Why do you think we’ve rode together for so long? Burt Kennedy

Dreams of Smoke
Click images for desktop size: “Dreams of Smoke” by Unknown
Finally wrapping up my thoughts about the Budd Boetticher Box Set.
I know I’m going on about them but this is an important body of work to me. Boetticher is anHigh Noon important director who makes films that not only help me to understand the movie making process but also give dense glimpses into the make up of people and the different perceptions people have of each other and of the world.
Besides they’re great fun and Boetticher is a great story teller. I still Cute Pug
Click images for desktop size: “Cute Pug” by Unknown
think fun is a vital part of any great work of art, any masterpiece and just as important as variant views of the world.
And sometimes thinking about these stories brings insight and sometimes its just a way to avoid, if only for a little while, the steady stream of upsets that come into your life.
Its like William Blake and Kenneth Patchen new the “real” world we all live in but saw worlds beyond that, worlds just as real but not as easily obtainable. Movie maker Anthony Mann saw the world but barely noticed the people. For him mankind was just a natural part of environment, twisted and shaped by emotional forces as powerful as the winds and water that carve mountains and canyons. John Ford saw people as caricatures that were burnished by their environment; men who lived in the spectacular landscapes became capable of spectacular things, but they were always in battle. Peace was a thing to be strived for but it was Dreams of Water by LawnElf
Click images for desktop size: “Dreams of Water” by LawnElf
seldom granted except to those people on the fringe who were really just spear carriers in the great framework of life.
Budd Boetticher didn’t understand the real world. His midnight admissions to mental institutions prove that. He understood the stage and he understood people. The world for him was vacuum where men drifted occasionally stumbling across love but most often just drifting waiting for a place to cling to, to hold and belong to.
The twenty first century has gone even further than the twentieth in isolating people from their environment. People exist and live in a place they create in their minds. Boetticher’s insights into people seem even more valid today, at least to me, than they did back in the late 50’s.
Understanding people, especially people in extremis is important. Personal communication is driftingGorath and rage is seizing to many people’s hearts. Icy rage, killing rage too much of the time. When cowards are being foisted as hero’s, when groups are being idolized instead of people its time to reassess and to grasp at understanding.
I think Boetticher supplies some of those keys. I think its important to understand his movies so that we can have a cleaner view of the guy sitting next to us. Understanding can bring contempt as well as love. Both emotions need a real basis for growing other than to be mired in surfaces and glitz.
You have to start somewhere.

I’ve been asked to explain a couple of terms: low menemic and high menemic. Northrop Frye, a Canadian literary critic coined the phrases in his “Anatomy of Criticism”. He thought characters in novels could either be classified as low menemic – average people, the normal guy trying to just get by in this life; high menemic – the superior man, a character with all the tools to not only survive but to conquer, control and dominate any situation; and finally the mythic character – the man emboldened with near supernatural powers, he cuts a swath through the world near invulnerable.
The terms are pretty commonplace in criticism nowadays and are especially apt when discussing movies and genre films specifically.

After Van Cleef (Frank) makes his calm reasoned speech understanding what Brigade is doing the film quietly shifts. We leave the light dusty browns of the desert for foliage and greenery; the first WalpapersMania
Click images for desktop size: “Untitled” by WallpapersMaina
incipient signs of civilization and femininity.
As they enter the grove the arena is dominated by a large lightening stripped tree with two cross like branches. “A hanging tree,” Roberts proclaims it. He makes some off the cuff “gallows” jokes and is gruffly rebuffed by Brigade, “You talk too much.”
Steele still doesn’t like any of these men but she’s grown to accept them. She’s still grieving her husband but, as Roberts put it, “She’s a woman that needs a man.” The men begin to turn to her for a softness that wasn’t one of their needs in the desert, only a need now when they’re in the shade of trees and greenery.
Roberts begins by saying, “Mrs Lane, I’d be obliged to look after you when we hit Santa Cruz.” He then proceeds to tell her about his place up in the Secos, he repeats the story about the bible salesman explaining the word Amnesty to him and how after he gets Billy away from Brigade how he plans to start a new life.Grizzly
Steele is horrified at the idea of Roberts killing Brigade to get Billy. Even more horrified that Brigade is trading Billy’s life for money. Steele goes to Brigade and confronts him and tells him how Roberts plans to kill him for Billy. Brigade takes it nonchalantly until she begins to berate him for being a bounty hunter. Brigade erupts with a cold desolate fury.
He used to be the sheriff of Santa Cruz. One day he threw Billy’s brother, Frank, into prison. Frank swore to get even. The day came when Frank was released. His wife pleaded with Brigade to leave Santa Cruz, to go someplace with her and to start a fresh. While Brigade was out of town Frank came and kidnapped his wife. Frank hung her on the hanging tree.
Not surprisingly Steele is unprepared for this shocking story. Brigade ends any comfort with a chilly, Gamago
Click images for desktop size: “Untitled” by Gamago
“Goodnight, Mrs Lane.” Unknown to him is that Roberts was in the bushes and overheard the entire conversation. It clearly impacts the bad man but its unclear in what way.
He talks with Whit (James Coburn). Whit wants to plan how to kill Brigade and snatch Billy. “Brigade ain’t a man you can take head on,” he says.
“It wouldn’t be right to do him any other way,” Roberts replies, “Don’t worry. When the time comes I’ll take care of it.”
Then in one of the movies most memorable scenes Whit asks Roberts. “I was thinking, I sure would be obliged if I could come work for you at your place.”
What happens next is purely predictable but satisfying all the more for that. People sometimes needHorrors of Spider Island to have things go the way we want them to. After all the tales of carnage and the tension building up to a carnage promised conclusion we need to see affection turn right.
“Work for me! You ain’t working for me Whit!”
Defensively Whit protests, “I don’t know much but I can scratch at the dirt and I slop hogs real good . . .”
“Whit, how long you and I been riding together?”
“I don’t know,” Whit pauses, “About two years I reckon.”
“More like five! Why do you think that is?” Roberts asks.
With a shrug Whit answers, “Guess your kind of used to it.”
“No Whit, I like you.” “Really?” Whit answers surprised.
“You ain’t working for me Whit. We’re partners. Right down the middle. Now go keep an eye on Billy. I got thinking to do.”
This scene in all its simplicity is the one that everyone who has ever seen the film always remember. Its nearly sad that we are most moved by a man begrudgingly admitting to friendship.
Come the dawn Roberts sends Whit to the rise to watch for Frank and his men. He then confronts Brigade. Roberts tells him he overheard his conversation with Mrs Lane. He tells him that Whit and he will back his play with Frank but when its over it won’t make a difference. He’s going to go right over Brigade to get Billy and get that amnesty.
Brigade is stoic and dismissive.
Its worth noting, Whit goes to look for Frank. He stands in some odd otherworldly place. The rear of Babies
Click images for desktop size: “Babies” by Unknown
his horse stands in the green comfort while he gazes out at the burning deadly desert. He watches a dust cloud appear and turns and rides back hard to the embracing coolness of the trees and the grass, shouting Frank’s coming.
The group prepares. Roberts and Whit hide in the bushes. Whit is giving the “chore” of protecting Steele.
Brigade tosses a rope over the branch of the hanging tree . . .
When Frank enters the arena he sees his brother on a horse with his neck in a noose. Brigade stands next to the horse, totally exposed, a rifle in his hand.
Nastily Brigade explains the situation to Frank. Frank understands and says, “If that horse spooks you’ll kill him!”
Brigade responds, “If his neck don’t snap you’ll have time to cut him down.”House of the Damned
“This ain’t right, Brigade. What happened between us was so long ago I near forgot about it!”
Brigade gives one of the scariest responses in movie history, “A man can do that.” When a man suspends his humanity or denies it, when he places himself below a level there’s nothing left to do.
Frank charges firing wildly. Billy’s horse spooks and Billy is swinging, gasping from the tree while Brigade calmly raises his rifle and blows Frank out of the saddle.
Frank’s men start to followup the charge but retreat under a withering hail of fire from Roberts and Whit. When they retreat Brigade pulls out his six gun and shoots a single shot to cut the rope. Billy collapses still alive.
While Brigade inspects his prisoner Roberts comes thundering up on his black horse he dismounts on the run making you wonder what he’s running from or to.
“I come for Billy,” he says.
Blowout at Exit 168 by Till Nowak
Click images for desktop size: “Blowout at Exit 168” by Till Nowak
Brigade says in the same dead humanity denying voice, “Come get him.”
Brigade stands perfectly erect while Roberts advances, his hand ready to draw. Suddenly Brigade turns his back to Roberts, turns back and tosses him the keys to Billy’s handcuffs.
Roberts is google eyed. Brigade says in a voice that tries to sound friendly but can’t, “If you ever go against the law again it will be me comes looking for you.”
Laughing Roberts says, “I’ll remember that. I surely will.”
The two outlaws, Billy and Steele gather up to make the few hour ride to Santa Cruz. Steele’s future is undetermined, Billy’s future will be decided by an old west court and Whit and Robert’s have a dream.
Brigade has no future. He burns down the hanging tree, that hateful symbol.
From the top of the rise Roberts can’t see the fire but he sees the black smoke curling to the sky.I died a thousand times He turns and rides with the group saying, “It figures.”

