The Legends of Western Cinema Week Tag 2020

For the Legends of Western Cinema Week, Hamlette and Heidi created a special tag for participants to engage in. Because the event revolves around westerns, the questions are western themed as well. Out of all the blogathons I have participated in, this is the first one that has a tag associated with it. It’s also the third tag I have posted on 18 Cinema Lane. However, the other two tags correlated with National Reading Month. The western genre is not one that I regularly watch, so my answers may seem like a stretch. However, I have tried my best to provide an honest perspective on this particular area of film.

Legends of Western Cinema Week banner created by Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy and Heidi from Along the Brandywine. Image found at https://hamlette.blogspot.com/2020/07/announcing-legends-of-western-cinema.html.
  1. What’s the last western you watched?

That would be the 2015 film, Forsaken. I recently reviewed the movie for this event, so I’ll include the link in my post.

Take 3: Forsaken (2015) Review (A Month Without the Code #3)

2. A western of any stripe (happy or tragic) where you were highly satisfied by the ending?

INSP does not often create their own movies, so it’s nice to check out their efforts when they do release a new project. One of their stronger pictures is The Legend of 5 Mile Cave, which premiered last year. The overall story was solid and everything wrapped up nicely in the end. It had a mystery element that kept me invested from start to finish.

3. The funniest western you’ve seen?

I haven’t seen this movie in quite some time, but I do have fond memories of The Three Amigos! The scene with the singing horses and the talking turtle makes me smile every time I think about it.

4. What similar elements/themes show up in your favorite westerns?

When I think about the western genre, a sense of mystery is something that comes to mind. What I mean by this is there’s always that mystery of how the overarching conflict is going to get resolved. Most westerns also contain a journey, where the characters travel over a certain period of time. This creates the feeling of the audience going on an adventure with the characters.

5. Scariest villain/antagonist in a western?

For this question, I’ll give two answers. My first one is Dr. McQueen from my favorite Little House on the Prairie episode, ‘The Wild Boy’ Part 1 and 2. Not only does this villain think it’s acceptable to mistreat a child, he also represents a type of villain that I find to be the scariest. Dr. McQueen thinks in his mind he can justify his choices, even though he is clearly in the wrong. My second choice is Connie’s husband, Brad, from the Walker, Texas Ranger episode ‘The Juggernaut’. He also thinks he can justify his actions, as well as being the type of villain someone could cross paths with in real-life.

Horse with saddle photo created by Topntp26 at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stallion-black-equine-race-sky_1104246.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Topntp26 – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

6. Favorite romance in a western?

I’ll choose Rosemary and Lee Coulter from When Calls the Heart! When it comes to their relationship, they bring out the best in each other. They have also come a long way since they were first introduced in the story. It does help that Pascale Hutton and Kavan Smith have great on-screen chemistry. Both Rosemary and Lee are the glue that keeps that show together, as they are two of the best things to happen to When Calls the Heart.

7. Three of your favorite westerns?

Here are three westerns I would recommend:

  • The Legend of 5 Mile Cave – One of the stronger films from INSP. The mystery element allows the audience to stay invested in the story.
  • When Calls The Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree – The best movie out of When Calls the Heart’s collection of films. It took a tried-and-true idea from other Hallmark projects and gave it a new twist.
  • Cowgirls ‘N Angels – Even though this is a modern western, it was one of the best movies I saw in 2018. The acting was solid and the story was endearing.

8. Favorite actress who made 1 or more westerns?

A movie that I enjoy is Portrait of Jennie! Jennifer Jones’ performance is one of the reasons why I like that film. After doing from research on thegreatwesternmovies.com, I discovered that Jennifer starred in the 1946 movie, Duel in the Sun. I have not seen this movie, so I’ll try to find time to check it out!

9. Favorite western hero/sidekick pairing?

Charles Ingalls and Isaiah Edwards from Little House on the Prairie will be my choice for this question. While they’re not western heroes in the traditional sense, they are heroes in their own right. This is because they try to do the right thing and make Walnut Grove a better place.

10. Share one (or several!) of your favorite quotes from a western.

A quote I like comes from the Walker, Texas Ranger episode ‘The Covenant’. Walker tells his students “These belts don’t come easy. You have to earn them” after they graduate to a green belt. This quote highlights how one should expect to work hard if they truly want something.

White horse image created by Gabor Palla at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Gabor Palla.”

What are your thoughts on this tag? Which westerns do you enjoy watching? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Forsaken (2015) Review (A Month Without the Code #3)

When I reviewed The Crow back in May, I said in the comment section that I wanted to see Michael Wincott cast in a western, as I thought it would be a perfect casting choice. As the months have gone by, I discovered that Michael had starred in the 2015 western film, Forsaken! The Legends of Western Cinema Week is what reminded me of this wish. As a blogger of my word, I chose to review Forsaken as one of my two entries for this event! The western genre is one that isn’t often covered on my blog. While I do re-cap When Calls the Heart, this is an exception to the rule. The last western I reviewed was Little House: Bless All the Dear Children back in July, with the review before that being last year’s When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas. I figured the Legends of Western Cinema Week served as a good excuse to revisit the western genre for the first time in about a month!

