- 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)
The Rough Guide to Westerns (Rough Guides Reference Titles) Paperback – 28 Sep 2006
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More About the Author
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
Diane C. Donovan
"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.
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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