Saturday, August 16, 2008
Tanya Writes About the Quintessential Western Man
I like to think that my hero is a true man of the West --a man who respects nature but sometimes has to tame it (he's a firefighter)...Tall, stalwart, mustachioed. A man of few words who makes every syllable count. Kind to kids and animals but who knows when to put his foot down. Loyal to a fault--to those who deserve it. A man who can tease and be feisty but is always first to laugh at himself.
And for all that he's a die hard man's man, he sure knows how to treat his woman right.
So I tried to think of movie men who fit this same bill of fare. I came up with a delicious bunch of cowboys, gold miners, mountain men and even some outlaws.
First up is that tall, wiry, gravel-voiced cowboy, Sam Elliott. Mustache all but hiding that closed-mouth tantalizing grin. Dark glare making you think he knows what you look like without your clothes. (Lucky Katherine Ross.) ..did you know he film debuted in Butch Cassidy, but didn't meet "Etta" until later on?
My favorite Elliot roles: Shadow Riders, The Sackets...Virgil Earp in Tombstone, and the heroic Captain Charles Erskine Scott Wood in I will Fight No More Forever.
Close behind is John Wayne, the all-American cowboy. Stern, grim, brave. Nonetheless, my favorite scenes for him are seen in the screamingly funny McClintock. "Shoot him, Daddy, shoot him," yells his daughter (Stefanie Powers) peeved at her beau Patrick Wayne. And Daddy does. And the gramophone jealousy scene in North to Alaska is one I recall whenever I need a good bellylaugh.
And I gotta respect Robert Duvall. Classic in Lonesome Dove, hard nosed but tender in Broken Trail and Open Range.
Oh, and I confess my occasional longing for the bad boy. Oooh lala, who could ever forget Robert Redford's Sundance Kid in the slow, scrumptious "teacher-lady" scene. And those four real-life sets of brothers managed to steal my heart in The Long Riders. The Keaches, Carradines, Quaids and Guests so perfectly impersonated Jesse and Frank James, their cohorts the Youngers and Millers...and those cowards Bob and Charlie Ford. They were all horrible, I know, but I did find their loyalty come hell or high water to their mama, their wives, and each other to be a good thing, albeit misdirected sometimes.
In Last of the Mohicans, Daniel Day-Lewis has immortalized himself with romance lovers forever with that waterfall scene, hair flowing, Longrifle firmly in hand.."I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far...I will find you." Sigh. I expect no less from my hero if circumstances had bad guys after me!
And Robert Redford makes my list twice, as the haunted and haunting mountain man, Jeremiah Johnson, the loner who seeks to escape civilization "down below." He begins to tenderly fall for his reluctantly-acquired family--the Flathead bride forced on him and the tragic mute little boy. Only to lose them as the sacrifice for his doing the right thing.
Well, I sure have enjoyed this ride down the cinematic trail. I hope you like my list. Please add to it!