Advertisements

Tag Archive: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


back-to-the-future-ii-world-series-cubs-win

As predicted by Bob Gale in his script for Back to the Future II, it was the destiny of the Chicago Cubs to be playing–in fact sweeping–last year’s World Series.  As we sat in Kauffman Stadium last year and watched the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets we were disappointed the Cubs weren’t there.  Science fiction never seems to get it right, but Gale–and the Cubs–were so close last year, much like the Royals were the prior year.  Science fiction rarely even comes close, as you’ll discover especially if you read many classic sci-fi novels from the early and mid-twentieth century.  Just look how far off course in date predictions forward thinkers were, like Arthur C. Clarke (we’re still waiting for much of his 2001), Philip K. Dick (the novel inspiring Blade Runner takes place in 1992), and Gene Roddenberry (Khan controlled much of Earth during the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s).

But history was made last night when the Cubs broke their 108 year gap between Series wins.  Would 1908 Cubs stars Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, or Joe Tinker have believed it if you told them their team would be on the outs so long?  How about contemporary science fiction visionaries George Melies, Thomas Edison, Charles Urban, H.G. Wells, or Mark Twain?

1908-champion-cubs-baseball-cards

1908 baseball cards were tiny, weren’t they?

Just how long ago is 108 years anyway?  In 1908 Shackleton was heading to New Zealand, and explorers finally made it to the North Pole, Wilbur Wright was demonstrating this new flying vehicle called the airplane in Europe, and Henry Ford created his first Model T, Teddy Roosevelt declined to run for a third presidential term paving the way for the election of William Howard Taft (who would go on to become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in Bolivia, and Albert Einstein had just introduced his special theory of relativity.  1908 was a very different world and plenty of history has filled the gap, with countless millions of fans–an entire generation born, living and dying–watching the Cubs games without the big win, many from 1914 onward at the site of the baseball field that would carry chewing gum’s William Wrigley’s famous name.  It is “just a game,” yet the game itself survived plenty just as its fans survived plenty.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Butch and Sundance

TCM Big Screen Classics and the Fathom Event series are bringing one of the top ten Westerns of all time back to theaters for a limited engagement.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is returning to theaters across the country Sunday, January 17, 2016, and Wednesday, January 20, 2016.  Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katherine Ross star in one of the most famous stories of the west.  Bank robbers and the best ever buddy movie?  You can’t miss it.

The trio play off each other so naturally you really wish there could have been a sequel.  Great fun, with the most popular music of 1969.  “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” playing behind Newman and Ross’s bicycle ride reflects a carefree spirit that must have accompanied the actual risk-averse band of gunslingers.  The film stands strong today and on multiple viewings Newman and Redford only seem to get better.  You may even find you want to book a plane to Bolivia.

The film won Academy Awards for screenplay, cinematography, score, and for “Raindrops”–a double win night for Burt Bacharach.

Butch and Sundance vintage poster

Here is the original trailer for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:

Continue reading

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s almost a shame this weekend’s big screen release The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a retelling of the 1960s television series.  It’s an adaptation in that it takes the framework of the show—an American and a Russian working together as Cold War era spies—yet director Guy Ritchie makes this work stand completely by itself.  The fact that it’s based on a classic series may turn away viewers who may be tired of other remakes of 1960s shows like Get Smart and The Avengers (both of which were good standalone films).  But that would be a great loss, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is not only as stylish as advertised in our favorite trailer of the year, it’s a classy and smart story and a superb re-creation of the early 1960s.

It’s no surprise that this film relishes its Bond influences–Henry Cavill’s character Napoleon Solo was created by Ian Fleming, the same Ian Fleming that created Bond.  Yet the movie is fresh and new.  The story and Cavill’s performance evoke Matt Bomer’s role of stylish and cocky ex-art thief-turned government man on TV’s White Collar.  In fact Cavill is a dead ringer for Bomer.  Likely it’s just a coincidence but if you loved White Collar you’ll love this film.  And any doubts you may have as to Cavill’s acting because of the poorly written part he was stuck with in Man of Steel will be wiped away with his confident and suave Solo.  Even better is Armie Hammer’s performance as Illya Kuryakin.  Any doubts you may have as to Hammer’s acting from his lead role in The Lone Ranger will also be wiped away.  Hammer’s performance as a KGB agent in need of some anger management is nuanced and layered.  The idea of putting some Ennio Morricone musical queues behind Hammer and adding a Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry twitch are simply inspired.  This is a great team and a film that sets itself up for an exciting sequel.

