Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June Tubing, Destry, and Kaye

Don't worry, Jeff. No Tree of Life content here.

Here's a rundown on recent TV show viewing:

Battlestar Galactica s2e1-8
BSG continues its successful formula:
Big Ideas + Big Action = BIG ENTERTAINMENT.

The Killing e1+2
Solid. I'll get to it eventually.

Eerie, Indiana e1-3
This was my favorite television show in 1991. I was surprised (and simultaneously not surprised at all) when I discovered just recently that many of the episodes were directed by Joe Dante.

The Benson Interruption e1-3
I've enjoyed falling asleep to this.


As I've already mentioned, I love Destry Rides Again. The 30s were mostly a Western wasteland. John Wayne was active, doing lots of terrible work. Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were regular heroes of the silver screen. John Ford hadn't made a Western since about 1926. Hawks wouldn't make a Western until the late '40s. Boetticher and Mann wouldn't dominate until the '50s. The decline in quality of Westerns paralleled a decline in public interest in Westerns.

I'm not sure what it was about 1939, but it seems to be the year that marked the change in quality and quantity. Beginning in this year, the Western would be a major presence at the movies for almost 40 years. The popularity inevitably made it to TV, with a peak of 26 shows airing during prime-time during 1959.

The recovery began in 1939.

1939 gave us:
Destry Rides Again (Marshall)
Dodge City (Dodge City)
Frontier Marshall (Dwan)
Jesse James (King)
The Oklahoma Kid (Bacon)
Stagecoach (Ford)
Union Pacific (DeMille)

I recently watched Destry Rides Again and Jesse James.

Destry Rides Again plays out like a "revisionist" Western. In 1939! Here is a forerunner and influence on Blazing Saddles and Three Amigos.

Our hero refuses to carry a gun. He'd rather tell stories than seek conflict. In the end, he puts on his gun belt, but it's a stampede of women that saves the day.

This is radical, funny stuff. It's the kind of comedy that Jeff and Brandon and I were lamenting the passing of - there's nothing like it left today. It's also strangely moving in the end.

King's Jesse James may be the definitive "Hollywood" telling of the James story, the one that all subsequent tellings depend on. I just read that it was the 4th highest-grossing film of 1939, behind only the giants that are Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Today, we (probably rightly) remember Stagecoach as the most important Western of 1939. At the time even, Stagecoach was critically acclaimed while Jesse James was mostly just a popular success. Here's the thing, though.... Jesse James probably did more to re-popularize the genre. It was so popular that there was a sequel film released the next year - directed by our man Fritz Lang!

Finally, I watched The Inspector General last night with the girls. We all had a good time watching it. Danny Kaye should be a household name.

Right now, I'm thinking about finally catching up on all of the sleep I've missed recently. Three of the girls and I have been cleaning and doing chores and eating lunch while Abigail with Mildred and Pip are out running errands. We've taken a break and I've put on The Princess and the Pirate (Susannah's request). And now I'm feeling sleepy. and.. Mmmmmm.... nap.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Take a nap so you can join me for ToL tonight. It's just as easy for me to head up by way of Lisle...