Gary Cooper

Gary Cooper

I am just starting my viewing of Gary Cooper films. Luckily I am going to CapitolFest this weekend, where he is the chosen “star” for many of the films that will be shown. Of course I think of GC as a cowboy movie actor, due to seeing High Noon in high school in the Film class I took.

Yes he was known for his westerns, particularly because he portrayed the lead in The Virginian, a seminal Western in the early talkie era.

However GC also did many many other types of films including alot with Ernest Lubitsch and other German emigre directors in the 20s and 30s. I can now appreciate how he worked to extend his range as an actor.

When we see Gary Cooper in a Western he looks like he belongs there. He looks comfortable on a horse, and from learning about his life, that fits because he grew up on a ranch in Montana and obviously know real-life men and women who worked there. And yet he was an artist, and obviously interested in the art of cinema and film and story. So from the films  Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Design for Living and Friendly Persausion we can appreciate his films as much as the westerns.


What is a Western? (movie)


Movies: I am slowly going through a watching “Westerns” movies streak. I grew up watching Tom Mix silent Westerns at the George Eastman Museum’s Dryden Theater. The Dryden recently had a Maureen O’Hara retrospective, and showed some classics like She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and now I’m sorry I did not make a point of seeing them in 35 mm in a real movie theater. I’m not overly fond of John Wayne, but I can appreciate his craftsmanship as an actor and especially John Ford’s artistry.

Which movies still hold their own in 2016? Which are still overall good movies and enjoyable even with or despite the the stereotypical depictions of Indians as always bad and white people as always good. The overtired trope of “danger to a white woman and/or white child” as excuses for violence and war.

I cannot say that Tom Mix movies were good or not. What I really dislike seeing the westerns prior to 1965 is not just the poor representation of Indians and their lives, their 1/2 of the story, but the the awful treatment of horses.  Horses are forced to “fall” in order to get cool scenes. How many horses were harmed and killed for this? What a waste.

What makes a Western a Western? To be fair, how far should we blame “Hollywood” for its poor depictions of actual history and facts? Early films were based on the popular books and magazine of the day, much like the big blockbusters for the action heroes of today: Spiderman, Thor, etc. There were the “penny dreadfuls” that were cheap books sold to thousands that had stories of the “wild”west — dangerous and exciting to read if you lived in some safe city back east and did not face such problems.

Hollywood simply took the tropes, themes, plots from these penny dreadfuls and turned them into movies. Also they took the very popular Wild West shows put on by William Cody and other producers like the  Miller brothers and simply filmed those “scenes” that were created such as a stagecoach getting robbed by mercenaries or attacked by Indians. What was exciting to middle class audiences who had no notion of the “real” West? Excitement! Escaping attack by bears! Indians! To make the show exciting and interesting, sell out the seats, the danger and adventure were ramped up.

The best Westerns feature the plot of Man vs. His Conscience. In the mythos of the US overall, the vast unknown “wild” Western area past the Mississippi River from the 1830s on were the last place a man could run to escape whatever he was running from: the law, family, a wife, overcrowding, society, systemization etc. Out there you were on your own.

More on Star Wars oy Vader!

There are those who don’t like Hayden. I think he is very good as the brash young Jedi in training. just a few scenes show this so clearly: The Tusken Raider killing admission scene, the “I’m pregnant” scene. and more. How he is with the Emperor, etc.

I think some people are uncomfortable with his acting because it is so raw, and so spot-on. He is supposed to be all powerful, and he shows his vulnerability. And how easy is it to play the man inside the monster, the man before he is the monster, showing him as a goofy, obnoxious young man?

Mainly I think the acting, directing and writing are fine but somehow it all gets so clogged up throughout Episodes 1-3. It’s like the actors are all wading through the garbage muck or swamp on Yoda’s planet. In contrast Episode 4 A New Hope is like a fast roller coaster ride, yet not overwhelming nor too fast.

American vs British thriller

Why are there no thriller spy novels or crime novels where the Main Investigator is American and ends up in London or vice versa? Cross Atlantic intrigue? Or have I not found them.
Are British thrillers and American plots so different? Americans love a good government conspiracy — this goes back to our roots of how and why we had to leave the Homeland, the Mother Country in the first place (English Civil War, I’m thinking of you mate!).
Not sure if this is so with Britain. Britain has Sherlock Holmes in its cultural background, but James Bond was a post-War invention by Ian Fleming who supposedly did some espionage work with some sort of secret agency. Are British fears / thriller points more about those who want to invade UK from without? As a small island nation, that might be primo in its goings on.