Scott should have retired after this. Ben Brigade was the pinnacle of his acting career. He used every power he had and made it into a memorable character it was the finest acting job he was capable of and the finest of his career.
“Ride Lonesome” was a big enough hit that Ranown rushed to do a follow-up, “Comanche Station”.
Maybe if I’d seen “Comanche Station” sometime removed from “Ride Lonesome” I’d have a different opinion of it.
It’s a good movie, good enough for anyone to be proud of. Unfortunately fresh off of seeing “Ride Lonesome” it seems like a redux, a rehash.
This time Scott is a man searching for his wife for the last ten years. She’s was captured by Comanches. Every time he hears of a white woman captive being offered for trade he heads to the hills with “two bucks worth of blankets and a winchester rifle” to rescue the woman. He’s constantly disappointed that it is not his wife.
On the mission he’s on this time he rescues Nancy Lowe, played by Nancy Gates.
The first night out she’s starts to escape the memory of her capture even trusting Scott far enough to ask if he thought her husband would still love her even after she’d been held captive by the Comanche.
Scott’s response is predictable, “If he’s man enough he will.”
They go to Comanche Station, the stage coach point where he runs into Claude Aikens, a scalp hunter, and Aikens two young gunmen. Scott had Aikens courtmartialed when they were in the Army together. Aikens clearly has a festering hatred for him. He also informs Scott and Gates that there is a $5,000 reward on Gates, offered by her husband. Dead or alive. Her husband wants her dead body so he could at least have closure and give her a proper burial.
In Like Flint by JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: “In Like Flint” by JW McGinnis
Aikens and the gunmen plan to ride along with Scott, they need the extra gun because the Comanche are on the warpath in retaliation for some scalp hunters raiding their camp and killing the women and children. When its convenient they plan to kill Scott and the woman. The plan to kill the woman so she can’t bear witness to their murder of Scott.
The two young guns are an amalgamation of the two young guns in “The Tall T” and Robert’s and Coburn. Skip Homier plays essentially the same role in both films!
They are given some chances but they don’t ever explode like the other two films. Its satisfying but not mesmerizing.
Aikens is not as strong as other Boetticher villains. Aikens is a good actor and reaches as well as he Imitation of Life did in Howard Hawk’s “Rio Bravo”. Aikens another guy who became a star playing a whacky sheriff, his turn came in “BJ and the Bear”! He’s competent and shows some promise but he doesn’t inspire fear or hatred. He’s just a bad guy.
Its actually a great film but it is not up to the greatness of the ones preceding it.
The ending is odd and seems to be going for some point I failed to see.
Aikens is bothered by the fact that a man would post a reward instead of hunting for his wife himself. Scott rebuffs him with, “if he’d done that, they’d both be dead.”
Aikens keeps at it though.
At the end when Scott finally delivers Gates it turns out she has a child and that her husband is blind.

There’s a decent biography on Boetticher to complete the box set. It didn’t teach me anything new but it might be informative for some just meeting his work.
Boetticher’s work is the thing. It is brilliant. Its sad that he never released another film except for “Legs Diamond” a movie I never really got. He wasted his life in his dream. He was trying to make a documentary biography about Carlos Suara, the great bullfighter. Aside from the fact that I don’t find men fighting cows entertaining the movie was doomed and afterwards irrevocably when Suara died in a car wreck. Boetticher spun out of control after that but for one great brief period he was amongst the best that ever was.

I did him a hurt once Burt Kennedy

Clarence Carter
Click images for desktop size: “Untitled” by Clarence Carter
The main problem with “Decision at Sundown” was that the whole movie was set in a town.
Civilization for Boetticher is best represented when it is shown as a roughly held together series of Die You Zombie Bastard shacks that bend but determinedly refuse to buckle under the desert winds.
Its odd that Boetticher can take a crew into the desert and we always feel centered and easily understand our location in relation to the rest of the world, but when he moves into towns its disorienting and confusing.
In “Buchanan Rides Alone” its hard to keep even the relationship of the hotel, saloon straight. And its relationship to the judge’s home is an absolute mystery. Sometimes you can walk there but most of the time you have to take a horse.
It seems that Boetticher is making a strong statement about our relationship to cities and towns.
In “Buchanan Rides Alone” the town of Agry is a border town. A bridge with a hand painted sign (and no border guards) details the imaginary line between countries. Scott crosses the line into Agry. He is smiling, jovial clearly happy to be back in the USA. But for all his genial demeanour he wears the crossed bandoliers of the Mexican Revolutionary. He smiles but resists orders from the corpulent aggro sheriff.
You can see him resisting anger, insisting to himself that he’s going to keep his happy mood at nearly any cost. In total its a brilliant economical way of introducing a character.
The story itself is a bit quizzical and too complicated for what’s involved, filled with elections, trials, familial squabbles and far too many people!
It can’t be discounted completely. For one thing there is a remarkable portrayal of Mexicans. They Surf
Click images for desktop size: “Surf” by Unknown
are presented as being as smart and courageous as the Americans and far more honest. Its a handsome portrait of the people and surprising in a film of this era where the only good foreigners were the base totally submissive ones. Foreigners who had any ambition were normally criminals or spies, an enemy.
Ranown must have realized they had some problems and they got Burt Kennedy to doctor the script. His hand shows in a couple of fascinating ways.
During the Scott’s trial the sheriff (who has his eyes on stealing the $2,000 dollar “stake Scott was carrying to buy his dream ranch) asks him, “So you’re just another hard case drifter willing to kill for money?” Scott’s laconic answer id “You could say that.”
Kennedy’s other obvious contribution is the character of Pecos, beautifully played by L.Q. Jones. Pecos is fascinating, easy going, amoral, amiable and loyal – to a point.Empire Strikes Back
He’s attracted to Scott because they’re both from West Texas. He admires Scott’s ability to speak with unabashed love for West Texas.
After the trial the sheriff has the innocent Scott escorted out of town by two gunmen who’s job is to murder Scott. As they ride along Scott conceals his gloom over his impending death by waxing euphoric on the beauty of West Texas.
Pecos apologizes for having to murder Scott. Scott accepts the apology.
At the river bank the other gunman forces Scott to dismount and unsaddle his horse. Pecos asks the other gunman if there’s anyway to avoid having to do this killing. He’s told no, they have to do the “job”.
Scott stands with his hands at his side and his back to his executioners. A shot rings out and Scott collapses. After a moment Pecos walks up to Scott and kicks Scott’s boots. “You ain’t dead,” he says.
The shot that Scott figured had ended his life was from Pecos shooting his partner in the head.
They try and bury the dead gunman but the hole they dug fills up with water so Pecos straps the body high up in a tree.
Dangerous Curves by 3D Fiction
Click images for desktop size: “Dangerous Curves” by 3D Fiction
Before Scott can gather up and take off Pecos starts to deliver a eulogy to his victim. Its darkly macabre and very funny. Scott keeps waiting for it to end his eyes growing larger as he listens to Pecos. He says “Amen” to end the unbalanced “tribute” and the explanation to the deadman that Pecos just couldn’t allow a fellow West Texan to die.
As they ride along Scott offers Pecos a partnership in his dream ranch. He tells Pecos he’s riding back to Agry to get his stake that the sheriff stole. He assures Pecos that even if he doesn’t follow him into town he’s still going to be his partner in the ranch.
Amazingly for movies but actually pretty sanely, Pecos agrees to wait for him then! He lets the hero ride off to fight the bad guys alone and has no qualms or issues about it!
If he’d stayed alive for the entire movie Pecos could have given the film a needed lift.
When you have talent it shows up most when you try and learn from your mistakes. Randolph ScottDouble Indemnity was talking about retiring. Ranown decided to make a masterpiece. They succeeded.
When I was 11 I’d outgrown Captain Spaceman’s Cartoon show. Channel 13 started showing 90 minute movies after school, “After School Theater” or something. It’s where I learned to love Corman flics like “Teenage Caveman” et al. One week they were doing a Robin by DC Comics
Click images for desktop size: “Robin” by DC Comics
Western week. I remember seeing a mash up of “Cisco Kid” episodes disguised as a movie, even a Roy Roger’s thing. The care that they selected these films was apparent. Its where I first saw the movie, “The Man From Laramie” Anthony Mann’s revenge film where Jimmy Stewart gets a bullet in his hand: Crucifixion with hot lead. The only thing I got out of that film was a long living fear of having my body desecrated and a fascination with anatomy. I figured a bullet through the hand was far worse than death. Jimmy Stewart was a good enough actor to convince me I was right. The next day they showed “Ride Lonesome”.
Even as a kid I was blown away. Even watching it on a B&W TV couldn’t detract from the power. Two people who were no more than icons (Scott and Karen Steele), a crazy bad guy (James Best), A bastion of evil (Lee Van Cleef) and two guys I thought were really funny (Parnell Roberts and James Coburn).
Throw in some Indians and a plot that was merely “3 guys and a girl get chased by Indians and bad guys while they take another bad guy to jail, was primal enough to reach through to the lizard brain in any of us.
It was pretty shocking to see the movie again, some 20 years later, and see that things weren’t quite that simple.
You can make a pretty good argument for Boetticher being a genius in the fact that he constructed a movie that could reach out and impact a child and an adult. Its not that easy to do with out maudlin Candy
Click images for desktop size: “Candy” by Unknown
pandering ala Disney. Nor is it a simple thing to inject such complex dreams into minds and dreams of people without making the process opaque and annoying.
I watched the movie a few times off of a VHS tape I made from some late night broadcast. It wasn’t available anyway else. Seeing the DVD in an excellent reproduction of the Cinerama process was illuminating. With Scott’s impending retirement from movies they clearly went all out.
The movie opens with Scott hunting Billy John. James Best is superb here. He’d match this performance with his equally superb performance a couple of years later in Sam Fuller’s “Shock Corridor”. It leaves me nonplussed that he wouldn’t gain fame or recognition until he played the moronic sheriff in the “Dukes of Hazard” TV series. Flash Gordon COnquers the Universe
Billy John is aware that Scott (as Ben Brigade) is close by. He continues to sip his coffee and sits easy and relaxed.
We know he’s the bad guy. All characters in Boetticher movies are organic. They look like they were grown in the earth and locked in there until they felt the need to roam around the stones and bones of the desert. Boetticher villains are vain, created not by nature but by man. Richard Boone affected a silken peacock green scarf, Chink a fiery red shirt etc. In low budget productions these are considered options. In the equally sparse world these movies inhabit they are bright beacons.
