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Author Topic: Best Westeern ever!  (Read 8917 times)
dave jenkins
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2014, 02:49:41 PM »

In any event, Fonda brought his performance of Frank to OUATITW pre-tested.

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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2014, 06:04:33 PM »

 As a child, I saw Firecreek on TV  before I saw OUATITW at the theater.  There is a world of difference in Fonda's characterizations.  In Firecreek he is not nearly as frightening as he is when playing Frank.  In Firecreek he is just a bad guy, in OUATITW, he is purely evil and one of the scariest characters I have ever seen.

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« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2014, 08:18:01 AM »

In Firecreek Fonda's barely a villain - he's a nice guy who tries to restrain his psychotic henchmen for most of the picture. Of course, Fonda's real pre-Frank villain experience was Fort Apache.

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« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2014, 10:33:28 AM »

No, he was a villain in Firecreek, but not a real bad one. While in Fort Apache he's no villain at all, but a human character who fails.

All in all Fonda has often played dubious characters, but never real baddies. The real shocking actor for OUTW would have been James Stewart. Also John Wayne.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2014, 12:35:33 PM »

No, he was  a villain in Firecreek, but not a real bad one. Whiel in Fort Apache he no villain at all, but a human character who fails.
In fact, by choosing to die with his men, he partially redeems himself. No way is he a villain in FA. But he certainly is one in Firecreek.

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« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2014, 08:14:11 AM »

"Once Upon a Time in the West" is my favorite film of all-time.  Afro

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« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2014, 02:38:50 AM »

In fact, by choosing to die with his men, he partially redeems himself. No way is he a villain in FA. But he certainly is one in Firecreek.

I wouldn't say "no way he is a villain in FA." He may not be "the bad guy," but he definitely is playing against Wayne, the positive character. Yeah, Ford said it's good for the nation to have heroes to look up to, even though in the case of many "heroes," you know damn well they're not. Yeah, he goes to die with his men, he's not all bad, but he is sort of a partial villain

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« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2014, 03:04:34 AM »

Colonel Thursday is worse than a villain, he is a man with beliefs ...

Besides it doesn't make sense to describe Fonda's role with genre terms.

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« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2014, 05:56:13 AM »

I'm just saying that I disagree with DJ's statement "No way is he a villain in FA." I don't think it's that extreme that there is nothing villainous about him. Sure, he may not be a villain on the level of eg. Frank in OUATITW, but he is still portrayed negatively. (As we're discussing in the other thread, about FA, Ford still believes the country should have heroes to look up to, so York talks up Thursday, even though he is undeserving, so that he'll be remembered as a hero. However, even though FA believes it's good to have Thursday remembered as a hero print the legend IMO that doesn't mean that the movie isn't portraying the character negatively. That's why I disagree with such an extreme statement "No way is he a villain in FA.)

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« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2014, 07:18:13 AM »

Leaving aside his getting an entire regiment wiped out through stupidity, Thursday's shown as a classist boar who bullies his subordinates and noncoms, ignores the advice of men who've actually fought and dealt with Indians, and generally views himself (without cause) as smarter and superior to the riff-raff in this backwater army post. Hundreds of men die purely to satisfy his personal ambition. What sympathetic qualities does he have to balance out these shortcomings? His affection for his daughter maybe.

Okay, I guess if you want to quibble we could substitute "antagonist" for "villain." I know semantics are big with certain posters.

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« Reply #25 on: May 18, 2014, 09:07:53 AM »

.... not to mention that Thursday is at least partially based on Custer  Grin

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« Reply #26 on: May 18, 2014, 01:14:17 PM »


Okay, I guess if you want to quibble we could substitute "antagonist" for "villain." I know semantics are big with certain posters.

I think he's neither the film's villain nor the film's antagonist. He's the film's protagonist, but surely not a good one. FA is about Fonda, not about Wayne.

Unless other cavalry films with the usual arrogant and ignorant and inapt officer FA really cares for this guy, and gives a comparatively complex portrait of a man who fails. In a crucial scene like the dance at the sergeant's ball there lies more in his reluctance to dance with the sergeant's wife than simple class distinction. It shows a man who is unable to amuse himself, who is slightly unable to do anything which could be fun, an outsider who is even overstrained with such a ritualistic way of dancing.

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« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2014, 01:34:10 PM »

I think he's neither the film's villain nor the film's antagonist. He's the film's protagonist, but surely not a good one. FA is about Fonda, not about Wayne.

Unless other cavalry films with the usual arrogant and ignorant and inapt officer FA really cares for this guy, and gives a comparatively complex portrait of a man who fails. In a crucial scene like the dance at the sergeant's ball there lies more in his reluctance to dance with the sergeant's wife than simple class distinction. It shows a man who is unable to amuse himself, who is slightly unable to do anything which could be fun, an outsider who is even overstrained with such a ritualistic way of dancing.
Excellent, excellent points. He is a tragic hero, deeply flawed, who, at the point of destruction, is able to gain new self knowledge, and in death, transcend himself. He is more like Oedipus than any character in American Westerns than I can think of.

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« Reply #28 on: May 18, 2014, 01:50:06 PM »

In a crucial scene like the dance at the sergeant's ball there lies more in his reluctance to dance with the sergeant's wife than simple class distinction. It shows a man who is unable to amuse himself, who is slightly unable to do anything which could be fun, an outsider who is even overstrained with such a ritualistic way of dancing.

His being an outsider has as more to do with an ingrained sense of superiority. Thursday knows best because he went to West Point and came from a wealthy Eastern family. Screw York and O'Rourke and the others who've actually served out West. In no way does Thursday strike me as a positive or sympathetic character.

Jenkins keep harping on the "redemptive death" theme which seems, at best, a minor mitigation of Thursday's sins. Is Richard III any less of a villain for dying in battle? More to our purposes, is Frank from OUATITW absolved of mass murder for manfully facing Harmonica in a duel? (As the movie's first-billed character you could argue he's as much protagonist as Jill.) That's a very slender reed on which to base an argument

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« Reply #29 on: May 18, 2014, 02:19:14 PM »

Shortly before his death he had learned a lot and if he had survived at the and, he would have become a better officer, but still not a real good one. Cause he would still never have been able to really communicate with his subordinates, to really understand them. He would still have trouble to be a human being who is able to love and to give love.
But he takes the responsibility for his actions, which means to die, and gets by that at least his dignity back. Which then is not unimportant for Wayne's decision to lie about the real events. And then the truth is of course not always the best solution. It can be as destructive as a lie.
I would not reduce this lie at the end to a simple deceit. It also can be a responsible act not to tell the truth. But it surely is an ambiguous ending.

While I think there isn't any ambiguity in the lie in Liberty Valance. That's a completely positive act. Nothing really wrong about it

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