Monday, April 15, 2024


That’s not the cowboys I remember

I wrote most of this a year or so ago and never got around to posting it.  It makes more sense now than before, so here it is:  

It is hard to overcome the notion that trespass, even trespass by a very, very large herd of sheep, justifies murder by hanging.  To justify that, 1923, the Paramount streamer series, works hard to paint the Irish immigrant sheep herder into a scoundrel and evil doer.  It thus turns on its head the long-honored Shane-based meme of the evil big time cattle boss v. pathetic shepherd.  This is not the OxBow Incident either. No remorse here.  Harrison Ford hangs’em high and is proud to say it. 

1923 is a mash up of Tom Mix cowboy legends. Here the bad-ass cattlemen, mine owners, bankers and other heroes of the Capitalist movement stand tall with Ernest Hemingway strong men in defense of manliness and, more importantly, plucky, murderous womanhood.  It leaves Tom Mix scratching his head, and Hemingway happy he had picked up that shotgun. It’s a pretty site in a world where there is no room for the poor and downtrodden. 

1923 has three positive features.  The first is scenery, in Montana and in Africa and even on the ocean blue, where large passenger ships cut their way through calm waters and what’s er name and her lover Stanley stand beautifully on the prow repeating the well-worn meme from Titanic.  The second is pacing, the art of keeping the audience looking forward to the next chapter by leaving someone hanging off a cliff.  And the third is women … Helen Merrin, tough and feisty fearless enough to blow away that poor bastard Irishman who dared mess with her pasture land.

I admit not watching 1883, the prequel to 1923, or Yellowstone to which 1923 is prequel. I prefer my cowboys to be old school.  Hopeful folks who landed at Ellis Island in search of the land of opportunity, not Ammon Bundy looking for a free ride at the taxpayer’s expense.  


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