Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stagecoach to Tombstone: The Filmgoers' Guide to the Great Westerns

The true story of the American West on film, through its shooting stars and the directors who shot them…

Howard Hughes explores the Western, running from John Ford’s 'Stagecoach' to the revisionary 'Tombstone'. Writing with panache and fresh insight, he explores 27 key films, and draws on production notes, cast and crew biographies, and the films’ box-office success, to reveal their place in western history. He shows how through reinvention and resurrection, this genre continually postpones the big adios and avoids ending up in Boot Hill…permanently.

Major films covered include the best from genre giants John Ford, Howard Hawks and John Wayne, plus classics 'High Noon', 'Shane', 'The Magnificent Seven' and 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'. 'Stagecoach to Tombstone' makes many more stops along the way, examining well-known blockbusters and lowly B-movie oaters alike. It examines comedy westerns, adventures ‘south of the border’, singing cowboys and the varied depiction of Native Americans on screen. Hughes also engagingly charts the genre’s timely renovation by Sam Peckinpah ('Ride the High Country' and 'The Wild Bunch' ), Sergio Leone ('Once Upon a Time in the West') and Clint Eastwood ('The Outlaw Josey Wales' and 'Unforgiven'). Presented too are the best of western trivia, a filmography of essential films - and ten aficionados and critics, including Alex Cox, Christopher Frayling, Philip French and Ed Buscombe, give their verdict on the best in the west.

""Hold your horses for next month's release of Stagecoach to Tombstone: The Filmgoer's Guide to Great Westerns, author Howard Hughes' detailed tome on 27 classic films."" -

""Written with panache and fresh insight…buy it!"" – Dave Worrall, Cinema Retro

""A deftly written collection of essays, full of fascinating insight, this will be a must for fellow travellers on the sagebrush trail."" – Howard Maxford, Film Review

""Hughes is a fan and his enthusiasm, as well as his research, shines through.""-- Keith Richmond, Tribune

Howard Hughes is the author of Once Upon a Time in the Italian West, Crime Wave: The Filmgoers Guide to the great Crime Movies, both published by I.B.Tauris, as well as The Pocket Essential Guide to Spaghetti Westerns and The American Indian Wars.

Most helpful customer reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful.
5Reviewing Great Western Films!
By Mike O'Connor
British author Howard Hughes charts the development of the modern Western movie in this insightful, informative volume published in 2008 by Tauris & Company. By examining 27 movies he views as key, Hughes shows the evolving nature of the genre. Western fans are in for an interesting ride since the films range from classics like 'Stagecoach' to B-oaters such as 'Ride Lonesome' to misfires like 'One-Eyed Jacks.'

Hughes starts his examination with 'Stagecoach' (1939) and ends with 'Tombstone' (1993), hence the book's title STAGECOACH TO TOMBSTONE. In between, he looks at 'My Darling Clementine,' 'Red River,' 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,' 'High Noon,' 'Shane,' 'Johnny Guitar,' 'Vera Cruz,' 'The Man from Laramie,' 'The Searchers,' 'Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 'Forty Guns,' 'Ride Lonesome,' 'Rio Bravo,' 'The Magnificent Seven,' 'One-Eyed Jacks,' 'Ride the High Country,' 'The Sons of Katie Elder,' 'Once Upon a Time in the West,' 'Support Your Local Sheriff,' 'The Wild Bunch,' 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,' 'McCabe & Mrs. Miller,' 'Ulzana's Raid,' 'The Outlaw Josey Wales' and 'Unforgiven.'

Hughes' book is subtitled THE FILMGOER'S GUIDE TO THE GREAT WESTERNS. When you consider some of the movies covered - 'Johnny Guitar,' etc. - you may question that GREAT WESTERNS tag but Hughes makes a good case for why each film is noteworthy. (Hughes apparently compiled his list based on his own observations and lists provided by eight British directors, film editors, critics, authors, etc.).

STAGECOACH TO TOMBSTONE has several things going for it. Hughes uses his examination of each film as a springboard for larger discussions. His comments on Randolph Scott's 'Ride Lonesome' lead into a survey of Scott's work with Budd Boetticher. The chapter on James Stewart's 'Man from Laramie' dovetails into an examination of all the westerns Stewart made with Anthony Mann in the 1950s and so on. Hughes also possesses an understated wit that surfaces throughout the book. The soap opera plot that underlines 'One-Eyed Jacks,' for example, is termed 'Horse Oprah.'

