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October 1996, Week 5


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"Richard J. Leskosky" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 29 Oct 1996 13:44:05 -0600
text/plain (41 lines)
On 10/29/96, Lang Thompson wrote:
>******  This may be the most interesting point:  can a film (or book)
>be a Western if it's not set in the West?  It sounds pretty trivial but
>it goes right to the heart of what we mean by "Western."  Is Outland an
>honorary Western because it's modelled after High Noon or because the
>plot/thematic elements (law/civilization, individual courage, etc) are
>considered the proper subject of Westerns.  (Just as science fiction is
>often concerned with the effects of technology or comedy with
>disorder.)  One especially convoluted example would be Yojimbo/Fistful
>of Dollars/Last Man Standing group.  Is the first a Japanese film
>inspired by or based on American Westerns?  Would it have existed
>without that example?  Fistful of Dollars is the same plot/structure
>but this time actually moved to the traditional Western time and place
>so there would be little question that it actually is a Western.  Last
>Man Standing is Western in setting but not time and has numerous
>elements of the gangster film incorporated.  In fact, it would be easy
>to imagine Last Man Standing actually set in New York City, so if the
>plot can be easily converted, what is essentially Western about it?
Actually it's more complicated than that.  YOJIMBO seems to be an
uncredited adaptation of Dahiell Hammett's book RED HARVEST, in which an
unnamed detective (probably the same character as his Continental Op) comes
into a lawless town and pits one gang against another; the setting and
period is something like that in LAST MAN STANDING).  And can we forget THE
WARRIOR AND THE SORCERESS, the 1984 sci-fi/fantasy re-make of YOJIMBO
starring David Carradine?
Richard J. Leskosky
Richard J. Leskosky                        office phone: (217) 244-2704
Assistant Director                             FAX: (217) 244-2223
Unit for Cinema Studies                   University of Illinois
2117 Foreign Languages Building   707 S. Mathews Avenue
                                                         Urbana, Illinois
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