Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In Defence of the Western

Mailyn recently asked in Romancelover’s blog why anyone would find that time period romantic. Well – in real life it would probably be pretty rough (but then unless you were a member of the ton could not the same be said for Regency England? Or early Upper Canada or the prison life in Australia – or anywhere for that matter before they had indoor plumbing, automatic washer and dryers and microwaves) But! In Romance land where things are rose coloured, a good western romance is a mighty fine thing. But before we get to the books, we need visuals, and what better than movies or TV. First stop on our visual tour would be the recent Hallmark movie The Outsider. Tim Daly as a wounded gunslinger who falls in love with a young Amish widow. Yum, yum, yum yum yum! This movie had such a sexy love scene (I must watch it again!) And best of all, it’s a very well done adaptation of a most excellent romance book by Penelope Williamson (aha! Another author of whom I have just about all of her backlist).

Now we move back a few years ago to Last of the Mohicans.
While not exactly a western, was there anyone hotter than Nathaniel aka Hawkeye? That scene with he and Cora on the building top *shiver * I’m thinking there are others that might agree with me on this one.

Now we go further back to Legends of the Fall. Overall I didn’t care for the movie and since then Brad Pitt has gotten almost as nutty as Tom Cruise. Angelina is certainly leading him around by his……nose. Yea that’s it, she’s leading him by his nose. I mean Namabia? He’s going to allow his kid to be born in Namibia? Ooookay – that’s not a place I would pick – but to each their own I guess.

But anyway – back from the distraction – in this one scene, where he rides up and tips his brim to Julia Ormond – . I kid you not when I say there was a noticeable gasp from the female half of the audience during THAT scene. Love him or not, like long hair or not, if only in that scene he was major hot.

For our next example of why we might like a western hero, we need to get into Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC machine.

I don’t know if it’s out on DVD or not, but a DO NOT MISS movie for the western fan is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This is a classic movie!! Funny with great actors it is. I’m still, to this day though, in denial over the ending. They DID get away from the Bolivians! They did!
But even if you decide to rent the movie and it’s just not your cuppa, you have to watch long enough for the bedroom scene with Robert Redford (the Sundance Kid) and Katherine Ross (Etta Place). Oh man!!! When he holds the gun on her and tells her to take it off – quick! I need a fan. And ice cubes! I just wish I could get my husband to play The Schoolmarm and the Outlaw. I could get him a toy gun – I could be Katherine Ross ahem – back to topic.

Now we are getting back into the WABAC machine and going back into TV history. Many of you readers – it’s before your time, but hands up everyone older who didn’t have at least a small crush on Little Joe of Bonanza? Ahaa – very few hands. I happened to catch this show not too long ago and could not believe the hoakiness of it all – but back when I was a little one, Little Joe was sweeeet!

Renee, Kristine, I think you may remember him “grin” And if by any chance he didn’t lure you in, then surely Candy (now playing Adam Chandler in All My Children) did. And of course I already mentioned the two Bolt brothers and James West in my Kristie’s Crushes blog.

Final stop on our visual tour – none other than Clint Eastwood. Many, many years before he trained whatshername to be a boxer, he was Rowdy Yates, yummy, yummy mysterious cowboy on (Move 'em on, head 'em up, Head 'em up, move 'em on, Move 'em on, head 'em up,) Rawhide

I managed to find a
website with the theme song! *yes fist pump * Loved that little ditty. Be sure to turn your speakers up and listen along to one of the coolest TV jingles!!

Anyway – now that I have given some examples of whom I think make fine western type heroes its time to say what makes them good hero material. What is it about them that is so appealing? Well, as I said in reply, Western heroes seem to me to be more manly man type heroes. I think if you are a fan of the alpha hero, there would be many more alpha heroes to choose from in the Old West than there would be in other locations. And if you are a fan of the lone wolf hero, then the Western is your genre! I imagine after spending that much time in the saddle, they would be looking for a little female companionship. And who can resist a wounded outlaw type hero? Seriously – all you Western/Lost fans, can’t you just picture Sawyer in that role (and let’s see – me as Etta Place – stop it Kristie)
And if you go for the more law abiding type hero, who better than a marshal? No, no, get Matt Dillon out of your heads – he’s not a good example *shudder * He kept Miss Kitty dangling way too long! And he just wasn’t handsome. But Jack maybe? With Sayiid as the mysterious bounty hunter? Yeah, I like that.

