Posts tagged “Monument Valley

Hidalgo (2004)


hidalgo-2004Another film that I’ve been putting off for a few years, not really sure it would be worth watching. It was one of the films that I was put off by the trailer. So over a decade later I’ve sat down and taken in my first Western of the new year, one with a twist…of sorts. I was initially reminded of Bite the Bullet (1975) a desert horse race led by Gene Hackman and the only woman Candice Bergen who are the only ones besides Ben Johnson that I remember on viewing a few years ago. It was another take on the genre that had all but died, needing a long rest like the horses who are sweating onscreen, something that is thankfully not repeated in Hildago (2004) which is another race film but over in the Middle East or Arabia as it was known at the end of the 19th century.

We begin at Wounded Knee (1890) which is shortened to just one grim scene, with time to reenact one photo from the massacre, did we really need to see that? However the more I think about it, it does bring that image to life for another audience who wouldn’t be aware of. For others who are aware of it, new life’s brought to the image – if that’s even possible. We first meet dispatcher Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) who arrives at the Sioux camp just before the orders are carried out, he has a massive sympathy for them and can even live alongside them as we learn when he joins Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

The authenticity of the West is kept to the very familiar so we have an identifiable world to place the Hopkins in before he jumps onto a boat about 20 minutes in. At this stage it’s about building up the life he will leave for the unknown and the exotic of Arabia. You could say this is where the genre meets Lawrence of Arabia (1962) without Peter O’Toole and the grandeur of David Lean. Sadly there is something from this film for it to live up to the landscape that the film focuses on. One that is in stark contrast to 19th century America which is rising in recognition around the world one of the most powerful nations.

So what is Hildago lacking? First of all I think the lead is mis-cast, Viggo Mortensen who you can see has put some extra weight on for this one does have a screen presence. However he appears to be too easy-going for me here. Playing against type, usually something darker for him to chew on, there’s little for him to really get into. The dialogue lets him down too, he’s just a friendly cowboy on his holidays in Arabia happening to show them how its done in one a very traditional horse race that prides the breeding, training above the rider.

The look of the film is a that of the Western set against the Middle East landscape, you have plenty of sumptuous shots, even trying to replicate Monument Valley or even trying to reference both John Ford and David Lean whose visuals played a prominent role in their stronger films. Here the attempt it valiant but falls short for trying too hard for me and just not letting the landscape inform the photography. The number of silhouettes, and references to Richard Prince are so strong the film is lost to them at times.

Another point, going back to Viggo Mortensen briefly is the revelation he is part Native American, which is another white-washing of the culture for a white audience, which shows how far Hollywood had come even nearly 13 years ago. He doesn’t even look slightly Native American, no attempt to change any features, he here’s an idea, cast an actor with ancestry to a Native nation, just not Johnny Depp after seeing him in The Lone Ranger (2013). I must give Mortensen is dues, he is respectful of those he meets across the Atlantic, his common courtesy of the lost cowboy does him good to Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif) an Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson) who begin to look past the mystery of the foreigner to see the good within in. Which makes the film too soft in places, there’s no danger posed by him, he’s a laughing-stock of all the other racers, with his mustang, among all the thoroughbreds he’s competing with. He truly is the other, before going all out Native at times.

I must touch briefly on the special effects, which I suppose now look dated, used sparingly through the film. It’s still obvious when they’re being used for dramatic effect, trying to make the Wild West look tame to that of Arabia, just send T.E. Lawrence out there to win them all over. It kind of all distracts from the natural beauty of the desert which is another character here, whose interfered with at times.

I think what saves this film from being offensive, which it isn’t, is the heart within it, not the strongest but there is a strong enough murmur that keeps you watching to see him finish. Which isn’t a forgone conclusion, we know Hildago has it in him to win, yet its the relationship between horse and man whose seen by both audience and the Arabs who accept him as a worthy competitor. Hopkins accepts his own mixed heritage which he accepts, the events of Wounded Knee have clearly effected him to push himself, picking himself up from his time with William Cody (J.K. Simmons) as a drunk. The race is a form of grieving for him, combined with the cowboy image is rather confusing. On the one hand you have the chivalrous American, yet on the other you have the respectful Native which is rare and here not all that entertaining.


