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The Rough Guide to Westerns (Rough Guides Reference Titles) Paperback – 28 Sep 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Rough Guides; 1 edition (28 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843536498
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843536499
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.7 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 627,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Paul Simpson is an experienced film critic and journalist. He is author of Rough Guides to James Bond, Cult Movies, Cult TV, Kids' Movies and Elvis

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
William S. Hart, the Western's greatest silent star, said "The truth of the West mattered more to me than a job." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Author Paul Simpson follows the usual "Rough Guide" format in his contribution on "Westerns", but with some very welcome additions. For instance, he provides reasons for including certain films in his "canon" of 50 classic westerns and excluding many of the films most readers would expect to find in this list. Most of them are, of course, covered elsewhere in the book, but it is odd to see movies like "Hud", "Monte Walsh", "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here" and "El Topo" in the selection. Simpson explains that he has "tried to show as many facets of the genre" as possible. This is all to the good, but what will disappoint many fans is that he has obviously little time for "B" westerns. If Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, William Boyd, Ken Maynard, Tim Holt, Buck Jones, Bob Steele, Charles Starrett, and George O'Brien (the last six heroes are not even mentioned) are more to your taste, you would do better with books like my own Movie Westerns: Hollywood Films the Wild, Wild West which covers many "B" movies as well as "A" classics like "The Spoilers", "Riding Shotgun", "The Mark of Zorro" and "San Antonio" which do not even rate so much as a passing reference. This "Rough Guide" has obviously aimed for the wide view rather than a more popular, if somewhat less broad approach. However, there is a limit to what you can include in 293 pages, but, within these limits, Simpson has provided a great deal of essential information.
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Format: Paperback
There are many books available on the western, most of them rather dry and academic, or focused too tightly on particular actors/directors/sub-genres.

This one has the advantage of being a good "all-round" introduction to the best known works, with some good tips for lesser-known ones. Almost inevitably, somebody's favourites are sure to be missing - no "How The West Was Won"? No "Valdez Is Coming?" - but that's the nature of this type of book. There are some chapters which are (to my mind) superfluous - e.g. "foreign westerns" (which are nothing of the sort), the bibliography is woefully inadequate, and the index is full of holes.

But, that said, this was fun to read, and sent me back to many of my old favourites on DVD.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lovely book, excellent condition, a bargain.
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Very good
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x93a57a8c) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x938734ec) out of 5 stars Best of the West(ern) 25 May 2008
By mrliteral - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although the Western may seem to be a simple enough genre in movies - cowboys and Indians and the showdown on a dusty street - it is actually much more expansive than that. It can take place in modern times, and - despite being the genre most closely tied to one region (the U.S. and vicinity) - it can really take place elsewhere as well. The Rough Guide to Westerns by Paul Simpson recognizes this and provides a decent overview of these movies.

As with all the Rough Guides on films, this one is broken into several sections. Early on, we get the origins and the history of the Western and later we get the icons of the genre, the archetypes, the locations and a bit of a world tour to see how other countries handle this distinctly American type of film (the biggest of these would be Italy, home of Sergio Leone and the Spaghetti Western). At the heart of the Guide, however, are the fifty iconic Westerns, the ones that Simpson states are the must-see movies.

They are not always the best, but they provide a pretty good look at the Westerns. All the big ones are here: High Noon; Shane; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Searchers, Unforgiven and The Wild Bunch. There are also more off-beat choices: The Beguiled, Heller in Pink Tights and El Topo, to name a few. As always, Simpson's selection may not exactly match yours or mine, but there is likely a good amount of overlap.

