Midnight Madness Blog

- 2008
- 2007

Thank You J.T. Petty
The Western is something I cultivated into an appreciation, perhaps like someone discovering wines. You have to sip a lot of wine to find a good vintage or in my case make sure that first bottle is a great one.

Director of The Burrowers J.T. Petty (Far Left) alongside Karl Geary and Clancy Brown. Earlier this morning (September 10th 2008) at the Q&A.

When I was a younger man over dosing on movies at my friend's house on the weekend or my place, depending on where ever we would end up. He and I would watch four, five maybe even six films in a night, the Western rarely made an appearance. It was at John's place where we would first see Easy Rider, Lawrence of Arabia and Touch of Evil to name a few films in a list of many. Every time a suggestion for a Western came up I would find something else to watch.

That all changed the night we put the first tape of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly into the V.C.R. From the first shot I was hooked. The depth of field in the shot is completely and utterly amazing. Then the Desperado walks into frame in extreme close up and completely in focus, that shot still and will forever blow me away.

The characters that inhabit a Sergio Leone film look as though they are in the old west. Not some A list actor who just got out of a makeup trailer and strolled onto the back lot and sat upon the horse. That was always my gripe with the Western, how could I get into the film if the characters were not even believable. However characters in a Leone film made you want to have a shower and moisturize.

Suffice to say my friend and I dissected the Dollars trilogy a lot. In the process I began to love the Western and I, like many before and after me it took an Italian to make me appreciate an American genre.

The night I watched Once Upon a Time in the West was a revelation, so much so, that all of these years later my website is named after the second line of dialogue spoken by Charles Bronson, now playing the man with no name instead of Clint Eastwood.

Three Desperados wait at a train station - and for my money is one of the greatest opening sequences in cinema - waiting for a train to arrive. Once the train has come and gone stands a man on the other side of the tracks. We then begin to hear a harmonica.

                                 You bring a horse for me?

                                  (Looking at the other two guys)
                                   Looks like, looks like we are shy
                                   one horse.

                                                  (Pause a beat)
                                        You brought two too many.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

The desperados drop but so does the man with no name, hit in the exchange of guns. That was that, I devoured the Western. I came into the genre with who is arguably the second wave of major directors to influence the genre. First, John Ford, then Leone and then Sam Peckinpah.

The Western for the most part has come and gone since the Peckinpah period but every once in a while a film emerges and is placed with the great films of the genre like Unforgiven. A couple of years ago Midnight Madness was graced with a great Western, Horror hybrid Dead Birds and last night we were given a gift by J.T. Petty with The Burrowers.

It was a thrill to hear the thunder of galloping horses again or see the light of a fire on the plains in a pitch black night. The camera falling in love with the landscape. The close ups of the grass or zooming into the ants that crawl along the earth.

In J.T. Petty's Western these are cowboys and Indians that you actually believe inhabite the world that you are watching. Not caricatures but real people surviving in a harsh wilderness made all the more difficult by monsters that dwell beneath the surface.

Many more can write much more about The Burrowers but I just wanted to send a simple thank you to Mr. Petty for bringing me back into that world of the Western for two more hours.

Thank you.

Robert Mitchell