Derik Badman's Journal

2020-07-08 09:14

Yesterday it was one year since I started this journal. I don't know if my slackening pace is because I'm getting tired of it or just because I'm not making an effort to put in the time. It is often too easy to just sit down and start work (especially since often the early hours are a good time to perform various server/database functions while usage is low), or to watch a tv episode or part of a movie over breakfast and coffee and then start work. Once I sit down, or if I actually make time to think about it, I find things to write, even if it is just (as usual) about things I've watched or read.

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Watched a few of the "western noirs" Criterion Channel added this month. Westerns intrigue me, but often (usually?) disappoint. Blood on the Moon with Robert Mitchum is based around a classic ranchers versus farmers dynamic, with Mitchum coming into the area as a friend of a guy who is basically manipulating everyone to make some money. After seeing an old farmer's son get killed and falling in love with the rancher's daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes who is so great in Vertigo), he turns against his friend (and the crooked government official helping him). I ended up getting bored and skipping a bunch of it. He kills the friend, he marries the girl. Bel Geddes character starts out pretty interesting. We are introduced to her as she snipes at Mitchum, thinking he is a hired gun (which basically it turns out he is, though he doesn't really know it yet). She's in pants and cowboy hat and wielding a rifle. He outflanks her and embarrasses her, but at their next meeting she shoots his hat off. But then, as the movie goes on she becomes more and more the domestic type in dresses and needing to be saved. I guess she had to change so the man could marry her in the end, but it was a disappointing turn of character.

Day of the Outlaw with Robert Ryan is another rancher/farmer conflict. This time Ryan is a rancher, the tough guy who helped settle the area with his partner and now the farmers are putting up fences that keep him from moving his herd freely. Also he had an affair with a wife of one of the farmer's. He comes to town riled up and ready to either have a shoot-out with the farmer or go burn the cart carrying the barbed wire that will go on the fence. That's a pretty interesting setup, and then a group of ex-military bandits show up in time, with a dying leader. The leader is trying to keep the men behaved (no whiskey, leave the women alone), but the men are ornery and the leader keeps getting weaker. All in all a set-up with a lot of potential. There's a side plot with the youngest bandit falling in love with the store owner's daughter. There's the veteranarian who has to operate on the bandit leader. The novel the movie is based on was probably able to work well with this set up but the movie leads into a too long sequence where Ryan leads the bandits into the snowy mountains towards an escape that doesn't exist, and they slowly die off, kill each other, get killed. The young bandit gets abandoned first and makes it back to town (a happy ending with the daughter is assumed), and even Ryan somehow is the only other one to survive. The end. It went from an interesting social setup to a pretty rote/boring survival scenario, and it never even really resolved anything with the rancher, the farmer, and his wife. It really felt like a lot of plot got cut in the transition to screenplay or film (though I just found a summary of the novel and maybe they added the love affair subplot, which makes it even odder that it felt so underused).