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Greatest Director of the Western

 
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[Poll]

Greatest Director of the Western


John Ford
  36% (12)
Sergio Leone
  48% (16)
Clint Eastwood
  6% (2)
Sam Peckinpah
  6% (2)
Anthony Mann
  0% (0)
Other
  3% (1)


Total Votes : 33


(last vote on : 22/7/2009 12:57:42 PM)
(Poll will run till: -- )
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Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 6:40:26 PM   
Mr E


Posts: 1667
Joined: 14/10/2005
Who's best?

John Ford



Sergio Leone



Clint Eastwood



Sam Peckinpah



Anthony Mann


Post #: 1
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 7:04:34 PM   
Harry Lime


Posts: 5147
Joined: 30/9/2005
Hmmm, my heart says Bloody Sam but my head says Pappy Ford. Tough choice, tough choice. Either way, those two stand head and shoulders above all-comers. Anthony Mann would be my third choice.

_____________________________

"People think I have an interesting walk. Hell, I'm just trying to hold my gut in."

If I get there early will it be the right time
our heaven is just waiting so put your hand into mine.

(in reply to Mr E)
Post #: 2
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 7:10:32 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54577
Joined: 1/10/2005
Doesn't Hawks merit more than an 'other'?

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Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to Harry Lime)
Post #: 3
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 7:11:56 PM   
BlueBalls


Posts: 1009
Joined: 7/2/2008
From: Movie hell...
Sergio  Leone. When you make the two of the greatest westerns; Once Upon A Time In The West - in my opinion the best western ever made - and The Good The Bad and The Ugly there's no other choice to make.

I would say second place would go to John Ford and third Sam Peckinpah

< Message edited by BlueBalls -- 24/3/2009 7:13:36 PM >


_____________________________

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation
I declare undying love to BlueBalls.

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Post #: 4
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 8:05:43 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


Posts: 6884
Joined: 11/2/2009
Sergio. I'm yet to see a film by Mann, Peckinpah, or Ford, but as TGTBATU is my favourite film of all times I'll let it drop.

_____________________________

quote:

jamesbondguy:
Miles is clearly the finest film theorist of his generation

quote:

Deviation:
if it isn't ham, I'll eat a living pig.

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Post #: 5
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 9:18:18 PM   
Harry Lime


Posts: 5147
Joined: 30/9/2005
quote:

Sergio Leone. When you make the two of the greatest westerns; Once Upon A Time In The West - in my opinion the best western ever made - and The Good The Bad and The Ugly there's no other choice to make.

I would say second place would go to John Ford and third Sam Peckinpah.

If you're going by quantity of great westerns, I'd say that Ford's The Iron Horse, Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, Wagon Master, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance trump the two Leone movies.

Any list of great western directors can only start with John Ford. He defined the genre and then re-defined it over and over again. He's the touchstone for every director that followed him into the genre. That includes all those others listed.

I'm going to resist the temptation to my lengthy Peckinpah v Leone essay for the time being. Suffice to say, The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid are both infinitely superior to the two Leone films highlighted.

In fact, I'm trying to think of my top ten favourite westerns by limiting the list to just one per director and I'm not even sure a Leone film would make it then.

The Iron Horse (Ford)
Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (Peckinpah)
Shane (Stevens)
The Naked Spur (Mann)
Red River (Hawks)
Unforgiven (Eastwood)
3:10 To Yuma (Daves)
Seven Men From Now (Boetticher)
Johnny Guitar (Ray)
The Day Of The Outlaw (Del Toth)


I'd take all those ahead of Leone's best western (Once Upon A Time In The West), to be honest. And Ford, Peckinpah, Mann, Hawks, Eastwood and Boetticher would all have multiple films if the list was extended too.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Miles Messervy 007

Sergio. I'm yet to see a film by Mann, Peckinpah, or Ford, but as TGTBATU is my favourite film of all times I'll let it drop.

I'm genuinely suprised by that Miles! I thought you'd have seen some Ford, at least!

_____________________________

"People think I have an interesting walk. Hell, I'm just trying to hold my gut in."