Billy wears natural dusty gray but affects a long eagles feather that droops down the back. In this world something natural being worn for a sense of élan is more depraved than silken scarves.
(Its interesting to note that you can still go to Western Costume and find, Glen Ford hats, John Wayne hats, etc. It was commonplace for stars to effect one style of hat and then use it as a symbol for their entire career. Scott wasn’t allowed this. He always wore a distinctly different style. I once worked with a director who thought that any scene could be saved by having the actor wear a “silly hat”. He swiped the concept from Preston Surges. Boetticher seems to use the inverse of the principal in his costume choices. In “Ride Lonesome” Brigade wears a more standard wide brimmed Stetson.)
Billy shot a man in Santa Cruz; shot him in the back.
Billy is calm. He’s prepared an ambush for Brigade. Three of his buddies are hiding in the sandstone rock ready to blow him apart. Brigade defuses the trap by the simple measure of assuring Billy that Desert Blooms
Click images for desktop size: “Desert Blooms” by Unknown
before they get him he will surely cut Billy down before he dies. Its no bluff.
In that one moment its apparent there’s a radical change here. Previously Scott played nothing but low menemic characters, normal men pushed by circumstance to be something more than they ever intended to be. The confrontation with Billy establishes as a high menemic character, the man of will and talent.
It also sets up expectations of Billy’s character, something of a coward, something of a rattlesnake, someone easily led.
Brigade starts the long task of dragging Billy back to Santa Cruz to be hanged. He lets Billy ride free, except for a pair of heavy handcuffs. Billy spends the time reminding Brigade of his brother, the dangerous brother Frank who is, no doubt, tailing them now rushing to catch up and free him.
They stop at a stage way station. Suddenly Brigade is ambushed! Billy is sure it is his brother FrankThe Fortune Cookie but it turns out to be someone Brigade knows; the outlaws Sam and Whit. (Roberts and Coburn).
Surprisingly Roberts is every bit the physical match for Brigade, broad shouldered, tall and moves with an athletic grace. Whit is tall, gawky but clearly efficient within his strictly limited range.
There is a tense moment when Roberts gathers up Brigades rifle. He’s garrulous and chatters about meeting him out here.
Brigade listens, introduces Billy. Roberts says, “I heard of you. You’re not as small as I figured you’d be.”
Brigade says, “A man needs a reason to ride this Country, Boone.” Stating his question as a fact.
Robert’s response is equally laconic. “That he does. Can see what yours is.” and then he casually tosses Brigade back his rifle.
Suddenly Karen Steele steps out of the Stage House yelling at the men to clear out! To punctuate her sincerity she fires her rifle sending a bullet uncomfortably close to the group. They scarcely react.
It pleases me that during the filming Steele and Boetticher were in love. In the movie she’s the other icon, the tough blonde who should have been born in the noir 40’s. She’s soft, not brittle but strong and capable. She lives her life without a plan but lives it to the extreme.
Now she does not want 3 outlaws and a low life bounty hunter as her guests. She only wants the man she loves, the stationmaster to return from rounding up stray horses. She doesn’t want him greeted by this motley crew.
Before there can be a serious confrontation the stage coach approaches. Roberts assures Brigade The Helper
Click images for desktop size: “The Helper” by Unknown
that they were not there to rob it. When the coach gets closer they see that the driver is dead, an Indian lance through his chest. The stage crashes into the corral but rights itself.
The men open the door and apparently everyone inside is dead. Surprisingly, while the men stare in silence, it’s Billy who yells out to Steele, “Don’t come out here! Ain’t nothing for a woman to see!”
It strikes as discordant tone to have the bad guy be the only character who reacts to the woman’s presence. It hurts us in our need to view Billy as merely scum.
Steele still wants the group to move out. She insists she is going to stay to wait for her husband’s return. Until a group of Indians show up. They want to trade a horse for Steele . . . they play along with it until Steele discovers the horse they want to trade for her was the one her husband was riding when he left the station the day before.
Accepting her loss she agrees to travel with the stoic Brigade, his trophy and the two comicalFrom Hell It Came outlaws. Travel with them back to a distant civilization, a civilization that seems to make them all uneasy.
They travel. Roberts rides with Brigade shattering at him non-stop. At one point he tells them why they were riding this forbidden territory. It appears that there is not only a bounty on Billy John. They are also offering unconditional amnesty to anyone who brings him in.
It seems Roberts already has a patch of land up around Secos. Its nothing now but he plans to “run some cattle and work the dirt” until it is “someplace that a man can belong to.”
While they’re talking on the far distant sand hills some figures converge and begin to trail the group. They tiny shadows seem to be ignored by Roberts and Brigade. Its just one of the ways Boetticher uses the Cinerama screen and its great depth of field. For the most part it is used to show the vast panorama and to frame the men with it in such a way that they seem to dwarf the EndEffected_02-Envy.jpg
Click images for desktop size: “End Effected” by Envy
immensity of the world by force of will.
The indians weren’t ignored. Brigade interrupts the conversation by telling Roberts there’s an old adobe corral just over the next rise and they ride like demons to get into it while the tiny shadows start to converge on them resolving into a murderous pack of Indians.
The adobe corral is a cool set. A skeletal reminder of civilization conquered. The only thing that remains are the bricks that were made from the surrounding dirt. The four ride like demons to get to its thick walls while Brigade plays skirmisher and lays back firing efficiently into the onrushing Indians.
After beating back the Indian attack they settle in for the night. Brigade sets with his horse. Brigade is the only one Steele seems comfortable being around, She asks how his horse is doing. Brigade explains in a way that seems to be as much describing himself as the animals condition. “His legThe Ghost of Frankenstein ain’t broke. He just won’t get up. He’s got it in his head that its all over and he’s just waiting to die.”
“What can you do for him?” Steele asks.
“Not much. Sit with him. Let him now he’s not alone and hope he’ll realize he can get up if he wants to.” Brigade answers.
Later the horse does finally stand but only after Brigade has given up hope. The horse stands because Roberts saves Brigades life from Billy. As a sardonic joke Roberts fires off a round from his rifle in response the horse almost leaps to its feet. Power of life coming not from loving attention but from negligent bad bahaviour?
Roberts also uses the stop over to wax lovingly, if pornographically, about the psychology and beauty of Steele. Whit looks at Steele with different eyes after Roberts Rhapsodic reveries.
They also wonder why they’re traveling out in the open when they all know that Frank is in hot pursuit. “its like he wants Frank to catch up to us!”
Frank (Lee Van Cleef) has been in hot pursuit with three of his men. He’s run his horses near to death, but when he reaches the adobe corral he suddenly realizes he can slow down. “I did Brigade a hurt once. He’s not taking Billy to hang, he’s using him to get me. Water the horses and lets get some sleep. There’s no hurry now. He’ll wait for me.”