Stagecoach (1966)


Stagecoach (1966)This is one remake I have been avoiding for sometime, I’m not sure anyone who attempts to remake a John Ford western is going to succeed. There was news a few months ago that The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) is being remade and set in the 198o’s, that’s an interesting twist. There have been many films compared to The Searchers, (1956) however they are not remakes as we find with Stagecoach (1966) which was released 27 years after the original that changed the face of cinema. Thought to not only influence Citizen Kane (1941), it revitalised the genre and lastly launched the career of John Wayne who’d been stuck in a rut of b-movies for the best part of the 1930’s, he even made a few after its release – contractually.

You can’t apply the same effect to the genre or the medium of film to the remake which admittedly does expand on the film. Much like remakes of 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and True Grit (2010), I’m waiting to see how The Magnificent Seven compares now. I must confess it has been a few years since I’ve seen the original 1939 Stagecoach which was as much about making the genre more appealing to an adult audience. Bringing together social misfits or outsiders into a confined space, a vehicle on a dangerous route in the open untamed West. It was ultimately the perfect showcase for John Wayne, still baby-faced he personified a young independent America standing up for itself, playing Ringo Kid a role that was given to him by Ford – “Pappy” who had been waiting to give him the right part at the right time. He was redeemed from years of working the circuit of formulaic westerns that had no room for either story or character development. They were the training ground that saw him grow and form the character he would then play until 1976, a 50 year career.

I can’t feel the same effect in the remake with Alex Cord who fills the role in terms of stature at least, there are times where he’s definitely trying to break free of the Dukes even taller shadow. In terms of the walk and tone of his delivery. His entrance into the film is not the event that we found in 1939, the cockiness of the gun play, as he stands in the road is replaced by sitting at the side of the road for the stagecoach to reach him, not that he’s waiting for them, they are both opportunist in that respect.

What makes this interpretation stand apart is the longer running time, at nearly 2 hours allowing for more development with all of the characters, making for a richer film in that respect. I say allowing I feel its a missed chance with some characters, they do have more screen time, however its given more to Dallas (Ann-Margret) who has more of a back story. Rumoured to be the cause of few brawls in the town, not just a typical prostitute that Claire Trevor played and pushed out by the Law and Order League, its more about cleaning up the town to keep the general crime rate. She feels cursed by the legacy of death. Another characters whose drawn well is the doctor, this time played by Bing Crosby taking over Thomas Mitchell‘s role who you can’t forget, so full of life. Both actors of the same generation we meet an older doctor in Crosby, unshaven atypical drunk in appearance, however he plays a drunk doesn’t try to give up the drink. Mitchells knows he has a demon, he delivers a baby sober and celebrates that. Crosby’s is looking for the next drink all the time.

Of course you can’t have a straight copy, or it wouldn’t be a film in its own right. Making the conscious decision to not film in Monument Valley which is John Ford country, to shoot there would be a bold move. Instead sticking to more traditional landscape, which makes for a more traditional western. What we do have which is practically a like for like swap is the stagecoach driver Buck, originally Andy Devine took the reins, a loud and large figure who was regular for Ford, with Slim Pickens we have another loud character actor who made an impression on his films.

What makes this film stand apart is the larger screen time of the Apache’s lead by Geronimo are more than just rumour, we see them at the beginning of the film attacking the U.S. cavalry. There is no rolling prologue to set-up the film. Geronimo is not really mentioned and they are still the faceless, nameless enemy of the genre. I’m not critiquing that here though, more a comment in terms of the films comparison. The gunfight’s are well choreographed make for a more fearsome other who attacks the white for no reason more than they are Apache. Which oddly makes up for the lack of Monument Valley and Ford.  I do however wish they hadn’t re-staged Ringo jumping through the horses. It wasn’t as grand a set-piece, used more as a means to get the stagecoach through.

The problem is that for me Stagecoach is an iconic film, to remake it’s going to be a sensitive thing to do. Getting it right, this is a star-filled piece, well semi star-filled anyway. It’s longer, darker in some respect but overall a looser film that is conscious of the shadow that is hanging over this modern piece of Wild West folklore that he it hopes to meet at some point. I am actually now considering seeking out the Johnny Cash version, made 20 years later, just to see how the story translates and transforms over time. It does still confine outcasts into the one small and dangerous vehicle, but the chemistry has not been replicated successfully.


