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Showing posts with the label Western

Book Review: A Big Sky Christmas

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A Big Sky Christmas
William W. Johnstone* and J.A. Johnstone, 2013

(Note: Many of the Christmas books I am reading this year have one notable thing in common -- they were all cheap or free on Kindle some time in the last few years. No other qualifications.)

*As I discovered at the end of the book, this was one of many books written from notes/unfinished manuscripts by another after this author’s death.

Premise: Famous frontiersman Jamie McCallister hadn’t intended to get involved, but someone had to get the pilgrims to Montana by Christmas.

I told Erin I read a Western. I said it was boring. He said, “Yup, then it’s a Western.”

This book wasn’t terribly written, I guess, but I found it quite dull. All the characters are either good or evil. All the evil characters end up dead, mostly after surprisingly short, not-very-tense action scenes. All the obvious plot hooks are followed up with almost no surprises.

It must be odd, to write a Western today. If someone’s just writing a straight W…

3 Godfathers (1948)

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3 Godfathers is one of many adaptations of Three Godfathers, which seems to be the quintessential Christmas Western. The premise is relatively simple: three criminals adopt an orphaned child in the desert and attempt to get him to safety. If you're rolling your eyes at the obvious parallels to the wise men, rest assured the characters notice and address this in both this version and the 1913 story it's based on. It's worth noting that the fantastic Tokyo Godfathers was inspired by this, as well.

This version seems to be one of the most famous. It's actually the second time John Ford adapted the story for film. In 1919, he made a version named "Marked Men," and even that was a remake of a 1916 version made by Edward LeSaint. Bother the 1916 and 1919 versions starred Harry Carey, who died the year before 3 Godfathers was made. The movie's dedicated to him, and it features his son, Harry Carey, Jr. as the youngest of the godfathers.

But the star of the movi…

The Partridge Family: Don’t Bring Your Guns to Town, Santa (1971)

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Oh man, The Partridge Family. I’ve had sort of a lingering urge to see The Partridge Family again since Shirley Jones appeared in style on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me last year.



I hope you enjoyed that, because this episode was not what I would call a winner. If you’re blissfully unaware, The Partridge Family was a sitcom about a single mother with five kids who become a traveling musical act to support their family. So the episode opens with, what else, a song. And it’s not bad. I mean, none of the people on film are singing, but the song is just a corny 70’s pop version of a holiday tune.

The family packs up after this gig and is headed home for Christmas. In an unlikely turn of events, their bus breaks down in a Hollywood backlot. Sorry, I meant a ghost town, complete with one picturesque local living alone with a donkey.

The donkey’s only in one scene. Maybe his agent was a good negotiator.

So they can’t get help, and the old guy invites the mom and young kids inside while the ol…

Annie Oakley: Santa Claus Wears a Gun (1957)

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Okay, I’ll admit it, I thought this one was cute. And not just because I’ve had an unreasonable affection for Annie Oakley since I chose her as my “person to dress as from history” in elementary school. I mean, that’s partially it.

Excuse me, I have some Wikipedia-ing to do.

Okay, I’m back, and now I have remembered my fully reasonable, founded affection for Ms. Oakley. Yay for historical levels of awesomeness. What was I talking about? Oh, right, the tv show.

The show was cute. It features Gail Davis as Annie, and she seems to (functionally) be the law in this little Western town, along with her beau. The other main character is her scrappy little brother who is clearly always running into danger. This episode is about an old sharpshooter who drifts into town. He looks like Santa and goes by Snowy Kringle, which, yeah, is pretty silly. There’s also a guy who says he’s an investigator who thinks Kringle is a thief planning to steal a big army payroll that’s coming through town. Annie…