Forsaken (2015) poster created by Momentum Pictures, Mind’s Eye Entertainment, Panacea Entertainment, Rollercoaster Films, and Moving Pictures Media. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Forsaken_Poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: When I reviewed Caesar and Cleopatra last September, I said in the comment section how Vivien Leigh’s portrayal of Cleopatra felt like Scarlett O’Hara was playing dress-up. This is because I thought the film’s creative team was attempting to take advantage of the popularity and success of Gone with the Wind. As Michael Wincott’s character, Gentleman Dave Turner, was first introduced with the film’s villains, I wondered if this portrayal was going to be a western genre version of Top Dollar from The Crow. Instead, Michael’s performance and the screenwriting presented a character that was his own person with his own story! A consistent aspect of Michael’s portrayal of Dave was the calmness he displayed. Even in the direst of situations, he always appeared to have control of his emotions. When I think of Kiefer Sutherland, I think of his portrayal of Jack Bauer from 24. Spending so much time on a show with a mix of drama and action seems to have paid off for Kiefer, as he was able to display a wide range of emotions! In one scene, Keifer’s character, John Henry, is recalling a fateful decision from his past. As he reflects over the lives of the people he hurt, his demeanor slowly transitions from remorse to sorrowfully sobbing. I’ve seen very few projects from Donald Sutherland’s filmography. However, I did think his portrayal of Reverend Samuel was strong! In a scene where his character is having an argument with John Henry about faith, Donald’s character quickly goes from calm and collected to yelling with anger. His emotionality definitely added to his overall performance!

The scenery: According to IMDB, Forsaken was filmed in Alberta, Canada. This particular landscape was captured very well throughout the film! Distant mountains paired with a blue sky were shown in establishing shots. These natural elements provided a great contrast to the lush, green fields also found in the movie. Forests were a part of the story as well, with sunlight giving this space a natural glow. The overall setting of Forsaken was picturesque and calming, which is different from the rough terrain that is a staple of westerns. This kind of scenery reminded me of shows like Little House of the Prairie and When Calls the Heart!

The on-screen chemistry:  In Forsaken, John Henry reconnects with his former love interest, Mary Alice, who was portrayed by Demi Moore. Keifer and Demi had good on-screen chemistry, as their characters appeared to truly care about each other! Through these performances, John Henry and Mary Alice’s interactions came across as bittersweet. This drove the point home that the romantic nature of their relationship was left in the past. There was also good on-screen chemistry among the other actors! During the film, the tension between John Henry and Reverend Samuel could be felt. It helps that Keifer and Donald had the emotional intensity to deliver performances that a story like this requires.

Legends of Western Cinema Week banner created by Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy and Heidi from Along the Brandywine. Image found at https://hamlette.blogspot.com/2020/07/announcing-legends-of-western-cinema.html.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The under-utilization of Michael Wincott: As I said in my introduction, the reason I chose to watch Forsaken is because I wanted to see Michael Wincott in a western. While I got what I wanted, I felt his talents were under-utilized. In this hour and thirty-minute film, Michael appeared in about five scenes. His character’s significance in the story was also not made clear. Gentleman Dave Turner can be seen spending his time with the movie’s villains. However, he claims to be John Henry’s friend and doesn’t condone the actions of his villainous cohorts. I found this part of film frustrating because Michael and his character had a purpose for being in this movie, but I couldn’t figure out what that purpose was.

More emphasis on drama: When it comes to the western genre, a certain amount of action is to be expected. Not all westerns utilize action to its fullest extent, but enough action is incorporated into most westerns to keep the story interesting. In Forsaken, the majority of the plot focused on the drama between John Henry and Reverend Samuel’s strained relationship. This part of the story wasn’t bad, but it did overshadow the action. Throughout the film, there were moments where action could be seen. Most of the action took place in the climax, which happened during the last twenty minutes of the movie. This creative decision caused the action to be used sparingly.

An overshadowed conflict: The overarching conflict in Forsaken is how a group of villains are trying to take over a small town. To me, this was the most compelling part of the plot. Because the story placed more emphasis on the estranged relationship of John Henry and his father, the conflict wasn’t given as much attention as I expected. This conflict was addressed in the film from time to time. However, it didn’t feel like its placement was consistent. While the conflict does get revolved, it doesn’t happen until the film’s last twenty minutes.

A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode2020/.

My overall impression:

On 18 Cinema Lane, it seems like 2020 is the year when wishes come true. First, it was Words on Bathroom Walls receiving a distributor and a release date. Next, it was seeing and reviewing the film, The Wife of Monte Cristo. Now, it’s watching Michael Wincott in a western! As I said in my review, I got what I wanted. However, I feel there was more to be desired from Forsaken as a whole. The conflict involving the villains’ attempts to take over the town was the most compelling part of the movie. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the drama between John Henry and his father. Even though westerns do contain a certain amount of drama, the appeal of this genre is the action/adventure aspect of the world and its characters. This gives the audience the feeling of going on a journey with spirited men and women of the Wild West. Despite this movie being rated R, Forsaken could certainly be transformed into a Breen Code era film! The only two offenses I was able to find were the swearing and the amount of on-screen blood. While violence is expected for a western story, this aspect, along with the language, would need to meet Breen Code standards before production began.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you see Forsaken? Are there any western films you’d like to see me review? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen