Western Movies have always capture the imagination of viewers. The wild, the wooly, the romantic all draw our attention. There were the good guys in the white hats and the outlaws in the black hats. Western Movies are part of the American culture and give us an entertaining and distorted view of the West.
With all the violence on TV and in the movies today it is easy to forget about all the “shoot em up” movies from decades past. Millions of us grew up watching Matt Dillon capturing the bad guy with Ms. Kitty patiently waiting back at the saloon for his safe return. Or how about all those nights of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans riding into the sunsets happily crooning “Happy Trails to You.” Most kids across America at the time thought that is how people lived in the wild west. Riding across the plains, conquering evil and singing songs.
In 1905 Will Rogers performed at fairs and vaudeville as a BONANZAJP roper and comedian. Later he was in 50 silent movies and 21 talkies. As the technology improved so did the number and quality of westerns. In the 1930’s came the B westerns, low budget and low quality movies. People flocked to the watch him perform as they truly believed his conversations and views were the way cowboys actually lived.
Later in 1950’s came the singing cowboys such as Gene Autry, Rex Allen and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. No matter what the crisis these famous cowboys and cowgirls sang their way through the problems and good once again prevailed. The golden era of Westerns lasted from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. Who has not seen shows like Gunsmoke starring James Arness, along with fellow characters Miss Kitty, Doc Adams and Festus. There were other favorites as well The Big Valley with Barbara Stanwyck, Bonanza with Lorne Greene as Ben, Dan Blocker as Hoss, Pernell Roberts as Adam and Michael Landon and Little Jo. Their adventurers on the Ponderosa Ranch lasted a total of 14 years and 431 episodes. Other popular shows included Maverick, Bat Materson, Have Gun Will Travel, Sugarfoot, The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman and many many more. If it was a western is was generally a hit. Everyone gathered around the TV to see the how the cowboys lived, died and survived in earlier days in the West.
A little later in the saga came all the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns including, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, Pale Rider, and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Do you remember going to see any of these at your local drive in theatre? Clint Eastwood brought to the screen a meaner more violent cowboy. To many that was surely how the unruling men of West lived.
Finally, the greatest western hero of all, John Wayne. He was bigger than life in over 84 westerns. He was tough talkin, tough riding and a no nonsense cowboy. Millions followed is career on both the big screen and on the TV. John Wayne was synonymous with the Wild West and good versus evil. John Wayne was an icon of the West. He was such a popular actor in so many westerns his persona became the personal of the people who lived West of the Pecos and beyond.
Next time you are looking for a good nostalgic movie, saddle up, head on over to your local video outlet and pick up an old favorite western and enjoy! You too can take a look and imagine what the real