Ride Lonesome (1959) Revisited


Ride Lonesome (1959)The second film in my journey back through the Ranown Cycle, or the 6th out of seven films that Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott made together. Much the same as Anthony Mann and James Stewart did at the start of the decade. After the previous film Westbound (1959) which really doesn’t fit into the series as strongly as Ride Lonesome (1959) which I began to remember quite strongly as I viewed it for a second time.

From the opening titles I felt more engaged, the music more dramatic and powerful as we embark on a film that is set out in the untamed West, using a location – The Alabama Hills in Lone Pine; a favorite location of the director. Mirroring John Ford‘s use of Monument Valley. Boetticher use of the location brings out the horror and the danger. Placing cowboys into an alien world that they have to ride out of back into what they hope is civilization or ride on for eternity. Anything or anyone could be hiding behind these structures that stretch for miles. If anything this film is more cinematic out in the open, no sound-stage shots, all out on location, a western that relies on the open to tell its story.

So I’m more impressed with this later installment of the cycle, things are looking darker if only in terms of soundtrack as we meet Ben Brigade (Scott) who has already find who is looking for, we’ve come in half way through his journey. Our traditional hero is a bounty hunter, not even the later anti-hero of the Dollars trilogy that uses his intellect to get what he wants. Instead he is driven to see this young man Billy John (James Best) hang, a man who has shot men in the back. A good enough reason to be brought to justice, not even giving his opponent a fair chance to defend himself.

The audience is already on the side of the bounty hunter, how long will that last as we meet more people at a stage stop, two men and the wife of the boss of the post. Its a barren landscape and dangerous too, as we learn when a stagecoach rides in, only to crash into the post after an attack by Native Americans who bother the five for half of the film. We also have a return to the minimal cast which is something that really works out in the open, allowing us to focus on these individuals. From the stage post we meet Sam Boone (Pernell Roberts) and Whit (James Coburn) a double act essentially, the smart and the dumb man who plot to snatch the wanted man Billy and set him free, having heard there is an amnesty on his head. However plans to head to Santa Cruz for the bounty is where we are heading.

However Santa Cruz is not really where we are heading, taking our time through open country, taking a longer route, out in the open, not hiding their tracks. The threat of Billy John’s brother Frank (Lee Van Cleef) who is already riding over in pursuit of rescuing his brother. We see little of him and his men, only a few scenes in all. Allowing more focus on the men and Mrs. Carrie Lane (Karen Steele) who has only just realised she is a widow, as she stays with these men more out of safety than anything else. She has to trust them, finding that as however united they are as a group they are as the ride on, they are divisions between them.

The divisions are best highlighted through the night scenes, heavy in dialogue and shadow leaving the characters almost in profile. Even though its basically day-for-night lighting its allows us to look inside these men and Mrs. Lane as they begin to understand each other and the situation they are in. Boetticher has definitely bounced back here with more adult western that really hits home when the truth is revealed to us. Brigades past is told to us with striking tree in the background, a hanging tree, it doesn’t take much explanation. Simultaneously the images of the past are that occurred at this location are being retold, we can imagine the awful scene that have drawn him back here for what is essentially the bounty he has really been waiting for. A reward that is worth more than any money could substitute.

The hanging tree is a familiar image in the genre that has never been so potent, always associated death, unlawful trials, racism and injustice. A lone bare tree in a wide open space allows the potential for so much imagery, becoming an arena of death for a short time, taking the Western back to ancient Rome or Greece where all could see your rise or fall from miles above. It’s all about the staging of the ideas, the emotions, out in the open even when they are held up tight inside you can feel the tension as nothing can truly escape the elements.

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The Salvation (2014)


The Salvation (2014)I first dismissed The Salvation (2014) as a foreign western, which is very unfair really. Then I saw the trailer, showing all the “best bits” to me, I was hooked, needing to see it as soon as possible. The nearest that you can get to a standard western today, if you ignore Django Unchained (2012), The Lone Ranger (2013) which are all variations on the classic genre. Here is the closet we are going to get to a dramatic tale in the West today, having more in common with a spaghetti western in terms of the violence minus the humour.

