Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Westerns - Guy Hutchinson ""

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Underrated Westerns - Guy Hutchinson

Guy Hutchinson has worked as a radio talk show host and personality on WHWH and WMGQ radio in NJ and is currently the co-host of  'Drunk On Disney,' 'Adventure Club,' 'Flux Capaci-cast' and 'Camel Clutch Cinema' podcasts. Over the years he has interviewed Mick Foley, Bernie Kopell, Andy Richter, Bebe Neuwirth, Joe Camp, Marvin Kaplan, Robbie Rist and many other entertainment figures.

A blogger since 2004, Guy blogs irregularly on bunchojunk.com and is the sole correspondent for the Ken PD Snydecast Experience. You can follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook and find links to all of his work on guyhutchinson.com.
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I have always been a fan of westerns. It's an interesting genre. There are so many western sub-genres. You have singing cowboy films, spaghetti westerns, western comedies, western dramas, western action films.
They run the gamut. This is a bit of a tough list to make because westerns are all underrated today. It's a genre that has seemingly died out, but many of the films I listed below were well known at one time.

I like to watch an old western flick on a Sunday morning. Hopalong Cassiday, Roy Rogers or early an John Wayne picture.
These films are always an easy watch and are usually so simple that you can cook breakfast, straighten up the house and get ready for the day all as you follow the story.
Bad guy puts damsel in distress, they all ride horses and good guy saves the day. It's an old story, but it almost always works.

I tried to get a little of everything in my list. They are some of my favorites. They may not really be underrated, but the whole genre is.


Lonesome Dove (1989)
I know, this breaks every rule. It's a mini-series (not a film), it's critically acclaimed and wildly successful in it's own right. 
But when people ask me my favorite movie I always dance around the question. "The Godfather is the best film I have ever seen... but Back to the Future is my favorite to watch...but if we can count a full trilogy, it's definitely Jurassic Park... or if we can count Lonesome Dove, it's my favorite of them all."
The person I am talking to always stops me and says they've never seen Lonesome Dove and usually haven't heard of it.
It's six hours long, but I have watched this more times than I can count. I still laugh when Gus says "Well the first man comes along that can read Latin is welcome to rob us, far as I'm concerned. I'd like a chance t' shoot at a educated man once in my life." and I still get choked up when he says "I don't want to start thinking... of all the things we should have done for this good man."
It's an outstanding film with some of the finest actors alive giving some of their best performances. Watching it almost always leads me to watch some of the (lesser, but good) sequels and occasionally one of the two TV series and often back into the original Larry McMurtry book.
Lonesome Dove is big part of my life. I hope you check it out.

Dirty Dingus Magee (1970)
When I played in the mud as a kid, Dad would always say "go wash your hands up to the elbows before dinner, Dirty Dingus Magee."
I never knew it was a movie title. But one late night on Starz this wacky comedy western popped up. A fun performance by Frank Sinatra leads a ensemble cast of western veterans like Jack Elam and Harry Carey Jr. 
It's a dopey film, but one that produces more belly laughs than groans.


I Will Fight No More Forever (1975)
Wonderful performances from Sam Elliott and James Whitmore light up this dramatic western. A made-for-television  picture, it's full of beautiful scenery and meaty dialog sequences.

4 For Texas (1963)
Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin play rival would be casino owners who also have to deal with a band of outlaws led by Charles Bronson. It's a fun story and the film moves well. The highlight of the movie is a brief appearance by The Three Stooges.

Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964)
Yul Brynner is outstanding as a gunfighter named Jules Gaspard d'Estaing. He is surrounded by a talented cast (including George Segal and Clifford Davis) but Yul shines brightly in a wonderful performance in a complicated film. 

Trigger, Jr. (1950)
It has a deceptive title, although this film does feature Trigger and his titular offspring, the star of this film is the killer white stallion. An evil man sends the killer stallion out to terrorize ranchers and their livestock. The film features some fantastic ballads and a horse fight that will keep you riveted!
Hang 'Em High (1968)
When people talk about Clint Eastwood's great westerns, they rarely mention Hang Em High. It surprises me because it is, most certainly, my favorite of his films. It is a straightforward plot. A man is hanged for a crime he didn't commit and survives to hunt down everyone in the lynch mob.
It's a wonderful story of revenge.


The Gambler (1980)
This 1980s TV movie was a favorite of mine as a youth and perhaps the fond feelings I have for it are strongly coated in nostalgia. It's a bit hokey and Kenny Rogers certainly chews the scenery in the lead. But it is a good story and displays a western world that is fun to visit on your TV.

Billy the Kid (1989)
Gore Vidal wrote this after his previous Billy the Kid film, The Left Handed Gun, was rewritten by the studio, losing it's basis in actual events. This film has been praised for it's historical accuracy and for the fine performance of a young Val Kilmer.

Man and Boy (1971)
Bill Cosby flexes his acting chops in this drama about an ex-soldier who moves his family to the lawless frontier of Arizona and must protect them.
The film is a great story about the bond between a man and his son in a rough and violent time.


Tonka (1958)
Sal Mineo plays a Sioux in Dakota territory in the lead, but the star of this film is the beautiful colt he names Tonka. This is an adventure film about a horse that survived the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Sweeping vistas and a solid story make this a fun one for all ages.

1 comment:

Blankend said...

Hang'em High was Eastwood's return to Hollywood following his becoming an international star in Leone's "Dollar Trilogy". It was the first movie for his newly-formed Malpaso Production Company. It can best be described as a Hollywood version of a Spaghetti western. That is not meant as a criticism. This was the first Eastwood film I went to the movies and watched. I had heard of the Leone films, but had not yet seen them at this point. The movie has a great cast including supporting parts by western veterans like Ben Johnson, Bruce Dern, Bob Steele, L. Q. Jones, Ed Begley SR,Bert Freed, and Dennis Hopper. The stand out of the co-stars is Pat Hingle, who gets to deliver 2 very moving and emotional monologues. Despite his stand-out performance as the Hanging Judge, this is Eastwood's movie all the way through. He keeps his squint, cigars, and straight-brimmed hat from the Italian films, but creates an entirely new character driven by revenge. It is also a favorite of mine, but The Outlaw Josie Wales remains my favorite Eastwood western.