There are two traditions I’ve maintained on this blog ever since I began blogging. One is to celebrate my birthday with a pertinent post (coming up in two weeks’ time). The other is to, for Christmas, review a Christmas-themed film (of which there are examples aplenty). For once, though, the Christmas film I’ve chosen is one with a difference. It’s a Western, and – while it doesn’t have any actual blood and gore shown – there is death here. It’s not a sugary film, and even though the first half has its share of humour, the final impression is one of a bittersweet story of a world that isn’t quite black and white.
This last Saturday, on a mere whim (brought on by a good newspaper review) I went off to watch True Grit. The 2010 version, starring Hailee Steinfeld in an Oscar-nominated role as Mattie Ross. It was a good film, in true time-honoured Western mould, with tinges of both feminism and noir. And it spurred me on to finally watch the original True Grit, the film that won John Wayne his only Oscar.
Years ago, an issue of Reader’s Digest carried a list of ten Hollywood films any self-respecting film collector/lover must possess. At the time, I had seen only one of the films on the list—Gone With the Wind—but since then I’ve seen some more, Singin’ In the Rain and Stagecoach among them. And though I’m a Gene Kelly fan (and not a John Wayne fan!), I must admit that I’d rate this film higher than Singin’ In the Rain. It is a Western, of course, and with all the usual trappings of a Western: the Apaches that attack out of the blue; the hooker with the heart of gold; and the wronged ‘outlaw’ who’s bent on revenge. But Stagecoach has a lot more going for it, and makes good viewing even for someone who’s not really into Westerns.
David Lean, talking about Mitchum, once said, “Mitchum can, simply by being there, make almost any other actor look like a hole in the screen.”
A discussion on one of my recent posts culminated in a promise to do a series of `eye candy’ posts: one each for Hollywood and Bollywood men and women who were, way back in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, awesome to look at. So here goes: the first of the posts, featuring some of the best looking men from English films (which includes Hollywood and British cinema) from the good old days. These are ten men who just need to be in a film for me to want to see the film; they may or may not be excellent actors (though most of them are Oscar winners or at least nominees). This list is more or less in order, starting with my favourites.
I’m a sucker for Westerns, but a long diet of classic Bollywood, with its abundant songs and happy endings, has rather spoilt things for me: I find I don’t like the dark and moody Westerns that go deep into the psychology of a silent and brooding hero. Rio Bravo, therefore, was right up my street: lots of action, a bit of humour, and even two great songs. Dean Martin. What more could a girl want?