At the beginning of October 2013, I got the idea to tackle a genre I had always had a bit of an aversion to: the western. Knowing that I was probably keeping myself from watching a lot of great films by ignoring an entire genre, I decided to force myself into some western viewings.
What better way to step outside of your genre-preference box than by announcing a series that the readers of your blog express interest in? If improving the scope of my viewing history wasn’t enough motivation, I knew that the expectations of TMP’s readers to see the series continue would be.
Exactly one year ago today, I published the first review in the Lindsey Tries to Appreciate Westerns series. In the past year I’ve watched and reviewed 21 films of the genre. Let’s take a look back at those reviews, shall we? In order of date published…
- October 10, 2013: The Dalton Girls
- October 19, 2013: The Gunfighter
- October 25, 2013: The Lone Gun
- November 4, 2013: Winchester ’73
- November 14, 2013: Open Range
- November 23, 2013: Gun Street
- November 28, 2013: California Firebrand
- December 5, 2013: Many Rivers to Cross
- December 13, 2013: Days of Jesse James
- December 27, 2013: Santa Fe Trail
- January 22, 2014: Hell on Wheels pilot episode
- February 19, 2014: Belle of the Yukon
- March 19, 2014: Black Hills Ambush
- April 16, 2014: The River’s Edge
- May 21, 2014: Carson City Raiders
- June 17, 2014: Code of the Prairie
- July 16, 2014: Once Upon a Time in the West
- July 23, 2014: Gunfighters of Abilene
- August 2, 2014: The Brass Legend
- September 4, 2014: Gun Fever
- September 19, 2014: Red River
This project was a definite learning experience.
I learned that my pet peeves don’t always have to ruin a whole film for me: Gun Fever may have ticked me off with its stereotypical portrayals of Sioux and Mexican people, but I liked the gritty, vengeful aspects of the story.
I learned that Gregory Peck can make me love any genre. (The Gunfighter was one of my favorite discoveries of this project.)
I discovered Hell on Wheels, which has since become one of my favorite television programs, and learned that modern westerns like HoW and Open Range can be just as good — in some cases, much better — than the classics. (I know that is blasphemy coming from a classic film enthusiast, but limiting ourselves to certain eras of film is just as unfair as restricting our viewing to certain genres.)
I learned that as much as I enjoy the outlaws-vs.-sheriffs formula of western, my favorite subgenre would have to be the western musical, including the well-known character type of the “singing cowboy.”
And finally, I learned that when it comes to westerns, low-budget is better! (Sometimes, at least.) I got tons of enjoyment from watching B-western serials such as films from the Allan “Rocky” Lane series.
Did I adore all 21 films viewed for this project? Heck no! But stepping out of my comfort zone to view these films made me realize that the western genre is much more varied, complex, and enjoyable than I had previously given it credit for. Before I’d even reached the one-year mark on this project it had accomplished its purpose, and I can now safely say that I not only appreciate, but enjoy discovering films from this genre.
Note: This post ends the Lindsey Tries to Appreciate Westerns project. I will continue reviewing westerns, but from this point forward those reviews will be in the standard format for new-to-me films. Thank you for your views, discussion and recommendations throughout the course of the LTTAW project!