"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Better than a dead fish


Better than a dead fish

Reviewing yesterday Law of the 45s, a clunky but fun old 30s B-picture with Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams beating ornery bushwhackers with his fists and Colts, was a kind of celebration for me.

It was the 300th Western I have reviewed.

From one point of view, I guess, that’s a dreadful waste of what little time we are granted on this planet. If you average out film length as maybe 90 minutes, add in the time it takes to tap out a review and maybe factor in how long it took to buy the DVD (not to mention the hours required to open the new DVD boxes), then 300 films has to represent 24 hours a day for 3 weeks.

But on the other hand, people spend that on hobbies. They spend that making galleons out of matchsticks. They spend that sticking stamps in an album or even sitting on a river bank with a fishing pole, for goodness sake. And what have they got when they have finished? A matchwood galleon, a book full of stamps, a dead fish.

Whereas I, I’ve got, er, oh well, I think I’ll abandon this argument.

And to think that 300 Westerns represents a tiny proportion of the Westerns that have been made. Cinema.com quotes 500 of the best Westerns (not a very good selection, by the way). The IMDb website lists no fewer than 11,245 Westerns. Jeez! Eleven thousand? That’s probably about sixteen thousand hours’ worth (many were early one- and two-reelers). Watching and reviewing that lot would require 2100 days if I did nothing else for 8 hours a day. Including Christmas. That’s six years.

And I bet 11,245 isn’t the total of Westerns actually made. Many have been lost.

And then 11,000 DVD or movie theater ticket purchases: that’s going to cost me 135,000 euros. $170,000. That’s going to take me weeks to earn.

I think I may have bit off here more than I can chaw.

Of course, looked at positively, I have seen and reflected on some of the greatest epics of cinematic history. I’ve reviewed some fine works of art like The Searchers or Red River or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. I’ve seen the most famous examples of the genre such as High Noon, The Magnificent Seven or The Wild Bunch. I’ve followed series of films by great directors like John Ford, Fritz Lang and Raoul Walsh. I’ve seen pictures photographed by masters like Bruce Surtees, James Wong Howe or Lucien Ballard. I’ve enjoyed intelligent dialogue by such screenwriters as Charles Marquis Warren, John Huston or David Webb Peoples, based on stories by Elmore Leonard, Cormac McCarthy or Gore Vidal and delivered by actors of the caliber of Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda, James Stewart and (above all, perhaps) Gary Cooper. I’ve enjoyed music by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Elmer Bernstein and Dimitri Tiomkin.

And you don’t get that building galleons.

And I have thrilled and laughed and admired and just had a hoop-daddy of a time. Thank the Lord there are still 10,945 Westerns still to see and review.

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