TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Westerns [2 Discs] [DVD]

Turner Classic Movies' Greatest Films Collection constitutes a series of "themed" packages of features; this particular volume presents four western titles produced over the 11-year period of 1962-1973. It begins in 1970, with genre stalwart Andrew V. McLaglen directing John Wayne in Chisum - a biography of cattle owner John Simpson Chisum (Wayne) and his attempts to counter an evil land baron (Forrest Tucker). The second feature in the set, Sam Peckinpah's low-key Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), stars James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Jason Robards in the chronicle of real-life sheriff Garrett and his hunt for the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid. The Stalking Moon, a little-known 1968 western from director Robert Mulligan (Summer of '42) concerns an army scout (Gregory Peck) assisting a woman (Eva Marie Saint) and her son in an escape from the Cherokees. Finally, 1962's Ride the High Country, one of Peckinpah's earliest efforts, stars Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott in the tale of two longtime friends guarding a gold shipment.
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TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Westerns [2 Discs] (DVD)  (English)  1970 - Larger Front
  • TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Westerns [2 Discs] (DVD) (English) 1970
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Overview

Special Features

  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Chisum
John Wayne toplines this biography of the cattle owner John Simpson Chisum, a controversial figure who was the most powerful man in New Mexico during the Wild West era. A founder and prominent citizen in the town of Lincoln, Chisum is slow to act when ruthless land baron Lawrence Murphy (Forrest Tucker) moves in on several local businesses and takes them over. By the time Chisum and his ally, fellow rancher Henry Tunstall (Patrick Knowles), decide to go to the law, Murphy's already bought and paid for influence there, as well. The only recourse left to the cattlemen is to take Murphy on in all-out range war that embroils everyone in the county, including Tunstall's hand Billy the Kid Bonney (Geoffrey Deuel) and his comrade Pat Garrett (Glenn Corbett). Screenwriter and producer Andrew J. Fenady based the script for Chisum (1970) on his own short story, a very loosely fact-based account of Chisum, Billy the Kid and their involvement in the Lincoln County wars. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

Ride the High Country
This Sam Peckinpah-directed feature outing was intended as the cinematic swan song for both Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea; while McCrea would unexpectedly emerge from retirement, this 1961 western serves as an excellent valedictory for both men. The time is the early 1900s, when the Old West was slowly and stubbornly giving way to the new. McCrea plays Steve Judd, an ex-lawman living on the fringes of poverty but maintaining his dignity and honesty. Hired to escort a gold shipment from the wide-open mining town of Coarse Gold, he engages his old pal Gil Westrum (Scott) to help him. But Gil hasn't Steve's integrity, and he and his young saddle pal Heck Longtree (Ronald Starr) hope to talk Steve into helping them steal the gold. En route to Coarse Gold, the three riders spend the night at the farm of a religious fanatic (R.G. Armstrong), whose daughter Elsa (Mariette Hartley in her film debut), chafing at her father's loud piety, is planning to elope with her boyfriend Billy (James Drury). The next day, Elsa insists on joining up with the group so she can marry Billy at Coarse Gold, leading to numerous complications and, of course, a final shoot-out that allows Steve and Gil to reconcile their differences and pave the way for the film's elegiac finale. Released at the tail end of the western genre, and virtually thrown away by MGM, Ride the High Country feels like an elegy for the western itself -- and Peckinpah himself would go on to revise western conventions with such later efforts as The Wild Bunch (1969) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Stalking Moon
Adapted from a novel by Theodore V. Olsen, The Stalking Moon opens in the Arizona of the Old West, as the U.S. calvary is in the process of relocating Native Americans to reservations. One of the calvary men is Sam Varner (Gregory Peck), an aging scout who is ready to retire to his New Mexico home after this mission. Varner is called upon to sneak into a small Apache camp in order to disarm the guards before the rest of his troupe rides in to round up the whole tribe. After the round-up, a white woman is discovered among the Americans. Her name is Sarah Carver (Eva Marie Saint), and she was captured ten years ago by a mysterious and vicious warrior named Salvaje (Nathaniel Narcsisco), who is not among those captured in the round-up. Held against her will, she now has a nine-year-old son by Salvaje. Although her English is very rusty from disuse, she lets Varner know that she and her son would like to be taken away from the tribe. He agrees to transport her to his home, and they set out together for New Mexico, having to overcome obstacles such as a sandstorm to get there. Along the way, they seem to sense that someone is following them, and after they arrive at Varner's cabin, they find themselves set upon by the vengeful Salvaje. Enlisting the aid of a half-breed scout Robert Forster that he raised from childhood, Varner tries to fend off Salvaje, who seems to be toying with them before moving in for the final kill. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
A former friend betrays a legendary outlaw in Sam Peckinpah's final Western. Holed up in Fort Sumner with his gang between cattle rustlings, Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) ignores the advice of comrade-turned-lawman Pat Garrett (James Coburn) to escape to Mexico, and he winds up in jail in Lincoln, New Mexico. After Billy theatrically escapes, inspiring enigmatic Lincoln resident Alias (Bob Dylan) to join him, the governor (Jason Robards Jr.) and cattle baron Chisum (Barry Sullivan) requisition Garrett to form a posse and hunt him down. Rather than flee to Mexico when he can, Billy heads back to Fort Sumner, meeting his final destiny at the hands of his friend Pat, who, two decades later, is forced to face the consequences of his own Faustian pact with progress. With a script by Rudolph Wurlitzer, Peckinpah uses the historical basis of Billy's death to eulogize the West dreamily yet violently as it is desecrated by corrupt capitalists. Both Pat and Billy know that their time is passing, as surely as Garrett's posse knows that they are participating in a legend. Using familiar Western players like Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado, Peckinpah underscores the West's existence as a media myth, and he even appears himself as a coffin maker. Just as the bloodletting of Peckinpah's earlier The Wild Bunch (1969) invoked the Vietnam War, the casting of Kristofferson and Dylan alluded to the chaotic late '60s/early '70s present; the counterculture has little place in a corporate future. Also like The Wild Bunch, Pat Garrett was truncated by its studio; the cuts did nothing to help its box office. Key scenes, particularly the framing story of Garrett's fate, have since been restored to the home-video version. In this director's cut, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid stands as one of Peckinpah's most beautiful and complex films, killing the Western myth even as he salutes it. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • John Wayne
    John Wayne - John Chisum
  • Forrest Tucker
    Forrest Tucker - Lawrence Murphy
  • Christopher George
    Christopher George - Dan Nodeen
  • Ben Johnson
    Ben Johnson - James Pepper
  • Glenn Corbett
    Glenn Corbett - Pat Garrett
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