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But as in The Sacketts, Sam Elliott, Jeff Osterhage, and I played the three brothers.As an art form, the western film owes a great debt to guys like John Ford.That’s 90 percent of what you’ll do in a movie, and when you learn and look like a cowboy, then I’ll let you do the other stuff.” Based on two stories by Louis L’Amour, The Sacketts was my indoctrination and my real introduction to the western genre, especially working with such seasoned actors as Jack Elam, Glenn Ford, Slim Pickens, and Ben Johnson.Ben was like a dad to us all, so I can really say that I learned from the best.During our interview, Totten asked me if I could ride.I said that while I wasn’t afraid of horses and had been on a few of them, my answer had to be ‘No!Just look at the top-ten list by anybody who knows Westerns. Every two or three minutes comes a camera set-up that could be turned into a portrait.Invariably, there will be three or four John Ford movies. It doesn’t have that crazy MTV-editing pace we see today. He had ix THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WESTERNS an easy-going quality and clearly remains one of the quintessential American actors. What was most important was the kind of tension and slow-to-act quality that is a great lesson in any western film. Yet when a firearm did go off, it had a resounding sound and power, as in that classic scene when Elisha Cook Jr. It was appropriately frightening as a kid to see to the power of a firearm and, I might add, the responsible way to see it as well.
The writer Anthony Le Jeune once said that the classic western always involves “a moral dilemma and a challenge to the human spirit, the resolution of which, as John Wayne says in the movie The Alamo, ‘speaks well for men.’” There have been a lot of directors who have made topflight western films, but the old guard of the studio days, especially John Ford, was superb. W 791.43'63278'03—dc21 2002026355 Facts On File books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions, or sales promotions.This commercial led to a few parts, including the very first I ever got when I was under contract with Fox.Thanks to Ford and others, the western film has become as much a part of our shared mythology as King Arthur.There has been a yearning in modern culture to go back to simpler times.
Totten did not mince words with his actors, nor did he coddle them.