Sunday, August 29, 2010

THE GREATEST WESTERN MOVIE OF THEM ALL!

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[Cinematic Symbolism.]
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THERE IS NO GREATER LOVE THAN THIS,
THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE
FOR THE SAKE OF HIS FRIENDS.
~ Jesus Christ
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As promised, here is a look at what I consider to be – without question – the greatest Western film ever produced.
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As I said previously, my favorite Western movie is ‘Monte Walsh’ from 1970, starring Lee Marvin, Jack Palance, and Jeanne Moreau. This is my favorite because I can personally relate so well to the principal character and his circumstances.
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But the greatest Western film (snapping right at Monte Walsh’s heels), and coming in second in my own personal ranking, is this:
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The Wild Bunch – 1969
Starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, and Robert Ryan
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Directed by SAM PECKINPAH in 1969, the story takes place primarily in Mexico during the revolution of 1913. It concerns the aging Pike Bishop and the last five surviving members of his outlaw gang who become mercenaries for a Mexican general at war against Pancho Villa’s forces. This wild bunch agrees to try stealing a shipment of rifles from the U.S. Army for General Mapache, all the while that Bishop’s ex-partner-in-crime, Deke Thornton, is leading a posse that is dogging the wild bunch and attempting to kill them on behalf of a railroad executive.
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Evaluating ‘THE WILD BUNCH’ objectively in terms of narrative force, characterization, direction, scope, suspense, and pure excitement, it is unsurpassed in the pantheon of Western films – the “Citizen Kane” of Westerns.
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‘The Wild Bunch’ is a moral tale and an audacious story in a lot of ways, because you’re taking killers, who we see in the opening five minutes of the movie are savage, terrible killers, yet it enables you to discover their humanity; takes you on a journey where they – for the first time in their lives – do something for somebody else.
~ David Weddle
author of ‘IF THEY MOVE…KILL ‘EM!’: The Life And Times Of Sam Peckinpah’ (1994)
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["If they move... kill 'em!".]
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Below are some excerpts related to Peckinpah’s ‘The Wild Bunch’ from the David Weddle book “If They Move…Kill ‘Em”.

Page 362:
But there were valid concerns behind Sam’s obsessiveness. The first time around, the Warners sound department laid in the same gunshot effects they’d been using since Errol Flynn made ‘Dodge City’ in 1939. Every six-gun and rifle sounded the same. Sam threw a fit, insisting that new gunshots be recorded so that each gun in the picture had its own individual sound. By the time they were finished more than a hundred different gunshots were used on the effects track. “To mesh all of those onto one track and still bring out those individual sounds was a son of a bitch, but it happened, you’ll hear it,” says Lou Lombardo. “You know when Holden fires, ‘cause that forty-five barks, and you know when Strother fires that thirty-ought-six. Sam raised hell over that effects track, but he got them to bring it up to a level of quality that won them the S.M.P.T.E. sound-effects award.”
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The first fine cut of ‘The Wild Bunch’ ran two hours, thirty-one minutes and had a total of 3,642 cuts in it, more than any other film processed by Technicolor up until that time. (American movies in the late sixties had an average of 600 cuts.)
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[Stealing American weapons for a Mexican general.]
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Martin Scorsese:
“I think everyone remembers where they were when they first saw The Wild Bunch,” says Ann Godoff, a film student at NYU at the time, and now an executive editor at Random House.

One of Godoff’s instructors, Martin Scorsese, remembers where he was. He tagged along with Jay Cocks, then a movie critic for Time, to a special screening of the film at Warner Bros. “It was just the two of us witnessing this incredible work of art. We were stunned, totally stunned, overwhelmed. ‘Ride The High Country’ was a good indication of a new approach to the Western. It was like the beginning of the end, and ‘The Wild Bunch’ was the end. But it was an incredible blaze of glory. … The exhilaration had to do with the way he used film and the way he used the images with a number of different cameras going at different speeds. You really get a wonderful choreographed effect, it’s like dance or like poetry. Jay and I had been expecting something really incredible, but we were still taken aback by it, because it was much more than we expected.”
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[Running to the general; running from the posse.]
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John Milius:
“I saw ‘The Wild Bunch’ about the second or third day after it opened on Hollywood Boulevard,” says John Milius, screenwriter of ‘Jeremiah Johnson’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’ [and ‘The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean’] and director of such films as ‘Big Wednesday’ and ‘Conan The Barbarian’. “That was because George Lucas saw it and said, ‘This is the best movie ever made! It’s better than ‘The Searchers’, it’s better than anything! You all have to go see it!’