I’ll try to finish up the analysis of the Budd Boetticher Box Set in my next post. This one seems to be getting long.

Brown by Benoit Vanneuville
Click images for desktop size: “Brown” by Benoit Vanneuville
My back is better.
We picked up the new car on Saturday. Its pretty and seems to fit my friend well. Hoping it can reduce some of the tension that’s been crawling up our spines and into our brains.
Only two things wrong with it so far. It was advertised as cruise controlled. Cruise Control is standard on it. But there’s no cruise control!
Driving it home when I got out to open the gate saw a lot of white smoke coming from the wheel well. To me the smell and smoke meant a dragging brake! But there was no excessive heat from the brakes. I waited a half hour and checked again. Still no big heat or remnants of same. No sound like bad bearings or signs of the tire rubbing anything.Godzilla VS The Sea Monster
They checked the brakes before hand. Maybe they left something dangling. Its still under warranty so I’m waiting to call them to see if there’s anything else to complain about.
I still plan to write them a letter of appreciation.
The puppies are all fine here.
One blast of negative news. My puppy’s aunt was laid off today . . .
Makes me real happy that the Republican pigs did everything in their power to destroy the effectiveness of the Stimulus bill and then after gutting it still bragged about how they’d made it ineffective.

There are some things a man just can’t ride around Burt Kennedy

Betty Pabe by Olivia
Click images for desktop size: “Betty Page” by Olivia
Until Sergio Leone unraveled the western with his “Dollars” movies there were three kings of the genre. John “He made westerns” Ford, Anthony Mann and Budd Boetticher (pronounced bet-ek-er).
John Ford remains something of an icon, nearly a legend. Anthony Mann found the westerns tooCreature from the Black Lagoon small! He moved into epics like “El Cid” and Spartacus (the movie that launched Stanley Kubrick who took over when Mann died during production).
While Mann is appreciated he doesn’t have the fame and accolades he deserves. Boetticher has been mainly ignored. A few guys, like me and a couple of other western aficionados have been playing him up forever, in just the same way I played up Preston Sturges, as a man who was an entertainer first and through his entertainment managed to produce first quality art. (Art, there’s an ugly off putting Solitary Hunter
Click images for desktop size: “Solitary Hunter” by Unknown
word for most. It makes it sound like the opposite of fun, like something you can’t just enjoy but a thing that has to be approached with awe and a tinge of fear. Bad art (Cecile B DeMille, I think, wants that aura. Sturges and Mann and Ford wanted you to have a rollicking good time first.)
But all in all Boetticher has been ignored. People still catch some of his movies on TV and marvel but it’s usually too late in the movie for them to remember the credits.
As DVD sellers are desperate for product suddenly guys like Boetticher are getting some notice. It started when they finally discovered the Batjac library. Batjac was John Wayne’s short lived production company. It was designed to make money but Wayne didn’t have much of a head for Boat Girl by Scott Jackson
Click images for desktop size: “Boat Girl” by Scott Jackson
I like the idea of great films being made while guys sit on the beach sharing a bottle, the deals finalized with a handshake and maybe, somewhere down the line we draw up a contract to appease those union guys. That’s filmmaking I can appreciate.
When John Wayne died no one had any idea where the films even were! They found the Batjac library about 2005, stashed in one of the old Hollywood film vaults. There wasn’t much of interest there but there was the Randolph Scott. Lee Marvin western “7 Men From Now.” It was the first release from Batjac and got an excellent release, capitalizing on the fact that this film was never on TV and unseen since 1956. Tied into the John Wayne legend it did okay.
“7 Men From Now” was also the first collaboration between, Scott, Harry Joe Brown, Burt KennedyThe Curse of Frankenstein and Budd Boetticher.
It wasn’t readily apparent but this was a stew that would grow into a gorgeous monster.
The disc didn’t set any records but it made enough to justify gathering up the other RANOWN films (RAN-dolph Scott and Harry Joe Br-OWN=RANOWN) and making an interesting box set. Even though none of these films run over 72 minutes they’re all on separate discs. The only extra of note is an okay talking head documentary about Boetticher.
The disks are all wide screen and done well enough. Since my memories of all these films are from TV the bright color and widescreen is a heady enhancement.
For Burt Kennedy “7 Men From Now” was his first produced screenplay. He learned a lot from it. He avoided the mistakes it made for the rest of his career. Kennedy eventually moved into directing, working in TV until he got a shot with “Return of the Seven” a sequel of sorts to “The Magnificent 7”. The he exploded with the chilling western, Cherry Red with Butterfly
Click images for desktop size: “Cherry Red with Butterfly” by Anonymous
“Welcome to Hard Times” and the “Support Your Local Sheriff” and “Support Your Local Gunfighter”. He even did an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s brilliant pulp novel, “The Killer Inside Me.”
Kennedy was in his mid 30’s when he churned out “7 Men From Now”. It was a learning experience. He used it to learn so he could now write some awesome things.
Boetticher was a hanger on fringe director. His last job before directing was as a Matador down in Mexico! Somehow he used this to get into Hollywood show biz.
He did maybe a dozen B type adventure films. Nothing truly astonishing from any I’ve seen. Then he had a small hit with his autobiographical movie, “The Bullfighter and the Lady.” The movie didn’t impress me, more because of my distaste for bullfighting then anything else. But the guy had learned how to tell a story.
He started to make westerns. His first was the Audie Murphy movie, “The Cimarron Kid”. It wasThe Cycle Savages alright. It stepped him up to better budgets and better actors, like Glenn Ford in “The Man From the Alamo”.
But it wasn’t until “The Tall T” that he really exploded.
“The Tall T” is a movie that moves you in many different ways, few of which you could readily anticipate. Part of this is due to some astonishing acting. Part of it is due to Randolph Scott acknowledging the limits of his abilities and his willingness to see himself as the centerpiece of a project and not just a movie star.
“The Tall T” starts off with Scott pretty much playing the hapless buffoon. His buffoonery is amplified over and over. The only typical “manly” attribute he’s given is honor.
Instead of going for a drink he goes to by the candy he promised a young boy he’d pick up. When he makes a bet with his old boss (his horse against a prize brahma “seed” bull) to ride the bull Scott looses and then dives into a water trough to avoid getting trampled. He rises from the trough looking like a rodeo clown.
Next we see Scott walking the 20 miles back home. His friend, Ringtoon, picks him up over the complaints of his chartered passengers. They pull into Scott’s destination. The stage line office where Scott plans to borrow a horse and deliver his candy to the 9 year old boy.
Suddenly the movie transforms. It becomes galvanic with the appearance of Richard Boone, as gang leader Frank, and Henry Silva as Chink. The names are important. They are as much adjectives as they are nouns.
Program Cover by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: “Program” by Maxfield Parrish
Boone is magnificent, quietly deadly, thin and easily quick, totally self aware and, by implication, totally self obsessed, and most of all charismatic. Silva, who became famous for playing noir-ish type deranged gangsters brings the edge of urban psychosis juvenile delinquency to the wild mountain scenery.
When the stage coach pulls into the station they are robbed by Frank, Chink and Billy Jack. Scott stands by helpless and ineffectual while Chink kills his friend Ringtoon.
They’ve already killed the station master and the 9 year old boy. Billy Jack takes the candy Scott bought for the kid and happily eats it. They dumped the bodies down the well, polluting the only water for miles. They refuse Scott the right to give his friend a “proper burial”. Scott is forced to dump his friend into the well.
Its clear that Frank plans to kill Scott and the two passengers; the newlywed Mims. Mrs Mims is anThe Cabinet of Dr Caligari heiress. Her father owns the richest copper mine in the territory. Her husband bargains with the robbers by telling them this, even outlying a plan where the robbers can collect a huge ransom for the woman. In effect he’s selling his wife, trying to barter her for his own life. She remains unaware of this.
Boone decides to follow through with this plan, asking for 50,000 in ransom. Mims’ is relieved to be out of immediate danger and proud of himself for concocting such a masterful scheme to extort money from his father-in-law.
Mrs Mims is played by the lovely Maureen O’Sullivan, best known for playing the primally sexy Jane in the Weismuller Tarzan flics. Here she startlingly transforms herself into a dowdy, mousey subservient sub-human thing. She reacts, clearly, not with her heart but with what her mind tells her that her heart should feel. Its a wonderful performance.
To Chink’s disappointment Frank doesn’t allow him to kill Scott and put him in the well. At first that seems to be a mere plot contrivance. You can’t kill the hero, sort of thing. It might have been that but it is used effectively to show what the film is really about, the revelation of character. The make up of humanity and the masks we use in order to live each day in a savage barren world. With that intent Boetticher steps very close to genius just for making the attempt.
The film plays out. The scheme plays out. It never cheats. It never loses its tension. What the story does to is astonish and surprise.
Disruption by Krabban
Click images for desktop size: “Disruption” by Krabban
The thrills start with Boone explaining to Scott that he kept Scott alive because he liked him. Scott works hard to contain his disgust at being “liked” by this criminal.
Boone doesn’t notice. He tells Scott of the hours of tedium riding with young guns like Chink and Billy Jack. How they never have dreams beyond a bottle and a woman. And Boone is weary of that sort of conversation. He forces Scott to talk about his ranch.
True to the sociopath Boone turns Scott’s wistful memories of his “place” to reflect on his own need to belong somewhere to have a part of the world where he belongs, that is absolutely his.
This small exchange makes us start to like Boone. It sets us up for the next scene.
Mims returns with Billy Jack. Their errand was successful. His father-in-law will raise the 50,000 and ransom his daughter. The three outlaws are joyous at the impending wealth. In a burst of generosity Boone tells Mims they don’t need him anymore. He’s free to go.The Decline of Western Civilization
Mims is stunned, but he can’t stop talking. He tries to make Boone see what a brilliant idea this is. How much he will be able to speed up the money collection. He can even lead the father-in-law back to the money drop off.
Affably Boone agrees with him, nearly compliments him. Mims looks at the shack that imprisons his wife and says, “I should say goodbye. No, it’s best I get going right away and get this done.” He can barely conceal his glee as he mounts up and rides away.
Boone’s performance is unsettling. He seems genuine and sincere but underneath the tone is the unhinged cruelty of a man who has had a lifetime of living with his mental disease and no longer recognizes it as a disease but merely a part of his life and personality.
Everybody but Scott, who is disgusted, is ecstatic. O’Sullivan comes out of the shack at the sound of all the laughter. When her husband reaches the top of the hill he turns and waves.
Now the first time I saw this scene my stomach dropped, like when you’re playing Mario Brothers and you send the little guy jumping across a chasm and he misses and he plummets to his electronic death.
Boone stops smiling and says, “Bust him, Chink.” Instantly Chink stops laughing and fires his rifle kitting Mims. Before he can finish falling Chink draws his six gun and shoots him twice more.
O’Sullivan shrieks in terror. Boone is stunned.
“What’s wrong with her?” he says nonplussed. He speaks to her like he was talking to a slow child. “Lady, you should be thanking me for this. That man sold you. Do you hear me, lady? He sold you!” Then, rather annoyed, “She should be thanking me for ridding her of a thing like that husband of Ali Landry
Click images for desktop size: “Ali Landry”
“He was her husband,” is Scott’s laconic reply.
“That don’t mean never mind,” Boone grumbles, “it don’t mean he’s a man.”
O’Sullivan gets her scene too, where she seems to spark inside her dowdy face and confess she’s not crying for her dead husband but for herself. Now she thinks she is doomed to be forever alone. Good stuff. Touching and not jarring the mood.
Scott continues as a low menemic hero up through the end. His dispatching of the two youngsters is violent. More so that only because the deaths of Mims and Ringtoon were shown before. This is the 50’s so the gore is only implied but the implication is horrendous enough.
When the two young guns are dispensed with and Boone is miles away O’Sullivan wants to run away, escape. Its a sensible plan. Scott rebuffs her with the line, “There are some things a man just can’t ride around.” And he plans to murder Boone.
Boone trumps him. He returns to the hideout, money bags stuffed with cash. He discovers his The Devil's Bride henchmen savagely murdered and then falls into Scott’s trap. Instead of desperately fighting back he complies with Scott’s demands to drop the money and his gun but he keeps his back to Scott and walks to his horse. “You won’t shoot me in the back. Your not that kind of man.”
And he rides off.
In some ways I would have preferred that would have been the ending. Boone stirred up so many ambivalent feelings that having him simply ride off would have been totally satisfying. But this was the 50’s of Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. Bad guys couldn’t ever just get away with it.
Boone rides out of sight and pulls his rifle from its scabbard and gallops back into camp where Scott blasts him out of the saddle. Scott and O’Sullivan walk to their horses gradually growing closer together.
For a B feature, “The Tall T” was a success. A lot of people going to see it instead of the A feature it Blueprint by Louie Mantia
Click images for desktop size: “Blueprint” by Louie Mantia
was played with.
After directing a couple of episodes of “The Count of Monte Cristo” TV show. (!) RANOWN wanted another movie. They rushed out “Decision at Sundown”.
After the high achievements of “The Tall T” this was a let down. Burt Kennedy didn’t do the script. This movie was pretty formulaic. Stranger rides into town makes complacent town people reassess their life etc. The interesting parts are plentiful. Scott was called on to play a psycho reminiscent of Howie Kemp, Jimmy Stewart’s character in the great “Naked Spur”. Its too nuanced a character for Scott to altogether pull off.
The movies not a waste and is enjoyable; but that’s all.Dinosaurus
For the next one they bought Kennedy in to punch up an interesting but formulaic script’ “Buchanan Rides Alone”.
More of that next time and then the rest of the box set.

My back is about 95%. It usually is. No pain if I don’t move to fast and I no longer have to crawl up my own body to stand up. Except I have a cold. I’m fighting it pretty well.
Tomorrow we pick up my friends new car. Getting stoked.
Beau coup walking today WITHOUT A DOG! Getting license plates, checks, the usual drill. You have to work for everything even the things you’ve earned.

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship Saint Thomas Aquinas

Radiant by Richard Mohler Sometimes it seems that when I was a real rude, self centered jerk prone to lashing out randomly and often unprovoked, it seems like I had more friends. Or at least I knew a lot of people who’dZombie Flesh Eaters loan me money without blinking . . .
Did these people value me? I have no idea. How can you know what people think of you? Even when I was a jerk I knew better than to value people by the amount of money they’d loan me.
I guess than the question is; “did I value them?” At least enough to repay all the loans, not out of pride but because it was what you did and I often figured that they needed it as badly as I did.
I wasn’t above repaying them conversely to the difficulty they gave Green Lantern me in borrowing it. Meaning the people who loaned it to me the easiest got repaid first. Usually it seemed they were the people who could least afford to loan me money at all.
I guess I valued them. A handful of them I still consider friends to this day.
I wasn’t always borrowing money, just once to scrape of the 20% house down payment – $35,000. There’s a number I won’t ever forget. Then banks wouldn’t even consider a mortgage unless you had at least 20% down.
Then, in LA, I knew people who were excited about getting rear ended. A lot of homes got sold, financed by whiplash, (I often wondered if the lawyers got 33% of the home too. That didn’t mean that I wasn’t a touch jealous of their mixed fortune. I’d have traded pain for a home and not to be looking at a mountain of debt.)
So I guess I just had more friends back then. When I began to be changed by the world I guess I Red Nude stopped seeing people as replaceable commodities. I began to value them, to care.
I’m not smart enough to know if my friends now are “better” than my friends from back then. I don’t really know if more people hate me now then hated me then. I just know I’m happy now, then I seemed to only have desperate drive punctuated with moments of happiness that made the mad quest for money and recognition seem almost worth it.
I’m thinking too much about this stuff because the bank turned down the car loan. This is surprising. My friend has had a business relationship with them since she was twenty – car loans, two mortgages, even personal loans, all repaid with no issues, even the current mortgage.
It seems there was a credit card that involved a huge dispute. Then since September nothing from them. The assumption was that it was settled. Now it looks like what they did was write off a REC balance and reported it as bad debt. Seems pretty corporate vindictive. The amount written off was something that would have been paid if they’d given her/us the chance.
I don’t know. Maybe its just the current economy and banks looking for excuses to not make loans. Who knows?
Thinking about it I only ever had one banker as a friend. I called him “John the Dork”. I liked him. He made me laugh sometimes. He was remarkable awkward in any social situation but frank enough to turn it from being embarrassing.
I’ve always hated banks. So much that this barely surprises me.
It hurts my friend though and that makes me very angry. Not with her but with banks.
One solution is to refinance the house. I’ve no idea if there is enough equity in the house to get the money for the car or if its worth all the trouble.
I feel a bit guilty because I don’t drive anymore (eyes). I like my friend working from home. I like her being around at least 95% of the time. So I feel guilt because I don’t mind her not having a car. Stupid heart of mine.
I feel ready to trek to the grocery store, even get one of those little shopping cats that you see people you feel sorry for trundling home loaded down with their groceries.
I worry about the extreme expense of renting cars. I’m slightly relieved that her company (a non-profit) is paying for the rental car for her trip out of town that started today.
Red Sunset by LawnElf I’m sad as she was so happy with the car she found. It fir her and seemed as perfect for her as a used car could be. The crazy cool car lot has been remarkably chilled. She called them yesterday and told the salesman that she was having trouble with the bank. The salesman said no problem. He’d hold the car through today and if the problem continued he’d hold it longer. No request for a deposit. No pressure.
The lot had a sign up that said something about them being Christian and how they believed all their transactions were watched over by Christ. Cynically I thought it was just Right Wing propaganda. I guess I was wrong. Some people are sincere in their beliefs.
While we were at the car lot there was a bit of drama. A customer had taken a car out onto an unplowed road and rolled it into a ditch. The oner was out and there was a serious discussion as to what the manager should do: Call the police; give the customer a lecture; just get the car and forgetBride of Frankenstein about it; make them pay for repairs.
I was surprised that they gave each option equal weight. Our salesman said, after I told him I’d been eavesdropping, that the owner always believed in giving people “grace”.
I hope we can do business with these guys.
I don’t know.
I only know my friend is upset and I’m a bit of a loss as to what I can do to make it all better. Being helpless is not a good way to feel. I think it eats her up more than it does me and that makes it hurt worse for me.

