The Italian Western

  Spaghetti sauce   Paul Simpson, in his Rough Guide to Westerns (Rough Guides Ltd, 2006) criticizes some of our key books on the genre (his own comes near to that definition but just misses) as not taking the Italian western seriously enough. Herb Fagen’s The Encyclopedia of the Western, for example, he characterizes as […]

The Naked Hills (AA, 1956)

  “You got a sickness, Tracy.”   The Naked Hills tells of two partners (David Wayne and Denver Pyle) who become forty-niners. One, Bert (Pyle, who also has a narrative voiceover) will see reason and become a successful storekeeper while the other,Tracy (Wayne) gets a bad case of gold fever and wastes his life forever […]

Jock Mahoney

  Hollywood stuntman and actor   I am grateful to Gene Freese for his book Jock Mahoney: The Life and Films of a Hollywood Stuntman (McFarland, 2014), which I have freely plundered for this post. Freese is also author of Hollywood Stunt Performers: A Dictionary and Filmography of over 600 Men and Women 1922 – […]

André De Toth

  European expatriate who loved the hard-boiled   If I told you I was going to talk about a director of Westerns who was born in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire, graduated from the University of Budapest, worked on silent movies in various European countries, including under Korda, then immigrated to the US and arrived in […]

Rudolph Maté

  Not great Westerns but not bad either     I thought we could maybe add Rudolph Maté to our roll-call of Western directors.   He wasn’t one of the greatest, by any means, but he did direct seven feature Westerns (and an episode of Zane Grey Theatre) for the big studios, starring the likes […]

Oregon Passage (AA, 1957)

  Indians attack the fort (again)   Allied Artists had been born from low-budget outfit Monogram, which produced pictures, including many Westerns, on a typical budget of only $90,000, but now wished to move upmarket and put out bigger ‘A’ movies. Oregon Passage was an 80-minute effort in Color DeLuxe and CinemaScope, and was typical […]

The Sisters Brothers (Universal, 2018)

  This world is an abomination, says one character, perceptively   Back at the tail-end of 2018, here in rural France where I live, the local traveling cinéma arrived, as it sometimes did (pre-Covid), to show Les Frères Sisters in the village hall. I decided to go, though I don’t care much for Westerns dubbed […]

Hearts of the West (MGM, 1975)

  Young Jeff rather endearing   Hearts of the West belongs to that little sub-genre of movies which are not so much Westerns as about Westerns. Sunset was another, and there were many other non-Western mid-70s pictures about pictures, movies such as Inserts, Valentino, Nickelodeon, Silent Movie, and so on. Hearts is actually rather charming, […]

The Ballad of Little Jo (Polygram, 1993)

. “Little Jo, you are the unfriendliest fella I ever met, and frankly quite peculiar.” . The Ballad of Little Jo showed that as the century that invented the Western movie wound down, after thousands and thousands of formulaic and sterotypical oaters had reached the screen, the genre still had something original and thought-provoking to […]

JW Coop (Columbia, 1971)

  An excellent picture   Cliff Robertson’s personal project JW Coop is one of the batch of 1970s Westerns (or semi-Westerns) which use the rodeo as a symbol of the decline of frontier values, and indeed the decay of American society more generally. We think in particular of Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show of the […]