Watched Shane the other day. Another western that is well regarded. I was going to read the novel (it's in this Library of America collection I've been eyeing, which also includes Warlock, The Ox-Bow Incident, and The Searchers), but figured I'd watch the film first, since it popped up on Criterion. It was... ok. Like in many older films that have a prominent child character, I kept being super annoyed by the young boy in this. He's annoying and loud and whiny. The plot is about ranchers vs. farmers and lawlessness and violence and the oncoming movement of structured civilization, but the resolution is all very... cut and dried. Shane, the protagonist, who wandered into the area and started helping out on a homestead, just happens to be super fast on the draw with his six shooter. So after sitting around not doing much, he goes into town and gets the bad guys to draw on him so he can shoot them. Then he leaves because being the guy that saves the other folks homes by killing other assholes with guns makes him not fit for sticking around I guess. The logic feels a little off, and the solution to all the conflicts seems to just be "shoot the bad guys, the end."
There is a good scene where the main antagonist guy, an old time rancher, basically explains why he's such an asshole to all the homesteaders. He's all old school: "I tamed this land before you were even born," and "now you folks are fencing in the land and using the water," etc. It's a little late into, but you get his side of the story. But the homesteader protagonist is quick to retort: "yeah but the Indians and the trappers were here before you."
Not going on my list of favorite westerns. Doubt I'll read the book now either. Started reading The Ox-Bow Incident via a library copy, but I don't think I'll finish it. Something about the prose style (overly descriptive, I think) makes it really drag for me. I'll try the movie instead.
Also watched A Tale of Springtime via Film Forum, the first of Rohmer's Tales of the Four Seasons (I accidentally watched the second one first). I enjoy this one, maybe not as much as the others, partially because I find the younger protagonist a little grating at times. It seems super obvious she is scheming to get her new friend, a philosophy teacher she meets at a party, hooked up with her dad, who has a girlfriend she doesn't like, but late in the film she claims she wasn't and is all upset about the accusation. I can't reconcile it, unless she's meant to be lying at the end, or else Rohmer just didn't succeed at making the scheming ambiguous enough.
Like A Tale of Winter this one has a kind of coincidence/miracle at the end. Earlier in the film, the girl is telling her new friend about this necklace that got lost. The girl thinks the father's new girlfriend stole it; the girlfriend thinks the girl took it and hid it to frame her; the father just thinks it got lost. They all have these varying stories about what happpened that are colored by their feelings about the other people involved. And then right at the end, the new friend (who's been trying to stay out of the matter), accidentally finds the necklace. It's much less dramatic than the end of A Tale of Winter, more light hearted, but it has that same aspect of the unexpected/accidentally/coincidental positive event. (Trying to remember if there is something similar in Summer and Autumn, but I can't right now...)
As I sit here in the gray overcast morning, I can hear Buddy snoring from his chair nearby.