The good, the bad, and the . . .

A few weeks ago, we entertained a favorite couple of ours for “dinner and a show,” which is our euphemism for supper and a movie.  Early in the evening, we all agreed that we’d like to watch a western, a genre that has gone wanting lately.  There have been a few exceptions over the last ten years or so, like Unforgiven, 3:10 to Yuma, and Open Range, but good westerns are few and far between.  We eventually settled upon Silverado, a 1986 release featuring Kevin Klein, Brian Dennehy, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Linda Hunt, and, in his first major part, Kevin Costner, who was all of thirty when the film was shot.  We’d all seen the film before, but not recently, and were amazed at how sophomoric it now appeared when compared to more current westerns, which are much more believable.

One of the problems with the film was the preposterous nature of the characters, which included the diminutive Hunt as a saloon keeper (who served her customers while walking along a platform located behind the bar), and Costner as a wild-eyed, young cowpoke, jailed and awaiting his execution by hanging.  His devil-may-care, “golly, shucks, ma’am,” persona, in the face of impending doom, made his portrayal more of a caricature than that of a believable character.

And then there was the uncanny gunmanship displayed by virtually everyone in the cast possessing a handgun.  Each was imbued with a degree of marksmanship that rivaled that of Annie Oakley, or Wild Bill Hickok—implausible at best, and downright unbelievable at its worst.  I’ve had the privilege of firing a number of pistols and revolvers, and let me tell you it’s difficult enough hitting a gallon water jug at thirty feet, let alone another man’s weapon at thirty or more yards, as was often the case in this film.

Lastly, how does one’s clothing remain spotlessly clean in an environment laden with dirt and grime?  Yet that is what we are led to believe is the norm in this less-than-perfect depiction of the Old West.  I know Hollywood is the land of make believe and escapism, but honestly, are we considered so gullible that we are expected to totally suspend reality in order to be entertained?  I would hope not.  Then again . . .

I guess that’s why I find myself watching more and more foreign films, even though it requires me to read subtitles in order to truly understand what I am seeing on my TV screen.  The best, it seems to me, come from the UK, Australia, Sweden, France, and Spain.  I’ve even seen some great films that originated in Norway as well.  Most foreign films have very small budgets, but they feature strong character development and imaginative, yet believable, plots.  There are very few special effects, and almost no one gets shot or maimed unless the storyline absolutely demands it.  The other thing I’ve noticed is that audiences around the world differ from those in the USA, inasmuch as they are willing to accept actors whose physiognomies are less than perfect.  There are few sculptured noses, and even fewer spotless complexions.  We get to see all the flaws and imperfections, as though they are—guess what?—normal, everyday people.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional multi-car pile up, or a mind-boggling, successful leap from a 300-foot high dam (see The Fugitive with Harrison Ford).  But wouldn’t it be nice to actually see a film with action that is somewhat plausible, and characters with which we can easily identify? I think so.

Here are a few of my favorite foreign films that I think you might enjoy, providing you are alert enough to read the subtitles without falling asleep.  Each is listed with its country of origin.

Lust/Caution (Taiwan)

The Sea Insid(Spain—original title, Mar adentro)  )

In Order of Disappearance (Norway—original title, Kraftidioten)

Amores Perros (Mexico/USA)

Lantana (Australia)

The Vanishing (Netherlands—original title, Spoorloos)

Indochine (France/USA)

To be fair, I find some foreign films to be a complete bust.  I know many out there will skewer me for this, but I cannot stand most of those directed by Italian legend Federico Fellini.  Try as I might, I just don’t like them.  On the other hand, I loved Cinema Paradiso, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, another Italian.

Are you a lover of foreign films?  If so, tell me your favorite, and why.  I can always use a good recommendation.  Oh, and don’t forget the popcorn.

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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at:
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17 Responses to The good, the bad, and the . . .

  1. Gene Masters says:

    I actually enjoyed “Silverado.” It wasn’t anything more then it pretended to be, and Brian Dennehy made a thoroughly hateful villain (and he was in my high school graduating class).


  2. allenrizzi says:

    Come ho già detto molte volte, il mio preferito è “Pane e Tulipani.” Perché? Perché amo le donne che non accettano la merda! Trovalo qui:


  3. I looked it up, and you are correct, Kim. The train and bus are still there, and can be viewed by taking a ride on the Tuckasegee River Excursion.


  4. KiM says:

    and train scene was filmed in Sylvia. This site says the trains are still there


  5. John Wayne never made a bad movie, pilgrim.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rick Dawley says:

    One word about Silverado – SPOOF
    (also – campy)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dave Hinson says:

    I agree about the “reality” of (old?) westerns, although I have never really thought about it while watching. Can you name a few that are more realistic. One of my favorites is “Little Big Man” with Dustin Hoffman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rick Dawley says:

      High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, etc. But a hundred times more showed the cavalry shooting targets of their horses who jumped off, or fell part way off their horse and hang on “forever”. I enjoyed them all the same, but I recall Westerns as mostly over the top or very violent. Clint Eastwood pulled off playing his role with tongue in cheek and at the same time suspend belief and root for him to get all those bad guys.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Open Range, Dances with Wolves, and 3:10 to Yuma are three that I think are pretty realistic. Jeremiah Johnson is another that I would imagine comes close.


  8. I’m not a huge fan of westerns, but I loved Tombstone with Kurt Russell. It had a stellar cast and I felt portrayed Wyatt Earp as a conflicted man who just wanted to hang up his gun and live his life in peace. Thanks, btw, for the list of your fave foreign films. I’ll see if I can find them on Netflix.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ironically, Tombstone was the movie we had wanted to see that evening, but couldn’t find it on our streaming services. I’ll have to see if they have it at my local library. Thanks for the information rearding it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. KiM says:

    Not into movies that I have to read, as I prefer books for that but this post made me wonder if you knew the train and dam jump in Fugitive were filmed here in NC?

    Liked by 1 person

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