Friday, March 07, 2008

Full of western promise

The manager of the safari camp tells me he can’t wait to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I advise him not to set his expectations too high. In spite of being a fan of the western, I have my doubts about this film. To begin with, the title is too long. Suppose The Magnificent Seven had been renamed The Slaying of Innumerable Mexican Bandits by Seven Hired Guns? It wouldn’t have worked on any level. Furthermore, I’m not the sort of ape who likes having a picture’s moral stance rammed down his throat before he’s even bought the popcorn. Was this fellow Robert Ford really a coward and an assassin? Perhaps he was, but I want to see it demonstrated in solid plot and character development rather than brazenly asserted in the title.

When I say I’m a fan of the western, I include the memorable TV shows I watched in my circus days. A lot of people imagine that my life in the circus must have been pretty cushy. “GB,” they say, “you were a natural performer who didn’t need to rehearse, so you must have had loads of free time to get up people's noses and generally arse around.” They’re basically right, of course. However even arsing around gets boring if you’re doing it all the time. That’s when watching a TV programme featuring gunmen, gamblers, cowboys and Injuns can rescue you from a daily routine of putting itching powder in the ringmaster’s trousers (and deeds of similar frivolity).

So which TV westerns did I enjoy the most? A lot of people loved Bonanza, but it certainly wasn’t my favourite. I could never believe that the men were brothers, nor understand why the big fat one was called “Hoss”. Did he eat like a horse? Did he smell like a horse? Did someone ride him like a horse? That unexplained mystery nagged away at the back of my mind and stopped me getting into the stories. I generally preferred humorous, wisecracking shows like Alias Smith and Jones and Bret Maverick. Yet the one I relished most of all was a fairly serious cowboy drama called The High Chaparral. This was the name of a cattle ranch in Arizona owned by Big John Cannon, a tall grey-haired patriarch with a young emotional minx of a Mexican wife. Big John had the deepest, throatiest voice I can remember hearing on TV. It gave him so much gravitas that the cows held in their farts when he rode past them.

Especially commendable was the show’s sympathetic portrayal of the Native Americans. The local Apaches, it must be said, were not the friendliest types – prickly customers to a man, particularly when forcing their hapless foes to canoodle with a cactus plant. Yet when the Indians stole a cow from the ranch, the last thing on Big John’s mind was summoning the US Cavalry for dose of retribution. Instead, he’d ride off to the tepee park for a pow-wow with Cochise & Co, listening patiently to their grievances against the arrogant Palefaces. More often than not, it was all the fault of a corrupt federal agent, who’d typically end up as buzzard food in some dusty canyon after one double-cross too many.

Yet in all honesty, it was worth watching the show just for Big John’s wife Victoria, a raven-haired Hispanic beauty with a heart of gold laced with paprika. Most of the time she was sweet and girly, forever rushing to the bedroom to try on the latest dress from Tucson. But when she flew off the handle, she could make a man’s ears burn. The peppy little women among my readers (you know who you are) would be well advised to study her for lessons in advanced peppiness.

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I don't remember all those shows but I do recall Bonanza being on on a Sunday, didn't it start off with a burning map? My brother and I would gallop round the living room pretending we were on horses, then beat the shit out of each other as usual.
peppy? I can be peppy.

I'm guessing this wouldn't be a good time to suggest that you rename you blog "Amusing Epistles of High Jocularity by a Surprisingly Literare Simian", eh?
(Sorry for all the typos in that comment - it's tough typing with your beak. I have to hunt and peck.)
Ooh yes, I remember her and her tiny angry fists, her defiant upturned chin and her stompy stompy walking. I'd be angry too if I had to beat the dust from the chaps of all these sweaty men. Or maybe I'd never be angry again. It would all depend on how far we were from a broadband connection and a nice little bar.
peppy? most of the time. except for when i'm being saucy. speaking of peppy, i'm mighty disappointed you didn't drop by for my tuesday post. (shakes fists and turns on her heel, exiting stage right.)
shoooot...some of us were born in an advanced state of peppiness. lessons shmessons.

and paprika is hungarian, not mexican. it's barely even a spice.
Japers, have you been reading my archives? As the parrot squawked, you are reaching new heights.