So – I’m throwing down the gauntlet! To Mailyn and anyone else who has never read a Western, if Sybil (who is probably looking around thinking “huh, how did I get involved in this?” – well it’s cause I know you love a good western too and would love to help spread the word!) and I can come up with some prime examples of a classic Western romance, will you give it a go? Those willing to take a visit to the Wild West – well just sign up pardners!

Now before I say so long - one last picture. It really has nothing to do with the topic - but I was just so thrilled to find this one, I just had to include it. This is the scene that contains my all time favourite movie quote!

'til later


Fickle Fiona said...

Jeez Kristie, I haven't read a western since Lowell...years ago!

I have been dipping my little toe in the sea of other romance genres lately (bought Moning's new book-liked the blurb-and I bought and read an Ellora's Cave *gasp*) so I'd be up for it.

You'd have to give me an out-of-the-ballpark title (nah, make that hero)!


Dana said...

Brad was in Legends of the Fall? I didn't notice. I was too busy looking at Aidan Quinn. ;)

Norma said...

Right on! You hit most of my favorites. The only one you left out was Silverado. And Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall? My God. I wanted to eat him up. Knowing as much as we do about him now, he's kind of ruined it for me. I don't know if I can forgive him for that.

Gabrielle said...

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid is my #1 film of all times. And yes, they DID get away from the Bolivians!!

As for wonderful westerns, I just loved Megan Chance's Fall From Grace. One of the best books I've ever read.

And no, there was nothing sexier than DDl as Nathaniel. Mm-MMM!

Nikki said...

Kristie, What a great article! I have read a few westerns but they are were new books. Tell us the very best one to start with. You mentioned a lot of westerns a few weeks ago but if you could pick one which would it be???

Alpha Hero, Lone, Outlaw?!?!? Geee that sounds an awful lot like vampires. and I like my vampires!!!! Maybe Vampires are taking the place of the westerns in the romance book world. I think we should have both! Variety is the spice of life!!


Wendy said...

I love westerns because they tend to feed into some of my favorite themes in romance. The West exemplified "second chances" and "starting over." Becoming your own person, and carving out your own destiny.

Also, women had to be strong to live in the West - so you're less like to run into any bubble-headed ninnies in western romances.

Also, the reader isn't beat over the head with all the class stuff. Frankly I'm so sick of reading about the ton I could just puke. The big issue in the west wasn't who got snubbed or what party you didn't get invited to it - it was finding food to eat and surviving. Much more compelling thankyouverymuch.

Kaitlin said...

*long sigh* Westerns....

What's really funny is that I haven't read a western in a long time, but I am a huge fan of the western movie genre.

Clint Eastwood in his spaghetti westerns. *swoon* I have to wipe the drool off my chin every time I watch them. My addiction is so bad, my brother bought me The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly on DVD. :)

Last of the Mohicans. I'm going to have to have my mom read this one, since you did reference her in your listing. She loves that movie, because Hawkeye reminds her of my dad when they first started dating. :)

I hope you have a great day. I'm going to have to go reread the few westerns I still have. See if they can get me back into historicals or not.

jmc said...

Westerns aren't my favorites, either in books or on TV. But I loved Last of the Mohicans. And Serenity, which was a space western, sort of.

Tangent: If you're interested in reading an analysis of TV and movie westerns, you might want to check out the book Finding Serenity, edited by Jane Espenson, which includes a couple of essays about westerns, and analyzes why they've disappeared from American TV and why it was a hard sell for Firefly.


Kristie (J) said...

Fiona - I posted a list a little while back. I'll see what Sybil comes up with since she's a fan of the Western too and put up a best of the both.

Dana: I'm a real Aidin Quinn fan too. Doesn't he have the most incredible blue eyes? But that first scene with Mr. Pitt really packed a wallop!

