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Western films > Gangster films > ?



Irish Cowboy ||10-25-2001 ||03:35 AM| |TheIrishCowboy@hotmail.com|

One neednt look hard to see the transition.

Legendary director Kurosawa - the original asian director, and sorry timbo but far more genuis than your boy John Woo - directed 3 well known films.

1) Ran - Japanese take on Shakespear's "King Lear", excellent battle scenes.  On its way here in a bit from Netflix if anyone's interested.

2) Seven Samurai - Great flick about saving a desolate town, later turned into "The Magnificent Seven", a great western with Stevie McQueen, Yul Brener, James Caan,

Charles Bronson etc.

3) Yojimbo - Original "lone wolf badass" story, later became Eastwood's incredible "Fistull of Dollars", then Bruce Willis Vs Christopher Walken in "Last Man Standing", a gangster flick.

Ignoring all this tho, Ive finally figured it out - their strong similarities come in the themes.

A strong, independent figure, standin by a moral code in the face of impossible odds and alla that.  The character is not always a staunch hero - the good ones have him as

almost indifferent (Eastwood's Man with No Name trilogy), etc.

I used to get the feelin of a link when watchin gangster flicks, i think it was m'boy


Pacino in "Carlito's Way" that really made me think this too - i loved that flick, and couldnt help but feel it was a step or too away from a western.

Today, it happened again, watchin Kevin Costern & Sean Connery mount up as "The Untouchables" to take down Al Capone (De Niro, who else?).  Shotguns, cavalry ride an

all.  Twas a fine moment.

My question is - where from there? Some action flicks like Die Hard feel western, but modern action is still tryin to recover from the 80's flux of crap-ass Segal, Van Dame, Lundgren, etc.  Gangster flicks still come and go, but what else is in that vein?

I mean, war flicks arent nearly as prevelant, and good ones are much harder to find (Didnt see "Pearl Harbor" but it looked like it tossed some lame romance into it, at least we had "Saving Private Ryan").

Anyway, there might come a time in the next generation or so when gangster films will die down a bit (if you think that theyre on a low, go to New York.  Good luck findin a

corner that dont sell Pacino "Scarface" pictures), and when they become like westerns are now, or at least the good ones -vastly underappreciated pieces of american art -

then what, what genre comes next?


bacchus ||10-25-2001| |12:25 PM| |bacchus979@hotmail.com|

ok ok  ok that was a good rant ...... but u seem to miss something, notice how in all the genras:western, ganster etc...something always  happends in them!


...............The mentor dies!!!!!


Irish Cowboy ||10-25-2001| |02:30 PM| |TheIrishCowboy@hotmail.com|

Grrr....Obi-Wan, Que-gon, any Connery character, sometimes even the Duke...wait, i got one!

Donnie Brasco, i think Pacino got sold out & went to the big house, but i dont remember him dyin, and he was a helluva mentor!

PS Anyone else got ideas on the next progressive genre?


yahve ||10-25-2001| |05:25 PM|

Rant read.

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Didn't you see Moulin Rouge?! Musicals are the wave of the future, baby!


Seriously, the obvious place is scifi. Starwars has been described as a western in Space, especially as the story could easily be turned into one.


Vader - "Where is the rebel ranch?"

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Interestin, tho Jumbie's obvious choice would be that closest to his heart.

But arent the heroes/plots of a different formula?

Epics, of which your space opera there falls under, are often considered "journey movies" - Kevin Smith recently summed up Lord of the Rings as 3 hours of "walking around". :thinking:

Also, its been said many times: your boy Luke follows Joeseph Campbell's hero formula to a tee: early/cocky failure before teaching finishes, betrayl, triumph, return home etc.

The western and gangster films...many favorites are of the anti-hero, cant say i can think of many current popular sci-fi flicks along these lines.  Also, while i respect both fields, your sci-fi/epics are far grander; even the best of westerns - The Searchers, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Rio Bravo - are based on base human emotions: revenge, greed, and justice, respectively.

Gangster films, likewise on power & greed.

I dunno, i like your idea, but lets hear some examples that make the transition smoother.

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But StarWars DID have an antihero. Han Solo.


And space opera wasn't what I had in mind when I said scifi.


compare Sons of Katie Elder with Frequency. not the same thing of course but the human fears, hopes and evil shine through in each case.


Western derived SciFi also encompasses "Enemy Mine" (think Dances with Wolves) a great exporation of culture clash.


I'm sure there's more but I'm too tired to think at the moment. Naturally Sci Fi represents a frontier.. And just as Westerns wer used to tell many a mediocre story without actual pioneer spirit, there;'s lots a shootemup scifi stories without merit or even real scifi

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Ya might be on to something.

My film teacher just sent out some class notes, and it seems her theory is that the next step after westerns was sword & sorcery type fantasy, which i consider to be a cunthair away from your sci-fi anyway.  Here's what she wrote, some interestin ideas on movies & society as well.


"We all need heroes. All the ancient civilisations understood this, the Greeks in particular. They were wise enough to realise that, as a race, we have an enormous capacity for violence and destruction, and they used

fantasy to implant moral codes and safeguards into their young. Yes, the hero was a powerful and courageous man, ready to fight any enemy, but he never oppressed the weak, never bullied, never stole, and never lied.