Cavill Debicki Man from UNCLE

As commanding a presence as Cavill and Hammer have, they are almost upstaged by the equally important roles played by Alicia Vikander as the German daughter of a rocket scientist and Elizabeth Debicki as the ultimate Bond villain.  The villainy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is surprisingly as powerful, seething, and fun as any 1960s Bond film.  All of this is a credit to Ritchie’s bankable directorial and writing prowess.  A fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ritchie knows how to get the best out of partnerships here, just as he did with his Sherlock Holmes movie series.

Continue reading

Dead Mans Hand cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Who would have thought we’d be discussing a book in the second decade of the 21st century featuring new stories of the Old West?  Titan Books has released such a work with Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West, bringing together short stories from 23 authors that mash-up the Old West with science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and horror.

The Dead Man’s Hand is of course the legendary card hand last held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot down by Jack McCall in Deadwood, South Dakota back in 1876.  The superstitions carried forward by those cards–believed to be black aces and eights–fuels the magic and “weird” behind the stories in this compilation.

Fans of Louis L’Amour who may have open minds for the extremes of what might qualify as an Old West story should find at least a few good tales in Dead Man’s Hand.  Like Mike Resnick’s story “The Hell-bound Stagecoach,” set in Arizona Territory circa 1885, it chronicles riders in a stagecoach who don’t quite remember how they ended up on the road bound for somewhere, as they encounter a proper lady who happens to be a good cook along the way.  Resnick’s story is steeped in classic lore of the Old West era.

Jeff Bridges as Wild Bill Hickok

Editor John Joseph Adams attempts to summarize the genre in his introduction as having its roots in the works of Robert E. Howard, Gene Autry’s serial The Phantom Empire, and the 1970s series The Wild, Wild, West, but Adams could look back farther to cowboy lore–stories created and shared by those stranded in desert storms, creations of the lost, hungry and thirsty, like those seeing mirages.  Like the story that would become Ghost Riders in the Sky, written by Stan Jones in 1948.  Jones recalled the story was first told to him back around 1926, and certainly that story was among many Old West tomes of the oral tradition circulating back to even before the Civil War.  Regardless of the earliest sources for such stories, they still entertain audiences in a world of cell phones, space travel, and the Internet.

Continue reading

Evan Peters QuickSilver Time in a Bottle X-Men Days of Futue Past

Review by C.J. Bunce

BOULEVARD DRIVE-IN — It’s hard to believe it has only been six years since Jon Favreau surprised the world, taking a typically underwhelming character like Tony Stark, casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, and making the best modern superhero movie.  Although fanboy director Favreau made the Christmas classic Elf before Iron Man, who knew he was going to change how we evaluate the modern superhero film?  So it shouldn’t be surprising that a proven genre director like Bryan Singer, with titles under his belt like The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X-Men 2, X-men Origins: Wolverine, Superman Returns, and Valkyrie, has set the new standard in the summer blockbuster sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero sphere with his latest X-title, X-Men: Days of Future Past.  You don’t even need to be an X-Men or Marvel fan to realize what a triumph Singer has achieved.

The movie is gigantic from the opening set-up.  The giant mechanical Sentinels of the comic books take over Earth in the distant future, weeding out once and for all the small bands of survivors, creating a very Terminator-influenced opening.  Now see if you can spot a theme here.  A band of what you might call Tier 3 X-Men, led by Kitty Pryde (played by Oscar nominee Ellen Page), find a way to send something back into the past to save themselves from Sentinel strikes.  Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, Oscar nominee Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman’s Logan aka Wolverine take Pryde’s method to come up with a time travel plan that results in dual casts trying to save their world, one in 1973, the other in the future.  Storm, played by returning Oscar winner Halle Berry, tries to fend off the Sentinels to allow the time travel trick to work.

