Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

. Director/Screenwriter: John Carpenter By Roderick Heath In the dark alleys of a modern cityscape, war is brewing. Heavily armed gang members stalk the dark, only to be spotlighted and coldly massacred by policemen, the bringers of death rendered dehumanised figures as the camera elides their faces and concentrates instead on their hands and weapons. …

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The Searchers (1956)

Director: John Ford Screenwriter: Frank Nugent By Roderick Heath John Ford was hardly lacking in fame and acclaim when he released The Searchers. He’d already captured four Oscars as Best Director, proof he stood for his peers as the most admired of American filmmaking talents. Given how rarely Westerns were given such awards and serious …

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Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

Director: Sydney Pollack Screenwriters: Edward Anhalt, John Milius (uncredited: David Rayfiel) By Roderick Heath John Jeremiah Garrison “Liver-Eating” Johnson was one of those authentic characters of the American West’s history who nonetheless occupies a blurred zone between fact and legend. Born in 1824, Johnson became one of the strange breed of wandering trappers and traders …

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White Sun of the Desert (Beloe Solntse Pustyni, 1970)

The Days of High Adventure: A Journey through Adventure Film Director: Vladimir Motyl By Roderick Heath White Sun of the Desert has a stature with Russian moviegoers that can only be likened to the cultural currency The Godfather, Star Wars, or Gone with the Wind hold for western viewers. Lines of dialogue from the film have …

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Heaven’s Gate (1980)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Michael Cimino By Roderick Heath Hollywood has never been kind to failure, but sometimes time is. The real “Johnson County War” was a skirmish between cattle graziers and settlers in 1890s Wyoming, and had long been a cornerstone of western folklore. In the early 1970s, this true story was suggested as the subject for …

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The Last Movie (1971)

Director: Dennis Hopper By Roderick Heath Before 1969, Dennis Hopper was one of many talented, young Method actors to drift west from the Actor’s Studio to Hollywood, if a flagrantly offbeat and arresting example of the breed. His blue eyes seemed to radiate an almost spiritual, romantic dissociation, as well as a potentially manic ferocity—Viking …

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