Not that I want to see Sherlock Holmes meet Dashiell Hammet or anything. YET London-Los Angeles stories would be so so interesting because they are polar opposites in so many ways. And yet so similar too.

Star Trek

I enjoyed this, as I am a Star Trek fan. Especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek dialogue such as Spock saying to his 2 “other” crew members “Take off your red shirts…” The red shirt phenomenom is famous in Star Trek circles, as those red shirt-wearing security officers were often the ones to die even though all the weapons were pointed at Kirk, Spock and the other core characters.

Violence, Media, Fantasy and Science Fiction

I read about the bizarre and disgusting reaction to the woman who went to the con in May and complained about the lack of and the status of women in gaming. How some pipsqueak pimply pasty white boys jerking off in their basement start sending nasty tweets and messages and starting a gang to flame her bigtime. This type of behavior does just make me want to turn off the Internet and go outside and garden, walk, ride a bike, interact with REAL people in REAL time and/or escape back to my own world.
I’ve never really been into science fiction and fantasy nor have I played many computer games except for Solitaire, Prince of Persia back in the day, etc.
So I recently found another thing I’d written a few years ago.
I have faithfully read most of the Star Wars books, but haven’t ever gotten into George RR Martin, for example, or Heinlein or anything else. Then I gave up on the Star Wars books because either I realized that they’ve been like this all along, or it became too much or I realized the books were heading into a world of too much war and hardness, male male masculine. All relationships are based on tactics, as if relationships are too feminine, ‘soft’ weak, as if it has no place in Star Wars.
For example, some people did not like the Mara Jade character, the character created in the books to be Luke Skywalker’s wife. I think they raised holy hell and whether or not Mara Jade was killed off in a book because of that I do not know. She was killed off and Leia Solo – the Princess Leia from the movies – had to train to become a Jedi Knight. Which I was unhappy with because there are many ways to use and rely upon the Force, if the Force is a term for God in the Star Wars universe. I always felt Leia used the Force as much as Luke, but that she used it as a diplomat, negotiator and not in terms of being a military person or soldier. Especially after the end of the 6th movie, Return of the Jedi. But no, Leia must become a ‘warrior woman’ too, because otherwise she is “just” a woman, a leader. Yet look in real life at how much power and strength world leaders have, even the Secretarys of State such as Madeline Albright, Hilary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice.

War War War. If I keep buying books titled ‘wars’ am I furthering war? I wonder if they promote violence as a means, as well as an end.

It sometimes seems that technophilia is so closely connected with misogyny. And represented by both in works of science fiction and such. Because to leave the earth and try to live elsewhere, which is your mother, the nurturer, creator of all things you need to live, eat, drink, breathe, rest, play, work, live, progress, this earth – you need to reject your mother. Does one then try to hate her to make it easier? To deny her, to do ‘better’ than her. To survive without her.
Right now in 2013, we have no other “ship” than Earth Mother. That is why we should take better care of her. Actually I believe she will survive long after we are gone. The Earth is wiser than us.

Gender writing

So the problem with sexism in literature and the publishing world is that the more we emphasize our separateness and drive into little boxes or camps where each of us feels “safe” because we are with people we look like / sound like / think alike / where we can reinforce our separateness, is that we don’t understand or learn about the world.

some people – men ?? – seem to complain about the “feminization” of science fiction. What does that mean? That there are too many female writers writing science fiction? Or too many of the readers are women? or that the writing is going less down the old tried and used tropes of old stories of the STRONG HERO and the WEAK DAMSEL to be SAVED through force or magic or star ships or the military or the big awesome strength and length of the hero’s penis and muscles. oooh ahhh! I just want to have sex with you all the time and do nothing other than exist to have sex with you, to be for you here always just for that purpose because because that is what you deserve. As if every woman in the universe is interested in having sex with you all the time, everytime, in every place.

Grow up.

Men if you are obsessed with sex and think about all the time, you have aproblem. It’s called ego. It’s called narcissism, and pathology and over-identification with your sexual self. Your penis is not You. It is not your true essence of being. That is beyond sexual organs.

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