5 Iconic Zingers from Westerns
A couple of winters ago, I came down with a horrible bout of the flu. Confined to my Click-Clack with only enough strength for trips to the bathroom and mailbox, I started watching westerns. Prior to my illness, Westerns were something that neither elicited scorn or elation from me. Growing up I had seen many of the classics – The Searchers, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and so forth – mostly on Saturday afternoons back when we had a handful of channels with nothing showing but endless marathons of golf or tennis, third tier comedies from the 70s and 80s and Westerns. Back to the mailbox; Netflix had sent me Unforgiven – a movie I absolutely love – but felt wouldn’t make good sick in bed viewing. Nevertheless, I watched it anyway and found its familiar (to me) plot quite therapeutic. Over the week where I was really jacked up, I watched a slew of Westerns and each one seemed to speed my recovery, better than whining about being sick or looking up homemade Theraflu recipes online because I was too cheap to buy it. To be honest, the straightforward plots, paucity of chow chow and lack decorum often observed in westerns seem like such a natural fit for my viewing tastes that I’m somewhat baffled as to why it isn’t my favorite genre. Despite being a writer and therefore a lover of words, sometimes I find excessively chatty films kind of draining. Sadly, for many films lots of dialogue much of it is bound to be not very good. However, westerns, which seem to possess a mandate favoring shooting mofos when they won’t shut the fuck up tend to have some fairly memorable dialogue. Though mostly because it usually involves a curt one liner as someone gets shot off a horse or some other act of outlaw style beatdown occurs. In honor of the the Coen Bros remake of True Grit (in theaters now!) here are some valuable life lessons offered by the dusty heroes, anti-heroes and villains of fictional the wild west.
1. “Well, he should have armed himself if he’s going to decorate his saloon with my friend.” – Will Munny – Unforgiven
Unforgiven is dark, decidedly unromantic exploration of the wild west and it ain’t for the timid. Yet, I laugh like hell each time Hackman’s Little Bill says, “Well sir, you’re one cowardly son of a bitch! You just shot an unarmed man!” and Eastwood’s Will Munny delivers the above quote. Oh snap! La Mommie and I are often given to quoting this exchange.
2. “When you’re gonna shoot. Shoot. Don’t talk.” – Tuco – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
If ever there was a chow chow cautionary tale it is Eli Wallach’s Tuco shooting a chatty assclown interrupting his “me” time. I really love this film and could watch this film on loop.
3. “God rest the souls of that poor family… and pussy’s half price for the next 15 minutes.” – Al Swearengan – Deadwood
Deadwood is one helluva drug. These foul mouthed, ruthless, janky cowboys barely have time to say hello before getting rowdy. I guess that’s why they need Al to lighten the mood every now and then. All righty then, Al! I think there’s only one thing left to say: McSHANE!!!
4. “Why, you crazy — the fall’ll probably kill ya!” – Butch Cassidy – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Ever the pragmatist, Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) does a bang up job comforting the Sundance Kid as they contemplate jumping into that scary ass gorge to evade capture. One of my favorite scenes.
5. “I don’t want to kill you and you don’t want to be dead.” – Malachi ‘Mal’ Johnson. – Silverado
Oh how much do I love Silverado, despite it being a super chatty western, courtesy of its Lawrence “White People Talking Non Stop for an Entire Weekend about a Dead Guy They Didn’t Even Talk to Anymore” Kasdan involvement. I tend to utter this to spiders I catch not staying on their side of the agreed upon line. Danny Glover’s Mal is my favorite character in a movie, which I’ve often described as “The Big Chill takes a field trip to the wild west”.
So what are your favorite lines and are you interested in seeing True Grit.