I’m going to go back over the past year or so and republish some reviews I did for PARTING SHOTS. I had purchased a couple of DVD collections of western films and was able to watch them over a period of a few weeks. Back then I was living in Connecticut and was close enough to my job that it only took me about twenty minutes to walk to work. I worked every other Thursday evening so had my mornings free. It was great to spend time with Roy, Gene and Randolph Scott.
(The following is only slightly changed from the way it first appeared in July 2003):
Having grown up in the 1950s & '60s it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that some of my first idols were cowboys. Way back then your typical young boy didn't really consider that the image might be idealized. Nor that many of the 'heroes' we saw on both the TV and big screen were fictionalized versions of men who robbed, gambled, murdered and were not the kind of guys you'd really want to know too well. The real Wyatt Earp wasn't much different from some of the men that he jailed, except that for a number of years he wore a badge. Back then, even if we had known, I doubt it would have dampened our enjoyment of the TV shows and movies we saw.
As most people realize, the westerns (pre-WILD BUNCH) were pretty basic morality plays for the most part. There were the good guys (most, if not all in white hats) and bad guys (who might not wear black hats, but often needed a shave, while our hero always found time to whip out a razor and clean himself up each day). The 'indians' could be either bad or good, depending on the series or the plot of any given film. The women, Annie Oakley and Dale Evans aside, were generally there to be captured, flirted with by the comical sidekick or revealed as deceitful, saloon hall dancers who were secretly working for the villain. (This last female, would almost inevitably fall in love with the good guy and when she tried to betray or escape the bad guy she was usually killed, only to die in the hero's arms.) Besides in our pre-puberty years the females only seemed to get in the way of the 'real' action, so it was better when they weren't around. (Okay, I admit that "Miss Kitty" was kind of strange, since she seemed able to fend for herself most of the time and it was usually the Marshal who went looking for her. Of course, GUNSMOKE was an 'adult' western and aimed at an older audience, so you had to just accept it.)
I just realized that what had been intended as a short introduction to my talking about a couple of movies I saw today has turned a bit long-winded. My apologies!