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5 Iconic Zingers from Westerns

December 22, 2010

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.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. hsofia permalink
    December 22, 2010 8:59 pm

    Yes, I am interested in seeing True Grit. I like when Josh Brolin rides horses, and it’s playing at my favorite movie theater in the world, Cinetopia, which Hubster and I hope to slip off to this weekend.

    I like, “Shane, Shane!” from Shane. “Come back.” My dad used to always call that out whenever we’d see some sentimental or super sad part of a movie where a character was all, “I can’t stay; I have to go.” My dad would blurt that out and we’d all crack up laughing.

  2. eieioj permalink
    December 23, 2010 12:19 am

    We’re seeing True Grit on Christmas day. I love me some Coen Brothers. And Jeff Bridges. And Westerns.

    I guess one that sticks out for me is John Wayne’s “I’m not gonna hit ya… I’m not gonna hit ya…. like hell I’m not!” from McClintock! (which does double duty as a Western and an adaptation of Taming of the Shrew).

    Also, my dad used to say “Your feet, ma’am, are almost as big as your mouth” whenever I was being particularly bratty or obnoxious.

  3. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    December 23, 2010 1:00 am

    I am a huge fan of Destry Rides Again. It’s chock full of zingers. Destry is played by Jimmy Stewart. Frenchy is Marlene Dietrich. Boris is the forgotten but wonderful Mischa Auer (Carlo in the fabulous rom-com satire, My Man Godfrey).

    [Boris has bet and lost his pants in game of poker]
    Boris: Frenchy, think of my position. I’ve met every king in Europe!
    Frenchy: Now you’ve met two aces in Bottleneck. Off with your pants.
    ****
    Tom Destry Jr.: Don’t let me interfere with your dinner, ma’am.
    Frenchy: It’s breakfast.
    ****
    Boris: All I want is to be a cowboy and to wear my own pants!
    *****
    Citizen Taqueau: Don’t we all, Boris. Don’t we all.

  4. December 23, 2010 7:21 am

    Sam Peckinpah westerns tend to have good lines.

    from “The Wild Bunch”, after a robbery that turned out to be a setup:
    Sykes: Caught you, didn’t they? Tied a tin can to your tail. Led you in and waltzed you out again. Oh my, what a bunch! Big tough ones, huh? Here you are with a handful of holes, a thumb up your ass, and a big grin to pass the time of day with.

    from “Ride the High Country”, regarding his family’s habit of not bathing:
    Billy Hammond: I hate to get married with one of my brothers smelling bad enough to gag a dog off a gut wagon.

    and in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”, Garrett and his posse have their quarry pinned down inside a cabin.
    Billy the Kid: Come on in, Pat! I’ll warm your breakfast!
    (the response is a storm of gunfire)
    Billy the Kid: I guess he already had breakfast.

  5. December 23, 2010 10:02 am

    Does Blazing Saddles count? Anything Slim Pickens said sounded pretty authentically Western. I still LOL at “I’d say you’ve had enough.”

  6. December 23, 2010 9:10 pm

    I don’t care what anyone says, that farting scene is still the funniest scene ever.

  7. IrishUp permalink
    December 24, 2010 10:31 am

    I am so wanting to see “True Grit”, but as my @ the movie-house time is very rationed, will probably not get to see it until it’s in RedBox or Netflix.

    “… which I’ve often described as “The Big Chill goes takes a field trip to the wild west”.
    LOL, so true. Brian Dennehey is great in that movie – his charming but deadly bad guys are the best.

    I loved “Tombstone” – so much eye-candy, so much fun, lots of realism. Val Kilmer’s “Holiday” seems to have all the best lines. Someone put together a few of my favorites:

  8. December 24, 2010 7:18 pm

    Oh gosh, now I have to go watch Tombstone. I’ve got to say, my experience with the Wetern genre is pretty limited, and this post is making me want to branch out a little more!

  9. December 24, 2010 7:19 pm

    (Er, watch Tombstone again, rather. It’s always been one of my faves.)

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