If I get there early will it be the right time
our heaven is just waiting so put your hand into mine.

(in reply to Miles Messervy 007)
Post #: 6
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 9:28:57 PM   
doncopey1


Posts: 4993
Joined: 29/11/2005
From: Liverpool: Age 25
John Ford for me, although I do have a lot, a lot of love for Peckinpah. Anthony Mann's dark brooding depiction of the Western earns him third spot, whilst Budd Boetticher would gain 4th. On Leone for he is a great example of style over substance. Sure they look nice but half the time I don't give a shit (in a sassy Nicholson voice).

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Post #: 7
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 10:15:41 PM   
BlueBalls


Posts: 1009
Joined: 7/2/2008
From: Movie hell...
quote:

ORIGINAL: Harry Lime

quote:

Sergio Leone. When you make the two of the greatest westerns; Once Upon A Time In The West - in my opinion the best western ever made - and The Good The Bad and The Ugly there's no other choice to make.

I would say second place would go to John Ford and third Sam Peckinpah.

If you're going by quantity of great westerns, I'd say that Ford's The Iron Horse, Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, Wagon Master, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance trump the two Leone movies.

Any list of great western directors can only start with John Ford. He defined the genre and then re-defined it over and over again. He's the touchstone for every director that followed him into the genre. That includes all those others listed.

I'm going to resist the temptation to my lengthy Peckinpah v Leone essay for the time being. Suffice to say, The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid are both infinitely superior to the two Leone films highlighted.

In fact, I'm trying to think of my top ten favourite westerns by limiting the list to just one per director and I'm not even sure a Leone film would make it then.

The Iron Horse (Ford)
Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (Peckinpah)
Shane (Stevens)
The Naked Spur (Mann)
Red River (Hawks)
Unforgiven (Eastwood)
3:10 To Yuma (Daves)
Seven Men From Now (Boetticher)
Johnny Guitar (Ray)
The Day Of The Outlaw (Del Toth)


I'd take all those ahead of Leone's best western (Once Upon A Time In The West), to be honest. And Ford, Peckinpah, Mann, Hawks, Eastwood and Boetticher would all have multiple films if the list was extended too.


I think we're going to have to agree to dissagree on this one. Whilst I fully commend and like nearly all of John Ford's westerns,  Rio Grande and The Searchers especially I consider them true greats of the genre. I just dont find as much enjoyment when watching them as I do watching Leone's greats.

But thats just me . . . .

_____________________________

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation
I declare undying love to BlueBalls.

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Post #: 8
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 11:04:55 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54577
Joined: 1/10/2005
From these (and adding Boetticher too) the only thing I'd be clear on is that Leone would be far adrift way down at the bottom. I think my favourite Westerns list has an equal number of entries from the others, Eastwood apart.

_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to BlueBalls)
Post #: 9
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 24/3/2009 11:57:41 PM   
DCMaximo


Posts: 992
Joined: 5/1/2007
From: Nottingham via Aidy Boothroyd's Palace of Wisdom
Ford narrowly beats Peckinpah for me.

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Post #: 10
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 12:04:04 AM   
Mr E


Posts: 1667
Joined: 14/10/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

John Ford for me, although I do have a lot, a lot of love for Peckinpah. Anthony Mann's dark brooding depiction of the Western earns him third spot, whilst Budd Boetticher would gain 4th. On Leone for he is a great example of style over substance. Sure they look nice but half the time I don't give a shit (in a sassy Nicholson voice).


There's nothing wrong with a little style over substance when the style is so damn good. In Sergio Leone's case, he has one of the most iconic and influential styles in cinema history. Who needs plot or dialogue when a film looks and sounds that good?

I think I'll vote Clint anyway. Unforgiven and Outlaw Josey Wales are masterpieces and High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider are hugely entertaining westerns.

(in reply to doncopey1)
Post #: 11
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 1:27:41 AM   
Miles Messervy 007


Posts: 6884
Joined: 11/2/2009

quote:

I'm genuinely suprised by that Miles! I thought you'd have seen some Ford, at least!

