Monday, August 8, 2011

The Western Season 24th to 28th of August

It’s time to throw on your most expensive Stetson, climb into those cowboy boots and grit your teeth in a way that Clint Eastwood would even be jealous of, because this month at the IFI the Western Season will be screening some of the choice picks from the genre.  

High Noon

Although the Western has been pigeon-holed as the all-American film, The Western season attempts to look at the range of films that have evolved from the genre’s archetypal beginnings at the onset of the 20th century.  

For many, the Western conjures up the notion of an isolated life on the American frontiers in the late 19th century, dusty towns with cowboy-filled saloons, where ladies were ladies and pistols at dawn was an everyday theme. As the genre matured Westerns developed and changed, adapting to political sentiments of the times they have been filmed in and the cultural outlooks of international filmmakers.  Personally, Westerns are nostalgic, invoking memories of sitting with my father on a Sunday afternoon watching John Wayne chase Indians across the Prairie. Die-hard Western fans won't want to miss these films on the big screen while those less familiar with the genre will relish the chance to see some of the all-time classics.  

High Noon

The Season kicks off on the 24th of August with a screening of the now classic High Noon.  Starring Grace Kelly, arguably one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the silver screen and the legend that was Gary Cooper, High Noon tells the story of lawman Will Kane, who on the day he hangs up his badge is told that Frank Miller, a man he put away years before, is returning to obtain his revenge.  Kane soon discovers he stands alone after the townspeople he has protected for so long refuse to help and turn their back on him and his new wife.  Scooping four Oscars and receiving another three nominations, High Noon has taken its place among the Western greats.

Rio Bravo

When you say Western, the name John Wayne will not be far away from your lips and the first of two screenings of the actor’s unforgettable performances is Rio Bravo.  In Southwest Texas, the local sheriff must succeed in keeping a murderer in custody until the Marshal arrives.  However, his brother, hiring gunslingers attempts to have his brother freed.  Made as a political riposte to High Noon, the two classics provide some of the most evocative illustrations of the divides of the McCarthy era.

The Searchers

After Rio Bravo whets your appetite for more John Wayne screenings the season delivers with the timeless The Searchers. Wayne plays a Veteran civil war soldier who spends years attempting to rescue his niece from the Indians who ransacked his brother’s house and killed his sister-in-law who he desperately, but secretly loves.   The violence of his passions simmer in the subtext and his love for a woman who can effectively never love him back will touch even the most hardened hearts.

Lemonade Joe

Proving just how much the Western had evolved in such a short space of time, Lemonade Joe, a Czechoslovakian take on the genre was released in 1964. 'Red Westerns' were popular in Eastern Europe, a favourite even of Joseph Stalin, they evolved a distinctly un-American bias during the Cold War.  Masquerading as a comic musical while on the other hand, displaying serious political undertones, Lemonade Joe focuses on clean-living Joe who attempts to clean up a whiskey-drinking cowboy town.  The film calls into question government, society and of course, your view on Joe himself...  Lemonade Joe will also screen on the 27th of August.

The Outlaw Josey Wales

For full listings of The Western including The Outlaw Josey Wales (another classic with Clint Eastwood both acting and directing this anti-war Western), visit  This weekend borrow a phrase from Gary Cooper in High Noon, “I've got to, that's the whole thing.”

Sue Murphy

Sue Murphy will be guest-blogging for the Western Season, August 24th - 28th at the IFI. To keep up to date with all the reviews and upcoming events, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and here at Blogger.

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