Westerns riding back into theaters?


In the summer of 2003, Laramie Street, the western-town studio set that had been on the Warner Bros back-lot since the 1930s, was torn down. The rough wooden cantina, the railroad track and the hotel, with its swing doors and hitching rail, where Errol Flynn, James Stewart, Henry Fonda and other heroes of the Hollywood western of yore had smacked their dusty chaps and tied up their tired horses, were bulldozed to make way for yet another suburban American street. Warner Bros had little choice. With fewer and fewer westerns being produced, the set had been used for only nine days in the previous five years.  

Yet now, as if galloping into town dusty and bedraggled from a long trail ride, the western is being welcomed by Hollywood again. Just 12 months after HBO’s critically acclaimed series Deadwood finished, the annual Emmy nominations, which reward the best television programmes of the year, were last week dominated by two new western mini-series, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which had 17 nominations, and Broken Trail, which had 16. And the theatrical distributor Lions Gate Films recently announced that it was bringing forward to early September the release of its new western, 3:10 to Yuma, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, for which it has big Oscar hopes.

It wants to get a jump on other westerns being released before the year’s end that are expected to be in the running for Oscars, including The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which stars Brad Pitt as James, and No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s more contemporary western, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem. Other westerns set for release in the next few months include September Dawn, with Jon Voight and Terence Stamp, and Seraphim Falls, starring Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan. 

(Source: Times Online)

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