More in the Fordian vein of an immigrant rich country, focusing the in a Danish lead Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) who meets his estranged wife and child arrive after being apart for seven years. Its all happy families, being reunited once more, ok a little awkward but they are happy to be together once more. Taking a stagecoach that would have wished he hadn’t. Ending in the death and rape of his family at the hands of a gang leaders brother. All this takes the ex-soldier back to a life he gave up once he came to America. After tracking down and killing his families killers he wants to just get on with his life. It all happens so fast too.

Tonally we are seeing the best of the classic genre all rolled into one, the 1950’s and spaghetti westerns all mashed together to give us this steely determination we find with Clint Eastwood as finds the men on his list. When news of the killings reach Jon’s town Delarue’s  (Jeffrey Dean Morgangang arrive leaving with an ultimatum for the town that I have never come across before, things get Biblical for a while is all I’ll say. Giving into his gangs demands too easily the town is indeed living in fear, paying them for their own security it’s understandable.

I’m reminded of a much older western Riding Shotgun (1954) which has its roots in the communist witch-hunt era. A town living in fear, ready to give up to easily to that emotion instead of listening to reason. More religious in morality however there is still plenty of immorality going around in the form of mayor, land officer and undertaker Keane (Jonathan Pryce). Things get brutal for Jon and his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt) who take on the gang themselves when the town give-up of them. Theres a bit of an anti immigrant feeling as they are happy to have their money but not their presence when things get bloody. Could this be mirroring political tensions today in Denmark or America? You could say The Salvation is more representative of young America in the 1800’s trouble around every corner. The weak being taken advantage of by the strong.

All this going on against the classic back-drop of Monument Valley out of the usual season which we recognise the landscape, it’s not the hot summer with the deep orange-red buttes that are as far as the eye can see. They sit within the yellow grass, we aren’t supposed to be overwhelmed by the landscape, more to acknowledge its presence as we see the nightmare unfold for a lone man as he fights for justice.

Whilst fighting for her own freedom is new widow Madelaine (Eva Green) a woman forever silenced after Native American’s brutally attacked her, cutting out her tongue, a supporting actress who has not a single line of dialogue, fighting her own battle amongst all gang men, mostly Delarue and Corsican (Eric Cantona) who want their way with her. Mostly taking it all only able to use gestures to allow the audience to convey her emotions which is quite as task to pull off. Whilst Cantona really does surprises me, the second in command who has taken on another form as a part-time actor. It’s a European cast in an all American genre and it works, its more rooted in fact to allow this drama to take-place.

The classic shoot-out rounds up this sweet and swift film that has packed in a lot of gunfire. It’s cleverly constructed to pit two against a whole gang without falling too much into cliche. Making the build up to this moment worthwhile, having seen one man going through a lot in a short space of time. Jon really does take a beating from all sides, those who were once his allies to his enemies who want their own justice. Ultimately no-one is right or wrong which is an interesting twist on the genre, reflecting how complex and hard life in that era must have been. There’s no hero here really making this film all the more darker which I have not before. It does however lack any lighter moments which would have allowed for character development, instead going head first into revenge and justice, seeking what is right, finding his own path.


My Darling Clementine (1946) Revisited


My Darling Clementine (1946)I remember seeing My Darling Clementine (1946) very early on when I started to watch all these classic films which now inform my work. I wasn’t aware at all of what this film was really about. Seeing a man come into town taking the marshals job to ensure that he could seek out revenge for his brothers murder. It’s only with the passing of time, and seeing more film adaptations of the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral that I can see a lineage going on here, as new information is found new films are made. Different directors give their spin to the events, John Sturges gave us two interpretations Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and The Hour of the Gun (1957) which expanded vasty on the events that we all know of. Here however in the events are told from the true perspective of Wyatt Earp who once met John Ford who’s version stands heads above the others I have seen, telling him how the shoot-out actually happened, making the audience wait until the end.

The build up is really non-existent as we drift from scene to scene, even over the short running time of the film, a lot actually takes places, from the very start we are introduced to the Earp brothers who are not as we expect them, out in the open country with cattle it feels out of place, yet strangely not, they just are. We are introduced to the Clanton’s lead by Walter Brennan who fitted easily from role good to bad guy with ease. Whilst Henry Fonda personifies the up standing Marshall Wyatt Earp who reluctantly takes on his old job in Tombstone to give him licence to avenge his brother James’s death. His remaining brothers follow.

