TCM Greatest Classic Movies: Western Adventures

TCM Greatest Classic Movies: Western Adventures
There's a blissfully ignorant simplicity to the Western genre, with its collective moral superiority and heteronormative, implicitly Judeo-Christian ideological stance. It appeals to traditionalists that like to keep their women barefoot and pregnant and anyone different in the grave or begging for mercy at the hand of the all-important white man. Quite frankly, they're hilarious, and in the same way that No Country for Old Men proved a satisfying comedy for "everyone else," a revisit to the Western with this package of four classic films should entertain both those who take it seriously and those that might be more inclined to narrate the absurdities. Included in this two-disc, double-sided DVD package is The Train Robbers, starring none other than John Wayne, the very man who defines this bullshit, Walt Whitman idealization of Western mythology, along with a supplement on working with John Wayne and trailers from all of his major movies. He saunters around; he speaks with his familiar drawl; and most importantly, tosses out some entirely glib zingers worthy of gold laminating. Also touting its leather chaps (in the non-rainbow way) is the brutally violent, controversial Wild Bunch, which is Sam Peckinpah's rumination on male significance and loyalty, with an interesting focus on the way that violence corrupts and desensitizes children. More complex than The Train Robbers, The Wild Bunch is conflicted, highly stylized and at least interesting on an academic level. A commentary is included with Peckinpah academics. Blah. On the other side of the coin, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Robert Altman's thoughtful allegory of life, essentially criticizes the martyr mythology that Westerns usually take so much pride in through its depiction of Warren Beatty's efforts to succeed in a developing town. A commentary and "Making Of" are included. The last film on the disc is probably the weakest but also the one that will mean the most to modern audiences, given its similarities in meaning to that glib, pretentious Into the Wild. Sydney Pollack's Jeremiah Johnson is a film about man and his connection to the environment and Earth, which, according to the many mini-supplements on the disc, meant a lot to Robert Redford. (Warner)