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"Never Run a Bluff With a Six-Gun":
8 1/2 Classic Western Films
Kurt F. Stone
Recipient of the LLS 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: History‘s first narrative film was a Western: Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery, first screened in 1903. It also starred the first cowboy hero: "Broncho Billy" (Max Aronson). Ever since, Westerns – “oaters” – have been among the most favorite films for viewers all over the world. Indeed, for people from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, John Wayne, James Stewart, Errol Flynn, Henry Fonda and Randolph Scott ARE America. Westerns come in all shapes and sizes: epics and dramas, musicals and comedies. At one time, even John Wayne was a singing cowboy (“Singing Sandy”). In this series, we will screen classic Westerns ranging from Porter’s Great Train Robbery to Robert Aldrich’s 1979 comedy-drama The Frisco Kid, starring a young Harrison Ford. Through these films we will see the way various writers and directors sought to portray America to the movie-going public; the history, scenery, ethos and values through which generations of film lovers first met America. Each lecture will begin with an introduction for the evening’s presentation. After viewing the film in its entirety, the class will engage in a (hopefully) spirited discussion. And remember, as the real (as opposed to the cinematic) Bat Masterson once said, “Never run a bluff with a six-gun . . .”

1. The Great Train Robbery (1903) and Tumbleweeds (1925): At a brief 11 minutes, Porter’s The Great Train Robbery was the first Western;Tumbleweeds, starring William S. Hart, is an epic Western dealing with the historic Oklahoma land rush.
2. Annie Oakley (1935): Barbara Stanwyck stars in a romanticized biography of the great Western sharpshooter. Directed by George Stevens and costarring Preston Foster, and Melvin Douglas.
3. Dodge City (1939): Errol Flynn stars as a cattle agent who, disgusted by the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City, takes over as sheriff. With Olivia de Havilland; directed by Michael Curtiz.
4. The Westerner (1940): Walter Brennan stars as the self-appointed “hanging judge” Roy Bean. Gary Cooper is the saddle tramp who opposes the judge. Directed by William Wyler; costarring Forrest Tucker and Fred Stone.
5. Buck Benny Rides Again (1940): Believe it or not, even Jack Benny made a Western . . . sort of. A rare comedic spoof, starring the entire Benny radio “family.”
6. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943): William Wellman directs Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn, Harry Morgan and Dana Andrews in Walter Van Tillberg Clark’s tale of a posse that captures three men suspected of murdering a farmer. A taut, intimate classic.
7. The Searchers (1956): John Ford directs John Wayne, Ward Bond, and a young Natalie Wood in a story about a Civil War veteran who embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe. Perhaps the greatest of all Ford/Wayne collaborations.
8. The Frisco Kid (1978): Robert Aldrich directs Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford in a unique heartfelt Western comedy/drama in which a Polish rabbi (Wilder) wanders the Old West on his way to lead a synagogue in 1860s San Francisco.
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Now in his 20th year with the Lifelong Learning Society (LLS), Dr. Kurt F. Stone is an author, essayist, political activist, longtime medical ethicist, and ordained rabbi. He calls himself a Hollywood Brat, having been born and raised in and around the film industry, and calls his love and knowledge of film a "genetic inheritance." Dr. Stone is the author of two books on the US Congress, and for more than a dozen years has written nearly 700 op-ed pieces for his on-line blog, The K.F. Stone Weekly. An occasional actor, he has performed his one-man show, Teatime with Sholem Alechem more than 250 times over the past 40 years. A longtime medical ethicist, he is currently vetting research proposals for the federal government's Cancer Moonshot 2020 program.

Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Date: Thursdays, October 5, 12, 19, 26; November 2, 9, 16, 30
Location: Barry and Florence Friedberg Auditorium, Boca Raton Campus
Fees: Member - $100
Non-member - $130
Cash will no longer be accepted as payment for lectures.

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