Wednesday Double Feature – Western Parodies
I thought I’d return to westerns once again only this time look at the funny side of the genre with western parodies. Regrettably, I’ve seen the greatest of these, Blazing Saddles so many times that I can recite a lot of the dialogue from memory. Therefore I have to look a little bit deeper in the barrel, but don’t worry. I’m not scraping just yet.
The first film on my list, Rustlers’ Rhapsody, takes a long loving look at early, idealistic 30s westerns and asks the question what they would be like if they were filmed today.
For one thing the hero of many of these films, Rex O’Herlihan, the Singing Cowboy (played by Tom Berenger), a hero so clean cut he travels with his own wardrobe and considers ironing as one of the most important skills for a hero, suddenly finding himself in a world of technicolor comes as an incredible surprise.
He adjusts fast enough. He still knows everything the villains have planned, western towns are the same in the movies, but the villains decide to change the rule book by hiring another hero to fight Rex.
This was a fun film skewering everything about early vanilla westerns creating a hilarious G-rated setting. The tough bar’s “live entertainment” includes a trained animal act and acrobats. (The token hooker with a heart of gold only talks dirty (one of her customers wonders out-loud why he hast to pay so much since it’s the 1800s)) In the end, nobody who was shot was actually killed, and the villain (played wonderfully by Andy Griffith) Is really sorry he caused any trouble.
The next film on my list, Gunless, takes up north to frontier Canada.
I’ve heard it said that since The Mounties got there first, the Canadian frontier could be considered the “mild west”. Into this setting an American gunfighter (played by Paul Gross), and is shocked that nobody, including the blacksmith he challenges to a fight, owns a pistol. Because of this, he spends much of the film repairing the one gun in town (which is busted) so he can give it to the blacksmith so they can fight. In the meantime, he is slowly assimilated into the community, who are either horrified by him or unnecessarily romanticize his exploits.
I mostly enjoyed this film. The only real problem I had with it was it was being played straight enough that I’m pretty sure I missed most of the humor. But that was okay it worked just fine as a drama. Make no mistake it was quite funny Most of the humor being about Gross’s culture shock. For me the funniest part was Graham Greene playing a native guide for the mounties, trolling his clean cut, by the book, tenderfoot, boss every chance he gets.
I also like what it has to say about the violence of the west with Gross insisting a man has to have a code… because otherwise, he hast to admit he’s nothing but a murderer.