The car situation is so overwhelming that it took the joy out of something I’d normally be pretty happy about. Its small. I managed to trade for the five Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott westerns. They are all nothing less than excellent with two of them “The Tall T” and “Ride Lonesome” being two of the best westerns ever made.
Now they seem more like a distraction than a great find. I’ve watched them all for years on VHS tapes recorded from TV and lousy rips from those tapes.
Even something like this doesn’t cheer me up.
My puppy is sitting close to me. She wants me to be happy.

How can I break down your resistance when you keep me at a distance Gary Lozzio

Listen Mr DJ
Click images for desktop size: “Listen Mr DJ” by Anonymous
Yesterday I didn’t get to go on my anticipated bike ride.
A few days ago I tested the bike out and it worked beautifully. Yesterday it just died. It beeped some sort of error message. I don’t speak machine well enough to know what it was saying.
Super Monsters Fussed with a lot but tried to avoid taking it apart. Noticed some places I needed to grease but accomplished nothing else.
So my puppy and I walked our chores.
Then later on we walked to the Dog Park. Just my giant dog my puppy and me. According to sources its only 2 and a half miles to the dog park. Felt like over 3 to me. Maybe I’m getting older . . . I used to be good at that sort of thing, judging distances, measurements and stuff. Tired legs and botched vision could mess up my perceptions enough.
The Dog Park was empty which sort of defeats our purpose. We could chase balls in the yard. My puppy disagrees. She’s one of those, “Its the journey not the destination” types.
Maybe I should wait until I get goggles to go e-biking. I got more junk in my right eye. Very irritating.
I think its because I’ve still got residuals to the Bells Palsy. The blink reflex isn’t what it should be so I keep getting junk in it. It keeps ruining my vision, makes it hard to judge just where my vision is going to end up.
While I was doing some house cleaning, well, I always keep some fringe film on while I work I listen, stop and watch if it sounds interesting, while I work.
I watched “Hi Yo Silver” like that. It was decidedly very cool.
“Hi Yo Silver” is the 62 minute abridged version of the 1940 “The Lone Ranger” serial. I now need to see the whole 210 minute version.
Great moments abound here. Not least is the opening where the top billed star is “SILVER THE WONDER HORSE”. He gets a Jeremais Laments  By Remrandt
Click images for desktop size: “Jeremais Laments . . .” by Rembrandt
a leadoff title card where he rearing and clawing at the air wearing a remarkable Mexican silver saddle!
It just gets better. I was never a huge Lone Ranger fan but this little movie really makes a fictional character transcend prose and brings him into myth and legend.
Income Tax was implemented during the Civil War. The bad guy kills and steals the identity of the Federal Tax Collector for Texas. He starts a reign of terror, recruits his own army, and steals LEGALLY from the poor cattlemen and Texas dirt farmers.
The Texan’s organize their best and brightest into a militia, the Texas Rangers. The bad guy hears about this and ambushes them, massacres them.
An indian, Tonto, comes across the scene. Only one of the three dozen men clings to life. Tonto rescues him and takes him to a cave where he nurses him to health.
It has to be said here, Tonto is the coolest character in the movie. He’s actually tougher and smarter than the Lone Ranger. Tammy And The T-Rex He not only saves his life he uses the Ranger’s rabid thirst for revenge to create the Lone Ranger’s persona.
Also notable is that in the film the good guys treat Tonto with respect and deference while the bad guys hurl every imaginable racial epithet at him and about him.
(On a kid note Tonto does some oh so nifty things. Like stopping a wagon train to stick a knife into a giant tree. He puts his ear to the tree and clamps his teeth around the knife blade. He explains to the ignorant cowboys that “the roots of the tree grow deep. The tree hears many things. Tonto asks to share the tree’s wisdom. Thirty riders coming fast.” No wonder I always wanted to be an Indian.)
The Lone Ranger becomes a character like Batman. A good man warped by a blind need for revenge. He’s near unbalanced but because he fights for justice we forgive and accept. Batman relied on a teenager, Robin, to keep his fragile grasp on reality. The Lone Ranger depends on the wise stoicism of Tonto to help him and his sanity survive. Pretty deep for a kiddie flic but right there on the surface and told in a way that kids would understand and grasp.
There’s an appearance by the “wisest man in Washington” Abraham Lincoln, nicely blurring the line between fever dreams and history. Shockingly the filmmakers use the assassination of Lincoln in an unexpected way, showing how his death impacted individuals. With a stroke they manage to not only cement the illusion that this a true story but they also manage to draw a tensile connection for every kid to his elected officials.
The Lone Ranger gets a group of four other men together. They help him in his mad quest to rid Texas of evil. They also all die, one by one, in glorious heroic ways. Anime by Sohryu
Click images for desktop size: “Anime” by Sohryu
Each time one of them dies the Lone Ranger steals their bodies and buries them in the cave he uses as his home and headquarters. A macabre constant reminder should he ever feel his madness begin to relent.
There’s a lot of plot and action. This is also awesome as the masked Lone Ranger is played by legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt, the greatest rider and horseman in the history of motion pictures. He was also a swell fighter.
Of course good finally triumphs. The Lone Ranger seems to rise from the dead. His madness should have been calmed but it continues. He trumpets that evil still exists and that he MUST seek it out and destroy. He promises/threatens that should the Great State of Texas ever again feel the heel of oppression he will return.
When I coached in Texas I have to admit that they are the only people I’ve met who are fervid about their homes. I was once talking about the quality of Texas football when I was politely but firmly corrected that I was talking about WEST Texas football. I like pride.
Pride is an assest I spent a lot of time trying to instill in my players The Amazing Collosal Man Not just on the field but in their lives and their life within the community. To see a little movie so effortlessly create those chest swelling moments and to do it transparency and to make it enjoyable is sobering and uplifting.
Myths and movies like this reflect and instill that kind of innate birth right pride. I love that because the pride it instills is based a bit on madness and that madness is devoted to equality, fairness and freedom. YOW!
I need to find the complete serial!
Now I need to go see what I can stick in my eyes today . . .

