Will the wester ever make a coemback?

We still have westerns. They just aren’t as all pervasive as they were in the fifties, is all. That, and westerns aren’t the low budget thing they used to be, where you could just hire a movie ranch in Death Valley, rent a western town or set, and all your actors already knew how to ride because that’s how you got a part in a Western back in the fifties.

Now it takes a bit more than that.

Just watched Unforgiven last night. It was freakin awesome. Sadly Richard Harris is dead and Gene Hackman is retired but we still have Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood still working. Good stories will always be good.

True… but I always thought a big part of the attraction to Westerns for audiences was that it was a period where there was room for heroes. Ever since, the sort of locked-down nature of the world, between faster communications, better policing, and effective court systems has meant that there’s little room for the archetypical everyman to step up and become a hero or go on a quest or whatever.

In the modern constrained world, there’s no going out into the West and becoming Jeremiah Johnson. There’s no being Wyatt Earp… he’d have been snowed under by a tangle of rules of engagement, concern for the Cowboys’ civil rights, and a mountain of Internal Affairs investigations, civilian lawsuits for hearing loss, etc…

Plus, from a writer’s perspective, the Old West was wide-open. You could make up your own little towns with their own bad guys, and then have your heroes solve the problem.

I kind of think that sort of… freedom that the Old West represented, both to audiences and writers will eventually come back into vogue, although it may take a while for the Old West to become re-romanticized to the point where a remake of “Gunsmoke” would be successful on TV.

Beg pardon? There are plenty of boomtowns right now in Montana and North Dakota. The boom nowadays is oil instead of gold, but that hardly changes anything.

And they’re even making cheesy prime time shows about them: Blood & Oil - Wikipedia

I think the trope of manliness is dying, and a lot of those themes around rugged individualism have either disappeared (especially on TV) or been transferred to military films (e.g. American Sniper or Lone Survivor). At this point I think we’re mostly down to subversion of western themes rather than embracing them, though The Revenant does seem like an exception.

Speaking of The Revenant, this seems like the right place to list my new favorite MPAA Rating: R (for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity). I suppose urban combat and violence still warrants an PG-13?

One of my favorite John Wayne movies was “The Cowboys”. Can you imagine today having 10-15 year old boys carrying guns and working a real cattle drive under an authoritarian boss? Indeed even in the movie one of the boys is killed. Heck today that would be on CNN.

Which is odd because it happens all the time in 3rd world countries.

I still like Gunsmoke because I don’t think of it as a western and I could see something similar - even a modern version - succeeding on TV. Many of the Gunsmoke shows are just good people stories, sometimes even without the star Matt Dillon.

Too many current cop shows are about hard, abusive, rules-bending, damaged, “stars” that have no mercy for the people they’re supposed to be serving. Some combination of Matt Dillon & Andy Taylor could still be entertaining without being a comedy. Maybe set in a small town like The Middle? For “edginess” and “reality”, dare I say rounding up black gangstas from the big city? Maybe seeing that Mexican laborers get paid or get released from a smugglers truck? Maybe enforcing common sense when a mercury thermometer gets broken at the local high school?

I’m tired of cowboy cops on TV and in real life and I think there’s opportunity here.

There’s a TV and movie franchise which has been described as “Wagon Train to the stars.” I think it’s called “Star Trek.” :smiley:

More seriously, there’s a Canadian syndicated series called The Pinkertons. It’s a drama based on case files of the Pinkerton Detective Agency dating back to the 1860s. It also airs in the U.S.A. and U.K.

I think you are viewing what makes movies attractive through a very narrow lens. Lot of people go movies with no superheroes or spaceships. Many people actively avoid them.

Last year, I read Jim Garner’s autobiography. In it, he talked about the experience of working on “Maverick”, which was, itself, a bit of a poke at the Western genre, at a time when TV (and movies) were filled with Westerns.

He talked about a typical day of shooting on the “Western” backlot (Warner Brothers, IIRC). There would be four TV Westerns filming simultaneously, with the production crews and cameras all located together in a central “open space” on the back lot, and just pointed in different directions: Maverick would be filming in one direction, other shows in other directions, and they would alternate takes between the productions.

He also talked about extensive re-use of stock footage and shots from older episodes (and films), and noted that, if you saw more than 3 actors in any particular shot, it was probably being re-used from another episode (probably from a different series entirely).

While it’s hard to parse out supply vs. demand (i.e., did they make so many Westerns because they were so popular, or were Westerns popular because there were so many of them on), it was clear that the studios had built up the infrastructure that made Westerns very cost-effective to make.

I don’t think that there will ever be a trend for commercial Western media. A truthful representation of the Old West is so detached from modern sensibilities that the only way to show it anymore is with grim and gritty anti-heroes, a la Deadwood.

But simple action adventure movies? Nah, I don’t think so.

Along with the contrails there are power lines, modern roads, and even some recent “westerns” they had the cowboys on a gravel road with an obviosuly mowed areas on each side.

The “real” west was mud and horse manure everywhere.

There’s also the upcoming remake of The Magnificent Seven with Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio. My nephew worked as an extra on the part of the film that was filmed in Louisiana, ended up getting a few lines, then got killed off. :smiley:

As many people have intimated, a lot of the elements that were appealing about Westerns have been repurposed in space opera. (And sometimes it comes full circle, with ST:TNG doing a holodeck episode set in the Old West).

Twilight Zone certainly went Western again and again, and it’s hard not to think that cost played a role.

The typos in this thread title are making me absolutely twitchy, and you guys keep bumping it u…



The answer is yes. It is coming out next year: “The Comb Back of Wester” with Tommy Lee Jones.

And then sometimes the Western is reinvented, as in Star Wars.