Pairing wine with movies! See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies, and many more, at Trailers From Hell. This week, we look at a few westerns that turned the genre around to view it from a different angle. We also have wine pairings for the films, even though a shot of redeye might be more appropriate.
1970’s Little Big Man is an early version of a revisionist western. 1970 was a time when a lot of cultural shifts started to churn, and this film was a western while also serving as a satire and an anti-war statement. And a pretty damned good one, too.
Was Little Big Man the first western to side with Native Americans and line up against the U.S. Cavalry? Maybe. Dustin Hoffman stars as the title figure, who, as an old man, tells the story of his life – a series of unbelievable events and coincidences. Do we believe that this old man was really a student of Wild Bill Hickock, an advisor to General George Armstrong Custer, the only white survivor of Little Big Horn? Sure, why not. It’s really more fun to believe an outlandish tale than not.
Big Little Wines produces small batch vino from Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. If it surprises you to learn that Michigan is a good wine state, try this on for size – they now have a completely blue state legislature! Will wonders never cease? Their bigLITTLE Underdog is 100% Gamay Noir, and they ship to 17 states of which California is one.
Django Unchained is a fairly recent entry for these pages, 2012. Director Quentin Tarantino calls his film a “Southern” rather than a “western.” It sets American slavery against a tapestry of violence and cruelty in the style of a Spaghetti Western.
Jamie Foxx stars as the slave-turned-bounty-hunter Django, a role which he paints as meticulously as Eastwood painted the Man with No Name. Foxx plays his character as a man with a fistful of revenge. Audiences seem to love the grisly ways this angry black man exacts his vengeance – the grislier, the better. Gun? Easy. Dynamite? Cool.
There was a ton of blowback to this movie due mainly to the extreme violence within it and its perceived disrespect towards African-Americans. Spike Lee won’t have anything to do with it, saying it dishonors his ancestors. After a mantle full of awards for Django, Tarantino can no doubt rest easy.
Bounty Hunter’s Cabernet Sauvignon The Vigilante is available from Napa’s Benchmark Wines, which has expensive wines for serious collectors. It’s $141 for the 2012 vintage, and the prices go up from there.
Ulzana’s Raid gets us back to the weird old ‘70s – 1972 to be precise. Robert Aldrich directed it and Burt Lancaster starred as the army scout sent to bring the Apache renegade Ulzana in for justice. He has led a brutal Native American attack on white settlers in 1880s Arizona, and he is number one with a bullet on the army’s most-wanted list.
The film is called revisionist due not to its view of the Native American war party – depicted as ruthless killers – but because of its view of American involvement in Vietnam. The cavalry cluelessly chasing an enemy is seen as a direct swipe at the U.S. Army’s pursuit of the Viet Cong.
D.A. Ranch in Cornville, Arizona has a variety of tasty wines produced from their estate-grown grapes. It looks like the D.A. Stands for Dancing Apache, which is the name of the road where the vineyard and winery is found. Does Ulzana dance well enough to escape the raid? Watch and find out, with a bottle and a glass on the coffee table.