Copyright Joanne Kidd

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A
Great Weekend for a Western. . .

Do you ever picture yourself living back in the 1800s? Were you an outlaw? The town sheriff? The town drunk? Do you wonder what it was like for your  ancestors as settlers on the American frontier? I do. I wonder...

Sometimes I picture myself in the role of a pioneer woman, complete with the sepia tones, and living as it might have been back some 150-200 years ago. Then, in the same split second that I come to the point in my little daydream where I’m walking into the town's general store with my basket of freshly laid eggs to use as trade (the ones from my make-believe chickens) and there is NO Lancôme counter where I can trade them for mascara and lipstick, my daydream begins to shatter and I begin to picture myself standing there with naked lips and eyes, wearing a frumpy faded dress, and trying to find a place to plug in my blow-dryer and hot iron so I can tame my funky hair. (Not even Jeff Probst has seen anything quite as shocking as that reality!) 

I just love that period in our American history, and to me, there is nothing quite like a good old western movie! I am drawn to them like flies on cow pies. I’ve sometimes suspected that it could be an element from my ancestry that causes this. Seems I have both the notorious outlaw as well as the Texas Ranger lingering in my bloodline.

I don’t remember when my fascination with westerns began. I do remember that when I was 13 or 14, there was a John Wayne all-night movie marathon at the local drive-in movie theater and my father promised to take me. My mother packed us up with the usual drive-in necessities of popcorn, snacks, sandwiches, a thermos of kool-aid, and of course, mosquito repellent, wash cloths, and written reminders to wash our hands. Popular vote was that I would most likely fall asleep after a few hours and my dad could sneak me us back home. Instead, for over 10 hours, I sat wide-eyed, fascinated, and glued to the big screen characters of George Washington McLintock, Taw Jackson, John Elder, Cole Thornton, and none other than Reuben J. Cogburn. From then on, my dad and I would always catch the latest John Wayne movie together, and we would also enjoy watching them as TV reruns whenever we had the chance. Now, whenever I watch a John Wayne western, I know that I've watched it with my father before.

Nowadays, my husband (and western-watching partner) and I, when in the mood for a cowboy marathon, usually just plug Lonesome Dove in the DVD and snuggle up on the ole cowhide sofa here at Casa Kidd. This weekend we decided to head out to an actual "picture show" movie to see the new Jeff Bridges version of True Grit. It just seemed a natural prerequisite to watch the 1969 version first, so we scootched in and called it a Saturday sofa date night.

With that one fresh in my mind, the next afternoon we left for the new Coen brother’s version, skeptical that anyone could ever embody a character that John Wayne had so skillfully developed and perfected in his usual larger-than-life way. Although Jeff Bridges’ gruff voice was only an “uh-huh” away from a mustard sandwich, he took complete ownership of the character of Rooster Coburn with absolute perfection! With his screen presence, combined with the amazing cinematography, at one point I thought I actually got a whiff of a musky mix of sweat, soiled, soured, and crusty long johns, old dusty wooden floors, cowhide, fire ash, and the stale stench of tobacco-gumming dirty teeth, and cigarette-smoking, whiskey-drinking breath. (Hopefully this did not have anything to do with the party of six that came in late and sat in our row.) 

 

Yep, there is nothing quite like a good old western movie, and after just watching both versions of True Grit in the same weekend, then seeing the new version again with friends and then again with my daughter in the same week, it's probably no great coincidence that I'm wearing my gauchos and boots today, and working on an urge for some cornbread. I think I'll go fetch me some now...  (Gonna stick with the 300 horsepower of my V-8 engine as transportation though, instead of riding on something that's unpredictably bouncy and has big teeth....)

"The wicked flee when none pursueth." Proverbs 28:1

 
 

 

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