My Introduction to B-Westerns: Lawless Valley (1938) David Howard


No, I’m certainly not abandoning film noir, but something about putting on a hat and saddlin’ up appeals to me these days… Here’s a look at B-Westerns in general and Lawless Valley in particular. Enjoy!

Junior Bonner (1972) Sam Peckinpah


Junior Bonner (1972)
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Produced by Joe Wizan
Written by Jeb Rosebrook
Cinematography by Lucien Ballard
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:40)

“If this world’s all about winners, what’s for the losers?”

For someone like me who’s just beginning to explore the films of Sam Peckinpah, Junior Bonner is something of a head-scratcher. In the director’s filmography, it falls between Straw Dogs (1971) and The Getaway (1972), films that contain ruthless characters as well as ruthless violence. It almost seems that with Junior Bonner Peckinpah was taking a nap.

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The Proposition (2005) John Hillcoat


The Proposition (2005)
Directed by John Hillcoat
Produced by Chris Brown, Chiara Menage, Jackie O’Sullivan, Cat Villiers
Written by Nick Cave
Cinematography by Benoît Delhomme
DVD (1:44)

“He’s right, Samuel. A misanthrope is one who hates humanity.”

“Is that what we are? Misanthropes?”

“Good Lord, no. We’re a family.”


The Proposition is a brutal film about a brutal period of history in a brutal place and one man’s efforts to bring civilization to it. In the Australian outback in the 1880s, law enforcement Captain Morris Stanley (Ray Winstone) captures Charlie (Guy Pearce) and Mikey Burns (Richard Wilson), two of three brothers who are the nucleus of a notorious, ruthless gang who raped and murdered members of a local family, seemingly just for the hell of it. Although he’s captured two of the Burns brothers, it’s the gang’s leader Arthur Burns (Danny Huston) that Capt. Stanley really wants. Stanley decides to make a deal with Charlie: if he’ll kill his brother Arthur, Stanley promises to release both Charlie and Mikey.

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Bone Tomahawk (2015) S. Craig Zahler


Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Directed and written by S. Craig Zahler
Produced by Iain Abrahams, Jonathan Feuer, and twelve more
Cinematography by Benji Bakshi
Editing by Greg D’Auria, Fred Raskin
Music by Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler
Costumes by Chantal Filson
Caliber Media Company
(Amazon streaming; 2:13)

In discussing Johnny Guitar a few weeks ago, I mentioned that when the film was released in 1954, Westerns were already in a steady decline. At one time, Westerns reigned supreme in American movie theaters (and later on television). In 1952, 80 Western movies were produced in America. In 1953 that number slipped to 72 and in 1954 plunged to 52. We’ve seen Westerns make small comebacks over the decades since then, but – the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino notwithstanding – Westerns are pretty rare. If my research is accurate, only 12 Westerns were released in the U.S. in 2015. One of those is Bone Tomahawk, a Western far too many people haven’t seen, but should.

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