Magneto Fassbender

Continue reading

Templar cover art

Review by C.J. Bunce

In Jordan Mechner’s new hardcover novel-formatted graphic novel Templar from First Second Publishing, he follows a small band of “everyman” Knights Templar as they attempt to escape the actual erasure of the brotherhood by the current papal regime and minions of the King of France in Paris in the year 1307.  Cinematically rendered–as that term can be used to describe Disney movies such as Aladdin or DreamWorks’ Prince of Egypt, husband and wife artists Alex Puvilland and Leuyen Pham pack in 468 pages of simple yet effective panels that put a historical note on these almost mythic equivalents to the Japanese samurai and the precursors to the space fantasy Jedi Knights.

Mechner pulls themes from a myriad of favorite films to tell the story of Martin and his lost love Isabelle as they briefly reunite during a manhunt for Martin and a ramshackle gathering of fellow Knights who pursue a legendary treasure trove (that ultimately includes the Lost Ark of the Covenant) they believe to be stored in the basement of the villainous Nogaret, which they hope to use to finance a defense against the papacy and the king.  But they are up against a changing age similar to that of The Last Samurai, where the elite guard has served its purpose and now must go.  Martin’s role is like that of William Wallace in Braveheart or Robin in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  The Knights Templar are like the Spartans of Frank Miller’s 300, but without their last stand at Thermopylae.  We get to know the smaller subset more closely, loosely based on an actual group of men who were thought to have escaped being burnt at the stake, these men wander about as a jovial sort despite their lot like the cast of A Knight’s Tale or Robin Hood’s Merry Men.  Isabelle is a well-cast Marion, too, with elements of Blakeney’s wife in The Scarlet Pimpernel. 

Templar interior page

Along the way we meet a kind old Templar Grand Master who, based on a historic figure, is imprisoned and tricked by the King’s men.  His role is that of Thomas Aquinas in A Man for All Seasons–caught in the Catch 22 of the medieval world where you either confess and die a heretic or refuse to confess and die a heretic.

Continue reading

Django Unchained - Still A

By C.J. Bunce

How does a Western get nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award in 2013? As recently as two years ago the remake of True Grit was nominated for Best Picture and nine other nominations—but did not net a single win.  But would it have been nominated if it hadn’t been directed by the quirky directing duo of Joel and Ethan Coen?  Five years earlier Brokeback Mountain, a film with a Western—or at least a cowboy– theme was also nominated for Best Picture, winning three of eight nominations.  It took director Ang Lee and a completely non-Western plot for that to happen.  Then you have to go back to Unforgiven in 1992, which actually won Best Picture and four of nine of its nominations, to find the last major, critically acclaimed Western.

What made Unforgiven win?  Certainly by supplying one of the two most popular Western actors of all time as the film’s lead helped, even if it was one of his more bland performances, with Clint Eastwood also serving as director. (Yes, John Wayne still remains the #1 most popular Western actor ever).  But more importantly, like the few notable Westerns since, it had a very non-standard plot for a Western.  With its gunfighter-turns-farmer-turns-gunfighter-one-last-time story, it was basically a dark sequel to John Wayne’s Angel and the Badman.  You could keep going—back to Dances with Wolves in 1990, an example of the “epic Western” which seemed to reward the director and acting efforts of rising star Kevin Costner more than the movie as a Western genre masterpiece.  Or back to Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid in 1969, probably the last classic era Western to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, winning five awards, including a key win for the script by William Goldman.  Then go back to the also-quirky Cat Ballou in 1965 starring Jane Fonda—the rare Western notable for featuring a female lead.

Going back even further gets you into the classic era of Westerns, and throws you into the strange era of “epic Westerns” getting recognized by the Academy.  These were movies that in hindsight are really not as well done as many smaller pictures of the period, but their huge all-star casts and expensive sets made the films hard to ignore, such as How the West Was Won, The Alamo, and Giant.  Surprisingly you have to look back to the adaptation of Louis L’Amour’s Hondo starring John Wayne in 1953 to get back to the era of the “hero Western” as recipient of an Academy nod, a film up there with Shane and High Noon as successful and admired Westerns receiving acclaim by the Academy.