The book is illustrated with stills and posters from the various movies.

Film buffs will want to pick up Hughes' book. They will be familiar with much of the factual info Hughes presents but his insights, sense of humor and writing style make STAGECOACH TO TOMBSTONE an easy, enjoyable read. Recommended.

Note: Though the Amazon record for this item says 'Paperback,' this is a hardcover book!

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful.
5An Excellent Guide To Western Movies
By TMStyles
"Stagecoach To Tombstone" examines the history and growth of the Western movie from "Stagecoach" in 1939 through "Tombstone" in 1993, although there are references to many others up to "Open Range" in 2003. Specifically this book thoroughly examines 27 great and not so great but memorable westerns from the 1930's to the near present. Each of the 27 main films examined include full listings of movie credits, pertinent posters, plot outlines, casting decisions, and significance and importance in the historical scheme of westerns.

Howard Hughes examines the history of the Western movie in his introduction and then presents the top ten westerns of nine critics and observers followed by a compilation of the Top Ten as he sees it. Each of the 27 titles he focuses on include a thorough listing of the credits, the cast, plot precis, casting decisions, authentic movie posters, filming problems and timelines, significance within the genre, and, ultimately, insider information about each of our favorite Westerns.

Hughes concludes "Stagecoach To Tombstone" with a western filmography with titles and credits from westerns dating from 1903 up to 2003. He concludes by presenting a five page bibliography and source listing for references, scholarly works, and further sources for the works discussed. Indeed, this guide to great westerns is a scholarly, well researched, and extremely interesting review of some of the most important Westerns produced in cinema.

I highly recommend this effort to scholars or just plain lovers of Western movies. Discussions of plot decisions, potential casting decisions, historical significance, and box office success offer keen and entertaining insights to movies and movie makers we all love. John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Henry Fonda, James Stewert, Clint Eastwood star in movies directed by John Ford, Howard Hawks, Budd Boetticher, Sergio Leone and others in a grand design to present the story of the American Western and its proper place in the history of American Film. A must read for any student or disciple of the movies of the American West.

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful.
5If You Love Westerns, You MUST Read This Book!!!!!
By Mr. Mambo
This book is absolutely superb, for many reasons.
This young British reviewer has an incredible breadth of knowledge, and obviously has a real love for the genre.
Here's why this book is special:
Hughes devotes a chapter to each of the films he's deemed as being among the best ever made. But he also goes into a great deal of depth and detail in each chapter, examining the other work of the film's director and stars, and cites many other related films. Besides the usual cast and crew listings, each chapter/film is full of very interesting and extremely well-detailed background and production information, such as shooting locations, box office success, foreign titles of the films, comments of the participants, and much, much more.
At the beginning of the book is a series of listings by reputable critics and experts of their own "best Westerns", so we can see that Hughes' opinions are quite legitimate. This guy is no crackpot; he's done his homework.
He seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Western movie minutiae. For example, when any part of any movie has been filmed in Monument Valley, he accurately names each specific monument in the Valley--John Ford/John Wayne country--i.e., ""In She Wore A Yellow Ribbon", the Apaches are chasing Ben Johnson's Travis Tyree past the West Mitten, and behind Elephant Peak, towards the Cathedral". I found this highly interesting as I had just visited Monument Valley myself, and purchased this book at Goulding's Trading Post gift shop. Harry Goulding was the man responsible for bringing John Ford and the rest of Hollywood to Monument Valley to take advantage of the majestic landscapes.
Hughes no doubt has been to Monument Valley, probably multiple times.
He's an engaging writer too, effortlessly tossing in humorous anecdotes and opinions throughout, which makes the book very enjoyable to read.
His best Westerns include the recognized classics such as Shane, Red River, The Searchers, and Unforgiven, as well as sleepers or cult films such as Forty Guns, One-Eyed Jacks, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Johnny Guitar. But every Western of any significance is mentioned in this wonderful book.
If you love Westerns, you'd best mosey down to your computer keyboard and place that there order on Amazon, pronto!
Hughes has also penned a spaghetti Western book and a crime film book; if they're half as good as Stagecoach to Tombstone, they're worth checking out too!

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