Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday's Western: The Monsters Are Due At The O. K. Corral

Over at the site of Cowboys & Indians Magazine, there is a fine article on science-fiction westerns (link).  And the newstand version features the new Harrison Ford movie, Cowboys And Aliens, which we are anxious to see.

Lots of big names are associated with the movie.  Besides Harrison Ford, the movie stars Olivia Wilde, Daniel Craig, Keith Carradine, Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, and Adam Beach.  The big-budget movie is being produced by Steven Spielburg and Ron Howard.  Director Jon Favreau is quoted as saying that it is "a traditional western" in spirit.

I suppose you could adapt Rod Serling's "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" into a western just by setting it in the west, as long as it had the same play on human fears, prejudices, vanities, and emotions.

We'll see.

Reading now: Craig Johnson's new Walt Longmire mystery/western, Hell Is Empty.  Johnson dedicates it to Joe Drabyak, the legendary bookman who died last year but who lives on as a character in a number of books.  Perhaps in this one.  Johnson's characters are always good company.

Not to be missed: what mystery/western author Tony Hillerman said in a 2008 interview by outstanding western author Johnny D. Boggs, at this link.  Here's a choice quote:

"What made you want to write?
Well, I always enjoyed reading.… I got in the Army, got in a rifle company…well, everybody in my company decided when the war was over we were going to circulate a petition, ask Congress to abolish West Point, tear down all the West Point buildings, salt the ground so it wouldn't spring back up and then get Congress to enact a Constitutional amendment banning people who could not pass a fourth-grade intelligence test from gaining a commission in the United States Army.'

"We had been screwed up by West Point officers. We were at a little town in France, close to the German border. The Germans held the other side of the stream, and we held our side. And the West Pointers decided they wanted us to go to the other side and capture two Germans.… We got ready to go, and they called it off. The next morning, they decided we would go that night. By now, everybody on both sides knew we were going over there. We got up to the front, and one of the guys said: "Surely you're not going over there. The Germans have been working all day—we've been watching them—and getting ready for you guys.'

"Boy, were they ready. We just got the hell kicked out of us. I got blown up in a barnyard. The first guy who carried me back got shot, but the next guy dumped me in the creek. Anyway, I got back. I couldn't see much—the Army still rates this eye as blind—both of my knees were broken, and my left foot had been rebuilt so that I still have to buy shoes two different sizes. But I was sitting in a wheelchair, thinking that the Army doesn't have any use of me anymore, and I knew I didn't want to farm. I started thinking that maybe I'd like to write, and I started writing a short story in my mind. It wasn't very good. In fact, it's pretty bad, but I finally put it on paper, got it published and that encouraged me."

You should click on the link and read the entire interview.  Hillerman is gone, but Boggs and Johnson and some other bright minds continue to turn out amazingly good westerns.  Hollywood should take note.

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