My vision is bad but my sense of smell is keen. I could smell a fire before you ever saw it Heng Liu

Remembering Venice - Oki Kenji
Click images for desktop size: “Remembering Venice” by Oki Kenji
I liked Obama’s response to Bush’s State Of The Union Address.
I didn’t like the State Of The Union. It only showed that Bush has no contact with the people of this country. He’s off in a millionaires dream of endless dividends at no cost to himself.
I took a long walk today with my puppy and the good dog. Guilty Bystander It was a cold nasty day. The snow is melting and becoming icy slush.
I noticed that people who live on steep hills are the worst at keeping their walks cleaned, shoveled or walkable.
I slipped a couple of times but I didn’t fall once. I think that disappointed the dogs.
Either I’m adapting to this type of climate or the dogs efforts to kill me are becoming less genuine.
While I was walking I realized that I was unconsciously avoiding stepping on any cracks in the sidewalk. I think I’ve been doing that since I was 5.
When I became aware of it I tried to alter my stride to either step on the cracks or to pay them no mind. I couldn’t do it. My stride would revert and I kept avoiding them. All because of that rhyme, “Step on a crack and break your mother’s back.”
I have no idea why that should be so ingrained. I probably don’t want to find out.

Last night I was completely alone. Or as alone as you can be with dogs.
I watched Brad Pitt’s, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”. An ungainly title for an ungainly film.
I like the legend of Jesse James. Thanks to Henry Fonda I prefer the legend of Frank James. I like that in the far west there are still old timers who will champion Frank James and look sympathetically at Jesse.
When I was in Missouri I went to this place called Mermac Caverns, or something close to that. I went there because it was one of the old hide outs of Jesse James when he ran with the Daltons and the Youngers.
Click images for desktop size: “Dove” by Unknown
You have to be some kind of legend to get me to spend twelve bucks to look in a hole in the ground because once, you may have stood there.
I can’t explain the world’s fascination or even my own fascination with Jesse James. That doesn’t matter much. What bothers me is that Brad Pitt and Andrew Dominik (The writer/director) have less of a clue than I do.
One thing I have to say is that the movie runs over 2 and one half hours . . . of which 1/3rd seems to be overly dramatic time lapsed shots of evangelical skies.
I was wondering why all the characters didn’t have vertigo. Maybe Jesse killed so many because he had a horrible case of motion sickness.
Every event that happens in a man’s life, no matter how portentous, is not accompanied or proceeded by 30 seconds of vast whirling clouds.
Hell's Five Hours There’ve been an amazing amount of screen portrayals of Jesse James. For my money the most memorable were Tyrone Powers romantic but legendary portrayal, Robert Duvall’s sociopath psychotic and James Keach’s cardboard cutout.
Brad Pitt’s interpretation borrows heavily from the latter two. His Jesse James tries to be legendary but comes off as a psychotic stick figure. He makes the character confusing and erratic with no solid line of light or plastic reality to hold on to.
This isn’t helped much by Pitt’s and the writer’s bizarre point that Jess was suicidal . . . huh? This is explained (in their minds anyway) by Jess walking out onto a frozen river and shooting at his reflection in the ice while talking about suicide. Its a pretty stupid scene.
Casey Affleck’s Robert Ford is just annoying. The guy is working hard but the part is just unbearably half baked. Robert Ford shot Jesse James in the back because he idolized him and wanted to be famous . . . I guess I could accept that but I don’t think I need to be clubbed over the head with it repeatedly. And repeatedly.
Hugh Ross does the narration. Once in a while a narrator can be an interesting addition to a move. Not often and certainly not when the narrators main purpose seems to be to explain what the heck is happening and to convey things that the director and actors seem incapable of.
At it’s least offensive the narration reminded me of a droning history teacher who seemed intent on draining the excitement of the acts buried in our books.
What seems amazing to me is that this Andrew Dominik was able to convince these people to sink their millions into this movie and moreover that Dominik himself should be the eye that told the story!
I watched it to the end. Because its a western and, like a million other things I know I’ll never get to do, I’ll never have a time machine that will take me back so I can see these things for myself.
Still Life - Ring de Pieter
Click images for desktop size: “Still Life” by Ring de Pieter
Then I watched a Chinese movie, “Assembly”.
It shows how dumb I can be. I never imagined that a war movie from Mainland China would be out the People’s Liberation Army.
The first hour is really spent introducing us to Captain Gi. He’s been in the army since 1939 when they were fighting the Japanese. (WWII – its fashionable to forget that they were in that war too) We find him fighting the the USA sponsored National Army. The National Army has American tanks and artillery. The People’s Army has home made howitzers and molotov cocktails.
What’s fascinating is there isn’t a big deal made about this inequity. The only real point was that the Nationals had better boots and jackets. That was pushed because it becomes a major plot point.
The first 2/3rds of this movie is battle. I would say it owes something to Speilberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” in that it is unflinching in its devastation and in the effect modern war fare has on the human body.
Highway Dragnet It is fabulous heroic action footage. Unbelievably well done. Unbelievably gripping, touching on cliches and expanding them to reality.
Captain Gi and his 47 men are given an impossible task. To hold a strip of land until they here the bugler play “Assembly”.
They all die except for Captain Gi. He is the sole survivor. The Chinese don’t quite believe who he is because he was found shot and burned and broken but wearing the jacket and boots of the enemy.
Then the film takes a deeply fascinating turn.
I can say that the Chinese have figured out how to make movies. This one delivers in ways that Brad Pitt’s film doesn’t even hint at. I was half expecting commie propaganda. If its there it is so skillfully enmeshed that I missed it.
During the Korean War Americans are not shown as a much hated enemy or even a force. They come across as well meaning bunglers more than anything else.
The biggest personal villain seems to be Chairman’s Mao’s incredible byzantine and intractable bureaucracy! And its disregard for the individual.
A man who is killed in the war receives 700 pounds of rice for being a war hero. A living war hero gets a ticket home. A man missing in action presumed dead gets 200 pounds of rice for his family. A funny price to put on things.
Sometimes Love Is Pain
Click images for desktop size: “Sometimes Love Is Pain”
Gi spends the rest of the film trying to find the battlefield and the remains of his company. He walks through a graveyard full of hundreds of markers for unknown soldiers. “Their mothers gave them names. Why is it now that they are nameless.”
He finds the battlefield and discovers that miners are using the dead soldiers helmets as piss pots. He gathers up the helmets and washes them in a stream and then puts them on the unknown soldiers grave markers.
And then he finds out that his company was sacrificed. They were left to die. And the man who gave the order was a friend who is now dead and past Gi’s vengeance. His whole purpose in life is now, to find the bodies of his men and see them honored.
Its a beautiful movie. Sharp, unstinting and devoid of agitprop.
It’s a true story.
Very much worth seeing but the opening hour is more harrowing than any war film since Fuller.

I have to cut things short. I think I’m getting sick.