Posts Tagged ‘Western’

Der Schuh des Manitu

Native Americans are a dicey subject in fiction, mainly because of the stereotyping. There is also the problem that the term Native Americans can rub a cheese grater over the nerves of their souls. But really, it’s the stereotype that bothers most of us, I think. I mean, think about it a moment. I said Native American, and what did you think of? Buck skin wearing, noble savages with long straight black hair and a rudimentary grasp of language at best? Well, shame on you! They also talk about the Great Spirit at the drop of a hat and want to sing you the song of their people. Them and the Orientals get that weird, condescending attribute of being strangely wise, or mystical while also insulting them with the old ‘but of course they’re like children’ refrain as well. I’m not going to go into a lengthy discussion on it, but I sort of am because I’m talking about a movie that is set in the old west and involves made up Apaches. But it’s made by Germans, so they have like no connection to the actual history of the Native Americans and the movie is actually pretty funny since its jokes rarely ever touch on the known stereotypes beyond basic visuals and the Apache characters are the heroes. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like watching a hilarious movie about slave conditions in the Antebellum South made by Italians in blackface. You know that there is something terribly wrong with what’s being done, but the people who are doing it can’t begin to understand, and they’re being genuinely funny anyway. Look, maybe its better if I explain from the beginning…

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The Great Train Robbery (1903/Edison Studios/Dir. Edwin S. Porter)

Made in 1903, this is possibly the earliest western movie, although even the director of this movie would disagree with that statement. Not important, but he thought another movie was the first western, however I don’t think it was a proper narrative film like this is. See, before this time, most movies were just an event. Not even a series of events but a single scene with the camera simple pointed at whatever was happening. The earliest movies are quite frankly, dull. Unless you’re a movie nerd, or a history nerd, most of the “first” movies in history hold little to no interest because they were primarily just pointing a camera at a city street and capturing what was there. This was back in the day when simply seeing a picture move was enough to get riled up over. Now it’s true that there were movies with plot and editing and before this, but The Great Train Robbery was the first one to really bring everything together in a way that made it a big hit. One might say that this one proved there was something to this whole movie making thing. If you’re able, go out and buy Edison – The Invention of the Movies, which is where my copy of the movie comes from. If you get other versions, you may not get some of the brilliant use of colors that this one has.

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Bandidas (2006 Dir. Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg)

This is not a bad movie, it’s just not a very good one. That’s sort of sad, because there are the makings of a great movie here and you can see glimmers of that great movie from time to time. A few small problems snowball into huge problems for the movie, but not to an extent that it actually becomes bad. This is a watchable film, but how much enjoyment you might get is greatly dependant on your personal feelings. I liked parts of the movie, but the movie as a whole product never quite comes together for me. Let’s break down the movie and see what works and what doesn’t.
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For a long time, I’ve had the idea that Kung-Fu movies, Westerns and Samurai movies were all essentially the same thing just for different cultures. Each dated back to the beginning of filmmaking, each looked back to a Golden Age that might never have really existed, and each fell out of favor for a long time only to see a resurgence in recent years. As a result, I decided to cast a wide net and get one great from each of the areas that these movies exist in. Since this is the last day, we’re going to have three from each genre.

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Did you know there was a western with an all-midget cast?

Not a joke.

It was called The Terror of Tiny Town.

That really happened.

They really made a midget western.

I have not exaggerated one bit. Look, I’ve got the poster and everything.

You KNOW my photoshop-fu is non-existent.

Jed Buell woke up one morning (one presumes in a whiskey fog) in 1938 and actually said “I know! I’ll make a western with a bunch of the guys who are going to be munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. AWESOME!”
And instead of just waiting for the booze to stop talking, he went ahead and made it. And then… for some strange reason, he allowed it to lapse into the public domain, so I can provide a link where you can either watch it or download it for free! Completely legal too.

However, if you want it on DVD (and why wouldn’t you?) you can buy it. Yes, the internet has allowed us the ability to actually own The Terror of Tiny Town on DVD.

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Blindman (1971 Dir. Ferdinando Baldi)

Hey, did you know Ringo Starr was in a Spaghetti Western? No? Me either! What do you want to bet that it’s crap? No, I won’t even give odds. Now, I think I have a cut version of this movie, because IMDB claims 105 minutes but the movie on this disc clocks in at 84 minutes. The scant information I can find on the internet claims that the original contained violence towards women that approached misogynistic levels and then went over that line by about ten miles. The back of the box only promises Zatoichi like blind dude action, I didn’t know it would include moral outrage free with purchase. Yeah, I’m starting to write the review before I’ve seen the movie again. I think it’s more exciting this way. Before we go much further, go look up a neat little cocktail called a Spaghetti Western, then make three. Two for you, one for me. If it gets hairy at the end, you can drink mine too.

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Young Guns (1988 Morgan Creek Dir. Christopher Cain)

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