As someone who was never in to sci-fi (Dr Who was ok because it was so tacky but I never liked the pseudo-flashiness of Star Trek), 60s bobbie shows, such as Dixon, and especially Z Cars, and westerns used to help get me through the evening after the incomparable Batman had retired to the batcave.

High Chapparal you've nailed, but, my dear simian, did you never have time for The Virginian? James Drury and Doug McClure - names you can roll your tongue round. And all that black. Surely it resonated with a silverback such as yourself? Or did the green-eyed monster rear his ugly head?

Don't go there if it's too painful. I can almost feel your pain from here, and it's not a pretty feeling at all.
I don't like Westerns. I just don't. Just the other day, I tried to watch 3:10 From Yuma and I turned it off after they robbed the stagecoach.

I've always had mixed feelings about those peppy gals. I know men (and apes) enjoy their antics, but as a woman I've been privy to the manipulative underpinnings. If I were a dude, an ape, or a lesbian, I'd prefer my women straight up. But then maybe I'm just jealous because tall girls like me just cannot pull off peppy.
Holy mackerel! I'd never realised Big John hired Derek Nimmo as a ranch hand.
The Slaying of Innumerable Mexican Bandits by Seven Hired Guns????

That is seriously hysterical!

I don't watch westerns. But I read Louis L'Amour in my youth.
i didn't know that they showed Westerns at the Zoo?!

Brad Bitt sucks since he left poor Jen. I am still not over that.

Maybe there is a place for his Ratt Pack in the Circus that you retired from. Gosh now that would be a ticket I would buy.
Joanne: Ah, the traditional Irish upbringing brings a tear to my eye. You know, I can't actually remember how Bonanza started. I can remember the music though.

Jen: I'm glad to hear it, Miss. What I'm saying that you should keep on working on your game. If you rest on your laurels you'll gradually lose the pep.

Baba Doodlius: Heh, you're witty for a parrot. A pack of birdseed is on its way to you.

Sam: I think you'd get on great with her, Sam. So whaddya think of Big John? Some husband, eh!

Liv: Ah, you don't have to be peppy to be cute, Liv. You just have to smile.

Kara: Haha! You just knew I was talking about you, didn't you? The lighter coloured paprikas are the hottest. I'd like to feed you a teaspoon by hand.

Ulaca: The Virginian was a classic, only literary constraints stopped me from mentioning it. And what a great foil Trampas was for the brooding, soulful V.

Ms Dgny: Tall girls have their own way of being delectable in a vulnerable statuesque kind of way. Or even in a butch Amazonian way, like Xena the warrior princess.

Bridget: Hello Bridget, I do like your name. I think I read one of his novels a long time ago.

Jahooni: Do you want me to spank you again? You know I was never in the zoo. I thought it was Jennifer who broke Brad's heart.
Mano: You know, of the two of us you have been the stronger.
Victoria: If that is true it is because yours is the heavier burden.

(Quotes from Season 4 in the episode of New Lion of Sonora)

This so sounds like you and I Mr Bananas ..... and I shall then swoon and fall into your strong hairy arms!!
I used to like the High Chaparall when I was a kid too!

but the western to beat all westerns is the incomparable Deadwood.

I swoon for the evil Al Swearengen. he can tear off my corset any day of the week
It seemed that on a Saturday and Sunday in the seventies all that was on was western style shows. Personally, I was a fan of the gentler Little House on the Prairie, which appealed to little girls like me who just wanted to run down a meadow with a smock on with her dog.

I still can't believe Michael Landon is dead.
I grew up hearing stories of the West. My grandfather and his father came out west with the railway and camped out on the prairies. They lit buffalo dung fires and such, and eventually opened a bakery. Western is in my blood: I can kill cockroaches all by myself and don't scream and jump up on a table if a rodent enters the house (as one did last night at 3:00 a.m. by way of my cat's mouth).

One thing that used to bother me a little, though, was that Linda Cristal didn't really look Mexican. I grew up with and around plenty of Mexicans, and she never quite cut it. But I'm just envious: I don't do peppy either.
The Magnificant Seven is a magnificant film. But I'm sure I'd still have had a 'thing' for James Coburn no matter what the title of the film.

