Western Movies

In just a few days the new version of True Grit opens. Will it be a winner or just another western that today’s audiences don’t like? Fifty years ago nearly everything on Television was some kind of western series and many feature films were westerns. Did too much cowboy time on TV kill the western? Twenty-nine series westerns in 1959 –Over exposure, maybe! And maybe that is what killed the big budget westerns on the silver screen. There have been some exceptions but for the most part westerns, of today, are marginal hits at best.

Maybe westerns don’t lend themselves to enough special effects and big screen tricks to keep today’s young viewers in their seats.

Or likely we oldsters don’t go to the theater enough.

Just for fun here is a list of my favorite westerns (some well know some a little more obscure) – not in order just my top 15.

What are your favorites?

       Here is mine.

  1. Open Range

  2. 3-10 to Yuma

  3. The outlaw Josie Wales

  4. Winchester 73

  5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

  6. The Shadow Riders

  7. Last of the Dogmen

  8. Jeremiah Johnson

  9. Dances With Wolves

10.  Stage Coach

11.  Unforgiven

12.  The Good the Bad and the Ugly

13.  Rio Bravo

14.  Treasure of the Sierra Madre

15.  Ride the High Country

Been on a short break.

When the going got tough I went on vacation. Ten states and a great time, lots of fine people and good times. Much history to see in America. I have been reading and researching most of the summer -oh- and working in the garden and playing with my grandson, he’s five and we act about the same. (According to grandma)

Hope all of you are having a great summer, I am.

Back to work for this old teacher in a few weeks–my 41st year in the classroom. For those of you who were not with me on the old blogs I teach history of Wyoming and the American West, and AP European history. I teach high school but taught college Western American History for many years also. Other than the west I have interest and have published some works on the WPA and the CCC.

I will try to get back to posting at least once a week. Will be posting one of my short fiction works soon.

Remember — don’t put a cartridge under the hammer, five should do the job.

Published in: on July 23, 2010 at 4:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Powwow Weekend

Spent some time at the, Keepers of the Fire Powwow over the weekend, I have always enjoyed the dancing, drums and costumes from these events.  Shoshone, Arapaho and Sioux dancers put it all together but there were representatives from other tribes there also. Several venders selling southwestern jewelry and native trinkets and some tasty fry bread and tacos made the day both fun and filling. Although this powwow was inside and at the university if you try hard enough  it’s possible to take yourself back to another time, maybe one where everyone was not in such a hurry and took the time to see life and live life.

My favorite part of the day—I bought a nice bracelet for my classroom, Indian crafts display, and the evening opening ceremonies that featured the bringing in of the flag, the victory chant and eighty or so dancers on the floor at one time.  All in all, something everyone should do sometime.

Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 1:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bad Guy–But It’s Still Kind of Funny

Wyoming bad guy George W. Pike was once accused by a neighbor of stealing a pot of stew cooking on a stove in the wall tent they were temporarily calling home. When the neighbor went to find the town marshal Pike reportedly watched him go then stole the stove the stew had been cooked on. Reportedly there was not enough evidence to convict Pike on either charge. Pike was better known as a horse and cattle thief but was never the less well liked by people in and around Douglas Wyoming. (At least the ones he did not steal from)

   George W. Pike (Born around 1863- died 1906)          

 Grave Stone, Douglas Park Cemetery – Douglas, Wyoming

Underneath this stone in eternal rest
Sleeps the wildest one of the wayward west
He was a gambler and sport and cowboy too
And he led the pace in an outlaw crew
He was sure on the trigger and staid to the end
But he was never known to quit on a friend
In the relations of death all men are alike
But in life there was only one George W. Pike


Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Last Old West Gunfight – ?


On Labor Day in 1912, Hartville Wyoming located at the head of Eureka Canyon in Platte County may have been the sight of the last old west main street gun fight.  Not much is known about the fight other than two men emptied their revolvers in the general direction of each other and it was all over—no bloodshed. Stories change in a hundred years but the one I like best starts with two cowboys on their day off enjoying a few beers in one of the local bars. The two punchers argued then took the fight outside. This is where the stories differ—did they really try to kill each other? Some remember the two being at least, “a fair peace apart, maybe too far, when they drew.” Onlookers were not impressed with either cowboy’s quick draw or marksmanship. Locals listed two windows and one hitching rail injured. Reportedly,  the  would be gunfighters  returned to the bar after the high-noon showdown and went back to what they were better at, drinking and swapping lies about how good they were with a gun and a rope.  (Maybe they skipped the gun stuff)  If one of the bullets had accidentally killed one of the cowboys they could have been buried in Hartville’s Boot Hill Cemetery on the south side of the time hamlet of 40 people.


Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 3:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Who I Like to Read

In the past week I have been asked what western authors I read. We see so many lists, top ten’s, top twenty-fives and things like that, no list for me.  I will give you a few of my favorites—my top 7. In order, my favorites

William L. Johnstone—Two of the best western characters you will ever find—Preacher and Smoke Jensen

Tony Hillerman—Modern day mystery westerns set deep in the Navajo country of New Mexico

Elmer Kelton—I live in Wyoming and he wrote Texas westerns but they are terrific

Larry McMurtry—Lonesome Dove

James Michener—Centennial—my favorite western

Don Coldsmith—Not as well know as some of the above but his White Indian series is a great read

Fred Grove—Another not as well know author but I never read one of his books I did not like

Well there you have it—my list of seven.  Who do you like?

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 4:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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