I'm 14, cut me some slack. I have recorded The Searchers and Liberty Valance off Sky though, so soon I'll tell you what I think


_____________________________

quote:

jamesbondguy:
Miles is clearly the finest film theorist of his generation

quote:

Deviation:
if it isn't ham, I'll eat a living pig.

(in reply to Mr E)
Post #: 12
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 8:11:14 AM   
Harry Lime


Posts: 5147
Joined: 30/9/2005
quote:

I'm 14, cut me some slack. I have recorded The Searchers and Liberty Valance off Sky though, so soon I'll tell you what I think


 
14? I'm even more suprised by that! You write better than many of the adults here!
 
Still! At least I can understand your Leone love now! You'll grow and learn young one! You'll grow and learn!  

_____________________________

"People think I have an interesting walk. Hell, I'm just trying to hold my gut in."

If I get there early will it be the right time
our heaven is just waiting so put your hand into mine.

(in reply to Miles Messervy 007)
Post #: 13
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 8:13:22 AM   
Miles Messervy 007


Posts: 6884
Joined: 11/2/2009
Forget about it, they will remain childhood favourites Although I must say I'm already getting disillusioned by Bond films
Oh, and thanks for the compliment


_____________________________

quote:

jamesbondguy:
Miles is clearly the finest film theorist of his generation

quote:

Deviation:
if it isn't ham, I'll eat a living pig.

(in reply to Harry Lime)
Post #: 14
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 1:09:54 PM   
directorscut


Posts: 10881
Joined: 30/9/2005
Ford, and everyone on that list would also say that he is (except maybe Eastwood).  Without Ford there probably wouldn't be a Western genre to speak of.  He is the God that leans over everyone else working in the genre.

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Post #: 15
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 1:10:45 PM   
Professor Moriarty

 

Posts: 10264
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: the waters of Casablanca
I think my jaw dropped to when I just saw that Miles is 14. Kudos to you young sir.

As some know Mann is not my strong point (and neither are westerns) so bear that in mind. But for me it would have to be John Ford. I'm still only really at early days of his filmography, but the ones I have seen:

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I put this first in terms of its importance to me, if not the genre. I'm impressed by what the director did in this film to end his own myth of the west. But really I'm putting it there because before seeing this film I wasn't a big John Wayne fan. An actor that I considered stereotyped to making a lot of genre films and who imo didn't have great range or even great charisma. So I really approached Liberty Valance on the basis of it being a "Jimmy Stewart film" but it also changed my attitude to Wayne, which opened the door to see many other of his films.

Stagecoach. I then found to be a more rounded and character driven piece than I'd expected before. Sure it has a great set piece, which is rightly well remembered 70 years on, but there's a lot more going on between those members of the stagecoach too and quite rightly the film builds and builds before the attack scene.

The Cavalry Trilogy. I don't think I've seen She Wore a Yellow Ribbon yet (or more correctly I have but its so long ago I don't remember it). Fort Apache is my favourite and again for non-Wayne fans treat it as a Henry Fonda movie.

The Searchers. Is a film that carries a big name. Widely lauded and considered by many to be one of the best pieces of film-making out there, not just in this genre, but any. And my tip would be to not start here. It doesn't have much up front to deliver to the casual viewer imo, but with a bit of knowledge of the genre (and possibly even a 2nd or 3rd viewing) it does live up to its billing.

(in reply to Miles Messervy 007)
Post #: 16
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 1:20:30 PM   
directorscut


Posts: 10881
Joined: 30/9/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

John Ford for me, although I do have a lot, a lot of love for Peckinpah. Anthony Mann's dark brooding depiction of the Western earns him third spot, whilst Budd Boetticher would gain 4th. On Leone for he is a great example of style over substance. Sure they look nice but half the time I don't give a shit (in a sassy Nicholson voice).


For Leone his style is the substance.  It is his style that creates the atmosphere, the tension, the excitement, the attachment to characters.  The way he cuts between ultra extreme close ups and long shots.  The way he edits the scenes to Morricone's peerless music. 

If your hair doesn't stand up on you neck during the climatic stand offs of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West then you sir are not alive.