I remember High Chaparral and Big John's voice. I also recall his feisty wife - that's the way to do it! I have many qualifications in 'feisty' - do I need to study afresh for 'peppy' or will my 'feisty' do?

I wonder why I spelt 'magnificent' as 'magnificant' not once, but twice in that comment? How bizarre - a Freudian slurp of the keyboard kind do you think? Do I lean towards the cant rather than the cent? Isn't it a good job the 'u' isn't too near the 'a' or 'e'? x
Sorry, did you write something? Too busy drooling over Brad Pitt.

We used to watch The High Chaparral mainly for the hairstyles. It was a dark day when the sun set on the pudding bowl look.
Amazing coincidence, GB, as I reviewed Assassination this week. One really has to be from Missouri to appreciate how loathed the Ford brothers are, even to this day. Had Dante lived in Clay County in the 1880's, his center of hell would be populated by Judas, Brutus and The Coward Robert Ford.

I do agree with you about Victoria. As a young lad, I was taken with her dark hair and figure. I think that's what put me on to foreign types.

Miss Chick: Haha! Wonderful poetic lines, aren't they? But are you aware that Mano (Manolito) and Victoria were siblings?

Nursemyra: Trust you to have the hots for a bad boy, Nursie! Raw, snarling lust is what you want!

Misssy: Little House on the Prairie a western? Hehehe! I never thought of it as one, but technically I suppose you're right. I liked Mrs Olson. I would have goosed her.

Mary: Was she too white to be Mexican? The Montoyas were a wealthy land-owning family, so maybe they had only Spanish blood. Can you shoot a rifle?

Kitty: You strike me as easy-going rather than feisty or peppy, Kitty. It's a great way to be. Don't worry about the odd spelling mistake, we're all adults here.

Nuttycow: You like a boyish type then? Some women would choose Big John over Brad.

Kynoord: I never noticed that before. I felt sorry for Blue Boy.

Randall: Great review, Randall, I think the critics liked it as well. Have the folks in your locality gotten over their hatred for President Lincoln yet?
I know this doesn't have anything to do with your post but did you watch "The Brady Bunch"? Remember when Jesse James was Peter's hero? Carol and Mike had one of Jesse James' victims come to the house and have a talk with Peter?

I'll have to see if I can rent Bonanza and find out what "peppiness" is.
Ahhh, Xena. I always thought the name Lucy Lawless sounded like a porn star.

Do gorillas make porn? I'm struggling to imagine what a monkey might think of as porn, given what they'll do in front of children.
well, then i won't bother popping into a full backbend for you again, darling.

(snorts, stomps foot, and turns on heel. exits stage right.)
My parents were great Western fans. We had a long playing record containing 20 great western film tracks which I adored. Big Country, The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars and The Good The Bad and the Ugly, High Noon, How the West Was Won, etc. The highlight of my week was the High Chaparral and I had a huge crush on Manolito, although these days I think Buck would have been the man for me. His son (was it Billy?) I could take or leave as he was petulant and always getting into scrapes! And Victoria was one of my first female role models, keeping all those male egos in check with a stomp of her tiny foot and a flick of all that beautiful hair. I was devastated when the final series ended and they announced that it would be replaced by Alias Smith and Jones. But I was soon hooked on that too and cried bitterly when Pete Duel killed himself.
What was the son's name? Now Im thinking it had something to do with Blue...?
yes you can spank me over and over. ;)~
No, but my daughter can. She can take one apart, put it back together, and shoot it. She makes up for my wimpiness.
Jenny: I remember the show but not that episode. I'm surprised a victim of Jesse James was still alive.

Ms Dgny: Why would gorillas need porn? Everything is done in the open in the wild.

Liv: I saw that picture of you, Liv, and greatly admired your supple body.

Mrs Cake: I think the son's name was Billy Blue, although they always seemed to call him 'Blue Boy'. He and the actor who played Manolito (Henry Darrow) are still alive. I'm surprised you didn't fancy the actor who played Kid Curry the most. He was an obvious heartthrob.

