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View Full Version : Why has John Carpenter never made an out and out Western?



Ian F
08-16-2010, 01:56 PM
He's made so many pseudo-Westerns, but why hasn't John Carpenter ever made a regular Western? Besides John's "perceived box office weakness" and his own fees, I've never understood why he never made one. Vampires is pretty close and Assault is a remake of Rio Bravo, but he's never (forgive the pun) pulled the trigger and just made a straight western. I'd be happy with even a B-Movie Western made for cheap.

Troy Howarth
08-16-2010, 02:49 PM
He's made so many pseudo-Westerns, but why hasn't John Carpenter ever made a regular Western? Besides John's "perceived box office weakness" and his own fees, I've never understood why he never made one. Vampires is pretty close and Assault is a remake of Rio Bravo, but he's never (forgive the pun) pulled the trigger and just made a straight western. I'd be happy with even a B-Movie Western made for cheap.

He wrote a couple and came close to directing at least one of them, but they were ultimately done - and heavily altered - by others. You have to bear in mind that westerns weren't all that common in the US during Carpenter's more active period - there was just the occasional one, and I would think he'd have trouble getting backing and so forth. Now that he's back making films and westerns seem to be somewhat more popular again, maybe he'll finally do it. I'd love to see it happen.

Ian F
08-16-2010, 02:54 PM
Now that he's back making films and westerns seem to be somewhat more popular again, maybe he'll finally do it. I'd love to see it happen.

Agreed. I'm actually interested in his latest film since it stars Jarred Harris, whom I loved in Mad Men and Fringe, hell I think he's one of the better things in Resident Evil 2.

Steven Millan
08-16-2010, 05:33 PM
During the early 80s,Carpenter was grooming EL DIABLO as one of his future projects,but he eventually didn't get to make that western and it ended up made as a made-for-HBO cable movie directed by someone else (and starring Lou Gossett Jr. and Anthony Edwards),whose name I can't remember.

Steve R
08-16-2010, 07:56 PM
Steven,

That's the first thought that came to my mind, too when I saw the thread.
El Diablo.

I'd love to see Carpenter take on a Western. It'd be very interesting now
to see if he addressed different themes, characters.
Be great to see him shoot in a wide open space, too.
Panavision suits Carpenter to a "T".

Steve

Thomas Wood
08-16-2010, 08:32 PM
1. Westerns do not do well at the box office. Until Eastwood made UNFORGIVEN, they were poison. Even after they don't do well.

2. Directors can only make movies that they can get financing for. I'm sure Carpenter would love to do a western but no one will back it. Thus he does "westerns' disguised as other genres where he does get financing.

Dan B
08-17-2010, 08:31 AM
Maybe he could never get the backing he needed.

Steven Millan
08-17-2010, 08:54 AM
Westerns do not do well at the box office. Until Eastwood made UNFORGIVEN, they were poison. Even after they don't do well.




Actually,since both the box office and Oscar winning success of UNFORGIVEN,there's been a lot of westerns made(such as OPEN RANGE and 3:10 TO YUMA),and there's always plenty of westerns at both Wal-Mart,your nearby Redbox,and in your local library's DVD free rental section,and heck:even both Jim Wynorski and Fred Olen Ray occassionally do a DTV western or two(with Fred's recently released AMERICAN OUTLAWS being a prime example),for I can't see how westerns aren't doing well when there's plenty of them still being made.

Troy Howarth
08-17-2010, 09:15 AM
Actually,since both the box office and Oscar winning success of UNFORGIVEN,there's been a lot of westerns made(such as OPEN RANGE and 3:10 TO YUMA),and there's always plenty of westerns at both Wal-Mart,your nearby Redbox,and in your local library's DVD free rental section,and heck:even both Jim Wynorski and Fred Olen Ray occassionally do a DTV western or two(with Fred's recently released AMERICAN OUTLAWS being a prime example),for I can't see how westerns aren't doing well when there's plenty of them still being made.

Well, I wouldn't point to DTV movies as an example of success/popularity - but that said, these days I think there is more of a market for big screen westerns.