Youngsters were encouraged to be like that mythical hero, to channel their energies into positive areas for the good of the city, the state or the nation. All the great Greek myths carry warnings about destructive patterns

of behaviour.


We still use myth in fiction, in tv and in film but we've lost the focus. Our message to the young is: Do whatever you can get away with. Traditional westerns like Shane and High Noon created the fantasy hero of the early twentieth century, but these were over stamped with revisionist westerns

which showed the West "as it really was," portraying Wild Bill Hickock as a syphillitic braggart, Wyatt Earp as a crooked whoremaster, Custer as an incompetent glory hunter, and so on. This effectively killed the western as a fantasy outlet. With the death of the genre, people needed heroes who

could not be corrupted by new "truths," and sword and sorcery began to soar in popularity. No revisionist could expose Conan, or Gandalf. No one could sully the deeds of Elric of Melnibone or Druss the Legend. In fantasy, the

reader could expect good to combat evil, and to triumph."


Bascially, it seems she'd blame Spaghetti Westerns & movies like Unforgiven, Costner's Wyatt Earp, and Little Big Man for the shift, or evolution of film, which i found interestin.  What do ya think? (I wish more folks joined in here, Witness flooded this place with interestin shit...)


"Nobody should come to the movies unless he believes

in heroes." - John Wayne

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I think that the view of heroes today is part of a wider post modernist revision. Look at the Punisher. It's everywhere, not just westerns.


These days no one is surprised when Kobe Bryant and Reggie Miller get into a fight oncourt. their status as infallible heroes was never seriously believed. No one's is. Who is the most recent hero america has?


the firefighters of NYC... SUre the did heroic things on that day, but you know that included in that bunch of truly heroic men are wifebeaters, racists, homophobes and child abusers. This does not detract from their heroism or their worth as firfighters.


I think we have grown sensible enough to accept that no one is perfect. so our movies dont need perfect heroes. In fact they fail with them becasue they have no credibility.


Of course you were talking about heroes as mythical role models, and in that respect we have lowered our standards to less than perfection.


That leads to two possibilities, one very good , the other very bad.


young people might decide that it is ok to screw up and learn to forgive themselves when they do, becoming much better adjusted individuals...




they might decide that heroism is irrelevant or artificial.

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I agree.  Sadly tho, i lean towards the latter.

Idealism is important; people need somethin to strive for.  Complacency leads to stagnation.  Again, in reality, even tho he owned a large ranch, it's said that the Duke secretly resented horses.  His name, his walk...all artificial.  It was the ideal that was to be recognized/emulated.

When the line towards realism is crossed, we get things like Unforgiven - a great movie of course, but sucessfully deconstructs the image so many earlier westerns tried to instill. I still dont think the void has been officially filled.

Your example of the Punisher is a good one, too.  The heroes are grittier, but injustices wrought upon them (both by evil and neglegent systems, such as Dirty Harry's battle against the incompetent police force, mucked up with red tape) still justify his actions.

In Braveheart, Wallace seems justifed the whole way through; they took his woman, homeland etc.  Details such as him killin his first man barehanded at the age of 14 or keepin "souveneirs" of his victories are left out; he's portrayed as a noble savage, rather than just a psychotic with a purpose.  In that regard, the idealistic hero still exists.

But as far as the manistream has been heading for the last so many years, I'm not so sure.  The idealistic hero will always have a place, but the  anti-hero still seems to hold the limelight.


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It makes sense that fantasy/sci-fi would be the new home for the idealistic heroes you're talking about, because when stuff is put in a realistic setting, people expect it to be realistic.  Especially if it's supposedly based on real people.  It was only a matter of time before word of mouth got around that the real cowboys weren't exactly saints.  So, instead of just accepting that the characters are seperate entities from their real life counterparts, they see those movies as silly and false, as if the filmmakers either were ignorant of the past, or were trying to trick the audience.  

 I think there's a problem with everyone expecting movies to be hyper-realistic.  How many times during an action movie have you heard someone say "aw come on, he woulda hit him a hundred times!  They always miss in these movies.  These guys never run out of bullets!  How dumb." etc etc ad nauseum.  For some odd reason lots of people have trouble accepting the fact that even though they take place in a realistic setting, MOVIES AREN'T REAL.  I understand being opposed to Hollywood cookie cutter stuff, but I swear some people would want Tequila to get shot in the first scene of Hard Boiled, and have John Mclane run out of bullets in the middle of a great action scene in Die Hard.  I think this is why people took to the gangster movies so quickly.  Movies basically went to two different extremes I think.  From the perfect hero that is a great example of morals and values but is hard to relate to, to the absolute anti-hero, who mercilessly kills the enemy and half of the time is fighting "bad guys" simply out of coincidence in that they were the ones who hurt him.  I think people are jaded enough nowadays to beleive that a totally evil person is more realistic than a totally good person.  So, yeah, if you take these stories out of the realm of realism, then people won't have as many problems with it.  Nobody criticized Harry Potter's portrayal of a perfect witch school system or anything like that, cause people would tell them "movies aren't real."

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Anti-hero's make the best characters. Look at Billy Bob Thornton's character in 'The Man who wasn't there'. He tries taking a risk and it always leads to distastrous consequences.


Other fave anti hero's:

Ferris Buella

The Dude

Billy (Buffalo 66)

Cher (Clueless)


The list goes on...

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