One solar cycle
Filled with love, lust and laughter
Happy Birthday Ang
This review is a long time coming. I “watched” Stagecoach a few months ago but power napped like five times while it was on so I only saw the title card, John Wayne, some Indians, a baby (I think), an obscured shootout and then “the end.” This John Ford classic deserved better and I sure as hell wasn’t about to review something I’d only sort of watched. I could have bullshitted through it but I would have known and I reckon you would have figured it out as well. I’m too plainspoken for that and though I often shoot from the hip and often before the other guy even draws I make no omissions as to the fact it’s headed your way or exactly why. Being honest in that manner upsets a lot of people (you’d be surprised how many) but my real pals respect that and everyone else can remain business associates, Facebook “friends” or casual acquaintances. Being straight veracious leaves you labeled straight vicious in this year 2013 but I’m not bothered by that feather in my cap one bit.
Doesn’t seem like much bothers John Wayne either…look closely…uh-huh…see?
This guy shows up for his break-out role as a Western star and doesn’t even bring a horse! Just the saddle! As if to say in that famous drawl of his “I don’t need me a pony pilgrim, cuz I’m gonna ride you like a bitch for the next thirty or so years!” I know those are pretty harsh words (because I just made them up) but if you’re going to cram yourself along with six other people into a wooden box on wheels and travel for days across hostile territory you had better have someone like the Ringo Kid there to keep everyone in line. And believe me, that’s a big job with this varied bunch.
From left to right you start off with the finger wagging, probably hilariously effeminate at the time whiskey salesman guy, then there’s (duh) the Duke and next to him is possibly the cleanest hooker you’ve ever seen. Behind them is Buck who drives the stagecoach and I’m certain is mildly retarded standing next to Marshal Curly Wilcox who rides shotgun because if you have a choice, don’t ever give the retard a shotgun. Next up? A judgy cunt! You can’t ever justify violence against women but you can! Thanks to this woman. Who is just about the judgiest of cunts I have ever seen. If her labia had entered some scene draped in black robes and a powdered wig I would have not have been surprised in the least. Judgy! Okay, now ignore the Cavalry kid in the back and the old guy in the vest second in at the table on the right while you’re at it because neither of them coach it up at any point. Back to Doc Holliday in the back there who’s actually named ‘Hatfield’, he’s a stereotypical Southern gent with a stereotypically shady antebellum past and he’s kind of a pretentious dick. Guess who he hangs out with? Judgy! Alright, home stretch. You can barely see his head and no he’s not the Wizard of Oz but is an unscrupulous banker full of shit and lies and self serving promises so maybe he is the Wizard of Oz. And finally we have Doc Boone with the glass (always) in his hand. He’s drunk, then gets sober, saves the day and then gets drunk again immediately thereafter. So kind of a role model.
And yeah kid, keep listenin’ to Chris Brown and tell my idolization is fucked up, aight?
It’s okay, folks don’t always see eye to eye. We can agree to disagree and go our separate ways but the latter’s not easy when you’re stuck in a mobile coffin with complete strangers or people you already despise. And you’re getting shot at too. Sounds like a blast! Here we go!
Duke’s like “Get in (bitches!)” and Dallas, the hooker (as in “Debbie Does”) is all “didn’t you hear the Duke? Bitches!” Meanwhile the Judgingtons are out front thinking. She’s thinking “Oh my, I hope that whore doesn’t sit next to me and get her whore all over me!” and Hatfield’s thinking “go ahead Mr. Kilmer…give it your best shot!” Meanwhile behind them that fidgety dude looks late for a very important date and up on deck Wilcox is thinking he may eventually have to shoot half these assholes and Buck’s thinking “I may be retarded but at least I’m not a judgy cunt!”
Man, that’s a lot of dialogue. Stagecoach is in fact robust in words spoken and character development despite being a pretty “Point A” to “Point B” (in a Stagecoach!) type of film. It’s not shallow but you could say concise. There’s no hiding who each of the characters is, where they’re coming from and where they’re going despite some small obfuscations for the purpose of dramatic reveals later on in the film. But even these huge archetypical travel companions feel small and vulnerable against the looming dangers. That precariousness writ large against the even bigger backdrop of Monument Valley.
John Ford looooooooved Monument Valley. He made 144 films in his life and 312 of them were shot in Monument Valley. He loved it so much he just yelled “cut” and went out and fucked the shit out it one day! I don’t know if that’s true or not but nine months later? Surprise!
Rock Biter paternity tests aside it would be real easy to lose yourself, or the audience, wandering around in the expanse that is Monument Valley but Ford knew where the heart of his film was and always keeps you close enough to hear it beating. Whether you’re fighting off those goddamn Apaches (played by some goddamn Navajos!)
Or agreeing with that shrewd businessman at the start…
Only to find yourself not agreeing with him later (oh, you’ll see why!) and not because he’s a capitalist but because he’s a dick! Or what about those smoldering embers of range fired romance glowing where we find just a few choice words speaking volumes.
This movie is a dichotomy: huge set pieces and quiet tender moments, thoughtful political discourse and then the kind of vengeance you can’t talk any man out of, there’s right comin’ out of the wrong people and the downright despicable from society’s supposed best, it’s skin of your teeth and foregone conclusion. Stagecoach is called a “masterpiece” and deservedly so. Of course not everyone agrees with me. Take this reviewer from Amazon.com for instance, whose comments on the film, it’s director and budding star I include here unedited:
“John Ford was one of the greatest film makers. With the racist, John Wayne, he made many vicious films(more precisely, films by the view point of the winner based on racism). Moreover, I prefer Henry Fonda to John Wayne for John Ford films because Henry Fonda was a fine actor, and John Wayne never showed good performance(Probably he could shout). I don’t want to see John Wayne on the film media any more for a better society.”
I could literally write another thousand plus words on this dude’s thoughts but I’m sure you get the point. Besides I think my time might be better spent working “more for a better society” wherein people do not freely rape the shit out of grammar, syntax and critical thinking. If he were alive, I bet Wayne would back me up on this one and shouting the whole way too.
As for my opinion about Stagecoach I can also sing it’s praises now that I’ve seen it in toto. 4 rounds, 4 long overdue rounds in the cylinder for this classic. As my own journey into the West continues I can relate to what the Ringo Kid had to say about how he chose to live his life as folks were trying to steer him this way and that all according to their own dispositions and desires.
“There are some things a man just can’t run away from.”
I know the feeling Kid, I know it down to my bones.
Time to ride on now till next week amigos. And as always I’ll ride true.
Metal and muscle
All will fade and fall apart
But never true love
Carson City Raiders…you son of a bitch! I got you this week! I watched you and then went right to the internet before I forgot what you were called. In the end it really didn’t matter because all I found was this poster, a half dozen shots of Rocky Lane on Black Jack and then page after page of football shit. And I bet you’re less upset over the fact there’s no good screen-grabs from Carson City Raiders than the fact I called football “shitty”. Look pal, there are only two real sports worth watching in this world: hockey and professional wrestling! What can I say, I like men beating each other off! Or up, I meant up, but who cares and go Sharks!
But even the best team in the NHL and legions of spandex clad lads couldn’t help the fact I was still dismayed at the piddlin’ offerings of the world wide web so I decided to search “Andalusian Fart Finch” just to see what came of it. And this came of it!
Seems some asshole writes about Westerns each week on his frighteningly immature (yet amazingly written) blog that somehow manages to be equal parts self effacing and self pleasuring. Holy shit that’s what I do! And “tentaclechris.com” is my blog! That asshole is me! Well I’m sure if I understood how a Google searched worked I wouldn’t be surprised as I’m probably the only guy that has ever mentioned an “Andalusian Fart Finch” seeing as they don’t actually exist. Or do they? I wrote about them and then a week later if you look them up it leads you back to me! I’m like an internet god or something. A glowing, megalomaniacal and dashingly handsome internet gooooooood! And like most god-dudes I’m selfish and like finding out how awesome I am so when I came across all these self-serving search engine results I kinda felt like this:
I can only imagine that every day Rocky Lane lived he too felt like this and would have ridden atop a bear on top of a shark had he the means to do so. I’ve only seen three of his films but every one has made me smile and damn happy I’m comfortable around firearms, horses, women and whiskey. Carson City Raiders is the best of the bunch I’ve seen so far. Black Hills Ambush will always hold a special place for me as my very first Rocky Lane film but Raiders has a more complex storyline and seems to have it’s editing and overall direction more polished than it’s sequel despite being four years it’s junior. I say “sequel” due to the fact Allan Lane made twenty three more films that he starred in as himself (or some Sheriff-y/Marshall-y version of himself) along side several of the same actors in the same roles (or roles that reference other roles) in one (or more) of the other twenty three movies. Co-stars like euphemism slinging Eddy Waller who plays the crotchety cool local owner of whatever the current script calls for. I reached out to Eddy to fill him in on the fact that no one seems to give two squirts about Westerns anymore and the fact some black guy is now president. This was his response:
Despite the picture, Nugget is rarely shell-shocked or at a loss for words. Words like “dang-nabbit” and “ding-dangit”. He’s a colorful old coot but everyone in this movie is. Well not old or coot-ish but colorful as in real, fleshed out and believable. These movies had to be pumped out every few months or so but God bless em, all involved kind of seemed to give a shit and give the folks headed to the double feature their money’s worth.
Carson City Raiders featured some relatively involved set pieces and even a good deal of intrigue but still delivered on the tried and true punches to the face that made the other two films in what I call the “What’s Available on Netfilx Trilogy” so watchable and enjoyably so. And once again there’s a fair share of gray in a film born from a world when good and bad was still pretty black and white. The Lone Ranger was still riding high and the term “Revisionist Western” was unheard of and while I wouldn’t stand any of Rocky and Nugget’s films toe to toe with the likes of Leone’s or Eastwood’s masterpieces the hints and flavors of a world wherein everything isn’t always so clearly right and wrong can be noted here undeniably.
4 rounds in the cylinder for Carson City Raiders. I’m sure when I eventually run into other Allan Lane Westerns I will love them as well. And the fact that many of them sound like pornos isn’t even the reason. Titles like Desert of Lost Men, Captive of Billy the Kid and A Guy Could Change for example. So by “pornos” I meant “gay pornos”. If you’re offended by this go watch one of his manly sports movies like…Gay Blades!
Oh I got you, you homophobic fuck! And if I didn’t, hooray for you for being a decent human being who believes in a “live and let live” kind of world view (Vote Libertarian!) And vote to look into any offerings from Allan “Rocky” Lane you may come across. You won’t regret it. I laughed and cheered and found myself feeling better on the way out of each one than I did going in which is saying something because despite my near constant pessimism about any number of things I am a genuinely satiated young man. Living an adventurous life will make you so. Be ballsy, throw a few punches here and there and if you believe in something stand the fuck up for it. It’s not easy and it makes you damn sore but every pinch and pain will be a reminder that you’re living the exact damn way you choose too. And that’s not a bad way to live at all.
Now get out there and ride amigos and goddammit, ride true.
Exercise is done
I stare past sweat and palm trees