American Outlaws is yet another retelling of the legendary Jesse James and his wild ways. Our own Noah Davis and Kit Bowen discuss whether or not there’s a need for another Western, what their favorite Westerns are and just how hot is new hunk of the moment, Colin Farrell.
Hollywood.com: Did Hollywood really need to make another movie about Jesse James? If so, where does this rank in the pantheon of movies about this Western legend?
Noah Davis: I think not. Since 1930 there have been more than 25 movies made about Jesse James, and with each one the story becomes more and more convoluted. (There was even a movie made called Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter!) Worse, this movie, American Outlaws insults our intelligence with a really lame script and clichéd plot line. The best movie about Jesse James is 1939’s Jesse James, starring Tyrone Power as Jesse. The film, produced by the legendary Darryl F. Zanuck, set out to create an authentic chronicle of the outlaw and even hired Jo Francis James, Jesse’s granddaughter, to help research and assemble material for the script. Zanuck’s film tried neither to glorify nor condemn Jesse.
Kit Bowen: Wow, Noah, thanks for the history lesson, whether we wanted it or not. Westerns are a tough sell in today’s fast-paced movie market. And Outlaws does absolutely nothing to improve upon the genre. I have to agree with Noah that the story was just one big cliché. It’s too bad, really, ’cause the actors in it were pretty cute, especially Colin Farrell.
Noah Davis: I disagree with my historically challenged colleague. Westerns aren’t a tough sell in today’s “fast-paced market.” Westerns can have great story lines, show great chase scenes and find new uses for dynamite that would rival the explosions in any other summer blockbuster. The sub-par American Outlaws, no matter how cute Colin Farrell may be, did make the production of the next Western that much harder.
Hollywood.com: What would you consider the last great American Western?
Kit Bowen: I don’t particularly like the genre, but I did like the 1993 Tombstone with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer about Wyatt Earp and the bunch. However, the Oscar-winning Unforgiven is probably considered the best modern day Western. As far as older films go, I also liked Red River, The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Noah Davis: They should have buried Kit’s favorite under it’s own tombstone, a miserable piece of tripe that is. Kit is correct that Unforgiven is the best modern Western. And I would have to stay with Clint Eastwood for the best Western of all time, in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. (Apologies to John Wayne, who made many fine Westerns.)
Kit Bowen: Did you having trouble sleeping last night, Noah?
Hollywood.com: Going back to the one positive thing mentioned about American Outlaws–the good-looking guys–Colin Farrell was lauded by critics for his work in Tigerland. Will this movie have an impact on his career one way or the other?
Noah Davis: With three of Farrell‘s movies set to come out in 2002, including Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report with Tom Cruise, Farrell‘s career is speeding along faster than a runaway stagecoach. Farrell wasn’t the problem in American Outlaws, nor were the other actors, as the acting was generally OK. Farrell‘s smoldering good looks will earn him more and more female fans the more and more he is on the big screen, a fact that I am sure Kit’s about to attest to.
Kit Bowen: Yes, indeed I am. Sometimes it’s worth watching a movie only for the pretty people. Watching Farrell almost made Outlaws palatable. Almost. Farrell certainly could have a great career for himself if he chooses his projects well.
Noah Davis: Isn’t there something else you wanted to say about Mr. Farrell?
Kit Bowen: Oh, right. Once again, he’s just too damn cute.