Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Westerns - George J G White ""

Monday, April 28, 2014

Underrated Westerns - George J G White

George White writes a blog called 'A Teenager's Guide to Trash'. 
He can be found on twitter here: 
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Grayeagle (1977)
Charles B Pierce's films always feel weird to me. I suppose they feel "wrong" but not in a bad way. He's an exploitation filmmaker merely because he began with fake documentaries and regionally-made genre films. but his films are period-set and have olde Hollywood actors (in this case Ben Johnson and Jack Elam, and has Lana Wood essentially reprising her role from The Searchers but as an adult), and lush scores, and kind of imitation Hollywood feel, yet have at times noticeably low budgets and odd exploitative quirks. They're extremely well made, when they shouldn't be. This case, it's a stodgy pro-Native American western with Alex Cord in brownface as the titular Cheyenne kidnapping Wood as Johnson's daughter, so Johnson and supposed Indian friend  Iron Eyes Cody attempt to rescue Beth. However, there's a twist. 

Carry On Cowboy (1966)
Being raised in the UK, I have a penchant for the Carry On films. Raised from infancy on these uncouth, cheeky, unsubtle, politically correct but frequently fun films. This entirely British-made western (an oddity) may have bad American accents from the usual gang (though South African-born Sid James, famed for his roles as Cockneys actually does the same faux-Yank accent as the Rumpo Kid as the one he'd been using in various B-pictures such as Ken Hughes' Joe Macbeth). It is set in Stodge City, and is the Western debut for Jim Dale, who'd later do the same schtick in DIsney's Hot Lead and Cold Feet, but in genuine American surroundings and not the woods around Pinewood. It also has Bernard Bresslaw as a Native American, in other of his ethnicities (giant in Hawk the Slayer, cyclops in Krull, Indian in Carry on Up The Khyber, African in Carry On Up the Jungle, Martian in Dr. Who...)

Hannie Caulder (1970)
Tigon's attempt at a British western, made in Spain, directed by Burt Kennedy fresh from his James Garner pictures, with Raquel Welch as a lead seeking rape-revenge, Robert Culp, Strother Martin, a post-Wild Bunch Ernest Borgnine and again Jack Elam as brothers, Christopher Lee and Diana Dors in Brit-quota-assuring roles, Stephen Boyd in a cameo (possibly also for the same reasons as Lee and Dors, though he's uncredited). It's a bit like a kind of Britsploitation True Grit but with Raquel Welch as Mattie Ross and Culp as both Cogburn and LeBeef. 

The Valley of Gwangi (1969)
Another Spanish-made British co-production, this is an underrated Ray Harryhausen picture. Though it has plotholes (where does the Dawn Horse go?) and James Franciscus in Made-in-China Heston doll autopilot, it is certainly great fun. Gwangi is one of Harryhausen's best creatures. Some of the integrated live action/animation is superb. Lawrence Naismith is good support as the at first out-of-place British scientist who you never get in westerns, but are desperately needed and used in lost world pictures.  And Freda Jackson plays a Mexican gypsy with an eye-patch. 

Shalako (1968)
Brigitte Bardot, Sean Connery, Eric Sykes, Stephen Boyd, Woody Strode, Honor Blackman, Jack Hawkins - a mad cast for any movie but for a western, insane in this Euan Lloyd-produced Louis L'amour adap. See also Yul Brynner and Richard Crenna and Leonard Nimoy in Lloyd/L'Amour's Catlow, directed by Sam Wanamaker in 1970. Similar fare. 

The Man Called Noon (1973)
Stephen Boyd and Richard Crenna in the last of the Lloyd/L'Amour trilogy, desprately trying to be a violent spaghetti/paella and chips western by exploitation journeyman/Italian Job director Peter Collinson, a man who if he lived may have furthered his career into something more than being the Poundland Michael Winner. With Euro-Cult regulars Angel Del Pozo, Howard Ross, Aldo Sambrell, Ricardo Palacios, Patty Shepard and a slumming Farley Granger. 

Red Sun (1971)
It's a buddy movie with Toshiro Mifune as a samurai and Charles Bronson as a cowboy. Is that not a sell? Well, Alain Delon, Ursula Andress and Capucine...

The White Buffalo (1977)
Charles Bronson is Wild Bill Hickock, fighting a giant albino bison. Yes, J Lee Thompson directs Dino De Laurentiis' attempt to breed western and giant monster movie. With John Carradine appearing, as he's ubiquitous in both genres. 

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