On Depression and Westerns

Special guest Article by Leigh Evans KreuzThey say you never forget your first love.

I’m thirty-eight now and I’ve forgotten a big chunk of my life up until this point. Sometimes, if I’m especially #blessed, the right stimuli and the right amount of THC knock a few things loose. Being born before the turn of the century, I was a kid who, like my parents before me, was raised largely by television. Our story begins during the little slice of my life in which I was often sat behind the arm of a floral patterned sofa, staring in rapt attention at the rabbit-eared television; relic from the time when sets were advertised as being (holy smokes, Batman!) IN COLOR. I happened to be born into a culty Assembly of God church run by a guy who wore Jim Jones sunglasses without a single wit of irony and utilized information control in the guise of “keeping the children safe”.

That meant we weren’t allowed to just watch whatever we wanted because the stuff on TV would send demons through the screen or something. (For further reading and cringing so hard your back cracks read “Turmoil in the Toybox” by Phil Phillips). The selection of “Jesus approved” material was pretty slim for the child of “God and country” 1980s Reaganites.

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Western Wednesdays: Trailin’ Trouble (1937)

SYNOPSIS:
Friendly Fields [Ken Maynard] is casually riding along on his white palomino Tarzan when he witnesses a holdup by Blackie Burke [Ken Maynard]. Fields darts out to get a closer look but is stopped by Burke who promptly steals Fields’ hat and rides off.

Fields and his mother [Grace Woods] venture in to town where Fields returns the stolen valuables to the sheriff [Fred Burns] and the rest of the townsfolk ans vows to apprehend Burke. Ma Fields resents her son hauling off to fight the marauder and insists he return home. Being the good son that he is, Fields obliges.
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Western Wednesdays: Bronco Billy’s Adventure (1911)

SYNOPSIS:
Lucy (Edna Fisher), the daughter of tavern owner Riley (Arthur Mackley) is seen flirting with her lover (Fred Church). Riley objects to the relationship, forbids the lover from ever seeing Lucy again and vows to kill him if he is ever seen on his property again. Moments later Broncho Billy (Broncho Billy Anderson) arrives at the tavern to take up lodging for the night. Riley and Billy share a drink and practice straight shooting together.
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Western Wednesdays: The Toll Gate (1920)

SYNOPSIS:

A group of bandits referred to as “The Raiders,” led by Black Deering (William S. Hart) are forced to vote on if they will retire or pull off one more job. Deering wants to quit, but his lieutenant Jordan (Joseph Singleton) has another heist planned for the group. The band of thieves decides to go ahead and take on one more job.
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Western Wednesdays – Tom Mix: Sky High / The Big Diamond Robbery [Blu-ray/DVD]

If you were to mention the name Tom Mix to most people in the 21st century, they would no doubt look upon you in a serious state of confusion, however Mix was one of the most popular and enduring screen personalities of the silent era and helped define the western as we know it today. Mix, who performed most of his own stunts atop his loyal steed Tony, established many of the tropes and cliches that we have become familiar with when we think of the classic westerns including the trope of the hero wearing the white hat and the villains usually wearing black.
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Western Wednesdays: Silverspurs (1936)

SYNOPSIS:
Janet Allison [Muriel Evans] returns home to Loma to discover that the town she grew up in has become overrun with bandits and outlaws. One such outlaw is Art Holden [Robert Frazer], referred to as “Silverspurs,” whom Janet takes an immediate disliking to. Janet, while waiting for her father at the train depot, witnesses a holdup wherein a large sum of money is stolen and the depot attendant killed.
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Western Wednesdays: The Devil’s Playground (1946)

SYNOPSIS:
Hopalong Cassidy [William Boyd] along with his saddlemates California Carlson [Andy Clyde] and Lucky Jenkins [Rand Brooks] discover Mrs. Evans [Elaine Riley] running away from their shack just outside of the canyon known as the Devil’s Playground. They board her for the night while Hoppy goes out to investigate. His trail leads him to the Devil’s Playground as well as shifty Judge Morton [Robert Elliott] and his gang. Morton claims that Evans is his daughter and that he has been attempting to locate her. They head back to the shack only to find Evans has escaped with Carlson’s clothes on her back.
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