Jahooni: I'll remember you said that!

Mary: Ah, so maybe she'll teach her own daughter.
I was a fan of F-Troop, the story of a witless military base and the ethnic stereotypes that helped the soldiers out.

As far as movies go, I am a big fan of Once Upon a Time in the West. Bit of a long title, but not annoyingly long like the title of an indie rock record. Watching that movie made me realize I'd be Claudia Cardinale for Peter Fonda any day of the week.
Siblings Mr Bananas - Goodness Me, isn't that illegal or something? Never mind, I'm sure you and I will get away with it, us being so dissimilar - you so very hairy and me, er .... not. :-)
As a child, I was exposed to an odd variety of films. The first movie my dad took me to was The Battle of Britain. In our house it was Westerns, War Movies, Gangster Pictures and Musicals (my mother's contribution). I didn't see too many of the early tv westerns-I remember some Bonanza eps and watching The Big Valley with my mother.
I have to tell you though, Leif Erikson is the spitting image of my father-in-law (who is a Dane).
Hardly recognized Cameron Mitchell - (he, of the wavy blonde hair). I know him as "Jigger Craigin" from Rogers and Hammerstein's Carousel.
Oh, by the way. T'would be wonderful if some of our corrupt politicos mysteriously ended up as buzzard food. No?
Just thinking - feathers don't count for hair do they Mr Bananas or I feel we may be caught out ....
I've been watching Deadwood recently - almost finished season 3 - and I was surprised by how much I liked it. I'm not a huge fan of westerns, but it's refreshing to see a blurring of the lines between good guys and bad guys. Also, there's more swearing per episode than an uncensored episode of South Park, and almost always at least one pair of boobs per week.

"Heart of gold laced with paprika" sounds just like me on a bad day!
ChrisV82: Once upon a time in the West was a strangely compelling film. Claudia Cardinale may have been too sexy for her role, but that was forgivable.

Mzungu Chick: I'd like to tickle you with one of your own feathers!

Poetikat: Leif Erickson's real name was William Anderson, so maybe he was of Danish Stock. As a vegetarian, I would not favour politicians being eaten...unless perhaps they were vegetables.

Mosha: I've not seen it, but boobs always add an extra dimension to any TV show. I imagine Ian McShane must have been good in it.

Clea: Really? Then you must be the perfect lady on a good day!
My favourite Western has to be Richard Western.

He makes some damn fine bale trailers, and no mistake.
Might it be a mishearing of The Cowhand Robert Ford? Stranger things have happened.

When our glorious Welsh-language TV channel S4C was launched in the 80s, some bright spark decided to dub some films into Welsh for the two-year-olds who can't understand English. In "Shane" they gave all the bad guys North Welsh accents. Cardiff-Bay latte-sipping bastards.
OMG I totally loved High Chapparal!!!!!!!! But it is funny how you see some of these old series again and it looks so b-grade. Like the other day they were showing reruns of MacGyver and me and my bro were laughing our heads off over the corny lines and cardboard acting!

But it would be nice to see High Chapparal again :p
Now there's an offer I would find hard to refuse :)
I'm with Cakey on Manolito, I've had a thing for guys in embroidered boleros ever since. You forgot Gunsmoke, Cimarron Strip and the daddy of 'em all, Rawhide (greatest theme tune). But for you, Cakey, and Sabrina, let's ride out into the sunset once more to this.
i used to watch those shows on sundays here as well...and always had a fascination for jesse james...don't know why just kind of like that outlaw thing i guess...and will end up watching this movie boring or not...
I'm haunted by Westerns and they are not my bag. Dad was a John Wayne devotee - forget the politics - and the boys watched anything with guns and horses. I remember the one with the feisty wife who still looks great -unlike the men.
Golly Gorilla. I think all those shows you mentioned were before my time. Regardless, I hate westerns. When my father wasn't watching Mork & Mindy or Star Trek, he was watching True Grit. I swear it plays on TV everyday. That movie is in color now a days at least. Can Gorillas see color? Anyway, that short haired twit biscuit gets on my nerves.
Jez Buckets: Are you a farmer then? I'd rather see a cowboy with a lasso.