RichardDoyle
08-17-2010, 06:09 PM
Agreed. I'm actually interested in his latest film since it stars Jarred Harris, whom I loved in Mad Men and Fringe, hell I think he's one of the better things in Resident Evil 2.

I also love his Russian cabbie in "Happiness" and his Andy Warhol in "I Shot Andy Warhol". Great actor.

RichardDoyle
08-17-2010, 06:17 PM
I think westerns have really suffered in the last 30 years because the folks that hold the purse strings are convinced that they'll only succeed at the box office if they are based on some sort gimmick. No one wants to do a straightforward western, they want to do crap like "Bad Girls" or "Young Guns". But the gimmicky ones invariably suck and do poorly at the box office, so it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ian F
08-18-2010, 12:06 AM
I also love his Russian cabbie in "Happiness" and his Andy Warhol in "I Shot Andy Warhol". Great actor.

I didn't know he played Andy Warhol, I'll have to check that out. Thanks!

Troy Howarth
08-18-2010, 08:26 AM
I think westerns have really suffered in the last 30 years because the folks that hold the purse strings are convinced that they'll only succeed at the box office if they are based on some sort gimmick. No one wants to do a straightforward western, they want to do crap like "Bad Girls" or "Young Guns". But the gimmicky ones invariably suck and do poorly at the box office, so it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The worst offender was probably The Quick and the Dead, which features Raimi's direction at its most screamingly obvious and gimmicky. Badly miscast, too, and even pros like Hackman and Henriksen suffer because of it.

MatthewA
08-18-2010, 12:45 PM
How are the two westerns that JC got writing credit for? (Blood River & El Diablo)

Blake L.
08-18-2010, 12:49 PM
Wasn't Carpenter who Stephen King had in mind to direct his western, The Shotgunners?

Troy Howarth
08-18-2010, 12:52 PM
How are the two westerns that JC got writing credit for? (Blood River & El Diablo)

I haven't seen them yet, but I gather little remains of his writing in the finished product(s). One of them was written for John Wayne, who was interested - but he was already dying by then.

Jonathan H.
08-18-2010, 01:15 PM
I did a good amount of research on this topic a few years back for a grad school thesis on disguised Westerns and, essentially, the most recent quote I recall from Carpenter on the subject was that Westerns were really hard to make, horses were difficult to control, etc. and he was too old to take such a challenge on. I can't recall exactly when this interview was from, but I believe it was within the past decade.

In an earlier interview from 1980 or so, in Film Comment, a young Carpenter spoke enthusiastically about mounting EL DIABLO or BLOOD RIVER, I can't recall. Before his death, John Wayne was in strong consideration for a key role...I believe Carpenter wrote this role with the Duke in mind. Again, can't recall which of the above 2 projects it was. This was to be Carpenter's follow-up to THE FOG.

MatthewA
08-18-2010, 02:02 PM
According the IMDB, it was BLOOD RIVER. John Wayne approached Ron Howard to play his "sidekick."

RichardDoyle
08-18-2010, 05:52 PM
The worst offender was probably The Quick and the Dead, which features Raimi's direction at its most screamingly obvious and gimmicky. Badly miscast, too, and even pros like Hackman and Henriksen suffer because of it.

Ha ... I actually kind of like that film, but I agree it's not the sort of film that going to promote the genre. It pretty much stands on its own.

Thomas Wood
08-18-2010, 08:29 PM
Actually,since both the box office and Oscar winning success of UNFORGIVEN,there's been a lot of westerns made(such as OPEN RANGE and 3:10 TO YUMA),and there's always plenty of westerns at both Wal-Mart,your nearby Redbox,and in your local library's DVD free rental section,and heck:even both Jim Wynorski and Fred Olen Ray occassionally do a DTV western or two(with Fred's recently released AMERICAN OUTLAWS being a prime example),for I can't see how westerns aren't doing well when there's plenty of them still being made.

Ray and Wynorski make non-union pictures, except for SAG. I doubt any of their for-hire work costs more then 5 million (and probably much less). Carpenter is a member of DGA so his films are complete union pictures. The budget would be 20 million at least and probably double that. Unless you have strong foreign sales, you won't make money by going DTV.