What is the Corral about?

Well, simply, it is a place to round-up ideas, thoughts, comments and anything else you may like to hear about. My original intention was to have a forum but the time to manage such a gathering is really beyond me at this stage. But via email I can gather up your input and get it into the Corral.

So, would you like to make comment?

What is your favorite western story, either as a book or a movie?

Want to tell us why?

What are you currently reading, watching or listening to (regardless if it is a Western or not)?

What do you want to see in future Western stories (grit or romance, maybe both, gunplay or justice, grim reality or happy endings)?

Anything you would like to see in one of my stories?



March 2011




















What am I currently reading?

The Long Embrace by Judith Freeman, the story of Raymond Chandler and his wife Cissy. Wonderful stuff and yes, I know he wrote hardboiled crime fiction, but the Big Sleep sure feels like a gritty urban western to me!

What would I like to read?

The Lone Rider of Santa Fe by Buck Dexter. Very rare I believe!

I was asked, what’s your favorite Western movie? And my response was given without anytime for contemplation. ‘High Noon,’ I said.

To me this particular movie is pure Western noir, shot in black and white with an atmosphere of menace as Marshal Will Kane finds himself isolated from his town and his beautiful new Quaker bride, Amy – while the clock ticks down to the arrival of Frank Miller. Good verses evil, yes, but not without complications, like his ex-lover the beautiful Helen Ramirez, and a pacifist wife who has to choose to runaway or stand by her man. And what a cast, with Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Lee Van Cleef and Lloyd Bridges to name a few. This is pure gold and a movie that is still as fresh as a daisy, even though it will celebrate its 60th birthday next year. A cult classic, as they say. And it has a killer ending, but I will say no more, get it out on DVD and revisit if the storyline is a little blurry, I’m sure you’ll be as impresses as me.

But while High Noon may be my ‘go to favorite’, it is not the movie that surprised me the most and had a big, lasting impact. In fact, the movie I have in mind rusted me on to the gritty Western style of movie for life. In 1968, when serving in Vietnam, a movie turned up for a nightly showing called Will Penny. The name meant nothing and I nearly didn’t go, but at the last minute I wandered down to the half open, half enclosed theater (know as the opera house), with deckchair in hand and no expectations. I didn’t even know it was a Western or that Charlton Heston was in the lead. Planet of the Apes had been released around that same time and was causing a publicity stir, while Will Penny flew in under the radar.

So what was it? Why did this movie of an aging, luckless cowboy get to me? Well apart from the great acting of Heston and Donald Pleasence as Preacher Quint, it was a story that broke the mold of the hero’s journey to victory. This, like High Noon, was a big-kids movie, where bitterness is never sweetened and the world is not put right in the end. Maybe, it was also because I was a little older – I turned the ripe old age of 21 that year, but in Will Penny was a good honest man who had been served a bad hand for most of his life, yet he managed to retain his dignity when close to defeat. No cardboard cut out here, Will Penny was flesh and blood, a man of good character that you could depend on.

But am I the only one who sees this particular movie as being a significant work of art? It seems not. David Webb Peoples who wrote the screenplay for Unforgiven, one of only three Western films to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, was so impressed with it that he named the lead character, played by Clint Eastwood, William Munny. Get it? Will Penny – Will Munny (money)! Corny you may say. Maybe, but I rather like subtle (or maybe not to subtle) references that pay homage to the past. After all, the Sheriff of Eureka Falls, in Raking Hell, is Will Price!



April 2011

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