Results tagged “Western”

The Rider (2018) DVD Review: Beautiful and Poignant

A cast of non-actors leads one of the most realistic and powerful portrayals of those who risk their lives in the rodeo circuit.
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Chloe Zhao’s The Rider is a film that begins with our lead character, Brady Blackburn, removing staples from his head. His days of riding in the rodeo circuit are no more, and, as he looks in the mirror, he contemplates on what he’s going to do from here. The person who portrays the title character is Brady Jandreau, a non-actor who was once a cowboy in the rodeo circuit but had to resign following a horrific head injury. The Rider is not a documentary, but there’s never a moment where it feels like the viewer is watching something that has

The Hanging Tree (1959) Blu-ray Review: Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

The Warner Archive Collection knots it up with this captivating western starring Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden, and first-timer George C. Scott.
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Several years before a more somber wave of performers rode into town, Gary Cooper was ‒ as he had done so eloquently before ‒ pioneering a unique protagonist who would fit right at home in a '70s revisionist western. In Delmer Daves' The Hanging Tree, released two years before one of the genre's quintessential heroes passed away, we witness the stalwart High Noon icon delivering his final lead performance in a cowboy picture. This time, however, Cooper does not play a man haunted by what he must do. Rather, he's tormented over what he has done. Set in the tiny

Wild Bill (1995) Blu-ray Review: The End of an Era (in Film)

Twilight Time unholsters Walter Hill's wildly uneven western starring Jeff Bridges as the iconic gunman.
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Although it was never a title I saw when it was initially released, Walter (The Warriors) Hill's Wild Bill has always lingered in the back of my mind for an utterly absurd reason. Following an extremely limited release in cinemas (spoiler alert: it bombed), the film hit the shelves of a video rental outlet I was managing at the time. It was a decidedly rural area, where just about anything western was considered a keeper by the locals, the majority of whom were about as "hick" as could be. One memorable afternoon, a middle-aged gentleman came in to return the

Tribeca Film Festival 2018: Little Woods Is a Well-Acted and Thoughtful Modern Western

Tessa Thompson and Lily James are the strong center of a modernized Western that is introspective and thought provoking.
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One thing about the Western genre that is tiring is how it is traditionally masculine. Films set in modern day that depict Western films and films set in the Wild Wild West are often told from a male perspective. But thank goodness for writer/director Nia DaCosta who created Little Woods, a modernized Western that focuses on women navigating their way through lawless terrain. It’s also a portrait of working-class America that is harrowing yet unsentimental. Little Woods will surely be one of the best films of the year. The story follows Ollie (Tessa Thompson), an ex-con who is attempting to

The Outlaw (1943) Blu-ray Review: Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime

While not a traditional western, The Outlaw does enough right to make it an entertaining watch.
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The Outlaw was produced and directed by Howard Hughes (with some uncredited directing at the beginning of the production by Howard Hawks). It is one of the more unusual westerns in cinema and not just because it is notable for introducing Jane Russell and her cleavage to audiences. The characters include legendary names of the old American West, such as Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday. The story places them in a traditional heterosexual love triangle while at the same time a more subtle homosexual love triangle is occurring with some of the same characters. Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) comes

Sweet Country (2018) Movie Review: Tense, Terrific Aussie Western

Warwick Thornton's new feature is a gritty, brilliant take on the genre.
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As I watched Warwick Thornton’s wonderful new film, Sweet Country, there were many thoughts going through my mind. One was how Thornton decided to let the story play out as it is, without any accompanying music. All too often, certain things can take the viewer out of a movie, and one of those can be its score. Sometimes, in the case of something like Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s a necessity, and it works extremely well. But in the case of Sweet Country, a dark and brutal western that explores a particular moment in the country’s history, there’s no need.

Valdez Is Coming (1971) Blu-ray Review: They Just Messed with the Wrong Mexican

Despite casting Burt Lancaster as a Latino, this early revisionist western from Kino Lorber still deserves a look.
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Originally envisioned as a project for director Sydney Pollack and the starpower of Marlon Brando and Burt Lancaster, novelist Elmore Leonard's Valdez Is Coming was once set to contend against the Spaghetti Western craze dominating screens throughout the latter half of the '60s. That didn't happen, of course. In fact, Valdez wouldn't come until 1971 ‒ when the European variation of the genre was quickly being paved over by the American revisionist western ‒ with an entirely different cast and crew attached to the project. With Pollack out, Broadway/TV director Edwin Sherin took over directing. It would be the first

