Saturday night in 1979, all I needed was some buttered hot-air-popped popcorn, a western flick on a newfangled video cassette (remember Betamax?) and a comfortable Lazy Boy in front of the tube. Sure, a year or so later the ladies would leapfrog westerns on my list of priorities, but in the late 70s the cowboys and I were tight.
Don't ever doubt the term geek when it's used to describe me!
Maybe it was the simplicity of westerns that made them interesting to the teen-aged me. More likely, though, I liked them because the flicks were something I could share with my Dad. We struggled to find commonalities, Dad and me. Enjoying westerns was one item on our small list.
Here's my Top 5 List Of Favorite Westerns:
The Cowboys: (1972) I wanted to be on that cattle drive with A. Martinez and The Duke. Eating beans and beef, sleeping under the stars and driving the herd.
Until Wayne's character, Wil Anderson, was killed that is. I recall thinking how afraid I would be, alone in the middle of nowhere without an adult around for protection. Suddenly, the wide open range was a pretty frightening place.
Blazing Saddles: (1974) Mel Brook's classic really pulled a Number 6 on me. To this day, dialogue from Saddles will pop into my head like a bad ad jingle.
Except, the Saddles lines don't annoy me. They make me laugh.
Little Big Man: (1970) Dustin Hoffman made his reputation as a brilliant actor early in his career with films like Little Big Man. The black comedy about a young boy raised into adulthood by the Cheyenne Nation pointed out the often dramatic differences in culture between White and Native Americans.
The Contrary--played by Cal Bellini--was my favorite character in the flick.
The Shakiest Gun In The West: (1968) I have no idea why, but I love this Don Knotts western! It's formulaic, predictable and uses the same comedy bit--his wife is the sharpshooter, not Knotts--over and over.
But damn, this movie makes me laugh. Hard.
Unforgiven: (1992). Unforgiven is so good, it probably shouldn't be lumped into any particular genre of movie. The Clint Eastood flick--he starred and directed--is a look at the effects of violence on individuals and on society. Eastwood is great as the anti-hero William Munny. Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman turn in career highlight performances.
Yeah, I didn't see it with my Dad. But it's my all-time favorite western.