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Post #: 17
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 1:32:24 PM   
doncopey1


Posts: 4993
Joined: 29/11/2005
From: Liverpool: Age 25
quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

John Ford for me, although I do have a lot, a lot of love for Peckinpah. Anthony Mann's dark brooding depiction of the Western earns him third spot, whilst Budd Boetticher would gain 4th. On Leone for he is a great example of style over substance. Sure they look nice but half the time I don't give a shit (in a sassy Nicholson voice).


For Leone his style is the substance.  It is his style that creates the atmosphere, the tension, the excitement, the attachment to characters.  The way he cuts between ultra extreme close ups and long shots.  The way he edits the scenes to Morricone's peerless music. 

If your hair doesn't stand up on you neck during the climatic stand offs of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West then you sir are not alive.


Im not denying he creates some moments of brilliance but to put it differently he relies to much on his style. He has to be the most formulaic director in cinema, his characters are carictures and its lauded upon us with his over stylistic camera work and editing. I'll give you TGTBATU but nothing else. Just my opnion im afraid.

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Post #: 18
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 1:34:01 PM   
doncopey1


Posts: 4993
Joined: 29/11/2005
From: Liverpool: Age 25
quote:

ORIGINAL: Miles Messervy 007


quote:

I'm genuinely suprised by that Miles! I thought you'd have seen some Ford, at least!

I'm 14, cut me some slack. I have recorded The Searchers and Liberty Valance off Sky though, so soon I'll tell you what I think



Hail you young sir. Love the avatar btw

_____________________________

"Fake is as old as the Eden tree." Orson Welles

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Post #: 19
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 2:06:25 PM   
directorscut


Posts: 10881
Joined: 30/9/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

John Ford for me, although I do have a lot, a lot of love for Peckinpah. Anthony Mann's dark brooding depiction of the Western earns him third spot, whilst Budd Boetticher would gain 4th. On Leone for he is a great example of style over substance. Sure they look nice but half the time I don't give a shit (in a sassy Nicholson voice).


For Leone his style is the substance.  It is his style that creates the atmosphere, the tension, the excitement, the attachment to characters.  The way he cuts between ultra extreme close ups and long shots.  The way he edits the scenes to Morricone's peerless music. 

If your hair doesn't stand up on you neck during the climatic stand offs of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West then you sir are not alive.


Im not denying he creates some moments of brilliance but to put it differently he relies to much on his style. He has to be the most formulaic director in cinema, his characters are carictures and its lauded upon us with his over stylistic camera work and editing. I'll give you TGTBATU but nothing else. Just my opnion im afraid.


I'm not sure how you can call him formulaic, the man had one of the most distinctive and unique styles (at the time and certainly in the spaghetti western genre) in cinema.  He made the Dollars trilogy look as epic as a Hollywood production for only a pittance.  If his style has become formulaic over the years it is only because of the countless imitators that have come in his wake.  Also the man only made a handful of films so its hardly fair to criticise him for a lack of variety.  Even so, the Dollars trilogy is different than the sword and sandal films he made before them,  Once Upon a Time in the West is far more elegant than the Dollars trilogy to suit the content of the film and there is a definite change of style in Once Upon a Time in America.  Who know what else he would have done had he lived to make more film.

His characters aren't so much caricatures as they are archetypes.  He uses his own version of the characters he grew up watching in American westerns.  Criticisng this would be like criticising Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark for the same reason.  His characters aren't deep but they're not meant to be.  The characters were fun,  interesting, cool and mysterious - just what they needed to be.  He wasn't making dramas to be thought over here, he was making cheapo spaghetti action westerns to sell to an international audiences, and his talent certianly dwarfed anyone else doing the same. 

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Post #: 20
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 2:29:57 PM   
doncopey1


Posts: 4993
Joined: 29/11/2005
From: Liverpool: Age 25
quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

John Ford for me, although I do have a lot, a lot of love for Peckinpah. Anthony Mann's dark brooding depiction of the Western earns him third spot, whilst Budd Boetticher would gain 4th. On Leone for he is a great example of style over substance. Sure they look nice but half the time I don't give a shit (in a sassy Nicholson voice).