Six Shooters: A Full Round of Classic Westerns New to Blu-ray

Twilight Time and the Warner Archive present us with a gunslingin' good time.
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The ageless allure of life in the Old West is just as timely as ever with these six classics, now available on Blu-ray courtesy the efforts of Twilight Time and the Warner Archive Collection. Boasting many common themes (including a few connections between home media distributors!) and ranging from early cinematic 3D productions to the earliest revisionist westerns by genre rule-breaker Sam Peckinpah, there's an awful lot of reason to shoot up the joint over here. Gun Fury 3D (1953, Twilight Time, Limited Edition of 3,000) One of several movies conceived and released during the early '50s 3D phenomenon (and

The Mercenary (1968) Blu-ray Review: This Fun for Hire

Franco Nero, Tony Musante, and a flamboyant Jack Palance highlight this Sergio Corbucci western, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Amongst the many subgenres of the European western ‒ the tombstones of which typically bear the headings of "Revenge" and "Betrayal" ‒ is another category, informally referred to by devout aficionados as the "Zapata Western." Set during the Mexican Revolution (see: History), these plates of Spaghetti usually feature a pair of protagonists, neither of whom truly adore one another or ever see eye-to-eye, but who form an alliance nevertheless in their individual, alternating quests for glory, money, and/or freedom. Naturally, the American(ized) lead is always the one in pursuit of a fistful of dollars within the confines of these fairly

Death Rides a Horse (1967) Blu-ray Review: Lee Van Cleef's Finest Hour

Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law each set out for revenge in this above-average Spaghetti Western classic, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Though it was one of several dozen Spaghetti Westerns produced just in the year of 1967 alone, Giulio Petroni's Death Rides a Horse (Da uomo a uomo; or, As Man to Man) has nevertheless managed to climb its way up through the dark and dusty trails of European westerns over the years. Boasting a memorable score by the legendary Ennio Morricone himself (both the soundtrack and film "inspired" several aspects of Quentin Tarantino's homage to just about every kind of genre movie under the desert sun, Kill Bill), the unconventional entry in the long list of Euro westerns ‒ the

Only Noirs and Horses: Four Flicks from the Warner Archive

From classic psychological thrillers to obscure westerns, these WAC releases are worth betting money on.
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In keeping with their tradition of debuting and re-issuing timeless and forgotten classics alike, the Warner Archive Collection has recently brought forth four titles from its vaults. Among this quartet is the classic psychological thriller Undercurrent, and three new-to-DVD rarities: Full Confession, which may very well be the darkest "religious" film I have ever seen; the fascinating western noir Cow Country; and ‒ branching out from the cowboy motif ‒ the long lost '50s family-friendly adventure, The Lion and the Horse. Undercurrent (1946) By and far the most recognized title in the mix, Vincente Minnelli's Undercurrent (also known as You

The Ballad of Cable Hogue Blu-ray Review: A Bland Western

For its fans, Warner Archive has created a satisfying high-definition presentation with interesting extras about the movie and its director.
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In between The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs, two films that exemplified his work as a director, Sam Peckinpah made The Ballad of Cable Hogue, a lighthearted Western that has an interesting premise about a man noticing the inevitable change of the American West. Unfortunately, it suffers from a story that takes too long to develop and characters that don't connect with the audience. Bowen (Strother Martin) and Taggart (LQ Jones) strand former partner Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) in the Arizona desert. Cable goes without water for four days, but eventually stumbles upon a water hole. Though scoffed at by

Terror in a Texas Town (1958) Blu-ray Review: Swedish Sterling Slays Slinger

One of Dalton Trumbo's last pseudonymous screenplays before the blacklist was broken, this is a stylish Western noir.
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Watching older movies, it's fun to remember sometimes how much all media is created as much by the times as it is by its creators. A lot of times, this is basically what reviewers mean when they call something 'dated' - it looks like the time it's from. Timelessness is overrated, to my mind, and highly subjective, anyway. Terror in a Texas Town, a Western that plays a little like a film noir, shows signs of being a movie that was made very much with television in the back of its mind. The opening sequence of the movie shows Sterling