Tombstone is not the classic boom-town that we know from later films, located once more in Monument Valley a location that becomes John Ford country in years to come. Photographed as a mythical land where these events take place, creating instead a small town in the middle of nowhere, far away from civilisation which is creeping up on the people of the town. Lit as a classic film and heavy lighting you could easily mistake it for a film-noir or one of Ford’s earlier films such as The Informer (1935) in the streets of Ireland. The lack of music is eerie at times, whilst other times you hardly notice it, swept away by the people who inhabit this small town.

The main characters of course are all there, from Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) taking on a more adversarial role, competing to enforce the law, whilst still suffering from tuberculosis. All of the Earp and Clanton brothers are present, with the addition of two women who create tension for the two lead men as they try and see eye to eye. Is this the truth or just a Fordian touch to the legend?

It’s classic Ford at his best, writing his own passages of American legend that easily tips into fiction into facts with a sense of grandeur with the lightest of touches. We can see a love for the open country and the people who helped shape it. Defined here by the stars of the day who were seen as god like figures who graced the screens. With breathtaking scenery and by chance shots of the sky that encapsulate everything that Ford is known for. This is what I missed the first time around with this film, all the little touches from the first shot of Earp/Fonda from below, a historical figure and hero of a not so distant past. Complete with the homely touches of the Ford Stock Company who becoming like a travelling band of actors who bring to life the ideas and visions of Ford. I love the director more now than I did a day ago.

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A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)


A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)Ever since the reviews came out for this film, telling me that it wasn’t funny etc I was cautious from then on in. Being a Family Guy fan I had to see this, knowing that I would get the humour that was in A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014). Sadly I was let down after seeing Ted (2012) that really scored high on comedy. Here the jokes felt too forced and unnatural. Of course the context being that shepherd Albert (Seth MacFarlane) was born out of his time, he is just too aware of the world around him. Going onto basically tear apart a genre and a time in his own countries history, he doesn’t even know that he’s doing it which is even worse. Wasn’t it brave people who went out into dangerous unexplored country, wanting to make a better life at any cost. Walking all over it for comedy value which is even worse. It’s a clever idea to comment on how dangerous living in the frontier but the joke runs sour after half an hour. Needing to keep things fresh which he does it to a point which he sticks with throughout and never lets up.

In keeping with western lore the shepherd is seen as pathetic and weak, not going for the stronger more respected cattle farming. Made even worse he gets his way out of most dangerous situations. Instead of standing up like a man of the frontier and having some courage. Something which does grow as the film progresses. He rightly looses his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) after seeing him weasel out of a gunfight. For a man living in the west he’s just plain “Yella” even simulating a fight to avoid getting hurt.

Things don’t really move on from the comical deaths in the street which I’ve seen all in the trailer a million times until Liam Neeson‘s (Clinch) is brought in with his gang, we are back on some track to having an entertaining western when a prospector is held up. His wife Anna (Charlize Theron) is told to wait in Albert’s town for a while. The woman with a conscience, throughly modern for her time yet not to the extreme of Albert who is going on 21st centuryCatching him in the nick of time to train him to handle a gun. Reminding me of the gunfighter/mentor relationship between Henry Fonda‘s Morgan ‘Morg’ Hickman and Anthony Perkins Sheriff Ben Owens in The Tin Star (1957) which took a man who wanted to be strong and gave him the confidence to handle his gun a necessary tool in enforcing the law. Here it’s embarrassing for a man in the west to be taught by a woman to be strong. Shouldn’t it be the other way around in the west?

There are some good points to be find in this film. The landscape of Monument Valley was beautifully capture at sunrise and sunset, the magic of that location is something you can’t loose in any western. The musical sequences are to be expected from MacFarlane who is always giving his best, singing or not. When we are away from the obvious dangerous of the West there are some half decent jokes, whilst others are very questionable.