Schultz and Django

But if you put aside the classic Western and look at what has been selected by the Academy since the 1960s it makes a lot of sense that Quentin Tarentino’s Django Unchained is not only a Best Picture nominee this year, but a real contender for the win.  Set in the South two years before the Civil War, the film follows a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) whose past owners lead him to meet up with German-born, dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).  Schultz’s next target is the wanted-dead-or-alive Brittle brothers, and only Django can help him literally recognize his bounty.  Schultz serves as mentor in survival and pursuit skills for Django who is squarely focused on rescuing long-lost wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).  The search ultimately leads to a more complicated than necessary scheme to buy Broomhilda from infamous plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), if only his loyal house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) will not stand in the way.

So what is the formula for a successful Western in the 21st century and why should Django Unchained make the cut?

Continue reading

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

Ok, here I am looking at a list of twenty characters that I have to cut to a quarter of that for this list.  I didn’t even go crazy thinking about everything I’ve watched or read to find that one person that stood out above the rest.  I just really looked at my bookshelf, which should contain most, if not all, of my favorites.  But, is it everything?  Do I have everything I want to own in pop culture circles?  (No! I don’t own Firefly or Stalag 17 or every appearance of the Legion of Substitute Super Heroes!)

That problem aside, at least I had an idea from the beginning to focus the list.  When thinking of my favorite characters, I chose good friends.  I chose characters that support their friends and family, though sometimes it takes a little personal growth to do so.

To help narrow down the list, I made a choice not to include any of the characters from a previous borg.com essay on characters to make it more of a challenge.*

* Side note, the list I made then had three characters not on the list I made now.  I bet I could make this list every day and find five new favorites. Eliminating Sam Gamgee and Hermione Granger though, those were tough blows to a list about supportive friends.

I then eliminated childhood favorite comic book characters since I know I’ll probably mine that idea for future essays just devoted to them.

That eliminated ten names.  I still have to eliminate five more.  Well, one actor played two parts so I’ll eliminate one of his.  Nine.  Picking one character from Doctor Who (or from Buffy, I can’t believe I forgot Buffy) seems unfair, so I have to lop them off.  Eight.  Ditto for Community** and The Simpsons.  Six.  Lastly, I have to get rid of Supes from Kingdom Come because as much as I love the friendship between him, Wonder Woman and Batman, it’s not about any one of them, it’s about how they approach things differently and yet work well together (eventually).

** Though I will say that I have to write a little about eliminated choice Britta Perry.  She’s a hippie, she mispronounces things and she can be a bit awkward (though can’t they all be a bit awkward.)  So, in those small ways, I can see a female me.  The similarities start to fail once you realize that I don’t want to sleep with Jeff Winger.  Now, if there were a Jennifer Winger…

So, without further ado, here are my top five characters*** in no particular order:

*** As of January 2012.  It could change by February and I may put back in some of the eliminated ones.  A good list is just a product of its specific moment in time.

Frank Cross – Scrooged****

Niagara Falls.  Every time I watch Scrooged I always know I’m going to cry at the end.  I can just think of little Calvin Cooley tugging on Frank’s sleeve and I start to get a little misty.  Yes, it probably has everything to do with Bill Murray’s portrayal as he makes every scoundrel he plays lovable.  But, for this role, you get to see his choices that led to being a scoundrel.  It’s not like they are bad choices, just everyday choices that he doesn’t want to admit were wrong.  As a friend, well, he’s not much of one until the end, but I think it was always there as a possibility.  He just didn’t have an outlet for it until the ghosts showed him what was out there for him like Claire, the folks he meets at the shelter, the Cooley family and last, but not least, his own family.  The S.S. Minnow, James, the S.S. Minnow.

**** He was the actor with two characters, though about any of his characters would probably qualify for a part on a list. The one I eliminated was Bob Harris from Lost in Translation as temporary friends we meet when we travel can be very powerful in our memories.  I almost think I should go back and include Bob.  Maybe summer camp and travel friends are a separate list. It would give me a chance to go back and look at Meatballs and Wet Hot American Summer for great characters.  As an additional aside, I also think that credit should be given to Charles Dickens for his original creation of Scrooge that I feel Murray was born to play.

Jaye Tyler – Wonderfalls

Jaye.  Hmmm.  A good friend?  Maybe?  Well definitely, but not intentionally, which I think may be one of the points of the show.  You can do all the things that a good friend should do and still not be a good friend.  On the other hand, if you think you’re crazy and toys, stuffed animals and coins speak to you and you just do things to get them off your back, you can be a good friend by accident.  You stop thinking of yourself and how it works for you and instead you put yourself at risk for embarrassment just long enough to do something good for someone else.  The fact that it’s unintentional, does it mean it is any less good?

