For the first time on our podcast about Westerns, we review a movie that just isn’t a Western, Michael Mann’s frontier epic, The Last of the Mohicans. It is, in fact, about half a dozen other genres before it’s a western, and we discuss it at length, as well as why this film about Native Americans and frontier adventure so plainly is not an appropriate choice for our show. But it’s also a really good movie, with lots of great stuff to recommend in it. Topics of conversation include Daniel Day-Lewis and his facility with American characters, the tweedy rottenness of the British empire, the gorgeous scenery and convincing violence on display throughout the film, the film’s strong Ridley Scott-ish vibe, how horrible it is to run up a hill, how much I bet the movie is like the show Outlander which I’ve never seen, a Burt Lancaster movie called The Kentuckian, and of course, the eradication of the Whitehair Munroe and his seed. Despite not being a Western, it’s a pretty strong film, with good performances and a great sense of adventure. The score’s very strong as well.
Additionally, we discuss some other recent releases, including High Rise, an insane British film about wealth inequality and eating dogs, which I am seriously shocked that Dad watched. And I report in on Odd Thomas, an Anton Yelchin film about the unpredictable nature of life and death and also domestic terrorism. It’s a light family adventure rendered more poignant by real life tragedies. Worth a look! Next week, we’ll be taking on the film we’ve been waiting for since we started: Tombstone. We’ve been working up to this one, and it feels like the time is right. And with a special guest!
The Last of the Mohicans stars Daniel Day Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means and Wes Studi. It was directed by Michael Mann.
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One of the greatest movies ever made, according to the American Film Institute, this week we’re dealing with George Stevens’ 1953 classic Shane. Setting the basic tone and template for dozens of westerns to come, Shane features Alan Ladd as the titular gunslinger, who arrive out of the mist to help a family of good-hearted homesteaders stand up to a bullying rancher and a sadistic hired gunman. The wellspring for lots of famous tropes of the genre, it features quotable dialogue, gorgeous outdoors scenery and the general cock-eyed optimism of the 1950s. Dad loves this one, and it’s totally endearing to hear him get really excited about it, while I’m all circumspect and Gen-X ironic in my reaction, focusing on the awkward child actor at its center and the accidental emasculation of homesteader Joe Starrett by the film’s hero. Seriously, much of the film is about how much this guy’s family prefers Shane to him. We also touch upon Elisha Cook jr’s. absolute mastery of being a loser, the whimsical nature of deer, how comfortable a suit made of buckskin must be, the importance of backbreaking labor in the Old West, the general foulness of child actors, the excellence of Shane’s barfights, and the practicality of human decency in a lawless world of murderers. Also, Dad revels in some of his favorite lines of dialogue of all time.
We’ve got minor sound issues in this episode, most noticeably in the first few minutes. The dialogue on my end is popping a bit. It’s annoying, but it goes away after three minutes or so, and it’s only on my end. Which isn’t much of a problem, as Dad’s enthusiasm for Shane means he does a lot more of the opening banter than usual. We also briefly talk about the Tom Berenger film Sniper and the Gerard Butler epic Gods of Egypt, both every bit the equal of Shane, and likely future entries on the AFI top 100 list. On the next episode, we’ll take on Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day Lewis.
Shane stars Alan Ladd, Jack Palance, Ven Heflin, Jean Arthur and Brandon De Wilde. It was directed by George Stevens.
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