Tag: western

ACF Critic Series #35: Deadwood

 

Just in time for the 4th, here’s an odd celebration of American freedom: I talked to Paul Cantor talk about David Milch’s most famous achievement, Deadwood–the movie and the TV show. A Western, lawless, but orderly vision of America. An America with commerce but without religion, with freedom but without equality–what kind of community and what kind of justice are possible in such a situation? Something piratical, un-Puritan.

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ACF Critic Series #30: The Walking Dead

 

Paul Cantor joins me for the second part of our conversation on his new book: Pop Culture And The Dark Side Of The American Dream: Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, And Zombies. It’s time for the zombies–for the postmodern Western, The Walking Dead, from Shane to Wagon Train to our times of crisis, when we ask ourselves, could we be what we think we are without the institutions and technology that prop us up? Is American character able to withstand the test of the state of nature?

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ACF American Masters #7: Ballad of Cable Hogue

 

Prof. John Marini and I wrap up a trilogy on Sam Peckinpah’s westerns with his most comic, least violent picture: The Ballad of Cable Hogue. The only movie he made about a founding also turns out to be his story about dealing with movability, mutability, and mortality in America. Progress is a killer, but human beings can remember their love of the natural, tranquil life. It’s also Peckinpah’s Lockean Western, where labor mixed with nature creates property and leads to a common good for a community!

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ACF American Masters #6: Ride the High Country

 

This week, Prof. John Marini joins me on the podcast for a conversation about Sam Peckinpah’s first great Western, Ride The High Country, a movie about the collapse of nobility. Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea play veteran marshals of the Old West, whose time has passed, and who take one last job to make something of themselves–or for themselves. This is our sixth Western conversation and next week, for our seventh, we’ll talk about Peckinpah’s last great Western, The Ballad Of Cable Hogue.

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Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. Book Review Neither side backs down in ‘Shep in the Victorio War’ By […]

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ACF#39 The Wild Bunch

 

This has been a summer of Westerns on the ACF podcast and we are now talking about one of the last great ones: The Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah’s answer to John Ford. Peckinpah answers to the epic with tragedy, to foundations with collapse, to the respectability of the railroad that carries The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with the railroad that carries Gen. Pershing’s men and which the Wild Bunch robs. The Civil War song We will gather at the river, Ford’s favorite Western song, is sung during a terrible, bloody shootout. Agony is Peckinpah’s mood and he displays violence in all its ugliness to give all the moral seriousness of our mortality. His movies are about choosing a noble death.

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Member Post

 

There’s been a lot of reflection in 2018 about the year 1968, a half century past. Generally regarded as one of the most disquieting years in American history, there were assassinations, urban race riots, the ongoing and controversial war in Viet Nam, all the campus protests and unrest, the Democratic National Convention which descended into […]

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ACF#38: Unforgiven

 

Happy Fourth, everyone! After the celebrations, I recommend Unforgiven, the last Western, and the movie that first won Clint Eastwood the Oscar–two awards, Best Picture and Best Director, as well as a nomination for Best Actor. This is a very dark movie, but it is a very good movie. It is beautifully shot, but also sober. It is violent, but dignified. It’s a movie about what it takes to establish the equal human rights of all human beings, the human dignity we all sense in the fine words of the Declaration. It deals with the origin of law as we now know it in a sacred law that requires violence to put an end to violence, at least the chaotic violence of the Old West. It is also a reminder of the difference between law and order, which we tend to think of as identical or at least necessarily connected. But the movie shows order is perfectly compatible with treating some people as property, i.e., slavery.

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ACF #35: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

 

The Great Western series continues. Prof. Marini and I move from the sacred law of the family–The Searchers–to the law of the city: Liberty Valance. We talk about love and law, nature and progress, the desert and the railroad, and the rest of the symbols and structures that stand out in John Ford’s best movie. Listen to our conversation, friends, and please share the podcast. If you prefer iTunes, go here, and please leave us a review/rating. You can also find us on stitcher and on pocketcasts.

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ACF#34: The Searchers

 

Today, I am joined by Prof. John Marini for the first in a series of podcasts on Great Westerns. We start with The Searchers, John Ford’s thematic treatment of the sacred law of the family. American freedom out West and the nature-civilization conflict are treated in parallel in a story that blends comedy and tragedy with an eye to Homer. This is John Wayne’s greatest role and it is an education about human things wrapped into one. Listen and share, friends!

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Member Post

 

(I thought I would repost my article from September 9 since the topic has recently become so huge.) To all those who find comfort in the largest Republican majorities in American government at the national and state levels since the 1920s – you probably shouldn’t. That’s because the insane dismantling of America and Western Civilization […]

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Member Post

 

(I thought I would repost my article from September 9 since the topic has recently become so huge.) To all those who find comfort in the largest Republican majorities in American government at the national and state levels since the 1920s – you probably shouldn’t. That’s because the insane dismantling of America and Western Civilization […]

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Member Post

 

Okay, so I just don’t have it in me to write a controversial piece. Too much politics for my weak mind. So instead I’m taking a break to let better voices express my yearnings for the American virtues of old. My wife loves country music. To me, most of the recent stuff is simply ghastly. […]

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Member Post

 

Folks, let’s get back to the serious business of TV. I’m happy to see the recent discussions on upcoming attractions & recent disappointments & I feel sure there are related subjects to consider. Keep them coming! Today, I’d like to start a discussion about Justified. Marshal Raylan Givens is thrown out of Florida & back […]

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Member Post

 

I’ve been writing about how social class has emerged in the work of the most successful contriver of popular spectacles, Marvel / Disney, who is never suspected of peddling anything but mindless fun. I am not really surprised at this development: Heroes in America tend to emerge in stories about protection–about caring for those in need […]

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Member Post

 

January 24 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill, one of the towering figures of the 20th century. Without his iron will, volcanic personality and rhetorical gifts the German tide might not have been turned and the world could have been left to be divvied up between the various monumental evils of […]

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