The Sundance Kid – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

I think Sundance embodies the evolution of friendship.  At the beginning of the movie, Sundance defers to Butch because Butch is the smart one coming up with plans.  By the end, Sundance realizes that he’s the smart one that knows Spanish and Butch is helpless and he wonders why he ever believed anything different. Still, they’re friends and have been for many a year.  You don’t abandon something like that and at the end, as they hide, injured and desperate, Sundance has to have regrets, but I don’t think that their friendship is one of them.  Not going to Australia on the other hand looms large in the pantheon of regrets.

Rorschach – Watchmen

He’s crazy, but there’s one person that mitigates that crazy and that’s Nite Owl and I think that Rorschach knows that.  He’s at his best when he is with Nite Owl and he goes as far as to admit it, in a way.  He talks of the days that they used to patrol together as a team and he misses those days.  If Butch and Sundance would have made it to Australia, I think Butch would be like Rorschach and longing for the time that they were a team.  Without the tempering influence of Sundance, Butch’s plans would be left unsaid, festering into crazy at their unrealized potential to make his world better in his mind.  The friendship for Rorschach and Butch might be gone at that point, but it never really leaves, it just becomes a different form.  You can’t go back to going out night after night and fighting crime, the body and mind is not built like that.  Eventually the friendship matures and you find new ways to enjoy it.

Vladimir – Waiting for Godot

This one is personal.  Yes, the existentialist play is about two friends trying to pass the time and on that level it’s a fantastic look at all the aspects of friendship.  What elevates it to top five status for me is that I can’t think of the play without thinking of my good friend Jason Vivone.  We did an excerpt from it for a duet scene in high school. We saw a touring company version of it performed in Lawrence, Kansas.  We performed the whole thing as adults in Kansas City. It’s about friends and I will always associate it with a good friend.  I’ve known Jason for over thirty years and no matter what, when I talk to him it’s like we’ve seen each other every day over that time.

The reluctant friend, the unintentional friend, the friend who knows your faults and still hangs out with you, old friends that you may not ever be as close to again and the mature friendship that will never go away are all different ways to express friendship.  Believe me, there are many other ways out there as well and the good characters find ways to make that universal feeling we have with our fellow humans feel fresh again.  Like writing about characters and friends with the characters and great friends that contribute to borg.com.  See you next time.

Next up tomorrow–Art Schmidt’s favorite characters.

What better way to celebrate borg.com’s 100,000th site visit than share some news about one of our favorite superheroes?  Hollywood writer Jason McClain alerted me to this news item, as it’s no secret I’m one of the biggest Green Arrow fans around.  The news?

The CW Network has ordered a TV series pilot featuring Green Arrow that will, happily, not be related to the Smallville series’ spin on the character.  The producer/writers tapped to create the pilot are Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, the two writers responsible for last year’s Green Lantern movie, and ex-writer for the Green Arrow/Black Canary comic book series, Andrew Kreisberg.

Kreisberg took over the comic book series after Judd Winick moved off the GA/BC title.  He teamed with artist Mike Norton after Cliff Chiang left the series.  I have read Kreisberg’s take on Green Arrow and Black Canary, and I liked it.  Kreisberg wrote some good modern stories featuring the trio in both a lighthearted and action-packed way.  He clearly knows the roots of these characters and their strong relationships with each other, and hopefully he can convey that into the script for the pilot and get it onto the small screen.  He also once acknowledged that there is no other superhero team out there that is a married couple, that that IS Green Arrow’s story.  Right on!

Here are some unsolicited recommendations for Kreisberg, Berlanti and Guggenheim to make the series get off the ground right:

(1)  You might view your TV show as an ensemble show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  An ensemble genre work usually is better than a solo character-focused show (think about the failed series The Cape and why it didn’t work, for example) because although we all loved the title character of Buffy Summers, we loved supporting characters Willow and Xander even more.  And like the best Batman stories, letting the lead hero take the back seat once in a while is a good thing.  At the same time, I didn’t watch Smallville because Clark never donned the supersuit.  Show Green Arrow in action with the bow once in a while, but just not in every scene.

(2)  Take the best of the Green Arrow canon and it will easily translate to today.  The “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline that put both Green Arrow and Green Lantern on the map and made us want to know more about these characters was a road trip across America.  Something like the Winchester boys moving across country with every new episode in Supernatural.  You might laugh, but On the Road with Charles Kuralt, the CBS segment where he took an off-the-beaten path tour of America, lasted decades for a reason.  Viewers liked to see where he would go next.  You’ll have an unlimited number of settings for your story, too, if you keep the team moving, assuming they let you work with all three characters.

The Kid, Etta, and Butch--archetype for Ollie, Dinah, and Hal

(3)  Everyone likes a good “buddy picture.”  I have mentioned before how the “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline reflected the 1969 world view, and 1969 entertainment.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid came out in 1969 and was still in theaters when Denny O’Neil wrote the classic Green Arrow and Green Lantern crossover.  Did some of the hit movie rub off on O’Neil?  Who knows.  If you pay attention, you’ll see that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a buddy picture with three buddies, almost a “love triangle,” including some brotherly love between Butch and Ross’s character Etta Place.  That’s right, Katherine Ross’s role as the Kid’s girlfriend, and Butch’s pal, was as important to the film as each of the title characters.  Black Canary/Dinah Lance could have that same crucial role in a TV series about Ollie and Hal.

(4)  Even if Warner Brothers wants to keep Hal Jordan/Green Lantern out of the series, you must include Black Canary/Dinah Lance.  Don’t botch this by pulling ideas from the Dinah Lance of the short-lived Birds of Prey series.  It was good for what it was.  But you want dark-haired Dinah that sports the blonde wig used to go incognito, not the stilted friend of Oracle.  Green Arrow/Oliver Queen can go solo from time to time, but only when he can return to Dinah is he at his best.

(5)  Stay away from the DC 52 Green Arrow storyline and the obvious idea of having Oliver participate in some form of anti-big business Occupy Wall Street movement.  Sure, in real life, Ollie would be leading up the OWS marches, but I think most viewers don’t want a show about superheroes in current politics and as much as everyone hates greedy corporate America, more personal storylines will appeal to modern viewers.   The current series Leverage does this very well.  Think local.  Don’t have Ollie take on all of the world’s problems, have him take on each human problem bit by bit, maybe town by town.  It worked brilliantly for Adams and O’Neil.

Original Mike Norton art from a story under Kreisberg's turn as writer for Green Arrow/Black Canary

(6)  Oliver Queen is not Bruce Wayne.  He’s much more layered.  Queen is not a billionaire.  He lost all his money, and that allowed him to get interesting.  Don’t even waste time on his backstory as billionaire as it will only emphasize his role as a one-time obvious Batman knockoff.

(7)  Read up on your Mike Grell era of Green Arrow stories.  Grell was an ex-government intelligence guy who ended up writing spy novels and comic books.  He took the Neal Adams/Denny O’Neil Green Arrow and Black Canary and brought them into downtown Seattle and injected the backwoods survival skills and mixed it with street smarts.  He made Ollie the Urban Warrior.  This itself harkened back to the iconic Green Lantern Issue #76’s story whereby Green Arrow first takes on a greedy slumlord that Hal Jordan was unintentionally actually helping.

Personal sketch of Ollie and Dinah by Mike Grell

(8)  We know from past interviews that Andrew Kreisberg likes the role of Green Arrow and Black Canary as Oliver and Dinah–husband and wife.  Consider building on Mike Grell’s series, where they run the Sherwood Florist in Seattle by day.  And what the heck, work in Mia and Connor if you can.  And if you must update costumes, you gotta bring back Ollie’s goatee.  As Mikel Janin proved with his excellent recent update to similarly costumed Zatanna, Dinah’s fishnets can be optional.

(9)  The Flash TV series had a lot going for it.  One was the age of the actor in the lead roll, John Wesley Shipp, former soap actor.  He wasn’t 20-something.  He was 35 and looked like he could be a superhero in real life.  If you’re staying away from Smallville (a great move) then give us heroes who have had time to gain some wisdom, not some newbies who have no way of practically knowing all they would need to know in real life to get through their trials on the show (the TV series Bones is a big example of this glaring absurdity with its only-young cast that has knowledge you could only gain by being twice the age of the cast members).  Look for actors in their 30s or or even early 40s.

