This is the inaugural episode of Westerns With Dad, in which my dad and I discuss the 1965 John Wayne western, The Sons of Katie Elder. Directed by Henry Hathaway at the height of the era of studio westerns, this is a representative entry into the Wayne canon, featuring all the things one associates with the era. You’ll see gunfights, brawls, herding, showdowns, good guys versus bad guys, and at the center of it all, John Wayne playing a typical western hero, eldest of a family made up of nothing but brothers. Also featuring Dean Martin and George Kennedy in supporting roles, it’s just about the perfect introductory episode. We’ll discuss the Duke’s acting limitations versus his undeniable movie star charisma, the considerably less qualified charisma of Dean Martin, and the urgent need for more axe handle beatings in modern cinema, as well as more grim fiery demises in the films of yesteryear. Also, we touch on what may end up being one of the central questions of the podcast, which is what makes a western a Western. Is it just horses, pistols, and cowboys hats, or is genre more than just a collection of signifiers? We’ll surely figure it all out, one day!
In addition to Katie Elder, we talk a little bit about some of the current crop of oscar contenders (The Big Short, The Revenant and The Hateful Eight), as well as touch on the now-doomed Super Bowl chances for the Seattle Seahawks. At the end, we tease the next episode, which would have been The Magnificent Seven, but in light of the untimely passing of Alan Rickman, we’ve done a quick about face, and next week’s episode will in fact be the Tom Selleck vehicle in which he plays the villain, Quigley Down Under. Normally I’d be disinclined to change horses after announcing Magnificent Seven, but we haven’t built an audience yet, so it simply isn’t an issue! How about that?