“So we went and saw it. I really liked the movie. There was a side of Peckinpah that was out of control; I liked that. And then you have that wonderful scene where they’re sitting there drinking and the old man says, ‘We all dream of being a child again, even the worst of us, perhaps the worst most of all.’ You will remember that line all of your life, ALL OF YOUR LIFE! It’s something you take away from that movie and you’ll NEVER forget. How many movies ever give you that? There are many moments in ‘Wild Bunch’ that are like that.”
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[Here comes the posse.]
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Alex Cox:
In England, where the film won almost unanimous raves from the critics, Alex Cox, director of ‘Sid And Nancy’ and ‘Walker’, was among the first to see it. “I’d never laid eyes on a western like that. It seemed to me to be so much a film about the Vietnam War, a film about guys in military uniforms taking hostages and committing atrocities, going to foreign countries and murdering people, and really not giving a damn for anything except their own little community. They had this tremendous sense of their own heroism and their own importance and their own sense of honor.
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I thought it was a fantastic film. It was an extraordinary action movie, a great action movie, but it had such a sense of cynicism and brutality as well. It’s amazing that he got it made. The cast was so perfectly chosen, Holden, Borgnine, Ryan, all of the performances were so full of passion and sadness. That was the great thing about all of Peckinpah’s films, the SADNESS that the characters have inside them.”
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["Let's go."]
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Ron Shelton:
Ron Shelton, director of ‘Bull Durham’ and ‘White Men Can’t Jump’, was a minor-league ball player scratching out a living on dusty baseball diamonds in the Southwest. “I went to movies every day, basically to kill the afternoon ‘cause you didn’t have to be to the ball park until four-thirty and the theaters were air-conditioned. Well, in the summer of sixty-nine I went to a movie called ‘The Wild Bunch’ in Little Rock… It was just a western, but I liked westerns. After it was over I was exhilarated and I didn’t know why. I was exhilarated, and I’d just seen a bunch of killers kill a bunch of other killers. I wanted to know why I was exhilarated. …

I think I was exhilarated because of the sense of shifting loyalties and the compiling of irony upon irony without the movie getting bogged in the cerebral. It functioned at an emotional level that narrative art needs to, and compounded and confounded the mythologies and the ironies in a way that never felt self-conscious. The sad thing today is that action movies have degenerated into cartoons. We forget that at their best, action movies can be as complex and intelligent as anything in Shakespeare.”
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[Pike rides off alone.]
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Ethan Mordden:
Ethan Mordden writes in his recent book, ‘Medium Cool – The Movies Of The 1960s’, “The Wild Bunch is an astonishingly unique film virtually frame by frame, Peckinpah’s masterpiece and, as aficionados are gradually learning, one of the masterpieces of American cinema.”
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[When people and dynamite meet.]
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Page 375:
‘The Wild Bunch’ won only two Academy nominations, one for Jerry Fielding’s score and another for the screenplay by Sickner, Green and Peckinpah: no nomination for editing… for directing… nor for best picture. The omissions were ludicrous at face value, but given the clubby beauty-contest criteria if not outright bribery on which the awards are based, it was a minor miracle that the enfant terrible got any nominations at all.
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Time, the great equalizer, would correct this injustice, though Sam Peckinpah never lived to see it. ‘The Wild Bunch’ exploded on American movie screens in 1969 like a shrapnel bomb, easily the most controversial picture that season. But it has since risen to the status of a respectable classic. Its violence, though still intensely disturbing, has lost its sensationalism in the wake of the hundreds of high-tech (and truly nihilistic) bloodbaths that have followed it. The depletion of its shock value has cleared the way for a deeper appreciation of its thematic complexity, rich characterizations, textured detail, and its epic and profoundly romantic vision. It now regularly appears on critics’ lists of the the best movies of all time.
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[Pike gives 'em hell.]
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Page 376:
When home video opened a whole new market up in the early 1980s, ‘The Wild Bunch’ was one of the first twenty films that Warners released. The uncut version was eventually released on videotape as well, though the wide-screen images were cropped for TV, obliterating Peckinpah’s original compostions, and the soundtrack was in muddy mono – all those hundreds of hours Sam spent on the dubbing stage were lost.

