Tag Archives: Robert Taylor

Challenge Week 41: Westward the Women

What a super-interesting and unusual Western! And surprisingly under the radar. I’m a big fan of Westerns but had barely heard of this one before Laura assigned it to me, and I’m so glad she did.

The premise is that a rancher in the newly developing California decides to bring a bunch of women west to marry the men working on his ranch, so he hires an experienced wagon master (Robert Taylor) to escort them, goes east to find a bunch of women to volunteer to make the dangerous journey, and then they all head west on a wagon train. Anybody who’s seen a wagon train movie knows what’s coming, and it’s pretty much all here – circling the wagons to defend against Indian attacks, trying to get wagons over steep or rocky terrain, dealing with starvation/thirst/exhaustion after weeks without relief, etc. High drama.

tf-wounded

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American Movie Critics: Cecelia Ager

[Ryan McNeil of The Matinee and I are reading through the American Movie Critics anthology and discussing each chapter as we go, crossposting on each of our blogs.]

Well, after unintentionally taking a couple of months off from this series, Ryan and I are back to the books with one of the most delightful sections of brief reviews we’ve come across so far. I think it’s fair to say that generally the more broad pieces of long-form writing have given us more fodder to talk about than the weekly reviews, but leave it our first working woman critic to turn that on its head.

Cecelia Ager wrote weekly reviews for Variety (the first woman to do so), finding her niche in covering the fashion in films and moving into more general criticism after that, but always with an eye towards the roles and treatment of women in a movie. She’s also incredibly funny, with a dry wit that often comes across as sincere until you carefully read between the lines. We both thoroughly enjoyed this section, and it was a great way to return to the series.

JANDY HARDESTY
We’ve only had one piece by a woman in the book so far, and H.D. was more of a poet than a working film critic. I was a little concerned when I read that Cecelia Ager came into writing film reviews through first writing about fashion on the screen – first of all, that’s a topic I’m not particularly interested in, but also, what a stereotypical background for our first working female critic. One reason I put off getting back to this series was quite frankly that I didn’t know if Ager would have anything interesting to respond to (which was itself a sexist position on my part, and I apologize deeply!).

While Ager isn’t as theoretical as some of the critics we’ve read, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed her entire section – we have eleven very short reviews from her in this section. Did you come into Ager with any unfortunate preconceptions like I did, and if so, were they similarly dispelled?

RYAN McNEIL
Jandy (insert middle name) Stone Hardesty!! Sexism from you in 2015 – how is that helpful? How is a cretin like me supposed to free his mind if I don’t have you as an example?

I kid, but I do understand what you’re getting at. When someone talks about something they’re passionate about and it isn’t your passion, there’s a lot of chance your eyes will glaze over and the sounds they make will soon sound like the grown ups on Charlie Brown.

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