We are here today, not to shoot the bloody hell out of each other, but to celebrate one another. Today, my fellow gunslingers, barmen, horse riders, sheriffs, bandits, damsels, whores, we gather to admire what it is we live through each and every day. Call it the ‘wild, wild west’, we call just call it the good old west.
Many filmmakers have taken their chances on depicting our lively lifestyles for the purposes of great entertainment. Over the past few months we’ve seen some of the very best attempts from Hollywood and elsewhere. Not every film hit the same notes as strongly, with some rising above the rest with regards certain particularities of how we rule the west. So, without further ado, let us highlight some of these movies in the categories that best represent us. Here are the Silver Six's (for seven categories)!
Films in contention
The Wild Bunch
The Good, the Bad, the Weird
There’s no place like a home on the range (Best looking film, most authentic in terms of its depiction of the Old West)
Open Range (with special mention to The Good, the Bad, the Weird). Open Range takes the award for best looking and most authentic looking western film not only because it is gorgeous, but because it strives to show off a great variety of places to the viewer. A large old town under ideal conditions, the same large town under a deluge of rain and how that can aversely affect the dirt roads, the prairies, bars, restaurants, a doctor’s office, etc. Open Range feels as if it takes place in a fully realized world straight out of the old west.
I’m going to send you to your grave, you vermin! (Best Death)
Boss kills rival by shooting through a wall in Open Range (special mention to Park Chang-yi in The Good, the Bad, the Weird). Bill did a tremendous job expressing how viscerally powerful this moment was during the tremendous final set piece in Open Range was. It was a welcome surprise and demonstrated the understanding of the filmmakers of the world they created. A shotgun against a thin wooden wall? Just shoot through it!
-Well, you don’t see that roll into town every day....(Best unexpected moment)
The return of Hart in Ravenous (special mention going to Boss killing rival by shooting through a wall in Open Range). In a movie filled to the brim with little and large unexpected moments, this one took the cake for me. Not only did I have no idea that Hart would come back to life, but the fact that he actually goes along with the Colonel’s plan, for a while at least, was also surprising. Thankfully, Hart realizes the error of his ways and eventually pleads Captain Boyd to kill him off.
Get come some! (Best shootout)
Opening scene from The Wild Bunch (final gun fight in Open Range). Shootouts are a staple of the western genre, and to commemorate the best one we watched over the past few months, we go back to not only the very first movie of the marathon under review but also the opening minutes of said film. The stakes, the setting, the editing, the cinematography, all those and more demonstrated the brutality of how people could die in the Old West. For whatever reason, Sam Peckinpah just knew how to depict a person’s final seconds alive in shockingly memorable fashion. The opening sequence of The Wild Bunch makes no jokes about what is to come over the next couple hours.
Head honcho (Best male performance)
Ray Winstone in Proposition (special mention to John Wayne in The Shootist). Clearly the most significant highlight in John Hillcoat’s film if anyone remembers my review. So much so that I would have better enjoyed the movie had his Captain Stanley been made the principal character of the tale as opposed to the Guy Pierce character! Just a fantastically relatable, sympathetic guy despite all the terrible things he has surrounded himself with and even been corrupted with to a degree.
The head honcho’s better second half (Best female performance)
Lauren Bacall in The Shootist (special mention to Emily Watson in The Proposition). Bacall was the ultimate enemy to John Wayne’s overconfident, old school ways. She could put him in his place better than any dastardly criminal or bullet ever could. But she exuded more than just that. She really was a great women, showing strength in character and even a certain charm despite whatever cold mask she attempted to hide herself behind at times.
A motion picture is worth a thousand words (Best film)
The Wild Bunch (Special mention to Open Range). Once again we go back to the film that opened the marathon. Almost everything about this film exceeded whatever expectations I might have had. The source of the conflict at the center of the story, director Peckinpah’s willingness to let characters breath in scenes, the unforgettable bloodbaths that open and close the picture, the historical context, etc. There were more than one fine films in the marathon, but I don’t need to think twice before declaring The Wild Bunch as not only the best of the bunch, but the one I know I’ll be re-watching most often in the years to come.
Readers of Between the Seats and Bill’s Movie Emporium, thank you for following along in the Shootout at High Noon marathon. It was tremendous fun. Always remember to keep your six shooter handy when riding into towns you ain’t familiar with, and stay kind to the dames, if you know what I mean.