(10)  Suggested title?  If you take any of the ideas above, how about Hard Traveling, Hard Traveling Hero, or Hard Traveling Heroes?  Of course there are always other former storyline titles like Quiver.

I have no idea what limitations will be placed on Kreisberg & Co. as they work out the script for the TV series pilot.  Maybe they have no intention of including Hal and Dinah, but if they can, it could be something new and different and very fun.

If you want to see Andrew Kreisberg’s stories while writing for Ollie and Dinah, you can buy compilations, including: Green Arrow/Black Canary: Enemies List, Green Arrow/Black Canary: Big Game, and Green Arrow/Black Canary: Five Stages.

And Andrew, if you need help with story ideas, drop me a line.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

After a year of advertising, Cowboys and Aliens finally arrives in theaters June 29.  With a sci-fi western starring the coolest James Bond ever (Daniel Craig) and our favorite scoundrel/spice smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), our current favorite actress on-the-rise, Olivia Wilde (Quorra in Tron: Legacy, Thirteen in House M.D.), and the coolest director cranking out hits, Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf), this movie is going to really have to screw it up to not be the biggest blockbuster of the year–even competing against Green Lantern, Thor, Captain America, another Harry Potter movie, another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, another Planet of the Apes movie, another X-Men movie and another Transformers movie.

And what do you look forward to the most?  The first big western in years?  Harrison Ford finally in a genre movie again?  Daniel Craig playing another cool as ice character?  That Boba Fett-style gauntlet blaster?  Favreau is on a roll with his recent films, and the trailer looks like it came out of a Philip K. Dick short story.  So while we’re waiting, eagerly, for Cowboys and Aliens to premiere, let’s run down a list of the all-time best westerns and alien movies.  We’ll start with the westerns and in two days we’ll look at the best alien movies.

1.  STAGECOACH (1939).  The best western director, John Ford, shooting in the best western location, Monument Valley, with the best western movie star, John Wayne.  A character study more than a standard shoot ’em up, the relationship of people trapped and how fear affects a small group dynamic and how each deals with an unseen threat just around the next turn.  Heroics and prejudice and good guys and bad guys.  Cowboys and Aliens is an obvious play on Cowboys and Indians, and this film follows a stagecoach ride under a threat of Geronimo and his posse–a real story of cowboys vs Indians in frontier America.  The source of the modern cool customer Han Solo-type, Wayne plays a tough but valiant Ringo Kid.

2.  FORT APACHE (1948).  Horse soldiers of the frontier, a mix of dying and dealing with command and authority, another John Ford and John Wayne partnership with a tough as nails Henry Fonda and the Ford/Wayne ensemble B-team of Victor McLaglen and Ward Bond.  Co-starring the no longer just a kid actor Shirley Temple.  This must have been what it was like to spend your years living out of a military fort.  Wayne grows in acting skill, develops his own persona and defines his swaggering hero with the confident and cocky Captain York.

3.  HIGH NOON (1952).  The rarity of a true hero in the face of real danger with no help from anyone.  Gary Cooper’s Marshal Kane must decide whether he is a runner or whether he must take a stand.  With Thomas Mitchel and a brilliant but frustrating Grace Kelly as the new Mrs. Kane.  Those who don’t like High Noon are usually frustrated with everyone but Cooper.  That’s because you’re supposed to be frustrated–sometimes people just don’t do the right thing until someone comes along and shows them the way.  Most of the film doesn’t make you feel good.  That’s why High Noon is not a garden variety western but a stand-out masterpiece.

4.  HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973).  Clint Eastwood directs himself in his best western role as the mysterious stranger.  I’m a big fan of genre bending and like Cowboys and Aliens bridges sci-fi and westerns, here we see a natural bridging of western meets ghost story.  Or does it?  Paint the town red?  Right on.  Seek a little revenge?  You bet.  Where Eastwood’s  other westerns seem to blur together, Drifter stands out as a film that seems to go a little crazy from the desert heat.

