Friday, May 20, 2011

The Loft's Favorite Westerns

In anticipation of Kelly Reichardt's new award-winning new Western re-vision, Meek's Cutoff, here is a list of The Loft staff's favorite westerns, new and old, good and bad.  Mostly old and good.

Steven Soloway, Office Manager

My favorite western, hands down, is John Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. Instead of making the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral the film's centerpiece, Ford focuses his lens on the little day-to-day things -- haircuts, romance, friendship, poker, drinking.

My favorite scene:

Peggy Springer, Administrative Assistant

I have limited knowledge and exposure to Westerns, but the Coen Brothers have made two in the last few years that are both among my favorite films of all time, so of course NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is my favorite western, and the recent TRUE GRIT is a very close second. I love NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN for many reasons, but mostly because it's so cool. The performances are all amazing and I love how there is no score/soundtrack at all and the only music in the entire film is at the very end/end credit sequence. So Cool! Following very closely to the Cormac McCarthy novel, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN explores what happens when one individual quickly loses control of a situation he never had control of before, but he likes to think that he did.

Alexandra Bernhardt, Floor Staff

My favorite western is 3:10 TO YUMA (2007). I enjoy this film because it's more than just a shoot-em-up, it's a western with emotional impact and engaging characters. Also, one of my favorite performances by Russell Crowe.

J.J. Giddings, Operations Director

DEAD MAN. It's the western I've seen the most and I could watch it any time, any where. Plus it has an amazing cast and a killer score by Neil Young.

Luanne Withee, Membership Director

This is easy for me:  THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD because it is awesome!

Kyle Canfield, General Manager

UNFORGIVEN: Gene Hackman vs Clint Eastwood... need I say more? (Because if I do, it would probably take a 20 page essay to touch on every point that makes this film one of the all time greats.)

Daniel Terry, Assistant Manager

RIO BRAVO. Why? Why not? The Duke, Dino, Angie Dickinson, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, Angie Dickinson and Angie Dickinson! What's not to like? Seriously though, it's just a great story with a great cast by a great director. It's near perfect in every way.

Dave Paiz, Facilities Manager

I hadn't really given this much thought prior to yesterday, but I'm going to have to go with, BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID. Redford & Newman at the top of their game. Solid screenplay by William Goldman, great music, and one of the best endings of any movie - EVER.

Peggy Johnson, Executive Director

My favorite Western is SEVEN SAMURAI by Akira Kurasawa. Having grown up in the SW and been raised on Westerns, there are very few of what would be considered "classic Westerns" that I can tolerate (see REEL INJUN from the Loft Film Fest 2010 for a sampling of reasons). I also love all the remakes of SEVEN SAMURAI, from MAGNIFICENT SEVEN to LAGAAN to SHAOLIN SOCCER!

Dan Steen, Assistant Manager

I'm gonna have to go with THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, because it's the first western I saw that was genuinely funny (Chief Dan George is amazing), and for its relatively positive portrayal of Native Americans.

Tim Keene, Floor Staff

Mine is SHANE.  I remember the longing, the loss.

Anthony Cutrone, Floor Staff

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is my favorite western. It's not a shoot-em-up western by any means, but it's a very human story about greed, isolation and trying to find the American dream in the wilds of central Mexico. The acting is top notch and this movie showed that John Houston was becoming one of the great American directors. It's just one of those movies that blows you away the first time you see it. It was nominated for 4 Oscars in 1949, including Best Picture, and won three. Best Director, Best Writing and Best Supporting Actor. A fun note, Paul Thomas Anderson stated that he watched THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE every night before filming THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

Evan Salazar, Floor Staff

WILD WILD WEST. It has a giant mechanical spider and Will Smith. Remember that one part where that thing blew up and Will Smith shot that gun? That part was awesome.

(My real answer is THE WILD BUNCH but that's not as fun!)

Jeff Yanc, Program Director

MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER. This great, atmospheric Robert Altman western, starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as a scummy gambler and an opium-addicted prostitute who become business partners in a desolate Old West mining town, feels like a hazy drug dream filled with lots and lots of snow, bizarre supporting characters, weird overlapping dialog and a very lugubrious soundtrack by Leonard Cohen. This is truly unlike any western I've ever seen.

Zach Breneman, Business Manager

For me, Alejandro Jodorowsky's EL TOPO is the perfect blend of Western ideals mixed with surrealism and heady psychedelic mysticism.  Although it by turns spoofs and deconstructs Westerns, it also IS one (much in the same way BLAZING SADDLES is a Western).  It's also unlike any film ever made, before or since.  Truly one of a kind.

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