Norma: I haven't seen Silverado. Who's in that one? I'll have to check it out. And Brad has fallen to far hasn't he - very sad.

Gabrielle: I haven't read that Chance book but I've heard good things about it. One I did really enjoy by her is The Way Home. And see - if 2 of us agree, Butch and Sundance made it - phew!

Nikki: I think you're on to something. There are a lot of similarities. But the Western hero isn't an undead. That kind of creeps me out about many vampire books. I'd really like to see both too. Right off the top of my head, I think my favourite western would be Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner. I mentioned that one in the list not too long ago.

Wendy: What good points you make!!! And so true. There is a freshness about the time that you don't really see in many historicals. It's like a new time and a new country.

Kaitin: He was pretty fine wasn't he. The brooding type (not unlike many vampires) I think I could watch The Good, The Bad and the Ugly for the music alone! I love the theme song. And if your looking for some new ones to try - I'll have them shortly :)

JMC: Since you love LOTM, have you read Ride the Fire? It's very similar in feel - and not quite a Western :)

jmc said...

I haven't read Ride the Fire yet...it is in my TBR pile. Should I bump it up?

Kristie (J) said...

JMC: Since it was my favourite book of 2005 - I would say a big YES :) In fact I just unearthed it again and I think I'm going to reread it again since I seem to have stalled again in new books.

MissKris said...

My daughter Kaitlin brought it to my attention that you'd put something in this entry for me to see and yes, I do remember Little Joe, lol! I thought Pernell Roberts as his older brother Adam was pretty masculine when I was little but to look at the old reruns now...nah, not really. How about Steve McQueen in "Wanted Dead or Alive"? I have to tell you that Daniel Day Lewis's character in "Last of the Mohicans" looked an awful lot like my Dear Hubby did when I first met him on a blind date back in 1974. HE impressed ME enough I married him 5 months later, lol! And Clint Eastwood hands down is one of our favorite western actors ever, old or young! Even tho he wasn't what I'd consider "sexy", we can't forget The Duke...old John Wayne had a screen presence all his own. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Kristie! :-)

sybil said...

awww you know you had me at hello, you can rope me into anything

And I have a post answering as well just got confused trying to use my expand thing in posts.

I will put something up tomorrow just cuz you rock!

sybil said...

Wendy so hit's it on the head with why a western can work.

CindyS said...

My dad is everything western. He loved The Duke and I grew up watching his movies. Absolutely love El Dorado not only for The Duke but for his sidekick. Hey, I was like 13 and his sidekick was cute ;)

My father taped (back in the days of VCRs) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but the recording cut out before the ending. My father did this so often and I would just get livid. I guess it came on a few years later and do you know he did the same bloody thing!? I have never seen the actual ending while watching the movie (I have seen clips maybe from the Oscars of the ending) but I have always figured they made it out fine.

My father bought me the movie but I'm terrified I'll go to watch it only to discover the ending isn't there. Maybe that's a good thing ;)

Oh and LOTM - I loved his brother even though his scenes were hot, his brother on screen was hotter!

I'm actually looking forward to a re-surgence of the western. Especially after Ride the Fire. I stopped reading them because the heroines became shopkeepers or seamstresses and the heroes were the same. I like the idea of the open west as opposed to the civilized west.

Oh, and I think you would love Deadwood. It was a bit to get into because of the language but holy cow, it's fantastic and it ain't pretty and yet, it is.


Kristie (J) said...

MissKris: he looked like DDL in LOTM? ooooohhhhh no wonder you didn't let him go - now do you have pictures you can post on your blog? - that must have meant he had long hair then. So did my husband when we first went out :) And Steve McQueen - didn't think of him, but he made a pretty good Western hero. And the Duke didn't do much for me though - but I'll have to do a search for old western movies and come up with some more.

Sybil - we'll talk and come up with a list.

Cindy: the ending was kind of (a little bit for those of us who think the glass is half full)left open to interpretation. Hint - I think it was kind of a Thelma and Louise ending (although I didn't see that movie) And I've heard a lot about Deadwood. Can we get it here in Canada?

