Saturday, December 17, 2011

Old Westerns

In the past couple of days I have watched a few western themed movies. I am not sure why. It started when I was on my exercise bike. It is in the basement in front of a TV and while I was scrolling through the movie channels, I noticed that Encore Westerns was airing John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara's classic McLintock (1963). I remembered this movie from years back because of the on-screen magic of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Because of this and the fact there was nothing else really on the other several hundred channels, I started watching it. I enjoyed it and as a result watched a few others.

The last Western I had watched in a theater was the 2010 remake of True Grit starring Jeff Bridges. It was one of the best films I have ever seen. I can not attest to the accuracy but felt it to be very much so. I felt like I got a real glimpse into the hard lives of those times. I thought it was a great improvement over the 1969 John Wayne original. I had recollected that the John Wayne version was fluffier. That was until I saw it a few days ago. I was surprised and found the original truer and grittier then I had been thinking.

My first recollections of Westerns was from my maternal grandfather, Levon Merian.  We called him Babo, our own or his own version of the Armenian Baba. He loved Westerns. He watched them in black and white for most of his life. He like Gene Autry, the Cisco Kid, and Roy Rogers. He loved Gunsmoke and Bonanza. But, he liked any kind of Western made in the classic tradition.

It was easy and pleasant as a youngster to join Babo in watching these shows. He liked the company. When I knew him, he was a very simple and calm man. He was a man of few words. He would never say much but would chuckle when the good guys got the comeuppance on the bad guys. I do believe he liked the genre because it was quite clear who was good and who was bad. The best part was that the good guys always won. Given all the turmoil and tragedy in his early life having experienced at the hand of the Turk, this was just the prescription for my grandfather.

I am sure this recent interest in Westerns has something to do with the memory of joining my Babo on the couch and watching those old movies with him. It was amazing, there were only four channels on his TV. Yet, there always seemed to be a cowboy movie or show on the TV. Now there is an entire channel, the aforementioned Encore Westerns, dedicated to the genre.

I would have certainly enjoyed watching McClintock or maybe Destry Rides Again with my Babo.

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