For Leone his style is the substance.  It is his style that creates the atmosphere, the tension, the excitement, the attachment to characters.  The way he cuts between ultra extreme close ups and long shots.  The way he edits the scenes to Morricone's peerless music. 

If your hair doesn't stand up on you neck during the climatic stand offs of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West then you sir are not alive.


Im not denying he creates some moments of brilliance but to put it differently he relies to much on his style. He has to be the most formulaic director in cinema, his characters are carictures and its lauded upon us with his over stylistic camera work and editing. I'll give you TGTBATU but nothing else. Just my opnion im afraid.


I'm not sure how you can call him formulaic, the man had one of the most distinctive and unique styles (at the time and certainly in the spaghetti western genre) in cinema.  He made the Dollars trilogy look as epic as a Hollywood production for only a pittance.  If his style has become formulaic over the years it is only because of the countless imitators that have come in his wake.  Also the man only made a handful of films so its hardly fair to criticise him for a lack of variety.  Even so, the Dollars trilogy is different than the sword and sandal films he made before them,  Once Upon a Time in the West is far more elegant than the Dollars trilogy to suit the content of the film and there is a definite change of style in Once Upon a Time in America.  Who know what else he would have done had he lived to make more film.

His characters aren't so much caricatures as they are archetypes.  He uses his own version of the characters he grew up watching in American westerns.  Criticisng this would be like criticising Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark for the same reason.  His characters aren't deep but they're not meant to be.  The characters were fun,  interesting, cool and mysterious - just what they needed to be.  He wasn't making dramas to be thought over here, he was making cheapo spaghetti action westerns to sell to an international audiences, and his talent certianly dwarfed anyone else doing the same. 


His films are unique from a perspective, but him as a filmmaker hes very formulaic as far as i'm concerned.

I don't see how can you consider his arhetype's a positive thing. What I love about the Western, is that it's rooted in historical depth, and the characters are mythological, steeped in depth and ambiguity. Basically Leone's characters are static depcitions of their character, nothing diverse nor nothing extra oridnary. Henry Fonda is an example in Once Upon a Time... as he personfies the typical caricacture in a Leone picture. Sure he has fun but theres just nothing there, and in the end his performance is a bit over the top, perhaps no fault of his own. Whether or not its fun is a matter of debate, when watching his films I certainly wasn't having the fun whe watching Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Just how I feel on him as a filmmaker, even his masterful Once Upon a Time in America is not without its minor flaws

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Post #: 21
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 4:07:53 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


Posts: 6884
Joined: 11/2/2009
quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

John Ford for me, although I do have a lot, a lot of love for Peckinpah. Anthony Mann's dark brooding depiction of the Western earns him third spot, whilst Budd Boetticher would gain 4th. On Leone for he is a great example of style over substance. Sure they look nice but half the time I don't give a shit (in a sassy Nicholson voice).


For Leone his style is the substance.  It is his style that creates the atmosphere, the tension, the excitement, the attachment to characters.  The way he cuts between ultra extreme close ups and long shots.  The way he edits the scenes to Morricone's peerless music. 

If your hair doesn't stand up on you neck during the climatic stand offs of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West then you sir are not alive.


_____________________________

quote:

jamesbondguy:
Miles is clearly the finest film theorist of his generation

quote:

Deviation:
if it isn't ham, I'll eat a living pig.

(in reply to directorscut)
Post #: 22
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 4:09:41 PM   
Kadaj


Posts: 1299
Joined: 30/9/2005
After having anticipated university for over a year to do a Film course (basically thinking it was empireonline.com with a whiteboard and a projector) the first film we have to watch is Young Mr Lincoln (John Ford, 1939). Fair enough, I had never seen it, but was genuinely excited through it being a John Ford picture.
 
Lecturer asks, 'who here has seen a John Ford film'.
 
I raise my hand and await others to do so, expecting a thrilling discussion on Searchers, Valance, Stagecoach, Quiet Man, Rio Grande, Yellow Ribbon, Apache, Wrath...................
 
