American History - General

Dec 2014
350
Italy
#1
This thread is about "American history in general" (without open other ones).

I would like begin with Western movies, because I think movies are part of American history.

Yesterday I saw The Tall Stranger, (1957), directed by Thomas Carr. Starring: Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
#2
Well, the movie which most effectively conveys the zeitgeist, the je ne sais quoi, of America is -



In regard to Westerns, I would think the TV shows like Wagon Train, Rawhide, Bat Masterson, The Rifleman, etc, etc, would have had more "impact" on the Zeitgeist than movies since they're right there in your own house.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,374
Albuquerque, NM
#3
"The Oxbow Incident" with Henry Honda, depicted a lynch mob who rushed out to find and punish murderous cattle thieves. Fonda and his side-kick are strangers who go along, partially to establish their own innocence. The mob is headed by a rogue sheriff's deputy, a tough old frontier woman, and an Ex-Confederate officer disappointed in his son's lack of toughness. They find part of the missing herd tended by a man claiming to have purchased the cattle from their owner, but has no bill of sale to prove it. His crew is a doddering old man, and a Mexican with a fancy outfit. The prisoners are given the evening to prepare for death at sunrise. Over the night, Fonda and his partner, the towns preacher, and an intenratnt ex-slave (one of the finest uncredited performances) you are likely to see. See the film.

However, I don't believe that any single film comes close to being "The Great American Movie". Ford/Wayne collaborations like the Cavalry Trio, reflect some of America's fondeest myths about the frontier, or "State Coach", "The Man Who Shot LIberty Valence. More recently "Unforgiven" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales" with Clint Eastwood have a different POV of the Western Frontier. I know of an Australian who has watched Josie Wales so often he's lost count of it. Good film, but countless viewings?

I've been somewhat interested in comic Westerns, and there are a surprising number of those and each contributes a tiny slice of further understanding how Americans have integrated our stories of the Wild West (generally 1870-1890). When we consider all the films Hollywood has given the World that somehow reflect American Ideals, Standards and Values is a full time career. The list of political dramas alone would take years to fully study. All of the films contribute something to our understanding, even the stinkers, and such all are valuable and all fail to catch such a complex set as the American Public.
 
Apr 2017
482
the coast
#4
I enjoyed the western movie 'The Wild Bunch'. I think it did a decent job showing the dying days of the "old west" and the new era of 'modernity' creeping in.
 
Dec 2014
350
Italy
#5
Well, the movie which most effectively conveys the zeitgeist, the je ne sais quoi, of America is -



In regard to Westerns, I would think the TV shows like Wagon Train, Rawhide, Bat Masterson, The Rifleman, etc, etc, would have had more "impact" on the Zeitgeist than movies since they're right there in your own house.
Well, Lucius, I'm not a scholar like you. "Zeitgeist", I call it "time spirit". That German word, it's too difficult to me. :)

What a memory! I know Wagon Train as Carovane verso il West and I saw it in early '70, more than 40 years ago! Thank you to have remembered me of. :)

Ward Bond, well, he played footbook with John Wayne at the University of Southern California.

I also like him in The Searchers, known by me as Sentieri Selvaggi, where he plays Reverend Clayton.
 
Feb 2017
425
Minneapolis
#6
"Once Upon a Time in the West"

An underrated movie if there ever was one. The photography itself is unmatched. Henry Fonda is brilliant as the villain. The opening sequence is a kind of an avant garde masterpiece. Maybe it took an Italian to really capture the zeitgeist of the West. Or maybe he is capturing the zeitgeist of the Western. But this is apt. The mythology of the west and its actual history were pretty much intertwined from the get go.

Or "Shane"

The movie is good. The book, of course, is better. But even now, Shane and the boy's father represent my ideals of American manhood (impossible as they are).
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
#7
Well, Lucius, I'm not a scholar like you. "Zeitgeist", I call it "time spirit". That German word, it's too difficult to me. :) ...
I'm no scholar, just well-read for an American.

If I'm not mistaken, it is rendered "Spirit of the Age" in English, as in "team spirit".

It originally referred to the rise of liberty and democracy in the 1800s.

With all this modernity going around, I guess it can mean whatever one wants it to mean.
 
Dec 2014
350
Italy
#8
"The Oxbow Incident" with Henry Honda, depicted a lynch mob who rushed out to find and punish murderous cattle thieves. Fonda and his side-kick are strangers who go along, partially to establish their own innocence. The mob is headed by a rogue sheriff's deputy, a tough old frontier woman, and an Ex-Confederate officer disappointed in his son's lack of toughness. They find part of the missing herd tended by a man claiming to have purchased the cattle from their owner, but has no bill of sale to prove it. His crew is a doddering old man, and a Mexican with a fancy outfit. The prisoners are given the evening to prepare for death at sunrise. Over the night, Fonda and his partner, the towns preacher, and an intenratnt ex-slave (one of the finest uncredited performances) you are likely to see. See the film.

However, I don't believe that any single film comes close to being "The Great American Movie". Ford/Wayne collaborations like the Cavalry Trio, reflect some of America's fondeest myths about the frontier, or "State Coach", "The Man Who Shot LIberty Valence. More recently "Unforgiven" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales" with Clint Eastwood have a different POV of the Western Frontier. I know of an Australian who has watched Josie Wales so often he's lost count of it. Good film, but countless viewings?

I've been somewhat interested in comic Westerns, and there are a surprising number of those and each contributes a tiny slice of further understanding how Americans have integrated our stories of the Wild West (generally 1870-1890). When we consider all the films Hollywood has given the World that somehow reflect American Ideals, Standards and Values is a full time career. The list of political dramas alone would take years to fully study. All of the films contribute something to our understanding, even the stinkers, and such all are valuable and all fail to catch such a complex set as the American Public.
The Ox-Bow Incident or Alba Fatale is a dramatic Western, indeed, and I saw it three or four times.

Of course. Not every Western is a great movie. I agree with you. There are A-movies and B-movies. Sometimes, I like more B-movies than A-movies because I consider them similar to Remington's or Russell's paintings. An Italian critic said about The Searchers: "Ford's movies are pastel landscapes after Remington". And I agree with him.

The so-called "Cavalry Trio" (if you mean Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Rio Grande), known by me as Il Massacro di Fort Apache, I Cavalieri del Nord-Ovest, and Rio Bravo, respectively) are part of a series of short-stories written by James Warner Bellah and are masterpieces, I think, that is, A-movies.

Yes, you are right. All the movies are important. I also like WWII B-Movies.
 
Dec 2014
350
Italy
#9
I enjoyed the western movie 'The Wild Bunch'. I think it did a decent job showing the dying days of the "old west" and the new era of 'modernity' creeping in.
The Wild Bunch or Il Mucchio Selvaggio ... well ... I found it appalling. I saw it once only. Then I had not stomach to see it again.
 
Dec 2014
350
Italy
#10
I'm no scholar, just well-read for an American.

If I'm not mistaken, it is rendered "Spirit of the Age" in English, as in "team spirit".

It originally referred to the rise of liberty and democracy in the 1800s.

With all this modernity going around, I guess it can mean whatever one wants it to mean.
"Spirit of the Age", yes, I wanted to write that. "Time" or "Age", for we Italians is the same thing.