Burt Kennedy

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7 Men From Now Review


Essential
It's with a heavy heart that I admit this, both to readers and myself: nobody cares about westerns anymore. Well, maybe Tommy Lee Jones, but he's that all-too-rare exception. It's hard to imagine that not too long ago (the 1940s and '50s) westerns were considered high entertainment, only exceeded by comedies and musicals. And though the genre was dominated by masters like John Ford and Howard Hawks, a film like Budd Boetticher's 7 Men from Now still got some attention from viewers. These days, without major critical hype and publicity, you wonder if it would even make a bleep on the radar.

An obvious forbearer to Clint Eastwood's groundbreaking Unforgiven, 7 Men concerns Ben Stride (Randolph Scott), the former sheriff of Silver Springs and a recently widowed drifter. Not a drifter without purpose, however. When seven men held up a Wells Fargo office, they killed Stride's wife and ran off with twenty grand. In a chilling opening scene, Stride kills off two of them in a small cave and then heads off to find the rest. Early in his mission he runs across Annie and John Greer (Gail Russell and Walter Reed, respectively), a couple heading to California to find their fortune. He also runs across an ex-con that he locked up once, Bill Masters (the ever-brilliant Lee Marvin), who agrees to help Stride for the possibility of picking up the stolen loot. But, as always, nothing is as it seems.

Continue reading: 7 Men From Now Review

White Hunter, Black Heart Review


Excellent
Tragically underrated, the character of John Wilson remains one of Clint Eastwood's greatest roles, standing next to Dirty Harry in memorability. A (very) thinly-veiled biography of director John Huston, during the preproduction of arguably his greatest film, The African Queen, Eastwood burns as the angry, embittered director who sees everything as a challenge to overcome, from killing an elephant to surviving a plane crash. His clashes with his writer (Fahey - his best role ever) and producer (Dzundza - ditto, I'd say) are epic and awesomely staged. While the film pulls its punches by masking the identities of its players behind aliases (the faux Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart stick out ridiculously), this is a film that is not to be missed, especially by movie buffs.
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