Will Americans ever get a chance to see one of the greatest films ever produced in their country in the form that its creator intended? In the early 1990s, Martin Scorsese, Robert Harris, Garner Simmons, and Paul Seydor began lobbying various Warner Bros. executives for a theatrical release of Peckinpah’s version of the film. In February 1993 their efforts appeared to have paid off. Warners announced plans to release a 70mm, fully restored print of the film, complete with its original six-track stereo soundtrack. After premiering at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, the picture would go on to play in fifteen other American cities, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston.

Then, like a scene in some black comic nightmare, disaster struck again. Not realizing that Peckinpah’s version had already been given an R-rating by the MPAA in 1969, the new generation of Warners executives submitted it to the Association for a rating. To the studio’s dismay, the MPAA rerated the film NC-17 (the equivalent of the old X-rating), which rendered the plan to release it commercially unfeasible.

Taken at face value, the MPAA’s action was absurd. Dozens of other recent “action” movies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, and others have been packed with graphic violence that goes far beyond anything in ‘The Wild Bunch’. Why the double standard? ...
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Warners promptly canceled its plans to release the restored film “until further notice”, and The Los Angeles Times Sunday “Calendar” section was filled with letters from outraged fans for two successive weeks afterward.
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[Here comes trouble!]
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I’m happy to report that in 1995, Warner Brothers eventually worked through all the red tape and nonsense and did follow through on their plans to release ‘The Wild Bunch’ in a fully restored 70mm print of the "director’s cut". As originally planned, it was first shown at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, U.S.A. The Countess and I went to see it, not once but twice, six days apart. And here are my saved ticket receipts to prove it:
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If you’ve never seen the full director’s cut of ‘The Wild Bunch’ and yet you consider yourself a fan of the Western movie genre, think again, slowpoke cowpoke! It is now available on DVD, and I watch my copy at least once a year.
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My own full-length review of ‘The Wild Bunch’ can be read HERE.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
(aka The Black Cole Kid)
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YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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34 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

How you must love westerns......as much as I like and love music.
I used to got to the cimema every week as a child and up until I had my second child but not since.
I know many of the stars you mention but not the films.
Your writing of these films are excellent and was a pleasure to read.

Yvonne.

arlee bird said...

I was wondering where The Wild Bunch was when I read your favorites list. It's a movie that I have seen, and do own, though I've only seen it once and liked it immensely. I will have to watch it again.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

YVONNE ~
Thank you, my friend!
Yes, Western movies are a passion for me, but only one of several things that I am truly passionate about.



LEE ~
'The Wild Bunch': There is NONE better!

Every time I read The Holy Bible, I find more things in it that I had not discovered before. Believe it or not, nearly the same applies to 'The Wild Bunch'. That's the reason I can view it at least once every year and still not tire of it.

It's one of my Top Ten favorite movies of all time - Western or otherwise.

Yak Later, Bro.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Anonymous said...

I recognize that machine gun!

I owe you great thanks, because I had never seen the film until you "loaned" it to me. It truly is a great film, and it is one that the mind returns to again and again.

thanks, Brother!

Mr. Paul

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

MR. PAULBOY PRODIGALMAN VI ~
Just got "home" this afternoon. Stopped by my P.O. Box and picked up what you sended - including the machine gun article. THANKS!!!

Have only glanced at them, but will read EVERYTHING fully in the week to follow.