5.  THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962).  More John Ford directing John Wayne?  Yep, it’s because they were that good together.  And here we add on Jimmy Stewart as honest, frustrated but determined lawman turned senator, Ransom Stoddard.  Stewart’s Stoddard is a bit of High Noon’s Gary Cooper, but without the skill and edge.  Liberty is played by an oily, vile Lee Marvin in one of his best film roles.  And believe it or not, John Wayne again builds on his performance as the swaggering early Han Solo-type, including even a plotline pretty much stolen for the original Star Wars.  Whose steak did Liberty kick to the floor?  That was my steak, Valance.  Who shot Liberty Valance?  Watch and find out.

6.  MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946).  Yep, another John Ford directed masterpiece, again with Henry Fonda along with Ward Bond, but minus Wayne.  Walter Brennan is top-notch here playing the mouth flapper that made him famous.  The story is the most well known legend of the west:  the gunfight at the OK Corral.  Fonda plays Wyatt Earp, Victor Mature plays Doc Holliday.  Even if you know the story, Ford shows us how the streets of Tombstone were painted in blood more than a century ago.  Others have tried but no version of the story comes close to this classic.

7.  SHANE (1953).  Alan Ladd and Jean Arthur are perfect here, with real-life cowboy Ben Johnson along for the ride.  Neither a farmer nor rancher, Ladd’s Shane has his own code and his code is about being kind and reserved, despite his gunslinger past.  Like Wayne in Stagecoach, Cooper in High Noon, Stewart in Liberty Valance, and Eastwood in Drifter, Shane’s loner with the hidden past is sewn from the same cloth.  Not cool in a modern way, but in an example-setting way, Shane shows a young boy what kind of a man to grow up to be.  Like the triumph of the human spirit in several other great westerns, Shane is about looking out for the other guy.

8.  SILVERADO (1985).  My favorite western.  Lawrence Kasdan’s masterpiece that reintroduced the western genre and proved that you can make a western today every bit as good as decades ago.  The best ensemble western ever, yet it honestly pulls bits and pieces from all the other classics.  Kevin Kline’s Paden is an everyman just trying to get by, pulled into something he wants no part of.  Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner are brothers on their way to California who stop off on one last visit to their sister.  Too bad that the man who runs Silverado now is the son of the guy Glenn’s character went to jail for killing, and he just won’t let it go.  Enter Brian Dennehy as the sheriff and the Old West’s most perfect bartender named Stella, played by Linda Hunt. “Cobb can’t hurt me if he’s dead.”  With Danny Glover, Patricia Arquette and John Cleese.  Where’s the dog, Paden?

9.  THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960).  John Sturges directs an all-star cast in the best remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.  Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Charles Bronson are each skilled with their own special powers.  They must team up to complete a simple task–and selecting the team for the job is just plain fun.  Charles Coburn is solid as the expert in knife throwing.  A rollicking, exciting western.  Sturges’ line-up of heroes and familiar images of an up-and-coming western town is classic Old West.

10.  BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969).  Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katherine Ross star in the other most famous story of the west.  Bank robbers and the best ever buddy movie.  The trio play off each other so naturally you really miss these people after the movie is over.  Great fun, with popular music of the day.  “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” as a pop song behind Newman and Ross’s bicycle ride reflects a carefree spirit that must have accompanied the actual risky band of gunslingers.  The film stands strong today and on multiple viewings Newman and Redford only seem to get better.

HONORABLE MENTION: RIO BRAVO (John Wayne in a low-key performance, with some classic gunfight scenes, including a slick dive and rifle throw and catch scene you’ll have to rewind and watch again and again), BEND IN THE RIVER (Jimmy Stewart and the best western scenery outside of Monument Valley), ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (John Wayne’s quiet anti-hero/hero and the innocent Gail Russell have chemistry and somehow manage to come off as made for each other).

MUSICAL WESTERNS YOU SHOULD NOT MISS:  OKLAHOMA! (“the farmer and the cowman can be friends”), PAINT YOUR WAGON (Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin singing a good musical under backdrop of the sudden growth of a western town)

Delve further into the genre and check out these other actors from classic westerns:  Gene Autry, Dale Evans, Glenn Ford, Gabby Hayes, Tom Mix, Audie Murphy, Roy Rogers, Randolph Scott, and the Sons of the Pioneers.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg

%d bloggers like this: