“Buck And The Preacher” is a Western I remember seeing on TV a couple of times in the 1970s when I was a kid and I really enjoyed it but I wasn’t aware at the time how unique it was. To have a film of this genre, especially, with two black actors, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, as the leads and to be told from their perspective is not something that happened a lot in 1972 or since . This was the first film directed by Sidney Poitier and that was unique in itself but Poitier would go on to direct a string of films in the 70s including Uptown Saturday Night and Stir Crazy. There is great chemistry and humor to the interaction between Poitier, Belafonte and Ruby Dee. You can figure out the plot fairly easily from the trailer.
The 1970 film “Two Mules For Sister Sara” starring Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood is not considered a great Western in Eastwood’s long career, but it is the most unique, and in some ways, the most enjoyable to watch. Directed by Don Siegel, with a fun score by Ennio Morricone, MacLaine and Eastwood have great chemistry and play off each other wonderfully. The trailer makes it seem like an action packed Western, which it is, but it also has a playful and sardonic sense of humor. As MacLaine and Eastwood were both well aware of, the role of Sara was the best part in the movie.
After posting about “Johnny Guitar” the other day it made me think of this movie which should be considered a classic by anyone who has seen it.
The 1943 Western “The Ox-Bow Incident” directed by William Wellman and starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn and Harry Morgan is similar in theme to the previously posted Western ”Johnny Guitar”. Both concern mob rule and vigilante justice, but “The Ox-Bow Incident” is a much more realistically staged film, and is much more powerful for it compared to the McCarthy era paranoia, homosexually repressed and theatrical “Johnny Guitar”. Orson Welles was at a an early screening of the movie and after it was over he is quoted as saying about the audience – “They don’t know what they just saw”.
The 1954 Western “Johnny Guitar” Directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden and Mercedes McCambridge has to qualify as one of the weirdest Westerns in the history of Hollywood. Martin Scorsese called it “an intense, unconventional, stylized picture, full of ambiguities and subtexts that rendered it extremely modern.” I think Scorsese’s quote is spot on.