I’m sitting here poised on the brink of seeing the new True Grit movie. Was gonna wait until Christmas day, but I don’t think I’m going to make it. I love the cast, I love the Coens, and I love a good Western. There have been some excellent ones released in the last few years, just not enough of them. I read somewhere a few years ago, or heard it on the radio, I don’t remember for sure, but the idea was that the Western has been supplanted by cop and crime shows and movies. The case was made about the similarities and it made sense to me at the time, even though it saddened me. I like good cop stuff too, but the archetype just isn’t the same in modern times, at least not to me. I want big hats, sixguns and thundering hooves!
Today I’ve just about wrapped up listening to James Lee Burke’s Rain Gods, which I downloaded from audible.com. I liked it; thought it would make a great movie. It brought to mind Victor Gischler‘s novel The Deputy, which I read this year and enjoyed. It’s a bit different from Burke’s novel — more action movie-ish, more pulpy — but similar enough. It too would make an excellent film. I know they’d do well because the stories are strong and in the right hands a film version could be wildly successful. No Country for Old Men, also a Coen Brothers flick, was hugely successful. Hell, I thought the movie was better than Cormac McCarthy’s novel.
What these stories all have in common is that gritty, overheated, life-on-the-border setting that I love, which really calls to mind classic movie Westerns. Why aren’t there more of these types? In recent years we’ve had The Town, The Departed, Gone, Baby, Gone, etc., all movies with urban settings. New York/Boston/LA get enough love . . . why not more from the Southwest, eh?
So I’m looking for suggestions of more books and movies with settings from around 1970 on, that have some dirt and sweat in their DNA. Bring it, people!