Howard Hawks was one of those filmmakers whose reputation suffered because he was too good. For years, film writers tended to keep him out of the top ranks of movie makers because he was too hard to categorize. An artist, they believed, was to be lauded for their rigid adherence to a specific genre or thematic approach.
Right from the opening chords that sound like a flock of vultures being heckled by a sarcastic mockingbird, you know you’re in a western unlike any other. Welcome to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (available on Amazon). Directed by Italian master Sergio Leone with a game changing score by Ennio Morricone, this is the western that diabolically revised the genre.
A media star, imbued with a love of self even greater than his disdain for everyone else, parlays his on-air popularity into a rapid climb to political power. It is only when he attains his highest position does the full measure of his antipathy become apparent to his worshipful followers.
The year is 1957.
There is art and then there is guilty pleasure. And King Vidor’s version of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead will never be confused for the former.
Shortly after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, video stores across the country reported a big spike in rentals for two older movies: Die Hard and The Towering Inferno. It’s easy to see why: Both movies posited a disaster in a doomed building that tested the resolve of heroes, and a day to be won by a combination of Yankee ingenuity and a refusal to give up.
Here’s something many of us thought we would never say: “Damn, I miss going to the office.” Well, there are myriad ways of vicariously rejoining the workforce, not the least of which could include bingeing on Mad Men or The Office yet again.
“And the truth shall set you free.”
This is one of the core themes of the movies, the belief that the restoration of order can only occur once truth confronts power. While Hollywood has proselytized this notion throughout its history, it was probably never more necessary to it than it was in the decade following World War II.
For me, being trapped in the house brings on an odd kind of nostalgia. It isn’t that I’m wistful for when I had the flu and was bedridden for two weeks. It’s just that the isolation makes my mind wander to little moments of great import from longer ago than I usually like to consider.
There seems little doubt that the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is going to drive yet another reckoning in a year filled with them. Forces on both sides lined up within an hour of her passing to stake their territory and begin what will undoubtedly be a very ugly couple of months. It seems the ironic state of our current approach to democracy requires that politics, once entrenched, has no room for compromise. You
The western is the most muscular and malleable of all genres and, as such, it has attracted great directors over the years. Some, like John Ford, Anthony Mann and Budd Boetticher are so linked to the western that it comes as a surprise to see movies with these names attached that have nothing to do with horse, a gun, and a flower-faced girl.