It’s not Macfarlane’s best work, spreading himself too thin these days with not just the animated comedies, (you can see why The Cleveland Show is doing so badly). He is reviving The Flintstones and thats just what I can think of the top of my head. You can see he’s not really comfortable in the lead role, something that should have been given to Theron and switched the perspectives which may have improved the flow of the film. It’s also part autobiographical, after reading an interview Macfarlane mentioned his lack of success with women because he is too nice, maybe this is an attempt to say that he can improve, become less of a nice guy with a chip on his shoulder. But that doesn’t mean take on all the big roles to make a film, from, directing, producing, writing and starring in the lead role. This would have made a nice comedy series or a short one-off comedy there is something in there, if only he hadn’t spread himself so thin. I know other directors can take on all these responsibilities and still give great performances. Yet there is a point where you compromise what you are doing. In either role he would have his name on it, just choose more wisely.  Hopefully Ted 2 when the lawsuits are cleared up will be a return to form?


Meanwhile (2012-14)


During the first half of my final year I focused on one piece of work, inspired by The Searchers (1956), looking at the Edwards family ranch. The aim was to create suspense in the build up to the Comanche raid, who went on to kill and rape the family, before burning the home down. Whilst Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) and company were off searching for the natives after another incident.

Previously shown at

  • Canned Film Festival (2014), Northwich
  • 1 Night Only Film Festival, Durham.

The Lone Ranger (2013)


The Lone Ranger (2013)As promised and after all the build up and discussion I made it to see the much talked about and dragged through the mud The Lone Ranger (2013) which was not as disappointing as the critics would have you believe. Its more the lame horse that they just want to fail, just because it’s a re-teaming if Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski who had worked together on the Pirates of the Caribbean series that should have ended after Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). Still that’s another story.

Onto The Lone Ranger which is a reboot of the oldest franchise in history, that began in 1933, and cleverly worked into this origin story as we see a young boy at a fair meet the old and still weird Tonto (Depp) tell him the story of the beginning of The Lone Ranger. This adds some real depth to the western tale that could easily be built on truth, part of a wild-west show at a fair. Able to engage the younger audience who may never have seen or even heard of The Lone Ranger.

The first act is fast paced, introducing all the characters as John Reid (Armie Hammer) is coming into a Texan town as a lawyer, priding himself on the backbone of the law, doing anything he can to enforce it. Not what you would call a soon to be masked outlaw type of the wild west. Also on the train is the villain of the piece Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) in chains alongside Tonto on their way to trial. This is the set-up for the first of the big train fights, something that is not to be missed. You can see where all the majority of the overblown $250 Billion budget has gone, the trains and massive set pieces such as this. These are what the film should be remembered for.

Then what begins is an overly long origin of the Lone Ranger, with his annoying sidekick Tonto, the Comanche with no tribe. Depps portrayal as I have been concerned about since learning of his role. Depp gives an overblown Deppesque portrayal of a Native American. At times he does have words of wisdom for the “wrong brother” who has been chosen to fight for justice. The Robin hood of the west.

Set during after the civil war, when the rail-road was beginning to really take hold across the country, the backdrop for this film. There are a number of homages throughout the film, from Monument Valley again taking the place of Texas which was beautifully captured. It will never be able to compete however with the grandiose of John FordTo the Comanche raid that referenced the family massacre in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). The film-makers have indeed done their homework, just not refined what you see, throwing it all in there, with few revisions.

It feels like forever before we start to see things come together to see justice being dealt to Cavendish’s gang who have caused more trouble than we first saw at the beginning. Once again we are on the rail-road, with a hint of Indiana Jones as they all fight for freedom, justice and the truth. There’s a lot to take in, plenty of laughs for all ages to enjoy. It’s far from being the disaster that the critics want it to be. Everything is thrown in there for good and bad measure. For a reboot, it feels too long, trying to say too much at once. I’m glad I’ve watched it, but wish they had recast the lead roles, or at least toned down the wackyness of Depp who as the side-kick has top-billing, a first in film, whilst a whiny and unsuitable Hammer as the Lone Ranger tries his best in a role that is just not for him. If and when (which I doubt) they make a sequel I would be happy to see John Reid recast, not sure by who, just not Hammer who is more a supporting player. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no, It’s another rare western on the big screen whilst It should have been trimmed to be a tighter and more exciting film. It did treat the Native American’s more sensitively than I expected (bar Tonto) who even when they meet their conclusion is more profound than I imagined for a Blockbuster. It may not make it’s money back just yet, the screening I went too wasn’t even 1/4 full on a summer night, eventually it may break even.


