Saturday, December 20, 2008

How the West Was Won

John Ford, George Marshall, Henry Hathaway, 1962 (7.4*)
This panaromic epic attempts to tell the story of the American western frontier as it advanced historically by using separate family stories connected to one family, the Prescotts, fathered in the beginning by Karl Malden.

Earlier versions had these awful vertical lines from a extreme widescreen process using three cameras and overlapping images, but they finally remastered this digitally and removed the lines, so its now worth watching again. However, the different sections and stories don't really mesh and the film lacks pace, perhaps from having 5 segments by three directors, actually tries to use lots of narration by Spencer Tracy to tie it together, so it seems like a History Channel special at times.

Many major stars are in this: James Stewart as a trapper, Debbie Reynolds as Malden's daughter who heads west, Gregory Peck as a gambler who romances her, Walter Brennan as a river pirate, John Wayne as a union general, Henry Fonda as a buffalo hunter. However, many of these talented actors are basically wasted without much to do; Fonda was the best to me. An ambitious attempt, worth watching for the sound, scope, and color cinematography, and the best buffalo stampede in cinema history.

Quote: I'm a God-fearin' man and I tell the truth as I see it (Malden)
Quote2: I settled down for a year once and it took 10 years off my life (Fonda)


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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