 
 
They never do.
 
I leave.
 
Alone in the toilets, crying.

(in reply to doncopey1)
Post #: 23
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 4:10:03 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


Posts: 6884
Joined: 11/2/2009
quote:

ORIGINAL: doncopey1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Miles Messervy 007


quote:

I'm genuinely suprised by that Miles! I thought you'd have seen some Ford, at least!

I'm 14, cut me some slack. I have recorded The Searchers and Liberty Valance off Sky though, so soon I'll tell you what I think



Hail you young sir. Love the avatar btw
Thanks
And thanks to Professor Moriarty too 
And to DC, wonderful posts, I agree.  

< Message edited by Miles Messervy 007 -- 25/3/2009 4:11:31 PM >


_____________________________

quote:

jamesbondguy:
Miles is clearly the finest film theorist of his generation

quote:

Deviation:
if it isn't ham, I'll eat a living pig.

(in reply to doncopey1)
Post #: 24
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 9:46:36 PM   
Harry Lime


Posts: 5147
Joined: 30/9/2005
Interesting conversation. It's made me reflect on a few old posts of mine.

I do admire Leone's dazzling style, phenomenol use iconography and unrivalled mastery of homage. However, the jaw-droppingly mature Once Upon A Time In America aside, I find him to be only slightly less shallow than Barrymore's swimming pool after the forensics team has been in. Particularly the Dollars trilogy. These films are groundbreaking no question, but, as you correctly suggest, they seem to be far more informed by cinematic representations of the West rather than offering any deep understanding of it. Or rather, demonstrating affinity for what it stood for culturally. I think that is what I really want in a western and it is something that can be divined in spades in the works of Ford and Peckinpah and Mann and Eastwood and Hawks and Boetticher. Because of this fundamental understanding of the old west, they were more sophisticated in their explorations of human nature against its setting.

For instance, whereas Leone fills his films with screen dominating loners who simply clash violently against each other, the great western directors focus on relationships and brotherhood that are often tested through the erosive passage of time or an act of violence or betrayal. The relationship between Ethan Edwards and Martin Pawley in The Searchers... Or Thomas Dunston and Matt Garth in Red River... Or Howard Kemp and Ben Vandergroat in The Naked Spur... Or Pike Bishop and Deke Thornton in The Wild Bunch; they're light-years ahead of any of those in any Leone western, even the Harmonica - Cheyenne dynamic in Once Upon A Time In The West. There is simply more going on beyond the gunplay and betrayal. It's this greater depth and underlying thoughtfulness that makes their films infinitely more rewarding.

Technically, Leone is an excellent filmmaker and I do not believe I have ever said he isn't. I've equated him to Tarantino in the past and I think that's a pretty fair comparrison. Both have an immense visual style, great ear for music and are masters of homage who can fashion something fresh and original where lesser directors would churn out clumsy imitations. In terms of style, Leone is as gifted as almost any other director you could mention.

I just don't think it's enough. As "cool" as his spaghetti westerns may be (and yes, all of them have their moments) and as much as I can marvel at how Leone paces his set pieces to a crescendo (the musical locket at the climax of For A Few Dollars More is the one that really stands out in my memory); he just doesn't go beyond the archetypes and it is this that fails to satisy.

quote:

Henry Fonda is an example in Once Upon a Time... as he personfies the typical caricacture in a Leone picture. Sure he has fun but theres just nothing there, and in the end his performance is a bit over the top, perhaps no fault of his own.

I completely agree. It's a nothing performance. A half baked soufflé in a long and glittering career. Funnily enough, several of his best came under the direction of John Ford; Young Mr. Lincoln, The Grapes Of Wrath, My Darling Clementine and Fort Apache.

quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

Ford, and everyone on that list would also say that he is (except maybe Eastwood). Without Ford there probably wouldn't be a Western genre to speak of. He is the God that leans over everyone else working in the genre.

That sums it up.

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RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 25/3/2009 9:49:36 PM   
Miles Messervy 007


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Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo is better than all Star Wars and Indiana Jones films together by a mile.

