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יום שני, 24 בספטמבר 2012

Old western movies

  Old western movies

Western films can be traced back to the late 1800s, and vaudeville performances known as Wild West Shows. Buffalo Bill is credited with the first of these traveling shows, which began running in 1883. Later that decade, old Western movies began to make their way to film. However, it was not until 1903 that the most famous of these early works was released to the public. The Great Train Robbery is a 12-minute Western film by Edwin S. Porter, and is considered one of the first major milestones in filmmaking.

Prior to 1939, Western films did not feature sound. It was not until the debut of Stagecoach that sound was introduced. Stagecoach starred John Wayne, also known as the "Duke". John Wayne starred in more than 35 Westerns, and he gave new meaning to the word "Pilgrim".

With sound came singing cowboys and movie theme songs. John Wayne starred as a singing cowboy in the movie, Riders of Destiny. However, he was not the best of singers, so Smith Bellows was cast as Wayne's singing double.

Western movies typically romanticized life on the American frontier, and the standard plot was good versus bad. The "bad" was usually a bank robber, a greedy banker or Native Americans being forced off their land. Much material has been written and filmed about historic events such as the Alamo. Likewise, real outlaws and lawmen of the Old West feature prominently in many Western movies. Many of the Old West personalities like Butch Cassidy, Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid have generated so much interest over the years, that they remain the topic of current day films. Many American actors are famous for their work on Westerns, such as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, two names that are synonymous with the Old West.

A term many will be familiar with is the "Spaghetti Western", a sub-genre of Western films that came into play in the 1960s. Originally, the name "Spaghetti Western" was a derogatory term, but ultimately embraced by both fans and the Italians producing these movies. Spaghetti Westerns were made on low budgets, and relied on the talent of both rising and fading stars. One of the most popular Spaghetti Western directors is Sergio Leone, best known for Fistful of Dollars, which ultimately turned into a trilogy starring Clint Eastwood.

The Spaghetti Western, and Sergio Leone's films, was blamed for the rapid change of the Western genre of films. Movies like Leone's Fistful of Dollars featured more violence and killing than was seen in earlier American Western films.

The highest rated Western films of the 1900s include The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Rio Bravo, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, True Grit, Unforgiven, and Fistful of Dollars, to name only a handful. Westerns of the current and past decade have evolved to something quite a bit different, featuring less grit and more gore. Some, like Jon Favreau's Cowboys & Aliens, have tried to modernize the genre by pitting 1873 gunslingers against aliens from another universe.

Despite current efforts to modernize the genre, the Old West films of the 1900s will always remain classics. The Western genre will continue to evolve, and at least once every so often, we can be sure that filmmakers will toss Wild West fans a little taste of the past.