Advertisements

Tag Archive: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance


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

Advertisements

Heritage Auctions will feature 750 lots of personal property of western movie star John Wayne October 6-7, 2011 in Los Angeles.  After Wayne died in 1979 all of his personal property was tagged and inventoried.  In the 1990s John Wayne’s sons purchased costumes from Western Costume Company in Los Angeles, further building up the Wayne estate collection.  Finally, ten years ago son Ethan began planning this auction.

Wayne used several hats, shirts, belts and props in several of his movies.  His productions also owned multiples of each costume and prop, just as production studios do today.  So what is featured are some of these costumes and props, and undoubtedly most if not all of them got screen use in one or more films.  Several costumes come from Wayne’s final role as Rooster Cogburn from True Grit, including one of his eye patches.

Also being auctioned are John Wayne’s one-of-a-kind personal, hand-notated scripts, including the script to Stagecoach, Angel and the Badman, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Lobo, and The Sons of Katie Elder.  Personal property being auctioned includes several stylized cowboy boots, used both in his personal life and in films, as well as countless belts and buckles, cowboy hats, and his own custom horse saddle, expected to garner between $40,000-60,000.

The vast majority of the auction will feature less exciting but interesting items, such as personal trunks and clothing, letters from other movie stars and presidents, and awards including Wayne’s Golden Globe award.

More obscure but also interesting is a collection of western prints created by Andy Warhol.

Although some of the best John Wayne costumes have been auctioned in previous Heritage, Profiles in History and other auctions, including the recent sale of Wayne’s iconic uniform from She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, this is the first time so many John Wayne items have been featured in a single auction.

Key lots include:

John Wayne’s blue “bib shirt” worn by Wayne as Tom Doniphon is John Ford’s classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, where Wayne played opposite James Stewart and Lee Marvin.  Wayne made this shirt famous, featuring it in several of his classic westerns.  He wore this style shirt in several other films including The Sons of Katie Elder, and he may have worn this shirt in one or more of those films as well.  This shirt is expected to sell between $6,000-$8.000.  Undoubtedly this is a very low estimate of the likely winning bid, which will easily exceed $10,000.

John Wayne’s marine uniform from Sands of Iwo Jima, where Wayne portrayed the tough as nails Sergeant John M. Stryker.  “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.”  This costume is expected to sell between $20,000-$25,000.

A cavalry hat worn by Wayne in the films The Horse Soldiers, Circus World, The Undefeated, and Rio Lobo.  Expected to sell between $30,000-$40,000.

More information on the auction can be found at the Heritage Auction website page for this auction.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

%d bloggers like this: