the partisan / leonard cohen
The Wayward Wind / Patsy Cline
For a long time I avoided doing any posts about John Wayne (not an easy thing to do on a Western Movie Blog) because I feared John would turn into a massive and daunting project. I was right. However, I figured out a way to handle it by simply doing his Western filmography one post/movie at a time. And this has been working out pretty good. UNTIL my post on Born to the West / Helltown when I accidentally opened the gate to Zane Grey’s corral – and was immediately trampled/stampeded to death. There is more stuff on Zane Grey that tumbleweeds in Texas. But I didn’t know that.
His books have been made into movies over a hundred times going all the way back to 1911 – and continue up to the present.
That’s a ton of images, artwork, film, posters, photos, etc etc.
So I’ve been stuck – mainly because there’s conflicting information about his early movies and because some of his books have been made into movies several times.
I will attempt something anyway.
This version of The Border Legion is lost.
Another silent version directed by William K. Howard and starring Antonio Moreno and Helene Chadwick.
Even with Jack Holt and Fay Wray, AllMovie only gives this version a 1.5 out of 5.
Roy tries his hand at poker.
(Until he starts singing I’m all in)
Gabby takes the stage.
I gotta tell ya that the emergence of comedy sidekicks and singing cowboys was not my favorite thing for a Western.
– jeff bridges
Often regarded as one of the greatest films of all time
– and the first “Action Film”
“It has remained highly influential, often seen as one of the most “remade, reworked, referenced” films in cinema. (Wikipedia)
House of the Rising Sun / Heavy Young Heathens
“So far, so good.”
In a lot of ways a re-make of M7 1960 was a no win scenario. Except of one way: Money. In this, Fuqua knew his formula of Denzel Washington and Action Film couldn’t miss. Though he knew his movie couldn’t match the Original Western as a Western Classic, it was bullet proof as a money maker. Just as Director Sydney Pollack knew that Robert Redford’s Star Power guaranteed Box Office success in the 7 movies he Directed Redford (including Western Classic Jeremiah Johnson – over $50 Million profit), the Box Office take for the previous 2 Washington/Fuqua Action movies: Training Day (2001) ($57 million), and The Equalizer (2014) ($137 million) guaranteed that M7 2016 would be a success. The current Box Office for M7 2016 shows a profit of $46 million – and climbing. Combining all 3 Fuqua/Washington movies, we get about $240 Million profit. So far. Pretty good business. M7 2016 isn’t a Western Classic, but it’s sure going to pay the bills.
Amazingly Wikipedia claims the original Magnificent Seven (1960) was not initially well received in the US – but did well overseas. And despite unclear statistics on it’s overall Box Office, it’s a safe bet that it made it’s money back many times over – and it’s still selling well today on DVD and Blue Ray.
“Once You’ve Met Them …You’ll Never Forget Them”
– A tagline from the original M7 1960
Large ensemble Casts in a movie are a problem. Writers and Directors know how important Character Development is. Because if we don’t connect with the people in the movie, what exactly are you doing? And the larger the Cast, the harder this is. With M7 (1960) however, most of the Actors had been around for quite a while – they weren’t unknown. They just weren’t Stars yet. We knew Brynner very well; McQueen was known from the TV series Wanted Dead of Alive; Bronson had been kicking around in support roles for years; Coburn had been in several Westerns already; Vaughn had done a ton of TV work; Dexter had also done a lot of TV work – and several movies; even Buchholz had been in about 17 movies by 1960; Eli Wallach had also done extensive TV and movie work.
The point is, we had seen them before. And it’s a lot easier to do movies with ensemble casts if the audience has some familiarity with the Actors.
Frankly, in that sense, the Casting M7 1960 was brilliant.
If you get 4 of those guys, I’ll send you a Tootsie Roll and a box of popcorn.
In M7 2016 we have less familiarity with the Cast. We would definitely know Washington, and likely Pratt, Hawke, and D’Onofrio – though D’Onofrio is so heavily made up, I doubt most people recognized him.
Most everybody else in the movie we are unlikely to know.
This puts M7 2016 at a definite disadvantage as far as the audience (us) is able connect with the Characters – and care about them – not a good thing for a movie.
Back when Tom Cruise started this whole M7 re-make debate,
I proposed my own Cast:
Tom Cruise, Viggo Mortensen, Guy Pearce, Willem Dafoe, Benedict Cumberbach, Brenden Fraser, Aaron Paul, Antonio Banderas.
This would have been a hell of a Cast …
but it also would have broke the bank.
Magnificent Sevens … myth, math and aftermath … Part 3