The Edge of Civilization & Its Discontents

Yee-ha! Time for Part 2 in our Western movie marathon week.  Hold on to your chaps, people!

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

A Western rare for its setting in the Pacific Northwest, fully built mining town set, and Leonard Cohen (!) soundtrack, McCabe and Mrs. Miller stars Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as a hustling gambling man and a prostitute madame with big ambitions and a discreetly nasty opium habit.  Directed by Robert Altman of M*A*S*H film fame, we're treated to lush cinematography, random passing shots of groups of people talking (an Altman trademark, I guess), and a dark, violent ending that goes well with some brooding Leonard Cohen. There are several parallels to the TV show Deadwood in this film (which is based a novel of the same name) and I couldn't help wondering if David Milch had seen this baby.

Shane (1953)

Hey, it's Shane!  Shane! Shane Shane Shane Shane!  Yeeee-ha! Yes, sir, this classic mutherfucker stars Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, and Van Haflin. Directed by George Stevens, this is another beautifully filmed movie (the first wide screen color Western of them all) and is set in the gorgeous flat plains near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with generous shots of the Grand Tetons in the far background (which I visited and hiked about a few years back).  There's something about the saturated colors of this film that make the scenery hyper-beautiful and the setting nearly dominates the action-which involves a weary gunslinger (Shane!) trying to start a new life while working for a homesteading family, only to be brought out of retirement to help save them from a greedy cattle baron (a classic, if a bit worn, trope of the Old West, prominent in many tales penned by the likes of Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey). 



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