Shine On! Award


shine on AwardI was quite surprised today after returning from work to read I have been nominated for a Shine On! award. I must admit I’ve not heard of this one, there’s so many, I’ve probably not heard of a lot of them. It’s a really positive thing to receive such a nomination/award, and from my fellow blogger Linda over at El-Space which you need to check out!!!

So 8 things about me, I’m usually quite boring when it comes to exciting facts about myself, Lets see if I can prove myself wrong this time.

1 – I have an upcoming show which is part of the Fringe Arts Bath this year.

2 – I’m excited to be working on a new project that tries to immortalise the stars of Hollywood‘s Golden age.

3 – I have a heap of DVDs just waiting to be watched, (might what another tonight then).

4 – I am happy in my new job, which has the easiest, quickest and cheapest commute ever.

5 – I am hoping to visit Monument Valley for a photographic piece of work in the future

6 – I don’t know how many films I have watched and not watched, I’d say there’s a fair few more that I haven’t

7 – I’ll be seeing The Great Gatsby (2013) at the end of the week, so watch out for that review coming your way.

8 – I’m really struggling as you can see to say anything interesting that’s not plugging my work in anyway whatsoever.

Anyhow, onto my nominations, there are no strict rules so I’ll nominate the following.

CK Ponderings

Patterns that Connect

My Favourite Westerns

Notes to the Milkman

The Future is Papier-mache’

Being cheesy now, “keep on shining” lol


Rio Conchos (1964)


Rio Conchos (1964)It’s not everyday I see a film where an image that just doesn’t seem to shift, which means just one thing, inspiration has struck once more. I am usually inspired by more well-known films, which is not a rule just coincidence. Taking place in the mystical Monument Valley, with the robbery of Army rifles a group of soldiers and prisoners go on a mission to retrieve them. Sadly the landscape is not so well filmed as John Ford had repeatedly captured it. At times you never know you are there, having only the skyline to remind you. Rio Conchos (1964) is a not just a mission but a journey of self discovery for one lonely man Maj, James Lassiter (Richard Boone) who has been filled with hatred by the Apaches that massacred his family years before.

After army capture he has a chance to get out along with another prisoner Juan Luis Rodriguez (Anthony Franciosa) who was destined for the noose is given another chance to change things. They leave alongside a captain and sergeant. Hoping to catch up with the Confederate colonel that has not conceded defeat after the end of the civil war, going on to sell artillery to the Apaches, a dangerous move that no one wants to really allow.

With hints of The Searchers (1956) Ethan Edwards who has to terms with another family massacre, is repeated here with at first more effect. Yet as the film progresses a different resolution is made, as he meets an Apache girl who would easily commit more murders. Also a visit to another home forces him to see what he thankfully was saved from, leaving only a baby alive.

It’s not very clear that who we are looking for are in fact Confederates until we meet them in them in a surreal camp where stands a mansion house still under construction, which makes the job of the set builders very easy. The idea of the whites world intruding in such a grand form is a sight to see. Whilst at the same time violates this sacred ground if we remove ourselves from the film for a moment or two. There is also intent to progress in an undeveloped part of the wRio-Conchos (1964) stillorld on an aggressive scale.  The structure looks very out of place in such an environment that will never really be touched by man. It’s an invasion with intent to make routes like no other. Also an image of the past that the confederates are not willing to give up easy. The big house, away from the plantation that was worked by the slaves. Here they wish to set up a new America with no interference, hoping to control the natives by outfitting them with artillery they control.

A brutal end that brings the film to an abrupt end with no real confusion, full of action that is warranted yet not reacted to in terms of dialogue, no one rides off, they are all left to deal with the consequences of the explosions. Will the Confederates admit defeat, will the captain and sergeant return to the fort. Has Lassister really come to terms with the loss of his family. There was already a rich film before we reached the inclusion of renegade soldiers why did they carry on adding extra weight to the film? It does add another layer and create a what if scenario, seeing them not give into defeat as seen in Hangmans Knot (1952) but slowly admit defeat, whilst later on we see in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) a rampage of murder is began for personal reasons. The South didn’t give up easy, no loser does that unless they know they are truly wrong.