Longmire: The Complete Fifth Season DVD Review: The Best Season to Date

Season Five continued the series' successful formula.
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Season Five of Longmire, which aired on Netflix, continued the successful formula of a twisting and turning season-long story arc along with intermittent original and intriguing cases for our beloved sheriff to solve. Starting off with a bang, Sherriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is recovering in the hospital after being shot by an unknown assailant and having no memory of what transpired. After he starts to remember what happened, he realizes his love interest Donna (Ally Walker) is missing. What started out as a search for his shooter has turned into a hunt to find her and unravel the mystery

Terror in a Texas Town (1958) Blu-ray Review: The Dark Side of the West

Arrow Academy releases Joseph H. Lewis' wonderful western/film noir hybrid, which features Sterling Hayden as a Swedish sailor who brings a whaling harpoon to a gunfight.
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Though he mostly helmed B-grade crime dramas, Saturday matinee western oaters, and early entries in what would eventually become a part of The Bowery Boys legacy, director Joseph H. Lewis nevertheless made several notable contributions to the world of film noir. One such title was 1950's Gun Crazy, which writer Dalton Trumbo was forced to employ a front for due to the fact he had been blacklisted by the McCarthy Era witch hunts. Appropriately, the writer and director would pair once more in 1958 for Lewis' final theatrical film: a nifty little B-grade western film noir sporting a parallel or

The Rounders (1965) Blu-ray Review: Glenn Ford. Henry Fonda. 'Nuff Said.

The Warner Archive Collection wrangles up a classic western comedy starring two of filmdom's greatest cowboys.
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The Rounders is the sort of film that made a bigger impression on the public than anyone had anticipated. Originally released on the tail end of a double feature ‒ a spot generally reserved for movies nobody expected much from ‒ the 1965 cowboy comedy starring the unbeatable pairing of western icons Glenn Ford and Henry Fonda garnered enough attention to launch a prequel TV series starring Ron Hayes and Patrick Wayne. But whereas the television version was doomed to failure (as was just about any project starring Ron Hayes or Patrick Wayne), this adaptation of Max Evans' 1960 novel

Ride the High Country Blu-ray Review: A Captivating Western

The Blu-ray's video shines as bright as the film's two lead actors.
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Sam Peckinpah's second film, Ride the High Country, is a captivating Western about two old gunslingers who reunite for a dangerous job. With limited resources and futures, their relationship is tested, as is each man's character, along the journey. Former marshal Steven Judd (Joel McCrea) is hired by a bank to transport gold from the mining town of Coarse Gold. Six miners have been killed trying to make the trip, but he needs the work. Steve runs into his old deputy Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott), who is working as a hustler with a young man named Heck Longtree (Ron Starr),

High Noon (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: One is the Loneliest Number

Another impressive high-definition presentation in the Olive Signature line.
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Created during the period in United States history when the House Un-American Activities Committee was destroying lives under the pretense of protecting the country from Communism, Fred Zimmerman's High Noon is a classic tale about an individual who must stand up alone for what he believes against seemingly insurmountable odds. Its theme is applicable to many situations where the just path can leave a person isolated because of dangerous consequences. Three men ride into Hadleyville in the New Mexico Territory and head to the train station. Dimitri Tiomkin's score and the reactions of those they pass by indicate trouble is

The Valley of Gwangi / When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth Blu-ray Reviews: More Animated than Ever

The Warner Archive Collection shows off two showcases of animators Ray Harryhausen and Jim Danforth in these splendid catalog releases.
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Decades before civilized man would figure out new and inventive ways to suck the life out of that good ol' fashioned movie magic previous generations grew up looking up to, a species of gifted animators roamed the great halls of special effects studios near and far. Out of all the long-leggedy beasties, none were as revered and respected as the Hausenusharrius Rayus ‒ better known as Ray Harryhausen to us laymen ‒ whose magnificence and might effectively crowned him King of the Stop-Motion Animators. And it is with one of his tales that we begin this peek at two recent

Twilight Time Presents: Odd Men Out (and the Women Who Drive Them)

Vindictive villains, stereoscopic Stooges, speculative spouses, heroic horsemen, and illiterate inventors highlight this quartet of New-to-Blu releases.
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At one point or another, every one of us falls under the jurisdiction of being that which they once called the "odd man out." Maybe you're that unathletic movie nerd who finds himself amidst a group of people talking about sports. Or you're the jock who can't seem to communicate with all of the people talking about a popular television series you've never heard of. I'm sure you get the idea ‒ as do the various protagonists of this batch of Blu-ray releases from Twilight Time, which features a wide array of odd men who are a bit out of
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