DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
FLICK PICKS: '70s westerns
July 29, 2008  | By Diane Werts
 

"A picture of the west that is at once romanticized and surprisingly decrepit." Could we be speaking of Deadwood? Actually, look back 35 years. Western films of the 1970s remade a genre that was both ultra-American and essentially dead in those tumultuous years of Nixon, hippies and the Vietnam War. Good guys in white hats, bad guys in black? Sorry. Only shades of gray here.

monte poster.pngMonte Walsh(Thursday at 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies) kicks off TCM's festival of '70s westerns that exemplified this new cynicism and complexity, finding resonance with a counterculture generation who'd grown up watching Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, only to discover as adults that the real world was a lot less tidy or tuneful.


The romanticized-and-decrepit quote above comes from TCM.com's smart essay about Monte Walsh, the 1970 end-of-an-era saga with Lee Marvin and Jack Palance. That web page also offers handy links to equally enlightening ruminations on Thursday night's other '70s westerns: Robert Benton's 1972 Bad Company (10 p.m.), Richard Harris in 1970's A Man Called Horse (midnight), Clint Eastwood directing and starring in 1973's High Plains Drifter (2 a.m.), Kirk Douglas directing and starring in 1975's Posse (4 a.m.).

From these '70s double-dippers on through Kevin Costner in Dancing With Wolves and Mario Van Peebles' in a different Posse, stars have always seemed to be drawn to directing in the western genre. Because it's elemental? Because it's our national mythology? Because it's just so macho cool?

Watch the movies. Read TCM's always thoughtful essays. Come to your own conclusions.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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