Mailyn said...

LOL. good post!

I should have been more specific. What I meant was that I don't find the whole country living thing romantic. I'm a city girl and I like all that glam and balls and gowns lol.

Kind of like with war movies, you are either a fan of the genre or you aren't. My dad is obsessed with war movies LOL.

My grandfather LOVED anything to do with westerns. He read every book he could find. Well, not romance but yeah.

I've never, ever, ever liked anything remotedly to do with the great outdoors, which, btw, aren't that great to me. :)

Odd. But yeah, good post. :)

Tara Marie said...

Last night I read a western that may have pulled me out of my rut--Victoria Bylin's Of Men and Angels, a nice quick read.

Norma said...

Kristie, Silverado has lots of good people in it. Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Rosanna Arquette, Jeff Goldblum, John Cleese, Brian Dennehy and Linda Hunt to name a few. Kevin Costner's character is especially cute. He's always getting into trouble because he 'just wanted to kiss the girl'. I'm always surprised at how many people have never heard of this movie since it's one of my favorites. It's worth the cost of renting.

Kristie (J) said...

Mailyn: I can relate to your lack of the great outdoor enthusiam. I HATE camping- hate it with all encompassing passion. That's what we did every summer when our kids were small. I was never so glad to give it up! But while the REALITY sucked the big one, the IDEA of it is still very appealing. Same with the alpah hero. I love a good alpha hero, but in real life - nuh uh - not for me thanks. That's another reason why Westerns work so well.
And it was a fun post to do! Not only did I find the theme music for Rawhide (!!) I found a picture from the behind the waterfall scene from LOTM (melting in a puddle here)

Tara: Oooohhh - hope you're planning on blogging on it!

ReneeW said...

Great post. You have really brought back some great memories. As you are well aware :) I think you mentioned all my favorites. I also despised Gunsmoke. Matt Dillon left Kitty hanging and I hated that. I have to confess though that I have never watched Last of the Mohicans. I'll have to put it on my list. I recently got The Outsider because of YOU and loved it. I may need to watch that one again. Oh, and Wendy totally hit the nail on the head about Westerns. Love them.

Kristie (J) said...

Renee: You know how Elaine is always pushing people (especially Kramer)and saying "GET OUT"? Got that picture in your head?? OK then......
You haven't seen Last of the Mohicans??????? GET OUT!!. So I know what you are doing this weekend if you don't have plans that absolutely can not be broken. YOU WILL BE WATCHING THIS MOVIE!! Remember how much you love Ride the Fire? Well - get thee to a movie rental store - Pronto! Or better yet buy a copy because you WILL fall in love with it!! I know this! Let me know when you watch it and when it's over email me and I'll be able to say "so???? didn't you just LURVE it to death? Dindinya - didinya?
Hawkeye = Nicolas Nicolas=Hawkey

Norma: I thought that might have been the one you meant. That was in Kevin's early days wasn't it? I think my husband was watching it one day and I caught glimpses of it while I was doing something else. And speaking of the west and Kevin Costner - Dances with Wolves anyone (licking end of stubby pencil and writing down Silverado on movies to get list)

Lori said...

Oh, Dana, I absolutely loooooove Aidan Quinn! Bestill my heart! *sigh*

I loved Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, too. Was there ever a more beutiful pair than Paul Newman & Robert Redford in their prime?

And Michael Landon as Little Joe was quite a hottie. Too bad he was so holier than thou as PA on Little House on the Pririe LOL - was there ever an episode that man didn't cry? We used to have drinking parties - you had to drink every time Pa cried LOL!!!

You all are right - what a group of hunks in Silverado! And of course, Clint Eastwood - loved him, too. I think you named 'em all, Kristie!

As for new Western romances... anyone familiar with Sarah McCarty's Promises series? What a great series! I highly recommend it if you are looking for a good western historical. Currently 3 books long.

CindyS said...

Kristie - you can rent Deadwood to see if it will appeal to you. I was going to buy season 1 but it was 90 bucks and people were warning me that it wasn't a pretty show so I rented it. Yum is all I have to say about that!!