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jamesbondguy:
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RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 26/3/2009 12:33:04 AM   
doncopey1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Harry Lime


quote:

Henry Fonda is an example in Once Upon a Time... as he personfies the typical caricacture in a Leone picture. Sure he has fun but theres just nothing there, and in the end his performance is a bit over the top, perhaps no fault of his own.

I completely agree. It's a nothing performance. A half baked soufflé in a long and glittering career. Funnily enough, several of his best came under the direction of John Ford; Young Mr. Lincoln, The Grapes Of Wrath, My Darling Clementine and Fort Apache.

quote:



Not forgetting Fonda's solid and  rather memorable performance in Ford's unsung The Fugitve. Not the Harrison Ford one that is .
On that note no Leone film or character is no match for a good blaster or a whip, Miles.


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RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 26/3/2009 10:16:21 AM   
chris_scott01


Posts: 3081
Joined: 5/1/2006

Definately John Ford for me too.

I do like Leone's films for what they are, but I could never come to terms with him hijacking the already well explored, 60 year old genre, with just 4 heavily stylised films that displayed very little understanding of the culture they're set in. The western is quite an amazing genre because it never ceases to surprise me how many different stories and ideas are derived from what looks like such a simple way of life. Beneath the surface it's as complex as any other culture. Leone doesn't explore this, he barely scratches the surface. I'm not going to hold it against him for doing something different but to heap praise upon praise on him for those 4 films and subject every other western (and western director) under Leone's shadow is just plain wrong.

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RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 26/3/2009 10:31:04 AM   
Miles Messervy 007


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You see, I've got issues with that approach. Wayne is a one-dimensional actor (admittedly, I haven't seen him in any westerns) and yet you heap praise upon Ford's films for being deep, etc.
Once Upon A Time In The West has the greatest score of all times, and Leone has an amazing sense of direction. And before you start throwing 'style over substance' at me, Once Upon A Time In The West is faaaaaaaaar from shallow. Remember who worked with Sergio on the script? A certain Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento.
Oh, and The Man With No Name could take on Indy and Solo simultaneously and not even blink an eye. Indy and SW are the same style over subtance bullshit, they're just not half-as-well directed as Leone's films. Yes, Indy has extreme pacing issues.

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jamesbondguy:
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quote:

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Post #: 29
RE: Greatest Director of the Western - 26/3/2009 11:26:52 AM   
chris_scott01


Posts: 3081
Joined: 5/1/2006
quote:

ORIGINAL: Miles Messervy 007

You see, I've got issues with that approach. Wayne is a one-dimensional actor (admittedly, I haven't seen him in any westerns) and yet you heap praise upon Ford's films for being deep, etc.
Once Upon A Time In The West has the greatest score of all times, and Leone has an amazing sense of direction. And before you start throwing 'style over substance' at me, Once Upon A Time In The West is faaaaaaaaar from shallow. Remember who worked with Sergio on the script? A certain Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento.
Oh, and The Man With No Name could take on Indy and Solo simultaneously and not even blink an eye. Indy and SW are the same style over subtance bullshit, they're just not half-as-well directed as Leone's films. Yes, Indy has extreme pacing issues.


*In best Basil Fawlty accent* Everything's pacing with you isn't it?

First of all Wayne is so far from a one dimensional character, The Searchers should single handedly take care of that criticism.  I wouldn't go making statements like that unless you've seen Wayne in a western either.  Ethan Edwards is a character who's got more depth than The Man With No Name could ever reach.

You're also taking my post as a loathing for Leone, I don't.  I really do like his films, but like I said for what they are.  When it comes down to depth Ford is second to none, and there's no denying that there's a distinct lack of depth in  Leone's westerns.  OUATITW does have an amazing score, it does have good direction and admittedly it has more depth than the Dollars trilogy, but Leone has such broad, sweeping statements to make that it really doesn't go beyond 'America was born through squabbles over land and double crossings'.  Ford's westerns are much more character driven and as Peckinpah has been mentioned already he deserves just as much praise, they both dig into the internal conflicts, emotions and relationships of the people to tell their stories.

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