Incidentally... as things turned out, I wasn't able to take "Lolita" on my trip after all. My local Airheadzona library only has one copy and it was loaned out. So I borrowed and took Phillip Jennings' "The Politically Incorrect Guide To The Vietnam War" on vacation with me instead. (Heck, it's almost the same story, ain't it?)

But I will get to "LOLita" sooner than later, Brotherman.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

Stephen, Monte Walsh is my favorite too. Other great Westerns include Ford's Wagon Master and Peckinpah's Ride the High Country.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~
"Wagon Master" and "Ride The High Country"...

You got it, Bro! I like 'em both.

You have great taste in Westerns, my friend!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

Stephen, I like your taste in music. Van Morrison is great. He gives a brilliant live performance.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~
You are correct, sir! I have seen Van Morrison perform live at least three, maybe four times. And I gotta say, he is one seriously cantankerous, curmudgeonly dude, and if you catch him on a night when he's not really in the mood to perform, he's not worth the cost of the ticket. BUT... when he IS in the mood to perform, he's GREAT! One of the best for sure.

I still say that "It's Too Late To Stop Now" is quite possibly the best live album ever released. And I defy anyone to watch The Band's "Last Waltz" movie and then tell me honestly that Van Morrison didn't steal the show.

Hey, Brother, I wish you had a blog, because I would sign up to "Follow" it if you did.

This is true: I work nights, and I spent most of tonight's shift thinking about how I'm soon going to have "Monte Walsh" on DVD. You have no idea how thrilling that is for me. It's because I AM Monte Walsh; that's the flippin' story of my life!

I have a friend who loves Westerns and although he knows that 'MW' is my very favorite Western, he has never seen it, even though I have offered to loan him my VHS copy, because he's always said that the first time he sees it, he wants it to be in the full-screen, non-"Pan 'N' Scan" format.

So I'm already thinking that one of those 2 copies I purchased today for myself, I will give to him as a gift. Then I'll have to buy yet a 4th copy (to keep as my own backup copy). Dude, you gotta make that call for me. I'm an "addict". :o)

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

Stephen, I agree with you
about "It's Too Late To Stop Now". I like all his albums, including the later ones.
I have also seen some excellent American singer-songwriters in concert. I'm thinking of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Guy Clark. Kristofferson has written some wonderful songs. I like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits as well
I recently bought a copy of Monte Walsh on DVD. I only discovered by chance that it was now available on DVD. One of the things I like in particular about Monte Walsh is its wonderful elegiac quality. Any particular reason you bought two copies of the film?
Another film you might enjoy is Jacques Tourneur's Stars in My Crown.
By the way, are you on Facebook?

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Part 1 Of 2:

PETER ~

-->...I have also seen some excellent American singer-songwriters in concert. I'm thinking of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Guy Clark.

Best live performer I ever saw? Believe it or not - Waylon Jennings. He was the epitome of an "entertainer".

-->...I like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits as well

You've just named 3 of the greatest lyricists of all time there. I would rate Waits and Dylan at 1 & 2. Of course, it depends upon whether one prefers macro or micro lyrics. If macro, then it's Dylan first and Waits second.

Springsteen (especially his earlier stuff - up until "Born In The U.S.A.", in my opinion) would certainly make my Top 5 Lyricists list. Warren Zevon would make it also. I think the final spot on my list would go to either Van-The-Man or... Well, no. Correction! Here's my Top 5 List, in order:

1: Tom Waits
2: Bob Dylan
3: Todd Snider
4: Warren Zevon
5: Bruce Springsteen

The next two would be Van Morrison and Rickie Lee Jones. (RLJ on the strength of her first two albums. Just "Last Chance Texaco" ALONE would have been enough to get Jones on my Top Ten list without question!)

-->...One of the things I like in particular about Monte Walsh is its wonderful elegiac quality.

Oh, I totally agree! But there are so many other aspects of that movie that resonate for me. Seriously, I watch that movie and feel - in a "modern" way - that I am watching a biography of ME on the screen. Did you ever read my full-length review of 'Monte Walsh'?

