Les Cowboys Exchanges Indians for Islam

John Ford’s The Searchers, an American classic, sits at #12 on the most recent American Film Institute’s Top 100 American Films list. A Western that explores ethnic hatred and family ties, the film is beloved by critics and highly regarded among fans of the genre.With Les Cowboys, director Thomas Bidegain transplants this American story to France, just before and after the turn of the 21st century. Instead of an uncle pursuing a niece he sees as tainted by her years spent with the Comanches, Le … [Read more...]

Tyranny and Ranching on the ‘Red River’

Review of Red River, Directed by Howard HawksHoward Hawks was one of the most prolific and famous of the early Hollywood directors. He made some great classics, but not many of them were westerns. He didn’t specialize in westerns the way, say, John Ford did. He only made five films with John Wayne (one of them set in Africa), compared to the fifteen or so Ford made with him (not counting the dozens of films from the 1920s in which Wayne had bit parts). And while the Ford-Wayne collaborations … [Read more...]

The Lone Ranger: Pirates of the Old West

Review of The Lone Ranger, Directed by Gore VerbinskiWe can sum up The Lone Ranger with a simple comparison: it is Pirates of the Caribbean out west.It makes sense. It comes to us from the same gang – director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer – who brought us the Pirates franchise and features Johnny Depp in a starring role as an off-kilter, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants hero.Imagine Captain Jack Sparrow as a Native American, and you have Tonto. With his long, black h … [Read more...]

Django Discusses Race

Review of Django Unchained, Directed by Quentin TarantinoBy KENDRICK KUODjango Unchained is everything you would expect from a Tarantino film. Much in the same vein as Inglorious Basterds, this story is a historical one. Instead of Nazi Germany, it is set in the antebellum South. If you liked Inglorious Basterds, I would reckon you will enjoy Django Unchained—if you can stomach the gore that underlines the brutal world of slavery.Naturally, any film depicting race relations in the U … [Read more...]

When the Legend Becomes Fact…

Review of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Directed by John FordBy PAUL D. MILLERHere is a movie that just begs to be a Jeopardy question. The category is “Classic Film.” The answers are: “The only movie in which Jimmy Stewart punches John Wayne in the face,” “The second movie in which Jimmy Stewart plays a U.S. Senator,” and “The best John Ford movie never to be nominated for anything.” The question: “What is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”? It is the 117th or 205th greatest film of a … [Read more...]

That’ll Be the Day

Review of The Searchers, Directed by John FordBy PAUL D. MILLERThe Searchers (1956) is a John Wayne western made in the 1950s, which might immediately suggest to you a certain kind of movie:  an all-American hero fighting outlaws and Indians with a six-shooter, a pack of one-liners, and a grinning swagger.  Wayne did plenty of those movies—this isn’t one of them.  Not by a long shot.  Instead, think of a western directed by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, or Ingmar Bergman.The … [Read more...]


Review of Hondo, Directed by Louis L'AmourBy COYLE NEALAs I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, Americans are always in search of their own body of myths and legends—a literary past we can look to and claim as our own. The most recognizable and uniquely American body of literature that has grown up as a result of this search is the Western. This is particularly of interest to Christians, as perhaps no genre more easily reflects the Gospel than this one. With the trope of the townspeople bein … [Read more...]