Interesting Questions, Facts and Information
- There are a total of 10 general entries.
Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information
Westerns and Gangster Films
Dead Man. In "Dead Man", Johnny Depp played William Blake, a young man who came west for a job as an accountant. Instead circumstances forced him to become a notorious outlaw and gunman, who was a walking dead man because of a wound he received that had not killed him immediately, but eventually would. The movie followed his violent journey through the Old West.
"Dead Man" was shot in black and white, adding to its dark and surreal atmosphere. Although the movie failed to deliver a clear revisionist view, it did touch on many revisionist motifs. These included a man forced by circumstance and fate into a life he did not choose, the use of the law by the powerful for their own ends, and a bleak, dreary, decaying view of the white man's conquering of the West. It also had spiritual/metaphysical overtones but these also were not clearly developed.
The Cowboys. The Clanton Gang, aka The Cowboys, operated unopposed in Southern Arizona before the arrival of the Earps. "Tombstone" told the story of the Earps arrival in Tombstone, the gunfight at the OK Corral, and the bloody aftermath that ensued. Casting for the Earp Brothers was as follows: Kurt Russell played Wyatt, Sam Elliott played Virgil, Bill Paxton played Morgan, and Val Kilmer played Doc Holiday. Leading The Cowboys in the movie was Powers Boothe as "Curly Bill" Brocious. In real life Old Man Clanton led the gang.
In many ways "Tombstone" was a Traditional Western, pitting the good guys against the bad guys in typical fashion. But in other ways it was revisionist, most notably in the flaws of some of the good guys and the carnage portrayed. Wyatt's wife was addicted to laudanum and Doc Holiday was clearly trying to drink himself to death. Wyatt cheated on his wife with Josephine, a strong, self-possessed woman not typically seen in Traditional Westerns. The violence of the shoot out and the subsequent vendettas on both sides were shown in graphic detail. Although Wyatt operated under the guise of the law, his pursuit of his brother's killers certainly had mixed motives at best.
|"Ride With the Devil" featured a historical event as a pivotal part of the plot, the Lawrence Massacre during the Civil War. In the movie and historically, who was responsible for this event?||Revisionist Westerns - 80s and 90s
Quantrill's Raiders. Quantrill's Raiders were responsible for the Lawrence Massacre. The movie followed the story of four Missouri Irregulars, or Bushwhackers, who became a part of Quantrill's force: Jake (Tobey Maguire), a German immigrant whose immigrant community was pro-Union while he fought for the South, Jack (Skeet Ulrich), a Southerner whose father was murdered by Union Jayhawkers, Daniel Holt (Jeffrey Wright), an African American fighting as a freeman for the South, and Holt's former owner George Clyde (Simon Baker), an aristocratic Southerner.
Like other Revisionist Westerns, the movie did not shy away from a gritty portrayal of violence and its aftermath. It also showed an African American who fought for the South, a move that drew great criticism. But the role of Holt was based on a historical figure, John Noland, an African American who rode with Quantrill. The dramatic climax of the movie was Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence Kansas and the ensuing massacre.
Sioux. "Dances with Wolves" told the fictional story of a veteran and hero of the Civil War (Kevin Costner as Lt. John Dunbar) who headed out West to his new post on the Plains, an abandoned army outpost. There he was befriended by the local Sioux tribe and soon adopted their ways. When forced to choose between the white world and the Native American, he chose the latter.
The movie had a sympathetic view of the Sioux and made the US Cavalry the villains, making it a true Revisionist Western. The movie was a critical and box office success. It won seven Oscars, including the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. In 2007 it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation because of its cultural significance. The Sioux Nation adopted Costner as honorary member because of the movie.
|The Revisionist Western "Walker" was based on the historical figure William Walker, an American who took over a Central American country in the 1850s. Which country was this, that also figured prominently in US foreign policy during the 1980s?||Revisionist Westerns - 80s and 90s
Nicaragua. The movie "Walker" followed Walker's exploits from his time in Mexico, to his takeover of Nicaragua in 1856, to his eventual death in Honduras. Ed Harris played the title role.
During the 1980s the US supported the Contras in opposing the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, because of its communist leanings. Director Alex Cox read about William Walker in the magazine "Mother Jones" and decided to do a movie about him, to protest American policy in Central America. Ed Harris agreed to star because he also opposed US policy. The movie was given the full support of the Sandinista government and was filmed in Nicaragua. The movie was revisionist not only because of its use of a historical situation to address current events, but also because of its violent sequences. It was supposed to be a morality play about how the US has meddled in Central America for over a century but the film was poorly received. Because of the movie's dismal critical and commercial failure, Cox was shut out of the studio system afterwards.
|Alan Ladd starred in the Traditional Western "Shane" in 1953. Which 'apocalyptic', Eastwood Revisionist Western was considered by many to be inspired by this classic, because of the similar plots and motifs?||Revisionist Westerns - 80s and 90s
Pale Rider. The movie's title, "Pale Rider", was a reference to Revelation 6:8 and the fact that Death rode a pale horse during the Apocalypse. In both "Pale Rider" and "Shane", a stranger was drawn into a conflict where he defended the weak against the strong, a typical Traditional Western plot. Although many considered "Shane" to be a straight-forward Traditional Western, even it had some shades of gray. Clearly Shane was attracted to the life of the homesteaders and more specifically to Starrett's wife and son. But he did not act on this attraction and instead sacrificed himself for the good of others.
In "Pale Rider", Eastwood took the shades of gray only alluded to in "Shane" and painted them in full detail. Where Shane was a conflicted gunfighter, looking to leave that life behind, Preacher (Eastwood's character) was more of an avenging angel with no qualms about what he was doing. This dichotomy, of a man of God being willing to kill without hesitation, existed flawlessly in Eastwood's portrayal. As was true of Eastwood's earlier Revisionist classic "High Plains Drifter", "Pale Rider" left it uncertain whether Preacher was a ghost or a man. The movie's religious and spiritual overtones made it another true Revisionist Western to add to Eastwood's growing legacy in the genre.
|Which 1980 Revisionist Western shared its name with a dooms day cult, whose members committed suicide when the Hale-Bopp Comet was at its brightest in 1997?||Revisionist Westerns - 80s and 90s
Heaven's Gate. The Heaven's Gate cult was founded by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. Thirty-nine members of the group committed suicide on March 26, 1997 when the comet was at its brightest, because they believed the comet to be a sign that the Earth was about to be destroyed and they needed to go to the Next Level of existence.
The movie "Heaven's Gate" was set during the Johnson County War in Wyoming, in the 1890s, a historical case where wealthy landowners hired gunmen to kill small landowners who they considered guilty of rustling. The conflict pitted the gunmen against a sheriff's posse sent to stop them and eventually ended with the intervention of the US Cavalry. The movie featured an all-star cast, including Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Geoffrey Lewis, Richard Masur, Terry O'Quinn, Mickey Rourke, and Willem Dafoe. The film was a colossal, critical and commercial failure, ruining the career of an Oscar winning director, Michael Cimino of "The Deer Hunter" fame, and causing the collapse of the United Arists movie studio.
The movie is considered revisionist, not because the history upon which it was based is in dispute, but rather because it brought to light an ugly part of the history of the West. Wealthy landowners became vigilantes by hiring thugs to carry out their own brand of justice and by doing so became outlaws themselves.