-->...Any particular reason you bought two copies of the film?

Yeah. Basically, just because I'm insane. It's a movie that I love so much, that is SO meaningful to me, that I feel I would need two copies, just in case something happened to one of them and I wasn't able to find a replacement.

I did the same thing with my OTHER favorite movie, 'Koyaanisqatsi'. I have two DVD copies of 'Koyaanisqatsi' also. I'm just "loco", Brother. That's the best explanation.

-->...Another film you might enjoy is Jacques Tourneur's Stars in My Crown.

Really? OK! Never heard of it before, but I'll add it to my NetFlix queue right away. Thanks for the recommendation.

-->...By the way, are you on Facebook?

Nah. 'Fraid not. I'm not really into the "Social Networking" sites. This blog is IT for me... and I even intend to cease blogging shortly after the New Year begins.

Hey, I see that you are living in Ireland. You don't have "The Commitments" on your favorite movie list?! I saw it for the first time only about a year ago, but I loved it so much that I think I've seen it twice since then. Man, that is perhaps the definition of a "Low-Budget Classic"! A great movie that I really ought to buy on DVD.

Continued Below...

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Part 2 Of 2:

OK, now one wee complaint, Brother...

I was looking at your list of favorite movies. "Good Night, And Good Luck"?!

Oh, my Brother! My Brother, you have fallen for pure propaganda! Let me assure you that despite everything you may think you "know" about Senator Joseph McCarthy; despite every lie you will find propagated via the mainstream media and posted on the Internet, the honest-to-goodness truth of the matter is that - in REAL life - Joe McCarthy was the good guy; Edward R. Murrow was the villain!

I think I can safely guarantee that in this lifetime you will not meet a person who has spent more time studying the question of "McCarthy" and "McCarthyism" than I have. And if I have one "Earthly Hero", it is Senator Joseph McCarthy.

McCarthy is probably the most unjustly maligned person in the history of "this world", and if I could spend an hour casually talking with anyone in the history of "this world", Joe McCarthy would be my second choice.

Let me just caution you about believing too quickly - sans independent research on your part - the mainstream dogma pertaining to Senator McCarthy; and let me leave you with one of the best things ever said about McCarthy:

The restoration of McCarthy ... is a necessary part of the restoration of America, for if we have not the national character to repent of the injustice we did him, nor ... the intelligence to see that he was right, then it seems unlikely that we can or ought to survive.
~ Medford Evans


McCarthy is my "main man", and if I had a dime for every lie that has ever been told about him, I would retire today, a very rich person!

~ Stephen T. McCARTHY
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

My favourite singer-songwriters would include:
Van Morrison
Bob Dylan
Kris Kristofferson
Bruce Springsteen
Leonard Cohen
Jacques Brel

I have seen them all perform in concert, except for Jacques Brel.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~
I've seen half of those listed perform live: Van, Bruce, and Bob.

Van and Bruce were great. Bob was somewhat boring. He gave a very perfunctory performance. Even so, I'm not sorry I went because when one has an opportunity to see a true, iconic, American music legend like Bob Dylan, especially at those prices - $20. a ticket - only a fool would pass up the opportunity.

However, it's doubtful I would go see him a second time. I'd rather just drink a bottle of wine and listen to "Bringing It All Back Home" at home. (Or listen to "Blood On The Tracks" while drinking a bottle of wine and slitting my wrists by degrees.[;o)

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

I once saw Bob and Van perform separately at the same concert. Bob was very disappointing whereas Van gave a great performance when he came on later in the evening. He made the experience worthwhile.

I quite enjoy listening to Meat Loaf.

Have you ever listened to Kris Kristofferson? Many of his songs refer to the damage caused by alcohol and addictions of various sorts.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Nah, not really a Kris Kristofferson fan.

One of my best buddies in high school was a big Kristofferson fan. His favorites were Kris Kris, Linda Ronstadt, and Crystal Gayle.

But I always thought Kristofferson sounded "flat" when he sang. Gimme any one of the other "Highwaymen" instead (but especially Waylon).

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

I enjoy listening to Waylon Jennings. Also Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. Two excellent singer-songwriters I have seen perform in concert are John Prine and Guy Clark. Have you heard them?
I see you like Thoreau's writing. He's very good. Emerson as well.

Did you see the film 'Into the Wild'?

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~
No, my Brother, I can't say as I am familiar with the work of John Prine or Guy Clark, nor have I seen the movie 'Into The Wild'.

Although I like a handful of performers from a pretty wide variety of genres, when it comes to music, Jazz is far and away my favorite form.

Oh, yeah, dig Thoreau big time! By the way, a little known fact: the letter "T." in my pen name, Stephen T. McCarthy, stands for "Thoreau".

One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Thoreau's 'Walden':

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

I like jazz too. People such as Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Who do you like?

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~
Well, nuttin' wrong with any of the performers you mentioned (especially, for me, "Satchmo").

But to name just a few of my favorites amongst favorites:

Glenn Miller; The Pat Metheny Group; Ben Webster; and in the "Jazz/Rock/Funk" category, Brian Auger.

But, of course, there are so many other Jazz greats that I could go on and on.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

Yes, I like all those you mention. I agree with you about "Satchmo". He had a great personality.

Apropos Thoreau, I was wondering if you have read much in his Journals? He sure wrote many volumes. I think they were published by Princeton University Press. There have of course been condensed versions.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~
No. I have read all of Thoreau's major publications, as well as his correspondence titled "Notes To A Spiritual Seeker", and I have visited Thoreau's hometown and walked around Walden Pond. Nothing beyond that, Brother.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

Stephen, Thoreau's journal is well worth reading. There are good abridged versions available.

I like these lines from Walden

"The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly"

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Yep, that's a good one.
Another one I especially like is:

Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is open...He is blessed who is assured that the animal is dying out in him day by day, and the Divine being established.
~ Henry D. Thoreau

But, of course, I could go on and on when it comes to memorable Thoreau quotations. Without a doubt he's on my all-time list of Top Two Or Three Favorite Writers.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

Stephen,
To return to Monte Walsh for a moment, I was wondering if you have watched it many times, and do you find you get more out of it each time you view the film? It connects with Thoreau in a way, I suppose, in that we all have the tendency to move quickly from one experience to the next, without taking the time to truly digest and appreciate the experience in the way Thoreau would advise.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~
I would estimate that I have seen 'Monte Walsh' a couple dozen times. And yes, for awhile I found new things in it with subsequent viewings. But I'm fairly sure that many viewings ago I had wrung all the meaning out of that movie.

And, by the way, my full-length review of the movie begins with this paragraph:

'MONTE WALSH' is haunting and lyrical; a slow, dark, and melancholy poem on celluloid. It's Henry David Thoreau in a Stetson and down on his luck.

I drew the Thoreau connection primarily upon the "simplicity" of a cowboy's life, and Monte's determination to live up to his personal code of honor - his adherence to the slogan, "To thine own self be true". Both of which I consider to be "Thoroughly Thoreauian" (even though it was Shakespeare who wrote the slogan).

However, the Western that I believe has the most to discover upon many repeated viewings is the one which was the subject of this particular blog bit: "The Wild Bunch".

I was still discovering new layers and new nuances to "The Wild Bunch" for the longest time. I think I've finally exhausted all of that movie's meaning, but it didn't happen quickly. Which goes to show just how complex "The Wild Bunch" really is and how much gold there is to be extracted from that motion picture "ore."

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

Stephen, I have long been a fan of Sam Peckinpah. I reckon my favorites would be:
RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY
CROSS OF IRON
THE BALAD OF CABLE HOGUE
BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA
PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID
THE WILD BUNCH

I think that CROSS OF IRON is one of the very best anti-war films ever made.

I agree with your comment that one of the things that connects Thoreau and Monty Walsh is the idea of "To thine own self be true". Which reminds me of another great director whose films you might like. I'm thinking of Jean-Pierre Melville. He made a lot of excellent films about loner figures who live by a strict code of honor. Jean-Pierre was very much influenced by American film and culture. In fact, Melville wasn't his real name. He changed his name to Melville because of his love of the books of Herman Melville. Speaking of which, have you read MOBY DICK? I read it last year at the prompting of an American friend.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~

RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY was a very good movie. I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have the first time around but it all clicked the second time I saw it. (I now own it on DVD).

CROSS OF IRON I think I saw once, ages ago, or saw portions of it anyway. I should add it to my NetFlix queue, as I remember little about it now. I don't like War movies, but if it has an anti-War message, that's OK.

THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE I liked pretty well. It kind of mixed some "tones" that didn't quite work for me, but viewed primarily as a comedy, it is entertaining. (I have described it as "sort of a poor man's 'Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean'." Even though Hogue preceded Bean.)

BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA I haven't seen, and PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID I didn't care for.

In my opinion, THE WILD BUNCH is quite obviously Peckinpah's real masterpiece. (By the way, I read a biography about Peckinpah earlier this year and the guy was just an A-List jackass-jerk! He was a good filmmaker but left a lot to be desired as a human being.)

I'm not familiar with Jean-Pierre Melville's work. Is there any one movie you would most recommend? (I tried to get that other movie you recommended previously but NetFlix doesn't carry it.)

-->...Speaking of which, have you read MOBY DICK? I read it last year at the prompting of an American friend.

I still read a ton, but 98.98% of what I read is nonfiction. I did all of my fiction reading in my teens and early twenties, and now consider fiction to be mostly a waste of limited time.

However, there are four "classics" of literature that I say I want to read before I die, and one of them is "Moby Dick". The other three are "Don Quixote", "Little Women", and "Ulysses".

Although it's kind of doubtful I will ever get to those 4 novels because there's just so much good and far more important nonfiction books out there that I would prefer to spend my time in.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

Stephen,
Yes, Ulysses is a great book. I have read it. I have a friend in the US whose favorite book is Ulysses, followed by Moby Dick. Any particular reason why you want to read Little Women?


Re fiction and factual books, I find that often I learn much more about the true nature of life from novels and poetry.

I checked at Amazon for Jean-Pierre Melville. Some of his best films are available on this box-set:
http://www.amazon.com/Jean-Pierre-Melville-Collection-REGION-Discs/dp/B003B1U4Q0/ref=sr_1_22?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1293180718&sr=1-22
There is one film in that set I am especialy fond of. It's Léon Morin, Prêtre. They are all excellent films.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~
I will respond to your latest comment in a couple of days. But for now...

...I simply want to wish you a
"MERRY CHRISTMAS!", Brother.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

A HAPPY AND PEACEFUL CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR to you too.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~

-->...Any particular reason why you want to read Little Women?

Yes. Well, first of all, it IS considered an American classic. Secondly, one of my very favorite novels of all-time is "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. And my Brother, who also considers "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" to be one of the best novels he's ever read, has read "Little Women" too and he tells me that it is nearly as good. And I trust my Brother's judgment.

-->...Re fiction and factual books, I find that often I learn much more about the true nature of life from novels and poetry.

Well, here's where we take different forks in the road and part company I'm afraid. The older I have gotten and the more books I have read, the more I have come to realize that there is probably nothing conceived in the mind of any writer that doesn't have its equivalent in the reality of "this world".

The writers of novels are merely reinventing or reframing circumstances and human emotions and human reactions, human ideas, desires and fears, and portraying them in imaginary settings.

But anything one is attracted to in a novel can be found in real life. Anything a fictional character can think, feel or do has already been thought, felt and done by a real living, breathing human being. And I find the "real" far more compelling than the "imaginary".

And besides all that, if I spent most of my time reading fiction instead of nonfiction, I wouldn't be able to so thoroughly destroy liberals in political debates the way I do.
:o)

I don't mind spending 90 minutes to 2 hours watching a movie for simple entertainment purposes, but if I'm going to spend days or a week or two weeks reading something, when I'm finished with the book, I want to mentally possess valid information which can be applied and utilized in "this world". I want to have gained some historic facts and real life knowledge that I can use to my benefit or to help others also come to understand the world in which we live.

