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They have tried everything to fix the oil spill. Garbage. Giant containment units. Golf balls. They even (briefly, I hope) considered nuking it.
There was one solution they hadn’t considered, though. Until now.
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Ah, the Oscars.
That wonderful time of year when rich people come together to act rich, dress rich, eat rich and generally be rich, all without actually having to spend any money, of which they have a lot more than your sorry ass will ever see.
After all, they’ve earned it…right?
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Yesterday I began a list of my personal favorite Westerns of all time. Today, I return to finish the job – once and for all.
First, though, a quick recap. Here’s the first four entries on the list, numbered seven to four:
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So, the baseball season is all but officially over for me. Sour grapes? Maybe. And what do you do with sour grapes?
You make sour wine, get drunk, and bitch about the Yankees some more.
But I’m not that petty. Instead, I’m going to do a 360 here and talk about movies for a change. Specifically, Western movies. Yesterday was the 128th anniversary of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and since I excel at arbitrary reasons for writing posts, I’m gonna run with that. It may be a throwaway reason for a post, and one that would have been considerably less throwaway had I posted this on the day of the event in question, but what the hell. I’m here now, and we are ROCKIN’ THIS.
So, without further ado, here is a list of the Seven Best Westerns Of All Time as chosen by me, the Lu Galasso. Why seven, you no doubt ask? Well, ten is to common, and five isn’t enough so…seven. Also, it was Mickey Mantle’s number, so I’m at least attempting to tie this into baseball.
I should also blatantly state that this is a list of personal preferences and not necessarily the be-all-end-all classics of the genre. I feel the need to add this disclaimer, because things are gonna get a bit wacky, and there’s going to be moderate dissention as to the nature of my choices. And on that note, I begin this list with the wackiest and sure to be most argued member of this list – a movie so far removed from traditional “classic” status, that many would no doubt question it’s merits as a “competent” film, let alone a defining entry in the Western genre.
Seven: Young Guns. (1988)
That’s right. This is happening. “Young Guns” made the cut.
I swear to god it gets better from here.
Here’s the deal about “Young Guns.” It takes the legendary life of Billy the Kidd, removes 95% of the historical facts and accuracy that have been collected over the years, and then casts the Brat Pack as his merry band of ne’er-do-wells.
This may well be the last time, or perhaps the first time, Emilio Estevez, Lou Diamond Phillips, Casey Siemaszko, and to a lesser extent, Charlie Sheen, have ever been this badassingly awesome. Throw in Jack Palance as a deliciously over-the-top Irish land baron (for some damn reason), and you got the makings of a Western staple.
Or, at least, you got the makings of an almost textbook example of how NOT to make a Western.
And Kiefer Sutherland always has and always will be awesome, so it’s got that going for it too.
Six: Silverado. (1985)
What better way to follow the ridiculous over-the-top Brat Packery of “Young Guns”, than with the ridiculously, over-the-top Kevin Klinery of “Silverado.”
So here’s the setup: take Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, and a shockingly young and enthusiastic Kevin Costner, pit them against Brian Dennehy, Ray Baker, and a young and creepy Jeff Goldblum, throw in some needless and ineffectual sentimentality provided by Linda Hunt as a down-trodden saloon keeper and Joe Seneca as Danny Glover’s down-trodden farmer dad, and cap it off with some Sheriff John Cleese (?) and the always reliable Jeff Fahey, and you got yourself “Silverado.”
Sound bizarre? It is.
Kline and Dennehy are great as ex-friends who reunite in the movie’s titular town – one as a “good” outlaw, the other a corrupt town official. (See what they did there?)
But it’s Costner, surprisingly, who gives the movie its heart. His turn as up-and-coming gunslinger Jake, teeming with boundless energy and real joy and excitement at what he does, is fairly unique in his career, and a lot of fun to watch.
And, hey, it’s even got Jeff Goldblum as a suave, knife-throwing villain. What’s not to love?!?
Five: Tombstone. (1993)
“Tombstone” is a strange beast. On the one hand, it’s one of my all time favorite films. On the other hand, it remains one of the most frustratingly flawed movies I have ever seen, Western or otherwise. Still, on the strength of its stellar cast, it’s stunningly accurate depiction of the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, as well as Wyatt Earp’s vendetta ride against the sinister Cowboys, and it’s sheer enthusiasm, I think it remains a strong entry in the Western genre.
Yeah, it’s flawed. The romantic subplot is cheesy and tacked on, and there are way too many wannabe-epic-moments that come off as ridiculously over-the-top and forced. (Earp’s slow motion assault on Cowboy Curly Bill Broscius whilst shouting “no!” repeatedly screams to mind.)
The cast IS excellent, though. Kurt Russell remains my favorite portrayer of Wyatt Earp, ever. He’s stoically awesome throughout the picture, and let’s face it – Kurt Russell is like the face of awesome.
Sam Elliot and Bill Paxton are great as Wyatt’s brothers, Virgil and Morgan, and Michael Biehn is wonderfully disturbing as the psychotic gunslinger Johnny Ringo.
But it is of course Val Kilmer, in his career defining role as the alcoholic ex-dentist Doc Holliday that steals the show. Kilmer’s performance ranks as, bar-none, the BEST portrayal of Wyatt Earp’s best friend ever put to screen. The fact that a character as bizarre as Holliday existed to begin with (alcoholic-doctor-cum-gunslinger, steadfast in the face of danger because – the hell with it – he’s dying anyway) is awesome in its own right. But Kilmer manages to inject him with just the right amount of happy-go-lucky charm, cynicism, and yes, even sadness, to make him come alive on-screen like never before. And his unwavering loyalty to Wyatt is epic in its own right as well; when asked by a fellow vendetta rider why he’s fighting alongside Earp when he should be at home resting (or dying), Doc replies curtly that “Wyatt Earp is my friend”, and the scene suddenly becomes poignant when the fellow asking the question, along with the audience, realizes that that’s the only friend he’s got.
Flawed? Sure. But it has enough going for it to make it a perennial favorite of mine…and to give it a spot on this list.
Four: Unforgiven. (1992)
Heading into darker territory, now. Circle the wagons!
“Unforgiven” is a dark, disturbed film, where the good guys and the bad guys have all seemed to come to an agreement to cast off the traditional white and black hats that usually define the heroes and villains in these sagas, and instead opt for hats shaded in gray.It’s a Clint Eastwood masterpiece, and turns the Western genre upside down.
Eastwood’s morally ambiguous protagonist William Munny, a former alcoholic gunslinger searching for redemption, centers a tale that atmospherically and thematically, has more in common with the noir genre then the Western one. Steeped in violence, the film showcases the cruel side of the old West like never before – personified by Gene Hackman’s corrupt lawman, Little Bill Daggett, a murderous bully who becomes Munny’s nemesis by film’s end.
It’s a defining and defiant film, that had many critics praising it as the “eulogy for the Western.” Grim, violent, and devoid of the usual morality found in films of this ilk, it remains a classic in the genre, and a haunting, disturbing film that will remain with you for quite some time – you may never look at cowboys the same way again.
“Unforgiven” kind of messed up my “fun Western” thing I was going for. Ah, well.
Anywho, I’m fast approaching 1500 words here, so I think I’ll cut it short. Tune in tomorrow for the final three.
I promise they’ll be slightly better films than these.
Though I doubt ANYTHING is better than “Silverado.”