Westerns in the Good Old Days

by December Lambeth on April 19, 2005

in DVD Reviews 

Showdowns, stampedes, stunning horsemanship, bank robbing, slap-stick comedy, fist fights and plenty of cheesy dialogue like “Whippersnapper” and “Golly Gee”  is all part of the experience of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s style spaghetti westerns.

Some of this oldtime western collection is in black and white goodness that will take you back to the good old days of cap guns and no blood gut shots; the good guys always win and get the girl in the end. A few of the films are in glorious 60’s technicolor and captures a few great cinematic moments in western film history.

Westerns in the Good Old Days
1 Star

(Giddy Up!)


Showdowns, stampedes, stunning horsemanship, bank robbing, slap-stick comedy, fist fights and plenty of cheesy dialogue like “Whippersnapper” and “Golly Gee”  is all part of the experience of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s style spaghetti westerns.

Some of this oldtime western collection is in black and white goodness that will take you back to the good old days of cap guns and no blood gut shots; the good guys always win and get the girl in the end. A few of the films are in glorious 60’s technicolor and captures a few great cinematic moments in western film history.

Bonanza Town (1951)
Atop his trusty white steed, The Durango Kid (Charles Starrett) saddles up once again to save the day. A silly slap stick sing along western about a $30,000 Dodge City hold up and murderous vigilantes of Bonanza Town. The Durango Kid and his silly side kick, Smiley Burnette, work together to rid Bonanza Town of the evildoers, Henry Hardison (Fred F. Sears) and Krag Boseman (Myron Healey). Charles Starrett was among the top ten western stars until his retirement in 1952.

Texas (1941)
Dan Thomas (William Holden) and Tod Ramsey (Glenn Ford) are two adventurous friends looking for fortune and glory, but their little trip in the Lone Star state goes awry. Witnessing a stagecoach hold up, the rough and tumble drifters decide to take the loot for themselves and head their separate ways. Crossing each others path on down the line, the two friends find themselves in love with the same woman and on opposite sides of the law. Snappy dialogue and bare knuckle boxing gives the right amount of old time western goodness to Texas.

The Texican (1966)
A story about a reformed gunfighter, Jess Carlin (Audie Murphy), coming out of hiding to bring justice to the villain who killed his brother, Roy (Victor Vilanova). Jess sets out to capture Luke Starr (Broderick Crawford), land baron and the man to blame for his brother’s untimely death. Jess must side step the attempts on his life by Luke’s goons and keep his neck from the noose from a bounty on his head for a murder he did not commit. Along the way he falls in love with a beautiful dance hall girl Kit O’Neal (Diana Lorys) and saves the day in the end.

The Desperadoes (1943)
The Desperadoes has it all, wild horse stampedes, barroom brawls, action, romance, and yes, it’s even in color; it’s Columbia’s first Technicolor film. The Desperadoes is, at the very most, a film engrossed in western movie cliches and icons. Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford), a hunted gunman, rides into Red Valley, to find himself head over hills for the seductive Allison McLeod (Evelyn Keyes) and up to his holsters with underhanded town folk. Cheyenne takes on the job of cleaning up the lawlessness of Red Valley.

Good Day For A Hanging (1959)
Eddie ‘The Kid’ Campbell (Robert Vaughn) started out as a young rowdy buck in a low down dirty bank robbing gang. With a little help from Marshal Ben Cutler (Fred MacMurray), Eddie cleans up his act and tries the straight and narrow. Many years later the gang comes back to rob the bank again and Marshal Ben gets shot in the mix. The gang’s lawyer, being the only eye witness, frames Eddie for the murder and gets him a meeting with the noose. With the help of his sweetheart, the dead marshal’s daughter, Laurie Cutler (Joan Blackman), Eddie convinces the town of his innocence and brings the murderer to justice.

The Professionals (1966)
The Professionals is an adaptation from Frank O’Rourke’s novel, [I]A Mule for the Marquesa[/I]. J.W. Grant (Ralph Bellamy), Texas oil tycoon, hires a group of men to rescue his wife, Maria (Claudia Cardinale) from the Mexican revolutionary Raza (Jack Palance). The group of men hired includes Rico Farden (Lee Marvin) a weapons expert, Jake Sharp (Woody Strode) long bow expert and tracker, Hans Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) kick ass horseman and Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) an explosives expert. The Professionals was nominated for 3 Oscars between cinematography, direction and screenplay. This film has it all, beautiful cinematic scenery, a talented cast, western action adventure and plenty of heroes out to save the day and the girl.

Oldtime western goodness. Most, if not all, of the westerns made in the 40’s and 50’s were lacking authenticity. The creators would use modern props, clothing and dialogue with out any consideration to the true style of the old west. There would be electrical lighting and gadgets, well pressed pants and sparkling new boots in a black and white western; it’s hard to watch such a film and really be able to put yourself into that fantasy world. We have come along way in film and it shows; research is put into scripts and stage setting and our acting abilities have more than tripled. Many old western actors are just that, only actors reading dialogue with little natural response to each other. It’s hard to believe that the silent films looked more real in on screen scenarios with out dialogue than the films that came shortly after. Then again it is only the movies.

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