Mr Boyo: The South Welsh look down on the North Welsh? That has to be the narcissism of minor difference.

Sabrina: High Chaparral might have aged better, because it had very good scriptwriters.

Mzungu Chick: I hope you're not too ticklish!

Lady Daphne: Rawhide was before my circus days. Wasn't it in black-and-white?

Daisy: Jesse James has always been portrayed as a folk hero, so maybe that's why you liked him.

Pi: Haunted? I hope you don't lose sleep over them!

Upset Waitress: Are you talking about John Wayne or your father? The only John Wayne western I enjoyed was The Shootist.
Ah, TV westerns! I remember them so well; even what night they were on. In the late 50’s and early ‘60s I often spent went weeks with uncle and aunt. We’d go out to eat and do grocery shopping on Friday, but everything was scheduled around getting home in time to watch Wagon Train. I was drawn to and wanted to be Richard Boone as Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Bananas. I don’t want to spoil the film for you, but I’ve been singing this song ever since I began reading this post:

Jesse had a wife
Who mourned for his life
Three children
They were brave
But that dirty little coward
Who shot Mr. Howard
Laid poor Jesse in his grave
They don't look down on us, if only because of the geographical realities of our Alpine eminence, but they fear our mastery of vowel-free communication, our armour-piercing angularity of our cheekbones and our ability to come down to Cardiff and take over the government through sheer dint of turning up.

So they fight back through the only medium they have, the, er, media.

The Bible is our only book, so this puts us at a disadvantage. But our will is strong, and soon they shall bow before the slate altar of Gogwriaeth (North Welshitude).
I do know who I am!

I think..

Perhaps the Jesse James film title will be deliberately undone by the film itself in a work of self-deprecating irony.

This also reminded me of the thai- titling of a famous action film. They call it 'Big Building Fight'.

You can play a game based on this re-titling.
Now that you mention it, those bovine extras did seem a tad bloated in the presence of Big John. It didn't occur to me that they might be holding in their farts, nor would I ever have thought to attribute that to Mr. Cannon's booming timbre. If that were the case, Hoss and Little Joe would likely have suffered from ingrown farts in the presence of Papa Ben, who was no soprano in his own right.
"it was all the fault of a corrupt federal agent..."

See, timeless themes. That's still the problem today, no matter where you live, or what species you are.

Saintly Nick: Sir, you are true connoisseur of the genre! I assume you consider Hopalong Cassidy to be a lesser figure than those you have mentioned.

Mr Boyo: I worry about the natives of central Wales, their loyalties torn asunder by the warring tribes to the north and the south. It's the kind of thing that could break up families.

Cooper: Having never paid much attention to Bonanza, I didn't realise that father/son relations were so formal as to preclude the passing of wind. Hoss certainly had the capacity for it.

Ms Cow: I hope you take inspiration from the way Big John handled such rogues.
I was talking about the short haired girl in True Grit you big ape =)
All the “cowboy” stuff I had through about my 4th birthday related to Hopalong Cassidy. Then I suppose I out grew him.
"Ms Cow: I hope you take inspiration from the way Big John handled such rogues."

Absolutely. Send in the raven-haired Hispanic beauty to lace buzzards with paprika.

Got it.

I'm afraid I can't stand Westerns. Much macho posturing and tedious shoot outs.

Also, the question of whores. A few whores servicing every cow boy who passed must have made for at the very least a syphillis situation. Or did the whores douche with whiskey in between clients.
Emma K, perhaps that's why the cowboys were "Tall in the saddle".
Mosha: 'Big Building Fight'? Now that could be a lot of things.

Upset Waitress: Haha! I forgot about that cute little gal!

Saintly Nick: Ah! So your tastes matured through your boyhood.

Ms Cow: Got it in one!

Emma: Yes, the whores do seem to be surprisingly hale and attractive. A better role was given to Raquel Welch in Hannie Caulder.

Poetikat: Is that a cure for syphilis?
One movie with a long title that I really liked was 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines'. :)
Just a general observation : Mr Nanas, have you noticed how most - over 80% shall we say - of your commentators are women ?

Any particular reason you would assign this attribute to ?
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