Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Which will it be?"

I reckon that Generation X is to date the last generation to play Cowboys and Indians as children. Lots of elements probably fed the genre's popular demise - urbanisation and the urbanisation of its motifs and archetypes (perhaps most potently in the figure of The Man With No Name turning into Harry Callahan), the emergence of Sci-Fi as a popular cinematic genre in the Seventies, shifting cultural identity in an increasingly mutlicultural United States... and possibly bigger and more obvious reasons than those which occur to me now.

Consequently the Westerns of my childhood were largely from off the TV - shows like Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Bonanza, The Lone Ranger and their ilk. There were very few Western movies I recall watching with interest, and few which stuck with me. I properly discovered Westerns in my university Film Studies course, and only then realised what I'd dismissed or simply not seen.

Having said that, I still haven't seen a lot of Westerns, but I do count some of them among my all-time favourite movies. So I was really excited to hear that one of those, which I fondly recall watching around the age of nine or ten, has been remade by the Coen Brothers:

If you've not seen the original, hell, why not just watch its trailer below and have the whole thing pretty much told to you in hilarious style. I'm guessing the 2010 revision will be less on the lightness and a more ponderous piece, which isn't to discount the original at all. True Grit's a great story, and the Duke deserved the Oscar he got for bringing Rooster Cogburn to life on the big screen. Roll on, December...

And seriously, how cool is Wayne in that last confrontation?


  1. Yeah, I was thinking something similar a while ago about the television we grew up with in the 70s... a lot of it, at least the daytime stuff before we graduated to the more modern evening shows, was all made in the 50s and 60s (I'd have to add the High Chapperal to the list though).
    I was thinking about it more in the terms of (usually daytime) movies, usually black and white and can remember the end of a weird but fascinating film that was on one wet holiday weekend from before I was 8. It was many many years later before I realised it was the Third Man.

  2. Very true, Dave. I'd add Davy Crockett in there too, plus maybe some of the quasi-Westerns - Iron Horse, and the whole Michael Landon oeuvre - the last gasp I guess.

    Why the 50s and 60s I wonder? Re-emerging identity after an enormous global political upheaval? A need for American-based archetypes and heroes? Or was it the new wave of cinema driving the revival with the modern narrative techniques and cool stuff like Technicolour?

    I'm going to need to read more into this!