room for thoughtful comments, respectful replies, and perhaps more. Ideas concerning the future direction of the site are welcome, so please feel free to make suggestions below.

Adios for now.

20 Responses

  1. Cannot express my gratitude for y’all stepping up and preserving Jeff’s work!

    One idea I was thinking over even before the current situation is the possibility of “guest posters” – my original idea was to take some of weight off Jeff’s shoulders but now it could be a viable way to produce some more thoughts for all us “e-pards” to mull over.

  2. Looking forward to the site continuing. I enjoy all the discussions. I hadn’t been posting on the articles because of the status of everything. I am glad to see his work preserved. Very glad you stepped up. More reviews and articles would be welcome of this wonderful genre.

  3. Happy to see that the wild west show is going on and that someone has been able to carry the torch and continue Jeff’s work and legacy.
    I hope that you will get some news regarding Jeff as well indeed.

    1. Well as a longtime fan of the site I love supporting all the work that went into it and talking westerns with other readers I find so interesting and informative. As you have said Jeff left a formidable legacy.

  4. Delighted – from the other side of the Atlantic – to endorse the words of my new trail partner Bud Ford. I too am greatly reassured to see familiar bylines above and that others are as keen as us to keep things going and maybe add some new elements as we go, to build on Jeff’s legacy. Bear with us as we get used to taking over the reins. But for now – lovely to hear from you all.

  5. It is with deep sadness that we share the news of Jeff’s passing on June 5th after a brief but aggressive illness.
    Rest in peace, Jeff.
    We extend our heartfelt gratitude to those who continue his work.

    1. Such sad news. I always remember what the journalist Alistair Cooke said on the death of Duke Ellington. “Duke Ellington died today, I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” Meaning, I suppose, his work lives on. As will Jeff’s.

  6. So long Jeff, may this blog perpetuate your memory. I wish you to meet Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Randolph Scott, Edgar Buchanan, Jack Elam as well as Crazy Horse, George Custer, Jesse James, William Boney and all of those you have honored in these pages.

    1. Jean-Marie, as I read your comment, I cannot stop thinking of Randolph Scott’s final line to Joel McCrea in ‘Ride the High Country’. And that thought brings a smile amidst the sadness of today’s news, as that final scene is one of my all-time favorites, not just in westerns but in all cinema.

      1. Reading your words gave me the shivers instantly…
        I do not know if a ceremony has been given to honor Jeff’s memory but it could have been a good idea to show this end to the mourners as he would have loved to watch this wonderful scene again and again.
        He was concluding his Ride the High Country post by writing
        “If the film is about integrity and moral courage, it is also essentially about solitude. It is, in fact, a masterpiece.: and to me these words are totally matching Jeff’s resilience.
        It makes me think of this
        A post about the most poignant endings in westerns would be de circonstance don’t you think !?

        1. I thought too yesterday when I read the news of the use of so many times in Ford and Peckinpah’s films of ‘Shall we gather at the River’.

  7. I like this sentiment that ends the wonderful bio ‘John Wayne, American’: “…Somewhere, every day, he strides across a television screen, seemingly too large for the medium. With a western landscape filling the background, he looks snake-eyed at a villain, goes for his gun, and restores order. He speaks American. He walks American. He is remembered. As the protagonist in Walker Percy’s novel ‘The Moviegoer’ says, ‘Other…people treasure memorable moments in their lives: the time one climbed the Partheon at sunrise, the summer night one met a lonely girl in Central Park and achieved with her a sweet and natural relationship…What I remember is the time John Wayne killed three men with a carbine as he was falling to the dusty street in ‘Stagecoach’.” RIP Jeff.

  8. Thank you Bernard for sharing the news, which will sadden all Jeff’s loyal readers. RIP Jeff and thank you, from e-pards everywhere.

  9. I purchased Jeff’s novel off Amazon today, my small way to honor his legacy. I know it will be a fine read! I will continue to enjoy this site, and am grateful it will continue.

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