As is common with these Rough Guides, there are the occasional errors in plot points or other material. Most annoying for me was in the section on certain key TV Westerns: while neglecting several bigger shows (such as Wild, Wild West), Simpson includes an obscure show called The Lazarus Man and doesn't even bother to get the lead actor's name correct, constantly calling Robert Urich, "Robert Ulrich". Flaws aside, this is still a decent book which serves its purpose well: it gives the reader a good (if not particularly deep) look at Westerns.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9827be64) out of 5 stars It's a title any film library needs. 12 Mar. 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Paperback
THE ROUGH GUIDE TO WESTERNS is a top pick for any film collection strong in cinema history - and for any general-interest lending library where patrons enjoy movies and movie history. From the origins of the Western in the silent movie era to its evolution to spaghetti and modern screen, some fifty top Westerns are included, with major actors and films analyzed. Westerns from around the world are also included, along with books, magazines and websites, making THE ROUGH GUIDE TO WESTERNS a far more comprehensive survey than one might initially think. Loaded with black and white photos throughout, it's a title any film library needs.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94c54054) out of 5 stars A fine guide. 29 Jun. 2008
By Kata - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own many books dealing with western films. This is one of the best guides yet. There are literally hundreds of westerns, and this group of editors has found not only the most critically acclaimed, but also those films the I would describe as "guilty pleasures." The material in the write-ups is not just a rehash of the plot. It discuses the films intelligently but avoids scholarly jargon. Two thumbs up!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94ea1f18) out of 5 stars A Must Have For Any Fan Of Westerns 18 Aug. 2009
By TMStyles - Published on
Format: Paperback
"The Rough Guide To Westerns" is a wonderful resource that I stumbled upon in a college bookstore. Having grown up in the heyday of the western, both big screen and television series, I have a life long interest and affection for the Western genre and its place in American cultural history. This volume wonderfully covers almost all aspects of the Western movie from the silent era to recent blockbusters. It is a must have for the casual fan as well as a great resource for the student and researchers of the genre.

"The Rough Guide To Westerns" begins with a look at the origins and the history of the Western and includes sections on Western icons, achetypes, locations, television series, and an interesting chapter on Westerns filmed in countries around the world. There is a well done section on 50 classic Westerns that the author believes is must-see and while I could quibble about some included and some excluded, the 50 are very well discussed and dissected. Additionally, there are smaller capsulizations of hundreds of other Westerns scattered appropriately throughout the book.

I especially enjoyed the discussions of who turned down a certain part that later became a Western Classic, such as Mongomery Clift originally cast as "Shane" and Randolph Scott turning down the "Have Gun Will Travel" role later made famous by Richard Boone. The asides and factoids regarding studio heads getting involved in the content, casting, and outcomes of certain films was fun to read as was the political implications and ramifications of many Western films.

All in all, this is a great resource and a fun read. Along with hundreds of black and white photos, there is a plethora of information on favorite films, enduring actors, renowned directors, and favorite filming locations. I recommend this book for casual fans and for the interested student--although, to be sure, there are minor mistakes scattered throughout the book such as Bret Maverick's brother was Bart, not Burt and John Cannon of the "High Chapparal" had a brother named Buck, not Nuck. But these minor errors or perhaps typos do not largely detract from a fun compilation of all aspects of the Western movie genre.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93873af8) out of 5 stars A Guide to Silver Screen Classic Westerns! 9 Jan. 2013
By Mike O'Connor - Published on
Format: Paperback
While Paul Simpson's ROUGH GUIDE TO WESTERNS may not be, as the back cover proclaims, "The Ultimate Companion to the (Western) Genre," it is an informed, appealing and insightful guide to some notable Western flicks.

The meat of the book is the chapter listing 'The Canon: 50 Classic Westerns.' Most of the usual suspects are here - SHANE, HIGH NOON, LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, THE SEARCHERS, 3:10 TO YUMA, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, EL DORADO, MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, RED RIVER and THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. Other picks such as MAN OF THE WEST, JESSE JAMES and TALL T would generally get the nod while a few such as BLAZING SADDLES, EL TOPO and BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK might be more contentious. For my money, I thought THE PROFESSIONALS should have made the cut over EL TOPO but, what the heck, it's Simpson's book.

Other chapters provide a general history of the western, iconic Western stars/directors/etc., Western film archetypes, film locations, etc.

Unlike other film guides that go overboard with high-falutin' philosophizing and psycho-babble, THE ROUGH GUIDE TO WESTERNS is a straightforward, thoughtful and entertaining examination of the genre that doesn't suck the joy and wonder out of the films like those aforementioned tomes. Recommended.
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