The Coen Brothers have, in their brilliant career, taken their offbeat sense of humor and visual sardonicism for test runs in many genres. Their maiden stab at an old-school horse opera, True Grit, has been tearing up the box office of late, aided by the presence of "The Dude" in spurs.
Recently, with True Grit in mind, Entertainment Weekly asked the brothers to pick their favorite all-time Westerns. Some of their choices are, as you might expect, unusual. The fact that they haven't even seen one of their selections, Doc, makes eminent sense in the Coenverse. But their picks aren't the story. Their self-amused comments are. I have a feeling we might be seeing Stacy Keach in an upcoming Coens' joint. Here's a taste:
1. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, PG-13) "Sergio Leone movie. Good hat brims."
2. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976, PG) "Clint Eastwood movie from the 1970s, when the major studios were, on the evidence here, less uptight."
3. Greaser's Palace (1972, R) "Robert Downey Sr. movie, the Putney Swope of Westerns."
4. Doc (1971, PG) "Frank Perry movie, written by Pete Hamill. We haven't actually seen this one but saw a clip of the first scene, and the opening gag makes us suspect the movie belongs on the list. Stacy Keach fights consumption, dust, and bad men as Doc Holliday. This movie is for you if you like to watch people cough. Stacy was warming up to play one of cinema's great lawmen in the Cheech and Chong movies."
5. The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972, PG) "Interestingly, it turns out that most of the best Westerns were made in the '70's, hardly our expectation when we started the list. This one has another great opening scene — again with Stacy Keach, this time as Bad Bob. Admittedly this John Huston movie is, apart from the opening scene, less swinging than the others on the list, but it has Paul Newman with his limpid blue eyes."