Reading a book of fiction is OK once in awhile, but there is a limit to how many books I will be able to read in this lifetime, and I want to make my reading time really count for something. Dan Brown, Stephen King, the Harry Potter series - they're all pretty much a waste of valuable time, in my opinion.

-->...I checked at Amazon for Jean-Pierre Melville. Some of his best films are available on this box-set:

Thanks! I checked it out. Too expensive for me. NetFlix doesn't have Léon Morin Prêtre available, but I did save it in my queue in case they ever acquire it. I'm going to look for it later today at my local library. And if they don't carry it either, I may purchase a somewhat reasonably priced copy I found online.

Thanks for the suggestion, my friend.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Peter said...

I think a healthy balance between fact and fiction is healthy. They are often inseparable anyway. Take the world financial crisis for example. The root cause of this was predicated on a lot of people living in a fantasy world.

I do wonder if your wish to "thoroughly destroy liberals in political debates" is all that desirable. We need to remain open to other possibilities. Reflection and openness to a change of heart and mind should not be easily dismissed.

I agree with your comment about Dan Brown, Stephen King and the Harry Potter series.

Yes, I think you might enjoy Léon Morin Prêtre. There is definitely a touch of Thoreau about that film.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

PETER ~

>>...I think a healthy balance between fact and fiction is healthy.

Well, ordinarily I'm for "balance" in most things, but not when it comes to time spent reading fiction vs. time spent reading nonfiction.

As much as I love John Steinbeck's writing, and as good as I thought "The Grapes Of Wrath" was, I learned considerably more about Dust Bowl Refugees by reading nonfiction than I did by reading Steinbeck's classic on the subject.

Although there is certainly plenty of bad nonfiction out there, if Americans read 10 works of nonfiction to every 1 book of fiction, this country wouldn't be in the mess it currently is. I blame it mostly on TV and fiction and general apathy.

>>...Take the world financial crisis for example. The root cause of this was predicated on a lot of people living in a fantasy world.

Well, I certainly agree that fantasies are the root cause of the economic meltdown. But whether you and I would concur on what were the most egregious fantasies responsible is perhaps questionable.

>>...I do wonder if your wish to "thoroughly destroy liberals in political debates" is all that desirable.

Well, it's not so much a "wish" per se, as just a statement of fact pertaining to what does occur when I find myself in debate with liberals.

A liberal's selective research and overwhelmingly unrealistic "idealism" leads to gargantuan leaps of logic, a refusal to acknowledge long proven aspects of human nature and an inability to process facts and reason a thing out from Point A to Point Z in an organic way.

In other words, a liberal is at a distinct disadvantage EVERY TIME he or she encounters an "informed" conservative. (But, of course, they generally enter into debate with the belief that they can win with "loudness" alone.)

>>...We need to remain open to other possibilities.

Like "diversity" and stuffs, I guess.

>>...Reflection and openness to a change of heart and mind should not be easily dismissed.

Well, I don't know what it's like where you are, but HERE, liberals have had their way for far too long. We've EXPERIENCED what their thinking leads to. It's now time for them to step aside and let people with a DIFFERENT viewpoint take a crack at it. It's time for liberals to taste some of that "DIVERSITY" they claim to have so much respect for.

Anyway... this sort of dialogue is better suited for my other blog. 'STUFFS' is designed more for "frivolous fun".

>>...Yes, I think you might enjoy Léon Morin Prêtre. There is definitely a touch of Thoreau about that film.

The Phoenix library system didn't carry it, but because the plot description sounded like something that would appeal to me, I purchased a $16. VHS copy from a website. If I love it, maybe I'll reconsider that DVD box set.

I have now viewed my 'MONTE WALSH' DVD and was very pleased with the picture quality. That's the best its looked since I first saw it on a movie theatre screen in the early 1970s. (In truth, I don't remember seeing it on the silver screen, even though I know that I did.)

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'