John Wayne, Rock Hudson are among the notables on view this week.
Here’s our weekly overview of choice options for home-screen viewing. (Note: All times listed are Eastern.)
John Wayne and Rock Hudson co-star in director Andrew McLaglen’s old-fashioned 1969 western — which, oddly enough, 20th Century Fox world-premiered just a few weeks before the studio opened the rather less traditional Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Hudson plays a former Confederate officer who decides to bring his friends and family to a new home in Mexico following the Civil War. Wayne is an ex-Union commander leading a herd of 3,000 horses south of the border. Not surprisingly, the two former enemies wind up joining forces to battle a common foe. (8:50 pm Wednesday, Encore Westerns)
3:10 to Yuma
James Mangold’s well-received 2007 remake of Delmer Daves’ 1957 western (also based on the short story by Elmore Leonard) is a classic morality tale about personal codes of honor and deceptive allures of evil. Faced with mounting debt and probable foreclosure, maimed Civil War veteran Dan Evans (played by Christian Bale) takes desperate measures to save his drought-plagued ranch. He hires on as one of the deputized escorts charged with helping a crusty Pinkertron (Peter Fonda) bring Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), a cunning and charismatic outlaw, to the far-off town of Contention, where the bad guy can be placed on a prison-bound train. Unfortunately, this particular bad guy controls a gang of much worse guys, all of whom are determined to free their boss. Even more unfortunately, as the journey progresses and the good guys are steadily decimated, the normally decent Dan can’t help weighing Wade’s offer of quick cash to look the other way while the outlaw escapes. (7 pm Wednesday, Showtime)
Steve McQueen is aces in the title role of Henry Hathaway’s 1966 western, based on chapters from Harold Robbins’ novel The Carpetbaggers, about a vengeful gunfighter who relentlessly pursues the three men who killed his white father and Indian mother. Karl Malden plays one of the men on Nevada’s hit list, and he’s plenty scared when he realizes just who he’s dealing with. “The kid’s creepy,” he rants. “He ain’t human. He doesn’t kill people — he executes them. Yeah, he executes them.” That’s right. (8:15 pm Saturday, getTV)
As we wrote in our July 2007 centennial celebration of The Duke: Three hard-luck cattle rustlers (John Wayne, Pedro Armindariz, and Harry Carey Jr.) ride into a small town to try their hand at a new line of work: bank robbery. But shucks, these fellows are too good-hearted to be real bad guys — they’re even polite to the local sheriff (Ward Bond) while on their way to the heist. While riding across an unforgiving desert with a posse in hot pursuit, they stop to help a dying woman give birth, then vow to care for her orphaned infant. The sentimental streak is a mile wide — and the religious symbolism only slightly less conspicuous — in John Ford’s first filmed-in-color Western. But never mind: Wayne has never been more amusing and endearing than he is here as a tough but tenderhearted galoot who awkwardly warms to the task of being a surrogate daddy for a needy newborn. It helps that — for a while, at least — he has two co-stars to share the parenting chores. Call this the original Three Men and a Baby, and you won’t be far off the mark. (10:15 am December 11, Turner Movie Classics)