Browse Category: Western

RECAP: The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch (1969): Sam Peckinpah

Sam Peckinpah made a career antagonizing his actors and bludgeoning the public over their heads with messages an imagery. In his 1969 masterpiece, the man who would consider himself an outlaw director made a film about the low down, most rootin’-est, tootin’-est cowboys seen in American cinema.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A wild bunch of thieves and do-no-gooders robs a railroad company, a train, and a Mexican general, outruns the US Army and bounty hunters, and all for the fun of it.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Westworld

Westworld (1973): Michael Crichton

Used to be that movies borrowed their films from other source materials. HBO seeks to change that up, mining this decades-old sci-fi film for its 2016 series Westworld.

One of the most successful Harvard medical school dropouts, 30-year-old Michael Crichton wrote and directed his first feature film after publishing two best-selling novels.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The robots populating a fantasy amusement park malfunction, killing the park’s guests.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The Magnificent Seven (1960)

The Magnificent Seven (1960): John Sturgis

Hollywood has remade so many films in its century-plus of moviemaking that it can be forgiven remaking remakes. Ideas might cost nothing, but filming those ideas is expensive.

Widely regarded (by Americans, anyway) as Japan’s finest film, John Sturgis remade The Seven Samurai as The Magnifcent Seven. America and Mexico never had samurai, so Sturgis and company threw in the best New World equivalents: gunslingers.

And the stars lined up in droves. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn all feature. Clint Eastwood was busy that year, perhaps. The septumvirate helps elevate the film into one of the gold standards of Westerns.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Seven magnificent hired guns help save a Mexican village from perennial food thieves.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016): Antoine Fuqua

Fifty-six years after the original American adaptation of Seven Samurai, Antoine Fuqua reteams with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, the pair he directed in Training Day.

Fuqua takes the tale of American gunslingers and moves it north of the Mexican border, to a beleaguered town called Rose Creek.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Seven gunslingers gather to guard a western town from a dastardly, so dastardly villain. Continue Reading

RECAP: Stagecoach

Stagecoach (1939): John Ford

Hollywood history is riddled with years high and low. No year soared higher than 1939. As Stagecoach is probably the only action movie still possible to watch from 1939, it’s The Exploder’s best chance to discuss the year.

The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Stagecoach are not simply classic films, they are Best Picture Winners in nearly every other year. But they went up against Gone with the Wind, arguably the most successful film ever made, and lost.

An absolute classic of the genre, Stagecoach was the only Oscar loss for director John Ford. He won four other times the Best Director statue, a feat unequaled so far.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A brazen group of stagecoach passengers brave Apache territory to ride to Lordsburg.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The Salvation

The Salvation (2014): Kristian Levring

The Western, it is said, is a dead film genre. Denmark, a land settled for thousands of years before Americans tried their hands settling the Great Plains, threw their hats in the ring with The Salvation.

The movie barely saw US theaters, an interesting aspect considering the film was made in English and set in the US. Such was the power, however waned, of American films in general and Westerns in particular.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: After his family is murdered, a Danish immigrant embarks on revenge in the Old West.  Continue Reading