Man From Snowy River - everyone who hasn't seen this must immediately go out and rent this.

Also, Quigley Down Under - Australian western - extra yum.

Now I want to own MFSR!

Oh and Renee - GET OUT!!! You'll love it.

I'm going to pick up Silverado on my next voyage into the video store ;)

I might have to blog about these movies now ;)


Suisan said...

Don't remember the last western I read. (Have a deep and horrible feeling that it was a Jude Deveraux.)

Aidan Quinn? Oh good god that man does things to my pulse....

Clint? In Outlaw Josey Wales? Yep.

TLOM is a movie to make the heart race too. Rooftop. Mmmmmm.

And you had to bring up James West, didn't you? Tight pants. Bolero jacket. Tight lipped Clint Eastwood demeanor which could (look out!) break into a beautiful smile. Gah....Someone come over and pick me up off the floor.

(BTW, us Zorro fans do have a thing for men in Bolero jackets. We do.)

sybil said...


I haven't seen Last of the Mohicans either. Maybe you should do a showing during the party *eg*

Kristie (J) said...

Acckk Sybil!! GET OUT!!! You neither??? You NEED to see this movie. You really, really, really, really need to!!!! And quickly!

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MissKris said...

Yes, Kristie...Dear Hubby had long flowing black hair that reached halfway down his back. The first time I laid eyes on him he had on black boots, jeans, a denim shirt, a dark brown leather jacket, and that gorgeous head of hair. Sigh! Sheeeesh...all my photos are ancient...some are even POLAROIDS!! EEk! And I am digitally/technically challenged. I wouldn't have a CLUE how to transfer them onto the computer outside of having a CD disc made, then downloading them that way. For me to post ANY photos is a major undertaking, my system is so slow. Takes close to half an hour just to load one photo off a CD to my Photobucket account. Kaitlin's always telling me I need to update my system but I just putz around on here, using it for pleasure more than anything else. I dunno if I want to spend the funds for that or not, but it's worth checking into, I guess.

Connie said...

I was just reading Monty Walsh.
James Steward, Dean Martin, John Wayne and other had great Westerns.

Kristie (J) said...

MissKris: oh he sounds mighty fine indeed! I tell you - the yungun's today don't know what sexy guys there were back then do they?
And oddly enough - scanning pictures I can do. Not much else really, but that I know. In fact, I can even delete unwanted people from picture using the scanner.

Dylan said...

Oh gosh, Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, ORGASMIC!

I haven't read a Western in ages, but your post (which was great by the way, very good reading material this) has made me want to look one up and read it. Any suggestions for a good Western? The only Westerns I've read were by Julie Garwood, Linda Lael Miller and a few others, but I do like Westerns.

Kristie (J) said...

Connie: Never heard of him before. Does he write straight westerns (?) which I should try sometime. And I don't think I've ever seen Dean Marting in a western although I can picture him in one - minus Jerry Lewis of course.

Dana: I still plan on posting a list (and I did not to long ago) but until then let's see
I keep mentioning Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner as a good one (because it really is!) Patricia Potter wrote some wonderful ones. Cheryl St. John also wrote some very good ones - Joe's Wife is my fave. And of course you can't say Western without mentioning Lorraine Heath. Susan Kay Law wrote some good ones too. Even Marsha Canham tried her hand with a couple - although to be honest, they were my least favourite of her books. And Teresa Mederious wrote a really nice one - Nobody's Darling.

ag said...

See the kind of interesting conversation I've missed??? I'm soo going to jump in.

Dana, I sooo agree with you there on Aidan. He's dark, intense and smoldering. Brad who?

LOTM ... one of the few good ones, besides Pocahontas.

I'm trying to recall the tile of a great western romance I've read way back. And there's only way that I can do that ... hunt it down.

Ooh ... since we're on western pin-ups, can I suggest Viggo Mortensen, who did a star turn as a cowboy racing for the biggest prize of his life? Even though it isn't set in the American frontiers?

Also, does anyone remember Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell in Tombstone?

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