I love westerns. Good, old-fashioned, shoot-’em-up cowboy movies. Tall hats, six guns, spurs, and the Wild West get my juices going. No matter that much of the mystique of black hat bad guys and white hat righteous heroes and honest sheriffs is simplistic myth. No matter. I love westerns.
So on opening night there I was in line at the cinema ticket booth to see the remake of The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington as central character. It’s a good one for the lover of westerns, with a rip-roaring shoot-out climax as good as any. No matter that Denzel, leader of the good guys, wears an over-size black hat that sits too low on his ears, reminding me of me as a kid trying to be Roy Rogers. No matter that casting of the new ‘magnificent seven’ (plus an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better female who makes a magnificent eight) panders to current ethnic sensibilities to include a black leader, an Asian, a Native American, a Mexican, and three white guys — and, of course, the do-anything female. No matter. It’s a worthy tale of Good against Evil and triumphing.
I began early loving westerns and everything ‘cowboy’. Before I could pronounce the name I was hooked on “Groy Grogers”. So I’ve had a walk on Memory Lane recently watching a boxed set of Roy Rogers DVDs my sister sent as a surprise gift. Watching Roy and Dale Evans and Gabby Hays clean up the wild west in those 1940s black & white movies is a flashback to my childhood as well as to a “kinder, gentler” era of cinema. Looking back on those old movies with jaundiced senior eyes it seems when Roy was “King of the Cowboys” and Trigger was “the smartest horse in the movies” horses didn’t poop, hats never fell off, no one got dirty, and even the bad guys said, “Pardon me”.
For gritty realism my favorite westerns are Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” and Kevin Costner’s “Open Range” and right up there with them is Quintin Tarentino’s “Django”. And what’s not to love about “Silverado” with Danny Glover, a young Kevin Costner, and the humor of Kevin Cline? And John Wayne? “Hondo” is terrific . . . and TV Westerns, “Rawhide”, “Cheyenne”, “Have Gun, Will Travel”, “The Rifleman”, and “The Lone Ranger”.
Yeah, I love Westerns. Always have. So who’s surprised I now live in the State where the new “Magnificent Seven” was filmed? Yep, The Land of Enchantment, where the movie was made at Santa Fe Film Studios. If you love Westerns, especially the early ones, you’ve seen New Mexico perhaps without realizing it. New Mexico is that part of the great Southwest where many Westerns were filmed. In fact, so many early movie stars stayed at the historic El Rancho Motel in Gallup, NM., back in 1930s-40s Western movie production hayday, the rooms are now named for the Hollywood stars who stayed in them.
So, Yippy-ty-yi-yey, yippy-chi-yo. Burnsie and I are hoping my ticket to Magnificent Seven on opening weekend is a vote for Hollywood to make MORE great Westerns!
Joseph Harvill, Cowpoke Scottiephile