John Wayne Wouldn't Recognize It

Oh, how I love me a good old fashioned John Wayne western. It's more than just The Duke and his signature swagger, too. I love the sweeping vistas and azure skies of those classic westerns like True Grit and Rooster Cogburn. The old black and white films are beloved, too, but I fell in love with The West in technicolor.

Those gorgeous views, open valleys, towering mountains and the sheer remoteness of those movie sets have appealed to me for as long as I can remember. I dreamed of growing up and living on land like that: no neighbors, only majestic beauty. In some ways, I got my dream. I've lived in The West since 1969 and I can tell you that even technicolor can not do it justice.

So what happened to that kind of filmmaker's vision? It seems like The West in films today is always a gritty, sooty, muddy place where the sun never comes out. The hero's clothes are always filthy and he never looks like he would know what a bathtub looks like. The rawness and struggle of western life is illustrated now by making the country inhospitable, ugly and punishing. The towns are all squalid and the townspeople are all as pathetic as the towns themselves.

I prefer John Wayne's West. No one would want to travel so far and work so hard to scratch out a living in a place as forbidding as The West you see in the remake of True Grit. People don't uproot and travel for thousands of miles to live in the armpit of hell. They came west because of the beauty. They came west because the land is so gorgeous and pristine. They were willing to work their fingers down to the white meat because the land was worth it. Worth it.

Hollywood: bring back John Wayne's West. Show us the struggle was for a prize, not for a slap. The West was a place of hopes and dreams, grandeur and majesty. Show us that again. Give the kids today something to capture their imagination; give them a dream of possibility and beauty.